Prayer as We Gather: Help us, Lord, this very hour, to trust and rely upon you. Prophet Jeremiah’s image of “trees planted by the streams, roots reaching down to the water” boosts our hope, propping us up on our leaning side. Even as you discern our hidden motives and fairly deliver the consequences of our deeds, may our firmly rooted faith allow us not to fear, be stressed or fail to bear fruit for your Kingdom. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Jeremiah 17)
Call to Worship:
The truly happy person doesn’t follow wicked advice,
Doesn’t sit with the disrespectful.
Instead, they love the Lord’s instruction.
They are like a tree replanted by streams of water,
Which bears fruit at just the right time.
The wicked are like dust the wind blows away,
They will have no standing in the court of justice,
For the way of the wicked is destroyed. (from Psalm 1, The Common English Bible)
Morning Prayer: Apostle Paul was spot-on, Lord, insisting as he did that your gospel comes across as foolishness to a world intent upon death by self-absorption. Yet we keep hoping to make your counter-intuitive sacrificial love somehow respectable in the marketplace, where money and status are the only markers acknowledged, and where compassion is perceived as weakness. Truly, if our highest faith priority is acceptance by the crowd, we deserve (as Paul insisted) “to be pitied more than anyone else.” We appeal to you in the name of the troublesome Galilean carpenter who wasn’t interested in being pitied, saying …*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by 1 Corinthians 15)
Prayer of Confession: Forgive us, Lord, for being so much like the Jesus-groupies who thronged after him by the hundreds, desperate for miraculous healing and a free lunch. We are equally affronted by his unwelcome rejoinder: “Happy are you who are poor, hungry, weeping, hated, rejected, insulted, condemned. Leap for joy, because that’s the way prophets have always been treated. But how terrible if you are rich or have full bellies or laugh or enjoy everyone speaking well of you. False prophets have always acted that way.” Have mercy on the religious booster clubs we’re created and dared to call “church.” Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Luke 6)
Assurance of Forgiveness: Hear the good (non-fake) news: Jesus did heal people. Jesus does heal people. Jesus will continue to heal people. He just wants us to know what real healing looks like, and how empty are the false promises of wealth, military might, and popularity. Only trust him, and all manner of things will be well.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Luke 6 and 14th century English mystic Mother Julian of Norwich)
Thought for a Sabbath Day: “God’s passion to redress the plight of the struggling poor necessarily involves judgment on those who ruthlessly corner the earth’s resources for their own power and unjust wealth.” - Martin L. Smith, Episcopal priest, Washington, D.C.