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Our RBG- We want to be Part of her work

Image from Getty Images

I want to be where the people are
I want to march, want to witness justice
Gathering ’round for those
(Whad’ya call ’em?) oh -rights


Flippin’ your lips you don’t get too far
Legs are required for marching, acting
Gathering now at the
(What’s that word again?) Court

Up where she;d walk
Up where she’d run
Up where she lived each day as the one 
Making us free
I want to be
Part of her work

What would I give
If I could live
helping serve justice?
Make me, I pray,
Spend ev’ry day
Serving the truth.


Betcha she knew                                
And we can too How to represent our daughters
Bright young women
Seeing it all
Ready to stand

And ready to know what Ruth Ginsburg knew
Asking our questions
And get some answers
What is justice and why does it
(What’s the word?) burn?

Now it’s my turn
Wouldn’t we love To share the light and justice of
Our RBG
So we can be
Part of her work

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The Pastoral is Political–But Not Partisan

When one of you says, “I’m on Paul’s side,” and another says,
“I’m for Apollos,” aren’t you being totally infantile?
 Who do you think Paul is, anyway? Or Apollos, for that matter?
Servants, both of us—servants who waited on you as you gradually learned
to entrust your lives to our mutual Master.
We each carried out our servant assignment.
1 Corinthians 3:4-5 (The Message)

The pastoral is political because power is a fact of life and Christians, including pastors, are called to address that power. When people-in-the-pew think of being political, they frequently think about being partisan. The pastor-in-the-pulpit must be guided by the understanding that what we preach is the Gospel, not the GOP or the Democratic Party—not to mention that a church that is partisan ways endangers its tax-exempt status!

The U.S. today faces the question of who/what is our telos, our end, our goal.  This is a time to honestly examine who we are and where we are going. While sometimes we are urged that “we are better than this,” somehow the “this” is still here. While we wish to deny it, “this” is nonetheless the current version of who the U.S. is and what the U.S. is doing (and not doing). At this time, this is who we are. And if this does not accord with our founding documents and our aspirational goals, one or the other needs to change.

Do we believe that “all [people] are created equal”? Do we believe that everyone should be both protected by, and subject to, the law? Do we believe that certain basic rights belong to all people, even if they are not like us and/or not US citizens?

In 2018, the Presbyterian Church (USA) endorsed a Statement of Honest Patriotism. It begins with a statement of support for those who work in public service (career employees, elected officials, members of the judiciary) as part of God’s design for creation. It then lifts up truth as a core value for both citizens and Christians. This truth is often complex. This truth rejects sensationalizing conflicts and demonizing other human beings and peoples (including those doing such demonizing). It supports the fundamental right to vote, and condemns voter suppression through gerrymandering and restrictive voter registration, vote-by- mail, and poll site availability. The freedom      to disagree about what is true and false, is protected by our freedom of speech. This does not mitigate the responsibility to hold those who speak accountable for truthfulness.

Freedom of speech means having access to information in a variety of ways from a variety of sources. Hate speech is excluded, as it seeks to silence others’ voices. Censorship and data suppression are prohibited. The First Amendment likewise supports peaceful protests, which must not be subject to the overreach of federal forces or the police.

The question of who/what is our telos is not just a question for the electorate. It is the crux of Christian preaching. If we believe that Jesus taught us to love our neighbor,            and did not discriminate against certain kinds of neighbors (see the “Good Samaritan”), then we must do the same. As one seminary’s media campaign put it, love your _____________  neighbor: your gay neighbor, your liberal neighbor, your fascist neighbor, your black neighbor, your Asian neighbor, your poor neighbor, your rich neighbor—any kind of neighbor you have, love them!

If we begin our journey by believing that all people are created in God’s image, then we need to treat them as such. When tempted to treat someone badly (even if that impulse is the result of them in turn having treated someone else badly), we should think about if we would treat God that way.

Knowing that each person is created in God’s image, then justice becomes a mandate. As Cornel West stated, “Justice is love in public.” While in many cases justice would be an improvement over what we’ve got, justice could in fact be the low bar. There are instances in which justice is not enough, in which some kind of making-up-for-what-has-been-lost or taken is in order. It’s like the graphic of equity versus equality—children of varying heights need different sized boxes to see through the fence to the baseball game. Giving them all the same height box won’t do it.

So while partisan politics remain out-of-bounds for preaching, the principles that undergird decision-making, the values that we hold that make us vote the ways that we do, should be shaped by God. And that is what we set about to do by preaching. That preaching—and our practices—should match what God requires of us—to act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with our God. And so the pastoral is political—but not partisan. Please, God, make it so.

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Psalms in a Time of Sickness: Psalm 1

Psalm 1: Psalms in a Time of Sickness

O God, bless us by making us more and more your people.

Keep us from following the bad advice of those who aren’t seeking you.

Redirect us away from the paths taken by those who don’t listen to you.

Free us from sitting with those who disbelieve the truth

    and scorn compassion.

Let us delight in you: in your Word and your teachings.

Fill our hearts, minds, and souls with you every hour of the day and night.

Plant us by your streams of living water. Grow us into trees rooted in you.

Make us fruitful according to your time and plan.

Let us flourish as your people, following your way,

    without withering or faltering.

Those who don’t follow you are like chaff driven by the wind.

They cannot withstand judgment.

They do not stand with the congregation of the righteous.

Their way perishes.

Chart the path for us, O God.

Watch over us on the way, O Lord, to you.

May your way guide our feet,

    and our paths help others find their way.

In the name of Jesus, our Guide and Pioneer, Amen.

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Narrative Lectionary: Isaiah 5:1-7 & 11:1-5 (11/17/19?)

Narrative Lectionary: Isaiah 5:1-7; 11:1-5 (November 17, 2019?) Peaceable kingdom is 11;6-9; some resource below focus more on these additional verses. For another take on God as the vintner, see Psalm 80.

https://thebibleproject.com/videos/isaiah-1-39/

Overview of Isaiah focusing on judgement and hope; doesn’t deal directly with Isaiah 5 but applicable nonetheless; does deal with Isaiah 11’s burned stump’s new branch.

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=4217 The triangle of the poet, the vintner and the vineyard; what one expects vs. what one gets; word plays and metaphors.

http://download.luthersem.edu/media/working_preacher/narrative/197WPNarrative.mp3   Podcast on the two passages.

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2948

Isaiah 5:1-7 suggests that the establishment of a just society in which people do right by those in need was the single desired outcome of God’s relationship with Israel and Judah. By failing to achieve this, they have both angered and grieved God.

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=646

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3437

Crying out in the face of injustice; for me these two raise the question of how the relationship between God and government/country should be understood in light of the judgment of Isaiah 5–not an easy question in these polarized days.

https://cep.calvinseminary.edu/sermon-starters/proper-15c/?type=old_testament_lectionary

Maybe one way to deal with the God/government question is to take up the passage’s cry to help the underdog and then talk about who that might be. (I’m thinking of starting with a Phils/Cubs illustration!) This exegetical take on the passage is from the Lutheran Seminary folks but from the RCL context. It deals with word play, justice for the underdogs, and God singing the blues.(The peaceable kingdom from Isaiah 11:6-9 could help with this too—who are unlikely companions/friends? How can we make these friendships happen?)

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=832 Answering the fear of Assyria with the fear of God.

RCL context on Isaiah 5 https://episcopalchurch.org/library/sermon/when-we-read-contemporary-proper-15-c-2004 The call to do justice is rooted in God’s love and Christians’ mission to the world.

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2567  Peaceable Kingdom 11: 6-9  God as gardener and what the Isaiah 11 prophecy means in relationship to Jesus

https://biologos.org/articles/o-radix Peaceable Kingdom 11: 6-9 Reflection on Isaiah 11’s root of Jesse/stump image in light of (upcoming) Advent

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3117 Peaceable Kingdom 11: 6-9

Leading and living with lions (Isaiah 11 incl. 6-9 from NL folks but from RCL context)

https://day1.org/weekly-broadcast/5d9b820ef71918cdf2002b98/not_much_but_enough_for_me  Sermon proclaiming the word of Isaiah: Even though the world has become a living nightmare and even though there is no sign anywhere that peace will ever come, the promise of God is more powerful than the destructiveness of humanity.

http://collections.carli.illinois.edu/cdm/ref/collection/uni_sermons/id/620 Sermon (c. 1993) on Isaiah 11:1-10 addressing what it can mean to “set things right.” Lots of illustrations.

