Vacation

I’m taking a break for some family time… I’ll be back in mid-July.

Call it vacation:
vacating, leaving the premises,
or perhaps becoming vacant:
empty, open,
passionate—as in passive,
receptive,
ready.
Here I come!
So I’m not leaving,
I’m being present.

See you in July.

Nest

           “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests;
           but the Human One has nowhere to lay their head.”

                           —Luke 9.58

Maybe Jesus is not merely lamenting the life of an itinerant teacher.
He’s just been rejected by a whole village of people.
Maybe it’s not just about a place to sleep,
but a place to belong.
To carry your cross is to bear rejection,
to trust your home is on a plane, in a place,
greater than human society.
Follow, and let the Beloved hold you.

Then again, maybe Jesus was talking about himself.
This world does not readily offer a place
for the Beloved to rest, at peace.

Holy Mystery,
foxes have dens, birds have nests,
but the Beloved has no place to rest,
but in my heart.
I will be a nest for your Anointed One,
a safe place for the Beloved.

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

Juneteenth

The news is getting through
that we are free.
Some of us have not yet been told.
Some of us are not yet free.
Others are still coming free
of our unfreedom.
Part of us is not free
till all of us is free.
Keep telling,
Keep getting free.

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

The Lord’s Prayer- Nine Paraphrases

Click here to find this in a downloadable (.doc) document.

#1    Your Empire

O Life-Giver at the heart of all Being,
holy is your presence.
May your Empire of grace replace our own,
and your delight be fulfilled,
as this world becomes heaven.
Give us our sustenance, one breath at a time,
and make us completely forgiving of ourselves and others.
Save us from the weakness of our will,
and deliver us from the power of evil.
For all Being is yours; all power is yours; all glory is yours,
in this moment,
in eternity. Amen.


# 2      Creation’s splendor

Our Mother, our Father, giver of life,
Holiness of Presence;
may our hearts always bow to you.
Your Realm break forth,
your delight blossom among us,
making this earth your heaven.
Give us each moment our life, our breath.
Free us from being judged,
as we free others from our judgments.
Guide us safely past our desires and attachments,
and rescue us from the power of evil.
For the world is yours;
the only real power is yours;
Creation’s splendor is yours,
in this present moment
and in eternity. Amen.



#3       Holy Place

O Divine Parent, Giver of Life,
whose presence is holiness,
may our hearts be in you.
Transform the world
according to your delight,
that all earth may become a holy place.
Give us each moment that moment’s breath.
Give us your gift of forgiveness,
that receiving it deeply we may give it freely.
Transform our desires,
and free us from evil powers;
for all creation, and all power, and all beauty
are yours, now and forever. Amen.


# 4       Center and Source

Beloved, Center and Source of our living,
whose presence is heaven,
your holy love fills Creation.
May your delight be fulfilled
and your Realm unfold among us,
the visible world blossoming out of the unseen.
We turn to you alone for our sustenance,
the bread of life each day.
Set us free from our failings,
as we set free all who have failed us
Lead us beyond our desires
and save us from the grip of evil.
For the world is within you;
all power is from you,
and all glory is about you,
in eternity, which is in the present moment.
Amen.

#5        One day’s bread

Our Mother and Father in heaven,
holy be your name.
Impose your Reign,
that we may do your will, on earth as in heaven.
Give us today this one day’s bread.
Forgive our wrongs
as we forgive those who do wrong against us.
Save us from our temptations
and keep us from doing evil.
For the Realm, the power,
and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.



#6        Community of grace

Giver of all life, whose presence is holy,
may you come first in our hearts.
May all Creation become your community of grace,
and your desire be fulfilled throughout the earth,
as it is in your own heart.
Sustain us with the breath of life moment by moment.
Forgive us, and give us the gift of forgiveness.
Lead us past our temptations,
and save us from the power of the evil that would ensnare us.
For all that is, and all power, and all glory, come from you,
now and forever. Amen.


#7        Holy!

O Infinite, Intimate One, Source of our being,
whose presence is heaven,
all Creation sings of you, “Holy!”
May your Realm unfold among us;
May our only story be the story of your grace,
this world blossoming out of your delight.
Give us the breath of life, one breath at a time.
Accept our brokenness;
give us acceptance of others who are broken.
Lead us beyond our desires
and save us from cooperating with evil.
For the world is within you;
all power is from you,
and all glory is about you,
in eternity, which is in the present moment. Amen.


