Paul in Roman’s 15 encouraged us saying, “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” We welcome you for God’s glory!(Matthew 5:3)
For the first two Sundays (Aug. 7 and 14) we encourage you to attend another church in the Niagara region. Visit our Christian siblings. Let us learn from others how they worship and also practice Christ’s hospitality.
On Sundays (Aug. 21 and 28) instead of worship services, we will have in-person Sunday morning devotions. These two Sundays will be led by elders. These devotions will begin at 9:30 am. Please note the time and come.
In the meantime, online worship will continue for all of August. Each Sunday, worship will be uploaded. Everyone will receive links for worship on Saturday evenings as usual.
For offerings, please contact Betty-Ann or drop the envelopes in the church mail slot. Remember that during August we still require the same amount of financial help as other months.
If there are any pastoral concerns, please contact elders Betty-Ann, Chuck, Gail, Linda F, Linda T, Prince, Ruth, or Verna. The minister will be away for the month of August.
In-person regular worship services will begin on the first Sunday of September at 10:30 am.
Call to Worship (Psalm 66:1-4
Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;
sing the glory of his name;
give to him glorious praise.
Say to God, ‘How awesome are your deeds!
Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you.
All the earth worships you;
they sing praises to you,
sing praises to your name.’
Morning has broken
We give thanks to you, O God;
we give thanks; your name is near.
People tell of your wondrous deeds. (Psalm 75:1,2).
Today we gather to worship you and hear your wondrous deeds. Come to us now. Be present and receive our thanks and praises. Fill our hearts with the stories of your love for us. Recreate us through your stories of love. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:17
Pray without ceasing
We do not know exactly when people began praying. We know that prayer has been essential in human life. Praying is one thing that sets human species apart from animals. Of course, praying takes many different forms. Today, we will take a look at many different types of prayers that are used in our liturgy of worship. These prayers are given specific names/titles to fulfil specific functions in worship. Of course, when we pray privately to God, our prayers contain some or all of these elements.
One prayer that most of us do is the petition prayer. This is the prayer through which we ask God for something. Usually this appears to be the most primitive and immediate prayer that arises at the moment of fear, desperation, or deep anxiety. For example, when suddenly we face a situation where we do not know what to do, we ask God or a divine figure to rescue us or make the situation go away. When we face a catastrophic danger like running into a car engine trouble on a lonely road without anyone around, we, often without thinking, ask for safety or safe arrival at our destination. When we are hit by a diagnosis that makes us face death, we appeal to God to help us find healing or heal us. Sometimes, our prayers are not over serious stuff. In the case of children, they could be asking for special toys for birthdays. Again, in a prayer of petition, we are asking God for something.
Another prayer we are very used to is the prayer of intercession. There are two ways we pray in this case. The first is the one we are quite used to. This is where we pray on behalf of others or for others. We lift up to God the needs of our family, friends, or neighbours. Often we ask others to pray for us when we are sick or in trouble. When those whom we asked pray to God on our behalf, they are the intercessors for us. We do an intercessory prayer as part of our pastoral care during worship services. We pray for the hungry, sick, in trouble, and so on. The second form of intercessory prayer is that we appeal to Jesus or the Holy Spirit to intervene on our behalf. In the Roman Catholic Church, this appeal can be made to various saints. In that case, there are patron saints for different situations. In this intercessory prayer, our desire is that Jesus or the Holy Spirit will pray our prayers to God. The difference between the petition and intercession is that in petition we ask directly. In intercessory prayer, prayer is given on behalf of the one who is in need.
A similar prayer to these two is the prayer of supplication. This prayer is part of the prayer of petition. If we can call it a distinguishing feature for prayer of supplication in comparison to the prayer of petition, it is that the supplicatory prayer is more reflective and centred in deeper faith. These petitions come from deeper struggles in our spirits and hearts. Our supplications are given in deep humility, knowing that we are truly unfit to address God. We truly come in gratitude and sometimes we do not ask God for anything in this prayer. Rather, we express our full gratitude in realisation that our God already knows all our needs, fears, and desires. Yes, it is our attitude and pose before God that defines this prayer.
One prayer that we are very familiar with is the prayer of confession. In this prayer, we bare our souls and spirits before God. We acknowledge who we truly are: sinners in God’s eyes. In this prayer we often list our wrongs we have committed. It is a prayer where we abandon ourselves to God’s grace and mercy. We take account of our words and deeds before God. This prayer is where we recognize and become aware of our limitations and God’s limitless grace.
In our Presbyterian tradition, the prayer of confession contains the prayer of repentance/contrition. As we confess our sins, we express our sorrow and grief for having partaken in sinful actions and in sinful thoughts. The depth of sorrow and grief is only possible when we become fully aware of the truth of our immense distance from God without Christ. In this recognition of how Christ made it possible for us to be reconciled to God, we respond by not only making commitment but also truly turning back to God. This change of direction to God is our display of contrition and repentance. In this prayer we give up this world and are embraced by God’s presence in and through Christ.
Prayer of thanksgiving is our natural response of gratitude for what God has done for us in Christ. We express this overwhelming gratitude as best we can in prayer. Sometimes we use words, songs, or actions.
Prayer of illumination is offered in preparation for reading, proclaiming, and hearing God’s Word. It is our invitation to the Holy Spirit to guide our minds and hearts appropriately as we seek to discern God’s will through the Scriptures.
