OT 16 – Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

July 17, 2022

Lectionary Texts

In Amos 8.1-12 the prophet sees a basket of fruit, which will soon rot, as a metaphor for Israel’s fate: we are doomed because we perpetrate injustice against the poor, finding ways to exploit them. God will bring judgment on the nation.

Psalm 52 renounces wealth and power, and instead proclaims trust in God’s grace. “I am a green tree,” a living creature, receiving life from God and bearing fruit in God’s spirit.
                                                                  —or—
Psalm 82 is a cry for God to condemn the wicked and bring justice to the world.

In Colossians 1.15-28 Paul speaks of the cosmic Christ (offering a foundation for the later development of the image of the Holy Trinity): God is infinite and invisible, and yet God is present for us, a cosmic yet intimate presence that we call Christ. Jesus embodied the presence of God, and so does the loving community of his followers: the divine presence dwells in the church, the Body of Christ. Christ is the source of Creation and of our own life. In Christ — in the embodied presence of God — everything and everyone is reconciled: we are one.

In Luke 10.38-42 Jesus visits Martha and Mary. Martha asks Jesus to make Mary help her with the chores, while Mary sits and listens as a student.

Preaching Thoughts

Amos
      Prophets do not foresee the future; they see God’s will—and, seeing the current situation, they can tell where it’s going. Jesus also talks in Mt. 16.3, “about interpreting the signs of the times.” The point of course is not whether the prophet is right about the future, but about the present moment. As is almost always the case with the prophets, Amos makes it clear that the issue at hand is not individual piety but social justice, systemic evil: “you trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land” (8.4). Prophetic judgment is seldom aimed at individuals, but at nations and systems, and people who collude with them, especially people in power. The weight of Amos’ judgment (and the proper focus of our attention) is not the terror of the doom he sees coming in the future, but the tragedy of the injustice we are perpetrating right now.

Colossians
         The idea of the Holy Trinity had’t been invented when Paul wrote, but this material sure sets the stage. Paul sees a cosmic Christ, eternal and divine: “the image of the invisible God… before all things… in whom the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” Christ is divine presence and energy, with, equal to, and part of God. (Sounds like the Second Person of the Trinity, huh?) Yet that infinite life takes on a finite, mortal form in Jesus. It’s as if Jesus the human person plays the role of Christ the divine person, like Daniel Radcliffe plays Harry Potter—so definitively that you can’t imagine Harry Potter any other way than as played by Radcliffe, like we can’t imagine Christ except as played by Jesus. Yet Paul says that we, too play that same role: Christ is the head of the Body, the church—that’s us. We participate in Jesus’ embodiment of the divine role of Christ.
         Christ is God’s presence with us, and the nature of that presence is healing and reconciling: “all things” are reconciled to God through Christ (not just Christians). Our “estrangement and hostility” both toward God and toward each other is abolished: we are one in Christ. Our temptation is to revolt against Christ’s reconciliation by creating divisions among us, but those divisions are an illusion. We are one whether we like it or not.

Mary and Martha
       This story is a parable. It’s not a fact, and not a fable. Like all of Jesus’ parables, we dumb it down when we find “the moral.” It’s a gem with many facets, many dimensions. Among them:
—It’s a story about the importance of actually listening to Jesus, not just saying we believe in him.
—It’s about the balanced interdependence of action and contemplation. We’re not “supposed” to be Mary instead of Martha; we each have, and need, both of them in our hearts.
—It recognizes different ways of honoring Jesus. (Note the character of the sisters when Jesus is at their home in John 12: Martha serves; Mary anoints his feet.) Jesus’ admonition, “Martha, Martha,” invites us to trust that all forms of service are sufficient.
—It’s about Jesus affirming Mary’s violation of accepted gender boundaries by “siting at his feet listening” that is, studying as a student learning from a rabbi—a calling expected of males in that society (…and still sometimes ours….).
—It affirms your devotion to Jesus will “not be taken from you” by tasks of daily living.
—It’s an invitation to not be “worried and distracted by many things,” but focused on “one thing.”
—It’s about Jesus avoiding being triangulated between the sisters.
—It’s about how he honors Mary’s calling and refuses to tell her what to do.
—As a story about hospitality it resonates with the sense in the Colossians passage that God offers us cosmic hospitality, welcoming us and inviting us to be at home in God’s divine Being.
       We tend to pick on Martha is if she’s too selfish or anxious, but remember she’s the one who welcomed Jesus into her home. She shows hospitality. Maybe she’s inviting Mary to show some, too. Meanwhile Mary shows a different kind of hospitality: to listen, to receive someone. Sometimes the best hospitality we can show is not to “entertain,” but to listen.
        Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus, was Jesus’ safe place, a place of rest and renewal. He went there often. It was his home away from home, especially in his last days in Jerusalem. This story is a glimpse into his personal life: Jesus at ease among friends.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Creator God, you welcome us into your home.
All: You receive us and serve us, and we receive your grace.
You sit with us and share quiet moments.
You speak your Word to us, and we are changed.
You feed us with the energy of your love, and give us courage.
So we sit with you; we listen to you;
and, changed, we go forth with your good news into this world.


2.
Leader: Jesus, our teacher, we come to sit at your feet.
All: We are listening, open to your wisdom and your truth.
Jesus, our healer, we want to be near you.
We are still, satisfied to simply be, and to be near you.
Jesus, our companion, grant us your Spirit.
May your peace go with us always. Amen.

3.
Leader: Jesus, our savior, you have come to us.
All: We who are distracted by many things
let go of our tasks and come to sit at your feet.
Jesus, our teacher, you impart to us a wisdom different from what the world preaches.
We open our hearts to your grace. Bless us, and change us.
Jesus, our healer, you offer us yourself.
We come to be with you, to be present for you,
so that in all we do we may be close to you.
Our hearts cry out to you.
Jesus, I love you. Come be with me.

4.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: We thank you, and we worship you.
We gather to listen to your Word,
to meditate upon your Word,
to be shaped by your Word.
Show us your ways, O God, and teach us your paths
The unfolding of your Word gives light
Alleluia! Your word is a light unto our feet
and a lamp unto our path.
Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
From the haste and pressure of the world we come into your gentle silence.
From the loneliness of our separate cars and houses we come into your presence.
From the noise and shouting of the world we come to listen to your voice.
Speak to us, God. Beloved, sit with us and change our hearts. Amen.

2.
God of truth and wisdom, God of love and presence; we are worried and distracted by many things, but one thing is needed. Hold us in your light and speak to us, that we may hear and be filled with your love. Amen.

3.
God of love, people of power and wealth trust in their riches. But our confidence is in you. Give to us now the power of your Word and the riches of your grace. We open our hearts to you. Speak your living Word to us, for we are listening. Amen.

4.
Blessed God, when Jesus visited Martha and her sister, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to what he was saying. Bless us that we may chose the better part and sit with you to listen to what you are saying to us today in our worship. Help us always to treasure your companionship and live with listening hearts. Amen.

Prayer of Confession


God of love,
sometimes we have served you
in ways that are true to our gifts and callings;
and sometimes we have submitted
to other people’s expectations of us.
Help us be true to who you create us to be,
to love in the ways you give us,
to befriend you in peace and in harmony with your delight.

Readings

.Psalm 52 (My version)
Leader: Why do you boast, O powerful ones,
       of mischief done against the powerless?
All: Your plots bring destruction;
       your words are sharp razors,
       and you work treachery.
Your desires are evil and not good;
       your words are lies and not truth.
But God will break you down forever
       and uproot you from the land of the living.
The righteous will see, and fear,
       and will laugh at the evildoer, saying,
“See the one who would not take refuge in God,
       but trusted in abundant riches,
       and sought refuge in wealth!”
But I am like a green olive tree
      in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.
       I will thank you forever,
       because of what you have done.
In the presence of the faithful
       I will proclaim your name, for it is good.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1. [May also be used as the New Testament reading]
         Colossians 1.15-23, 26

Leader: Christ is the visible appearance of the invisible God,
       the beloved older sibling of all creation.
All: All things in heaven and on earth were created in Christ,
       everything visible and invisible,
all cosmic and human powers and dominions—
       everything was created through Christ and for Christ.
Christ, God’s presence, came before anything,
       and in Christ everything holds together.
Christ is the head and the church is the body.
Christ is the Source of life, and has turned even death into a birth:
       so Christ is first in every way.
In Christ God lives completely.
Through Christ God reconciles us to God—
       all of us, and everything on earth and in heaven:
in dying on the cross, Christ brought God and humanity together.

Once, our evil thoughts and deeds got between us and God.
But in Jesus God has occupied our earthly body and our death,
       so that now we are brought into relationship with God.

And since we are in Christ, God sees us
       as holy and irreproachable and blameless.

Stay faithful to this good news.
May we be strong and steadfast in our trust,
       and hold on to our confidence in God’s promise.

We have heard the good news,
       news that’s been proclaimed to every creature in the world.
       It’s the gospel for which we each are made a minister.
This is the mystery, hidden for ages but now revealed:
       that Christ is alive in us. Alleluia!


2.
       God, we give ourselves to you and rely upon you: Creator of all things, ruler of this world and all that is to come.
       Jesus, we love you and entrust ourselves to you: Christ, the Beloved. You are the image of the invisible God. In you all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, all powers and dominions. You are before all things, and in you all things hold together. You are the head of the body, the church. In you all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through you God was pleased to reconcile everything to God.
       Holy Spirit, we live by your power. Through you Christ is alive in us, and we enter into the life of love and beauty. In you we give ourselves to lives of justice, forgiveness and hospitality, for the sake of the healing of the world Amen.

Listening Prayer

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

Loving One,
I let go of my distractions,
my many things,
and sit at your feet
only to be with you,
and to listen.

Eucharistic Prayer

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

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

Gracious and loving God, thank you for inviting us
into your lovely house, to your beautiful table.
You provide for us abundantly, and welcome us sweetly.

You establish justice, and care for those who are oppressed.
You sit at our feet and listen lovingly to us.

You set us at peace with you, and give us harmony and belonging.
Therefore with all Creation we sing your praise with one voice.
     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
the visible appearance of your invisible presence.
He embodied your love,
and created a home in you for us.
Crucified and risen, he reconciled us to you.
He blessed our many ways of serving.

And he led us to the one necessary thing:
your love, flowing through us eternally.

     (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.
May the fullness of your grace be in us.
May we be strong and steadfast in our trust in your promise. (Amen.)

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

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

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

Gracious God, we give you our lives, symbolized in our gifts. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. You have received us with blessing and changed our hearts with your presence. Send us now with that grace to share it with all the world, in the name and spirit of Christ. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have offered us the deepest hospitality. Send us now into the world to offer hospitality to all, in service and in friendship,in the company of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

At Your Feet (Original song)

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.

