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Worship Words: April 18, 2021

Psalm 4 Paraphrase by Barb Hedges-Goettl                                                                                                                                                      

God, you are right and just and true.

When I call with a loud cry,

    You answer me.

You widen the straits of distress

   that bind and besiege me.

When my world is small, narrow, and cramped,

  You give me room to breathe.

When I am stuck between a rock and hard place,

   You let me loose in your broad, wide pasture.

You bend to me in kindness and mercy,

    understanding my prayer.

How long will people hurt God’s reputation

     and damage God’s honor and glory?

How long will we love empty words,

     seeking lies and requiring falsehoods,

     and yearning after worthless things?

Set us aside for yourself, O Lord.

     Make us your good and faithful ones,

     Your kind and godly ones,

     Your saints by Your mercy.

O Lord, hear me when I call to you.

When I am trembling and quivering,

       Agitated and disturbed,

       Angry and disquieted,

       Worried and anxious,

             Keep me from sin.

Inspire me to meditate on you at night.

    Put me to bed and tuck me in with your comfort.

    Whisper to the ears of my heart, that I may hear you.

    Quiet and calm me in my whole being.

I confess my dependence on you.

    Enable me to wait upon you

    With confidence and patience.

I offer myself in thanksgiving;

    I give myself to you because of your mercy.

    I respond to your love with love of my own.

    I respond to the all you give me

        With my all.

I put my trust in you.

    I hold out my hand for your hand.

    I offer my heart to your heart.

    I offer my mind to your purposes.

    I offer my body to your body.

Be my hope,

      my boldness,

      my security,

      my confidence,

             my God.

There are many who say:

       “Oh, that we might perceive some good!”

Shine your light upon us, O God!

        Make your presence dawn upon us.

Give us joy and gladness

        at our deepest heart of hearts–

Joy greater than a bountiful harvest

         or material riches.

Bestow gladness in our very being,

         A share in your joy.

We will lie down and sleep;

         We will be stilled and remain at peace,

         dwelling in God’s house,

         where we can safely lie down.

Thanks be to God.

Opening Prayer(adapted from Psalm 4) by Barb Hedges-Goettl

My God,

Be my hope,

      my boldness,

      my security,

      my confidence,

My God.

Call to Worship (adapted from Psalm 4) by Barb Hedges-Goettl

There are many who say:

       “Oh, that we might perceive some good!”

Shine your light upon us, O God!

        Make your presence dawn upon us.

Give us joy and gladness

        at our deepest heart of hearts–

Joy greater than a bountiful harvest

         or material riches.

Bestow gladness in our very being,

         A share in your joy.

Confession of Faith in the Good News cf. Acts 3 (RCL) and Acts 6-7 (NL) by Barb Hedges-Goettl                                                                                                                         

We believe and receive the Good News. We experience God’s confounding of the evil of crucifixion with the grace of resurrection.  We participate in God’s conversion of mourning into dancing. We are dressed in grave clothes made over into glad rags. We are lifted up from the grave and given new life. God lifts us up from down-and-out to up-and-at-‘em. For this Good News, we give thanks to God. Amen.

Prayer of thanks for a witness by Barb Hedges-Goettl

God, we thank you that we have a witness. You bear witness to yourself:  You proclaim that we are made in your image, and that image is very good.Jesus proclaims love for all people, the sacrificial love of a Shepherd for the sheep.The Spirit proclaims you with sighs too deep for words.

O God, we thank you that we have a witness. Witnesses have come before us: Prophets proclaim your justice for all people, rolling down like waters. The women at the tomb proclaim your confounding of evil and death through the resurrection. Astounding the crowd by healing the lame, Peter witnesses to forgiveness and resurrection. Condemned by false witnesses, Stephen witnesses to the Son of Man and forgiveness.

O God, we thank you that we have a witness. Witnesses are all around us:Give us ears to hear voices long silenced, peoples whose experiences challenge and correct our own. Fill our hearts with love for the diverse ways in which you speak, that we know and hear your word through each person’s own experience, and so honor your image and your presence in each one we meet.

