Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ, Inc.
The Church in Central New York founded and consistently fostered by the GLBTQIS community. October 31, 2017 - 34th Anniversary.  Our 35th Year in Ministry.


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The Christian Worship Of Ray Of Hope
Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ
The Church of Jesus Christ serving the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Straight, Queer, Community of Central New York.

The Church where everyone is welcome in the Name Of Jesus!




Updated Wednesday January 10, 2001. 

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Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ brings together the very best of Catholic, Charismatic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Pentecostal, Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Anglico-Catholic, Congregational, Reformed and Free or Independent Protestant worship experiences. We support the direction that many churches are moving toward in the last fifty years of liturgical reform. 

Through study and research, we are joining many other congregations who are seeking to re-discover the worship forms of the first 400 years of the Church.

The faith, doctrine, teaching, and worship practices of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ hold to the ancient holy, catholic (universal Christian) apostolic and orthodox (true) standard. 

St. Vincent of Lerins, who died before 450 AD, set forth a good definition of this standard in what has been called the "Vincentian canon, a three-fold test of catholicity: quod ubique, quod semper, quod ab omnibus creditum est (what has been believed everywhere, always and by all). By this three-fold test of ecumenicity, antiquity, and consent, the church may discern between true and false traditions." (Thomas C. Oden, Classical Pastoral Care, vol. 4, pg. 243 [Baker Books, 1987]) 

Vincent Of Lerins: ".....that faith which has been believed everywhere, always, by all. For that is truly and in the strictest sense "catholic," which, as the name itself and the reason of the thing declare, comprehends all universally. This rule we shall observe if we follow universality, antiquity, consent. We shall follow universality if we confess that one faith to be true, which the whole Church throughout the world confesses; antiquity, if we in no wise depart from those interpretations which it is manifest were notoriously held by our holy ancestors and fathers; consent, in like manner, if in antiquity itself we adhere to the consentient definitions and determiniations of all, or at the least of almost all priests and doctors. .... equally, with one consent, openly, frequently, persistently, that he [we] is [are] to believe without any doubt or hesitation." 

Quotation from "The Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers" second series, volume xi, page 132. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace - general editors, published by Wm. B. Eerdmands, Grand Rapids Michigan, October, 1982 reprint, ISBN- 0-8028-2101-4.

The Holy Spirit, therefore, has moved us to celebrate in all modes and styles of Christian worship, including, but not limited to; charismatic, pentecostal, liturgical, mainline Protestant, Catholic, full Gospel, and every style of music from Chant to Black Gospel. We have a tremendous freedom that allows us to draw from all aspects of the work of the Holy Spirit in these past two millennia.

Central to our weekly worship is a Service Of The Word and a Service Of The Meal Of Christ. We celebrate an "open" Communion Table. All Christians are welcome to receive Holy Communioin at Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Name Of Jesus. 

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Here is a brief description of the basic structure of the worship at 
Ray Of Hope 
Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ

When people come into the worship space we encourage them to visit, welcome those who are visiting, and volunteer to help lead the worship service. A usual worship service will involve as many as fifteen participants in some form of ledership or ministry. We sit in a circular formation, with no elevations for furnature or Pastor's seating. The Appointed Pastor sits with everyone else, however, he/she is identified by wearing the "stole" for the first half of the service and the "chasuble" for the second half of the service.

http://www.rayofhopechurch.com/jercrfav.jpgCALL TO WORSHIPhttp://www.rayofhopechurch.com/jercrfav.jpg



First Bell A singular bell rings 40 times to call everyone to five minutes of prayer. Usually people place bookmarks in their Bibles for the readings which are listed on a bulletin distributed at the entrance way.

Second Bells After five minutes a choir of bells joyfully announce the beginning of the worship service.

Pastoral Welcome 

Someone from the Congregation welcomes everyone and invites us to participate in all parts of the worship service, as we feel comfortable. We always say: "You are as welcome here as Christ Jesus himself."
Here is Myron from Syracuse leading the worship service.

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It is important that everyone in attendance realize we are here to worship God, and so our Appointed Pastor announces whose name it is we are gathered in. We are not gathered in the name of a denomination or of any association of churches. We are not here for just a social gathering either. We come to worship God. To make our reason for gathering perfectly clear, the Appointed Pastor says: "In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." Everyone agrees by responding with "Amen!" The Appointed Pastor then prays for the "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit..." to be with everyone. At this time the theme of the worship service is announced and there may be a short introduction to the theme and/or the Scripture readings for the day.

Singspiration 

At this time we enjoy at least two songs of praise and worship. The songs are coordinated with the theme and Holy Scripture readings for the day.

