3rd Sunday in Lent, March 20, 2022

Lectionary Texts

Today’s scriptures speak of repentance, and hunger for God’s grace.

Isaiah 55.1-9 calls us to repentance, to stop working for “what is not bread:” what does not nourish our souls. God says, “My ways are not your ways.” We need to change our ways, not to avoid punishment, but because our sin is starving us, while God’s ways truly nourish us.

Psalm 63 confesses, “My soul thirsts for you,” and also rejoices: “My soul is feasted when I think of you.”

1 Corinthians 10.1-13
warns that simply “being a Christian” will not satisfy our hunger and thirst for righteousness, any more than simply being with Moses and eating the divinely provided food was enough to save the Hebrews on the way to the Promised Land. We have to truly change our ways.

In Luke 13.1-9 Jesus opposes the belief that God punishes sinners with suffering. God is like a patient gardener who will give an unfruitful tree another year to produce. God does not punish sin, Jesus says, but gives life. Since it is God who gives life, unless we repent, that is, turn to God, we will perish. To bear fruit, first we ourselves need to be nourished.

Guiding Thoughts

The difference between an image of God as a law-giver and God as a life-giver is huge. Jesus seems to strongly prefer the image of God as a life-giver. (He quotes Amos: “I desire mercy, not sacrifices.”) The law-giver demands obedience, and reward or punishes our performance. It’s a relationship based on demand and fear. The life-giver certainly wants us to love one another (as described in God’s laws) but our love is a fruit of our being loved. It’s a relationship of gratitude and trust. God’s response to our disobedience is not punishment but more love, until we bear fruit. Repentance is a matter of allowing God to love us out of our sinful ways.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Creator God, we come before you in humility and awe.
All: You receive us with love; you bless us with grace.
Loving Christ, you invite us to your table. We come with hunger and gratitude.
You welcome us gently; you feed us abundantly.
Holy Spirit, you work in us to re-shape us according to your will.
We open our hearts to your gracious work.


2. [Adapted from Psalm 63… also, obviously, it may be used for the Psalm reading]

Leader: O God, you are my God. I seek you. My soul thirsts for you.
All: My flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land without water.
So I gaze at your glory, your presence in every moment.
Your steadfast love is better than life. This is what I hunger for.
My soul feasts on you as on a rich banquet, a divine dessert.
I meditate on you all day, and in the dark hours of night.
I will bless you as long as I live.
Your strong hand upholds me.
My soul clings to you, and my lips will praise you.
In the shadow of your wings I sing for joy.
Because your steadfast love is better than life
I will sing for joy.


3. [Based on Isaiah 55.1-3]
Leader: Listen! You who are thirsty, come to the waters!
You that have no money, come, take, and eat!
All: We have spent our money on that which is not bread,
and labored for that which does not satisfy.
Listen carefully to God, and you’ll have good nourishment.
You’ll delight yourselves in God’s gourmet fare.
We come to you, God. We are listening.
Hungry for grace, we gladly receive your Word that gives us life.


4.
Leader: O Holy Love, food of our souls, living spring of the water of life,
we worship you.
All: Our souls thirst for your presence; and we hunger for your grace.
O Christ, Bread of Life, sown and harvested, blessed and broken for us,
we thank you.
You have nourished our spirits and renewed our strength.
Our souls have feasted on your love.
O Holy Spirit, wine of new life, we have drunk deeply of your grace,
and we come to receive again.
Our cups overflow with your presence.
Fill us, become us, and transform us. Amen.


5.
Leader: Creator God, you made us, and you are with us in every breath.
All: We worship you, and open our hearts to you.
Jesus, you heal us and teach us, you change us and you love us.
We thank you, and we sing your praise.
Holy Spirit, you give us new hearts and fill us with the power of your love.
Create in us a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right Spirit within us. Amen.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love, you call us to repentance: you offer us love we decline to receive and fail to share with others. Help us reclaim your love in our hearts. By your loving spirit re-shape us as vessels of your love. You are the vinedresser; we are your vine. In the Spirit of Christ, speak to us and make us new. Amen.

2.
God of grace, we are hungry for your presence and thirsty for your Word. Yet you are present with us always, and speaking to us in the silence. Open our hearts to you now, that we may behold you, that we may hear you, that we may know your life-giving grace. Amen.

3.
God of love, we are hungry for your Word, thirsting for your grace as in a dry and weary land. Speak your Word to us, your Word of life that cleanses us, renews us, and sets us free. Speak your Word in which you give yourself to us. Speak your Word that gives us back ourselves, radiant with your love. Speak to us; for we are hungry and thirsty for you. Amen.

4.
God, we do not live by bread alone, but by the Word that comes from you. We are hungry for your Word. We are thirsty for your peace. Speak to us, nourish our souls, and revive us with your love. Grant us grace and wisdom. Our hears are open. Amen.

5.
Loving God, our hearts grow hard so easily. We forget you, and we care about lots of things other than you. Our hearts fill up with fear instead of trust and selfish desires instead of compassion. So change our hearts. Speak your Word to us that changes our hearts into hearts of love. We pray in the name of Jesus, who is with us, and in the power of your Spirit, who is within us. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

1.
Pastor: The grace of God is with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
God of gentle mercy,
we confess our sin,
for even the brokenness we don’t see
keeps us from loving perfectly.
Forgive us, God; in your infinite grace forgive us;
receive us, heal us,
and give us new life.

Silent prayer … The Word of Grace

2.
Pastor: The grace of God is with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
God of love, help us to see ourselves with the eyes of love.
By your grace we look at all in us that bears good fruit, and we give thanks.
…[Silent reflection]…
God of love, we thank you for your grace
We behold what in us does not bear the fruit of love.
Dig around the roots of our hearts, God,
and perfect your love in us.
…[Silent reflection]… THE WORD OF GRACE

3.
Life-Giving God, we have spent our lives on that which does not feed our souls,
and labored for that which is not life.
We have starved ourselves and others of your love.
We open ourselves to your presence, your forgiveness and your love.
Feed us life, that we may truly live,
and bear the fruits of your grace.

4.
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.
Loving God, you alone are our life.
But we have not rooted ourselves in you,
and so our souls are hungry; our lives dry and thirsty.
We confess our hunger, and we return to you.
Forgive us, feed us, and grant us life in the flowing stream of your grace. Amen.

Listening Prayer

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

Our souls are rooted in you, O God.
Dig as you will; expose what you must,
prune what you must.
Feed the soil of our souls.
Let the power of your grace
flow up through our roots
and bear fruit in our love.


Eucharistic Prayer

[Go here for musical responses to the Eucharistic prayer—Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen—set to familiar tunes suitable for Lent.

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

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

Holy One, our lives are rooted in you, and we give you thanks.
We hunger for life; and often look in the wrong places,
but you feed us what nourishes our souls.
So we come to your table, hungry, and glad,
singing your praise with all Creation.

     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who has fed us the bread of life,
who has dug, even with painful strokes,
at the roots of our hearts,
to nourish us that we may bear fruit.
Even as he faced his death at the hands of our injustice
he offered only life.

     (The Blessing and Covenant) *
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
Therefore with him we offer ourselves
as we proclaim 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 Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
rooted in you,
nourished by your Spirit,
and bearing the fruit of your love
for the sake of the healing of the world.
(Amen.)

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

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


Prayer of Dedication / Sending

God of mercy, root us in your grace; send the energy of your love through us that we may bear the fruit of your love in our lives, that by your grace all the world may feast on your goodness. Send us, as we pray in the name and the spirit and the companionship of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

By Your Grace (Tune: What Wondrous Love Is This)

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

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


Return, My Soul (Tune: Finlandia)

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

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

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


Vine and Branches (Original song)
[In Lent you should omit the final verse, “Alleluia.”]

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.


You are the soil (Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus)
[Includes a communion hymn suitable either as a free-standing song
or as Eucharistic Prayer Responses]

God, Holy Presence, source of life and blessing,
you are the soil and we the seed.
By your indwelling grace, we die in your embrace;
you raise us up and we are freed.

Jesus, Beloved One, healer, teacher, guide and friend,
in you we come to die and rise:
buried like seeds in earth, given new, gracious birth,
with your love shining in our eyes.

Spirit, let old forms die. From your soil let new life rise.
From broken seeds bring forth new shoots.
In us let your life grow; not ours but yours will flow,
that we may bear the Spirit’s fruits.