OT 15 – Fifth Sunday After Pentecost

July 10, 2022

Lectionary Texts

In Amos 7.7-17 the prophet envisions God’s Word like a plumb line, a bricklayer’s weight on a string, showing a perfect vertical: God wants justice to be clear. Amos announces doom for Israel because they oppress the poor, but the king and his priest don’t want to hear it. Amos preaches just the same.

Like many of the Psalms and prophets, Psalm 82 cries out for justice for the poor and oppressed.

In Colossians 1. 1-14 Paul prays for the church, that they (we) will grow closer to God and more able to discern what delights God, and live in harmony with that awareness. Paul rejoices that we have been “rescued from the dominion of darkness” and brought into a new world, the realm of Christ’s grace.

In Luke 10. 25-37 someone questions Jesus about the way to salvation. Reflecting on the commandment to love our neighbor, he asks “Who is my neighbor?” In response Jesus tells the story of a merciful Samaritan. The hero of the story turns out to be a hated enemy, not “one of us.” Our neighbor— even our savior— is the very one we want to distance ourselves from.

Preaching Thoughts

Amos
     There are three parts to this passage, and three dimensions of the prophetic message. 1. God won’t be bent. We’re tempted to somehow distort God’s demand for justice to fit our desires, but the plumb line will hang true. 2. Oppressive powers, and all who participate in them, will object. That’s not just the king, or those in power; there’s a part of us that doesn’t want to disturb or sacrifice our comfort, security, power and belonging to bring about justice for the poor and rejected. 3. The prophet speaks out anyway. Jesus notes that to be a prophet isn’t just to speak for God, but to speak under threat, and often to pay a price. We should not expect differently. (Those who complain about a “war on Christianity” forget that there is always a war against truth. Those who feel entitled probably aren’t proclaiming God’s truth, but something more selfish.)

Colossians
         If it’s true that “God has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the realm of God’s Beloved” (1.13) then that whole thing about the war between good and evil, light and darkness, is baloney. It’s over. Sure, we have to wrestle with our own shadows, our selfish fears, desires and habits—but even when we fail (and often we do), we’re already, and always, in the realm of God’s light. The anxious language of a “battle” against evil only makes us more anxious and concerned with our own strength—and therefore more susceptible to evil. Instead the invitation is to live in the light, and trust the power of the light to change the darkness. Many good Christians are “worried about going to heaven,” when the promise is that we already have “redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (1.14). The challenge is not to be good enough to deserve to get into the realm of grace but to be faithful enough to look around and appreciate it, and act like it.

Gospel
        The usual sermon on this text says, “The Samaritan was a good guy. Go be like him.” It’s easy to overlook the fact that a Samaritan was a “bad guy,” despised by Jesus’ people. There are many ways that I, a white, male, middle class, straight Christian, can’t just go and be a Samaritan, good or otherwise. I’m too privileged. That would have been true for Jesus’ audience as well. Maybe Jesus is inviting us to both acknowledge our privilege and to find ways to be in solidarity with those who are treated as second class citizens.
         We often preach about choosing between being the priest, the Levite or the Samaritan. But sometimes we are the man in the ditch. We easily forget how broken we are, how needy we are, how dependent on others. The parable invites us to trade our smugness for gratitude. Before we decide “who is our neighbor” (as Jesus is asked) we need to realize who has been neighbor to us (as Jesus describes): who has helped us—especially those we ignore or discount, like poor laborers, immigrants, and endangered “essential workers.” The pandemic exposed how dependent we are on the very Samaritans we want to exclude. Who have been those unsung helpers and heroes in your life—especially the ones you don’t want to acknowledge?
        The parable suggests that God comes to us in ways and in people we detest. This message feels uncomfortable—but it probably should be at least as hard for us to swallow as it would have for Jesus’ hearers. Even unwelcome experiences may be “Samaritan moments” for us: times when what we want to reject actually bears God’s grace for us.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Holy One, you provide for us in ways we never know.
All: Alleluia! We praise you!
Loving Christ, you heal us, accompany us and set us on our feet when we have fallen.
Alleluia! We thank you!
Holy Spirit, you empower us with gratitude and compassion, with humility and courage.
Alleluia! Shape us by your grace, that we may bear your love into this world.

2.
Leader: God of generosity, you provide for us abundantly.
All: We open our hearts to your presence.
Loving Christ, you grant us deep, deep mercy.
We open our hearts to your healing.
Holy Spirit, you fill us with compassion and grace.
We open our hearts to your power.
By your grace, make us grateful and merciful people. Amen.


3. (Colossians 1.9-14)
Leader: Alleluia! God has rescued us from the power of darkness
and transferred us into the Realm of the Beloved!
All: Alleluia! In Christ we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Siblings in Christ, may you be filled with the knowledge of God’s will,
in deep spiritual wisdom and understanding.
May we lead lives worthy of the Loving One, fully pleasing to God,
as we bear fruit in every good work and as we grow in the knowledge of God.

May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from God’s glorious power.
Prepare us, Beloved, to endure everything with patience,
while joyfully giving thanks to you;
for in you, with all the saints, we inherit your light. Alleluia!


4.
Leader: Holy One, giver of Life, you breathe us into being.
All: With all living things we thank you. With all beings we praise you.
Living Christ, you save and heal all people alike, without distinction.
You open your heart as a safe place for us.
With all who are grateful we honor you.
With all who long for life we turn to you for blessing.
Holy Spirit, you gather us in one body and fill our hearts with joy.
With all who follow Christ we sing your praise,
and we open our hearts to you.
Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!


5.
Leader: Loving God, amidst our evil you set a plumb line of justice.
All:We praise you.
In our brokenness you heal us.
We thank you.
You enfold us in your light.
We worship you. Fill us with your love. Alleluia!

6.
Leader: Creator God, we greet you!
All: We praise you; we worship you!
You have rescued us from the power of darkness
and brought us into the Dominion of your Beloved.
Joyfully we give you thanks, and ask your blessing.
Grant your peace to all who worship you here today.
Grant your peace to all the world,
to those in need who await your rescue.
Bless your Church, that in the Spirit of Christ
we may love our neighbors and serve them with humility and compassion.
Alleluia! Empower us in our worship to do your will. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God, in a world driven by fear and greed, you set a plumb line in the midst of your people by which you determine justice and discern what is good. Speak your Word to us, that though the world resist and our hearts grow faint we may see clearly, act justly, and live faithfully by your grace. Amen.

2.
God of love, your come to us in many ways. Open our hearts to hear and receive. Open our minds to wonder and grow. Open our souls to embrace and be changed. Speak your Word to us, and make us whole. Amen.

3.
God of grace, when our souls are bruised and weary, you come to us. When we are broken and destitute, in spirit or in flesh, you come to us, heal us, and care for us. Speak your healing word to us now, that we may be made whole by your grace, and restored to our neighbor in love, in the power of your Spirit. We listen for your Word, and we await your grace. Amen.

4.
Gracious God, we pray that we may filled with the knowledge of your will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, so that we may lead lives worthy of you, bearing fruit in every good work and growing closer to you. Bless us with open hearts and minds, that as the scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed we may hear with joy what you are saying to us today. Amen.

5.
God of truth, we wonder about the meaning of our lives, and wander about this earth searching. Set among us a plumb line, a direction, an anchoring place, a starting place. Speak your Word and give clarity to our lives. In Scripture, in prayer, in silence and the Word, show us your way. Show us our lives. Heavenly Lover, we open our hearts to you. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Holy Mystery,
we confess that we reject you
even though you come to heal us;
we ignore you even though you save us.
Samaritan God, forgive us,
overcome our smugness,
and restore in us
a spirit of gratitude and compassion.

Readings

1. (Colossians 1.1-14)
Leader: Since the day we heard of your love, we have not ceased praying for you,
that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will,
in deep spiritual wisdom and understanding.
All: May we lead lives worthy of Christ,
to God’s great delight, as we bear fruit in every good work
and as we grow in the knowledge of God.

May you be made strong with all the strength
that comes from God’s glorious power,
and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience,
joyfully giving thanks to the Holy One,
who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.
God has rescued us from the power of darkness
and transferred us into the Realm of the Beloved,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Amen and alleluia!

Response / Creed / Affirmation

         We give our hearts to God, Creator of all that is and all that shall be, Lover of the Universe, Womb of Grace.
         We follow Jesus, the Beloved, who embodied God’s love and mercy, who emptied himself and became one who was humble, poor and rejected. He taught and healed; he lived among the poor and lifted up the lowly. He proclaimed God’s prophetic call for justice, and opened our eyes to God’s presence in the neighbor, in the stranger, in the enemy. For his love he was crucified, and in love he was raised, and lives among us now, still among the poor and outcast.
         We live by the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s love alive in us. We serve in the power of forgiveness, the mystery of resurrection, the light of eternal life. In God’s Spirit we are one body, the church, sent in love for the healing of the world, in the name of Christ, who with the Spirit lives and reigns with God forever. Amen.

2.(Colossians 1.1-14)
Leader: Our Father, our Mother, we give thanks to you,
for you have delivered us from the power of darkness
and instilled in us the light that all your children receive.
All: Alleluia! God, we praise you, and we want to grow closer to you.
You have brought us into the Realm of your Beloved, who sets us free,
Christ, who forgives us and gives us life again.
Alleluia! Christ, we thank you.
Give us your strength, your patience and your wisdom.
You fill us with faith and hope and love that bears fruit among us.
Alleluia! Holy Spirit, we open our hearts to you,
that our hope may bear fruit, that we may discern what gives you delight,
and that we may live in harmony with you. Alleluia!

A prayer of Blessing

[Colossians 1.1-14. A baptismal blessing; may be adapted for leader and congregation, or the congregation in two groups speaking to each other, substituting “Beloved” for the name.]

Sponsor: (Name), we do not cease praying for you:
All: May you always discern God’s delight.
May the Spirit give you a loving vision of the world.
May you be in harmony with the Holy One,
your life a gift to God.
May you continually grow closer to God.
Your life be full of loving deeds.
God’s grace be strong in you.
May you be prepared to endure everything with patience.
May gratitude to God fill your heart:
for as with all her children, her holy ones,
the Loving One has claimed you
and given you her light.
She has rescued us
from the dark tombs that encase us
and brought us into the realm of her Beloved,
in whom we have life again,
and we are set free. Alleluia!

Listening Prayer

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

Holy Mystery,
we cannot know or control
how you come to us.
We open our hearts,
Samaritan God,
to heal us even when we don’t welcome you.

Eucharistic Prayer

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

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

We thank you, God, for your faithful love,
for you come to us in ways we seldom recognize.
You heal us, often in ways we do not welcome.

You set among us a plumb-line of justice,
that all who are oppressed be set free.
You have delivered us from the dominion of shadows,
from fear and selfishness.

