COCU12A.Ephiphany4A.2February2020

Readings:
Micah 6:1-8: God challenges God’s people regarding their tiring of God, and calls them to love mercy, do justice and walk with God in humility.
Psalm 15: Those who are true worshipers, who may enter God’s presence, are the ones who live with consideration and compassion for their neighbours, and with justice and integrity.
1 Corinthians 1:18-31: God is not known through the wisdom and power of this world, but in the foolishness of the cross, which, to those who believe, is the wisdom and power of God. In this cross alone do we boast.
Matthew 5:1-12: Jesus teaches his disciples that those who are poor, mourning, pure in heart, working for peace, desperate for justice and persecuted for following Christ are the ones God blesses.

The Lectionary this week explores the interconnectedness of our intimacy with God and our lives lived in justice and mercy. It also begins a short Epiphany journey through the Sermon on the Mount. Without a lived expression of our intimacy with God, our faith is little more than platitudes and dreams. But, in a challenging call this week, the Scriptures demonstrate how we find God in the poorest, the weakest and the most vulnerable among us, and how as we work for justice and mercy, we participate in God’s reign and God’s life. There is no division between justice and worship, between ministry and liturgy, in the Gospel. And so we are called to embrace a vibrant relationship with God that is manifest and experienced in a vibrant interaction with the world.
(Summaries from John van de Laar, Sacredise)

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

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.

Beatitudes for the 21st Century – reflections by Rev Becky Withington (click on link or scroll right to the end of this post)

Thought for the week (John van de Laar)
In the prophecy of Micah, which is one of the Lectionary readings for today, the prophet asks what God requires of God’s people. Then he answers his own question: “…to do justice, embrace faithful love, and walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 CEB). If we wish to know what justice, faithful love and walking with God look like, the Sermon on the Mount gives a pretty good picture. Situated near the beginning of Matthew’s Gospel, the famous Sermon is the first of five important teaching sessions of Jesus, and it offers summary of Jesus’ message, a manifesto for his ministry. The first part of the Sermon, known as the Beatitudes, is the Gospel reading for today.
Along with Micah’s prophecy, the Beatitudes show us the kind of life that “God blesses”. This doesn’t mean that we earn God’s blessing by making the Beatitudes as a new law. Rather, these Scriptures invite us into the blessing of God that is already ours because of God’s grace. Everyone is blessed! But, not everyone experiences the blessing because we may have shut ourselves off to the qualities and values that open us to abundant life. We may not live as justly as we could, and we may not embrace faithful love for God and others – in which case we have chosen ways that bring pain to others and, ultimately, to ourselves. But, when we open ourselves to God’s values and purposes, our hearts begin to change and we begin to live the kind of life that brings blessing and justice. God’s grace enables us to live this way, but if we refuse to allow God’s grace to do its work, we separate ourselves from God’s “blessings”.
This week we explore what it means to live a life of justice, faithful love and walking humbly with God.
(John van de Laar – 2017-02-05-11 for the week ahead using the lectionary readings)

Breathless
Thom Shuman writes: On a social media site, a colleague in Scotland asked how folks might re-phrase ‘blessed are the poor in spirit . . .’
The response that struck me was the one that spoke of people being ‘out of breath.’
I know a lot of folks who are breathless.
People with actual breathing problems, who rely on oxygen and medicine in order to breathe.
People whose breath is taken away by wonder and creativity.
Children whose breath is sucked out of them by verbal and physical bullying.
Families whose breath of life is taken away as they have to flee war, disasters, oppression.
Those who run out of breath trying to take care of families, aging parents, grandchildren.
People who could breathe easier if only that elephant called debt, fear, doubts was not sitting on their chests.
So many breathless people.
How do we show them the kingdom where they can catch their breath? How can we carry them to the Breath which can restore them to hope, to life, to laughter? How can we be the paramedics of the kingdom who help resuscitate folks with the gifts God has given to us?
Blessed are the breathless . . .
(Source: Thom M. Shuman, Galloway Presbyterian Church, Columbus, Ohio) www.lectionaryliturgies.blogspot.com, www.occasionalsightings.blogspot.com, www.prayersfortoday.blogspot.com

