COCU Index Year A 2016-17

(See also the season of autumn – in Australia commences March 1)

Year A
COCU17A, Transfiguration of Jesus (Epiphany 8A), 26th February 2017
(See also Transfiguration of Jesus Year C)
COCU18A, Ash Wednesday, 1st March 2017
COCU19A, Lent 1A, 5th March 2017
COCU20A, Lent 2A, 12th March 2017
COCU21A, Lent 3A, 19th March 2017
COCU22A, Lent 4A, 26th March 2017
COCU23A, Lent 5A, 2nd April 2017
COCU24A, Palm Sunday, 9th April 2017

COCU Year A 2016-17

Citation index (Vanderbilt Library) in canonical order.

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COCU21A.Lent 3A.19March2017

The Samaritan woman

jesus_samaritan_woman_nsama_zambia

Jesus and the Samaritan woman (Zambia)

Charlie’s blog: One of my favorite stories in the New Testament is one found in Luke 25. Jesus walked into the temple to find a woman preaching. When He realized what was happening, He walked up to the pulpit and pushed the woman off of the stage. He then said, “No woman should have authority over any man, for it is impossible for a man to learn from a woman. I say to you, strike down any woman that tries to pastor a church.”
Do you know why I love that story? Because it never happened.
What the New Testament does show, however, is Jesus helping, loving, and lifting up every woman He came in contact with. John 4 shows a Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus and how it moved her to share His message with the “men” in her town (verse 28). The Bible says that many of the men believed because of her.
As their conversation started Jesus told the woman to go call her husband and come back. In those days a woman was not to talk to a man in public without her husband present, but this isn’t why Jesus said that. Jesus brought this up to expose the sin in her life.
Jesus wasn’t interested in stale gender roles and following what the culture at the time thought was “right.” He valued the woman and saw her worth as a human being.
The story in John 4 is the true story, but so many people today act like the story in “Luke 25” is what really happened. If being a Christian literally means being a little Christ, maybe we should start by treating both men and women the way He did.

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COCU20A.Lent 2A.12March2017

See also Lent 2B and Lent 2C

See also Autumn (southern hemisphere)

Readings
Genesis 12:1-4a: God calls Abram to leave his home country, and promises that he will be blessed and will be a blessing to others, and Abram obeys.
Psalm 121: A song affirming God’s help, attention and care.
Romans 4:1-5, 13-17: Paul holds Abraham up as an example of faith and relationship with God, and points out that it was not so much Abraham’s obedience as Abraham’s relationship with God through faith that ensured that God’s promise would be fulfilled through him.
John 3:1-17: Nicodemus comes to speak to Jesus at night, and is told that he must be born of the Spirit in order to see God’s reign, and that Christ came into the world to save through faith, not to condemn and judge.
(Summaries of readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise. The link also provides reflections on the readings)

John 3:1-9 (Scholars Edition)
A Pharisee named Nicodemus, a Judean leader,
came to Jesus during the night and said,
“Rabbi, we know that you’ve come as a teacher from God;
after all, nobody can perform the miracles you do unless God is with him.”
Jesus replied to him,
“As God is my witness: No one can experience God’s imperial rule
without being born from above.”
Nicodemus says to him,
“How can an adult be reborn?
Can you re-enter your mother’s womb and be born a second time?”
Jesus replied,
“As God is my witness: No one can enter God’s domain
without being born of water and spirit. What is born of the human realm is human,
but what is born of the spiritual realm is spirit.
“Don’t be surprised that I told you,
‘Every one of you must be reborn from above.’
“The spirit blows every which way, like wind:
you hear the sound it makes but you can’t tell where it is coming from
or where it’s headed. That’s how it is
with everyone reborn of the spirit”.
“How can that be possible?” Nicodemus retorted.

Resources: Textweek, Rex AE Hunt, Singing from the Lectionary, Sacredise

A centering prayer (gently, reflectively)
We may be born again,
born into the life of the Holy Spirit of God.
From the womb of God’s love
we will emerge into the unknown
and wait in faith for what may come.
Christ’s arms will hold us like a loving mother.
As the winds of the future blow where they may,
we are called to take one step at a time
towards the will of God for us in each moment.
We may be born into life everlasting
and a grace which is eternal in the Triune God.
A silence is kept
Come, Holy Spirit, and be with us today.
Guide us through our labouring,
whether it is easy or painful,
and bring goodness to birth through us and within us.
Come, Holy Spirit, come. Amen.
(Source W4W 2011)

Gathering  (see also words of welcome and gathering)
We gather here
to celebrate life’s beauty and find healing for its pain,
to wonder at the mystery that gave us birth,
and to listen for the wisdom that guides us
in the quietness of this moment.
(Source: Gary Kowalski, UUA Worship Web)

Gathering
Life is a journey with others;
we travel as a people, on a winding road.
We share our lives, our experiences, our hopes, our fears.
With joy and hope we welcome other travellers
to share our lives.
We learn from each other.
We laugh and cry with each other.
We are home with each other.
And together we celebrate God’s presence
as we are refreshed and made ready
for re-creation in our lives and our communities.
(Source: Rex AE Hunt)

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COCU22A.Lent 4A.26March2017

Words of Assurance
In God, Source of Life:
our deaths are not the final word,
our moments of crisis are part of eternal possibility,
and our weakness is taken up into the courage of God.
As followers of Jesus of the Way:
our humanness is touched with divine life,
our tears are mingled with longing love,
and our solidarity with those who suffer
is joined by divine presence.
In the Spirit of Creativity:

there are no boundaries on the dream,
there is no end to hope,
and we will never live beyond the cherishing of God.
(Source: DMcRae-McMahon, adapted)

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COCU19A.Lent 1A.5March2017

See also Lent 1B and Lent 1C

http://www.art-prints-on-demand.com/a/kramskoi-iwan-nikolajewit/christ-in-the-desert.html

Christ in the desert.Iwan Nikolajewitsch Kramskoi.1872 http://www.art-prints-on-demand.com/a/kramskoi-iwan-nikolajewit/christ-in-the-desert.html

Readings
Genesis 2:15-17, 3:1-7: God warns the man and woman in Eden not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, but they are tempted by the serpent, and eat some of the fruit, at which point they realise their nakedness and cover themselves with fig leaves.
Psalm 32: A Psalm of David celebrating God’s forgiveness which is given so freely to those who confess their sin and do not try to hide it, and also an acknowledgement of God’s invitation to guide God’s people and lead them to life.
Romans 5:12-19: Through one person sin entered the world, and all people have likewise sinned against God, but in Christ, God has given the free gift of forgiveness and right relationship with God.
Matthew 4:1-11: Jesus is tempted by the devil in the wilderness, but overcomes the temptation to satisfy his appetites by turning stone into bread, to gain power and influence by the miraculous act of throwing himself off the temple, and to gain the world’s wealth by worshiping the devil.
(Lectionary readings summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Darkness and Light
(could be used to accompany candle lighting at start of service, and as a call to worship)
The darkness loves to parade itself, God,
to draw our attention and steal our energy,
with fearful threats
and dire prophecies of doom;
and we all too easily give it just what it seeks.

