Worship Order for Sunday

Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
May 18, 2014
Worship 10:00 am          Sunday School 11:10am

Fifth Sunday of Easter

      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.
(1 Peter 2:5)

  Beginning with Praise (9:50 am)              “Cornerstone(refrain only)              (insert)

*Call to Worship

*Hymn                               Christ is our cornerstone                                   43

*Opening Prayer

  Scripture                                    Psalm 31:1-5

  For Children                    If Rocks Could Sing

  Sharing a joy, a concern, a word of testimony or praise
                                 (please be brief, and aware of God's listening presence)

   Chorus                           Lord, listen to your children (refrain only)               353

  Pastoral Prayer

  Scripture                                    Acts 7:55-60

  Returning our Tithes and Offerings

  Offertory              (Please sign the attendance pad and pass it on)

*Response                                  Cornerstone (refrain only)                       (insert)


  Scripture                                   1 Peter 2:1-10

  Message                                    Rockhay (mp3)

*Hymn                                 Come, come ye saints                                  425



*Rise in body or in spirit

#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

Call to Worship

             We begin worship this fifth Sunday of Easter by listening to Jesus. As we read his words responsively, let’s take them to heart. Since this comes from the lips of our risen Lord, please rise in body or spirit and allow the Gospel to shift from ink on a page to the living Word upon your own lips. Jesus said:

One: “Set your troubled hearts at rest. Trust in God always; trust also in me.

All: “There are many dwelling-places in my Father's house; if it were not so I should have told you; for I am going there on purpose to prepare a place for you.

One: “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I shall come again and receive you to myself,

All: “so that where I am you may be also; and my way there is known to you.”

One: Thomas said, “Lord, we do not know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

All: Jesus replied, “I am the way; I am the truth and I am life; no one comes to the Father except by me.”

John 14:1-6 from the New English Bible
©1961, 1970 The Delegates of the Oxford University Press
and the Syndics of the Cambridge University Press

Opening Prayer

             In you we trust, O Lord, even when we cannot see much more of the path ahead than a few steps. In you we trust, O Lord, even when the building of our lives is incomplete and the next floor is but rebar sticking out of concrete. You are the foundation upon which we toil, O God our Creator. You are the path we tread toward the promised land, O Jesus our Savior. You are very air we breathe, O Holy Spirit, our Sustainer. Forgive our stumbling steps and half-hearted work. Live in us as we rest in you, that faith may grow, and your kingdom come and your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Amen


For Children
If Rocks Could Sing

             While this simple alphabet picture book is read to the youngest children (some of whom are still learning how to sit still for story time), the older children will quietly pass baskets of stones and rocks around the congregation. The instruction beforehand is that everyone is invited to pick out a rock or stone to hold throughout the service. In her book, “If Rocks Could Sing: a discovered alphabet,” Leslie McGuirk displays rocks of various shapes she has found along the seashore that both look like the letters and illustrate the words that these letters begin. For instance, “M is for mitten” has a stone somewhat in the shape of an “m” and a rock in the shape of a mitten, sitting beside a knitted mitten. The purpose for the youngest is simply to involve them in worship. For the rest of us, it is to open our imaginations – which is sometimes harder for adults than for children.

                               (if there are no younger children, then sing "A fragile stone,"
                                     a song about Simon Peter, while plates are passed)

To begin the sharing of joys and concerns that follows,
preface with these words:

             You hold in your hand a stone. Does it say something about God? Does it say something about you? If that rock could sing, what would it say? You will note that the scriptures that give shape to today’s worship contain various statements about stones. Psalm 31, for instance, speaks of how God is our rock and our fortress. Perhaps Jesus was quoting this Psalm in his last words on the cross: “Into your hand I commit my spirit(31:5a). Can a rock of refuge lovingly receive as it carefully protects? Allow such questions and thoughts to ignite a fire within you this day. Perhaps there will be an opportunity for you to let your rock sing later, during my sermon. For now, simply ponder this: what would that stone in your hands say?


