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“The gospel is entirely a message about what someone else has done not only for me but also for the renewal of the whole creation.” — Michael Horton Jesus is good news for all people. We see it in his incarnation, his atonement, his resurrection. He took up residency here among us and flipped the script on us: the power structures and motivations of his present time didn’t seem to hold sway on him--he lived in an upside down sort of way. He embodied perfection, too; the religious leaders were always trying to corner him on something with no success--he lived at peace with God from the inside out in a sort of way that people were drawn to. He also thought he was rich. No, he was wholeheartedly convinced that the power and glory of his Father was present even though it led him into death. Yes, Jesus lived an inside out, upside down, now but not yet life; he is Lord of us all, and that is good news indeed.CALL TO WORSHIPWe gather as those who were once alienated and hostile to you.Yet now by your death we are reconciled! Thanks be to you, Lord Christ! As those formerly marked by sin and our evil deeds, we come looking for our salvation. In you we are made blameless and pure. You are the good news we’ve been searching for! This gospel is for all, let it be proclaimed to all creation under heaven. Peace has come by the blood of your cross! Come and teach us to sing of this, Lord Christ! PRAYER OF CONFESSIONFather, we’re experts at making up religion, creating requirements and dos and don’ts for ourselves and the rest of the world. We’ve grown convinced that our rules for saving humanity are worth holding onto.Come and save us from our self-sufficiency! May we taste a sweeter salvation and trust in you for life.We’ve preferred our own efforts at depriving our flesh and doing good to the story of your Son becoming man and dying for the sins of the world.Come and give us ears to hear the glorious news: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again!We confess the ways we’ve grown dull to this story, forgetting its power, doubting its reality.Come and make us like children, eager to trust you and giddy at the chance to share in you. Grant us faith to hope in these things and to offer them to the worl
On Good Friday we reflect on the day Jesus willingly suffered and died by crucifixion as the ultimate sacrifice for our sins.CALL TO WORSHIPWhat we wanted was simple:A political revolutionThe payment of our billsThe fixing of our oh so mundane problemsA genie and a self help bookEatPrayLoveInstead He gave a crossTwo unlikely pieces of wood And a man to hang thereA crown of thornsThe king of Jews With a kingdom unseen, untouchedSo quickly did we give Him upStill give Him upAbandoned the man who came to testify to the TruthA Truth that gets stuck in our throatsCatches in our mouthsWe can barely comprehend itStruggle to say itFail to believe itWe heap blameWith Stockholm syndrome we prefer our cage Like babies we are dependent on Him to feed us Yet used the breath He gave us to find Him superfluousBut it is finished. Pierced feet, pierced handsThe blood-stained son of man Who traded his perfection for our sinHis righteousness for our selfishness And these two unlikely pieces of woodBecome a symbol of his sacrifice A picture of what love looks likeMore painful than we can bare to witnessSo real it stirs our hearts within usIt is that blood-stained son of manWho traded his perfection for our sinWe have no need for genies.   CreditsCall to Worship - Cassandra FowlerJohn 18:1-19:42 - Acacia BerginReflection on Good Friday - David MacKay"Kingdom's Kin" - written by Kaitlyn KleffmanBenediction - Wes Oaksmusic mixed & mastered by Alec Watsonproduced at edited by David MacKay
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” — Jesus of Nazareth, Christ the King Our world is broken. Nothing holds together. Everything dies. The order and authority that we struggle to impose on this fractured reality amount to temporary band-aids, at best. More often, our efforts to fix the mess only make matters worse. Nevertheless, God so loved this world that he sent his Son into its mire. And Jesus humbled himself, entering even the most devastated quarters of this burned out place. He bore the shame of sin, heard the lies of Satan, and knew the darkness of death. Yet, he did not enter these things only to endure them. He entered to defeat them. Jesus undid the power of shame. He crushed the head of Satan. And he flooded the black of death with light. Jesus imposed order and authority in ways we cannot. For there is only one true King. And his kingdom is boundless.CALL TO WORSHIPHe is risen!He is risen indeed!The Lord our God, the God of all nations, has conquered sin and death.Blessed are those people whose God is the Lord!May all kings bow down before him, may all people praise his name.Blessed be his glorious name forever, may the whole earth be filled with his glory!The heavens and earth are his, as all things were created in Him.Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things!Justice and righteousness are the foundation of his throne. Steadfast love and faithfulness go before Him.Holy is He, the Lord, giver of Life! He is our Redeemer and King! PRAYER OF CONFESSIONHoly Redeemer, we stand before you a broken people, in need of healing and rescue. Born of sin, we are in darkness.Lord, bring us your Light. Rescue us from our broken selves and this broken place.Even in our need of rescue, we worship other gods and kneel to earthly kings. Forgetting who is our true Savior.Lord, we are not worthy to receive you.Often, we forget the pain of the cross, and the sacrifice of Christ's perfect life for ours.Lord, we are not worthy to receive you.We are like a breath, our days like a passing shadow. But you are the Giver of Life, the Creator of all things.Lord, say the Word and we shall be healed.You Lord are the Redeemer, the Giver of Life, our great rescue. You have conquered death and sin once and for all, giving your only Son, so that we may become your children also. Remind us of this truth, on Easter and every day. We stand in awe of your goodness and love – thankful for the gift of your Son, Jesus.Holy is he, the Lord, giver of Life! He is our Redeemer and King! He is risen indeed!