Community candle (or Christ candle) is lit

But, if we can just drag our gaze away
we discover that there is another reality;
that your light shines undimmed,
that your care is undiminished,
that your strength and protection
are unfailing.

And so, even in the midst of pain, suffering, evil
even when it seems your light is almost out,
we choose to remain under the shadow of your wings;
to trust in your salvation,
to speak your words,
and to dispel the darkness
by lighting the flame of faith again
in our hearts. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Prayers of who we are (prayer of confession): Overcoming temptation
When we are drawn to the easy satisfaction of our appetites,
to the simple addictions of pleasure:
We pray for the strength to say ‘no’
and to live by your soul-feeding word.

When we are caught up in the self-aggrandising song
of power and self-sufficiency:
We pray for the humility to serve,
and to worship the only One who is worthy.

When we are challenged to accumulate
and to find our security in wealth:
We pray for the grace to give,
and for the faith to trust in your care.

A silence is kept

And so, for us and for our world:
we embrace your wisdom and your word,
and we commit to living in your light
so that in some small way,
we may dispel the darkness. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Communion – an introduction 
(‘Past Glory’ – justaposing the Transfiguration of Christ from last week with the forlorness of Lent 1)

Where is the glory now?

All that light from last week
all that wonder
and mystery
turns to dust and ashes
and a single set of footprints in the sand

Where is the glory now?

All that revelation on the mountain top
and sharp light
turns to bread and wine
and a table waiting for those willing to pick up the cross

Let us break bread together
and begin this new journey
finding in the crumbs and the dust
the deeper, broken glory
of love’s way

(Source: Roddy Hamilton, Mucky Paws)

Music

The Temptation  Song (score, lyrics and backing track here)
1. Life is like one big temptation
Tempted ev-e-ry which way
When we’re faced with big temptations
Time to heed what Jesus say:
Bread alone – it just won’t feed us
We must feast on God’s own word
Take the word of God to heart each day
Finding life in God’s own word

ooh-wah, ooh-wah, ooh-wah, ooh-wah

2. For temptation keeps on tempting
Always subtle, in disguise
Who’s the one in life we live for?
Who’s the one with whom we’ll side?
Come and worship God completely
God alone be whom we serve
Take the word of God to heart each day
God alone be whom we serve

(remaining verses – click on link next to title of song)

 

 

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COCU17A.Epiphany8A.Transfiguration Sunday.26thFeb2017

Please refer also to  Year C Transfiguration Sunday.

Readings:
Exodus 24:12-18: God calls Moses to come up the mountain to receive God’s commands, and he obeys and spends 40 days and nights with God on the mountain.
Psalm 99: A celebration of God as Israel’s king, who loves justice, who answered the calls of God’s people for help, and who speaks from the pillar of cloud.
2 Peter 1:16-21: Peter affirms the reliability of his teaching, and that of the other apostles, reminding his readers of his experience with Jesus on the mountain, and confirming his trust in the message of the prophets.
Matthew 17:1-9: Jesus takes Peter, James and John up a mountain, where he is transfigured and talks to Moses and Elijah who appear with him. God proclaims Jesus to be God’s beloved son, and afterward, Jesus instructs the disciples not to tell anyone what they have seen until after the resurrection.
(Summaries of readings: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Resources: Textweek, re-worship,

Prayer of approach
You are the pre-dawn glow
that promises yet another new beginning;
You are the still dusk
that brings rest to a weary world;
You are the prophecy
of God’s life-giving Word inscribed on our hearts;
You are the law
that finds its fulfilment in love;
You are the mountain
where the presence of God blazes and burns;
You are the valley
where the face of God peeks out from suffering eyes;
You are the glory that we long for,
the whispered rumour of a different order,
the Shining One who transfigures all things.
You are the One we worship. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Guided meditation: A time for journey, a time for silence….
We’re going to make space for a spiritual movement up the Mount of Transfiguration.  Spiritual mountain climbing sounds difficult, even dangerous. But it really requires discipline, which is an effort of a different sort.  As Henri Nouwen said, “In the spiritual life, the word ‘discipline’ means ‘the effort to create some space in which God can act’. Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you’re not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied… to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on.”   We’re setting aside some time right now to make space.  Get comfortable.  Get up and move around quietly if you wish to let your body mimic the movement of images we’ll use within this prayer.  We’re going to figuratively and prayerfully climb a mountain to gain a more-than-ordinary perspective with this guided meditation.

1.    Image what little you can see of your world from the “ground level” of your immediate time, location, and experience.  Call to mind recent joys.  Hold onto one of those images with a feeling of delight. . . .  Call to mind immediate needs that are in the forefront of your daily vision; people and situations close to you in terms of relationship or physical proximity.  Hold onto one or more these images with a sense of tenderness and care. . . .
(could include a brief musical interlude, or simply hold silence)

2.    Imagine yourself next moving to a higher vantage point.  Image the world as you gain a “higher” perspective: look down and “see” from your store of memories the more distant joys of your past. Or imagine some future happiness and just smile inwardly. . . .That appreciation or anticipation welling up is a prayer of thanksgiving.  From this same vantage, glimpse the needs of people you know about but with whom you’re not in close relationship. From this vantage you can take in whole groups of people with a single glance, so focus on a group of people who live different lives than you do. Now, with expanded compassion, hold onto that image. . . .
(could include a brief musical interlude, or simply hold silence)

3.    We move a third time.  Now image the world from the peak of a mountain.  See the world’s beauty and connectedness.  Look down and find yourself, your own life, if you can. Do you feel differently about your own self from this vantage point?  If you were really on the top of this mountain, would you feel less attached to things and schedules and other priorities that now dictate your movements?  And look at the world below. What movements or patterns are you seeing in the overall social landscape, in the ecosystems below?  Are you praying for different things in different ways from this distance where national boundaries disappear and even distinctions among species fade?  . . . .
(could include a brief musical interlude, or simply hold silence)

4.    Image earth finally from a great distance in time and space.  Rather than seeing yourself as small and insignificant, see yourself as part of something vast, ongoing, eternal. Can you feel love for that tiny planet and its creatures—and all beyond its gravitational pull?  Can you imagine a Sacred Compassion embracing all that is throughout all Time?  At this pinnacle of perspective, you might even glimpse – as did Peter, James and John–the Cosmic Christ, the Christ who is our all in all, the Spirit that pervades all things, the human Jesus united with Divine Love, the Light of Lights.  To attain this perspective in a real and lasting way is what some call “enlightenment.”  Of course Jesus shone on the Mount of Transfiguration!  Of course the disciples noticed his change.  Of course he was then ready to set his face toward Jerusalem and the requirements of pure LOVE.
(could include a brief musical interlude, or simply hold silence)
(Source: Ellen Sims, That Preacher Woman blogspot).