You have brought us into the light
of the Realm of your Beloved,
in whom we know our forgiveness and belonging.
Therefore with one voice, together with all Creation,
we sing you praise.

     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who held fast your plumb-line of justice:
he fed the hungry, healed the broken,
and showed us your grace among the outcast and rejected.
He proclaimed our redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
He confronted the powers that oppress.
For his resistance he was crucified;
but you raised him from the dead,
and with him delivered us from the shadowy powers.


     (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.
May we lead lives worthy of the Beloved,
fully pleasing to Christ, as we bear fruit in every good work,
growing ever nearer to you.
May we be made strong with all the strength
that comes from your glorious power,
prepared to endure everything with with patience,
joyfully giving thanks to you.
     
(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

1.
Gracious God, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. You have blessed us in ways we have not expected, not even seen. Now send us out as your unnoticed angels to bless others, even our enemies, in the name and Spirit of Christ, for the sake of the healing of the world. Amen.

2. (Colossians 1.1-14)
Gracious God, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. By your grace may we be filled with the knowledge of your will, in deep spiritual wisdom and understanding. May we lead lives worthy of you, fully pleasing to you, as we bear fruit in every good work and as we grow in our knowledge of you. May we be made strong with all the strength that comes from your glorious power. Prepare us, O Lord, to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to you; for in you, with all the saints, we inherit your light. Send us into the world now, not as benefactors to the poor but sisters and brothers with them, sharing your grace and love in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

3.
Gracious God, though we have turned against you, you have bent over us in tender compassion and healed us. And so, grateful for your mercy and radiant with your love, we give you our lives, symbolized in these gifts. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. Send us into the world to extend compassion to our neighbor, and even to our enemy, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, and in the name of Christ. Amen.

4.
Gracious God, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. Send us into the world to proclaim your nearness, to heal the broken and cast out evil, to stand up for justice and to share your peace with all Creation, for the sake of the transformation of the world, in the name and Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have come to us as one unknown; yet you have healed and nourished us. Send us now in your Spirit, guided by the light of your love and the plumb line of your justice, to love our neighbors, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

Angels in Disguise (Original song)

For the angels in all disguises who have loved us in so many ways,
we have come to expect your surprises; we have come to sing your praise.
         [Refrain:] God, you have loved us more than we believed.
                          Help us to be humble; help us to receive.


We have asked for your Word’s revealing without listening to all that you say,
and the ones who would bring us your healing we have pridefully turned away.

When we dare to be unprotected from a foe of Samaritan cast
when we welcome the ones we rejected, then we meet you, God, at last.

Have we enemies? Love them dearly, for the pones we reject or despise
are the ones we will some day see clearly as your angels in disguise.


Do Justice (Original song)

Do justice, love mercy,
walk humbly with your God.
O, help us humbly live your justice,
your love, your mercy.


Let Me Feel Your Wounds (Original song)

Risen Christ, let me feel your wounds
in the heart of the One whom I have crucified.
May I feel your forgiving,
and begin brand new living.
May I know your rising there.

Risen Christ, let me feel your wounds
in the hands of the lonely and despairing ones.
May I love with your caring.
May I hope with your daring.
May I know your rising there.

Risen Christ, let me feel your wounds
in the feet of the poor and homeless wandering.
May I weep with their weeping.
May I give without keeping.
May I know your rising there.

Risen Christ, let me feel your wounds
in the marks of our violence upon the world.
May I bless and heal.
May your peace be my seal.
May I know your rising there.


You are the Nerve (Tune: Finlandia)

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

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

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

OT 13- Third Sunday after Pentecost

June 26, 2022

Lectionary Texts

In 2 Kings 2. 1-15 the prophet Elijah knows that God is about to take him from this life. Elisha, his student, follows him across the Jordan River, even though Elijah gives him permission to go home. Elisha asks to receive Elijah’s prophetic spirit, and his wish is granted as Elijah is taken up into heaven.

Psalm 77 cries to God for help in difficulty. The Psalmist sees God’s power in a thunderstorm, and remembers God’s mighty deeds in the Exodus from Egypt.

In Galatians 5.1 13-25 Paul says God has set us free from slavery. So we should not only treasure our own freedom, but be careful not to infringe on other people’s freedom, and in fact “through love become slaves of one another.” He contrasts living “by the flesh,” that is, under the power of selfish fear and desire, with living “in the Spirit,” and describes what the fruit of that Spirit is like.

In Luke 9.51-62 Jesus commits to going to Jerusalem, knowing what awaits him there. On his way he passes through a Samaritan village that rejects him. His disciples want to retaliate, But Jesus won’t have it. He warns people who would follow him that to live a life of radical obedience you may have to sacrifice your security, social status and belonging, or maybe even a place to sleep. To follow Jesus you have to let go of everything else.

Preaching Thoughts

Elisha
Elisha is deeply moved to follow his mentor Elijah to the end, despite being given permission to go home, and being warned that he’ll face deep loss. Poignantly he continues on with Elijah at every stage of the journey. Maybe you’ve seen people of faith who pursue their calling despite resistance, sacrifice and loss. God does that to us. What is it that calls you that strongly? Is there something you’ll stick with “through thick and thin?” How do you encounter God in that?

Flesh and spirit
What Paul means by contrasting “flesh” and “spirit” is not a contrast of “physical” and “spiritual.” They’re both physical. We are subject to the profoundly convincing illusion that we are separate individuals contained in our bodies. Paul calls this “living by the flesh.” It doesn’t mean there’s something evil about our bodies, or about sensual pleasure. It means we think we’re defined by and limited to our flesh. But in fact we—our “selves””—are not separate islands of being. We are part of one vast, immeasurable Being in the one Spirit. We are all members of one living organism, seemingly separate but actually one being, like different fingers of the same hand, or cells of the same body, living in seemingly separate bodies but actually united in one Spirit. Mindful of our oneness, we live “in the spirit.” The contrast between flesh and spirit isn’t physical versus non-physical; it’s separate versus united. It’s the difference between living according to “I, me and Myself” and living as a member of the Body of Christ. Watch Paul’s vocabulary. Pretty consistently by “flesh” he means self-centeredness; by “body” he means the body of Christ.

Fruit of the Spirit
Here’s a pretty good snapshot of the christian life. What else might it mean to follow Jesus but to live with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? These are not “spiritual gifts,” which, in their various combinations, are unique to each of us. These describe the fruit we all experience from living in harmony with the Spirit. You might think of these qualities as the “vital signs” of a living faith. If you’re short on one of them, you might commit to practicing it—but also be aware that it’s a symptom of living in harmony with God’s energy. When we open ourselves to God’s love, these qualities are the natural fruit.

Following Jesus
         Jesus is not welcomed because “he set his face toward Jerusalem.” That might be a form of regional/religious discrimination: the locals are Samaritans, who see folks from Jerusalem as categorically suspect. But it may also be because as a critic of the authoritarian powers, centered in Jerusalem, Jesus is walking toward certain death,—and nobody likes a loser. Of course the disciples want to avoid being losers, so they want to retaliate. They sound like Christians who complain about a “war on Christianity” and seem to want to call down fire on their opponents. Jesus says no. I’m sure he rebuked them partly for thinking God would want such violent behavior, and partly because Jesus is trying to teach them humility and acceptance, and to let go of their sense of superiority. And he likely also rebuked them for thinking—not only how mean, but how vain!—they they could call down fire from heaven. Before we judge them for being so arrogantly mean-spirited, we need to observe how much of our energy (fire from heaven) we spend defending ourselves and our sense of being, if not superior, at least right. One thing we have to sacrifice to follow Jesus is our smugness.
         And that’s not all: you’ll surrender your sense of belonging (“nowhere to lay his head”) and be asked to tend to the work at hand. When Jesus says “Let the dead bury the dead” I don’t think he’s asking us to abandon our families. He’s inviting us to be in the present moment, not the past. To put your hand to the plow and don’t look back is like looking forward while you’re driving. You can’t plow straight lines if you’re not looking ahead. Again, it’s not about denying your memories, but about being in the present moment, and forging ahead even when it’s hard. (Like Elisha.)

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Spirit of Creation, you make us in your image.
All: Spirit, bear your fruit in us.
Christ, you call us to be your messengers.
Spirit, bear your fruit in us.
Holy Spirit, breathe your grace in us, that we may shine with your light,
live with your love, and give of your gifts in us.
Spirit, bear your fruit in us.
Fill us, Holy Spirit, as we worship you. Amen.


2.
Leader: “My people, I call to you.”
All: We look to the halls of power, to the weapons of the mighty, the tools of the merchants, but we do not hear your voice.
“My people, I call to you.”
We look to the confident and the secure, but we do not see your grace.
“My people, I call to you.”
We look to the poor, and you are present. We listen to the voiceless, and you speak to us. We open our broken hearts, and you enter.
“My people, I love you, and I am with you.”
We give you thanks. We give you our lives, and we worship you. Alleluia!

3.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
We call to mind your deeds, O God, and meditate on your ways.
Your way is holy, O God; you redeem your people with a mighty arm.
There are no distinctions or divisions;
in Christ we are all your children through faith.
Alleluia! In Christ we worship you as one.Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1. (from Psalm 77)
I will call to mind the deeds of the Holy One;
I will remember your wonders of old.
I will meditate on all your work, and ponder your mighty deeds.
Your way, O God, is holy.
I will listen with my heart, for you are a God who redeems. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, we open our hearts to you, that your Spirit may flourish and bear fruit in us. May we be a garden of love, joy, and peace. May we blossom with patience, faithfulness and self-control. May our gentleness, kindness and generosity bear fruit in the lives of those around us. Help us set aside all that hinders us from perfect love, by the grace of your Beloved, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

God of love, we long for you, yet we are distant from you;
we know some of the things that keep us from you,
and others are hidden.
Open our hearts to see ourselves clearly,
to name what turns us from you,
and to allow you to forgive us, heal us and bring us back to you.

Reading

Galatians 5.1, 13-25 (My version)
       Christ has set us truly free. Sand, firm, then, and don’t let yourself be enslaved by anything. But remember: freedom isn’t for the sake of selfishness. Freedom is the power to love each other deeply. After all, the whole law is summed up this one thing: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour one another, you’ll be eaten up by your selfishness. Live by the Spirit that makes us one. Beware of the fearful desires born of thinking you are an isolated unit contained in your flesh. That way of thinking is opposed to the Spirit. The Spirit sets you free from your solitary confinement that prevents you from living fully. If you are led by the Spirit, you are free from having to be good enough.
       Now the works of our fearful, self-centered desires are obvious: using other people, clinging to possessions, making enemies, fighting over trivial things, jealousy, temper tantrums, fighting, competition, and all kinds of addictive behaviors. I’ve said before, this is not the way to experience the realm of God. But listen: when the Spirit lives in you it bears fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There’s nothing wrong with that, is there? When we live in Christ we let our self-centered desires and attachments die. We live by the Spirit and the Spirit living in us guides us.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1. (Ephesians 4. 1-16)

      Leader: I beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
      All: There is one body and one Spirit, just as we were called to the one hope of our calling, one Chief, one faith, one baptism, one God and Parent of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
      
Each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Beloved of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
      We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into the one who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

2. (based on Galatians 5.22-23. I encourage silence after each response…)
Leader: God, you love us deeply.
All: Give us love.
You delight in us.
Give us joy.

