a Benediction


A Benediction

Leader: Go now, as the Spirit of God has called you:

to be a people of grace

to be a people of truth

to be a people who pursue peace

to be a people who forgive

to be a people who love

And may God lead and guide you.  Amen.

Source: unknown – modifed by S. Brown

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A Responsive Reading using the Breadth of Emotions Conveyed in the Psalms


A Responsive Reading using the Breadth of Emotions Conveyed in the Psalms

Pastor’s Introduction:

Psalms are songs or poems. That’s what the word “psalm” means. They are meant to be read or sung as poetry or songs. The point is that poetry or singing is intended to stir up and carry the affections of the heart.

If you read the Psalms only for doctrine, you’re not reading them for what they are. They’re musical, and the reason human beings express truth with music and poetry is to awaken and express emotions that fit the truth.

One of the reasons the Psalms are deeply loved by so many Christians is that they give expression to an amazing array of emotions. More explicitly than all the other books in the Bible, the Psalms are designed to awaken and shape our emotions in line with the instruction they give. What happens when you read and sing the Psalms the way they are intended to be read and sung is that your emotions and your mind are shaped by these psalms. We will now read responsively (as noted) the breadth of expressions contained in the Psalms; starting with anguish and wailing and ending with gratitude and peace.

Pastor: “Anguish” as expressed in Psalm 6:3
Congregation: My soul is in anguish. How long, O LORD, how long?Pastor: “Wailing” as expressed in Psalm 30:11
Congregation: You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,
Pastor: “Grief” as expressed in Psalm 6:7
Congregation: My eye wastes away because of grief
Pastor: “Anger” as expressed in Psalm 4:4
Congregation: Be angry, and do not sin
Pastor: “Groaning” as expressed in Psalm 6:6
Congregation: I am worn out from groaning; all night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears.
Pastor: “Pain” as expressed in Psalm 69:29
Congregation: I am afflicted and in pain
Pastor: “Sorrow” as expressed in Psalm 31:9
Congregation: Be merciful to me, O LORD, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief.
Pastor: “Brokenheartedness” as expressed in Psalm 34:18
Congregation: The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit
Pastor: “Loneliness” as expressed in Psalm 25:16
Congregation: I am lonely and afflicted
Pastor: “Distress” as expressed in Psalm 18:6
Congregation: In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help.
Pastor: “Fear” as expressed in Psalm 2:11
Congregation: Serve the Lord with fear
Pastor: “Discouragement and turmoil” as expressed in Psalm 42:5
Congregation: Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Pastor: “Shame” as expressed in Psalm 44:15
Congregation: Shame has covered my face
Pastor: “Regret” as expressed in Psalm 38:18
Congregation: I am sorry for my sin
Pastor: “Contrition” as expressed in Psalm 51:17
Congregation: A broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise
Pastor: “Desire” as expressed in Psalm 10:17
Congregation: O Lord, you hear the desire of the afflicted
Pastor: “Hope” as expressed in Psalm 33:22
Congregation: Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you
Pastor: “Confidence” as expressed in Psalm 27:3
Congregation: Though war arise against me, yet I will be confident
Pastor: “Zeal” as expressed in Psalm 69:9
Congregation: Zeal for your house has consumed me
Pastor: “Love” as expressed in Psalm 18:1
Congregation: I love you, O Lord, my strength
Pastor: “Awe” as expressed in Psalm 33:8
Congregation: Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him
Pastor: “Exultation” as expressed in Psalm 21:1
Congregation: In your salvation how greatly he exults
Pastor: “Marveling” as expressed in Psalm 118:23
Congregation: This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes
Pastor: “Delight” as expressed in Psalm 1:2
Congregation: His delight is in the law of the Lord
Pastor: “Joy” as expressed in Psalm 4:7
Congregation: You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound
Pastor: “Gladness” as expressed in Psalm 9:2
Congregation: I will be glad and exult in you
Pastor: “Gratitude” as expressed in Psalm 35:18
Congregation: I will thank you in the great congregation
Pastor: “Peace” as expressed in Psalm 4:8
Congregation: In peace I will both lie down and sleep

Note – all scripture text is from the NIV (Zondervan Publishing)

Moses Parts the Seas


Moses Parts the Seas

Sometimes, Scripture lends itself nicely to a multi-part reading.  This helps the congregation follow the story, especially the children.  In our church, when one of the characters is the “Voice of God”, we have this person read his lines from the back of the church and speaking through a microphone to separate and amplify his voice above everyone else.  Here’s an example using four voices to read Exodus 14 – “Moses parts the Red Sea.”