God Unsheltered
The mind would build its shelters,
its walls, its solid boundaries,

its holding pens for those mysteries
that challenge the edges of thought;

would seek to grasp, to domesticate
the God beyond comprehension;

would seek with dogma’s fences
to keep wonder dulled and distant,

the heart thus safely protected
from the love that burns like fire.

See it consuming Moses on his mountain,
see it sweeping Elijah into heaven,

see it shining like the sun from Jesus’ face,
this love that moves God, unsheltered,

down the mountain, to the road to the cross.

(Source: Andrew King, 2017, A poetic kind of place)

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Words of Inspiration – in a post-truth world

(not inclusive language, but inspiring words)

Once to every man and nation, comes the moment to decide,
In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side;
Some great cause, some great decision, offering each the bloom or blight,
And the choice goes by forever, ’twixt that darkness and that light.

Then to side with truth is noble, when we share her wretched crust,
Ere her cause bring fame and profit, and ’tis prosperous to be just;
Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside,
Till the multitude make virtue of the faith they had denied.

By the light of burning martyrs, Christ, Thy bleeding feet we track,
Toiling up new Calv’ries ever with the cross that turns not back;
New occasions teach new duties, time makes ancient good uncouth,
They must upward still and onward, who would keep abreast of truth.

Though the cause of evil prosper, yet the truth alone is strong;
Though her portion be the scaffold, and upon the throne be wrong;
Yet that scaffold sways the future, and behind the dim unknown,
Standeth God within the shadow, keeping watch above His own.
–James Russell Lowell

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COCU15A.Epiphany7A.19thFeb2017

Readings:
Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18: God calls the people to holiness, instructing them to treat one another with compassion, integrity, justice and fairness.
Psalm 119:33-40: A prayer for God to teach the psalmist God’s ways and to give understanding, commitment and reassurance to help in following God’s ways.
1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23 : Christ is our foundation, and we all build our lives and community on that foundation so that we become together the temple of God’s Spirit. To do this does not require human wisdom, or following particular leaders, but recognising that God has given us all things in Christ.
Matthew 5:38-48:Jesus teaches his followers not to seek revenge or pay-back, but to treat those who oppress and harm them with grace and generosity, and to love even their enemies and persecutors.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

This could be one of the most challenging passages in the Bible. Which of us really love our enemies? Who are our enemies? We can look at those who are mostly far away – like terrorists and maybe those with whom our countries are at war. However, what of those about whom we talk disparagingly? Do we love our political opponents, those who differ from us in religion, especially those within our own faith? Do we love those who oppose our own views in varying ways, or people who are obscenely rich according to our opinion? It is interesting to reflect on the degree of love which lies in a God who sends the rain on the just and the unjust – something which precludes us from ever interpreting natural events as reward or punishment. Who are the hardest for us to love and what will we do about it? (Source: W4W, 2011)

Tell yourself
Who told you you were so contingent?
Who convinced you you had to prove yourself,
or protect the being of yourself?
Your being is inviolable, absolute.
You can dare to be as vulnerable as the air,
as fragile as light.
You can love your enemy
and you won’t be diminished.
You can turn the other cheek
since they can’t even hurt the first one.
They can harm your flesh
but they can’t damage your you.
You don’t have to fear their fear,
or hate their hate,
or strike back at their violence.
Who says you have to conquer anybody?
Who but one who has never been loved
says love is feeble?
Tell yourself something else:
one who loves has conquered all.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

fulfilling the law : love (Matthew 5:38–48)
when the world slaps us in the face, in God we turn to face another day
when the world pulls the coat from our back, in God we offer the whole rack
when the world makes us walk too far, in God we walk further than they ask
when the world begs for all that we can offer, in God we give more than we thought we had
when the world has lost its Way, in God we will remember, and we will stay
when the world shows us its fear, in God we will show God’s love
(Source: Rev Sarah Agnew, praythestory)

A personal meditation (based on Psalm 119: 33-40)
Today’s selected section of Psalm 119 is much more practical in its application
to daily life than others sections as it deals with a world that is all too familiar to
us! The psalmist obviously recognised his own short comings, and had some
pointed requests for God: “Teach me …; give me understanding…; turn my eyes…;
reassure me …; renew my life …” The responses to those God-inspired requests
would be: obedience; heart-felt security; personal happiness; discernment and a
change of priorities; distraction from money-making urges; and a new beginning to
a truly God-centred life. Professor Walter Brueggemann discussed “Torah Obedience”
thus: “…The message is that life is reliable and utterly symmetrical when the torah
is honoured… the torah is not a dead letter… but an active agent which gives life…
torah is not just a set of rules, but is the mode [means] of God’s life-giving presence.
Obedience to the torah is a source of light, life, joy, delight… delight is a repeated
response to torah… The torah is no burden, but a mode of joyous existence… ” 1`
Creative pause: Following God’s decrees is the way to “God’s life-giving presence.”