2nd Sunday in Lent, March 13, 2022

Lectionary Texts

A theme running through today’s texts is the call to be faithful in the face of difficulty. In Genesis 15.1-6, 12-15 God has promised that Abram will have descendants. Abram is old and childless, and he wonders if God will fulfill this promise. But God says he will have as many descendants as there are stars. They will be oppressed, but they will also be delivered.

Psalm 27 rejoices that though evildoers oppose us, we are not afraid, for no matter what happens we will be with God. God cares for us. So we seek to be close to God, and follow God’s way. In

Philippians 3.17-4.1 Paul urges us to stand firm in the faith and not succumb to materialistic values. We are capable of this because “our citizenship is in heaven:” we are not individual, materialistic beings, but the People of God.

In Luke 13.31-35 Jesus, faced with violence, steadfastly continues his non-violent work of healing. He laments people’s rejection of God’s love, and the true community and home that God offers us.

Some Thoughts

We primarily think of Lent as a time of repentance, turning from our sins. But it’s also a time of mourning for the world, a time of lament: lament for the damage we have done to the world and its people; lament for the plight of those who, like Jesus are victims of violence, repression, abuse or threat; lament for our own inadequate response to injustice and oppression. Jesus mourns with us, and invites us to stand with him, simultaneously mourning for our hurting world, resisting evil and violence, committing to healing and practicing non-violence. Accepting the power God gives us, as the baptismal vows declare, “to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves” begins with facing our own violence and our cooperation with injustice. As we mourn our own complicity we are strengthened to resist—not from a place of judgment, but from the strength of honest lament. For it’s in lament that we know our own powers to be faulty, and knowing that, we put our trust entirely in God and God’s Spirit working through us.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: God of love, this world is deeply broken and in need of your grace.
All: We cry out to you.
Loving Christ, we are often lost and lonely, and we need your gentle companionship.
We cry out to you.
Holy Spirit, the struggle for healing and justice is long and hard. We need your help.
We cry out to you. We open our hearts to you. We worship you.

2. [Adapted from Psalm 27]
Leader: God is my light and my salvation;
of whom should I be afraid?
All: Though violence rise all around me
I will not be drawn into fear.
One thing I asked of God, that will I seek after:
to live in the presence of God all the days of my life,
to behold the grace of God,
and to inquire in God’s temple.
I believe that I shall see the goodness of God
in the land of the living.
Wait for God;
be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for God!


3. [From Psalm 27]
Leader: One thing I have asked of God, that I will seek after:
All: to live in the presence of the Holy One all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Beloved and to wonder in God’s presence.
Hear us, O God, when we cry out to you.
Do not hide yourself in times of trouble.
Teach us your way, O God, and lead us in paths of peace.
Wait for your God. Be strong, and let your heart take courage.
I believe I shall see the goodness of the Holy One in the land of the living.
Wait for God!


4.
Leader: In the face of violence…
All: healing!
In the face of fear…
love!
In the face of our despair…
hope!
In the face of death.
Life!
God, we thank you for the gift of Jesus,
and for the gift of his Spirit in us.
We praise you, and we worship in peace and in hope.


5.
Leader: Holy One, you create life full of light and darkness, joy and suffering.
And your blessing is in it all.
All: With humility we wonder at the mystery of life, and we thank you.
O Crucified One, you are present in our joy and in our suffering.
All: With gratitude we receive the mystery of life, and we greet you.
O Spirit of Life, you give times of sowing and times of harvest,
and through it all you bring forth your fruits.
With love we bear forth the mystery of life, and we praise you.
Come, Holy Spirit, and sow your Word in us now. Amen.


6.
Leader: Creator God, our Source and our Home, we belong to you.
All: We praise you, and we gather to worship you and give our lives to you.
Living Christ, you establish justice, overthrow the power of evil,
and offer blessing to the downtrodden, even at the price of your own life.
We thank you, and we gather to join in your ministry of healing.
Spirit of mercy, it is you who give us courage and compassion
to work for justice, to enact healing, to bear witness to your grace.
We open our hearts to you, and we gather to be changed by your power.
Transform us by your grace, that we may serve you
in humility, gentleness and courage, in the name of Christ. Amen.


7.
Leader: God of grace, you are our light and our salvation. Whom shall we fear?
All: Hear us, O Lord, when we cry aloud;
be gracious to us, and answer us.
Teach us your way, O God,
and lead us on a level path.
As a hen gathers her brood,
gather your children, God, in your loving arms
and transform us by your grace.


8.
Leader:We seek you, O Lord while you may be found.
We thirst for you as in a dry and weary land.
All: We turn to you, that you may have mercy on us;
we come to you alone, for you abundantly pardon.
Our soul is satisfied as with a rich feast.
Christ, you are the water that satisfies, the bread that gives life.
Gather us in your loving arms,
and transform us by your grace.


Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love you are our only strength, our only refuge, our only hope. Amid all the voices of fear in this world we turn to you for your grace. Speak to us and bring us safely under your wing. We pray in the name of Christ, our gentle savior. Amen.

2.
God of mercy, we come to you in a broken world, in broken relationships, with broken hearts. For all that is unwell we seek your healing. For all that is bruised we ask your grace. For all that is wrong we ask your forgiveness. For all that is unfinished we long for your will to be done. For all that seems impossible, we ask for hope. God of love, grant your blessings. Amen.3.Gracious God, in times of trouble we fear; in times of uncertainty we despair. But you are our light and our salvation. One thing we seek: to be close to you, to behold your beauty, to wonder in your presence. Teach us your ways, Beloved, and lead us in your path. In your Spirit, we wait for you, God. We wait for you. Amen.

4.
Still our minds, God, and calm our hearts, so that we may hear the Word that comes from you that leads us in life, that protects us in struggle, that guides us in doing your will, that strengthens us in suffering for the sake of love, that bears us through death, and that leads us to eternal life. Amen.

5.
Gracious God, Jesus gave his life for us, healing and casting out demons even in the face of persecution. We need his grace; and we need to hear his word to us. Bless us as your scripture is read and your good news proclaimed, that we may hear the voice of the Crucified One in our midst. Amen.

6.
One thing we ask of you, God, that we will seek after: that we may dwell in your house all the days of our lives, to behold your beauty, and to inquire in your holy temple. Teach us your way, Love, and lead us on a level path, that we may see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Amen.

7.
God, we are thirsty for life, though we seek it in dry and barren places. We are hungry for grace, yet we work for that which does not satisfy our hearts. So we turn to you now, for you alone give us the Bread of Life; from you alone flow the clear, living waters of eternal life. We feast upon your presence. We look upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory, in awe at your beauty. Satisfy our souls with the rich feast of your Word. Bless us that we may hear. 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.
Gentle God, we con fess that we have tried to protect ourselves from suffering,
and so been unable to love.
Forgive our sin, heal our fear, and renew your Spirit within us,
so that we may be perfected in love
according to the grace of Christ. Amen.
Silent prayer … the Word of Grace

2.
Pastor: The grace of God be with you.
All: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
Gentle God, we confess our abuse of power.
We have tolerated violence and exploitation;
we have excluded and dehumanized people.
We confess our corporate sin,
and ask your forgiveness for your people.
Heal our wounds, and the wounds we have caused,
reconcile us with all people,
and enable us by your grace to live in peace and nonviolence
as healers in the name of Christ. Amen.
Silent prayer … the Word of Grace

3.
Gracious God,
we confess our sin to you,
for we have denied your light in us;
we have betrayed your Holy Spirit in us.
For those sins which weigh upon us,
and those we do not even know
we ask your forgiveness.
Heal our hearts, renew your Spirit within us,
and restore in us the image of Christ,
that by your grace
we may be light for the world. Amen.

4.
Pastor: O people, return to the Holy One your God, who is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
All: Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us, receive our prayer, and grant us peace.
Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.
Help us to repent and accept your grace, and by our acceptance
share in the work of Christ in renewing the world. Amen.

Listening Prayer

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

God of love,
in the face of violence,
your grace persists.
In the winds of fear,
your love endures.
In places of brokenness,
your healing continues.
Give us gratitude, and trust.
Amen

Eucharistic Prayer

[Go here for musical responses to the Eucharistic prayer—Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen—set to familiar tunes suitable for Lent.]

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

1.
God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

God we thank you, for you create us in love;
you promise us life even when it seems impossible.
You deliver your children from oppression,
and you free us from all the fears and attachments that bind us.

With strong and gentle grace, even in the face of violence,
you lead us toward your Realm of peace and justice.
You are our only power, our only security, our only food.
So at your invitation we come to your table to receive the gift of life,
with all Creation singing your praise.

[Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name, and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
In the face of fear he chose love;
in the face of violence he chose peace.
Though he was given death he only gave life.
You raised him from the dead and still he gives us life.

[The Blessings and Covenant….] *

With gratitude we remember 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 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 the Body of Christ,
trusting in your grace, moved by your Spirit,
courageous in your love,
following in your way of healing and peace,
in the name and the companionship of Christ,
to your eternal glory.


[Amen]
____________

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

God of love, you create us, you claim us and you promise to be our God.
You walk with us, even when we are lost and afraid.
From the fears and attachments that dominate us, you set us free.
From the fear of suffering that quells our love, you set us free.
You come in Jesus to give us hope when we cannot see the way.
You come in Jesus to show us your way of nonviolence.
Jesus remained faithful in the face of threats.,
and gentle in the face of violence.
In love he accompanies us, and nothing will take him from our side.

[The Blessing and Covenant] *

Whenever we eat this bread and drink this cup,
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
Remembering your acts in Jesus Christ, we offer ourselves,
in union with Christ’s offering for us.
In praise and thanksgiving we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that filled with your love, trusting in your grace,
and upheld by the courage of the Spirit,
we may follow your way of love and peace,
despite all darkness and uncertainty,
in the name of Christ. Amen.

3.
God is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your heart.
We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God our praise.

Blessed are you, O God, Creator of all things,
ruler of the world and all that is to come.
You have created us in your image, called us as your people,
and taken us to yourself in your holy Covenant.
Though we reject you, you embrace us,
and you extend your grace to all Creation.
Therefore with all your people on earth we sing as one voice:

[Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name, and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
With love he healed the sick and drove out demons.
In his gentle acceptance he disarmed all earthly powers and authority.
He called us to repentance, offered us your grace,
and bid us to follow him in healing and casting out evil.
At his table he gathers us as a hen gathers her children,
that we may come to new life in your steadfast love.

[… The Blessing and Covenant …]

Receiving the Body of Christ, we become the Body of Christ,
as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
[Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts, O God,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood
of the crucified and risen Christ.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
nonviolent even in the face of persecution.
Gather us in your love, with all who share in this meal,
and renew your Holy Spirit within us,
that by the mystery of your grace working within us
through repentance, healing and compassion,
we may join Christ in his work of the redemption of the world.
[Amen]
_______________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

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

Prayer after Communion

God, we thank you for this mystery in which, in facing our violence, you have given yourself to us, in peace and love. May we accept the power you give us to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves, in the name and the company and the Spirit of Christ.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

1.
God, we thank you for the mystery that in facing our violence, you give yourself to us, in peace and love. May we accept the power you give us to resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves, in the name and the company and the Spirit of Christ.

2.
Loving God, when our hearts are heavy and our minds uncertain, you revive us with your gentle grace. Fill us with the courage of your love, to be light in the world and to not fear the darkness, to embody love and not fear. Send us in the name and Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

Becoming Whole (Original tune)

We are a broken people becoming whole again.
We are a wounded people being healed again.
We are a hungry people being fed again.
We are a wandering people coming home again.
We are a captive people walking free again.
We are dead and buried, being raised again.
We are a grateful people giving thanks again.

Christ, You have Gathered Your Children (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

Christ, you have gathered your children in peace
here at the table of your loving grace,
just as a mother hen gathers her brood,
giving us shelter and your holy food.

Christ, while dark shadows of death yet draw near,
you go on doing your healing work here.
So the good news of your love cannot fail:
though evil still abounds, your grace will prevail.

Christ, dead and risen, you gather us in,
so that the great Feast of Life may begin.
Spirit, the gifts that you give us we bring,
sharing with joy as your praises we sing.

God, may we dwell in your house all our days,
sharing our gifts as our offering of praise,
humbly beholding your beauty and grace,
and walking with you and learning your ways.


Into the Darkness (Original tune)

Only the seed that has died and is buried
lives to bear fruit, Jesus said.
Lead me then into the darkness and dying,
so you can raise me up from the dead.
Jesus, help me die and rise.

All of my living, my loves and desires,
all of the things that I cling to,
now I surrender to die and be buried.
Raise me in following, serving you.
Jesus, help me die and rise.

Lead me to truth and have mercy and wash me
deep in the dark of my being,
a spirit like bread that is taken and broken:
this is the death that is freeing.
Jesus, help me die and rise.

Give me a clean heart, a heart pure in spirit,
willing and steadfast and made new.
My life I lose; let your cross lift me up now.
One joy restore to me: life in you.
Jesus, help me die and rise.


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

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

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

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


Make Us Merciful (Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus)

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

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

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


When Darkness and Unknowing (Tune: O Sacred Head Now Wounded)

When darkness and unknowing weigh down our hearts with fear,
oh, loving gentle Jesus, you draw your dear ones near.
You feed us with yourself, Lord, and dwelling in our soul
you lead us by your light, though we cannot see the goal.

When evil and oppression make threat to bend your will,
you gather your beloved in peace, and gentle still.
You feed us with compassion: your very life you give,
so gentleness will also become the way we live.

Despite our fear and violence, the gentleness you’ve shown,
your mercy in the darkness, becomes our hope alone.
You feed us with your love now, and ban the evil powers,
and give us your compassion, so your peace may be ours.

1st Sunday in Lent, March 6, 2022

Lectionary Texts

Deuteronomy 26.1-11 is the salvation story. “My ancestor (Abraham) wandered from Aram, we became a nation enslaved in Egypt, and God liberated us.” When we possess the promised land (that is, enjoy the fruits of what God gives us) we should offer tithes (one tenth of our goods) in thanksgiving, and remember this story, for all things come from God.

Psalm 91 is a reassurance that God cares for us in all distress and danger. (Satan quotes it to Jesus in tempting him to jump from the top of the temple om Lk 4.10-11.)

Romans 10.8-13 promises that all who call upon the name (that is, the power) of God shall be saved. Paul quotes Dt. 30.14.: “The word is near you, on your lips and in your heart.” God’s word is not a strange demand you have to learn; it is there in your deepest yearnings.

Luke 4.1-13 When Jesus is tempted by Satan, his responses are quotations from Deuteronomy 8.3, 6.13 and 6.16, material related to the Shema, the great commandment (Dt. 6.4-5): “Hear, O Israel: Yahweh is our God, Yahweh alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.”

Guiding Thoughts

Temptations are not tricks Satan throws at us, but our own deep desire for meaningful life that get distorted.Our temptations are whatever draw us away from union with God. We are one with God, and in God; but when we seek life apart from God, life for our own individual “self,” we cut ourselves off from our divine nature, from God, and from life itself. Our temptations are the fears and desires that control us. They are illusions. Satan’s promises are lies. If Jesus jumped off a cliff he would actually get hurt. Satan isn’t actually capable of giving Jesus all the glory and authority of the nations. “Satan” is our addictions and attachments talking. “Stinkin’ thinkin’,” as they say in AA: things we think will make us happy but actually can’t. “Salvation” is not being rescued from being sent to hell; it’s being rescued from the power our fears and desires have over us.


The desires beneath our temptations aren’t bad; they’re just misdirected. We want to experience power, security and belonging in our lives. These are life-affirming desires—if we seek them in God. But we seek them in the wrong places: power (changing stones to bread) in having control, getting our way; security in being protected from pain; and belonging in the esteem and approval of the world. But Jesus knows that love is our only power, that God is our only security, and that God is the p;lace of our deepest belonging. He also knows that Satan is lying.

The story of Jesus’ temptations invites us to confront our illusions and denial, and expose and renounce our attachments: what we (incorrectly) think we can’t live without. In fact the one thing we can’t live without is giving and receiving love.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: In the desert, God, all is laid bare.
All: You are our life, our only hope.
With you, O Christ, we face our brokenness.
You are our life, our only hope.
Holy Spirit, lead us through the wilderness, to find springs of water in our hearts.
You are our life, and our only hope. We worship you

2.
Leader: In this season of Lent we journey with Christ in the wilderness.
All: We journey from death to life.
We let go of our fears and desires and embrace God.
We worship Yahweh our God, and serve the Holy One alone.
We turn to you, O God, and surrender our lives to you.
By your grace, grant us life.


3.
Leader: Holy Spirit, great desert wind, you drive us into the wilderness.
All: In lonely, barren places our brokenness is exposed.
We confront our shadows.
Christ, be with us in this testing time.
Walk with us, Jesus, in our wilderness.
Eternal God, whose love for us is vast and wide,
you are the desert; you are the Way.
We come to you and surrender ourselves to you.
We rest in your presence.
Receive our broken lives, and transform us by your grace.
Holy One, Destroying One, Birthing One, whom we worship,
create in us a new heart. Amen.