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3 The Peaceable Kingdom

https://day1.org/articles/5d9b820ef71918cdf20037bf/lillian_daniel_a_savior_in_work_boots Repentance (Isaiah 11) in Advent

https://www.americamagazine.org/content/the-word/gods-vineyard Vineyard texts in the Bible

LITURGICAL RESOURCES

Call to Worship from Isaiah 11 (from The Message translation)

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting

God send your life-giving Spirit over us–

the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding.

God send your life-giving Spirit over us–

the Spirit that gives direction and builds strength.

God send your life-giving Spirit over us–

The Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God.

God send your life-giving Spirit over us—

this day and throughout our lives.

Call to Worship: Advent 2A

Here’s a responsive call to worship inspired by the suggested scripture readings for the second Sunday of Advent, Year A (Isaiah 11: 1-10, Psalm 72: 1-7, 18-19 and Matthew 3: 1-12).  It comes from the Ministry Matters website.

Call to Worship for Advent 2 A

(inspired by Isaiah 11:1-10, Psalm 72, Matthew 3:1-12)

In this season of prophecy, promise, and preparation,

we come to be renewed and refreshed.
We come to be inspired by stories of a messiah
who will change the world—and change us.
We come to listen for words of hope and joy,
promise and challenge.
We come with open ears, open minds, and open hearts.

We come to receive the blessings God has in store for us
in this season of waiting.
Come! Let us worship our God—
the One who brings all things to fulfillment.

~ posted on the Ministry Matters website. http://www.ministrymatters.com/worship/article/entry/4431/worship-elements-december-8-2013 reposted on https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2013/11/call-to-worship-advent-2a.html

Rite of Confession

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting.

*Call to Confession***                                                                                  Reader
Faith rooted deeply in God reflect God’s justice and righteousness—but we know that this is not always how we live. Let us ask for God’s forgiveness and renewal.

*Prayer of Confession-unison***                                                                  Reader

O God, sometimes we are led more by what we hear and see than by your ways.                     We get caught up in how someone looks, or what we have heard.                                      We forget that appearances can be deceiving and that some voices are silenced.                   Help us to look deep within your word and deep within ourselves.                                 Reveal to us the places where our judgments are faulty and our hands are dirty,                       so that we may repent and be made clean. [Silent Confession]
                                                                                                                                      Assurance of Forgiveness While all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, God continues to re-make us. God brings new life out of the death. Thanks be to God for God’s continual righteousness and faithfulness: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

Confession: Advent 2A

Here’s a prayer of confession inspired by the suggested scripture readings for the second Sunday of Advent, Year A.  It was written by Jane Stranz.

Prayer of Confession

(inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10, Psalm 72, Matthew 3:1-12)
When our faith is rooted deeply in you, O God,

our lives reflect your kingdom values of justice and righteousness,

but sometimes our lives become so entangled with the values of the world,

that your values take second place.

Forgive us, O God,
and reconnect us to the Holy Spirit,

source of power and life.

Merciful God, strip our hearts and minds

of all that prevents our lives being firmly rooted in you.
May our lives bear fruit worthy of our faith in you,

as we watch and wait for your breaking into our world once more,

in the person of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
Amen

Assurance of Forgiveness 

Blessed be the Lord our God, who does wondrous things. (Psalm 72: 8)
The most wondrous of all being God’s entry into our world in Jesus Christ,
“not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.”
“Those who believe in him are not condemned.”
 (John 3:17,18)
Thanks be to God!

 

Isaiah 11 prayer (Advent context)

https://day1.org/weekly-broadcast/5d9b820ef71918cdf2002b98/not_much_but_enough_for_me  Lord, you know all too well that to be human–to be able to feel joy and delight–is also to be able to feel pain and sadness.  So come to us all this Advent, O God, bringing glad tidings and good cheer, comfort and hope, for we celebrate that marvelous mystery we call incarnation–when you became one of us, born a baby, who grew up and lived and breathed, seated and cried, ate and drank, lived and died.

Through him, bring us hope, bring us joy, bring us healing and wholeness, bring us a sure refuge in the darkness as we await for something new to be born in us, something small and bright, a tiny flame that will carry us into the future.  In the name of that light which sure came to save us, even Jesus the Christ, Amen.

 

Isaiah 11 offering prayer

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/offertory-prayers-and-invitation-for-december-2016 Gracious God, we lift our voices to glorify you! You sent your Son Jesus to lead us in wisdom and mercy. His kindness to the poor and meek reveals the harmony of your heavenly kingdom. Help our church’s ministries to demonstrate your love for the world. We dedicate our tithes and offerings to bless people in our community who are searching for Christ’s abiding peace. We pray in his name. Amen. From Discipleship Ministries, an agency of The United Methodist Church

Opening Litany: Return of the King

Here’s an opening litany for Advent from the Wellsprings website.  It is inspired by verses from Psalm 72 and Isaiah 11.

https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2012/11/opening-litany-return-of-king.htmlOpening Litany: The Return of the King

(inspired by Psalm 72 and Isaiah 11)

In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails

In his days, justice shall flourish

and the voice of those who are oppressed will be heard.

The poor will receive enough on which to live

and the rich will share gladly

the abundance they have received at the hand of God.

In his days justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fails.

The wolf lies down with the lamb:

the fierce gives way to the tame,

the weak protect the strong,

the powerless contain the power of the mighty.

In his day justice shall flourish and peace till the moon fades.

God will give judgment to the King,

to the One who comes in the name of the Lord,

to establish peace and justice

with integrity and with mercy.

~ from the Wellsprings website. http://wellsprings.org.uk/

Call to Worship Based on Isaiah 11:1-10

We come to worship the coming King. The One who was and is and is to come!
Robed in Justice, carrying equity in his heart,
Righteousness is a belt around his waist, faithfulness in the clasps of his sandals.

We have prepared ourselves for worship.
We intend to do no harm; to love our neighbors and to stay in love with God!

We look forward to the Reign of the coming King!
The wolves will walk with the lambs; the leopards skip with the kids;
and the calves will be friends with the lion cubs.
Peace will come through the root of Jesse, and we will abide with the King!

The Rev. Nathan Decker is the pastor of the South Sussex Charge of the Petersburg District of the Virginia Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. Nathan has great love for the diversity and inspiration of God’s creative nature in worship. https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/call-to-worship-based-on-isaiah-111-10

Prayer of Intercession: Advent 2A

Here’s a prayer of petition and intercession inspired by Isaiah 11:2 and Matthew 3: 1-12, two of the suggested scripture readings for Advent 2, Year A.  It was written by Terri.

Prayer of Intercession

(inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10, Matthew 3: 1-12)

Let us pray for the Spirit of Wisdom to rest upon us

A spirit of understanding and knowledge

Grant us to live in harmony

God’s mercy prevail

Let us pray for God’s steadfastness to gird our spirit

May peace prevail like lamb and wolf

Grant us to live in harmony

God’s mercy prevail

Let us pray, for voices crying out in the wilderness

Women living in fear, children hiding

Grant all a place of harmony

God’s mercy prevail

Let us pray, repent of harm done to the innocent

Clear the chaff of abuse and hurt

Bear the Spirit of harmony

God’s mercy prevail

Let us pray for the God of hope, joy and peace to fill

All hearts, one voice glorify

God, prepare the way

God’s mercy prevail

~ written by Terri, and posted on RevGalPrayerPals. http://revgalblogpals.org/2010/12/05/sunday-prayer-advent-2a-sixteen-days-of-prayer-advocating-for-the-end-of-domestic-violence/  Reposted at

https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2013/11/prayer-of-intercession-advent-2a.html

Gathering Words for Advent

Here’s a gathering rite or opening litany inspired by Isaiah 11:1-10: “Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot….”  It was written by Roddy Hamilton, and posted on Mucky Paws.

Gathering Words

(inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10)

From the bulb there comes a flower
from the desert rock a flow of water
from the rainbow there come the hope of life
from the bible there comes the word of truth
from the cross there comes the love of God
from the tomb there comes the resurrection
from the prophet comes the vision of new earth

but from the stump
from this dried out log
from a family tree that has lost all integrity…

…there comes the shoot of David
the lifeline of salvation
the promise of justice
the longing for transformation
the word of life
the expectation of Messiah

from the stump of Jesse
comes a covenant
reborn

~ written by Roddy Hamilton, copyright © Mucky Paws. http://www.nkchurch.org.uk/index.php/mucky-paw Reposted at https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2015/11/gathering-words-for-advent.html

https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2013/11/isaiah-11-creed.html

Isaiah 11: A Creed

Here’s an affirmation of faith inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10, the suggested scripture reading for the second Sunday of Advent, Year A.

We Believe

(inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10)

In that day, the wolf and lamb will live together….  Isaiah 11:6

Jesus has taught us to speak of hope as the coming of God’s Kingdom.