“I think it would be well, and proper, and obedient, and pure, to grasp your one necessity and not let it go, to dangle from it limp wherever it takes you. ” — Annie Dillard From the moment of his Transfiguration, Jesus began a journey down from the mountain of glory, toward Jerusalem, and ultimately to the upside down glory of the cross. He flipped the world on its head, demonstrating forever that true divine glory works itself out in the self-sacrifice of love. Jesus was eternally destined for this journey to Jerusalem. He was sent to bring God's love to Zion and establish a heavenly culture there. He entered Jerusalem to great adulation and yet also riding a donkey, foreshadowing both the conquest and humiliation of the cross. In the kingdom of God, conquest is won through humiliation. Jesus achieved his greatest victory by way of his greatest defeat. He was anointed to spend himself in love for the sake of re-creating God's city and redeeming God's people. This anointing covered Jesus from head to toe. And it likewise covers all people who are baptized into his body. In baptism, Christians are anointed to participate in the life and death of Jesus. In baptism, we are anointed to minister redemption through the great gain and loss of love.CALL TO WORSHIPO Lord, in your strength we rejoice, and in your salvation we exult you with praise.You have given life to us, Father. You have placed crowns on our heads and poured out rich blessings upon us.O Lord, you have chosen us as your people and called us your own. You have clothed us with salvation and anointed us with mercy. You have equipped us with strength and secured our feet.Our hearts shout for joy as we consider your steadfast love. Our whole beings rejoice as we look to our rock and our deliverer.Church, let us set the Lord ever before us, for he is good and his throne endures forever and ever.Hosanna, Hosanna to the Lord on high. Praise be to our King.In his presence there is fullness of joy. At his right hand are pleasures forevermore.Hosanna, Hosanna to the Lord on high. Praise be to our King. PRAYER OF CONFESSIONMerciful Father, you have called us your own and secured for us a place to stand. You have delivered us from our own devices and given us a beautiful inheritance.Yet, we stand here today without allegiance or loyalty--choosing to be kings of our own desires, belongings and relationships, instead of kneeling before your holy throne.Forgive us for our ignorance and distrust. Forgive us for our wavering minds and hearts. Give us the strength to call upon your name and the courage to confess our weaknesses to you.Teach us to trust you, Father, for you will answer us when cry for help and deliver us from our enemies. You will fulfill our hearts and save us from our own destruction.The Lord is righteous and just, yet merciful and gentle. He will not abandon us or turn his face from us. He extends his eternal love and grace to us in our time of need and shields us from death. He lightens the darkness that so easily overwhelms us and equips us with his mighty armor.Let these assurances resonate in our souls and dwell in our hearts forever. Hosanna, Hossana to the Lord on high. Praise be to our King.- authored by Allie Watson
“The paradox is that God must destroy in us all illusions of righteousness before he can make us righteous.” — Martin Luther There are objective aspects to our faith and there are subjective aspects to our faith. It is both safe and dangerous. Free and spoken for. The free gift of union with Jesus Christ is not meant to belittle, or make void, the moment by moment mess that is the individual experience of grace. It makes experience safe. It makes experience alive. It makes experience begin and end in the love of our heavenly Father, not a Divine taskmaster. But also dangerous. This union with Christ does not take away from our upward call into glory, rather, the Cross unleashed the very Divine Lifeblood that makes us alive and carries us upward. This Divine Life is Cross shaped, heals through death, saves souls by losing lives. Surrender and be sanctified.
“For years I had instructed students on the different aspects of the spiritual life, trying to help them see the importance of living it. But had I, myself, really ever dared to step into the center, kneel down, and let myself be held by a forgiving God?” — Henri Nouwen Jesus brought divine life into the human story. And he offers this life to all peoples. That means peoples of privileged status in the world have no advantage over marginalized peoples in receiving Christ. In fact, privilege often turns out to be a great disadvantage in receiving a kingdom wherein the last shall be first and receiving a king who came only for the sick, poor, lost, and oppressed. The only means to receive this kingdom and its king is by faith, that is, by empty-handed dependence and trust. This sort of faith is humiliating and dignifying all at the same time -- humiliating in that we must acknowledge our neediness, dignifying in that we are invited to participate in divine life. All who embrace this faith find themselves on equal footing, equally in need, equally beloved. Could this be the great source of solidarity our world craves?CALL TO WORSHIPBrothers and sisters, may the word of the Lord be near you, in your mouth, and in your heart.We proclaim the word of faith.Let every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord.Let every heart believe that God raised him from the dead.For with the heart we believe and are justified. With the mouth we confess and are saved.Let the name of the Lord be proclaimed throughout the world.May the earth know of his power and glory.For the mercy and love of the Lord is infinite, sacrificing his Son for our salvation.Our Lord is a God of great power and great mercy, ruling over all creation.His ways are mysterious and unknowable, but we trust in his word, his wisdom, and his grace.Let us give praise to the One who is righteous, who is God over all, and blessed forever. PRAYER OF CONFESSIONHeavenly Father, we are a people who forget that Christ died for our sins.Each day we strain to earn your love, making much of our good deeds,hoping to make ourselves good enough.We forget that you have done the work, that while we were still sinners you gave us your Son. We try to put you in a box of earthly context,limiting our belief to what we can see and understand.We wonder daily at your actions and question your story.But you are telling a story much larger than ourselves.Lord, give us hearts of faith, that we may rest in the comfort of your wisdom. Remind us, Lord, of your infinite grace and love.That while we see ugliness in the world and commit sins against our neighbors,we can have hope in you.Lord, give us hearts of faith, that we may rest in the arms of your grace.Thank you for the gift of your Son Jesus. His sacrifice is our salvation.For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.
