How to Integrate Worship in Meetings

“But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40.31)

Isaiah 40 is the theme of this year’s 220th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church U.S.A. This week I have been training General Assembly Committee Moderators and Vice Moderators on how to integrate worship and community building into their meetings. The General Assembly staff gave me the following guidelines to plan worship:

  • Worship must be creative and interactive
  • Use only materials that are naturally in a business meeting and/or is easy to bring
  • Flexible enough to change and adapt to the environment
  • Not too crazy – format still familiar enough for Presbyterians

Given these guidelines, I designed three brief worship services. Just like aerobics classes has high-impact, medium-impact, and low-impact, these three services are rated in a similar way.

Worship #1:

This worship is designed for those who want to do something creative and crafty, as well as have basic technological skill. It will require a little more work on your part and bringing some materials with you.

Within this worship service, committee members will have an opportunity to introduce themselves as well as create “Community Covenant” Christ candle that can be lit during the whole time the committee deliberates.

Worship is done on prezi. It is a free online resource and can be downloaded onto a computer or USB device.

Large candles can be inexpensively bought at IKEA.

To imprint the GA 220 logo onto the candle, follow these directions.

Stockmar decorating wax sheets can be bought online at http://www.atoygarden.com All songs are from the Hymnal Sampler, which contains the songs that will be in the new Presbyterian Hymnal.

Call to Worship is written by the Rev. Kaji R. Spellman in “The Delightful Lightness of Being in Light: Service Prayers with Holy Communion for the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany.” Posted on the United Church of Christ’s Worship Ways website.

Confessions & Assurance is written by Thom Shuman. Posted on Lectionary Liturgies blog.

You Tube video is the song “Run” by After the Chase.

Gathering

CALL TO WORSHIP

One: Good people of the church, Lift up your eyes and see.

All: Have you not seen? Have you not heard? Our God greets us here.

One: Good servants of the Most High, Open your ears to hear.

All: Have you not seen? Have you not heard? Our God meets us here.

One: Good children of the light Open your hearts and know what it means to delight in God.

All: For we have seen, heard and known From the beginning to the end, Our God…is.

SONG – Heleluyan We Are Singing

CONFESSION & ASSURANCE

Rushed by the busyness of life, weary from the stress of everyday, we have these moments to catch our breath, to think of how we have treated others recently, to remember how we have not been God’s faithful people. Let us come to God, knowing that the One who listens to our words, is the One who has given us the Word of grace and mercy.

Everlasting God, we know how easy it is to forget your presence and power in our lives. Focused on our daily planners, we do not pay attention to the night sky and the stars that glitter. Surrounded by the sounds of anger, violence, and hate, we have trouble listening to your whispers of hope and grace. Thinking that Scripture is filled only with stories, we cannot understand your truth, which can change lives.

Forgive us. There is no one who can hold a candle to you when it comes to mercy and hope. Lift us to our feet so we may walk with you; fill us with your strength so we may serve your people; touch us with your healing so we may proclaim to everyone the Good News that has come in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Light the Christ Candle

Haven’t you been listening? The Good News is this: God never tires out, God is always with us, God heals us with mercy, God strengthens us for service.

The One who numbers the stars knows each of us by name. Thanks be to God, we are forgiven. Amen.

Hearing

SCRIPTURE – Isaiah 40.21-31

COMMUNAL COVENANT

Take a moment to think about the work of your committee.

What are your hopes for the work of the committee throughout the week? As you reflect on that hope, write a word,

phrase, or symbol on the wax strip as a covenant of hope to the group.

[During the time of reflection play “Run” by After the Chase.]

[After most have finished, have people come up one by one, saying their name, teaching/ruling elder, presbytery, and covenant hope.]

Responding

[Tell them that the wax strips will be added to the Christ candle as a reminder of their covenant and hope for the work of the committee.]

LORD’S PRAYER

Going Out

SONG – What a Fellowship, What a Joy Divine

Worship #2:

This worship is more middle of the road with an interactive element that doesn’t require that much skill. It will require preparing and bringing some materials with you.

Within this worship service, committee members will have an opportunity to write their own assurance of pardon of God’s grace and forgiveness and share that with others.

All songs can be found in the Hymnal Sampler.

Call to Worship is written by Rev. Andy James, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, New York. Posted on the liturgylink website.

Confession and Assurance is written by Moira Laidlaw, and posted on the Liturgies Online website.

Hang vertically off the table 2” wide ribbon, securing the ends to the table or whatever structure.

Photos will have to be color copied and cut in advance. You can use paper clips or clothes pins which can be ordered in bulk at Oriental Trading Company.

Gathering

CALL TO WORSHIP

Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?

God created all things and summons everyone by name.

Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?

No one – nothing – can compare to God’s glory.

DDon’t you know? Haven’t you heard?

The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth, and never grows tired or weary.

Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard?

Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength forever and ever.