You are patient with us.
Give us patience.
You are kind with us.
Give us kindness.

You are generous with us.
Give us generosity.
You are faithful to us.
Give us faithfulness.
You are gentle with us.
Give us faithfulness.

You are full of grace toward us.
Give us self-control.


Listening Prayer

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

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

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

1.
Gracious God, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. In the power of your Spirit give us grace to follow Christ, to go with your Beloved to the broken places in this world with the news of your love and the light of your presence, for the sake of the healing of the world. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, we thank you for your grace. You have made us one in Christ, gathered us as your children, and fed us with your word. Send us into the world as one, to break down the barriers that divide us, to reach out to those who are outcast, and to proclaim in word and deed the miracle of your grace for all people. Send us in the name of Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit to do your will, for your glory. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

God, I Surrender (Original song)

God, I surrender myself to you,
all that I have and all I do.
All my desires I give to you.
Take them from me and make me new.

God, I surrender myself to you,
all that I have and all I do.
Trusting you wholly I follow you
Take my life and make me new.


I Belong to You (Tune: Water is Wide / Gift of Love)

Beloved, I belong to you.
You give me birth; you make me new,
your image formed, by Spirit stirred.
You are the Song; I am your Word.

Whatever pains I may endure,
I still belong. Your love is sure.
Since I am yours, your will I do.
I trust and give myself to you.

I am your coin to richly spend,
so spend me, God, as you intend.
You bless my end; you hold my worth;
send me to love throughout the earth.

Beloved, I belong to you.
Do with me what your love will do.
Bear me, and I, through ease or strife
will find in you eternal life.



OT 12 – Second Sunday After Pentecost

June 19, 2022

Lectionary Texts

In 1 Kings 19. 1-15 the prophet Elijah has killed the prophets of Baal; to escape retribution he has fled to the wilderness, where he expects to die. But an angel feeds him and sends him to Mt. Horeb, where he encounters God—not in the earthquake, wind or fire, but in utter silence. God then sends him back to Damascus to get to work.

Psalm 42 is a cry of longing for God. “As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul thirsts for you.” Despite all suffering and sorrow, we hope in God, who gives us life.

In Galatians 3.23-39 Paul says the law was a disciplinarian, teaching us right from wrong, but we are justified before God not by our obedience, but by God’s love. Our faith, our trust in God’s grace, is what saves us. There is no distinction between Jew and Gentile—those who follow the law and those who don’t. There aren’t any distinctions at all. We are all God’s children.

In Luke 8.26-39 Jesus goes across the Sea of Galilee to the Gentiles, where he heals a man possessed by evil spirits. He sends the spirits into a herd of pigs (probably kept to feed the Roman Army) who rush into the lake and drown. The people are so upset they make him leave.

Preaching Thoughts

Elijah
         Elijah has fled to the wilderness for escape, but retreat turns into encounter. Sometimes we need to “get away.” But we’re not getting away from God. No such thing. In our retreat we are given the strength, wisdom or power to return to the work of loving the world.
         None of this is Elijah’s doing. It’s all gift. He receives food for strength; he receives a vision of God; he receives instructions. How often, when we’re ready to quit, some angel says, “Here’s what you need to go on.”
         God doesn’t come to Elijah in dramatic special effects. God doesn’t speak to us in that great, booming bass voice of the movies, but in the quiet, in silence, “God’s first language.” If Elijah hears actual words we’re not told of them. Just a tiny, calm voice. God’s “Word” is presence, not words.
         The assurance Elijah might want—protection from the danger he’s in—is not given; only instructions. As if what matters is not our sense of security but our faithfulness to God’s quiet whispers in us; God will take care of our fate.

Galatians
      It’s hard for us to trust that God really, really doesn’t “judge” us, by deciding how good or bad we are. God’s judgment is that we need more love—all of us. No one is actually “better” than anyone else in God’s eyes. Oh, we so desperately want to be better than somebody… (Thank God for Hitler—at least we can say God loves us more than him, right?) Well, no. God does not love him any less than anybody. We’re all God’s children. Of course Hitler was horrible. But it does no good to compare ourselves to others. We are not “justified” by our goodness, but by God’s. Paul invites us to stop comparing and just receive God’s grace and be grateful.

The Gerasene demoniac
         The other side. — What a rich story. Jesus has brought the disciples to the “other side”—of the lake… of the tracks… of the border wall…of the aisle. This is gentile territory. When we confront our shadow side, the parts of ourselves we can’t see or won’t look at, we encounter the demonic—but also healing and miracles!
         The demon recognizes Jesus for who he really is: not just a healer but a destroyer of evil forces. Jesus’ healing isn’t just the cure of individuals: he’s assaulting the cosmic power of evil itself. He demon’s name is “Legion”— not only meaning many, but specifically a platoon of the Roman Army. In the demon Jesus is also confronting the evil of Roman occupation. A large herd of swine would be unlikely to belong to anyone but a large organization to feed lots of people—like the Roman army. When the swine drown in the lake it’s an image of the power of evil being sent back to the waters of the chaos of Creation, back to square one. And, weird as it seems, it’s an image of baptism. Our demons drowned and sent back where they came from. Jesus has performed a cosmic healing.
         When the locals see the formerly tormented man sitting at the feet of Jesus” (that is, learning from him) clothed and in his right mind, they were afraid. We’re threatened when people we’re accustomed to labeling as unfit, unworthy or deserving to be excluded turn out to be real people. They want Jesus to leave. As is often the case, we’re not always comfortable with miracles and healings, both because it disturbs our sense of “everything the way it is,” and also because, like people working for the Roman army, we derive some benefit from our collusion with the structures of oppression. We hate to surrender that, even for the good of others. The demon lives in all of us. Jesus’ instructions to the man to go home is itself a great healing: Jesus restores him to his community, to being accepted and respected.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Eternal God, by your Word you create us.
All: Give us grace to listen to your creating Word.
Loving Christ, you speak your Word and we are healed.
Give us grace to listen to your loving Word.
Holy Spirit, you speak in our hearts in the sound of sheer silence.
Give us grace to listen to your silent Word.
We open the ears of our hearts; and we worship you.


2.
Leader: Holy One, you your Spirit breathes in us.
All: The heart of your love beats in our hearts.
We breathe in the pain of the world.
We breathe out your mercy.
We breathe in the sorrow of the world.
We breathe out your mercy.
You breathe your mercy in us.
Your deep mercy we breathe for the sake of the healing of the world. Amen.

3.
Leader: The thunder of daily news crashes about us.
All: But God, you speak in a still, small voice.
The earthquakes of our lives rattle us.
But your quiet, persistent whisper stays with us us.
The fire of our fears and desires roars within us.
But your gentle silence invites us in.
We still ourselves, that in the quiet we may hear.


4. ( Based on Psalm 42)
Leader: Living God, as the deer longs for flowing water,
so our souls thirst for you.
All: Fountain of life, well up in us and overflow with your grace.
Risen Christ, when shall we come and behold your face?
Here and now, for you are among us!
Holy Spirit, by day you pour out your steadfast love,
and at night your song is with us.
Alleluia! Come, Holy One, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

5.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
Mystery of Love, we worship you.
God, you do not speak to us in earthquake, wind or fire,
but in a still, small voice that whispers.
Help us to listen in stillness.
You are unchanging, but you transform our lives.
Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

6.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
All: Risen Christ, we greet you!
You heal us of our brokenness and restore us to full living.
You rescue us from our isolation and restore us to community.
You overpower the forces of evil, and establish your dominion on the earth.
Alleluia! We gladly tell of the wondrous things you have done! Alleluia!

7.
Leader: People of God, awaken!
All: We awaken to you, O God, and open our hearts to your presence.
Beloved of God, come!
We gather in your spirit, O Christ, and open our hearts to your love.
Body of Christ, arise!
We cross the threshold into your Realm, O Spirit, and open our hearts to your Word.
Draw us into your mystery, nourish our souls, and send us out again
to be and to proclaim your grace for the world. Amen.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God, your Spirit murmurs in our hearts, low and quiet.
Help us listen, beneath the noise of this world,
to hear the still, small voice of your presence. Amen.

2.
Loving and gentle God, amid the shouts in the streets and the voices in our heads, we want to hear your still, calm voice. Speak to us, heal us with your Word, and call us to new life in the name of Christ. Amen.

3.
God of truth, from you no secrets are hid. You hear what is on our minds; you know what is deep within us. We long to know your Word, to hear your voice, to feel your presence. We long to know you as you know us. As we wait in your presence now, speak to us— in scripture, in words, in silence, in song. May your whispering voice come to us and touch our hearts. Amen.

4.
Gracious God, we long for your peace. Voices of power shout at us with words of fear. But in your silent, whispering voice you speak your peace to us. You calm our fears. You heal our wounds. You overcome our demons. Help us to listen in hope, to receive in trust, and to live in faith, by the power of your Spirit. 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, we need you. This world needs you. We are broken.
Spirits of hate and fear haunt us.
Demons of violence and injustice possess us.
We are part of a hurting and hurtful world.
We are horrified by evil and yet we contribute to it,
though we know not how.
Forgive us, for we know not what we do.
Forgive us, heal us and grant us your mercy,
in the name and the Spirit of the crucified and risen Christ.

2.
God of Love,
from our demons deliver us.
From our fear of our demons rescue us.
From the armies of oppression
and the powers of injustice save us.
Restore us to the beloved people you create us to be,
and to the beloved community.
Jesus, we cry out to you.
Heal us, and set us free.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
         We entrust ourselves to God, maker of all that is and all that shall be, Divine Mystery, Heavenly Lover, Eternal Presence.
         We follow Christ, the Word of God made flesh, the Silence of God made real.
In love he taught and healed, cast out demons, and acted with justice and mercy.
He has undermined the power of evil, for he loved in the face of violence; he was crucified by the powers of njustice, and on the third day rose from the dead, and still lives among us, blessing us and calling us to follow.
         We live in the Holy Spirit, God’s love at work in us for others, the Spirit that makes us one Body: one in forgiveness, one in faith, one in ministry to the world.
We go, therefore, nourished by God’s grace, to serve the world in the name of Christ.

