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.

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.


Epiphany (January 2, 2021)

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…] *

Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As often 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 offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
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 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)

Blessing Song (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.

OT 33 – PE+ 24

November 14, 2021

Lectionary Texts

As we move towardtheculmination of the church year on Christ the Sovereign Sunday, our scriptures begin to look toward the end of things as they are, and God’s new Creation.

In 1 Samuel 1. 4-20 Hannah is one of a man’s two wives. She has borne no children, and the other wife provokes her. At the temple she prays for a child. The priest belittles her, but she stands up for her prayer—which in due time is answered.

1 Samuel 2.1-10
Is Hannah’s prayer of thanks. God is great. The prayer celebrates God’s reversal of the fate of the lowly and the rich, which will be echoed in Mary’s Magnificat on the fourth Sunday of Advent. [Alternate: Psalm 113 gives thanks that God raises up the poor and gives barren women children.]

Hebrews 10.11-25
says that through Jesus’ sacrifice our sins have been removed once for all. Therefore rather than worry about our forgiveness, our faith can focus on bearing witness, doing good, and encouraging one another.

In Mark 13. 1-8 Jesus warns that the temple will be destroyed, frightening changes will occur and his followers will be persecuted. But he describes this not as the end of the world, but as “birthpangs.”


Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Eternal God, we praise you!
       All: Amidst all that changes, you are present.
You have been here forever, waiting for us.
       We are here, to be present for you.
Let all that is passing fall away.
        With open hands, we let go of all but you.
       
Alleluia! Spirit of Life, transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

2.
Leader: Eternal God, Creator of all that is and all that is to come, we praise you.
       All: Risen Christ, you who hold the door open for us into this world, and into the next,
       we greet you, and we listen for your voice.
Holy Spirit, you who transform all things, we open our hearts to your presence.
        Holy One, Breath of Life, Flesh of Love and Bone of Faithfulness, we thank you.
        You are the turning of the world; you are the Mysterious Unfolding within us.
We come to you to worship, to be blessed, to be changed.
        Alleluia! Come, Spirit of Grace, and transform us according to your will. Alleluia!


Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
Eternal God, so much changes around us. So much is passing. So much is frightening. But you are present with us, steadfast and solid in your love. We open our hearts to your presence, to your Word, to your Spirit living in us. Help us to hear, to be healed, and to be made new. We pray in the spirit of Christ, who has died and is risen and is with us always. Amen.

2.
Holy God, you make this world, and remake it according to your grace. You move this world toward your will. Help us to move with you. Speak to us, and strengthen our hearts, so that we can be faithful to you always. Amen.


Prayer of Confession

The grace of God be with you.
        And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
        Gentle God, we confess that we have left your ways
        and followed the ways of the world
        ways that will fail and not endure.
        We have fit in with the culture
        rather than staying true to your Spirit in us.
        Forgive us; re-root us in your Spirit,
        and remake us in the image of Christ. Amen.
SILENT PRAYERTHE WORD OF GRACE


Response / Creed / Affirmation


        Holy God, we know you as the Creator of all that is and all that is to come, who makes and remakes the world in love and wisdom. You are moving this world toward perfect love, transforming all Creation by grace.
        We look to Jesus, your Christ, the embodiment of your presence among us. He taught and healed, proclaimed your Word, gathered a community, and announced the coming of your Realm of Grace. In his death and resurrection you have shown us the end of the world to which we cling and the coming of a new heaven and earth. He lives among us, accompanying us in faithful living and prophetic witness.
        We live by the power of the Holy Spirit, your transforming energy within and among us. As one church, the Body of Christ, we bear witness to your grace, practice your forgiveness, work for justice, rely on your promise of resurrection, and see all things in light of the eternity of all that is rooted in you. We devote ourselves to proclaiming your good news to all peoples, for the sake of the transformation of the world. Amen.

Reading

When the towers fell

         “Do you see these great buildings?
         Not one stone will be left here upon another.”
                   —Mark 13.2


When the towers fell
it seemed the center of the world had vanished,
but the center, it turns out, is elsewhere.
When the towers fell
it seemed the end of the world,
but wars and rumors
have come and gone, and here we are.
They said everything changed
but nothing changed.
Empires come, and pass. Stones fall.
Hate and anger are still unable to build, but only destroy.
Still some people harm; some bless.
We seek stones unfallen, but stones still fall.
Even stones are made of smoke.

Listen. Things happen, things pass;
but they don’t express God’s love for you.
That’s constant. And so is God’s invitation.

Now—before the tower of this moment falls—
is the time to decide whether to be kind and how,
whether to show mercy.
This is the moment—unchanging—
and always has been, the moment
to love.

Suggested Songs

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


God of the Future
    [Tune: SLANE – Be Thou My Vision]
God of our dark night, and God of our day,
God of our journey, whose will is our way,
when our path dims and the future’s unknown,
still you walk with us; we’re never alone.

