1 Kings 19:1-4, (5-7), 8-15a: God instructs Elijah to go to Mount Sinai, and comes to him there. At Elijah’s cave he experiences wind, earthquake and fire, but God’s voice is only heard in the whisper that follows. In spite of his fear at the threats against his life, God leads him back into ministry.
Psalms 42 and 43: A song of lament, with a commitment to praise God in the face of persecution of suffering.
Galatians 3:23-29: Now that the way of faith in Christ has come, the law is no longer needed. Those who trust in Christ are God’s children, and we are all equal in God’s family.
Luke 8:26-39: Jesus liberates the Gerasene demonaic, who begs to go with Jesus once he has been healed. But Jesus sends him home to tell of what God did for him.
(summaries by John van de Laar on his Sacredise website. His weekly reflections on the themes of the RCL readings, and global and local applications are always really helpful. )

(Contemporary versions of the lectionary readings by Nathan Nettleton)

Church of Scotland starters

Prayer of Approach
We are looking for you, God
Sometimes we look for you in the rushing wind
The tempest that takes hold of us
The storm that rages around us,
But you are not there
Sometimes we look for you in the earthquake In the thundering upheaval
In the turmoil of moving places
But you are not there
And sometimes we look for you in the fire In the burning brightness
Crackling and sparkling
But you are not there
We seek you, God
In the spectacular
In displays of power and glory
We long for your help
As we stand in the doorway of our caves
Sheltering from the demanding, critical world
Caught between our fears and our faith
Remembering our failures, our regrets, our loss
We are looking for you but we do not find you We are seeking forgiveness
We seek forgiveness
If it is possible
If it may be possible – even for us
And then worn out by our hopelessness in the stillness
And in quietness
And in silence
We begin to feel your presence And hear your voice
Within us and around us
Calling us
Out of turmoil into peace
Out of fear and into freedom
Calling us to step out of the darkness and into the light
For the world and all within it belong to you
And you are with us always
Within and without. (Susan Miller)

Invocation (inspired by 1 Kings 19:8-15)
O God, you come to us not in the chaos of the whirlwind,
not in the roar of the earthquake, not in the crackling heat of the fire,
but in the sound of sheer silence.
Quiet our minds, bring peace to our hearts and stillness to our bodies
that we might meet you in that silence.
Help us to listen for your still, small voice.
Give us the courage to go wherever you lead us,
trusting that you will prepare the way.
We pray this in the name of our Companion on the journey,
Jesus the Christ.
(Heather A. Moody)

Welcome – who’s welcome here (perhaps related to Galatians reading?)
You will need: a metronome (perhaps mic the metronome with its own microphone)
(Set the metronome ticking)
Not for the well known
but for the unknown
not for the famous
but the forgotten
not for the well named
but the unnamed
Jesus has time
(Stop metronome)
(Start metronome again)
Not for the included
but the excluded
not for the religious
but for the hopeful
not for the inner circle
but for the outer circle
Jesus has time
(Stop metronome)
Slight pause
Those of us
seeking healing
seeking hope
seeking life
Jesus has time for us
even as the world doesn’t
Slight pause
(Start metronome again)
Not for those who do know
but those who need to know
the unbounded and unlimited
love and compassion
generosity and grace of God
Jesus has time
(Let metronome tick for a short while then stop)
(Roddy Hamilton)

Words of praise: The Goodness of Grace
We celebrate the goodness of grace
that liberates us from oppression
when dark forces work to bind us.

We celebrate the goodness of grace
that provides for us a refuge
when destructive people persecute us.

We celebrate the goodness of grace
that proclaims our belonging in God’s family
when rigid legalists would exclude us.