2.
       We believe in God, Creator of all, who is not in earthquake, wind or fire, but who is Mystery.
       We trust in Jesus, who is the Christ, who is Love. He taught and healed; he cast out evil and saved the wretched. He heard your word in the poor and the powerless, and in the ordinary things of life. By the forces of violence and oppression he was killed; by God’s grace he was raised again, and lives among us, healing, blessing and speaking God’s Word of love to us.
       We listen to the Holy Sprit, God’s presence in us, who guides and sustains us, who makes of us one body, the Body of Christ. In the power of this Spirit, trusting in the reality of resurrection and the mystery of eternal life, we forgive one another, embrace the outcast, resist evil, listen devoutly for God’s quiet grace, and bless all Creation, for the glory of God. Amen.

Listening Prayer

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


From the raging noises of this world
call us forth to listen
to your still, small voice.
From the voices of the demons in our own heads
shield us, that we may hear
your perfect, loving silence.
Whisper to us, God.
In the silence, be with us.

Eucharistic Prayer

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

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

God we thank you. For you create us in your image,
and call us as your own.
You set us free from all that oppresses,
both the forces of injustice around us
and the voices of shame within.

Even when we act like monsters you see our divine beauty;
you touch us and heal us, and we thank you.
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 and taught and fed the hungry.
He confronted the powers of evil,
both within us and in our systems and structures.

Those powers killed him, but you raised him from the dead,
confirming his covenant to be with us in blessing 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,
otherwise the journey would be too much for us.
Pour out your Spirit on us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
moved by your still, small voice,
healed by your grace,
and sent forth to confront the powers of evil and injustice
in whatever forms they present themselves,
in the name and the spirit of Christ.
     
(Amen.)

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

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

Prayer of Dedication / Sending

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. Send us into the world, attentive to your voice, listening for your will, ready to serve for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.2.
Gracious God, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. Send us out into the world to tell people the wonderful things you have done. Send us out into the hurting places to heal, into the lonely places to bring love. Send us out into the world of war and violence to enact your Reign of gentle peace. Make us one in Christ, and one in ministry to this broken world, in the power of your Spirit. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have healed us with your miraculous grace; you have spoken to us in your loving whisper; you have fed us for the journey. Send us now in the peace and the power of your love to aid you in the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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


Listen (Elijah Version) (Tune: The water Is Wide / Gift of Love)

“Not in the earthquake, fire or wind
will you find me, your faithful friend;
but in the silence is my Word:
it is not spoken, but is heard.

“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.

OT 11

Lectionary Texts

In 1 Kings 21. 1-21 King Ahab wants Naboth’s vineyard, his ancestral inheritance, for himself. Ahab’s wife Jezebel gets Naboth killed so that Ahab can take the vineyard. The prophet Elijah confronts Ahab about his evil.

Psalm 5. 1-8 is a lament, crying out to God for justice and protection against the malice and deceit of enemies.

In Galatians 2. 15-21 Paul says we are saved not by our fulfillment of the law, but by God’s grace, which we trust because of Christ. We have “died to the law,” that is, we do not seek life from our efforts to fulfill the law. Instead we live to God: our life comes from God loving in us. So “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” InLuke 7.36 – 8.3 a woman who is a “sinner” anoints Jesus’ feet inappropriately, but Jesus accepts her gift and tells his dinner host a parable about forgiveness. Since she has been forgiven of much, she loves much. Subsequently many women join his ministry.

Preaching Thoughts

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: O God, in your infinite grace, you forgive us perfectly.
All: God of grace, we praise you.
O Christ, in your deep love, you receive our gifts.
Loving Christ, we thank you.
O Holy Spirit, you give us new life.
Spirit of God, fill our hearts with the power of your love,
that with gratitude, humility and compassion
we may welcome, forgive and bless others
as we have been so blessed, in the name of Christ, to your glory. Amen.

2. (Based on Psalm 5)Leader: O Heart of Heaven, Listening One, hear our cry!
All: Through the abundance of your love we enter your house.
Facing your holy presence we worship you in awe.
O Righteous One, you destroy all falsehood, but you bless those who turn to you.
Lead us in your righteousness. Make your path clear before us.
In the morning we bring our praise to you, and we listen for you.
Alleluia! You cover us with favor as with a shield.
Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

3.Leader:Creator God, we praise you!
People: Risen Christ, we greet you!
In mercy you bestow your forgiveness upon all people;
all humanity is one in our sin and one in your grace.
May the earth be filled with your peace
Alleluia! God of forgiveness, may we worship you always
by being forgiving, in the name of Christ Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of grace, you come to us and make your home with us in all our joys and sorrows. You are present, in love and mercy. We open our hearts to you, to listen for your voice, to receive your grace, to become your people. Only say the word, and we shall be healed. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, a woman anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. We bring to you our sorrow and our gratitude, our amazement and our joy. And you receive us with grace and love. Still and silent at your feet, we open our hearts to your Word. Speak, and call us to new life.

3.
God of grace, we do not live our lives by ourselves: you live in us. Arise now from within and among us, and give voice to our worship. Give ear to our prayers. And give flesh to the Gospel of your grace, so that we might hear your Word and be changed. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

1.
Pastor: The grace of God be 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, for all that is broken in us,

forgive us;

open our hearts to your grace,

that we may forgive as we have been forgiven.

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.

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.

Readings

Psalm 5 — My parpahrase

let the sigh of my heart lie against your chest.
Hold my cry like your child—
you who are Life and all Being,
the One to whom my prayers belong.
You hear me before my day dawns;
in the morning I put my desire in your hands
and I wait.

Evil is like darkness in your light;
in you my deadliness dies.
The closer I draw to you
the farther behind I leave my falsehood.

You see through our arrogance like glass,
and like glass you shatter our wrongdoing.
Your grace destroys our lies,
and our deceit evaporates in your truth.

Your mercy draws me into you;
your presence awes and awakens me.
Lead me, O Love, in your way of blessing,
despite those who would pull me elsewhere:
maintain the path so I don’t miss it.

There are those who are gushers of lies,
deep wells of hurt and destruction.
Their greed is a grave;
their fear is disguised as power.

Don’t let me fall for their deceit.
Let their disguises unravel about them.
Strip them naked of their lies
so that I can stay true to your grace.

Those who nest in you are safe forever;
our lives are songs of joy.
Surround us in your presence,
set free our joy in your embrace.
Your blessing is our inescapable gravity.
You hold us to you with love
as the earth holds us
and the air gives us breath.


Poetry by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
God of love, Creator of all that is and that shall be, we trust in you. You are our Life and our Being, our Source and our End. For your people you have overthrown the powers of injustice, set us free, and given us a place of belonging in this world.

Christ, we follow you. Living Word, embodying God’s love, you taught and healed and performed prophetic acts of justice and mercy. You embraced the outcast, forgave sinners, freed us from all condemnation, and created among us a community of grace and kinship. Dying and being raised, you sowed the Reign of God, and you live among us still, calling us to lives of humble service.

Holy Spirit, beauty of God in us, you open to us the depth of eternal life, the power of forgiveness, and the mystery of resurrection. Making us one as the Body of Christ, you empower us to give of our gifts, to love all people, to forgive, and to serve you in lives of hope and joy, for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Listening Prayer

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


Eucharistic Prayer

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

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


     (Sanctus)

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

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

     (Memorial Acclamation)

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

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

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


Prayer of Dedication / Sending

Gracious God, in thanksgiving for your mercy, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. As Jesus has accepted us and blessed the gifts that we have offered, send us into the world in a ministry of acceptance: to honor people as they are, to appreciate and bless their gifts, and to support them in the ministry to which you call them. We pray as we live, in the name of Jesus Christ, and in the power of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

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


Suggested Songs

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


OT 10

Lectionary Texts

In 1 Kings 17.8-24 the prophet Elijah is staying with a widow and her son. The child becomes ill and dies, and Elijah brings him back to life.

Psalm 146 is a song of praise to God, who made all Creation, and who sets prisoners free, brings justice for the oppressed, and lifts up the downtrodden.

In Galatians 1.11-24 Paul describes his life after experiencing his call from God. He declares that the good news he preaches is not of human origin, but revealed by God.

Luke 7. 11-17, with striking similarities with the story of Elijah reviving the widow’s son, tells of Jesus reviving the dead son of a widow in the town of Nain.

In 1 Kings 17.8-16 Elijah visits a poor widow who is starving during a severe famine. He asks her to share her last bit of meal and oil, which she does. Yet by God’s grace her oil and meal never run out.

Preaching Thoughts

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: God of wonder, we are amazed.
All: You create this world in which we delight, and we praise you.
God of mystery, we are blessed.
You heal us and restore us, and we thank you.
God of grace, we are touched.
You accompany us in our sorrows, and we turn to you.
God of power, we are changed.
You stir in us, and we worship you.
Revive our hearts, and we shall be your praise. Alleluia!


Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of grace, you come to us and make your home with us in all our joys and sorrows. You are present, in love and mercy. We open our hearts to you, to listen for your voice, to receive your grace, to become your people. Only say the word, and we shall be healed. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Readings

Psalm 146 — My paraphrase

O Holy Presence, Power of Life,
we praise you.
We praise you with our saying and doing;
we praise you by being.

Our life doesn’t come from powerful people;
it’s not soldiers who make us free.
What they control dies with them:
thatt’s little stuff, not what’s deeply life-giving.

But unbounded life wells up in us
when we open our hearts to your love for all,
when our hearts fall into the Heart
who is at the heart of all things—

you— who create galaxies,
who handmade the earth;
who filled the oceans drop by drop
and gave them their tiny and huge creatures,

you who never give up on us,
who liberate the oppressed,
who are food for the hungry
and who lift those who are bowed down.

O Love, you set us free
from whatever imprisons us;
you open our eyes when we are blind;
and in you we discover deep love.

You are present in the stranger;
you are the hope and dignity
of the homeless child, the single mother,
the strength of the vulnerable ones.

Those who turn to you
you feed with life,
but the spirit of selfishness
you starve to death.

Holy One,
you love the world into being.
Amazing!
Amazing!

Poetry by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Response / Creed / Affirmation

Listening Prayer

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


Eucharistic Prayer

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

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


     (Sanctus)

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

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

     (Memorial Acclamation)

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

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

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


Prayer of Dedication / Sending

Prayer after Communion

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


Suggested Songs

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


OT 9

Lectionary Texts

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

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

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

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

Preaching Thoughts

Call to Worship

Collect / Prayer of the Day

Prayer of Confession

Readings

Poetry by Steve Garnaas-Holmes

Response / Creed / Affirmation

Listening Prayer

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


Eucharistic Prayer

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

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


     (Sanctus)

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

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

     (Memorial Acclamation)

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

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

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


Prayer of Dedication / Sending

Prayer after Communion

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


Suggested Songs

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


Trinity Sunday (June 12,2022)

Lectionary Texts

Following last week’s story of Pentecost and the disciple’s experience of the Holy Spirit, we celebrate the mystery of God as expressed in the image of the Holy Trinity: God as Creator (or “Father”) Son, and Holy Spirit, and celebrate the work of the Spirit among us.