Though the familiar should fade and turn strange,
your steady love for us never will change.
So when we worry and can’t see the way
Love, still your grace is enough for today.

All that is taken and all that we lose,
all of the cost of the path that we choose
never compares with the grace you impart:
faithful and gracious, you give us your heart.

Bless all the journeys we still are to make.
May they shed mercy and light for your sake
Lead us with courage on journeys unknown,
walking in blessing, and never alone.

Be our companion, our courage, our nerve,
You, the heart in us, to love and to serve.
Blessings you promise, whatever befall.
Still you walk with us, O lover of all.

In All that Changes (Tune: Breathe on Me, Breath of God)

In all that changes, God, all that will fail or fall,
your loving presence still abides, and will not fade at all.

In all that changes, God, your love is strong and sure.
Therefore we give in thanks for grace, and trust it will endure.

Through raging storm and sea, you are the rock that stands.
Free from all else, we give ourselves into your loving hands.


Love Will Bear Us Over (Tune : Holy Manna)

When our world is changing ‘round us and we long for good old days,
what that lasts will bear us over to new earth, new heaven, new ways?
Love will lead us when the path is unfamiliar, come what may:
set our heart to love our neighbors and our feet will find the way.

Christ gives us a new commandment: “Share the love that you’ve been given.”
When we do we’re resurrected, entering new earth and heaven.
When we love our neighbor more than caring for what used to be,
then our love will bear us over, then our love will set us free.

Advent 2 – December 5, 2021

Lectionary Texts

Today we hear of a messenger who prepares us for God’s coming. In Malachi 3. 1-4 God sends a messenger to prepare us for God to come among us. But it will not all be easy. God is coming to purify us.

Luke 1. 68-79
is Zechariah’s song at the birth of John the Baptist, rejoicing that God has fulfilled the Covenant to save us from all that we fear and all that diminishes life, and establish a new realm of peace. The second part of the song is addressed to John—and us: “Prepare a way for God by showing people forgiveness. The dawn of God’s grace is coming, to save those who live in the shadow of death, and to guide us in the way of peace.”

In Philippians 1.3-11 Paul prays that God will continue a process that God has already begun in us: that our love will increasingly overflow so that we may be pure on the day of the Chosen One’s coming.

Luke 3.1-6 says John the Baptist is like Isaiah’s “voice crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of God!’” The message in Isaiah was a word of hope to people who were in exile: a broad, smooth road through the wilderness, on which God would come to bring them home!

Call to Worship / Lighting the Advent Candle

1. [from Malachi 3.1-4]
Reading: “See, I will send my messenger,
who will prepare the way before me.
Then suddenly the One you are seeking will come to the temple;
the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,”
says God Almighty.
But who can endure the day of that coming?
Who can stand when the Messenger appears?
For God’s chosen will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap,
and will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver;
and will purify the people and refine them like gold and silver.
RESPONSE
Leader: God of love, purify us in the refining fire of your Spirit.
       All: Set us free from all that does not help us serve you.
       Remove from us all that is not love.
       By your Spirit living in us, help us prepare a way for your coming.

       Alleluia! Come, O Jesus, come!

2. [Philippians 1.6, 9-11]
Reading: I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
+
CANDLE SONG The Promises of God (2 Peter 1.19)

RESPONSE
Leader: Holy One, light of our peace, this Advent candle shines to prepare your way.
       All: Prepare a way to come to us; redeem us in our darkness.
Prepare your way around us, that the crooked be made straight.
       Prepare your way within us, that our rough places be made smooth.
       God of grace and love, may all flesh see your salvation. Alleluia!


3.
READING: [Luke 1.78-79]
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
RESPONSE
Leader: God of mercy, your light dawns upon us.
       All: We open our hearts in joy.
Your grace gives light in our darkness.
       We rise from the shadow of death.
You lead us into a new day.
      Guide us into the way of peace.


4.
Leader: God of promise, God of Mystery,
you have sent a messenger to awaken us.
      All: May the promise of your dawn awaken our hearts and minds.
      May the light of your promise guide our steps and lead us toward you.
      May the joy of your coming sustain us and uplift us.
God of Love, God of Presence,
you have given us a message for the world.
      May the light of your coming shine within us.
      May your Spirit, alive in us, make us signs of your coming.
      O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and dawn within and among us now.


5.
Leader: We light this candle as an act of hope.
All: In the darkness and gloom the light of your coming rises.
Even in the mysterious darkness,
the light of your healing moves along roads and rivers and nerves,
deep within silent places.
In the darkness you are here.
Come, O Light, and make us whole.
Dear Child, prophet of the most high, grant us healing and forgiveness.
By your tender mercy, may your dawn from on high break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
As we prepare our homes for the holidays let us also prepare our hearts. Let every decoration, card and cookie be an act of readiness for your coming. God of love, help us prepare a room for Christ to be born in us this holy season. Speak the Word to us that will make room in our hearts for love. Amen.

