Epiphany 7 (February 20, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

In Genesis 45.3-11, 15 Joseph has been sold into slavery by his brothers. They have supposed him to be dead, but he has become an official in Egypt. In a famine they have come to Egypt for food. In this passage he reveals himself to them. He says God has been in charge all along, preparing for this: “It was not you who sent me here, but God.”

Psalm 37 assures us: don’t fret because some people get away with evil; commit your way to God, and God will act on your behalf.

In 1 Corinthians 15. 35-50 Paul says we are raised in a resurrection body which is different from our biological body. But, as with a seed, the first body must die for the second to come. What we sow does not come to life unless it dies; it is sown in weakness, and raised in power.

In Luke 6.27-38 Jesus lays out the heart of his message: God loves us perfectly—“God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked”—and we are to have that same love for others, even for our enemies.

Guiding Thoughts

The command to “love your neighbor as yourself” means not only to love them as much as you love yourself, but to love them as if they are your self. We don’t live according to the flesh, our “self” defined by and confined to our physical bodies, but according to the Spirit: even though we appear in separate bodies we are all one, in one spirit. You and your neighbor are part of the same body. To love our neighbor is to love ourselves.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: God, you who are love, you create us in love.
All: We are the body of your love.
Christ, love made flesh, you come to us in grace and healing.
We are your Beloved, blessed and embraced.
Holy Spirit, energy of love, your fire alone in us is our life.
We are bearers of your love to this world.
Fill us with your love, fill us to overflowing,
for the sake of the world you love. Amen.


2.
Leader: God of hope, like Joseph we have been sold into slavery.
All:We have been controlled by forces beyond us.
But you have set us free, and given us dignity and grace.
We thank you. With gratitude and awe we worship you.
In our worship we open our hearts to you,
like Joseph’s brothers receiving the bounty of grain.
Fill us with your love, that we may bless and serve others
according to the power you give us.


3.
Leader: God of life, we need you.
All:
Sown in weakness, we come to you.
You love us, bless us, and set us free.
Raised in power, we thank you.
Receive our lives and transform them in your love.
Raised in one spiritual, body, we worship you.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love, you who created us in love, and for love, fill us with your love.
Fill us to overflowing with love even for those we oppose or dislike.
Fill us with the self-giving love of Christ.
Give us hearts of peace, not war.
God of love, fill us with your love. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, set us free from our desires to be right, to be safe, to be comfortable. With the love of Christ warm in our hearts, we turn to you to receive your Spirit, the spirit of gentleness and mercy, the spirit of courage and generosity. Bless us, that we may be vessels of your love for our neighbors, even for our enemies, in the spirit of Christ. Amen.

3.
God of grace, as Joseph was sold into slavery, we too suffer forces that bind us and impoverish us. As you raised up Joseph to reign with generosity, set us free, and empower us to forgive and to love and to give freely and boldly. May the seeds of our hearts die and be buried in you, and be raised, rich with the fruit of your love. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Pastor: The grace of God is with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, we open ourselves in honesty to God.
God of love, help us to see ourselves with the eyes of love,
to see what is in us that is loving, and what is not loving.

God, we recall those times we have acted in love, and we give thanks.
[silent prayer…]
We recall when we have not acted in love; we call to mind those relationships in which love comes harder for us, and we seek your grace..
[silent prayer…]
God of mercy, in Christ you have shown us your grace.
Forgive us, heal us, and perfect your love in us.
SILENT PRAYER … THE WORD OF GRACE

Reading


          (Luke 6.27-38)
Leader: I say to you that listen, Love your enemies.
All: God of grace, give us compassion for those who are hard to love.
Do good to those who hate you, bless those
who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.
We pray for those who oppose or mistreat us, for they are deeply wounded.
If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.
Give us grace and courage to be nonviolent.
And from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt.
Give us your spirit of generosity
Give to everyone who begs from you;
and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again.
Give us your spirit of forgiveness.
Do to others as you would have them do to you.
Help us see others as extensions of ourselves, and love them.
Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return.
We desire only to be loving, not to be right, to be secure, to be victorious.
Be merciful, just as God is merciful.
Give us your spirit of mercy.
Do not judge, and you will not be judged;
do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.
Forgive, and you will be forgiven;
give, and it will be given to you.
A good measure, pressed down, shaken together,
running over, will be put into your lap;
for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.”
May we love as you have loved us.
We pray in the name and the spirit and the company of Christ. Amen.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

         We love you and entrust ourselves to you, God, Creator of all, you who are Love: wherever there is love, there you are.
         We love you and entrust ourselves to you, Jesus. You are Christ: you embodied God’s love, feeding and healing, extending companionship to the outcast and the “unworthy.” You showed us how to love; and the cost of love; and the power of love. For your love that disturbed power structures you were crucified; but in love you were raised from then dead. For your love is more powerful than anger, fear or violence.
        We love you and entrust ourselves to you, Holy Spirit, for you are the Oneness that unites us with all, neighbor and stranger, friend and enemy. You are the energy of Love that enables us to bless, to serve, to forgive and to extend healing to all people. In the power of your grace, as one Body in you, we devote our lives to love, generosity and justice, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

God of love, you have loved us perfectly. Fill us and guide us with your Spirit, that we may perfectly love and serve you, and love others—even our enemies—as ourselves. By your grace may be love one another ass you have loved us, and be merciful as you are merciful. We pray in the name and the unity and the companionship of Jesus. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)
All songs with “Love” tag, especially:

At Your Feet [Original tune]

Jesus, at your feet I bow.
I am yours completely now.
By your mercy show me how
to be loving.

Jesus, Master, you who save,
you have served me as a slave.
This, the perfect gift you gave:
to be loving.

In each hurting one I meet
it is you, O Christ, I greet.
Make my faithfulness complete,
to be loving.


Create us Now [Tune: Gift of Love/ The Water Is Wide]

Creating God, you breathe your Word
and new each day create the world;
your light you sing, your love you give;
you breathe in us, and so we live.

Creating God, you gather grain
from scattered fields, baptized by rain;
raised up in love, from death released,
it brings forth grace that spreads a feast.

Above the meadows of our hearts
your rising sun your love imparts.
Remade in love, raised from the dead,
Make us your wine, your living bread.

With our dear Christ, we, too, have died,
like seeds once sown and multiplied.
Now raise us up from death anew.
Create us now, dear God, in you.

Drawing Me [Original tune]

Holy One, Mystery, how will you keep drawing me
nearer to the heart within the heart?
Nearer still, falling in, closer to the heart within,
draw me God. I fall into your love.
Lover, you are calling, you are drawing,
I am falling into you in love.

Deep in me there’s a voice, there’s a hunger, there’s a choice,
seeking something vital that is you.
By your grace drawing me, may I fall eternally
nearer to my center deep in you.
Lover, you are calling, you are drawing,
I am falling into you in love.

God of all Gentleness [Tune: Be Thou My Vision]

God of all gentleness, God of pure love,
you do not watch us from heights far above,
you are no tyrant, but patient and mild,
present with grace in the poor, in the child.

God of all mercy, may we be the ones
bearing your love to your daughters and sons,
not out of pity but humbly, with grace,
for in the poor we see your human face.

God of all justice, give us hearts to care,
hope to free prisoners of fear and despair,
courage to challenge the ways that oppress,
deep love to reach out to heal and to bless.

God of compassion, your Spirit now pour
into us all, for it’s we who are poor,
hungry for justice, for healing and grace,
and for full life for the whole human race.


Love Only [Tune: Be Thou My Vision]
God, may your deep love shine bright in my heart,
may it be always your love I impart.
In ease or conflict, your love be my stay,
as your Beloved, your love to convey.

When people scare me and I feel alone,
help me see they, too, have wounds of their own.
Help me surrender my sword and my shield,
love and love only by your grace to yield.

God, by your Spirit, fill me with your grace, to
love and to heal in each moment and place.
Love and love only, through conflict or strife,
sets us all free and gives healing and life.


Love-Sowing God [Tune: The river Is Wide)]

Love-sowing God, sow love in me.
Sow seeds of grace abundantly.
My soul be soil where love may root and grow
and bear your precious fruit.

Where habit’s feet and wheels have tracked,
my anxious work the soil has packed,
soften my soul with bliss or pain,
so love may enter in again.

My angry thorns, my selfish weeds,
God, clear away, and sow your seeds.
Despite the hungry, wanting bird,
Love, plant in me your living Word.

Love-sowing God, your labors done,
help me to trust the rain and sun,
receive your grace and faithfully
bear forth your love that grows in me.


Make Us Merciful (Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus)

Merciful parent, God, prodigal with grace and love,
welcoming children through your pain,
gently receive us all, break down our shame’s dark wall,
that we may never leave again.

Gentle and gracious God, you who love your children,
you take us in though we turn away.
Fold us in your embrace; fill us with peace and grace,
that we may live your gentle way.

God, give us spacious hearts, generous and kind and wide,
no matter what hurtful things folks do.
Help us to love and bless, steadfast in gentleness.
Lord, make us merciful as you.


O Christ, My Way [Tune: The River Is Wide]

O Christ, my truth, my life, my way,
I give my heart to you this day.
I give myself, yes all of me,
that where you are I too may be.

O Christ, my way, the path I take
is love alone, for you love’s sake.
O be my heart, my strength and nerve,
that I may love and bless and serve.

