OT 25 – (Pe+16)

September 19, 2021

Lectionary Texts

Proverbs 31.10-31 celebrates the wisdom, strength and industry of a woman who manages the estate and runs the family business. Her attention is not on her own well-being alone, but that of her whole household.

Psalm 1 says those who contemplate and follow God’s ways are like trees growing near water, bearing fruit and never failing.

James 3.13-4.3, 7-8a contrasts selfish desire with “gentleness born of wisdom,” which comes from God. It is the conflicting desires within us that cause the conflicts between us.

In Mark 9.30-37, Jesus responds to the disciples’ desire to be the “greatest” by saying that the first must be last; the greatest must be a servant. He embraces a child—vulnerable, powerless, receptive and without status—and invites us to be welcoming to such as they.

Call to Worship

Leader: Creator God, we praise you
          All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
        Blessed are those whose delight is in the Word of God.
        They are like trees planted by streams of water,
        who bear fruit in season, and whose leaves do not wither.
Grant us the gift of gentleness born of wisdom.
        God, we draw near to you, who draw hear to us.
        We root ourselves in you. We submit ourselves to you. We worship you.

Leader: Abba God, loving father, we are your trusting children.
        All: Hold us in your love.
Amma God, loving mother, you give us life.
        Raise us up with courage.
Living Spirit, Holy One, you breathe into us your beauty and wisdom.
        Send us into this world with your love.
        We seek you. We fall into your arms. We worship.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

Loving, steadfast God, the world is large and brutal. We feel like children, small and vulnerable. Hold us in your steady arms like a strong mother. Guide us like a wise father. Speak to us and raise us up as your wise, loving, gentle children. We pray in the presence and power of our brother Jesus. Amen.

Leader: God of grace, Holy Child, you come among us small and tender.
        All: Open our hearts to welcome the child that is your Word.
Your voice is small, easily drowned out by those who would be great.
        Open our ears to hear your Word.
We so easily betray and deny you, and turn from you, hidden in the “little people.”
        Open our hands, to serve you in humble love.
        Grant us your wisdom, that we may live in faith, through Christ. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Pastor: God of mercy, trusting in your grace, we confess our sin to you and to another.
        All: You come among us in the small and vulnerable,
        but we have turned away from them for more important things.
        Your Spirit speaks within us, a tender child,
        but we ignore you for louder voices.
        You ask us to be as a child, small, receiving, and vulnerable;
        but we have sought dominance and strength.
        Forgive our sin, heal our fear, and make us once again
        the trusting children of God.
[Silent prayer … Words of grace….]

Pastor: The grace of God is with you.
        Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
        God of love, we confess we have wanted to be “great,”
        to better than others, superior, and safer.
        Give us trust in your grace, to be “least,”
        to be humble, trusting and loving.
        Give us faith not to control, but to receive.
        Forgive our sin and renew our hearts.
[Silent prayer….]
Children of God, hear the good news that we know in Christ:
that your sins are forgiven entirely,
and you are set free to live by the Holy Spirit as a child of God,
now and always, in the name of Christ. Thanks be to God.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1. [Philippians 2.5-11]
Leader: Have the same mind that was in Christ Jesus,
who, though divine,
did not cling to equality with God.
        All: Christ became utterly empty,
        born a human, choosing the place of a slave.
        In complete humility Christ became obedient to death,
        even death on a cross.

Therefore God also highly exalted Christ
with a name that is above every name,
        so that at the name of Jesus
        every knee should bend,
        in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

        and every tongue confess
        that Jesus Christ is Lord,
        to the glory of God, the Giver of Life.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

God, we want to follow powerful leaders, but you call us to follow the Crucified One. We want to be great but you invite us to be children. We want easy lives, but you shepherd us into dying and rising. Give us courage. Give us faith, Give us the gentleness born of wisdom. Speak to us and renew us as your trusting children. We pray in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

Gracious God, we give you our gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. We open our arms to you to come among us as a child. By your Spirit in us may we humbly welcome and serve all people, for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view songs on the Music page.)

I Take Up my Cross
(Dialogue between soloist & congregation)

Refrain: Letting go, I am held. I take up my cross and follow.

1. Jesus, you call to me, and draw me into your life.
2. Christ, I leave all behind, to follow you in love.
3. I yield my life to you, for you alone are God.
4. Loved with your costly love, I’ll suffer for the sake of love.
5. Christ, make my one desire to be to serve you in love.

We Welcome the Child [Original song]

We welcome the child among us.
We welcome the tender ones.
In our embrace we meet your grace,
your gentle love divine.

Welcome to those who are fragile, a safe healing place to belong,
a shelter from harm, a comforting arm, a refuge where you may grow strong.

Welcome the child within us, the small, timid voice in the night,
her wonder and fear at the world so near, the child of your love and delight.

God, you are a child among us, no power or might or control.
By your gentle part you soften my heart and make me a more loving soul.

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