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A Season of Prayer – New Opportunities Coming in September

In September we’ll be kicking off two new prayer groups here at Laurel. One will meet Sunday mornings at 8:15 am before the Adult Sunday School class in the library. This group will start meeting Sunday, September 16.

On the first and third Wednesdays of the month starting September 5 we’ll be having Soup, Bread, and Prayer starting with (you guessed it) soup and bread supper at 6 pm and continuing with evening prayer at 6:30 pm. Join us as we pray together for our community, our nation, our families, and our world.

Realizing What We Are Saying

"Let us stand and say what we believe..."

I believe in the God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth…

We say it every week in worship, right after the hymn after the sermon. We know where it falls every week, and we know when it is our turn to begin the ritual.

“Let us say what we believe.” So we begin saying that we believe in God and somewhere about the time we mouth “creator of heaven and earth” our brains are moving on. Like the Lord’s Prayer, the Apostle’s Creed is one of those sets of words that we say a lot but in reality don’t pay much attention to, despite the awesome power those words convey. Do we realize what we are saying here?

Do we realize that we are placing our belief in one God in three persons, whatever that means?

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord…

Do we realize that with these words we are declaring that we follow Jesus and Jesus only, not any powers of this world nor any powers in the spiritual world other than the one who died on a cross in Palestine in the first century?

Do we realize that we are saying that we believe in the virgin birth, the movement of Jesus from Earth to the place of the dead (“sheol” in Hebrew and “Hades” or “hell” in Greek) on his way to rising from the dead, and that he will come again?

Do we realize that we are saying this with Christians from every time and place, those who say it openly and those who whisper it behind closed doors?

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,…

Do we realize that believing in the Holy Spirit means the Spirit might actually act in and through us to transform the church and the world? Do we want that, really?

Do we realize the covenant we are making here? Do we realize the awesome responsibility we are undertaking, to commune with the saints and to actually forgive those who hurt us?

the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.

Do we realize just how radical this statement of faith truly is? Just how hopeful this truly is? Just how faithful?

Do we realize that we are committing to live differently, to live as if there is more here than what we know here or see here or feel here?

Do we believe this?


2012 Holy Week at Laurel

The journey to the cross and the empty tomb is almost complete. But to get there we go through Holy Week.

The week begins with our Palm Sunday service at 10 am on April 1 starting outside the Sanctuary, where everybody will receive a palm to wave as we re-enact the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. As we celebrate his coming and look toward his death and resurrection, we will also celebrate communion together.

Holy Week continues on Maundy Thursday, April 5 at 7 pm in the Sanctuary. We will remember Jesus’ last Passover meal with his disciples and hear the words from the cross as the choir presents the choral suite “Prayers at the Cross.”

On Easter Sunday you have two opportunities to worship. At 7 am is the Glen Allen community Sunrise Service at Hungary Road Baptist Church (1733 Hungary Road). At 10 am is our traditional worship service in the Sanctuary. Come and celebrate the resurrection with us!

Ancient Prayers With Not-So-Ancient People

One the most profound acts I get to perform as a pastor is taking communion to people in their homes. Most of the time these are homebound seniors, people who do not even step outside their house for days on end and rarely having the company of an another human being in their home. These same people also tend to be the saints of the church who have given countless hours to prayer, work, study, and service in the name of Jesus Christ. Now they sit or lay down at home, watch TV, go to doctor’s appointments, and wait.

Once a month an elder from Laurel and I make the rounds doing home communion. Claudia, my volunteer secretary, puts some communion wafers on the small pottery plate and pours grape juice into a glass bottle with stopper. I take a basket with the plate, bottle, a pottery cup in same style as the plate, a Bible, and a Book of Common Worship which contains the liturgy. When the elder and I arrive we enter the person’s house, sit down, and often just talk about their life for a few minutes. Often the person receiving communion asks how the church is going and we’ll discuss that too. Then we’ll begin the service.

Home communions have most of the elements of Sunday worship. We do prayers, Bible readings, partake of the sacrament. I even do a (short) sermon, sometimes a recap of the previous Sunday. Home communions are different, though, in a couple of ways. First, the sermon almost always turns into a discussion. Since the setting is so intimate and the people receiving communion have so little chance to have conversation in their daily lives, often I will find myself interrupted by a story that pertains to the point I’m trying to make. Most of the stories I hear are full of wisdom and give me insight into the Scriptures, some are random tales that I forget even before we move on to the sacrament itself.

Second, while the liturgy on Sunday mornings has a fair bit of call-and-response where the leader says something and the congregation responds in unison the liturgy during home communion is often a monologue. Since many of the people we bring communion to are hard of sight or hearing it makes it hard for them to participate in a call-and-response style.

There is one exception to this rule. During the liturgy there is a point where we speak the Lord’s Prayer together. And without fail, no matter how talkative the person receiving communion might be, I always hear their voice echoing the prayer that so many have prayed throughout the ages. “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.”

And in that moment the body of Christ comes together to be sustained by… the body of Christ. Those who have been separated from worshipping with the body by illness, disease, or age are brought back through the breaking of the bread and the prayers. In this the church is made whole, when all those who are a part of the body of Christ can be take part in the full worship of the church.