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses addressed the people of Israel several times
when they were in the wilderness in the land of Moab, where he yet again explained
God’s Torah Laws to them. Moses said: “Observe the [decrees and laws of the
Lord my God] carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the
nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, ‘Surely this great nation is
a wise and understanding people.’ What other nation is so great as to have their
gods near them the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?…
Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things
your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach
them to your children and to their children after them….” 2 The significant difference
to other religious practices was that God was “…near us whenever we pray to him…” 2
when following God’s decrees. Carefully and faithfully following God’s decrees
known as “Torah obedience”, meant that people had God’s Holy Presence with
them. That “Torah obedience” is summed up thus: “…you must love the Lord your
God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength…” 3Jesus updated that,
combining two decrees from God: “‘…You must love the Lord your God with all
your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your
neighbour as yourself.’” ‘Right!’ Jesus told him. ‘Do this and you will live!…’” 4
Creative pause: Follow those decrees “…and you will live!…’” 4

The psalmist prayed: “…give me life through your word…” The gift of ‘life’ was a
constant teaching point by Jesus to his disciples, including his ‘I AM’ statements
where fullness of ‘life’ through Jesus was offered because he was the Gate/Door;
the Bread; the Resurrection and the Life; the Way, the Truth and the Life; and the
Source of eternal Life. The ‘Life’ offered through obedience to God’s decrees is as
Jesus said: “’…Do this and you will live!…’” 4 The lawyer wanted a more specific
answer about keeping or not keeping the Law – so was ‘life’ not enough for him?
Creative pause: “…give me life through your word…”

References
1 Professor Walter Brueggemann from “The Message of the Psalms”, Chapter 2, page 40
2 Deuteronomy 4: 6, 8-9 (NLT)
3 Deuteronomy 6:5 (NLT)
4 Luke 10: 27b-28 (NLT)
(Source: Joan Stott, The Timeless Psalms)

Opening prayer
Like the psalmist we plead with God: “…Teach me…renew my life …”
Listening God, through your mercy and grace you hear our prayers.
Like the psalmist we plead with God: “Turn my eyes…reassure me …;”
Responding God, through your compassion, you guide and bless us.
Like the psalmist we plead with God: “…give me understanding…” and
in response we promise: “…I will put them into practice with all my heart…”
Empowering God, through your glorious power and holiness,
you give
 to us the strength to learn from your decrees,
and respond in obedience. Amen
.
(Source: Joan Stott, The Timeless Psalms)

Call to worship
Love lies at the centre of Godly life.
It goes far beyond our human impulses
and travels towards people in unexpected ways.
It shines through shadows of prejudice
and pushes away old judgements.
It crosses over boundaries of race and colour,
and diversities of class, politics and religion.
There is no-one who is not embraced.
The rain falls on the just and unjust, 
sent by a God who is far beyond our imagining. 
Let us try to love our neighbours this day, 
as God would have us do.
(Source: W4W 2011)

Prayer of invocation
Come to us, Loving Spirit,
and enhance our lives with your gifts of grace and hope.
Inspire in us a grander dream for our relationships,
with one another, and outwards into the world.
Come, Holy Spirit, come. Amen.

Prayer of thanksgiving
O God, we thank and praise you
for being the source of all love for humankind
and for the creation within which we live.
We thank you that your love still flows towards us
when we have failed you,
or when we have forgotten
your calling to us to love others.

We are grateful for times in our lives
when those around us bring love
when we have not deserved it,
people who are true to your hope for humankind.
Our hearts lift when we see
the fruit of costly love, Jesus Christ,
love which is like that
which you have offered to us all.
Thanks be to you, O God. Amen.
(Source: W4W 2011)

Collect

God of acceptance,
you have no enemies,
because you have loved us all into your embrace.
Empower us to love our enemies,
to pray for their good.
Then we will be free together,
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen
(Source: Bob Eldan)

Prayers of who we are/prayers of praise
Listening God, like many people before us, we plead with God to “…Teach me …
renew my life …”, because we know we have failed to love and serve God as we
have promised and expected. So often, we feel overwhelmed by life’s challenges
that are placed before us; when we are distracted by so many things that bewilder
and confuse us; so that often we question our values and the priorities we once
considered to be important.
We praise you, God of all creation; that we can come to you for answers,
and for the second chances you give to us in life.
We pray for people for whom life is tough and difficult; for all who have lost their way in life and are struggling to make sense of their life and their living; and for all who recognise that they need to start again and to be renewed in body, mind and spirit. May they rediscover the joy of a life lived and blessed by their Creating and Liberating God.

Responding God, like many people before us, we plead with God to “Turn my eyes
…reassure me …”; because we have been captured by worthless things that make
a mockery of things of true worth and which are of spiritual value.
We praise you, God of all peoples, of all races and cultures;
that we can come to you for answers.
We pray for people who counsel people of all ages, conditions and circumstances;
for mentors and teachers; for coaches and leaders who have responsibilities for
guiding young people; for law enforcement agents; and for all who administer the
law in their nations. Reassure them about their life’s roles and the advice they give;
so that justice and peace may be realised wherever people meet together, in their
homes; their local communities; at their employment; and in their cities and towns.

Empowering God, like many people before us, we plead with God to: “…give me
understanding...” There are so many things in life and relationships that we do not
understand!
We praise you, God of all wisdom, that your holy word offers the way to life in all its fullness, through Jesus.
We pray for all who have the privilege of sharing the truth of your word through words and action; through their compassion and sensitivity, that the truth of God’s steadfast love and gracious mercy may be seen and recognised through their various ministries.
All praise to you, God of great love. Amen.
(Source: Joan Stott, The Timeless Psalms)

Prayer of Confession
O God, it is not easy to love everyone.
We find before us all sorts of barriers,
things which divide us
and tempt us to reject people.
We live far from the dimensions of your generosity,
even though we know that you offer it to us
when we do not really deserve it.Silent reflection
Bring your love to us now, Jesus Christ.
And when we receive it with gratitude, 
may we offer it to others, we pray. 
O God, we acknowledge that, in our societies,
we live with long histories of separation
and assumptions about others.
We sometimes find it hard to receive and celebrate
people of other religions, ethnicities and cultures.
We remember wars and injustices
which we find hard to overcome. Silent reflection. 
Bring your love to us now, Jesus Christ.
And when we receive it with gratitude,
may we offer it to others, we pray.
This we pray in faith. Amen
(Source: W4W 2011)

Words of assurance
In Jesus Christ, love is the way and the gift.
It is never withdrawn from us,
but lies in the heart of God in encouragement and grace.
We are forgiven!
Thanks be to God!

Offering prayer (see also Offering Prayer resources here)
O God, may your love and ours be extended into the world
as we share what we now place in your hands in your offering.
Guide us in its use, we pray. Amen.