We believe that God is at work in our world

turning hopeless and evil situations into good.

We believe that goodness and justice and love will triumph in the end,

and that tyranny and oppression cannot fast forever.

One day ‘all tears will be wiped away’

and ‘the lamb will lie down with the lion.’

True peace and true reconciliation are not only desirable,

they are assured and guaranteed.

This is our faith, and our hope.

~ from Third World Solidarity Day, from the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, 1987.  Posted in Liturgy, Justice and the Reign of God Integrating Vision and Practice http://www.jfrankhenderson.com/pdf/LJRG.pdf

Prayer: Isaiah 11: 1-10

Here’s a prayer inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10. It comes from the Vanderbilt Divinity Library website.

Clear a Holy Space

(inspired by Isaiah 11: 1-10)

Laboring God,

with axe and winnowing fork

you clear a holy space

where hurt and destruction have no place,

and a little child holds sway.

Clear our lives of hatred and despair,

sow seeds of joy and peace,

that shoots of hope may spring forth

and we may live in harmony

with one another. Amen.

~ from Revised Common Lectionary Prayers copyright © 2002 Consultation on Common Texts admin. Augsburg Fortress.  Posted on Thematic, Intercessory and Scripture Prayers for the RCL, Vanderbilt Divinity Library. http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/

HYMNS

Isaiah 5.1-7

6.2 Jesus Comes with Clouds Descending

7 Lord Christ, When First You Came to Earth

76.2-4 My Song Is Love Unknown

158 The One Is Blest

161.2 As Morning Dawns

400.2 When We Are Living

409 Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice

418.2 God, Bless Your Church with Strength!frankh

538.2 Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing

551.3 Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Isaiah 5.7

405 What Does the Lord Require

421 The Church of Christ in Every Age

Isaiah 11:1-10

1 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

2 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

9.3 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

13 Prepare the Way

40 Joy to the World!

204 Psalm 72

205 All Hail to God’s Anointed

230 This Is the Day the Lord Hath Made

332 Live Into Hope

337 Isaiah the Prophet Has Written of Old *

386 O for a World

423 Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

431 O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John

452 O Day of God, Draw Nigh

453 O Holy City, Seen of John

601 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)

602 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)

Isaiah 11.1,10

Isaiah 11:1-10

1 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

2 Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus

9.3 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

13 Prepare the Way

40 Joy to the World!

204 Psalm 72

205 All Hail to God’s Anointed

230 This Is the Day the Lord Hath Made

332 Live Into Hope

337 Isaiah the Prophet Has Written of Old *

386 O for a World

423 Jesus Shall Reign Where’er the Sun

431 O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John

452 O Day of God, Draw Nigh

453 O Holy City, Seen of John

601 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)

602 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)

Isaiah 11.1,10

48 Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming *

58 While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

59 While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks

69 O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright

95.2 He Never Said a Mumbalin’ Word

99 Throned Upon the Awful Tree

102.2 Were You There?

104.1 Christ is Risen! Shout Hosanna!

Isaiah 11.2-3a

70 Christ, When for Us You Were Baptized

Isaiah 11.3b-5

3 Comfort, Comfort You My People

5 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

10 On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry

14 Savior of the Nations, Come

161.2 As Morning Dawns

194 Peoples, Clap Your Hands!

202 Psalm 67

217.6 O Sing a New Song

219.6 To God Compose a Song of Joy

222.6 Psalm 103

225.3 Praise the Lord!

254 Psalm 146

409 Wild and Lone the Prophet’s Voice

413 All Who Love and Serve Your City

442.3+4 The Church’s One Foundation

449 My Lord! What a Morning

483.2 Sing Praise to God, Who Reigns Above

551 Come, Ye Thankful People, Come

Isaiah 11.4b

159.4 Why Are Nations Raging

260.3 A Mighty Fortress is Our God

 

“O God Among Us, Come” is on pp. 64-65 of Advent Ethics. A version with the melody only is available online at http://www.ChristianEthics.ws.

https://globalworship.tumblr.com/post/154791963485/advent-oracles-from-isaiah-steve-bells-song

ORACLES
music and lyric by Steve Bell
lyrics adapted from the four advent oracles of Isaiah:
2:1-5, 7:10-16, 11:1-10, 35:1-10

Isaiah 11 verse: And it will surely come to pass
Justice will reign on earth at last
The wolf will lie down with the lamb
No beast destroy, no serpant strike the child’s hand

https://youtu.be/RXKSeZAX4Z4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3MRmnzOvxNg

The Vineyard of the Lord, two versions of the same contemporary setting of Psalm 80

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TOFGZLUVbEI

Another setting of Psalm 80

O come, green shoot of Jesse, free

your people from despair and apathy;

Forge justice for the poor and the meek,

Grant safety for the young ones and the weak.

Rejoice, rejoice! Take heart and do not fear,

God’s chosen one, Immanuel, draws near.

A verse for/from O Come, O Come Emmauel

Barbara Lundblad https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1940

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Worship Words-January 17, 2021

What a time to be planning worship! May God grant you words and actions to both express/name what is and to call/proclaim what God wills to be. Feel free to use/read/adapt with credit to the listed author and revgalblogpals.org

1A.Opening Prayer by Barb Hedges-Goettl (GATE-L)

O God, in this time of change and challenge, we cry to you.

When there are wars and rumors of wars, we cry to you.

When no one seems to agree on—or know how to fix–what is wrong, we cry to you.

When we are long on blame and short on understanding, we cry to you.

In this time and place, as your people, we come to you. We cry to you.

O God, hear our cry.

12A. Call to Worship (adapted from Psalm 146) by Barb Hedges-Goettl

Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
    on that very day their plans perish.

It is God keeps faith forever.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them.

It is God keeps faith forever.
God executes justice for the oppressed;
      God gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
    the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

It is God keeps faith forever.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
    he upholds the orphan and the widow,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

It is God keeps faith forever.
AND SO PRAISE AND THANK THE LORD.

2B. Call to Worship by Barb Hedges-Goettl

When we are alone and afraid, O God, we come to you.

When we experience upheaval and uncertainty, O God, we come to you.

When we are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do, O God, we come to you.

When we mourn division and hatred, O God, we come to you

When we want to know the truth, O God, we come to you.

When we are losing hope, O God, we come to you.

Burdened and heavy-laden, O God we come to you.

Make our yoke easy and our burden light. Amen.

3A.  See first song at: https://youtu.be/FP4WJBi51tM

3B. You Are Before Me, Lord (Psalm 139)                                                               

3C.  Cry for the Desert by Twila Paris

3D. God Weeps Too by Eli

3E.  O Lord, Hear My Prayer Taizé

3F. God of the Sparrow

3G. God of Compassion

3J. Spotify Lament playlist from Presbyterian Women’s Bible study on lament; see 7A below.

4A. Confession of Sin adapted from the Belhar Confession by Barb Hedges-Goettl For the full Belhar Confession (a South African confession written during apartheid and added to the PCUSA Book of Confessions in 1986, go to https://www.presbyterianmission.org/resource/belhar-confession/

For other worship resources drawn from the Belhar Confession, go to

https://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/constitutional-services/belhar/

Call to Confession:

One: God has given the church the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ, but we fall short of God’s call to be salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Prayer of Confession:

All: God, our fears and prejudices run deep. Sometimes we can only see our own point of view. We stick with those who are like us, rarely venturing outside our comfort zones. We do not hear those crying for justice and true peace. We blame those who are suffering and in need instead of standing by them. We deny the power of your gospel to unite us with those who are different from us. Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Use us to open new possibilities of life for all of your people.

Assurance of Forgiveness

One: We are reconciled with God and with one another through Christ’s work. Thanks be to God for the Good News: All:  In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

4B. Rite of Confession by Barb Hedges-Goettl

Call to Confession

God calls the church to stand by those who suffer and are in need. Let us confess the ways we do not follow this call.

Prayer of Confession

One: O God, you bring justice to the oppressed and give bread to the hungry.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You free the prisoner and restore sight to the blind.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You support the downtrodden and protect the stranger.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You block evildoers and help orphans and widows.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You stand against injustice. You stand with the wronged.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You condemn seeking one’s own interest, controlling and harming others.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You bring about justice and true peace among people.

All: God, forgive us when we do not follow you. 

Assurance of Pardon: God strengthens us in serving human beings, all of whom are created in God’s image. Thanks be to God for the Good News:

In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

4C. Renunciation of Evil

Feel free to read/use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta                                                     For more by Pastor Katy Stenta, go to katyandtheword.com

Do you renounce evil?