The Wisdom Literature of the Old Testament images God’s creative force as Sophia, the Spirit of Wisdom. From the beginning she helped in Creation, working “beside God like a master worker,” both giving and receiving delight in Creation. In Proverbs 8 she cries out for us to live by her truth.

Psalm 8 proclaims God’s goodness, especially in having given human beings an honored place in Creation and in God’s care and attention. The Spirit communicates God’s truth to us.

Romans 5.1-5 says God establishes a loving relationship with us, represented in Christ, and pours love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that is in us.

In John 16.12-15 Jesus echoes Proverbs, speaking of God’s spirit of truth that gives life.

Preaching Thoughts

The Trinity
         The Trinity is not a doctrine, a logical proposition you can either “agree” or “disagree” with. It’s an image, an icon, a symbol. It’s not two men and a bird; it’s about our three-dimensional experience of God. It’s a picture of God as Lover, Beloved and the Love that Flows Between—or Lover, Love, and Loveliness. It’s sort of like E=mc2 in three dimensions. It’s an image of the whole world as a “thin place,” where the boundary is thin and porous between physical and spiritual, seen and unseen, finite and infinite.
         God is Love. God is Mother, Heavenly Lover, source of all Being: “Father.” God’s love is infinite and eternal. When God’s love exists as pure energy we call it “Spirit.” When God’s love is embodied, made finite and mortal, we call it “Christ,” God’s energy appearing as matter, Word made flesh. Jesus fully embodied the Christ, or embodied love, of God. He was not just Jesus of Nazareth, he was Jesus of Christ. He was Christ appearing as Jesus. We too are finite instances of the infinite love of God, just as Jesus was. God’s spirit, which we see in him, is in all of us.
         The Trinity reflects the way God is more than we think. It’s a way to keep our images of God slippery so we can’t have just one image. God is This and the Opposite of This and None of the above: God is infinite and also embodied; divine and also human; Father also Son, and also Mother.
       The Trinity is an image of God’s three-dimensionality. God is the Eternal Creator, Infinite Source, Reality Itself, Ground of Being, beyond all knowing or understanding. Yet God also comes to us in real, revealed, embodied form, in spoken Word, as God does in Jesus. And God also is within and among us, neither beyond us nor coming to us but arising from within us as Spirit: whenever we love—that’s God.
         The Trinity is an image of God as relationship. And it’s also an image of God as unity. Even though there seem to be three persons, they are One. And we’re part of that One. “I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you” (Jn. 14.20). And it’s an image of God as energy. With God one plus one equals three, because you also count the “plus.” God is the “proceeding” of Son from Father, and Spirit from both of them. (There’s a big controversy about whether the Spirit proceeds “from the Father” or “from the father and the Son.” The very nature of the Trinity is that they can’t be separated or distinguished. The Spirit proceeds from their relationship.) The Trinity is not a static organizational chart but an electric field, a living process, a loving flow, a divine dance. The Greek word for it is perichoresis (from peri, which means “around,” and chorein, which means “to give way” or “to make room”). The Trinity is God’s dancing-to-make-room-for-the-other.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: Loving Father, Strong Mother, Infinite Creator,
you breathe us into life; you call us to wakefulness.
All: Holy One, Holy Three, you call us to worship.
Beloved Son, you walk with us, you heal us, you die and rise with us.
All: Holy One, Holy Three, you call us to worship.
Holy Spirit, you move in us and sing with love in us.
All: Holy One, Holy Three, you call us to worship.
You dance the dance of love, and we enter your dance with love. Alleluia!


2.
Leader: Eternal Creator, you create us in the image of your love.
All: In awe and humility, we praise you.
Living Christ, you bear God’s love to us.
In gratitude and love, we thank you, and we follow you.
Holy Spirit, you breathe your love into our hearts.
By your grace, we bear your love to all people,
in the name of Christ, for the sake of the healing of the world. Alleluia!


3.
Leader: Creator God, Source and Mystery, beyond all knowing or understanding,
All: we praise you. We worship you. We glorify you.
Crucified and Risen Christ, Companion and savior, bearer of love and grace,
we thank you. We rejoice in you. We follow you
Holy Spirit; Divine Presence within; power of love, forgiveness and justice,
we open our hearts to you. We listen for you. We sing of you.
Holy Mystery, Three in one, we greet you.
Beloved God, Blessed Trinity, we give you ourselves. Re-create us in love. Amen.

4.
Leader: Holy One, you who create galaxies and have handmade the earth,
you who filled the seas drop by drop, and gave them their huge and tiny creatures,
All: we praise you with words and deeds.
Our very being is your praise.
You who keep faith forever, who bring justice for the abused,
you who set us free from all that oppresses us and open our eyes when we are blind,
we trust you, and rest all our hope in you.
You who watch over the widow and the orphan, the traveler and the alien,
you who faithfully pour love out to those who turn to you,
we look to you alone for our joy, for our life, for our very being.
Come, Holy One, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!


5.
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.
Glory be to you, O God of all Creation.
Thanks be to you, O Christ, for our salvation.
We open our hearts to you, Holy Spirit,
that you may come and live in us.
Eternal God, Three in One, we praise you.
We are in awe at the mystery of your being,
the glory of your presence.
you who died in love for us, and who raised Christ from death,
and who live in us with gentle power,
receive us now in our worship.
Alleluia! Eternal Triune God, bless us
and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!


6.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
People: Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
Great Three-in One, you are holy—
you are our wholeness—and we worship you.

Eternal God, Holy Trinity,
we thank you that you invite us into your love
and we become part of your embrace.
Mother-Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
infinitely giving and receiving love in blessed communion,
may your love flow perfectly in us and among us

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
Eternal God, Mother, Son and Holy Spirit, you are beyond our understanding, yet you come to us in the Word that blesses us. You live in us in the Spirit that renews us. In your grace you invite us into the dance of your love. Speak to us now, that our hearts may dance with yours, in the name of Christ and the grace of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

2.
Eternal God, Living Christ and Holy Spirit, Holy Three and Holy One, we praise you. We are in awe of your mystery, and grateful for your love, and we open our hearts to your grace, that we may be changed, so that we may bear your love into the world in the name of your Christ and the power of your Spirit. Amen.3.Beloved Mystery, Holy Three-In One, God of grace and beauty, You who are unknowable and yet revealed, infinite and yet within us: we strain to name you, to point to you, to understand your glory. But in tender love you reveal yourself in Christ, your Living Word, and in your Spirit in us. By your Spirit may we hear your Word now. Re-create us in your love, in the image of Christ, for the sake of the world. Amen.

4.
We come now to hear your Word, God. Still our minds. Center our hearts. Draw us into your Presence. Open an empty place in time this morning, where we may stop and listen to you. Create a clear space in the center of our hearts, where you may speak your Word to us. In stillness and openness, we await the Risen Christ, your Living Word, the hand of your blessing, the melody of your voice. We are listening. Amen.

5.
Eternal God, you are Mystery; you are Love; you are the Spirit of Life. We worship you in awe. We receive your Word with gratitude. We open our hearts to your life within us. Blessed God, Holy Trinity, surround us in your worship. Be the womb in which we receive life; be the companion who shows us how to live life; be the breath that gives us life. Speak to us, God, for your children are listening. Amen.

6.
Eternal God, spring of life in us and in all Creation, we open our hearts to your grace. As spring turns to summer and life burgeons around us, so may the sap of your love run in us, your love blossom in us. We listen for your living Word. Speak to us and awaken your Spirit in us. Amen.

7.
God, in the beginning was the Word, and all things were created through your Word. Create us anew through your Word. Speak to us in the voice of Christ, that we may hear. Fill us with your Holy Spirit, that we may be your Word, living and faithful, for the sake of the blessing of all Creation. Amen.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
      We give our hearts to you, God, Creator and Ruler of the world, Heart of all things, Heavenly Mother and Father of us all, who calls us into being and surrounds us with grace.
      We give our hearts to you, Jesus, embodiment of love. In you the worlds, both visible and unseen, infinite and particular, mortal and divine, are one. Crucified and risen, you come to us in many ways; you call us by name; you touch us and transform us; you call us to follow you in love.
      Holy Spirit, we live by your grace: we breathe your love, and shine with your gifts. You unite us in the Body of Christ, and empower us to trust grace, to practice love and forgiveness, to seek justice, and to radiate hope as we join in the work of the healing of the world. Blessed God; Three In One; Mother, Son and Holy Spirit; Lover, Beloved and the Love that Flows Between, we give our hearts to you, that you may live in us. Amen.

2.
       We love and trust in God, Eternal Source and Creator of all that is and all that is to come, beyond our naming or understanding, the infinite many and yet the Holy One.
       We love and trust in God revealed in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, divine love made real among us. He taught and healed, cast out evil and performed miracles; he died and was raised to life again, and makes his home among us still, drawing us close to God.
       We love and trust in God, Holy Spirit, breath of life and energy of love within and among us, who gives us grace to forgive, to heal, and to work for justice for the sake of all living beings. In the One Spirit we are one Body, the Church: one in Christ, one in love, one in ministry to the world. In the name of the Holy Mystery, the Blessed Trinity, Mother, Son and Holy Spirit, we live as God’s praise, now and in eternal life. Amen.

Listening Prayer

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

Eternal One, Holy Oneness,
we belong to you.
Loving Christ, Divine Companion,
listen for you.
Holy Spirit, Breath of God in us,
we open ourselves to your flow
into us and through us to the world.
Holy Three, Holy One,
you live in us, and we in you.
We offer ourselves in love.

Eucharistic Prayer

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

Eternal and Infinite One,
you are beyond all things, greater than all time and space;
you are the Loving Mystery that brings all things into being,
earth and stars, family and song, beauty and grace.
You create us as the image of your love, and claim us as your Beloved.

You defeat the powers of injustice and set us free from all that oppresses,
and feed us so we have life, and have it abundantly.
You invite us to your table to celebrate, to feast, and to share.
Therefore as one voice with all Creation we sing your praise.

     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ, your Beloved,
your Word made flesh, your grace embodied,
in whom your Love flowed, and in whom we might love you.
By your presence in him he taught and healed,;
he fed and guided your people.

He was opposed by human powers, and crucified,
but being the embodiment of your infinite love,
the grave could not hold him.
You raised him from the dead; and we celebrate his life among us

     (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 you may live and breathe in us,
that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
one in your Spirit, embodying your love
for the sake of the healing of the world.
     