2.
God of love, your prophet cries to prepare a way for you. In the wilderness of our hearts, in the rough places of our society, prepare your way with your life-changing Word. Speak to us, and make the crooked straight, for the sake of your mercy. Amen.

3.
God of life, the prophet cries that a way be made for the coming of the Holy One. Make a way into our hearts. Speak to us and re-create us. We throw open the windows of our souls, that we may hear you, that the light of your dawning may flood our hearts. O come, thou Dayspring, enlighten us, who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

4.
Holy One, you send your prophets among us to speak to us. You send messengers to awaken us, to alert us, to attract us to your light. In Scripture now you speak to us, and call us to new lives. Help us to listen and hear, to receive and be transformed. This is the news we have been waiting for. Speak to us; we want to hear. Amen.

5.
Stir up our hearts, O God, and prepare us for your coming. May the mountains and valleys of our hearts be leveled out, the rough places be made smooth by the healing power of your Word in us. Speak your Word, and we shall be healed. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

The grace of God be with you.
       And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
       Gracious God,
       we confess the darkness and cold in our lives.
       We have not lived at peace with you, with our neighbors,
       or even with our own souls.
       Forgive our sin, heal our hearts,
       and grant us your peace.
       Be born in us again,
       that by your grace we may live in your light.
       O come to us, Beloved, and save us! Amen.



Reading


CANTICLE (Luke 1. 68-79)

Sung Response: O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.

Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
who has visited us as God’s own people, and redeemed us.
        God has raised up a mighty savior fur us
        in the house of God’s servant David.
So God spoke through the holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of those who hate us.
       Thus God has shown the mercy
        that God promised to our ancestors.
God has remembered God’s holy Covenant,
the promise God made to Abraham:
        that being rescued from the powers that destroy us,
        we might serve God without fear,
        in holiness and righteousness,
        in God’s presence all our days.
              
Response

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the most high:
you will go before the Holy One to prepare God’s ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
        By the tender mercy of God,
        the dawn from on high will break upon us
        to give light to those who sit in darkness
        and in the shadow of death,
        to guide our feet into the way of peace.
              
Response

Listening Prayer

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

God, we are in exile
from peace, from justice,
from our hope, from our true selves.
Prepare a way for our return.
Bring to completion what you have begun in us.
Prepare your way into us;
enter our hearts, and refine them,
that our love may overflow.
Guide our feet into the way of peace.

Eucharistic Prayer

Note: Even though it’s Advent people are eager to jump ahead and sing Christmas Carols. I’ve addressed this with Advent songs to familiar carol tunes: Advent Table Songs (invitation to communion) four whole Eucharistic Prayers and 24 sets of Eucharistic Responses (Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen).

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.

We thank you, God, for in the beginning in the darkness and void,
you brought forth light. You prepared Creation for us.
      With the light of love, in the image of love, you created us.
In the darkness and chaos of our brokenness you have sent us a savior
who has set us free from all that diminishes life.
      You judge the forces of oppression and set all your beloved free.
      You level the ridges and fill in the canyons,
      and make a way smooth for your people.
You prepare for us a way toward justice,
and walk with us on that path, and guide our feet in the way of peace.
      We long for such peace in our lives.
      So at your invitation we come to this table you have prepared for us
      to feast in celebration of our freedom, and to sing your praise:
                  [Sanctus]

Blessed is the one who comes in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ, who embodied your love.
      He made room for the poor and outcast,
      and held a sacred space for those who were broken.
He died and rose again,
and promised to prepare a place for us.       
      In his love he showed us how to live, and prepared a way for us to follow.               [The Blessing and Covenant…]

Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As often 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 offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
      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 Holy Spirit on us,
      that we may be for the world the Body of Christ.
In this meal prepare in us a place for your love,
that we may go before you, proclaiming forgiveness,
and bearing your light to those who dwell in darkness
and in the shadow of death.      
       In this meal, may your mercy dawn upon us,
      and lead us in the way of peace.
                         [Amen]

                         _______________

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

We thank you, God, for you create us in the image of your love.
      You make Covenant with us to be our God,
      and to set us free from oppression.
You guide us in creating a new realm of justice and mercy.
      You give us Jesus: to proclaim our forgiveness,
      to change our hearts, to guide our feet in the way of peace,
      to give us your Spirit, to heal your world.
Therefore with all creation we sing your praise.            
                       [Sanctus]

We thank you for the gift of Jesus, your Christ, who came among us in your love.
      He loved and healed, he taught with prophetic power.
He was crucified, but you raised him from the dead.
      He lives among us, refining our hearts,
      that our love may overflow..

