Suggested service order for a time of prayer
This service order includes a song in Zulu language, and every month music from a different church background will be proposed to be listened and/or sing. You should feel free to adapt the music according to your local situation, as well as the arrangement of the space for the prayer.
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God all my life long.
Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
on that very day their plans perish.
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith for ever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign for ever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!
Come to Christ, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built[ into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: ‘See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.’ To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, ‘The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner’, and ‘A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.’ They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
(1 Peter 2:4-10)
Come together in communion with Christ and with others, so that your faith and your spiritual life can deepen and grow, and your witness to God’s love and compassion can increase.
This is the invitation in this text of 1 Peter 2, to the readers in Asia Minor, now modern Turkey. Deeply rooted in the psalms and prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures, it follows the invitation to go deeper in the sources of their faith and desire spiritually solid food (v2-3), having “tasted that the Lord is good” (Ps 34:8). Now they are invited into community, into communion with Christ, through a rich mix of Old Testament images and a Christ-centred focus (v4-5). The believers are invited to “Come to Christ, a living stone”, to be built into a spiritual house, a living temple – to be like holy priests who offer spiritual sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2). One stone cannot be a house on its own – this is not an individual process, it is communal. As many stones are joined together to build the walls of a house, so believers are joined together with each other. Each one is interconnected with the others, each one connected to Christ, thus all connected in communion with Christ. So it is with us. In this way we too become living stones – we are transformed to become like Christ!
This invitation and the image of stones is expanded as God’s people are called to remember Christ as God’s chosen cornerstone (v6-8). A cornerstone is the foundation stone, the most important stone. It had to be exactly 90 degrees, carefully prepared, precisely correct, essential for the stability and longevity of the building. It connects two intersecting walls, possibly meaning the connection of the Jewish and Gentile faith communities. Christ was rejected but became this chosen cornerstone (Isaiah 28:16; Ps 118:22; Isaiah 8: 14). Those who believe in Christ as cornerstone, who encounter Christ, find how precious this is and are transformed.
Through grace, the believers come to Christ, becoming living stones, finding their identity in Christ (v9-10). Through our encounter with God in Christ, especially in the eucharist, we become the body of Christ. Look at the adjectives: chosen, royal, holy, God’s own (Isaiah 43:20-21; Exod 18:5-6; Hosea 2:23). Look at the nouns: race, priesthood, nation, people – these are all collective. Again, there is nothing individual about becoming like Christ, we become like Christ together in community – in communion, we are transformed. The purpose of this is for the faith community to proclaim the mighty acts of the One who called us out of darkness (death) into marvelous light (life), through the saving death and resurrection of Christ. In other words, to offer Christ’s ministry of healing and hope to our broken and hurting world. The believers are given their identity as God’s own people, as the judgments pronounced by the prophet Hosea are reversed (Hosea 1;6,9; 2:1,3). Now we are God’s people, now we have received God’s mercy and compassion. Thus we are transformed because we are loved with unconditional, unending love, chosen in grace, in order to proclaim God’s endless mercy, compassion and love to the world.
What a marvelous invitation to us as believers! To come to Christ, to be in communion with Christ, to connect with others in community and thus live in communion with Christ – to joyfully witness to God’s unending love and grace, mercy and compassion. How will we respond?
Rev. Wilma Jakobsen
Anglican Priest (Volmoed, South Africa)
Questions for sharing
– In what ways do we answer the invitation to ‘Come to Christ’? What are the things we do that help us come to Christ?
– Am I part of a eucharistic community where I encounter Christ and live in communion with Christ and others, through which I am transformed? In what ways does this happen?
– How can we witness to the unending love, mercy, grace and compassion of God, and offer healing and hope to our broken and hurting world?
Every month, we will share the experiences of different people in regards of church life, fellowship and synodality, this in a ecumenical context. For this month, here is a clip prepared last year by ‘Pro Oriente’ in the middle east.
A word from the first Christians
In the Church, no one is in any way separated from the community; they all blend together, as it were, into one another by the simple and indivisible power of faith. (…) In this way Christ is all in all, he who takes all things into himself according to the power of his goodness, which is infinite and full of wisdom. In this way he is the centre where the lines converge, so that the creatures of the one God do not remain strangers or enemies to one another for lack of a common place in which to express their friendship and peace.
Maximus the Confessor (VI century)