In discussing with the Thessalonicans the condition of the believing dead, Paul introduced the figure of those who had died as having fallen asleep. This metaphor that is mentioned many times in the New Testament (e.g., Mark 5.39; John 11.11), does not refer to the sleep of the soul. Paul had taught the Corinthians that when a Christian’s body dies their spirit is present with Christ (2 Cor. 5.8; cf. Phil. 1.23; 1 Thess. 5.10). Their bodies are asleep, and, at the coming of the Lord they will be resurrected with a new spiritual body, full of glory (1 Cor. 15.35-57; 2 Cor. 5.1-9).Paul taught them that they ought not grieve as those who have no hope, for he knew that God would resurrect again those who had fallen asleep in Christ. He stated, by a word from the Lord, that those left alive until the coming of Christ would not precede those who had already died. He said that the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the archangel’s voice and the trumpet of God. The dead in Christ will rise first, and then those who are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Once that occurs, we will always be together with the Lord, and with one another. Paul challenged them to encourage one another with this teaching.Our Lord will return, in power and great glory, and he will welcome his own to him once more. We should do as Paul commands; let us encourage one another with these words, and always stay alert, knowing that the coming of the Lord is at hand.
Invocation: Our Prayer of Acclamation
Eternal God, thank you for the blessed hope of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are convinced that our Lord will return, and that he will raise from the dead all those who have trusted in him for salvation. We who are yet alive will be caught up with him, and we will then forever be together with the Lord. Make us steady, sober, and alert in this evil day, ever ready to give witness of the living hope we possess. In Jesus’ name we ask this, amen.
Call to Worship
Blessed are you, O God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And blessed is your Kingdom, both now and forever, Amen.
Te Deum Laudamus
You are God: we praise you; you are the Lord; we acclaim you; you are the eternal Father: All creation worships you. To you all angels, all the powers of heaven, Cherubim and Seraphim, sing in endless praise: Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
The glorious company of apostles praise you. The noble fellowship of prophets praise you. The white-robed army of martyrs praise you. Throughout the world the holy Church acclaims you; Father, of majesty unbounded, your true and only Son, worthy of all worship, and the Holy Spirit, advocate and guide.
You, Christ, are the king of glory, the eternal Son of the Father. When you became man to set us free you did not shun the Virgin’s womb. You overcame the sting of death and opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. You are seated at God’s right hand in glory. We believe that you will come and be our judge. Come then, Lord, and help your people, bought with the price of your own blood, and bring us with your saints to glory everlasting.
Praise and Thanksgiving (songs and prayers)
Glory be to the Father, And to the Son and to the Holy Spirit: As it was in the beginning, Is now, and ever shall be, World without end. Amen, amen.
*In the Apostles’ and Nicene Creeds, the term catholic refers to the Church’s universality, through all ages and times, of all languages and peoples. It refers to no particular tradition or denominational expression (e.g., as in Roman Catholic).
Prayers of Confession
Let us now confess our sins to God and receive mercy and grace to help in our time of need.
Assurance of Pardon
Having faithfully confessed and renounced your sin, Christ also has been faithful to forgive your sins and to purify you from all unrighteousness. It is certain, that there is One who has spoken to the Father in your defense, Jesus Christ, the Righteous One who is the atoning sacrifice for our sins and for the sins of the whole world. His grace and peace are with you now. Amen.
Petitions and Supplications, Ending with The Lord's Prayer
Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
--Matthew 6.9-13 (KJV)
Doxology (and/or closing song)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. Amen.
Affirmation from the Psalms
Worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness; tremble before him, all the earth!  Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.”  Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;  let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy  before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.
~ Psalm 96.9-13
Pray without Ceasing - Flash Prayer for the Day
We believe in you, Lord Jesus, and know that soon and very soon you will return for us.