Old Testament Lesson (Exodus 14:10-29)

By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger; he persevered because he saw him who is invisible.  (Hebrews 11:27)

Pastor (Narrator):
As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up, and there were the Egyptians, marching after them.  They were terrified and cried out to the LORD.  They said to Moses,

Reader 1 (Israelites):
“Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?  What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt?  Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’?  It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!”

Pastor (Narrator):
Moses answered the people,

Reader 2 (Moses):
“Do not be afraid.  Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today; you will never see again.  The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Pastor (Narrator):
Then the LORD said to Moses,

READER 3 (voice of the Lord):
“Why are you crying out to me?  Tell the Israelites to move on.  Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground.  I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them.  And I will gain glory through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen.  The Egyptians will know that I am the LORD when I gain glory through Pharaoh, his chariots and his horsemen.”

Pastor (Narrator):
Then the angel of God, who had been traveling in front of Israel’s army, withdrew and went behind them.  The pillar of cloud also moved from in front and stood behind them, coming between the armies of Egypt and Israel.  Throughout the night the cloud brought darkness to the one side and light to the other side; so neither went near the other all night long.

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and all that night the LORD drove the sea back with a strong east wind and turned it into dry land.  The waters were divided, and the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.

The Egyptians pursued them, and all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots and horsemen followed them into the sea.  During the last watch of the night the LORD looked down from the pillar of fire and cloud at the Egyptian army and threw it into confusion.  He made the wheels of their chariots come off so that they had difficulty driving.  And the Egyptians said,

Reader 5 (Egyptians):
“Let’s get away from the Israelites!  The LORD is fighting for them against Egypt.”

Pastor (Narrator):
Then the LORD said to Moses,

READER 3 (voice of the Lord):
“Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may flow back over the Egyptians and their chariots and horsemen.”

Pastor (Narrator):
Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place.  The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea.  The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea.  Not one of them survived.

But the Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and on their left.  That day the LORD saved Israel from the hands of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians lying dead on the shore.  And when the Israelites saw the great power the LORD displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD and put their trust in him and in Moses his servant.

Note: All text is from the NIV translation (Zondervan Publishing)

All Creatures of Our God and King / Psalm 104


Responsive Psalm Reading (from Psalm 104) spliced together with the hymn: “All Creatures of Our God and King” (sung to CW #171 – “A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing”)

Here’s an idea using a hymn (both spoken; then sung) spliced together with a Psalm read responsively.  The hymn is first read so that the rich lyrics can sink in before singing them.

 

Pastor: He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains.  They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst.  The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches.
Congregation Speaks: All creatures of our God and King.  Lift up your voice and with us sing.  O praise Him, alleluia.

 

Pastor: He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work.  He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate— bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart.
Congregation Speaks: Thou burning sun with golden beam.  Thou silver moon with softer gleam.  O praise Him, O praise Him

 

Pastor: The trees of the LORD are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. There the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the pine trees.
Congregation Sings:

 All creatures of our God and King

Lift up your voice and with us sing

O praise Him, alleluia

Thou burning sun with golden beam

Thou silver moon with softer gleam

O praise Him, O praise Him

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

 

Pastor: The high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the coneys.  The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down.
Congregation Speaks:  Thou rushing wind that art so strong.  Ye clouds that sail in heaven along.  O praise Him, alleluia.

 

Pastor: You bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God.
Congregation Speaks:  Thou rising moon in praise rejoice.  Ye lights of evening find a voice.  O praise Him, O praise Him.

 

Pastor: The sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. Then man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening.
Congregation Sings:

Thou rushing wind that art so strong

Ye clouds that sail in heav’n along

O praise Him, alleluia

Thou rising moon in praise rejoice

Ye lights of evening find a voice

O praise Him, O praise Him

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia

 

 

Pastor:  How many are your works, O LORD! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures.  There is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number— living things both large and small.
Congregation Speaks:  Let all things their Creator bless.  And worship Him in humbleness.  O praise Him, alleluia.

 

Pastor: There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.   These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things.
Congregation Speaks: Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son.  And praise the Spirit, Three in One.  O praise Him, O praise Him.

