November 21, 2021
2 Samuel 23.1-7 recounts David’s last words: a just ruler is like a warm sunrise on a rain-washed meadow. God promises to uphold the just ruler, and undo the unjust ruler.
Psalm 132 recalls David’s promise not to rest until he had built a temple for God. In return, God promised that David’s descendants would reign over Israel forever.
Revelation 1.4b-8 is a hymn of praise to Christ, the “sovereign over the rulers of the earth,” who has set us free and made us into a new nation.
In John 18.33-37 Jesus is on trial for claiming to be a king. But “king” is a secular word that does not really describe who he is. Yes, Jesus prevails over all things, but not through political power: the truth of God’s love is his only power.
Call to Worship
Leader: Grace to you and peace
from the one who is and who was and who is to come,
and from the seven spirits who are before the throne,
and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness,
the firstborn of the dead, and sovereign of the rulers of the earth.
All: To Christ, who loves us
and whose blood was shed in freeing us from our sins,
and who has made us to be a nation of priests
serving our God and Life-Giver,
to Christ be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Look! Christ is coming with the clouds,
for every eye to see,
even those who pierced Jesus—
on whose account all the tribes of the earth will wail.
So it is to be. Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says God the Holy One,
who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.
Alleluia! With humble gratitude, we worship!
Collect / Prayer of the Day
Eternal God, Creator and Sovereign of the Universe, you have established Christ as the ruler of all Creation. The world of human power and empire is an illusion. The real world is your Empire of Grace, ruled over by Christ, the living embodiment of your love. We come to align ourselves once again to your reign of grace. Speak your Word to us as citizens of heaven, that we may be loyal to you alone. We pledge allegiance to you and to no other, in the name of Christ. Amen.
Eternal God, though we are beset by many powers, forces and authorities, we have only one God, who is you. We have only one Superior, who is Christ. Our highest allegiance is to you, and our greatest loyalty. Christ, you who are the Way and the Truth and the Life, speak to us now. May we hear with joy what you are saying, and may your Word have authority for us. We are the citizens of your realm; speak to us, beloved Sovereign, for we are listening. Amen.
Prayer of Confession
Pastor: The grace of God be with you.
All: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
Gentle God, we confess that we have not allowed you to rule our lives.
We have strained against your grace,
and sought our own ways,
and obeyed impulses not of your Spirit.
Forgive us, and return us,
so that your grace may rule in our lives.
Sovereign God, your will be done. Amen.
SILENT PRAYER… THE WORD OF GRACE
Leader: Christ is the visible appearance of the invisible God,
the beloved older sibling of all creation.
All: All things in heaven and on earth were created in Christ,
everything visible and invisible,
rulers and powers and systems and empires—
everything was created through Christ and for Christ.
Christ came before anything,
and in Christ everything holds together.
Christ is the head and the church is the body.
Christ is the Source of life, and has turned even death into a birth:
so Christ is first in every way.
In Christ God lives completely.
Through Christ God reconciles us to God—
all of us, and everything on earth and in heaven:
in dying on the cross, Christ brought God and humanity together.
This is the mystery, hidden for ages but now revealed:
that Christ is alive in us. Alleluia!
Leader: Beloved, be of the mind of Christ
All: who was divine
and yet who did not cling to equality with God,
but became utterly empty,
born a human,
choosing the place of a slave.
In complete humility
Christ was obedient to death,
even death on a cross.Therefore God exalted Christ with a name above every name
so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend
in heaven, on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess
that Jesus Christ is Sovereign,
to the glory of God the Giver of Life.
Creed / Affirmation
We trust in God, creator of all that is and that shall be, the One in whom all things exist, the Love who orders all of life.
We follow Jesus Christ, who fully embodies God’s love and grace. Jesus taught and healed, suffered and shared, and gathered a community of blessing, inclusion and transformation. He proclaimed a Realm of grace counter to the ways of the world. He was crucified by the powers of violence and Empire; but by the power of your grace you raised Christ from the dead, and Christ lives and reigns among us as our savior, our servant and our superior.
We live in the Holy Spirit, God’s presence within and among us, whose grace and power orders our lives. By that Spirit we devote ourselves to serve Christ as faithful subjects and companions, willingly foregoing power, security and esteem for the sake of enfleshing God’s love for the world, to the glory of God. Amen.
