Prayer of illumination pcusa

Prayer of Confession: Acts 2: 1-21
Here’s a prayer of confession inspired by the events of Acts 2:1-21.  It comes from the Presbyterian Church USA. (inspired by Acts 2:1-21) you poured your Spirit upon gathered disciples creating bold tongues, open ears, and a new community of faith. We confess that we hold back the force of your Spirit among us. We do not listen for your word of grace, speak the good news of your love, or live as a people made one in Christ Transform our timid lives by the power of your Spirit, and fill us with a flaming desire to be your faithful people, doing your will for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

re-worship.blogspot.com

You’ve probably noticed something about worship. “We all know there are times when the Word is more profoundly proclaimed and profoundly heard,” says Philip W. Butin, president and professor of theology at San Francisco Theological Seminary and author of The Trinity.

By: Joan Huyser-Honig

You’ve probably noticed something about worship. “We all know there are times when the Word is more profoundly proclaimed and profoundly heard,” says Philip W. Butin, president and professor of theology at San Francisco Theological Seminary and author of The Trinity.

Butin says it would be a mistake to draw a one-to-one connection between certain actions and deeper worship. Still, during his 25 years in church ministry, he has noticed a dynamic that consistently leads to worship renewal.

It starts with naming and practicing Trinitarian worship. And one of the best ways to join worship already going on within the Trinity is to include a prayer for illumination before the Scripture reading and sermon.

Unitarian or Trinitarian?

While attending Fuller Seminary, Butin and his wife, Jan, worked at a large Presbyterian (PCUSA) church “that had a tendency to think of and do worship as a human thing. You know the kind of upper-class excellence—a choir with paid leads in each section.

“We often had a sense that worship was very horizontal and really happening on a human level. We’d seen the same thing while serving other churches in youth ministry and Christian education,” Butin says.

Meanwhile, he was developing a theological interest in the doctrine of the Trinity as his life’s work. That interest began in a systematic theology class on Christology and soteriology given by James B. Torrance, whose book Worship, Community, & the Triune God of Grace is a published version of those lectures.

“Torrance talked about Trinitarian worship as the Christian alternative to what he sometimes called ‘Unitarian worship’, where it’s a human interaction with God, but the mediation of Christ and enablement of the Holy Spirit are ignored.

“We really taught our congregations that it took the Spirit within us to empower and undergird and motivate our worship. People begin to see that worship is not a human offering to God. It’s not just us here and some Unitarian God up there that we have to figure out how to make contact with by the beauty of our prayers and music or the power of preaching or the earnestness of our faith,” Butin says.

Instead, he explains worship as a divine-human interaction, a process of God’s grace being revealed and the Holy Spirit helping worshipers receive and respond to that.

Being explicit about dynamics

“It takes time, but people look to their ministers as models of how to think and speak about and experience God. As the reality of the Trinity permeates the congregation’s conversation and vocabulary, perceptions of God begin to honor God’s triad nature,” Butin says.

The Butins discovered that consistently using the language of the Trinity reveals a dynamic of profound worship. They often added a sentence or two of introduction before each portion of worship so people could understand the liturgy in context.

These introductions were often as simple as saying, before a song, “It’s the Holy Spirit that works in us to awaken our hearts to God’s presence within us. Let us offer up our praise to God through Jesus Christ.” Or, before communion, a minister can say, “We’ll now pray the Trinitarian great prayer of thanksgiving,” and then launch into the sursum corda: “The Lord be with you….And also with you….Lift up your hearts….”

“A worship leader opens up these dynamics by making them explicit, so if the Holy Spirit’s working in the congregation, people know it’s happening,” Butin says. Instead of coming to worship as an hour-long duty, worshipers sense that God is always waiting for and working toward a deeper connection with them. They ask to be opened by the Holy Spirit.

Prayer for illumination

The Butins found that when the preacher and congregation consciously pray the prayer for illumination, “that whole Trinitarian dynamic is explicit…and God’s truth and power is somehow released into the situation.”

In the paper he presented at a recent Wheaton conference, Rediscovering the Trinity: Classic Doctrine and Contemporary Ministry, Butin explained that liturgical scholars have found prayers for illumination among 4th century Syriac and Egyptian liturgies. John Calvin, Martin Bucer, and William Farel made it a practice. The prayer for illumination can also be sung, perhaps with Ken Medema’s “God of the Word.”

“The human preacher and the human congregation intentionally pray together that by the Holy Spirit, human speech would become God’s Word spoken through the preacher to the congregation. They pray that in this unique event, in this gathered Christian community, in this time and place, the triune God would be Speaker, Word, and Breath,” Butin told conference participants.

He linked the Apostle Paul’s 2 Corinthians 4:6-7 “jars of clay” metaphor to the prayer for illumination. Praying that human speech will become God’s Word—spoken through the preacher to the congregation—helps worshipers live into the pattern of Christ’s incarnation. They begin to see that “divine revelation is most profoundly, authentically, and characteristically communicated by the Spirit in and through ordinary, created, mortal human words and leaders.”