(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.

Blessed are you, O God, Eternal Source,
Infinite Fountain of Life, whose Word creates all things.
Your Spirit of wisdom, Spirit of love and truth,
has set her table; she calls out to us.
Though you are unsearchable,
you invite us to this meal where we may know you.
Therefore with all Creation we sing as one voice:
[Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
He called you Father, embodied your Word and lived by your Spirit.
He was killed by the forces of evil and injustice,
but in the power of love and grace you raised him from the dead.
He revealed you as Holy Communion, the sharing of life,
and who taught us to share life, so that we might be one with you.

[… The Blessing and Covenant …] *

Christ is one with our human life,
so that we may be one with your divine life.
Dying, Christ destroys our death.
Rising, Christ restores our life.
Christ shall come again in glory.

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gift of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the Body and blood of Christ.
that we may be the Body of Christ,
one with you, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world.
May all of life be Holy Communion for us:
the sharing of love in community,
in your life and grace, Eternal God, Blessed Trinity,
Creator, Christ and Holy Spirit.
God of all Creation,
may your Word be made flesh
by all your holy Church
in the love of Christ
and the power of the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

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

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

Prayer after Communion

1.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have filled us with your Spirit, given us gifts, and kindled within us the fire of your Word, burning in us with the passion to share your love with all the world. Send us in the power of your Spirit to give, to serve, to love, and to rejoice in the name and in the company of Christ. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, you who are Three In One, you who are the very sharing of life, you have included us in your sharing. Send us into the world to share life in your Spirit, in the company of Christ, according to your loving will. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

God Beyond, Within, Among (Tune: For the Beauty of the Earth)

Holy God, great Trinity, source of all things good and true,
Gracious, Blessed Mystery, now we come to worship you.
God beyond, within, among: hear us sing our thankful song.

God, Creator, Womb of Life, whose eternal love and power
gather Earth and bring forth light, re-create us in this hour.
God beyond, within, among: hear us sing our thankful song.

Christ, our, brother, meet us here; touch our wounded hearts and heal.
Word of God, made close and clear, in your grace your truth reveal.
God beyond, within, among: hear us sing our thankful song.

Holy Spirit, Breath within, Wind of Heaven, gentle Dove,
make us holy, save from sin, fill our hearts with perfect love.
God beyond, within, among: hear us sing our thankful song.

Blessed, Holy Trinity, in your image and your power
we are your community; re-create us in this hour.
Holy God, we worship you! Take our lives and make them new.


God Eternal. Holy Trinity (Tune: Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus)

God Eternal, Holy Trinity, Father-Mother, Spirit, Son,
Gracious Mystery, Loving Family, you have baptized us as one.
Sharing life at your kitchen table, feeding us with generous grace,
send us now into the world, one with all the human race.

Christ, our Brother, Guide and Teacher, Savior, Healer, Living Word:
we are baptized in your dying, in your rising, love out-poured.
You have fed us with the outcast, raised us to new life in you;
send us now to love our neighbors, with your Presence in all we do.

Holy Spirit, Bright Companion, Breath of Life that lives in us,
we are baptized in your power, grace to share your love and peace.
Send us now as your living Body, radiant with your infinite grace.
Lead us, guide us, bless and sustain us. May our living be your praise!


God of Creation, Birthing us Daily (Tune: Morning Has Broken)

God of Creation, birthing us daily,
granting salvation, making things new,
thanks for your blessing gladly we give you,
freely confessing our love for you.

Healing, forgiving, Jesus you touch us.
Bless all our living; grant us delight.
Jesus our brother, help us live gently,
love one another, trust in God’s light.

Grant us our living, great Holy Spirit,
faithfully giving hearts made of praise:
baptized in glory, servants of Jesus,
living your story all of our days.

God our Creator, You Gather Us Here (Tune: Be Thou My Vision)

God our Creator, you gather us here,
you who release us from bondage and fear,
you who make all things, and make all things new,
gladly we sing our thanksgiving to you.

Light of the world, Christ, you healed the blind,
freed us from chains of oppression that bind,
died with our dying! Our life is in you:

Spirit, unite us, and make our hearts new.
Help us by grace to live lives that are true,
touch with your healing and see with your sight,
live in your pure love and shine with your light.

(Communion verse:)
Christ, by your Body and Blood, present here,
make of one Body your people so dear,
taken, blessed, broken and given, all free,
so all may have life, and abundantly.


Holy Mystery (Tune Of the Father’s Love Begotten)

Holy Mystery, we worship you, Holy Three in One,
God beyond our understanding, Mother, Spirit and the Son,
Holy Love, Beloved, and the flowing Love between,
never ending or begun.

God, our infinite Creator, Source of all and ending too,
Holy Lover eternal, all around and in and through,
Love that flows in us, and in whom we all are one:
we find ourselves in you.

Infinite, eternal Love unseen, Love made flesh on earth,
Love that burns within our hearts, in whom all have infinite worth,
Mother, Son and Holy Spirit: we worship y0u in awe,
and receive new birth. Amen.


O Holy Trinity (Tune: Finlandia)

O Holy One, O Mystery beyond us,
We praise you, Lord, O Grace without a name.
Creator of the universe within you,
Source of our life, Thou Infinite Divine,
Unseen, unknown, we cannot frame or bind you,
Only our wonder and our praise proclaim.

O Loving One, O Love who made the heavens,
You choose to come among us as our own,
The Living Word, in flesh revealed, Companion,
Stranger and Friend, whose suff’ring is your throne.
Eternal One who humbly dies among us,
Your tender mystery in love is known.

O Living One, O Grace who lives in our life,
We can’t contain you, but we can adore.
Spirit of Love beyond, beside, within us,
Into our hearts your healing presence pour.
Many and One, O Mystery, Christ and Spirit,
We sing, we live your praise forevermore.

Pentecost (June 5, 2022)

Lectionary Texts

Today it’s all about the Holy Spirit. (In Easter readings from Acts replace the Hebrew Bible reading)
In Acts 2.1-21 on Pentecost (a Jewish harvest festival), the Spirit enables the disciples to tell of God’s mighty deeds to people in many different languages. In explaining the event to the crowd, Peter quotes the prophet Joel, concerning how God’s Spirit will be poured out on all people: men and women, old and young, rich and poor.

Psalm 104 celebrates how God creates all things through God’s Spirit, and that the Spirit gives living beings their life.

In Romans 8.14-17 Paul says that we are God’s children and God’s Spirit is in us.

In John 14. 8-17, 25-27 Jesus says that he is in God, and God in him. He promises the coming of the Holy Spirit, which will be in us.

Preaching Thoughts

Speaking in tongues
I’m intrigued that the Pentecost story of “speaking in tongues” is about communication—the disciples speaking in other people’s languages (“tongues”) to communicate the gospel they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to communicate—and yet within twenty years “speaking in tongues” was understood not as speaking in known languages for the purpose of communication but in ecstatic utterances that were meaningless, even to the speaker, with out interpretation. I wonder how that reversal came about? I think the pentecostal challenge is not to experience ecstasy but to communicate the good news in ways people understand—which is not in our religious language, or even in words, but in love and justice.

That involves more listening than talking: paying attention to people and their lives, their context, their needs, and listening to them, to what they experience and need and ask for—what I call “listening in tongues.” Pentecost invites us to check our desire that others “speak our language,” our temptation to impose our own values on them. Sometimes the most pentecostal thing we can do is affirm people as they are, rather than ask them to conform to our standards and expectations. Pentecost invites us to assume God has been with them in their journey, even if it’s very different from ours.

The Holy Spirit
It’s helpful for us to personify the Spirit, to imagine the Holy Spirit as, well, a spirit—a sort of invisible “someone” who comes to us and acts upon us. That’s cool, as long as we remember we’re anthropomorphizing a member of the Holy Trinity, that is, God, who is not a god, but beyond all gods—the Mystery of Love that is Being itself. The Holy Spirit is not some ghost, but God in us. In both Greek and Hebrew the word for wind, spirit and breath (and hence life) is the same: ruach in Hebrew and pneuma in Greek. The Holy Spirit is the living energy of God (which is love) in us. When we love, that’s God doing God’s thing.

Jesus says “I am in God, and you in me, and I in you (Jn. 14.20). Sounds a little spacey, but it’s literally true. God is infinite; we are within God. The Holy Spirit is our inter-penetration, our inter-being. Jesus was both human and divine; so are we.

We speak of the disciples “receiving “ the Spirit at Pentecost, but they already had it. They were born with it. (Joel says the Spirit is poured out on all flesh.) And just to make sure, Jesus has breathed on them in John 20. But Pentecost is the moment when the spark catches fire and they burn with it, overcoming their fear and grief. Acting in the power of the Holy Spirit isn’t some ecstatic experience, but simply being a vessel for love. It’s not our love, our effort, but God’s. We let the Spirit, God’s love in us, do its thing. That’s what enables us to do things that seem beyond our capacity or expectations—like communicating love in languages we haven’t studied.

Baptism
Pentecost is a great day for baptisms, baptismal renewal, Confirmation, and receiving new members. People often conflate baptism and confirmation. Those who believe in “adult baptism” see it as a way to affirm one’s faith. But baptism, like birth, isn’t something you do; it’s something you receive. Baptism is a symbol of God’s unconditional love of the person being baptized—whether or not they like it, or understand it, or even know it. (That’s why we baptize babies.) Confirmation is the act in which we respond—we confirm our baptism; we accept our divine belovedness and vow to live in harmony with it. We are only baptized once, since our belovedness is permanent, eternal and unchanging, and isn’t dependent on the pastor or church or denomination that pours the water, nor on the person receiving it. But we do need to continually re-affirm our baptism, to re-commit ourselves to the vows that were made at our baptism. Pentecost is a great time for baptismal renewal services. See a service of Baptism/ Baptismal Renewal/ Confirmation here.

Call to Worship

1.
Leader: God, in the beginning your Spirit brooded over the water and you created everything.
All: By your Spirit you create us anew, and we praise you.
Loving Christ, when you rose from the dead you breathed your Spirit into us.
By your Spirit you raise us up from death, and we thank you.
Holy Spirit, you breathe your love into us and give us your beauty and your courage.
In your Spirit you make us one body, the Body of Christ, the Body of Love.
In your Spirit we bear your love to the world.
We love you; we worship you; we serve you. Alleluia!


2.
Leader: Holy Spirit, you breathed over the waters and brought forth Creation.
All: You create us anew each day, each breath.
Holy Spirit, you live and move in all of us.
You make us one, your living body
Holy Spirit, you enflame us with your love.
We are the love song you sing to the world.
And so we sing our love to you. Alleluia!


