Saturday, June 06, 2020

LEFC Guide to Worship - June 7, 2020

LEFC Guide to Worship
Graduation Sunday
June 7, 2020

$          From the Pastor
$          Worship Guide
$          More Links to Helpful Resources

From the Pastor                                                 
Dear Church Family,

Eleven Sundays.

The last time we gathered together in-person for worship on our church campus was March 15, 2020. Because of COVID-19, eleven Sundays have passed where we have all worshipped the Lord from our homes and utilized creative technological means of encouraging Christian fellowship and spiritual growth. For the last eleven Sundays, the church has not stopped being the church. In fact, the scope of our outreach may have even grown some as many people have accessed our online resources.

But it’s been too long. We all have missed being together for the last three months. There is nothing quite like what I call, “Church at church.” So as your pastor, I’m overjoyed that the Lord is leading us back. Thank you for praying for this day to come!

I’m extremely grateful for the leaders that the Lord has given to our church family. Over the last three months, the Elders have put in many hours of unified prayer, hard thinking, and diligent shepherding. The Facilities Team has kept the building in good maintenance and improved the internet service. The Deaconnesses have compassionately cared for hurting people. The Finance Team has kept the bills current, the staff paid, and the missionaries supported. Cindy has done a deep clean of the whole building. And Marilynn has kept all of the numerous plates spinning away, including many new plates that we’ve never had to deal with before.

Please keep praying for wisdom for these leaders as there are many things to think through in the days to come including when and how to restart other in-person ministries (On-Campus Prayer Meeting begins again, Lord-willing, on June 17th!) or envision creative alternatives. There is still much work to be done, but we know the Lord’s firm and tender mercies are new every day (Lamentations 3:23).

Eleven Sundays have passed since we were all together, but now some of us get to be back together again. If you are a first-wave returnee, welcome home! I’m glad you’re here on campus for the 8am or 9:30am worship gathering, and I hope you experience the grace of our Lord Jesus as we sing, pray, and hear God’s Word together. It won’t be the same as it was, especially with all of the extra health precautions, but I’m sure that it will be good because our Lord is good.

One thing that I’m certain will be difficult is that a lot of us will still be missing one another. Some will be worshipping at a different service than others, and many are not yet free to return to worship on campus. Church will probably feel a lot “smaller” this week, and we’re still going to yearn for the people we don’t see (Philippians 1:8). As your pastor, I suggest everybody pull out your church directory on Sunday afternoon and drop a line to somebody you are missing. We are all one church family regardless of whether or not we are all together at the same time and place. I’m hoping we see more and more of each other each week as new waves of returnees come in.

Another great place to see everyone is the Family Fellowship Meeting on Zoom (Sundays at 11:00am). This week our missionaries at Miracle Mountain Ranch, Donnie and Tonya Rosie, will be joining us to share about the challenges and opportunities before MMR this summer. If all goes well, they will connect with us from the ranch barns, and we’ll get to see some horses and/or other farm animals in the Critter Corral. The LEFC Kids should especially enjoy that! We’re also going to recognize our graduates and pray for one another other. I hope you can join us.

For those at home this weekend, we have prepared another ten-step guide for your family worship time and produced another recorded video message from the book of Philippians. You’ll notice that the strong theme of rejoicing in the Lord continues to surge throughout both the book and our worship plan because unstoppable joy is exactly what we all need during these difficult days.

Over the last eleven Sundays we have added a Worship in Unity element to our worship times. Christians throughout church history have declared their faith together in essential Christian doctrine through beautiful summaries of biblical teaching often called “creeds” and “confessions.” This week we will return to the Apostles’ Creed which we regularly sing together in songs on Sunday mornings. This short overview of the Christian faith is one of the earliest statements of unified Christian belief. Reciting an ancient creed or a portion of a confession in worship may still feel a bit foreign to you, or it may remind you of experiences you’ve had in other churches. The point is not to just recite it lifelessly but to proclaim from the heart our unity in the faith with the whole church throughout the world and throughout the ages.

The Elders have been praying about how and when to resume celebrating the Lord’s Supper as a church family. At this time, we have chosen to wait until the whole church can safely partake together. The biblical teaching on Communion emphasizes church unity and waiting for each other in love (see 1 Corinthians 11:17-34). While different churches will choose to handle these things in different ways, we believe that we should postpone our celebration until the “all clear” is sounded and the full church can gather around the Lord’s Table together once again.

