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The Church That Troubles - Acts 17

A worship service plan focusing on the challenge for the Christian church to be a redemptive tool in the hand of the risen Christ. Worshipers will hear how the early church was obedient to Christ's call and be faced with the challenge to do the same.

Worship Service
Also in this Series

The Foolishness of Our Faith

A four-part series that focuses on the counter-cultural aspect of the Christian faith

Theme of the Service

This service focuses on the challenge for the Christian church to be a redemptive tool in the hand of the risen Christ. In this service listeners will hear how the early church was obedient to Christ's call and be faced with the challenge to do the same.


Prelude: "Jesus Shall Reign" [see music notes]
"Christ Is Alive! Let Christians Sing"

The Call to Worship [see liturgy notes]

*Opening Litany:
We come to worship God in our need,
bringing with us the needs of the world.
We come to God, who comes to us in Jesus,
and who knows by experience what human life is like.
We come with our faith and with our doubts,
we come with our hopes and with our fears.
We come as we are because it is God who invites us to come,
and God has promised never to turn us away. (The Worship Sourcebook, 1.4.67)

*Song: "Jesus Shall Reign" PH 423, PsH 412, RN 296, RL 233, TH 441, TWC 745, UMH 157 [see music notes]

*Our Declaration of Trust and God's Greeting:
People of God, where is your trust placed?
Our help is in the name of the Lord who made heaven and earth.
Grace, mercy and peace to you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

*Response: "Christ Is Alive! Let Christians Sing" PH 108,PsH 413, RN 300, TWC 243, UMH 318 [see music notes]
or: "Out of Need and Out of Custom" PsH 259, TWC 800


The Call to Confession

Our Prayer of Confession [see liturgy notes]

The Assurance of Pardon

Anthem: "Without the Fire, There Is No Burning," K. Lee Scott [see music notes]

God's Guide for Grateful Living: Matthew 22:37-40 and/or Romans 12:9-13


*Song of Preparation: "Through All the World" SNC 279, TWC 738

*Our Affirmation of Faith [see liturgy notes]
Following the apostles, the church is sent-
sent with the gospel of the kingdom
to make disciples of all nations,
to feed the hungry,
and to proclaim the assurance that in the name of Christ
there is forgiveness of sin and new life
for all who repent and believe-
to tell the news that our world belongs to God.
In a world estranged from God,
where millions face confusing choices,
this mission is central to our being,
for we announce the one name that saves.
We repent of leaving this work to a few,
we pray for brothers and sisters
who suffer for the faith,
and we rejoice that the Spirit
is waking us to see
our mission in God's world.
The rule of Jesus Christ covers the whole world.
To follow this Lord is to serve him everywhere,
without fitting in, as light in the darkness,
as salt in a spoiling world. (Our World Belongs to God, art. 44-45)

The Prayer for Illumination [see liturgy notes]

The First Reading: John 14:1-7
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

The Second Reading: Acts 17:1-9
The Word of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!

Sermon:The Church That Troubles
Text: Acts 17:6
The Foolishness of Our Faith #3

The Prayer of Application


*Song: "Bring Forth the Kingdom" SFL 154, SNC123
or: "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" RN 152, SNC 77, TWC 539, UMH 206, WOV 649

The Offertory
The Offering of Music: "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" [see music notes]
We offer our gifts for..

The Prayers of the People

[see liturgy notes]

*Closing Prayer:
Grant us, Lord God,
the vision of your kingdom,
forgiveness and new life,
and the stirring of your Spirit,
so that we may share your vision,
proclaim your love,
and change this world
in the name of Christ. Amen. (The Worship Sourcebook, 9.1.40)

*The Benediction with Congregational Amen!

*Parting Words:
Go into the world:
dance, laugh, sing, and create.
We go with the assurance of God's blessing.
Go into the world:
risk, explore, discover, and love.
We go with the assurance of God's grace.
Go into the world:
believe, hope, struggle, and remember.
We go with the assurance of God's love.
Thanks be to God! (The Worship Sourcebook, 9.1.13)

*Song: "Go to the World" SNC 294 [see music notes]

Postlude: "Go to the World" [see music notes]

*You are invited to stand.

Sermon Notes:

This sermon should be placed in the context of the previous two. Explain that the theme of the series is "The Foolishness of Our Faith," by which we mean that there are dimensions of the Christian faith that do not fit into what is normally expected or understood today. Much of our faith is counter-cultural. In the first sermon, the focus was on the foolishness of the cross. In the second, the focus was on Christians who lead. In this third message, the focus is on the mission of the Christian church.

