A Service of Commemoration for the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation

Let us worship God.
Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.                        Psalm 124:8

All sing to the tune Aurelia

The church’s one foundation
is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
she is his new creation
by water and the Word.
From heaven he came and sought her
to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her,
and for her life he died.

Elect from every nation,
yet one o’er all the earth;
her charter of salvation:
one Lord, one faith, one birth.
One holy name she blesses,
partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses,
with every grace endued.

Though with a scornful wonder
the world sees her oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder,
by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping;
heir cry goes up: “How long?”
and soon the night of weeping
shall be the morn of song.

Mid toil and tribulation,
and tumult of her war,
she waits the consummation
of peace forevermore,
‘til with the vision glorious
her longing eyes are blest,
and the great church victorious
shall be the church at rest.

Yet she on earth hath union
with God the Three in One,
with those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy! Lord,
give us grace that we
like them, the meek and lowly,
may live eternally.

Confession

What do you believe concerning the holy catholic Church?
I believe that the Son of God
through his Spirit and Word,
out of the entire human race,
from the beginning of the world to its end,
gathers, protects, and preserves for himself
a community chosen for eternal life
and united in true faith.
And of this community I am and always will be
a living member.                                                                               Heidelberg Catechism Q & A #54

[This reading does not need to be on Powerpoint]

Listen for a word from God in this portion of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 4, verses 1 through 6.

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord,
beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
with all humility and gentleness,
with patience,
bearing with one another in love,
making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
There is one body
and one Spirit,
just as you were called to
the one hope of your calling,
one faith,
one baptism,
one God and Father of all,
who is above all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:1-6, NRSV

The Word of God.
Thanks be to God.

Let us pray.

We resist being your prisoners, O Christ:
we have not always led lives worthy of our calling,
but have, all too often, sought to go our own way,
and so we have fractured your Church when we seek to reform it.
Hear us as we own and confess
our self-importance and severity,
our impatience,

our shunning of one another in conceit,
and our reluctance to be bound by unity or peace.

Silence

We resist oneness, O Spirit:
we too often struggle against the fervent hope
you express in continually calling us,
and so we have fractured your Church when we seek to reform it.
Hear us as we own and confess
our refusal to share our Savior,
our insistence on an tailor-made faith,
and our fantasy that baptism is our experience rather than your gift.

Silence

We resist giving ourselves to you, God of all:
we too often see you only in ourselves
rather than above us and everyone,
working through us and everyone,
present in us and everyone,
and so we have fractured your Church when we seek to reform it.
Hear us as we own and confess
our selfish insistence at exclusivity
and our rejection of your glorious family.

Silence

Triune God, forgive our resistance,
break down our divisions,
and scatter our fears.
Make us truly one, even as you are one.
All this we earnestly pray.
Amen.

Pardon

In this way, therefore, faith is a gift of God,
not in the sense that it is offered by God for people to choose,
but that it is in actual fact bestowed on them,
breathed and infused into them.

Nor is it a gift in the sense
that God bestows only the potential to believe,
but then awaits assent—the act of believing—by human choice;
rather, it is a gift in the sense that God
who works both willing and acting
and, indeed, works all things in all people
and produces in them
both the will to believe and the belief itself.                                                                 Canons of Dort, Part 4, Article 14

[This reading does not need to be on Powerpoint]

Listen for a word from God in this portion of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, chapter 2, verses 1 through 8.

You were dead through the trespasses and sins
in which you once lived,
following the course of this world,
following the ruler of the power of the air,
the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient.
All of us once lived among them in the passions of our flesh,
following the desires of flesh and senses,
and we were by nature children of wrath, like everyone else.
But God, who is rich in mercy,
out of the great love with which God loved us
even when we were dead through our trespasses,
made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—
and raised us up with him
and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,
in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.
and this is not your own doing;
it is the gift of God.                                                                                            Ephesians 2:1-8, NRSV

The Word of God.
Thanks be to God.