O Christ, my truth, in you I see
the God who dwells in you and me.
But God remains yet far above
until I live in humble love.

O Christ, my life, I give my heart,
for when in you I take my part
and share your love, your work and strife,
I share in full your risen life.

Open My Heart [Tune: Open my eyes]

Open my eyes that I may see everyone ‘round me lovingly,
shedding my labels, habits and fear, see with a heart that’s true and clear.
Patiently, God, may I behold each blessed life as it unfolds.
Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine.

Open my ears and let me hear unspoken stories, unshed tears.
Help me to hear with love shining through stories that no one’s listened to.
Tenderly, God, help me to hold what is within each person’s soul.
Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine.

Open my heart and grant me love, mercy for those I’m heedless of.
Help me to know each person I face as one you bless with gentle grace
Lovingly, God, please make me more mindful of those whom we ignore.
Open my heart, illumine me, spirit divine.

Set Me Free (to love) [Original tune]

From all that binds me, Love, set me free.
From all that binds me, Love, set me free.
Set me free, Love, set me free.
Oh Love, set me free for love.


From what I fear, O Love, set me free….
From what I cling to, Love, set me free…
To live in perfect love, set me free….

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.

Epiphany 5 (February 6, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

We hear three stories today, about people’s feelings of unworthiness at being called into God’s service. In Isaiah 6.1-8 the prophet has a vision of God sitting on a throne, attended by angels. He cries: “I am sinful, yet I have seen God face to face!” Nevertheless, God prepares him for a prophetic ministry.

Psalm 138 gives thanks and asks for God’s gracious protection : “You answered when I called out in need…” “Though I walk in the midst of trouble you preserve my life…” “Fulfill your purpose for me.”

In 1 Corinthians 15.1-11 Paul recites an ancient creed about Christ’s death and resurrection and appearance to the apostles. Then Paul adds Christ’s appearance to Paul himself, “the least of the apostles.” But, he says, “by the grace of God I am what I am.”

In Luke 5.1-11 Jesus calls the first disciples. Jesus helps them take such a miraculous catch of fish that Peter feels unworthy. Yet he too is called into service.

Call to Worship

1. [Isaiah 6.1-8]
Leader: I saw God sitting on a throne, high and lofty.
Seraphs were in attendance, and they called to one another:
All: “Holy, holy, holy is God Omnipotent;
the whole earth is full of God’s glory.”
I said, “Woe is me, for I am a person of unclean lips
and I live among people of unclean lips,
yet my eyes have seen the Holy One, Almighty God.”
One of the seraphs flew to me holding a live coal from the altar
in a pair of tongs, touched my mouth with it and said,
“Now that this has touched your lips,
your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.”

Then I heard the voice of the Holy One saying,
“Who shall I send, and who will go for us?’ And I said,
“Here am I; send me!”

2.
Leader: God of glory, you have done wonders in our midst.
All:We are in awe.
You call us to serve you.
Are we worthy?
You do not call those who are prepared;
you prepare those who are called.
We thank you, God, as we worship you.
Touch us with the fire of your love,
that we may faithfully serve you as prophets,
as bearers of your love, as fishers of people.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love, Jesus entered the lives of the fishers, spoke grace to them, and called them to follow him. Come into our lives now, speak your Word to us, and stir up your spirit in us to follow your call. Amen.

2.
God of grace, you come to us in holiness and splendor, and grant us grace that we have not earned. You give us your deep compassion, and we feel unworthy. Jesus calls us to work by his side, and we know we are not good enough. But you touch us with the flame of your love, and call us, and remind us that we are your Beloved. Speak to us now, God, remind us again, and call us to your work, in the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

3.
Gracious God, Jesus stood in the fishermen’s boat and taught the people. Come and stand among us now and speak to us. As Jesus called his disciples, you call us to give our lives to you. Open our hearts and minds, we may hear with joy and follow with courage. Amen.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

     We give our hearts to God, the Holy of Holies, Creator of all things that are and that are to come, the source of our life and all love, who sets us free and births us into new lives, whose miracles are just out of our sight, but near.
     We follow Jesus, the Christ of God, the embodiment of God’s love. He taught and healed the people, he loved them and called them, beyond what they knew they could do. He made of them a gifted community, including the outcast and empowering the lowly. He resisted injustice, and for his witness he was crucified. But he was raised from the dead, and lives among us, blessing us and calling us.
     We live by the Holy Spirit, the power of God’s love in us. The Spirit calls us to lives of love and service, of healing and forgiveness, of courage to do justice and to love tenderly, where we discover the deep blessings hidden in our callings. By the grace of the Spirit that sustains and empowers us we die to our fears and desires, and rise with Christ in abundant and beautiful love. Alleluia!

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)
Jesus, you climb into the boat of our lives
and teach us your word.
You invite us out into the depths.
Out of the ordinariness, even the despair of our lives,
you bring beautiful abundance.
Our unworthiness haunts us.
But you call us. You promise fruitfulness.
You throw the net of your love
into the dark depths of our hearts
and bring forth a shimmering harvest
of grace and possibility.
To our doubt, Beloved, speak.

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. We thank you, God, for this beautiful and amazing world.
Shoals of blessing shimmer just beyond what we see.
When our lives seem bleak or pointless,
you bring to the surface such abundant grace we are astonished.
Our minds can scarcely comprehend it. Our nets are near breaking.
So we fall to our knees, humbled and in awe.
But you lift us up and call us to lives of praise and service.
Therefore with gratitude and wonder we sing your praise:

     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who climbs into the boat of our lives and teaches us,
who directs us into deeper waters,
who multiplies blessing.
He calls us to join him in ministry to the world,
and promises to be with us always.

     (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,

fishers of people, who behold the bounty of your grace,
and who cast the net of your love far and wide in this world
for the sake of all your Beloved.
     
(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

Gracious God, thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have raised up a miracle among us, a gift of nourishment and beauty, a gift of forgiveness and your deep trust in us. Encouraged not by our worthiness but your grace in us, we follow you, in the power of your Spirit, in ministry to the world. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

1.
Gracious God, we give you our lives, symbolized in these gifts. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. You call us, and make our daily lives vessels for your grace. We surrender our plans and our possessions, to follow Christ in all we do. Send us out to follow Jesus, to spread the net of your love over all the earth, for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

2.
God of love, Jesus has called us to join him as fishers of people: to include all in the wide net of your love. Send us with your love, with courage that overcomes our doubt, grace that heals our shame, and faith that opens our eyes to your miracles, so that we may love freely and deeply, in the name and the company of Jesus. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

Breath of God (Tune: “Londonderry Air” – O, Danny Boy)

O Holy One, Creator of the stars of night,
whose dust we are, created with your light,
now breathe your spirit into us and give us life;
give us new hearts that beat with your delight.
Our dust and ashes, Love, we give in faith to you.
Receive our lives, our sin, our wounds, our death;
and raise us up with Christ from death to life by grace.
God, may we be your love and you our living breath.

Breathe into us the breath of your compassion, God,
the breath to sing your praise in all we do,
the breath to run the race of justice, long and far.
Breathe, holy breath: empower and renew.
O be the grace that fills our lungs, reviving us;
O be the wind on which our hearts can soar;
O be our life, our beauty and our living breath.
O Spirit, come breathe in us now and evermore.

Calling Me (Original tune)

Dear God, Creator eternally, you call everything to be.
How are you calling me, even now?
Who do you call me to be?
Where is your image in me, calling me?

Jesus, lord of the fishermen, calling your children,
you call to me once again, even now.
What will you lead me to do?
How can I witness to you, calling me, calling me?

Spirit, power of love in me, how do you set me free,
what gifts are you giving me, even now?
I am a vessel for you.
Humbly I listen to you, calling me, calling me.

Drawing Me (Original tune)

Holy One, Mystery, how will you keep drawing me
nearer to the heart within the heart?
Nearer still, falling in, closer to the heart within,
draw me God. I fall into your love.
Lover, you are calling, you are drawing,
I am falling into you in love.

Deep in me there’s a voice, there’s a hunger, there’s a choice,
seeking something vital that is you.
By your grace drawing me, may I fall eternally
nearer to my center deep in you.
Lover, you are calling, you are drawing,
I am falling into you in love.


God Has a Dream (Original tune)

God has a dream for us,
that Jesus is revealing,
a world of love, made whole, set free,
a world of justice and healing.

Dream, Jesus dream in us.
May we dream like you.
Dream, Jesus, dream in us.
May your dream come true.

Dream, Jesus in us, we pray,
and may our dreaming be waking.
May your dream be our guide, our way,
to join in the world you are making.

Dream, Jesus dream in us.
May we dream like you.
Dream, Jesus, dream in us.
May your dream come true.


Epiphany 4 (January 30, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

In Jeremiah 1.4-10 the young prophet resists God’s call, in part because he is so young. But God has chosen him before he was born, and appointed him to bear God’s truth with power and authority.

Psalm 71. 1-6 asks God for help dealing with rejection (and perhaps inner troubles as well).

In 1 Corinthians 13. 1-13 Paul says that the whole point of our faith is to be loving: nothing else, nothing less.

