Narrative Lectionary: Ruth 1:1-17 (10/13/19)

Ruth was present with Naomi; see Pooh parable below about presence. Here’s a blow-up from part of picture at as an illustration to go with the presence of Pooh with Eeyore. Need to change “Piglet” in the story to “Tigger” if using the picture. (Couldn’t find one of Pooh, Piglet & Eeyore, which actually illustrates how this is a Pooh parable rather than originally being from the AA Milne Pooh stories.)

It occurred to Pooh and Piglet that they hadn’t heard from Eeyore for several days, so they put on their hats and coats and trotted across the Hundred Acre Wood to Eeyore’s stick house. Inside the house was Eeyore.

“Hello Eeyore,” said Pooh.

“Hello Pooh. Hello Piglet,” said Eeyore, in a Glum Sounding Voice.

“We just thought we’d check in on you,” said Piglet, “because we hadn’t heard from you, and so we wanted to know if you were okay.”

Eeyore was silent for a moment. “Am I okay?” he asked, eventually. “Well, I don’t know, to be honest. Are any of us really okay? That’s what I ask myself. All I can tell you, Pooh and Piglet, is that right now I feel really rather Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. Which is why I haven’t bothered you. Because you wouldn’t want to waste your time hanging out with someone who is Sad, and Alone, and Not Much Fun To Be Around At All, would you now.”

Pooh looked and Piglet, and Piglet looked at Pooh, and they both sat down, one on either side of Eeyore in his stick house.

Eeyore looked at them in surprise. “What are you doing?”

“We’re sitting here with you,” said Pooh, “because we are your friends. And true friends don’t care if someone is feeling Sad, or Alone, or Not Much Fun To Be Around At All. True friends are there for you anyway. And so here we are.”

“Oh,” said Eeyore. “Oh.” And the three of them sat there in silence, and while Pooh and Piglet said nothing at all; somehow, almost imperceptibly, Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better.

Because Pooh and Piglet were There. No more; no less.



World Communion Sunday


Storyteller gives the whole story of Ruth. Recommends CEV.\


Podcast: Ruth is from Moab but Boaz is from Bethlehem—is Ruth a humble servant approaching Boaz? Or a feisty woman taking action?

Ruth and Star Wars—is Naomi deserted by God? Or is Ruth evidence otherwise? Naomi’s complaints are not rhetorical flourish. They are the author’s explicit means of establishing the book’s central crisis: Is Naomi right? Has Yahweh forsaken her and shamed her household? If Naomi’s plight were indeed the thrust of the story, then one would expect the rest of the book to resolve this crisis, particularly at the end. This is precisely what happens.

Who is the main character in Ruth (follow-on to Star Wars article above)

More academic take on hesed in Ruth (follow on to main character question)

Working Preacher commentaries on Ruth 1:1-17

Ruth refuses to be left out/leave the focus on Naomi. Ruth emerges as an acting agent in verse 14: she clings to Naomi, a term used in contexts of profound love, inalienable possession, unshakable commitment (see, e.g., Genesis 2:24; Numbers 36:7, 9; Deuteronomy 4:4; 10:20; 11:22). As Naomi remains convinced that her bitterness is solitary, she makes another appeal, urging Ruth to follow Orpah.

(Word study on “cling”

At that moment, Ruth adds speech to her action. Indeed, she utters what might be a speech-act, in which she actually does something in and by saying something (cf. “I do” in weddings or “I believe” in the Creed). What she says-does is powerful and it is poetic, lining out in nicely parallel lines like the best of Hebrew poetry.

Four-part sermon series on Ruth

The book of Judges, which comes right before Ruth, ends with inter-tribal conflict and these ominous words: “In those days there was no king in Israel; all the people did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25)…In this context, we get the book of Ruth, which is a tale about belonging, about blessing, about faithful love (in Hebrew, hesed), God’s faithfulness, incarnated in human beings.

Ruth, a woman, and a foreigner at that, chooses to join her story to the story we’ve been hearing the last several weeks; she chooses to enter into Israel’s covenant with God. She chooses thereby the life of being a stranger in a foreign land. She chooses to leave all that she has known and to go to a place she’s never been, with no assurance of security. A childless widow in ancient Israel had to rely on the kindness of those around her. In this story, Naomi relies on Ruth, and Ruth herself has to rely on the kindness of strangers.

One of the beautiful themes in the book is that hesed meets hesed; that is, faithfulness engenders faithfulness, kindness meets kindness. Ruth goes above and beyond the minimum requirements of the Law out of love for Naomi. And when Boaz learns of Ruth’s loyalty to her mother-in-law, he blesses her:

Whatever Ruth’s circumstances may be, her clinging to her mother-in-law is a gift of grace that Naomi cannot at first see.  Naomi says God has turned against her (verse 13), and later she tells the women of Bethlehem, “The Almighty has dealt bitterly with me … brought me back empty … dealt harshly with me, and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me” (verses 20-21).  This is Naomi’s theology, and at first it is all she can see.

But the narrator sees things differently, attributing none of Naomi’s tragedies to God, not even the famine.  Rather it is God who has given the people food (verse 6).  This point is underscored at the end of the chapter: “They came to Bethlehem at the beginning of the barley harvest” (verse 22).  Near the end of the book, the Bethlehemite women will articulate to Naomi what has been evident all along, that Ruth’s love is worth more than seven sons.  Grace is walking right beside Naomi, unseen, yet refusing to leave her.

Ruth holds a thoroughly action-oriented, thoroughly pragmatic theology.  She does not argue with Naomi’s perception of events, nor does she assert her own.  She simply communicates presence.  She refuses to leave.  It’s not about God’s actions or intents, but her own.  Ruth will worship the God that Naomi believes abandoned her.  And she swears to do what four other people — Elimelech, Mahlon, Chilion, and Orpah — couldn’t do: to stay.  Not even death, the chief resident of their household, will get in her way.

Ruth and immigration from Bruce Epperly

Ruth.  She comes closer to God and God’s ways through her deep love for her mother-in-law.  She leaves behind her own family and her own religion and traditions not for complex theological reasons, but out of the affection for someone who loved her first.

PRAYERS and other bulletin pieces

Opening Prayer:

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

O God, wherever you go, we will go.                                                                                                Where you lodge, we will lodge.                                                                                                          Your people will be our people,                                                                                                          and you will be our God.                                                                                                                      We will serve you all our lives.                                                                                                          We will not be parted from you even in death.                                                                                In the name of Jesus, who joins us to you, Amen.

Call to Worship

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting;                     (slightly adapted from prayer for Genesis 2 on companionship)

One: O God, we come one by one.                                                                                                      Many: O God, we come with each other.                                                                                    We come because it is not good to be alone.                                                                                  We come because we want to be companions on the journey.                                              We seek communion with you.                                                                                                      We seek communion with one another.                                                                                     Make us companions to one another,                                                                                                that we may walk faithfully and joyfully in your way.                                                         ALL: IN JESUS’ NAME, AMEN.

Rite of Confession

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

*Call to Confession  (from Colossians 3:12-14, The Messsage)

Chosen by God for the new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God has picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, and quick to forgive. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic all-purpose garment. Never be without it.

*Prayer of Confession (unison)

O God, at times we fail to act in love. Wrapped in our own concerns, we may not hear the cries of others. We can be slow to listen, but quick to give advice. Promising prayer, we may not add the power of being present with others. Uncomfortable with the pain and needs of others, we may want them to just get over it. Empower us with your love, that we may meet and hear others where they are.

*Assurance of Pardon (from Colossians 3:15-17 The Message)                                                 The peace of Christ keeps us in tune with each other. The power of the Spirit keeps us in step with one another. The grace of the Father grants forgiveness, making us grateful. Thanks be to God for the Good News: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

* Prayer of Dedication (unison)

Original resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting;   Maker of all things, you bless us with many gifts: our lives, our possessions, and our time and our talents. Use this food and money—and our very lives—to show the world your presence and your love. Amen.

Eucharist Prayer/Prayer of Great Thanksgiving

One: The Lord be with you.

Many: 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.

O God, you create the vast universe and call it good. You make us in your image

and call us very good. Declaring that it is not good for us to be alone,

you make us companions on our journey.

And so we thank you, O God.

Throughout human history, you declare your presence with your people.

You speak to us through the law and the prophets, demonstrating your love and care.

You speak to us through your Son, Christ Jesus.

You speak to us through the Holy Spirit.

And so we thank you, O God.

Your Son proclaimed your reign and presence:                                                                           preaching good news to the poor and release to the captives,
teaching by word and deed, blessing the children,
healing the sick, binding up the brokenhearted,
eating with outcasts, forgiving sinners,

and demonstrating and proclaiming your love for all people.
And so we thank you, O God.
When your Son was crucified, giving his life for the sins of the world.
you raised him from the dead, breaking the power of sin and evil,

demonstrating your triumph and presence.

And so we thank you, O God.

Today we gather in your presence.

You are here in the support and love we offer each other.

You are here in our praying and singing, in our words and our silences.

You are here in your Supper.

And so we thank you, O God.


HYMNS I used

Not so much out there on human companioning. I used

Prelude: Faithful Friend                                                                                Twila Paris

*Opening Hymn I Come with Joy                               Presbyterian  Blue Hymnal,507

Offering Hymn  God is Here!                                                                    Blue Hymnal,461

Prayer for Illumination (sung )                                                   Blue Hymnal, #430 verse 3

This day God’s people meeting, The Holy Scripture hear                                                          Christ’s living presence greeting, Through bread and wine made near.                                    We journey on, believing, Renewed with heav’nly might,                                                             From grace more grace receiving, On this blest day of light.


Closing Hymn  Called as Partners                                                  Blue Hymnal, 343

Postlude He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother                                                The Hollies

Prayer for Illumination (sung )                                                   Blue Hymnal, #430 verse 3

This day God’s people meeting, The Holy Scripture hear

Christ’s living presence greeting, Through bread and wine made near.