Pastor Sally asked my parents, as they held my 2-year-old hand, at the church where I balance beamed on the walls and callout “my bells, my bells” before I was baptized.

Do you renounce evil?

My church in Arkansas asked, just after lightening burned it to the ground and the other kids and I made cross drawings out of ash on the front lawn. This church—which now had 30 kids and was bursting at the seams and found a way to expand with the rebuild—graciously confirmed me as an adult member before we had to move.

Do you renounce evil?

My home church asked—where I found relief from Jr High bullying, where I was supported and included despite my penchant for far too fancy dress up for Sunday, and my extroverted ways–as they confirmed me as a teenage member of the governing board, and eventually joyfully sponsored my call to ministry.

Do you renounce evil?

My first pastorate asked, ordaining me on bended knees, as a young and very, very enthusiastic pastor, trying to raise the excitement I felt for the church of tomorrow with anyone and everyone I could. They asked me that 10 years ago 10/2/2010.

I renounce evil. It is my call to hold fast onto what is good, but also to declaim all things that pollute faith.

Empires, Liars, and Caesars, Violent Authorities, Racism, Bigotry, Ableism, Homophobia, Transphobia and Sexism, White Supremacy, Hypocrisy and Virtue Signaling are all idolatry. Claiming that I am better than you is a sin against God.

Please, teach me to recognize evil when it happens. Help me to name it in all of its forms. And help be brave enough to renounce it whenever I see it–and to listen closely when others find it and point it out to me.

Craft my words: So my declamations are loud, craft my honor: so my apologies are brief and sincere. Open my eyes and guide my tongue: so I can help others do the work they need to do, and to find a way to education one another when mistakes are made.

Help me to denounce evil, I pray.

Amen.

5A. Prayers of the People by  Barb Hedges-Goettl

O God, in this time of violent upheaval, of death and fear and grief, weep with us. Comfort us as we comfort one another with your presence.

Hear us, O God.

As we are threatened by overwhelming emotion–or by the inability to feel anything more, weep with us. Enfold us in your care and the care of community.

Hear us, O God.

As we are divided by distrust and politics and how to handle times of crisis, weep with us. Empower the making and carrying out of wise decisions.

Hear us, O God.

As lies take the place of truth, weep with us. Open ears and eyes, hearts and minds to the truth.

Hear us, O God.

God, as we send thoughts and prayers, weep with us. Open our arms and move our feet, that we also take action.

Hear us, O God.

As we seek your will in tough situations, weep with us. Forge in us ways to hold one another accountable for what we say–and do.

Hear us, O God.

6A. Confession of Faith by Barb Hedges-Goettl

inspired by categories used by Sen. Ben Sasse on 1/6/21

Who are we and what do we speak?

As followers of Christ Jesus, we speak hope.

As witnesses of ugliness in the world, we speak beauty.

As victims and perpetrators of violence, we speak peace.

As servants of the kin-dom of God, we speak astounding transformation.

As prophets of God’s future, we speak hope.

As heirs of a glorious inheritance, we speak beauty.

As those splashed in blood today, we speak peace.

As people who are angry, we speak astounding transformation.

As descendants and ancestors of the people of God, we speak hope.

As stewards of the gospel, we speak beauty.

As servants of God, we speak peace.

As neighbors of all God’s people, we speak astounding transformation.

As your people, O God, we commit to doing what we speak. Amen.

6B.  Confession of Faith: Psalm 139:7-12 (NIV)

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I fleefrom your presence?If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

7A. Free Leaders’ Resource for Presbyterian Women Horizons Bible Study: Into the Light: From Lament to Hope including songs and other words for worship; the study guide is available for $10.: https://www.presbyterianwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/HZN20101LR-workshop-for-leaders-1.pdf

Worship Words for January 17, 2020

What a time to be planning worship! May God grant you words and actions to both express/name what is and to call/proclaim what God wills to be. Feel free to use/read/adapt with credit to the listed author and revgalblogpals.org

1A.Opening Prayer by Barb Hedges-Goettl (GATE-L)

O God, in this time of change and challenge, we cry to you.

When there are wars and rumors of wars, we cry to you.

When no one seems to agree on—or know how to fix–what is wrong, we cry to you.

When we are long on blame and short on understanding, we cry to you.

In this time and place, as your people, we come to you. We cry to you.

O God, hear our cry.

12A. Call to Worship (adapted from Psalm 146) by Barb Hedges-Goettl

Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.
When their breath departs, they return to the earth;
    on that very day their plans perish.

It is God keeps faith forever.

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
    whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
    the sea, and all that is in them.

It is God keeps faith forever.
God executes justice for the oppressed;
      God gives food to the hungry.

The Lord sets the prisoners free;
    the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

It is God keeps faith forever.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
    the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the strangers;
    he upholds the orphan and the widow,
    but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

10 The Lord will reign forever,
    your God, O Zion, for all generations.

It is God keeps faith forever.
AND SO PRAISE AND THANK THE LORD.

2B. Call to Worship by Barb Hedges-Goettl

When we are alone and afraid, O God, we come to you.

When we experience upheaval and uncertainty, O God, we come to you.

When we are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do, O God, we come to you.

When we mourn division and hatred, O God, we come to you

When we want to know the truth, O God, we come to you.

When we are losing hope, O God, we come to you.

Burdened and heavy-laden, O God we come to you.

Make our yoke easy and our burden light. Amen.

3A.  See first song at: https://youtu.be/FP4WJBi51tM

3B. You Are Before Me, Lord (Psalm 139)                                                               

3C.  Cry for the Desert by Twila Paris

3D. God Weeps Too by Eli

3E.  O Lord, Hear My Prayer Taizé

3F. God of the Sparrow

3G. God of Compassion

3H. From Sarah Erickson: Sunday January 17, 2021

If you are not familiar with the hymnwriter, Carolyn Winfrey-Gillette, please take some time to explore her website, http://www.carolynshymns.com/. It is well organized, and the Scripture Index makes it very useful for those of us who are using the Narrative Lectionary. She uses familiar hymn tunes, which makes the songs singable for most. Take a look at “You Have Searched Me, Lord, And Known Me”, based on Psalm 139 (RCL for this week) or no fewer than 11 options for Luke 4, for Narrative Lectionary options. You can also follow her on Facebook or subscribe to her regular emails – that way, you’ll get her newest lyrics quickly, and good summaries of her other work pertaining to topics in the liturgical year or current events.

3I. From Sarah Pirtle Sarah Pirtle <sarahpirtle@gmail.com>

Justice Journey is part of a collection of songs on many themes that I offer for houses of worship to use freely by screen sharing or by downloading. 

This song honors the victories in Georgia and the deepening of work for racial justice as we work to change the engines of white supremacy. It was written this summer in solidarity with BLM.

Justice Journey

https://sarahpirtle.com/hope-sings/justice-journey.htm


I wrote the chorus from the words of Dr. Cornell West. He says we are at a turning point, and in this time of reckoning, he calls for our country to be reimagined. Speaking after the funeral for George Floyd he said, “We got hope in the form of motion…. We got a love that the world can’t take away.” 

This link goes to Hope Sings which offers over 70 songs to listen or download for free as part of offering song medicine. https://sarahpirtle.com/hope-sings/

You have permission to use any of these songs. Each entry has lyrics and information. Some songs are from my nine recordings and some are newly created.

3J. Spotify Lament playlist from Presbyterian Women’s Bible study on lament; see 7A below.

4A. Confession of Sin adapted from the Belhar Confession by Barb Hedges-Goettl For the full Belhar Confession (a South African confession written during apartheid and added to the PCUSA Book of Confessions in 1986, go to https://www.presbyterianmission.org/resource/belhar-confession/

For other worship resources drawn from the Belhar Confession, go to

https://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/constitutional-services/belhar/

Call to Confession:

One: God has given the church the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ, but we fall short of God’s call to be salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Prayer of Confession:

All: God, our fears and prejudices run deep. Sometimes we can only see our own point of view. We stick with those who are like us, rarely venturing outside our comfort zones. We do not hear those crying for justice and true peace. We blame those who are suffering and in need instead of standing by them. We deny the power of your gospel to unite us with those who are different from us. Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Use us to open new possibilities of life for all of your people.

Assurance of Forgiveness

One: We are reconciled with God and with one another through Christ’s work. Thanks be to God for the Good News: All:  In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

4B. Rite of Confession by Barb Hedges-Goettl

Call to Confession

God calls the church to stand by those who suffer and are in need. Let us confess the ways we do not follow this call.

Prayer of Confession

One: O God, you bring justice to the oppressed and give bread to the hungry.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You free the prisoner and restore sight to the blind.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You support the downtrodden and protect the stranger.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You block evildoers and help orphans and widows.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You stand against injustice. You stand with the wronged.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You condemn seeking one’s own interest, controlling and harming others.

