8th assembly/50th anniversary

Worship at the Eighth Assembly
Opening Worship
Thursday, 3 December 1998


Musical preparation


Let us greet the people around us
and welcome each other to this place of worship.


Sounding of a horn

Call to worship

On the day of atonement
you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land.
And you shall hallow the fiftieth year
and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants.
It shall be a jubilee for you:
you shall return, every one of you, to your property
and every one of you to your family. (Lev. 25:9-10)
Entrance hymn and procession -- Iropa regwayana -- Patrick Matsikenyiri: Zimbabwe


The Rev. Enos Chomutiri,
president of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches
The Rev. Dr. Konrad Raiser
Celebration of the gathering
For fifty years we have gathered in the assemblies of the World Council of Churches, in response to the prayer of Jesus, that we may be one.

In Amsterdam we recognized the disorder of humankind
in the face of your design for the world.
Your design is the glory of a world reconciled to you
and signed by the harmonies in all creation.
We wait in hope for it still.

Response -- All people that on earth do dwell -- Psalm 100, paraphrase William Kethe 1560 (Genevan Psalter 1551)
Evanston lifted up the one who is forever our living way:
"Christ the hope of the world".
We claim this hope again,
a costly hope, crucified and risen in power before us.
Hail to the Christ, the name beyond all names!
Response -- On a hill far away stood an old rugged cross -- George Bennard 1913: USA
In New Delhi we celebrated the flame of your life among us:
"Jesus Christ the light of the world".
The light is now flickering, now flaming bright,
challenging the shadows,
forever warming the cold souls of our despair.
Response -- Jesus, Saviour, Lord, lo, to thee I fly (Saranam) -- D.T. Niles: Sri Lanka
In Uppsala we lifted up our hearts
and proclaimed your promise:
"Behold, I make all things new".
The vision of a new heaven and a new earth,
arising in grace before us,
called forth faith before the starkness of our life.
Response -- The love of God is broand like beach and meadow -- Anders Frostenson: Sweden
"Jesus Christ frees and unites"
we sang in the midst of Nairobi's life:
people from around the earth,
standing before God in our captivities and disunities
and naming a divine possibility.
Response -- Help us accept each other -- Fred Kaan: England
In Vancouver we gathered in faith before you,
"Jesus Christ the life of the world".
We stood in wonder before the defeat of death,
determined as now to reveal your victory,
made real before the eyes of all people.
Response -- Hallelujah -- Dumisani Abraham Maraire: Zimbabwe
"Come Holy Spirit renew the whole creation"
was the longing prayer in Canberra.
You, and you only, O God,
are the source of our renewal.
We bowed in humble faith before you,
offering ourselves to work with you,
in the power and truth of your Spirit.
Response -- Santo, santo, santo, -- Argentina
We give thanks and praise to God
for the journeying of our past.
Great is your faithfulness, O God!
Response -- Halle, hallelujah -- as taught by Metropolitan Mar Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim: Syria

Call to prayer

Sisters and brothers, this is the year of the Jubilee!
In thanksgiving and faith
we have gathered again from the eight regions of the world.
Here we will be accountable before our God. Let us pray.
Prayer of confession
Living God,
you have been faithful to us over the years,
even when we have not been faithful to you.
You have given us the gift of the whole creation for our home
while we have consumed its hospitality with ungrateful disregard.

You have given us each other to be neighbours,
while we have built walls of separation between us
as though we were no longer all children of the one God.

Why do we not turn to you, God of grace?
Why do we shrink from the joy of your jubilee?

If we look upon your face,
we will know who we are.


Words of assurance

Our God will send out new light and truth in every generation.
The God of our salvation will bring us to the holy hill,
to the dwelling place of all that is good. (Ps. 43:3)
Response -- Agios o Theos -- Orthodox: Russia

Presentation of gifts

Here we will stand before the cross
which arises from the life of Africa.
We will embrace that life
in the wider community of our churches,
symbolized in the many pieces of wood from different regions
which support this cross.