The idea of a Christian church that "troubles" is one that can either be a help or a hindrance in engaging listeners. There is a risk that it will be a hindrance because many today expect the church to be a conveyor of comfort and assurance, and this concept may sound strange and disturbing to them. It also may be a hindrance because some may have had previous painful experiences with churches that have been trouble spots of divisiveness and quarreling. It may be wise to straightforwardly say that this concept of the church is not very popular and follow with ".but the Bible leads us to believe that, given the state of society today, the church which never troubles anyone may be unfaithful to its calling!" At the same time, it will be very necessary to clarify that we are not talking about causing trouble by insensitive personalities, excessive rigidity, divisive quarreling, or offensive abrasiveness. We are talking about what a church does in the course of carrying out its faithful mission for God in the world by the proclamation of the gospel of Christ and confronting evil with the truth of God's new Kingdom.

When Paul came to Thessalonica preaching the gospel, he offended two large groups of people: the Jews who believe that the Messiah has not yet come and the Romans who were taught that only the Emperor is to be worshiped. The result was "trouble," and Paul and Silas were viewed as the perpetrators. A careful examination of the term indicates that Bible translators have struggled with how to deal with this phrase. The NIV calls them ".men who have caused trouble all over the world." whereas the NRSV follows many earlier translations by referring to them as ".these people who have been turning the world upside down.." There is an entire world-view in that phrase that needs to be exposed. God created the world "right side up" in the beginning. The fall into sin turned this "right side up" world "upside down." Now the church that faithfully follows Christ and carries out his mission in the world is trying by God's power to turn an "upside down" world "right side up" again. This world, however, has become very comfortable in its "upside down" position. The Jews are correct in claiming that the apostles were going to cause trouble. Many other illustrations from Scripture can be used to show the church causing trouble. For example, Elijah was called the "troubler of Israel" when he confronted them about their idolatry (cf. 1 Kings 18:17). Consider also Haggai 2:6-9, Matthew 5:11-12, Matthew 10:34ff, 2 Timothy 3:12 and 1 Peter 4:12-16 among many others. The people who are disturbers of the status quo will often be considered troublers. Yet, the very mission of the church of Christ is to come to a world that has become very comfortable in its sinfulness and disturb its status quo!

This sermon also needs to go the next step and raise the question of why so few people perceive of the church and its mission this way today. Have we tried to redefine the mission of the church? Have we forgotten about the pervasiveness of the evil that exists in our society, or have we become too comfortable with this evil? Have we lost our courage to confront evil? This message about the mission of the church begs for clear, sensitive, and challenging application. What are the evils of our society and our community that the church must confront in the name of Christ? As the church, we should be disturbing the status quo. "Here come the troublers" should be a mighty fine compliment!

Music Notes:
Glossary of Hymnal Abbreviations:
PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for LiFE (children's songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America; Great
Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

The music for this service focuses on the Lordship of Christ and the salvation he offers, paired with the call for responsible kingdom living.

The prelude suggestions are based on the opening hymns of the service. Please note the alternative harmonizations that could be used for a selected stanza of either of these hymns.

DUKE STREET ["Jesus Shall Reign"]

Bender, Jan. Five Festive Preludes on Easter Hymns. Concordia 97-5495 [1979] (M)
Bish, Diane. The Diane Bish Organ Book, vol. 4. Fred Bock B-G0776 [1985] (E-M)
Burkhardt, Michael. Five Easter Season Hymn Improvisations. Morningstar MSM-10-403
[1990] (E-M)
Burkhardt, Michael. Six General Hymn Improvisations, set 1. Morningstar MSM-10-846 [1992]
Callahan, Charles. Partita on Duke Street. Concordia 97-5998 [1988] (E-M)
Callahan, Charles. Two Festive Organ Pieces. Morningstar MSM-10-761 [1999] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 3. AMSI OR-6 [1983] (E-M)
Haan, Raymond H. Festival Hymn Preludes. SMP KK329 [1985] (E-M)
Held, Wilbur. (1972x) Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (E)
Held, Wilbur. Preludes and Postludes, vol. 1. Augsburg 11-9318 [1972] (E)
Hobby, Robert A. For All the Saints. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7537-1 [2002] (E-M)
Kemner, Gerald. Fantasies on Nine Familiar Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-5919 [1990] (M)

David, Anne Marie. Here I Am, Lord. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7566-5 [2002] (E-M)

Sherman, Arnold B. Jesus Shall Reign. Agape 1708 [1994] (2-3 octaves, E-M)

Choral Resource:
Hopson, Hal H. Jesus Shall Reign Where'er the Sun. GIA G-2135 [1978]
(Congregation, SATB Choir and Organ; Ascension; E-M)