“The more I am in a position to be tried in faith with reference to my body, my family, my service for the Lord, my business, etc., the more shall I have opportunity of seeing God’s help and deliverance; and every fresh instance, in which He helps and delivers me, will tend towards the increase of my faith.” — George Muller The life of faith cannot sidestep torment. The people of God either proclaim his word and suffer mockery and resistance or shut their mouths and suffer the burn of truth unspoken. This is the trap of life with God, to possess what all the world needs yet with no power to pierce deaf ears. As it did with Jeremiah, this trap leads the people of God into a cycle of complaint, trust, petition, and finally praise. But the resolution of praise offers no remedy for the trap of faith. We praise with that trap ever close at hand, remembering God's foretastes of deliverance as signs of hope that a final deliverance will come.
The kids joined us for Palm Sunday, click through to view the video! During this most Holy Week, members of our church have prepared daily meditations on the movements of Christ into death. We invite you to listen and reflect as we prepare for the celebration of new dawn on Easter Sunday.There is no one like Jesus. And his love is ours!CALL TO WORSHIPPeople of God, rejoice! Your King is here! He is Jesus, the true King of Israel!Hosanna to the son of David!Jesus is the promised one, the Savior we have longed for!Hosanna in the highest heaven! Hosanna to Jesus our King!Praise God! He has come! We celebrate and shout for joy to our God!King Jesus, bring Israel to glory! Show us the power of God! Set us free that we may flourish as your people!Gentle and riding a donkey, he comes.We are stirred to worship, for in Jesus we see the ancient words of prophecy fulfilled. We are stirred, for this gentle King brings us hope that a new day is dawning!Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!Come, Lord Jesus! Establish us as your people. May we never seek out another ruler or judge, but ever follow you!Jesus, lead us into your Kingdom. We know you are from God and we delight to call you King. We lay everything before you.May your kingdom come!CreditsCall to Worship - Erin BourneScripture Reading - Avery BerginReflection on Holy Monday - Morgan Gagne"Hosanna" - written by Alec WatsonBenediction - Wes Oaks music mixed & mastered by Alec Watsonproduced at edited by David MacKay
“I scrupulously hide every legitimate reason for people to hate me, and it turns out they don’t need legitimate reasons.” — Rachel Hartman in her novel Seraphina All people are stamped with the divine image and capable of much beauty. But we are also twisted, broken and tied up in knots within ourselves. And this brokenness haunts us. We want so badly to be rid of it that we cover it over with an artificial version of ourselves, an imposter who masquerades as the righteous hero we all wish to be. For those who wear the mask well, the broken soul within is left to sink deeper into insecurity and fear. Who would love me, we wonder, if my greatest flaws were known? Who could embrace such a ruinous person as me? In Psalm 69, the ancient King David is horrified to discover that even his best imposter has failed to secure the love and embrace of those around him. All his acts of righteousness have yielded nothing but reproach. His image now a tattered mess, he is left with only the insecure and weary self that he had sought so fiercely to be rid of. Yet it is that very needy person who discovers the care of God, a tender mercy no mask could provide.CALL TO WORSHIPOh Church, be still;the Lord’s love is steadfast.Oh church, find rest;He hears our needy cries.Oh church, remember;He has always been faithful.Oh church, look up;He is a suffering savior.Oh church, sing with hope.We sing, confident in you. PRAYER OF CONFESSIONLord, we are uncertain, unsure, unable to gain a foothold, and exhausted from trying.We have forgotten our blessed assurance in you. Forgive us, Jesus: we are weak. Let us find rest in you.In our striving for stability we have added insult to injury.We mock your ways and boast of our own wisdom.Forgive us, Jesus: we are weak. Let us depend on you.We have become entrapped in the food and drink, the shelter and clothing, the paychecks and prosperity that you have given us.We are wary of whatever threatens our wealth: we have forgotten your care for the birds and the lilies. Forgive us, Jesus: we are weak. Let us trust in you.We are slow to trust the depth of your suffering and the abundance of your life.We do not believe that very God could be very man, drawing near and bearing the weight of humanity. Forgive us, Jesus: we are weak. Let us lean on you.Jesus, for all we are too weak to carry, you are able to bear the weight. Grow us up into you, that we would learn to work and rest in your strong life.Christ, have mercy on us. It is only by your love and obedience that we dwell in safety.  - authored by
“We would rather be ruined than changedWe would rather die in our dreadThan climb the cross of the momentAnd let our illusions die.” — W.H. Auden We are afraid, all of us. And it is no use pretending otherwise. The stoics who lean hard on such pretense wind up dismantling their souls and cutting off the tender places of the heart until love and mercy wither. That is folly. The alternative is to acknowledge our fear, which is no easy thing. Our fears encircle and overwhelm us. They fester in the soil of our rotting flesh, spawning nausea and panic. And with good reason. Our world threatens loss and exposure and insignificance. We might come to ruin or be found out or maybe even be forgotten. These fears are very real. And faith in God is not a some clever means to help us avoid them. On the contrary, faith in God only forms as the nausea and panic from our fears run their course. In other words, the comfort of faith can only attend the fearful. To deny fear is to reject faith. Jesus shows us a better way. "Join me on the fear-filled road to the cross," he bids us, "and God will meet us there."CALL TO WORSHIP Dear Christian,Though the troubles of this world swirl around you, fear not. Our God is a refuge—a