Prelude - “There’s Sunshine in my Soul Today” [by J. R. Sweney] - Sarah Park
We are a community seeking to have open minds, open hearts, and open arms, building community in a fragmented world. Welcome to the Mantua Center Christian Church on this World Communion Sunday
Opening Scripture - Psalm 100
1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth. 2 Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing. 3 Know that the Lord is God. It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture. 4 Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise. Give thanks to him, bless his name. 5 For the Lord is good; his steadfast love endures forever, and his faithfulness to all generations.
*Response - Weave
Weave, weave, weave us together, Weave us together, in unity and love.
Weave, weave, weave us together, weave us together, together in love.
*Call to Worship - Cheryl Delaney
ONE: Look around, everyone--this is God’s house!
ALL: God is here among us!
ONE: Let’s remember--I am the church, you are the church…
ALL: We are the church together!
ONE: So get ready! Open your eyes, your ears, your heart!
ALL: God wants to meet us here. Let us worship the Lord!
*Opening Hymn - Morning Has Broken #53, v. 1-2
1. Morning has broken like the first morning
Blackbird has spoken like the first bird
Praise for the singing, praise for the morning
Praise for them springing fresh from the world
2. Sweet the rain's new fall, sunlit from Heaven
Like the first dewfall on the first grass
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden
Sprung in completeness where God’s feet pass
Invitation to Generosity
Invitation - Cheryl Delaney
Offertory - “Under His Wings I am Safely Abiding” [by I. D. Sankey]
The Doxology #46
Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise God, all creatures here below;
praise God above, ye heavenly host: Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Offering Prayer - Cheryl Delaney
Children’s Moment - Rev. Chad Delaney
Pastoral Prayer - Rev. Chad Delaney
Lord of love and light, shine into our lives and bring your love into our souls.
Remind us of the amazing ways you have loved us,
even when we turned our backs on you.
Open our hearts to receive your loving spirit.
Open our minds to receive your wisdom.
Open our hands to show others your loving compassion.
Lord of love and light, we hold in our hearts those around us who feel unloved.
We bring them to you for you to shine your love into their lives.
We hold in our minds those who overwhelmed by their needs and difficulties.
We hold in our hands your loving compassion to give them.
Lord of love and light, there are people and places that are dark and in the dark about your love. Shine forth your light and love in their lives and in those places.
There are people and places that have closed their minds to you, to others, to new and fresh ideas. Shine forth your light and love to open their minds to you,
to others, to new and fresh ideas.
There are people and places that need our hands reaching out to them with your loving compassion. May our reaching out to them with your love and compassion,
shine forth your light and love.
Hear now the joys and concerns of our hearts in silent prayer….
Meditation - Ally Bozeka
Communion Hymn - We Come as Guests Invited #386, v. 1-2
1 We come as guests invited when Jesus bids us dine,
his friends on earth united to share the bread and wine;
the bread of life is broken the wine is freely poured
for us, in solemn token of Christ our dying Lord.
2 We eat and drink, receiving from Christ the grace we need,
and in our hearts believing on him by faith we feed;
with wonder and thanksgiving for love that knows no end,
we find in Jesus living our ever-present friend.
Prayer & Lord’s Prayer - Ally Bozeka
Words of Institution - Rev. Chad Delaney
Music: “Jesus, My Lord, to Thee I Cry” [by I. D. Sankey]
Special Music - “In the Garden” [arranged by Lloyd Larson] - MCCC Choir
Scripture - Colossians 4:2-18
2 Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving. 3At the same time pray for us as well that God will open to us a door for the word, that we may declare the mystery of Christ, for which I am in prison, 4so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should.
5 Conduct yourselves wisely towards outsiders, making the most of the time. 6Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer everyone.
7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me; he is a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow-servant in the Lord. 8I have sent him to you for this very purpose, so that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts; 9he is coming with Onesimus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here.
10 Aristarchus my fellow-prisoner greets you, as does Mark the cousin of Barnabas, concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him. 11And Jesus who is called Justus greets you. These are the only ones of the circumcision among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always wrestling in his prayers on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in everything that God wills. 13For I testify for him that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. 14Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas greet you. 15Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters in Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you read also the letter from Laodicea. 17And say to Archippus, ‘See that you complete the task that you have received in the Lord.’