         […The Blessing and Covenant…]

With gratitude we remember your mighty acts in Jesus Christ.
      In praise and thanksgiving we offer ourselves
      as a living and holy sacrifice,
      in union with Christ’s gift for us.
We proclaim with joy 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 the Beloved, Jesus Christ.
      Pour out your Holy Spirit on us, that we may be the Body of Christ,
      refined by the fire of your grace, overflowing with your love,
      and joining you in smoothing out the rough places in this world.
      By your Spirit in us, prepare the way of justice and peace.
                            [Amen]
                         _______________
3.
Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
who has visited us and redeemed us.
       God spoke through the holy prophets from of old,
       that we would be saved from our enemies,
       and from the hand of those who hate us.
Thus God has shown the mercy
that God promised to our ancestors.
       God has remembered God’s holy Covenant,
       the promise God made to Abraham.
        Therefore with one voice we sing God’s praise.
                       [Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in God’s name,
and blessed is Jesus, who enfleshed God’s Covenant with us.
        God has raised up a mighty savior fur us
        in the house of God’s servant David.

        that being rescued from the powers that destroy us,
        we might serve God without fear,
        in holiness and righteousness,
        in God’s presence all our days.


                     [The Blessing sand Covenant]

Remembering your mighty acts in Jesus,
we offer ourselves as we proclaim the mystery at the heart of our faith:
                     [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts,
that they may be for us the Body of Christ.
       Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
       that we may be the Body of Christ for the world.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the most high:
you will go before the Holy One to prepare God’s ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
        By the tender mercy of God,
        the dawn from on high will break upon us
        to give light to those who sit in darkness
        and in the shadow of death,
        to guide our feet into the way of peace.
              
[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

1.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have visited and redeemed us, according to your promise in Christ. You have saved us from all that would diminish our lives, so that we may serve you without fear, in holiness, in your presence, all our days. Send us into the world now to go before you to prepare your ways. By your tender mercy, may your dawn break upon us and within us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Amen.

2.
Leader: We bless you, God, for you have visited and redeemed your people.
     You have raised up a savior for us,
     and saved us from all that diminishes life,
     so that we may serve you in holiness without fear.

And you, children, will be called the prophets of the Most High;
for you will go before our God
to prepare the ways of the Promised One,
to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
     By the tender mercy of our God,
     the dawn from on high will break upon us,
     to give light to those who sit in darkness
      and in the shadow of death,
      to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Benediction

[Luke 1.78-79]
Leader: By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
All: to give light to those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Suggested Songs

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

All songs with “Advent” tag, especially:

Benedictus (Song of Zechariah)
          [Luke 1.68-79, to the tune of Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us]
Blessed Be Our God
[Luke 1.68-79, original song]
Prepare Your Way in Me [Luke 3.1-6]
The Promises of God
[1 Peter 1.19]

“Messiah?”

         He asked them, “But who do you say that I am?”
         Peter answered him, “You are the Messiah.”
                   —Mark 8.29

Really? To Peter?
Wisdom Teacher maybe; friend, commander, co-conspirator,
confounder, eye-opener, spiritual director, divine prodder,
midwife of the New Life—but not a Christological assertion.

The Messiah was a mighty warrior who would liberate Israel
from Roman oppression. A kind of Superhero.
Jesus might have quoted Princess Bride:
“You keep saying that word, but I do not think it means
what you think it means.”

To Jesus being God’s anointed (“Messiah”)
meant giving oneself over to the power of God’s grace alone;
being vulnerable, even powerless.
Liberating us not from a political situation
but from sin, from death, fear, addiction and delusion—
freeing us from what traps us away from God.
It wasn’t about conquering but standing with the oppressed,
embodying the prophetic call for justice
by embodying the suffering of God in the poor.
It meant the cross. Triumph hidden in defeat.
Losing one’s life, trusting resurrection.

So Jesus tells the disciples to avoid that Messiah talk.
Can we do that? Set aside being on the winning side,
being “saved?” Can we stand instead with the oppressed,
let the blessing of the poor in spirit be our only blessing?
Let the grace of God be our only power?
“If any want to become my followers,
let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me….”

Jesus says “Get behind me.” And he starts walking.

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

September 10, 2021

Advent 3 – December 12, 2021

Lectionary Texts

Zephaniah 3. 14-20 speaks joy to people who are in exile: God is among you, God delights in you, and God will free you from your oppressors and bring you home.

Isaiah 12.2-6 rejoices in God’s saving grace. We will draw from the wells of our salvation, and proclaim God’s goodness to the world.

In Philippians 4. 4-7 Paul encourages us to be joyful, gentle, thankful and prayerful, and rooted in the peace of God.

In Luke 3. 7-18 John the Baptist tells people to prepare for One Who Is Coming, and to repent: to put an end to injustice and exploitation, and to share with the poor.