hidden cave in the wilderness.We will hide in You, Lord.Though those in power cause you to quake, fear not. Our God promises that the righteous will not be moved.We will trust in You, Lord.Though the deluge of noise deafens your ears, fear not. Our God hears your voice.We will cry to You, Lord.Though the constant stream of bad news causes you to cover your eyes in horror, fear not. Cast your burdens on Our God, for He will sustain you.We will look to You, Lord."Fear not, for I am with you, be not afraid for I am Your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand."Lord, into your hand we commit our spirits. PRAYER OF CONFESSIONO God, our firm foundation, we tremble in fear. We cover our mouths in horror at the evils around us.Give ear to our prayer, O God!In spending our time studying the forces that have gotten us to where we are now, we have taken our eyes off of you. Now we find ourselves lost in the dark.Hide Yourself not from us!Our bodies are stricken with pain. Our hearts ache over the injustice we see all around us. We do not understand how this is Your plan.We are restless and moaning!Though we are united to Your Son, we do not trust in the completed work of His death.We confess our desire for security over our desire for you. Forgive us.We grumble and complain every hour of the day. Our hearts are weary from carrying the weight of this life.Lord, save us from our faithless worry.Though we are uncertain at every turn, You have said "call upon the Lord, and He will save you."Father, draw us to Jesus. Help us to trust in You. Amen.- authored by David MacKay
“Man by the Fall fell at the same time from his state of innocence and from his dominion over nature. Both of these losses, however, can even in this life be in some part repaired; the former by religion and faith, the latter by the arts and sciences.” — Francis Bacon When Mary Magdalene anointed the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume, many of the onlookers were indignant. After all, her act of adoration was unnecessary, a costly use of resources that might have gone to nobler purposes. But Jesus rebuked this indignation and welcomed his disciple's flourish. In much the same way, artists throughout history are often seen as superfluous, their work an unnecessary luxury. Accordingly, they are often unappreciated. Yet this dismissive attitude cannot undermine the value of artists' work. Jesus himself is pleased with every creative endeavor that celebrates the beauty of his world. Since ultimately, it all celebrates of his Father.CALL TO WORSHIP To all who are caught the world’s narrative of sin and death, turn your eyes heavenward.We turn to God our Father, for our aching hearts need a new story.Your loving Father calls you into his story of love and redemption.We turn to God our Father, for his word is life to us.The word of God is rich and true, may it stir in us a new song.Father, grant us eyes to see the Kingdom of heaven and hearts to treasure it. PRAYER OF CONFESSIONLord, we have valued accomplishment and efficiency, certain that our strategic efforts will amount to something.Forgive us for trusting ourselves as gods.Lord, we have judged for ourselves what is worth our time and what is worthless.Forgive us for trusting our own judgments instead of yours.We have been preoccupied feeding our egos and our comfort. The kingdoms we pour our time and resources into are already crumbling.Forgive us for rejecting your kingdom, and toiling after fleshly rewards.We come humbly before you, our maker and redeemer.We acknowledge that your ways often seem strange to us.We confess that we are blind to so many aspects of your kingdom.Jesus, open the eyes of our hearts.King Jesus, you are attuned to every need, yet still you delight in extravagant beauty.Jesus, may your splendor captivate our hearts.Lord, you even invite us into your kingdom, bidding us taste, see, enjoy!May your loving acceptance eternally satisfy our souls.
“Grace is when God is a source of wholeness, which makes up for my failings. ... It’s God saying, ‘I love the world too much to let your sin define you and be the final word. I am a God who makes all things new.’” — Nadia Bolz-Weber If God simply told the whole world that he was not going to hold us accountable for our sin, that would be cruel and dangerous news. But God has said much more than that. He has told us that he means to cover us in his Son. So yes, he will not hold us accountable for our sin, but only because we are untied to Jesus Christ. This union to Christ certainly spares us from the dreadful cosmic consequences of our sin. And beyond that, it transforms us into the very image of divine life. We cannot receive Jesus as merely a get-out-of-jail-free card. He is not an idea or certificate. He is a person. And when we receive this person, we are caught up into all the fullness of his personhood. In him, our sin can neither condemn us nor enslave us nor define us. In him, our sin is brought to nothing.
“The reason why the world lacks unity, and lies broken and in heaps, is because man is disunited with himself.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson God has filled his world with reflections of himself. And he stamped his very image onto the frame of our humanity. Yet for all this commonality and shared identity in Him, we are perpetually given to divisiveness. We see our differences not as varied pieces in a mosaic of God's image, but rather as opportunities to differentiate ourselves. Each of us holds our particular expression of God's life in highest esteem. And we make threats that if others fail to become more like us, we will reject or abandon them. But it is not sameness that will finally bring us together. It is oil. God anointed His Son in His Spirit, and the oil of that Spirit grew Jesus up into full maturity to move toward impoverished, broken, and even criminal people with healing. And when Jesus poured out that same Spirit of healing on all flesh, people from every tribe and background began to discover a love and forbearance for one another that is nothing less than the fullness of God alive in them. Name * Name First Name Last Name Email Address * Message * Thank you!