# 8 Mother-Womb, Father-Shoulders

O Mother-womb, O Father-shoulders
at the heart of all Being,
holy is your presence.
May your rule of grace replace all powers,
your delight be fulfilled,
and all Creation become all that you hope for us.
Help us receive the grace of the present moment
as you unfold it before us.
As you completely love us and forgive us,
grant us love and forgiveness for others.
Protect us from the allure of our twisted desires,
and rescue us from the power of our selfishness.
For all Being is yours; all power is yours; all glory is yours,
in this moment,
in eternity. Amen.


#9       Your story

Our Mother, Our Father,
author of all life,
holy is your presence.
May your story replace our own,
the story of this world
become the story of the unfolding of heaven.
Give us this moment, moment by moment.
Forgive us completely,
and make us completely forgiving of ourselves and others.
Save us from the weakness of our will,
and keep us from doing injustice.
For all Being is yours; all power is yours; all glory is yours,
in this moment, in eternity. Amen

A path to yourself

When your path diverges, wonder this:
which way leads to myself?

Is my name on this path or someone else’s,
their expectations, their images?

Does this path lead to my truest, deepest self,
or merely satisfy an anxiety?

On this path would I walk
the way I want to walk?

Can I walk this path with gratitude,
trusting blessing to abound?

Will this path separate me,
or lead me to connect more deeply with all creation?

Can I imagine God unfolding in me
on this path?

The path that invites you to be authentic
is for you. Travel it with confidence.

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

OT 24

Lectionary Texts

In Jeremiah 4.11-12, 22-28 God will send a hot, destroying wind because of Israel’s evil. There will be earthquakes and barrenness. Psalm 14 celebrates God’s presence, even though sometimes it seems like God is not really there—especially amidst injustice.
In 1 Timothy 1.12-17 Paul thanks God that God has patiently sought him out even though he is “the foremost” of sinners, affirming that “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.” In Luke 15.1-10 some Pharisees criticize Jesus for welcoming sinners. He responds with images of God as a woman and a shepherd devotedly seeking something that’s lost, and rejoicing when it is found. God does not exclude us or forget us, but deeply desires us.

Preaching Thoughts

Call to Worship

1. All: Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Loving Christ, we give thanks that you search us out and bring us home.
Rejoice, for the lost is found!
Holy Spirit, keep working in us to reach out for you and for all who are lost.
for in your love we discover one another; we enter our own lives; we meet you at last.
It is your will to seek and to save.
So we worship you. Alleluia


Collect / Prayer of the Day

Prayer of Confession

Readings

Poetry by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Response / Creed / Affirmation

Listening Prayer

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


Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

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.


     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,

     (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,
(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 of Dedication / Sending

Gracious God, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. You bless us that in our giving is our receiving; in our searching is our finding; in our living for you we find your purpose for us. God of love, send us out in ministry for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.


Suggested Songs

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


OT 24

Lectionary Texts

In Jeremiah 18. 1-11 God says, “You are the clay and I am the potter. I reshape you as I see fit.”

Psalm 139 prays, “God, you created me.” (Knitted and woven, specifically, which were women’s work). “You know me; you are always with me. Help me to avoid doing evil.”

Philemon was apparently indebted to Paul, and owned a slave, Onesimus, who had possibly run away to work with Paul. In this letter Paul returns Onesimus and asks Philemon to set him free, not as an obligation, which Paul could have demanded, but in love, asking Philemon to see Onesimus not as an inferior but as a brother.

In Luke 14. 25-33 Jesus invites us to love at all costs. And he gets honest about that cost. If you’re building a tower you first count the cost to make sure you can finish. To truly follow Jesus is to carry the cross, letting go of all that we cling to and our loyalty to everything and everyone but God—even our own loved ones. Don’t lose your saltiness, Jesus says.

