HMC E-Newsletter July 29, 2010

Words About Worship #4

By Linda Washburn

  • Leader is a publication that “seeks to inspire, equip, and empower both pastors and lay leaders” in Mennonite Church USA and Canada.  HMC subscribes to this publication.  The Worship Team often uses ideas from Leader in planning worship services.
  • The Spring 2010 issue of Leader has rituals as its theme.  The Worship Team constantly strives to continue to make the ritual of worship meaningful, and often considers issues like how often to celebrate rituals like communion, so the many articles in this issue are relevant to us.
  • Over the next few weeks, I will write summaries of some of these articles for the newsletter in order to reveal some background issues involved in planning worship, and perhaps inspire you to contemplate these issues as well.


Summary of Needed: Training for Worship Leaders  By Randall Spaulding in Leader (Spring 2010)

The author begins this article with a story of how a “simple” candle lighting ritual during a church service by a worship leader became very awkward.  Everything that could go wrong did.  The lesson is:  training for people leading worship is needed.

As forgiving as a congregation is, worship services suffer if leaders cannot perform rituals effectively.  Spaulding makes five suggestions for people leading worship rituals:

  1. Observe a good worship ritual, and then emulate their leader.
  2. Study the history and purpose of the ritual.  Not knowing the purpose of a ritual renders it meaningless.  If the ritual is new, explain it.  How is it helping people connect to God?  Why is it being done on that particular Sunday?
  3. Participate  in training
  4. Practice.  Don’t just imagine leading; walk through it in the empty sanctuary before the service.  Rehearsing won’t “quench the Spirit”; it will lead to a more flowing service, allowing all participants to be more open to God’s presence.
  5. Act with purpose.


“Worship rituals both preserve and change us.  They lead us into the mystery of God and strengthen our relationships as a faith community.”  When worship leaders are trained, they become confident guiding the congregation into allowing God’s Spirit to work.

 The Worship Team is always looking for new worship leaders.  Not everyone has this gift, but with training and practice, more people than currently fill this role would be able to – even if they don’t think they can.  I admit this description fits me too! We’ve recently compiled a worksheet to help worship leaders, and would like to offer training in the future for people interested. 

Connecting More Fully at HMC:
►Pool Party This Sunday!                                                                                                                           Where: Home of Linda and Jeff Washburn in Cypress.                                                          
When:  Today: 1:00 (after church) – 5:00 p.m.                                                                   
What:   BBQ and swimming fun for all ages! Come if you want to swim or not!                        
Please bring a side dish, drinks, or dessert.  Hamburgers and hot dogs will be provided.
►Ten Thousand Villages Sunday: August 15.
►Congregational Meeting: Sunday afternoon August 22. Following the Fellowship Meal.
►Looking for a fun service project to address World Relief?
Join us as we prepare for the Texas Mennonite Relief Sale, which is Saturday November 13 in Houston. Put your faith into action by making and donating something to the sale (crafts, quilts, baked goods, woodworking, etc…). Sewers and Doers is our group dedicated to making crafts for sale. Their fall schedule is: Saturdays: August 14, August.28, September 11, September 25, October 9, October 23, November 6. Sundays: October 24 with Pasadena church (tentative), November 7 Peppernut Making Party.
►Church Retreat Planners: Games, Food, Recreation!!!! Saturday September 25 is our church retreat. If you are interested in helping plan, please see Gloria Wilson!
►Do you shop at Kroger’s?
If so, grab a letter off the back table and scan it on your next visit. HMC will receive a portion of each sale!

Sunday School at HMC: Join us each Sunday morning at 9:30AM!
►ADULTS: Christian Commitment in Today’s World, with Roxie Voran.
►Preschool (age 2-4): With Teachers Rahel Koshy, Margaret Gehman, and Adrienne Graybill.
►Intermediate Youth:  with Lynda Voran.
** Children’s Church during worship in our children’s ministry room for kids 1-5. They hear a Bible story, sing, and play together.

Does Prayer Work???
By Marty Troyer

What is the point of prayer when there is, as you all know, much to do in our world? We need more action, yes? Not more lazy people who sit back and do nothing. This week’s stunning revelation of leaked US military documents by Bradley Manning almost had me thinking about prayer in this way. After all, it was action that seemingly cast such a dark cloud over our current wars. As people of peace, this was a good step in slowing down the military industrial complex that is destroying our world. Is this than, an invitation to set aside our Christian distinctive and run into the arms of the activist community?

Perhaps not. The day after this story hit the news Congress passed yet another multi-billion dollar support package for our ongoing wars. The excitement of the previous day was short lived, if not gone altogether! Action is short lived. How can we sustain ourselves in the midst of this one step forward, two steps back world we live in? And war/peace is only ONE issue we care deeply about! What about all the energy we put into our loved ones lives, church, work, or other issues (the Gulf Oil spill) that seemingly yields no results?

