Worship Order for Sunday

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
October 31, 2004
Worship 10:00 am, Sunday School 11:10 am

      "Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered." (Psalm 32:1)

  Morning Praise (9:45 am)

  Call to Worship             2 Thessalonians 1:2-4, 11-12

*Medley of Praise Hymns                                                                (see insert)

*Opening Prayer

  Scripture                                   Psalm 32:1-7

  Sharing a joy, a concern, a word of testimony or praise

  Remembering our "Cloud of Witnesses"

  Hymn                                     "For all the saints"                                       636
                                              (Pre-schoolers leave for playful worship)

  Pastoral Prayer

  Prelude to the Message

  Scripture                                   Luke 19:1-10

  Message                          "Calling Zacchaeus"

  Hymn                            (vs. 1-2) "Lord, thou dost love"                              387

  Returning our Tithes and Offerings


  Hymn                            (vs. 3-4) "Lord, thou dost love"                              387


#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

Medley of Praise Hymns
(in our Hymnal, all are in the key of G)

"Praise to the Lord, the Almighty"
Hymnal #37

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, the King of creation!
O my soul, praise him, for he is they health and salvation!
All ye who hear, now to God’s temple draw near.
Join me in glad adoration.

"Come, we that love the Lord"
Hymnal #14

Come, we that love the Lord, and let our joys be known.
Join in a song with sweet accord, join in a song with sweet accord,
and thus surround the throne, and thus surround the throne.
We’re marching to Zion, beautiful, beautiful Zion.
We’re marching upward to Zion, the beautiful city of God.

"All hail the power of Jesus’ name"
Hymnal #106

All hail the pow’r of  Jesus’name! Let angels prostrate fall.
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all!
Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown him Lord of all!

"Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee"
Hymnal #71

Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love.
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before thee, praising thee their sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

"Praise God from whom"
Hymnal #119A

Praise God from whom all blessings flow’;
praise him all creatures here below;
praise him above ye heav’nly host;
praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Opening Prayer

         By your grace you have drawn us to this moment and place, O Lord. With your peace we are made whole, reconciled to you. Make us worthy of your call upon our lives, fulfilling by your Spirit’s power the work of faith you are doing in and through us. In our worship this day, and in our lives this coming week, may the name of our Lord Jesus be glorified. AMEN

Remembering our "Cloud of Witnesses"

         As our youngsters are very much aware, today is "Halloween." In but a few hours, many will dress up in costumes and journey door-to-door shouting "trick-or-treat." Some get-ups will look quite gruesome, others fairly tame - from ghosts and ghouls to Spiderman or a fairy princess. Now, some of us may believe that this holiday shouldn’t be celebrated by Christians.

         The roots of Halloween, after all, do go back to an ancient Celtic festival, honoring Samhain, the Lord of death. Back then, pagans believed that Samhain sent evil spirits abroad at this time of year to attack humans, who could escape only by assuming disguises and looking like evil spirits themselves. The waning of the sun and the approach of dark winter made the evil spirits rejoice and play nasty tricks.

         However, the church, as it expanded into lands governed by this fear, made an interesting move which transformed this night of darkness into a celebration of light. As early as the fourth century, the Eastern church celebrated a festival in honor of the "cloud of witnesses" who had faithfully followed Jesus in life and now were in heaven. Originally held in May, "All Saints’ Day" (or "All Hallows Day") was moved to November 1. The evening before "All Hallows Day" became known as "All-Hallow E’en." This was no minor shift, for this day, once wrapped up in fear, became a time of hope instead.

         Martin Luther once said, "The best way to drive out the devil, if he will not yield to texts of Scripture, is to jeer and flout him, for he cannot bear scorn." Laughter should fill this night. Those of you who go trick-or-treating, drive out the devil with your laughter. Let your joy abound. Maybe even say "thank you" along the way. Those who welcome costumed youngsters with your treats, bless them with a smile (even if you add a scare beforehand), and pray for their safety - that the Lord will light their way.

         Halloween gives Christians the opportunity, as the editor of Christianity Today once wrote, to "celebrate the fact that at death we pass from the land of shadows into the land of light." It can be a unique time to remember all saints—including those who were once a major part of our church's life but may have been forgotten. Not only do we have nearly 2,000 years of history, full of examples of faithful living - the "official" saints or the little-known followers who made just as much of a difference for Christ in their small corner of God’s world. We also have the examples of those we have personally known - loved ones and friends who have recently died. These believers continue to have an influence for good on our lives. Their light still shines among us. Furthermore, their flame has not gone out, for we believe that they are now among the "saints triumphant," that great "cloud of witnesses" who are at rest with the Lord in heaven.

