• Collect/Prayer of the Day

    The Collect/Prayer of the Day is one of those moments in the service that gets overlooked. In some congregations this is said by the pastor/priest/minister. In other congregations, the entire congregation participates. 
    The collect of the day is generally a summation of the worship service. It tries to give thematic focus to the day. The collect is kind of like the 60 second intro before the theme song for a sitcom. The early seasons of Seinfeld were great at this. Jerry would appear on stage doing stand-up comedy and his jokes were always connected to the themes the show was about to unfold over the next half-hour. This brief intro and summation reminds you what you've come to participate in. It gives you a preview of what's to come in the show. Likewise, the prayer of the day gives you a preview of what's to come in the readings and the sermon. It sets the tone as quickly as possible for the service.
    Collects are made up of five parts. Not all five parts are always included in every a collect.
    It begins with the address. We name who we are talking to. Examples include:
    • Lord God,
    • Almighty God, 
    • Lord Jesus Christ,
    • Heavenly Father,
    • Holy Spirit,
    The second part is an acknowledgement of God's power, knowledge, or ability to do anything and everything. Examples might include:
    • You are the author of life.
    • You are the Good Shepherd.
    • You have given us every good and perfect gift.
    • By Your providence the world is sustained.
    The third part is the bid or the petition. It's the thing we're actually asking for. Examples might include:
    • Grant to your people the peace that passes all understanding,
    • Protect all of the sheep of Your flock, seek those who are lost, and bind up those who are injured,
    • Strengthen us to share Your good gifts with our neighbors,
    • Help us to be good stewards of Your creation, 
    The fourth part is the result we desire from the petition. Examples might include:
    • So that we may be able to serve You with pure minds.
    • So that all Your sheep from every tribe, nation, language and people will praise Your name.
    • So that they may be blessed by Your grace and generosity.
    • So that together with all creatures, we might live in peace and quietness.
    And the fifth part is a conclusion that typically names the other two persons of the Trinity not being addressed. The Father is most frequently addressed, so it usually goes:
    • through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
    And that's it. Can you guess what is coming in the readings based on these example prayers? Maybe, and maybe not. But hopefully if you were to go back and look at the prayer of the day after the readings and the sermon you would be able to see the common themes being drawn for the day.
  • Prayer of the Church

    The prayers are a time when the congregation brings its burdens before the Lord, and often before each other. Prayers are shared for the sick and dying, the grieving, the hopeless and the helpless. These are the prayers most often requested in my experience. Prayers about an upcoming surgery, recovery from illness, the death of a loved one. 
    But prayers are also made in thanksgiving. People often request prayers as they celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and other occasions. They give thanks when healing has occurred, when jobs are found, when life is good.
    Prayers are made for leaders in the world and the church. Prayers are offered that relate to the Scripture readings for the day.
    The prayers I hear the least, and the prayers I pray the least, are when life is neither good nor bad, when life is humming along at the status quo filled with stress and exhaustion, but lacking in crisis situations. People often don't request prayers to feel more rested, to have more energy, to have more satisfaction with their work, or to have a crisis situation come up so that they will appreciate the routine and status quo more.
    Yet, if you think about the Lord's Prayer, what is it other than a prayer for an ordinary day. Give us this day our daily bread. Give us what we need to survive another day of the status quo. 
    One of the biggest lies the world tells us is that we are missing out, that we deserve more and better, that we won't be satisfied until we upgrade everything. 
    But this is a never ending striving after the wind. It depletes our satisfaction far more than enhances it. Such tireless striving robs us of the ability to enjoy what we have, to notice and appreciate, and pray for the mundane, for daily bread.
    I'd love to see more mundane requests. Because, let's face it, what we consider mundane are some of the greatest blessings we have. Thank you God for my ordinary, mundane car. Thank you God for the technology to communicate with my friends around the globe. Thank you God for my health (even when I'm not taking the best care of my body). 
    Thank you God for roads and grocery stores and books and air conditioning and fingernail clippers and indoor plumbing and sunsets and music and stories and flowers and coffee. 
    You see, our prayers of thanks for and dissatisfaction with the mundane reveal the total and entire point of prayer: all things are dependent upon God. 
    Comedian Kathleen Madigan once joked about the USA's deficit and debt, saying that she'd be more likely to act if the deficit wasn't some astronomical number beyond her comprehension, but was something mashed potatoes. Ordinary things are taken for granted until they are taken away. Then, we don't know how to handle it.
    So let us thank God today for mashed potatoes. Let us thank God for the ordinary. Because let's face it, ordinary just means things we have gotten used to, and every ordinary thing is an absolute marvel.
  • Upcoming Small Changes

    One of the things that has been on my mind a lot lately is how to help with the transition of having our Sunday School kids in worship throughout the whole service. I’ve had a lot of ideas, some of them better than others. I’ve heard several ideas from many of you which I have been grateful for.

    One thing you will notice me doing with more regularity in the coming weeks is explaining parts of the service. These moments won’t be scripted in the bulletin, but they will hopefully be opportunities for the kids to get a down to earth explanation of what is happening, and perhaps the adults will learn a few things as well.

    I also plan to have a time for prayer requests on the second Sunday of each month. Instead of writing out the prayers beforehand, I’ll ask the congregation if there are any prayer requests, write them down, and pray for them. I want to do this for many reasons, but one is to show that we are a community that cares for one another, that brings our burdens and our joys before the Lord and before each other so that we can share in those burdens and joys together. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12, “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”

    Finally, I plan to have an insert for sermon notes. I personally have a hard time listening to sermons without taking notes. As our youngest members begin listening to sermons for the first time, they may find it helpful to jot some things down or draw a picture. You may find that helpful too. And since it is an insert, you can take it home with you and maybe even hang it on your refrigerator.

    Thanks again for your patience as we move forward together in faith.

    God’s blessings on your week.

    Pastor Andy

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