Hospitality During Lent

51jqA1iRe4LLent can be a difficult time to engage in hospitality. Perhaps you agonize over what to give up for the season. Should I drop Facebook or shut down Netflix, or both? Should I fast from certain kinds of food or food altogether? If you’re like me, this decision sneaks up so fast, there is no time to agonize before Lent is upon you and you keep saying, “Let me think about this for a few more days.” But once a decision is made you find yourself in the company of others. This company may be observing Lent, too, but remembering Jesus’ admonition not to appear to be fasting when you fast (Matt 6:16-18), you don’t disclose the fact. This can be tough, especially when you’re invited to someone’s home on Friday when they are serving meat and dairy.  Continue reading

Sunday, September 7, 2014

prodigalson

Psalm 149
Exodus 12:1-14
Matthew 18:15-20
Romans 13:8-14

Community life can be a wonderful experience. At its best, each member benefits all others and all others benefit each member. Fellowship among believers is only possible when we see and treat one another as Christ has seen and treats us. This week’s gospel passage addresses the difficult reality that community life is not always peaceful. Directly after Jesus gives these instructions he tells the parable of the unforgiving servant. Jesus tells us how to handle such a servant in verses 15-20. The presence of witnesses is for the purpose of “establishing a word.” When multiple members of a community hear one party say on thing, that party is accountable to those witnesses. Otherwise, arguments can go on forever. The community of Christ should be characterized by the same love that reconciled us to God. The morning’s selections are all focused on this love and peace. Let us prayerfully join with one another in humility as we celebrate this love and seek love and forgiveness from one another.

Robbie Seay Band and the Psalms

At Christ Community Church, we’ve been experimenting with singing the Psalms over the past year or so. We’ve run the gamut from gospel to chant (within the same Psalm). We’ve drawn from a number of resources and traditions and we continue to explore the rich tradition of singing the psalter.

Recently I learned that worship leader/recording artist Robbie Seay had embarked on a Psalms project that I think may be worth checking out. It is a very contemporary approach to singing the Psalms. While he doesn’t include the entirety of a Psalm, the compositions are rooted in a particular Psalm. When we read and memorize portions of Scripture, this is often how we do it. We find a verse or short passage that we find meaningful. These selections are great ways to let God’s word seep into our hearts and breathe from our lungs.

The project consists of three EPs, the second of which has just been released. They are raising support through Kickstarter to fund the third collection. Volumes one and two can be purchased on iTunes. Below is their Kickstarter video.

 

Sunday, May 25, 2014 | Eastertide

Psalm 66:8–20
Acts 17:22–31
John 14:15–21
1 Peter 3:13–22

As we near the end of the easter season we approach the great celebration of Pentecost. The gospel does not end with the resurrection but continues to see Christ ascend into heaven that he might send the Holy Spirit to be his presence and comfort for his children. Jesus makes this promise in this week’s gospel passage. As a response, we will sing the Getty’s hymn, Holy Spirit. This prayer illustrates the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the lives of all Christians. We will then sing Humble by Audrey Assad. This will remind us of the great cost ofChrist’s incarnation and even alludes to the Acts passage as it references the “Unknown God” who “holds our world in his hands.” We will close the service out with the song we learned last week, “All to Us.” The end of our service is a sort of “sending out.” This song is a prayer sung by the Church and is asking that as we go about the world we would be known for our love of Jesus, the glory of his name, and the righteousness we possess in him. The service will begin with “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” as our call to worship.

