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Jesus set out to establish a comprehensive way of life that would shape the behavior and capture the imaginations of all the people of the world. Jesus had no intention of working out a private righteousness with a few people, withdrawing from the mainstream of worldly life and creating little enclaves of love in which people could cultivate peace with God through study and prayer and good works. He had his eyes on the world: God so loved the world… Go into all the world.

Jesus launched his public ministry by saying, “The time’s fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near.” When Jesus uses the word “kingdom,” and he uses it repeatedly and prominently, he is speaking in the largest and most comprehensive of terms. Nothing we do or feel or say is excluded from “kingdom.” And if this is God’s kingdom, which it most certainly is, it means that everything that goes on is under God’s rule, is penetrated by God’s rule, is judged by God’s rule- every one of my personal thoughts and feelings and actions, yes; but also the stock market in New York, the famine in the Sudan, your first grandchildren born last night in Atlanta, the poverty in Calcutta, the suicide bombings in Tel Aviv and New York and Baghdad, the abortions in Dallas, the Wednesday-night prayer meetings in Syracuse, the bank mergers being negotiated in Chicago, Mexican immigrants picking avocados in California- everything, absolutely everything, large and small: the kingdom of God in which Jesus is king.

What we need to get a feel for is the sheer scale in which Jesus is working, the largest scale imaginable- kingdom. His intention at the very outset was to establish a kingdom on earth, beginning in Palestine, but not confined to Palestine. It still is.

—Eugene Peterson, from The Jesus Way


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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
July 23, 2017
7th Sunday After Pentecost

Main Line Campus

OPENING SENTENCES

Leader:  Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth. —Psalm 124:8

HOW FIRM A FOUNDATION

How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
To You, who who for refuge to Jesus have fled?

“Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by my righteous, omnipotent hand.”

“When through fiery trials thy pathway shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.”

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of grief shall not overflow
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify thee to thy deepest distress.”

“The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to break,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.”

2001 Choristers Guild. Authors John Rippon and Margaret R. Tucker.


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GREETING AND PREPARATION

Leader: The Lord be with you.

People: And also with you!

CALL TO WORSHIP

Leader:     Let us worship God, our light and our salvation.

People:     The Lord is the stronghold of our lives. We desire to live in God’s house and to seek God in his holy temple.

Leader:     We have come with shouts of joy, to sing and to make music to the Lord.

People:     Let us worship God in spirit and in truth. Teach us your ways and make straight our paths in this hour of worship and always.

—Based on Psalm 27; John 4:23

PRAYER OF INVOCATION


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DRAW ME NEARER

I am yours O Lord I have heard your voice
And it told of Your love to me
But I long to rise in the arms of faith
And be closer drawn to Thee

CHORUS
Draw me nearer
To the cross where Thou hast died
Draw me nearer
To Thy precious bleeding side
Draw me nearer
Draw me nearer

Consecrate me now to your service Lord
By the power of grace divine
Let my soul look up with a steadfast hope
And my will be lost in Thine

There are depths of love that I cannot know
'Til I cross the narrow sea
There are heights of joy that I may not reach
'Til I rest in peace with Thee

Authors Fanny Jane Crosby, William H. Doane, and Tommy Walker.
2005 Bridge Building Music, Inc.


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FATHER LONG BEFORE CREATION

Father long before creation
Thou had chosen us in love
And that love so deep so moving
Draws us close to Christ above
Still it keeps us, still it keeps us
firmly fixed in Christ alone

CHORUS
And the world will sing His love,
Yes the world will sing His love,
And we'll all join hands,
every woman, every man

to sing his love
to sing His love

Though the world may change its fashion
Yet our God is e're the same
His compassion and His covenant
Through all ages will remain God's own children, 
God's own children Must forever praise His name

God's compassion is my story
Is my boasting all the day
Mercy free and never failing
Moves our will directs my way
God so loved us, God so loved us
That His only Son He gave

Loving Father now before
Thee We will ever praise thy love
And our songs will sound unceasing
Til we reach our home above, 
Giving glory, giving glory
To our God and to the Lamb

Public Domain. Authors Jones Francis and William H Monk.


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CALL TO CONFESSION

Leader:     The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

—Psalm 51:17, NRSV

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

People:    O Lord, great God, Father most gracious, filled with mercy and steadfast love, we are embarrassed to come before you, for we have preferred the ways of this world to your ways, for we have rebelled against your wisdom and we have gotten into trouble, for we have rejected your fatherly guidance and have gotten lost altogether. O Lord, great God, Father, hear us when we pour out our sorrows before you. Forgive us, not on the ground of our own righteousness, but on the ground of your great mercy in the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ. It is in his name that we pray, for he is our Savior and the mediator of the covenant of grace. Amen.