Preaching Thoughts

Luke
     “Hate father and mother..” — Strong language, typical of Jesus. Obviously he doesn’t mean dislike, enmity or mistreatment. (Notice how he defends “honor your father and mother” in Mark 7.11). He means honoring your discipleship even above family loyalty. We easily surrender our beliefs or our integrity to avoid upsetting people we care about (well, yeah, and even strangers). We “go along to get along.” This can be hardest in families or bonds of significant friendship. How many folks don”t talk politics” with family members? Jesus invites us to stand for who we are, even when the resistance is costly. That’s when we really become ourselves. Of course, the point is not to start family arguments; some disagreements are best left untested. But not arguing about our beliefs is one thing; staying true to them is another. That’s what counts.
     “Carry the cross.” — A “cross to bear” is not an annoyance. It’s our willingness to suffer for the sake of loving others. And love requires suffering. Mayne not much, but always at least a little. Sometimes a lot. Every parent knows your heart will be broken a thousand times. But you do it, because the cost is actually a good deal. Love is worth it. But don’t think it won’t hurt. “Count the cost.” I think people need help discerning the difference between the authentic cost of discipleship and unrelated struggle or suffering. Not every “thorn in the flesh” is a result of our love, forgiveness, generosity or work for justice. “Stuff happens.” On the other hand, we often minimize just how much we have to let go of to really live lives of love, forgiveness, humility, vulnerability, reconciliation, healing and justice. Each of us needs to discern: What do I need to let go of to be perfectly loving? What are the things I cling to that are likely to hold me back from loving deeply, forgiving entirely, or risking for the sake of others?
     “Salt is good.” — What a cryptic, evocative image. Be salt. There’s not much correct doctrine to it, nor any clear senses of definition. In the context of carrying the cross, it seems to mean “be loving.” Its ambiguity invites us to ponder: What feels like “salty” living to you? Loving? Kind? Authentic? Simple? Bringing out other people’s beauty, as salt brings out other flavors? It certainly seems to describe behavior, not belief. Who has “salted” your life? What do you value in that? The image of salt invites a lot of play, imagination and storytelling.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Creator God, divine artist, you fashion the universe with skill and beauty.
All: We praise you!
Jesus the builder has shaped our hearts with loving hands and a steady eye.
We thank you!
Holy Spirit, breath of new creation, you continually fashion us anew.
We worship you. We open our hearts to you.
We surrender ourselves to your shaping hands. Alleluia!


2.
Leader: God, you have searched us and known us.

All: Holy Mystery, we wonder; and we praise you.

Where could we escape your presence? Even in the farthest desolation, you are there.

Loving Presence, you accompany us; you sustain us, and we thank you.

You have formed our inner nature; you create us by your grace.

How vast is your love! We praise you,

for we are astoundingly and wonderfully made.

Search us, and remove whatever is evil in us,

and lead us in the way everlasting.

3.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!

All: We thank you and we worship you.

God, you search us and know us;

you are all about us, within us and among us.

Your presence is everywhere; help us to be aware.

Come be with us now, God, and help us in our worship.

Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

4.
Leader: Creator God, you are the potter; we are the clay.
All: Shape us by your Word.
By your grace help us to turn from the things we possess

and worship you with all our heart and mind and soul and strength.
By your grace help us to take up our cross and follow.

Savior of the world, we devote our hearts to you. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
Potter God, shape us by your Word. Fashion us with your divine skill. In your grace re-make us in your image. Speak to us, and your Word will call us to new life. Amen.

2.
God of love, Christ calls us to take up our cross and follow him. But we confess that we hold back; we cling to many things. Grant us the faith to trust your grace, to let go of all that burdens us, and to take up Christ’s love for the world and follow him in faith and service. Speak your Word to us, call to us in our fear, and give us courage to follow. Amen.

3.
God, we want to worship you. Christ, we want to follow you. Living within us, you know better than we what holds us back. Spirit, rise up in us now, and bend us toward you. You are the potter; we are the clay. Shape us by your Word. With your steady hands upon us, change us from one degree of glory to another, and form us into your delight. You are the weaver. Weave the threads of our hearts into the tapestry of your image, the Body of Christ, our Savior and our brother. Amen.

4.
Gentle God, you know that we cling to many things in this life. Help us now to let go of them all, and to open ourselves to your presence and your Word. As your scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed, help us to hear your voice, and to allow ourselves to be changed, in the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

5.
God of love, Jesus called his hearers to leave behind their worldly attachments and follow him. Lead us by your grace to let go of everything to which we cling, so that we can be open to your Word. Open our hearts, so 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

Great Potter God,
we confess we have had a mind of our own,
and shaped our lives as we have chosen,

not as you have hoped for us.
In stillness we repent.
Lay your strong and gentle hands upon us,
and reshape us according to your delight.
Forgive our sin, heal our wounds,
and shape us by your grace,
as vessels of your light.

Readings

Poetry by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
       Loving God, you are our creator. You create all things in your love; you create us as an image of your love. You are the potter; we are the clay. We submit ourselves to your shaping hands.
       Loving Christ, you who perfectly embodied God’s love, who taught and healed, who fed the hungry and gathered the outcast: you call us to follow you. You were willing to pay the cost for your radical faithfulness to God: you were crucified. But God raised you from the dead. The way of the cross is not the way of death, but the way of Life! Christ, you call us to surrender all and follow you. We submit ourselves to your life-giving Way.
       Loving Spirit, it is by your power alone that we are faithful, You breathe in us; you give us grace to take up our cross and follow. Make us people of trust and forgiveness, people of prayer, people of resurrection. You are the potter and we are the clay: mold us and shape us according to your will. Amen.2.
Leader: God, like a thoughtful grandmother you knit each of us a life.