Candle Of Hope 

Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ believes in the Resurrection of all people from all times and places as taught in the Holy Scriptres (Daniel 12:2; John 5:25, etc.) We also believe in the power of intercessory prayer (James 5:16b "The effective, fervent prayer of the righteous profits much."). Below is a picture of the Syracuse Candle Of Hope. 
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Therefore, we stop during our singspiration to hold up to God the names of persons who have died of HIV/AIDS related illnesses, their families and their friends. We are actually working our way through all the published names on the "NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt" by reading about ten names in each worship service. We also hold up all persons who are grieving the loss of anyone. We light our Resurrection Candle Of Hope while the names are being read.

We then resume the singspiration for at least (usually) one song. Our songs are from all styles of music and we are open to free spoken and/or sung praises in charismatic style between any song. If charismatic prayer should begin we wait for all the Holy Spirit has for us before moving on to the next part of the worship service.

http://www.rayofhopechurch.com/jercrfav.jpgWE PREPARE OUR HEARTS TO HEAR THE WORD OF GODhttp://www.rayofhopechurch.com/jercrfav.jpg



Confession and Forgiveness of our Sins 

After beginning with thanks and praise we prepare to hear the Word Of God by being forgiven all our sins. This is one of the most important ministries of the Church. In the Second Letter to the Corinthians, chapter 5, verses eighteen and nineteen, St. Paul explains: "Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation." We believe this "ministry of reconciliation" is one of the greatest gifts we can give to people who come to worship with us. We want everyone to leave the worship service in total forgiveness and totally restored to God through the pardon of their sins. The confession of sins is a private and silent prayer time in the worship service. Then one of the people leads us through the prayers of forgiveness. Here is Veronica from Syracuse leading this portion of the worship service.

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Here is one of the prayers we say together at this portion of the service:

I confess to Almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done, and in what I have failed to do. I declared in the midst of this assembly of believers that I am truly sorry for having offended God in any way. I ask you, my brothers and sisters, all the angels and the saints to pray for me to the Lord our God.



Then the congregation repeats some of the words of Jesus where He commanded us to forgive sins in His Name. Here is one example of the verses we read at this time. Jesus said: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (John 20:22-23) "If you forgive people their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive people their sins, neither will your Father forgive your sins." (Matt. 6:14-15) Jesus also told us to forgive our brothers and sisters from the heart. (Matt. 18:35)

To celebrate the forgiveness of our sins we stand and sing one of the many musical settings of the "Gloria." This may be in Black Gospel style, or Folk Christian, or Gregorian Chant!

The Sign Of Peace

We are now forgiven and restored to Christ and God through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, this is the perfect time to give the peace of Christ to each other, and to reverence the presence of Christ in each other, in His Name. Jesus gives a peace the world cannot give. Jesus said: "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27) While we are reconciled to God through the forgiveness of Christ we are in the perfect position to share Christ's peace with each other. This is where we also welcome our visitors.

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This part of the service goes on for as long as it takes for each person to give the sacrament of Peace to each other.

http://www.rayofhopechurch.com/jercrfav.jpgTHE SERVICE OF THE WORD OF GODhttp://www.rayofhopechurch.com/jercrfav.jpg



At this time we say a prayer together asking the Holy Spirit to open our hearts, minds and souls to receive the Word Of God before we hear the Word Of God read to us in worship. Currently we are saying the following prayer written by St. Origen who lived from 185-254 AD. His prayer is certainly our prayer in this modern day. Here is the prayer:

"Let us keep the Scriptures in mind and meditate upon them day and night, perservering in prayer, always on the watch. Let us beg the Lord to give us real knowledge of what we read and to show us not only how to understand it, but how to put it into practice, so that we may obtain spiritual grace, enlightened by the law of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ our Lord, whose power and glory will endure throughout the ages. Amen"

Notice we set the Holy Bible out on the Communion Table (Altar) in the center of the room for the first half of the service. We also place the Holy Scriptures on the Jewish prayer shawl, the Tallith, to show we know and respect the fact that our Scriptures come from the Hebrew People, the Chosen People of God. We reject the term "Old Testament" because these are not OLD to the Jewish People, these are their Living Scriptures. Therefore, we refer to the "Hebrew" and the "Christian" Scriptures. Here is a picture of the Bible displayed with great honor in the center of the worship room.

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Our first reading is usually in the Hebrew Scriptures. As a further sign of our honoring the Jewish people, our reader wears the prayer shawl - the Tallith, and the skullcap - the Yarmulke. Here are two pictures of women reading the Jewish Holy Scriptures. The first picture is of Lisa in the Southern Tier and the second is of Kitty in Syracuse reading the Holy Scriptures.

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Ususally we sing a Psalm after the first reading and again this may be in any number of different styles of music.

Then we hear a reading in the Christian Scriptures. This reading is given over at the podium, also called the lectern, next to the Candle Of Hope. Placing the Candle Of Hope and the lectern together again points to our belief that the Word Of God is alive and active (Hebrews 4;12) and made especially clear to us through the presence of the resurrected and living Lord Jesus Christ, symbolized in the midst of the worship community by the Candle Of Hope.

