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Opening with Praise in Word and Song:
We begin ToGather with the song "You Never Let Go," sung by Matt Redman, as we focus on God's promised nearness to us through every up and down of life:
Our opening prayer is from Eldon Degge and his series, "Praying with Paul" from Philippians 4:4-7:
Let me rejoice in the Lord always! Again I ask this from you: Let me rejoice always!
Let me be gentle, open to reason, slow to make negative judgments.
Let this forbearing spirit be apparent to everyone.
I know the Lord Jesus is near, so I have no reason to be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and petition, let me present my requests to you with thanksgiving.
I believe in you, Father, a God who transcends all human understanding.
I believe that the peace that comes from you, that transcends all understanding, will keep my heart and mind in Christ Jesus.
In the name of the ever-near Jesus. Amen.
Focusing on the Scriptures:
Our message comes from our Verse of the Day which is found in Psalm 34:18:
The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
As we prepare to open the Scriptures, we sing "Oh Draw Me Lord" with Selah and let our hearts ask God to draw us close:
Phil's message focuses on God's repeated promise to be close to us. The LORD promised to be especially close when we are broken-hearted and crushed. He is also near to empower our ministry efforts in the name of Jesus as well as to go with us through life's most difficult times:
We've heard God's often-repeated promise to be near to us. Let's proclaim and pray for this closeness using the classic hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee," sung by the Sharon Singers of the Sharon Mennonite Bible Institute:
Sharing The Supper:
Jesus is God's clearest message of who he is and how he cares for us (Hebrews 1:1-3; John 1:1-18). Jesus means everything to us. So let's sing "You Are My All in All," with the Pitman Creek Family Singers, as praise to him for his incarnation, life, and sacrifice that bring us life:
"Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father" (John 14:12).
Can Jesus' disciples — including those of us who participate in the Lord's Supper today — do even greater things than the works Jesus did?
Yes, that's what Jesus promised! Anchored in the context of the Last Supper, Jesus promised he would do even greater things through us! That is possible because, even though Jesus' physical presence has left the earth, he promised to still be with us:
"And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age" (Matthew 28:20).
Like the earliest Christians, we participate in The Supper on Sunday, the day of resurrection, not on the day of his crucifixion (Acts 20:7). Joining in The Supper together on Sunday reminds us that Jesus triumphed over sin, death, and hell. Jesus' resurrection reminds us that love is stronger than death and that trust in God is more powerful than anything and anyone opposing us. Just as Jesus joined his disciples in the Passover meal in memory of the Israelites escape from Egypt, we join together in this Supper.
As we remember the promises that Jesus made before his crucifixion, we take courage because we know:
- We are never abandoned in our struggles with sin, evil, and death — Jesus entered our world and faced these things for us and now lives to intercede for us (Hebrews 2:14-18; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 7:25).
- Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to empower us and be with us as a reminder of his victory and his presence with us (John 14:16-17).
- As we share in Jesus body in the bread, we are fashioned into his bodily presence in the world (1 Corinthians 10:16-17).
- As we leave The Table, Jesus' blood not only cleanses us from sin but his Spirit also empowers us to live new lives under a new covenant (Acts 1:8; Luke 22:20).
- As we believe that Jesus triumphed over sin, death, and hell, we have confidence that the power of the resurrection is at work in us (Ephesians 1:17-20).
So yes, as we take this bread and drink this cup, we share something far beyond bread and wine. This simple meal reminds us that Jesus gives us the power to do even greater works than he did because he now lives in us and works through us. His resurrection power fills our lives as we share this bread and this wine and go back into the world as his presence.
Prayer for the Bread:
Prayer for the Cup:
Closing with Praise:
We close with the song "You Promised" (featuring The Slays — Kaden Slay & Melanie Tierce of People & Songs) and a blessing from the Scriptures:
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. [Amen.] (2 Corinthians 13:14)