Prayers of intercession (also see prayers for others here)
O Jesus Christ, lover of all,
open our lives to see others as you see them, we pray.
Show us beauty which has been clouded by assumptions
and worth which is covered over by old and misguided teachings. 
Give us humility so that we own our real failings
and have an openness to learn and receive from strangers.
As we bring before you now our prayers for love and peace,
may we be open to those from whom we have been alienated: (the people pray)
Bring us together, Jesus Christ,
May we be honest and humble
as we try to add love to the world, we pray. 
Grant that your church may be an example to the community
in its preparedness to meet others who differ from us.
Let its creative engagements
with those who are in conflict bring peace.
Bring us together as your people,
both across the churches and across the world.
Make us a sign of your peace, O Christ, 
grateful for all that we are given by you
and hopeful for a world which has a new future. 
Go with us now, we pray. Amen.
(Source: W4W 2011)
(The song, God of the poor/Beauty for Brokenness, would be good to sing after this prayer – words here and below in the Music section)

Commissioning and benediction
Let us go from here,
committed to loving our neighbours as ourselves.
And may the light of Christ’s life lead us on,
the faithfulness of God’s love inspire us
and the warmth of the Holy Spirit
be offered to all people. Amen.
(Source: W4W 2011)

MUSIC

God of the poor/beauty for brokenness (Graham Kendrick)
Beauty for brokenness
Hope for despair
Lord, in your suffering
This is our prayer
Bread for the children
Justice, joy, peace
Sunrise to sunset
Your kingdom increase!

Shelter for fragile lives
Cures for their ills
Work for the craftsman
Trade for their skills
Land for the dispossessed
Rights for the weak
Voices to plead the cause
Of those who can’t speak

God of the poor
Friend of the weak
Give us compassion we pray
Melt our cold hearts
Let tears fall like rain
Come, change our love
From a spark to a flame

Refuge from cruel wars
Havens from fear
Cities for sanctuary
Freedoms to share
Peace to the killing-fields
Scorched earth to green
Christ for the bitterness
His cross for the pain

Rest for the ravaged earth
Oceans and streams
Plundered and poisoned
Our future, our dreams
Lord, end our madness
Carelessness, greed
Make us content with
The things that we need

Chorus

Lighten our darkness
Breathe on this flame
Until your justice
Burns brightly again
Until the nations
Learn of your ways
Seek your salvation
And bring you their praise

Chorus

 

Posted in COCU Year A | Comments Off on COCU15A.Epiphany7A.19thFeb2017

Contemplation

In me there is darkness, but with thee there is light.
I am lonely, but thou leavest me not;
I am feeble in heart, but thou leavest me not;
I am restless, but with thee there is peace;
In me there is bitterness, but with thee there is patience.
Thy ways are past understanding,
But thou knowest the way for me.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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COCU14A.Epiphany6A.12thFebruary2017

Readings:
Deuteronomy 30:15-20: Moses offers the people a choice between life and death, challenging them to love and remain faithful to God and God’s commandments, and promising them prosperity and blessing if they do.
Psalm 119:1-8: Because a life of integrity is blessed, the psalmist pleads with God for the ability to live a life of obedience to God’s commands.
1 Corinthians 3:1-9: Factions among people of faith are a sign of immaturity. Paul calls the Corinthians to be mature and to recognise that those who serve God’s people are equal, and insignificant. It is God’s work in the believer to bring growth that matters.
Matthew 5:21-37: Continuing the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches that righteousness is not just about following externals, but is about what happens in the heart. He challenges his hearers to true integrity, goodness and compassion with regard to dealing with anger, lust, adultery, divorce and making promises (vows).
(Lectionary readings summary from John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Resources: Textweek, Re-Worship,

The Sermon on the Mount: A Worship Service of Lessons and Songs

This worship service by Carolyn Gillette is a wonderful way for a congregation to celebrate all of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s gospel in one worship service. Jesus’ most famous sermon is powerful when heard in one service, coordinating Jesus’ deep words with contemporary music and prayers. It could be done on any of the weeks when the Sermon on the Mount readings are included – perhaps as an introduction or summation.

Gathering Prayer: Approaching the altar (Matthew 5:21–37)
we approach the altar,
this sacred space of gathered worship, bring our gifts of sacrifice,
our time, our money, our talent.

we approach the altar,
thinking it a sacrifice, a burden
or a duty, and seek to be
reminded of the gift it is to gather here.

we approach the altar,
this sacred time of prayer,
of hearing once again the gift of grace you freely offer.

we approach the altar,
without taking time to bury
our anger and our hurt,
without forgiving or saying sorry.

we approach the altar,
children of the Sacred, welcomed each, precious all,
sisters and brothers in your love.

we approach the altar
having looked with lust or with disgust,
or looking past with wilful blindness, not looking with your eyes of love.

we approach the altar
seeking healing for our wounds inflicted by a world overgrown
with thorns to bind and tangle.

we approach the altar
grasping firmly the keys that would unbind our former lovers
and the strangers our world rejects.

we approach the altar with words of praise
and stories rich and for the living full and free.

we approach the altar
with tongues that swear false and shallow promises,
throats that cut and maim.

we approach the altar
full of promise, full of hope;
we approach as broken people
falling far from all your dreams.

take our approach and bid us welcome; let us reproach endure
for hopeful cure of ills we lay
down and grace we receive with joy.

affirmation:

Approach the altar, faltering or courageous, broken or in wellbeing:
for God receives us all, meets us all with love,
and forgives: so be at peace. Amen
(Source: Sarah Agnew, praythestory)

Inside Out 
(can be used as a Prayer of Confession with silence in between the two sections)
It’s not always comfortable, God,
but it is certainly good,
that you go straight for the heart.
You do not allow us to skate over the surface of life,
filling our days with dry legality,
and pretend righteousness;
No, you come at us from the inside,
challenging our thoughts and attitudes,
our motives and perceptions;
and shaping them into the fuel for change
that gives us hearts like yours,
and lives that are lived from the inside out.
We praise you, O God,
for your uncomfortable grace,
your transforming Spirit,
and for the gift of lives
lived with integrity and compassion
from the inside out. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Prayer of Confession
(inspired by Deuteronomy 30:15-20, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9, Matthew 5:21-37)
Loving God,
you call us into community,
teach us your ways,
and bless us with abundant life.
Yet we turn aside to follow other paths:
we take the easy way out,
listening to the world’s call
rather than your call to commitment;
we quarrel with one another,
letting differences divide us;
we cherish our resentments,
shutting off our hearts
from forgiveness and reconciliation;
we cling to petty jealousies,
feeling we deserve more than we have.
Forgive us when we wander from your love.
Draw us into community with each other,
and feed us with the milk of your grace,
that we may grow in faithfulness
and work together in peace. Amen.

Words of Assurance
(inspired by Deuteronomy 30:15-20, 1 Corinthians 3:1-9)
God is at work, nurturing our growth
and showing us the ways that lead to life.
God is at work, reconciling us to one another
and teaching us the paths of love.
God is at work, hearing our confessions,
forgiving our disobedience,
and blessing us in love.
Thanks be to God!
(Source: Ministry Matters).