All: Forgive us when we do not follow you.

One: You bring about justice and true peace among people.

All: God, forgive us when we do not follow you. 

Assurance of Pardon: God strengthens us in serving human beings, all of whom are created in God’s image. Thanks be to God for the Good News:

In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

4C. Renunciation of Evil

Feel free to read/use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta                                                     For more by Pastor Katy Stenta, go to katyandtheword.com

Do you renounce evil?

Pastor Sally asked my parents, as they held my 2-year-old hand, at the church where I balance beamed on the walls and callout “my bells, my bells” before I was baptized.

Do you renounce evil?

My church in Arkansas asked, just after lightening burned it to the ground and the other kids and I made cross drawings out of ash on the front lawn. This church—which now had 30 kids and was bursting at the seams and found a way to expand with the rebuild—graciously confirmed me as an adult member before we had to move.

Do you renounce evil?

My home church asked—where I found relief from Jr High bullying, where I was supported and included despite my penchant for far too fancy dress up for Sunday, and my extroverted ways–as they confirmed me as a teenage member of the governing board, and eventually joyfully sponsored my call to ministry.

Do you renounce evil?

My first pastorate asked, ordaining me on bended knees, as a young and very, very enthusiastic pastor, trying to raise the excitement I felt for the church of tomorrow with anyone and everyone I could. They asked me that 10 years ago 10/2/2010.

I renounce evil. It is my call to hold fast onto what is good, but also to declaim all things that pollute faith.

Empires, Liars, and Caesars, Violent Authorities, Racism, Bigotry, Ableism, Homophobia, Transphobia and Sexism, White Supremacy, Hypocrisy and Virtue Signaling are all idolatry. Claiming that I am better than you is a sin against God.

Please, teach me to recognize evil when it happens. Help me to name it in all of its forms. And help be brave enough to renounce it whenever I see it–and to listen closely when others find it and point it out to me.

Craft my words: So my declamations are loud, craft my honor: so my apologies are brief and sincere. Open my eyes and guide my tongue: so I can help others do the work they need to do, and to find a way to education one another when mistakes are made.

Help me to denounce evil, I pray.

Amen.

5A. Prayers of the People inspired by Psalm 139 by Elsa Cook


O God, you have
searched us
and known us.
You have known
when we have
been bold enough
to rise toward justice
and when we have
hidden from the
struggle to liberate
your people.

O God, you have
hemmed us
together in this
faith-filled community   
where we have tried
to be led by
your guiding hand.
We haven’t always
allowed ourselves
to be led. We have
resisted more than
once.

But
especially after
this past year of lockdown,
physical distancing
and isolation,
we are so glad
that you have led
us here to be part
of this faith community
where the grieving are embraced,
where the sick find care,
where the lonely find comfort
and the hopeless are reminded
that they too are fearfully
and wonderfully made.


Such knowledge is
too wonderful.
It is too amazing
and so hard to
put into words
because in this past year
and even this past week
we have also seen so much
hatred, selfishness and sin.

O God, we have so
many thoughts
about what could be
and what should be
in the dawning of this
new year. We pray
that we are still being
molded and shaped
by your love.
Your grace is still
working on
our unformed substance
recommitting us to the work
of anti-racism and
to dismantling the powers
of white supremacy.

O God, we cannot
count the number
of hopes you have
for this world and
for your people.
There is so much work
still to be done.
We pray that
you will make us
bold in all that
we are still becoming.
Amen.


5B. Prayers of the People by  Barb Hedges-Goettl

O God, in this time of violent upheaval, of death and fear and grief, weep with us. Comfort us as we comfort one another with your presence.

Hear us, O God.

As we are threatened by overwhelming emotion–or by the inability to feel anything more, weep with us. Enfold us in your care and the care of community.

Hear us, O God.

As we are divided by distrust and politics and how to handle times of crisis, weep with us. Empower the making and carrying out of wise decisions.

Hear us, O God.

As lies take the place of truth, weep with us. Open ears and eyes, hearts and minds to the truth.

Hear us, O God.

God, as we send thoughts and prayers, weep with us. Open our arms and move our feet, that we also take action.

Hear us, O God.

As we seek your will in tough situations, weep with us. Forge in us ways to hold one another accountable for what we say–and do.

Hear us, O God.

6A. Confession of Faith by Barb Hedges-Goettl

inspired by categories used by Sen. Ben Sasse on 1/6/21

Who are we and what do we speak?

As followers of Christ Jesus, we speak hope.

As witnesses of ugliness in the world, we speak beauty.

As victims and perpetrators of violence, we speak peace.

As servants of the kin-dom of God, we speak astounding transformation.

As prophets of God’s future, we speak hope.

As heirs of a glorious inheritance, we speak beauty.

As those splashed in blood today, we speak peace.

As people who are angry, we speak astounding transformation.

As descendants and ancestors of the people of God, we speak hope.

As stewards of the gospel, we speak beauty.

As servants of God, we speak peace.

As neighbors of all God’s people, we speak astounding transformation.

As your people, O God, we commit to doing what we speak. Amen.

6B.  Confession of Faith: Psalm 139:7-12 (NIV)

7A. Free Leaders’ Resource for Presbyterian Women Horizons Bible Study: Into the Light: From Lament to Hope including songs and other words for worship; the study guide is available for $10.: https://www.presbyterianwomen.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/HZN20101LR-workshop-for-leaders-1.pdf

Book Review: Come Eat with Me by Rob Douglas

COME EAT WITH ME by Rob Douglas. Eugene, OR: RESOURCE Publications, 2018. Ix + 137 pages.

In this easy-to-read book, Rev. Rob Douglas focuses on God’s invitation to “Come eat with me” to explore hospitality and the roles of consummate host and ultimate guest. Douglas notes that God and Jesus take on the roles of guest and of host at the meals described in Scripture. For the followers of Jesus, participating in God’s table means entering deliberately into a relationship with God as guest but also taking on a commitment to serve as host: providing hospitality, welcoming strangers and providing spaces for people to grow and develop. In taking up these themes, Douglas provides content from authors addressing hospitality while providing his own insights and conclusions.

 

Douglas alternates between chapters that imaginatively re-tell biblical “meal” stories and chapters providing illustrations and broader messages drawn from those re-tellings. For example, the first chapter is titled “Invitation to a Garden,” with the subheading “How God the Maker, the consummate host, prepared the table immaculately for his first guests.” This chapter provides a fictive re-telling of the story of Adam and Eve, closing with the chapter and verse references for those who want to read the biblical version. The second chapter, “Finding Annie,” tells the story of Annie McDonald’s experiences of institutionalization as a child with a disability and her journey to attaining a college education and becoming a speaker and author. Douglas draws on Annie’s story to illustrate his concern for God’s invitation as being an invitation to a relational community, not an institutionalized meal. He further illustrates this concept with his interpretation of the story of Cain and Abel’s offerings.

 

Later chapters address flexibility between being host and being guest (Abraham and Sarah and their three guests); empowering people to host (Elijah and the widow); a meal of emancipation (Passover); a unique meal with boundaries (quail and manna in the wilderness); hosting God (building the portable ark of the covenant); invitation to a new land (Joshua’s entry into the Promised Land); Jesus as host and guest (the wedding at Canaa); Jesus as the guest of an unworthy host (Zacchaeus); principles of guesting and hosting (the story of the great banquet); God the host shows grace and creativity (feeding of the 5,000); Jesus invites a traitor and his friends to dine (Last Supper); Jesus as host and guest (the Road to Emmaus); a meal invites greater commitment (Breakfast on the Beach); eating together across boundaries (Peter and Cornelius); and God’s ultimate bridal feast (the Final Banquet).

 

Douglas wrote his book to help those considering the Christian faith and to provide new perspectives to those who are already Christians. For the former, reading the actual Bible passages themselves would be an important counterbalance to the more fanciful re-tellings of the book. For the latter, familiar stories may yield new fruit. In particular, the flexibility of the roles of host and guest as taken up by God and Jesus and their followers may provide some needed food for thought. Pastors may also find the re-tellings, illustrations and thematic expositions helpful for sermon-writing.

 

Ruminating on Grilled Cheese and Apple Juice

An article I wrote some time ago about a boy with disabilities whose communion meal consisted of grilled cheese and apple juice. I am beginning to think about what this means in our bring-your-own or use-what-you-have communion.


