Martin Luther King Jr Day is observed in the USA on the third Monday of January, which is around his birthday on 15th January. On November 2, 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill creating a federal holiday to honor Dr. King. It was federally observed for the first time on January 20, 1986. The day is traditionally celebrated as a day of service, with people volunteering time and talent to help others, thus paying homage to Dr. King’s legacy.
April 4th is the anniversary of his death.
Martin Luther King had a profound impact in his own country, and around the world.
At least once a year, Christians are reminded of Jesus’ prayer for his disciples that “they may be one so that the world may believe” (see John 17.21). Hearts are touched and Christians come together to pray for their unity. Congregations and parishes all over the world exchange preachers or arrange special ecumenical celebrations and prayer services. The World Council of Churches commemoration of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity traditionally runs from January 18 through to January 25 (northern hemisphere, between the feasts of St Peter and St Paul) and around Pentecost (southern hemisphere), which is also a symbolic date for unity. It is usually between the Day of Ascension and Day of Pentecost.
The 2021 theme is “Abide in My Love…You Shall Bear Much Fruit.” It was discerned by the Monastic Community of Grandchamp in Switzerland and finds its origins in the Gospel of John (cf. John 15:1-17). More information and links to resources here. Resource booklet here.Continue reading →
Readings: Jonah 3:1-5, 10
God sends Jonah to Nineveh for a second time, and Jonah obeys. He preaches that God is going to judge and destroy the city, but the people repent, and so God decides not to do it. Psalm 62:5-12
An exhortation to wait on God and trust God as our refuge and salvation. Wealth, whether stolen, extorted or simply increasing, does not provide the security that God does, for God, in God’s mercy, gives rewards. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
The world as we know it is not going to last, so we must take care not to depend on the things, the people or the experiences of this world. Mark 1:14-20
After John the Baptiser is imprisoned, Jesus begins his ministry preaching that God’s reign has arrived and that people should repent and believe it. Then he calls Peter and Andrew, fisherman, to be “fishers of people”, and shortly after, he sees James and John and calls them too.
(All summaries of Bible readings from John van de Laar, Sacredise) Continue reading →
The Day of Mourning allows Australians to stand together in remembering the truth of our history and honouring the culture of Australia’s First Peoples, their families and the next generations. The 15th UCA Assembly in July 2018 endorsed the proposal that the Sunday before Australia Day be declared as a Day of Mourning. Resources for 2021 are available to download here. The 2020 resources are available here.
It is suggested that the Day of Mourning happens the week before Australia Day, which in 2021 would be Sunday 24th January. (As the Sunday is only two days before Australia Day 2021, Pilgrim UC has opted to recognise the Day of Mourning on the 17th January and will upload the service to Pilgrim’s Youtube channel if other congregations wish to use it).
The Day of Mourning was brought to the Assembly by our sisters and brothers in the Uniting Aboriginal and Islander Christian Congress (UAICC), and was endorsed in the spirit of our Covenant relationship with the UAICC. The Day of Mourning Worship Resource invites all Uniting Church in Australia congregations to hold worship services that reflect on the effect of invasion and colonisation on Australia’s First Peoples and our identity as a nation.
Readings: 1 Samuel 3:1-10, (11-20)
The boy Samuel, who has been placed in Eli’s care to serve God, hears God speak as he prepares to sleep, but doesn’t recognise the voice. Then Eli instructs him how to answer, and, after Samuel responds to God’s call, God speaks a prophecy over Eli’s family. Ps 139:1-6, 13-18
A Psalm in praise of God’s creation of the psalmist and the intimate way in which God knows him, inside and out. 1 Corinthians 6:12-20
Although all things are permissible for Christ-followers but not everything is good or beneficial. Our bodies belong to God, are given life by God and are temples of God’s Spirit, and so they must be used in service of God. John 1:43-51
Jesus calls Philip to follow him, and Philip calls Nathaniel, who is, at first, uncertain. When Jesus sees him he affirms him, and Nathaniel is won over. Jesus assures him that he will see heaven open and God’s angels ascending and descending on Christ.
(All Bible reading summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
Texts Genesis 1:1-5
On the first day of creation the earth is formless and God’s Spirit hovers over the waters. Then God speaks and begins to create the universe. Psalm 29
A psalm of praise for God’s voice which is strong and majestic and which thunders over mighty waters, where God is enthroned. Acts 19:1-7
Paul finds a group of believers in Ephesus who have been baptised with John’s baptism, but not with that of Christ. He explains that John’s points to the One who came after him, and they are baptised in the name of Jesus. Mark 1:4-11
John the Baptiser baptises people in the Jordan River, calling them to repent. He preaches that One is coming after him who will baptise in the Holy Spirit.
(All Bible reading summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
Traditionally observed January 6th, the Epiphany is the celebration of three events that are said to demonstrate the significance of Jesus – that is the divinity of Christ. “Epiphany” means “to show, make known, or reveal.”
It started in the Eastern Church in AD 361 as a commemoration of the birth of Christ. Later, additional meanings were added – the visit of the three Magi (which is our focus), Christ’s baptism in the Jordan River (next week’s Gospel reading), and Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana. These three events are central to the definition of Epiphany, and its meaning is drawn from these occurrences.
The Revised Common Lectionary readings focus on firstly on the visit of the Magi and the theme of light or being enlightened and on the second Sunday of Epiphany we focus Jesus’ baptism. The Magi were the first Gentiles to publicly recognise the significance of the baby in the manger and offer their gift of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
All the readings for this Sunday have light bulb moments where the people of God take responsibility for either being a light to those beyond themselves or that light comes to them from those outside their community or faith. The theme of God’s expansive love is prevalent and that this love can and does stretch way beyond our human limits to include those who we might want to exclude. (by Rev. Chris Vermeulen, Church of Scotland, ‘Starters For Sunday’, 2013)Continue reading →
Note: COCU coding relates to a way of indexing lectionary material. The full list is here.