In Luke 4. 21-30 Jesus reminds his hearers of God’s acceptance of foreigners and outsiders. His listeners, eager to maintain the distinction between insiders and outsiders, reject his message of God’s inclusivity, and reject Jesus himself.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Holy Mystery, Loving One, God beyond our imagining,
All: you create us; you include us; you love us.
Christ, living body of the love of God,
you heal us; you unite us; you give us to one another.
Holy Spirit, breath that breathes in us all, and makes us one,
you break every division among us; you bring us home to each other.
We thank you. We worship you. We open our hearts to you.


2. (adapted from Psalm 71.1-6)
Leader:
In you, O lord, we seek shelter
All: In your love, hear us and receive us.
Be a rock to us, a strong, safe place, for you are our hope.
Rescue us from the power of selfishness,
the grasp of injustice and cruelty
For you are our life, our way of being, our hope, our light
Alleluia! God of the forgotten and the outcast,
you receive us.Transform us by your grace. Alleluia!


3. (from Psalm 71.1-6)
Leader: In you, O Love, I take refuge;
All: deliver me and rescue me;
listen to me and save me.
Be to me a rock of refuge,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
For you, O Holy One, are my hope, my trust.
My praise is continually of you.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love, our tradition both assures us and challenges us. Open our hearts to receive your peace and to hear your nudging. Shape us by the power of your word. We pray in the name and the company of Jesus, our loving prod and our living comforter. Amen.

2.
God of truth, we confess that we want your Word to fit our desires; we distort your will to suit us. We are blind to your grace, and we repent. Forgive us, and open our eyes; let us see by the light of your compassion. In those whom we have rejected, let us hear you voice and encounter your presence. Speak your Word to us, God, for we are listening. Amen.

3.
Loving God, in Christ you have taught us to love. But we are still beginners, still learning. Show us your love again: in Christ, in your scriptures as they are read and your Word as it is proclaimed, in our worship and prayers, and in our daily service. Give us your love, so that we might live with your love all our days, in the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

4.
Gracious God, your love draws us in and confounds us. It is alluring and frightening as a burning fire. By your grace rekindle the flame of your love in us. Chase away all that diminishes love and set us free by your grace to be loving people, in the name and the spirit of Christ. Amen.

5.
Gracious God, Jesus taught that your grace was for everyone. But those who wanted special privilege rejected him and his message. Bless us with open hearts and minds, that we may never reject you or your Word. Grant that as the scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed we may hear with humility and joy what you are saying to us today. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Pastor: God of love, we confess the fragility of our love.
Reader: Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Congregation: We confess those times when as have been impatient, unkind, arrogant or rude. We confess the times we have been irritable or resentful, or have insisted on our own way. Our love is imperfect. Forgive our sin, heal our hearts, and renew in us your perfect love. (Silent reflection…)
Pastor: I gladly affirm to you that by the grace we know in Christ Jesus, God forgives all your sin entirely, and sets you free to love deeply, by the power of the Holy Spirit, now and forever. Amen.

Reading

1 Corinthians 13 – a paraphrase

If I speak in learned or mystic languages
but do not speak in love,
it is all just clatter and chatter.

If I know everything
and understand life completely
and have miracle-producing faith
but do not act in love
it’s all for nothing.

If I give away everything I own
and die a heroic martyr’s death
but do it without love,
I have just wasted my time.

Love is kind.
Love has time for the other.
Love is generous, humble and gentle.
Love does not keep score of faults,
but rejoices in what is good and true.
Love bears willingly,
trusts deeply,
hopes boldly,
endures patiently.

Love does not die.
Beliefs will end; languages will fade;
knowledge will exhaust itself.
We know only partly; we believe only partly.
But there comes a time of wholeness,
when we let go of the part for the whole.
When I was a child,
I spoke and thought like a child.
Becoming an adult, I abandoned those ways.
Now, we see as if through foggy glass;
but in time we will see clearly, face to face.
Now I know only partially;
in time I will know fully—
and know that even now I am fully known.

So we have these three great gifts: faith, hope and love.
And the greatest is love.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
      Divine Lover, God, we give our hearts to you, Creator of all, Lover of all.
      Heavenly Lover, we give our hearts to Jesus, who lived your love: who loved the guilty and the twisted, the outcast and the demon-possessed. He ate with them, he healed them, and he empowered them to proclaim the good news of your love. He loved those who opposed him, even those who crucified him. And in love you raised him from death, for love is immortal. He lives among us still, with us and within us, in our love for one another.
      Eternal Lover, we give our hearts to your Holy Spirit, empowering us with your love. We devote ourselves to compassion for all people, especially those who are not loved in this world; trusting in the life-changing power of forgiveness, our connectedness as the Body of Christ, the reality of resurrection, and the eternity of love. We pray that we may love you with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and that through us you may love all living beings, even our enemies, and all Creation, for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name and Spirit of Christ. Amen.

2.
      We love and trust God, who is love. God is patient; God is kind; God is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. God does not insist on God’s own way. God is not irritable or resentful. God does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices in the truth.
      We love and trust Jesus, who embodied love. His love saves us—not his glorious speech, nor his understanding of all mysteries, nor his mountain-moving faith, but his love. In love he bore all things, believed all things, hoped all things, endured all things. In love he bore the cross and died; and in love God raised him from the dead, for love never dies.
     We love and trust the Holy Spirit, who gives us life. Our knowledge is finite; our religion will end; but the love of the Spirit is infinite. By the Spirit we leave behind childish things, and what is partial, and grow into what is whole. By the Spirit we trust that now we know only in part; in time we will know fully. For in the Love of God we are fully known, and we give thanks. We have the gifts of faith, hope and love. And the greatest of these is love.

Listening Prayer

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

God of love,
Jesus’ hearers did not always want to hear
of your infinite love.
Quiet our doubts and open our hearts
to hear your love, to receive your love,
to trust that we and all people are your Beloved.
God of love, your beloved children are listening.
Speak to us.

Eucharistic Prayer

God of love we thank you,
for in love you create us and claim us as your Beloved.
In love you confront all that oppresses us and all people,
and in love you set us free.

Though we reject your love for us, and for others,
still you are faithful.
So, with all Creation, we sing your praise:
     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who loved beyond all boundaries,
who included the rejected and blessed the broken,
who invited all to his table of grace.

For his generosity of love he was opposed;
he was scorned and crucified.
But you raised him from the dead,
and still he invites us to the table he shares
with all your Beloved of every tribe and tradition.

     (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 in love, in holy self-giving,
in union with Christ’s self-giving,
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,
fearless in love, inclusive in generosity,
and courageous in the face of opposition,
for the sake of the wholeness of the human family,
in the name and the company of Jesus.

     (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.”

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You come to us in humble bread, and feed us with unexpected grace. Send us into the world, to serve among those who are overlooked and rejected, to meet you among those who are not loved, to receive your grace from those who are outcast. Lead us by your Spirit, in the name of Christ, to bring good news to the poor. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view on the Music page)

Children of the Heavenly Mother
(Tune: Children of the Heavenly Father)

Children of the Heavenly Mother,
gather gladly with each other,
for you call us to your table
bringing gifts as we are able.

You have held us and caressed us,
washed and taught us, healed and blessed us;
now you cherish and adore us
and you set our lives before us.*

You have birthed us, and have freed us;
with your body now you feed us.
In this grace, O loving mother,
we are one with one another.

So we praise you, heavenly Mother,
Holy Spirit, Christ our brother,
All Creation sings together
honor, thanks and praise for ever.

* With communion: “and you set this table for us.”


O Faithful God (Tune: Finlandia)

O faithful God, whose steadfast love is sure,
O Loving Father, Mother kind and strong:
your Covenant forever will endure;
you bind us to your heart our whole life long.
No matter how rebellious is your child,
in you we are brought home and reconciled

You hold us, God, in kinship with each other.
We have been loved and held when we would run.
We all are siblings, all born of one Mother;
though we would flee, you join us all as one.
Our deepest wounds come from our deepest love,
and so our highest hope for life above.

So teach us God, to bravely love each other,
for all belong within your house of grace,
to give our enemy, who is our brother,
our steadfast mercy, and a wide embrace;
for in our love, though we be right or wrong,
we know the grace to which we all belong.


Your Table
(Tune: Amazing Grace)

Dear Jesus, when we break our bread with those who are in need,
we then by grace commune with God, and it is you we feed.

When we sit down and eat with those who hunger and who thirst,
we know that we are also poor, and you have fed us first.

So call us to your table, Lord, your grateful children, call:
where we receive your grace, unearned, and turn to share with all.

Epiphany 3 (January 23, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

In Nehemiah 8. 1-10 the Israelites have returned from exile and are rebuilding Jerusalem. The scribe Ezra reads to them the scroll of God’s law that they have found (probably essentially the book of Deuteronomy).

Psalm 19 says all Creation, and even the passage of time, proclaims God’s praise, not with words, but with glory. So we seek to know God’s intent, and ask God to help us confront sins we don’t even know we suffer from.

In 1 Corinthians 12.12-31 Paul says that the church is Christ’s body: we are all connected; we all have something to offer, and we need each other.

In Luke 4. 14-21 Jesus begins his ministry by announcing his agenda—and, presumably, that of his followers—quoting from Isaiah (61.1-2): “God has sent me to serve the poor, the powerless and the oppressed.” (He omits the phrase in Isaiah referring to God’s vengeance, expressing instead his nonviolence.)