Approach to God
Jesus of Nazareth,
We did not come towards you
You came first to us
And lived among us
Speaking, Including, Welcoming, Protesting, Teaching, Challenging, Sharing, Dying, Rising. You are so much more than your words
You are Word made Flesh, Embodied Enacted, Enlivening among us.
Make us more like you.
Make our words live
thought the actions of our lives
We ask this because you, Word of Life
are also the Bread of Life.
Amen.
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

Call to worship
What does God require of us?
The sacred words of Jesus will remind us
when we forget our calling.
In humble hope, we are to be those
who live with love and justice,
even when that means a costly journey.
In times when values are linked
with power and money and success,
we are to take our stand,
as those who have a different vision.
For we, the people of God, have seen in Jesus Christ,
a new witness to life which is full and free.
(Source: Words for Worship 2011)

Prayer of Invocation
Come, Holy Spirit,
and guide us into pathways of truth, we pray.
Inspire us and strengthen us as we walk into the future
in your wise company.
Come, Holy Spirit, come. Amen.
(Source: Words for Worship 2011)

Prayers of who we are
We long to know your presence
and your blessing God;
to know that we have found a place
in your kin-dom;
And so we commit to being those
who acknowledge our poverty of spirit,
and who grieve rightly our brokenness and losses;
For this is how we open ourselves to blessing.
We dedicate ourselves to humility,
and to a constant, never-ceasing hunger and thirst
for justice;
For this is how we open ourselves to blessing.
We seek to always act with compassion and mercy,
and to keep our hearts pure –
free from destructiveness,
and bound by integrity;
For this is how we open ourselves to blessing.
We devote ourselves
to working for peace,
and to constant celebration and rejoicing,
even in the face of hardship,
persecution,
and struggle;
For this is how we open ourselves to blessing.
Gracious and Compassionate God,
We offer ourselves to you again,
in worship and obedience,
in lives committed to the purposes and practices
of your reign;
For in this way, we know, we are blessed,
and we are a blessing. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Prayers of who we are
Beloved, by your grace
I willingly accept my poverty of spirit;
for you bless me with your Realm of love.
I honestly mourn,
for you bless me with your comfort.
I will be gentle,
for you bless me with the gift of the earth.
I continue to hunger and thirst for you,
for you fill me with yourself.
I will show mercy,
for you shower me with mercy.
I seek to be pure in heart,
that I may see you.
I will be your peacemaker,
for I am your child.
I will accept persecution
for you bless me with your Realm of grace.
I gladly accept that justice and peacemaking
attract persecution and resistance,
for so people treat all those
who do justice, who love kindness,
who walk humbly with you.
In my poverty I will stand unbowed,
for in your grace you bless me.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Thanksgiving and intercession
Thanks be to God, who calls us all to action.
We pray for those who argue for justice:
May their words find shape and life!
We give thanks for those who turn words into action.
Thanks be to God, who calls us all to action.
We pray for those whose words save live:
May their words find shape and life!
We give thanks for those who listen.
Thanks be to God, who calls us all to action.
We pray for those who can change the lives of those who are most under threat:
May their words find shape and life!
We pray for those who are standing up against injustice.
Thanks be to God, who calls us all to action.
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

Confession
Merciful teacher on the mountain,
You’ve offered us a challenge that is converse to the world we exist in.
You’ve boldly declared what it means to not be transformed by this world but to be renewed by the Spirit.
We confess that we have failed to live up to the call of—peacemaking, meekness, mercy, justice—and filled our lives with the ways of the world—selfishness, greed, degradation of your creation, injustice.
Open our hearts, O God, to understand your will.
May your passion on the mountain for a new world order illumine our work for the kin-dom that you proclaim.
We pray in the name of the One who first loved us and calls us to love, Amen.
(Source: Starters for Sunday, Church of Scotland)

Beatitudes – a new reflection
Blessed are the homeless
for they shall find belonging in God.
Blessed are they who have lost much
for they shall be given joy.
Blessed are those who have been silenced
for God sings in harmony with them.
Blessed are they who have been shamed
for their glory shines like the noonday sun.
Blessed are they who stand firm
for God will be their firmness.
Blessed are the truthful,
for they are light in the darkness.
Blessed are they who wonder
for they shall be called wonderful.
Blessed are they who are afraid
and yet choose love
for theirs is the dominion of God.
Blessed are you when the path is frightful
and you choose love anyway.
Blessed are you, and blessed is your place
in the heart of all things.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Boasting in the cross (a reflection on the epistle reading)
Though it may seem foolish,
We boast in the cross!
The wisdom of God,
the place of infinite Love’s
extravagant sacrifice,
the sign of scandalous grace welcoming all.
We praise you, O Christ, for your cross,
and for the love and grace we find there.
Though it may seem weak,
We boast in the cross!
The power of God,
the scene of death’s demise
and life’s unstoppable outbreak,
the mark of evil’s failure
to extinguish the light of goodness and peace.
We praise you, O Christ, for your cross,
and for the life and goodness we find there.
In the face of this world’s information economy
and petty power-games:
we boast in the foolishness and weakness
of the cross of Christ.
For in it we find all the wisdom and power
that makes this world whole. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

