Reign of Christ A

Christ in Judgment

(see also Reign of Christ B in ‘Year B’ on this site for other resources. Also, Textweek has an incredible range of resources)

In 2017, the so called Black Friday sales immediately precedes the last Sunday in the church year we name as Reign of Christ/Christ the King Sunday. Here’s a  reflection, juxtaposing the two:

Tall ships sail the November sky.
Brown leaves run from the wind,
hide behind stone walls.
A half moon backs up into the sky
to see if it can make it all the way across.
I notice.

Curtis is in prison.
I’m thinking of lots of people in prison,
some for being black or gay or angry or truthful.
A mother clings to her child in a UN tent,
a girl is hauled out of the dark room again.
All those: in treatment, getting a transplant,
Parkinson’s, depression, divorce just finalized.
I see you.

Spirit stirring in me, my new self,
my regrettable outburst, my forgiveness,
the grace given, the opening, the bud,
my horizon still moving on,
those who come with me.
I know.

I hear there’s something
at the mall
but I see nothing there,

It’s all elsewhere.
It’s all here.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

Reign of Christ Sunday (or ‘Christ the King’) was first instituted in 1925 by Pope Pius IX, and over time, has become an ecumenical observance. The one enthroned is also the one who takes the role of the servant and washes feet, and wears a crown of thorns. His concern for the outcast and wounded is in keeping with the actions of the shepherd in Ezekiel. (from ‘Gathering’, United Church of Canada)

Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
Psalm 100
Ephesians 1:15-23

Matthew 25:31-46

First Thoughts on the Old Testament Readings: Howard Wallace

I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Ezekiel 34.20
God notices our injustice,
and despises it.
God sees our systems that favor some
and exclude others;
it is God whom we exclude.
The Realm over which Christ reigns
is no heaven in the clouds,
but this trodden earth,
this very place where we foul the water
of our companion sheep,
this world which Christ will dismantle
and rebuild, re-make like the potter and her clay.
To be loyal subject of this Sovereign
it will not be enough to doff our hats
and hurt each other. Piety will not suffice.
The divine passion for the others
will rule our hearts and actions,
lead us from prayer to justice,
enlist us in the royal work of the new Realm.
The fat sheep like it as it is.
The lean sheep are remaking the world.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

First Thoughts on the New Testament Readings: Bill Loader

Church of Scotland, Starters for Sunday for Reign of Christ

Grace to you, and peace from the One who is and who was and who is to come. May this be a time and place of peace, that everyone who enters, enters in peace; and everyone who leaves, leaves in peace. 
Today is both the end and climax of the Christian year, which began in Advent last December. Today we celebrate the reign of Christ, Christ the King, and the paradox of the one named king who lays down the power to destroy, a leader who treads through the costly journey and into the shadow places of night, that we might find the rising of life before us. Christ the King, born to witness to God’s truth, whose might lies in mercy. 
When we speak of Christ as king, we speak of one who: is the first child of a village woman, born in a stable; is a story teller among the common people: welcomes children that gather around him, lays his hands on unclean lepers, makes disciples out of fishermen tax collectors, dines with traitors and other dregs of society, washes the feet of his followers, tramps around the country on foot, allows a prostitute to publicly wipe his feet with her hair. His only crown – a wreath of thorns. His only throne – two crossed planks of wood. (adapted, Bruce Prewer) In him, there is no shadow or darkness, but a light wherein the humble and poor may walk secure forever and ever! Praise his name!

Call to worship (based on Psalm 100)
Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth.
Worship the LORD with gladness; come into God’s presence with singing.
Know that the LORD is God. It is God who made us, and we belong to God;
We are God’s people, and the sheep of God’s pasture.
Enter God’s gates with thanksgiving, and God’s courts with praise.
Give thanks to God! Bless God’s name.
For the LORD is good; God’s steadfast love endures forever, and God’s faithfulness to all generations.

Come, join to praise with morning light: our loving King!
Let grateful voices sound with might: our loving King!
Let children’s voices tell their praise,
While aged lips extol your ways,
Let every tongue in joy unite: our loving King
To you we bring our praise!
Let songs like this ring through our land: our loving King!
From coastal farms and inland sand: our loving King!
Let all our nation thankful raise
Its voice in glad tumultuous praise: our loving King
To you we bring our praise!
Let earth’s great millions thunderous shout: our loving King!
Let this song spin the clouds about: our loving King!
We’ll always shout and sing your praise
While years flit by like passing days,
Until time runs its last hour out: our loving King
To you we bring our praise!
(by Bruce D. Prewer, ‘Australian Psalms’) Continue reading

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Postal Survey Prayers

And it’s YES!

