For the Week Ending December 3, 2017

03 DEC First Sunday of Advent 2017

Coming Home: Come Down Home

As we light the first candle in our Advent wreath today, officially enacting this annual ritual reminder, and as we move toward the celebration of the birth of the one God sent to save us from the law of sin and death, let us take seriously God’s call on our lives. Let us make our confession of sin, as individuals and as a human community. Let us pray that God will have mercy on us. And let us embrace our need for a Savior.

REFERENCES:

  • Isaiah 64:1-9
  • Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (UMH 801)
  • 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
  • Mark 13:24-37

Prayer

Magnificent God, you created the universe, and your wisdom shines through the laws of nature that we discern. In the incarnation of your Son Jesus Christ, you worked a miracle to bring salvation. Through your awesome deeds, you light an inextinguishable hope in our hearts. Help our congregation to work together in new ways to tell others your amazing good news. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. (Isaiah 64:1-9)

 

For the Week Ending November 26, 2017

26 NOV Christ the King/Reign of Christ Sunday

Season of Saints: Shepherd of the Saints

So far, we’ve talked mostly about ourselves as saints or potential saints. Today, at the end of one church year and the cusp of the next, we speak and sing primarily of the one around whom the universe itself pivots, Christ the King, Shepherd of the saints.  Christ, our Shepherd-King gathers and makes saints from the most marginalized, damaged, abused, abandoned people on earth, leading the saints to eternal life now and in the new creation.

REFERENCES:

  • Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
  • Psalm 100 (UMH 821)
  • Ephesians 1:15-23
  • Matthew 25:31-46

 Prayer

Glorious God, you are the Lord of resurrection power! You raised your Son Jesus from death to live and rule at the right hand of your heavenly throne. We rejoice that you uphold the universe, and yet you treasure every person’s life. Send your Spirit to shine your light so we will recognize your great hope for the world. Empower our church to work together to help make your reign visible in people’s lives. Accept our gifts and offerings for the church of Jesus Christ, our Savior. We pray in his name. Amen. (Ephesians 1:15-23)

 

For the Week ending November 19th

19 NOV Twenty-Fourth Sunday After Pentecost

Season of Saints: Thanksgiving of the Saints

What is Thanksgiving Day like where you are? More importantly, how shaped by Thanksgiving, and in particular the Great Thanksgiving, the thanksgiving of the saints, is your life? How might a life of thanksgiving for God’s mighty acts of salvation, unfolding from day to day, give you strength to tell the story of the saints and wear the clothing of the saints with confidence and joy?

References:

Deuteronomy 8:7-18
Psalm 65
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Luke 17:11-19

Prayer

God, our provider, your Word creates our life and strength. Everything we have is a gift from your open hand. Guide us by your Spirit to be diligent and faithful stewards of all that you entrust to our care. May we not bury our gifts or fearfully hoard resources. Fill our hearts with trust, so that we can experience your joy in giving. May our congregation show your generosity through our mission in the world. We ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ. Amen. (Matthew 25:14-30)

 

For the week ending November 12, 2017

12 NOV Twenty-Third Sunday After Pentecost

Season of Saints: Stories of the Saints

What is the primary distinguishing mark of the stories saints tell? They are stories of deliverance, stories of salvation, and never stories merely of personal or family accomplishment. How will God help you tell your story the way the saints do?

REFERENCES:

  • Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
  • Psalm 78:1-7
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
  • Matthew 25:1-13

 

Prayer
O Lord our God, you are completely righteous and good. In Christ, you call us to worship you in Spirit and truth. Help us to connect our faith with our daily actions. Thank you for the freedom to gather and worship you. Please protect our Christian brothers and sisters in every land. May our church contribute to an unending flow of justice for those in need. Let our lives and offerings be pleasing in your sight. We pray through Christ your Son. Amen. (Amos 5:18-24)

For the Week ending October 29, 2017

29 OCT Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost

Habits of Hospitality: SHARING OUR AUTHENTIC SELVES

Habits of Hospitality concludes with this week’s focus on sharing our authentic selves with others in the midst of offering hospitality in the course of our mission. We come in peace offering peace. We come seeking not to impose but to welcome, and so to learn from those among whom we come. And we share Christ with those we’ve welcomed out of who we really are, not as if Christ is to us some “widget” or “service” we’re selling.