4.
Leader: Creator God, you gathered up dust from the earth
and breathed into it, and it became a living being.
All: Breathe your Spirit into us now, and give us life.
Beloved Christ, you went into the desert for forty days
and wrestled with your temptations.
Lead us into the wilderness of our hearts,
and help us confront all that keeps us from you.
Holy Spirit, you are the Breath of Life;
you are our companion in the wilderness.
Come, Holy Spirit, breathe life into us,
lead us in truth, and transform us by your grace. Amen.


5.
Leader: Lord, have Mercy.
All: Christ, have mercy.
Lord. have mercy.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world.
have mercy upon us, receive our prayers,
and grant us your peace.

We seek You, God, as in a dry and weary land.
We have gone astray, but we turn to you,
for you abundantly pardon.
As a hen gathers her little ones,
as a shepherd gathers his lambs in his arms,
receive us and bless us, O God,.
Receive us in the arms of Christ outspread.
Make us one with you and with each other in your Spirit.
Gather us in your open arms
and grant us your grace. Amen.

6.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
You alone are holy, and we worship you.
Let us return to the Lord our God, who is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world.
Have mercy on us, receive our prayer, and grant us peace.
Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us.
With Jesus who confronted his temptations
these forty days in the wilderness, lead us in prayer and repentance.
We give ourselves to you in worship;
create us anew in the power of your Spirit. Amen.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love, as Jesus went into the desert to pray and face his temptations, lead us with him, into solitude with you, into that place laid bare where we may see ourselves through your eyes and reclaim the love you give us. We pray in the love and the company of Jesus. Amen.

2.
God of love, we live not by bread alone but by your living Word, for your Word is the bread of life. Speak life to us now in our hungry wilderness. Speak freedom to us in our secret deserts, and bring us home. We pray with Jesus, who journeys through this wilderness with us. Amen

3.
Gracious God, we live not by bread alone, but by every word that comes from your mouth. We lay aside all that claims to be bread but is only words, and we open our hearts to you. Feed us the bread of life; speak your Word to us. Amen.

4.
Gracious God, we tremble to enter the season of Lent, the desert of our temptation, the valley of our suffering. But you have given us your gentle Jesus to go with us, to face this darkness with grace and healing. Help us, then, to go with him, now and throughout this season: in prayer and simplicity to surrender ourselves to you and your grace. Gather us, God, in your open arms, and restore your image in us by the power of your Word. Amen.

5.
God of wilderness and water,
your Son was baptized and tempted as we are. 
Guide us through this season of Lent,
that we may not avoid struggle,
but open ourselves to your blessing,
and give of ourselves to others in love. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

1.
Pastor: The grace of God is with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
God of love, help us to see ourselves with the eyes of love,
to see all that is in us that is loving, and all that is not loving.
Open our eyes to your love living in us,
and to all those things that hinder that love.
By the grace you show us in Christ,
forgive us, heal us, and perfect your love in us.
           
… Silent reflection… Words of grace

2.
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.
Creator God, we are the dust of earth, breathed into life by your Spirit.
But we have clung to things of dust without Spirit.
Forgive our sin, and re-create us now.
Return us to the earth of our creation, to oneness with all living beings.
Breathe life into us by your Spirit,
that we may live each moment by your breath alone.
     … Silent prayer The Word of Grace

3.
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.
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word and deed,
by that we have done, and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.
Gather us in your loving arms;
have mercy on us and forgive us,
that we may delight in your will, and walk in your ways,
by the grace of Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen    
       
Silent prayer … The Word of Grace

4.
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 our sin: we have not loved you with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, nor have we loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. Have mercy upon us: forgive our sin, heal our hearts, and renew your Holy Spirit within us, that being born anew by your grace, we may live in the light of your love, in the name of Christ.
Silent prayers of Confession…
RESPONSE
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The lord does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is God’s love for us.
As far as the east is from the west, so far does God remove our transgressions from us.
We thank you, O God!
Show us your ways and teach us your paths,
that we may live in the light of your grace. Amen.


5.
Gracious God, we confess our sin: we have not loved you with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, nor have we loved our neighbors as ourselves. We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. Have mercy upon us: forgive our sin, heal our hearts, and renew your Holy Spirit within us, that being born anew by your grace, we may live in the light of your love, in the name of Christ.

Listening Prayer

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

God of love, we do not live by bread alone,
but by the Word of love you give to us as a gift.
Give us faith to receive your grace.
We cannot protect ourselves from suffering;
give us courage to risk hurt for the sake of love and justice.
We do not need the glory of the world:
we are your Beloved.
Help us to trust, and to live in harmony with your grace.

Eucharistic Prayer

[Go here for musical responses to the Eucharistic prayer—Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen—set to familiar tunes suitable for Lent.]

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

Beloved, the Holy One is with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to our God.
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 love,
claim us as your own, and make covenant with us to be our God.
You set us free from all that oppresses us outside us and within;
you bring us back to one another,
and journey with us toward your shalom.
You who are thirsty, come and buy drink without money.
You who are hungry, come and eat, and be satisfied.
For your Word is the bread of life; nothing else do we desire.
Therefore we come to your table with all Creation, singing your praise.
         
[Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name and bear your love,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
He loved and taught, healed and gathered a new community of grace.
Resisting the temptations of power, security and esteem,
he relied solely upon you and so,
in faithfulness he became our leader and model.
Resisting the temptations of worldly power,
he opened to us the Empire of your Grace,
and so, in love, he became our sovereign.

For the sake of love did not defend himself
from suffering, powerlessness or death,
and so, in forgiveness, he became our savior. [The Blessing and Covenant…] *
With gratitude we remember these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ.
Therefore we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
as a living and holy sacrifice,
in union with Christ’ offering for us,
as we proclaim 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 the Body of Christ.
By your Spirit lead us in these forty days to turn to you.
May your Word be the bread of our life.
May your grace be our only security.
May the Realm of your Love be our only Empire,
to your glory, now and forever.

          [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
e remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have fed us your Word, the Bread of Life, rescued us from death and offered us the Empire of your Grace. Having fed us the bread of heaven, lead us always to turn from worldly powers and desires to embrace your love; to journey from death to life: in the name and the company of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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


Becoming Whole (Original song)

We are a broken people becoming whole again.
We are a wounded people being healed again.
We are a hungry people being fed again.
We are a wandering people coming home again.
We are a captive people walking free again.
We are dead and buried, being raised again.
We are a grateful people giving thanks again.

O God, Creator of Each Thing
(Tune: Tallis’ Canon, O Love, How Deep,
or The Gift of Love/The Water Is Wide)

O God, Creator of each thing,
in thanks and praise to you we sing.
In hunger sore we come to you:
Creator God, make us anew.

Our wounds you heal, our sins forgive.
You serve this feast that we may live.
You set us free; you make us new.
In us shines love that comes from you.

How blessed is Christ, who loved and healed,
who by your grace, your love revealed.
For Christ has died. And Christ is risen.
And Christ will come in love again

Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Lectionary Texts

In Joel 2.1-2, 12-17 the prophet alerts us to the coming judgment of God—which will not be easy. We are called to fast and pray, and return to God. We plead for God to save us. But we don’t despair: God will give us what we need to worship and serve God faithfully (v. 14) We trust that God is “gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” (13).

Psalm 51 is the quintessential penitential psalm, confessing sin that’s part of our human nature, seeking “truth in the inward being,” and opening ourselves for God to “create in us a clean heart and put a new and faithful spirit within us.”

In 2 Corinthians 5.20b – 6.10 Paul appeals to us to be reconciled to God. Paul says though Christ knew no sin God made Christ to “be sin” so that in Christ we might “be the righteousness of God.” Paul enumerates the ways a disciple may suffer for their faith, and still endure.

Matthew 6.1-6, 16-21 is part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus instructs us in the traditional penitential disciplines of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving (which is not just charitable giving but also working for justice). Jesus tells us to focus not on outer appearances but our inner relationship with God.

Call to Worship / Greeting

1.
One: The grace of the Beloved, Jesus Christ, be with you.
All: And also with you.
Bless the Holy One who forgives all our sins.
God’s mercy endures forever.

2. Leader: O God, we come.
All: We are ashes, crying out.
We come, broken and in need.
We come, trusting and open-hearted,
We come, forgiven and welcome.
We come to be honest, to confess, to be ourselves.
We come to be received, to be blessed, to be anointed;
in the name and the mercy of Christ, we come
.