Sunday, May 18, 2014 | Eastertide

Easter-Sunday

Psalm 31:1–5, 15–16
Acts 7:55–60
John 14:1–14
1 Peter 2:2–10

This morning’s Psalm puts us in mind of Christ as he is on the cross. We can imagine ourselves where he is. Because of him we are righteous and our enemy the Devil stands about to accuse us. We are like children who stumble in the night to get in bed with mom and dad to seek shelter and safety. Our heavenly Father is our safety, our stronghold, our fortress. We begin our service with “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” We are then reminded of the words of comfort Jesus speaks to his disciples: I go to prepare a place for you. Fittingly we will sing “That Where I Am, There You May Also Be” by Rich Mullins. The next hymn, “In Christ Alone,” covers the breadth of the gospel. Philip asks if he can see the Father and Jesus tells him that if he can see him, he has seen the Father. Understanding that Christ and the Father are one is important to understanding the breadth of the gospel. He is sufficient because he and the Father are one! This language is echoed in John 17 when Jesus prays for the unity of the church. We will learn a new song called “All to Us” by Matt Maher, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and Jesse Reeves. This song is about our unity and how it glorious the Bride of Christ really is.

Sunday, March 30, 2014 | Lent 4

Psalm 23
1 Samuel 16:1-13
John 9:1-41
Ephesians 5:8-14

When tuning an instrument, two strings are sounded and one is matched to the other. The more in-tine the stings, the less dissonance one hears. The less in-tune, the dissonance increases. In John 8, Jesus calls the Pharisees sons of Satan because they do Satan’s will. They are dissonant with God’s perfect will. Jesus, on the other hand, is perfectly in-tune with the Father. The blind man’s confession in 9:31-33 is an acknowledgement of 1) God’s power, and 2) his healer’s consistency with that power. Before Jesus heals him, he says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus’ ministry is a constant display of the will of the Father. It is only by him that we can know the tone by which all notes are tuned.

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Sunday, March 31, 2014 | Lent 4

Psalm 23
1 Samuel 16:1-13
John 9:1-41
Ephesians 5:8-14

When tuning an instrument, two strings are sounded and one is matched to the other. The more in-tine the stings, the less dissonance one hears. The less in-tune, the dissonance increases. In John 8, Jesus calls the Pharisees sons of Satan because they do Satan’s will. They are dissonant with God’s perfect will. Jesus, on the other hand, is perfectly in-tune with the Father. The blind man’s confession in 9:31-33 is an acknowledgement of 1) God’s power, and 2) his healer’s consistency with that power. Before Jesus heals him, he says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Jesus’ ministry is a constant display of the will of the Father. It is only by him that we can know the tone by which all notes are tuned.
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Sunday, March 23, 2014 | Lent 3

Lent-3

Psalm 95
Exodus 17:1-7
John 4:5-42
Romans 5:1-11

This week’s text is the passage about Jesus’ discussion with the Samaritan woman. On the heals of last week’s passage in John 3, this week we continue to consider water. Jesus first asks for water and then offers water. In the first instance, he lacks water, in the second, he abounds in it. The woman has access to physical water but not to the living water Jesus speaks of. Just as Nicodemus, the teacher of Israel, could not appreciate or see the need for living water, neither could the half-gentile sinner. Yet, Jesus offers this living water to her.

The New Testament reading will be followed by “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.” “…behold I freely give…” the hymn says, “…the living water, thirsty one, stoop down, and drink, and live.” This will be followed by “Come, All Ye Pining.” It is appropriate during Lent to consider the poverty Christ subjected himself to and understand that despite this poverty He had an abundance to give. May we continue to rely on Him for our continued sustenance in this life. We will open with “Crown Him with Many Crowns,” and will be sent out with the Crown and Covenant Psalter’s Psalm 121D, “I Lift My Eyes and See the Hills.”

All the Saints | CentricWorship

It seems like there have been a lot of EPs released lately. Here is one I ran across recently that I am loving. It’s called “All the Saints” and was released by CentricWorship. The production on this release is live and simple. Recorded at a retreat with a congregation of worship leaders (which explains the beautiful congregational harmonies), there is an honesty that is rare among recent live worship albums. The instrumentation is acoustic and so right up my alley. Many of the tracks are based on familiar hymns. Unlike many similar approaches, I think these guys do it tastefully and well. Take a listen.