—Based on Daniel 9:4-19

SILENT CONFESSION & WORDS OF PARDON

Leader:     Through Jesus Christ forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. In Christ we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace. 

—From Acts 13:38; Ephesians 1:7, NRSV

SONG OF RESPONSE - TRISAGION

Holy God. Holy and Mighty.
Holy immortal One, have mercy, have mercy on us.
REPEAT

Holy God. Holy and Mighty.
Holy immortal One, have mercy, have mercy
Have mercy, have mercy on us.

PASSING THE PEACE & ANNOUNCEMENTS


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THE WORD OF GOD

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
SCRIPTURE READING
Acts 12:1-24, NRSV

    1About that time King Herod laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. 2He had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword. 3After he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. (This was during the festival of Unleavened Bread.) 4When he had seized him, he put him in prison and handed him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending to bring him out to the people after the Passover.

    5While Peter was kept in prison, the church prayed fervently to God for him. 6The very night before Herod was going to bring him out, Peter, bound with two chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. 7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his wrists. 8The angel said to him, “Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.” He did so. Then he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” 9Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening with the angel’s help was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10After they had passed the first and the second guard, they came before the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went outside and walked along a lane, when suddenly the angel left him. 11Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” 12As soon as he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many had gathered and were praying. 13When he knocked at the outer gate, a maid named Rhoda came to answer. 14On recognizing Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the gate, she ran in and announced that Peter was standing at the gate. 15They said to her, “You are out of your mind!” But she insisted that it was so. They said, “It is his angel.” 16Meanwhile Peter continued knocking; and when they opened the gate, they saw him and were amazed. 17He motioned to them with his hand to be silent, and described for them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he added, “Tell this to James and to the believers.” Then he left and went to another place. 18When morning came, there was no small commotion among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 19When Herod had searched for him and could not find him, he examined the guards and ordered them to be put to death. Then he went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.

    20Now Herod was angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they came to him in a body; and after winning over Blastus, the king’s chamberlain, they asked for a reconciliation, because their country depended on the king’s country for food 21On an appointed day Herod put on his royal robes, took his seat on the platform, and delivered a public address to them.


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22The people kept shouting, “The voice of a god, and not of a mortal!” 23And immediately, because he had not given the glory to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. 24But the word of God continued to advance and gain adherents.

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

SERMON
Sermon Series: World Upside Down (Acts)
Sermon Title: Execution, Escape, & Getting Eaten by Worms
Speaker: Jared Ayers

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 catholic1 church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen. (1that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places).


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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:  Holy and right it is, and our joyful duty to give thanks to you at all times and in all places, O Lord our Creator, almighty and everlasting God! You created heaven with all its hosts and the earth with all its plenty. You have given us life and being, and preserve us by your providence. But you have shown us the fullness of your love in sending into the world your Son, Jesus Christ, the eternal Word, made flesh for us and for our salvation. For the precious gift of this mighty Savior who has reconciled us to you we praise and bless you, O God. With your whole Church on earth and with all the company of heaven we worship and adore your glorious 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:  Most righteous God, we remember in this Supper the perfect sacrifice offered once on the cross by our Lord Jesus Christ for the sin of the whole world. In the joy of his resurrection and in expectation of his coming again, we offer ourselves to you as holy and living sacrifices. Together we proclaim the mystery of the faith.


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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:    Send your Holy Spirit upon us, we pray, that the bread which we break and the cup which we bless may be to us the communion of the body and blood of Christ. Grant that, being joined together in him, we may attain to the unity of the faith and grow up in all things into Christ our Lord. And as this grain has been gathered from many fields into one loaf, and these grapes from many hills into one cup, grant, O Lord, that your whole Church may soon be gathered from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!

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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INSTRUMENTAL REFLECTION


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PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Minister:    Lord, in your mercy,

People:    hear our prayer.

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

LEANING ON THE EVERLASTING ARMS

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms,
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

CHORUS
Leaning, leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms,
Leaning, leaning,
leaning on the everlasting arms.


Oh, how sweet to walk in the pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms,
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have bless-ed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

1992, ION Publishing. Authors, Kevin Boese, Elisha Albright Hoffman,
Philip Janz, and Anthony J. Showalter


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BENEDICTION

Minister:  Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! 

—Revelation 7:12, NRSV

People:   Amen.

DISMISSAL

Minister:  Let us go forth in the name of Christ.

People:   Thanks be to God!

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