We journey on, believing, Renewed with heav’nly might,

From grace more grace receiving, On this blest day of light.


Hebrew Scripture Reading: Ruth 1:1-17                                                                                           Reader

Message The Present of Presence                                                                Pastor Barb


*Confession of Faith: The Nicene Creed (Ecumenical version)      Blue Hymnal, p. 15

Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper (see insert)


*Closing Hymn  Called as Partners                                                  Blue Hymnal, 343

*Charge and Benediction                                                             Pastors Barb and Len  Postlude He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother                                                      The Hollies




Narrative Lectionary: Exodus 1:8-2:10, 3:1-15 (9/29/19)

See file on One note:!AuB3z496aTHTgapshfJy9s21rlAGVQ

Bulletin on One note (we’re using the Exodus passage on 9/22):!AuB3z496aTHTgapjYP12mqWqSLJJyA

Narrative Lectionary Genesis 32:22-30 Jacob Wrestles with God (9/22/19)

Here’s a link to the resources for 9/22 on One Drive; can’t seem to get it to copy into this doc                                    !AuB3z496aTHTgapanNNgdPBZo3b3Bw

My bulletin for this passage (preached at my church on 9/15 instead!)!AuB3z496aTHTgapd1kTzvjFgJ7JuDw

Fall Narrative Lectionary: Genesis 2:4-25 (9/8/19)

Cover image:

Another 20th century illustration of creation:

Google: Images Genesis 2:18 or whatever piece you are using

CHILDREN’S SERMON Children’s storybook “This Moose Belongs to Me” addresses issues of stewardship.*

LITURGICAL RESOURCES Call to Worship from Gen 2:4-9

Eight worship service outlines on the theme of creation (from “Reformed Worship”)*

Week 1: In the Spotlight of God’s Love (Matt. 10:28-31)
Week 2: Taste and See that the Lord Is Good (John 4:46-53)
Week 3: Wondrous Time (John 2:1-12)
Week 4: God the Gardener (Gen. 2:4b-15; John 6:1-15)
Week 5: The Gift of Community (Gen. 2:15-25; Ps. 92; John 5:1-18)
Week 6: Communion with God (Gen. 3:1-8; Ps. 23; John 14:15-24)
Week 7: The Challenge of These Days (Prov. 30:18-19, 24-28; Ps. 104; John 3:1-8)
Week 8: The Wonder of the New Creation (John 11:1-7, 17-25) An intergenerational story of creation (Genesis 1-2) told in gestures and words*


Opening Prayer adapted from the Book of Common Worship (1993)

O God, we believe you still create. You still speak. You still guide. You still are with us. You still breathe life into the world. You still provide for us what we need. We want to see more clearly. We want to listen more carefully. We want to walk more faithfully. We want to breathe more deeply. We want to trust more completely. Empower us this hour to see and to hear, to walk and to breathe, and to trust you.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Call to Worship

Original Resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl. Please give credit if using/adapting.

One: O God, we come one by one.                                                                                           Many: O God, we come together.                                                                                               

We come because it is not good to be alone.                                                                              We  come because we need companionship on the journey.                                                     We seek communion with you.                                                                                                    We seek communion with one another.                                                                                     Provide us today with the helps and companions we need,                                                 that we may walk faithfully and joyfully in your way.                                                     ALL: IN JESUS’ NAME, AMEN.

Rite of Confession Original Resource by Barb Hedges-Goettl. Please give credit if using/adapting.

*Call to Confession: At times we forget—or do not believe—that God has called us to live together in harmony. Let us ask God to forgive and re-direct us.

*Prayer of Confession

O God, it is hard to journey together. This one complains too much.                                 That one goes too fast. This one gets on my nerves. That one slows me down.                 We don’t agree on where to go and how to get there. Yet you created us                           to live together and to help one another. Forgive our disbelief.                         Redirect us so that we see your image and your gifts in each person.                   (Silent confession)

*Assurance of Pardon: God created us to live with one another in harmony and without shame, relying on God’s grace and mercy. Together, we share—and give thanks for—the Good News:                               In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.


Prayer of Dedication adapted from the Book of Common Worship (PC-USA 1993)

O God, you greatly love us. You ever seek us. You mercifully redeem us.                 Give us grace that in everything we may yield our gifts and ourselves,                          our wills and our works as a continual thank-offering to you.                                    Through Jesus Christ our Lord, Amen.

Prayer of Great Thanksgiving (Eucharistic Prayer)

One: The Lord be with you.

Many: 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.


O God, you created the vast universe and called it good. You made us in your image   and called us very good. And then you declared that it is not good for us to be alone. You give us all of creation, each other and your Son as companions on our journey.  And so we thank you, O God.

You gave Adam and Eve the food and water of the garden, providing for their needs. So, too,  you provide for us through this meal. You join us to creation. You join us to you. You join us to each other and to all the faithful in every time and place. And so we thank you, O God.

When we are rebellious, rejecting your help and the help of others, you do not leave us alone.   Instead, you faithfully pursue us, calling and claiming us as your people, made in your image. You call us to live in harmony with creation. You call us to live as neighbors and family. You call us to live united to you.  And so we thank you, O God.

Let your Holy Spirit move over us and over these earthly gifts of bread and cup.  Join us together in the  communion of the body and blood of Christ. Join us together with another and all your people in anticipation of the heavenly banquet,  in which all creation will join in your praise, all divisions will be healed and we will be united with you forever.     Amen.


Word study on “help meet/suitable companion” Genesis 2:18

NL from Working Preacher commentary*

Discussion of the theological anthropology in Gaudium et Spes/Genesis 1 and 2, in which the human is seen as a creation in the likeness of Christ, the Trinity and God the Creator.*

Part 2 of discussion of anthropology in Gaudium et Spes/Genesis 1 and 2: the above: created in God’s image as male and female.*

This article, “Faith, Humility, and The Process of Soil Formation,” discusses the importance and variety of soil, creation of the first human, and the human mission of cultivating the earth.*

“A Helper for What?” looks at how to work together at work.*

“Creation is underway,” in Buechner’s narration of the morning’s household events as an analogy of Genesis 1-2 from his Alphabet of Grace.*


Uses creation from Genesis & John to demonstrate how imago dei means sub-creating, which points to truth and leads to flourishing.*

Animated video introducing Genesis 1-11’s literary design, flow and its contribution to the story of Jesus*


157 hymns for Genesis 2*:

“Sing We Now of Eve”* Based on Genesis 2; 3:1-20 Recommended Tune: Picardy, a French carol, Chansons populaires des provinces de France (1860)vMeter: 87 87 87*

Sung version of the creation story from Madagascar with translation*

Summer Hebrews Series #4: Hebrews 9:1-14 [Matthew 12:1-6] for Narrative Lectionary (August 4, 2019?)


Featured image:

Images of the Holy of Holies:

Images for Hebrews 9:1-14…145936.146802..147479…0.0..0.101.427.4j1……0….1..gws-wiz-img.naJeXiW05Po&ved=0ahUKEwih8LndqNrjAhWMTN8KHSwjAmEQ4dUDCAY&uact=5

Images of opening the door   For a commentary using this image, see  (NOTE: The 2015 commentary has the same content.)

17th Century etching of the Tabernacle:

There is one more image at the very bottom of this blog (after the apparently blank page) That one is from:

My husband notes that the ark described here matches the one in Raiders of the Lost Ark… (or vice versa!) Synopsis of the movie at (page 39) of

A book that addresses the tabernacle for general (evangelical) audiences and with lots of photographs and drawings is David M. Levy’s The Tabernacle: Shadows of the Messiah (2003). For excerpted portions, see




Offering Prayer: God of all power and grace: we have often been overwhelmed by the indifference of the world and have let it discourage us from the work of disciple making and world transforming to which you’ve called us. Remind us once more of the victory of Christ and the victory available to us. As we give our tithes and offerings, may we do so with the confidence of victors, knowing that in your love, grace, and compassion, you will have the last word. We pray this in the name of your Son, who bore our sins and who defeated our death. Amen. (Hebrews 9:11-14, 24-28)

Prayer Reflection: Who Could Love Us More?  (Very short, but the spacing seems crucial and is lost when I copy it here, so please go to website.)

Original liturgical resources will be posted here when I get this far; I am behind since my church did not have services on 7/21 due to excessive heat. I hope to have these posted by Tuesday evening, 7/30.!AuB3z496aTHTgal1aLu-13ffpsmjdg

CHILDREN’S SERMON IDEAS. Note: This author of this resource usually advises shielding children from sacrificial images…


Jesus, Name Above All Names

EXEGETICAL RESOURCES (beginning with those most likely to yield themes for preaching)

Podcast intro to the Hebrews series from NL: The 2015 podcast is the same.)

Preaching-oriented exposition of the structure of Hebrews 9 from Southwestern Baptist Seminary:

(Lots of potential themes in the discussion questions) Hebrews 9:1-14 Inductive Bible study with teaching points, cross-references and discussion questions from Moody Bible Institute grad who is serving in mission overseas.

Commentary on Hebrews 9:1-14 entitled “God’s Remedy for Guilt.” Uses biblical study tools from a substitutionary atonement perspective. Incl. discussion questions.

Bible study on Hebrews 9:1-14 focusing on OT background from folks from Fuller/Grace Communion International (formerly Worldwide Church of God).

Scripture Union’s commentary/study, including investigation of various themes and some liturgical and other resources.

Hebrews 9:1-14 (and beyond) Verse-by-verse word study and cross-reference from US Conference of Catholic Bishops

Hebrews 9:1-14 sermons from a variety of preachers/denominations. Looks like summaries are available for free and you can also get a free trial.

