Guide for Worship
May 24, 2020

Welcome to worship! Today we explore community, which has taken on new meaning while we shelter in place. One of the positives of this whole experience is that being apart has reminded us the value of being together.

Hymn of Community

The Servant Song

Click on this text to view the lyrics of the hymn and sing along.

We are travelers on a journey
Fellow pilgrims on the road
We are here to help peach other
walk the mile and bear the load.
I will hold the Christ light for you
in the nighttime of your fear;
I will hold my hand out to you,
speak the peace you long to hear.

Sister, let me be your servant,
Let me be as Christ to you;
Pray that I may have the grace to
Let you be my servant, too.
Brother, let me be your servant,
Let me be as Christ to you;
Pray that I may have the grace to
Let you be my servant, too.

I will weep when you are weeping,
When you laugh, I’ll laugh with you;
I will share your joy and sorrow,
Till we’ve seen this journey thro’.
When we sing to God in heaven,
We shall find such harmony,
Born of all we’ve known together
Of Christ’s love and agony.

 

Scripture – Ephesians 1:15-23

 

15 I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason

16 I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers.

17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him,

18 so that, with the eyes of your heart enlightened, you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints,

19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power.

20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places,

21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come.

22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church,

23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Meditation

How You Wear It – Christopher Ingram

Listen to the sermon using the player above, or click this summary to read the complete text. An archive of this and other sermons is found on the Yates sermon page.

In our reading today, the Apostle Paul is writing to churches in and around Ephesus, in modern-day Turkey. Acts 19 tells how Paul participated in the evangelization of the region. In fact, he writes his first letter to the Corinthians from there (1 Cor. 16:8) and even implies enduring an ordeal there, having “fought wild beasts” (1 Cor. 15:32). Ephesus, and the ministry he did there, was important to Paul. But now the church has grown, and it does not seem that the apostle has met these new Christians personally. He is writing to encourage and instruct them. So he begins by affirming what he has heard about their faith – their active trust in what God has done and will do by living lives that participate in, respond to, and reflect what God has done in Jesus Christ.

Their faith is closely connected with their “love for all God’s people.” (Eph. 1:15) This kind of love is more than sentimentality and warm feelings. It is love in action. Read on in the letter and you find how “faith” and “love” are fleshed out by pursuing unity and bringing down barriers to reconciliation and unity in the world. The entire letter makes clear that a faithful and loving community in Christ should never bear evidence of the fraction and disunity that plagues the world. The desire to share God’s transforming love rooted in active faith can only be acted upon by a church that “walks the talk.”

As a matter of first importance, Paul prays for the church. Prayer is the beginning of all work with and for God. That’s how he encourages Timothy in his first letter to him: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people.” (1 Tim. 2:1) So often, as active Christians, we fall into the trap of believing that prayer is our last resort, but in his words and actions, the apostle makes clear that prayer is that thing that happens “first of all.” He prays that in their minds, they would know God more and more. He prays that their hearts would be moved to committed action as they grasp the hope that comes from God. That is when we become alive with Christ – when we are switched on, ready to serve, and highly motivated because we have begun to feel the power and the wonder of the truth that we have been taught.

It is that power that I would like to consider today. The prayer is that we would grasp God’s power through Christ which is today revealed in Christ’s body, the church. The power that is in us comes by way of the Holy Spirit. Paul celebrates the power of God available to us through Christ:

That power is the same as the mighty strength [God] exerted when [God] raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.” (Eph. 1:19-21)

And here lies a great mystery and deep challenge of faith: the mighty power of God known in the resurrection is revealed in One who chose that path of humble service. Jesus has been raised over all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked now and forever. That is his identity. Yet, how did he choose to wear it in our world? The one who wears all the fancy trappings of heaven at God’s right hand brought no sense of entitlement, but a heart dedicated to humble service. “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matt. 20:28)

This brings us to an important question for self-examination this week. We are promised great power in the Holy Spirit, part of the “riches of [God’s] glorious inheritance in his holy people.” (Eph. 1:18) In a sense, we do not choose this gift separate and apart from our choice to accept Christ. Maybe we could call the Holy Spirit’s presence and power a part of a believer’s standard issue uniform. How you wear that uniform, how you work in that power, though – well, that is up to you.

Christians are in a difficult spot right now. We want to gather together as churches. Many other companies and organizations have already been given tentative green lights to reopen. It’s frustrating when our faith priorities are not honored by public decision-makers in ways we want. In addition to this, churches are trying to integrate all the warnings about safe numbers for gathering (and at what time duration), the perils of singing in enclosed spaces, and many other things that render our way of coming together nearly impossible. We find ourselves in a strange situation. Do we wait, fight, defy, sue or just roll over and play dead? Will our power be expressed as we struggle for affirmation by the world, fulfil needs for entitlement or security?