What God requires
It is not great sacrifice that you require of us, God,
filling your temple with slaughtered animals,
or the overflowing rivers of our wealth;
It is not laboured rituals or burdens of religious practice
that you demand of us, God,
proving our devotion through the exhaustion of our souls,
or the callouses on our knees;
No, what you require, what you have asked of us
is just this:
always to act with justice,
always to love mercy,
and always to walk humbly with you.
What you require is not heavy,
but it does ask of us our lives,
given in thoughts, words and deeds,
of life-bringing fellowship with you,
and with this world
that you love so much. Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

What is good
With what shall I come before the Lord?
With a shopping list of wants
and needs, promises and bargains to buy
God’s favour?
With what shall I come before the Lord?
With piety professed and on display, shows
of affection for the last, then retreat
into comfort to wash my hands?
With what shall I come before the Lord?
With guilty admissions of sins and scandals,
unable to forgive myself and others, and so
not believing God will truly forgive?
God has told you,
human one, what is
good and right and perfect.
What does God require of you?
live justly: in relationships
of mutual respect and honour
love with kindness: in relationships
of mutual care and encouragement
walk humbly with your God,
created creature much beloved,
giving love and honour to the Holy One
Know that you are indeed forgiven
your turning from what is
good and right and perfect:
and live once more in the grace
of God, who is
good and right and perfect.
(Source: Sarah Agnew, Pray the Story – links includes a reading by the author)

Prayers for others
Yearning for blessing
(Matthew 5:1-12 – and the cries of asylum seekers detained on Manus Island and Nauru)
The poor in spirit came,
those who mourn; the merciful;
the meek, pure in heart;
hungry and thirsting
for righteousness; peacemakers –
yearning to be blessed.
But they were reviled
and persecuted falsely;
accused – but not blessed.
(Source: Jeff Shrowder, 2017)

Prayers for Others
What does the Holy One ask of you, but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God? Micah 6.8
Somewhere, nearer to you than you think,
is a man on death row who does not want special favor;
he only wants to to justice, to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with his God.

Somewhere, nearer to you than you think,
is a trans woman of color who does not want special favor;
she only wants her gifts to be appreciated,
and to be able to be kind without fear,
and to walk in peace.

Somewhere, nearer to you than you think,
are refugees who do not want special favor;
they only want to be able to contribute,
to receive kindness, and to be faithful to their God.

Somewhere, nearer to you than you think,
is a girl who has been trafficked and abused,
who does not want special favor;
she only wants to know her power, and her loveliness,
and her partnership with God.

And what does God want of you
for the sake of these God’s beloved?
What can you do for their sake but to do justice
that will be more bold that you have thought,
to love kindness that will be more challenging,
to walk more humbly that you expected, for their sake.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