“I have been accustomed to call this book, I think not inappropriately, ‘An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;’ for there is not an emotion of which anyone can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror.” — John Calvin on The Psalms Jesus grew up as a Jew, praying and singing The Psalms. These prayers and songs defined his spiritual life in communion with his Father. They became his thoughts, his words, his cries of anguish and of joy. To read the Psalms, then, is to read the heart of Jesus. And to pray and sing the Psalms is to participate in the humanity of Jesus. The Psalms include the full range of human experience, longing, vengeance, comfort, delight, nostalgia, weariness, grief, etc. And Jesus lived into that full humanity. As he went, he shared every aspect of it with his Father. He offered up his life completely, holding nothing back. We, likewise, are invited into that journey, to step into the full humanity of Jesus and his communion with God along the way. We are invited to become fully human, to manifest the full anatomy of the human soul. And in so doing, to know and be known by the God and Father of us all. Name * Name First Name Last Name Email Address * Message * Thank you!
“I’ll say God seems to have a kind of laid-back management style I’m not crazy about. I’m pretty much anti-death. God looks by all accounts to be pro-death. I’m not seeing how we can get together on this issue, he and I.” — David Foster Wallace in his novel Infinite Jest Our God is a consuming fire. He is dangerous, fearless, fully alive. And he will stop at nothing to make persons of that same cloth. Look at the heroes of our faith: Abel, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab. Who among them lived in quiet safety? None. They were murdered, displaced, mocked, threatened, and abandoned. They died in faith, having not yet laid hold of the promises they hoped for. Yet in death, they escaped exile in this world that they might enter the city God had prepared for them. This is the life of faith, experiencing the abandonment and alienation of this world in hope for a new world to come. We are consumed in fire here that we might live in fire there. Jesus cried from the cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me." And this author and finisher of our faith now cries those same words through us. Our head has broken through. Surely, his body will follow.CALL TO WORSHIPChurch, behold your God. He is great in might and authority belongs to him.Let us be silent before him.Church, look to your God. He abounds in love and cares for all people.Let us draw near to him.Church, anticipate your God. He is faithful in rescue and does not tire.Let us trust him.Church, marvel at your God. He is everlasting from generation to generation.Let us praise him.God made the world and everything in it. In Him it is sustained and retains its form.He meets His people in kindness and grace. In Him there is comfort for the needy and hope for the lost. All nations and peoples belong to Him. His praise will be echoed throughout the ages.This is our God, let us worship him. PRAYER OF CONFESSIONGod, you are with us, but we accuse you of being far off.You proclaim your presence, but we feel deserted and alone.Lord, forgive us. Teach us to receive your Son.You are powerful amid weakness, but we want to be strong.You proclaim justice, but we seek our own vindication.Lord, forgive us. Teach us to receive your Son.You are gentle and kind, but we quietly question your intentions.You proclaim peace, but we are prone to quarrels and self-deprecation.Lord, forgive us. Teach us to receive your Son.We confess that we imagine a god we'd rather have. Perhaps we would better feel that god's presence or better understand his involvement in our violent world. Amid this doubt, you are the God you have always been. You are the God of Israel's deliverance, the seer of barren mothers, the healer of the blind, and the Savior of the world.We are forgetful and cynical people, but you are our faithful God.Forgive our near-sightedness. Teach us to receive your Son.Grant us songs of your deliverance to sing to future generations. In abandonment, may we look no further than to Christ, the one who subjected himself to it, even unto death.Lord, have mercy on us. Teach us to abide in your Son.- authored by Liann Jensen
“We are homesick most for the places we have never known.” — Carson McCullers The hard places of our lives often trigger memories of lighter days and longings to return there. We recall times when our world felt more like home. Hours spent swinging with childhood friends in the school yard. Prayers and laughter offered up around the family dinner table. Conversation and romance on the front stoop stretching well beyond sundown. We are sick for home. Yet this ache for the good ole days is not rooted in the sweetness of the past as we suppose. In truth, our past is most often no sweeter than our present; it's only buffed to a rosy sheen by selective forgetfulness. This ache then, this homesickness, stems from elsewhere. Could it be that we are most nostalgic for a home we have never known? Could it be that our ache has more to do with hope than memory? The people of God have always looked back on the goodness of God's past provision and found resource for faith in those stories. But those stories, no matter how good, are mere shadows of the provision to come. When Jesus looked back on time spent with his dear friend Lazarus, he wept. And then he imagined in hope, called Lazarus from the grave, and proved for all time that even death cannot prevent us getting home.CALL TO WORSHIPGather together in the name of the Lord.We gather to praise what the Lord has done.Pray together in the name of the Lord.We gather to praise what the Lord has done.Worship the God of unfailing love, the God of Abraham and David.We gather to praise what the Lord has done.Meditate on his mighty deeds and consider the beauty of his works.We gather to praise what the Lord has done.Sing of God’s great miracles, raise up your hands and hearts.We gather to praise what the Lord has done.PRAYER OF CONFESSIONHeavenly Father, we confess that we are a people of revisionist histories and rose colored glasses. We prefer what is already known rather than walking in trust wherever you lead.Forgive us, Lord. Teach us to trust your faithfulness.We are quick to tell ourselves the narrative of what was, yet we are slow to look forward and hope in the Lord’s unfailing love.Help us, Lord. Open our eyes to your steadfastness.How often we pity our current condition, how often we forget God’s goodness, the great works he has done.Forgive us, Lord. Remind us of your miracles.In our distress, we think ourselves abandoned and cast out. We remember only that we have been saved before, but forget who did the saving.Help us, Lord. Humble us, so that we may be sustained by your love.But you, Lord, never abandon us. You are our rescuer. You are steadfast in your love for us, faithful in your care of us, guiding us with unseen hands, weaving the story of this world for your glory.Lord, we are grateful receivers of your mercy and love. Amen.- authored by Cassandra Fowler 
“If you aim for real flourishing, there is nowhere more dangerous.” ” — Andy Crouch When David was king in ancient Israel, the kingdom flourished. Enemies folded under his military leadership. And wealth soared. David recognized these great benefits and thanked God for them. But also he wondered why God had not yet directed the construction of a proper temple. The Ark of the Covenant, God's sacred dwelling, was still housed in a tent as it had been during Israel's nomadic years. Then the word of the Lord came to the prophet Nathan: "When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son." David's son Solomon would go on to build a temple of God in Jerusalem. But that temple would fall and rise and fall again. Not until the arrival of God's Son Jesus, who was likewise the offspring of David, would a temple emerge that would rise and fall and rise again. God's eternal dwelling was not to be a structure of stone and cedar but a living body, impervious to death.
