Prayer as We Gather: Keep it simple, Lord, like your covenant memo to Abraham: “I am God. Walk with me and be trustworthy.” We church folk are practiced artful dodgers where the Gospel is concerned, feigning confusion at your intent for our lives when, in fact, scripture spells it out with unhesitating bluntness. In this holy hour, dissolve all our clever excuses for neither walking with you nor living trustworthy lives. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Genesis 17)
Call to Worship:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
Give glory, sons; adore God, daughters.
God has never let you down, never looked the other way,
Never wandered off, stayed right there, listening.
From the four corners of the earth, people are coming to their senses,
Running back, falling on their faces before God.
God has taken charge; from now on God has the last word.
The power-mongers, the poor and powerless,
Those who never got it together,
Everyone will be worshiping God!
Babies not yet conceived will hear the good news:
God does what God says!*(Selected from Psalm 22, The Message)
Morning Prayer: Now I think I know, Lord, what you tried to say to us at Calvary; how you suffered for your sanity, how you tried to set us free. We would not listen, we did not know how. Perhaps we’ll listen now, as we recall how patriarch Abraham, when all hope was gone, had faith in your promise that he would become father of many nations, even though “his own body was as good as dead.” May we, like Abraham, not hesitate but grow strong in faith and give you the glory, even when all hope seems gone, for we pray as Jesus taught us, saying …*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Romans 4 and the poetry of Don McLean)
Prayer of Confession: Forgive us, Lord, for pretending we’re not quite sure what you’re asking of us, only to recoil in horror when you spell it out for us. We’d rather sing about heaven than labor in your earthly vineyard right here, right now. When the shadow of the cross looms before us, we want to scold you like Simon Peter did, correcting you for even suggesting we might ever need to deny ourselves for your sake. It would serve us right to hear you say “You’re not thinking my thoughts, you’re thinking your own thoughts.” Have mercy, we pray.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Mark 8)
Assurance of Pardon: Take heart, and hear the good news: We have Jesus’ word that if only we’re willing to lose ourselves in living as he directed, we’ll end up saving ourselves from the confused darkness all about us. We are not powerless, even if our elected leaders lack the moral courage to confront violence and greed. We are a free church in a free state, at least for now, and we hold the power to cast aside elected officials paralyzed by a truncated vision’s withered conscience, and replace them with leaders undaunted by Caesar’s bullying. Thanks be to God for the faithful remnant stirring to life and reclaiming its voice in the public square!*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Mark 8)