Epiphany 6 (February 13, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

Today’s texts speak of a life-giving trust in God. Jeremiah 17.5-10 warns that the heart is devious and hard to understand. To trust in human judgment or strength is fatal. But those who trust in God are like trees planted by water, who are continually nourished and sustained.

Psalm 1 uses the same image: the faithful are sustained by God’s grace, like trees planted by streams of water.

In 1 Corinthians 15.12-20 Paul argues against those who do not believe there is such a thing as the resurrection of the dead. The proof, he says, is that Christ was raised. And if Christ wasn’t raised, then our faith is in vain, because our faith is not in the powers or limitations of this world, but in the grace of God that transcends this world.

Luke 6.17-26 is the first part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Plain (parallel to the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew). The underlying spirit throughout this teaching is the grace of God that brings life out of death, that transcends, overwhelms and subverts human fate, will and intention.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Creator God, you are a stream of living water;
we are trees planted nearby, rooted in your deep, flowing love.
All: We drink form your blessing; we grow in your grace.
By the gentle presence of Christ with us
we avoid the ways selfishness and cynicism,
even when they are al around us.
We fill ourselves with your Word, and we delight in your ways;
rooted in your Creation, we flourish in your love.
All of our evil perishes in your grace.
It becomes like dry leaves, blown away in the wind of your Spirit.
In closeness with you, we bear the fruit of love
for the healing of the world.
Flow in us, God of life, and once again transform us by your grace.
Alleluia!

2.
Leader: Happy are those whose delight is in God’s Word.
All: They are like trees planted by streams of water.
They yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.
We come to root ourselves in your love, O God.
May we bear the fruit of your Spirit,
the fruit of your love. Amen.


3.
Leader: Creator God, we seek you.
People: Risen Christ, we rely on you.
Holy Spirit, you are lour life and our breath.
We thank you for always being with us.
When we are lonely you comfort us,
when we are poor you enrich us,
when we are lost you guide us.
You are always with us.
We worship you in gratitude, with open hearts.


Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love, we come with fears and desires, habits and attachments, and all our compulsive agendas. Give us peace to release them all, to seek only your love, and to give only your love. Bless us with your grace, that our lives may be shaped by the love that bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things, in the name of Christ. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, we seek to be happy, but we only find deep joy in you. We strive to be strong, yet our strength is only in you. We desire the riches of this world, but only your grace is truly what we need. Open us to your Word now; help us to surrender everything but our love for you, our trust in you, and our willingness to receive your grace. We pray in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

3.
God of grace, the world tells us to seek power, possessions, esteem and security. But you alone are our power and our security. Your love alone is the esteem we need. Help us to renounce the goods of the world and turn to you again to receive your grace. Be our hope in despair, our consolation in sorrow, our riches in need, and our power to love as Jesus loved. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

1.
Gracious God,
we confess our sin to you,
for we have denied your light in us;
we have betrayed your Holy Spirit in us.
We have sought happiness and security
instead of faithfulness and trust.
For those sins which weigh upon us,
and those we do not even know
we ask your forgiveness.
Heal our hearts, renew your Spirit within us,
and restore in us the image of Christ,
that by your grace
we may be light for the world. Amen.

2.
Loving God, we confess the poverty of our spirits.
We lift up to you the hunger of our souls,
and our broken hearts. We need you.
Turn us away from the riches of this world,
to receive the riches of your grace.
Forgive our sin, heal our hearts,
renew our hope; create us anew.

Readings

1.
     Person 1: Jesus, help me. I’m trying to get ahead, but I’m falling behind. I’m too weak and inadequate. I don’t know what’s worse: the worry or the shame.
Jesus: Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the Realm of God.
     Person 2: I’m missing something. I feel a deep longing that is never satisfied.
Jesus: Blessed are you who are hungry, for you will be filled.
     Person 3: I’m trying to be happy, but my heart is broken.
Jesus: Blessed are you who are mourning, for one day you will laugh.
     Person 4
: People don’t take me seriously.
Jesus: Blessed are you when people exclude you: this is how they treat the prophets.
     Person 1: I see people who are powerful and successful and glamorous, and I am jealous.
Jesus: Woe to those of whom everyone speaks well: this his how people treat the false prophets.
     Person 2: Jesus, I feel empty.
Jesus: Only an empty vessel is ready to be filled.
     Person 3: I feel powerless.
Jesus: The power is not ours, but God’s.
     
Person 4: I want to be deeply alive.
Jesus: Yes. First you have to die. Then, miracles.

2.
Adapted from 1 Corinthians 1.23-31

We give thanks to God because of the grace God has given us in Christ Jesus. Not many of us are wise by human standards, not many are powerful, or of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to teach the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to save the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are. God alone is the source of our life in Christ, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption. Therefore we proclaim Christ crucified and raised, a stumbling block to those who seek signs, and foolishness to those who want proof. But to us who are being saved, this is the power of God. Alleluia!