Prayer: Use “Thanksgiving and Intercession” prayer by Nolan Palsma (“Prayerful Preparation,” World Communion of Reformed Churches, p. 54)

Affirmation

The Church has existed from the beginning of the world
and will last until the end,
as appears from the fact
that Christ is eternal King
who cannot be without subjects.

And this holy Church is preserved by God
even though for a time
it may appear very small to human eyes
—as though it were snuffed out.

And so this holy Church
is not confined,
bound,
or limited to a certain place or certain people.
But it is spread and dispersed
throughout the entire world,
though it is still joined and united
in heart and will,
in one and the same Spirit,by the power of faith.                                              from the Belgic Confession, Article 27

[This reading does not need to be on Powerpoint]

Listen for a word from God in this portion of the book of Revelation, chapter 7, verses 9 through 17.
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count,
from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages,
standing before the throne and before the Lamb,
robed in white, with palm branches in their hands.
They cried out in a loud voice,
saying, "Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!"
And all the angels stood around the throne
and around the elders and the four living creatures,
and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
singing, "Amen!
   Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving
and honor and power and might
be to our God forever and ever!
   Amen."
Then one of the elders addressed me,
saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?"
I said to him, "Sir, you are the one that knows."
Then he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal;
they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;

the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat;
for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."     
              Revelation 7:9-17, NRSV

The Word of God.
Thanks be to God.

Prayer: Use “An Affirmation of Unity” by Nolan Palsma (“Prayerful Preparation,” World Communion of Reformed Churches, p. 60).

Sending

We believe
that God has entrusted the church
with the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ,
that the church is called to be
the salt of the earth and the light of the world,
that the church is called blessed because it is a peacemaker,
that the church is witness both by word and by deed
to the new heaven and the new earth
in which righteousness dwells,
that God’s lifegiving Word and Spirit
has conquered the powers of sin and death,
and therefore also of irreconciliation and hatred,
bitterness and enmity,
that God’s lifegiving Word and Spirit
will enable the church to live in a new obedience
which can open new possibilities of life
for society and the world.;   from the Belhar Confession, Article 3

[This reading does not need to be on Powerpoint]

Listen for a word from God in this portion of Paul’s letter to the Colossians, chapter 3, verses 1 through 4 and 12 through 15.

So if you have been raised with Christ,
seek the things that are above,
where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Set your minds on things that are above,
not on things that are on earth,
for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ who is your life is revealed,
then you also will be revealed with him in glory.
As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved,
clothe yourselves with compassion,
  kindness,
  humility,
  meekness,
 and patience.
Bear with one another
and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other;
just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.
Above all, clothe yourselves with love,
which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,

to which indeed you were called in the one body.
And be thankful.                       Colossians 3:1-4, 12-15, NRSV

The Word of God.
Thanks be to God.

Prayer: Use “For Justice” by Paul Janssen (“Prayerful Preparation,” World Communion of Reformed Churches, p. 54)

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,

your will be done on earth as in heaven.
      Give us today our daily bread.
      Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.
      Save us from the time of trial

and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom,
 the power,
and the glory are yours
now and forever.
Amen.

All sing to Lincolnshire Poacher

If you and I believe in Christ
and we together pray,
the Holy Spirit will come down
and set God's people free,
and set God's people free,
and set God's people free;
the Holy Spirit will come down
and set God's people free.

If you and I remain in Christ
and we togeth-er pray,
the Holy Bible teaches us
that God will hear our prayer,
that God will hear our prayer,
that God will hear our prayer;
the Holy Bible teaches us
that God will hear our prayer.

If you and I have faith in Christ
and we together pray,
the Holy Spirit shows us how
to follow in God's way,
to follow in God's way,
to follow in God's way;
the Holy Spirit shows us how
to follow in God's way.  
Zimbabwe folk hymn, adapted by Bert Polman, 1999, © 2000, Faith Alive Christian Resources

Suggest that, after we all sing the hymn through, we lead everyone out singing stanza 1 again.