Saturday, June 20, 2009

Sunday Lectionary Devotion: Aaron's Beard

Lectionary Verse: Psalm 133:2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes.

Every week, I write the prayers for our Sunday worship services. This usually takes place on Monday mornings because I like to have them done before anything else takes place during the week. It’s a good discipline for me, because the worship service is the most important congregational event in the weekly life of the church.

Over the years, the order of our worship service has changed. When I cameto Erin Church at first, a lot of the prayers were read and said by me on behalf of the congregation. These days, we have volunteer prayer guides and scripture readers who lead the people in the worship of God.

Different people with different voices add to the variety in the service. And with the congregation reading aloud the prayers and scriptures responsively, everyone is involved in the worship. Our services are no longer spectator events; they have become participatory times of worship that helps everyone connect to God and one another.

But what’s all of this to do with Aaron’s Beard? Well, after I write the prayers and have given them to Leslie, our church administrator, I upload them to a weekly blogsite called “Aaron’s Beard.” ( Pastors and congregations from different places use these prayers in their own Sunday services, or perhaps read them to help them write their own worship prayers. In this week alone, church people from Toronto, Canada; Chesapeake, Virginia; Kilgore, Texas; Wilder, Idaho; London, United Kingdom; Kuching, Malaysia; Danbury, Wisconsin; Huntington Beach, California; and New Haven, Connecticut have all downloaded the weekly prayers. What began as a means of getting more people involved at Erin Presbyterian Church has become a way of helping other people worship in different states and countries throughout the world.

God’s ways are mysterious and His words are tremendous. He uses our gifts and makes positive differences in other people’s lives, even people that we do not know. Glory to God!

Prayer: Lord God, thank You for the gift of worship and for the variety of ways that people throughout the world praise Your Name. Bless our churches this Sunday with Your Holy presence and call new people to our sanctuaries, so that we may fellowship and worship with them. In Christ’s Name, we pray. Amen.

John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville and the writer of the devotional blog "Heaven's Highway."

Today's image is from John's own art work and is called "Lenten Prayer."

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