Prayer as We Gather: We consecrate this sacred space, Lord, the air thick around us with spirits of saints who met before us in this very room to offer you praise and lean on your Spirit. We join their heavenly chorus, the hymnist’s urgent “Dare to be a Daniel, dare to stand alone” invoking a prophet’s fearless response to unsettling visions of national turmoil. We note Daniel’s ironic first impulse, looking not to royal interpreters but a lowly servant for the dream’s meaning: True security comes not from tyrannical kings, but from the holy ones of the Most High God. It remains true that the signs and words of the prophets are written on subway walls and tenement halls, echoing in the sounds of silence. Amen.*(Inspired by Daniel 7 and the poetry of Philip Bliss and Paul Simon)
Call to Worship:
Sing to the Lord a new song;
Sing God’s praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let God’s children rejoice in their king,
Because God will beautify the poor with saving help.
Let the faithful celebrate with glory,
Let them shout for joy.
Let the high praise of God be in their mouths.
That will be an honor for all God’s faithful people! (from Psalm 149, The Common English Bible)
Morning Prayer: Lord, in the deepening gloom of our national chaos, we welcome apostle Paul’s reminder that you accomplish everything according to your design. How comforting is Paul’s notion, as we await that design’s “final reveal,” of the peculiar spiritual economics that names Jesus our unshakeable inheritance and Holy Spirit our mysterious down payment on that inheritance. Such trust prompts us to give thanks whenever we remember the saints past and present whose wise compassion continues to make your love known to us daily. May the eyes of our hearts have sufficient light to maintain a laser focus on your hope-laden call, as most eloquently articulated through the Galilean carpenter who taught us to pray, saying …*(Inspired by Ephesians 1)
Prayer of Confession: Forgive us, Lord, but when it comes to Jesus’ idea of happiness, we’d just as soon pass if it’s all the same to you. Surely he was kidding about how we’d be a lot happier if we were poor or hungry or weeping or hated or rejected or insulted or considered evil, or any other bad things that came our way just because we followed you. What kind of church growth recruiting tool is that? To heck with his promise of a great reward in heaven, couldn’t you just show us the money now? Have mercy, for the very things Jesus listed as terrible are the things we most want to be: Rich, comfortable, laughing, complimented. Why can’t it be easier to follow Jesus? Amen.*(Inspired by Luke 6)
Assurance of Pardon: Don’t give up, dispirited sojourners, for Jesus included a not-so-secret code for how to be truly, profoundly happy: “Love your enemies. Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who mistreat you. Treat people in the same way you want them to treat you.” Thanks be to God for a Savior who never said following him would be easy, only worth it. Any questions? Take them to the Lord in prayer.*(Inspired by Luke 6)
Thought for All Saints Sabbath: “Any system that works against human flourishing by America’s working poor is necessarily sinful and at worst evil, and no person of means escapes such a system with clean hands.” - Kenyatta R. Gilbert, professor of homiletics, Howard University, Washington, D.C.