Yesterday was a powerful day at WFPC. I need to wait another 24-hours before I write about some of it, but this morning I can share one story and a couple of prayers.
(The above view of the congregation – and the next – comprise a unique perspective for me. I was helping lead worship and had my iPhone camera peek out from behind my hymnbook!)
THE MIRACLE: More on that later. But first – during the 9:00 Praise Service – Rebekah experienced one of those “all preachers have nightmares about this happening” moments. God, however, used it for good and the moment demonstrated – once again – how what’s happening around here has so little to do with us, and is so much about the work of the Holy Spirit.
Here’s the short story:
- Rebekah puts her sermon in the pulpit.
- Someone else uses the pulpit to make an announcement.
- Announcement person gathers ALL the papers on the podium along with their own.
- Later in the service, the preacher steps into pulpit to deliver the sermon, only to discover that it is gone!
Rebekah uses a manuscript. She may deviate all over the place, and extemporize frequently, but the manuscript is always in play… Except, that is, when it’s not in the building!
So Rebekah prayed, asked the congregation to pray for her, said, “I remember the opening story,” took a deep breath, and then launched. God took over from there. What followed was an inspirational message that reminded all of us exactly what goes on in worship. We offer our praise, our gifts, our abilities, our resources – our WHOLE selves – to God, and we lay it all at the feet of Jesus.
We offer our praise, our gifts, our abilities, our resources – our WHOLE selves – to God, and we lay it all at the feet of Jesus.
That’s our opportunity. That’s our joy. It just so happened that Rebekah, with the unintentional help of another leader in the church, offered a perfect illustration of what can happen when we give it all – everything that we are and hope to be – into the hands of God.
11:15: Then, at the second service, I was asked to serve as “liturgist.” That means I got to be up front, and lead the congregation in the call to worship, the confession, and the passing of the peace. I also offered the opening “Prayer of Praise and Adoration” and also the dedication prayer for tithes and offerings.
Here they are. I’m sharing the prayers, humbly, as a liturgy for my on-line friends at the beginning of a new week:
Prayer of praise and adoration: Holy and eternal God, author of all life; The One whose existence transcends the limitations of time, space, creation and reason; we stand in your presence this morning in gratitude and in awe.
We could not begin to imagine approaching your holiness with any assurance of personal safety outside the covering of the forgiving love you have given to us through your son, Jesus.
So here we are, full to overflowing with gratitude, wide-eyed with anticipation, and bursting with joy.
Fill this place, Lord, with the refreshing presence of your Spirit; warm our hearts, Holy Spirit, with a fresh experience of your peace; overwhelm each worshiper, Savior, with the compelling truth of the Gospel of Love; inspire us, Jesus, to carry your ministry of grace, peace, purpose and promise into the world where you have called us to serve.
We raise our hands in adoration, and we bow our heads in reverence and praise. AMEN!
Prayer of Dedication (Offertory): Thank you so much, God, for your generous, over-the-top love. All we can do in response is to be that kind of a church – over-the-top in generosity, nothing held back when it comes to carrying the Gospel of Love into this broken world.
May our offerings reflect the extent to which we are transformed by your Grace. Please take these loaves and fishes, multiply them, and use Wake Forest Presbyterian church to change this world for Jesus! AMEN