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REFLECTIONS

 In a world entirely lacking social services, Christians were their brothers' keepers… To cities filled with the homeless and impoverished, Christianity offered charity and hope. To cities filled with newcomers and strangers, Christianity offered immediate fellowship. To cities filled with orphans and widows, Christianity provided a new and expanded sense of family… Christian women benefitted further from their considerable status within the church. We have it from the apostle Paul that women held positions of leadership [in the church]… Christianity also offered a strong community in a disorganized, chaotic world.
     …The simple phrase ‘For God so loved the world …' puzzled educated pagans, who believed, as Aristotle taught, that the gods could feel no love for mere humans. Moreover, a god of mercy was unthinkable, since classical philosophers taught that mercy was a pathological emotion, a defect of character to be outgrown and overcome. The notion that the gods care how we treat one another would also have been dismissed as patently absurd by all sophisticated pagans. When we examine the gods accepted by these same sophisticates, they seem trivial in contrast with "God the Father," and wicked incompetents compared to "His Son." Yet to many pagans, this new teaching was more than absurd. It was also good news.

—Rodney Stark, from “Live Longer, Healthier, and Better: The Untold Benefits of Becoming a Christian in the Ancient World”


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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
August 20, 2017
11th Sunday After Pentecost
Center City Campus


OPENING SENTENCES

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

ARISE MY SOUL ARISE

Arise, my soul, arise, 
shake off your guilty fears; 
The bleeding sacrifice, 
in my behalf appears; 
Before the throne my Surety stands, 
Before the throne my Surety stands, 
My name is written on His hands.

CHORUS
Arise (arise), arise (arise), arise
Arise, my soul, arise. 
Arise (arise), arise (arise), arise
Arise, my soul, arise. 

Shake off your guilty fears and rise

He ever lives above,
for me to intercede; 
His all redeeming love, 
His precious blood, to plead;
His blood atoned for every race, 
His blood atoned for every race, 
And sprinkles now the throne of grace. CHORUS

Five bleeding wounds He bears; 
received on Calvary; 
They pour effectual prayers; 
they strongly plead for me: 
"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry, 
"Forgive him, O forgive," they cry, 
"Nor let that ransomed sinner die!" CHORUS

My God is reconciled; 
His pardoning voice I hear; 
He owns me for His child; 
I can no longer fear
With confidence I now draw nigh, 
With confidence I now draw nigh, 
And "Father, Abba, Father," cry. CHORUS

Charles Wesley,1742 Public Domain.


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GREETING AND PREPARATION

Leader: The Lord be with you.

People: And also with you!

CALL TO WORSHIP

Leader: Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty.

People: Just and true are your ways, King of the nations.

Leader: Who will not fear you, Lord, and bring glory to your name?

People: For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before you.

—Revelation 15:3-4, NIV

PRAYER OF INVOCATION


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THERE IS A FOUNTAIN

There is a fountain filled with blood, drawn from Immanuel's veins;
And sinners plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains
Lose all their guilty stains, lose all their guilty stains
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood, lose all their guilty stains

The dying thief rejoiced to see that fountain in his day
And there have I, as vile as he, washed all my sins away; 
Washed all my sins away, washed all my sins away; 
And there have I, as vile as he, washed all my sins away

E'er since by faith I saw the stream your flowing wounds supply
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die
And shall be till I die, and shall be till I die
Redeeming love has been my theme, and shall be till I die

Then in a nobler, sweeter song, I’ll sing your power to save,
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave
Lies silent in the grave, lies silent in the grave;
When this poor lisping, stammering tongue lies silent in the grave.

Dear dying Lamb, your precious blood shall never lose its power
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved to sin no more
Be saved, to sin no more, be saved to sin no more
Till all the ransomed church of God be saved, to sin no more

Authors Keith Getty and Stuart Townend, 2005.


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O LOVE THAT WILL NOT LET ME GO

O Love that will not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.


Words and Music by George Matheson, 2010.


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CALL TO CONFESSION

Leader: Since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.

—Hebrews 10:21-22, 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: The Lord is faithful in all his words, and gracious in all his deeds.The Lord upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.

—Psalm 145:13-14, 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 18:1-11, NRSV

1After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. 2There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to see them, 3and, because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them, and they worked together—by trade they were tentmakers. 4Every sabbath he would argue in the synagogue and would try to convince Jews and Greeks. 5When Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul was occupied with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that the Messiah was Jesus. 6When they opposed and reviled him, in protest he shook the dust from his clothes and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am innocent. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”

7Then he left the synagogue and went to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a worshiper of God; his house was next door to the synagogue. 8Crispus, the official of the synagogue, became a believer in the Lord, together with all his household; and many of the Corinthians who heard Paul became believers and were baptized. 9One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; 10for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.” 11He stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Minister: This is the word of the Lord.

People: Thanks be to God!

SERMON
Sermon Series: World Upside Down (Acts)
Sermon Title: The Gospel & the City
Speaker: Jared Ayers


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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 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!m

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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I NEED THEE EVERY HOUR

I need Thee every hour,
most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like
Thine can peace afford.

CHORUS
I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.

I need Thee every hour,
stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their
power when Thou art nigh.

I need Thee every hour,
in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide,
or life is in vain.

I need Thee every hour,
most Holy One;
O make me Thine indeed,
Thou blessed Son.

Music by Robert Lowry. Lyrics by Annie S. Hawks, 1872.


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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

HOW DEEP THE FATHER’S LOVE FOR US

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
And make a wretch His treasure.
How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away.
As wounds which mar the Chosen One
Bring many sons to glory.

Behold the Man upon the cross
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished.
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished.

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom.
But I will boast in Jesus Christ,
His death and resurrection.

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer.
But this I know with all my heart,
His wounds have paid my ransom.

REPEAT

Music & lyrics by Stuart Townsend, 1995.


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BENEDICTION

Minister: God has shown you what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

—from Micah 6:8, NIV

People:   Amen.

DISMISSAL

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

People:   Thanks be to God!

                

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