Still? Seriously?

           This is but the beginning of the birthpangs.
                           —Mark 13.8

Seriously—January 5th, and we’re still on Christmas?
Can’t we move on, now?

We follow a different path than the rest of the world.
They are rushing on to the next thing. Let them go.

This, today, this is the moving on.
This is the movement, the birthing,
which takes as long as it takes.
Justice unfolds slowly.
There’s no shortcut to the Realm of God,
no beginner’s luck to repentance.

Give thanks for a God who walks with us,
and with us, and with us.
And pack for a long trip.

But stop counting and be present.
Abandon escape. Renounce the desire
to be perennially elsewhere.
The One who Was and Ever Shall Be
Is. Now. Here.
That is enough.

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

Opened

          Now when Jesus had been baptized
          and was praying,
          the heaven was opened.

                           —Luke 3.21

Look down
into still water

and see up
into clear heavens.

Be immersed in the depths
of the sky,

the deep earth of heaven.
They flow, they blend.

Here, your flesh of dust and breath,
of fire and water

lives—grounded,
held, opened,

immersed in the paradise
that opens and flows into the world.

There is no difference,
no separation.

Waters open, and heaven,
and your life,

and through opening,
blessed, flow.

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

A new heaven and earth

           Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth;
           for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away,
           and the sea was no more.

                           —Revelation 21.1

To imagine the earth passed away
in these days of climate crisis,
fascism and greed
is not hard. It looms.

Child, all things are passing.
You will die. Humans will vanish.
Never mind when. Live now.
With love and courage
dance with beauty,
be a sign of hope, act for justice,
no matter the outcome.

What we see as the end
is merely moving into the unknown,
where the Loving One will be present.

Let the vision speak not to planets or politics
but your inner being.
Let go of who you are, even the treasures,
the earth and sea of you drowned in God.
Allow God to re-create you.
If you are reborn of grace,
nothing to come—
even the most drastic loss or change—
will frighten you;
love will prevail.


Happy New Breath

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

A Baptismal Liturgy

The liturgy below is available here in a .doc format for ease of editing.

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

This liturgy is an adaptation of the service in the United Methodist Hymnal, It may be used for services of baptism and/or baptismal renewal, including Confirmation. (In Confirmation what we’re confirming is our baptism, so it’s most fitting for confirmation to include baptism renewal.)

For a baptism, names and pronouns that need to be correct are italicized. (The placeholder “Name” is intentionally misspelled so it shows up in your spell check.)

For a service including a baptism omit sections 9 and 13, 14, 15.
For congregational renewal or Confirmation without a baptism— omit 2, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 12.

The Sacrament of Baptism

1.
Introduction
Pastor: Beloved in Christ:
through the sacrament of baptism
God gives us new birth through water and the Spirit,
includes us in Christ’s holy church,
and makes us part of the salvation of the world.

So we come to the water—
Yes, everyone who thirsts! Come to the waters:
water of new birth, poured out and flowing freely
for all who will receive it;
water of justice rolling down,
water of righteousness like an everflowing stream;
a spring of water in us gushing up to eternal life;
the river of God for the healing of the world.

We come to this water
because our souls thirst for you, O God,
as in a dry and weary land.

2.
[If there is a baptism:]
Sponsor: We come to this water
to baptize NAMIE
and to bathe them in your love for them.
Pastor: We come to this water as a community.

3.
All: We come to this water
to renew our love as siblings in Christ,
and to renew our baptism
in the death and resurrection of Christ.

4.
[In a baptismal service: asked of those being baptized, or their parents;
for Confirmation, asked of Confirmation candidates;
for a baptismal renewal service asked of the congregation
.]

The Baptismal Vows
Pastor
As we behold the mystery of God’s grace,
I invite you to profess your faith,
and to confirm the baptismal covenant made in your name:
Do you hunger and thirst for righteousness?
Individual(s) or Parents:
We confess our need for the saving, life-giving grace of God!
Will you turn away from the powers of sin and death?
We renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness,
reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of our sin!
Will you let the Spirit use you as prophets to the powers that be?
We accept the freedom and power God gives us
to resist evil, injustice, and oppression
in whatever forms they present themselves!
Will you receive God’s grace, give yourselves wholly to God,
and live as disciples of Jesus, Christ’s body on earth?
We confess Jesus Christ as our Savior,
put our whole trust in Christ’s grace,
and promise to serve Christ as our Superior,
in union with the church which Christ has opened
to people of all ages, nations, and races!

5.
[For baptism of children, asked of their parents]
Will you, their parents and mentors, nurture these people in Christ’s holy church?
Parents and mentors : By teaching and example we will guide them
to accept God’s grace, to grow in faith, and to lead a Christian life.

6.
[For baptism of those who can answer for themselves]
According to the grace given you,
will you remain faithful members of Christ’s holy church
and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world?
I Will.

7.
[If there are sponsors]
Will you who sponsor these people
support and encourage them in their Christian life?
I will.


8.
[For a baptismal service, asked of the congregation]
Do you, Christ’s Body, the church, reaffirm your rejection of sin
and your commitment to Christ?
Congregation: We do.
Will you be living witnesses to the gospel,
individually and together, wherever you are, and in all that you do?
We will live as faithful members of the Body of Christ
and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world.
Will you nurture one another in living the faith through the church
and include these people in your care?
With God’s help we will embody the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We will surround nayme with faith, hope and love
that they may grow in grace and faith
and learn to trust God and live in loving service in the world.

We will pray for them and walk with them
on their journey of discipleship among us.