Law and Love
The law is easy, Jesus:
lists to be made, items ticked as each is fulfilled;
Love is messy:
people to be heard and seen,
consequences and compassion to be considered;
But we’ve lived too long by law –
the law of the sword, taking lives to achieve our goals;
the law of the market, seeking gain without thought of the impact
the law of religion, handing out judgement in your name;
But, the poor and the weak,
the diseased and the lonely,
the rejected and the sinful
find no healing in our laws;
So teach us to love, Jesus, as you do:
enough to defend the helpless and overturn the tables of the powerful;
enough to sacrifice ourselves so others may live
Teach us to love, Jesus, as you do. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Praying the Sermon on the Mount
(inspired by Matthew 5-7)
Lord and Creator,
let us embrace the costly blessings which you desire for us,
blessings that confound the wisdom and strength of this world.
Teach us to be your agents of preservation in a world touched by death,
and beacons of hope in a world shrouded in darkness.
Transform us into your image through the crucible of the cross,
writing your mandates upon our hearts, made pure by you perfect love.
Embolden us to be your ambassadors,
Living as representatives of your holy kingdom,
stirring in us your love for others,
especially for those who would seek to destroy us because of you.
Make us decrease so that you might increase,
as a watching world sees you, not us.
Daily we declare that your priorities are ours,
even before our own needs and desires.
Every moment we live, we live for God’s glory
Free us of any distraction, craving or anxiety
that would keep us from fully following you.
For we acknowledge that everything we could possibly need
is yours to give us.
Remind us of our sinful brokenness and your gift of grace
as we encounter brokenness in others.
You are the answer to our every question.
You are the treasure that we desperately seek,
and it is you who invite us into your salvation,
as prodigals returning to the Father’s embrace.
Keep us upon your path of righteousness and justice,
bearing the good fruit of your Spirit,
for it is on you, Lord Jesus, that all hope is built,
For all of creation, now and forever more. Amen
(Source: Jamie Arpin-Ricci, in The Cost of Community, posted on Godspace)

Prayers for others
God our Father, in whose eyes all life is precious,
help us to value the worth of every individual,
whom you have created in your image.

We pray for victims of violence or hatred,
especially people who have suffered innocently.
May they find the healing of body, mind or spirit which they need.

We ask that the causes of division and hatred may be brought down.
Where there is prejudice because of colour, language, religion or culture,
help us to see things through the eyes of others,
and act towards them as we would like to be treated ourselves.

We also pray for people who have been the cause of hurts to others.
Enable them not only to admit their mistakes,
but also to use their time and energy for the benefit of others
and the welfare of society.

We pray for family relationships in our society.
Thank you for those who are our own families,
or who have been like family to us.
Bless them with the love in return which they themselves have shown.

We ask for your healing and reconciling love
in family disputes or misunderstandings.
We especially pray for children and young people
caught up in problems not of their making,
and for the anxiety and tensions this may cause.
Give them good friends and wise counselors,
and support from their peer group and schools.

Loving God,
as we have promised you our devoted service in words and prayer,
give us the strength of your Holy Spirit
to enable us to keep our promises,
for you are the source of our lives and our strength.
(Source: Starters for Sunday)

Prayers for ourselves and others
(inspired by Psalm 119: 1-8, 1 Corinthians 3: 1-9, Matthew 5:21-37)
God, you set before us commandments that affect our very lives.
We can only obey you by loving you above all others.
Give us the will and the skill to love you
with all of our hearts, minds and strength.
Let us walk: In the light of the Lord.
Lord Jesus,
we know we are too often mere infants in the faith.
We argue over big things and little things,
and justify our points of view as faith.
Forgive us when we do this
and fail to remember that our growth in the faith
is a matter of being your servant,
working together with all other servants,
in this world which is your mission field.
Let us walk: In the light of the Lord.
Holy Spirit,
help us understand the hard teachings of Jesus
about anger, name calling, bearing false witness,
fidelity and marriage.
Even before we come to understand,
give us the strength to obey.
Let us walk: In the light of the Lord.
We bring before you the needs of all countries and communities
who seek to care for one another.
Help us to not merely rely upon governments for justice,
but to seek and do justice in our own daily lives.
Let us walk: In the light of the Lord.
For those among us who need care,
help us be the caregivers.
When we name their names before you in prayer,
help us also to be a real presence to those we know _____.
Make all our petitions selfless, like those you taught us to pray. Amen.
(Source: Richard Bansemer, Lutheran Forum)

Commission & Benediction
(inspired by Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Matthew 5: 37)
God has placed before you life & death, blessings & curses.
Therefore choose life, follow God’s way.
Go now, and be a people of reconciliation and integrity.
Let your “yes” be “yes” and your “no” “no”.
And in all the paths you walk
may God hold you steady and close.
May Christ Jesus bless you and every place you enter.
And may the Spirit give you length of days and fullness of life.
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
In the name of Christ. Amen.
(Source: Nathan Nettleton)

Posted in COCU Year A | Comments Off on COCU14A.Epiphany6A.12thFebruary2017

COCU13A.Epiphany5A.5thFebruary2017

Readings:
Isaiah 58:1-9a (9b-12): The people complain because God does not seem to notice when they fast and pray, but Isaiah speaks God’s word that challenges them on their injustice and exploitation – that they have the appearance of penitence without a true change of heart.
Psalm 112:1-9, (10): Those who live righteously are compassionate, just and generous, and they have confidence that God will care for them.
1 Corinthians 2:1-12, (13-16): God’s wisdom is Christ crucified, which cannot be understood without opening our spirits to God’s Spirit. But, for we who have received God’s Spirit, we are able to know and receive the wonderful blessing God offers us in Christ.
Matthew 5:13-20: Jesus calls his followers to be as salt and light in the world – allowing our good works to be seen in order that others may praise God. Further, Jesus calls his followers to true righteousness, beyond the external legalism of the Pharisees, but embodying the true spirit of the law.