Hebrews 9:1-14 sermon from Reformed Perspectives Magazine (free online weekly publication).  Uses Westminster Confession and Westminster Shorter and Larger Catechisms as its doctrinal standards. 9:1-14

Hebrews 9:1-14 sermon that focuses on bridging the gap between the culture/religion of the book of Hebrews and Christians today from widely published Bethlehem Baptist Seminary chancellor entitled “Purified to Serve the Living God.”

Commentary on Hebrews 9:11-14 deals with the pitfalls of the “Jesus is better” part of this passage.

A Catholic take on Hebrews 9:11-14 and other blood sacrifice passages

Other articles delving into the theme of atonement/sacrifice can be found at


Audio of 1973 Princeton Seminary sermon on Leviticus 16 and Hebrews 9 on the Yom Kippur practice of praying for the sins of the nation. For more on Yom Kippur and Atonement, see

Video of 40 minute sermon from N. Boston Great Rock Church, a Calvary Chapel community, which is a non-denominational church movement focused on the inerrancy of the Bible and the expository teaching. Has roots in the Jesus movement.

Video of 36 minutes sermon from Pioneer Baptist Church entitled “A Clean Conscience.”

Video of 45 minute teaching from on Hebrews 9:1-14 by Michael Rood (“A Rood Awakening/Shabbat Night Live”) from a Hebrew/Torah perspective. Entitled “The Last Will and Testament of the Earthly Temple.” (NOTE: Didn’t vet the whole video; this TV show teaching seemed interesting, but their overall doctrine includes a focus on 7th day Sabbath and calendar issues.)

Commentary on Hebrews 9:11-14 (RCL for Proper 26B/Ordinary 31B/Pentecost 24-11/4/18) that includes consideration of v. 1-10; focuses on the Ark and on Jesus as the fulfilment/perfection.

Resources for RCL (Hebrews 9:11-14)




































Image above:

Summer Hebrews Series #3: Hebrews 4:14-5:10 [Matthew 26:36-40 (46)] for Narrative Lectionary (July 28, 2019?)

Lord, that I might see!, sculpture in Matyas Church, Budapest, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, Tenn. Original source. To me, this image could represent the need for a high priest who understands this supplicant.


Also at However, here there were a lot saying “Jesus is better.” To me this feels uncomfortable in that this quote leaves open the possibility that, since we say Jesus is better, we think we are better too. And then there is the whole question of the relationship of Jesus/Christianity to Judaism…


Jesus’ sym/empathy for us results in our being bold before God. Could our sym/empathy for others encourage their boldness? How, then, do we respond to their bold requests? What is the response when boldness is present even when no sym/empathy has been indicated (Frequently not well!)

 The contrast is usually drawn between a high priest who sympathizes and one who does not. (My pastor husband once got a phone call at the church asking, “Are you the pastor who listens?”) But–what about a priest who sympathizes as opposed to all the people who don’t? Where do we go when humans cannot/do not sympathize—or maybe when they cannot/do not even hear our pain/hurt/need?



Meditation on Servanthood*  NOTE these copyright provisions for Sacredise resources:

On this page you will find the latest downloads of the Sacredise Daily Worship guides. Feel free to make copies and distribute these guides in any way you like on the following conditions:

  1. That you do not use them in any way for personal financial gain.
  2. That you acknowledge the authorship and copyright as found in the pdf file.
  3. That you leave the copyright notices and any other notifications intact on any copies you make.


Prayer of Great Thanksgiving (Eucharistic Prayer)                                                                Here is a link to an original eucharistic prayer by Barb Hedges-Goettl based on the themes and language of the Hebrews passages that make up the summer Narrative Lectionary series on Hebrews. Please give credit if using/adapting.!AuB3z496aTHTgalit3nYcgaqOmOlZg

Prayer of invocation/opening prayer (from Hebrews 4:14, 5:4-6, The Message)                      Original prayer by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting.

O God, you call Jesus your own son and celebrate him.                                                          You make him a priest forever, a priest of the royal order.                                                          Through him, you give us ready access to yourself.                                                                Don’t let us lose track of what you have given us.                                                             Remind us today—and every day of what we have in Jesus,                                                    your Son, our High Priest. In his name we pray, Amen.


Call to worship (from Hebrews 4:14-16, The Message)                                                              Original prayer by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting.

One: We shave a high priest who can understand us.

Many: We have a high priest who is in touch with reality.

We have a high priest who has been through weakness and testing.

We have a high priest who has experienced it all—all but sin.

So we can walk right up to him. We can receive what he is ready to give.

We can take the mercy. We can accept the help.



Rite of Confession

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

Call to Confession (from Hebrews 4:14-16 J.B. Philips version)

We do not have a superhuman High Priest to whom our weaknesses are unintelligible. No! Instead, he himself shared fully in all our experience of temptation, except that he never sinned. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with fullest confidence…

Prayer of Confession: O God, sometimes we act like we don’t know that Jesus has pioneered the way. We forget what it means to follow. We go our own way instead of humbly following your way. We refuse to live by faith, relying instead on what we see. Forgive us. (Silent confession)

Assurance of Pardon: When we come to God, we receive mercy for our failures and grace to help in the hour of need. Thanks be to God for the Good News: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.


Prayer: The God who Serves   **See note above re Sacredise copyright


Though you are God,

with all the influence and status that the name implies,

you refused to pull rank,

and parade your power among us.


Instead, you chose to step down into our experience,

living among us, as one of us,

with all the struggle and suffering

that goes with being human.


More than that, you adopted the role of slave,

washing feet, serving people of no reputation or social standing,

and giving of yourself completely.


As incredible as it sounds,

you are the God who serves,

and we can respond in no other way

than to give ourselves to you in praise.




Prayer: Where are the Leaders? **See note above re Sacredise copyright

There are so many people of influence in our world, Jesus,

Those with loud voices and deep pockets,

those with large lives and wide networks.

But, where are the leaders?


As we struggle to keep our broken humanity

from splintering into countless irreparable fragments;

As we wrestle with our greed and arrogance,

our ignorance and short-sightedness,

our violence and coldness,

our carelessness and narcissism,

Where are the leaders?


Raise up for us, O God, leaders worthy of the name,

men and women who like Christ

are unafraid of challenge,

unashamed of serving,

and unattached to their own personal gain;

men and women who like Christ

call to the best within us,

and then lead the way.


And, in our own small spheres, God,

may we be the leaders we seek.



Prayer: Counting the Cost**See note above re Sacredise copyright

How do we do what’s right, Jesus,

when it costs us so much to follow you?

when the good and the true and the beautiful

cannot be purchased

in a ‘buy-now-pay-later’ scheme

as a quick-fix solution to our longing for life?

How do we do what’s right when it takes so much time,

and when the life it brings comes

according to the timetable of eternity,

not the stopwatch of our up-to-the-minute world?


How do our leaders do what’s right, Jesus,

for the weak and marginalised,

for people beyond our borders,

when the cost could be to forfeit their opportunity to lead?


How do our corporations do what’s right, Jesus,

for our suffering planet,

for the rights and needs of the poor,

when the cost could be to lose investors,

and sacrifice the lives of their own workers?


How do our protectors do what’s right, Jesus,

for the broken and desperate,

for our allies and enemies,

when the cost could be to face the attacks

of those they seek to defend?


We need to learn how to do what’s right, Jesus,

our world needs us to learn it;

we need to count the cost of your call,

and measure it against the abundant life you promise.

Help us, in our own small way, to be those who do the right thing,

and in so doing, demonstrate the goodness

that following you brings to all.


PRAYER RECALLING CHRIST’S SAVING WORK From Book of Common Worship (1993). Include the words “Reprinted by permission from Book of Common Worship , © 1993, Westminster/John Knox.

By the mystery of your holy incarnation,

by your baptism, fasting, and temptation;

and by your proclamation of the kingdom,

Good Lord, deliver us.

By your bloody sweat and bitter grief;

by your cross and suffering;

and by your precious death and burial,

Good Lord, deliver us.

By your mighty resurrection;

by your glorious ascension;

and by the coming of the Holy Spirit,

Good Lord, deliver us.

In our times of trouble;

in our times of prosperity;

in the hour of death,

and on the day of judgment,

Good Lord, deliver us.

CONFESSION OF FAITH-Parts of Westminster Confession & Larger Catechism that refer to themes of our Hebrews passage:!AuB3z496aTHTgalg6V4RG_IFlW0zmg                                                             To use these in worship, it would be best to re-cast them in more modern language, using shorter sentences and “we believe” language. If I end up using any of them in my worship service, I will post my adaptation at the link above.

SERVICE focusing on JESUS AS HIGH PRIEST (from Calvin Institute on Christian Worship); incl. hymns, prayer of intercession and thanksgiving, and sermon ideas

LITURGY FOR THE CELEBRATION OF SACRIFICE (interestingly, elsewhere entitled “The Meal of Jesus”) **See note above re Sacredise copyright

WORSHIP SERVICE from Calvin Institute of Christian Worship entitled “Maturing the Soul” based on Hebrews 5.


TWO-VOICED READING of Hebrews 1:5-10


Hymn Suggestions (from
Hail Thou Once Despised Jesus
O Worship The King
O Jesus I Have Promised
Now and Forever
Above All (Link to YouTube video)
That’s Why We Praise Him (Link to YouTube video)
Lord Reign In Me (Link to YouTube video)
Creation’s King

Peace on Earth: A Conversation (available free through Spotify) by Psallos; lyrics right of our passage!

One Small Voice (can change the world, but you better be strong) by Carole King (about being bold!)


