This weekend, we focused on John 11, looking specifically at Jesus' raising Lazarus from the dead. Joe preached on the death of death, and how we can only find life, hope, and promise in Jesus Christ. he also talked about how we can look to Jesus' response to Lazarus' death to see how He feels about the consequences of sin in our lives. The hurt that we experience because of sin also hurts Jesus. He cares deeply for us, and hates what sin has done to us. You can listen to the entire message here. Here's our service plan from this weekend:
Time of Preparation/Prayer "Hungry" (C) [Kathryn Scott] Welcome/Greeting Time Call to Worship (Psalm 117) "All Because of Jesus" (A) [Steve Fee] "I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous)" (D) [Charles Hutchison Gabriel] "Never Once" (A) [Matt Redman, Jason Ingram, Tim Wanstall] "Always" (Bb) [Kristian Stanfill, Jason Ingram] Prayer Message - John 11:17-44 [Joe Hishmeh] Response Time "Christ Is Risen" (Gb) [Matt Maher, Mia Fieldes] Offering/Announcements Reprise of "Christ Is Risen" Dismissal
"Hungry" - We opened our preparation time with this song. Becky Tindell led us as we sang of our hunger for the Lord and our dedication to Him. Jesus is the only one who can meet our needs and take care of us. He is the only one who has the words of eternal life, as Peter said in John 6:68. I felt that this was a great song for our preparation time, and helped to focus our hearts along the lines of Matthew 6:33, seeking first His kingdom and His righteousness.
"All Because of Jesus" - We sang this song because it celebrates the life that we have been given in Christ. It is only because of Him--His life, death, and resurrection--that we have life. Scripture says in Romans and Ephesians that we were "dead in our transgressions" and that we needed Christ to give us life. We were helpless to save ourselves, and were desperate for His salvation. Praise God for His provision, making a way for us where there was no way.
"I Stand Amazed (How Marvelous)" - Becky led us on this song as well. We sang this song because it praises God for His great love for us, demonstrated through the cross, and experienced in us through the life that we have been given because of His great work on our behalf. This new life is both now and forever. In the Bible, the word that is often translated as "eternal" or "everlasting" means more than just length of time; it conveys a sense of quality as well. The life that we have in Christ continues to grow deeper and fuller from here to eternity as we know and experience our Savior and His love.
"Never Once" - We began teaching this song last week, and we continued with it this week. I love this song, and I can't stop singing it. The chorus states an ageless truth in a fresh way when we sing, "Never once did we ever walk alone/ Never once did You leave us on our own/ You are faithful/ God, You are faithful." Our congregation has really taken a hold of this song and is singing it well. For me, probably because of my experience in my journey with Christ thus far, songs that sing of God's faithfulness really resonate with me. That is definitely the case with this song. I cannot get it out of my head, and I don't mind at all! The only difficulty with this song (as with many of Matt Redman's songs) is that the verses are pretty low and the chorus is pretty high. You have to "pick your poison," so to speak, for your congregation to be able to sing together on the chorus.
"Always" - This remains one of my favorite new worship songs. We flowed directly into this song from "Never Once," and the two together were a powerful declaration of God's faithfulness and constancy in all situations. My pastor Joe's comment about it was that it redeems the expression "Oh my God" as it sings it in the chorus as a declaration of confidence. I agree. This song is similar to "Never Once" in that the verses are low and the chorus is pretty high. We did it in Bb, and if we did it in A, the lowest note in the verse reaches down to F#! There's no way most people are singing that... Despite that, our congregation really connects with this song. I have probably heard more comments about being affected by this song than any other since I have been here.
"Christ Is Risen" - We responded to the Word with this song. We have never sung this song before at Fellowship, so I was unsure about how well our congregation would catch on and participate in it. This song was not in the original service plan, but as we met together and Joe shared more about his message, the Lord brought this song to the forefront of my thinking, so we made some changes and inserted it. The risk of our congregation not knowing it was worth the impact it could have in combination with Joe's message. We also tried something different in our service plan, incorporating this song into the end of Joe's message, and tying it with his call for people to believe the gospel message and to "come awake" as the song says. We kept it dynamically quiet before Joe came back up to call people to the gospel, and then we came back to the CH, BR, CH, CH and ramped it up until we were full volume and singing it with all our might. I was moved every time we sang it together, and I think our people connected with it as we declared the powerful truth of the chorus: "Christ is risen from the dead/ Trampling over death by death/ Come awake, come awake/ Come and rise up from the grave/ Christ is risen from the dead/ We are one with Him again/ Come awake, come awake/ Come and rise up from the grave." Amen.
This was a great weekend of worshiping our Savior. Our teams did a fantastic job. I was completely exhausted after this weekend was done, because I also led our children's worship services in the middle of our main services, sang for a wedding Friday night, and for a banquet Sunday night, totaling 11 events for which I sang. I could barely speak this morning. :) God is faithful, and He helped preserve my voice for when I needed it, for which I am very grateful. I am thankful for the opportunity to serve our church in so many different ways this weekend. It seemed like the Lord was calling me to a greater level of servanthood all the way through, and I felt that He was reminding me of His call for me to pour myself out for our people. I was challenged and blessed at the same time. It was a fantastic weekend.
I hope you had a great weekend of worship wherever you were.
In the Son,
p.s. don't forget to check out The Worship Community!