HMC E-Newsletter February 17, 2011


Daily Prayer Practice and Weekly Communion
Join others from HMC in daily praying the Prayer Practice provided Sunday, or accessing it on our webpage at: houstonmennonite.org/worship

Weekly Communion Celebrated this Sunday!
To prepare your hearts and lives to receive communion, spend some time with Sunday’s prayer of commissioning:

Holy God, your love for us was so great that Christ emptied himself of his equality with you, taking on the form of a slave. Grant me the mind of Christ, grant me a share in your ministry. Pour out your Holy Spirit on me so that I might be given all the gifts needed to be a faithful minister.

Now may the God of peace who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, make you complete in everything good, so that you may do God’s will, working among us that which is pleasing in God’s sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. AMEN


Evaluating Worship and Weekly Communion
By Pastor Marty

The one school mark I’ll never forget was a C-, given graciously by my Hesston College writing instructor. It clearly wasn’t the best grade I received, but it did more for my education than any A+ I’ve ever received. My professor’s inability to allow me to coast through his course on auto-pilot without trying was the course correction I needed. I’d coasted for so long I didn’t realize I had veered off course. It’s fair to say that C- grade woke me up to see myself as a life-long writer. Without that feedback loop, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about my writing and likely wouldn’t be worth reading today.

Churches are notorious for having little if any feedback loops, and therefore are equally notorious for coasting, veering, and even stagnating. We’d like to change all that! This Sunday The Worship Team will open up a two week feedback loop through an online Worship Survey. We want to listen to God’s deepest longings for our worship by hearing your voice. We’re also very keen to discern with the entire congregation what frequency of communion celebration is most formative for own discipleship to Jesus Christ.

 But how do you evaluate worship that is meant to form us to be like Christ? What must be present in order for authentic worship to take place? Who wins when your style of worship isn’t my style of worship? In their recent book Worship and Mission Alan and Eleanor Kreider suggest we must evaluate worship, “not by the expertise and correctness with which they are led; not by the emotions they elicit or the way they move our hearts; not by the way they break through the ‘culture barrier’ by employing ‘the language, music, style, architecture, and art forms of the target population’;  not by their pizzaz, which certain English evangelicals call the ‘wow factor.’ Rather, we will ask, Does the worship of our churches ascribe worth to the missional God? Does our worship give space to the Holy Spirit who equips God’s people to take part in God’s mission?” In other words, worship should be evaluated by how well it forms you to be centered on Christ in life.

This worship survey is an opportunity to listen to ourselves to hear if and how our worship forms us to be more Christ-like, just, giving and loving. That means we’re not looking to hear what color people want the walls or which style of songs to sing. We’re listening for when and how you fall more in love with God’s vision for the world and your part in it. What are the practices and rituals and songs and presentations of scripture that form us to be more like Christ in daily life? What worship practices help us see God, self and the world as they truly are and as God intends us to see them? If we can share that with one another, we’re well on our way to offering worship that is transformative, hopeful, creative and faithful to God’s call.

On Sunday February 20th at 12 Noon you will each be emailed a link to an online survey. The survey is 10 questions over 6 pages and should take 5-10 minutes or more. Please take the survey once in the next 2 weeks and provide as much information as you feel called. The more information we have, the more accurate our picture of worship will be. After listening to congregational voices and the Spirit’s voice, the worship Team and Church Council will discern together the future direction of our celebration of communion.

We’ll ask you to please not answer these questions based on personal preference and style. We invite you to look deeper to the formative effects our worship has on your Christian identity and mission. The survey follows the four “movements” or acts of worship that every Christian community engages in along with our weekly practice of communion. Regarding communion, please note we’ve now test-driven weekly communion for 6 weeks and are inviting your specific feedback on its weekly practice here. Thank you all for your awesome commitment to our church!

May your prayer life soar with the songs of our faith! And may you be centered on Christ in worship and in life.



Connecting More Fully at HMC:       ► Daily Prayer Guides: Join us in praying a daily prayer to Center us on Christ in worship and in life. Available on the hallway table. ► Communion this Sunday. An online worship survey will be open February 20th-March 6th for your feedback on the frequency of our communion celebration. ►Sewers and Doers: Saturday Feb 12 & 26 9:30AM at HMC.   ►Ten Thousand Villages Sunday: Ten Thousand Villages: Today is “Mennonite Sunday” at TTV.  Supporting Fair Trade through TTV is one of the main ways we express our care for the world around us as a congregation. Consider volunteering and shopping at the store in Rice Village. We volunteer to staff the store one Sunday a month, but you can volunteer anytime! www.tenthousandvillages.com

►Fellowship Meal: Next Sunday, February 27, our theme will be Food You Love.  Please plan to join us for a time of food and fellowship following the service.
Children’s Mission Offering:  Please remember to bring your coins to church next Sunday, February 27.  The money we collect this year will be given to MCC Global Family to support children and youth in 5 Brethren in Christ schools in Zambia with school fees, uniforms and textbooks.  Each month we will collect money on our fellowship meal Sundays.
 