Prayers

1.
Gentle God,
you created us in love and for love.
We are the pure light of your love, given flesh.
Your Spirit is our life; your breath is our breath.
Your love shines in us, the image of Christ,
and we are all being transformed into this image,
from one degree of glory to another.
But we deny your light and obscure your image.
Help us to see all that impedes your perfect love in us,
and to remove it, so that we may truly shine with your light.
In this Lenten season, help us to see, to repent,
and to be perfected in love,
in the grace of Jesus Christ. Amen.

2.
God, we turn to you, we who are made of the dust of the earth.
Receive us in our brokenness.
We turn to you, we who are made of the dust of stars.
Breathe your light into us once again.
Create in us a new heart, O God,
and put a new and right Spirit within us. Amen.

3.
God of love,
Jesus calls us to lives of love, trust, justice and compassion.
We want to be faithful, but our fears and desires interfere.

We want to trust in you, to rely wholly on your grace.
We want to be whole, to be true to the people you create us to be.
We want to be a healing presence and a source of grace.
But our fears and desires interfere.


We want to be kind to all, including our enemies.
We want to reach out to those who are in need,
and heal those who are hurting.
We want to be bold in doing justice.
We want to pass on to those who struggle
the way of living Jesus taught.
But our fears and desires interfere.

Forgive us. Heal our fears, re-direct our desires,
and give us the courage and compassion of your Spirit.

Create in us a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within us. Amen.


4
.
Gracious God, you made us from the dust of the earth,
and breathed your Sprit into us to give us life.
The dust is the dust of stars.
You have made us from light,
and your Spirit blazes within us; your glory shines in us.
But we have veiled your glory, and lost sight of your light.
We have clung to the dust,
but not the light, the Spirit, the Life.
Renew your light in us this Lenten season.
May we again become true earthlings, pure stardust, living light.
Renew your Spirit within us, that we may live.
Amen.

5.
Most holy and merciful God,
to you and to one another we confess our sin. We have sinned in thought, word and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart, mind, soul and strength. We have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We have not forgiven as you have forgiven us.
We have been untrue to the spirit of Christ. We have grieved you, and we are sorrowful.
Have mercy on us, O God.
Our unfaithfulness to you, our distrust, our neglect of your faithful grace, our failure to live wholly for you,
we confess to you, God.
Our unfaithfulness in prayer and worship, our failure to nurture the faith that is in us, our negligence of the Holy Spirit,
we confess to you, God.
Our self-indulgence and exploitation of others, our participation in injustice and oppression, and our failure to act or speak out, our love of worldly goods and comforts, our defense of our privilege, our pride and impatience, our envy and our quickness to judge and not to heal,
we confess to you, God.
Our waste and pollution of your creation, our blindness to the awe and beauty which you have given us,
we confess to you, God.
Accept our repentance, God, for the wrongs we have done. For our blindness to human need and suffering, and to your presence in the poor, for our indifference to injustice and cruelty, for our failure to love courageously,
accept our repentance, God.
For our judgments, fear, anger and all uncharitable thoughts toward others, for our prejudice and contempt of those who differ from us, for all that is hurtful that we have done,
accept our repentance, God.
Restore us, gracious God, for your mercy is great.
Hear us, O God,
for your grace is the source of our life. Amen.

Listening Prayer

God of grace,
my life is ashes.
Breathe your breath into that dust,
that I may be created anew,
and live by the grace
of your Spirit alone.

Suggested Songs

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

See all songs with tags for Confession or Repentance; especially these:

Darkness (Tune: Tallis’ Canon or CONDITOR ALME)

The darkness is a covering
to hide the questions that I bring.
God bless me even in the night
to bring my love into the light.

The darkness is where fears may hide,
but help me, God, to look inside.
Give me the courage, Love, to face
my demons with your saving grace.

The darkness is a mystery,
the way that is unclear to me.
Yet God, you lead me by the hand
to journey toward a promised land.

The darkness is a place of rest,
where I may sleep and be your guest
until the rising of the sun.
I rest in you, O Loving One


God of Mercy (Original Song)

God of mercy, you forgive me,
may I myself forgive.
Now confessing, I ask your blessing.
By your grace I shall live.

God, heal my sin, brokenness deep within.
Too often I bear pain I make others share.
Set me free from what I have been.

God of mercy, you forgive me,
may I myself forgive.
Now confessing, I ask your blessing.
By your grace I shall live.

You are gentle with me; gentle I learn to be.
You touch me and heal; deep in my soul I feel
burdens gone, and I am free.

God of mercy, you forgive me,
may I myself forgive.
Now confessing, I ask your blessing.
By your grace I shall live.
By your grace I shall live.


God, we are broken (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

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

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

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

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

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


God, you have searched me (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

God, you have searched me; you know from within
all of my beauty, my wounds and my sin.
Deep in my heart—I’ve not spoken a word—
you know my soul, and my thoughts you have heard.

You who have made me and always are near,
help me to shed my illusion and fear.
Help me be truthful, and truthfully see,
humbly transparent to your grace in me.

Your loving presence within me each day
go with me, guide me, and show me your way.
Give me the eyes of your mercy and grace,
to walk in love in each moment, each place.


Into the Darkness (Original tune)

Only the seed that has died and is buried
lives to bear fruit, Jesus said.
Lead me then into the darkness and dying,
so you can raise me up from the dead.
Jesus, help me die and rise.

All of my living, my loves and desires,
all of the things that I cling to,
now I surrender to die and be buried.
Raise me in following, serving you.
Jesus, help me die and rise.

Lead me to truth and have mercy and wash me
deep in the dark of my being,
a spirit like bread that is taken and broken:
this is the death that is freeing.
Jesus, help me die and rise.

Give me a clean heart, a heart pure in spirit,
willing and steadfast and made new.
My life I lose; let your cross lift me up now.
One joy restore to me: life in you.
Jesus, help me die and rise.


Into the Light
(Original tune)

God, I come into the light of your mercy and grace:
may I receive your forgiveness, your loving embrace.
You know my brokenness better than I, and my sin.
You love me perfectly, setting me free once again.

All of myself I now humbly bring into your light:
wash me, renew me, forgive me and set me aright.
God, I surrender myself to your life-giving love:
may I be born by your Spirit, anew, from above.

God, you have loved us so much that you even would give
Jesus, your Son, the Beloved, so that we would live.
Help us to live so we bring your good news into sight.
Help us to trust in your grace and come into the light.


Return, My Soul
(Tune: Finlandia)

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

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

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


Set Me Free (Red Sea) (Original Song)

1. Forgive me, God of mercy, set me free. (Repeat)
Refrain: From slavery to the past, through the deep Read Sea,
lead me God of love. Set me free.

2. From anger and resentment, set me free… Refrain
3. From blaming and from judgment, set me free… Refrain
4. To be completely loving,set me free… Refrain



Lent: Some thoughts

Sin

There’s only one thing, one Holy Being (which we nickname “God”), and we’re part of it. But we don’t get it. We believe, and act as if we’re our own little worlds. We see ourselves as individual physical units, contained in and defined by our bodies. (Paul call it “living according to the flesh.”) This is by nature self-centered, and what we call sin. But God is infinite; there is nothing outside God. We are part of God. We are emanations of divine love, members of the Body of Christ. To trust this, to willingly be part of God, is what Paul calls “living in the Spirit.”

Our sinfulness doesn’t mean we’re “bad.” It means we’re afraid. It means we’re inherently self-centered. We don’t know how to trust God, and trust our belonging in God. We focus on the survival of our bodies and possessions and outward appearances, and not on the life of God within us.

Salvation

We are created by Infinite Love, and Love is our life. We are imprisoned, enslaved by our self-centeredness and self-protection, which cuts us off from love—cuts us off from God—and therefore from life. So we say “sin is death.” But Love doesn’t let go of us. Despite our selfishness God stays connected. God reaches through our selfishness and self-protection and holds us in love. Despite our illusion that we are separate from God, in love God claims us and includes us anyway! This is not anything we can affect: we are unable to save ourselves from our own self-centeredness. It is a gift of pure grace.

Salvation doesn’t mean going to heaven after we die. Salvation means being rescued from the selfishness that destroys our lives—our distrust of God, our alienation from the divine breath/Spirit in us that is our our true and only source of life. God overcomes all this; it is not the result of our effort, but God’s grace. The “heaven” we go to is not the afterlife, but the paradise of being in harmony with God.