18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
Sermon - “Church Shout-Out”
Paul’s letters were written as the Christian community was just forming. The Apostle Paul was in prison for sharing his faith and while in prison wrote several letters to churches. This letter to the Colossians is a disputed letter (meaning we’re not sure if he wrote it himself or dictated it to someone else or one of his followers wrote it). Either way it is attributed to him and we’ll go with.
Our passage here in Colossians offers us a glimpse into the early church community and how they saw themselves. A small, but revealing detail emerges in v.15…”and to Nympha and the church in her house.”
Sister Nympha is a leader in the early church and the church is meeting at her home. She must have been a person of means, called to share the Gospel, and to take the risk of giving shelter to this persecuted religious group. And this passage nails that point as we sang at Children’s moment…the church is not a building, a steeple, or a resting place…the church is the people. Notice they don’t meet AT a church. The church meets at Nympha’s house. In the Greek it is the ekklesia--the gathering or congregation of people. In our church parlance, we will usually say “Meet at the church” or “the church will host this event” because we refer to the church as the building the organization meets at. The place where the people meet. Maybe we would say, “Meet me at the building where our church usually gathers” but it doesnt really roll off the tongue. I will say I do like those church building signs you may have seen that say something like “The church called Mantua Center Christian Church gathers here.”
and to Nympha and the church in her house.”
There is something else we can learn about the church here in this passage. Typically Paul’s letters are filled with instructions for the people. There are logistical issues, theological issues, settling arguments, and sharing news. The early community sorting out the Christian identity in a hostile world--what it means to live and love in community in Jesus’ name here and now? Who are we and what do we stand for?
However, this 4th chapter in Colossians says something beautiful about the community itself that is organic. Here the Apostle Paul isn’t preaching or teaching per se…instead it's personal. There is an intimacy and familiarity to it. He knows the people, knows their names, gifts, and what they are up to. What I love about this closing is that it reads like a Shout-Out list.
Its like those people who get a few seconds or minutes on the news and want to shout a family member, friend, or their business. Paul shouts out people as a way to express Appreciation, Affirmation, Encouragment.
He expresses appreciation for Mark and Justus for working alongside him and being of comfort to him. He affirms the ministry of Tychichus and Onesimus calling them beloved brothers and faithful ministers of the Gospel. He gives some encouragement to Archippus, saying “See that you complete the task that you received in the Lord.” He drops names like Epaphras, Luke, Demas, and Nympha.
So Church Family, who would you like to shout-out today in our church family. Take a minute to talk to the people around you and everyone mention someone. Who do you want to show appreciation, affirmation, and encouragement to? And after you are done talking to them…will you shout them out in front of all?
What we might remember today is that we can have a beautiful building, serve the community, serve communion, we can speak in the tongues of angels…but if we don’t have love. If we don’t nurture the love and connection and have with one another and our community, the church will die. It is the people, the relationships, the connections that make this community special. And Paul’s appreciation, affirmation, and encouragement make a difference.
There’s something about the US….that represents the living Christ in the world. We represent each other and the whole Body of Christ. The church is the people! And so may we find ways to keep Shouting out those who are making a difference in our lives. To express our appreciation, affirmation, encouragement…to keep building up the body of Christ in this time and place. So that we might together live and love in the name of Jesus!
*Closing Hymn - Wonderful Words of Life #323, v. 1-3
1 Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life;
let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life.
Words of life and beauty, teach me faith and duty:
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.
2 Christ, the blessed one, gives to all wonderful words of life;
sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life.
All so freely given, wooing us to heaven: [Refrain]
3 Sweetly echo the gospel call, wonderful words of life;
offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life.
Jesus, only Savior, sanctify forever. [Refrain]
Benediction - Rev. Chad Delaney
People of God,
When we work this week, May we work as though working for the Lord.
When we rest, May we rest in the sovereign grace of God
And when we celebrate the beauty of the world around us, between us and with in, ,
celebrate as a people with the greatest reason for love, joy, and grace.
Go then now in the grace and forgiveness of our Savior,
and in the name of the Creator, the Christ, and the Holy Spirit. Amen
Postlude - “Everything is Changed” [by W. S. Martin ] - Sarah Park