“Now, the outward works of love are very great, as when we place our goods in the service of another. But the greatest is this, that I surrender my own righteousness and make it serve for the sins of my neighbor. For, outwardly to render service and help by means of one’s goods is love only in its outward aspect; but to render help and service through one’s righteousness, that is something great and pertains to the inward man. This means that I must love the sinner and be his friend, must be opposed to his sins and earnestly rebuke them, yet I must love him with all my heart as to cover his sins with my righteousness.” — Martin Luther Jesus Christ, our strange king, was the friend of sinners. Tax collectors, prostitutes, and social outcasts were drawn to Him to hear about the Kingdom of God. This King not only received the "dregs of society" and ate with them, but reached out and invited them to follow him. What's astounding is that being God Incarnate, Jesus is God's Holiness or Righteousness Incarnate. What may have attracted sinners was their experiencing, in Jesus, God's authentic Righteousness, in contrast to the perverted caricature of it the Pharisees displayed. Righteousness was now a Person who proclaimed mercy not judgment, and came not to condemn, but to seek and save that which was lost. Christians are Christ's Body, indwelt by, and united to Him, who is True Eternal Righteousness. Our Strange King invites us, then, to be His welcoming and forgiving Righteousness, the very Righteousness of God enfleshed, to the broken, fallen world of outcasts around us."
“Define yourself radically as one beloved by God. This is the true self. Every other identity is illusion.” — Brennan Manning We cannot know who we are apart from relationships. There is no such thing as an independent person. Personhood only exists in relation to others. So it is that true identity is not discovered by looking inward but rather in moving outward. We find ourselves not in the recesses of self-referential naval-gazing , but in the risky glory of love. Love is the height of personal relationship. It binds persons together eternally, such that those caught up in its grasp are ever defined by one another. The three persons of God, Father, Son, and Spirit eternally live in such love. And God has shared this love with us. Jesus has entered the human story so that we might discover who we are in relationship to Him. He has bound himself to us in love. To receive this love, then, is to be caught up in him, to be one with him, to be defined by him. Indeed, all who receive the love of Christ are bound eternally to God and to each other. We know who we are. We are the body of God’s beloved Son.CALL TO WORSHIPGod has rescued us from the domain of darkness, and has transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son.We look to Him, our salvation. In Him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. We look to Him, our righteousness. He is the image of the invisible God, and all things were created through Him and for Him. We look to Him, our creator. He is before all things, and in Him all things are held together. We look to Him, our sustenance. He is the head of the church, and all fullness dwells in Him. We look to Him, our unity. Therefore, as we have received Christ, let us walk in Him. He has reconciled all things to Himself, making peace through the blood of the cross. We look to Him, our peace. Amen. PRAYER OF CONFESSIONOur Father, we sin against you and retreat in unbelief.We would rather be in charge of ourselves than yield to your Spirit.Have mercy on us. Remind us that we are yours. We sin against each other and lash out in anger.We would rather exercise power than surrender our wills.Have mercy on us. Remind us that we are yours. We sin against our bodies and dwell in shame.We would rather atone for ourselves than be offended by your forgiveness.Have mercy on us. Remind us that we are yours. We confess that we often do the very things we know we shouldn’t.Our addictions and patterns hurt our families, neighbors and ourselves.Have mercy on us. Remind us that we are no longer slaves to sin.Move us beyond ourselves.Beyond our routines, beyond our frustrations, beyond our endless efforts to satisfy ourselves.Thanks be to God, who delivers us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Move us beyond ourselves and into your likeness, and newness, and oneness.Thanks be to God, who delivers us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Open our eyes to the redeeming work of Christ.You are establishing a new world where sex, money, and power benefit relationships,instead of taking advantage of them.Thanks be to God, who delivers us through Jesus Christ our Lord. Teach us to look to the one who emptied himself unto death for the sake of His oneness with the world.In the name of this crucified Christ we pray. Amen.
