Prayers From Sunday March 31, 2019

Prayer of Confession

Setup:

As a people we are in a constant pursuit of holiness. Of truly building our lives upon God’s love. Of actually putting our trust in Him alone. And as we do so, we often approach painful topics that we must address in our lives. This morning as we approach the topic of self righteousness and judgment, we want to acknowledge that we are in a safe space to do this deep work. We are in a room full of people who have lived without the grace of God but who are now on an ever deepening journey of understanding and appropriating that grace. If someone else has popped into your head as I mention the topic of self righteousness, I’ll caution you by saying that this prayer could likely be more for you than it is for that person. This prayer is for the Pharisee who is overly pious - the person who thinks they understand God so well that they know better than the rest of the world. But this prayer is also for the person cowering in the corner who doesn’t believe they are good enough for the work or life God has called them to - the one who thinks they know themselves so well that they know better than God. Both lives are expressions of the same ugly root of self righteousness. As we pray let us open our hands. In this, we are saying “Lord, we release ourselves to you, we release our need to act as judge over ourselves and others.” We are also saying, “Lord, we receive your grace, fill us with your goodness that we may dispense your charity.”

Prayer:

Father....first, we take a deep breath and ask that you would expose the parts of us that have long lurked in darkness. We ask for a deep knowing that it’s not too late to truly know your grace. We ask for honesty here.

Lord, Forgive us for stepping into judgment when it feels like we’ve done all the hard work that no one else is willing to do. When we are unteachable and unwilling to see our own problems, but feel as though we have answers to all the world’s problems, for thinking that the broken relationships in our lives will be fixed only when the other person finds healing. Forgive us, Lord, for when we feel like you owe us.

Forgive us for the moments when we parade our good works in order to be known, for loving the praise and approval of man, and for measuring our supposed graciousness against that of others. Forgive us for the times that we think we deserve even a shred credit for the work that your Spirit is doing through us and for the times our desire to be seen as good and right trumps our willingness to expose our brokenness.

May we know your eternal kindness that leads your people to repentance.

WE PRAY, LORD HAVE MERCY, CHRIST HAVE MERCY

Forgive us for the moments we deny to walk forward in our calling, seized by fear of failure, and fear of being exposed.

Forgive us for not trusting the truth that you, God of all creation, have spoken over us and for not walking in the confidence that your sacrificial death afforded us.

Forgive us for resenting others when they don’t meet our unexpressed needs.

Forgive us for the moments that we forget that we are all wounded healers.

WE PRAY, LORD HAVE MERCY, CHRIST HAVE MERCY.

As we recognize that self righteousness, in all its various forms, often comes from a lack of connection somewhere in our lives we ask you, God, to grant us reconnection. Remind us that we have much to receive and much to give. Remind us that those exchanges happen not only between you and us, but also between us and the rest of the world - that often the ones we can learn the most from are the ones we most easily scrutinize.

We acknowledge together now, Lord, that it is your goodness that leads us forth in the daily work of sanctification. It is your sacrifice that pours God’s righteousness over us to cover our self righteousness.


Prayers of the People


Father, as we continue to worship you in today's service, may you begin to bring awareness to us in areas of our lives and hearts where we harbor judgemental attitudes, and critical mindsets towards one another other. We ask this morning that your Holy Spirit would reveal to us where we criticize and how we judge one another. God we ask that you would make this prayer liveable for us. That we would not simply think in terms of judgment in the conceptual and abstract sense, but we ask that you would make this effort practical.

Father, we ask that you would show us how we judge and criticize from the way people talk and the words they use or don’t use,  to the food they eat or don’t eat, to where people live or don’t live. To the size of someone’s home whether it be a beautiful home in an affluent area or a studio apartment in a poor area. Teach us to embrace our differences and perspectives with respect, compassion, and consideration for the other.