For songs below:

PH The Presbyterian Hymnal (Presbyterian Church USA; Westminster/John Knox Press)
PsH The Psalter Hymnal (Christian Reformed Church; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
RL Rejoice in the Lord (Reformed Church in America; W.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company)
RN Renew! (Hope Publishing Company)
SFL Songs for Life (children’s songbook; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
SNC Sing! A New Creation (Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Christian Reformed Church,
Reformed Church in America; Faith Alive Christian Resources)
TH Trinity Hymnal (Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Presbyterian Church in America;
Great Commission Publications)
TWC The Worshiping Church (Hope Publishing Company)
UMH The United Methodist Hymnal (United Methodist Publishing House)
WOV With One Voice (Augsburg Fortress)

For the series on Hebrews

“Since Our Great High Priest Christ Jesus” PsH 230
“Before the Throne of God Above” (available on CCLI website, with license)

Additional songs and hymns that fit well with Jesus the High Priest
“Alleluia, Sing to Jesus” PsH 406
“Amazing Grace” PH 280, PsH 462, RL 456, RN 189, SFL 209, TH 460 TWC 502, UMH 378
“And Can It Be” PsH 267, RL 451, RN 193, TH 455, TWC 473, UMH 363
“By the Sea of Crysta” PsH 620, TH 549
“Hail the Day” PsH 409, RL 331, TH 290, TWC 258, UMH 312
“In Christ Alone” (copyright 2002 Thankyou Music, available through CCLI)
“Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” PH 376, PsH 568, RN 196, RL 464, TH 529, TWC 558, UMH 384
“My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” TWC 517
“Now Behold the Lamb” SNC 144
“O For a Thousand Tongues” PH 466, PsH 501, RL 362/363, RN 32, SFL 19, TH 164, TWC 130 UMH 57
“Savior Like a Shepherd” PH 387, PsH 591, TH 599, TWC 522, UMH 381
“Since Our Great High Priest Christ Jesus” PsH 230
“What a Friend We Have in Jesus” PH 403, PsH 579, RL 507, SFL 52, TH 629, TWC 622
“What Wondrous Love” PH 85, PsH 379, RN 277, SFL 169, TH 261, TWC 212, UMH 292
“When Peace Like a River” PsH 489, TH 691, TWC 519 UMH 37

From the Presbyterian Hymnal (1990)


Hebrews 4.14–5.10

83 O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High (boldface means whole hymn is pertinent)

144.3+4 Alleluia! Sing to Jesus! (.3+4 means verses 3 and 4 are particularly pertinent)



28.2 Good Christian Friends, Rejoice

63.2 As with Gladness Men of Old

81 Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days

110 Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands

112.3 Christ the Lord Is Risen Again

141 A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing

154 Lord, Enthroned in Heavenly Splendor

341 Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine!

381 O Come Unto the Lord

395 Have Mercy, Lord, on Me (Take Pity, Lord)

403 What a Friend We Have in Jesus

465.4 Here, O Lord, Your Servants Gather

470.3 O Day of Radiant Gladness

485R To God Be the Glory

566 Glory to God in the Highest (Gloria in Excelsis)

575.6 Glory to God in the Highest (Gloria in Excelsis)



86 When We Are Tempted to Deny Your Son

348.3 Christian Women, Christian Men

360.3+5 Hope of the World

388 O Jesus, I Have Promised

389 O Jesus, I Have Promised

416.1 Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation

417.1 Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation

419 How Clear Is Our Vocation, Lord

442.3+4 The Church’s One Foundation

443.1 O Christ, the Great Foundation

461.4 God is Here!

538.2 Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing



27.1 Gentle Mary Laid Her Child

49.3 Once in Royal David’s City

62.2 Bring We the Frankincense of Our Love

72.3 When Jesus Came to Jordan

77.1 Forty Days and Forty Nights

80 Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley

81.2 Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days

83.2 O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High

97.1 Go to Dark Gethsemane

108.3 Christ is Alive!

298.1 There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy

308.2 O Sing a Song of Bethlehem

331.3 Thanks to God Whose Word Was Written

338 Kum ba Yah

406.1 Why Has God Forsaken Me?



150.2 Come, Christians, Join to Sing

212.4 Within Your Shelter, Loving God

251.3 Your Faithfulness, O Lord, Is Sure

261 God of Compassion, in Mercy Befriend Us

269.2 O God of Bethel, by Whose Hand

296.3 Walk On, O People of God

298 There’s A Wideness in God’s Mercy

301 Lord Jesus, Think on Me

303 Jesus, Lover of My Soul

333.2 Seek Ye First

354 Guide My Feet

356.3 Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing

363 I Want Jesus to Walk with Me

376 Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

383 My Faith Looks Up to Thee

387 Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us

404 Precious Lord, Take My Hand

416.3 Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation

417.3 Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation

457 I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art

489 Open Now Thy Gates of Beauty



70 Christ, When for Us You Were Baptized

72 When Jesus Came to Jordan



159.3 Why Are Nations Raging *



296 Walk On, O People of God



97.1 Go to Dark Gethsemane

406 Why Has God Forsaken Me?



72.3 When Jesus Came to Jordan

103 Deep Were His Wounds, and Red

107 Celebrate with Joy and Singing

123.3 Jesus Christ Is Risen Today

299.6 Amen, Amen

308.4 O Sing a Song of Bethlehem

355 Hear the Good News of Salvation

359 More Love to Thee, O Christ

366 Jesus, Thy Boundless Love to Me

378 Make Me a Captive, Lord

388 O Jesus, I Have Promised

389 O Jesus, I Have Promised

391 Take My Life

392 Take Thou Our Minds, Dear Lord

393 Take Up Your Cross, the Savior Said

457 I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art

466 O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing

598 This Is the Good News

Psalm 104
Dying To Power
Justice, Power and the Kingdom



In Beautiful Moon: A Child’s Prayer, by Tonya Bolden, a little boy saying his bedtime prayers becomes the high priest praying for people all around his city.  Read this book today to connect prayers of intercession with being a priest like Jesus.  Before reading note that the moon is what everyone in the story sees, but urge worshipers to listen more to the little boy’s prayers than to the moon.  Reads aloud in 2 minutes.  Note: Children may need an alternative to “high priest,” such as minister, pastor, bridge, translator, representative, prayer “warrior.”


One could even briefly tell the story of Cyrano deBergerac and explain needing someone else to speak for you—do they know of anyone/any time when someone needs another person to speak for them? How does Jesus do this for us (with a better ending) and why?





4:14-5:10 NL context. ”Passage includes an odd pair of words: sympathy and boldness…”


4:14-5:10 In the context of Cancer Awareness Day; addresses sympathy, boldness, and mercy & grace. From the African-American Lectionary.


4:14-5:10 Sermonic outline, suggested links, books, articles, song and video for use of exact pericope in Holy Thursday/footwashing context; from the African-American lectionary.  Possible titles: “Jesus, High Priest for All People”; “A High Priest Who Understands” or “Incarnate, Intermediary and Intercessor.”


4:14-5:10 Commentary on this exact pericope! “Faithful Christian living is not about trying harder; it is about trusting more.” This is from an ATLA article, likely available through alumnae services from your seminary if you attended one:


4:14-5:10 2011 audio sermon from Presbyterian Church in San Antonio, TX. Also sermons on the others in our series.


4:14-5:10 1984 audio sermon on our pericope emphasizing obedience and being content to be a servant

4:14-5:10 Verse-by-verse commentary. Calls the passage “Jesus, Our Sympathetic High Priest,” with these subtitles (potential themes) for verses/sections. Each section also has questions for consideration.

4:14: Hold fast to your confession                                                                                                4:15 A Sympathetic High Priest                                                                                                    4:16 Approaching the Throne of Grace (Word study on mercy, grace, help, timely help) 5:1-4 Qualifications for a High Priest                                                                                                5:1-3 A Gentle High Priest                                                                                                               5:4-6 A Priest in the Order of Melchizedek                                                                                      5:7 Jesus’ Cries to God Were Heard (?)                                                                                              5:8 Learning Obedience Through Suffering. This can be problematic in that is tends to idealize suffering without giving the sufferer (and others) the right to protest/seek change/etc.                                                                                                                                         5:9-10 Being Made Perfect                                                                                                              5:9-10 Source of Eternal Salvation

Uses reputable albeit older commentaries (footnoted)

Hebrews 4:14-5:10 Meditation (with a prayer) on Jesus as High Priest

 Hebrews 4:14-5:10 is RCL for Good Friday A/B/C; see

4:14-5:10 with cross-references footnoted           

4:14-5:10 Brief but verse-by-verse with word study:

4:14-5:10 Verse-by-verse International Bible Lesson Commentary (Sunday School Context)

Hebrews 4:12-16 is RCL for Proper 23B/Ordinary 28B/Pentecost 21

Hebrews 4:14-16 devotionals                                          

Hebrews 5:1-10 In the context of the book of Hebrews (and, from 2015, leading-up-to-the-elections!) Incls. theological issues & two illustrations

Hebrews 5:1-10 sermon from Eugenia Gamble, PC(USA) highlighting suffering through an extended real-life illustration. Addresses question of whether we are to seek out suffering.

Hebrews 5:1-10 Sacrificial understanding of Lord’s Supper. From United Methodist perspective.

Hebrews 5:1-10 Jesus as High Priest (Working Preacher RCL)

Hebrews 5:1-10 Vulnerability of Jesus, religious leaders, & people of faith (Working Preacher RCL)

Hebrews 5:1-10 What does greatness mean? Addresses global and local application.

Hebrews 5:1-10 The job of high priest & Jesus’ qualifications. Illustration for the incarnation.

Hebrews 5:1-10 For a relationship to exist between God and God’s people, as well as among groups and between individuals, things must be repaired and restored between us; the only way that can happen is if God does it. (Roman Catholic context/examples.)

Hebrews 5:5-10 is RCL for Lent 5B and Proper 24B/Ordinary 29B; the textweek entry itself is labeled 5:1-10

Hebrews 5:5-10 devotionals                                                                                                          Mar 14, 2018  Hebrews 5:5-10. What shape will the new covenant take? Who is this God who is present for us, full of mercy and eager to welcome us back.

Mar 18, 2015  Hebrews 5:5-10. One of my favorite Sunday school activities is for children to go all around the church and see how many crosses they can find.

