Archive for the 'Liturgy' Category

Preaching Schedule for 2015

Every year in the fall, I try to get away and prepare for the upcoming material that we, as a church congregation, will be learning. I try to select the texts from which I’ll preach, read through them, and come up with basic themes which will guide my preparation time in the coming year.

Every other year, the idea was to submit to the discipline of using the Revised Common Lectionary, as a way to ensure that our congregation isn’t just studying texts that are *my* personal favorites. The Lectionary texts are used all over the world, and it’s always a bit of a challenge to read through them all, and seek guidance on what we’ll study together as a church body.

If you’re really interested, you can go to The Revised Common Lectionary at Vanderbilt to see what texts we’ll be using for the particular day.

Here are the themes and texts we’ll be using in 2015:

11/30/14   Shaped By A Savior: Gifted with Grace   Isa. 64:1-9   1 Cor. 1:3-9
12/07/14   Shaped By A Savior: Holy in the Meantime   Isa. 40:1-11   2 Pet. 3:8-15a
12/14/14   Shaped By A Savior: Practical Sanctification   Isa. 61:1-4, 8-11   1 Th. 5:16-24
12/21/14   Shaped By A Savior: Conduits of Glory   2Sam. 7:1-11, 16   Rom. 16:25-27
12/28/14   Shaped By A Savior: Adopted Royalty   Isa. 61:10-62:3   Gal. 4:4-7
01/04/15   Shaped By A Savior: Toolkit of Grace   Jer. 31:7-14/Sirach 24:1-12   Eph. 1:3-14
01/11/15   Shaped By A Savior: Hovering of the Holy Spirit   Gen. 1:1-5   Acts 19:1-7
01/18/15   Shaped By A Savior: Body Honor   1Sam. 3:1-10, (11-20)   1 Cor. 6:12-20
01/25/15   Shaped By A Savior: Making Hay While The Sun Shines   Jonah 3:1-5, 10   1 Cor. 7:29-31
02/01/15   Shaped By A Savior: Navigating Your Freedom   Deut. 18:15-20   1 Cor. 8:1-13
02/08/15   Shaped By A Savior: Winning Others In Context   Isa. 40:21-31   1 Cor. 9:16-23
02/15/15   PULPIT SUPPLY   2Ki. 5:1-14   1 Cor. 9:24-27
02/22/15   Covenant Concepts ~ Noah: God Will Remember   Gen. 9:8-17   1 Pet. 3:18-22
03/01/15   Covenant Concepts ~ Abraham: God Will Rename   Gen. 17:1-7, 15-16   Rom. 4:13-25
03/08/15   Covenant Concepts ~ Moses: God Expects Righteousness   Ex. 20:1-17   1 Cor. 1:18-25
03/15/15   Covenant Concepts ~ Israel: God Rescues from Rebellion   Num. 21:4-9   Eph. 2:1-10
03/22/15   Covenant Concepts ~ Jer.: God Emphasizes Relationship   Jer. 31:31-34   Heb. 5:5-10
03/29/15   Covenant Concepts ~ Congregation: Responds in Rejoicing   Isa. 50:4-9a   John 12:12-16
04/05/15   Up From The Grave He Arose!   Isa. 25:6-9   John 20:19-31
04/12/15   Walking in Two Worlds: Where Do You Walk   Psa. 133   1Jn. 1:1-2:2
04/19/15   Walking in Two Worlds: Chipping Away   Psa. 4   1Jn. 3:1-7
04/26/15   Walking in Two Worlds: Love in Action   Psa. 23   1Jn. 3:16-24
05/03/15   PULPIT SUPPLY   PNWNACCC meeting in Anchorage, AK   1Jn. 4:7-21
05/10/15   Walking in Two Worlds: Kingdom or Republic?   Psa. 98   1Jn. 5:1-6
05/17/15   Walking in Two Worlds: Assurance Policy   Psa. 1   1Jn. 5:9-13
05/24/15   Birthday Presence   Ez. 37:24-28   Rom. 8:22-27
05/31/15   God in Three Persons: A service for Trinity Sunday   Job 38:1-7   Luke 9:18-26
06/07/15   The Gospel Challenge ~ Get Your House In Order   Gen. 3:8-15 Psa. 130   Mark 3:20-35
06/14/15   The Gospel Challenge ~ Use GMO Seed   Ez. 17:22-24   Mark 4:26-34
06/21/15   PULPIT SUPPLY   1Sam. 17:57-18:5, 18:10-16   Mark 4:35-41
06/28/15   The Gospel Challenge ~ Have Faith in the Crowd   Lam. 3:22-33   Mark 5:21-43
07/05/15   The Gospel Challenge ~ Live the Verb, Not the Title   Ez. 2:1-5   Mark 6:1-13
07/12/15   The Gospel Challenge ~ The Price of Mistaken Identity   Amos 7:7-15   Mark 6:14-29
07/19/15   The Gospel Challenge ~ Feed The Crowd   Jer. 23:1-6   Mark 6:30-34
07/26/15   Bread From Heaven: Pointing to the Prophet   2Ki. 4:42-44   John 6:1-21
08/02/15   Bread From Heaven: Feeding on the Food from God   Ex. 16:2-4, 9-15   John 6:24-35
08/09/15   Bread From Heaven: Breaking Down the Bread of Life   1Ki. 19:4-8   John 6:41-51
08/16/15   Bread From Heaven: Sustenance of the Savior   Prov. 9:1-6   John 6:51-58
08/23/15   PULPIT SUPPLY   Joshua 24:1-2a, 14-18   John 6:56-69
08/30/15   Practical Christianity: From the Ear to the Hand   Deut. 4:1-2, 6-9   James 1:17-27
09/06/15   Practical Christianity: Who Chooses The Poor   Isa. 35:4-7a   James 2:1-10
09/13/15   Practical Christianity: The Most Dangerous Church Member   Isa. 50:4-9a   James 3:1-12
09/20/15   Practical Christianity: Top Shelf, Good Stuff   Jer. 11:18-20   James 3:13-4:3
09/27/15   Practical Christianity: Prescription: Prayer!   Num. 11:4-6, 10-16, 24-29   James 5:13-20
10/04/15   Highlights from Heb. : The Founder of Salvation   Gen. 2:18-24   Heb. 2:5-12
10/11/15   Highlights from Heb. : The Approachable Throne   Amos 5:6-7, 10-15   Heb. 4:12-16
10/18/15   Highlights from Heb. : The Great High Priest   Isa. 53:4-12   Heb. 5:1-10
10/25/15   Highlights from Heb. : The Perfect Go-Between   Jer. 31:7-9   Heb. 7:23-28
11/01/15   Highlights from Heb. : The Power of the Blood   Deut. 6:1-9   Heb. 9:11-14
11/08/15   Highlights from Heb. : The Real Mercy Seat   1Ki. 17:8-16   Heb. 9:24-28
11/15/15   Highlights from Heb. : The Full Assurance of Faith   Dan. 12:1-3   Heb. 10:11-14
11/22/15   The Ancient of Days Today   Dan. 7:9-10, 13-14   John 18:33-37