Postal Prayersan Australian vote regarding Same Sex Marriage.

16 million ballot papers were posted out to determine how Australians feel about the question, “Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?” Yes or No. The postal survey was basically a huge opinion poll to gauge the views of Australians on same-sex marriage which MIGHT lead to a vote in Parliament. Only that vote can actually make same-sex marriage legal. Now a majority of people have voted in favour in the postal survey, a bill will be presented to Parliament and voted on which will make same-sex marriage legal.

Christians for Marriage Equalityprayers

I offer this
not so I might be heard
but that others may have voice

I offer this
not because I may be right
but because all have rights

I offer this
not for what I believe
but so all may feel free to

I offer this
not because I understand
but because I seek to

I offer this
not because my story is normative
but because others’ stories make me

I offer this
not because anything goes
but because some things matter

I offer this
not because change is inevitable
but because Love makes all things new
(Source: Craig Mitchell, Facebook, September 2017)

A prayer on the casting of my ballot
Lord, if I am too strong,
if I make others feel they don’t belong,
if I’m simply wrong,
forgive me.

Lord, if I am too weak,
if I sometimes fail to speak,
if it’s some other god I seek,
forgive me.

Lord, as you are the light,
grant me not to fear or fight,
and never to lose sight,
that you forgive me. Amen.
(Source: Michael Earl, posted on Facebook by Peter Overton)

The following reflections have been penned by Rev Dr Amelia Koh-Butler, and she has offered them to be used widely.
(Originally posted on Amelia’s blogsite Hyphenated Faith).

1. Words for the Post
Word of Life,
You challenge us to use our words to create or destroy,
to bring life-hope or experiences of death to others.
May we treasure the sharing of one little word…
So small, yet carrying such great meaning.
Word of Life,
You gave your life that others may live.
We praise and thank you that you sacrificed relationship
so that we might discover holy, lifelong, committed relationships.
Word of Life,
You set up the Bridegroom image
and Your Spirit allows us all to be Bride.
We thank you that you invite us all,
(no matter our orientations nor our sense of identity),
to claim a seat at your table
and dwell in your holy household.
Thanks be to God!
Continue reading

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resources in times of natural disaster/tragedy

Another shooting – Lord, have mercy! A gunman opened fire Sunday morning Nov 5th 2017 at the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, near San Antonio, Texas. More than two dozen people are dead and many are injured.

If We Just Talk of Thoughts and Prayers 
O WALY WALY LM (“Though I May Speak”)   (MIDI)

If we just talk of thoughts and prayers
And don’t live out a faith that dares,
And don’t take on the ways of death,
Our thoughts and prayers are fleeting breath.

If we just dream of what could be
And do not build community,
And do not seek to change our ways,
Our dreams of change are false displays.

If we just sing of doing good
And don’t walk through our neighborhood
To learn its hope, to ease its pain,
Our talk of good is simply vain.

God, may our prayers and dreams and songs
Lead to a faith that takes on wrongs—
That works for peace and justice, too.
Then will our prayers bring joy to you.

(Source © 2017 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved.
Email:     New Hymns:

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)

Another response: A Prayer of Anguish – Seeking Answers in a Sea of Questions, by Shane Phipps

Continue reading

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Remembrance Day

Resources for Remembrance Day
(see also resources for ANZAC Day)

Iona/Wild Goose Publications here (downloads)

For those whom we have asked
to bear the horror of our violence
we offer our prayers
of thanks for their willingness
to stand between us and our fears,
for forgiveness for having asked them,
of healing for the damage to their souls
by what they have done and seen,
for mercy for them who don’t know
how to carry the horror back to us,
how to shed the darkness
we have asked them to drink,
how to live among us, who are so willing
to sacrifice our children.
May we give others peace to bear, not fear,
healing to carry, not weapons,
and send them into blessing, not danger.
May we, too, have the courage to serve,
to risk, to give our lives in love
for the sake of our homeland,
which is the Kingdom of God,
the whole human family,
in the spirit of peace. Amen.
Steve Garnaas-Holmes,

UCA 2014 Remembrance Day resources

Remembrance Day youtube resource (3.21 mins) – prayer meditation

Prayer for Remembrance Day
Let us pray for all who suffer as a result of conflict,
and ask that God may give us peace:
for the service men and women
who have died in the violence of war,
each one remembered by and known to God;
may God give peace. God give peace. Continue reading

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All Saints Day

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. (Psalm 115:16)
One generation shall praise your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts. (Psalm 145:4)
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They cried out in a loud voice, saying: Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb! These beloved have gone on before us into eternal life. (Revelation 7:9-10).
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely. Let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:10)

Baptist Church, Sutherland Springs

Reflections on church shooting at Sutherland Springs, Nov 5th 2017 (the day for celebrating All Saints Day). Scroll to the end for the full text.