Call to Worship / Lighting the Advent Candle

1. [Philippians 4.4-7]
READING: Rejoice in God always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Beloved is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    RESPONSE
Leader: Kindle your joy in us, O God.
       All: By the grace of your nearness, instill your gentleness in us.
Heal our worries, lift our hopes, and hear our prayers.
       Receive our thanksgiving, and our silent supplications.
Friends, in the light of the One who is coming,
may the peace that passes all understanding
guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

2.
Reader: Reads Philippians 4.4-7
Leader: We pray that this Advent candle may shine in our hearts with joy.
         All: Even in the darkness we shine with joy, for the Light is coming.
Even in the cold our hearts are warm with joy, for you are with us.
          Even amidst evil and cruelty we bear joy and not despair into the world.
         God, we open our hearts to your grace. Fill us with the light of your joy.


3. [Philippians 4.4-7]
Reader: Loving God, we light this candle as a prayer of hope in your coming.
         All: Kindle your spirit in us, that we may always be prayerful.
We light this candle as an invitation to the Prince of Peace.
         Kindle your grace in us, that we may always be gentle.
We light this candle in joy for your coming among us.
         Kindle your love in us, that we may always be joyful.
         Come, O Sovereign of Joy, and rejoice with us!


4.
READING [from Zephaniah 3.14-18]
Rejoice, O Israel! Do not fear,
God, the Holy One is in your midst.
God says, “I will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in my love;
I will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.”
    RESPONSE
Leader: We light a candle of joy in this wreath of life,
as a sign of God’s joy in us, and our hope in God.
      All: With joy and hope we await the coming of Christ.
The prophet calls us to repentance as we prepare.
      We gladly repent, that like this candle
      we may be baptized with the Holy Sprit, and with fire.


5.
READING [from Zephaniah 3.14-18]
Rejoice, O Israel! Do not fear,
God, the Holy One is in your midst.
God says, “I will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in my love;
I will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.”
    RESPONSE
Leader:, As you look upon us, God, kindle in us the light of your love.
      All: As we await the coming of Christ open our hearts to your joy.
Grant us a spirit of repentance, that we may prepare in faith and confidence.
      As we await the coming of the light,
      kindle in us the courage to be transformed by hope and joy
.
      We worship with gladness in the light of your coming.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love and abundance, you come to us so that your joy may be in us, and our joy may be full. Fill us with your Spirit, that we may know your delight and rejoice in your presence and your grace. Speak your Word to us and bless us that we may always be joyful, gentle and prayerful, in the spirit of Christ. Amen.

2.
Gracious and ever-present God, we await the coming of your Anointed One, and we worship in the company of the One who is always with us. We await your Word, and yet your Word is within us. We long for your Realm of Grace, and yet even now it is hidden among us. Open our hearts to your Word, to your grace, to your Presence. Amen.

3.
Gracious God, John the Baptist calls us to repentance in preparation for the coming of your Messiah. As the people came to hear him, so we come now to hear your Word. Bless us with open 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.
The grace of God is with you.
      And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
      Gracious God,
      We confess the the dead and fruitless branches in our lives,
      shriveled by the wintery storms of our fears and desires.
      Prune the branches of our hearts,
      that we may bear fruit in your Spirit.
      Forgive our sin, heal our hearts,
      and be born in us again,
      that by your grace we may bear your light.
      O come to us, Beloved, and save us! Amen.
SILENT PRAYERTHE WORD OF GRACE

2.
[Pastor:]
Dearly Beloved, the ax lying at the root of the trees
is not for punishment, but pruning.
Therefore, trusting in God’s tender mercy, we examine ourselves,
that we may see ourselves clearly through the eyes of love.
Grateful for your goodness, we reflect on those parts of our lives
that bear good fruit, and we give thanks.
Silent reflection…
Trusting in your mercy, we reflect on the dead branches of our lives,
the barren or hurtful parts, the parts that do not bear good fruit,
and we seek your grace.
Silent reflection…
O God, prune the branches of our hearts according to your grace,
that we may flourish in doing your will.
Draw from the well of our salvation and water the trees of our souls,
that we may faithfully bear fruit,
and delight in your love, in the grace of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Reading

[Isaiah 12. 2-6]
Leader: Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid.
      All: For God, the Holy One, is my strength and my might;
       God has become my salvation.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
And you will say in that day:
       Give thanks to the Holy One, call on God’s name
       make known God’s deeds among the nations;
       proclaim that God’s name is exalted.
Sing praises to God, for God has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
       Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion
       for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Listening Prayer

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

Surely God is our salvation.
      We will trust and not be afraid.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
      With joy we come to the well.
      Thirsting for your grace, we lower our prayers
      into the deep, clear waters of your Word.

Sing for joy, for God is in your midst.
      We come with joy to the well.

Eucharistic Prayer

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

Gracious God, we rejoice, for you are in our midst.
     You rejoice over us with gladness and renew us in your love.
By your Covenant you have taken us as your own.
     You set us free and ask us to put the axe to the roots
     of all oppression and injustice.