Dec. 19, 2018…5:5-10 My three-year-old will not be good at Advent this year. He does not like waiting. As anyone with a toddler knows, patience is…      

 Overview of Hebrews and word-based commentary on Hebrews 5:5-10 from Working Preacher; RCL (Holy Week) context; also addresses larger context of 4:16-5:10.

There are many more resources for Hebrews 5:5-10 if you decide to focus there. Try a search on for that specific passage.



Summer Hebrews Series #2: Hebrews 2:10-18 (Matthew 12:46-50) for Narrative Lectionary (July 21, 2019?)

Featured image:


Collect form

One commentator notes that Hebrews consists essentially of three things: Scriptural quotes/interpretation, theology, and exhortation. To me, this boils down to who God is/what God does and who we are and what we need to do/can do. This relates to the possibility of looking at Hebrews through the construct of a Collect, an originally Latin Roman Catholic prayer a particular form, basically consisting of an address of God that mentions the attributes of God that relate to the petition (O God, who….) and then a petition (empower us….) and a purpose clause (so that…). We are referring to this as “Who God is and what God does, and what we need and why.” This seems to encompass a lot of the book of Hebrews as it develops its theology of who God is and what God does in order to talk about what we need to do/can do and why. [For a more detailed explanation of the form of a collect (with 5 parts, adding an address of God, a conclusion calling on the mediation of Christ and an Amen) see



This pericope is set for the first Sunday of Christmas in the RCL. (My husband and I are planning a Christmas in July for the last Sunday of the month; you could pair this whole series with Christmas/incarnation themes).


The folks at Working Preacher have commentaries for both the NL and the Christmas setting; this link has a few lines from each commentary and the links to each of them.




For the Christmas setting, see also


Vv. 10-12

Verses 5-12 were included in the RCL with 1:1-4. See

and the blog from last week for details.


Other exegetical resources for Hebrews 2 are at the bottom of this blog…



HYMNS for Hebrews 2:10-18

(Numbers are from the Presbyterian Hymnal/1990)


180 The God of Heaven

185.5-10 Psalm 33 (The .5-10 means verses 5-10 are particularly pertinent)

224 Bless the Lord, My Soul and Being

267 All Things Bright and Beautiful

271.1 Many and Great, O God, Are Thy Things

288 I Sing the Mighty Power of God

290 God Created Heaven and Earth

293 This Is My Father’s World

294 Wherever I May Wander

455 All Creatures of Our God and King

467.1+2 How Great Thou Art



11.3 O Lord, How Shall I Meet You?

75.1+4 O Wondrous Sight, O Vision Fair

140.2 Holy, Holy

155.3 Rejoice, the Lord Is King

341 Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine!

346.2 Christ, You Are the Fullness

388.4 O Jesus, I Have Promised

389.4 O Jesus, I Have Promised

426.5 Lord, Speak to Me, That I May Speak

441.5 I Love Thy Kingdom, Lord

485 To God Be the Glory

492.3 Baptized in Water

518.4 Sheaves of Summer



385.3 O God, We Bear the Imprint of Your Face



55.4 That Boy-Child of Mary  (Bold type means the whole hymns is particularly pertinent)

157.1 Our King and Our Sovereign, Lord Jesus

518.4 Sheaves of Summer



4.2 Creator of the Stars of Night

5.2 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

14.1 Savior of the Nations, Come

27 Gentle Mary Laid Her Child

29.3 Go, Tell It on the Mountain

36.2 In the Bleak Midwinter

41.2 O Come, All Ye Faithful

49.2+3 Once in Royal David’s City



9.2 O Come, O Come, Emmanuel

14.2 Savior of the Nations, Come

20.3 Watchman, Tell Us of the Night

26 Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light

28.3 Good Christian Friends, Rejoice

31.3 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

32 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

90.2 Ride On! Ride On in Majesty!

91.2 Ride On! Ride On in Majesty!

105 Because You Live, O Christ

107 Celebrate with Joy and Singing

108 Christ is Alive!

109 Christ Is Risen

110 Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Strong Bands

112 Christ the Lord Is Risen Again

113 Christ the Lord Is Risen Today!

118 The Day of Resurrection!

119.2 The Strife Is O’er

120R Hail Thee, Festival Day!

121.3 That Easter Day with Joy Was Bright

155.2 Rejoice, the Lord Is King

165.4+5 When in the Night I Meditate

281.3 Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah

290.4 God Created Heaven and Earth

360.5 Hope of the World

383 My Faith Looks Up to Thee

406 Why Has God Forsaken Me?

495 We Know That Christ Is Raised

533.2 O Perfect Love

538.3 Lord, Dismiss Us with Thy Blessing

540.4 God Be with You Till We Meet Again

582 Dying, You Destroyed Our Death (Memorial Acclamation)

601.5 Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)



3.1 Comfort, Comfort You My People

26 Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light

85 What Wondrous Love Is This

103 Deep Were His Wounds, and Red

140.3 Holy, Holy

144.1+4 Alleluia! Sing to Jesus!

296.2 Walk On, O People of God

341.1 Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine!

355 Hear the Good News of Salvation

395.2+3 Have Mercy, Lord, on Me (Take Pity, Lord)

466 O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing

467.3 How Great Thou Art

485.1 To God Be the Glory



77.1 Forty Days and Forty Nights

80 Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley

81.2 Lord, Who Throughout These Forty Days

83.2 O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High

97.1 Go to Dark Gethsemane

360.3 Hope of the World

388.2 O Jesus, I Have Promised

389.2 O Jesus, I Have Promised

403 What a Friend We Have in Jesus





Complete sermon on the pericope (2nd one on the page); Christmas context


Audio sermon from Princeton Seminary on the Fellowship of Suffering


Another audio from Princeton, this one says it’s the worship service but it’s only 21 mins long so maybe not; with Chuck Colson reflecting on being in prison


Typed sermon from Arthur Landwehr sermon collection. “God Give So You Can,” Hebrews 2:9-13. Refers to a novel from 1964! Methodist pastor in Chicago.


45 minute audio of 1956 sermon from Princeton on Hebrews 2 addressing the faithfulness of God


An order of worship around Hebrews 2 from Calvin Symposium on Worship

The theme that year was Hebrews, so other pages may be of interest for the series.



This set of prayers has one for each verse of Hebrews 2


Offering prayer from UMC Discipleship

Dear God, for whom and through whom all things exist, you are the Sovereign of the universe! Yet you have named us among your beloved children and call us to live as brothers and sisters of Christ. On this World Communion Sunday, we rejoice that you gather us around the Table of your Son, the risen Lord. May our offerings reach out to bring hope and grace to our near and distant neighbors, whom you know and love. We pray in the most excellent name of Jesus. Amen. (Hebrews 1:1-4, 2:5-12)


Reflection with prayer on the exact passage:


Worship pieces (prayers, etc.) based on Hebrews 1-2,




(See bottom of page for exegetical resources for Hebrews 2)

My husband, who is preaching this next Sunday, felt like the assigned Hebrews pericope had a lot of overlapping themes with Psalm 69, which he also preached. See blog for 6/23 at for those themes to see if you agree and if any of those resources are helpful.


He is actually preaching Isaiah 40:25-31 and Hebrews 2:1-4 instead, with a theme of God not being done yet/who will pass the story on? Here’s the liturgical resources I wrote for those passages:


Call to Worship (for “other possibilities”; from Isaiah 40:27-28)

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


Don’t you know?

   Haven’t you heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God;
he created all the world.
He never grows tired or weary.
     He strengthens those who are weak and tired.
Those who trust in the Lord for help are renewed
We rise on wings like eagles.
   We will run and not get weary;
We will walk and not grow weak.



Prayer of Confession

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

O God, at times we allow ourselves to be distracted.

We forget to look for your work in the world.

We slide away from you, drawn by other pastures.

Forgive us. Re-focus and strengthen us.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.


Assurance of Pardon

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

We rejoice in the great salvation first announced by the Lord Jesus himself, and passed down to us by those who heard him speak. Thanks be to God for the Good News:

In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.


Hymns (for the “other possibilities”)

I Sing the Mighty Power of God

How Great Thou Art

Lift High the Cross

I Love to Tell the Story

On Eagles’ Wings


BULLETIN COVER (for the “other possibilities”)

We are using a photo of the congregation (serendipitously taken today!) to illustrate “Who is passing the story on.”




Hebrews 2:10 on Jesus our Pioneer


Hebrews 2:14 on the incarnation



The ones below were targeted for my husband’s sermon on Hebrews 2:1-4, but you can access the later verses on most of them as well….


Contextualization of Hebrews 2 in the larger context of Hebrews and the whole Bible


Word study & devotional application of Hebrews 2


Sproul’s verse-by-verse exposition of Hebrews 2


Verse by verse commentary from a Free Methodist church


Sermon notes from Blue Letter Bible




Analysis drawing on a variety of commentators incl. word(s) study, discussions of other pertinent scriptural texts, illustrations & an extended section on “drifting away”


Summer Psalm Series #3 Psalm 27:1-6 and Matthew 6:25-34

I am glad the psalm series is 4 weeks this year rather than 6 as in some past versions, and that this week’s accompanying gospel is a robust one, since the orientation/re-orientation themes are showing more overlap that I originally thought. (See last week’s blog for overall resources for the NL psalms series, one of which really addresses this reality.)