SERMON IDEAS
The following is Frederick Buechner’s article “Beatitudes” (originally published in Whistling in the Dark and later in Beyond Words).
If we didn’t already know, but were asked to guess the kind of people Jesus would pick out for special commendation, we might be tempted to guess one sort or another of spiritual hero—men and women of impeccable credentials morally, spiritually, humanly, and every which way. If so, we would be wrong. Maybe those aren’t the ones he picked out because he felt they didn’t need the shot in the arm his commendation would give them. Maybe they’re not the ones he picked out because he didn’t happen to know any. Be that as it may, it’s worth noting the ones he did pick out.
Not the spiritual giants, but the “poor in spirit;” as he called them, the ones who, spiritually speaking, have absolutely nothing to give and absolutely everything to receive, like the Prodigal telling his father “I am not worthy to be called thy son,” only to discover for the first time all he had in having a father.
Not the champions of faith who can rejoice even in the midst of suffering, but the ones who mourn over their own suffering because they know that for the most part they’ve brought it down on themselves, and over the suffering of others because that’s just the way it makes them feel to be in the same room with them.
Not the strong ones, but the meek ones in the sense of the gentle ones, that is, the ones not like Caspar Milquetoast but like Charlie Chaplin, the little tramp who lets the world walk over him and yet, dapper and undaunted to the end, somehow makes the world more human in the process.
Not the ones who are righteous, but the ones who hope they will be someday and in the meantime are well aware that the distance they still have to go is even greater than the distance they’ve already come.
Not the winners of great victories over evil in the world, but the ones who, seeing it also in themselves every time they comb their hair in front of the bathroom mirror, are merciful when they find it in others and maybe that way win the greater victory.
Not the totally pure, but the “pure in heart;” to use Jesus’ phrase, the ones who may be as shopworn and clay-footed as the next one, but have somehow kept some inner freshness and innocence intact.
Not the ones who have necessarily found peace in its fullness, but the ones who, just for that reason, try to bring it about wherever and however they can-peace with their neighbors and God, peace with themselves.
Jesus saved for last the ones who side with heaven even when any fool can see it’s the losing side and all you get for your pains is pain. Looking into the faces of his listeners, he speaks to them directly for the first time. “Blessed are you;” he says.
You can see them looking back at him. They’re not what you’d call a high-class crowd—peasants and fisherfolk for the most part, on the shabby side, not all that bright. It doesn’t look as if there’s a hero among them. They have their jaws set. Their brows are furrowed with concentration.
They are blessed when they are worked over and cursed out on his account he tells them. It is not his hard times to come but theirs he is concerned with, speaking out of his own meekness and mercy, the purity of his own heart.

Makarioi
In the ancient world, the word, “makarios” – “blessed” as in the Beatitudes – was interchangeable with the words for “gods’ and “the elite”? “Makarios” were the big shots of the ancient world, the rich and powerful, and not the poor. Knowing this underscores the deeply political nature of the Beatitudes.
(Source: Diana Butler Bass, Gratitude, publication due April 2018)

See also K.C.Hanson, How Honorable! How shameful! A cultural analysis of Matthew’s Makarisms and Reproaches.

Beatitudes for the 21st Century – Rev Becky Withington
Marching with thousands of joyful, passionate people at the Women’s March in Seattle last weekend and seeing all the causes their signs supported – health care for all, diversity, respect and equal rights for all people, I realized the ultimate expression of all the things we were marching for would look, to me anyway, very much like the Culture of God; like the “Kingdom of Heaven” described by Jesus in the beatitudes. At the march in Seattle and marches around the world, people were intent on creating what they might call a better world, or a world of peace and justice. And if Jesus is right, if the excluded will be blessed by inclusion in the culture of God; if those who take action to make this world more like the culture of God will be blessed for their efforts, then with all due respect to Jesus and the original recorders of his words, I’d like to offer some beatitudes for the 21st century.
Blessed are the marginalized,
for they are extravagantly welcome in the culture of God.
Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.” But if we think of heaven solely as some cosmic afterlife, aren’t we telling those who are suffering to go on suffering, hoping for something better after they die? I don’t think that when Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God, he was talking about some otherworldly, post-life experience. When he said, “The Kingdom of Heaven has come near,” I think he was saying that the Culture of God is all around us if we are willing to take part in making it happen. From the earliest descriptions of nomadic tribes of Israelites in the Hebrew Scriptures, hospitality has been a hallmark of the culture of God. In the desert, if you don’t offer hospitality to people, they can die. Again and again, scripture urges God’s people to care for the orphan, the widow, and the stranger. Jesus made it his life’s work to seek out and lift up the “poor in Spirit,” those on the margins. In the UCC, we call it extravagant welcome. We say, “no matter who you are, or where you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here. Blessed are the marginalized, for they are extravagantly welcome in the culture of God.
Blessed are those who care for the earth,
for they promote a healthy, dynamic ecosystem that cares for us all.
The idea of heaven as otherworldly also does a disservice to God’s creation. We are the stewards of creation. We ignore that responsibility at our own peril, and the peril of every living thing on this earth. Thankfully, people of all faiths and many who don’t follow a spiritual tradition are awakening to this peril, putting everything from their money to their lives on the line, like Ken Ward and the other valve turners we heard about this morning. Unfortunately, as we know, there are those who refuse to acknowledge the threat, making it imperative for those of us who do to step up. Those who care for the earth are truly blessed, and they are a blessing to all.
Blessed are the bold,
for they see the culture of God manifest before their eyes.
Blessed are the meek, Jesus said, the humble, the gentle, for they will inherit the earth. Gentleness and humility are wonderful traits, and it’s my prayer that those who display them will cease to be exploited by the boastful and belligerent; that they, the deserving, will inherit the earth. But doesn’t that beg the question, what kind of shape will the world be in by the time they inherit it? We need to gather in the hundreds of thousands who are passionate about peace, justice, equal regard and equal rights for all. We need to make our voices heard every chance we get. We need to act boldly to create the change we want to see in the world. In taking up this challenge, we will see the culture of God manifest in ways large and small before our very eyes.
Blessed are the empathetic,
for they heal the brokenness of the world.

