We're glad you joined us for ToGather.church! We are praying that our time in song, prayer, Communion, praise, and Scripture will bless you. No matter where you are, please know that God's people from all around the world are joining you in this time of special worship. (Find out more.)
Opening with Praise in Word and Song:
As we join our hearts to worship God, let's humbly thank him for his love and grace using the song "On Bended Knee" led by Hallal Worship:
Our first prayer is an adaptation of 2 Timothy 2:20-21 from "The Passion Translation":
Focusing on the Scriptures:
We center our lives on honoring Jesus in all we think, say, and do. To do so effectively, purely, honorably, and graciously, we must look to God to supply us with the necessary strength and the purity. Let's sing "God I Look to You" with Jenn Johnson, Francesca Battistelli, and Bethel Music:
Offering ourselves to God in holiness and purity is the emphasis of our Verse of the Day and the focus of our ToGather message:
Do not offer the parts of your body to sin, as instruments of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God, as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer the parts of your body to him as instruments of righteousness (Romans 6:13 NIV84).
Let's join Phil as he helps reflect on this verse:
In this next song, "Follow You Anywhere" with Passion and Kristian Stanfill, we commit to be vessels of honor that bring the grace of Jesus to the world:
Sharing The Supper:
As we sing "Christ Above Me" with the Zoe Group, we prepare our hearts to share in Holy Communion:
Let's focus on these words from Scripture and reflect on what they mean for us as we share the Lord's Supper together:
[Jesus promised] "Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life. Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live (John 5:24-25).
To help us with the significance of these verses, consider another time in Jesus' life when he said, "Talitha koum!" These simple words mean "Little girl, I say to you, get up" (Mark 5:41). They were just what a parent might say, trying to nudge a daughter awake in the morning in time to get breakfast and get to school. Jesus' next words were equally simple, "Give her something to eat." Almost exactly what someone might expect after a little girl had awakened to begin her busy day — after all, breakfast after a good night of sleep is the most important meal of the day!
This little girl was dead at the age of 12. Jairus, the dad, had come to Jesus for help. Jesus' trip to come and help his little girl had been interrupted by an older woman. Yes, this older woman had deep needs, but this was his daughter, and her life was at stake. Death was closing in on a family about to lose a child, about to face an unspeakably unfair horror. By the time Jesus had helped the older woman, word had begun to spread that Jesus didn't need to trouble himself to come and help the little girl. She had died. It was too late. She was gone. Her family was devastated. The neighbors were mourning (Mark 5:21-43).
But Jesus said, "The child is not dead but asleep." The mourners laughed at these words of Jesus. They knew better. They knew death. Dead people don't rise. Dead people stay dead. The broken-hearted ones left behind are never fully mended.
Jesus "ruined" every funeral he attended. He was about to quietly "ruin" this one using simple words of authority and grace.
Like that little girl's body that had died and was brought back to life, Jesus' body didn't stay dead after his crucifixion. In dying, Jesus defeated death, hell, and sin. Then, on the first day of the week, on Sunday, Jesus got up. He got something to eat. He changed everything for us just as he changed everything for Jairus and his family. Death is no longer something we must fear; it is sleeping, yet still alive in Jesus, waiting until the Lord says to us, "Get up!" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Philippians 1:19-24).
We gather around the Table of the Lord on the first day of the week as the first Christians did nearly 2,000 years ago. We often call it Communion. We share a very simple meal of bread and wine, yet in the hands of Jesus, this simple meal is not so simple: This meal is something beyond bread and wine. There is more than just flatbread and grape juice as we take this simple meal. Just as Jesus' words to the girl were simple, yet so much more than anyone could imagine, so also are this bread and wine.
Jesus told us to eat this simple bread and drink this simple wine. That we still follow his instructions today is a reminder that something profound happened. Jesus died. His body was abused — whipped, torn, thorn-pierced, and punctured by nails and spear. That battered body bled. That body died. That body was buried.
Our lives, like the life of Jairus' little girl, are joined to Jesus, who has power over the grave (Colossians 3:1-4). Paul reminds us as Christians that those we lose temporarily in death are not dead, just sleeping. They await the simple words of Jesus, "I say to you, get up!"
Jairus' little girl, this bread, this wine, and this day coalesce to remind us that Jesus' death was not in vain. Our lives are not lived in vain. Death may appear to mock us, but we are all headed to a rendezvous with Jesus' future for us. This future is based on what is simple — simple words and a simple meal — yet what is simple is leading us to glory beyond anything we can imagine (Romans 8:18).
Prayer for the Bread:
Prayer for the Cup:
Closing with Prayer and Commitment:
Let's share in this prayer of dedication and self-sacrifice, adapted from Romans 12:1-2 in Eldon Degge's "Praying with Paul":
I present my body to you, O Lord, as a living sacrifice. May it be holy and pleasing to you.
Let this be my spiritual act of worship, not done at set times of remembrance, but constantly, moment by moment, day by day, night by night.
Let me not be conformed any longer to the pattern of this world, which is doomed to pass away. Instead, let me be transformed by the renewing of my mind so that I may be able to test and approve what your holy will for me is — what is good, pleasing, and perfect.
By the authority of Jesus and in his name, I ask for this growth in grace. Amen.
We end today's ToGather with the song, "Witholding Nothing" sung by William McDowell:
May we offer all of ourselves to God in love as a fitting response to the grace he has demonstrated for us in Jesus.