“Blessed is the congregation that invites all worshipers—including those which our culture may label in different ways as ‘disabled’—to full, conscious and active participation in corporate worship.”
Word Communion of Reformed Churches, “Worshiping the Triune God”                              Revised June 2010
http://wcrc.ch/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/WorshipingTheTriuneGod-English.pdf


How is that all are included in the body of Christ? The above worship proverb of the World Communion of Reformed Churches focuses on the participation of those who may be labeled “disabled” in corporate worship. However, the more basic question may well be the full, conscious and active participation of all persons in the communion of the church–a communion that goes beyond corporate worship to the heart of what it means to belong to Christ Jesus.

The question of being a part of communion and all that it means was a crucial one for the worship class I taught recently. One student in the class raised the question of the role of communion for her autistic son, whom we will call Ethan. Ethan, who was about ten years old, was not a regular attendee at corporate worship. Instead, the church was providing a special Sunday School class for Ethan and a few others during the worship service.

The whole host of questions that arise about the best arrangement in such situations is beyond the scope of our discussion here. In this particular case, the Sunday School class seemed to be a better placement for the students than attending worship. Ethan’s mom was not questioning this arrangement; instead, she was asking about how Ethan is part of communion.

With regard to Ethan’s literal participation in the sacrament itself, one of the barriers is obviously his absence from worship itself. It is not unusual for someone to bring the Lord’s Supper to those who are teaching during worship. This practice could be expanded to include the provision of the sacrament to the students in the special Sunday School. This communion could follow the model used when providing communion to others who are not present at worship, such as those who are homebound. Thus, rather
than simply stopping in the Sunday School room with the elements, during or at the end of the church’s worship service the pastor and/or some congregants could share with the Sunday School class a brief message appropriate to them along with the words of institution, the elements, and a prayer and/or a song.

Suggesting this potential solution, however, revealed additional barriers to communion. Ethan’s mom noted that the list of things that Ethan will eat is rather limited. The closest he will come to eating plain bread and drinking grape juice is grilled cheese and apple juice. Some worship aficionados might compare Ethan’s preferences to the teenage desire to celebrate the sacrament with chips or cookies and soda. In this situation, however, providing elements specific to Ethan’s condition is more akin to providing gluten-free bread for those who are gluten intolerant.

While grilled cheese and apple juice do not, as one participant in the conversation in class noted, represent “the church’s communion,” this response places the emphasis on the wrong syllable. Communion ultimately does not belong to the church, but to Christ Jesus who is the host. The accent note of the question of Ethan’s involvement in communion is not what the elements or the church’s communion should be, but on the availability of Christ Jesus to Ethan. Thus, the communion offered (or not offered) to Ethan goes beyond the bread and the cup–or even grilled cheese and apple juice, to the question of whether Ethan is a part of the body of Christ.

On the level of Christ Jesus’ open invitation to join with him in communion, Ethan is included. Jesus offers himself to and for Ethan and his Sunday School class. Jesus eats with them, as he did with a wide variety of people during his earthly ministry. While the church is more comfortable if those partaking of communion can verbalize what it is they are receiving, the provision and partaking of food can also be seen as providing its own self-evident meaning. Food offered and partaken signals fellowship, communion, and relationship. It represents an action of sharing, of gift and reception. Persons with
disabilities and elderly folks with limited language and/or cognition are able to participate in the meal and hence in its underlying meaning.

On the level of the local church body, Ethan and his Sunday School class are also included. The message that Ethan and his class are part of the communion of God, and are invited to eat with Jesus, should be primary to whatever meal practices used. This ultimate message of being part of the fellowship of God is of greater importance than the elements used to convey that message. Actively sharing communion with this group of youngsters may mean offering Ethan or his whole class a bite of grilled cheese and a sip of apple juice as their communion fare.

Conversation with the Sunday School class during its communion meals, whatever the fare, could focus on communion themes. Such themes include the idea that Jesus eats with all of us, a lesson perhaps aided by having a picture or doll of Jesus present for the conversation and meal. Another lesson could focus on the idea that we all eat together, a concept that could be aided by photos or videos of Christians communing the world over. The lesson that, like Jesus, we help feed people, could be taught by helping with a feeding program. The reality that the Lord’s Supper is a thanksgiving meal, a party meal, and a memorial meal could each be enacted through how the meal is laid and celebrated. The fact that the meal marks us as God’s people could be indicated by sharing other tokens representing the local church’s fellowship.

Since communion is a meal of the church, on occasion the church body should participate in the Sunday School class’s communion and, vice-versa, the class should participate in communion during the community’s worship. Communion of the class and the worshiping body should include the chance for the congregation to receive from and with the Sunday School class a growing awareness of the myriad of meanings and expressions of this embodied experience of Christ Jesus’ living presence. The very
embodied nature of the sacrament makes participation and non-participation loud and poignant bearers of the message of who is a part of this communion and who is not. Let us make sure Ethan and his classmates know that they are a part of this communion, of this fellowship, of this body—the body of Christ Jesus.

 

PSALM 10

Using the Message version of Psalm 10and Rise Up in reference/deference to Andra Day – Rise Up [Official Music Video] [Inspiration Version]
h


1-2 God, are you avoiding me? Where are you when I need you? Rise up, Lord! God, lift up your hand! Full of hot air, the wicked are hot on the trail of the poor.Trip them up, tangle them up in their fine-tuned plots. Rise up, Lord! God, lift up your hand!
9 They mark the luckless, then wait like a hunter in a blind;When the poor wretch wanders too close, they stab him in the back.
Rise up, Lord! God, lift up your hand!
11He thinks God has dumped him, he’s sure that God is indifferent to his plight. 12Time to get up, God—get moving. The luckless think they’re Godforsaken.
Rise up, Lord! God, lift up your hand!
14 But you know all about it—the contempt, the abuse..16 Search and destroy every sign of crime.
Rise up, Lord! God, lift up your hand!
16God’s grace and order wins; godlessness loses.
17-18 The victim’s faint pulse picks up; the hearts of the hopeless pump red blood as you hear their cries.
Rise up, Lord! God, lift up your hand!

Psalm 137 Worship Resources

Cover photo: An aerial view of protesters gathered near the makeshift memorial in honor of George Floyd, marking one week since his death (Minneapolis). Photo by Chandan Khanna/AFP/Getty Images.

We are using the 2020 Presbyterian Women’s Horizons Bible Study for our Summer Series:  Into the Light: Finding Hope Through Prayers of Lament, a $10 resources with 9 lessons. This is week 2 on lamenting together; week 1 was intro to lament.

Singing the Lord’s Song/being in communion when separated and in times of darkness

How do we sing the Lord’s Song when our world’s violence makes any thoughts of even one peaceful Sabbath a pipe dream? When you’re in such a dark place that you wish death on somebody, maybe even yourself? When our people and communities are broken, divided by illness, grief, spite or sheer vengeance? When your own church’s communion – much less the world’s – seems impossible?

From Sacredise: https://sacredise.com/lectionary-resources/proper-22c/

REFLECTIONS ON THEME:
The readings this week offer a fascinating juxtaposition of ideas. The Old Testament and Psalm readings all explore the pain and humiliation of God’s people when they are defeated, conquered and exiled, and as they long for forgiveness restoration and salvation. Even Psalm 37 deals with similar issues, albeit in a more generalised way, speaking of the pain and confusion that arises when destructive or evil people prosper, and the difficult work of faith and patience in God’s action on behalf of those who trust God’s ways. The New Testament readings, on the other hand, explore the impact that a life of simple, ordinary faith can have, and the attitude of humble servanthood which expects no undue reward for simply living faithfully. In essence, both Testaments are saying the same thing this week.
In a world where bad things happen to good people, and where it often appears that the lawless and ‘godless’ get the best, it can be tough to live in faith and faithfulness. Justice can take a long time to come, and it can be tempting to use any means – however undesirable – to achieve what we long for. This applies even when our goal is to manifest God’s reign. However, as we live in faithfulness, and pass our faith on to others who come after us, the small, ordinary acts of goodness and justice that we do each day, the small faithful commitments to our convictions that we renew each day, really do ‘move mountains’ and change the world, little by little, into a place where God’s salvation is visibly revealed.

CONNECTING WITH LIFE:
GLOBAL APPLICATION: In the light of the huge challenges facing our world – hunger and poverty, human rights abuses, unequal distribution of resources, human trafficking, dread diseases, environmental degradation, conflict and war – it is easy to get frustrated and impatient, and it is extremely tempting to embrace any strategy that gets results. The danger here, though, is that we can too easily become what we seek to overcome, and our efforts, which may appear successful in the short term, leave us in deeper trouble in the long term. Two important principles that the lectionary offers us this week are 1) the power of small acts of goodness and justice, and 2) the need to think systemically and long term, waiting at the “guard post on the wall” (to use Habakkuk’s image) to observe, nurture and cooperate with any manifestations of God’s reign that emerge. In the world of big business, big politics, and powerful lobby groups, such long term thinking can be frustrating, but, as demonstrated by Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela (it must have taken faith to spend 27 years in jail and then still embrace dialogue as a valid process to end apartheid) such faithful, consistent and just living does result in significant change. What long term commitments to justice can you embrace or renew in your community this week?