Themes for the psalm include the Lord as light and salvation (v.1a)and also as stronghold/fortress (v.1b). The RCL using this psalm omits the triumph-over-enemies verses 2-3, yet most of us can at least relate to the idea that sometimes there seem to be forces, however we name them, that work against us. Verse 4 is a famous one:        “One thing I asked of the Lord that I will seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life/forever.” The psalm then speaks of beholding the Lord’s beauty, and inquiring in his temple (v. 4b), and of being sheltered and hidden but also set high on a rock (v.5). It continues: “Now my head is lifted up above my enemies all around me” (v.6a), and closes with sacrifices, joy and singing (v. 6b)



Psalm 27

Matthew 6…182778.196779..197138…0.0..0.188.1524.16j1……0….1..gws-wiz-img…….0j0i8i30.cZTqWJZ-vVU…60253.70156..70407…0.0..0.188.3094.17j13……0….1..gws-wiz-img…….0j0i67j0i5i30j0i8i30.S-9jRfaEBnw

This site also has other lectionary-based ideas resource for leaders of contemporary worship. By Ann Scull, Gippsland, Australia. Includes stories, poem/meditation, reference to a meditative song, a film clip, and a kids’ sermon idea.                           


Newly discovered RCL resource (both of these passages are in the RCL, although the Psalm is v. 1, 4-9)

Psalm 27

Joan Stott, prayers and meditation based on Psalm 27:1, 4-9                                    

Four liturgies with communion for the Psalm by Thom M. Shuman, PC(USA).

Responsive Paraphrases and an offering prayer                  

Opening Prayer/Collect (themes from Psalm 27)                                                                              Original liturgical resource: please give credit to Barb Hedges-Goettl if using/adapting:

O God, our rock and our salvation,                                                                                               our shelter in the day of trouble,                                                                                                    lift up our heads and free us from fear,                                                                                            that we may behold your beauty                                                                                           inquire into your dwelling place,                                                                                                   and praise you with shouts of joy.  Amen.

CALL TO WORSHIP (from Ps.27 NIV) Original liturgical resource: please give credit to Barb Hedges-Goettl if using/adapting:
One: The Lord is my light and my salvation—                                                                                Many: so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
so why should I tremble?
The one thing I ask of the Lord—
the thing I seek most—
is to live in the house of the Lord                                                                                                         all the days of my life,                                                                                                                      At his sanctuary I will offer sacrifices                                                                                                     with shouts of joy,
ALL Praise the Lord with music and song!

*Call to Confession                                                                                                                                  Original liturgical resource; please credit Barb Hedges-Goettl if using/adapting.

God is our light and our salvation, yet at times we still tremble and are afraid.                God works within and among us to increase our faith and our support of one another. Let us together confess our need for this help and for God’s forgiveness.

*Prayer of Confession                                                                                                              Original liturgical resource; please credit Barb Hedges-Goettl if using/adapting.

O God, sometimes I am impatient with my own journey                                                        and with the journey of others. I want us all to just be there.                                 Forgive me when I look at all that surrounds me rather than at you.                     Forgive me when fear takes the place of trust in you.                                                         Be my light and fortress when I face threatening people and situations.               Overcome my fears and troubles.                                                                                                (Silent confession)

*Assurance of Pardon (from Psalm 27, The Message Paraphrase)                                 Original liturgical resource; please credit Barb Hedges-Goettl if using/adapting.

God is our quiet, secure place in a noisy and threatening world.                                         God is the perfect oasis, the source of beauty and knowledge.                                             God holds up our head and shoulders against all that tries to pull us down.                          And so we gather here to share and give thanks and praise for the Good News:                 In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

*Confession of Faith adapted from The Theological Declaration of Barmen**

The Theological Declaration of Barmen was written in 1934 by a group of church leaders in Germany to help Christians withstand the challenges of the Nazi party and the so-called “German Christians,” a popular movement that saw no conflict between Christianity and Hitler’s ideology. It is one of the confessions included in the PC(USA)’s Book of Confessions as part of our constitution.

God’s sovereign love is a mystery beyond the reach of our minds.

Human thought ascribes to God the greatest power, wisdom,

And goodness. But God reveals his love in Jesus Christ by showing power

in the form of a servant, wisdom in the folly of the cross, and

goodness in receiving sinful human beings. The power of God’s love in Christ

to transform the world discloses that the Redeemer is the Lord and Creator

who made all things to serve the purpose of his love.


God has created the world of space and time to be the sphere of

God’s dealings with us. In its beauty and vastness, magnificence and awfulness,

order and disorder, the world reflects to the eye of faith the majesty and

mystery of its Creator. God has created us in a personal relation with Godself that we may respond to the love of the Creator. God has endowed us

with capacities to make the world serve God’s needs and to enjoy

its good things. Life is a gift to be received with gratitude and a task

to be pursued with courage. We are free to seek life within the purpose of God: to develop and protect the resources of nature for the common welfare,

to work for justice and peace in society, and in other ways to use our creative powers for the fulfillment of human life. Thanks be to God.


Liturgies from a Progressive/Post-Liberal Theology, Revd Rex A.E. Hunt, Uniting Church in Australia.

Two liturgies with communion for the Psalm by Thom M. Shuman, PC(USA).

Prayers, Collects and Litanies by Bruce Prewer, Uniting Church in Australia.

For more, see



Epiphany 8A – Matthew 6:24-34 “Do Not Worry”


An RCL-based list of hymn resources:

Psalm 27

Abide with me

All praise to our redeeming God

Christ the world’s true light

God of Grace and God of Glory

God is my strong salvation

In heavenly love abiding

The Lord is my light, my light and salvation

Who would true valor see

 PCUSA Hymnal (1990)                                                                                                                    .1= verse 1 is particularly tied to the theme                                                                      Bold=hymn particularly tied to theme                                                                                           ( ) link is less direct


179.1 God Is My Strong Salvation
186.4 Thy Mercy and Thy Truth, O Lord
(202.1) Psalm 67
203.1 God of Mercy, God of Grace
206.2+4 O Hear Our Cry, O Lord
209.4 My Song Forever Shall Record
(232.27) Psalm 118.19-29
263 Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise
339.1 Be Thou My Vision
340 Eternal Light, Shine in My Heart

4.1+2 Creator of the Stars of Night
5.3 Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence
(9.2) O Come, O Come, Emmanuel
(10.3) On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s Cry
12.4 People, Look East
(14.4) Savior of the Nations, Come
(15.3) Rejoice! Rejoice, Believers
(20) Watchman, Tell Us of the Night
(21.3) All My Heart Today Rejoices
(22.3) Angels, from the Realms of Glory
(26) Break Forth, O Beauteous Heavenly Light
(27.2) Gentle Mary Laid Her Child
30.2 Born in the Night, Mary’s Child
31.3 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
32 Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
(33.3) Holy Night, Blessed Night
(35.4) In Bethlehem a Newborn Boy
43.1 O Little Town of Bethlehem
68.3 What Star Is This, with Beams So Bright
69 O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright
73.1 Swiftly Pass the Clouds of Glory
84.3 In the Cross of Christ I Glory
118.2 The Day of Resurrection!
120.4 Hail Thee, Festival Day!
141.2 A Hymn of Glory Let Us Sing
149.2 The Head That Once Was Crowned
203.1 God of Mercy, God of Grace
301.4 Lord Jesus, Think on Me
327 O Word of God Incarnate
340 Eternal Light, Shine in My Heart
384.2 O Love That Wilt Not Let Me Go
411 Arise, Your Light Is Come!
(427.3) Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service
431.3 O Lord, You Gave Your Servant John
447.3 Lead On, O King Eternal
448.3 Lead On, O King Eternal
454.2+3 Blessed Jesus, at Your Word
457.2 I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art
462 Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies
463 Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies
474 O Splendor of God’s Glory Bright
506.1+2 Deck Yourself, My Soul, with Gladness
510.1+5 Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts
511.1+5 Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts
526.2 For All the Saints
548.1 O Radiant Light, O Sun Divine
549.1 O Gladsome Light
550.1 O Light Whose Splendor Thrills
(601.5) Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)
(602.3) Song of Zechariah (Benedictus)
603 Song of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis)
604 Song of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis)
605 Song of Simeon (Nunc Dimittis)

165 When in the Night I Meditate
169 In the Day of Need
170 The Lord’s My Shepherd, I’ll Not Want
171 The King of Love My Shepherd Is
172 My Shepherd Will Supply My Need
173 Psalm 23
174 The Lord’s My Shepherd
175 The Lord’s My Shepherd, All My Need
179 God Is My Strong Salvation
191 God Is Our Refuge and Our Strength
192 God, Our Help and Constant Refuge
193 Psalm 46
197 My Soul in Silence Waits for God
210 Our God, Our Help in Ages Past
212 Within Your Shelter, Loving God
231 Psalm 118.14-24
234 I to the Hills Will Lift My Eyes
240.4 Out of the Depths
259 A Mighty Fortress Is Our God
260 A Mighty Fortress is Our God
261 God of Compassion, in Mercy Befriend Us
265 Great God, We Sing That Mighty Hand
275 God of Our Life
293 This Is My Father’s World
307 Fight the Good Fight
341 Blessed Assurance, Jesus Is Mine!
342 By Gracious Powers
348 Christian Women, Christian Men
361 How Firm a Foundation
365 Jesus, Priceless Treasure
446 Glorious Things of Thee Are Spoken
447 Lead On, O King Eternal
448 Lead On, O King Eternal
476.5 O Worship the King, All Glorious Above!
544 ay Is Done                                                                                                                                     554 Let All Things Now Living



“Salvation” in Psalm 27:

See 3B, separate blog entry

Also, for illustrations, see

Devotions on Psalm 27:1-6, The Lord is My Light

Summer Psalm Series #1: Psalm 113 Narrative Lectionary (6/16/19?) with sample sermon

Psalms Summer NL Series

This series employs Brueggemann’s schema of orientation/dis-orientation/re-orientation in the Psalms. For a review of the more layperson-friendly version of that work that summarizes the argument, see


PSALM 113 First Sunday of Psalms series

This Psalm has pretty good liturgy and exegetical resources at, some of which are highlighted below*; see to do your own exploring

Themes include God bending down and/or making the barren fruitful (beyond the question of childbearing)


Although this can be credited to Calvin (see,  when reading for my dissertation I found the same illustration in Zwingli (who predates Calvin): God talks baby talk to us because this is what we can understand (condescension). Of course now I cannot locate the Zwingli reference…

HYMNS listed in the NL resource above include ones that also include Father’s Day themes, suggesting that the action of God in this psalm could be called fatherly; wish we had a better word for “parenting;” it’s less gendered, but it doesn’t have the same tender overtones…

Praise My Soul, the King of Heaven

  1. 3

Fatherlike he tends and spares us;
well our feeble frame he knows.
In his hand he gently bears us,
rescues us from all our foes


How Deep the Father’s Love for Us


Father, I Adore You


Abba, Father You are the Potter, We are the Clay (more Father’s Day than Psalm 113)


Let Us with a Gladsome Mind


Of the Father’s Love Begotten

From All That Dwell Below the Skies

Ye Servant of God, Your Master Proclaim

The Day Thou Gavest, Lord, Is Ended

HYMN LISTING for Psalm 113 from at

From CCM type sources:


HYMNS RELATED to theme of SELF-EMPTYING (* indicates also includes the idea of the name)

Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence

Hark the Herald Angels Sing

Once in Royal David’s City

O Love, How Deep, How Broad, How High

What Wondrous Love Is This

Go to Dark Gethsemane

O Sacred Head Now Wounded

Were You There?