O God, we thank you that we have a witness. Make us witnesses going forward, sharing what we have known, what we have heard:  your love, your hope, and the Good News of the resurrected life  redeemed from evil, death and all that would separate us from you and from one another.

In Jesus’ name and by the power of the Spirit we pray, Amen.

The below are from Rev. Katy Stenta, see https://katyandtheword.com/2021/04/13/prayers-for-acts-6-stoning-of-stephen/?fbclid=IwAR3hB6dxy9lTay-hhKQB1fNNGEWd6t6qPogFHHIt7j1lFjfox1L8VT5vaUw

Prayers for Acts 6: Stoning of Stephen

Acts 6:1-7:2, 44-60

Suggest Pairing Isaiah 66:1-2, 22-23

Call to Worship (based on Isaiah 66:13-14, ) 

God promises, asa  mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you

We shall see, and our hearts shall rejoice. 

Come let us pray for the Lord, for God is Good. 

Come let all flesh give God Thanks and Praise. 

Prayer of Confession: God, we confess that we find comfort in tradition. We have struggled throughout this year as so many things have had to change. Walk with us this spring and we try to understand what it is we need to keep, and what it is we can leave behind. Help us to choose, always and forever, the ways that lead us closer to your kingdom. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen 

Assurance of Pardon: God’s promises to remake heaven and earth in God’s forgiveness. Let us share the good news with one another: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of Dedication: (unison) Lord, let us go forth giving thanks for all that is good. Place praise for you on our lips and on our tongues, that others might see and know and understand your love. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Hymns: Morning Has Broken, Jesu Jesus Fill Us with Your Love, Called as Partners to Christ’s Service, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Amazing Grace,

Narrative Lectionary for 5-5-19 Acts 10: Peter and Cornelius

This pericope invites thinking about who is “in” and who is “out” and who decides.

Discussion of the above painting of the Last Supper with odd revelers and the changing of its title to “Feast in the House of Levi” when artist confronted by the  Inquisition about including strange characters in a painting of this holy, solemn occasion https://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/53387.pdf

See also in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Feast_in_the_House_of_Levi

 

HYMN Come, Brother, Sit with Me                                                                                     Written music: https://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/53388.pdf

Audio on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLE6LuqBKC0

WORSHIP SERVICE – https://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/53397.pdf

Fullsome exploration of hospitality, including references to Peter/Cornelius  in six lessons or sections with links to further resources and all that is listed above at  https://www.baylor.edu/ifl/index.php?id=937688                                                                   

 

 

New Yorker cartoon about hate as a family value/holding hate in common

https://www.facebook.com/NewYorkerCartoons/photos/a.237223479636271/2799594813399112/?type=3&eid=ARAq6I6Srdh5YCGnfg_gPAL4b7KV1PbvWonzJ1ouNHcTaTK4dff6ic9y6MrX-o1gzwVVGNYhtUazKeDR&__xts__%5B0%5D=68.ARA1NPErUJEjZ5EmnJD6ozFmSm2jLbbFnOR4Wyse7ubonEuXhz9j1VO-N2DT7BThBAbXqtQUwnAjZYQ-RmmdJLN9dX7StuUFEniHyJF0988BCBrT3MNzY9u8m_59FEPWfZQG_z-z12KL58Iqlw6eEcrTvpVzRFdB-aZdxdeKwXcUDMO0_YNeFaAA3QcVwE-kN0d35zcV8jgv6GPy64XzhDZHMZiEOMF7_01kpXr30eGmg4ZUkFMF1o-Sy0DpsLx6rUwuqt1N8tAacL5aLMU2OD2tIKic8VYCzCxPAlvFnD9y4TvqjkI1MQZr5cbhqjPXzt4yz7YxC3tKUErEf-8IzBiTPVP3H3rxX1KvZg3KjQ5o&__tn__=EEHH-R

This pericope lends itself to resources dealing with issues of inclusion and exclusion, a topic dealt with in the Belhar Confession of Faith. Link to the Confession as accepted in the PC(USA) Book of Confessions at https://www.pcusa.org/site_media/media/uploads/theologyandworship/pdfs/belhar.pdf

See original liturgical resources inspired by Belhar below.