Gospel feelings resources here.

A Call to Worship for All Saints Day
(Hebrews 12: 1)
We remember, O God…
The countless saints of history
who have blazed a trail of courage through time,
We remember, O God…
The tender touch of loved ones,
the example of heroes,
the healing words of comforters,
the remarkable acts of fearless ones.
We remember, O God…
The gentle strength of grandmothers,
the loyalty of friends,
the kindness of strangers,
the joy of children,
the sacrifice of parents.
We remember, O God…
The supreme love of Jesus,
the blessing of his Spirit,
the reminder of his words,
the sharing of his suffering,
the glory of his resurrection:
shown forth in the lives of his disciples,
young and old,
dead and living,
articulate and silent,
strange and familiar,
brilliant and ordinary.
We remember in every time and place the saints of God
who have shown us the Lord.
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses…
let us worship God with joy!
(Desperate Preacher’s website)

Call to Worship for All Saints Day
With thanksgiving on my tongue,
I sing praise for the feet of the saints
who walked this path long before me
who pointed out this path to me
who cleared the path with me.

With thanksgiving on my tongue,
I sing praise for the wisdom of the saints
who shared their vision of God’s ways
who lived faithfully by God’s ways
who loved God all the way.

With thanksgiving on my tongue,
I sing praise for the cloaks of the saints
that sheltered my weary soul from the dust
that marked my life for a new adventure
that gave me some flair for the dance.

With thanksgiving on your tongue,
now sing praise for the voices of the saints
who named God within you
who evoked God from you
who gave God to you.
(Rachel Hackenberg, and posted on RevGalBlogPals)

Call to worship
In all our weakness and strength,
with our youth-filled spirits and aging bodies,
we come to be your people, O God.

Strong in faith and eager with questions,
singing our praise and whispering our prayers,
we come to be your people, O God.

Filled with saintly determination
yet mindful of our human limitations,
we come to be your people, O God.

Made strong in your endless love for us,
we know ourselves to be yours and
we come to be your people, O God.

May we truly become your people today. Amen.
(Seasons of the Spirit: WoodLake Publishing)

All Saints Day
This day, Lord,
We remember
We remember those who have come before
Those known and unknown,
Those imperfect vessels who, like us, sought to embody your grace and love,
Those who received and carried tradition,
And in turn passed it on to us.
May we live like them as faithful disciples,
Inspired by their example,
Receiving their wisdom,
Learning from their mistakes,
And seeking to work with you
To build the communion of the commonwealth of your love.
So hallowed be your name,
Just as it was at times in them,
So may it be in us.
This we pray. Amen.
(source: Jon Humphries)

Prayer of the Day
Eternal God, neither death nor life can separate us from your love: grant that we may serve you faithfully here on earth, and in heaven rejoice with all your saints. Amen.

Prayer of Confession: All Saints
Jesus, lover and friend, you showed us holiness in action through the way you lived your life. You gave away your power in the service of others and turned our understanding of blessedness on its head.
We confess the difficulties we experience in living as you lived and loving as you loved
We confess how easy it is to concentrate on our own pleasures – taking note of the plight of many in the world only as the news momentarily grabs our attention.
We confess our capacity to be so consumed by our own agendas that our concern for the needs of others shrinks all too rapidly.
We confess our failure to act when we see around us weakness, pain, suffering and powerlessness. A time of silent confession
We confess our reluctance to love our enemies and to do good to those who dislike or even hate us.
We confess the ease with which we become conformed to the world’s standards rather than facing the challenge of conforming to those of Christ.
Stir up your Spirit in us, Lord, that we may experience the happiness and blessing of being your disciples in more than name only.
Strengthen us to be people who sing and live your song of love; who willingly serve our neighbours—even those we don’t especially like; who seek justice and mercy for all and who truly repent of what is past and look with anticipation for what is yet to come. This we pray in your name and for your sake. Amen.
Assurance of Forgiveness
“In Christ… when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and had believed in him, you also were marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit; this is the pledge of our inheritance towards redemption as God’s own people.” (Ephesians 1: 13, 14)
Hear again the word of truth: in Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!
(Moira Laidlaw)

The those who have lived before us
Dear Lord,
thank you for drawing us into community
here in this place that has been called home for so many.