PEACE  CLUB : February 26 from 1:00-3:00 at the church.  See Judy Hoffhien or Ana Rosa for additional information. The next gathering of the Peace Club will be on Sat., February 26 from 3-5 PM at the church. Ana Rosa Craig will be leading a discussion with interactive activities about El Salvador. The group will also be making some Central American recipees for the Food Not Bombs group which feeds the homeless 4 nights a week. Bring your laptops, resource books, etc.,learn about other cultures and have some fun! Everyone is invited to participate.

Death by Fire: Did Texas execute an innocent man? Several controversial death penalty cases are currently under examination in Texas and in other states, but it’s the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham — convicted for the arson deaths of his three young children — that’s now at the center of the national debate. View the Frontline Documentary Death by Fire and join in discussion and action!
Hear the issues.  Learn about current legislative proposals.  Act.
When:   Sunday, March 6, 6:30 pm
Location:  Houston Mennonite Church, 1231 Wirt Road, Houston, TX 77055
For More Info:    hmcpastor1@sbcglobal.net    or   (713)464-4865                                              


Highlights of Celebration of Discipline #4 – Celebration
By Linda Washburn

To complement our first worship series or 2011, (a systematic practice of aspects of worship) and the Lenten season, this article is number four in a series summarizing several spiritual disciplines discussed in Richard Foster’s classic book on spiritual growth, Celebration of Discipline.

Although this is the final chapter of Foster’s book, it is not the last chapter I am going to write about.  I include it this week as a way to emphasize an objective of Communion, which our congregation has been partaking in for the past 6 weeks:  celebration.

Chapter 13 – Celebration

Foster begins this chapter by contrasting how Jesus began his public ministry by celebrating (Luke 4:18-19) with the absence of joy in contemporary society. 

Celebration Gives Strength to Life

Foster declares that celebration is central to all of the Spiritual Disciplines.  He says, “Celebration brings joy into life, and joy makes us strong” (p.164).

The Path the Joy

Obedience to God, which must part of our daily lives, produces joy.  Joy is the end result of the Spiritual Disciplines having worked in our lives.  Without obedience, joy is artificial.  However, joy is not immediate, and it cannot be forced.

The Spirit of Carefree Celebration

To find joy, first, we must learn to be “anxious” for nothing; we need to trust God.  Second, we will not know joy simply by praying and singing.  In one of his letters, Paul tells us to set our minds on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and gracious.  If we our minds are filled with these thoughts, then we will know joy.  Life’s problems will be overcome by good.  The decision to think this way is a purposeful act, which is why celebration is a Discipline. 

The Benefits of Celebration

Foster writes that the most important benefit of celebration is that it stops us from taking ourselves too seriously.  We need to remember to have fun; recall many instances in the Bible when Jesus celebrated!  Celebration also helps us relax and appreciate life, provides and antidote for sadness, gives us perspective, frees us of a judgmental spirit, and leads to more celebration.

The Practice of Celebration

Citing both Scripture and the example of children throughout the ages, Foster notes that making noise and dancing have often been how people celebrate.  However, he suggests quieter people can also celebrate through the creative / visual arts.  People could also make a point of turning family events into celebrations, or participating in celebrations that are already a part of our culture.

“Celebration gives us the strength to live in all the other Disciplines” (p.171).


Death by Fire: Did Texas execute an innocent man? Several controversial death penalty cases are currently under examination in Texas and in other states, but it’s the 2004 execution of Cameron Todd Willingham — convicted for the arson deaths of his three young children — that’s now at the center of the national debate. View the Frontline Documentary Death by Fire and join in discussion and action!
Hear the issues.  Learn about current legislative proposals.  Act.
When:   Sunday, March 6, 6:30 pm
Location:  Houston Mennonite Church, 1231 Wirt Road, Houston, TX 77055
For More Info:    hmcpastor1@sbcglobal.net    or   (713)464-4865             

This is an excellent opportunity for HMC to be a distinctly Christian voice for peace in the Houston community. Join us for an exciting evening.                                


Christian Formation Options at HMC:
Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30AM!
►ADULTS: Bible Study on Romans.  
►Preschool (age 2-4): With Adrienne Graybill.
►Intermediate Youth:  with Lynda Voran.
►Junior and Senior High: With Kristi Long and Alan Wilson.
** Children’s Church during worship in our children’s ministry room for kids 1-5. They hear a Bible story, sing, and play together.


ORDER OF WORSHIP February 20, 2011

Gathering
Welcome and Prayer                                                                                                               
* Singing                                                                                                                                 
            This is the day                                                                            PPT
            I owe the Lord                                                                         
SJ #112

Orientation
Confession and Song    O breathe on me breath of God                SJ # 46 vss 1,4                        
Scripture Reading            Exodus 20:8-11 & Deuteronomy 5:12-15                                          
Children’s Time                                                                                                                      
       (Children 1-5 are invited to the Children’s Ministry room for further time).
Sermon                            Sabbath                                                                                           

Responding
♦ Communion & Sharing/Prayer at Tables in small groups
Offering                                                                                                                                  
Prayer (Feel free to light a candle-prayer during this time)                                                                

Sending
Scripture Reading         Psalm 95                                                                                            
* Song of Sending         God is working his purpose out                HWB #638                            
Announcements
* Sending Prayer/Commissioning                                                                                           


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