In Isaiah a contrast is drawn between the indulgent spirituality of the people, which leaves them disconnected from God and from God’s purposes, with the result that they feel no answer from God when they fast and pray, and true fasting and prayer which are expressed in lives of justice and compassion. In the Psalm, those who live justly and righteously are celebrated, and are assured of God’s care. In Paul’s letter, we are reminded that God is not known by the usual means that the world tries to find life and goodness, but only in Christ and Christ’s crucifixion. It is as we open to God’s Spirit that we receive God’s presence and power, and that we receive “the mind of Christ” which will inevitably lead us into lives that emulate Christ’s selfless service and sacrifice. In the Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s Gospel, we discover that true righteousness is not that of the Pharisees – legalistic, individualistic obedience to law – but is to be light and salt in the world, fulfilling the heart of the law by bringing life and goodness to others, and drawing them into healing and saving knowledge of God. Clearly, for the Lectionary this week, true spirituality is seen in a living, vibrant relationship with God through Christ, and by God’s Spirit, which is then reflected and expressed through actions of compassion, justice and service in the world. If we live this kind of spirituality, it will inevitably draw others to this God we serve – and that’s a huge bonus for us!
(Summary of readings by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Resources: Textweek, Singing from the Lectionary, Starters for Sunday, Sacredise,

The Sermon on the Mount: A Worship Service of Lessons and Songs
This worship service by Carolyn Gillette is a wonderful way for a congregation to celebrate all of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount from Matthew’s gospel in one worship service. Jesus’ most famous sermon is powerful when heard in one service, coordinating Jesus’ deep words with contemporary music and prayers. It could be done on any of the weeks when the Sermon on the Mount readings are included – perhaps as an introduction or summation.

Approach to God
Why do we come before God?
The Lord is good; his love is eternal, and his faithfulness lasts for ever.
Psalm 100:5
God, we have come to worship.
We may be here often, or this experience may be unusual,
but you are here, and we need your Spirit to make this time special.
God, we have come together to worship.
We may be in our own group, we may be by ourselves,
but we gather with angels and archangels, we gather with people of every colour and every nation, we gather as those who went before us gathered –
to worship, to reflect, to receive, though Jesus Christ.
God, we have come together to worship.
To declare your greatness and your goodness.
To feel the wonder of your presence.
To listen to what you have to say.
To resolve afresh to live as your people, with the help of your Spirit. Amen.
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

Call to Worship
If the human body, body of blood and muscle,
is to live, it needs salt.
If the body of Christ, body of peace and justice,
is to live, it needs us!

If the earthly creation, bustling and blooming,
is to flourish, it needs the sun’s light.
If the new creation we are in Christ is to flourish,
it needs the Spirit’s light!

Jesus says we are salt of the earth, light of the world.
Our faith, our love, our hope —
essential as salt and light.

But if salt isn’t salty?
It isn’t what it’s meant to be.

And if a light doesn’t shine?
It isn’t what it’s meant to be.

Jesus says we are salt of the earth, light of the world.
Briny and bright, we are God’s faithful people.
We shall be who we are meant to be in Christ:
a welcoming oasis, a compassionate community,
a justice-making people, giving glory to God!

Opening Prayer
God of mystery and delight,
who has made us to be salt and light
in a tasteless, shadowed world,
guide us in this time of worship.
Grant us understanding and spiritual discernment
so that others may see your good works through us,
give you the glory,
and be moved to serve you. Amen.

Confession
God, we are here not because we are good, and not because our lives are glorious.
We are here because we are sinners who mess up,
human beings who let you down, let others down and let ourselves down.
We know what you must think of us in ourselves, and so we seek your mercy.
We are here also because we have heard there is good news;
there is a man who is on our side, whom we call Jesus;
there is a man who has lived our life as it ought to be lived,
there is a man with whom you identify so much that we call him your Son, we call him Messiah, we call him wonderful, we call him God.
For his life, for his death on the cross, for his rising from the dead, for his return to heaven, for his gift of Holy Spirit, we praise you indeed;
we rejoice in being saved from our failure and folly;
we marvel in our new life as your adopted children.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

Prayer of Confession
Carolyn Winfrey Gillette’s hymn ‘O God, Come Sunday Morning’ (scroll down below to MUSIC) could be broken into two sections beginning with vv 1&2, followed by silence for reflection, followed by the ‘affirmation’ in vv 3&4.

Prayers of Restoration and Renewal
It’s much easier, God,
to point fingers and speak with horror
about the darkness in our world,
than to live ablaze with light,
revealing the truth of our lives and world,
bringing the colours of those around us into vibrant life,
warming the hearts of all we meet with compassion and love,
But, we do not choose what is easy,
We ask you to flood us with your light,
and make us light-bringers in our world.

It’s much easier, God,
to separate ourselves
from those who believe and act differently from us,
to judge and exclude them
and preach about the bland lifelessness of our world,
than to live with salty spiciness,
preserving what is good and true and beautiful,
revealing the varied and exciting flavours
of different cultures and peoples,
healing and cleansing what is wounded and stained,
But, we do not choose what is easy,
We ask you to fill us with your saltiness,
and make us spice-bringers in our world.

We celebrate your grace and truth,
your compassion and self-giving,
your justice and righteousness,
and we offer ourselves to be those who follow your ways,
who become light and salt,
bringing life, justice and praise
wherever we may find ourselves.
In Christ’s Name we pray.
Amen.

Epiphany
We are still the people walking.
We are still people in the dark,
and the darkness looms large around us,
beset as we are by fear,
anxiety,
brutality,
violence,
loss –
a dozen alienations that we cannot manage.

We are – we could be – people of your light.
So we pray for the light of your glorious presence
as we wait for your appearing;
we pray for the light of your wondrous grace
as we exhaust our coping capacity;
we pray for your gift of newness that
will override our weariness;
we pray that we may see and know and hear and trust
in your good rule.

That we may have energy, courage, and freedom to enact
your rule through the demands of this day.
We submit our day to you and to your rule,
with deep joy and high hope.
(Source: Walter Brueggemann in Prayers for a Privileged People, p.163)

God of sweat, tears and sea,
God of these three salty places,
you have added a fourth
making us the salt of the earth.
God of sun, supernovas and stars,
God of all places of light,
you have made us the light of the world.
Give us courage to own our cosmic selves,
to step out to flavor and beam for others,
through Jesus we pray,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God for ever and ever. Amen
(Source:  Bob Eldan. For reflection and haiku on 5 Epiphany go here)

Lead them to the water
to be salt,
to be tasty, moreish,
make them thirsty,
lead them hither
to drink, to quench,
to drench from lips
to depths; to be
salt dusted on the earth
he swept across;
you are salt, scattered
by the water that restores
your taste, your thirst,
for water.

to be light,
to be free and brightly
dancing on the water,
shimmer, glimmer all
hope and fresh renewal;
sweep the earth
with beams inviting,
guiding them, lighting
their turning to the Way;
point them hither, to
the shimmer of an ocean
deep beyond all dreaming,
gleaming mysteries to dive
for, whispered story to
revive the light that flickers
unextinguished in the dark.
(Source: Rev Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story)