Pastoral Prayer


written closer to the time (if not at the moment)


Acts 7:55-60

             The following scripture is part of a much longer story in the Acts of the Apostles. You may recall that, in the early days of the church, six persons were chosen to assist the apostles as deacons. The first name on that list was a fellow named Stephen. Stephen was not just gifted in caring for people and distributing daily bread, which were the primary responsibilities of a deacon. Stephen was also a good public speaker, which got him arrested. Chapter 7 records his lengthy speech (52 verses worth) before his accusers. His words so enraged his listeners, that they picked up stones and … (pause) … well, let’s hear what happened next:

Acts 7:55-60


Returning our Tithes and Offerings

            Stones can be used to hurt people, even kill them... Take a moment to feel the rock in your hand. How recent has there been a time when you have wanted, literally or figuratively, to hurl something at someone? I assume you did not do so. Now, it doesn’t matter if your feeling was justified or not. Simply get in touch with your anger.

             Such an emotion is not, in itself, bad. Even Jesus got mad. There was a time in God’s Temple when he was so angry that he physically drove out some money changers who were profiting from people’s offerings (Luke 19:45-48). In Luke’s gospel, this account is preceded by Jesus standing before Jerusalem, weeping over it, saying that the day would come when this city would be destroyed by her enemies, and not one stone would be left upon another (19:41-44). And immediately before those words in Luke’s gospel, Jesus told the Pharisees who complained about all the hoopla surrounding his entry to Jerusalem, on what we remember as “Palm Sunday;” he said: “if these were silent, the stones would shout out (19:39-40).

            Again, you were given a rock earlier to hold in your hands. During this time of returning our tithes and offerings, pay attention to this stone. Become familiar with its feel. There may be edges that are broken, as well as some that are smooth. From where might it have come? What could this rock be used for? Yes, it is only a stone, but if it were to speak, what might it say? Ponder this as you give your offering… Oh, and please don’t throw it at the ushers when they pass the plates, or at the preacher when he speaks. Don’t cover your ears, as those who heard the deacon Stephen long ago. Open them, instead.




             We invest much meaning into the inanimate objects we have placed into these offering plates, O Lord. The coins, the bills, the checks, all represent our labor, time we have spent earning a living. We confess that sometimes we give too much meaning to money, and at other times we do not take it seriously enough. What we have given just now says something about us, and about what we value. We believe you are listening, O God. You hear what we are saying with our money, how we use it, how we spend it, how we give it. Our desire, all-too-inadequately lived out at times, is to do what is right with it. Help us to be wise stewards - as individuals, as families, as a church, as your people. This we pray, in the name of the Cornerstone that the builders rejected. Amen



What sort of stone will we be this week?
    Will we be:
            - stepping stones, which others use to cross troubled waters?
            - paving stones, which lead toward an eternal destination?
            - building stones, which are part of God’s spiritual house?
                        (add other images pulled from sermon sharing)
What sort of stone will you be this week?

May God be your rock and your refuge;
May Christ Jesus, who goes ahead to prepare a place for us,
                be your cornerstone;
And may the Holy Spirit fill in the cracks between us,
                and uphold us with power and love.
Go in peace.



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

International Lesson:
Faith and Life Resources

Mennonite Publishing House

International Lesson:
Mennonite Weekly Review

(scroll down on left to "Sunday School lessons)

International Lesson:
Christian Standard
(one week ahead)

International Lesson:
Adult Bible Studies
from The United Methodist Publishing House
(click "supplemental resources" and "current events supplement" under both the "Student" and "Teacher" sections in the left hand column)

International Lesson:
International Bible Lesson
a weekly column by L.G. Parkhurst, Jr.
in "The Oklahoman" newspaper
also found

International Lesson:
Living Web Sunday School Project

While one of our adult classes follows the International lesson above (see also), using
A Guide for Biblical Studies,
published quarterly by our denomination,
another class often uses one of the
Good Ground series.

For children and youth, we use the new
Gather Round curriculum
(developed jointly by the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonite Church)


©2014 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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