Father, work in our hearts in areas where we practice moral elitism disguised as Christianity. We can so easily look down and criticize the mother who drives a beat up car, who feeds her children fast food,  and who lives on the poor side of the tracks with a “bless their heart” mentality, while on the other hand taking great pride in judging the lifestyles of the wealthy for the cars they drive the homes they own, and for their lavish lifestyles when so many people around the world suffer.Father help, us to understand that know matter where we come from, we all come to you the same way, and we are all in need of your loving touch

Father we pray that you would rid us of one of one of the most insidious 4 letter words in the dictionary, “them”. For we know that as long as we insulate ourselves, and separate, we reinforce a narrative of division, which leads to criticism, and ultimately judgement. Rather, help us turn our “them” attitudes to “us” attitudes. Realizing that we are all in this together, and that we belong to each other.

May our dinner tables express that, May our lunches express that. That we would not just seek community with people who exclusively look like us, vote like us, and speak like us, but help us reach, and then reach again to become bridge builders for the gospel in the greater Los angeles Area.

So Lord, we lament for the places in which we have fallen short in this area, while also humbly asking that you would teach us how to lead, and bravely step out to help create a gospel centered culture of compassion and kinship.

Amen

New to Christianity?

Are you new to Christianity? Have questions or doubts? Wonderful!! At Christ Church we welcome those who are investigating Christianity. All questions are welcome. And while we may not always have the answer, we will do our best to point you in the direction of what Christians have historically believed and why they believed it.

In addition to attending the church service, those interested in Christianity will benefit from the following three things:

  1. Contact a pastor. Our pastors are happy to field any questions you have and to help direct you as you explore living in the way of Jesus.

  2. Read the Gospel of John. Christianity is all about Jesus Christ. The Gospel of John was written to introduce Jesus Christ to those who were new to Christianity. It is a great way to start.

  3. Get involved in a community group. Community groups are small groups designed to investigate Christianity and experience Christian community.

Godspeed as you explore!

Internship Program

Christ Church seeks to train the next generation of passionate, mature, capable, and theologically grounded church leaders for effective ministry in our increasingly post-Christian context.

Passionate. We seek to train passionate leaders marked by a deep love for God and for people. In his On Christian Teaching, Augustine claims the first requirement for anyone seeking to teach other Christians is that they have a rich love for God and for neighbor. These, in fact, are the two great commandments Jesus gave his disciples: love God and love your neighbor as yourself (Mark 12:30-31). Therefore, Christ Church seeks to produce loving leaders.

Mature. We seek to train mature leaders marked by emotional, relational, intellectual maturity. Irenaeus famously said, “Gloria Dei est vivens homo” (“the glory of God is living man”). Irenaeus is claiming that God is glorified by our humanity, not in spite of it. Said another way, God does not call us to escape our humanity, but to become fully human. As Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Therefore, Christ Church seeks to produce mature leaders.

Capable. We seek to train leaders skilled in the vocation of leadership in the church. The great Puritan pastor Richard Baxter reminded those training for ministry: “We are intrusted with our Master’s talents…to edify his church.” Therefore, the Master expects those in charge of His household to develop what they have been given (Mt 25:14-30). This includes the organizational, practical, liturgical, technical, and vocational know how that church leadership requires. Therefore, Christ Church seeks to produce competent leaders.

Theologically Grounded. We seek to train theologically astute leaders who are grounded in the classic, historic truths of the Christian faith. Cyprian, The Cappadocians Fathers, Chrysostom, Calvin—these are just a few of the noted theologians (starting with “C”) who were also pastors. Because Christian theology is to be done by and for the church, Christian leaders are called to be theologians; that is, they are to faithfully exegete the scriptures, articulate doctrine, and engage ideas that are foreign or contrary to classic Christian faith. Therefore, Christ Church seeks to produce leaders grounded in historic Christian faith.

Post-Christian Context. We seek to train leaders prepared for this cultural moment—missional leaders able to articulate the historic faith in a relevant, winsome way. The church never exists in a cultural vacuum. Today the church in the West is in an increasingly post-Christian culture. This means, as philosopher Charles Taylor has noted, people in the West face a plurality of beliefs—with Christianity being one option among many. Therefore, Christ Church seeks to produce leaders readied for effective service in our post-Christian culture.

 

OUR PROGRAMS

Christ Church offers two different tracks for vocational development, a Pastoral Residency track and an Internship track.