I hope that’s helpful to you as you prepare to study God’s word!
KFJ – Ed

Preaching Schedule for 2013

One of the things I’ve learned as a solo pastor is the need to plan ahead when it’s possible. For those of you who have known me for years, you’re probably laughing out loud right now, or you’re trying to recover from shock. Nevertheless, I’ve discovered that if I plan out my preaching schedule in advance, I’m better equipped to deal with any pastoral emergencies that might arise.

Wonder of wonder; miracle of miracles! The administration of ministry frees me to do the interaction of ministry!

For the past two years, I’ve plotted out the preaching schedule based on book studies, with the very occasional topical study thrown in. This year, I thought I’d push myself a bit, and submit to the discipline of preaching the Revised Common Lectionary. The Lectionary is simply a collection of Scriptures that, over a three-year course, cover the Bible. Our church already uses some of its forms – we have an Old Testament reading, a New Testament reading, and our call to worship is based in the Psalms, so we have quite a lot of Scripture even before we get to the sermon!

This coming year (Year A, in the RCL), I thought I’d use the Lectionary to select the texts themselves. I went away for a couple of days on a study retreat, and read through the year’s worth of texts, and looked for patterns and themes. I then took the ideas that I’d found, and put them into a schedule.

If you’re really interested, you can go to The Revised Common Lectionary at Vanderbilt to see what texts we’ll be using for the particular day.