When we gather for worship, often we confess before God our understanding of who God is to us as we give God our praises. Prayer of Adoration is given, often at the very beginning of worship services as part of Invocation or calling on God. This recounting of who God is to us is a speech or poem of our love for God. By reciting how much we love God for who God is to us and what God has done for us, we witness and give public testimony in this prayer and express our sincere and unshakable love for God. Therefore, prayer of adoration is the opening up of our hearts and whole beings before God as we display our love for God.
This is one prayer that comes from God to us through God’s servants.In our tradition, this prayer is the responsibility of Ministers of Word and Sacrament. These servants who have been set aside to preach and teach symbolise God’s presence in worship and, therefore, are seen as God’s representatives who bring God’s blessings to people. In this benedictory prayer we receive God’s blessings at the conclusion of our public worship. In the absence of the ministers of Word and Sacrament, worship leaders represent this symbolic office to share God’s blessings with those who worship together in public.
In Christian tradition, many of these prayers were set and were repeated by worship leaders. With the rise of Protestant Reformation, many ministers began writing prayers for Sunday worship. Good preparation was must as they took these times of conversation with God during worship seriously. It is only in recent years (for about one hundred years) impromptu prayers during public worship became regular occurrences. Still, many worship leaders (especially ministers in our churches) prepare prayers diligently.
One forgotten or less used tradition of prayer is singing the prayers known as chants. Many of us are familiar with Gregorian Chants. Chants in early Mediaeval times were short plain hymns or songs that people sang during worship. Many psalms were sung with repeating melodies that would help people remember. Apostles’ Creed and other important faith statements were also taught as chants in order to help people memorise and remember. Some of these chants were used as prayers. “Kyrie eleison” is one of the most famous chants that are used as hymns and prayers throughout the history of the Church. One good thing about chants is that it focuses on very important Christian faith statements as prayerful songs and can be sung continually and quietly to focus on God.
Throughout history Christians found numerous ways to pray and categorise prayers in order to help ourselves pray constantly. We are not too far from praying or having conversations with God through prayer. Most prayers are expressions of who God is, who we are before God, and what we require or desire from God. Much of what we do tends to be i one direction–from us to God. Prayers were not always understood to be one way. This is why we began incorporating silence in prayers to indicate that we need to listen to God. However, if we understand some of the prayers differently, prayers of adoration, of thanksgiving, and of benediction are times in which we pay attention to God among us. What we say in these prayers are designed to meditate with our hearts on what God is doing with us or for us.
We pray without ceasing. It means that we make as much or more time to listen to God as we speak to God of our needs and concerns. Prayers as a two way conversation between God and us brings a very different priority regarding our attitude in faith. In praying without ceasing, at times we cease from speaking so that we hear what God has to say to us. Praying without ceasing does not mean that we need to speak or sing non-stop.
O Lord God,
Our world is groaning. If one area is finding relief from heat, we hear about another area that is about to experience summer heat like never before. If one forest fire begins to wane in one corner of the world, another one erupts in another part of the world. In the meantime, humanity cannot get away from wars, violence, and hatred. They refuse to hear about your love. Many more are rejecting your love each day. Out of this world we come. O God, hear our prayer.
In spite of the world that is mired in suffering, we come with thankful hearts. We are far from these troubles others endure. We are safe and well cared for. We are blessed sufficiently to be your people. So we thank you. Our problems, in comparison to the problems of this world, are minor and insignificant. Peace and stable comforts are what we enjoy each day. Your protection, guidance, and care have been abundant. In thanksgiving we praise and bless you.
As we bring our hearts of gratitude to you as offering, we pray for those who are suffering immensely all around the world. Some have lost everything in wars, persecutions, famines, unemployment, unprecedented weathers, and unending poverty. Whatever the causes are, we witness many innocent people suffering beyond their means and abilities. We pray for them all. We do not know how to help, but we know that if we share your love, life will flourish. We pray that your Spirit will guide us in ways that we may share your love so that sharing little of what we have received may give hope and courage for many.
We remember before you your people who gather in this place Sunday after Sunday. We are few, but always mighty in your Son’s spirit. Each Sunday we seek to worship you and be strengthened to serve for another week. You feed us with your Word. You encourage us with your love. You send us into the world as your Spirit leads every step of our way. Continue to bless us all. As we begin two Sundays of sojourning, may you walk with us. Bless all those who will welcome us. Bless all who will do their best to serve you.
O Lord God,
Keep us in your care in August. Give us your presence so that we may rest and be refreshed to serve you again in this coming Fall. Fill our hearts with your love for creation. As we rest, may we become your hands in your work of establishing the new creation in Christ your Son our Lord. Give us minds and hearts to recognize your handiwork among us. Incorporate our abilities in all that you do in this world to bring life. Form us with true faith in you so that we will boldly participate in your work here in this part of your vineyard.
All thesewe pray in your Son’s name. Amen.
How blessed and protected we are in this trouble filled world. We have been able to enjoy life in ways very few people are able to in today’s world. In thanksgiving, we bring our offerings so that your blessings for us may be shared with those who suffer elsewhere. Continue to open our eyes and ears to see and hear the world in suffering and pain. Sustain our faith in you so that we may do our best to participate in your mission in the world among the poor, the weak, and the sick. Receive these offerings as our commitment to be part of your ministry to the world. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Hymn: Shine, Jesus shine