Peace & Reconciliation
7:30PM Wednesdays in June, WEPC Chapel
WEPC’s Visiting Theologian, South Sudanese Bishop Bismark Avokaya, will lead us through several passages to consider Biblical themes of conflict, peace, justice, reconciliation & their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.
God Created: A Study of Genesis 1-3
7:30PM Wednesdays in July & August, WEPC Chapel
Join us this summer for God Created! We’ll walk through Genesis 1-3 and consider who God is and what it means for us to be made in His image. Outspoken skeptics, new Christians, and long-time believers are encouraged to attend. Feel free to bring others, and drop in whenever you are in town!
Preparation for Worship on May 21 2017 :: We Are The Temple
“Only humanity in its entirety– as one complete organism, summed up under a single head, spread out over the whole earth, as prophet proclaiming the truth of God, as priest dedicating itself to God, as ruler controlling the earth and the whole of creation– only it is the fully finished image, the most telling and striking likeness of God. Scripture clearly teaches all this when it says that the church is the bride of Christ, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the dwelling of God, the new Jerusalem to which all the glory of the nations will be brought… a kingdom of God, a holy humanity, in which God is all in all.” (Herman Bavinck)
Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs for May 21 include ::
The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake! The Lord is great in Zion; He is exalted over all the peoples. Let them praise your great and awesome name! Holy is He! Exalt the Lord our God; worship at His footstool! Holy is He!
Confession of Sin
Heavenly Father, not one day of our lives has passed that has not proved us guilty in Your sight. We have sinned against You in our thoughts, words and deeds. All things in us call for rejection. Yet, all things in Christ plead our acceptance. And so, You have claimed us as your own. Though we were guilty, in Jesus we are forgiven. Though we were wandering, in Him we are found. Though we have sinned, in Him we are cleansed. Our Lord, Jesus Christ, You shattered the power of sin and death. Help us to live for You as dead to sin and alive to righteousness through Jesus our Redeemer. Renew us continually in His grace. Amen.
Words of Encouragement :: I John 1:5-9
God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all. If we say we have fellowship with Him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Old Testament Reading :: Zephaniah 3:14-19
Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion; shout, O Israel! Rejoice and exult with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: “Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.”
Sermon :: II Corinthians 6:14-7:1
6:14 Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? 15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said,
“I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they shall be my people. 17 Therefore go out from their midst,
and be separate from them, says the Lord,
and touch no unclean thing;
then I will welcome you, 18 and I will be a father to you,
and you shall be sons and daughters to me,
says the Lord Almighty.”
7:1 Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
image :: The Morning After The Deluge, William Turner (1843, British)
Preparation for Worship on May 14 2017 :: The Favorable Time
“As having nothing, and yet possessing all things.” II Corinthians 6:10
Nothing have I of my own,
But sin and wretchedness;
All things are comprised in One,
And I that One possess:
God in man His Son reveals;
Fullness of the Deity,
Heaven itself in Jesus dwells,
And Jesus dwells in me.
John Wesley, Scripture Hymns
Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs for May 14 include ::
Come, everyone who thirsts,
come to the waters;
and he who has no money,
come, buy and eat!
Incline your ear, and come to me;
hear, that your soul may live;
Seek the Lord while He may be found;
call upon Him while He is near.
Confession of Sin ::
God has said to us, “You shall have no other gods before me.” Father, we confess before You that we have sinned against You in our thoughts, words and deeds. We have worshipped other gods and run after them: Power, Comfort, Control, Self. These idols promise much but have become our cruel masters. Forgive us for seeking in them what You alone give by grace through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ: Peace, Righteousness, Purpose, Hope. Renew our hearts. Grant us repentance and faith. Good Shepherd, show us the Cross that we might be turned from sin and self to trust in Your salvation.
Words of Encouragement :: John 10:11,14,27-28
Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep… I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me… My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Old Testament Reading :: Isaiah 49:7-13
Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel and his Holy One, to one deeply despised, abhorred by the nation, the servant of rulers:
“Kings shall see and arise;
princes, and they shall prostrate themselves;
because of the Lord, who is faithful,
the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you.”
Thus says the Lord:
“In a time of favor I have answered you;
in a day of salvation I have helped you;
I will keep you and give you
as a covenant to the people,
to establish the land,
to apportion the desolate heritages,
saying to the prisoners, ‘Come out,’
to those who are in darkness, ‘Appear.’
They shall feed along the ways;
on all bare heights shall be their pasture;
they shall not hunger or thirst,
neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them,
for he who has pity on them will lead them,
and by springs of water will guide them.
And I will make all my mountains a road,
and my highways shall be raised up.
Behold, these shall come from afar,
and behold, these from the north and from the west,
and these from the land of Syene.”
Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth;
break forth, O mountains, into singing!
For the Lord has comforted his people
and will have compassion on his afflicted.
Sermon :: II Corinthians 6:1-13
1 Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, “In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.3 We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; 7 by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold, we live; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, yet possessing everything.
11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open.12 You are not restricted by us, but you are restricted in your own affections.13 In return (I speak as to children) widen your hearts also.
image :: Enclosed Field With Rising Sun, Vincent van Gogh (1889, Dutch)
Preparation for Worship on May 7 2017 ::New Creation
“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold.” (W.B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”)
“When St. Paul says that God has given him the ministry of reconciliation, he means that he is a preacher of this peace. He ministers reconciliation to the world….It is not the main part of his vocation to tell men to make their peace with God, but to tell them that God has made peace with the world. At bottom, the Gospel is not good advice, but good news. All the good advice it gives is summed up in this – Receive the good news…When Christ’s work was done, the reconciliation of the world was accomplished. When men were called to receive it, they were called to a relation to God, not in which they would no more be against Him – though that is included – but in which they would no more have Him against them. There would be no condemnation thenceforth to those who were in Christ Jesus” (James Denney)
Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs for May 7 include ::
Bless the Lord, O my soul; all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, Who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion. Bless the Lord, O my soul!