To heal the painful divisions of our world, to ensure that everyone has their basic needs met and mutual respect is the basis for all human relationships, we need to move beyond sympathy and compassion to empathy. We need to be willing not to judge, but to understand each other’s condition from their perspective, to place ourselves in their shoes and feel what they are feeling. Empathyhas been demonstrated to increase prosocial, helping behaviors. Maybe you read the profile piece on Janet Jones Preston in the Seattle Times Pacific Northwest Magazine a couple of months ago. She volunteers with the Black Prisoner’s Caucus, a group of inmates at the Monroe Correctional Complex who search for solutions to end what group leader Anthony Wright refers to as “the preschool-to-prison pipeline.” From serving as a family support worker and supervisor in Seattle Public Schools to taking in a 13 year old girl who she now considers a daughter to mortgaging her house to fund a school her son started in Ghana, Janet has spent her life working and volunteering to make children’s lives better, to give them hope and a future. She says her own struggles have deepened her empathy for others, recalling the shame she felt when she became pregnant with her son at age 18. “I wanted to quit going to church because church people were so mean, you know. They’d ask me questions they knew the answer to, and, you know, I was just a kid,’’ she says.
Refusing to consider that another person’s situation is something that could happen to us, putting everyone who is different from us in the category of “other” allows us to diminish and disregard them. On the other hand, author Jeremy Rifkin presents the concept of an “empathic civilization through solidarity.” If we saw fellow humans and creatures as an extension of ourselves, society might become more unified and see a reduction war, bullying, crime and violence. Blessed are the empathetic, for they heal the brokenness of the world.
Blessed are the inclusive,
for they see through the eyes of love.