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Spirit of Truth:
All: open our eyes.
Spirit of healing,
set us free.
Spirit of love,
come upon us and send us to a hurting world. Amen.

2. (Adapted from Psalm 19)
Leader: God, your whole Creation displays your glory;
All: the universe is your beautiful song without words.
Your Word gives life; it restores the breath of our souls.
Your delight shines in our eyes and makes us beautiful.
But who can see their own faults?
Save us, God, from our self-ignorance.
May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts
give you delight, O God, our rock and our redeemer.


3. (Psalm 19)
Leader: All Creation is your praise, O God.
All: The sky radiates with your glory.
The stars are your autograph.
Night turning into day speaks your wisdom,
not in the language of words, but with light and wonder.
So we want to know your intent, and hear your Word.
It gives us life, sweeter than honey and more precious than gold.
Help us, then, to know your ways.
For we easily become lost without knowing.
May we follow in your path, and live by your Spirit.
May the words of our mouths and the thoughts in our hearts
be praise to you, O God, our Source and our Salvation. Alleluia!

4.Leader: God of justice, the poor and the poor in spirit cry out.
All: Come, Holy One, and bring good news.
God of love, our hearts are blinded to your truth.
Come, Holy One, and bring sight to the blind.
God of righteousness, the oppressed plead for liberation.
Come, Holy One, and bring release to the captives and freedom for the oppressed.
Give sight to our spirits and set us free from our fears,
that we may be bearers of your good news in the name of Christ.

5.
Leader: Loving God, we are your people, the Body of Christ.
All: We are one in your Spirit.
All over the world we gather—all different, all beloved.
We are all connected; we all are gifted, and we all need each other.
In the unity of your love we worship
together with those who are different from us,
and with our unseen siblings nearby and around the world.
With one voice we praise you; we thank you; we worship you.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
Gracious God, you have given us your prophets, so that we might hear your word and be enlightened. You have inspired the writing of Scripture, so that we might hear and be transformed. You have given us your law, so that we might hear and obey. Pour out your Spirit upon us now, God, and bless us with your living Word, your loving presence, your life of compassion and truth. Amen.
2.
Eternal God, quiet the thoughts in our minds, that we may hear your voice. Calm the fears in our hearts, that we may see your way. Open the doors of our hearts, that we may walk in the path of Christ. Come to us, Holy Spirit and transform us by your grace. Amen.

3.
Holy One, your Spirit makes us the Body of Christ. By your grace, overcome all separation, barriers and divisions; that we may truly join one another, honor those who are different, and worship as one. Lift up all our gifts and give voice to all our languages, that our worship of you may be complete. We pray in the spirit of Christ, who makes us one. Amen.

4.
God of love, amide the world’s injustice and suffering your prophets promise healing and liberation. Now Jesus proclaims the vision is fulfilled in him. Open our eyes to see and our hearts to hear; open our hearts to know that Christ is among us, bringing about the redemption of the world. In hope and trust, we listen for your Word. Speak, for we are listening. Amen.

Prayer of confession

Eternal God, Holy One, Holy Oneness, we give thanks for those moments when we are in harmony with the unity of the Body of Christ, and with all Creation. And we confess those times when we are out of harmony, when we act as separate individuals who do not need each other, who do not need all Creation. We give thanks for your Spirit, alive in us , who empowers us to seek justice; and we confess those times when we betray that calling. Forgive our selfishness, heal our fear, and draw us back into unity, by the grace of Christ.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
We give our hearts to you, God: you create all things. You desire wholeness for all people, and your desire moves the world. You set us free; you lead us into new lives.

We follow Jesus, your Christ, the embodiment of love, who taught and healed, who fed and forgave. He confronted our systems of privilege and exclusion For his challenge to the powerful he was crucified; but you raised him from the dead. We trust you to raise us to lives of love and service.

We live by your power, Holy Spirit. O Mystery of Love and Justice, your Spirit is upon us for the sake of the world. Your vision of a redeemed world of justice moves us and gives us hope. In your power you send us into the world to bring good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind and liberty to the oppressed, for the sake of the mending of the world.

2.
       We love and trust God, the Creator of all things, who creates us as one: one Body, one Creation.
       We love and trust Jesus, who taught and healed, fed and included insiders and outsiders alike. For his prophetic witness he was crucified; and he was raised from the dead. He is raised now as a community, the risen Body of Christ, and we are its members.
      We love and trust the Holy Spirit, whose breath makes us alive, whose grace makes us one, whose varied gifts bear fruit in each of us differently. By the Spirit’s power we serve in lives of healing, love, courage and justice, in the name and the company of Christ.

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. Pour out your Spirit upon us: to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set the oppressed free, and to proclaim the time of God’s grace, in the power and the name and the company of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

Do Justice (Original Song)
Do Justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.
Love, help us humbly live your justice, your love, your mercy.


God of All Gentleness [Luke 4]
(Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

God of all gentleness, God of pure love,
you do not watch us from heights far above,
you are no tyrant, but patient and mild,
present with grace in the poor, in the child.

God of all mercy, may we be the ones
bearing your love to your daughters and sons,
not out of pity but humbly, with grace,
for in the poor we see your human face.

God of all justice, give us hearts to care,
hope to free prisoners of fear and despair,
courage to challenge the ways that oppress,
deep love to reach out to heal and to bless.

God of compassion, your Spirit now pour
into us all, for it’s we who are poor,
hungry for justice, for healing and grace,
and for full life for the whole human race.

God, We Are Broken (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

God, we are broken, for all flesh is weak.
Grant us the healing and peace that we seek.
For all that pains us, beyond our control,
grant us your healing, our bodies made whole.

God, we are broken; our hearts are not one.
Sometimes it seems that our souls come undone.
Bring us renewal and calm in our soul.
Grant us your healing and make our hearts whole.

God, we are broken: for families and friends
suffer when love fails and faithfulness ends.
May your forgiveness and grace play its role.
Grant us your healing; make covenants whole.

God, we are broken, for many are poor,
and we ignore those who lie by our door.
God, may your justice like great rivers roll.
Grant us your healing; make all people whole.

God, we are broken for hate and all war
wound us so we are not free anymore.
Make us one people from pole to pole.
Grant us your healing, and make the world whole.

Make Us Merciful (Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus)

Merciful parent, God, prodigal with grace and love,
welcoming children through your pain,
gently receive us all, break down our shame’s dark wall,
that we may never leave again.

Gentle and gracious God, you who love your children,
you take us in though we turn away.
Fold us in your embrace; fill us with peace and grace,
that we may live your gentle way.

God, give us spacious hearts, generous and kind and wide,
no matter what hurtful things folks do.
Help us to love and bless, steadfast in gentleness.
Lord, make us merciful as you.


Raise Up Your People
(Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

God, you who raised up your Christ from the grave.
Raise up your people and bless us and save!
Help us be mindful our life is in you
when we surrender you raise us up new.

When all the powers of evil assail,
not by our strength but your grace we prevail:
when we are lowly and gentle in love
power is not ours but flows from above.

Give us the faith, God, to fearlessly live,
love with our whole hearts and bless and forgive.
Your Word is borne, God, in all that we do;
in our forgiveness is Christ raised anew.


You Are the Nerve [1 Cor. 12]
(Tune: Finlandia]

O God, your Christ is risen in your people.
On earth Christ has no body now but ours.
We are the flesh and blood of your compassion:
moved by your Spirit, with its loving powers.
God be our heart, and we will be your Body,
serving in love in all our days and hours.

We are your feet, that go with joy to others
to share your love, the gospel we confess.
We are your eyes that see what is and may be,
that see each person’s need and loveliness.
We are your hands, that work with strength for justice,
your hands that shelter, heal and feed and bless.

Love, move in me, and guide me by your Spirit,
even when I don’t see or understand.
My life is yours, to be your living Body,
that I may love and serve at your command.
This is my life, my purpose and my power:
you are the nerve, and I your willing hand.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (January 16, 2022)

Some Alternate Texts

      Old Testament:
In Amos 5.21-24 God decries our pious worship (“your solemn assemblies… the noise of your songs”) and pleads, in those words often quoted by Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an everflowing stream.” (Righteousness does not mean being right, but right relationships.)

Isaiah 42.1-9 envisions God’s chosen servant as one who humbly brings justice. Justice is not retribution but lifting up the powerless.

Isaiah 61.1-2a is referred to in next week’s Gospel text: “The Spirit of God is upon me to bring good news to the poor.” (It’s appropriate to stop the reading at “to proclaim the time of God’s favor” and omit “the vengeance of God”—as Jesus does in Luke 4.19, emphasizing his nonviolence.)

     Psalm

Psalm 37:
don’t lose courage because of injustice. Commit, and God will support you. The nonviolent shall inherit the land.

Psalm 72 celebrates the king’s justice: to advocate for the weak, to defend the cause of the poor, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.

    New Testament

James 1.22-27 asks us to be doers of the Word, not just hearers. Religion is not in our heads: it is to care for the powerless. To be “unstained by the world” doesn’t mean to avoid getting our hands dirty but to avoid adopting the world’s values.

1 Peter 2.19-23 invites us to endure unjust suffering without returning evil, citing Jesus’ nonviolence: “when he was abused he did not return abuse.” (This does not include needless suffering. We are not asked to endure abuse passively, but to refrain from being abusive. Despite the fact that verse 18 counsels slaves to submit, we should not take this scripture as condoning either slavery or abuse, but rather nonviolence.)


