A Prayer as We Gather: Here we are, Lord, sliding into the Sunday morning pew one more time, as prone to spiritual whiplash as the children of Israel in their fickle plummet from triumphant Egyptian exodus to cringing wilderness membership in First Church of the Golden Calf. Grant us hope this day, and help us stanch our fearful descent into despairing, chaotic behavior unbecoming a follower of Jesus, our unruffled Lord. Amen.* (Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Exodus 32)
Call to Worship:
O give thanks to God, for God is good;
God’s steady love endures forever.
Who could possibly repeat all God’s mighty acts?
The people who uphold justice and do what is right are truly happy!
Remember us, God, visit us with your saving help,
Like our ancestors whom you spared.
They acted wickedly, forgetting how you saved them in Egypt.
They deserved your destructive anger,
But you relented when Moses rose to their defense.
Visit us with that same compassion as we worship you this holy hour.*(inspired by Psalm 106)
Morning Prayer: Lord, when we hear apostle Paul urging us “Don’t be anxious about anything,” it seems easier said than done. Our world appears to us so much more complex and hostile than his, viewed from across two thousand years. But his counsel to focus on what is admirable rings true even now, surrounded as we are by so much that is negative and critical. Make room in our hearts, we pray, for those things Paul commended to us: whatever is true, right, pure, lovely, worthy of praise. For we pray as Jesus taught us, saying …*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Philippians 4)
Prayer of Confession: Forgive us, Lord, for so closely resembling the indifferent wedding guests in Jesus’ parable. Again and again you invite us to take part in your unfolding banquet of plenty, speaking to us through your messengers of grace, your couriers of mercy, but we choose the ways of scarcity, as though there were not enough food and love and forgiveness to go around. We hoard your blessings to ourselves, clutching them tightly lest others of your children should ask to share them. Have mercy on us, and spare us from your justice-stoked wrath. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Matthew 22)
Assurance of Pardon: Have no fear, weary sojourners, for it has pleased God to extend pardon to us when least we deserve it. Across our compromised lives and diminished compassions, God’s hearty invitation rings out: “Invite everyone to the wedding party, both evil and good!” Thanks be to God for such forgiving grace, in a world where all are invited to the banquet, but few choose to respond.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Matthew 22)