It is characteristic of human beings to shape our identities and our communities as much by what we are not as by what we are. We set ourselves apart by not demonstrating beliefs and behaviors that other groups do. Those Canaanites worship multiple Gods –we’re not like them. Those Catholics genuflect and pray to Mary and celebrate the Mass each week – but not us; we’re Protestant. Perceiving differences and similarities is a valuable survival skill. It helps us understand which plants to eat and which to avoid. Which strangers might welcome us, and which might attack us. But like many survival skills, its evolution lags behind many other areas of human development. Just as the vast majority of humans no longer need to eat every ounce of sugar and fat we can get our hands on because we don’t know when we’ll eat again, the vast majority of humans no longer need to fear everything unfamiliar as a threat. Yet these outdated survival strategies continue, even when they hurt us instead of helping us. We have to be awakened; we have to let go of fear and insecurity and the scarcity mentality in order to see through the eyes of love as the Buddha did, as the Christ did. When we expand our repertoire of responses to the world beyond fight or flight, we open ourselves to the possibility of seeing everyone through the eyes of love.
Blessed are those with integrity,
for their hearts, minds, words and actions are one.
When we are in right relationship with God and one another, when right intention leads to right action, we are integrated. Our words and actions match our thoughts and feelings. I don’t know about you, but for me this is a fleeting state of grace that I experience only sporadically. Most of the time I am conflicted. I lack the courage to take the action I think is right. I think things I would never say out loud. But those moments when my thoughts, feelings, words and actions are aligned feel sacred, holy. The word holy is derived from an Old English word meaning “whole,” used to convey a sense of being sound, healthy, entire, complete. I never feel more whole, I never feel more open to the Divine Presence, than when I feel integrated in thought, feeling, word and deed. Or as Jesus said, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
Blessed are those who commit themselves to peace,
for they disarm violence.
Violence is a commonly used tool of oppression and conquest. When people are oppressed and persecuted, when their homes and rights are taken away, they respond with anger – righteous anger, justified anger, but anger that often leads to retaliatory violence. From the time of their slavery in Egypt, God’s people expected a warrior-king, an anointed one who would avenge them and secure their freedom by any means necessary. No wonder they found Jesus puzzling…no wonder people were confused about whether he really was the promised Messiah, the anointed one sent by God to liberate them. Like other great leaders throughout history, Jesus understood that violence only begets more violence. He called peacemakers blessed, and only by committing to strategies of peace can we end violence.
Blessed are those who organize, struggle and sacrifice for freedom and equality, for they bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice. Perhaps it’s the juxtaposition of the sudden erosion of the safeguards that protect our personal rights and freedoms with the great man’s birthday; perhaps it’s the inspiring Women’s March on Washington and sister marches all over the world, but I can’t seem to stop quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. this month. He’s the one who said the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. He may have based it on words from a sermon by Unitarian Minister Theodore Parker who in 1853 wrote, “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but a little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see I am sure it bends towards justice.” Our eyes reach but a little way. We cannot see beyond the horizon to confirm beyond certainty the arc is bending, little by little, towards justice. Sometimes our current trajectory seems like a path that will hurtle us past the point of no return. You’ve heard it said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men should do nothing.” That is why those who organize, struggle and sacrifice for freedom and equality are blessed. If we want to live in a just world we must all do our part, we must all throw our weight against the levers of power to bend the moral arc of the universe towards justice.
Finally, to live fully into the culture of God we need to realize that we are all blessed. All of us are beloved children of the divine source as we express and understand it.
Blessed are we in the amazing diversity of our ethnicity, age, ability, and orientation, for we make visible the glory of Creation.
For in the glory of Creation we don’t just have “tree,” we have Beech and Aspen and Maple and Walnut and Oak and Cedar and too many others to name. We don’t just have “bird,” we have Owls and Finches and Sparrows and Orioles and Wrens and Flamingos and on and on and on. We don’t just have “human,” we have black, brown, white, blond, gray and red hair. We have green and blue and brown and gray and hazel eyes. We have skin colors from palest peach to darkest brown. We have a multitude of ways to love one another, be family together, be in relationship with one another. What better way to show gratitude to the source of all life than to embrace and affirm all persons for their unique selves, to love all our siblings as ourselves, to look upon the endless variety of creation and declare with God that “it is good.” Amen.

Beatitude Blessing for All Who Work for Justice
Blessed are you, in your emptiness and in your desperate cries to God,
For yours is the Grace of God,
the Love that surpasses all understanding.
Blessed are you who cry for your own pain and for the suffering you witness.
For the Holy Spirit is promised to you,
groaning herself where words fall short.
Blessed are you who respond in nonviolence
For you belong to God and one another,
and life will flourish where you seek to protect it.
Blessed are you who ache and fast for justice,
For you will witness the Love of God
acting upon this earth.
Blessed are you who are led by empathy, quick to listen and slow to judge.
You will sow gentleness, kindness and mercy.
Blessed are you who push deeper into your faith.
You will be refreshed to go on.
Blessed are you who work for justice.
You will know the binding Love of God in your life.
Blessed are you who suffer for that work.
You make way for Resurrection.
(Source, Rev. Tracy Howe, United Church of Canada)

Sutherland Springs Beatitudes
Blessed are they who are devastated,
for theirs is the realm of heaven.
Blessed are they who grieve for this country,
for they shall be comforted.
Blessed they who are nonviolent,
for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they who long for a culture of peace
for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are they who seek healing, not revenge,
for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are they who desire only blessing for all,
for they shall see God.
Blessed are they who work for the healing of the world,
for they shall be called children of God.
Blessed are they who meet opposition in their work for peace and justice, for theirs is the realm of heaven.
Blessed are you when people dismiss and insult you.
Rejoice, and be glad:
great is your reward in the heart of all things,
for in just this way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

MUSIC

Every Step of the Way

About admin

Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon) in placement at Pilgrim Uniting Church, in Adelaide CBD (12 Flinders St). This blog is mainly to resource worship planners for our services, but of course may be useful for others. We have some great writers of music, words for hymns and liturgy at Pilgrim, so this blog also includes their words.
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