Inspire us with the lives of those before us,
those ancient ones who have lived here in faith
and opened up and given away
your love to all those who needed it.

May you change us with a vision to continue here
as a constant presence for those who travel through life,
a community of welcome that cares for all our parish
believing into what is still yet to be.

Teach us to discern your voice
as those before us have discerned your voice,
guided by its call and feeding on its promise
of life and hope and belonging.

May we hear your word:
a comforting word in its familiar sound,
yet a disturbing word in what it speaks anew
and longs for us to become.

Hold us within the faith of our forebears,
those who chose to meet you here in this parish,
who recognised this thin place as a trysting place
where your miracle of grace abides.

May we be moved by that grace
into all the places that make up our community,
sharing what you have given abundantly
like an ever flowing stream.

Call us from our past,
through the voices of our ancestors,
in the songs they have sung
and the prayers they have spoken
that have shaped peace within this parish,

And may we join our voice with their voice,
in the one great song of love
that will be lived and celebrated yet,
throughout this parish.
(Rev. Roddy Hamilton, and posted on Listening to the Stones)

Sermon by Doug Gay, based on lectionary reading Year C (Zacchaeus).

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International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church

An article by Elizabeth Kendal, an international religious liberty analyst and advocate. She serves as Director of Advocacy at Canberra-based Christian Faith and Freedom (CFF), and is an Adjunct Research Fellow at the Arthur Jeffery Centre for the Study of Islam at Melbourne School of Theology.

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UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities – Dec 3

December 3rd is the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. This celebration, created by the United Nations, seeks to celebrate the over one billion people worldwide living with some kind of disability. Disability is so natural, that this number equals 15% or more of the total population of the world. We don’t celebrate disability, but the ability that is hidden within, and makes uniquely able all of those who live with a disability. Pause to remember those who are as whole in their human identity as everyone else, but can find themselves treated as lesser beings.

The 2017 theme is, “Transformation towards sustainable and resilient society for all”.

I’ve been sorting through papers and re-reading a TEAR magazine (2011) focussed on disability. Great articles.

A handful of memorable quotes…..

Of the 650 million people with disabilities in the world, a staggering 80% live in developing nations.

‘It always comes back to belonging. We have to discover more fully that the church is a place of compassion and fecundity*, a place of welcome and friendship. We need time to listen to and understand people with communication problems. It takes time to become a friend of people with disabilities. (Living Gently in a Violent World, by Jean Varnier with Stanley Hauerwas). (* fecundity – fruitfulness and the capacity to give life)

‘Those we lock away and think worthless have the power to teach and even to heal us” (Varnier). We are all ‘broken’ in some way. When you start living with people with disabilities, you begin to discover a whole lot of things about yourself’. Varnier learned that to ‘be human is to be bonded together, each with our own weaknesses and strengths, because we need each other’.

‘The more we can identify what is particularly true for us individually, the more we may discover that others are making similar journeys’. (Henri Nouwen)

Matt Anslow writes: ‘In his book Suffering Presence, Stanley Hauerwas insists upon the ‘tyranny of normality’, the idea that normality is dangerous for people with disabilities. Hauerwas writes, ‘The most stringent power we have over another is not physical coercion but the ability to have another accept our definition of them’. Indeed, this kind of ‘defining’ people is a hallmark of human society, which inevitably leads to those with social power being able to delegate the label of ‘the other’. What is the impact on people who are labelled in this way? What is the effect on those who are ‘normal’?

A prayer for all God’s people

Let us pray for all God’s people. For people who are blind and cannot see, and for those who can see but are blind to people around them.
Lord, in your mercy help us touch each other.

For people who move slowly because of accident, illness, or disability, and for those who move too fast to be aware of the world in which they live.
Lord, in your mercy help us work together.

For people who are deaf and cannot hear, and for those who can hear but who ignore the cries of others
Lord, in your mercy help us respond to each other.

For people who learn slowly, for people who learn in different ways, and for people who learn quickly and easily but often choose ignorance
Lord, in your mercy help us grow in your wisdom.

For people who have chronic illness for which there is no known cure or relief, and for people who live in unholy fear of developing a chronic illness.
Lord, in your mercy help us and heal us.