Confession of Sin :: Psalm 32:1-5,10
Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin the LORD does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit. When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night Your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer. Then I acknowledged my sin to You and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD.” And You forgave the guilt of my sin. Many are the woes of the wicked, but the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in Him.
Words of Encouragement :: II Corinthians 5:21
For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.
Old Testament Reading :: Isaiah 43:1,4,18-19
But now thus says the Lord, He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are Mine. Because you are precious in My eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”
Sermon :: II Corinthians 5:16-21
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Preparation for Worship on April 30 2017 :: The Love of Christ Controls Us
“What can strip the seeming beauty
From the idols of the earth?
Not a sense of right or duty,
But the sight of peerless Worth.
‘Tis that Look that melted Peter,
‘Tis that Face that Stephen saw,
‘Tis that Heart that wept with Mary,
Can alone from idols draw.” (Ora Rowan)
“Polly’s heart jumped in her body when she heard it. She felt sure that it was a call, and that anyone who heard that call would want to obey it and (what’s more) would be able to obey it, however many worlds and ages lay between.” (C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew)
Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs for April 30 include ::
Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the ages. Who will not fear You, O Lord, and bring glory to Your name? For You alone are holy. All nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed. To Him Who loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood and made us a kingdom of priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him.
Confession of Sin :: based on Isaiah 30:15,18
Sovereign Lord, You said that in repentance and rest is our salvation, in quietness and trust is our strength, but we would have none of it. Yet You long to be gracious to us; You rise to show us compassion.
Words of Encouragement :: Romans 5:8
God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Old Testament Reading :: Psalm 29. A Psalm of David.
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters;
the God of glory thunders,
the Lord, over many waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon to skip like a calf,
and Sirion like a young wild ox.
The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth
and strips the forests bare,
and in his temple all cry, “Glory!”
The Lord sits enthroned over the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
May the Lord give strength to his people!
May the Lord bless his people with peace!
Sermon :: II Corinthians 5:11-15
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience.12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
image :: Inside A Tent In The Canadian Rockies, John Singer Sargent (1916, American)
Preparation for Worship on April 23 2017 :: Good Courage
“All people should strive to learn before they die what they are running from, and to, and why.” (James Thurber)
“The day may come when after a long fight with disease we shall feel that medicine can do no more, and that nothing remains but to die. Friends will be standing by, unable to help us. Hearing, eyesight, even the power of praying, will be fast failing us. The world and its shadows will be melting beneath our feet. Eternity, with its realities, will be looming large before our minds. What shall support us in that trying hour? What shall enable us to feel, ‘I fear no evil’ (Psalm 23:4)? Nothing, nothing can do it but close communion with Christ. Christ dwelling in our hearts by faith,—Christ putting His right arm under our heads,—Christ felt to be sitting by our side,—Christ can alone give us the complete victory in the last struggle… He lives who said, ‘O death, I will be thy plagues: O grave, I will be thy destruction’ (Hosea 13:14). He lives who will one day change our vile body, and make it like unto His glorious body.” (J.C. Ryle)
Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs for April 23 include ::
I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten You. Ask of me, and I will make the nations Your heritage, and the ends of the earth Your possession.” Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Confession of Sin :: based on “Love Shines at Calvary” from The Valley of Vision
Almighty God, You grace removes my burdens and heaps them on Your Son, made a transgressor, a curse, and sin for me; Christ was all anguish that I might be all joy, cast off that I might be brought in, trodden down as an enemy that I might be welcomed as a friend, surrendered to hell’s worst that I might attain heaven’s best, stripped that I might be clothed, wounded that I might be healed, thirsty that I might drink, tormented that I might be comforted, made a shame that I might inherit glory, experienced reproach that I might receive welcome, closed His eyes in death that I might forever live. O Father, who did not spare Your only Son that You might spare me, All this Your love designed and accomplished: Help me to adore You with my words and my life, Go forth, O conquering God, and show me the Cross, mighty to subdue, comfort and save. Amen.
Words of Encouragement :: Colossians 1:21-22
You, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, He has now reconciled in His body of flesh by His death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before Him.
Old Testament Reading :: Isaiah 25:1-9
O Lord, you are my God;
I will exalt you; I will praise your name,
for you have done wonderful things,
plans formed of old, faithful and sure.
For you have made the city a heap,
the fortified city a ruin;
the foreigners’ palace is a city no more;
it will never be rebuilt.
Therefore strong peoples will glorify you;
cities of ruthless nations will fear you.
For you have been a stronghold to the poor,
a stronghold to the needy in his distress,
a shelter from the storm and a shade from the heat;
for the breath of the ruthless is like a storm against a wall,
like heat in a dry place.
You subdue the noise of the foreigners;
as heat by the shade of a cloud,
so the song of the ruthless is put down. On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples
a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine,
of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined.
And he will swallow up on this mountain
the covering that is cast over all peoples,
the veil that is spread over all nations.
He will swallow up death forever;
and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces,
and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the Lord has spoken. It will be said on that day,
“Behold, this is our God; we have waited for him, that he might save us.
This is the Lord; we have waited for him;
let us be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
Sermon :: II Corinthians 5:1-10
1 For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, 3 if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. 4 For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. 5 He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.
6 So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 9 So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.