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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
May 17, 2015
Ascension Sunday

PRELUDE  

GREETING AND PREPARATION

Leader: Alleluia! Christ is risen.
People: The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

CALL TO WORSHIP

Leader: Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with loud songs of joy.
People: For the LORD, the Most High, is awesome, a great king over all the earth.
Leader: God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
People: Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises.

—Psalm 47:1-2, 5-6, NRSV

PRAYER OF INVOCATION


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LORD I NEED YOU

Lord, I come, I confess
Bowing here I find my rest
Without You I fall apart
You're the One that guides my heart

CHORUS
Lord, I need You, oh, I need You
Every hour I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You

Where sin runs deep Your grace is more
Where grace is found is where You are
And where You are, Lord, I am free
Holiness is Christ in me

CHORUS

Teach my song to rise to You
When temptation comes my way
And when I cannot stand I'll fall on You
Jesus, You're my hope and stay

CHORUS

You're my one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You
My one defense, my righteousness
Oh God, how I need You


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THE CHURCH’S ONE FOUNDATION

The church’s one foundation
Is Jesus Christ her Lord,
She is His new creation
By water and the Word.
From heaven He came and sought her
To be His holy bride;
With His own blood He bought her,
And for her life He died.

Elect from every nation,
Yet one over all the earth;
Her charter of salvation,
One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses,
Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses,
With every grace endued.

Mid toil and tribulation,
And tumult of her war,
She waits the consummation
Of peace forevermore;
’Til, with the vision glorious,
Her longing eyes are blessed,
And the great church victorious
Shall be the church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
With those whose rest is won.
O happy ones and holy!
Lord, give us grace that we
Like them, the meek and lowly,
On high may dwell with Thee.


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GRACE THAT IS GREATER

Marvelous grace of our loving Lord
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary's mount outpoured -
there where the blood of the Lamb was spilt

CHORUS
Grace, grace, God's grace
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within
Grace, grace, God's grace
Grace that is greater than all our sin


Sin and despair like the sea-waves cold
Threaten the soul with infinite loss
Grace that is greater, yes, grace untold 
Points to the refuge, the mighty cross.

CHORUS

Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace
Freely bestowed on all who believe!
You that are longing to see His face,
Will you this moment His grace receive?

CHORUS


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CALL TO CONFESSION 

Leader: God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  

—John 3:16, NRSV

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

People: O God, you have shown us the way of life through your Son, Jesus Christ. We confess with shame our slowness to learn of him, our failure to follow him, and our reluctance to bear the cross. Have mercy on us, Lord, and forgive us. We confess the poverty of our worship, our neglect of fellowship and of the means of grace, our hesitating witness for Christ, our evasion of responsibilities in our service, our imperfect stewardship of your gifts. Have mercy on us, Lord, and forgive us. Amen.

SILENT CONFESSION 

WORDS OF PARDON

Leader: You did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.

—Romans 8:15-17, NRSV

SONG OF RESPONSE - KYRIE ELEISON

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on us.
Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy, Lord have mercy on us. 
REPEAT


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THE WORD OF GOD

SCRIPTURE READING

Acts 1:1-11, NRSV  
 
1In the first book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus did and taught from the beginning 2until the day when he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. 3After his suffering he presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. 4While staying with them, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem, but to wait there for the promise of the Father. “This,” he said, “is what you have heard from me; 5for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

6So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” 9When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. 10While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. 11They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Minister: This is the word of the Lord.
People: Thanks be to God!

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Sermon Series: Practice Resurrection
Sermon Title: Witness

Speaker: Steve Huber


REFLECTIONS

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.

— Albert Einstein

It’s better to have me standing here talking to you and you have the Holy Spirit, than to have Jesus standing here talking to you and you not have the gift of the Holy Spirit.     

 — Sinclair Ferguson

Before they are preachers, leaders or church planters, the disciples are to be lovers! This is the test of whether or not they have known Jesus…Our love for one another, to the extent that it imitates and conforms to the cross-love of Jesus for us, is evangelistic.

― Tim Chester, Total Church: A Radical Reshaping Around Gospel and Community


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APOSTLES CREED

Minister: Let us say what we believe.

People: We believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. We believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.  He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried; he descended to hell. The third day he rose again from the dead. He ascended to heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty. From there he will come to judge the living and the dead. We believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.


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 THE LORD’S TABLE

THE GREAT THANKSGIVING  

The Lord be with you. 
And also with you.

Lift up your hearts now!  
We lift them to the Lord. 

Let us give thanks to the Lord our saving God.
It is right and good, always and everywhere.
To give thanks, to the Lord. 

Minister: With joy we praise you, gracious God, for you have created heaven and earth, made us in your image, and kept covenant with us—even when we fell into sin. We give you thanks for Jesus Christ, our Lord, who by his glorious resurrection overcame the power of sin and gave us new life. Therefore we join our voices with all the saints and angels and the whole creation to proclaim the glory of your name, saying:

Holy, holy, holy, God of power and might.
The whole earth is full of Your glory,
hosanna in the highest! 
Holy, holy, holy, God of power and might.
The whole earth is full of Your glory,
hosanna in the highest! 