 

Pastor: When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.  When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.
Congregation Sings:

Let all things their Creator bless

And worship Him in humbleness

O praise Him, alleluia

Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son

And praise the Spirit, Three in One

O praise Him, O praise Him

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

Benediction Introduction


Benediction Introduction

At the conclusion of worship, before the Pastor says his blessing, consider having a Lay person read an introduction to this very special blessing. As parishioners, we hear this so often that we tend to forget its importance and meaning. Its helpful every now and then to reminded of “why we do the things we do in worship.”

One of the great miracles of life is that God pays attention to us – each one of us. In a moment Pastor is going to announce that the very God that we’ve been worshiping and singing songs to all morning, will turn His face toward us, to make His face shine on us and to give us peace. If you think about it, to turn your face toward someone is to give that person your whole-hearted and undivided attention. This is God basically telling us that we matter to Him and that we are important to Him. It is not the casual listening of a preoccupied mind. It’s God saying to us: “I have nothing else that I’d rather do, nowhere else I’d rather be. I’m fully devoted to being with you– right now, in this house of worship, and after having heard you worship me.” In Pastor’s blessing, this is the kind of attention that our Creator God lavishes on us.

But it gets even better than this. God not only turns his face towards us but He lets His glorious and holy face shine on us. This shinning face is an image of delight. It is the face of a proud parent beaming while a child plays her first piano recital. It is the radiant face of a bride as she walks the isle to her groom. We can turn our face and pay attention to anyone, with little effort. But our faces shine, and gleams, and grows radiant only in the presence of those we love most deeply. And this, says the Benediction, is how God loves us, and how God pays attention to us.

Can we top this “attention” and this “love?” Yes, it goes one step further. God gives us peace, the type of peace that transcends our understanding. The peace with God that comes from Christ and what He accomplished for us on the cross, as well as the peace in our souls to know we are right with God because of Jesus. The type of peace that makes us children of God and brothers and sisters with each other. We have found peace, because He is our peace.

So get ready people: it’s about to happen. This awesome God is about to give you His undivided attention and make His face shine on you, and give you his peace. Let’s listen now as Pastor lifts his arms in praise of this incredible God and bestows on each one of us God’s abundant blessings.

Credits: Some of the above text comes from the book “Love Beyond Reason” by John Ortberg.

Layered Scripture Reading


The beauty of this reading is the fact that its’ God word, but also, it uses three readers where there is an overlap between parts.  This is a nice affect that really draws attention to the Word.  It is helpful to practice this technique with your readers before the service.

Introduction: There are many references throughout God’s Word to the creation account. They remind us of the greatness and power of our God, while at the same time they prompt us to give him deserved praise for his goodness and wisdom. Our next reading will bring together three different sections of Scripture that will further serve to underscore the greatness of our Creator Lord. We now hear words taken from John, chapter 1, Colossians, chapter 1, and Revelation, chapter 4.

Pastor: In the beginning was the Word,
Pastor & Reader 1: and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
Reader 1: He was with God in the beginning.
Reader 1 & Reader 2: Through him all things were made;
Reader 2: without him nothing was made that has been made.
Reader 2 & Pastor: In him was life, and that life was the light of men.
Pastor: He is the image of the invisible God,
Pastor & Reader 1: the firstborn over all creation.
Reader 1: For by him all things were created:
Reader 1 & Reader 2: things in heaven and on earth,
Reader 2: visible and invisible,
Reader 2 & Pastor: whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;
Pastor: all things were created by him and for him.
Pastor & Reader 1: He is before all things,
Reader 1: and in him all things hold together.
Reader 1 & Reader 2: And he is the head of the body, the church;
Reader 2: he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
Reader 2 & Pastor: so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Pastor: For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
Pastor & Reader 1: You are worthy, our Lord and God,
Reader 1: to receive glory and honor and power,
Reader 1 & Reader 2: for you created all things,
Reader 2: and by your will they were created and have their being.

Note – all scripture text is from the NIV (Zondervan Publishing)

God is !!! – A Dramatic Call to Worship


Call to Worship:

Instructional Note: This is a dramatic reading involving four readers.  Each reader is to place a special emphasis on the words “is” and “will” when underlined.  The scripture references are not to be recited and are for reference only.

 

PASTOR: God is!