We celebrate the goodness of grace
which keeps us from temptation,
delivers us from evil,
and leads us into God’s vibrant, abundant life. Amen.
(John van de Laar)

Give us your grace (could be used as the prayers of who we are, with silences)
As, in prayer, we share our longings for our world
we seek your grace, O God;
When we define the good by law
and ignore mercy and justice
Give us your grace. (time of silence)
When we turn a blind eye to those oppressed by evil
and fail to loose their chains
Give us your grace. (time of silence)
When we allow powerful and wealthy people
To persecute, abuse or ignore the weak and poor
Give us your grace. (time of silence)
Teach us, O God, to see good and evil through your gracious, liberating eyes;
And give us the grace to follow you in paths of peace-making, freedom-bringing,
and evil-overcoming. In Christ’s name, Amen. (John van de Laar)

The prayers of who we are – reflection(inspired by 1 Kings 19: 9-13)
Hear the silence in my heart, Most Holy,
the reverberating sound of “I don’t know.”
Do not call me from this cave
or tease my heart with angels,
for I am determined to rest.
The familiar has become foreign to my soul
and home is a bitter dream without roots.
Do not ask what I am doing
or press me for a vision,
for my soul is lost.
Choose another, or call me to battle,
so that I might find my way again.
(Rachel Hackenberg)

The prayers of who we are – reflection (inspired by 1 Kings 19)
O God, sometimes the journey is too much;
we can’t go on, and we complain that we are all alone.
Nobody cares, not even you.
Our strength is gone, and we are ready to give up.
In those times,
when we are consumed with self-pity
and convinced there is no hope,
send your Spirit into our hearts to remind us of your sustaining grace.
Strengthen us at your Table and by the daily claiming of our baptism,
so we may go confidently on our journeys,
carrying out the mission you have given us.
Through Christ we pray. Amen.
(Dr. Tom Cheatham)

Words of assurance
God forgives us, so we might be new people.
God equips us, so we might serve others.
God sends us forth, so we might be a witness to everyone we meet.
No one is the same: enemies are now our friends;
those we could not trust now become our confidants;
those we could not hear now speak to us of God’s hope and joy.
Thanks be to God. Amen.
(Thom Shuman)

Words of Assurance
Hear the good news of God’s love for us;
not in the earthquake, not in the storms, not in the mighty deeds
but in the silence, in the gentle touch, in the quiet rain
God says, again, “You are my Beloved. I love you.”
(Katherine Hawker)

Reflection: Uncharted Territory (based on 1 Kings 19:1-15)
For all the stories of journeys in the bible
we know nothing of the maps people travelled with.
journeys that would have taken days
and crossed uncharted territory
of land and mind
are condensed in the space between
a full stop
and a capital letter.
Elijah ran from Jezebel –
a refugee in a strange land
with a distant mountain to aim for
and a world of fear and terror between.
And in this unmapped space
he fought to make his path
but for the company of angels.
Who are the angels who give you food for the journey
when you find yourself alone
in the uncharted worlds of faith?
take some bread and eat it in their honour
And who can you be an angel for when you leave here?
drink some water and make your prayer for grace.
(Cheryl Lawrie)

ELIJAH ON THE RUN (1 Kings 19:1-15a)
Heeding a death threat
the prophet fled for his life;
perhaps from himself.
Desperate and spent
he was divinely sustained
in his wilderness.
Dark night, dark cave, dark:
again Elijah heard God,
still, for the first time.
(Jeff Shrowder, 2016)

GERASENE MAN 2 (Luke 8:26-39)
Exiled, tormented,
naked, with tombs for a house:
dead amongst the dead.
Jesus asked his name:
Legion, for his myriad
malignant spirits.
Made well by Jesus,
right-minded, clothed, the man sat
still, for the first time.
Jesus sent him home,
to proclaim the good news there
how much God had done.
(Jeff Shrowder 2016)

More by Jeff Shrowder for Sunday 12C

Prayer of lament/prayers of who we are (inspired by Psalm 42)
We have come into your presence singing your praise, O God,
and we are grateful for all your goodness to us.
Yet, even as we sing,
we are conscious that there are so few of us.
We remember those times when this place was full;
when the buildings rang out the praise of many feet
hurrying off to Sunday School.
You know the grief in our hearts
that those days are past.
You know the questions that haunt us
wondering what we could have done differently.
You know the yearnings,
the deep yearnings,
to hear your voice,
to perceive your presence,
to be led by your Spirit
into the joy and energy of your new creation.
But, for now,
we hold on to your promises.
You have promised that there will be a day
when blind eyes will be opened
and deaf ears unstopped
so that your Word will be heard and heeded.
You have promised a day when God’s people
will again rejoice and be glad and laugh
at the wonders you have worked in our midst.
You have promised that your light will shine in the darkness
and the darkness will not overcome it.
So, giver of all good things,
Redeemer of all people,
Giver of hope and energy and new community,
we choose to trust your promises.
We choose to live in hope in you alone.
We fix our eyes on you
and open our hearts and minds and spirits
to your Spirit’s guiding presence.
This we ask,
that you will give us courage
to receive the newness you are, even now,
creating in our world,
through the grace of Jesus, our Word,
by which you make all things new. Amen.
(Christine Jerrett)