All: Like a weaver at her loom of beauty you weave us together.

Like an artful potter you shape us for your purposes.

And when we are distorted you re-shape us again.

You are the beauty that draws us toward life.

You are the love that beckons us out of self-centeredness

and toward our sisters and brothers in compassion and gratitude.

You are the treasure that is worth the greatest cost.

Alleluia! We gladly give up everything and turn to you.

Bless us, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Listening Prayer

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


Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

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.


     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,

     (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,
(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 of Dedication / Sending

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have shaped us by your Word; now send us into the world to embody that Word, forsaking all our possessions, our habits and attachments, to follow Christ with courage, to heal the broken and set free the oppressed with compassion, and to praise you in all things, by the grace and power of your Holy Spirit in us. We pray, as we live, in the name of Christ. Amen.


Suggested Songs

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


I Am Open (Original song)

Dear gentle Jesus, I open to you
the deepest secrets of my soul.
My heart is open, wounded and broken.
Heal and forgive and make me whole.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

Beloved Jesus, my eyes are open;
your healing touch restores my sight.
Like open windows, they shine, and in flows
your glory filling me with light.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

My wounded Jesus. Your arms are open,
our hurt and dying to embrace.
When I would close them, hold my arms open,
to be so loving by your grace.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

Now risen Jesus, my life is open,
a flower unfolding in the sun:
by your light growing, and boldly showing
the love of God, as you have done.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.


I Take Up My Cross (Original song)

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

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


OT 23 – 13th Sunday After Pentecost

September 4, 2022

Lectionary Texts

In Jeremiah 18. 1-11 God says, “You are the clay and I am the potter. I reshape you as I see fit.”

Psalm 139 prays, “God, you created me.” (Knitted and woven, specifically, which were women’s work). “You know me; you are always with me. Help me to avoid doing evil.”

Philemon was apparently indebted to Paul, and owned a slave, Onesimus, who had possibly run away to work with Paul. In this letter Paul returns Onesimus and asks Philemon to set him free, not as an obligation, which Paul could have demanded, but in love, asking Philemon to see Onesimus not as an inferior but as a brother.

In Luke 14. 25-33 Jesus invites us to love at all costs. And he gets honest about that cost. If you’re building a tower you first count the cost to make sure you can finish. To truly follow Jesus is to carry the cross, letting go of all that we cling to and our loyalty to everything and everyone but God—even our own loved ones. Don’t lose your saltiness, Jesus says.

Preaching Thoughts

Luke
     “Hate father and mother..” — Strong language, typical of Jesus. Obviously he doesn’t mean dislike, enmity or mistreatment. (Notice how he defends “honor your father and mother” in Mark 7.11). He means honoring your discipleship even above family loyalty. We easily surrender our beliefs or our integrity to avoid upsetting people we care about (well, yeah, and even strangers). We “go along to get along.” This can be hardest in families or bonds of significant friendship. How many folks don”t talk politics” with family members? Jesus invites us to stand for who we are, even when the resistance is costly. That’s when we really become ourselves. Of course, the point is not to start family arguments; some disagreements are best left untested. But not arguing about our beliefs is one thing; staying true to them is another. That’s what counts.
     “Carry the cross.” — A “cross to bear” is not an annoyance. It’s our willingness to suffer for the sake of loving others. And love requires suffering. Mayne not much, but always at least a little. Sometimes a lot. Every parent knows your heart will be broken a thousand times. But you do it, because the cost is actually a good deal. Love is worth it. But don’t think it won’t hurt. “Count the cost.” I think people need help discerning the difference between the authentic cost of discipleship and unrelated struggle or suffering. Not every “thorn in the flesh” is a result of our love, forgiveness, generosity or work for justice. “Stuff happens.” On the other hand, we often minimize just how much we have to let go of to really live lives of love, forgiveness, humility, vulnerability, reconciliation, healing and justice. Each of us needs to discern: What do I need to let go of to be perfectly loving? What are the things I cling to that are likely to hold me back from loving deeply, forgiving entirely, or risking for the sake of others?
     “Salt is good.” — What a cryptic, evocative image. Be salt. There’s not much correct doctrine to it, nor any clear senses of definition. In the context of carrying the cross, it seems to mean “be loving.” Its ambiguity invites us to ponder: What feels like “salty” living to you? Loving? Kind? Authentic? Simple? Bringing out other people’s beauty, as salt brings out other flavors? It certainly seems to describe behavior, not belief. Who has “salted” your life? What do you value in that? The image of salt invites a lot of play, imagination and storytelling.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Creator God, divine artist, you fashion the universe with skill and beauty.
All: We praise you!
Jesus the builder has shaped our hearts with loving hands and a steady eye.
We thank you!
Holy Spirit, breath of new creation, you continually fashion us anew.
We worship you. We open our hearts to you.
We surrender ourselves to your shaping hands. Alleluia!