Thanksgiving
God, we are grateful for the life you have given us.
For its opportunities, for its challenges.
For its memories, for its hopes.
For the food and friendships that sustain us.
For the media which entertain us, teach us, connect us.
For the arts and sports which stimulate mind and body and spirit.
For the time that remains before us,
and for eternity beyond us,
we give you humble and heartfelt thanks.
God, we are grateful for the faith you give us.
Without you, we may be clever but remain clueless.
With you we see ourselves and the world around us more clearly,
with you we have a direction and a destiny,
with you we have a Champion and a Friend, your Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.
God, we are grateful for the people you give us to help us, support us, challenge us. We give thanks for this church family, on earth and in heaven,
and for all who seek to serve you in every land.
We give thanks for every good example, for all who have inspired us,
and for him who leads us to salvation, even Christ our Lord, Amen.
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

Intercession
God, we desire your name to be hallowed.
As the first fruit of a new human race, we offer you our praise and prayers in the name of Christ. May your people honour your name in life and lip,
may your church be reformed and ready for your purpose,
may those who lead us be wise and committed in their life and example.
God, we desire your kingdom to come, your will to be done on earth.
We pray for those who rule our nation;
we pray for our Prime Minister and Government, that they preserve what is good,
and put proper boundaries around what is bad;
we pray for those who hold authority in public life,
that in business and in service they may do their work with integrity;
we pray those held up as leaders by the media,
that they learn humility and practice integrity;
we pray for those who serve the life of our communities in ordinary ways,
that they discover your purpose in the ordinary things of life;
we pray for our neighbours, our friends and our enemies, in the name of Jesus.
God, grant us and especially those who hunger, daily bread;
grant us and especially those in troubled places peace, and a safe home;
grant us and especially those we know who need our prayers, healing and help.
We have asked you to forgive our sins;
help us to be strong enough to forgive those who have sinned against us.
Do not bring us to testing that is too hard for us, and deliver us from every bondage of evil, because we trust in you, the one who is stronger than every power of evil,
the one whose kingdom will triumph in the end,
the one who will change even our weak bodies into what is beyond our sight and sense,
the one whose purposes for creation exceed everything we can imagine,
the one who has given all power to his glorious Son, in the Spirit.
Therefore we pray as Christ taught us, Our Father…
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

Prayers of the People
Let us now pray to the God of light
that we may truly become the salt and the light of the world.
Lord, let your light shine in us.


That there may be more love on earth, Lord,
we ask you to dispose people to be more understanding
and friendlier to one another
and to share more readily with those in need:
Lord, let your light shine in us.
That there may be greater justice on earth,
dispose governments and public officials
to make room in their priorities and budgets
for the socially deprived and those out of jobs:
Lord, let your light shine in us.
That there may be more peace on earth,
dispose all nations to put an end to words of hatred
and threats of revenge:
Lord, let your light shine in us.


That there may be more joy on earth,
dispose all those who follow your Son
to show sympathy and affection to one another,
to be faithful in our friendships
and concerned about our communities:
Lord, let your light shine in us.


That there may be more faith on earth,
dispose all your sons and daughters
to live as children of light before you
and in the sight of people:
Lord, let your light shine in us.
Lord God, we pray that your light may shine on all the earth.
However limited we are, let our words and actions
reflect the light of your love,
in the name of Jesus the Lord. Amen.

Commission and Benediction
As people of faith we have gathered for worship.
As people of faith we now return to the world.
Go out to share the story of faith,
the story of life, with the world around you.
We share the faith in word and in deed,
in speech and in action.
As you go out to give a living witness,
as you go out to testify to God’s love active in the world,
go knowing that God goes with you,
sharing the laughter and the hope, the fears and the tears.
Thanks be to God! Amen.
(Source: Rev Gord, Worship Offerings)

MUSIC

A Little Bit of Salt    LEONI 6.6.8.4 (“The God of Abraham Praise”)
A little bit of salt will quickly show its worth;
A little bit of faithfulness will change the earth.
God, make us worth our salt— a church that’s glad to be
The change that you desire in each community.

A lamp that’s in a house gives safety, warmth and light;
It’s set upon a table where it shines so bright.
God, make your church a light that bravely takes a stand
To bring your love and justice into all the land.

A garden is a place where so much beauty grows,
Where flowers bloom and food is raised and water flows.
When worship leads us out to care for the oppressed,
O God, you say we’re like a garden at its best.

When worship leads us out to love and serve the poor,
To welcome in the immigrant* at our own door,
O God, then we’ll be called “repairers of the breach,”
And we your church will be “restorers of the streets.”

It’s tempting to remain well-hidden, quiet, bland—
Yet, God, you make us salt and light to change this land.
You send us out to love, to build and to repair,
Till peace and justice flourish here and everywhere.

* “refugee” can be used instead of “immigrant”

Biblical References: Matthew 5:13-16; 25:31-46; Isaiah 58:1-12
Tune: Traditional Hebrew melody (“The God of Abraham Praise”)
Text: Copyright © 2017 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com
(Please email bcgillette@comcast.net if you want the music and words as a PDF)

O God, Come Sunday Morning
LLANGLOFFAN 7.6.7.6 D (“Lead On, O King Eternal”; “Rejoice, Rejoice, Believers”)
O God, come Sunday morning, we offer you our praise.
We pray and take an offering; we seek to know your ways.
We love each morning service, yet wonder, when it’s through:
Lord, did you even notice our honouring of you?

On Monday, children hunger; on Tuesday, victims cry.
On Wednesday, gunshots thunder, and so the days go by.
Indifferent, even scorning, we turn from neighbours’ pain,
And then on Sunday morning, we worship you again.

O Lord, you spoke through prophets and told us what you seek;
For this is faithful worship — to help the poor and weak,
To work to bring your justice, to give the hungry bread.
In this we honour Sabbath — when all your world is fed.

We hear your wondrous promise, that as we follow you,
You’ll make of us a garden to bless the world anew.
We trust what you have spoken — that joy and worship meet
When we repair the broken, when we restore the streets.

Biblical Reference: Isaiah 58
Text: Copyright © 2012 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email: bcgillette@comcast.net New Hymns: www.carolynshymns.com/
This hymn was written at the 2012 Presbyterian Peacemaking Conference at Ghost Ranch, New Mexico, following a Bible study led by Dr. Margaret Aymer.

 

Posted in COCU Year C | 1 Comment