 

READER 1: (Deut. 4:24)

the Lord your God is a consuming fire

 

READER 2: (Deut. 4:31)

the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your forefathers, which he confirmed to them by oath.

 

READER 3: (Deut. 7:9)

Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.

 

READER 1: God is!

 

PASTOR: For the Lord your God is “God of gods” and “Lord of lords,” the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. (Deut. 10:17)

 

READER 2: my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation.  He is my stronghold, my refuge and my savior–(2 Samuel 22:3)

 

READER 3: “God is exalted in his power.  Who is a teacher like him? (Job 36:22)

 

READER 2: God is!

 

READER 1: The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.  He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (Psalm 18:2)

 

READER 3: God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.  Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. (Psalm 46:1-3)

 

PASTOR: For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. (Psalm 47:7)

 

READER 3: God is!

 

READER 1: Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. (Psalm 62:8 )  

 

PASTOR: For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless. (Psalm 84:11)

 

READER 2: The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save.  He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zeph. 3:17)

 

PASTOR: God is!

 

READER 1: And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Cor. 9:8 )

 

READER 2: This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)

 

READER 3: And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.  God is love.  Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

 

All Four together: God is!

 

Congregational Response to the “God Is” – Call to Worship

 

Leader:            God is present!

All:                  God is present among us.

Leader: God’s presence is with us whether or not we are aware of it, whether or not we feel it, whether or not we believe it.  God was here before we arrived, so we do not have to ask for God to be present.  We simply have to awaken to the one who was, who is, and who will always be.

 

(Moment of Silence)

 

Leader:            God seeks us!

All:                  God seeks us and loves us.

Leader:  God seeks us and loves us whether or not we are aware of it, whether or not we feel it, whether or not we believe it.  God sought after us and loved us before we even knew and loved Him.  So we do not have to ask God to accept us and love us.

We simply have to awaken, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to the love that was, that is, and that will always be.

 

(Moment of Silence)

 

Leader:            God cares!

All:                  God cares about us.

Leader: All our problems are known to God, all our pains are known to God, all our faults are forgiven by God, and all our concerns are understood by God.  We are not alone.  So now, we awaken ourselves to the presence of God, so good, so kind, so holy, so just, so powerful, so real, so near, so here.

 

All:                  We lay all our problems at the foot of the cross.

 

(Moment of Silence)

 

Leader:            The light of Christ shines upon us!

 

All:                  Amen and Hallelujah!

 

Credit: The first portion of this post came from http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/

Other portions were inspired by the works of Brian McLaren

Note – all scripture text is from the NIV (Zondervan Publishing)

 

Amazing Grace Intro Reading


Cover of "John Newton: Author of "Am...
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This is an introduction to be read by the worship leader prior to singing the hymn.

John Newton, the writer of the hymn “Amazing Grace” was, at one point in his life, “the worst of sinners.”  He personally ruined over 20,000 lives selling 20,000 young Africans; that’s 20,000 people created by God, in His image, and Newton sold them like cattle into a life of unending slavery.  He never knew their names, never cared to know their names, in fact history tells us that Newton simply referred to them all as “grunts.”  Newton was guilty for grievous crimes against humanity.  But God used this man to change the course of History.  John Newton was lost; but now He’s found, He was blind; but now He sees.  Newton was writing about himself.  Newton was the wretch.  He came full circle.  This is a story of one man coming to faith, renouncing the life that he once served.

 

You may have come here this morning thinking that you’re sins are unforgivable.  This may be the first time that you’ve been in a church for over 10 years.  On Good Friday, some 2000 years ago, a Roman soldier plunged a sword into the side of a dying innocent man.  In fact, this innocent man was God himself.  Quite a sin you must be thinking, right?  But guess what covered that sharp tipped sword when it was removed from Jesus’ side.  It was literally covered by the blood of Jesus.  I don’t know if that Roman soldier ever came to faith in Jesus; but if He did, that sin was covered and paid for in full.  It’s amazing grace!

 

My chains are gone.  I’ve been set free.  My God, my Savior has ransomed me.  And like a flood, His mercy reigns, unending love, amazing grace.  (Chris Tomlin; lyrics to “Amazing Grace – My Chains are Gone)

Some of the text in this reading are from the major motion picture “Amazing Grace”.

A Toolbox for Worship Leaders, Pastors and Musicians

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