LOCAL APPLICATION: Perhaps the best focus, on the local level, this week, is the power of small, ordinary, “everyday” acts of justice. When we refuse to live according to the expedient, self-centred, materialist values of the society around us, it may appear to have no impact, and we may feel like we become nothing more than a laughing stock – a people in exile, suffering for what may sometimes feel like foolish and ineffectual convictions, while those around us “live it up” and succeed. The promise of the Scriptures, though, is that such alternative living does have an impact – a significant one – and also has lasting value – becoming the heritage of faith and goodness that is passed down through generations and across communities. The reassurance this gives is that our suffering is not in vain, and that our faithfulness is useful to God. In our “instant gratification” society, such perseverance and endurance is hard and counter-cultural, but is a powerful witness to the Gospel. Where has your church’s commitment to “everyday justice” grown tired or weak? In what ways do you need to renew your commitment to persevere? What alternate living choices do you need to make or renew together? To whom can your faith heritage be passed on? What can you do to inspire and sustain small, long term, commitments in your community this week?

SONG: https://www.psalmimmersion.com/psalm-137

Psalm 137:1

בָּכָה bâkâh, baw-kaw’; a primitive root; to weep; generally to bemoan:—× at all, bewail, complain, make lamentation, × more, mourn, × sore, × with tears, weep.

Psalm 137:3 captors/tormenters

תּוֹלָל tôwlâl, to-lawl’; from H3213; causing to howl, i.e. an oppressor:—that wasted.

Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon [?]

Psalm 137:7 rase/tear down/lay bare

The KJV translates Strong’s H6168 in the following manner: uncover (3x), discover (3x), emptied (2x), rase (2x), leave destitute (1x), make naked (1x), poured out (1x), poured (1x), spreading (1x).

Outline of Biblical Usage [?]

  1. to be bare, be nude, uncover, leave destitute, discover, empty, raze, pour out
    1. (Piel)
      1. to bare, lay bare
      1. to lay bare by emptying, empty
      1. to pour out
    1. (Hiphil)
      1. to make naked, strip bare (of sexual offences)
      1. to pour out
    1. (Niphal) to be poured out, be exposed
    1. (Hithpael)
      1. to expose oneself, make oneself naked
      1. pouring oneself, spreading oneself (participle)

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

עָרָה ʻârâh, aw-raw’; a primitive root; to be (causatively, make) bare; hence, to empty, pour out, demolish:—leave destitute, discover, empty, make naked, pour (out), rase, spread self, uncover.

Psalm 137:8 ravaging the daughter of Jerusalem

The KJV translates Strong’s H7703 in the following manner: spoil (30x), spoiler (11x), waste (8x), destroy (2x), robbers (2x), miscellaneous (5x).

Outline of Biblical Usage [?]

  1. to deal violently with, despoil, devastate, ruin, destroy, spoil
    1. (Qal)
      1. to violently destroy, devastate, despoil, assail
      1. devastator, despoiler (participle) (subst)
    1. (Niphal) to be utterly ruined
    1. (Piel)
      1. to assault
      1. to devastate
    1. (Pual) to be devastated
    1. (Poel) to violently destroy
    1. (Hophal) to be devastated

Strong’s Definitions [?](Strong’s Definitions Legend)

שָׁדַד shâdad, shaw-dad’; a primitive root; properly, to be burly, i.e. (figuratively) powerful (passively, impregnable); by implication, to ravage:—dead, destroy(-er), oppress, robber, spoil(-er), × utterly, (lay) waste.

Psalm 137: Complex Communal Laments

JOHN AHN

Journal of Biblical Literature

Vol. 127, No. 2 (Summer, 2008), pp. 267-289 (23 pages)

Imagine the 267N5 Imagine the act of decapitating little children or infants against the edge or corner of the wall of Jerusalem. Something that is supposed to protect is now employed to behead. The violent and traumatic visual image of such a repeated act goes beyond anything we can comprehend.

Mock-simha; fake song of victory over enemies

275 Why would Ps. 137k accentuated by laments & curses, be place in the midst of these 0135-137] Thanksgiving and praise psalms? This is a bold but unconventional editorial move that proposed to give thanks and praise through lament laden with honest feelings of enmity. Thhanksgiving and praise arise not only from positive elements in life. Rther the true mark of these practices if finding the courage & strength to praise & give thanks when there is nothing worthwhile or praiseworthy. 176 Brueggemann says that Ps 137 is marked not by despair but by hope. However, we cannot move into this hopeful realm all too quickly without allowing the pathos to resound and have its rightful place. The ? is, Can those in Babylon, both the first wave and the second wave of forced migrants collectively voice “Hallelujah” or “Thanks be to God” in the midst of their most difficult time? The answer seems to be complex.

278 by the waters of Babylon; by the irrigation canals where the Judean royalty and religious leadership were put to work maintaining/desalinating the canals.

280 weeping willows crying for those who hung the harps

v.3 wordplay beween captors, tormenters & hung

282 For there our captors asked us for the words of a song, but our tormenters asked for mirth, ‘Sing for us a Zion song!’

283 Captors, Babyonians, may be separate from torments, who may be fellow-laborers who are not Jewish.

284 Bookends: Forget/do not remember

Musician wiling to forgo righthand instrument & mouth/tongue for praising God

College Press NIV Commentary 470

v. 5 Wordplay: forget with become crippled/lamed

Conversations Among Exiles

by Walter Brueggemann

The Christian Century, July 2-9, 1997, pp. 630-632.


SUMMARY

In response to times of crisis, Leviticus urged the practice of holiness, and Deuteronomy stressed neighborliness. Unless the experience of loss is expressed, examined and understood, new ways of living are not able to emerge.

In our time of dislocation the church can offer ways of speaking and acting that the dominant society regards as subversive, but without which we cannot for long stay human.
The church can
1) express sadness, rage and loss as an alternative to the denial that inevitably breeds brutality.
2) be a voice of holiness that counters the trivial commodity-centered world by the practice of disciplines that make communion possible.
3) be a voice of imaginative, neighborly transformation, focused on those in need.
4) express new social possibilities, rooted in the truth of God’s good news.

Before us is the choice between succumbing to a fearful self-preoccupation that shrivels the spirit or heeding God’s call to re-enter the pain of the world and the possibility of renewal and salvation. [Numbers added]

Juneteenth https://www.juneteenth.com/history.htm

http://www.theafricanamericanlectionary.org/PopupLectionaryReading.asp?LRID=10  Maafa service – Maafa is an African word used to refer to four centuries of worldwide enslavement of black people.   The remembering in Psalm 137 (v. 1, 6, 7) occasions anguish, accountability and anger. Babylonians asking for a kind of minstrel show. Includes sermon illustrations.

Phrase from an article that is no longer at the link: Hope without singing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGz5wbIGm0w British Bishop on singing the Lord’s song in a strange land in a time of COVID-19

LITURGICAL RESOURCES

Call to Worship, Prayer, Personal Meditation by Joan Stot http://www.thetimelesspsalms.net/w_resources/pentecost20[27]c_2013.htm

Includes dealing with the last vengeful verses and provides alternative of Lamentations 3:21-26 as an assurance of pardon or final blessing. http://hwallace.unitingchurch.org.au/WebOTcomments/OrdinaryC/Pent19Psalm137.html

Our bulletin is at https://1drv.ms/w/s!AuB3z496aTHTgcYfmV3FepVsFsaFng

The sermon will be here; target date is 6/15. https://1drv.ms/w/s!AuB3z496aTHTgcYfmV3FepVsFsaFng

The Heart of Lament: Bulletin and Sermon for Psalm 22:1-12 and Psalm 139:7-12

Worship Without Walls

Trinity United Presbyterian Church                June 7, 2020

Prelude  Cry for the Desert                                                             Twila Paris

Opening Prayer[i]

Even—especially—in this time of loss and uncertainty, fear and death,

we come to worship God,

who loves us before we were yet born,

who knows us even better than we know ourselves,

whose presence never leaves us,

and whose love for us never ceases.

Amen.

Call to Worship

When we are alone and afraid, O God, we come to you.

When we experience illness and death, O God, we come to you.

When we are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do, O God, we come to you.