     Gospel

In next weeks’ lectionary text, Luke 4. 16-21, Jesus reads Isaiah 61.1-2, and then says that this prophecy is fulfilled, for this is Jesus’ own calling (and that of everyone filled by the Spirit): to bring good news to the poor and liberation to the oppressed.
Or
The lectionary text for Jan. 30: Luke 4. 21-30: Jesus reminds his hearers of God’s acceptance of foreigners and outsiders. His audience, wanting to maintain the distinction between insiders and outsiders, reject his message of God’s inclusivity, and reject Jesus himself. It foreshadow the cross, the culture’s resistance to justice.

Guiding thoughts

In scripture “justice” does not mean people get what they deserve, but that people get what they need to fulfill God’s calling in their lives. It is not retributive justice, punishment meted out for past acts, but restorative justice, actions that restore well-being among all people, especially those who have been harmed or oppressed. “Justice” is closely related to righteousness—not being right, but being in right relationships, harmonious relationships that provide equally for everyone’s well-being. In God’s justice everyone is of equal worth regardless of status, power, wealth, health, or even past behavior. We are “justified” as in printing: aligned with the margins. “Justified print” is a fruitful metaphor for how God invites us all to share the risk of the margins, and not consider anyone or any group to be exclusively the “center.” How have we sinfully kept or coveted the “center” for ourselves, while pushing others to the margins? What do we need to do—and how does God empower us— to align ourselves equally with others at the margins?

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: God of justice, the poor of the world cry out.
All: You are among them, and your cry goes out to the ends of the world.
Evil stalks the earth, and oppression hides everywhere.
But you are among us, and your Spirit breathes a new Creation.
Unseeing, we are caught in webs of injustice.
But you are among us, and your love transforms our hearts.
We worship you in awe and humility.
Speak your Word to us. Open our eyes. Give us courage and wisdom,
that we may do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with you,
for the sake of the mending of the world.


2.
Leader: God, you created the world whole.
All: But we have broken it: fractures and divisions abound.
Still, y
our grace remains.
Even now you are healing what is wounded.
We come to give you thanks.
We come to give you our hearts and our hands,
that we may join you in the mending of the world.
We worship in gratitude, in confidence, in joy!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

God of justice, we worship you in a world of injustice. The evils around us challenge our faith that you are in charge. But your grace is greater than our sin. Your justice is more powerful than our wrongdoing. Speak to us; renew our faith; rekindle our courage. In the spirit of those who have gone before us, in the company of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr., lead us on. Make us your faithful people. Amen.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

The United Methodist Social Creed

We believe in God, Creator of the world; and in Jesus Christ, the Redeemer of creation. We believe in the Holy Spirit, through whom we acknowledge God’s gifts, and we repent of our sin in misusing these gifts to idolatrous ends

We affirm the natural world as God’s handiwork and dedicate ourselves to its preservation, enhancement, and faithful use by humankind

We joyfully receive for ourselves and others the blessings of community, sexuality, marriage, and the family.

We commit ourselves to the rights of men, women, children, youth, young adults, the aging, and people with disabilities; to improvement of the quality of life; and to the rights and dignity of all persons

We believe in the right and duty of persons to work for the glory of God and the good of themselves and others and in the protection of their welfare in so doing; in the rights to property as a trust from God, collective bargaining, and responsible consumption; and in the elimination of economic and social distress

We dedicate ourselves to peace throughout the world, to the rule of justice and law among nations, and to individual freedom for all people of the world

We believe in the present and final triumph of God’s Word in human affairs and gladly accept our commission to manifest the life of the gospel in the world. Amen.
       RESPONSE
Leader: God of justice, we accept the Spirit you give us to follow Jesus,
to proclaim your Realm of Grace.
We give thanks that you cherish this Creation and care for it,
All: and we shall do the same.
We lament our corporate sin of poverty, discrimination and violence,
and give thanks that Jesus came among us in forgiveness, healing and reconciliation;
and we shall do the same.
We give thanks for those prophets among us
who have spoken and acted in faith and in peace for the sake of justice;
and we shall do the same.
We give thanks for those who have honored the gift of our diversity,
who have labored and sacrificed to break down barriers of hate,
who in love have made strangers into siblings and enemies into friends;
and we shall do the same.
God grant us faith and courage to pray and to speak, to work and to live
for the sake of the coming of your Realm of Grace, in the name and Spirit of Jesus.
Amen.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

Gracious God, in gratitude for all you have given us, and in faithful stewardship of what you have placed in our hands to share with the world, we give you our lives, symbolized in our gifts. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. Send us as disciples of Jesus to follow in faith, to proclaim your Realm with courage, and to help create a world of love, freedom, beauty and joy, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

See all songs with “justice” tags, especially these:

Breath of God (Tune: Londonderry Air, O Danny Boy)

O Holy One, Creator of the stars of night,
whose dust we are, created with your light,
now breathe your spirit into us and give us life;
give us new hearts that beat with your delight.
Our dust and ashes, Love, we give in faith to you.
Receive our lives, our sin, our wounds, our death;
and raise us up with Christ from death to life by grace.
God, may we be your love and you our living breath.

Breathe into us the breath of your compassion, God,
the breath to sing your praise in all we do,
the breath to run the race of justice, long and far.
Breathe, holy breath: empower and renew.
O be the grace that fills our lungs, reviving us;
O be the wind on which our hearts can soar;
O be our life, our beauty and our living breath.
O Spirit, come breathe in us now and evermore.


Do Justice (Original Song)
Do Justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.
Love, help us humbly live your justice, your love, your mercy.


God, We Are Broken (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

God, we are broken, for all flesh is weak.
Grant us the healing and peace that we seek.
For all that pains us, beyond our control,
grant us your healing, our bodies made whole.

God, we are broken; our hearts are not one.
Sometimes it seems that our souls come undone.
Bring us renewal and calm in our soul.
Grant us your healing and make our hearts whole.

God, we are broken: for families and friends
suffer when love fails and faithfulness ends.
May your forgiveness and grace play its role.
Grant us your healing; make covenants whole.

God, we are broken, for many are poor,
and we ignore those who lie by our door.
God, may your justice like great rivers roll.
Grant us your healing; make all people whole.

God, we are broken for hate and all war
wound us so we are not free anymore.
Make us one people from pole to pole.
Grant us your healing, and make the world whole.


Lead on, O God of justice
Tune: LANCASHIRE (Lead on, O King Eternal)

Lead on, O God of justice. Your vision calls us forth:
to life where all are cherished, and know their sacred worth,
where all have what they need to be who they can be,
and all know their belonging and live in peace and free.

Lead on, O God of justice, as Jesus shows the way,
and gives to us your Spirit, and guides us day by day.
Your courage and compassion, your love flow through our veins
for those we cast aside, who bear oppression’s chains.

Lead on, O God of justice. Your fiery pillar burn
in us to heal the world, to make injustice turn.
To change our evil systems your Spirit sets us free.
Though long the road and tiring, you bear us faithfully.

Epiphany 2 (January 16, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

Deep joy flows through today’s scriptures. In Isaiah 62.1-5 God promises joy and vindication following Israel’s bitter years of exile: you are beautiful; you are God’s delight; you will be honored—welcome words for those who have been oppressed, devalued or silenced.

Psalm 36 rejoices in the love of God, who is the source of the “fountain of life.” “You give us drink from the river of your delights.”

In 1 Corinthians 12. 1-11 Paul says that the Spirit moves in each of us differently, with different gifts, but there are not separate spirits: there is one Holy Spirit, and it is in us all.

In John 2.1-11 Jesus turns water wine—very fine wine— at a wedding: a gift of delight, an act of joy, a multiplication of astounding abundance and generosity (180 gallons of it!), and a celebration of love and faithfulness. It also suggests Jesus’ power to transform, the splendor to which Jesus calls us, and a hint that all of life is both a wedding and communion.

Note: See separate resources for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Preaching Thoughts

A frequent interpretation is to see the miracle as “proving “ Jesus’ power, or authority, or divinity, or something. But also: it’s also an appearance of God in the form of beauty, celebration and loveliness. It’s an act of overflowing abundance, like multiplying the loaves. John chooses to show us Jesus’ first “sign” at a wedding, a celebration of faithful covenantal love, setting Jesus’ ministry in that symbolic context. The jars were used for the rite of purification. Jesus appropriates them for a different purpose, shifting their use (and our focus) from purification to celebration, from the fiction of being “good enough” to the gospel of being loved.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Beloved, you who take us in marriage,
All: we give ourselves to you.
Water of life, flowing in our need,
we receive your abundance.
Spirit of Beauty, wine of wonder,
we drink of your grace.
God, you turn the water of our lives into the wine of your delight.
We worship you with gratitude and awe.

2.
Leader: God of miracles, we praise you.
You have turned water into wine!
All: The ordinary into the beautiful.
Scarcity into abundance.
Despair into confidence.
And you turn us once again into your people:
No one into Someone.
Scattered pieces into one Body.
Ordinary lives changed into worship. Alleluia!

