04 FEB Fifth Sunday After the Epiphany 2018
Rise Up! — FOCUS
We can listen for God’s voice, get on the move, and develop confidence in God being one who truly answers us. But these processes, whether foregrounded or running in the background of our lives, may not be enough in themselves to lead us or sustain us on “this tedious journey.” We have to stay focused on where we’re heading if we’re going to get there. And we need to stay focused on the one who gives us the power to get there. So the first response to this week’s sermon is a sung affirmation of faith to strengthen our focus, collectively, on the redemptive presence, work, and power of our God.
- Isaiah 40:21-31
- Psalm 147:1-11, 20c
- 1 Corinthians 9:16-23
- Mark 1:29-39
Everlasting God, you are kind and trustworthy. Every day you graciously provide what we need from your abundance. We are grateful that you bring healing and hope for our life as individuals and as a faith community. Accept these monetary gifts and offerings to strengthen our church’s outreach to our neighbors. May more people come to know you and your love through our ministries. We ask this in the precious name of Jesus, our Savior. Amen. (Psalm 147)
28 JAN Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany 2018
Rise Up! — ANSWER
While Moses is assuring the people of God’s plan to provide for a new leader, he also gives them guidelines that the leader must follow. These guidelines are now in the people’s awareness as they prepare for a leadership shift. “If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it.” Our theological task as United Methodists gives us a similar guideline to discovering the arrival at truth. Our theological task begins with the question, “Is it true?” What things are true and worthy of celebration as we seek answers throughout our life’s journey of faith?
- Deuteronomy 18:15-20
- Psalm 111 (UMH 832)
- 1 Corinthians 8:1-13
- Mark 1:21-28
O God, whose Word endures forever, your voice causes astounding things to happen. We can only revere you when we experience your benevolent power. Thank you for raising up faithful messengers and sending your Son Jesus to draw us close to you. Give us the ability to listen and obey you. Direct our efforts to fulfill your will in our lives and as part of this congregation. May our offerings, gifts, and service bring joy to people here in our neighborhood and around the world. We pray through the Word incarnate, Christ, our Lord. Amen. (Deuteronomy 18:15-20)
21 JAN Third Sunday After the Epiphany 2018
Rise Up! — MOVE
The core response to today’s theme is found in the prayers of the people. Prayer becomes the primary way we begin to embody the action of “Move” in worship today. We pray with people who must move, or are called to move, or who by their position are involved in moving others. We also pray for ourselves, for the Spirit’s work to move us all from captivity to sin toward perfection in love in this life. We posit this as a possible altar call, a call to come forward to pray, as the response to the bidding prayer shifts from unison spoken response to ensemble and congregational singing.
- Jonah 3:1-5, 10
- Psalm 62:5-12
- 1 Corinthians 7:29-31
- Mark 1:14-20
Lord God, our hope, you are the trustworthy guide of all your people. We are glad to be in relationship with you. Let us remember that you are the source and goal of our lives. Help us to turn away from the empty promises of advertising and to live in the fullness of your gospel. Send your Holy Spirit to bring perspective on our daily actions as we work for your Kingdom. Accept our offerings and gifts for the mission of the church today. We ask this through Christ, our risen Lord. Amen. (1 Corinthians 7:29-31)
24 DEC Fourth Sunday of Advent 2017
Coming Home: GOD MAKES THIS WORLD OUR HOME
Are we willing to receive Christ into our hearts? And are we willing to live with Mary’s courage? Can her song be our song too? Can we refuse to give into the fear that the world screams constantly into our lives? Can we reject the notion that everything is spinning out of control, and embrace that the world is simply about to turn, just as God intends it? Can we admit that there are things about our world that need to be turned upside down for the sake of others?
- 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16
- Luke 1:47-55 (UMH199)
- Romans 16:25-27
- Luke 1:26-38
O Lord, our God, we praise you for your generosity. You provided tents, safety, and sustenance for your people Israel when they followed your pillar of fire in the desert. You called them to trust and worship you alone. Today, you give us what we need to live, work, and rest in peace. Help us never to take for granted your provisions for us: shelter, food, and Christian fellowship. We give these offerings for the ministries of our church to bless people in need of your help and love. May they come to know Jesus Christ, whose kingdom will last forever. Amen.(2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16)
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.
- Isaiah 64:1-9
- Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 (UMH 801)
- 1 Corinthians 1:3-9
- Mark 13:24-37
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)
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.
- Ezekiel 34:11-16, 20-24
- Psalm 100 (UMH 821)
- Ephesians 1:15-23
- Matthew 25:31-46
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)
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?
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
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)
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?
- Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
- Psalm 78:1-7
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
- Matthew 25:1-13
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)
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.
- Deuteronomy 34:1-12
- Psalm 90:1-6
- 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
- Matthew 22:34-46
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)
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?
- Exodus 33:12-23
- Psalm 99 (UMH 819)
- 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
- Matthew 22:15-22
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)