For families, friends, and caregivers who serve people with disabilities, and for those who feel awkward in their presence
Lord, in your mercy help us see each other with your eyes.

For people who think they are worthless and beyond your love, and for people who think they don’t need your love,
Lord, in your mercy help us accept your love.

For people who feel isolated by their disabilities, and for people who contribute to that sense of isolation
Lord, in your mercy change our lives.

For all the people in your creation, that we may learn to respect each other and learn how to live together in your peace.
Lord, in your mercy bind us together. Amen.

Kate Chipps, adapted by Ginny Thornburgh


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World AIDS Day, 1 December

World AIDS Day 2016 Prayer Service (WCC)

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Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25:
Joshua challenges the people to turn from their idols and serve only God, and they commit to doing so.
Psalm 78:1-7:
A call for people to hear a message of God’s greatness and goodness, remembering how God gave the people laws and instructions so that they and their children could remember God’s deeds and hope in God.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18:
A word of encouragement to remind the believers that death is not the end, but that believers, both dead and alive, will enjoy life eternal in union with Christ, which is our Christian hope.
Matthew 25:1-13:
Jesus tells a story about bridesmaids who are waiting for the arrival of the bridegroom at a wedding. Some have extra oil and are able to wait for as long as it takes, while others, who do not have extra, have to leave to find more and so miss the groom’s arrival. Then, when they return, they are shut out and not allowed in. Then Jesus encourages his hearers to be alert.
(RCL readings summary by John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Ten bridesmaids took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom….Matthew 25.1
Jesus tells a story: bridesmaids await a groom who is delayed. Some run out of oil. The others won’t give up their oil, so those who are short go out to buy more. When the groom comes, they’re off at the hardware store. They return to the party too late to be admitted.
We think the maidens are “foolish” because they didn’t plan for the groom’s long delay (as if that’s a spiritual issue). And we suppose they had no choice but to dash off to get oil, and, sadly, they miss the groom. But is that really the point? Were they really just the lighting crew? Does it occur to them (or us) that maybe they could just run out of oil, and the groom will be glad to see them because he’d rather have their company than their flashlights? Their purpose is to meet the groom—but right when he needs them most, they’re off taking care of their own worries. They aren’t there for him.
But they’re not alone. Everybody in the story fails to be there for each other. The “wise” maidens could have shared. It wouldn’t have killed them. But they make their sisters go shopping at midnight— and are happy to go to the party without them. They’re not willing to be there for the others.
And the groom—in what way is he not a jerk? He won’t let his friends come to the party—because they’re late. After he himself has made them wait all fracking night?? And on top of that he insults them, saying, “I don’t know you!” He vaporizes his friendship over tardiness? Wow. What a prince of selfishness.
So what’s Jesus up to in this story? I think he’s setting us up. We’re so anxious to “get” the story, to believe something pious about it, to judge between wise and foolish, we miss the actual relationships—like the maidens out buying moral-of-the-story oil instead of just being there. Sometimes we’re obsessed with our lamps instead of with each other. It really doesn’t matter what we think, or how much “oil in our lamps” we have, or how well others meet our expectations. What matters is that we’re there for each other.
Pray that you might run out of oil, having given it away to be there for someone in need. Trust the Bridegroom will be happy for you to be there.
(Source: Steve Garnaas-Holmes, Unfolding Light)

General resources: Centering prayers/gatheringCall to Worship, Prayers of Confession/words of assurance, Prayer for Illumination, Prayers for Others, words to conclude Prayers for others, Lord’s PrayerOffering Prayer, Words of Mission/Blessings and benediction)

Call to Worship
(based on 1 Thessalonians 4: 13-18, Matthew 25: 1-13, Amos 5: 18-24)
Are you awake? Are you alert?
Christ is coming into our lives in a new way.
Are you watching the signs?
Are you interpreting what is happening today?
Christ is coming into our lives in a new way.
Do you see opportunities for ministry?
Do you see the poor, the homeless, the hungry, the needy?
Christ is coming into our lives in a new way.
Come, let us worship and let us work in the reign of God.
Christ has extended the invitation:
let us work together in the reign of God on earth.
(Source: Rev. Mindi, Rev-o-lution)

Call to Worship
God has gathered us to this place,
where we hear those stories which show us
what the kingdom of God is like.
God summons us to this place,
where we can learn how to serve our God
without reservation, or hesitation.
God will send us from this place,
to tell others of God’s hopes and dreams,
so they, too, can choose to follow God.
(Source: Thom Shuman)

