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West-Ark Church of Christ Order of Worship
February 11, 2007

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body and be thankful”

“Lord, I Lift Your Name On High”
“Great Are You Lord”
#238 – “You Are the Song That I Sing”

Psalm 95 – Responsive Reading

Children’s Song and Devotional
(All children to the front for time of singing and devotional thought)
Sing – “I’ve got the Joy, Joy, Joy, Joy Down in My Heart!”
#474 – “Thank You, Lord”

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”

#587 – “Sing and Be Happy” (vs. 1, 2, 3)
#121 – “Come Let Us All Unite To Sing” (vs. 1, 2, 3)
#258 – “The New Song” (vs. 1, 2, 3)


Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

We have an a cappella style of singing. We are not the only religious fellowship to maintain a cappella singing. [Most notably Eastern Orthodox churches.] The term a cappella means “in the manner of the church or chapel.” What does it mean then to sing “in the manner of the church”? Especially if we understand church to be a family of believers rather than a building or institution. Does it simply mean “without instruments?” Or does it indicate a positive and sacred view of what it means to sing and praise?

All nature praises its Creator. The goodness of the creation declares the glory of the God who made it. But out of this entire symphony of praise and thanksgiving, God created just one instrument to praise him in words: the human voice.

And those words that we use to give thanks and praise our God also communicate to each other. We teach each other. We counsel each other with a wisdom that has been transmitted over generations. Did you know that it was possible to do that through songs?

    In World War 1, we learn a lot about the experience of soldiers fighting in the Turkish military through their songs. Many of those soldiers were illiterate and though they could not write their stories in journals, they composed songs.

Throughout human history, we’ve shared wisdom through songs, epic poems, anthems. Even Genesis 1 has a cadence and repetition that could be described as a song. The wonder of a song or hymn is that it has a tune, rhythm, and structure that evokes memory and thus builds a connection and unity.

    A friend once told me of a story that took place at the beginning of WW2. He had just finished Marine basic training and was in San Francisco waiting to be shipped out. He was feeling lonely, worried, lost. So he found a church service there one night. As he went into the chapel they were singing a hymn that was his mother’s favorite. She had sung this hymn when he was a child. Even though different people far away were singing this hymn it evoked memory and brought comfort to this soldier.

    Songs are participatory and create unity as well as memory. In the last congregation I served, the youth got into the habit of singing some of “their” songs before the worship began. They had a few adults who helped them out too. In time, there were a few of those “new” songs that were particularly captivating. And the rest of the congregation wanted to learn those songs and they adopted them. “Their” songs transformed into “our” songs and we were all blessed to share in the unity of songs old and new.

Singing then is an expression of our praise and thanksgiving to our Creator. It is an expression and participation in our unity with one another. But there’s one other phrase in this familiar text that sometimes goes overlooked: Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly. What does it mean to let the word of Christ dwell in us? What would it mean to dwell in the Word of Christ?

    The subject of personal knowledge, or indwelling, has been hotly discussed in the late 20th century. It proposes that we do not just know things objectively and dispassionately through our senses, but that we actually know what we know some things because of our personal commitment to knowing them. (Reference: see Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge, 1964)

God knows us because he is personally committed to us. We know Christ when we are personally committed to him. When we sing, praise, lament, and speak the word of God to one another we dwell in the word of Christ – we live in it, embody it, and shape our lives by it.

Colossians 3
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Song for Responses #674 – “I Have Decided To Follow Jesus” (vs. 1, 2, 3, 4)

“... with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”

#781 – “Thank You, Lord!”

#458 – “Redeemed” (vs. 1, 3)

“And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

#608 – “He Gave Me A Song” (vs. 1, 2, 3)

Sending Out Prayer by an elder

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 11 February 2007

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