All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name*

At the Name of Jesus*

The Head That Once Was Crowned

Rejoice, the Lord is King

A Mighty Fortress is Our God

Lift High the Cross


BULLETIN COVERS but not sure if/how you can print/save



Prayer of Approach: Psalm 113 from worshipblogspot*

Here’s an opening prayer inspired by Psalm 113.  It comes from the Christian Aidwebsite.

Opening Prayer

(inspired by Psalm 113)

God of all life,

beyond our imagining, and yet coming so close;

you refuse to leave those in need on the rubbish dump.

You give the poor a place of dignity among the powerful.

You make a home for the homeless,’

and bring joy abounding to families and communities.


As we gather to celebrate and give thanks

for your harvest of blessing,

may we live within your reality,

share your vision,

and do your will,

that the whole earth may echo your glory. Amen.

~ from Ideas for Harvest: Worship and Prayer, posted on the Christian Aidwebsite.


Call to Worship: Psalm 113 from worshipblogspot*


Come and praise, you servants of God!

Praise the name of Yahweh!

May God’s name be blessed

both now and forever.

From east to west, from north to south,

praise the name of Yahweh!

May God’s name be blessed

both now and forever.

Who can compare to our God?

Seated high above the nations of the earth,

God’s glory fills the skies.

May God’s name be blessed

both now and forever.


Call to Worship by Barb Hedges-Goettl; please give credit if using/adapting:

[One] From the rising of the sun to where it sets

[Many] Let the name of the Lord be praised, now and forevermore.

The Lord is exalted over all nations. His glory is above the heavens.

Let the name of the Lord be praised, now and forevermore.

No one is like the Lord our God, enthroned on high but reaching down to earth.

Let the name of the Lord be praised, now and forevermore.

God raises up the poor to seat them with his princes.

Let the name of the Lord be praised, now and forevermore.

God overcomes barrenness, giving fruitfulness and joy.

Let the name of the Lord be praised, now and forevermore.


Call to Worship Litany: Psalm 113 from worshipblogspot*

Praise the Lord!

Yes, give praise, O servants of the Lord.
Praise the name of the Lord!

Blessed be the name of the Lord
now and forever.


Everywhere—from east to west—
praise the name of the Lord.

For the Lord is high above the nations;
his glory is higher than the heavens.

Blessed be the name of the Lord
now and forever.


Who can be compared with the Lord our God,
who is enthroned on high?
He stoops to look down
on heaven and on earth.
He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes,
even the princes of his own people!
He gives the childless woman a family,
making her a happy mother.

Praise the Lord!

Blessed be the name of the Lord                                                                                                      now and forever.

PRAYER* are free to share (to copy, distribute and transmit the work), and remix (to adapt the work),  under the condition that you must give appropriate credit to The High Calling, provide a link to the license, and indicate if changes were made. You should not suggest in any way that The High Calling or Theology of Work endorses you or your use of the work.

Gracious Lord, you are, indeed, enthroned above the highest heaven. You are great beyond greatness, glorious beyond glory. All praise be to you for your majesty and power and sovereignty!

Yet, in love and mercy, you look down upon us. And not only look, but reach down to help us. And not only reach, but come down to be with us in Jesus. And not only share life with us, but take our sin and bear it. How wonderful you are!

Thank you, dear Lord, for all the times you have reached down to help me. How good you are, how gracious and kind! May I live in the confidence of your grace today, giving it away to others.

In the name of Jesus, who humbled himself, Amen.


CONFESSION OF SIN  by Barb Hedges-Goettl. Please give credit if using/adapting for use.

*Call to Confession

For most of us, there are times when we do think too highly of ourselves. But sometimes we sin on the other side, thinking ourselves too lowly or unfit for God to care for us. But God loves us anyway. Let us confess our need to understand ourselves as created in God’s image.

*Prayer of Confession:

Although you created us and called us “very good,” sometimes we don’t believe it. We know our failings and shortfalls so well. We are afraid that you cannot still love us. But you know us for who we truly are. You know the places and spaces where we fall short. Forgive us for not trusting your love and forgiveness. Remake us so that we are more and more your people. (Silent confession)

Assurance of Pardon (Romans 5:6, 8 The Message)                                                                        Christ arrives right on time to save us. He didn’t, and doesn’t, wait for us to get ready. God in Christ put his love on the line, giving himself as a sacrifice when we were far too weak and rebellious to even do anything to get ourselves ready. Thanks be to God for this Good News: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven

CONFESSION OF FAITH from PC(USA) Brief Statement of Faith (1983)

We trust in God, whom Jesus called Abba, Father.

In sovereign love God created the world good

and makes everyone equally in God’s image,

male and female, of every race and people,

to live as one community.

But we rebel against God; we hide from our Creator.

Ignoring God’s commandments.

we violate the image of God in others and ourselves,

accept lies as truth, exploit neighbor and nature,

and threaten death to the planet entrusted to our care.


We deserve God’s condemnation.

Yet God acts with justice and mercy to redeem creation.

In everlasting love,

the God of Abraham and Sarah chose a covenant people

to bless all families of the earth.

Hearing their cry, God delivered the children of Israel

from the house of bondage.


Loving us still,

God makes us heirs with Christ of the covenant.

Like a mother who will not forsake her nursing child,

like a father who runs to welcome the prodigal home,

God is faithful still.


Therefore, with believers in every time and place,

we rejoice that nothing in life or in death

can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit.



Psalm 113

The psalmis praises the high God who leans over to lift the poor. Either point this out verbally by going through the psalm finding all the high, low, and lifting words before reading it.  Or, line out the psalm with hand motions.  The latter is best done with the whole congregation but could be presented by a rehearsed children’s class who have been invited to be worship leaders by acting it out as you read it.

Psalm 113 with Motions

Praise the Lord!

Arms outstretched palms turned up

You servants of the Lord, praise his name!
Arms reaching out to the congregation

May his name be praised now and for ever.
Repeat outstretched arms with palms turned up.

From the east to the west praise the name of the Lord!

Point to the east, then arc arm to the west

The Lord rules over all nations; his glory is above the heavens.

      Bent arms out to the sides in an expression of power

There is no one like the Lord our God.
      Pointing up with one hand as in a teaching position


He lives in the heights above,

Look up and reach your arms overhead

but he bends down to see the heavens and the earth.

Lean over to look down moving your arms out to the 

He raises the poor from the dust;

Still leaning over cup your hands as if scooping up people 

he lifts the needy from their misery
raise your cupped hands a little


and makes them companions of princes,

raise your cupped hands to shoulder height

the princes of his people.

      Open cupped hands and reach out to your sides as if holding hands


He honours the childless wife in her home;

Hold arms down at your sides

he makes her happy by giving her children.

Rock a baby in your arms


Praise the Lord!

Raise hands in traditional praise position


Order of Worship


Welcome and Announcements

Mutual Greeting

Call to Worship:  Psalm 150

Opening Song: “Let All Things Now Living” PsH #453

God’s Greeting:  “Grace, mercy and peace be to us all in the name of the Father,

and the Son and the Holy Spirit.  Amen.”

Song of Praise:  “How Great Thou Art” PsH # 483


Prayer of Confession

Assurance of Pardon:  Psalm 130: 7,8

God’s Law:  Exodus 20:  1-17

Congregational Prayer



Hymn of Preparation:  “The Heavens Declare Your Glory” PsH # 429

Prayer for Illumination

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 113

Sermon:  “God of Small Things”

Prayer of Application:  “Father God, although we are so small, we praise you for seeing
us, caring for us, and calling each of us by name.   Help our lives to be a never-ending
chorus of praise to you and help that praise to be so contagious, that others will want to
join their voices to our voices and to the voice of all creation in praising you, from
whom all blessings flow!   Amen.”

Hymn of Response: “All Creatures of Our God and King” PsH # 431


Benediction:  “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, in the
fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with us all.   Amen.”

