The Year: Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is a good time to remember that what we see, as well as what we hear, is important in worship, and that the Gospel is conveyed by actions as well as by words.

Ash Wednesday, the seventh Wednesday before Easter, is the first day of Lent. Ash Wednesday comes from the ancient practice of placing ashes on worshipers’ foreheads as a sign of humility before God, a somber reflection on the depths from which we have been lifted.

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The Space: Worship Banners

During the time between Epiphany [January 6th] and the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday [date varies from year to year], these worship folder inserts will focus on the “space” in which we gather for corporate worship.  A couple of weeks ago, there was an article about the sanctuary itself. Today, the focus is upon the worship banners which help to beautify the space and draw attention to the season of the Christian year in which we gather.

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The Space: Sanctuary

In 1992 the sanctuary was dedicated. The beautiful setting was the result of years of praying, thinking, and planning. After worshipping in the “sanctanasium” for many years, the church found itself longing for a space dedicated to the practices of worship and evangelism. The design of the space incorporates many very intentional expressions of our theology and our mission.

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The Year: Incarnation

The word incarnation is derived from the Latin carnis (“flesh”) and means “becoming flesh” as in John 1:14, “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.”  It refers to the act whereby God became man in Jesus of Nazareth.

It was at the Council of Chalcedon in a.d. 451 that the Church declared that Jesus Christ is “truly God and truly man.”

The Incarnation means that we can point to the historical Jesus and say, “He is God.” At the same time, we can point to the very same person and say, “He is a man”, a particular man, a first century Jew subject to all the conditions of living in this world.

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The Year: Advent

Advent is that season of the Christian year when the Church turns its gaze in two directions–past and future. We look backward as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ in Bethlehem, and we look forward in self-examination as we prepare for Christ’s Second Coming.

The word advent comes from a Latin word which means “coming” or “arrival.” Our worship during Advent embraces both His coming in the Incarnation and His coming at the end of the age. Christian prayer during Advent might be summed up in the word “Come.” It is the “Come, Lord Jesus” with which the Book of Revelation ends. The hymn “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” expresses the Advent hope.

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The Ways: Compassion

At Kansas City First Church of the Nazarene, compassion is directly linked to our discipleship. To be followers of Jesus, the Nazarene, means we are to live out the lifestyle He invited his followers to embrace.

Jesus said that a ministry to those in need was a ministry to himself: “I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me” (Matthew 25:35-36).

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The Ways: Discipleship

Our mission at First Church is to make Christlike disciples. One of the ways we pursue this is to specifically lead people along the path of discipleship.

When the Son of God began His work here among us, one of the first things He did was to make disciples [literally “learners” or “apprentices”]. He approached individuals, looked them in the eye, and called them to leave their old life completely. He invited them to follow Him, to learn from Him, and to help Him. His disciples were to make His agenda their only agenda, to give up everything for Him, to live with Him, and to die with Him.

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The Ways: Community

I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy . . . It is right of me to think this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart” (Philippians 1:3-4,7)

At First Church, we live our life as a worshipping community. We blend our hearts and minds as we blend our voices in singing. The words of the songs, the beauty of the music, and our gathering around the Word of God and the Table of the Lord, are all expressions of our life together. We are not a gathering of isolated individuals, but a community of inter-acting, interrelated people who cherish being together.

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