REFERENCES:

  • Deuteronomy 34:1-12
  • Psalm 90:1-6
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
  • Matthew 22:34-46

Prayer

Holy God, you continually work to transform the brokenness of this world into your Kingdom. You lift us up when we stumble in sin, so that we may honor you and live for your noble purposes. Embolden our congregation to tell others about your Son Jesus, whose presence brings new life. Fill our hearts with your Spirit’s gift of generosity, so that our lives and our offerings will be pleasing to you. Amen. (1 Thessalonians 2:1-8)

 

For the Week ending October 22, 2017

22 OCT Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost

Habits of Hospitality: WELCOMING ALL THE PEOPLE

What does it mean to become “imitators of us and of the Lord” and to receive “the word with joy inspired by the Holy Spirit” so that we may become examples to other believers? What does it mean to be truly welcoming, receiving all people and their gifts, even as we serve a living and true God and wait for the coming again of Christ in final glory?

REFERENCES:

  • Exodus 33:12-23
  • Psalm 99 (UMH 819)
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
  • Matthew 22:15-22

Prayer

God of our salvation, through Jesus Christ’s self-offering on the cross, you granted eternal life. We who were far off have become members of your household. We belong to you, yet we get caught up in the world that judges others by what they own. Enable us to love you with our whole heart. Free us from clinging to our money and possessions. Use our gifts and offerings to bring relief to people in need of physical and spiritual healing. We ask this for the sake of Christ, our risen Lord. Amen. (Matthew 22:15-22)

 

For the Week ending October 15, 2017

15 OCT Nineteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Habits of Hospitality: OFFERING PEACE

Laity Sunday

This week’s non-lectionary-based service for Laity Sunday launches a three-week miniseries, “Habits of Hospitality,” in which the succeeding two services are based on the Epistle readings from the Revised Common Lectionary.

REFERENCES:

  • Exodus 32:1-14
  • Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23 (UMH 829)
  • Philippians 4:1-9
  • Matthew 22:1-14

 

For the Week ending October 8, 2017

08 OCT Eighteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Children’s Sabbath

The purpose of the Children’s Sabbath observance is social advocacy for the needs of children throughout this nation. This year’s theme is “Moving Forward with Hope: Love and Justice for Every Child.” Children’s Sabbath–a weekend-long observance, primarily in the community–should not be confused with Children’s Sunday, a Sunday worship observance that focuses primarily on drawing attention to the children in our own congregations. For this reason, it is not recommended that today’s worship service be given over to “children’s programming” as such, although it is always recommended that children be given as many opportunities to lead and participate in worship as possible.

REFERENCES:

  • Exodus 20:1-4
  • Psalm 19 (UMH 750)
  • Philippians 3:4b-14
  • Matthew 21:33-46

Prayer

Almighty God, your wondrous creation testifies to your wisdom. We are in awe of you as we witness an eclipse or a glorious sunset. When a hurricane causes destruction, we ponder your power and feel vulnerable. We would be lost without your life-giving word! Thank you for befriending us in Christ, your word made flesh. May your Spirit give us a loving, childlike heart to reflect your kindness each day. Receive our offerings in Jesus’ name. Amen. (Psalm 19)

For the Week ending October 1, 2017

01 OCT Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost

World Communion Sunday

REFERENCES:

  • Exodus 17:1-7
  • Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16
  • Philippians 2:1-13
  • Matthew 21:23-32

Prayer

Most Gracious God, you hold each person’s life as more precious than we can imagine. When we turn aside from following your way, you urgently call us back to your way. Send your Spirit to give us a new heart to live as faithful people who show forgiveness to others. We dedicate our lives and our money to help share your good news with our neighbors. We pray through Christ your Son, who gave his life for the sake of the world. Amen. (Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32)

 

For the Week Ending September 10th

10 SEP Fourteenth Sunday After Pentecost

Season of Creation: DEATH

As Christians we have a paradoxical relationship with death. On the one hand, we, with our brother Paul, see death as an enemy whose destruction is already declared in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead (I Corinthians 15:26). On the other hand, also with our brother Paul, we affirm that we are baptized into the death of Jesus, and only through experiencing a death like his in baptism are we promised the hope of a resurrection like his (Romans 6:4-8). So already, within some of the most famous passages from one early Christian writer’s most famous work we encounter death as at once enemy and portal to life.

REFERENCES:

  • Exodus 12:1-14
  • Psalm 149
  • Psalm 119:33-40
  • Romans 13:8-14
  • Matthew 18:15-20

Prayer

Holy God, we praise you for the life you give to each person you dearly love. As we face the mysteries of sin and tragedy, give us wisdom to view them in the light of the cross. We praise you for your redeeming love for the world. Help us to wear the armor of Christ and turn aside from wasteful things, so that we may live according to your way. We dedicate these offerings and ourselves to your service. We pray in the name of Christ, through whose self-giving love you have conquered death forever. Amen. (Psalm 119:33-40, Romans 13:8-14)

 

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