So we attend to the work of repentance: confronting our ego and its fears and desires, our self-centeredness and its consequences; letting go of those false fears and demands; and opening ourselves to being animated by the Spirit instead of our sin. Lent is a season of forty days of repentance and purification in preparation for Easter. We confess not only our individual sins but our collective sin, the systems of injustice that our sin produces and sustains. We acknowledge that we are dust in need of Spirit. We pray for the gift of repentance through fasting, prayer and works of love, that we may be healed and transformed according to the grace of God. Our guiding images in Lent are Jesus’ sojourn in the desert, facing his temptations, and his journey toward the cross

Ashes

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. The ashes represent the frailty of our faith—they are made from last year’s Palm Sunday palms. As with anything we loved but have lost, ashes represent the sorrow we feel upon facing our sinfulness, our regret over having hurt ourselves, our neighbor, God, and all Creation. (It may seem odd to speak of God being hurt, but that’s the very meaning of love—and the cross.) In the beginning God took dust up from the ground and breathed life (breath, spirit) into it, and it became a living human. We are dust and spirit. Sadly, what we see and touch seems most real to us, so we believe in the dust more than the Spirit. Ashes remind us that we are made of dust, dependent on God’s grace. And they remind us of our mortality. “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” The future is not guaranteed: now is the time to let go of our illusions about ourselves (burning them to ashes) and to live the authentic life God has given us. Mindful that life is short and precious, we devote ourselves to using every moment we are given for the sake of love, to give and receive God’s grace while we can. We place ashes on ourselves as a sign that we are Creatures and God is Creator; that we are to die to sin, and that it is not our efforts, but God’s grace, that redeems us. Remembering that in Creation God formed a human from the dust of the ground and breathed life into it to create a living human, we present ourselves as dust to God, that God may breathe God’s Spirit into us and create us anew.

Repentance

Repentance is not what we do to be saved, but what we do because we have been saved. When we let go of our self-contentedness and accept God’s love, our hearts are changed: we want to live in harmony with that love and grace. Repentance is accepting the love we’ve been resisting. It’s allowing God’s grace to change us. We allow that Spirit within us to take over and re-direct our sinful impulses. We renounce our denial of the fears and desires that control us. We confess our sin. We recognize our distrust of God, and turn again (and again) to God, practicing trusting God’s grace, breathing in that divine breath. Repentance is not about beating ourselves up, but seeking “truth in the inward being.” It’s a time of facing up to our denial of our deep need for God—and changing our ways, and our consciousness, to receive that grace. With Jesus in the desert we face our temptations, the ways our desire for life get distorted into desire for power, security and belonging in sources other than God. Repentance is about turning to the divine life that is there inside us that we’ve been neglecting. Remembering that we are dust, and to dust we shall return, we place our trust in God alone for life. Beholding the cross of Christ, we enter into the mystery of our salvation. Giving our lives to God, we die and are raised to new life.

The Cross

The cross is the cost of love. In Jesus on the cross we see God’s suffering love in the face of our sin and violence. Jesus did not die “so that God could forgive us;” God forgave us already. Jesus died because we killed him. Jesus suffered the consequences of our sin, our injustice, but he did not “pay for our sins:” sin can’t be bought off. To say we have been “purchased with a price” doesn’t mean Jesus “bought” something. Our salvation is a gift, not a transaction—though it costs God. God did not arrange for Jesus to be killed; that was our doing. God didn’t “plan” the cross. Jesus didn’t set out to die; he set out to do justice. Jesus opposed unjust religious, political, economic and social systems of oppression—and the powerful struck back. In his death we see evil exposed. We see God as the victim of all injustice and oppression (“whatever you do to the least of these…”) And we also see God’s love and forgiveness in the face of our evil. Jesus suffered our judgment, and brought God’s judgment in return: God’s absolute, eternal, infinite love and forgiveness.

To contemplate the cross is to behold our sin, God’s grace, and our calling all at once. In the cross we see the scandal of God’s vulnerability with us. God doesn’t demand suffering; God suffers with us and even because of us—to stay with us. In the cross God lives out the reality of being in a body, with all the beauty and pain and even mortality that entails: such is the price of incarnation. God suffers with us. In the Cross God absorbs everything that separates us from God: our fear and violence, our shame, our judgment, and our death― and God embraces us, with nothing in between. In the cross we exercise the power of death and violence and God receives it and transforms it, overcoming even the power of death with love. Because Jesus trusts God absolutely, and serves God fully in the cause of justice and healing, he is not afraid to face violence. Having already given his life to God, Jesus enters into life that is infinite and can’t be taken from him (this, not the afterlife, is the meaning of eternal life). On Good Friday the Resurrected One was crucified.

To take up your cross is to willingly surrender your life to God, die to your old self, and allow yourself to be raised—re-created—as a new person, like dust that God breathes new life into. And to take up your cross is to be willing to suffer for the sake of love and justice.


Lament

Lent is not only about repentance; it’s also a time to lament. The Ashes of Ash Wednesday evoke not only our sin and our mortality; they also speak of our sorrow. We are sorry for our sinfulness; and we are sorry for the suffering of the world. In Luke 13.34 (Second Sunday in Lent) Jesus laments over Jerusalem. Repentance is never just a personal thing; it’s a communal movement. Our whole society needs to repent of our injustice. But to begin we need to lament, to let our hearts be broken by the suffering of the world, with Jesus weeping over Jerusalem (Lk. 19.41). It’s easier to make pronouncements about the world’s problems than to stand (or sit) with the people who suffer because of those problems. Let them have a voice in your confession and repentance: those who suffer because of racism, poverty, violence, sexism, heterosexism, consumerism, mass incarceration, the climate crisis, the assault on democracy… Of course the list goes on and on, and you don’t want your worship to be nothing but grievance. But don’t overlook our need to lament and grieve with those who are the crucified ones among us.


Lent: Living beyond death

The story of Lent is the salvation story. Salvation doesn’t mean going to heaven after we die. It means being rescued from the power of self-centeredness that rules our lives. Just as the Hebrews were slaves in Egypt, we are slaves to sin and death. Sin works in us in ways we can’t seem to control, and death creates bounds for our lives that we can’t escape. But just as Moses led the people out of slavery in Egypt, Jesus delivers us from slavery to our self-centeredness. In his death and resurrection we see the grace that sets us free from the power that sin and our fear of death have over us. Jesus leads us to life in Infinite Love.

During Lent the scripture lessons will take us on a journey through and beyond death. We go with Jesus into the desert to face our temptations. Jesus teaches us about the penitential disciples of fasting, prayer and acts of generosity and justice. We discover in the parable of the lost sons a lesson on dying and rising with Christ. As Mary anoints Jesus for his death, we too accept our mortality. As Jesus goes to the cross with love in his heart, we learn to confront the evil powers of death in this world. By God’s grace, we learn to live the resurrection life.

Transfiguration (February 27, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

This Sunday’s texts are about God’s glory shining in us, and especially in Christ. In Exodus 34.29-35 Moses returns from the mountain where he has received the Ten Commandments, his face shining with light so bright from his face-to-face encounter with God that he wears a veil.

Psalm 99 urges us to worship at God’s holy mountain, meaning to center our worship in God’s law of love. Leading the Hebrews in the Exodus, God speaks from the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire.

In 2 Corinthians 3.12 – 4.6 Paul, recalling Moses’ veil, says we wear a veil of misunderstanding when we read scripture without faith—that is, without the willingness to be changed. Meanwhile God’s glory shines in each of us as in Moses.

In Luke 9. 28-36 Jesus shines with God’s glory on the mountaintop (like Moses) and talks with Moses and Elijah (the law-giver and the prophet) about his “exodus.” Jesus is the “pillar of light” who leads us to life.

Guiding Thoughts

In Luke 9.18-27 Peter says Jesus is the Messiah, but Jesus radically changes his definition of that expectation: he will not be a victorious commander, but suffer and die. He tells his listeners to go the way of the cross. Having surrendered his life to God, he has in a sense already died and been raised. The Transfiguration is a resurrection appearance before it happens! It is the resurrected Christ who appears on the mountain, shining with the light of eternity, speaking with Moses & Elijah, who have also died. They talk of his “departure”— his approaching death. The greek word Luke uses for “departure” is “Exodus:” In his death Jesus leads us us to freedom. Jesus is the pillar of light that leads us in our Exodus journey. Therefore it is essential that we follow, that we “listen to him” (Lk. 9.35). Because he is already dead and raised, it is true not only that the crucified one was resurrected on the First Day, but that on Good Friday the Resurrected one was crucified. The Transfiguration story prepares us to enter Lent, journeying deeper into death and resurrection.

