Call to worship 1 Chronicles 16:29–34 (3 minute mark)
Prayer: Lord, we are living in a difficult world. We often think it is worse today then ever before. I ask for your help to have your perspective on things. This moment is a time to withdraw from the distractions of life and to contemplate words, music thoughts and most of all to be open to listen to your Spirit. Give us that privilege. When we are done here enable us to be your servants through Jesus Christ the risen Lord. Amen.
Scripture John 20:19-31 (2:24 minute mark)
I choose to introduce you to a new concept. For some you have followed the church year all your life. Some of you may not even know it exists.
If you are a part of the Orthodox and Reformed traditions it will no doubt be second nature to you. For those in what are called the more free church traditions you may have been led to think that following the church year in some way kills your freedom to hear from the Spirit! My friends, I have sarcoidosis. I have been brain damaged! I have taken enough prednisone in my life to fill a cement truck! I need all the help I can get to concentrate and stay focused. The church year has been a gift to me!
Now here is the special part. Historically a bunch of people got together and said we want to guarantee your freedom to read the Bible and meet Jesus, His Spirit and see the powerful works of God! Here is the opportunity to see for yourself. The church year allows you to journal and experience the catechism in your own words.
So today I invite you to read the following passages of scripture.
Along the side of each passage write down the first thought that grabs you, a thought that leaves you wanting to know more about God’s ways. Then decide to share this with a friend, a family member, someone you have decided to partner with online and tell each other what is so special to you. Journal it. Each week keep your journal. As you do this you will be building an understanding of how God works in the world and in your life.
This journal concept started because a group of adults were afraid they could not teach children about the faith. So the table was turned around. The adult then sat with a child but the child was asked to teach the adult. Some exciting things happened. Just watch this clip and see what happens when people are encouraged to risk a little bit. Oh Happy Day Even though this clip was not a real situation the spirit of it depicts situations happening in so many places. People, children today are coming up with some remarkable understandings of the faith. Music, the arts, social concerns, activities all generated because an environment of creativity and ownership of faith is being nurtured. The life and teachings of Jesus Christ are being tested against multiple realities. Just like the resurrection a new presentation of life is rising. Children and adults alike are breaking out of the “box.” They are understanding Jesus is Lord. Jesus lives in our lives and desires to see us rise above lost expectations
This understanding of the catechism is not about learning a dogma. It is about discovering the words of faith. It is about seeing the words of faith arise out of our life experiences. As we accept the invitation to participate in learning, as we accept the opportunity to discover faith, we discover, that Jesus is Lord. A young man named Jotta- has a real story to show us.
Please read out loud these words from I Peter 1:3-9
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’d power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith-of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire-may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.