9.
[For baptismal renewal service without a baptism]
Will you be living witnesses to the gospel,
individually and together, wherever you are, and in all that you do?
We will remain faithful members of Christ’s holy church
and serve as Christ’s representatives in the world.
Will you nurture one another in living the faith through the church?
With God’s help we will embody the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We will surround each other with faith, hope and love
that we all may grow in grace and faith
and learn to trust God and live in loving service in the world.
We will pray for each other and walk with one another
on our journey of discipleship together.

10.
Profession of Faith (The Apostles’ Creed)
Let us join in professing our faith.
Do you trust in God the Father and Mother?
All:
: I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.


Do you follow Jesus Christ?
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Begotten, our Superior,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of God,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.


Do you live by the Holy Spirit?
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy universal Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting.
Amen.


11.
Thanksgiving over the Water

The Spirit of God is among us.
The blessing of the Beloved is upon us!
Let us pray. Loving, life-giving God, we give you thanks,
for in the beginning your Spirit brooded over the waters
and you brought forth Creation.
You brought us to freedom through the waters of the Red Sea.
You gave us new birth through baptism into Christ,
and gave us life that cannot die.
The river of God is full of water,
the river of the water of life,
bright as crystal, flowing from the heart of God.
We who are baptized into Christ Jesus
are baptized into his life,
born in the water of a womb;
we are baptized into his ministry,
giving water to the thirsty,
washing the feet and sharing the tears of all who suffer;
and we are baptized into his death,
so that just as Christ was raised by the glory of God,
we too might walk in newness of life.
Born of water and the Spirit,
may we enter into the Realm of God
as children of God,
born not of human will, but of God.

12. [If there is a baptism]
Pour out your Holy Spirit in this water
and bless the one who receives it,
that claimed by your Word, nourished in your grace,
washed from all sin and borne by your Spirit,
they may live in freedom, trust and courage,
sharing in the eternal life of Christ.

Namme, you are God’s Beloved,

in whom God is well pleased.
All reverence and delight is yours,
infinite and loving God, now and forever.
All praise to you, Eternal Father and Mother,
Son and Holy Spirit,
in the present moment and in eternity. Amen!

… Baptism with Laying on of Hands …

Let us
welcome our new sibling in Christ.
nanme, Child of God, claimed by water and the Spirit,you are joined to God’s new creation.
We are one in Christ Jesus,

sharing in Christ’s royal priesthood.
With joy and thanksgiving
we welcome you as a member of Christ’s church.
God bless you now and in eternal life. Amen.

1
3.
[If there is a renewal without a baptism.]
Pour out your Holy Spirit in this water
and bless us as we remember it.
Claimed by your Word, nourished in your grace,
washed from all sin and borne by your Spirit,
may we live in freedom, trust and courage,
sharing in the eternal life of Christ.

Children of God,
you are God’s Beloved,
in whom God is well pleased.
All praise to you, Eternal Father and Mother,
Son and Holy Spirit,
in the present moment and in eternity. Amen!

14.
[The congregation is invited to interact with the water in ways not easily interpreted as being “re-baptized.” Possibilities include having people come forward and touch the water; having people kneel and receive a cross of water on their foreheads; sprinkling the congregation using evergreen branches…]

15.
[Confirmation and/or reception of new members may be held here]

16.
Blessing:
Pastor: The God of all grace, who loves us,
blesses us and calls us in Christ,
establish you and strengthen you by the power of the Holy Spirit,
that you may live in love and grace and peace.

Gifts

           They knelt down and paid him homage.
           Then, opening their treasure chests,
           they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

                           —Matthew 2.11


I offer the gift of my gold,
my generosity.
May all that I spend be done in faith.
May every dollar reflect my love for you
and your will.

I offer the gift of my frankincense,
my prayerfulness.
May all I do be in mindfulness of your presence.
May I treat every person with reverence,
every moment with gratitude,
every action with trust in your grace.

I offer the gift of my myrrh,
my mortality, my being.
I shall one day die;
meanwhile my life belongs to you, not me.
May I spend my short time in this life
with love and humility.

I willingly surrender my life to you,
that I may enter into the new year
not as a self-protected individual,
but as a generous, trusting, joyful member
of the Body of your Love.

Here. Receive me.

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

Published
Categorized as Reflections

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.

Readings

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

2.
Adapted from 1 Corinthians 1.23-31

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

Response / Creed / Affirmation

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

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

Listening Prayer

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

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

Eucharistic Prayer

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

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

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

     (The Blessing and Covenant)*

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

     (Memorial Acclamation)

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

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

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

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

Prayer after Communion

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

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

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

Suggested Songs

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


Return, My Soul (Tune: Finlandia)

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Epiphany 5 (February 6, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

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

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

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

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

Call to Worship

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

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

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

Collect / Prayer of the Day

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

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

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

Response / Creed / Affirmation

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

Listening Prayer

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

Eucharistic Prayer

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

     (Sanctus)

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

     (The Blessing and Covenant)*

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

     (Memorial Acclamation)

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

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

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

Prayer after Communion

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

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

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

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

Suggested Songs

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

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

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

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

Calling Me (Original tune)

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

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

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

Drawing Me (Original tune)

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

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


God Has a Dream (Original tune)

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

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

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

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


Epiphany 4 (January 30, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

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

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

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

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

Call to Worship

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


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


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

Collect / Prayer of the Day

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

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

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

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

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

Prayer of Confession

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

Reading

1 Corinthians 13 – a paraphrase

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

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

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

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

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

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

Response / Creed / Affirmation

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

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

Listening Prayer

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

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

Eucharistic Prayer

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

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

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

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

     (Blessing and Covenant)*


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

     (Memorial Acclamation)

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

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

Prayer after Communion

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

Suggested Songs

(Click on titles to view on the Music page)

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

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

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

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

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

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


O Faithful God (Tune: Finlandia)

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

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

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


Your Table
(Tune: Amazing Grace)

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

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

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