12/02/12   Let Your Love Grow
12/09/12   Let Your Love Know
12/16/12   Let Your Love Flow
12/23/12   Let His Love Bestow
12/24/12   Christmas Eve Service
12/30/12   Our Swaddling Clothes
01/06/13   The Mystery of Epiphany
01/13/13   The Indwelling Epiphany
01/20/13   The Equipping Epiphany
01/27/13   The Efficiency of Epiphany
02/03/13   Maturity in Epiphany
02/10/13   The Glory of Epiphany
02/13/13   Tenebrae – Service of Shadows
02/17/13   Preparing Our Hearts with the Word
02/24/13   Preparing Our Lives with the Pattern
03/03/13   Preparing Our Minds For Battle
03/10/13   Preparing Our Relationships for Reconciliation
03/17/13   Preparing Our Lives For the Finish Line
03/24/13   Preparing Our Attitudes For Surrender
03/28/13   Tenebrae – Service of Shadows
03/31/13   Fully Alive!
04/07/13   Easter People: Tell The Truth!
04/14/13   Easter People: Deliver The Decree
04/21/13   Easter People: Deal with the Dead
04/28/13   Easter People: Watch for the Work
05/05/13   Easter People: Hear the Macedonian Call
05/12/13   Easter People: Invite Others to the Party
05/19/13   PULPIT SUPPLY
05/26/13   The Cost of Pentecost: Glory & Agony
06/2/13   The Cost of Pentecost: Living With Confusion
06/9/13   The Cost of Pentecost: Carrying Christ
06/16/13   The Cost of Pentecost: Life On Our Own Terms
06/23/13   PULPIT SUPPLY
06/30/13   PULPIT SUPPLY
07/7/13   The Cost of Pentecost: Empty Arms
07/14/13   Concepts from Colossians: Knowing God’s Will
07/21/13   PULPIT SUPPLY
07/28/13   Concepts from Colossians: Building In Two Directions
08/4/13   Concepts from Colossians: Killing the Old Man
08/11/13   The Substance of Faith
08/18/13   The Actions of Faith
08/25/13   The Presence of Faith
09/8/13   Personal Mail For Philemon
09/14/13   Powerful Meaning For Philosophers
09/15/13   Our Lord Relents
09/22/13   Our Lord Listens
09/29/13   Our Lord Saves
10/6/13   Our Lord Cares
10/13/13   Our Lord Responds
10/20/13   Our Lord Watches
10/27/13   Reformation Sunday
11/3/13   Giver Of Understanding
11/10/13   Giver Of Glory
11/17/13   Giver Of Wisdom
11/24/13   Giver of Rescue

Psalm 66 prayer; an inclusive attempt

bridge path I was writing a prayer for this Sunday, and I thought it might be interesting to work around the pronouns to craft a prayer that was a bit more inclusive. However, there is a reference to American Football in there, so I don’t know *how* inclusive it truly is…

Praise our God, O peoples, let the sound of Deity’s praise be heard;
Let the whole world bless our God and loudly sing the praises of the Lord.
Our lives are in the hands of God, and the Lord keeps our feet from stumbling.
Providence has preserved us and kept us from falling.

You have tested us, O God; You have purified us like silver;
training us and passing us like precious metal through fire and water;
You brought us to a place of abundance.

Now we come together in this place to fulfill the promises we have made to You–
When we are in deep trouble, we make sacred bargains with You that we hope You’ll keep.
But we know that You are the Lord of Everything, and You certainly don’t need our help to run the show.
Nevertheless, as armchair quarterbacks, we call out the way we think the Universe ought to be run.
Please forgive us for our presumption and our attempts to get You to do things our way exclusively.

If we do not confess the sins we hide in our hearts, Lord, You don’t hear us —
But God DOES listen!
The Lord pays attention to our prayers, when we agree that God is God and we are not.
Praise Yahweh, who does not ignore our prayers or withdraw the Lord’s unfailing love from us.

Come and listen, all you who fear God, and I will tell you what Deity did for us all:
We cry out to the Lord for help, praising God as we speak.
Praise be to God, who has not rejected our prayer or withheld the Lord’s love from us!
God hears us as we pray together, saying: OUR FATHER…

Prayer based on Psalm 118

earth We give thanks to You, LORD, for You are good; Your love endures forever. Let all of God’s people say: “the love of the Lord lasts forever.” Open for us the gates of righteousness; we will enter and give thanks to You, our God. This is the gate of the LORD through which the righteous may enter.

We hear the words of the Psalm, Lord, and we want to enter into Your Kingdom with a spirit of praise. Hear our prayers of praise…

We will give You thanks, for You answered us; You have become our salvation. The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. O LORD, save us… We know that all righteousness comes from You, and any good we do is a reflection of what You have given us already. There are people who need to see that reflection of You, Lord. Hear our prayers as we lift the names of those who need to see You…

Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD. From this place where we gather, we bless You. LORD, You are God, and You have made Your light shine upon us. With palm branches in hand, we have joined in the joyful procession of Your people all around the world today. You are our God; not just here in this church, but for all who call on your name who give You thanks; You are our God, and we will exalt you. As we come together, we give thanks to You, LORD, for You is good; Your love endures forever. As we pray the prayer Jesus taught us, we remember that You call us all to be Your children. That’s why we begin this prayer with the words, OUR FATHER…

Working with Confirmands

Confirmation I’ve been working with a great group of young people as a part of my first Confirmation class here at Warden Community Church. We’ve covered a LOT of ground over the past 12 weeks, and this Sunday is our last meeting together before their confirmation on Palm Sunday.

