Here is the presentation given on October 31, 2021, by Darren and Gwen Allen about their ministry in Guatemala:
The Theme of Our Worship
This past Sunday, we had a little bit of a technological snafu, and I thought it might be helpful to explain what was going on. Somehow, the responsive reading that appeared on our screen was the reading from the previous Sunday, not the psalm that was intended for this Sunday’s service. When we discovered the mix-up, Heather offered to lead the reading as it appeared on the screen – from Psalm 34:15-22. But I knew that Psalm 146 was the correct reading for the day, and that it was printed out (like normal) for Heather to read from the pulpit. So I asked her to read the entire psalm aloud by herself, thus nullifying the “responsive” part of this week’s responsive reading.
When we worship together, content is more important than form. What we sing, read, pray, and communicate is more important than the way in which we do it. I would much rather change a responsive reading into reading done by one person, rather than have everybody involved in reading something that doesn’t quite fit into the flow of the service.
You see, our services at Mt. Haley are carefully designed to move from one item to the next, always with a central theme in mind. Each week, when I plan the service, I sit down with the scripture texts for the day. Those usually (but not always) come from the “lectionary,” a structured way of working through the whole Bible, which is used by many different Christian groups around the world. I sit with those passages and consider what they have in common, what kind of theme they suggest for us to experience together in worship. With that theme in mind, I then select songs and the “between-song” scripture verses, so that the entire service is, more or less, about that particular theme.
For example, this past Sunday was all about “Jesus the healer.” The sermon text, Mark 7:24-37, tells two stories of Jesus healing different people. The reading from Isaiah 35:3-7 is an ancient prophecy of the Messiah who would come and bring healing to the blind, the deaf, the lame, and the mute. The songs we sang reminded us of Jesus’s ability to bring healing in all areas of life: physical, spiritual, emotional, and so on. Through his sacrificial death and resurrection, Jesus gives us abundant life even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
So our responsive reading, which came very early in the service, needed to set the tone for the rest of the service. We needed to hear Psalm 146 proclaim its ancient truth:
God “upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry. The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous. The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.” (Psalm 146:7-9 NIV)
All of this is to remind you that our worship services are not cobbled together by accident. Each service has a theme, a guiding principle, something that draws together every piece of what we do. That theme is printed in the bulletin at the beginning of the service. Just this morning, Stacy (our wonderful secretary) had the idea to include the theme on the electronic presentations that run before the service, both in the sanctuary and in the narthex. That way, you will have more opportunities to see the theme of the day and to begin thinking and praying about it, even as you get settled in your seat in the sanctuary.
I hope this helps you to worship at Mt. Haley. Worship is one of the most important things we do as a community of faith! Thanks for being part of this experience with us.
What to Expect This Sunday, 2/21
Expect to meet with God. Anticipate an audience with the Almighty. Prepare yourself for an encounter with the one who loves you … and who emptied himself so that you might live abundantly.
This Sunday’s theme is “belonging to God’s family.” In Christ, our deepest needs and desires for belonging and acceptance are met!
- Welcome/Announcements: We review our upcoming schedule and important events.
- Prayer: We welcome God’s presence in our midst as we begin our worship.
- “Blessed Be Your Name”: We lift our voices in praise to God – no matter what our present circumstances are.
- Responsive Reading – Psalm 27: We recite together the ancient words: “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?”
- “Whom Shall I Fear?”: We sing, in response to scripture, this affirmation of God’s provision for us – because he loves us as his children.
- Offering: Out of thankfulness and praise, we give our very selves to the Lord, symbolized by the tithes and offerings we place in the offering plate.
- “The Family of God”: We continue in a mode of thanksgiving by celebrating the truth that we have been brought into God’s family, through Jesus.
- Missions Moment: We take a moment to review our involvement in missions activities around the world. God’s family is quite large indeed!
- “Facing a Task Unfinished”: We unite with thousands of churches around the world who will sing this song this Sunday as well. It’s a song of commitment to the unfinished work of sharing the love of Jesus with everyone around us.
- Prayer: We lift our praises and concerns to God, who cares for our every need.
- “Be Still and Know”: We remember, in song, that God’s desire for us is simply to rest, to know that he is God.
- Special Music: We contemplate the goodness of being in God’s presence while we listen to a special selection presented by one of our members.
- Scripture Reading – Philippians 3:17-4:1: This passage teaches us to eagerly await our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the eternal life which he promises us.
- Scripture Reading – Luke 13:31-35: In this sermon text, Jesus compares himself to a mothering hen who only desires to draw her chicks to herself for protection, love, and life. Yet those chicks are unwilling…
- Message – “Poured Out: Empty Nest”: This second week of Lent has us thinking about how Jesus poured himself out for all people, even though the people around him did not respond favorably to him at the time.
- “Just As I Am, Without One Plea”: We respond to God by presenting ourselves to him, without apology or modification, so that he might draw us under his sheltering wing and give us life.
Come and worship with us!
What to Expect This Sunday, February 14
This Sunday is Valentine’s Day. Will our service be all about love? Nope. This is the first Sunday in the season of Lent. We will begin to follow Jesus on his journey to the cross.