Call to Worship


1.
Leader: God of light, such lovely light, we awaken to you.
All: You shine in us with beauty and grace.
Christ, light of the world, you shimmer in us all.
All people are held in the glow of your grace;
all people are radiant with your glory.
Holy Spirit, flame of heaven, you gleam in us to enlighten the world.
Shine in us, that we may bear the beams of your love to all the world,
in the name and the company of the risen Christ. Amen.


2. Adapted from Psalm 99
Leader: The Holy One Reigns! Let the people tremble!
All: The Holy One is great! Holy is God!
Praise the Holy One our God, and worship at God’s holy mountain.
For the Holy One our God is holy.
Mighty Ruler, lover of justice, you have established equity.
You have brought forth righteousness and justice.
You led your people and spoke to them in the pillar of cloud.
Alleluia! God of love, lead us by your light,
transform us by your grace, that we may truly follow Christ. Alleluia!


3. (May also be used as a response/ affirmation)
Leader: God of glory, you create us with light.
You fashion us out of glory, and it shines in our faces.
All: We worship you in awe, and we seek your presence among us.
Christ, you are the glory of God, the light of the world.
You are the fulfillment of the law and prophets.
We turn to you to teach us, to heal us, to re-make us,
so that we will again shine with the glory of your image.
Holy Spirit, you are the light of grace within us.
Each of us is a pillar of fire, shining with the power of your love.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us
from one degree of glory to another, by your grace. Alleluia!


4.
Leader: God, you have rescued us from the power of darkness
and delivered us into the Realm of your beloved Son.
All: We give thanks that you have enabled us
to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
Light of the World, shine upon us, and grant us your grace;
Strengthen us with your glorious power.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of glory, Christ shone upon the mountaintop. Cast the brilliance of your gospel into our hearts, that Christ may shine in us in all we do. Amen.2.
God of love, your Word is made flesh, your law fulfilled and the prophets revealed in Christ. Your light shines among us. Speak, for we are listening. Amen.

3.
God of love, your Christ stands radiant among us, and in his light we see anew. He is the pillar of fire for our Way, the light for our path. We open our hearts to your Spirit, that we might hear your living Word in our worship and in our lives, and be transformed from one degree of glory to another by your grace. Amen.

4.
God of Light, help us to see you; help us to hear. We are asleep; our eyes are dim; there is so much that we fear and desire that we do not easily see clearly what is before us. Shine the light of your Word upon us. Awaken us to your grace. We open our hearts to the presence and the voice of your Beloved Son. Grant by your Spirit that we may listen to him. 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.
Loving God, you have created us with light,
with the radiance of love and the splendor of your presence.
It shines in our faces and glows in our hearts.
But we have veiled your light, and covered over your glory.
We have dimmed your love and darkened your presence within us.
Forgive us.
Remove the coverings that hide your light in us.
Warm us again by your Spirit, and rekindle the light of your grace within us,
that we may shine with the image of Christ, your Beloved,
and in Christ’s power radiate your love as pillars of light.
SILENT PRAYERTHE WORD OF GRACE

2.
God, for the ways in which your light shines in us, we give you thanks.
[silent prayer…]
For the ways in which we hide that light, we ask forgiveness and healing.
[Silent prayer…]
God of grace, we give thanks that you forgive our sin entirely,
and lead us from darkness to light, from death to life,
in the grace of your Christ Jesus. Amen.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
         God of all Creation, we trust in you. Love is your light, and mercy is your glory.
         Christ Jesus, word of God made flesh, light of the world, God’s Beloved, in you we see God’s glory, and in you we see our own true glory. Your love is light for our path, and your love is our path.
         Holy Spirit, light of God in us, we give you our hearts, that we may always accompany you in your journey of justice and liberation, that we may always wonder, that we may always listen. Light of love, lead us, and we will follow. Amen.

2.
       We love and trust in in God, Holy Trinity, creator of all that is and all that is to come.
       We love and trust in Jesus Christ, the Chosen One of God, Light of the World, fulfillment of the law and prophets, and the One who leads us in our exodus from death to life, from bondage to freedom, from sleep to wakefulness, from exile to the present moment. We follow Christ in the Way of the Cross: the way of compassion, justice, and non-violent self-giving, for the sake of the healing of the world.
       We are empowered by the Holy Spirit, united as the Body of Christ, set free by God’s perfect forgiveness, and drawn by the mystery of resurrection and the light of eternal life. Christ, illumine our path, that by your light we may be light for the world. Amen.

3.
Jesus, you shine with the light of eternal life; therefore we trust in you. In your love you fulfill the law and the prophets; so we listen to you. You proclaim the Way of the Cross; and we follow you. You lead us in exodus from death to life; therefore we follow you. You face your life and your death with the light of resurrection; therefore we open our heart to you, that we too may shine with the light of God’s love, for the sake of the healing of the world. Amen.

Listening Prayer

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

Light of Christ, shine on me.
May I behold your beauty,
trust your grace,
and listen for your voice.
Light of Christ, shine in me,
that I may be radiant with your love,
in this moment and to eternal life.
Amen.

Readings

(Poetry by Steve Garnaas-Holmes)


Light

You do not need to fetch it or make it.
         It is in you.

The chaos out there roars, so dark,
         but sit still and listen:
         
“Let there be light” speaks in your darkness.
         Let it be.

Let it become you. Fill you.
         Ageless, it claims you.

Calm, unworried by what it falls on,
         it radiates peace.

Let it shine in you,
         a simple lamp by the window,

before you bear it
         out into the world
         that needs it so badly.


The Light Does Not Insist

Even on the darkest winter days
light reaches in,
gently entering my dimmest rooms:
neither hesitant nor brash,
simply offering itself
with no mind to all that is opaque,
all that distorts,
transfiguring the room.
and the air in the room.

I, too,
reach in toward that gentle light,
not anxious or forceful, that calmly glows
and changes everything.


The Jug

You are walking a path before dawn
there are others
you are carrying a large ancient jug

Maybe clay it is light it is leaking
you hold it wounded to your chest
how soon will it run out? will they see?

You try to hold it all together
the light and illimitable burden
the hollows and failings and ill-fitting pieces

It is bleeding brightly
the hand of the sun on a tree
light poured out at your feet

The dimness is pregnant
the way is immersed
you can see they can see

You hug the jar weeping
hurrying sweating
nothing stops it from spilling away

You sense a surrender a death a defeat
the jug has collapsed and disappeared
light falling from your hands

Why do you weep? why are you afraid?
did you not know
that your only purpose here is

to shed light to shed light to shed light


Mantle of Light

The evening light settles like snow on everything,
giving new shape to the gate beside the road,
and the people standing in the gate,
whose faces are of molten gold,
and whose hands are flocks of birds,
in which the hand and the light turn
at the same time, as if speaking to each other.
We are frescoes, perfected while the light is still wet.
Trees are poured down out of light
into ground that does not resist.
Their twigs bend almost imperceptibly under their yoke.
The air is so thick you like to move your hand through it.
In this light everything is a child,
or an angel, and even the darkness believes.

This does not mean anything,
but it helps me learn the light within,
and remember how to see,
and bear this luminous mantle
as if it is not burdensome.

Eucharistic Prayer

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

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, you create us, and create us always anew;
you set us free, and set all people free;
you walk with us into new life, life with all and for all.
In the beginning was your Word, and your Word was light;
your love is the light of all people, and shines in each of us.
Though we are blind to your light, and try to cover it over,
still you shine in all people, and you gather all people in your light.
When we seek to divide, you invite us back,
back to the table of your light.
So with all Creation we sing your praise:

Holy, holy, holy One, God of power and love,
all Creation shimmers with your presence.
Amazing and beautiful! You save us!
Blessed are they who come in your love.
Amazing and beautiful! You save us!

Blessed are all who come in your name,and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
He taught and healed, freeing captives
and binding the wounds of the community.
The light of his love awakened us to our loveliness.Those who feared that light in themselves and others
tried to put out the light: they crucified Jesus.
But you raised him from the dead,
for the light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness cannot overcome it.
[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:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

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 our love for the world.
May your light shine in us, the light of the risen Christ,
the light of love. 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 Faithful One, our God.
It is good and beautiful to give God thanks and praise.