We give our hearts to You, God, eternal creator and ruler of all that is and all that is to come, whose power and grace is unsearchable yet evident in the world around us, hidden in the ordinary, present in all things.
We follow you, Christ, our Superior and Sovereign, who appeared in Jesus among the poor, teaching, healing and doing miracles, gathering a community, and proclaiming your Realm of Grace. In your death and resurrection you have overthrown the powers of this world and established your Realm among us. The Risen Christ lives and reigns; Christ prevails even amidst all evil, suffering and injustice; Christ directs our lives and confirms our hopes. Hidden in your humble appearance, vulnerability and powerlessness, you are our Sovereign, and the ruler of all Creation.
We live by your Holy Spirit within and among us, the power of your reign in our hearts that guides and strengthens us to do respond to your desire, to live in love, and to work as the Body of Christ for your realm of mercy and justice. We renounce worldly powers and values, and pledge allegiance to your love and grace, which redeems the world and grants the gift of eternal life. Amen.
(Click on titles to view songs on the Music page.)
Christ, Ruler of All Things [Tune: ST. ELIZABETH (Fairest Lord Jesus)]
Christ, ruler of all things, what is seen and unseen,
your love reigns; your grace is sure.
Beneath our fear and strife, death fails to conquer life:
your tender mercy still endures.
Christ, ruler of our hearts, come and reign within us.
Make us comrades, siblings, friends.
Your love be our life, our only power,
that gives us life that never ends.
Christ, ruler of the earth, bring your gentle justice:
your Realm come, your will be done.
Heal all oppression; fill us with mercy,
as faithful as the rising sun.
Christ, ruler of all things, of what is and is to come,
Risen One, our song we raise.
Rule in our living; guide us with tender love.
Your grace in us will be your praise.
Love Is Enthroned (Tune: Finlandia)
O, risen Christ, who once appeared among us,
you have ascended! Loud we sing your praise.
Though we may see no shadow of your nearness,
you have not gone; your loving presence stays.
You are no longer in one time or place,
but in all things, to radiate your grace.
Christ has ascended, reigning now above.
Love is enthroned at the Creator’s side.
All powers on earth are subject to Christ’s love,
who is our history’s unseen, gentle guide.
Though evil try to make this world its home,
Love is its Lord, and love shall overcome.
Go in the peace of Christ who is our Lord,
and gently heal, amid the fear and strife.
For we who eat and drink the living Word
are now Christ’s Body, and Christ’s earthly life.
We may not see the journey or the end,
but Christ still reigns, our ruler and our friend.
O Jesus, Wounded Sovereign [Tune: O Sacred Head Now Wounded]
Dear Jesus, you who suffer and walk among the poor
whose hearts and lives are broken, whose faith is still unsure:
despised, accused and battered, you do not say a word.
So powerless, yet loving!— you are my Sovereign Lord.
You bear no arms but loving, no threats nor flags unfurled.
You wear no kingly robes, but the sorrows of the world.
Yet your forgiveness conquers each worldly rule and reign,
and rises, whole, undaunted, from evil, death and pain.
While emperors abuse you, and people shrug or stare,
and dark injustice troubles the ones for whom you care,
your mighty grace arises, and hidden from our sight,
enfolds all living beings in your triumphant light.
Though Caesar cannot see you, and empires stumble, blind,
your Reign of love, triumphant, rules all of humankind.
The power of Creation, that showers us with grace,
is hidden in your weak hands, and in your trembling face.
O Jesus, wounded Sovereign, I pray, give me the nerve
without this world’s armor to love and bless and serve.
My master and companion, rule all eternity
with grace and deep compassion, and, Lord, begin with me.
O Sovereign Love (Tune: Amazing Grace)
Beloved, you who guard and guide and give for every need,
reign in my heart, O Sovereign Christ; direct each thought and deed.
O Sovereign Love, my root, my sun, my purpose and my peace,
I spurn the world’s vain, anxious rule, and trust your Law of Grace.
The Empire of your justice, God, with mercy’s clear command
shall be my home; my loyalty is to no lesser land.
In humble and obedient thanks I pledge my life to you,
to join your work of justice, God, to make the world anew.
Reign in my heart, O Christ, my Rule. In faith I am compelled
to serve you, who by love alone have conquered all the world.