You have prepared the way for us in Jesus, your Christ.
     Therefore at his invitation we come to this feast
     to draw water from the well of our salvation,
     singing your praise with all Creation.

              [Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who loved and taught, who fed the hungry and healed the broken.
      His gentleness was known to everyone,
      and he granted to us a peace that surpasses understanding.

For his prophetic love he was crucified,
but you raised him from the dead,
and he comes among us and invites us to this feast of joy.
           [The Blessing and Covenant•]

As long was 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 offer ourselves in joy, in union with his offering for us,
proclaiming 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 the Body of Christ for the world,
      fearless in repentance, and courageous in justice.
      Baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire,
      that we may bear fruit, the fruit of your love and joy in us,
      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 or after Communion

1.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have filled us with the joy of your love, the taste of your delight in us. Send us into the world to share your joy, to serve you in love for one another, and to wait for your coming in gentleness, confidence, patience and joy, in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Even as we await your coming, you have fed us with your presence. Send us into the world, confident to live in your promised Realm until it is fulfilled, as signs of your coming, in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

3. (Benediction- Philippians 4.)
Beloved, rejoice in the Beloved always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Available in the Music Store. Click titles to view songs)

All songs with “Advent” Tag, especially
Drink from the Wells (Isaiah)
Prepare Your Way In Me (Luke)

Pentecost

Lectionary Texts

In Romans 8. 22-27 Paul says all of Creation groans in labor pains, waiting to be set free. Though we do not really know how to pray, God (Spirit) prays in us, in ways that are beyond words.

Psalm 104 celebrates God’s Creation. God breathes (respiration, inspiration, in-spiriting) living beings into life.

In John 15.26-27, 16.4-15 Jesus promises to send his Spirit (“The Advocate” or “Companion”). He says “It’s good that I’m going, so that the Spirit can come.”

Acts 2.1-21 tells of the coming of the Holy Spirit. On Pentecost, a Jewish holiday, the disciples experience the power of the Spirit, as if they are on fire. They go out and begin to tell people about Jesus in those other people’s languages, though they are foreign tongues to the disciples. (The fist instance of “speaking in tongues” was not ecstatic prayer but clear communication!) Peter explains the event in terms of Joel’s prophecy that God would pour out the Spirit on all people.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: In the beginning the earth was a formless void,
and the Spirit of God brooded over the waters.
All: Spirit of Creation, create us anew!
Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, came to Galilee, teaching and healing.
Spirit of Christ, move among us!
Jesus breathed on his followers and said,
“Receive the Holy Spirit. As God has sent me, so I send you.”
Spirit of love, move us to do your will. Alleluia!

2.

Leader: Holy Spirit, breath of Creation, wind of God, breathe in us.
All: We open our hearts to your light and your life.
Holy Spirit, love of Christ, energy of healing, burn in us.
We open our hearts to your grace and your power.
Holy Spirit, we are One in you, and we adore you.
We open our hearts to one another and to all Creation.
We worship in thanksgiving, in joy, in love. Alleluia!

3.
Leader: Holy Spirit, you who hovered over the waters at Creation—Praise!
All: Spirit of Love, by whom Christ was conceived—Thanks!
Spirit of Truth, you who fill us with your grace—Wonder!
Alleluia! Spirit of God, you who raise the dead, raise us to new life.
Spirit of Peace, in whom we are all one, lead us to love one another.
Spirit of Life, come, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!


Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of Love, Jesus promised to send the Spirit, who would guide us in the truth. Enliven your Spirit in us, that we may hear your voice, trust your grace and embody your love in the name of Christ. Amen.

2.
Eternal God, Spirit of Love, you create all things. You give life to all living beings, in all our diversity and wonder. You breathe in us and make us one in your love. Your presence calls out in each of us to one another, seeking to be one with each other. Speak to us in our worship. Sing your song to us in our hearts. Come to new life in us. We open our hearts to you. Spirit of love, arise! Amen.

3.

Spirit of God, it is you who have invited us here, moving in our hearts before we are aware. Move in us now again: move us closer to you in deep trust, closer to one another in prayer, closer to our neighbors in love. Spirit of God, speak to us; speak in us; speak through our love. Amen.

4.
Gracious God, on the day of Pentecost you filled the disciples with your Spirit, they embraced their mission in the world, and the church was born. Gather your church now in the wind of your grace, that we may be one in unity and peace. Fill our lungs with your breath, that we might sing your praise. Light our hearts on fire, that we might spread your love. We pray in the name of Jesus, who promised that he would send us his own Spirit, so that he would live in us. Amen.