         Going through my records, during the past year three members - Cecelia "Jo" Currens, Palmer Click, and Betty Tracey, and three former members - Grace Long, Paul Groff, and Joe Currens, have died and, we believe, risen into the glory of God’s presence. On my list, I’ve also noted five others who have in some way been part of our fellowship, as well as ten more who were a close relative of a church member. These I will not name for fear of missing someone. However, you who loved them dearly, know them.

         On the small tables in front of me are baskets which contain tea candles. While we sing the next hymn, if you feel so moved to come forward and light a candle in memory of a loved one or friend, a believer who has died in the past year (or so) whose light in Christ still shines for you as a beacon of faith and hope, I invite you to do so. With the help of one of the ushers who will be standing there, light and place your remembrance candle on the Worship Table, then return to your seat.

         Please turn in your hymnal to #636. Note that verses 1-3 are in unison on the left side. Verses 4-6 are in harmony then on the right, after which we return to verses 7-8 on the left, sung in unison. Let’s sing on this "All Hallow’s Eve" our song of praise, "For all the saints," and let their light in Christ continue to shine.

(some other ideas for celebrating this day)

Pastoral Prayer

         We thank you, Lord, for the influence of the "saints," official or unofficial, long ago or recent, named or nameless, unknown to us or well-known and loved by us. They continue to light the way for us, as we remember them. For those whose grief is fresh, remind us that, as Jesus said, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." May these words be more than ink on a page: "I am the resurrection and the life, those who believe in me, though they die, yet will they live..."

         On the threshold of a significant election in our nation, we pray for wisdom as we step into the ballot box. May we be guided not by ideology or partisanship, but by your call upon our own lives. After all, the strength of a people lies not in the one who sits in an Oval office, or in some chair in the Senate or the House, but in the people themselves - and, from our perspective, in those who live out their faith each an every day, wherever they are, looking to the One who sits on a heavenly throne, the One who is above every nation. No matter the outcome of this election, whether we agree or disagree with the decision, help those called out to work together for the good of all. May the checks and balances of our constitution, great but imperfect as every human construct, work - even if it takes a while. Let freedom ring.

         In comparison to the events on the much larger stage of nation or world, our own concerns may seem small. But in your eyes, we believe, there is no little picture. All are loved and cared for, from the least to the greatest. You have heard what we have shared before you and each other this morning. You have heard the cry of our hearts for those things we as yet cannot speak. All these we lay before you, an offering of our laughter as well as our tears. Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable. Bind your people together, and remind us that we are your saints militant, fighting "as the saints who nobly fought of old," a "bless’d communion, fellowship divine!"

This we pray in Jesus’ name. AMEN

Prelude to the Message

         Halloween is a day for costumes and imagination. Allow me just now to change into another outfit, slipping on a robe I sometimes wear to portray a Bible character. We’ve had some very serious moments of remembering loved ones who are no longer physically with us. My message this morning is a bit more light-hearted, imagining the aftermath of the scripture story Norman will soon read. One stretch of the imagination is the use of a phone, which you and I know wasn’t part of anyone’s home back in Bible times. It is a part of our time, sometimes too much a part. I shared this message six years ago and enjoyed it so much, I want to do it again. I hope you will hear God speak through it today. Now, after the scripture is read, imagine a telemarketer’s call before the day of "Don’t call" lists. Norman?

Returning our Tithes and Offerings

         Like Zacchaeus, God’s "mercy sought us" and "found us." Our story, like his, is unfinished. After all, the Bible doesn’t say whether this tax collector actually made good on his vow to give half his possessions to the poor and abundantly pay back those he had cheated. We hear big promises all the time, especially in an election year. Did Zacchaeus’ "yes" to the Lord continue once Jesus left his home to visit others? How about our own "yes?"

         Ours, like his, is an ongoing story. This moment is yet another step along the way. Continue to spread the blessing, brothers and sisters. Not only with your offerings just now, but also with your lives. Make today a salvation day ... and tomorrow ... and the next day... Pray with me.

         Lord, thank you for inviting yourself into our homes. Help us to come down out of our trees, where we are merely observers, and welcome you into the various places in our lives that need your attention. Empower us with your Spirit to spread the blessing, starting fresh today. This we pray in the name of the One who came to seek and to save. AMEN



         "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (point to candles lit on worship center), let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)


Interested in Sunday School?
Below is a growing list of possible sites to visit. As you discover others, please let us know.

International Lesson thoughts
from the
Mennonite Publishing House

International Lesson
Commentary by
Richard Hughes
(posted on Saturday)

International Lesson
Commentary by
Edwin Elliott


©2003 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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