The Pastoral Residency track is designed for post-college adults who sense a vocation in pastoral ministry. Serving as a church-based complement to seminary, the Pastoral Residency program serves as a bridge for those seeking vocational ministry. Central to the program is one-on-one mentoring in pastoral arts such as preaching, spiritual direction, counseling, worship & liturgy, and teaching. To maximize the impact of the program, the director works with each resident to co-create an individualized track of study as well as guided experience in the pastoral arts. The program is 12-18 months long, and pastoral residents are eligible for lodging and financial support.  

The Internship Track is aimed towards college-aged young adults who desire more experience in a particular arena of church leadership such as arts ministry, children’s ministry, college ministry, community life, media arts (film, social media), mercy ministry (serving the broken and needy), spiritual direction, youth ministry (middle, high school), worship & liturgy. In addition to reading through the Bible during their internship, interns read and discuss books from our PRIP Reader List (see below). This list is designed to ground future leaders in the historic Christian faith. Internships are 12 months long, and interns receive a financial stipend.

 

For more information on Christ Church’s Pastoral Residency & Internship Program contact Dr. Robert Covolo.

 

Pastoral Residency & Internship Reader List

  • Abraham Kuyper: Lectures on Calvinism

  • Alexander Schmemann, For the Life of the World

  • Al Wolters, Creation Regained

  • Anselm, The Major Works, Why God Became Man

  • Athanasius, On the Incarnation

  • Augustine, Confessions, City of God (Selected Readings), On Christian Teaching, On Doctrine

  • A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

  • Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit

  • Ben Meyers, The Apostles Creed

  • Bennet, Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers and Devotions

  • Bernard of Clairvaux, On Loving God

  • Brother Lawrence, The Practice of the Presence of God

  • Bryan Chapell, Christ Centered Worship

  • Charles Taylor, A Secular Age

  • C.H. Spurgeon, Lectures To My Students

  • C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, The Weight of Glory, Screwtape Letters

  • Cyril of Alexander, On The Unity of Christ

  • D.A. Carson, Exegetical Fallacies

  • Dante Alighieri, The Divine Comedy (Select Cantos)

  • David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite

  • Dorothy Sayers, The Man Born to be King

  • Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together

  • Flannery O’Connor, The Complete Stories

  • G. K. Chesterton, On Orthodoxy

  • George Herbert, Selected Poems

  • Gregory of Nyssa, On the Making of Man,

  • Gordon H. Fee, How To Read The Bible For All It’s Worth

  • Gregory of Nazianzus, On God and Christ

  • H. Richard Niebuhr, Christ and Culture

  • Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics (Abridged)

  • Henri Nouwen, The Wounded Healer, The Return of the Prodigal Son, In the Name of Jesus

  • Irenaeus, On the Apostolic Preaching

  • James K.A. Smith, Cultural Liturgies Series, How (Not) To Be Secular

  • J.C. Ryle, Holiness

  • J.I. Packer, Knowing God

  • John Calvin, The Institutes (Selections)

  • John Donne, Selected Poems

  • John H. Leith, Creeds of the Churches

  • John Milton, Paradise Lost

  • John Owen, The Glory of Christ

  • John Stott, The Cross of Christ, Basic Christianity

  • Jonathan Edwards, A Jonathan Edwards Reader

  • Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God

  • Karl Barth, Evangelical Theology, Dogmatics in Outline

  • Marilyn Robinson, Gilead

  • Martin Luther, Introduction to Galatians, Selected Sermons, Heidelberg Disputation, Two Kinds of Righteousness, Christian Freedom

  • Miroslav Volf, Exlcusion and Embrace

  • Origin, An Exhortation to Martyrdom, On Prayer

  • Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest

  • Pseudo-Dionysius, On Divine Names

  • Richard Baxter, The Reformed Pastor

  • Richard Mouw, Abraham Kuyper: A Short and Personal Biography, He Shines In All That’s Fair

  • Thomas Aquinas, Nature and Grace

  • Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Mediation

  • Tim Keller, Reasons for God’s Existence

  • T.S. Elliot, The Collected Poems

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