Minister: By your power you raised Jesus from death to life. Through his victory over the grave we are set free from the bonds of sin and the fear of death to share the glorious freedom of the children of God. In his rising to life you promise eternal life to all who believe in him. We praise you that as we break bread in faith, we shall know the risen Christ among us.


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Your death, O Christ, we proclaim.
Your rising celebrate!
Your coming Lord we await, to make all things new.
(REPEAT)

Minister: Gracious God, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, that the bread we break and the cup we bless may be the communion of the body and blood of Christ. By your Spirit make us one with Christ, that we may be one with all who share this feast, united in ministry in every place. As this bread is Christ’s body for us, send us out to be the body of Christ in the world.

Praise to the Father,
praise to the Son, 
praise to the Spirit, 
Our God the Three in One.  

WORDS OF INSTITUTION

Minister: Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us.         
People: Therefore, let us keep the feast. 

HOLY COMMUNION        

Minister: The gifts of God for the people of God.     

Gluten-free communion wafers are available at the welcome table in the front lobby of the church. Please pick one up prior to coming forward to take communion. 

Holy Communion, also called the Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, is the family meal of Christians. We invite all committed followers of Jesus Christ to partake of this sacrament: those who are baptized members of a congregation that proclaims the Gospel, who are at peace with God and their neighbor, and who seek strength to live more faithfully for Christ.


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PRAYERS FOR REFLECTION

If you are not a Christian, or if you are not prepared to share in this meal, we encourage you to spend this time in prayer. We hope that this time is helpful to you as you consider your relationship with Jesus Christ and with his people, the church. If you are unable to receive Communion, we invite you to meditate on one of the following prayers: 

PRAYER FOR THOSE SEARCHING FOR TRUTH: Lord Jesus, you claim to be the way, the truth, and the life. Grant that I might be undaunted by the cost of following you as I consider the reasons for doing so. If what you claim is true, please guide me, teach me, and open to me the reality of who you are. Give me an understanding of you that is coherent, convincing, and that leads to the life that you promise. Amen.

PRAYER OF BELIEF: Lord Jesus, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but through you I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. I thank you for paying my debt, bearing my punishment on the cross, and offering forgiveness and new life. Knowing that you have been raised from the dead, I turn from my sins and receive you as Savior and Lord. Amen.

PRAYER OF COMMITMENT: Lord Jesus, you have called us to follow you in baptism and in a life of committed discipleship in your church. Grant that I may take the necessary steps to be one with your people, and live in the fullness of your Spirit. Amen.


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MESSIAH

Look, the road is narrow and hard to find
With secret battles inside our minds
Who can last.
God we need your strength to find
Your light to guide us through the night
You're our only chance.

CHORUS
Messiah, Messiah, Messiah save us.

Run, I want to run to your open hand
But father I can barely stand
On my own.
Now, like the children of Abraham
We're reaching out for the promised land
For our home.

CHORUS

You are our only hope.
You are our only hope.
You are our only hope.

CHORUS


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COMMUNION PRAYER
    
People: Eternal God, we give you thanks for this holy mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Grant that we may go into the world in the strength of your Spirit, to give ourselves for others in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Minister: Let us pray as our Lord Jesus has taught us:     
People: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us. Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil. For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.


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SENDING INTO GOD’S WORLD

OFFERING

I HAVE DECIDED

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
Will you decide now to follow Jesus?
No turning back, no turning back.


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BENEDICTION

Minister: May God’s love sustain you, and may you love those who surround you. May God’s Spirit empower you, and may you empower all those you meet. May God’s joy fill your hearts, and may this joy overflow to the ends of the earth for God’s glory, now and forever.

People: Amen.

DISMISSAL

Minister: Go out now, in the hope of the resurrected Lord Jesus, to love and serve the world.
People: Thanks be to God!


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ANNOUNCEMENTS

SMALL FRY SUMMER CARNIVAL
On Saturday, May 23, Small Fry volunteers and students will host a Summer Kick-Off Carnival complete with games, food and music. This is a cooperative event with ODUNDE, Web Builders for Kids, and The Urban Youth League basketball program. We are looking for all kinds of volunteers to cover everything from face-painting to setup. The time commitment would be 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM. Please come out and have fun with us! Please contact our volunteer coordinator Liz Ferro at elizabeth@small-fry.org.

BABY BOTTLE FUNDRAISER
For the next several weeks, we’ll have baby bottles at the connect table. You can take one home, fill it with loose change, and bring it back on Father’s Day, June 21. These funds will support Alpha Pregnancy Services (in Center City) and YoungLives (on the Main Line), both of which are ministries that serve new moms in need.

SUMMER VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
If you are new at Liberti, or have been coming for a while and have yet to get connected, we would love for you to serve with us on Sunday mornings this summer! We’re in need of volunteers in kids ministry, on the worship team, and on our setup and hospitality teams, so that we can continue to live and share the gospel each week. Please contact Ashley Somers (ashley@liberti.org) to talk more about how to best use your gifts!

PRAYER REQUESTS

This week, please pray alongside us for…
Our Church — For those who are on the women’s retreat, that their time away is physically and spiritually refreshing.
Our City — For the many immigrants and refugees who call this city home.
Our World — For the tens of thousands of people who have been affected by the earthquake in Nepal - especially those who are in mourning and those who have been displaced - that they would soon know relief.

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