2.
Leader: God, you have searched us and known us.
All: Holy Mystery, we wonder; and we praise you.
Where could we escape your presence? Even in the farthest desolation, you are there.
Loving Presence, you accompany us; you sustain us, and we thank you.
You have formed our inner nature; you create us by your grace.
How vast is your love! We praise you,
for we are astoundingly and wonderfully made.
Search us, and remove whatever is evil in us,
and lead us in the way everlasting.

3.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: We thank you and we worship you.
God, you search us and know us;
you are all about us, within us and among us.
Your presence is everywhere; help us to be aware.
Come be with us now, God, and help us in our worship.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

4.
Leader: Creator God, you are the potter; we are the clay.
All: Shape us by your Word.
By your grace help us to turn from the things we possess
and worship you with all our heart and mind and soul and strength.
By your grace help us to take up our cross and follow.
Savior of the world, we devote our hearts to you. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
Potter God, shape us by your Word. Fashion us with your divine skill. In your grace re-make us in your image. Speak to us, and your Word will call us to new life. Amen.

2.
God of love, Christ calls us to take up our cross and follow him. But we confess that we hold back; we cling to many things. Grant us the faith to trust your grace, to let go of all that burdens us, and to take up Christ’s love for the world and follow him in faith and service. Speak your Word to us, call to us in our fear, and give us courage to follow. Amen.

3.
God, we want to worship you. Christ, we want to follow you. Living within us, you know better than we what holds us back. Spirit, rise up in us now, and bend us toward you. You are the potter; we are the clay. Shape us by your Word. With your steady hands upon us, change us from one degree of glory to another, and form us into your delight. You are the weaver. Weave the threads of our hearts into the tapestry of your image, the Body of Christ, our Savior and our brother. Amen.

4.
Gentle God, you know that we cling to many things in this life. Help us now to let go of them all, and to open ourselves to your presence and your Word. As your scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed, help us to hear your voice, and to allow ourselves to be changed, in the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

5.
God of love, Jesus called his hearers to leave behind their worldly attachments and follow him. Lead us by your grace to let go of everything to which we cling, so that we can be open to your Word. Open our hearts, so 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

Great Potter God,
we confess we have had a mind of our own,
and shaped our lives as we have chosen,
not as you have hoped for us.
In stillness we repent.
Lay your strong and gentle hands upon us,
and reshape us according to your delight.
Forgive our sin, heal our wounds,
and shape us by your grace,
as vessels of your light.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
       Loving God, you are our creator. You create all things in your love; you create us as an image of your love. You are the potter; we are the clay. We submit ourselves to your shaping hands.
       Loving Christ, you who perfectly embodied God’s love, who taught and healed, who fed the hungry and gathered the outcast: you call us to follow you. You were willing to pay the cost for your radical faithfulness to God: you were crucified. But God raised you from the dead. The way of the cross is not the way of death, but the way of Life! Christ, you call us to surrender all and follow you. We submit ourselves to your life-giving Way.
       Loving Spirit, it is by your power alone that we are faithful, You breathe in us; you give us grace to take up our cross and follow. Make us people of trust and forgiveness, people of prayer, people of resurrection. You are the potter and we are the clay: mold us and shape us according to your will. Amen.

2.
Leader: God, like a thoughtful grandmother you knit each of us a life.
All: Like a weaver at her loom of beauty you weave us together.
Like an artful potter you shape us for your purposes.
And when we are distorted you re-shape us again.
You are the beauty that draws us toward life.
You are the love that beckons us out of self-centeredness
and toward our sisters and brothers in compassion and gratitude.
You are the treasure that is worth the greatest cost.
Alleluia! We gladly give up everything and turn to you.
Bless us, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Listening Prayer

Salt me, God,
with your love,
that. forsaking all else,
I may love perfectly
with your love,
and never lose my saltiness.

Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

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 and beautiful to give God our praise.