Which brings me back to my title question, does prayer work? And if so, what do we mean by “work”? What is the result and benefit of prayer? The most energizing answer I’ve heard to this question comes from Barbara Brown Taylor, who answers her granddaughter’s quiry , “Oh, sweetie, of course it does. It keeps our hearts chasing after God’s heart. It’s how we bother God, and it’s how God bothers us back. There’s nothing that works any better than that.” That is precisely how I experience prayer: as a chasing after God’s heart. For it is in prayer that God orients our vision towards God’s plan for the world and kingdom coming on earth as in heaven. It is here, in prayer, that we are energized to be like Christ in forgiveness, radical hospitality, and justice. Prayer is that which sustains us for the work to which we have been called.

I am not competent to say whether or not God “answers” our prayers for loved ones, or for peace, or for anything. But I have experienced over and again God’s pestering loving call through prayer to not let a person or issue be forgotten. Across the vast separation of Houston, I find it particularly meaningful to pray for you each every week as a way to enact my care for you, and as a way to connect with your lives when we are apart.

Within the month of August I want to offer you two tools to keep you chasing after the heart of God. First, this Sunday you will find in your church Mailbox the August Prayer Guide for Faith and Learning, distributed from Mennonite Education Agency. This guide invites you to connect with God’s passion to disciple faithful young adult Christians through Christian education.

Second, you are invited to join me August 15-21for the Week of Prayer for our Children and Youth. We are invited to join dozens of other Houston area churches to pray for specific needs of Houston youth, such as Diversity, Poverty and Food Insecurity, Public Education, Human Trafficking, Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, Childhood Obesity, and Advocacy Works. A Faith Summit for interested people is being held on Thursday August 12, I will be in attendance as a sponsoring faith leader. If you would like to attend with me, please let me know.

Does prayer work? Yes, absolutely! It keeps us connected to the things God cares about, and it sustains us in our work! Prayer does not take the place of action any more than action can supersede our call to prayer. So whether it be prayers for peace, prayers for loved ones, or prayers for our city, let us continue boldly to pray as Jesus taught, “your kingdom come, your will be done.” May God continue to bother you, as you chase after the heart of God! AMEN.   

Now, instead of talking about prayer, I’m going to grab my prayer book and head into the sanctuary!

Come to worship this Sunday and celebrate:
GOD’s STORY-my story!!!   
If you have not received a GOD’S STORY-my story journal, please pick one up this Sunday. Here is this week’s journal entry: SECTION TWO: God’s story through me

Week 9: How I live my faith:
My recreational practices energize my faith in the following ways:
My recreational practices drain energy from faith in the following ways: My use of time energizes my faith in the following ways:
My use of time is a drain on my faith in the following ways:
My finances energize my faith in the following ways:
My finances are a drain on faith in the following ways:

ORDER OF WORSHIP August 1, 2010
Welcome & Announcements 
* Opening Prayer
* Gathering Psalm                            Psalm 91
* Opening My soul is filled with joy                                             SJ #13
Tu has venido a la orilla (vss.1-2 Span, 3-4 Eng)                       HWB #229
Ancient Story of a Person of God: Paul  Acts 9: 1-9                     NT Pg 127
Children’s Time  (Children 1-5 dismissed for Children’s Church at the conclusion)   
Offering & Prayer
Scripture Reading                      Romans 8:9-17                                         NT Pg 158
Modern Story of People of God: Maribel and Felipe Hinojosa                 
Song of Response:  Confitemini Domino (1st– Eng, 2nd– Span)                                       SJ #59
Prayer of Response
Sharing stories, joys and concerns      
Prayer for the People (Feel free to light a candle-prayer during this time)    
* Blessing Song                       Go my children                                HWB #433
* Blessing

Communion: Houston Mennonite Church celebrates an open communion. All people (members and visitors) who follow or long to follow Jesus are invited to pray and celebrate with us at the Lord’s table.

Thank you to the following for sharing your gifts!                        
Worship Leader: Pastor Marty Troyer; Story Tellers: Felipe and Maribel Hinojosa; Scripture Reader: Dennie Masser; Children’s Message: Adrienne Graybill.  

Pastoral Care                                                                
Do you want a person to talk with about something in your life? Got a question or insight into faith or scripture you want to kick around? Have you been sitting on a great idea for the church? Need prayer? Want to get to know your pastor better?
As your pastor, I’m available to meet with you at the office or at a time and spot that works better for you. Just let me know when and where! Monday’s through Thursdays, and weekends by appointment. Marty Troyer, cell:(713)835-9436, church office (713)464-4865,, also available on Facebook.

Additional Information
HMC E-Newsletter is compiled by Houston Mennonite Church pastor Marty Troyer.
All are invited and encouraged to share articles, personal updates, stories, announcements, pictures, etc… to include in the weekly updates
Know of others
who would like to receive HMC E-Newsletter e-mails from Houston Mennonite?  Have them send name and e-mail to Marty at

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