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Christ is… Life (World Communion Sunday)

Dr. Jennifer Blake gives a sermon about Life in Christ, based on Philippians 2:1-13.

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*Call to Worship
We come today seeking a closer relationship with Christ;
we wish to learn more and develop a deeper faith.
We want to pursue Him, but are not always sure how;
we want to guide others, but can’t always see the path.
We have a desire to be closer, to be more reflective of Him, to be more effective witnesses to His works. In following Jesus, we must learn to mimic Him.
Let us worship God!

*Prayer of Confession
Dear Jesus, we seek You in life and in death; in abundance and in need; in ease and in strife. We pray that You open our eyes and hearts, hoping for insight and guidance. As we grow closer to You, however, we often grow farther apart from others. We choose pride when we should seek humility. We work for our own comfort when we should labor to help others. We stand tall in confidence when we should kneel before You in weakness. Help us to live as You lived, with humility, servitude, grace and love…

*Assurance of Pardon
As we strive to become one with Jesus, we look to the cross where He bore human pain in order to give us divine mercy and forgive our sins of yesterday, today and tomrrow.
Thanks be to God!

Philippians 2:1-13 (NRSV) (link).

Imitating Christ’s Humility
2 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5 Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,

6 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
7 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
8 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
9 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Shining as Lights in the World
12 Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

World Communion Prayer

The Invitation to the Table
On this day around the world, the table has been set, and at this moment we are one family at one table. Imagine the world seated with Christ at a sumptuous feast. Today we have a glimpse of that with World Communion Sunday. The invitation to this table is for all. We are all welcome to this, Christ’s table.

The Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
Embracing God, we give thanks for being brought together by your Spirit. In your presence, we come to know the true depths of your love for us. And it is good. In your presence, our eyes are opened and we see the best of your creation. And it is good. In your presence, the fullness of grace teaches us to love one another as you love us. And that is good. We come together at this table to remember this sacrament. And raise our voices together…

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

Creator God, we are amazed at your holy and diverse creation. You made us in your image and offered us every good gift in the garden, yet we took for ourselves forbidden fruit, thinking we could be like you.
In so doing, we rejected your intended diversity for us, a human sin that we still can’t shake. Prophets came through the ages to help us mend our ways. And still we fought and tried to conquer others to make all manner of nations live like one another. Jesus came and finally showed us how to truly love. He sat with sinners and tax collectors, he touched diseased bodies with gentleness, he lifted others from their deathbed and, even with his dying breath, promised rest to a thief on the cross. Gracious God, you gave us your Son. He died and rose again on the third day so that we might have life everlasting. With the ancestors, on this World Communion Sunday your people cry out:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might,
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

The grains have been harvested and the bread has been baked. The grapes have been collected from the vine and the juice has been pressed. They come together on this table for a holy purpose. Holy Spirit come, breathe your blessings on these common elements of bread and juice. Bring us to the table with Christ. Hear us as we now declare the mystery that is our faith:

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