We thank you, God, for we are wondrously made.
You know us inside and out, and are with us always.
Even in the farthest places you are with us;
even in the darkest times you are light.
You set us free from all that enslaves us,
and ask us to set one another free.
Like a master potter you shape us by your love.
And so we come to your table to be re-shaped again,
singing your praise:

     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who loved even at the cost of his life,
and asks us to do the same.
Under an oppressive power he was crucified,
but by your infinite grace he was raised from the dead.


     (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,
with courage and compassion no matter the cost,
salty with your love,
for the sake of 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 of Dedication / Sending

God of love, you have shaped us by your Word; now send us into the world to embody that Word, forsaking all our possessions, our habits and attachments, to follow Christ with courage, to heal the broken and set free the oppressed with compassion, and to praise you in all things, by the grace and power of your Holy Spirit in us. We pray, as we live, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. In the love of Jesus you have salted us with your love, that we may serve you for the sake of justice, with courage and compassion. May this mystery live in us always. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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


I Am Open (Original song)

Dear gentle Jesus, I open to you
the deepest secrets of my soul.
My heart is open, wounded and broken.
Heal and forgive and make me whole.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

Beloved Jesus, my eyes are open;
your healing touch restores my sight.
Like open windows, they shine, and in flows
your glory filling me with light.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

My wounded Jesus. Your arms are open,
our hurt and dying to embrace.
When I would close them, hold my arms open,
to be so loving by your grace.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.

Now risen Jesus, my life is open,
a flower unfolding in the sun:
by your light growing, and boldly showing
the love of God, as you have done.
Open, I am open, open to your grace.


I Take Up My Cross (Original song)

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

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


OT 9

Lectionary Texts

In 1 Kings 18.20-39, a scene with a good deal of satire, Elijah stages a showdown between Yahweh and the god Baal. Two sacrifices are prepared, one for each god. The real God will be the one who comes down and lights the fire under their sacrifice. Of course, Yahweh comes through, big time. Final score: Yahweh 1, Baal 0… or maybe even less than zero.

Psalm 96 is a song of praise to God and God’s righteous reign. All nations, and all Creation, join in praising God.

In Galatians 1.1-12 Paul begins his letter by scolding the church in Galatia for listening to people with a message that is not really the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In Luke 7. 1-10 Jesus heals the beloved servant of a Roman soldier, who understands that Jesus has authority over the spirits just like he, the centurion, has authority over the soldiers he commands.

Preaching Thoughts

Call to Worship

Collect / Prayer of the Day

Prayer of Confession

Readings

Poetry by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Response / Creed / Affirmation

Listening Prayer

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


Eucharistic Prayer

[The body of the prayer may be read responsively or by the presiding leader(s) alone.]

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.


     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,

     (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,
(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 of Dedication / Sending

Prayer after Communion

God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.


Suggested Songs

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


Palm – Passion Sunday, April 10, 2022

Lectionary Texts

The Palms

In Luke 19.28-42 Jesus enters Jerusalem to joyful acclaim. The human resistance of the Pharisees is met by the support of all Creation (“these stones would cry out”). Verses 41-42, in which Jesus laments over Jerusalem, are not included in the lectionary but I highly recommend including them. (They never appear in the lectionary!)

Psalm 118 is a festival Psalm (probably from an ancient worship service) proclaiming trust in God’s kindness and protection despite the onslaught of enemies.

The Passion

Isaiah 50.4-9 speaks of God’s servant who is treated unjustly, and yet who trusts in God, listens for God’s voice, and proclaims God’s truth.

Psalm 31 cries out for God’s help amidst suffering, especially the judgment and hate of others. Even in such deep sorrow, the Psalm expresses profound trust in God.

Philippians 2.5-11 celebrates the incarnation, or embodiment, of God’s presence in Jesus. Christ, though divine, came among us as a humble, vulnerable, suffering human, in order to be present with us in all things.

Luke 22.14 – 23.56 tell the story of Jesus’ last days: his final gathering with his beloved community, his arrest and trial, and his death and burial.

Guiding Thoughts

The Palm and Passion service

Because few people attend Good Friday services, if we celebrate Palm Sunday one week and Easter the next worshipers completely miss the story of the cross—the second most important story in our faith! Easter becomes a punchline without the joke. That certainly sits well in our shallow, happiness-addicted, pain-avoidant culture. But not with our faith. It completely avoids our facing our pain and our sin, particularly the consequences of our sin—people get hurt—and we miss witnessing God’s mighty compassion in accompanying us though both our crucifying and our own crucifixion. This is one Sunday in which there is particular power in experiencing the wide narrative sweep of the gospel story instead of the little bits we usually hear on Sundays.

