Pursued by Grace Opening Worship Liturgy

I’ve had the privilege of designing the evening worship services at “Pursued by Grace,” the annual conference for the PC(USA)’s 1001 New Worshipping Communities movement.

Below is the liturgy I composed for the opening service. I’m including the names and artists for the songs selected and led by our musical worship leader, Aaron Howard of As One Fellowship, but  I can’t include the lyrics due to copyright.

Call to Worship

Adapted from Lamentations 3, Daniel 3, and Habakkuk 3

The prophet Jeremiah,
though downcast in spirit,
stood in defiance of his affliction.
With him, we call this to mind
and therefore have hope:

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is Your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion;
therefore I will wait for Him.”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego,
though threatened with death,
stood in defiance of the demand
to bow before the king’s image.
With them, we proclaim:

We do not need to defend ourselves.
The God we serve is able to deliver us,
and He will deliver us.
But even if He does not,
we will not serve or worship the gods of this world.

The prophet Habakkuk,
though surrounded by violence and injustice,
stood in defiance of his circumstances
by praising God.
With him, we declare:

Though the fig tree does not bud
and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the pen
and no cattle in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will be joyful in God my Savior. 

Songs of Praise 

1. Blessed Be Your Name (by Matt Redman)
2. One Thing Remains (by Kristian Stanfill)

Confession and Pardon

The Lord probes our hearts.
The Lord examines us and tests us.
The Lord confronts us in our sin and brokenness,
and saves us and rescues us.
Trust in the Lord at all times, O people of God;
pour out your hearts before him;
for God is a refuge for us.

Hear us, O Lord,
and listen to our cries for mercy,
for we are a people of unclean lips,
and we live among a people of unclean lips.
Evil is in our heart.
Our feet have stumbled
and wandered from Your right paths.
We call on you, our God,
for you will answer us;
turn your ear to us and hear our prayer.
Show us the wonders of your great love,
save us by the pierced hands of Christ your Son,
for we take our refuge in Him,
and pray to you in His name.

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Through Christ,
God drew us from the pit of destruction,
out of the miry bog,
and set our feet upon a rock,
making our steps secure.
Friends, believe the gospel:
in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven! 

Song of Praise

Made Me Glad (Hillsong)

Scripture and Sermon

Invitation to the Table and Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.
It is right to give thanks and praise.

It is truly right and our great joy
to give thanks to you, God our faithful shepherd,
for you have pursued us with your grace
and supply our every need.
Whether in green pastures, still waters,
or the valley of the shadow of death,
your grace, goodness, and steadfast love,
pursue us all our days,
and no matter where we are,
we find ourselves in your house.
We thank you that
when, like sheep, we went astray,
each of us turning to our own way,
you, Good Shepherd, sought us out,
through the voice of your prophets,
and the sending of your Son.
We thank you that though we were lost,
we are now found,
though we were dead,
we have been brought to life.
We join the angels,
who rejoice over one sinner who repents,
in praising your name:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord
God of power and might
Heaven and earth are full of your glory
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the Highest!

Your are holy, Father,
and holy is your Son, Jesus Christ,
who walked among us.
Like the Good Shepherd,
who left the ninety-nine to search for the one lost sheep,
Christ seeks us out,
and leads us in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.
Like the Good Hostess,
who diligently sought out her lost coin,
and rejoiced with her friends and neighbors when she found it,
Christ sets a table before us,
and our cup overflows.
Like the Father who welcomes his lost son with outstretched arms,
Christ welcomes us
with outstretched arms upon the cross.
Though we were lost,
we have been found.
Though we were dead,
by Christ’s resurrection
we have been brought to life.
Great is the mystery of faith:

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

Father, pour out your Holy Spirit upon us,
and upon these, your gifts of bread and wine,
that the bread we break,
and the cup we bless,
may be for us the communion of the body and blood of Christ.
As this bread is Christ’s body for us,
make us to be Christ’s body for the world.
Give us wisdom
to lead your people beside still waters,
Give us courage
to lead them through the valley of death’s shadow.
Give us diligence
to seek after the lost.
Give us great joy
over one sinner who repents.
Give us great love
that we might embrace every prodigal child we meet on the road.
Through our voice, our hands, and our feet,
may the whole world be pursued by your grace.
Through Christ, with Christ, and in Christ,
we pray as He would have us:

Our Father… 

Words of Institution 

Communion by Intinction

Music During Communion:

I Need You Now (Matt Redman)
10,000 Reasons (Matt Redman)


Closing Song

Hallelujah, You’re Worthy to Be Praised (Judith McCalister)

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