Readings

1. Paraphrased from Psalm 104

Sung Response: Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

Bless the Holy One, O my soul!
O Love, you are sovereign!
How amazing are your works.
In wisdom you have made all creatures.
They look to you, and you give them life moment by moment.
When you give, we gather. You open your hand, and we live.
When you hide from us we are dismayed.
When you take away your breath, we die and return to dust.
When you grant your breath again, we are created.
You renew the face of the earth.
I will sing to the Holy One as long as I live.
I will sing praise to Love with all of my being.
Praise to God!

[sung] Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

_____________

2. Paraphrased from Psalm 51.10-17

Create in me a clean heart, O God;
put a new and right spirit within me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation;
sustain in me a willing spirit.
Then I will show your ways to those who struggle,
and those who wonder will turn to you.
Reweave me into the Body, O God, O God of my salvation,
and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
Love, open my lips,
and my mouth will declare your praise.
For you have no delight in sacrifices;
if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
The sacrifice acceptable to God is a spirit broken open;
an open and humble heart, O God, you will embrace.
_________

3.

In the beginning, God, your Spirit brooded over the waters, and you began creating.
You formed a human from the soil of the earth,
and breathed the breath of your life into us.
By your Spirit you sent prophets to speak your Truth to people,
and you promised to pour out your Spirit on all flesh.
Jesus was conceived by your Holy Spirit, and ministered by its power.
At Pentecost his followers received your Spirit,
and you gave birth to the Church.
Be the one Spirit we are baptized into the Church, the Body of Christ.
By your Spirit alone we live.
By your Spirit alone we are one.
By your Spirit alone we serve you with love. Alleluia!

Poetry

by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Spirit intercedes


Spirit helps us in our weakness;
for we do not know how to pray as we ought,
but that very Spirit intercedes
with sighs too deep for words.

— Romans 8.26

Spirit, I do not know how to pray.
But you ask of me no skill.
You ask my presence—you, who are present.

I will be the seed, small and unassuming,
and you will be the flower in me,
spreading light, creating me.

I will be the spring tree, silent and unknowing.
And you will be the bird singing,
singing your joy in me.

I will be the woods
and you a thousand living things
growing in me unseen,

I the ocean and you the creatures,
I the word and you the meaning,
I the heart and you the rising joy.

I will be the chalice and you the wine.
I will be this moment and you the silence.
I will be myself and you will breathe in me.

___________________

Spirit



When you send forth your spirit, we are created
—Psalm 104.30

Holy One,
breath of the big bang,
idea of creation,
you who make spring come forth,
who make life out of nothing,
breathe yourself into me.
Create me.

you are the flame,
I am your light.
You are the nerve,
I am your muscle.
You are the Word,
I am the story.
You are the song,
I am the singing.

I am one with you
and one with all Creation.
One Spirit,
one flesh, many forms.
In your Spirit
I am we.

Holy One, live in me;
I am your body.
I remember,
and I live.



______________________

Response/ Affirmation

1.

We believe in you God, Spirit of Love, creator of all that is and that ever shall be.
We follow Jesus, the Christ, the embodiment of your love. He taught and healed and gathered a community of radical love and diversity, ruled not by laws or religions but by your Spirit. For his rebellion against the forces of oppression and injustice he was crucified; but you raised him from the dead. He came to us again and gave to us his Spirit, so that we are now the Body of Christ.
We live by your Spirit, your love alive and working in us leading us in lives of justice and compassion, one with each other and with all living beings. Breathe in us, O Spirit; lead us, sustain us and unite us in Christ, for the sake of the wholeness of all Creation. Amen.

2.
We believe in God, the Spirit of Love, who creates all things, embraces all things, and lives within all things.
We follow Jesus, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and in the power of the Spirit taught and healed. The Spirit was upon him to bring good news to the poor and set free the oppressed. Though he was crucified, by the power of the Spirit God raised him from death, and he comes to us still in the power of that Spirit.
The Holy Spirit lives in us, and makes us, the Church, one body, the Body of Christ. By the grace of the Spirit we love God and our neighbors; we trust in the power of forgiveness, the reality of resurrection, and the mystery of eternal life. In the one Spirit we are one with Christ, one with all people, and one with all Creation. By that Spirit we live in love, for the sake of the blessing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

3.
We believe in God, the One Spirit of the universe, who breathes all Creation into being, whose Spirit gives life to all living things.
We follow Jesus Christ, who wholly embodied God’s Spirit, who taught and healed and enacted love and justice; who opened the Realm of God to all. He was crucified, yet by the eternal Spirit living in him, he rose again and is present with us still in the power of that Spirit.
We ourselves live by the Holy Spirit. Because we share one Spirit, we are one body, the Body of Christ, aflame with God’s passion for the world, in mystery and in ministry. We trust the Spirit’s gifts of forgiveness and resurrection. And we devote ourselves to expressing the gifts of the Spirit in our lives, for the sake of the transformation of the world.

4. from St. Teresa of Avila, adapted
Christ has no body now on earth but ours,
no hands but ours, no feet but ours.
Ours are the eyes through which Christ will look out
with compassion to the world.
Ours are the feet with which Christ is to go about doing good.
Ours are the hands with which Christ will bless people now.