Or might we wear all that power differently?

Early in seminary, I served as a campus ministry intern with the Baptist Student Union at Duke. It was a rich experience with many lessons I’m still learning. One important lesson came in the story of another campus minister in Texas named Kurt Johnson. His flock called him PJ, and PJ came to worship in a unique way every week. He was a Lutheran, so the prescribed uniform for his work included a stiff white collar and large gold cross around his neck. Over his body he wore a robe and over his shoulders a stole. Even though robes, stoles and the like are not generally-accepted worship attire in our Baptist family, I’ve always admired the way some Christian traditions value the power of aesthetics in worship. Vestments like I’m talking about today come in many colors, styles and fabrics that can all bring power and elevate the experience of reverence to worship for me.

PJ didn’t get to choose his uniform, but he could choose how he would wear it. He would wear his collar, cross, robe and stole, but the stole itself was different. Every 4 or 5 years, as the worshiping community of students and faculty turned over, PJ would put out a call for washcloths. He would ask everyone to bring their old washcloths – worn, tattered, brightly colored, plain – all different shapes and styles. He would take the washcloths, arrange them in the design of a stole and then have them sewn together.

He wore that stole at every worship service he conducted, with its worn, stained, frayed materials from the everyday life of his people. It was a stole as colorful, eclectic and worn-out as the many lives of those who contributed to its construction. When he died from an unexpected and untimely illness, that was the stole in which he was laid to rest.

He explained that his washcloth stole was a reminder of his calling to be a servant and as a reminder of those he was called to serve. It was a way of remembering how Jesus washed his own disciples’ feet as an example of the way they should love one another through service (John 13:1-17). PJ set down the fancy silk and wore those washcloths in worship to point to the One who, in love, set down all privilege to enter our lives, stoop down, and serve. “Being in very nature God,” Paul wrote the Philippian church, he “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” (Phil 2:6-7) Jesus made a clear, committed choice about how the power of God would go to work in him. He chose the servant’s path until the very end. Will we?

Response Through Giving

Sunshine Song – Nyssa Collins

We encourage you to give your offerings online through Pushpay here, through the Yates app, or by mail (2819 Chapel Hill Road, Durham, NC, 27707). We are growing into new ways to be the church together and your giving allows us to keep being the church, even in the absence of our physical presence.

Spring Mission Offerings

Springtime is a time when the Yates community collects special offerings for local and North American Missions. We encourage you to support this work by sharing among one of these three directions:

  • The CBF Offering for Global Missions and/or Annie Armstrong Easter Offering. (You may select these options if you give online, or include a notation on a memo line if you are mailing a check).
  • The CBF Coronavirus Emergency Relief Fund supporting refugee and immigrants in the U.S. who have been hit especially hard by the economic and social impact of Coronavirus precautions. Please note your designation on a check you leave with the church office or give directly on the CERF webpage.
  • Our local partner, Families Moving Forward, which supports homeless families on their journey to safe and sustainable living, has been forced to address many unplanned expenses in the Coronavirus pandemic. Again, please note your designation on a check you leave with the church office or give directly on the FMF webpage.

Hymn of Service

They’ll Know We Are Christians By Our Love

Click on this text to view the lyrics of the hymn and sing along.

We are one in the Spirit, we are one in the Lord;
We are one int he Spirit, we are one in the Lord;
And we pray that all unity will one day be restored.

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand;
We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand;
And together we’ll spread the news that God is in our land.

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

We Will work with each other, we will work side by side;
We will work with each other, we will work side by side;
And we’ll guard each one’s dignity and save each one’s pride.

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

All praise to the Father, from whom all things come;
And all praise to Christ Jesus, His only Son.
And all praise to the Spirit who makes us one.

And they’ll know we are Christians by our love, by our love,
yes, they’ll know we are Christians by our love.

Benediction – Reality Ministries Talent Show!

Last Sunday would have been date of the annual Reality Ministries Talent Show, which is a true picture of beloved community. Below is a “highlight reel” from years’ past – you may recognize a few of our Sonshiners!

 

Blessings as you go into this hopeful day!

 

Click here to visit the worship experience from March 15.

Click here to visit the worship experience from March 22.

Click here to visit the worship experience from March 29.

Click here to visit the worship experience from April 5.

Click here to visit the worship experience from April 12.

Click here to visit the worship experience from April 19.

Click here to visit the worship experience from April 26.

Click here to visit the worship experience from May 3.

Click here to visit the worship experience from May 10.

Click here to visit the worship experience from May 17.