3. (Adapted from Ps. 36.5-10)
Leader: O God, your love reaches to the ends of the universe.
All: Your grace that saves all living things is as solid as a mighty mountain.
We take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
We feast on the abundance of your house; we drink from the river of your delights.
With you is the fountain of life. In your light, we see light.
We open our hearts to your love now and always,
your grace to all who will receive it!


4.
Leader: O Crucified and Risen Christ, you eat with the poor,
All: and you provide the finest wine.
You suffer with the brokenhearted,
and you sing songs of praise.
You go toward the cross
and yet you dance with joy.
Amidst the world’s injustice you go about healing,
And amidst the world’s sorrow you go about rejoicing.
Grant us your Spirit, that in this world of suffering and injustice
we may be people of joy and healing,
O Christ, in you we are one with all who suffer,
and one with you who live and reign
with the Creator and the Spirit forever. Amen.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of might and miracle, Jesus turned water into wine at the wedding in Cana. All of life is the feast of your marriage to us. Every moment you perform your miracles, turning the water of our lives into the wine of your grace. Open our hearts to receive your blessings, to drink deeply of your love, and to enjoy the goodness of your gifts. Amen.2.Creator God, we confess that too much we live by our own wits and wants, and not by the leading of your Spirit. Yet your Spirit is within us. Speak to us now; revive your Spirit in us, and by it lead us in lives of faithfulness, love and justice, in the name of Christ. Amen.

3.
Gracious God, as Jesus turned the water into wine, so you have made our lives beautiful and blessed. Jesus is with us in our celebration now, turning the water of our lives into the wine of your praise. In our worship, transform us and make us new in the image of Christ, that we may be your glory for all the world. Open our hearts and minds, that as the scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed we may hear with joy what you are saying to us today. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

1.
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.
Gracious God, in this wide world, we are small, and we do not understand.
We need you.
In this difficult world, we have faltered.
We need you.
In this hurtful world, we have been afraid to receive your grace and your delight,
and we have brought hurt upon ourselves and others.
We need you.
Grant us your grace, transform our hearts,
and restore in us your image,
that we may live fully in the delight you have for us.
We pray in the name of the Crucified and Risen Christ.
Silent prayer…. The Word of Grace
(By the grace we know in Christ we are assured that all our sins are forgiven entirely, and we are set free to live by the power of the Holy Spirit alone. You are God’s child, God’s Beloved, in whom God finds delight.)

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
      We give our hearts to you, God, Creator of all, who hold all things in your loving hands, you who are the source of love and blessing, healing and joy.
      We give our hearts to Jesus, your Christ, who suffered with the broken hearted and lived as one who was powerless. He fed the hungry, healed the sick, brought good news to the poor and set free those who were oppressed. On the cross he suffered with those who mourn, who struggle, and who die. And in his rising he brings us through death to life, through tribulation to joy, and out of isolation into oneness. He turns our water into wine. He is in the world now, with the poor and suffering, embodying your healing, your justice and your delight.
      We give our hearts to your Holy Spirit, who is in us, uniting all who sorrow and who rejoice, who suffer and who heal. We live as one body, the Body of Christ. We trust in the power of your grace and the covenant of your presence in all things. And we devote ourselves to lives of joy and service for the sake of the healing of the world, in the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

2.
     We love and trust God, Creator of all that is and is to come, who fashions all Creation as One, with its many varied parts, united in the Spirit of Love.
     We love and trust Christ, the Beloved, who loved and healed, taught and fed among a broken humanity, for the sake of the wholeness of all. In brokenness Jesus was crucified, but in wholeness God raised Christ from the dead, whose risen body we are now part of, whole and united with all humanity, all Creation.
     We love and trust the Holy Spirit, who breathes in each of us, giving us all differing gifts, and giving us in love to each other, for the well being of all. By the Spirit’s grace the water of our lives is turned into the wine of worship and service. Joined by the one Spirit as the Body of Christ, we rejoice in God’s wedding to the world, and give ourselves to love, joy and faithfulness, for the sake of the wholeness of all Creation, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer

Beautiful Creator,
you fashion this universe with loveliness and grace,
with overflowing abundance.
The jars of Creation brim with your joy.
You create us as your children, and promise your love.
You have married us, and your Covenant is eternal.
You know what traps us, and you set us free.
You know what we need, and your provide.
When we are anxious, you change the water of our fear
into the wine of gratitude.
We gather at this table, at the feast of your wedding to the world,
and with all Creation sing your praise:
     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
He performed miracles of joy, abundance, and healing.
He invited all to the table of your love,
and set it with generosity, so that the grace would never run out.
He was crucified, but death could not hold him;
life overflowed, and you raised him from the dead—
for your vows to be with us are unbreakable, even by death.

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.

Remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
we give ourselves as a living and holy offering
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 Holy Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
one in your Spirit, with many parts, many gifts,
many languages, many traditions —
one in your love, and one in ministry
for the sake of the wholeness of Creation,
in the name 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. Send us into the world with the courage to be gentle when others are mean, to care for the poor and oppressed, and to be merciful as you are merciful. Grant that by your Spirit we may do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with you all our days. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

God of love, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have changed the water of our daily bread into the wine of your presence. You have re-birthed us as the risen Body of Christ. Send us out into the world, redolent with your loveliness, radiant with your light, generous with your love, in the communion and the power of the Holy Spirit and the joy of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

Vine and Branches (Original tune)

You are the vine and we are your branches,
one with your life and rooted in your heart.
Flowing with grace, with life you fill us,
strengthened that nothing can break us apart.

You are the vine and we are your branches.
Deep in our hearts your life is flowing through.
Rooted in you, we grow and flourish.
You live within us, and we live in you.

You are the vine and we are your branches.
One common blood flows though all of our veins.
We all are part of one another.
We all are branches of one living vine.

You are the vine and we are your branches,
flowing with power greater than our own,
bearing your fruit to all Creation,
till all the seeds of your love have been sown.

Alleluia.


You are the Nerve (Tune: Finlandia)

O God, your Christ is risen in your people.On earth Christ has no body now but ours.We are the flesh and blood of your compassion:moved by your Spirit, with its loving powers.God be our heart, and we will be your Body,serving in love in all our days and hours.We are your feet, that go with joy to othersto share your love, the gospel we confess.We are your eyes that see what is and may be,that see each person’s need and loveliness.We are your hands, that work with strength for justice,your hands that shelter, heal and feed and bless.Love, move in me, and guide me by your Spirit,even when I don’t see or understand.My life is yours, to be your living Body,that I may love and serve at your command.This is my life, my purpose and my power:you are the nerve, and I your willing hand.


Your Hands and Your Face (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

God of all holiness, baptized in you,
we are your Body: your presence shines through.
We, poor in spirit, are blessed with your own.
May our lives shine forth with your grace alone

We who with Jesus do mourn with the world
shall see your banners of deep joy unfurled.
We who are hungry for love freely shared
feast at the banquet that you have prepared

May we be merciful and pure in heart,
your gentle peacemakers, doing our part.
Dying and rising, we do not fear loss,
sealed with your Spirit and marked with your cross.

Blest and beloved and baptized to serve,
we are your Body and you are our nerve.
Not by our effort, but by your pure grace,
may we be your hands and your human face.

Troubled

           When King Herod heard of the child,
           he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him.

                           —Matthew 2.3


Beware the faith that judges the world
but leaves your own sin intact;
for God, who deeply loves us as we are,
does not intend to leave us that way.
Pray for the courage to love a God
who comes to remake you.

Let the Herod who sits on your throne be frightened,
and see in his fear his weakness.
Let your privilege be troubled;
for God who transforms everything
begins with you.
Be prepared to let go of the world you know and love,
so you may receive the world
you have not yet imagined.

Jesus says in the Gospel of Thomas,

           Let one who seeks
                      not stop until one finds.
           When one finds,
                      one will be troubled.
           When one is troubled,
                      one will marvel,
                      and rule over all things.

__________________
Steve Garnaas-Holmes
Unfolding Light
www.unfoldinglight.net

Published
Categorized as Reflections

Baptism of Jesus (January 9, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

In Isaiah 43.1-7 God promises, “I have redeemed you. When you go through the waters they will not overwhelm you: for I love you and I will be with you.”

Psalm 29 celebrates “the voice of the Lord,” meaning God’s presence, God’s will or desire, and God’s power, evident in all Creation.

In Acts 8. 14-17 the church learns that even Samaritans are following Jesus. They send Peter and John, who pray for them to receive the Holy Spirit.

In Luke 3.15-22 Jesus is baptized. God says, “You are my Son, my beloved. With you I am well pleased.” This is a composite quote of Psalm 2.7, a reference to a Messiah king; and Isaiah 42.1, a reference to God’s servant who endures suffering in order to fulfill God’s desire for justice.

Baptismal Renewal

Contrary to popular belief, baptism is not a sign of a believer’s faithfulness, but a sign of God’s. (John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance, but Christian baptism is a recognition of the Holy Spirit in us whether we repent nor not!) We are immersed in God’s grace, “born again” not of our own believing but of God’s grace. We don’t “get our children”— or ourselves— baptized. Baptism isn’t something we do at all, but something God does. The Baptismal service is our way of beholding what God has done and is doing in the person baptized—and in the community, for we are charged to treat the person as God’s beloved so they can accept it and integrate it for themselves.

