As our Faith at Work Series continues, we were blessed as a congregation to take a small step toward what we call the “ordination to ordinary life and work.” Listen to the sermon here. The picture to the right is from the 9/11 Museum and story from John Felker of Chaplain Mychal Judge who died praying over a fallen comrade. The prayer is one that he prayed to prepare for his workday. (Click on the image to read it.) Below, is the text of the Prayer and “Ordination” language with which we ended the service.
People of God, we have come to celebrate the ministry that Christ has given to the Church in calling men and women to serve in its mission. Christ alone is head of the Church, the source of all ministry. By the Holy Spirit this ministry belongs to all who believe and are baptized, to be salt for the earth and light to the world. Because we are created in God’s image, being fully human means to rule and serve well in God’s creation.
Hear God’s word of call and promise: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation.” “Do not be afraid, little flock, for it is your father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” With these words, Jesus sent his followers on a mission to the whole world. We are a part of that mission still, two thousand years later and half a world away. We know the joyful obligation and solemn privilege of being called to live out this commission. We are given opportunity to serve our world in Christ’s name, and work together to introduce people and nations to our Lord and Savior. From the beginning, Christians have been a sent people and churches have been sending communities. In the Book of Acts we read that the church named Paul and Barnabas to be a mission team. The Scripture reads, “Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.” This is what we do today.
Do you affirm today that you are made in the image of a God and redeemed by Christ. And that you therefore want your life to be fully immersed in what Jesus calls the Kingdom of God. That when you get up in the morning to go to your job, or be at school, or care for your family, or go about your daily tasks – you are fulfilling a holy calling from God?
PRAYER OF CONSECRATION: God, who calls people to go to the ends of the earth with the good news of Jesus Christ, we join together today in sending these people out for their important work as faithful witnesses of Your Kingdom wherever they find themselves. Through the touch of their hands and the labor of their backs, through the working of their minds and the words of their mouths, do your work of communicating good news and extending the kingdom. In this time, may they grow in grace and in their knowledge of you; may they effectively and faithfully serve others in your name; may they be used in introducing people to Jesus; may they give glory to you by their actions. We pray in the name of Jesus. Amen.
J.S. Bach loved Jesus! For Bach, there was really no difference between the worldly and the divine. His life as a believer was the same as his life as a musician, as a husband, as a father, and as a professional. (Brian McCreath, ‘The Bach Hour’) His music sings of passion for God in the battle against the world, the flesh, and the devil; and of his desire to live Jesus’ greatest command of loving God and neighbor. I needed this one today! Maybe you do too. (I’ve listed the source and links at the end of the post.)
God Alone Shall Have My Heart (Cantata # 169)
2. Arioso and Recitative A
God alone shall have my heart.
Indeed I observe of the world,
which holds its dung as priceless,
since it treats me with such friendliness,
that it would like to be
the only beloved of my soul.
But no; God alone shall have my heart:
I find in Him the highest good. We see indeed
here and there on earth
a little brook of peacefulness,
which springs from the goodness of the Highest;
God however is the source, overflowing with streams,
there I create what forever
can nourish me truly and satisfyingly: God alone shall have my heart.
3. Aria A
God alone shall have my heart.
I find in Him the highest Good.
He loves me during evil times
and in blissfulness
He will shower me with the goodness of His house.
4. Recitative A
What is the love of God?
The rest of the spirit,
the delightful pleasure of the mind,
the paradise of the soul.
It closes off hell,
and opens heaven;
it is the chariot of Elijah,
which will bear us up to heaven
into the bosom of Abraham.
5. Aria A
Die in me,
world and all your love,
so that my breast
for ever and ever on earth
becomes practised in the love of God;
die in me,
arrogance, riches, greed,
you rejected urges of the flesh!
6. Recitative A
Yet also keep in mind
to be faithful to your neighbor!
For thus it is written in the Scriptures:
you shall love God and your neighbor.
O sweet love, bestow your favor on us, let us feel the fervor of love, so that we might love each other from our hearts and remain of one mind in peace. Kyrie eleison.
WGBH radio has a unique program, The Bach Hour, with episodes archived online. The programs include brief introductions and sometimes interviews. Each includes a Cantata – or sacred choral work – that is often written for that week of the Church Year. Translation links are in each program intro. The above work is linked here. Check it out!
“Before You I kneel, my Master and Maker,
To offer the work of my hands.
For this is the day You’ve given Your servant;
I will rejoice and be glad
For the strength I have to live and breathe,
For each skill Your grace has given me,
For the needs and opportunities
That will glorify Your great name.
Before You I kneel and ask for Your goodness
To cover the work of my hands.
For patience and peace to shape all my labor,
Your grace for thorns in my path.
Flow within me like a living stream,
Wear away the stones of pride and greed
‘Til Your ways are dwelling deep in me
And a harvest of life is grown.
Before You we kneel, our Master and Maker;
Establish the work of our hands.
And order our steps to seek first Your kingdom
In every small and great task.
May we live the gospel of Your grace,
Serve Your purpose in our fleeting days,
Then our lives will bring eternal praise
And all glory to Your great name.”
By: Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, Jeff Taylor, and Stuart Townend
The word, integrity, has a long, meaninful history. And, as it turns out, to be one person, is exactly what integrity is about. The implications are huge for integrating faith and work.
“The oneness of integrity can be spoken of as a lack of duplicity or double – dealing; the person of integrity is never two-faced. The character of the person of integrity is not virtuous in some aspects of life, a little shady in others, downright vicious in yet others! To possess integrity is to be all of a piece: ONE, whole; perfect in the sense of unbreached completeness….The other point is that integrity, this oneness of heart, is consistent and enduring – not a one-time decision…a virtue that characterizes a person over time!” (Margaret Moorman, Journal of Society of Christian Ethics, Vol. 24/2, 2004)
In the Greek world, the word was translated as chastity, discretion, moderation, sanity, and self-control. Ephraim, the Syrian says in one of his sacred poems, “Let such a man (or woman) who is divided / collect himself together and become one before You!”
Let’s ask the Lord daily to empower us to Be One Person – all the time – in every arena of life!
A very exciting announcement! We have just launched The Center for Faith at Work. Check out the Center’s website. This grows out of one of our Mission Priorities: to become and make committed disciples of Christ who glorify God and embody our faith in every area of life. We want to inspire, equip, and support one another to bear witness – in our lives, work, and words – to the loving reign of God in ‘the real world.’
Recent Gallop studies showed that 90% in a survey indicated that they were either ”not engaged” or “actively disengaged” from their jobs! This points to a need for some radical rethinking.
Even as people of faith, I believe we suffer, especially in our Western culture, from a plague called “dualism.” We often make a hard distinction between the “Sacred” and the “Secular;” between the material and the spiritual; between doing our work and a “higher” calling of serving God and neighbor. But the very fact that in Christian teaching, Jesus was “God in the flesh,” God entering our human neighborhood, blows this dualism out of the water. Jesus called, and still calls, men and women to a discipleship (apprenticeship) that is meant to embody faith in every arena of life, including our workplaces, however defined.
Crouch challenges us to not settle for Condemning culture, or merely Critiquing culture. We dare not just Copy culture or continue Consuming culture! The Bible calls us to be Cultivators of the best of culture AND to be Culture Makers! (from the “Cultural Mandate” of Genesis 1.) Be sure to take a listen. It will help us navigate the tension of what Jesus calls, being “in the world, but not of the world.” (John 17)