Call to Worship (based on Psalm 78: 1-7)
We gather here to remember God’s glorious deeds –
recorded for all time by people
whose lives were touched by divine grace.
As people of hope, they affirmed the great works of God,
and the importance of keeping the commandments of God.
We are heirs of their faithfulness
in witnessing to the greatness of God’s wondrous acts.
Let our witness be as convincing,
so that generations to come
will continue to honour God’s holy name.
(Source: Moira Laidlaw)

Prayer of Praise and Adoration
We worship you, O God, as the one in whom we have placed our hope.  We share the desire of your people of old to tell of the blessings you have effected in our lives. When we think about the greatest blessing of all – the gift of yourself in human flesh -Jesus Christ -we joyfully acknowledge that our hope in you is not misplaced.  We choose to serve you because you chose to touch our lives so graciously in Christ.  May our faithful witness and the service of our lives reveal the depth of our love and gratitude as we worship you, O God, and as we praise and adore you in Jesus’ name and in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
(Source: Moira Laidlaw, Liturgies Online website)

(this would make a good meditation for the ‘prayers of who we are’/prayers of confession – it describes the reality of tiring from ‘waiting and watching’)
Waiting and Watching
You call me to wait on You, Lord,
but I get tired of waiting.
Your answers to my prayers,
Your call for me to serve You,
the promise of Your coming Kingdom,
they all seem to take so long.
You tell me to watch for Your coming, Lord,
but I’m not sure how to prepare for…
a thief in the night,
an undisclosed time,
and Your disconcerting habit of secrecy and mystery.
Yet, something inside whispers
that You’re not all that hard to find;
That You’re always coming to me,
and that both the waiting and the watching,
are more about being open to You now,
than about trying not to be surprised in the future.
And so I will keep waiting,
and I’ll try to stay alert,
so that I can catch the glimpses of Your glory
that fill my day, every day. Amen.
(Source, John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Litany of Confession and Assurance (based on Matthew 25: 1-13)
Ten lamps gathered, with oil enough for all.
Ten lamps gathered,
But five are empty showing careless disregard.
Ten lamps gathered,
Five blaze with oil abundant enough to share.
Ten lamps gathered,
Five lifeless when laziness and greed collide.
Ten lamps gathered…
How many will burn tonight?
Creator God, giver of oil, hear us as we pray…
For generous hearts to share oil with our neighbors.
Creator God, giver of oil, hear us as we pray…
For the vision necessary to leave our comfortable seats in search of oil.
Creator God, giver of oil, hear us as we pray…
For forgiveness for the ways our selfishness and our apathy collide.
Ten lamps gathered, with oil enough for all.
Come children of God, into a sacred circle
Where sharing creates abundance
And no one leaves hungry. Amen.
(Source: Katherine Hawker, Liturgies Outside the Box)

(this could be used to introduce Prayers for Others)
We really would prefer it, Jesus,
if the big problems of our world
could be resolved quickly;
we don’t mind the effort,
the hard work,
or even the sustained hours
over a few weeks or even months;
It’s the years of faithful commitment that we struggle with.

But, from the perspective of eternity,
a lifetime of commitment to your reign
is really not that much to ask;

And so we pray that you would help us to stay faithful –
to love ones in our homes and families,
who need to know they can depend on us;
to our brothers and sisters in faith,
who need us to strengthen and welcome them,
even as we need their companionship;
to the people of our neighbourhood and city,
who need us to be good citizens,
and conscientious justice seekers;
to the people of our nation,
who need our constant prayers,
and our commitment to participate
in political, economic and social systems;
to the people of the world,
who need us to embrace them and care for them,
even though it may offer us no benefit,
and have no real impact on our lives.

(prayers may be offered here by individuals in the community….could finish each one with a short phrase that the community echoes back eg ‘give me courage/give us courage; give me strength/give us strength; give me grace/give us grace, etc)

Teach us the love that stays faithful for the long haul, Jesus:
the persistence that will not give up,
and the grace to trust your faithfulness,
even when we cannot see results.
We offer our prayers in the name of Jesus, Amen.
(Source: John van de Laar, Sacredise)

Commission and Benediction
Go now, and follow in the footsteps
of those who have gone before us in Christ.
Revere the Lord.
Serve God in sincerity and faithfulness.
Teach those who come after you to trust in God.
And may God protect you along the way;
May Christ Jesus keep you alert and prepared;
And may the Holy Spirit fuel the lamp that guides your path.
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
……..In the name of Christ. Amen.
(Source: Nathan Nettleton

David MacGregor’s music suggestions for this week in the lectionary.
Natalie Sims’ music suggestions for this week in the lectionary.

