Faith, Fellowship and Open Hearts
Worship services at Spirit of Peace UCC are intimate, relaxed and filled with music. There is almost always laughter. As a community of faith and friendship, we celebrate each other’s joys and share prayers for healing and comfort when life hurts. With a deep understanding of scripture and history, a commitment to peace and justice, and a true desire to make God real in our lives today, the sermons at Spirit of Peace weave together wisdom, humor, biblical history and real life stories to offer compelling and thought-provoking sermons that stay with us throughout the week. People of all ages and abilities share in worship and music leadership.
Our worship service is divided into three parts, with The Word being incorporated throughout our time together. The Word is a way to talk about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit. Worship is all about opening ourselves to what God wants to do in our lives and with our lives. We do that in three different ways:
1. Approaching The Word
First we approach the Word. We talk informally before worship. We reconnect with each other. We welcome each other back if we haven't seen each other for awhile. The pianist plays music that calls us together. A singing bowl is rung three times in the name of the God who is Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit. A child leads the worship leaders into the worship space, bringing in the light that will light the candles on our simple communion table. Children, Jesus said, teach us how to open ourselves to God's touch and how to free ourselves from the masks we wear that hide who we really are. We sing. We admit to God the ways that we wish we had lived differently this past week. We hear promises from God about the stream of God's forgiving love that never stops flowing. Freed from guilt and shame that can close us off from love, we create a space inside us where we can listen for the Word.
2. Listening for The Word
We believe God is still speaking to us through every part of our lives and through every part of the world's life. So we have a time when the children gather. We listen for how God speaks through them as they share with us the amazing ways God's love, joy, hope, playfulness, and dreams live in them. We listen for God's Word in the Bible. This is more than just listening to the words in the Bible. Because we believe those words need to be interpreted. We believe we need to learn what those words might have meant when they were written and what those words mean today. Because that's not always the same. That is what happens during the sermon. Whoever is preaching teaches about the context of the selected passage and tries to bring that word to life for us today by talking about how God might be speaking through it to us and to the world--how God is reaching out to us and calling us to imagine how Jesus would live our lives if he were walking around in our shoes and looking out at the world through our eyes.
3. Responding to The Word
After we listen, we respond to the Word. We can't follow Jesus just by talking. Following Jesus means responding to what he calls us to. Following Jesus means acting differently than we did before. Following Jesus means being changed. So we sing. We pray together. Not just prayers from the pastor...anyone in the church who wants to can ask the community to pray with them for themselves, for a loved one, for a place in the world where there is violence, injustice, and fear. And we ask each other to pray prayers of gratitude and joy for celebrations, for healing, for new possibilities, for ways God has been present in our lives.
We talk about what's going on in the life of the church and pass a basket so people have an opportunity to contribute as they are able to support the church. We share in music. We receive words of blessing that remind us we are loved, and words of challenge that send us out into the world as people with a Word of new love and new life to share. We greet each other and Share the Peace of Christ because Jesus said he came to give us peace, and calls us to pass that peace on to others in any way we can. We also respond to the Word by talking with each other while we enjoy refreshments.
Finally, all who wish can remain after worship to talk with the preacher about whatever the worship service made them think about. It's a great way for people to share their feelings and ideas, their questions and passions and for us to get to know each other better. It also helps us to more deeply know and care for each other.