The theme this Sunday is “finding our home in God’s presence.” Being rooted in our relationship with God is what helps us make sense of our lives and the world around us. “Home” is a powerful concept, a metaphor for all that is (or should be) right, safe, true, and lasting in our lives. It is in the presence of God that we can find our best and most perfect home. Continue reading
What to Expect This Sunday, February 7
This Sunday is called “Transfiguration Sunday.” It’s the day on which we remember the amazing transfiguration of Jesus while he was praying. What if we had a face-to-face encounter with the living God? Continue reading
What to Expect on Sunday, January 24
This Sunday, we will celebrate the truth that all creation praises God. This will help us to see God more clearly, and consequently we can see ourselves more appropriately too. Come and worship Christ with us! Here is what to expect in the worship service: Continue reading
What to Expect This Sunday, January 10
Happy New Year! On this second Sunday of January, we will worship the Lord in song and through scripture:
- Welcome/Announcements: We take care of the business of the church.
- Opening Prayer: We invite God to be attentive to our worship of him.
- “Whom Shall I Fear?”: We sing a song of praise that reminds us that God is always right by our side.
- Responsive Reading (Psalm 29): We recite an ancient song that celebrates the power of God and the peace that he gives his people.
- “God of Wonders”: We continue in praise by worshiping the Lord of heaven and earth.
- Offering: We give our tithes and offerings as an act of thanksgiving to our almighty Lord.
- “Victory in Jesus”: We sing a song of testimony, because the power of God transforms our lives!
- Scripture Reading (Isaiah 43:1-7): The Old Testament prophet reminds us that God loves us and is always with us.
- “Wonderful Peace”: This hymn of reflection speaks of the peace we have because God is with us.
- Scripture Reading (Luke 3:15-17, 21-22): In this gospel reading, John the Baptist points the way to Jesus and then baptizes Jesus.
- “Open My Eyes That I May See”: As a response to the glory revealed at Jesus’s baptism, we prepare for prayer by asking God to open our eyes to see Jesus, too.
- Prayer: We lift up our requests before the ever-present, ever-loving Lord.
- Special Music: Our faithful piano player Deann Smith will present an instrumental offering of worship to the Lord.
- Message: Our guest preacher for the day will be Pastor Jim Shanks, a good friend of ours from Eagle Ridge Church of God.
- “Consecration”: We close the service by consecrating ourselves to the Lord’s service.
- Benediction: We depart in peace, knowing that Christ goes with us everywhere we go.
Come and worship!
What to Expect This Sunday, December 27
Happy Christmas Eve! Soon we will gather to celebrate the birth of Jesus, our Savior. Here is a preview of our Sunday morning service, so you can prepare yourself for this encounter with the living Messiah.
- Welcome/Announcements: We take care of the business of the church.
- Prayer: We acknowledge God’s presence among us and invite him to be attentive to our worship.
- “Angels We Have Heard on High”: We celebrate the birth of Jesus with this carol: Glory to God in the highest!
- “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing”: We continue in praise of our newborn King.
- Christ’s Birthday Observance Offering: We give a special offering to honor the birth of Jesus. This offering supports national and international ministries of the Church of God.
- “This Little Light of Mine”: We join in singing this spiritual as we give our special offering.
- Responsive Reading (Psalm 148): We praise the Lord by reading a psalm of praise together.
- “Jesus Messiah”: In song we adore Jesus, the one who became our righteousness: love so amazing!
- Scripture Reading (Isaiah 61:10-62:3): We hear an ancient text that inspires us to sing praise to God in our souls.
- Scripture Reading (Luke 2:22-40): The sermon text calls us to center our thoughts on an encounter with the newborn Jesus.
- Message (“Give Thanks to God”): Mary and Joseph brought young Jesus to the Temple, where he was greeted by Simeon and Anna. We reflect together on this marvelous story.
- “Come, Share the Lord”: We sing this song to prepare ourselves to meet Jesus face to face.
- The Lord’s Supper: This is the highlight of the service. In the bread and cup, we meet our crucified and risen Savior. This is a mystery – but it’s one that we share with each other with eyes wide open.
- Offering: We give our regular tithes and offerings to the Lord, in response to the gift he has given us: life with him.
- “You Have Been Given”: We sing this chorus to prepare ourselves for prayer.
- Prayer: We lift up our praises and petitions before the Lord.
- Special: We hear a story from one of our dear, elderly saints.
- “Good Christians, Now Rejoice”: We sing this carol to remind ourselves of our call to rejoice in the Lord always.
- Benediction: We receive a blessing as we depart, changed forever by this encounter with the living Jesus.
What to Expect This Sunday, December 20
What to Expect This Sunday, December 13
Our worship services are planned carefully and thoughtfully. I (Pastor David) take a couple of hours each Monday morning to plan the next Sunday’s worship service. Each week I have a theme or an idea in mind, and my hope is that the theme or idea is conveyed and experienced by everyone in the worship service. But I am realizing that may not always be the case.
So each week I hope to give you a little description of the structure of our upcoming worship service, in order that you might have an idea of what to expect and how to prepare yourself spiritually for our weekly encounter with the ever-living God. Continue reading