Worship is a way of life that takes place not just at 11:00 on Sunday morning, but every other hour of the week (John 4:20-24). Through this “Call to Worship,” we want to share some thoughts about worship, scripture verses, hymns, and songs to teach and encourage you as you seek His face daily and then hopefully together with us on Sunday!

This Week at Traditional Worship (10:00)

Maria Currey, Assistant Director of Music – Traditional

Hymn Highlight – “Grace Greater Than Our Sin” Julia H. Johnston and Daniel B. Towner
Hymn Story: (Also known as Marvelous Grace of Our Loving Lord)

Julia Harriet Johnston (1849-1919), who wrote the words to this song, wrote nearly five hundred hymns or Gospel songs during her lifetime—but “Grace Greater than Our Sin” is the one that made its way into numerous hymnals during the 20th century. Daniel Brink Towner wrote the music for this song.

Johnston didn’t just write songs. She also wrote Sunday school materials for primary age children. David C. Cook Publishing Company published a number of her works.

Grace is a key concept in the Christian faith. If it weren’t for grace, none of us could qualify for heaven. While most books of the Bible speak of God’s grace, the Apostle Paul is especially known for emphasizing grace. He said:

“Where sin abounded, grace abounded more exceedingly that as sin reigned in death, even so grace might reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:20-21)

Many in our FOCUS Women’s Bible Study have just spent time within this passage!

The problem is that, while we might believe in grace theoretically, most of us have difficulty believing that God will forgive us. We cling to our guilt as a drowning man might cling to a splinter of wood. The difference, of course, is that Christ allowed himself to be nailed to a piece of wood to save us—to make us whole—to take our guilt upon himself and to bring salvation to all who believe in him.

Johnston captured this tension in her song. She spoke of sin and despair that threatens the soul. She spoke of a dark stain that we cannot hide. But she also lifted up the cross of Christ as the remedy for our sin—as the prescription to relieve us of our guilt.

The chorus speaks of grace over and over again, so that the person who sings this song cannot miss its importance. The chorus says:

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within,
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.

May it be that we will lean into His grace this day and always as we worship God and sing “marvelous grace of our loving Lord!”

(Scripture quotations from the World English Bible.)
Copyright 2014, Richard Niell Donovan adapted by MLC

This Week at Contemporary Worship (11:15)

Kerri Roberts, Assistant Director of Music – Contemporary

In 1872, the hymn I Need Thee Every Hour was written by young poet Annie Hawks. In her own poignant words, she describes how the hymn was written.

“I remember well the circumstances under which I wrote the hymn. It was a bright June day, and I became so filled with the sense of the nearness of my Master that I began to wonder how anyone could live without Him, in either joy or pain. Suddenly, the words I need Thee every hour, flashed into my mind, and very quickly the thought had full possession of me. Seating myself by the open windows, I caught up my pencil and committed the words to paper – almost as they are today. A few months later Dr. Robert Lowry composed the tune NEED, for my hymn and also added the refrain. For myself, the hymn, at its writing, was prophetic rather than expressive of my own experiences, for it was wafted out to the world on the wings of love and joy, instead of under the stress of great personal sorrow, with which it has often been associated. At first I did not understand why the hymn so greatly touched the throbbing heart of humanity. Years later, however, under the shadow of a great loss, I came to understand something of the comforting power of the words I had been permitted to give out to others in my hours of sweet serenity and peace.”

Now some 140 years later, a modern worship song based on Hawks’ lyrics has emerged and become one of the most well-known heart cries of our generation. “Lord I need You!” As we also reflect on the life and calling and covenant of Abraham in this week’s sermon, we can see how this has been a constant heart-cry of God’s people throughout all generations. Whether we are walking in a season of love and joy or living under the shadow of loss and suffering, may our hearts be awakened to the truth of our need as we come to worship Him this week!

Lord I come; I confess. Bowing here I find my rest.
Without You I fall apart; You’re the one that guides my heart.
Where sin runs deep Your grace is more.
Where grace is found is where You are
Where You are, Lord I am free!
Holiness is Christ in me.

Lord I need You, oh I need You. Every hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need You!

So teach my song to rise to You when temptation comes my way.
And when I cannot stand I’ll fall on You. Jesus You’re my hope and stay.

Lord I need You, oh I need You. Every hour I need You.
My one defense, my righteousness, Oh God, how I need You!

NEPC Contemporary Setlist