Prayer as We Gather: We take grim solace, Lord, in how little we your children have changed since the Hebrew prophets spoke on your behalf. We remain “foolish, skilled at doing wrong, inept at doing right,” our rebellious consistency matched only by your compassionate forbearance in not destroying the earth completely. May this holy hour find us grieving our disobedience, rejoicing in the tender mercies of your steady love. Amen* (Inspired by Jeremiah 4)
Call to Worship:
Fools say in their hearts, There is no God.
They are corrupt and do evil things.
The Lord looks down from heaven on humans
To see if anyone is wise, but everyone is corrupt,
No one does good – Not even one person!
Evildoers devour my people like they are eating bread.
But count on it: they will be in utter panic
Because God is with the righteous.
Evildoers may humiliate the plans of those who suffer,
But rejoice, for the Lord will change our circumstances for the better! (From Psalm 14, The Common English Bible)
Morning Prayer: Thank you, immortal, invisible God, for giving us strength to minister in your name. Like apostle Paul, we have been shown mercy in spite of our ignorance and shallow faith, your favor pouring over us like a healing ointment soothing the multiple insults and injustices offered up to us each day by those who have never known the grace of your touch. May we see them for who they are, hurting, lonely people desperate to receive what is our high privilege to bestow: the peace of Christ, as sublimely offered through the Galilean carpenter who taught us to pray, saying … *(Inspired by 1 Timothy 1)
Prayer of Confession: Here we stand, Lord, guilty and embarrassed at our grumbling refusal to follow the unblinking example Jesus set for us, welcoming sinners and eating with them. That’s no way to be voted Most Likely to Succeed or invited to pledge a social fraternity. What would our grandparents think? We’ve worked so hard to be among the elite, to gain the inside track toward financial comfort and the praise of the crowd. Frankly, it’s a tough choice between ego-boosting success and Jesus’ unvarnished call to take up the cross. Have mercy, we pray. Amen.*(Inspired by Luke 15)
Assurance of Pardon: Take heart, for Jesus’ summons is not “Come, be long-faced and miserable along with me,” but “Celebrate! There’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s change of heart and life than over ninety-nine people who think they have no need to change.” Thanks be to God for the privilege of celebrating as sinners God loves … no matter what.*(Inspired by Luke 15)
Thought for a Sabbath Day: “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right, and if wrong, to be set right.” - Carl Schurz, 19th century German immigrant, Republican Senator from Missouri, 13th Secretary of the Interior