Therefore the sacrament of baptism is not repeated: God got it right the first time. But we need to continually renew our awareness of our baptism, our awareness of God’s faithful love for us and the invitation to live out a faithful response. The Baptism of Jesus is a wonderful time for a congregational service of Baptismal renewal. Here is a service of baptism that may be used for a baptismal renewal. (At the top of that page is a link to a downloadable document for ease of editing.)

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: God of majesty and might, God of cloud and ocean:
All: you rain down blessing upon us.
Fountain of Life, Womb of the World,
you birth us in love and glory.
Christ our sibling, living Cup of Salvation::
you heal us, you wash us clean, you quench the thirst of our souls.
Holy Spirit,River of Grace, tears of God’s Joy and Sorrow:
you flow in our veins, you pour out into the world—
new life for all Creation! Alleluia!


2. (Adapted from Psalm 29)
Leader: Rejoice, O powers of the universe,
rejoice in the glory and strength of God.
All: God’s voice thunders over the mighty waters,
wonderful and majestic.

God’s power splinters cedars;
God’s presence flashes like fire
and shakes whole nations.
And over the flood is God, ruling forever.
God, bless us with your Spirit and your peace
.

3.
Leader: Creator God, in the beginning your Spirit brooded over the waters
and you brought forth light.
All: Your Spirit gives us birth. Your light shines within us.
Brother Christ, you submitted to baptism in the Jordan River;
you immersed yourself in our life.
Your presence warms us. We rejoice in your grace.
Holy Spirit, your breath gives us life; your flame burns with compassion within us.
Alleluia! We immerse ourselves in your grace,
that we may always shine with the light of your love. Alleluia!

4.
Leader: Creator God, the river of your grace flows about us.
All: We enter into its flow, deep in wonder, swimming in your grace.
Rabbi Jesus, you were baptized by John in the Jordan.
We come with you to be washed in the grace of God,
to be immersed in the glory of the Beloved.
Holy Spirit, you came to Jesus at his baptism like a dove.
Come to us, and fill us with the joy of your presence,
the song of your power, the feathers of delight.
Give us wings to do your will, and to be your people.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love, Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptized by John. With Jesus we come to the water to be immersed in your grace. Receive us, wash us and renew us. Baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire, that we may flow with your grace all our days, in the name of Christ. Amen.

2.
Loving God, Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptized. So we come to your Word, to wade in deep, to be immersed in your grace, to let the Mystery flow around us. We listen for your voice. May we hear your Living Word. Amen.

3.
God of truth, at Jesus’ baptism you spoke words of love and grace. We come now and immerse ourselves in your presence, and sink beneath the surface of your Word. We listen for your voice. Speak to us, and let us hear. Send the dove of your Spirit upon us and let us be changed. We pray in the name of Jesus, and in the power of your Spirit. Amen.

4.
Gracious God, deep river of blessing, as Jesus went into the waters of the Jordan, we come now to be immersed in your Word. You have said we are your beloved children in whom you are well pleased. May the heavens be opened for us; may your Spirit descend upon us. Speak your Good News to us, and transform our hearts, that we may live new lives for your sake and the sake of your Gospel. Amen.

Listening Prayer

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

1.
God of love,
the clear waters of your grace swirl around us.
The stream of your love flows from deep springs to the sea,
from here to the ends of the earth,
from ancient generations to those yet to come.
We sink deep in your blessing.
We let your presence wash over us.
Bathe us in the waters of your grace.

2.
God, you said to Jesus “You are my Beloved.”
We immerse ourselves in your Word.
Let your love flow around us,
hold us gently, wash us clean,
and give us joy.
You said, “You are my servant in whom I am delighted.”
Let your Word hold us up and bear us on,
carrying us into the lives to which you call us,
to serve you in love and justice,
in the name and the company of Jesus.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

We are baptized with Christ, and the Spirit of God is upon us
to bring good news to the poor, recovery of sight to the blind,
and liberty to the oppressed.
The Spirit drives us into the wilderness,
into the world, into the arms of God.
Send us, then, God, in the name and the Spirit and the company of Jesus. Amen.

Suggested Songs


See all songs with “Baptism” tags, especially these:
(Click on titles to view, and hear an audio clip, on the Music page)

Immersed in Blessing (Tune: Joyful, Joyful)

Baptized in your grace with Jesus, loving God, we sing your praise.
Echoing your own delight, with joy and thanks our song we raise.
Your beloved children, birthed anew and rising from your womb,
God, we bear your love through all our living, and beyond the tomb.

God you heal, forgive and nourish, and revive us breath by breath;
you restore our broken trust and save us from our fear of death.
Like a dry and withered plant revived by water at its root,
we are saved by streams of grace, for flourishing and bearing fruit.

Bathed in grace, immersed in blessing, joined with your Beloved Son,
how can we not love each other?— for your Spirit makes us One.
Carried on a stream of mercy, springs beneath and rain above,
may we flow with peace and in your Spirit flood the world with love.


When Jesus was Baptized (Tune: Cradle Song, Wm. Kirkpatrick)

When Jesus was baptized, John said to repent,
and follow the Righteous One whom God had sent.
So wash us, dear God, and create us anew,
born fresh from your grace, living wholly in you.

When Jesus was baptized in waters that flow,
he sank in the Source of what makes all things grow.
So, held in Creation, renewed and made one,
we swim in the grace of your life-giving Son.

When Jesus was baptized in light, like a dove
your Spirit came down and you filled him with love.
So give us your Spirit: let all that we do
be you living in us, as we live in you.

When Jesus was baptized you spoke from above,
saying “This is my servant, my son, whom I love.”
So help us to hear you speak love when you call,
and as your Beloved, share freely with all.


You Are My Delight (Tune: Londonderry Air, Oh, Danny Boy)

We come with you, dear Jesus, through the desert hills,
down to the river, flowing gently by,
where through the rocks and valleys, deepening, it spills,
and flows into the sea, the earth, the sky.
As we sink down and rise up from the water
a dove descends, a voice speaks, clear and bright:
“Know you are my beloved son, my daughter,
my spirit is in you and you are my delight.”

We go our way, and in our daily living
we follow you, and scatter rays of love
in deeds of caring, healing grace and giving,
for still we hear that voice and see the dove:
“No river can undo you, for with you I go.
I give my heart to you, and give you light.
For you are mine, I hold you and I love you so.
All water says, Remember you are my delight.”

Epiphany (January 2)

Lectionary Texts

Epiphany means “revealing.” The magi represent people of other nations and religions—in other words, the world. When they visit Jesus he is revealed to the world. The Epiphany season begins with the light of the star and ends with the Transfiguration: Jesus on the mountain shining with light.

In Isaiah 60.1-6 God promises that the chosen people will be rescued from exile, that they will be honored and given gifts, and that the light of God will shine in them so that they are a light to other people as well.

Psalm 72 is a prayer for a newly enthroned king, that he will rule with justice—that is, compassion for the poor and the oppressed.

In Ephesians 3.1-12 Paul says that the “mystery of Christ” has been revealed to him, to the church, and through us to the whole world.

Matthew 2. 1-12 tells of the visit of Magi to the young Jesus.

Call to Worship

1. from Isaiah 60.1-6
Leader: Arise, shine; for your light has come,
and the glory of God has risen upon you.
All: For darkness shall cover the earth,
and thick darkness the peoples;
but God will arise upon you,
and God’s glory will appear over you.
Nations shall come to our light,
and leaders to the brightness of our dawn.

Then you shall see and be radiant;
your heart shall thrill and rejoice,
Rulers shall bring gold and frankincense,
and shall proclaim the praise of God.


2.
Leader: God of grace, the light of your star shines upon us.
     All: You are the light that guides us.
Beloved Christ, the light of your presence shines among us.
     You are the love we seek.
Holy Spirit, light of your grace shines within us.
     You are the treasure we offer.
We thank you, and we worship you.
     We have to come to honor you and to offer you our gifts,
     that being enlightened by your Word,
     we shall go onward by a new way.

3.
Leader: Star of God, you bless us with your beauty.
All: Light of Christ, you draw us near to God.
Star of wisdom, guide us with your grace.
Light of God, lead us by your love.
We worship you with humble, open hearts.


4.
Leader: God of Mystery, your light has led us to you.
     All: All through our days your Word has shone; your star has lit the way.
You have accompanied us, guided us, and guarded us.
       We have come through miles and years to this place, this moment.
We have come to praise you, to honor you, to worship you.
     We thank you for your grace. We wonder at your presence.
And we are still learning to seek your presence and to follow your light.
     We are still asking, “Where is the child?”
     Help us to search, and help us to find.
God, we praise you for the One who shepherds your people.
     Alleluia! We worship you with thanksgiving and praise.

5.
Leader: God of Creation, your light shines in the stars.
     All: May your light lead us to life.
Your light shines in the heart of those who wander in search of you.
     May your light lead us to wonder.
Your light shines in the Christ child, revealed as the light of the world.
     May your light lead us to love.
Holy Spirit, light of God, shine in us, that we may be light for the world.
     Alleluia! Come, Spirit of Life, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

6.
Leader: Christmas star, shining in the darkness, you led magi to the Christ child.
Light of Christ, chase away all darkness, illumine our path,
and lead us to the heart of God.
Morning sun, rising on a new year, you grant us new life.
Light of God, forgive our sin and set us free from all that has bound us;
grant that we may begin anew in this new year with grace and blessing.
Spirit of life, gleaming in our eyes, you make us your beautiful children.
Holy Spirit, transform us by your grace,
that we may shine with the light of your love,
     for the sake of the blessing of all Creation. Amen.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of light, your glory shines throughout the world; help us to see it, and in it to seek you. The star of your guidance leads us; help us to discern wisely and to follow. The gifts you give us gleam in our hands and our hearts; grant us courage and generosity to give them. God of light, shine for us and in us. Speak your Word, and we will listen, and follow. Amen.