Worship planners most often place the prayer for illumination before the Scripture reading and sermon because the Holy Spirit can make both come alive.

You’ll find 37 examples of prayers for illumination in The Worship Sourcebook, including this one based on John 12:21: “Lord God, we wish to see Jesus. By your Spirit’s power, give us eyes to see his glory. Through Christ we pray. Amen.”

Another, by John D. Witvliet, is especially easy for children to understand: “God, the Bible is a very special book. It is so big and so old. What do these old words mean for our lives today? Please send your Spirit, so that we can understand your Word. Amen.”

Published: July 21, 2008 Resource Type: Article Task: Daily Reflection Tags: trinity

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worship.calvin.edu

I am always looking for good songs that can lead us into the preaching of God’s word, and this hymn does the trick. O Word of God Incarnate works well as a prayer of illumination or a prelude to it. It fits well into Sunday morning liturgy immediately before the sermon because it centers its hearers on the light we receive from the incarnate Word of God in the form of the Bible. The written Word is a “lantern to our footsteps”, which “shines from age to age”; it is the “chart and compass” that guides us through the perils of life to Christ.

This is part of an intermittent series I’ve called “Hymns We Should Sing More Often.” The aim is to remind us (or introduce for the first time) excellent hymns that are probably not included in most church’s musical canon. A few hymns–like Holy, Holy, Holy or Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing—are familiar to many congregations and get sung in conferences and other large gatherings. Unfortunately, for a growing number of churches, there are no hymnals in the pews (or on the chairs), and consequently there is little opportunity to draw from the deep well of Christian hymnody. Most of the hymns in this series are not unfamiliar, just underutilized. I hope you will enjoy learning about these hymns as much as I have and enjoy singing them even more.

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I am always looking for good songs that can lead us into the preaching of God’s word, and this hymn does the trick. O Word of God Incarnate works well as a prayer of illumination or a prelude to it. It fits well into Sunday morning liturgy immediately before the sermon because it centers its hearers on the light we receive from the incarnate Word of God in the form of the Bible. The written Word is a “lantern to our footsteps”, which “shines from age to age”; it is the “chart and compass” that guides us through the perils of life to Christ. When the hymn was first published in 1867, Proverbs 6:23 was listed as its subheading—“For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life.”

William How (1823-1897), the author of the hymn, was ordained in the Church of England in 1847. He later became bishop in east London and in time came to be known as the “poor man’s bishop” and the “children’s bishop” because of his work among the poor and destitute in London. He wrote around 60 hymns in his lifetime, many of which were for children. Among How’s more well known hymns is For All the Saints.

The music that we sing How’s words to is from a Felix Mendelssohn arrangement of a tune that dates back to at least 1593. Mendelssohn set the old tune to new words and inserted it in his oratorio Elijah as the quartet “Cast Thy Burdens upon the Lord.” Mendelssohn was an accomplished musician and one of the great composers in the classical/romantic period.

O Word of God incarnate, O Wisdom from on high,
O Truth unchanged, unchanging, O Light of our dark sky;
we praise thee for the radiance that from the hallowed page,
a lantern to our footsteps, shines on from age to age.

The church from her dear Master received the gift divine,
and still that light she lifteth o’er all the earth to shine.
It is the golden casket, where gems of truth are stored;
it is the heav’n drawn picture of Christ, the living Word.

It floateth like a banner before God’s host unfurled;
it shineth like a beacon above the darkling world.
It is the chart and compass that o’er life’s surging sea,
‘mid mists and rocks and quicksands, still guides, O Christ, to thee.

O make thy church, dear Savior, a lamp of purest gold,
to bear before the nations thy true light, as of old.
O teach thy wand’ring pilgrims by this their path to trace,
till, clouds and darkness ended, they see thee face to face.

Kevin DeYoung has been the Senior Pastor at University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan since 2004. Kevin blogs at the Gospel Coalition. This article is reprinted with his permission.

www.theaquilareport.com

Praise be unto Thee, O my God!

I render Thee thanks for having rescued me from the abyss of self and passion, led me unto Thy straight path and Thy most great announcement, aided me in this attainment at a time when most of Thy servants had turned away from Thee, illumined my heart with the light of Thy knowledge, and caused me to turn towards the dawning-place of Thy splendours.

    O Lord! I beseech Thee by the ocean of Thy mercy and the heaven of Thy grace to pierce the veils that have hindered thy servants from turning in the direction of the all-highest horizon. O Lord, deprive not Thy servants of the ocean of Thy verses. By Thy might, wert Thou to reveal unto them what Thou hast made known to Me, they would forsake all that they possess in favor of that which is with Thee.

    Thou art the Almighty, the Ever-Bounteous, the All-Knowing.

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