Communion liturgy – Thom Shuman
Call to Worship
L: If we will but listen,
P: God will speak to us in parables,
God will tell us stories lived out by our grandparents.
If we will but remember,
P: we will discover all we have heard and known,
all the wonders God has in store for us.
L: If we will but share,
P: we can tell our children and grandchildren –
even those not yet born –
the glorious stories of our God.

Prayer of the Day
We stand at the crossing,
Holy God,
arms, hearts, souls
full of the burdens
the gods of this world
have placed on us.
You remove them,
throw then to one side,
taking us by the hand
to lead us into your kingdom.

As we turn to you in our despair,
Holy Friend,
you come and fill our emptiness
with the holy oil
of your compassion,
so we might always
be ready to serve
those who come to us.

Holy Wisdom,
you would not leave us
uninformed of God’s love for us,
so you whisper in our ears
of wonders beyond imagination;
you remove the blindfolds from our eyes
so we may  behold the grace
flowing all around us;
you open our hearts
to the family God has given us.

God in Community, Holy in One,
hear us as we pray as Jesus teaches us,
(The Lord’s Prayer)

Call to Reconciliation
How quickly we forget – our faith, our calling, our hope.  All because we try to do everything our way, rather than God’s.  But God is quicker to forgive, and to restore us to new life.  Let us confess to our God, as we pray, saying,

Unison Prayer for Forgiveness
It is never easy to admit how foolish we are, Approaching God.  You have chosen us for yourself, and we continue to shelter false gods in our hearts.  You promise to be with us in every moment, but we can find little time for you.  You send your Word to us, but we are too busy listening to the noise of our culture to pay attention.
Have mercy, Eternal One, and forgive us.  Speak to us, so we might listen, and in hearing be transformed into your people.  Fill us with holiness, so we might give ourselves wholly to others.  Enable us to serve you faithfully and completely, even as did our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L: This is our assurance: God forgives us.
This is our hope: God’s love is everlasting.
This is our truth: God is with us always.
P: We will speak the truth;
we will live the hope;
we will share God’s mercy.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
We can stand at the edge and watch while you seek to bring hope, healing, peace, and joy to everyone in the world.  Or we can take that step, of committing our lives as well as our gifts, in working with you in this ministry of grace.  Bless our gifts, bless our lives, bless our service, we pray.  Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: May the Lord be with you.
P: And also with you.
L: People of God, lift up your hearts.
P: We lift them to the One whose faithfulness never ends.
L: People of God, give thanks to the Lord.
P: We offer our praise and thanksgiving to the One whose love is eternal.

How good and right
it is to praise you,
God who gathers us
around this Table!
You opened your mouth,
and creation’s glory sprang forth;
you appointed the stars
to glitter in the night;
you established the waters
to nourish the earth.
You shaped us in your image,
calling us to be your children
to live with you in harmony and joy.
But we chose to serve sin,
crossing the River back into chaos,
hugging our false gods to our hearts.
But you would not give up
on your hope for us,
sending us the prophets
so we might pay attention
to the words of your heart.
When we would not forsake
our reliance on the world’s idols,
you sent Jesus to us,
who died and was raised for our sake.

Therefore, we join with those
who await us there in heaven,
as well as those who witness to us here,
singing forever of your glory:

P: Holy, holy, holy are you, God of all wanderers.
All creation cries out in praise to you.
Hosanna in the highest!

Blessed is the One who comes that we might have hope.
Hosanna in the highest!

You alone are holy,
God of all time,
and blessed is Jesus Christ,
our Lord and Savior.
When we had walked away
from your gracious love,
you turned to us in Christ
to save us.
When we no longer
were willing to listen,
your Word of hope
came among us
to live your love in our midst.
When we foolishly clung
to sin’s deadly ways,
Jesus reached out to pull us
from the grasp of death,
and showed us the Kingdom.

As we remember his death and resurrection for us,
we tell those who come after us
of that mystery we call faith:

P: Christ died, the witness that love is stronger than hate;
Christ was raised, the witness that life is stronger than death;
Christ will witness to us that hope is stronger than grief.

As we come to this Table
of healing and gentleness,
we pray that you would
send your Spirit upon the gifts
of the bread and of the cup,
and on your children gathered here.
As we reach out our hands
for the bread which has been broken for us,
we seek to encourage others
to discover you love;
as we drink of the Spirit of Christ,
may we no longer plead ignorance,
but with full awareness,
and open hearts, go forth
to serve all your children.

