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GATHERING BEFORE GOD
May 3, 2015
Fifth Sunday of Easter

PRELUDE  

GREETING AND PREPARATION

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

CALL TO WORSHIP

Leader: Not to us, O Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness.
People: Why do the nations say, "Where is their God?" Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him.

Leader: O house of Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and shield. O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and shield. You who fear him, trust in the Lord! He is their help and shield.
People: It is not the dead, who praise the Lord, those who go down to silence; it is we who extol the Lord, both now and forevermore. Praise the Lord!

— Psalm 115

PRAYER OF INVOCATION


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 ALL MUST BE WELL

Through the love of God our Savior, all will be well;
Free and changeless is His favor; all is well.
Precious is the blood that healed us;
Perfect is the grace that sealed us;
Strong the hand stretched forth to shield us;
All must be well.

Though we pass through tribulation, all will be well;
Ours is such a full salvation; all is well.
Happy still in God confiding,
Fruitful, if in Christ abiding,
Steadfast through the Spirit’s guiding,
All must be well.

We expect a bright tomorrow; all will be well;
Faith can sing through days of sorrow, all is well.
On our Father’s love relying, Jesus every need supplying,
Yes in living, or in dying, All must be well.

On our Father’s love relying,
Jesus every need supplying,
Yes in living, or in dying,
All must be well.


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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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RISING SUN

 Praise Him all you sinners
Sing oh sing you weary
Oh praise Him all you children of God
We lift high His glory
Shown throughout our stories
We praise Him as the children of God

CHORUS
Our Great Redeemer
Glorious Savior
Your name is higher than the rising sun
Light of the morning
You shine forever
Your name is higher than the rising sun
Your name is higher than the rising sun

Praise His name forever
Speak it loud and clear now
Oh praise Him all you children of God

CHORUS

Hallelujah name above all
Simply to speak Your name is praise
Hallelujah I will always Forever we lift your name in praise


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CALL TO CONFESSION 

Leader: No one who conceals transgressions will prosper, but one who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.

— Proverbs 28:13, NRSV

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

People: Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear, and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future in which we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image; through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen.

Forgive us our half-hearted devotion and our double-minded spirit. In the name of him who refused to save himself we pray. Amen.

SILENT CONFESSION 

WORDS OF PARDON

Leader: The Lord God said: A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

– Ezekiel 36:26 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 8:26-40, NRSV  

26Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a wilderness road.) 27So he got up and went. Now there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of the Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of her entire treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship 28and was returning home; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. 29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over to this chariot and join it.” 30So Philip ran up to it and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah. He asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?” 31He replied, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to get in and sit beside him. 32Now the passage of the scripture that he was reading was this:         
“Like a sheep he was led to the slaughter,
and like a lamb silent before its shearer,
so he does not open his mouth.
33In his humiliation justice was denied him.
Who can describe his generation?
For his life is taken away from the earth.”
34The eunuch asked Philip, “About whom, may I ask you, does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” 35Then Philip began to speak, and starting with this scripture, he proclaimed to him the good news about Jesus. 36As they were going along the road, they came to some water; and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water! What is to prevent me from being baptized?” 38He commanded the chariot to stop, and both of them, Philip and the eunuch, went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoicing. 40But Philip found himself at Azotus, and as he was passing through the region, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

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

PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Sermon Series: Practice Resurrection
Sermon Title:
Belonging
Speaker: Vito Baldini


REFLECTIONS

 To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths,
who choose the things that please me
and hold fast my covenant,
I will give, in my house and within my walls,
a monument and a name
better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
that shall not be cut off.   
— Isaiah 56:4-5, NRSV


When the eunuch’s story of shame is refracted through the story of the cross and resurrection of Jesus, it becomes a narrative of redemption, restoration, and hope.
 — Thomas G. Long, from Feasting on the Word  

The fellowship of the Christians created a community wherein true justice was worked out, wherein health, loving relationships were the norm, and wherein response to the society was one of benefaction an compassion.   
— Scot McKnight, from A Community Called Atonement


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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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BEFORE THE THRONE

Before the throne of God above
I have a strong and perfect plea.
A great high Priest whose Name is Love
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

My name is graven on His hands,
My name is written on His heart.
I know that while in Heaven He stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.

When Satan tempts me to despair
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end of all my sin.

Because the sinless Savior died
My sinful soul is counted free.
For God the Just is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.

CHORUS
Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Praise the One,
Risen Son of God!


Behold Him there the risen Lamb,
My perfect spotless righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace.

One in Himself I cannot die.
My soul is purchased by His blood,
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ my Savior and my God!

CHORUS


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COMMUNION PRAYER
    
People: Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, we thank you for feeding us in these mysteries with the spiritual food of the most precious body and blood of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, assuring us of your love and faithfulness, giving our souls strength and refreshment. And now, Father, grant us power through your Holy Spirit to go into the world as your representatives, to love and serve you in every sphere of life; through Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory now and for ever. 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

ALL CREATURES OF OUR GOD & KING

All creatures of our God and King
Lift up your voice and with us sing
O praise Him, Alleluia!
Thou burning sun with golden beam
thou silver moon with softer gleam
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou rushing wind that art so strong
ye clouds that sail in Heav’n along
O praise Him, Alleluia!
Thou rising moon, in praise rejoice
ye lights of evening, find a voice
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

Let all things their Creator bless
and worship Him in humbleness
O praise Him, Alleluia!
Praise, praise the Father, praise the Son
and praise the Spirit, three in One
O praise Him, O praise Him
Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!


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BENEDICTION

Minister: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

—Romans 15:5-6

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

SUMMER INTERNSHIP
For six weeks this summer, Liberti is partnering the Aquinas Center to host an internship for undergraduates interested in urban ministry. Through this internship, we seek to engage college students in a multicultural experience with immigrants in South Philadelphia. Interns will also be discipled and mentored, as to help them grow in Christ and discern their gifts and calling. For more information, and to apply, head to libertichurch.org/internship.

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.

ONE TABLE: A CELEBRATION OF COMMUNITY
Aquinas Center, one of our mercy partners in South Philly, is hosting a community party to help fund their work on Saturday, May 9, from 11:00 AM - 3:00 PM. This event will feature kids activities, multiethnic food, a craft beer garden, and a mural dedication. Tickets are $20 ($25 at the door), and include two food items and one drink. Purchase tickets and learn more at onetable.brownpapertickets.com.

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!

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