Here is Veronica reading the Christian Scripture on Epiphany Sunday

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The Candle Of Hope is modified to include the Advent Wreath during the season of Advent. Advent is the time of the Church year when we teach about the Second Coming of Jesus. Notice in this picture Frank is reading next to the Advent Wreath on the pink week, called Gaudete Sunday. Gaude is Latin for the word "rejoice" and has special meanig for us as we have discovered we are in not condemned by the Holy Bible. Jesus said, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed, and you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31). His Word has set us truly free from the rhetoric and dogmatic drama that continually comes from so-called "Mainline Chritian" denominations that condemns all persons of any alternative sexual orientation. Knowing the Biblical truth we are able to love and embrace the Holy Bible. Therefore, the place the Christian Scriptures is read from looks festive and joyful because we are so grateful to Christ for setting us free by His Word. 

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We then prepare to hear the Gospel Of Jesus. We sing two wonderful acclamations, one before the Gospel and one after. These acclamations are great statements of our belief that the Holy Scriptures do not condemn us, but in fact affirm us. The Holy Bible is processed around the room in the same way the Torah is processed around the room in the Synagogue. In our congregation the people read the Gospel, it isn't reserved for clergy only. Here we see Veronica from Syracuse processing with the Bible elevated as we all rise and sing.

Here are the words to the first acclamation: 

"We love your Word, O Lord, for it set us free. We know the truth, O Lord, we are yours eternally. So we stand to hear your Word. We praise you for your Word. Alleluia for your Word, it heals our hearts, souls and minds. For your Word, Alleluia, thank you Jesus."

 

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We know of no other denomination church where people other than Clergy are allowed to read the Holy Gospel of Jesus during the liturgical celebration of faith and worship. At Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ persons of all genders and ages take turns reading the Holy Gospel during holy worship. After the Gospel is read the reader holds it up again and we all sing:

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"Glory to the One God. Glory to Our Saviour, Jesus the Christ. And to the Holy Spirit. Forever You are our God. You brought us out of darkness into your marvelous light. Your Word is our joy. For this we give we give you glory both now and ever more. Forever we are yours."



At Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ we give sermons, which are "teachings" rather than homilies, which are "short summaries." We follow the Revised Common Lectionary, which means we are on a three year schedule of Holy Scripture readings. (There is a link to the Revised Common Lectionary on our Christian Resource page where you can prepare for worship by reading the scheduled readings before you come to worship.) There are many advantages to the Lectionary approach. One advantage is if a person came to worship every weekend for three years you would hear approximately 90% of the Bible read to you in worship. The readings and sermons, therefore, are arranged according to the seasons of the Church Year (Advent, Nativity, Epiphany, Transfiguration, Lent, Resurrection, Ascension, and Pentecost). Here is a picture from summer 2000 of our Appointed Pastor, Br. Shawn F. Benedict preaching.

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http://www.rayofhopechurch.com/jercrfav.jpgWE RESPOND TO GOD'S WORDhttp://www.rayofhopechurch.com/jercrfav.jpg



It is so wonderful to be blessed by hearing and feeding on God's Word. Our obvious desire is to respond to God blessing us with God's Word. In Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ we believe in the priesthood of all believers. Therefore we respond to God's Word as a community. To begin with, we have open and shared prayers.

Shared Prayers, The Prayers Of The People, Intercessory Prayers

Those in attendance are free to say their prayers of praise, thanks, intercessions, and prayers for their own needs, called supplications. We wait until sufficient time has passed for most people in attendance to share their prayers out loud.

We close this this portion of the worship service by receiving our offerings of financial gifts, to further this good work of God in our communities.

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After the offering is received we lift it to God and give thanks. Anyone in the Congregation may minister to us by offering this prayer aloud.

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We then rise together and sing the traditional "Doxology," 

"Praise God from whom all blessings flow. Praise God all creatures here below. Praise God above, ye heavenly hosts. Praise God the Son and Holy Ghost."



This formally concludes the Service Of The Word Of God. Now, we move on to the Service Of The Meal Of Christ, the Holy Eucharist. To begin the Holy Eucharistic prayers, the people themselves set the Table Of Christ for the Service Of The Meal Of Christ.

First we clear the table.

 

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The Congregation brings forth the items to set the table.

 

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The small table cloths are set into place and the bread is placed on the plates, also called patens.

 

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Finally, the wine and grape juice are poured into separate cups, or chalices.

 

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We know of no other Church where the Table Of Christ is entrusted to the people in this manner. There is no partiality at Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone ministers to everyone else. 