Prayers for others (inspired by Psalm 42)
Eternal defender of the poor and sad,
hear our prayers for all who suffer.
For those who are refugees, exiles from home,
because of the cruelty of enemies or the vagaries of nature.
For those who are starving
and whose tears are their only food.
For those who are desperate for a drink,
and who thirst for life-giving water.
For those who are sad and troubled,
whose hearts break for want of hope.
For those whose faith is weak,
who feel that God has abandoned them.
Protector of the weak, be with all who need you today.
May they know that they are not forgotten.
(Adam J. Dillon)

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Intercession (Susan Miller)
Life-giving God,
You have made a beautiful world of blue skies and green fields,
of sunlight and birdsong
of music and laughter
You have made us all
to live in peace with one another.
But there is not enough peace in the world
We pray for peace
We pray for peace in Syria, peace in Iraq, peace in Greece Peace in our homes and in our hearts.
There is not enough freedom in the world
We pray for freedom
Freedom for refugees, freedom for prisoners, freedom for slaves Freedom in our homes and in our hearts.
There is not enough love in the world
We pray for love
Love for the bereaved, love for the sick, love for the lonely Love in our homes and love in our hearts.
Loving Christ,
You come to bring us peace and freedom and love You make us your people
Clothe us in truth and righteousness
Give us sturdy shoes to walk the paths of peace
In the troubled places of the world
Keep us faithful,
Keep us prayerful. Amen

Still a Small Voice
Word of God,
Spoken in Christ,
Breathed through the Spirit,
To many of us you are but a still small voice.
We are yet to really listen and attend to your speaking.
You are but still a small voice,
Too often drowned out by the competing calls we choose to pay heed to
Too often subsumed in the chaos of the hustle and bustle of our everyday
Too often selectively silenced or sidelined due to our fear of the cost of your call.
Teach us to better listen well
To listen first for your still small voice,
Then build our listening so that we hear you around us
That we might perceive your call to loving action
In the cry for justice of the oppressed
In the wail of suffering from victims of war
In the silence of those who struggle alone
In all its forms where need is screaming.
May we hear your lament
At the warping bias of our media
At the hollow pontificating of our politicians
At our distraction by meaningless advertising
At all our selfish short-sighted foolishness.
Speak, Word of God,
Awaken our attention,
Lead us into contemplation,
Provoke us to reflection,
That we might be who you call us to be,
And do what you call us to do,
Living how you call us to live.
Speak, Word of God,
Maybe as yet a still small voice
But growing within us,
As our guide and direction,
As it should be.
(Source: Jon Humphries)

(Topical prayers for others – see prayers in times of tragedies for prayers for Orlando. Also, new hymn listed by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette following Orlando shootings)

Prayer of Dedication/Offering
You have given us more than enough, Loving God, and so we take from the abundance which is ours, so that others might be blessed. In Jesus’ name, we give and we pray. Amen.
(Thom Shuman)