SONG – Be Thou My Vision

CONFESSION & ASSURANCE

Merciful God, the words in Isaiah about not knowing you, and not hearing about you, resonate within us as we link them with the words of Paul—“woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel!” We know that one of the greatest challenges today is to communicate the gospel so that people really hear it. Yet so often our persistence in clinging to old and familiar traditions, practices, and language, block people from hearing and experiencing the good news of Jesus Christ. Woe to us all if we persist in proclaiming the gospel in words and ways, which put people down rather than build them up.

Forgive us, O God, for clinging to the use of language, which excludes people from hearing the great good news about Jesus.

(silent confession)

Woe to us all if our lives and characters proclaim other than the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Forgive us, O God, for the times when our piety is visible on Sundays, but hard to detect the rest of the week.

(silent confession)

Woe to us all if the gospel is proclaimed only within these walls and not daily in the communities where we live or study or work.

Forgive us, O God, for earnestly praising and worshipping you in words and ritual, whilst ducking for cover when it comes to performing deeds of mercy and service.

(silent confession)

Woe to us all if we forget that proclamation of the gospel goes hand in hand with the belief that the hopes and dreams of the downtrodden and powerless can be transformed into reality when we risk stepping out in faith.

Forgive us, O God, if our zeal for mission and evangelism is shaped by the state of our finances rather than the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

(silent confession)

Strengthen us with the Holy Spirit to do all for the sake of the gospel, so that we and all those to whom it is proclaimed may share in its blessings. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

Hear the good news: Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old life is gone; a new life has begun. (based on 2 Cor 5: 17) Friends, believe the gospel: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven!

Thanks be to God!

Hearing

[Spread out on a table a variety of photo postcards. Have the committee members gather around the photos. As they look through the photos, read the scripture. As the scripture is read, have them choose a photo that represents “What they bring to this committee” and “What they hope for the work of the committee.”]

SCRIPTURE – Isaiah 40.28-31

MESSAGE

Write on the back of each appropriate photo,“what you bring to this committee” and “what you hope for the work of the committee.”

When you are finished, clip the photo that represents what you bring to the prayer loom.

Place the photo that represents what you hope for in the basket.

SONG – Come and Fill Our Hearts

Responding

LORD’S PRAYER

OFFERING

As the basket is being passed around, please take a postcard with someone else’s hope.

Keep it throughout the week as a reminder to you of our collective hope to faithfully do the work God calls us to do.

Going Out

SONG – We Are One in the Spirit

Worship #3:

This worship is simple. It requires minimal preparation and most materials can be found on site.

Within this worship service, committee members will have an opportunity to create a prayer loom that will act as a table covering filled with words and prayers from Isaiah 40. The table covering can remain displayed through the work of the committee as a reminder of their communal prayer.

All songs are from the Hymnal Sampler.

Call to Worship is written by Mary J. Scifres. Posted on the Ministry Matters website.

Confession & Assurance is written by J. Puls, G. Cashmore. Posted on A.E. Hunt Progressive website.

Prayer is written by Rev. Scott Cervas, Meadowthorpe Presbyterian Church, Lexington, KY. Posted on the liturgylink website.

Line the table with newsprint or butcher paper so that the paper overhangs the side of the table. Hang vertically off the table 2” wide ribbon, securing the ends at the end of the paper so that you are creating a loom.

Cut out 2×14” strips of paper. One for each participant.

Gathering

CALL TO WORSHIP

Gather us in, the brokenhearted and the joyful.

Gather us in, the weak and the strong.

Gather us in, the fearful and the brave. us in, the young and the old.

Gather us in, to sing of God’s works.

Gather us in, to praise Jesus Christ.

Gather us in, to worship and wonder. us in, to know of God’s love.

SONG – Gather Us In

CONFESSION & ASSURANCE

God of surprises you call us from the narrowness of our traditions to new ways of being church, from the captivities of our culture to creative witness for justice, from the smallness of our horizons to the bigness of your vision.

Clear the way in us, your people, that we might call others to freedom and renewed faith.

Jesus, wounded healer, you call us from preoccupation with our own histories and hurts to daily tasks of peacemaking, from privilege to pilgrimage, from insularity to inclusive community.

Clear the way in us, your people, that we might call others to wholeness and integrity.

Holy, transforming Spirit, you call us from fear to faithfulness, from clutter to clarity, from a desire to control to deeper trust, from the refusal to love to a readiness to risk.

Clear the way in us, your people, that we might all know the beauty and power and danger of the gospel.

Hearing

SCRIPTURE – Isaiah 40.28-31 (will be read 3x)

SILENCE

Each time write a word, phrase, or image

CLOSING THE SILENCE

The Steadfast Love of the Lord Never Ceases

COMMUNAL HOMILY

Sharing wisdom of the people.

Responding

PRAYER & OFFERING

God of our deepest strength, as we breathe in the words of ancient poets and prophets, as we inhale the words of 1st century storytellers, refresh our hearts and minds so we might hear these words in new ways… so we might struggle with those words long enough to understand them… so we might be renewed to go and be and do… Amen.

You are invited to come forward and weave your strip of paper on the ribbon loom which will be a table cover as a visual reminder of the communal wisdom spoken.

Going Out

SONG – Lord of All Hopefulness

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