Call to Worship

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting: “By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

Leader: We share one faith. We have one calling. We are of one soul and one mind.

People: We are one people. We have one God and Father.

Leader: We are filled with one Spirit. We are baptized with one baptism.

People: We eat of one bread and drink of one cup.

Leader:  We are one people. We confess one name.

People:  We are obedient to one Lord. We work for one cause.

ALL: Thanks be to God!

 

Prayers of the People:

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl.  Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

All: We share one hope; together coming to know the height and the breadth and the depth of the love of Christ

[Prayers of thanksgiving and joy/petitions for love and hope]

All: Together we know and bear one another’s burdens, thereby fulfilling the law of Christ that we need one another and upbuild one another, admonishing and comforting one another; and that we suffer with one another for the sake of righteousness.

[Prayers for those in need]

All: Together we are built up to the stature of Christ, to the new humanity. We pray together. Together we serve God in this world. Together fight against all which may threaten or hinder this unity.

[Prayers for the Christian community to live up to its calling]

Leader: In the name of Christ Jesus, who unites us in the prayer that he taught us….

[The Lord’s Prayer]

 

Confession of Sin #1

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

Call to Confession: God calls the church to follow him, standing by those who suffer and are in need, so that justice may roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. Let us confess the ways in which we do not follow God’s call.

 

Prayer:

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 those who seek their own interests, 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.

Grant us your grace. Embolden us that, as your people, we may stand where you stand.

 

Assurance of Forgiveness

One: God’s life-giving Word and Spirit enable us to live in a new obedience, opening new possibilities of life for society and the world. Thanks be to God for the Good News:

All: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven

 

Prayer of Confession #2

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

Invitation:

The gift and obligation of unity is given and commanded by God for the Christian church, yet the one worldwide community of believers is not visibly and consistently united. Let us confess our need for God’s grace.

Prayer of Confession: God, forgive us. Our communion is not always visible to the world. We allow threats to unity to enter the church, making it hard to see that we are your community. At times we act as though we do not need each other. We do not always love one another. Sometimes we do not know and bear one another’s burdens. At times we fail build each other up. We do not always give ourselves willingly and joyfully to one another.  Forgive and strengthen us so that we may live in the unity that you grant us.

Assurance of Forgiveness

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

Prayer of Confession #3

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

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.

 

Statements/Confessions of Faith

Confession of Faith #1 from article 1 and the beginning of Article 2 of the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

We believe in God–the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

who gathers, protects and cares for the church.

We believe the church is one worldwide communion of saints,

called from the entire human family.

We believe the church is the single community of believers,

reconciled with God and with one another.

We believe that through the working of God’s Spirit,

unity is a binding force and also that we must seek this unity,

which must become visible to the world. We believe that the sin of division, separation and hatred between people and groups has been conquered by Christ.

We commit ourselves to protecting the unity of the church universal.

We pledge to make this unity active in all of our words, thoughts and deeds.

 

 

Confession of Faith #2

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

It is through Christ’s reconciling work that we are the church united to God and to other believes.

As the church, we are the salt of the earth. We are the light of the world.

We are entrusted with the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ.

As the church, we are witnesses by both word and deed.

We proclaim the new heaven and the new earth, in which righteousness dwells.

As the church, we proclaim that God’s life-giving Word and Spirit has conquered sin and death.

God conquers irreconciliation, hatred and bitterness.

As the church, God’s life-giving Word and Spirit enable us to live in a new obedience,

God opens new possibilities of life for society and the world.

We declared ourselves ready to venture out on the road of obedience and reconciliation,

servants of God, who wishes to bring about justice and true peace among people.

 

 

Confession of Faith #3/Litany

Developed from the Belhar Confession  Please include these words if using/adapting:

“By Barbara Hedges-Goettl. Permission given to use or adapt for use in faith communities”

The three parts of this litany may be used separately or in flexible combinations.

a.

One: We believe that unity is both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ.

Many: Through the work of God’s Spirit, unity is a binding force.

One: At the same time, unity must also be earnestly pursued and sought.