Readings Jeremiah 31: 7-14 A prophecy of restoration and salvation in which god promises to gather a faithful remnant from the ends of earth and bring them to Zion where they will enjoy peace, abundance, laughter and salvation. Psalm 147:12-20 A call for the people of Israel to praise God for God’s blessing, for the peace and security God has provided, for the commands and statutes God has given to God’s people, and for the fact that God has not done these things for any other nation. Ephesians 1:3-14 God is to be blessed because of God’s great blessing and grace in Christ in which God has adopted us as God’s children, has forgiven us, poured out wisdom on us, revealed God’s plan to us, and given us the Holy Spirit as a down payment on our eternal inheritance. John 1:10-18 The prologue of John’s Gospel in which he declares that the divine, Creator Word has become flesh, shining the light of life into the world, and enabling all who receive him to become children of God. (All summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise)
Call to worship A new year has dawned; the old is past and gone. This is a time for beginnings, a time to encounter God anew. God of the future who is always ahead of us, we are here to thank you, God of the present here in our midst, we are here to trust you, God of life beyond us within us, we are here to praise you, and to rejoice in your glorious love.
Jesus, You are the light in our darkness.
You bring grace in our sinfulness, peace in our strife, joy in our sadness, hope in times of despair and courage in our weakness.
We thank you for Christmas.
Your coming showed us your tender loving care for us.
As we move into this new year we acknowledged that we have fears, questions and uncertainties.
We acknowledge unfinished business
in our lives,
tasks we had hoped to complete
that we have left undone,
strained relationships that need healing,
mistakes we have made this past year
we do not want to repeat.
We need your strength to journey
towards new beginnings.
Humble us afresh so that we may receive your forgiveness and welcome you afresh into our lives.
As we look back on this past year we also thank you for all your blessings.
Just as you have always gone before us preparing the way,
and stood beside us, guiding us, and urging us on,
help us to trust you now.
In you we live and move and have our being,
All our times are in your hands.
All our beginnings and ending
are known to you.
Take our lives into your keeping that we may begin and continue this year
in the hope, peace, joy and love that comes from you.
May God be a smooth path ahead of you,
And a bright star to guide you
May his loving eyes be upon you
tonight, tomorrow and always.
May the God of love strengthen us
in our love for others.
May Christ Jesus be our living hope
And the Holy Spirit surprise us on the way
(Helen Richmond, Prayers that Unite)
God of all time,
help us enter the New Year quietly,
thoughtful of who we are to ourselves and to others,
mindful that our steps make an impact
and our words carry power.
May we walk gently.
May we speak only after we have listened well.
Creator of all life,
help us enter the New Year reverently,
aware that you have endowed
every creature and plant, every person and habitat
with beauty and purpose.
May we regard the world with tenderness.
May we honor rather than destroy.
Lover of all souls,
help us enter the New Year joyfully,
willing to laugh and dance and dream,
remembering our many gifts with thanks
and looking forward to blessings yet to come.
May we welcome your lavish love.
May we cast off the small, vindictive god our fears have made.
May the grace and peace of Christ bless you now and in the days ahead. (Source: Vinita Hampton Wright) Continue reading →
At this time of the year, as we come to the end of November the USA prepares to enter the season of Thanksgiving. Although it is particular to the USA, it’s also celebrated in different forms (and for different reasons) in other parts of the world. Canada has Thanksgiving Day in October.
What is common, wherever we are, is the need for a spirit of gratitude. So perhaps this could be incorporated into prayers and liturgies as we enter Advent, amidst the turmoil of the world.
Video: Diana Butler-Bass: Jesus the ingrate – the subversive power of gratitude In her TheoEd Talk, award-winning author Diana Butler Bass explores how cultivating lives of gratitude can help us more deeply experience the transformative and subversive reign of God in our lives and in this world. www.TheoEd.com
Liturgy for thanksgiving Even in the midst of pandemics, social distancing and deep injustices that divide us, there is still much to give thanks for. This service has been adapted from a service pdf provided by St Andrews Episcopal church Seattle, for use in the home, as part of the main meal of the day and can be used not just for Thanksgiving but for any celebrative occasion where you would like to give thanks. It is appropriate for use via Zoom, FaceTime, or other video software, as a way to worship with the people you call family and friends who are far away. (Source: Godspacelight website)
Readings Isaiah 40:1-11
A word of comfort for God’s people, because a herald is announcing the coming of God to his people who are as fragile as grass. Yet God comes as a gentle Shepherd to feed and nurture his flock. Psalm 85: 1-2, 8-13
Thanksgiving that God has forgiven and restored God’s people, so God’s people should not return to their wicked ways, but rather should listen to what God says, for God’s salvation is near, and God’s blessings are poured out. 2 Peter 3:8-15a
Peter encourages the believers to live godly lives as they await the passing away of the heavens and the earth and the coming of the new heaven and earth. God is not slow to keep God’s promise to do these things, but, in mercy, delays so that people may be saved. Mark 1:1-8
John the Baptiser comes, as a fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the voice in the wilderness, and prepares people for the coming of a greater One after him, teaching that, although he baptises with water, the Coming One will baptise with the Holy Spirit.
(RCL reading summaries by John van de Laar, Sacredise) Continue reading →