The passion story is intense drama. It takes a while to experience. It deserves more than a brief drive-by viewing. But it’s a along story to read in Sunday worship. It helps to break it up. By God’s grace the arc of a worship service provides the structure for telling the palm-passion narrative. The service outline provided here follows the whole gospel story through the liturgical movements, more as a dramatic reading than a typical worship service—and more engaging of the congregation than an extended reading.

For people not familiar with the palm-passion structure it can feel jarring to suddenly turn from waving Palms to shouting “Crucify him!” It’s supposed to unsettle us. Our sin ought to. That’s the story we’re telling. The abrupt movement from the praise and confidence of the Service of the Palms to the dark, confessional Service of the Passion follows the Gospel story of Jesus’ last days in Jerusalem, from the festal procession to the awful reality of the cross and the tomb. This progression also reflects God’s presence with us and for us not just in the happy, triumphant times but also in our suffering. And it invites our humility: our praise easily turns to sin, our loyalty to betrayal. (So, in the traditional manner, the palms we wave today will be burned to provide the ashes for our Ash Wednesday worship next year.)

Most importantly, witnessing thew story as a whole helps us experience the movement of the Gospel: Christ confronts the violence of our social, political and religious systems as its victim. He exposes the evil of our violence, and meets it with nonviolence, forgiveness, healing and community, setting us free to renounce all violence and live in his spirit of mercy and love. It is only in the cross—in the context of our suffering and our evil—that the grace of God’s life-giving love and forgiveness can honestly promise resurrection.

The New Exodus

Jesus’ Last Supper with the disciples was a Passover meal. The Passover is the great celebration of Israel’s liberation from slavery in Egypt. The feast gives thanks for our freedom, and honors God’s will to liberate all people from oppression and injustice.

Jesus is the new Passover. Note the parallels between the passion story and the Exodus. Instead of being slaves to Pharaoh, we are enslaved to sin. God Godself suffers the plague of the death of the first-born. Jesus is the slaughtered lamb whose blood marks us for freedom, and saves us from the power of death. As Moses leads the people through the Red Sea to freedom, Jesus leads us through death and Resurrection (symbolized in the Red Sea of the baptismal waters).

The Exodus story is about our liberation. We are those Hebrews. But what we usually completely miss in our White American churches is that it’s also a story about our sin. We are also those Egyptians. We Whites are a dominant group that benefits from the enslavement of blacks which, even though it legally ended 150 years ago, is still at at work today. White Supremacy is the new Egypt. As we celebrate the Exodus we are also called to notice our racism, and our willingness to impoverish certain populations. Pharaoh’s command to slaughter male Hebrew children has a parallel in the targeting of young blacks in our incarceration rates and the police murder of unarmed black men. Many of the “liberties” we celebrate in this country are not available to African Americans. We’re not out of Egypt yet.

The Exodus is God’s will not just for the escape of some slaves, but for the abolition of slavery. It’s God’s judgment against all oppression. The Exodus and the resurrection are God’s nonviolent overthrow of the forces of evil and oppression. Baptized into Christ, we are not only grateful for our own liberation; in the words of the Methodist baptismal rite we “resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”

In that work we are not only convicted but also empowered by the cross. The cross is God’s nonviolent resistance to our sin: God exposes and overcomes our violence and our separation from God. When we hurt others, even for “righteous” reasons, we make God our victim. But God does not retaliate or punish— instead, God forgives us and reunites us with God. We are set free from the power of sin and fear of death to control our lives, free to live by the power of love alone. Jesus’ dying and rising is a new Exodus for us.

To take up the cross is to continue Jesus’ work of identifying with the suffering and the victims of violence and injustice, and changing unjust political, economic and social structures—beginning with confessing our own part in them. The cross of Jesus is not just a focus for personal piety. It is also a rallying point for God’s command to change this world on behalf of the poor and oppressed. This is the Great Passover, the New Exodus, a journey that we are still on.

See A Palm & Passion Sunday Service (Luke)
for a liturgy based on Passion story in Luke.

Also find additional prayers in
A Brief Service of Prayer for Palm/Passion Sunday.

Call to Worship

Leader: Blessed is the ruler who comes in the love of God.
All: Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest heaven!
Amid the powers of this world, Christ comes humbly, riding on a donkey.
Christ alone is our savior and our sovereign.
Christ, we thank you. We honor you. We follow you.
God of love and justice, we worship you. God, save us!

