Prayer as We Gather: As we assemble ourselves on this Sabbath morning to worship you, O God of unflinching help, we echo Moses’ appeal to you: Show us your ways, remember us, go with us. Hide our souls in the cleft of your sturdy rock of deliverance, cover us with your hand, shield us from our own dark motives, lift us up to be your fearless witnesses. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Exodus 33)
Call to Worship:
God rules. On your toes, everybody!
God towers in splendor over all the big names.
Strong King, lover of justice, you laid things out fair and square;
Foundation stones of just and right ways.
Moses and Aaron prayed to you, God,
And you answered them.
You spoke from the pillar of cloud,
And they did what you said; they kept the law you gave them.*(Psalm 99, The Message)
Morning Prayer: Like apostle Paul, we give thanks to you, God, whenever we mention our beloved UBC community in our prayers. As with the earliest disciples, all around us we see servant ministry that comes from faith, effort that comes from love, perseverance that comes from hope in our Lord Jesus, who taught us to pray, saying … *(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by 1 Thessalonians 1)
Prayer of Confession: Forgive us, Lord, when we mimic the crafty religious leaders of Jesus’ day who used words to trap him. Quibbling over whether they should pay taxes to Caesar, their truer motive was to trick Jesus into incriminating himself. Two thousand years later, we remain just as conflicted as they, equally timid in standing up to the powers of the state, equally baffled by Jesus’ blunt demand: “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” How disgusted you must be when we are more passionate about our allegiance to our national flag than to the cross of Christ. Have mercy, we pray. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Matthew 22)
Assurance of Pardon: Take heart, for even as Jesus’ detractors tried to entrap him, they unwittingly spoke the truth about him: “We know that you are not swayed by people’s opinions, because you don’t show favoritism.” Thanks be to God for sending such a Savior, who never ceases nudging and encouraging us toward an unwavering allegiance to the truth that makes us free, even if it first makes us miserable!