When we mourn division and hatred, O God, we come to you

When we want to know the truth, O God, we come to you.

When we are losing hope, O God, we come to you.

*Opening Hymn How Firm a Foundation[ii]

1: How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word
What more can He say than to you He hath said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled

2: Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand

3: When through the deep waters I call thee to go
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress

4: When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine

5: The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake

Call to Confession:  Let us ask for God’s forgiveness for not believing God can handle whatever we are experiencing.

Prayer of Confession:
When we are ashamed of how we feel and try to hid it from you, forgive us.

When we act like all is well when things are far from well, forgive us.

When we don’t believe that you love us no matter what, forgive us.

When we don’t believe that you love others no matter what, forgive us.

When we give up instead of listening for your call, forgive us.

When we cease to believe you are at work, forgive us. (Silent confession)

Assurance of Pardon: Throughout all time, people trust in God and are delivered; they cry to God and are saved; they trust in God and are not put to shame. Our God is with us in every circumstance, loving us. Thanks be to God for the Good News:   In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

Gloria Patri: (Blue #579) Glory Be to the Father https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUBxpypSblw

Sharing of the Peace: The peace of Christ be with you.             And also with you.

Prayers of the People/Lord’s Prayer (traditional)                       

Celebration of Birthdays and Anniversaries                                          

Hymn  You Are Before Me, Lord [iii]                                                                 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VESwOhxYUMc (different words on video)

You are before me, Lord, You are behind.

And over me You have spread out Your hand;

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

Too high to grasp, too great to understand.

Then from Your Spirit where, Lord, shall I go;

And from Your presence where, Lord, shall I fly?

If I ascend to heaven You are there,

and still are with me if in hell I lie.

If I should take my flight into the dawn,

If I should dwell on ocean’s farthest shore,

Your mighty hand will rest upon me still,

And Your right hand will guard me evermore

If I should say, “Let darkness cover me,

And I shall hide within the veil of night,”

Surely the darkness is not dark to You;

The night is as the day, the darkness light.

Search me, O God, search me and know my heart;

Try me, O God, my mind and spirit try;

Keep me from any path that gives You pain,

And lead me in the everlasting way.

* Doxology (Blue, #592)   Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivaDXu27_IY

* Prayer of Dedication

May the words of our mouths, the dedication of our hearts,

and the gifts of our time, talents and money be acceptable

and pleasing in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Prayer for Illumination Spirit of the Living God[iv]

Spirit of the living God, Fall afresh on me.

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

Melt me, mold me, Fill me, use me.

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 22:1-11

https://www.biblegateway.com/audio/mclean/niv/Ps.22

Message Lamentation and Hope                                                     Pastor Len                                       

Confession of Faith: Psalm 139:7-12 (NIV)

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I fleefrom your presence?If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

*Closing Hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God [v]

1A mighty Fortress is our God, A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
2Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
3And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him. (interlude)
4That word above all earthly powers, No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.

*Charge and Benediction                                                Pastors Barb and Len

Postlude A Mighty Fortress Is Our God                                                        Gladhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk8U58vfOoc


[i] By Christine Longhurst (slightly adapted) https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2011/05/mothers-day-call-to-worship.html

[ii] Words and Music – © OCP  

[iii] Words – ©1973 Estate of Ian Pitt-Watson, The Fuller Foundation TTEE

Music – ©1998 Hope Publishing Company

[iv] Words and Music – ©1982 Fred Bock Music Company

[v] Music – ©2016 Beckenhorst Press, Inc.

The above reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #A-733426. All rights reserved.

Psalm 22:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;

    and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.


In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
    in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;

   scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
    they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
    let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
    you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth,
    and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Lamentation and Hope

Sermon by Len Hedges-Goettl

I’m not a complainer. I don’t mean to complain. I shouldn’t complain. I have nothing to complain about really. Stop whining and complaining!

We have all probably heard or even said one of these sayings. Complaining is often considered a weakness or personality flaw. Long-suffering without complaint is often held up as a virtue. Some Christians even believe that complaining is bad

or disrespectful and to “just suck it up and take it” is a Christ-like virtue.

Think of the Hymn: They crucified my Lord, and He never said a mumbalin’ word. They nailed Him to a tree and He never said a mumbalin’ word. They pierced Him in the side, and He never said a mumbalin’ word. The blood came trickalin’ down, and He never said a mumbalin’ word. He bowed His head and died, and He never said a mumbalin’ word. Not a word, not a word, not a word.

But then why does the opening of psalm 22 sound so familiar? “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Maybe the hymnist had it wrong after all!

Jesus is the perfect model for our behavior in this life. He prayed, He healed,

He loved, He spoke out against injustice, He praised people for their faith.

AND He cried out in complaint.

The Bible has many complaints or “laments” as they are called. You find them in the stories of the Israelites, you find them in the psalms, you hear them throughout the book of Job, there is even a whole book called Lamentations, and we hear it from the mouth of Jesus as he hung upon the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He cried out and breathed his last, but not until after he cried out in lament.

 Rev. Lynn Miller, the author of the Presbyterian Women’s Horizons Bible Study for this year, which is titled “Into the Light: Finding Hope Through Prayers of Lament,” writes: the perceived absence of God is the heart of lament. Lament

is an emotional statement of sorrow or grief concerning an event in time – past, present, or future. “Lament is not whining” she writes. “(It) is not a pat on the head for people who are suffering or preyed on. Lament is not venting or blowing off steam.”

Instead, lament is communication with God that connects us to the world and the God who loves it and us. Lament helps us focus on actual situations. Lament is a prayer and lament is an opportunity to confess our faith in God whose promises are trustworthy. We lament IN ORDER TO HOPE.

The world is steeped in illness and economic distress. The world is suffering grief from the loss of hundreds of thousands, many who died without families saying goodbye. The world is dying from pollution and global warming. The world is shaking from racial injustice and bigotry and the suffering of the poor.

We have reason to wonder: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

We have reason to lament! WE NEED TO HOPE!

So this summer, Barb and I will be reaching for hope through some of the laments of the Bible. And the first lament is one of the bleakest. “My God, my God,

why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words

of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night,

but find no rest.”

Have you lost sleep these past weeks? Has the news in the papers, on the television, online or even over the phone from those we can’t be with unsettled your heart so much that you found no rest? It is time Church to raise our lament!

First, we need to address God, to take our complaint to the One with power

to rescue, heal, comfort and to change this world. We address God and announce the relationship between God and us, who are His people. We don’t address our complaint to God but to my God! The God we cry out to is the same God who is

in covenant relationship with us, the same God who claims us for His own, the God who loves us so much that we are called the children of God… AND SO WE ARE! God is our Father and we are calling on the head of our family in a time of distress.

Second, we describe our grievance or injustice to our God. We let God know exactly what is going on. In the psalm the one praying says “I am a worm, and not human; Scorned by others and despised by the people. All who seek to mock me; They make mouths at me, they shake their heads.” He is made to feel like a worm, like not even human. There are those even today who are treated like animals,

who feel less like “essential” and more like “disposable.”

I spoke to a Director of Nursing in a nursing home this week. She described the suffering of the past months and the heart-wrenching scenes of multiple deaths each day, the grief and exhaustion of the staff, and the ache of contacting families who could not be with the dying. So for this and for so many other reasons we pray a lament today to the God who is our Father. We cry out to our God who is family.

Finally, we include in our prayer of lament a statement of trust in God. Not a false trust or trust with no reason, but trust in God based on God’s saving actions in the past and trust in the relationship with God that still exists. Based on this trust we find HOPE that GOD WILL ACT! The God who always was and always is faithful!

The one praying the psalm says: “Yet is was you who took me from the womb;

you kept me safe on my mother’s breast. On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me YOU HAVE BEEN MY GOD. Do not be far from me for trouble is near and there is no one to help” and eventually the one prays:

“O my help, come quickly to my aid!”

We all have reason to trust in God whose Holy Spirit moved within us and

brought us to faith. We can all no doubt name times in the past when God acted

in our lives. In the eyes of the world my life, your life, our lives so far may look like the result of happenstance and chance. But when we look back in the eyes

of faith we can know times when God acted. God acted in my life, in your life,

in our lives to rescue, to comfort, to heal, to correct, TO GIVE HOPE.

God may seem absent at times but God is always with us.

His rod and his staff, they comfort us!

Or as Psalm 139 says:

Where can I go from you Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.

If I take the wings of the mourning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,

Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

Take heart people of God, HAVE HOPE children of our Father.

Though all the world may seem dark,

WE BELONG TO JESUS CHRIST

AND IN HIM THERE IS NO DARKNESS AT ALL.

AMEN

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