“Shame derives its power from being unspeakable.” — Brené Brown We live in a never ending game of hide and seek with our Father. The good news for us all is that we always hide in plain sight whether we know it or not. Our Father sees us, knows us, and loves us, no matter how unlovely we consider ourselves to be.CALL TO WORSHIPPeople of God, trust in the Lord, and do good.We trust in you, God. In your presence we find safety and rest.Take delight in the Lord.We delight in you, God. Your love sustains us day to day.Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you.Lord, make our innocence radiate like the dawn, and make the justice of our cause shine like the noonday sun.The Lord delights in every detail of our lives.Even when we stumble, we do not fall, for we are upheld by your hand, Lord.Be still in the presence of the Lord.We will dwell in your presence, Lord, and wait for you in expectation. Amen. PRAYER OF CONFESSIONMerciful father, we come to you with the weight of shame on our backs. It is so heavy that we are reluctant to come to you, reluctant even to bring to mind what causes our shame.Forgive us, Lord, for your mercy is great.We so often hide ourselves away rather than bare our shame to you, and in doing so, we are eaten away by it.Expose us, Lord. Bring us out of our hiding and into your presence. When we hide, we hurt not only ourselves, but others also: our families, friends, and neighbors.Forgive us, Lord, and give us strength to bare our weaknesses to one another.Why is the weight of sin so heavy? Why does the need to hide feel so strong?Free us from the weight of sin, Lord. Lead us by the hand into the new life you’ve promised us.Church, let us drink fully this cup of sorrow—sharing our pain, faultiness, and inadequacy with one another, knowing that when we do this, God leads us through sorrow and into joy.Thanks be to God, our joy and our salvation. Amen.
Spy Wednesday is traditionally thought of as the day Judas conspired with local authorities to betray Jesus.CALL TO WORSHIPBrothers and Sisters, our God is a loving FatherWe come boldly to you, God. We are safe in your arms.He invites us all to sit, none are turned away from this table.We are hungry for life, God, fill us with yourself.Our God is vulnerable with us,He embraces us as we continue to throw punches,He takes off his armor though we do not lay down our swords.You alone are love, O God,and to you we cry out Abba, Father.CREDITSCall to Worship - Abbey KostermanMatthew 26:14-25 - Blinn ConnourReflection on Spy Wednesday - Stan Dyl"Psalm 92" - written by Samantha ConnourBenediction - Wes Oaks music mixed & mastered by Alec Watsonproduced at edited by David MacKay
“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. What is called resignation is confirmed desperation.” — Henry David Thoreau In our zeal to forge the good life apart from God, we trample one another and we trample ourselves. Our strivings to build wealth and carve out easy living often come at the expense of noticing what really matters. We don't see how much destruction we are leaving in our wake. But there are moments when the horrible reality of our broken hearts and our broken world insists on being known -- moments when God removes the veil and shows us ourselves. These are desperate moments. And the only faithful act when confronted with our desperate condition is to give up. This is where the Spirit leads us, to give up on trusting our judgments, to give up on leaning into our strengths, to give up on believing in our goodness. He leads us to resignation, to letting go of the false life we have propped up with cardboard and duct tape. And when the fraud crumbles, we discover that there in the rubble of our failures, a sure and true life awaits us. Because it is there, in the scrap heap of humiliation, that a sure and true savior has come to meet us.CALL TO WORSHIPChildren of God, cease your striving for God bids you come and rest.Our Father sees our tireless efforts to make something of ourselves, and has had pity on us!God is your good Father. He bids you come and rest!Our God alone is the author of all good things.Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. But your Father in heaven reigns securely. He accomplishes all he sets out to do, and His work is your salvation and restoration!Our hope is in God alone. Let us come to him in our weakness.Come to the Lord, and rejoice! He has done great things!In our brokenness we come before him, our Salvation and our Refuge! PRAYER OF CONFESSIONWe come to you broken, some of us keenly aware of the rubble of our lives, and some of us puffed up, still inclined to find a way for ourselves.Forgive us for our prideful and vain strivings, Lord, and show us what is true.Far from bringing ease and pleasure to ourselves and others, we have trampled others to pave the way for our own accomplishments.Give us eyes to see our weakness and inability. Surely our lives are like vapor.We imagine that we can control our lives as our own kingdoms, building up our status, our comfort, our security, or our worthiness.Lord, you alone are capable of being a good King to us, our families, our communities, and the whole world.Our best efforts have failed to improve the world or even our own lives, yet we have persisted in hoping that if we could muster more strength, it might save us.We confess that our hope has been in the work of our own hands, and not in you Lord.But, now Lord, what do we look for?Spirit, show us the way to our Father’s loving arms, for God is our only hope in life and in death.Grant us faith to see the goodness and mercy of our smallness and your greatness, Lord.Our lives are as vapor, but our hope is in our Lord Jesus.What a marvelous hope we have in you, the author of salvation!We rejoice in your salvation! We can make nothing of ourselves, Father, but you offer us something better. May we be swept up into you and forever enjoy the abundant life of Jesus!- authored by Erin Bourne
“You don’t have to think very hard to realize that our dread of both relationships and loneliness has to do with angst about death, the recognition that I’m going to die, and die very much alone, and the rest of the world is going to go merrily on without me.” — David Foster Wallace Our world teems with beauty and opportunity. There is much good here. But it is not our home. We are exiles in this place, sojourners passing through on our way to a new and better world. Lest we forget this reality and seek more from our natural life than it can ever give, we are haunted by loneliness. Every person has experienced loneliness, and it is an ever present ghost within us. There are times when we cannot deny its presence. Times when the noise of life quiets and we are alone with our thoughts and our fears and our longings. Many of us spend much effort avoiding such times. Yet it is precisely those moments when we receive the clearest sign from the heavens. God is speaking in our loneliness. And he is telling us that all the love and care of our families and