Alhambra Regathering Liturgy

Josh Dailey / May 20, 2020

What if we “re-open” Redemption Alhambra the same way Noah “re-opened” the ark?”

The apostle Peter invites the church to read the story of Noah’s Ark as a pattern for the church to make its way in a fallen world (see 1 Peter 3:18–22). In fact, for most of church history, the sanctuary was designed as an ark, with the baptismal at the entrance and the altar at end, to represent our communal journey from baptism to the cross, as part of Noah’s family at sea. Noah himself is an example of faith (Hebrews 11:7). Nevertheless, we, the elders, do not intend this as a word for every church.

Recently, pastor Aaron was reading in Genesis and heard the Spirit whisper, “What if you were to re-open Redemption Alhambra the same way Noah reopened the ark?” This opened a way of relating the story to our present circumstances; he presented this to the other elders who prayerfully affirmed the wisdom.

Below, is a video discussing tensions and outlining our plan for establishing a liturgy of regathering following the pattern found in Genesis 8.

Continue reading for a complete overview of our biblical perspective in establishing this regathering liturgy or jump to the bottom to read the practical application steps we are taking as a community over the next several months.

Context Crossover

  • The flood was worldwide like this pandemic. 
  • The flood resulted from worldwide sin; the common grace of God creating an expanse collapsed on the fallen world. Sin, sickness, death—all result from sin; we all live under common grace and God’s protection. But this pandemic is like the flood, a partial collapse of the world order. Safe places are no longer safe. 
  • Only Noah’s family entered the ark. Families have been isolated together.
  • The ark became a place of grace and protection like our homes in this season.
  • Many people felt that Noah was foolish for the way he built the ark and called people to enter like many today refuse to repent and enter the safety of Christ’s body, the church. 
  • Noah is a second Adam, who will also fail becoming drunk in a garden, but we follow the last Adam, Jesus Christ. Our ultimate salvation is secure in him.

How did Noah “re-open”?

It is a slow process . . . 

Noah’s family did not rush out of the ark; we see a call to patience, in fact, throughout Scripture, we see a pattern of waiting—praying, listening, and watching for God’s will.

Olive-branch

1. Wait for Rest

Genesis 8:4-5

4 and on the seventeenth day of the seventh month the ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat.

5 The waters continued to recede until the tenth month, and on the first day of the tenth month the tops of the mountains became visible.

As a society and individually, we are not at rest because we have been forced to stop. Our bodies carry this stress, so that, even unconsciously, the church may be tempted to act in the flesh, to rush ahead of God’s lessons and healing. 

2. Open a Window—“Watch & Pray”

Genesis 8:6

6 After forty days Noah opened a window he had made in the ark.

Instead of opening everything, let’s open a window—like Daniel—and pray. Let’s discern the leading of the Spirit together. 

Genesis 8:7

7 And he sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth.

A raven is usually a sign of provision in scripture. Like Elijah in the wilderness, let’s carefully watch for God’s provision in this season. We have all lost something, but what have we been given? What can we take with us into the next season? 

Genesis 8:8-9

8 Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground.

9 But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark.

The dove represents the Holy Spirit. After his baptism, when the Spirit came in the form of dove, Jesus was led by the Spirit, not the flesh. 

3. Wait again…

Genesis 8:10-11

10 He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark.

11 When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth

We sense an invitation for weekly prayer—to watch for signs of life. 

4. And wait again…

Genesis 8:12

12 He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him.

Notice how the Spirit will lead us out. 

5. Remove the Cover and wait again

Genesis 8:13-14

13 By the first day of the first month of Noah’s six hundred and first year, the water had dried up from the earth. Noah then removed the covering from the ark and saw that the surface of the ground was dry.

14 By the twenty-seventh day of the second month the earth was completely dry.

We imagine that it would have been quite difficult for Noah’s family to stay in the ark by this time. Indeed, this may be the great lesson of this season: let’s not be led by the logic of the world but the leading of the Spirit. We can wait until he falls like Pentecost. 

6. Come out when God speaks

Genesis 8:15-19

15 Then God said to Noah,

16 “Come out of the ark, you and your wife and your sons and their wives.

17 Bring out every kind of living creature that is with you—the birds, the animals, and all the creatures that move along the ground—so they can multiply on the earth and be fruitful and increase in number on it.”

18 So Noah came out, together with his sons and his wife and his sons’ wives.

19 All the animals and all the creatures that move along the ground and all the birds—everything that moves on land—came out of the ark, one kind after another.

7. Affirm Mission and Calling

Genesis 8:20-22

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it.

21 The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, even though every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures, as I have done.

22As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.”

Our first act is to “build an alter” of remembrance. We will gather all the gifts and lessons of this season in worship. Pastor Kyle and the creatives began this process with “Lament for the Loss” and spoken word videos. 

We will reclaim our missional identity to a traumatized, still unrepentant world.

Olive-branch

Practical Application

With theses ideas in mind, we thought it would be beautiful for Redemption Alhambra to establish a regathering liturgy designed to demonstrate an awareness of the physical signs but rests primarily in a deep dependency and submission to the voice of God.

What does that look like?

We will slow down, wait, and pray.  We believe, as elders and church family, we are being called into a season of waiting, worship, prayer, and small openings. 

Window phase (In-home prayer, worship, and waiting)

We have always paused Redemption Communities through the summer. This year, we are encouraging in-home worship and prayer gatherings. One or two families physically together praying, worshiping, and listing to our Father.

  • Use Zoom or live stream these times
  • Write down and share things the Spirit is speaking to you
  • Invite one or two others to physically be present (use wisdom and follow your convictions on this)

Cover off (Small prayer and worship gatherings at our building)

  • Creative in-person small group gatherings at the church
  • Specifically designed for prayer and worship (Live-streamed for remote participation)
  • Weekly outreach opportunities, tangibly serving the community
  • Multiple times each week
  • Sunday service remains virtual through this phase

Come out (In-person Sunday gatherings)

We look forward with hope and anticipation to having the whole family, together, in one location!

This will be marked by a celebration of praise, thanksgiving, and a call to mission.

  • Re-open our Sunday services (continue live streaming)
  • Mark our time with an altar of worship and celebration
  • All ministries open
  • Relaunch RC’s for 2020-21
  • Commitment to mission

We are excited to display the gospel in unity, wisdom, and patience. Join us as we wait, listen, pray, serve, and come together.