Creator God, we thank you. For in the beginning
you said “let there be light,” and there was light.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness cannot overcome it.
You claim us as your people, and covenant with us to be our God.
You set your shining bow in the sky as a sign of your faithfulness.
When we go from you, imprisoned by our wants and fears,
you set us free from all that oppresses us.
You leads us to freedom by a pillar of fire.

You give us your Word, a lamp for our feet and a light on our path.
You give us Jesus, the light of the world.
Therefore in gratitude, with all Creation, we sing your praise.

Holy, holy, holy One, God of power and love,
all Creation shimmers with your presence.
Amazing and beautiful! You save us!
Blessed are they who come in your love.
Amazing and beautiful! You save us!


Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ, the light of the world.
The light of your grace shined in him.
He created for us a dwelling built not of walls but of light.
He fed the hungry and healed the broken.
He kindled your light in us whose spirits were dim,
and called us forth as light for the world.

For his witness to justice he was crucified,
but the darkness cannot overcome the light:
in love you raised him from the dead.
Even as he faced his death he shone with the light of resurrection.

       [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:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

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.
May we live always in the light of resurrection,
with the light of your Word guiding us,
the light of your love shining in us,
for the healing of the world.
Amen.


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

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

Prayer of Dedication / Sending / [after Communion]

God, we thank you for [this mystery in which] you have given yourself to us in love. As the risen Christ shone on the mountain, ready to face his death, we too, by your grace in us, shine with the light of your love, ready to go out into the world and serve, confident in your grace. Bless us that we may listen to Christ always, and shine with your love, for the blessing of the world, in the grace of your Spirit and in the name of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

Christ on the Mountain [Tune: Be Thou My Vision]

Christ on the mountain, our law and our light, we
come to your table with all you invite.
Hearts all aglow with your Spirit’s bright rays,
gladly we offer our gifts and our praise.

Dawning of heaven, our heart’s rising sun,
feasting upon you, we all become one,
bright with the love that your Spirit imparts,
radiant with mercy in each of our hearts.

Christ, as your Body, we pray by your grace, that
we give your deep love a voice and a face,
by love transfigured, with light in our hands,
bringing your gospel to earth’s farthest lands.


Christ on the Mountain Height [Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus]

Christ on the mountain height, radiant with God’s delight,
shining with love and mercy bright,
from fear and death released, we come in thanks to feast
upon your resurrection’s light.

Jesus, Beloved One, bright as Easter’s rising sun,
called to listen and follow you,
fearless of pain or loss, help us to bear your cross
with love’s pure light in all we do.

Savior and dearest friend, Law and Prophet’s fullest end,
strengthened by love, by the Spirit drawn,
feed us with courage, Lord. Help us to live your Word
and trust in Easter’s promised dawn.


Christ, Transfigured [Tune: Ode to Joy]

Christ, transfigured on the mountain, Law and Prophet, Living Word,
by your glory we are humbled, by your presence we are stirred.
Christ, you are God’s faithful servant, God’s beloved Son so dear.
Guide us by this radiant vision: help us listen; help us hear.

Christ, you choose to suffer and to die, rejected, on the cross,
sharing in our sin and death, our struggles, and our pain and loss.
In your faithful, loving presence, even in our darkest nights,
we behold you, God’s Beloved, shining with love’s healing light.

Help us serve you, each transfigured by light shining from above.
Fill us with your Holy Spirit, radiant with the light of love.
In self-giving, help us share our neighbor’s suffering through the night,
and be lamps for those who struggle, with compassion’s gentle light.


Jesus, Transfigured [Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus]

Jesus, transfigured, bright with heaven’s mystery,
highest of prophets and all the law,
our power to comprehend comes to its humble end
in reverent wonder, love and awe.

Sun of the morning, radiant with holy light,
wake us from sleep, that we may see:
see holy glory in each day’s story,
in every day, eternity.

Light of the world, O Christ, shine in us with all your love.
Crucified and risen One,
fill us with holy fire, our hearts with grace inspire,
to share the warmth of heaven’s Sun.


Light for the World [Original tune; dialogue between congregation and soloist]

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

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.

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 the Lord you are light, no longer held in darkness.
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.


Listen (Tune: The Gift of Love/ Water Is Wide)

“This is my dear Beloved Son, the Light of Life, my Chosen One.
And so I ask that by my grace you listen for his gentle voice.

“For when you listen and attend in silence deep, you meet your Friend,
whose voice no words can catch or hold, and yet whose love is clearly told.

“And listen well with love’s deep art, to what is in your neighbor’s heart,
for there I dwell, and there I speak; and there I hide, for you to seek.

“My glory shines in every face of my beloved human race.
So listen well with wond’ring care: behold my glory shining there.”


Resurrection Light [Tune: Joyful, Joyful]

Wake us, Jesus from our dreams, to see you in a holy light:
Law and prophet, loving promise God has sent to guide us right.
As Elijah, call us Godward, speak the living truth to us.
As our Moses, lead us in our liberating exodus.

Wake us, Jesus, from our fear of pain and death, and from our sin.
Grant that we may live illumined by the world you usher in.
All things shine with light reflected from the dawn that fills our sight.
All of life is thus transfigured by your resurrection’s light.

Wake us, Jesus from complacent dreaming on the mountain’s height.
Teach us humble service: your departure is our guiding light.
Preach the gospel, feed the hungry, heal the broken, give them sight.
Give your life, then find it, shining bright with Resurrection light.


Epiphany 7 (February 20, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

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

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

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

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

Guiding Thoughts

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

Call to Worship

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


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


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

Collect / Prayer of the Day

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

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

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

Prayer of Confession

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

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

Reading


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

Response / Creed / Affirmation

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

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

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

Suggested Songs

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

At Your Feet [Original tune]

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Drawing Me [Original tune]

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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


Make Us Merciful (Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Open My Heart [Tune: Open my eyes]

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

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

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

Set Me Free (to love) [Original tune]

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


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

Epiphany 6

February 13, 2022

Lectionary Texts

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

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

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

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

Call to Worship

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

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


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


Collect / Prayer of the Day

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

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

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

Prayer of Confession

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

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

Listening Prayer

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

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

Readings

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

2.
Adapted from 1 Corinthians 1.23-31

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

Poetry

                  God’s Valentine

     “God, as you have sent me into the world,
      so I have sent them into the world.”

                            — John 17. 18

You are God’s Valentine to the world.
You have been written by God,
signed, sealed and sent, by water and the Spirit,
to those whom God loves.

Therefore be gentle to all whom you meet today,
with your heart full of prayer and gratitude.
Honor them and listen to them;
serve them with humility and patience,
with unconditional compassion and respect,
remembering that they are God’s delight.

To all whom you meet today remember
that you have been sent for a purpose:
to draw them to the heart of God.
Today, be God’s Valentine.



Response / Creed / Affirmation

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

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


Eucharistic Prayer

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

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

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

     (The Blessing and Covenant)*

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

     (Memorial Acclamation)

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

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

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

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

Prayer after Communion

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

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

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

Suggested Songs

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Return, My Soul (Tune: Finlandia)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Epiphany 5 (February 6, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

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

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

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

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

Call to Worship

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

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

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

Collect / Prayer of the Day

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

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

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

Response / Creed / Affirmation

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

Listening Prayer

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

Eucharistic Prayer

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

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

     (Sanctus)

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

     (The Blessing and Covenant)*

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

     (Memorial Acclamation)

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

fishers of people, who behold the bounty of your grace,
and who cast the net of your love far and wide in this world
for the sake of all your Beloved.
     
(Amen.)
________________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

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

Prayer after Communion

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

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

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

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

Suggested Songs

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

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

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

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

Calling Me (Original tune)

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

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

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

Drawing Me (Original tune)

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

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


God Has a Dream (Original tune)

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

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

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

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


Epiphany 4 (January 30, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

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

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

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

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

Call to Worship

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


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


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

Collect / Prayer of the Day

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer of Confession

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

Reading

1 Corinthians 13 – a paraphrase

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

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

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

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

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

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

Response / Creed / Affirmation

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

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

Listening Prayer

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

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

Eucharistic Prayer

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

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

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

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

     (Blessing and Covenant)*


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

     (Memorial Acclamation)

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Pour out your Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
fearless in love, inclusive in generosity,
and courageous in the face of opposition,
for the sake of the wholeness of the human family,
in the name and the company of Jesus.

     (Amen.)
____________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]
On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”

Prayer after Communion

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

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view on the Music page)

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

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

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

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

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

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


O Faithful God (Tune: Finlandia)

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

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

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


Your Table
(Tune: Amazing Grace)

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

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

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