In our final session, I’ll be asking each one of them to write a personal “Statement of Belief” – somewhat akin to the ancient “Rule of Faith” to which Confirmands had to assent as they were preparing for baptism.

I realized that I couldn’t, in good conscience, ask them to write one if they didn’t have a couple of examples. So, I’m giving them a sheet with the Apostle’s Creed (as an example of an historic creed), A Simple Contemporary Statement of Faith (1969), from the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand (an example of a more contemporary denominational creed), and my own personal “short” creed, an extremely condensed version of my Statement of Faith (which is 16 pages long, and FAR too large to be posted here).

At any rate, I thought that some might be interested in my “short-form” personal creed.

I believe that God, being infinite, has all attributes without limit.

I believe that the Lord calls people to be a part of the Kingdom of God through God’s choice, not our own.

I believe that how we view God is dependent on our understanding of God’s character. I believe that Jesus is the ultimate expression of the character of God.

I believe Jesus was right. I believe that His focus on the Word of God gives us confidence to read it in comparison to His life. I believe that all biblical data should be considered, and interpreted using the teachings of Christ.

I believe the Holy Spirit guides that interpretative process; that the Spirit activates our ability to understand godly things; that the Spirit functions as Teacher, Guide, Protector, and Interpreter between God and us.

God rescues us to participate in His Kingdom; we respond to God’s rescue with either joyous acceptance, ungracious indifference, or rebellious rejection.

Prayer, based on Isaiah 49

Listen carefully, everyone throughout the whole earth: Before we were born the LORD called us; from our birth he has made mention of our names. We did not decide one day to leave behind our old ways and just “become” righteous in God’s eyes;

the Lord gave us faith, and knew the work of the Lord in our soul long before we were ever aware that Deity was working in us.

God said to the people of old, and still says of us today, “You are my servants, my people, in whom I will display my splendor.” God works among us; the Lord shapes and directs our lives, and those around can see it. There are times when we feel that we have labored to no purpose; that we have spent our strength in vain and for nothing. Yet what is being done in us is by the LORD’s hand, and any reward we will ever receive is from God’s grace towards us. We ask for forgiveness for anything that we might to do blur the image of Your presence in us, Lord. We want people to see Jesus when they look in our lives; to see and be attracted to the redeeming work You have been doing all along.

The One who made us will also make us light among those who live in spiritual darkness, that we may bring the salvation message of Jesus to people everywhere – from here in our town to all over the world.

This is what the LORD says– the Redeemer and Holy One of Israel– to Christ who was despised and abhorred by the nation, to the servant of rulers: “Kings will see you and rise up, princes will see and bow down, because of the LORD, who is faithful, the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”

As we move through this Lenten season, we ask that Christ be seen and lifted up in our lives. We want to live after Jesus’ example; not for any glory that we might receive, but all for the honor of Your name, God. We join our hearts as we pray together as Jesus taught us, saying, OUR FATHER…

Prayer, based on Isaiah 42

Bible page of Isaiah God the LORD, the One who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and all that comes out of it, who gives breath to its people, and life to those who walk on it, we listen for You now.

God is the LORD; Yahweh is the Holy name! God will not give the glory of the Lord to another or Deity’s praise to idols. Thank You for drawing us together to lift up Your name in prayer, and to prompt one another to bear Your name as we move through the week.

God, the LORD, has called us in righteousness; the Lord will take hold of our hands. God will keep us and will make us to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. We hear these words, and we pray for Your provision in Christchurch, New Zealand and in Tokyo, Japan as they recover from disaster. Move people throughout the world to be Your hands and feet in caring for those affected, Lord.

Jesus is the servant of God, who is upheld by the Lord, the chosen one in whom God delights. The Lord put the Spirit on Him and Christ will bring justice to the nations. We ask that we be a part of this process, Lord. Isaiah said that “A bruised reed the Messiah will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice; he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth.” There are so many places that need your justice now, Lord. We pray for peace in Jerusalem, in Darfur, in Lybia, in Wisconsin, and in the lives of people who are struggling even now, wherever they may be.

You’ve heard us read the names of those we care about; we lift up the situations about which we are concerned and which You know full well. Let Your sovereign will be demonstrated so that You receive all the glory; this was Jesus’ prayer while He walked the earth, and it is our prayer now. Hear us as we pray together as Jesus taught us, saying, OUR FATHER…


Pastor Ed Backell

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