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]
Ferguson, John. Hymn Harmonizations for Organ, bk. 3. Ludwig O-10 [1986]
Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190 [1964]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Organ, Anne Krentz. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

TRURO ["Christ Is Alive! Let Christians Sing"]

Albrecht, Timothy. Grace Notes VIII. Augsburg 11-10970 [1999] (E-M)
Bingham, Seth. Twelve Hymn Preludes, set 1. H. W. Grey. [1942] (E-M)
Burkhardt, Michael. Four Hymn Improvisations for Holy Week. Morningstar MSM-10-318
[1995] (E-M)
Cherwien, David. Seasonal Interpretations Lent - Easter. Summa SP-112 [1998] (E-M)
Kerr, J. Wayne. (1998) Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (E-M)
Sinzheimer, Max. Twelve Hymn Preludes and Improvisations. Concordia 97-4769 [1967]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Busarow, Donald. All Praise to You, Eternal God. Augsburg 11-9076 [1980]
Johnson, David N. Free Harmonizations of Twelve Hymn Tunes. Augsburg 11-9190 [1964]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Carlson, J. Bert. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0 [2003]

The anthem "Without the Fire, There Is No Burning" by K. Lee Scott is scored for SATB accompanied voices and is published by Gentry JG2168 [1995] (E-M).

Alternative harmonizations on the hymn suggestion "I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light" as well as offertory music suggestions on the same hymn can be found in the following resources:

HOUSTON ["I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light"]

Alternative Harmonization for Organ:
Burkhardt, Michael. As Though the Whole Creation Cried. Morningstar MSM-10-555 [2001]

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Sedio, Mark/ Cherwien, David. Let It Rip! At the Piano, vol. 2. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7580-0

Biery, James S. Twentieth Century Hymn Tune Settings. Morningstar MSM 10-863 [1995]
Osterland, Karl. Lift One Voice. Augsburg 11-11039 [2000] (E-M)
Wold, Wayne. L. (1998) Augsburg Organ Library - Epiphany. Augsburg 11-11073 [2001] (E-M)

Hamilton, Gregory. As the Grains of Wheat. Augsburg ISBN 0-8006-7577-0 [2003] (M)
Sedio, Mark. Once Led to Your Font. Augsburg Fortress ISBN 0-8006-7785-4 [2005] (M)

Behnke, John. I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light. Concordia 97-6611 [1996] (3 or 5
octaves, level 2) [2003]

Suggestions for accompanying the closing hymn along with postlude suggestions based on "Go to the World!" can be found in the following:

ENGELBERG ["Go to the World!"]

Choral Resource:
Chepponis, James. Concertato on "Go to the World." GIA G -5133 [2001] (SATB with
Congregation; E-M)

Alternative Harmonization for Piano:
Wasson, Laura E. Let It Rip! At the Piano. Augsburg 11-11045 [2000]

Callahan, Charles. Voluntary on Engelberg. Morningstar MSM-10-702 [1990] (M)
Cherwien, David. Augsburg Organ Library - Easter. Augsburg 11-11075 [2000] (D)
Cherwien, David. Gotta Toccata. Augsburg 11-11008 [1999] (D)
Cherwien, David. Interpretations, bk. 1. AMSI OR1 [1980] (E-M)
Hobby, Robert A. Three Hymns of Praise, set 2. Morningstar MSM-10-757 [1994] (M)
Powell, Robert J. Rejoice, Ye Pure in Heart. Augsburg 11-10478 [1994] (E-M)
Wallace, Sue Mitchell. Hymn Prisms. Hope 270 [1985] (E-M)
Wood, Dale. Preludes and Postludes, vol. 3. Augsburg 11-9320 [1974] (E)

Organ, Anne Krentz. Piano Reflections for the Church Year. Augsburg Fortress 11-11209
[2001] (M)

Liturgy Notes:

1. The call to worship and the opening litany are intended to introduce the theme of the service: God calls us together in order to serve him in a sinful world. It would be helpful if the prayer of confession were formulated to include the same sentiment so that our confession centers on the fact that we as a church have not always been as obedient as we ought.

2. The affirmation of faith before the Scripture readings aims to involve the body in corporately expressing to God and to one another how we understand the call of Christ to serve him in the world. It is taken from from "Our World Belongs to God," a Contemporary Testimony that has been adopted by the synod of the Christian Reformed Church. To reprint for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

3. The two Scripture readings are placed side-by-side because the first passage sets forth the clear statement that in the Christian church Christ is proclaimed as the only way to the Father. In Thessalonica and our pluralistic society, this truth is one of the "offenses" that is often troubling to others.

4. The closing section of worship includes prayer, parting words and song that are all built on the call of Christ to go into the world for service and proclamation.