Here we will offer to each other and the world
the gifts from our varied life,
the justice which is called forth by God,
and our commitment to a new future.
These are symbols of our gifts.

Prayer of dedication
These gifts, and many more, we offer to you, O God
signs of the variety within your imagination,
signs of our praise to you as our God,
and as our companion on the journey of faith in Harare.
Entry of the word -- Aleluya Y'in Oluwa -- as taught by Emmanuel Badejo: Nigeria

Old Testament reading Leviticus 25:8-17, 39-43

You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month on the day of atonement you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family. That fiftieth year shall be a jubilee for you: you shall not sow, or reap the aftergrowth, or harvest the unpruned vines. For it is a jubilee; it shall be holy to you: you shall eat only what the field itself produces.

In this year of jubilee you shall return, every one of you, to your property. When you make a sale to your neighbour or buy from your neighbour, you shall not cheat one another. When you buy from your neighbour, you shall pay only for the number of years since the jubilee; the seller shall charge you only for the remaining crop-years. If the years are more, you shall increase the price, and if the years are fewer, you shall diminish the price; for it is a certain number of harvests that are being sold to you. You shall not cheat one another, but you shall fear your God; for I am the Lord your God.

If any who are dependent on you become so impoverished that they sell themselves to you, you shall not make them serve as slaves. They shall remain with you as hired or bound labourers. They shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee. Then they and their children with them shall be free from your authority; they shall go back to their own family and return to their ancestral property. For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves are sold. You shall not rule over them with harshness, but shall fear your God.

From Psalm 122

Response -- I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the Lord" -- M. Thomas Thangaraj: India

I was glad when they said to me,
    "Let us go to the house of the Lord!"
Our feet are standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Response -- I was glad
To it the tribes go up,
    the tribes of the Lord,
as was decreed for Israel,
    to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
Response -- I was glad
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem:
    "May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls,
    and security within your towers."
Response -- I was glad
For the sake of my relatives and friends
     I will say, "Peace be within you."
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God,
     I will seek your good.
Response -- I was glad

Epistle reading Colossians 1:15-23

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.

And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.

Alleluia -- Orthodox liturgy of Kiev

Gospel reading Luke 4:16-19

When [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to let the oppressed go free,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour."
Alleluia -- Orthodox liturgy of Kiev


The Rev. Eunice Santana
Hymn -- The right hand of God is writing in our land -- Patrick Prescod: Jamaica

Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth, of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
Light from Light, true God from true God,
begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us all and for our salvation, he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered and was buried.
On the third day he rose from the dead
in accordance with the scriptures;
he ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
he will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father,
who, with the Father and the Son, is worshipped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.

We believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.
We confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the age to come.

Prayers of intercession
Blessed Trinity,
God of the Jubilee,
we turn to you for the life of this Assembly.
Where there is generosity found in us,
    expand it with your grace;
where our longing for newness has run dry,
    refresh it with your truth;
where there is creativity of heart,
    deepen it with your wisdom;
where there is hope of reconciliation,
    add your power to make us one.
Raise up in us honesty of mind,
    passion for justice,
    and courage to choose your prophetic way.

Turn your face to us in grace, O God,
and breathe into us the life of your Spirit.

The Spirit is moving in all creation!
The creativity of God never ends!
Come, Jesus Christ, and be seen in the healing of the nations.

We long for justice,
we long for peace,
we long for the ending of oppression,
so that the songs of freedom and love
    will one day rise in joy from every place.
Give us the courage and hope to lift high the cross
    in all the corners of the world!
        In the South!
        In the West!
        In the North!
        In the East!

The Jubilee Assembly of the World Council of Churches now begins!
Let us rejoice in God who gives us hope!
We turn to God.
We rejoice in hope!
Response -- You are the healing -- Bunun: Taiwan

Lord's Prayer

Let us stand and say in our own languages
the prayer of Christ which unites us:

Our Father . . .

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Cor. 13:13)
Song -- Nzamuranza -- Mozambique

Return to Worship at the Eighth Assembly
Return to Assembly Archive index

© 1999 world council of churches | remarks to webeditor