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving (Thom Shuman, adapted)
May the God who makes us one in Christ be with you!
And also with you!
God speaks to us in the still, small whispers of grace.
May our hearts resound with the thunder of God’s hope.
Heirs of wonder and peace, rejoice in the One who sends you out to serve.
Our voices echo the glad songs of those who are our sisters and brothers in faith.
You split the emptiness of chaos,
Living God, breaking it into pieces
used to shape the foundation of creation.
Your spirit moved upon the waters,
carving flowing streams where deer could drink,
your words crafting those calm pools
where your longing children could be baptized
in your love, your joy, your grace.
But sin called to sin, catching our imagination,
the waves of death carrying us away from you.
Our help, our hope, our essence,
you continued to call to us,
but we responded to your words
with the sheer silence of stubbornness.
So, rather than sending great storms,
earthquakes, fires, or floods,
Jesus came, to invite us to return
and discover how much you do for us.
As we stand before the Table of grace,
as we greet our sisters and brothers in Christ,
we lift our voices in songs of thanksgiving:
Holy, holy, holy, God of sheer wonder and joy.
All creation praises you, our help, our Maker!
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is the One who comes to justify us by his faithfulness.
Hosanna in the highest!
As we come to this feast Jesus shared with friends,
as we celebrate the joy which is ours through him,
we would speak of that mystery called faith:
Christ died, emptying himself for all people;
Christ was raised, so we might empty ourselves for all around us;
Christ will come again, to lead us home to you,
where we will be filled with life forever.
You are our help and hope,
God of silence and sacrament,
so we pray that as you pour out
your Spirit upon the gifts of the Table,
that your gathered people might hear hope
in the breaking of the bread into pieces,
that we might listen for your grace
in the sheer silence of the cup.
And when we are transformed
in the strength of the bread and the cup,
may we go to serve your people as well as all creation,
working for justice, peace,
joy, and life until there is no longer
the haves and the haven’t-anything,
the insiders and the thrown-away,
the know-it-alls and the drop-outs,
the legalists and the libertarians,
but only your children, equal in your sight,
clothed with the compassion and life of Jesus Christ.
And when we are gathered with the legion of the faithful,
the saints and sinners from every age, and from every place,
around the festive Table which awaits us in eternity,
we will join our voices in forever singing your grace,
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving (Nathan Nettleton)
Let us lift up our hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is indeed right to give you our thanks and praise, O God,
and declare to all how much you have done for us.
Since the day you brought the earth to birth,
you have been present in the sounds of sheer silence,
where deep roars to deep;
and through your law and prophets
you guarded us and kept us from destruction.
When we were imprisoned in condemnation,
chained and shackled by demons too many to name,
you sent your light and truth
in your child, Jesus the Christ.
He drove our tormentors into the abyss
and reconciled us to ourselves and to one another.
When he was crucified,
you raised him to new life
and plunged us into his death, burial and resurrection.
Now you feed us with bread and wine
so that we might have strength for the journey
to the holy mountain where you make your home.
Therefore with …..

God gives us enough grace, so we may go to stand with all rejected by the world.
Jesus gives us enough hope, so we may fill those emptied by despair.
The Spirit gives us enough peace, so we may set free all imprisoned by fears and hate.
(Thom Shuman)

Commission and Benediction
Go now, proclaiming to all how much Jesus has done for you.
Be as one with each other in Christ.
Wait for the Lord, and be ready to hear God’s voice,
even in the sounds of sheer silence.
And may God be your fortress;
May Christ Jesus release you from all that torments you;
And may the Holy Spirit give you light and truth
to sustain you day and night.
We go in peace to love and serve the Lord,
In the name of Christ. Amen.
(Nathan Nettleton)

Wherever we go,
may the joy of God the gracious
be with us.
Wherever we go,
may the face of Christ the kindly
be with us.
Wherever we go,
may the compassing of the Spirit of grace
be with us.
Wherever we go,
the presence of the Divine around us
to bless us and keep us.
May the blessing of God be with us and remain with us always. Amen.
(from The Pattern of our Days)

Here’s a contemporary hymn inspired by Galatians, written by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. For Freedom, Christ has set us free! (Meter: D, Ellacombe)

“For freedom, Christ has set us free!”
What joy is ours to claim!
No more enslaved, humanity
Finds life in Jesus’ name.
We try, Lord, to be justified
Through all the works we do.
Yet you adopt us, saying, “Child,
It’s Christ who makes you new.”

We’re clothed in Christ and we belong;
Now no one waits outside.
In him we find our common song;
Old ways no more divide.
“It is no longer I who live,
But Christ who lives in me.”
He died for us, new life to give —
And new identity.

Now, Spirit-filled, may we be led
From ways that would destroy.
May we your people turn instead
To lives of love and joy.
May we find peace that makes us whole
And patience everywhere.
God, give us kindness, self-control,
And hearts and hands that share.


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Rev Sandy Boyce is a Uniting Church in Australia Minister (Deacon). This blog may be a help to people planning worship services.
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