Starting Sunday afternoon, we will be asking everyone who is ready to reserve a household seating section for next Sunday, June 14th. This helps us to ensure that we have enough of everything ready for both services, especially spaced seating. Please pray for us as we prepare this week to gather once again in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I hope we don’t have to forego eleven Sundays ever again.

It’s a joy to be your pastor. Whether at home or on campus this weekend, let’s make sure that every single one of us in this precious church family worships the Lord Jesus Christ.

In His Grip,

- Pastor Matt

P.S. Keep singing as you go! “There’s within my heart a melody–Jesus whispers sweet and low, ‘Fear not, I am with thee–peace, be still,’ in all of life’s ebb and flow. Jesus, Jesus, Jesus–sweetest name I know, fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go.”

Home Worship Guide
1. Welcome to Worship

Read Psalm 117 with gratefulness for God’s faithfulness as your family gathers to worship.

**Option: Parents might want to tell their children more about Psalm 117. It is the shortest in the Psalter (Book of Psalms). It has only 16 words in the Hebrew in just 2 brief verses. At the same time, Psalm 117 says a great deal, singing to all of the nations of the world about the greatness of the LORD.

Families with young children may want to have the kids shout, “Hallelujah!” after a parent reads Psalm 117 as that is the Hebrew translated “Praise the LORD” in verse 2.

Have someone pray and ask God to bless your time of worship at home.

2. Worship in Singing

As a household sing “’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus by Louisa Stead (1882).

**Option. Families with older adults might also or instead enjoy singing “He Keeps Me Singing” by Luther Bridgers (1910).

**Option. Families with younger children might want to repeat the song that has our Hide the Word verse in it: “Rejoice in the Lord Always.” Parents might plan to do this short song for several weeks because repetition helps us to learn something well. Don’t forget that it is also a canon your family can sing “in the round.”

3. Worship in Unity

As a household, recite together the Apostles’ Creed:

“We believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

We believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy Christian Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.”

4. Worship in Lament and Thanksgiving

When the people of Israel returned from the exile and built the foundation of a new temple, they praised God with a loud shout (see Ezra 3). At the same time many of the older leaders who remembered the older grander temple wept aloud. Both responses were good and right for that moment.

As some of our church family worship on campus while others remain at home, we both rejoice and lament. As a family, give thanks for those who were ready to return and pray for all of the families who still needed to stay home.

Discuss other things your family has experienced this week, both joyful and sorrowful.

**Option. Have someone pray a prayer of lament that we are not all partaking of the Lord’s Supper together again today.

5. Worship in Bible Memory
Recite our current “Hide the Word” memory verses, Philippians 4:4-5.
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.”

**Option: Look ahead at verse 6. Is your family ready to add it in?

6. Worship in Prayer

Take prayer requests and pray for each other.

Read the prayer guide together and pray for the rest of the church family and the requests listed.

7. Worship in the Word

Watch or read Pastor Matt’s message: “With Great Joy”
Facebook Video
Read on Pastor Matt’s Blog

[The message will be available online by Sunday morning.]

Some families may want to watch/read the message on their own and then have a Bible study and discussion together during this time.

Application Questions for Personal Reflection and Family Discussion:

1. Am I like Timothy?
2. Am I like Epaphroditus?
3. Do I welcome and honor leaders like Timothy and Epaphroditus?

8. Worship in Singing

Sing “Amazing Grace” by John Newton (1779).

**Option: Some families, especially those with young children may want to sing, “Jesus Christ is the Same” from Hebrews 13:8. No matter what else changes in our world, we can count on Jesus to be unchanging.

**Option: Some families, especially those with young children who really enjoy repetition, may want to continue to sing “Jesus, Strong and Kind” by CityAlight (2019) each week.

9. Worship All Week

Have someone pray a prayer of commissioning for your family as you end this time of gathered worship and face a week of new opportunities and new challenges to serve the Lord, the church, and the world in His Name.

10. Participate in LEFC Family Fellowship Meeting on Zoom - 11am on Sunday.

Many of us are meeting through video-conference online this Sunday at 11:00am:

- See one another’s faces and hear each other’s voices.
- Listen to announcements of church family news.
- Interact with our missionaries at Miracle Mountain Ranch, Donnie & Tanya Rosie.
- Kids, the Rosies are going to join us from the barns at MMR. We might get to see horses and other farm animals!
- Pray for one another live and online.

More Links to Helpful Resources