Perhaps you have noticed these pictures are not dominated by the presence of the clergy in the worship service. The reason is, the role of the Clergy is to "equip the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ." (Ephesians 4:12) Frequently our American public mistakenly believes the professional Clergy are hired to DO THE MINISTRY. This is not Christian, catholic, orthodox, or apostolic, meaning it is not based on the Holy Bible or sacred Tradition (the work of the Holy Spirit as witnessed by the Church since the writing of the Christian Testament).

Clearly the Scriptures say the Clergy are "gifts from Christ" to the Body Of Christ, the Church to build it up and to teach the public how to do the continuous ministry of Christ in our world. The Clergy are essential to the Church. The Church authentically and validly functions under the guidance of the Holy Spirit only with the guidance and leadership of Holy Spirit-called and ordained men and women of God, but clergy do not "do the ministry" alone. God's order for the Church is to give Clergy to the Christian People for the ministry of instructing and guiding us into living and giving the continuous ministry of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ in our world. Ephesians 4:14-16:

11 The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. 14 We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by peopleís trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. 15 But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the bodyís growth in building itself up in love.



The worship service is not to be a time for clergy to parade around in a "courtly" man-centered dignity, nor a time to exercise some sort of demand of respect from the public as if it were deserved because the clergy are "ordained". The worship service is not focused on what the clergy are doing. The worship service is focused on praising the One Triune God, and receiving God's work and message into our lives, responding to that presence, and being sent out refreshed to continue God's work in cooperation with God's presence in our world until we gather again for worship.

Having heard the Word Of God, and having responded to it with our lives, our prayers, our resources and our intentions to follow Christ more closely, we are ready to commune at the Table Of Jesus Christ, the Holy Communion, the Holy Eucharist, the table of the Bread Of Life and the Cup Of Salvation (John Chapter 6).

http://www.rayofhopechurch.com/jercrfav.jpgWE CELEBRATE THE MEAL OF JESUShttp://www.rayofhopechurch.com/jercrfav.jpg

 

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At Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord JesusChrist the whole Congregation prays the Holy Commuinion, Eucharistic Prayers together. We begin with two blessings from the Passover Meal that have come down in Tradion to the Christian Liturgy. They start with "Blessed are You, Lord, God of all creation....." These are followed by the traditional prayers; "The Lord be with you. And also with you. Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to Lord our God. It is right to give Him thanks and praise." After a short prayer that again picks up the theme given us in the Holy Scriptures of the day we sing the "Holy, Holy" or "Sanctus" together. 

At Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ the entire Congregation of Believers prays together the Eurcharistic Prayer, including the invocation of the Holy Spirit to consecrate the bread and wine and/or grape juice. We recognize that whatever consecration, blessing, transformation of the bread and wine/juice takes place is totally the work of the Holy Spirit in response to the Christian Community asking for this miraculous gift. This is the text of our prayer of consecration:

"O God, in the Name of Jesus, we, the Faith Community of Ray Of Hope, ask your Only One and Holy Spirit to bless and separate this bread and fruit of the vine for Christ's purpose. Through the powerful ministry of the Holy Spirit, give to us the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ in percisely the exact same manner that He gave them, and commissioned up to do often in His Holy Name. You alone, O Loving, True God, authenticate for us that this is the Messiah, Christ, New Covenant Meal that Jesus instituted for our Spiritual well-being. We ask this in the Name of Jesus. Amen."



Unlike any other denomination we know of, all of our attendees extend their hands forward and pray this prayer together.

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Additionally, we all sing the words of institution which are the words of the story of the Last Supper. The text we sing or sometimes recite is based on the narratives found in the Gospels and on 1 Corinthians 11:23-26, quoted for you here.

23 For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me." 25 In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me." 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lordís death until he comes.

Again, very few, if any, denominations allow the people to say these words. Additionally, as you see in these pictures, our people actually hold up the eucharistic, blessed bread and wine and grape juice, show it to the people, an action usually reserved to the clergy. The Clergy of Ray Of Hope Church Of Our Lord Jesus Christ are present in the room and under the guidance of the Holy Spirit the Clergy authorize and supervise the handling and ministering of the Table Of Christ during the worship service. Never is this ministry taken on by anyone not authorized to do so by the Clergy. In this way the Clergy are fulfilling their role as guardians of the Truth, and the role of equipping and sharing the ministry of Christ which they themselves are only "sharing" as it comes from Christ in the first place.

In this picture we see Larry and Veronica of Syracuse showing the blessed bread, the Holy Body Of Christ.

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Here we see Myron and Tony of Syracuse showing the cup of the Holy Blood Of Christ.

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Finally, we sing The Lord's Prayer standing together around the Table Of The Lord. We raise our hands as you can see in this picture as we sing "For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen."

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We now open the Communion Table to all who believe in Jesus Christ. We have the people minister to the people by distributing Communion at various stations in the room. 

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