Prayers

1.
Creator God, we praise you, for your Love rules over our lives with grace and beauty, creating us anew each moment. We thank you, for your Christ rules over us in humble tenderness, healing and redeeming us. We open our hearts to you, for your Spirit rules us from within with power, filling us with compassion. Grant that we will always turn to you alone for our salvation, and for the gift of life. Hosanna! Blessed is the one who comes in your name! Peace on earth, and glory in the highest! Grant us your salvation, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

2.
We praise you and thank you, O God, for the great acts of love by which you have redeemed us through your son, Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Sovereign. Grant that we may ever hail him as ruler of our lives, and share in his obedience to your will, in joy and confidence. Blessed is the one who comes in your name! Peace on earth and glory in the highest! Grant us your salvation, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

God, in our fear and distrust we have betrayed you.
In the failure of our love we have denied you.
In our selfishness we have crucified you.
Forgive us, heal our hearts,
and set us free to love,
in the name and the gentle grace of Christ.

Listening Prayer

We wave our palms at the foot of the cross.
We sing of our delight, and our despair.
Joyous, we are grateful, and we worship you.
Brokenhearted, we confess we have crucified you, and we repent.
We clutch our palms as you bear the cross.
Swept up, we join the procession.

Suggested Songs

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

See all songs with tags for “Cross,” but especially these:

Kyrie (Original tune)

Kyrie Eleison. Christe Eleison. Kyrie Eleison.
Grant us peace and mercy.


Behold the Lamb of God
(Original song)

Behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.
Come, let us follow, come let us follow
the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.


O Jesus, Wounded Sovereign
(Tune: O Sacred Head Now Wounded)

Dear Jesus, you who suffer and walk among the poor
whose hearts and lives are broken, whose faith is still unsure:
despised, accused and battered, you do not say a word.
So powerless, yet loving!— you are my Sovereign Lord.

You bear no arms but loving, no threats nor flags unfurled.
You wear no kingly robes, but the sorrows of the world.
Yet your forgiveness conquers each worldly rule and reign,
and rises, whole, undaunted, from evil, death and pain.

While emperors abuse you, and people shrug or stare,
and dark injustice troubles the ones for whom you care,
your mighty grace arises, and hidden from our sight,
enfolds all living beings in your triumphant light.

O Jesus, wounded Sovereign, I pray, give me the nerve
without this world’s armor to love and bless and serve.
My master and companion, rule all eternity
with grace and deep compassion, and, Love, begin with me.

Oh, Jesus (Original song— an acapella solo)

Oh, Jesus, what have you done?
Carried my burdens, every one,
All of my sorrow, all of my sin,
Like a mother gathering her children in.
Now I’m left with nothin’ at all but love,
Nothin’ but your tender, tender love.

Oh, Jesus, what have I done?
Crucified my precious one.
I didn’t want to bear the pain or loss,
So I left you alone to carry the cross.
Now I’m left with nothin’ at all but love,
Nothin’ but your sufferin’, sufferin’, love.

Oh, Jesus, what will you do?
Forgive me like you always do.
With not a word of wrath or blame,
You died with love gently sayin’ my name.
Now I’m left with nothin’ at all but love,
Nothin’ but your precious, precious love.

Oh, Jesus, what will I do?
Give me the courage to follow you,
To give my love if I live or die,
And never again to crucify.
For I’m left with nothin’ at all but love,
Nothin’ but your dyin’, dyin’ love


This Is the Passover (Original Song)

This is the Passover you have desired to share
as you deliver us out of our slavery and fear.

This is the new living covenant sealed in your blood.
Grant that it may be fulfilled in the Kingdom of God.

Stripped in our suffering of all but our need for your grace,
join us to you in your dying and rising, O Christ.

Come, Holy Spirit, and grant us new life in our Lord.
gather us into your Body, made new by your Word.


Woeful Cross (Original song)

Woeful cross, saddest wood, death in me of all that’s good,
I confess. Mother/Father, bless. Mercy.

Holy cross, mystery, love from fear of death set free.
Sin’s dark lie. Here I die. Mercy.

Gentle Christ on the cross, for our life your own life’s loss.
You forgive, and we live. Mercy.

Our own cross calling us to your love and gentleness:
may we live, as you give, mercy.


You Feed Us, Gentle Savior (Tune: O Sacred head Now Wounded)

You feed us, gentle savior, the bread that makes us whole,
the wine of your compassion poured out into our soul.
the food of your own presence, your spirit, strong, within,
the grace that heals us deeply and overcomes our sin.

You bind us, gentle savior, and weave us into one,
one flesh and blood, made holy, the Body of your Son.
We gather here in hunger, one hunger, all the same;
and with one grace you bless us together in his name.

You call us, gentle savior, and send us in your name.
You teach and heal and show us how we can do the same.
So strengthened by your Spirit and nourished by your grace,
we go to be your presence in love, in every place.