3.
Leader: Spirit of God, you breathe life into us.
All: Breath of Life, you fill us with glory.
Glory of God, you call us to your love.
Fire of Love, we burn with your presence.
Wind of Compassion, blow through us to all the world.
Word of God, live in us by your grace. Alleluia!

4.
Leader: Spirit of Life, you create all things.All: Alleluia! We praise you for your great love!
Leader: Spirit of Christ, you join us in one body.
All: Alleluia! We thank you for your great love!
Leader: Spirit of love, you fill us so we are able to love others.
All: Alleluia! We ask you for your great love!
Help us to become more loving,
to continually receive and give your love in Jesus’ name. Alleluia!


5.
Leader: You have promised to pour out your Spirit on all flesh,
on male and female, young and old, rich and poor alike.
All: Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
that we may proclaim your great works and live by your great love.

Help us, by the power of your Spirit, to prophecy in your name.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
Light our hearts on fire with your love.
Alleluia! Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on us! Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of our living breath, you poured out your Spirit on Jesus’ followers long ago, and created the church. Pour out your Spirit on us now, and make us once again the Body of Christ, breathing your love, on fire with your courage, carried on the winds of your joy. Speak your Word to us, and set our heart aflame with your love. Amen.

2.
God of Creation, in the beginning your Spirit breathed over the waters and you brought forth life. Re-create us by your Word. Baptize us in your grace. Bring us to new life, and kindle in us your love for all your people, in the name of Christ. Amen.

4.
Holy Spirit, Spirit of love, you live in us and give us life. Help us to listen to you now. Help us to take in your word like breath and let it give us life. Help us to take in your word like food and let it give us strength. Help us to take in your love so that we can give your love to others. We pray in the name and in the presence of Jesus. Amen.

5.
Holy Spirit, we breathe in, and you enter us. You fill us. You give us life and energy. We breathe out and you give us voice and song, and we speak your truth. Breath of God, breathe in us now. Speak to us, and in us, and through us. Amen.

6.
Eternal God, spring of life in us and in all Creation, we open our hearts to your grace. As spring turns to summer and life burgeons around us, so may the sap of your love run in us, your love blossom in us. We listen for your living Word. Speak to us and awaken your Spirit in us. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Spirit of God, you breathe your love in us.
We give thanks for those times
when we have lived by your love, your Spirit in us….

(Silence…)
Spirit of God, you breathe your love in us.
We confess those times
when we have lived by fear or selfishness, not by your Spirit,
and we open ourselves to your grace…

(Silence…)
We breathe in your grace.. and we breathe out your grace.
Thanks be to you, God of our breath.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1. (Romans 8. 11-14 ; Galatians 5.22-26)
We give thanks, for the Spirit of God lives in us. Since the Spirit of the One who raised Jesus from the dead lives in us, then the one who raised Christ from the dead will give life to our mortal bodies also, through that Spirit that lives in us. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Since we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Amen.

2.
We believe in God, Creator of all,
whose Spirit in the beginning breathed over the waters of chaos.
We believe in Jesus Christ, son of God,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
and to whom the Spirit gave power to teach and to heal,
to make known God’s infinite love.
He was crucified, gave up his Spirit, and died;
yet he was raised from the dead,
and breathed his spirit into us,
and lives and reigns forever with God.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, God’s presence within and among us,
by whose power we, the Church, are made the Body of Christ,
one with one another and one with Christ,
empowered to love and to bless, to do the very deeds of Christ.
We believe in the love of God and neighbor,
the forgiveness of sin, the life of death and resurrection,
and the reality of eternal life. Amen.

Listening Prayer

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

Spirit of Love,
we breathe deeply of your grace.
Your breath fills us;
your Word gives us life;
your light creates us;
your breath transforms our bodies
into the Body of Christ.
As we open our lungs,
we open our hearts to you.

Reading

Psalm 104. 1, 24-35 My paraphrase


O God, I bless you!
May my soul be my blessing and thanks,
for you are infinitely good;
you are the perfect heart of all things.

Your working unfolds richly with grace
and layers upon layers of your poetry.
Earth abounds with your presence—
all these living things, your creatures!

Yonder is the sea, great and wide,
teeming with innumerable beings,
small and great in the hidden waters.
Beneath our confident ships, deeper
than our understanding, swims
a great secret creature whom you made,
at home in the depths.

Your creatures live in faith,
looking to you for their sustenance
from moment to moment.
So simple, the way of life!:
you provide, and they gather.
You open your hand
and fill them with good things.
These “dumb creatures” who do not understand
cannot imagine life without you.

When you withhold their breath, they are once again only dust.
You give of your Spirit,
and create them anew with each breath.
In each breath of every creature
you make a new Creation altogether.

This glory is eternal!
God, may it give you joy,
you whose mere look trembles the earth,
whose simple touch ignites mountains!

Let this awe fill me as long as I live.
Let this song be the breath of my being.
May my mindfulness delight you
as much as you delight me.

Let all that is sinful in me be consumed;
let all my evil be no more,
so that all of me is a blessing to you,
so that I may be your Alleluia!

Eucharistic Prayer

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

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

Holy One, in the beginning your wind brooded over the waters
and you created the world.
You breathed into the clay of the earth
and it became a living human being.

The strong east wind of your breath
parted the Red Sea and led the slaves to freedom.
Your breath entered the dry bones in the valley
and they rose to life again.
Therefore with your holy breath in us we sing your praise.

     (Sanctus)

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
At his baptism your Spirit descended on him as a dove.
He embodied your love, he breathed your grace.
By your Spirit he healed and taught and nourished your people.
The powers of evil opposed him and crucified him;
but the Spirit of Life raised him.
Risen from the dead, he came to us and breathed his spirit into us,
his promise 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,

one in your Spirit, breathing deeply of your grace,
on fire with your love, 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

1.
Gracious God, we give you our gifts as symbols of our lives. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. Anoint us with your Spirit, unite us with all who love you, give us the language of grace, and send us into the world aflame with your love, in the name of Christ, for the sake of the blessing of the world. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, we give you these gifts as symbols of our lives. Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us and on these gifts. Receive them with love, bless them with grace, and use them according to your will. In your Spirit make us one with Christ, one with all who follow Christ, and one with all whom we serve in your name. Send us into the world, bright with the spirit of your love, alive, even to eternal life, with the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have created us by your Spirit, you have made us one in your Spirit, you have filled us with your Spirit, and now you send us into the world in the power of your Spirit, to show forth your love and grace to those who are hungry to hear and see. Bless us, that we may continually do your will. Amen.

Suggested Songs

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

Bearers of Light (Tune: Morning Has Broken)

God, how you love us, hold us and bless us,
reign from above us, lead us by hand
Call us to healing, bound by your Promise,
your Word revealing, by your command.

Great holy giver of life and wonder,
deep like a river your blessings flow.
Gladly we give you praise and thanksgiving:
gifts we will give wherever we go.

Baptized, anointed, filled with your Spirit,
we are appointed bearers of light:
for liberation, servants of justice,
bringing the nations joy and delight.


Breath of God (Tune: Londonderry Air – Oh 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.


Fire of Love (Tune: HOLY MANNA)

Holy Spirit, you have gathered us as on that Pentecost
when you gathered Christ’s disciples and their fears and doubts were lost:
breathing life into their souls, and shining out of every face,
you sent them into the streets to tell of God’s amazing grace.

Each aflame with your compassion, eager that your praise be sung,
fearlessly they filled the streets to tell your news in every tongue.
So we ask you, by your life within us, giving us new birth,
send us out to spread God’s love in Jesus’ name to all the earth.

Holy Spirit, you have granted gifts to each, in our own way,
so that we might serve you as we live and work and share and pray.
By your pow’r we love our neighbors, work for justice, act with peace,
reach the lost and serve the lowly: so your work will never cease.

Holy Spirit, energy of God that links us soul to soul,
by your grace we are the Body of the risen Christ, made whole.
Be the breath that lifts our singing; be the wind that fills our sails;
be the fire of love among us ‘till the Reign of God prevails.

Holy Spirit, Burn Within Us (Tune: BEECHER, Love Divine, All Loves Excelling)

Holy Spirit, Sun of Heaven, source of light and warmth and power,
fill us and transform us like a seed that turns into a flower.
Kindle in your willing people joy’s bright spark, compassion’s flame.
Set us all afire to bear your loving light in Jesus’ name.

Holy Spirit, burn within us, radiant with your healing grace.
Give us brand new ways to meet and love the stranger face to face.
Help us find new ways of caring. Help us set new, daring goals.
Give us brand new languages to speak your love to seeking souls.

Holy Spirit, let your fire consume us, changing us at last.
Let us rise like light emerging from the embers of the past.
May the star of pure compassion shine within and set us free.
Holy Spirit, make us all your flame that burns eternally.


Holy Spirit, Wind of Heaven (Tune: Joyful, Joyful)

Holy Spirit, Wind of Heaven, Breath of Life, our warmth and light,
Power of Creation, bringing hopeful dawn from darkest night:
you have birthed us, you have borne us; you have blessed us all our days,
now you fill our lungs with singing; how you fill our hearts with praise!

Holy Spirit, flame of passion, you who brought your Church to be,
re-create us as your Body, holy in our unity.
Fill us with your fierce compassion, gentle courage, trust and peace.
Lead us all to love each other; make our sad divisions cease.

Holy Spirit, Dove descending, mind of Christ within us all,
speak your wisdom, move among us, help us hear your inner call.
Be the only pow’r that moves us; be our life, O singing Dove!
Holy Spirit, come, revive us! Fill us with your heart of love!


Spirit of God (Original song)

Spirit of God, bright Wind, breath that bids life begin,
blow as you always do; create us anew.
Give us the breath to sing, lifted on soaring wing,
held in your hands, borne on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, come.

Spirit of God, bright Dove, grant us your peace and love,
healing upon your wings for all living things.
For when we live your peace captives will find release,
held in your hands, borne on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, come.

Spirit of God, bright Hands, even in far-off lands
you hold all the human race in one warm embrace.
No matter where we go you hold us together so,
held in your hands, borne on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, come.!…

Spirit of God, bright Flame, send us in your holy name,
with power to heal, to share your love everywhere.
We cannot fail or fall or know defeat at all,
held in your hands, borne on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, come.!…

Spirit of God in all, we gladly hear your call,
the life in our hands that sings, the power of your wings.
Born of your grace we rise, love shining in our eyes,
held in your hands, borne on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, come.!…

Bird blessing

I hope for you the confidence of the bird
who flies without doubt.

I wish for you the patience of the bird
for whom is it not a storm, but merely air.

I pray for you the joy of the bird,
who finds food.

I bless in you the wisdom of the bird
who flies thousands of miles and finds home.

I pray for you the grace of the bird,
who makes its own path.

I see in you the beauty of the bird,
how it loves this world.

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