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
     We love and you trust you, God, for you bring light out of darkness, Creation out of chaos, life out of death.
     We love you and trust you, Jesus, for you embody the grace of God: you brought healing out of sickness and food out of need. You gave hope and dignity to those who had none. Though you were rejected you brought love to the unloving. You were crucified, but God raised you from the dead.
     We love you and trust you, Holy Spirit, for our own spirits are poor without you. You bring consolation to our sorrow and power to our weakness. By your grace you raise us up out of our dying, and give us the gift of eternal life. Holy One, we give ourselves to you, that we may live in trust and joy, and the love of Christ, for the sake of the healing of the world, in your name. Amen.

2.
     We affirm our trust in you, God: though the world clamors for our allegiance you are our only source of identity, belonging and security. You offer us consolation in our sorrows, nourishment for our hunger, and healing for our brokenness.
     We affirm our trust in you, Christ, for though the world tells us to seek power, prestige and possessions, you show us the power of love, and radical trust in God. In your dying and rising you reveal the grace that God offers us, and lead us to surrender our lives in love, and to die and rise with you.
     We affirm our trust in you, Holy Spirit, for by your power in us we stand against the world’s greed and divisions, its materialism and prejudice, its reliance on force and violence. Because we trust you, by your grace we renounce the ways of selfishness and fear, and devote ourselves to courageous love, deep generosity, and the struggle for justice, in the name and the spirit and the company of Christ.

Listening Prayer

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

Beloved, we thank you:
out of poverty, abundance.
We open to you:
out of hunger, fullness.
We trust you:
out of weeping, laughing.
May your grace well up in us,
out of our dying, your rising.

Eucharistic Prayer

God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise. God of grace we thank you.
Out of the “No” of all nothing you brought the “Yes” of Creation.
Out of our nobodiness you have made us Somebody.
Out of our oppression you have set us free,
with all your Beloved.
In our mourning you have comforted us.
In our hunger you feed us, and we gather at your table
with all whom you have raised up, singing your praise:
     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who brought forth healing amid sickness, bread amid hunger,
community amid brokenness, hope amid despair.

Without worldly power or wealth he trusted utterly in your grace,
and fearlessly proclaimed your love.
Though he was excluded, reviled and rejected,
he offered only love.

     (The Blessing and Covenant)*

As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore, remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we offer ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’s offering for us,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:

     (Memorial Acclamation)

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,

raised from the dead and reliant upon your grace alone.
Send us to the world,
to its poverty and hunger, its sorrow and hatred,
to sow your love, in the name of Christ,
for the healing of the world.
     
(Amen.)
__________________

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer after Communion

God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. In our hunger you have fed us. In our brokenness you have joined us, and made us one. Into our empty hands you have placed the riches of your grace. Send us now, grateful and trusting, to share that grace with all who are poor and hungry, mourning and rejected, in the name and the love and the companionship of Jesus. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

God of grace, you have raised us up from death to life. When we are weak you are strong. Give us deep trust in your grace, and send us out as hollow, fragile vessels of your inextinguishable grace; to be light in the darkness and healing in the hurt, to be among the poor and powerless with hope and courage; to love at all costs, knowing our life is in you alone. We pray, as we go, in the name and the company of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

Blessed (Original tune. Music also includes Eucharistic prayer responses)

Dear God, receive me anew, mourning and poor in my soul,
hungry for what makes me whole.
Bless me by making me simple like you.
Blessed are the ones who have nothing but God,
for God and God alone shall fill their lives.

Mercy please grant me anew. Make my heart pure by your grace,
humble, that I may see your face.
Bless me by making me gentle like you.
Blessed are the ones who have nothing but God,
for God and God alone shall fill their lives.

Courage please give me anew, peace in the world to make,
and to suffer for your Gospel’s sake.
Bless me by making me faithful to you.
Blessed are the ones who have nothing but God,
for God and God alone shall fill their lives.


By your grace (Tune: What Wondrous Love Is This)

What wondrous love is this O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
That you so freely give the bread by which we live,
that you revive our soul, by your Word, by your Word,
and by your life in us make us whole.

Our lives we give to you, by your grace, by your grace,
our lives we give to you, by your grace.
Lord, use the gifts we give to help your children live
that all may come and feast by your grace, by your grace,
the greatest and the least, by your grace.


Return, My Soul (Tune: Finlandia)

Return, my soul, from all your hungry wandering,your fearful search for comfort and control.Let go my grasp of things apart from God,for God alone can heal and hold my soul.Return to God, for God alone will love me,and give me life, and bless and make me whole.

Return, my soul, from all the things that dull me,that soothe my sense, but leave my sin in place.My broken heart, return from tricks and bargains;turn to the One who meets me face to face.Return to God. Each moment turn again;
receive unending love and life and grace.

I turn, O God, to you who love with patience.You walk beside me, though I cannot see.You are my life in dry and weary deserts,my spring of life that flows eternally.I turn to you, from false desire and grasping,and letting go, I find that you hold me.


We Lift Our Spirits Up (Tune: SURSUM CORDA, Alfred Norton Smith)

We lift our spirits up to you, O God,
O Love, our morning sun, our living breath.
You are our first and final dwelling, God:
receive our prayers, receive our life and death.

Our grateful thanks we give you for your care
that bears us through the challenges we face,
for nothing we desire can compare
with your compassion and your healing grace.

O God, we open wide our longing soul:
breathe into us your mercy and delight.
We give to you all that we would control,
make us pure vessels of your love and light.