Listening prayer

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

1.
Spirit of God, you breathe in us and we live.
You intercede for us with sighs too deep for words.
You pray in us; it is by your grace alone that we can worship.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

2.
Holy Spirit, we do not know how to listen as we ought. Intercede for us with openness too deep for words. Spirit of Life, stir in us. Breath of heaven, breathe in us; create us anew. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication

1.
Gracious God, we give you our lives, symbolized in our gifts. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. Fill us with your Spirit. Guide us and sustain us by your Spirit. Send us in the power of your Spirit to do mercy and justice for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

2.
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. Send us in the power of your Spirit to give language to your love, to convey to all the world the good news of your grace, in the name of Christ. Amen.

3.
Graceful power, move in me.
May my living give language to your miraculous ways.
May my words express your goodness,
my actions reveal the abundance of your blessing.
Spirit, be the nerve that moves me as your body
to do your will, that all that I do
might clearly embody your grace
and be your living example.
May all whom I meet be given to understand
in the language of their hearts
your loving presence.
Amen.

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. In this meal you have created us anew, filled us with your Spirit, made us one, and strengthened us for love and justice. Send us into the world to embody the gifts of the Spirit in the name of Christ, for the sake of the healing of the world. Amen.

OT 11 – Pe +3

June 13, 2021 
3rd Sunday after Pentecost — Ordinary Time 11


1 Samuel 15.34 — 16.13  The prophet Samuel anoints David as king of Israel. Samuel passes over the brothers who are bigger and stronger in favor of the one God has chosen.

Psalm 20  is a prayer that God will help you, protect you and fulfill your desires.  Your well-being comes not from strength or power, but from God.

       -or-

Psalm 72  asks God’s blessing on the king:  that he defend the poor and weak, and work for justice, that he prevail among his rivals, and that his kingdom be blessed.

In 2 Corinthians 5. 16-17 Paul says if anyone lives in union with Christ, it changes the whole world: Creation starts all over again.

In Mark 4.26-34  Jesus tells two parables: the Realm of God is like seed growing without our knowing how; and it is like a tiny mustard seed that grows into a large blessing.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader:  Eternal Mystery, Sun of Life , you create all things.
 
All:    Your glory shines in every living being.
Living Christ, Divine Presence, you plant the seed of your love in us.
 Your beauty, your grace are hidden in our hearts.
Spirit of Love, you call forth our compassion.
 By your growth in us, we flower with the fruit of your grace.
 We thank you.  We worship you.  We give ourselves to you.  Alleluia!

2.

Leader:  Creator God, you scatter the seed of your grace in this world.
      All:    It produces blessing, though we know not how.
You scatter the seed of your love in us.
       It sprouts and grows, though we do not know how.
When the time is ripe you gather your harvest.
      We offer our love to you, for the harvest is yours.

3.
Leader: Creator God, Source of Life, we praise you!

     All:  You plant the seed of your grace in us,
     and Creation begins anew.

The mystery of your presence grows within us; we know not how.

     The tree of Christ flourishes among us, bearing fruit.

The vine of your Spirit connects us all, and we thank you.

      We are seeds of your promise, saplings of your Realm.

      Alleluia!   Spirit of Life, grow within us,

      and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of grace, you plant the mustard seed of your love in us.  May it flourish and grow by your grace. May the sun of your Word shine upon us; the water of your grace nourish us; the warm earth of Christ hold us and bless us to bring forth life in your name.  Amen.

2.
Gracious God, as plants in a garden root themselves in rich soil, and open themselves to the rain and sun, so we root ourselves in your Presence.  We open ourselves to your Word.  And we await the working of your Spirit within us, so that what you have planted in us may bear fruit.  We pray in the name of Christ.  Amen.

Readings

1.   from Psalm 20, a paraphrase

May the Holy One be with you in all your struggles.
        May God treasure your gifts with delight.
May God grant your deepest desires
       and bring to fruition the seeds of grace in you.
We rejoice at one another’s giftedness;
       we celebrate what God is doing in you.
God will always be present with God’s Beloved.
       God responds with love and blessing.
Some trust in power and accomplishments,
       but our trust is in God,
       in God’s amazing glory unfolding in each of us.

Help us to trust this vision, O God.
       Be our hope and our trust.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

Listening Prayer  (suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to intercessions)

God of life, our hearts are the soil into which you scatter the seed of your Word.  May it take root in us, grow mightily, and bear good fruit.  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.  May your grace grow and bear fruit in our lives by the power of your Spirit in us, for the sake of the healing of the world, 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. As the seed sprouts and grows, we know not how, so in the mystery of this meal your grace grows in us without our understanding.  May it bear fruit in us, for the sake of the mending of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

Tree of LifeSee music store.