Many: We must be continually built up to attain this unity.

One: Our unity must become visible to the world.

Many: Separation and hatred between people and groups is sin, already conquered by Christ.

One: Anything threatening our unity has no place in the church.

Many: We commit ourselves to resisting anything that threatens our unity.

One: The unity of the people of God is active and made manifest.

All: Thanks be to God.

(For this next section it works well for the two groups to make the proclamations below to each other.)

Group One: The communion of saints called from the entire human family is united by God.

Group Two: As the people of God, we love one another.

Group One: We experience, practice, and pursue community with one another.

Group Two: We give ourselves willingly and joyfully to one another.

Group One: We are a benefit and blessing to one another.

Group Two: We share one faith and have one calling.

Group One: We are one body, and are of one soul and mind.

Group Two: We have one God and Father.

Group One: We are filled with one Spirit.

Group Two: We are baptized with one baptism.

Group One: We eat of one bread and drink of one cup.

Group Two: We confess one name and are obedient to one Lord.

Group One: We work for one cause and share one hope.

All: Thanks be to God.

 

c.

All: Together we confess that God unites us in faith.

Together we come to know the height, and the breadth, and the depth of the love of Christ.

Together we are built up to the full stature of Christ.

Together we know and bear one another’s burdens.

We admonish one another. We comfort one another. We suffer with one another.

We need one another and we build up one another.

Together we pray. Together we serve God in this world.

Together we fight against all which may threaten or hinder this unity.

Thanks be to God for drawing and keeping us together.

 

Eucharistic Resources from The Confession of Belhar                                                                      by Catherine J. Purves, published online at pcusa.org

Invitation to the Lord’s Table (See Luke 13: 29)

Friends, this is the joyful feast of the people of God! They will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God.                                             All will be together there at the table; all will be reconciled.                                                       God’s justice will be established, and we will be at peace in Christ.

This is the Lord’s table.                                                                                                                       Our Savior invites all those who trust in him to share the feast which he has prepared.

Invitation to the Lord’s Table (See Ephesians 4: 4-5)

This is the table of our Lord Jesus Christ. Here the community of faith gathers.                    United in baptism, we eat of one bread and drink of one cup, we confess one name,             are obedient to one Lord, and share one hope. Come to the table where our unity in Christ becomes visible, and where the triune God gathers, protects, and cares for the church.

Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you. And also with you.                                                                                      Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the  Lord.                                                                            Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.                                                                                            It is right to give our thanks and praise.

We praise you O Living God, by whose purpose and will all things came into being.          In a gracious act of love you formed a people, gathering, protecting and caring for them through Word and Spirit. You called us to be the light of the world, a reflection                    of your glory and compassion, your justice and your love. When we allowed prejudice, fear, selfishness, and unbelief to lead us from the path of obedient faithfulness, again and again you sent prophets who called for justice and reconciliation.  When our need was greatest, you did not abandon us, but sent us your Son,  our Lord and Savior, so that we might be reconciled with you and with one another, one church, united in worship with all the faithful of every time and place singing forever to the glory of your name:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest.                                                                                                            Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.                                                                  Hosanna in the highest.

We praise you, O God, for your grace embodied in Jesus Christ.                                                   In him,  humanity has been restored and we are a new community.                                         In him, the powers of separation and division and hatred have been defeated.                     In him, the reign of righteousness and truth, freedom and justice has drawn near.

Through his life and ministry, his death and resurrection, his ascension and his lordship, we are now certain of our hope and live in anticipation of his kingdom of peace                  and justice. Remembering all that you have done for us, and knowing that you are still      at work in the world, we take this bread and we share this cup, giving thanks                      for our redemption and reconciliation now complete in Jesus Christ.                                    And we offer up our lives as a proclamation of his lordship, celebrating his promises      of unity, reconciliation, justice and peace. Praise to you, Lord Jesus:

Dying you destroyed our death, rising you restored our life.                                                      Lord Jesus, come in glory. Come, Holy Spirit.