Then, when we gather at
the Wedding Banquet in your kingdom,
we will praise you,
Creating God,
Jesus of the poor,
Healing Spirit –
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

L: Go now to tell the stories of our God.
P: We will listen to the lives of those around us as we do.
L: Go now to discover the gifts of everyone you meet.
P: We will remember Jesus, who blessed us with hope and life.
L: Go now to share all that is within you.
P: We will tell everyone – from the smallest child to the oldest person –
of the Spirit who longs to shape us into one community.

(c) Thom M. Shuman

Thom M. Shuman
Transitional Pastor
Galloway Presbyterian Church, Columbus, Ohio
Associate Member, Iona Community

Posted in COCU Year A, Year A | Comments Off on COCU65A.Pentecost23A.12thNovember2017


(All Saints Day resources here)

Readings (A4 in folded landscape format) RCL Readings Proper 26A

Call to Worship (based on Joshua 3 reading)
When we stand at the edge of fear and worry,
God invites us to step into the waters of faith and trust.
When we stand at the edge of the world’s pain and need,
Jesus invites us to step into the land of humble service.
When we stand at the edge of our hunger and thirst:
the Spirit invites us to sit at the Table of grace. Thom Shuman

Prayer of praise (links to Joshua 3)
God – companion and  guide, we would be lost without your direction – wanderers in wildernesses of our own making.  We praise you for dealing so graciously with your people in the past, when you guided them to freedom and a promised new life.  We are heirs of that promise fulfilled in Jesus. Through him you have established for us a permanent direction for our lives and as we dwell in him, our lives are blessed with fruitfulness. Holy God, may this time of worship be a joyful response of praise and thanksgiving for all that you have done, for all that you are doing, and for all that you will continue to do for us and all people through the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus.  Amen.
Moira Laidlaw

Joshua 3:7
The LORD said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses.”
Moses was a hard act to follow. After the tired old man breathed his last on the slopes of Mt. Pisgah overlooking the Promised Land, which he never quite made it to, the job of leading the Israelites on in fell to Joshua. Since the Promised Land was inhabited by a group of native Canaanite tribes who weren’t about to give it up without an argument, the result was years of war at its crudest and most savage. And in the eyes of Joshua and his people, it wasn’t just any old war. It was a holy war. It was Yahweh they were fighting for, because the land they were out to get, come hell or high water, was the land that centuries before, in Abraham’s time, Yahweh had promised them so they could settle down in it and become a great nation and a blessing to all nations. Prisoners weren’t supposed to be taken, and spoils weren’t supposed to be divided, because Yahweh was the one they all belonged to. Ai, Jericho, Gibeon—cities fell like clay pigeons at Joshua’s feet, and everything that would burn was put to the torch, and everything that wouldn’t, like men, women, and children, was put to the sword. Holy wars are the unholiest kind.
The battle at Gibeon was one of the worst parts of it. Five Amorite kings were drawn up against the Israelites, and Joshua launched his attack just before dawn. His men leapt out of the mists with a terrible light in their eyes. There was a wild storm with hailstones as big as hand grenades. The Amorites panicked. The slaughter was on. It was a long, bloody massacre, and in order to have enough daylight to finish it by, Joshua fixed the sun with his stern military gaze and gave it his orders.
“Sun, stand thou still at Gibeon!” he said (Joshua 10:12), and because he was in command of the operation and because Yahweh was in command through him, the sun snapped to attention and kept shining till the job was done. It was the longest day on record, and when it was finally over, the ground was strewn with the dead, and the mutilated bodies of the five kings were hanging from five trees like meat in a butcher shop.
With one exception, there was nothing that Joshua hadn’t been able to see in the prolonged and relentless light the sun had supplied him with. The one exception was that the God he was fighting for was the God of the Amorites too, whether they realized it or not. But Yahweh saw it and brooded over it and more than a thousand years later, through the mouth of his Anointed, spoke about it.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” he said (Matthew 5:4), and then he also blessed the peacemakers, so that even without any extra sunshine everybody would be able to see that peace is better than even the holiest wars, especially the kind of peace that not even a holy terror like Joshua can either give or take away.
(Source: Frederick Buechner, originally published in Peculiar Treasures and later in Beyond Words)

Links to worship resources:


David MacGregor’s music selections linked to the lectionary readings this week.




Posted in COCU Year A, Year A | Comments Off on COCU64A.5thNov2017