Tuesday, August 25, 2009

God's Grace Will See Us Through

Thomas D. Johnson, Sr. D. Min.
Senior Pastor

Greetings Beloved!

Can you believe it! Summer is almost gone and before you know the crisp air of autumn will be upon us. The change in seasons also means that many of our disciples will be returning from vacations and extended stays out of town. I trust that each Canaan Disciple has enjoyed a healing and restful summer.

Most of us realize that during the summer months, our Canaan’s revenues generally decrease. This year our challenges are even greater because of our national financial crisis. I have no doubt that we all love Canaan and will want to insure that our financial resources are plentiful enough to sustain our ministries throughout the year. I am asking each Canaan Disciple to “give a little extra” on the first Sunday in September to help us recover losses incurred during the summer. In the months to come, there will be more challenges for which you will be informed. Let us continue to pray for God’s grace to see us through these difficult times.

On another note, I hope you are as proud as I am of our new website. If you haven’t signed on yet, check us out at www.cbccnyc.org. There you will find up- to- date information about our Church. Be sure to visit our Blog, Facebook and Twitter pages as well.

I looking forward to an exciting Fall as we move forward with revision of our church polity, resumption of Bible Study, the launch of the new Canaan Voice, beginning discussions on our church renovations, the growth of our capital campaign and the continued growth of our church family.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Prayer In Public Worship

Thomas D. Johnson, Sr., D.Min.
Senior Pastor

Christian Worship rests at the very heart of our faith community. While we live out faith in our daily activities, the general assembly of believers provides a very important aspect for what it means to be a disciple of Jesus and a member of the Body of Christ.

Firstly, let us revisit our understanding of Christian Worship. Franklin Segler, in his book entitled Christian Worship: Its Theology and Practice suggests that to worship is,

To quicken the conscience by the holiness of God
To feed the mind with the truth of God
To purge the imagination by the beauty of God
To open the heart to the love of God
To devote the will to the purpose of God

When we worship, we are attempting to declare God’s worth.

Thus, worship involves recognition of worth in God, and the offering of our honor, praise, and adoration to the One who is altogether worthy.

Now, a very important element of our response or worship is prayer. Segler calls prayer, “the soul of worship.” Prayer is communion with God. Now, our concern today is prayer in corporate worship. Here, prayer becomes the expression of the worshipping community (not the worship leader’s individual prayer concerns or other agenda). The person praying on behalf of the faith community must always remember their position. You are ushering the congregation into the presence of God. You are communing with God on the congregation’s behalf.

According to Segler, there are ten general principles that govern corporate prayer:

1. Every prayer should have a specific purpose of its own. A prayer should not deal with vague generalities.
2. Every prayer should have good form. It should be clear, direct and well constructed.
3. Every prayer should be directed to God. It should not be a discourse about God.
4. Old English pronouns like thee, thou and thine should be avoided.
5. The prayer should be delivered in a clear, distinct voice so that the congregation may hear distinctly.
6. Public prayers should not be too long.
7. Some planning for prayer is helpful if you are leading the congregation in worship.
8. Prayer leaders should be notified in advance.
9. The public prayer must represent the entire gathered community.
10. Prayers should not sermonize.

That being said, the congregational leadership has responsibility for our Invocation each Sunday. The Invocation is the opening prayer in which adoration and praise are offered to God. This prayer recognizes that God is among us. It focuses on God and not on us. The invocation may contain:

Address to God
A relative clause acknowledging who God is
A petition or simple statement of desire
The purpose of the petition (invoking God’s presence as we worship)

Finally, all of our prayers must be guided by sincerity. We are all servants of this body. When we are called upon to lead a congregational prayer, we must carry out that duty with a high sense of humility and sincerity.