Let these gifts of bread and wine be for us the body and blood of Christ.                                In this sharing may we be united with him and with one another.                                  Reconciled, forgiven, united, and fed, send us out to live in obedience and sacrifice,   until that day when all will gather at your table in glory, proclaiming: Jesus is Lord! Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, in the holy church, all glory and honor are yours, almighty Father, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer After Communion

Holy and just God, at this our Lord’s table we have known the power of your promises and the mystery of his presence. We have seen that we are one in him, reconciled with our sisters and brothers, united in praise and in service. Being fed and fortified, lead us now into the world to proclaim your justice and to work for your peace, that all would come to see and know that Jesus is Lord and Savior.  To him be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.

 

Hymns Related to the Themes of the Belhar Confession

Taken from The Presbyterian Hymnal, Glory to God

 Unity

“In Christ There Is No East or West”  # 317, # 318

“The Church’s One Foundation”   # 321

“What Does the Lord Require of You?”   # 70

“We Are One in the Spirit”   # 300

“We Are One in Christ Jesus”   # 322  (Latin American tune) *

“Help Us Accept Each Other”   # 754

“Come!  Live in the Light!”   # 749  (Micah 6: 8)

“Called as Partners in Christ’s Service”   # 761

“Faith Begins by Letting Go”   # 684  (familiar tune)

“Let Us Build a House:  All Are Welcome”   # 301 *

“O Christ, the Great Foundation”   # 361

“O for a World”   # 372

“O God, We Bear the Imprint”   # 759

“We Gather Here in Jesus’ Name”   # 501  (Communion) *

“We Shall Overcome”   # 379

Reconciliation

“Come Now, O Prince of Peace”   # 103  (Korean)

“Dream On, Dream On”   # 383  (Korean – difficult tune, good words)

“Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive”   # 444 *

“I Come with Joy”   # 515  (Communion)

“O Day of Peace”   # 373  (tune:  Jerusalem)

“When God Restored Our Common Life”   # 74  (not completely sure about this one)

Justice

“For the Healing of the Nations”   # 346

“Lord, You Give the Great Commission”   # 298

“My Song Forever Shall Record”   # 67  (Psalm 89, familiar tune)

“My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout:  Canticle of the Turning”   # 100  (Magnificat,          Irish Ballad tune)

“My Soul Gives Glory to My God”   # 99  (Magnificat)

“Show Us, O Lord, Your Steadfast Love”   # 449  (Psalm 85)

“Sing Praise to God, Whose Mighty Acts”   # 356  (Psalm 9)

“The Days Are Surely Coming”   # 357

“There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy”   # 435

 

The above liturgical resources related to the Belhar, plus others from the PC(USA), may be found at http://oga.pcusa.org/section/mid-council-ministries/constitutional-services/belhar/

Other Belhar resources may be found at https://www.rca.org/sslpage.aspx?pid=4059

 

Exegetical resources

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=2421

This story is more about the conversion of Peter than about that of Cornelius

https://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3219    Gives historic background regarding Cornelius as a centurion, and then addresses possible themes of where the spirit is leading us today and how to have genuine dialogue across differences.

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/calvin/calcom36.pdf Calvin’s Commentary on Acts

http://www.ccel.org/ccel/robertson_at/wp_acts.xi.html#xi-p0.1 Detailed analysis of the Greek (1930)

https://cep.calvinseminary.edu/sermon-starters/easter-6b-2/?type=old_testament_lectionary Acts challenges the assumptions of the early Christians regarding who the gospel is for, shocking those who are already in the church

http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=1294                           Examines the story in the context of the larger narrative of Acts and Peter’s ministry overall.

http://www.rickmorley.com/archives/1585                                                                                        Christians of Jewish descent are “astounded” that the Holy Spirit of God is being given to “even” the Gentiles.

https://politicaltheology.com/the-politics-of-acts-1044-48/                                                              In usual circumstances Peter, as a Jew, would never have gone into Cornelius’ home.

https://www.baylor.edu/content/services/document.php/53391.pdf

The practice of welcoming travelers was a tactic to neutralize potential threats;here hospitality changes how Jewish Christians see Gentile converts. How is Christian community blocked today?

 

 

 

 

 

 

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