dearest friends cannot rescue us from this exile. He is telling us that we were made for much closer contact than even these relationships can provide. He is calling us into his very being. He is calling us home. Loneliness is holy, indeed.CALL TO WORSHIPWe are gathered here together from many separate homes, jobs, families, and circumstances. The week leading up to now was a different reality for each of us.Yet in Christ, we are called together as one body.In Christ, we are no longer obsessed with and consumed by our independent lives, for we gather together in Jesus’ name and as his people. We have looked around and determined that the world is set against us, but hear now: God is for us.Let us bring our hopes, sorrows, discouragement, and despair before him, for he hears our cries and does not abandon us. The Lord Jesus has proved himself a faithful friend to us. He will never leave us, forget us, or reject us.In one Spirit, we draw near to God, knowing that God has already drawn near to us, and is present with us even now. PRAYER OF CONFESSIONLord God, our friends, family members, coworkers, and those in authority over us have failed to love and care for us, and we feel isolated. We imagine ourselves alone in a world where we must fight for our jobs, our security, our happiness, our very identity.Yet we are not alone, Lord, for you are with us and for us. You have not left us to fight our way through life.In our angst trying to find romance, secure friends, and impress people, we have forgotten your friendship, Lord Jesus. You, who left heaven and made your dwelling with us. You, who suffered and died for us.Forgive us for despising your companionship as though it were secondary to all our other needs.Jesus, you are a true friend to us, through costly sacrifice even bringing us into your own family.Lord, forgive us. We have often despised the family you bled and died to establish.Father, may we be rooted in your church, and join this community of worshipers that spans the ages. Lead us out of our independence and into you.We ask you, Father:"Send me your light and your faithful care,let them lead me;let them bring me to your holy mountain,to the place where you dwell."- authored by Erin Bourne
“We lie, cheat, and cut ethical corners quite often when we think we can get away with it, and then we use our moral thinking to manage our reputations and justify ourselves to others.” — Jonathan Haidt The Gospel of Jesus Christ rescues people from the most deadly trap of the human frame -- self-righteousness. Because in Jesus, the righteousness of God is revealed. Jesus shows us a righteousness of shimmering light that renders our conceptions of our own decency rather dark by comparison. We are not righteous. We have within us, each one, all of the shadowy material responsible for the world's great evils. Dark seeds of bitterness, envy, malice, and fear are planted in the soil of our broken flesh. And when watered in the rain of politics and culture, they sprout into racism, classism, fascism, and lies. We are the enemies we claim to oppose. But a true righteousness has emerged from within this soup of human ruin. And he is Christ Jesus -- the righteousness of heaven breaking into our twisted history. His righteousness is ours to walk in, if only we would forsake every confidence in ourselves and receive his life as our own.CALL TO WORSHIP Since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus,by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,and since we have a great priest over the house of God,let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. PRAYER OF CONFESSION Father, we have forgotten to stir up one another to love and good works.We have neglected to meet together, following the patterns of this worldand failing to encourage one another.Rescue us from this ongoing and deliberate folly. Save us from our sin and its ruin.Great is the punishment we deserve. We have spurned the Son of God, profaned his blood,and outraged the Spirit of grace. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.Father, remind us of our better and abiding possession. Grant us the confidence faith, and its great reward. We have need of endurance, so that in doing the will of God we may receive what is promised. For, "Yet a little while, and the coming one will come and will not delay;but my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him."We are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
“Discontent with this world gives such a painful longing to quit it that, if the heart finds comfort, it is solely from the thought that God wishes it to remain here in banishment.” — Saint Teresa of Avila Invariably, the turn of the year highlights human longing. What are New Year's resolutions except attempts to grab hold of some fulfillment, to satisfy our longings for slimmer frames and fatter wallets and deeper loves. These pursuits are not evil. But they also are not the highest good that our longings offer us. There are far weightier jewels to be found in the throes of longing than in the quenching of it. In truth, our longings are words from our Maker. They signal to us that this broken world is not as it should be, that we were not made to make our home amid ashes. They point us to hope beyond what we can see, to imagine relief that is not here to grasp. So pursue fitness and prosperity and romance, yes! But, more importantly, peer through those tattered goods to glimpse a new home rising from the ashes, and a Holy One bidding us come.CALL TO WORSHIPAnswer us when we call, O God of our righteousnessYou have given us relief in our distressHow long, O Lord, will you be hidden away from us?How long, O Lord, will our yearnings go unfulfilled?Answer us when we call, O God of our righteousnessYou have given us relief in our distressHow long, O Lord will our souls anguish?How long, O Lord, will we have sorrow in our hearts each day?Answer us when we call, O God of our righteousnessYou have given us relief in our distressThe Lord lifts his face to shine upon us.In peace we will rest, Lord, dwelling safely in you. Amen. PRAYER OF CONFESSIONLoving Father, our hearts are heavy with woe,and our hope so easily fades day to day.When we stubbornly remain in our distress, forgive us.And raise us to new life with Jesus.When we refuse the true rest that you offer, forgive us.And raise us to new life with Jesus.When we prefer to cope with our pain using tired and harmful means, rescue us.And raise us to new life with Jesus.When we shun vulnerability at all costs and waste away, rescue us.And raise us to new life with Jesus.Let us lift up our sorrows to you in full,trusting that you will hear us and restore our hope.We will trust in your steadfast love,rejoicing in your salvation.We will sing to you, Lord,because you have dealt bountifully with us.- authored by Alec Watson 
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Podcast Details

May 16th, 2012
Latest Episode
Feb 20th, 2018
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