2.
God of love, as the star led the magi to the Christ child, so lead us by your Word to the light of your love. Show us your way; lead us in the path of peace and mercy. Fill us with the light of your Word, that we may be light for those who dwell in darkness and in the shadow of death. Amen.

3.
Light of God, your loveliness beckons us and we journey toward you. The way is long and hard, but the beauty of your light draws us on. Bring us always closer to Christ. Shine upon us, reveal your truth to us, and lead us in the ways of goodness and peace. Amen.

4.
God of Mystery, God of Revealing: as the magi searched diligently for the Christ child, may we also continually seek your presence. As the light of the star led the magi, we pray that the light of love will lead us always. May the light of your Word shine upon us now and lead us nearer to you. Amen.

5.
O God, in the magi’s visit to the Christ child you revealed yourself to the nations. We come to honor you and to give our gifts. Speak to us and reveal yourself to us, that we may go from this place by a new way. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Trusting in God’s tender mercy, we confess our sin to God with one another.
God, we wish to see ourselves clearly with the eyes of love.
We recall those times we have followed the light of your grace and moved closer to you, and we give thanks.
[Silent reflection…]
We recall those times when we have followed false stars of ego, fear, or attachments, and have wandered away from you; and we ask your forgiveness.
[Silent reflection…]
In Christ we trust your grace.
Forgive us, heal us, and renew your Spirit in us,
that we may faithfully follow the light of your love.
Dearly Beloved, know that all your sins are forgiven entirely;
and we are set free to live by the Spirit each moment
in the light and grace of God. Alleluia.



Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
      We trust in God, Creator of all that is, whose light guides us and whose grace extends to all people of the world.
      We follow Jesus, the Christ of God, Light of the world, who is the ruler of our hearts, before whom we bow in adoration and reverence, to whom we offer the gifts of our hands and hearts. Jesus loved people and healed them, and taught the way of true wisdom. Though many would make him king, he was not a ruler of a nation but the Prince of Peace. Earthly kings were threatened by him, and crucified him, but he was raised from the dead, sovereign even over life itself.
     We live by the Holy Spirit, whose light is a star that guides us, whose grace gives us gifts to offer the world, whose companionship makes us one with peoples of all nations, tribes and traditions. In the power of that Spirit we devote ourselves to love and justice, for the sake of Christ, the sovereign of our hearts.

2.
God of love, we offer you our gold:
all that we value, all we posses or cling to:
may it be yours, and for your purposes only.
We offer you our frankincense:
our prayers now and in every moment of our lives,
that we may live in grateful trust,
in reverent joy, and in faithful love.
We offer you our myrrh:
knowing we are mortal, we give you these short lives
to spend as you would have us spend them.
We offer to you our dying,
that our living may be holy and beautiful.
These things we offer in the light of your grace
and the delight of your loving Christ. Amen.


Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)
On bended knee we come,
humbly offering the gift
of ourselves.
In the light of your grace
we see the treasure of the gifts within,
and we who give
are those who receive.

Eucharistic Prayer

(Musical invitations to communion for Epiphany are included in Advent Table Songs on the music page. See also Advent Eucharistic Responses for musical Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen appropriate for this day.)

The main body of the prayer may be read either responsively by pastor and congregation or just by the presider(s).

1.
Beloved, God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Faithful One, our God.
It is good to give God thanks and praise.
Loving God, Creator of all, we give you thanks.
The light of your love is the star by which we find our way.
All people are the work of your hands and the love of your heart.
You call us your children, set us free from what imprisons us,
and make us one in your grace.

And so we offer you gifts, together with people of every race and nation,
kneeling in reverence, and singing your praise with one voice:
      [Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name, and blessed in Jesus, your Christ,
who shone with your light, who taught and healed and blessed us.
Jesus, Prince of Peace, proclaimed an Empire of Grace
not subject to the powers or rulers of this world,
and included in its sovereignty all people of every tribe and tradition.

In this meal we are one with Christ, and one with all peoples.
      [Blessing and Covenant]*

Therefore, remembering Christ’s gifts for us
we kneel and open the treasure chests of our hearts,
offering ourselves as a living and holy sacrifice,
proclaiming the mystery at the heart 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 Holy Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
one in your love, and one in love for the world.

By your grace may our every step be a journey toward you;
may we in every moment kneel in reverence;
may we continually offer the gifts your Spirit bestows,
for the sake of love and justice, and for the sake of your delight.

     [Amen]

______

2.
Beloved, God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good to give God thanks and praise.

God of light, you blessed the darkness with Creation.
You fashioned us in the light of your love.
In the night of our bondage
you broke the power of oppression and set us free,
leading your children by a pillar of light.

You call us always to follow your light,
even the faintest star of love and justice and mercy.
Therefore with those who come from afar to honor you,
and with all Creation, we sing your praise.
     [Sanctus]
Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ, light of the world.
He loved and healed, and showed to many your light shining in them.
He showed us the light of love
and taught us to forsake all that glitters and follow that light alone.
        [The Blessing and Covenant…] *


     [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 Holy Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
the light of love shining in the darkness,
your glory revealed to the nations.
     [
Amen.]

_____

3.
God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift our hearts to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is good to give our thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, O God, Creator of all things,
and ruler of all that is to come.
In the beginning was your Word, which is the light of life,
Through which you have made all things.
You set us free from what entangles us, and forgive us when we go astray.
Though we turn from your light, still you shine upon us and within us,
and lead us to seek your presence, guided by the light of wonder.
Star of love, you shine, even in the darkest night.
Therefore, in company with those who bring you gold,
we honor you with our obedience and our praise:

(Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
Child of Mary, Light of the World and Prince of Peace,
whose love makes all peoples one.
He has brought us the light of hope and healing,
and embodied your Covenant to be with us in love and blessing.
      (… The Blessing and Covenant…)*

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it:
though he was crucified you raised Christ from death;
Therefore in company with those who bring you myrrh
we offer you our life unto death,
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 Holy Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ.
IN company with those who bring you frankincense
we offer you our prayerful lives, that in everything
we may be the light of love shining in the darkness,
your glory revealed to the nations.
     [
Amen.]
______
* Blessing and Covenant (“Words of Institution”)
I usually do not print the words: I want folks to look at the bread, not the bulletin.)

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 of Dedication / Sending / after Communion

God of love, you feed us for the journey.
The star of your grace shines on us, and guides our way.
We bear the gifts of your Spirit into this world,
knowing that whoever receives them is the Christ child.
Guide us, guard us, and lead us in the ways of peace,
to bring light to those who dwell in darkness,
in the name and the company of Jesus. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

Advent Blessing Song (includes four songs to familiar tunes)
Sample:
Tune : Away in a Manger

My friends, may the star over Bethlehem’s skies
now give you God’s peace, make you gentle and wise,
and lead you, as though by a light from above:
the light of dear Christ in you, shining with love.


Guiding Star (Tune: Of the Father’s Love Begotten)

Christ we search for you with longing, but we need not travel far.
In the darkness shines a mystery; in the night a radiant star.
For your love appears before us, gleaming right where we are,
evermore and evermore.

So we bring our gifts to honor you, and we come on bended knee,
offering our hearts and living, that to you the glory be.
May your light adorn and guide us, now and in eternity,
evermore and evermore.

Christ, you are the star that guides us; your love is the way we know.
Keep us faithful in our seeking; may we take the path you show.
May the light of your love shine in us, here and everywhere we go,
evermore and evermore. Amen.


Light for the World (original song: a dialogue between soloist and congregation.
Sing one or two verses per week through the Epiphany season;
verses reflect lectionary text especially in Year A [2023].)

Love, may we live by your light.
Let us be light for the world.

Magi who followed the light of your star offered their gifts to your glory.
May we shine brightly wherever we are. Our love will tell your story.

You are my servant in whom I delight, a light unto the nations.
Shine for the ones who dwell in the dark, with comfort and justice.

When you belong to God you are light, no longer held in the dark night.
Live what is loving and true, my friends, as children of light.

God said, “Let light shine out of the dark,” and shines with that glory in Jesus.
And when we turn our faces to Christ, God shines in our own heart.

When you belong to God you are light, no longer held in the dark night.
Live what is loving and true, my friends, as children of light.

You are the light, the light of the world. Let God’s light shine in you.
Let your light shine so that others may see, and glorify God.

Jesus, the light of your love shines warm in the dark of our suffering and struggles.
Fill us, we pray, with the light of your grace, that we may shine for others.

Those who do justice are light in the dark, light for the wandering, the poor.
Those who are generous shall not be moved, forever more.

“This is the fast that I choose,” says our God, “to loosen the bonds of injustice.
For then your light shall break forth like the dawn, rising in the darkness.”

Christ, you appeared on the mountain top, shining with radiant glory.
You are God’s Son, the light of the world, and we will tell your story.