Doxology:  “Praise God, from Whom all Blessings Flow”  PsH # 638


EXEGETICAL RESOURCES Situates the psalm within the psalter and the Bible itself and briefly addresses the theme of barrenness* God’s condescension as a positive; includes Philippians 2*

Reflection on God lowering Godself in Psalm 113 explores how God lifts the poor and needy* From the folks at Working Preacher but from the RCL use of the Psalm, this commentary addresses the literary structure and repeated phrases of the psalm, incl. the “name” in Hebrew scripture; Also refers to Ex. 3:7-8: God’s promise of a homeland to Israel and 1 Samuel 2:2,5,8: Hannah’s Song.* Also from the RCL side from Working Preacher. Addresses the poetic/dynamic, arts-related nature of the psalms, then this particular psalm as championing those in poverty, need and childlessness and promising them a day of justice. Mentions “prayer without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).* gives a scholarly view of the historical context of this psalm in Israel’s life. Although the NL proposes Psalm 113 as an example of Brueggemann’s category of “Orientation: When life is stable and the world seems trustworthy,” the context instead may be that of displacement and thus disorientation. One could use this to discuss what it means to be a poor and marginalized church that an identify with the poor and the barren one instead of a rich and mainstream church that is more likely to identify elsewhere. Calvin’s commentary on Ps. 113  Compendium of various commentaries on Psalm 113; includes cross-references, some word study, some hymns. Access to various resources on the psalm; site itself is on “conservative” side   Verse by verse commentary Charles H. Spurgeon’s verse by verse commentary. Matthew Henry’s verse by verse commentary A commentary from the perspective of stewardship of creation. Have to admit I didn’t really see/acknowledge this part of the psalm until reading this brief corrective. The short bit on this psalm reads:  “Psalm 113, [is] a “hymn celebrating the Lord as helper of the humble,” as our NRSV note states it. The Psalter was the first great hymnbook of God’s people, and its at-homeness within the creation is known to all. Even here, where the focus is on raising up the poor and lifting the needy, the psalmist thinks of their Lord as being first the Lord of the creation (Lord of time, “from the rising of the sun to its setting,” no less than Lord of the nations with “his glory above the heavens”), the One who uses the creation to “rescue the perishing.” This Psalm, along with Psalm 114, is sung before the Jewish Passover meal. There it stands as reminder of our opportunities and obligations within both Creation and Covenant…. the bond between Creation and Covenant …enables and requires us to care for the needy by attending to our use of the gifts (not “resources” for exploitation) within the creation.” Audio of Calvin’s commentary on Psalm 113:1-4. Deadly delivery. Outline & video of worship service based on Psalm 113 from Calvin Worship Institute




Today we are beginning a four-part Narrative Lectionary series on the Psalms

This series will take us on a journey from Orientation (today)

to Disorientation (next week)

to Reorientation (the final 2 weeks)


Today’s Psalm informs our lives of faith as “oriented”

What does it mean to be “oriented”?

Pastor Len knows about this from his work as a psychologist;

he looks at whether people are oriented “times three”

in terms of person, time and place

Does the person undergoing the psychological evaluation know who they are

when it is and

where they are?


We all have times when we feel disoriented—

If we awake unexpectedly from a deep sleep, especially if we are in a different place

If we have changed time zones (or just moved to or from Daylight Savings Zones)

If an important landmark enroute to a place we always go has changed

If something we thought to be true turns out to be utterly false

Then we can become disoriented


Pastor Barb admits to being directionally challenged

For folks who are directionally challenged, being disoriented happens all too often

She blames this problem on her mother (who was also directionally challenged)

Pastor Barb’s mom always parked the same place at the mall

Even if she was going to the whole other end of the mall—

At least then she’d know where she parked

Pastor Barb’s mom would take a daytime ride to places she needed to drive to at night

Figuring then at least she had a prayer

(Pastor Barb is beginning to understand this one better!)


Now, this lack of orientation with regard to directions has an upside

At least for Barb and her mom…

It is accompanied by an uncanny ability to tell time without a clock

Barb can name the time (without looking) within a minute or two

In fact, Len teases her if she is more than 5 minutes off, since it rarely happens.


To be oriented means to peg oneself in relationship to something that is stable, constant

It comes from the Latin word “Orient,” which means the East (from Rome)

When teaching science to students with intellectual disabilities a few years ago,

Pastor Barb came across the Peep videos.

Peep is a stick figure chick with stick figure friends who unfold science to kids.

In one episode, Quack the duck tried to give directions to his pond to a beaver

But he kept giving directions in terms of things that weren’t constant

He gave directions according to the clouds

according to a green grasshopper—and his own feet!

This happens to adults when they take a new job

And people explain things to them as though they already know the system

Without giving enough orientation as to context


purpose, and


(At Pastor Barb’s current school, the paper files kept by the case manager for each student are the “soft files” as opposed to the “hard files” kept by admin, not as opposed to the unprinted files on the computer!!)


Being oriented requires having—and sharing—a frame of reference.


Psalm 113 orients believers by locating them in relationship to God

This orientation starts—and ends—with praise.

Although translated “Praise the Lord,”

the beginning and end of the psalm “Halleluyah”


Hallelu means praise and yah is short for God (Yahweh)

Ok, so halleluyah does actually mean Praise the Lord—

but not in the way we usually hear it

We tend to hear it as a statement: “Praise the Lord”

Or a request “Let us praise the Lord.”

But the verb is actually in its command form: “You-all (or even all y’all) praise the Lord”

It’s a demand: “Get up and start singing.”

It’s an order: “Do it”—praise, that is


Now this directive for praise is actually not found throughout the psalms

It pops up in Psalm 22, but it doesn’t start appearing regularly in the psalms until #104


Scholars believe the psalms are arranged to tell a story

The first part (through Psalm 89) tells the story of Israel through the story of King David

And then—David is no longer king and the people have to figure out what that means

The answer is found in the psalms that proclaim God as king, not only over Israel

but over all nations

and all creation

And after this kingship of God has been established,

The psalms close with a demand for praise—because of who God is

and because of who God’s people are

God’s people—then and now—are oriented by their faith in God

and by their praise of God







This command to praise God assumes God’s praiseworthiness

It is based on the idea that when we really know God, we can’t help erupting in praise


Have you ever been to an event where applause arose not as a matter of course

but as a heartfelt outpouring of appreciation?

Have you been in such a beautiful place that,

as one woman remarked in the Redwood Forest, you felt like singing?


Sometimes it sounds funny to our ears to say we should praise God—

as though God’s ego needs to be stroked.

But this command to praise God assumes God’s praiseworthiness

It is based on the idea that when we really know God, we can’t help erupting in praise


Have you ever been to an event where applause arose not as a matter of course

but as a heartfelt outpouring of appreciation?

Have you been in such a beautiful place that,

as one woman remarked in the Redwood Forest, you felt like singing?


CS Lewis (who wrote the Narnia books in the book box!) notes our praise now

is like the tuning up of the heavenly chorus of praise

It’s just the beginning of responding whole-heartedly to the reality of who God is

what God has done

what God is doing


One preacher illustrated this by telling of a widowed son who did everything for her son

Slaving day and night to provide for him

Putting his welfare above her own

And eventually calling him to account for not living up to her sacrifice

Would we fault her for asking her son to thank her by making something of himself?

To recognize all that she has done for her not only in praise and thanks

but by who becomes?

Would we consider her rude or arrogant?

Or would we understand this is the least the son could do?


This model, in which God has done all for us

and in return we praise and thank God

integrating God’s care for use into who we become,

is the orientation of Psalm 113


God has done everything for us

God is great and greatly to be praised

God is high above us all—

God has to stoop down even to reach the heavens!

And God is interested in human beings—

Way below the heavens


God is even interested in the lowest of human beings

The poor and the barren

God, the most powerful, is more interested in the powerless than in power


Therefore the command to praise here is directed to the servants of the Lord—

To the ones who know God

To the ones who know that they owe everything to God

To the ones who know that they belong to God

And praising God not only expresses that we belong to God

It actually helps bring about that belonging


In acting, there are two ways to come at expressing an emotion

If one is trying to express anger one can either think of something that brings out anger

Or one can think about what anger looks like on the outside and put that one

Putting anger on from the outside in can then seep into the actor

And result not only in looking angry, but also in feeling anger


Sometimes this is called “Fake it till you make it.”

Acting as if can bring about the reality that wasn’t there yet.


There’s a big emphasis in popular culture and popular psychology about gratitude

Naming 3-5 things that you are grateful for each day can change your outlook

But, to the Christian—as to the writer of our Psalm—we are not just grateful

We are grateful to someone; we are grateful to God


We know, as they say, where our bread is buttered

It’s not about hard work

or about luck

Let’s practice saying “God be with you” to people instead of “Good luck!”

or about which particular party is in power and how we relate to that party

We know that our lives depend on the living God

We know that our touchpoint

our guide

our cornerstone is God


And this kind of relationship goes beyond words and thoughts to the heart

That’s why we have the poetry of the psalms

That’s why we have the language of art and music

That’s why we can reflect

and also imagine

That’s shy we can also discover

and play


Because God is bigger than what we think

And a relationship is more than knowing about someone

It is knowing someone


As J.B. Phillips put it in his book so long ago: “Your God is Too Small.”

The real, true God is way bigger than our ideas of God

So big that, as this psalm says, praising God runs from here to forever

praising God runs from sunrise to sunset

from sun-up to sundown

praising God runs from the far east to the western horizon

praising God runs from above the heavens to the dungheap


Given that the God we praise reaches out to the poor and the barren

downtrodden and the despairing

And given that we proclaim this God as the orientation of our lives

We are commanded not only to praise but to act out our praise

Joining in the actions of God

Joining in reaching out to the poor and the barren

to the downtrodden and despairing


For the Israelites, this psalm likely hit them as they fell from grace

As they moved from having their own kingdom to being dispossessed

From having their own country to being ruled by others

In the face of their new dis-location (despite their rich history)

They have arrived at a greater understanding of oppression & potential hopelessness


In some ways, this is not so dramatically different from the church today,

which has been removed from its central place in American society in the 1950s

to a life much closer to the margins.

The church is now much less allied with the powers-that-be

And more clearly aligned with the powerless, with those who struggle to be heard

We are in a place & time to more strongly discover our alliance with the poor & hopeless

Causing us to continue to praise God’s power

And God’s reach to the powerless

And to join ourselves to that work.


In this church, this means

The food pantry

The prayer ministry

The phone and card ministry—and what else?

You tell me!


We praise God.

We rely on God

We join with God

We reach out to the powerless in all the ways that God calls us.


Halleluyah! Praise the Lord. Amen.



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