Sunday, September 24, 2017

A Prayer as We Gather:  We blush, O Lord, at our close resemblance to the griping children of Israel, freed from Egypt by your mighty hand but pining for their former lives in bondage where “we could sit by the pots cooking meat and eat our fill of bread.”   May this holy hour find us no longer slaves to our belliesor captives to technology, instead made grateful through worship for the daily manna you shower upon, blessings beyond number meant to be shared with a hungry, hurting world. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Exodus 16)

Call to Worship:

Thank God! Pray to God by name!

Tell everyone you meet what God has done!

Sing songs to God, belt out hymns,

Translate God’s wonders into music!

Live a happy life, keeping your eyes open for God,

Be alert for signs of God’s presence.

Remember the world of wonders God has made,

The miracles and just verdicts God has declared.*(Psalm 105)

Morning Prayer:  Lord, in our efforts to honor apostle Paul’s summons to “live together in a manner worthy of Christ’s gospel, standing firm and united as you struggle to remain faithful,” keep us from confusing faithfulness with brittle intransigence.  Amidst the stale air of distrust and name-calling in the public square, where so few occupy the thoughtful middle ground of compassionate understanding, grant us grace to show the world what taking a firm stand for Jesus looks and sounds like.  May they know we are Christians by our love, seeing in us a striking family resemblance to the Galilean who taught us to pray, saying...*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Philippians 1)   

Prayer of Confession:  Forgive us, Lord, when we respond exactly as did the laborers in Jesus’ parable who, having been on the job from early morning, resented those workers who arrived later but received equal wages.  “Why, my family has been a part of this church for decades, and we’ve never done it this way before,” we whine.  “I’ve served as chair of this committee for years, and no newcomer could possibly know what I know,” we protest.  “I like the old hymns better than those new choruses,” we grumble.  In the face of all our passive-aggressive resistance to change and resentment of recent arrivals on our congregational scene, Jesus responds as before:  “Don’t I have the right to do what I want with what belongs to me?  Or are you resentful because I’m generous?” Have mercy, we pray, on our small-minded territoriality.  Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Matthew 20)

Assurance of Pardon:  I have good news, all you who long to be free from your stingy, feverish need to control others.  The eternal God has come to us in Jesus, the only person who ever shunned the urge to control other people’s hearts, minds, or behavior, consistently refusing to reduce God’s kingdom to a merit-based hierarchy.  Though his generosity flies in the face of consumerism’s rewards and tenure tracks, Jesus holds out to us our last, best hope for reversing the business model’s malignant imprint on the church.  Thanks be to God for breathing into the beloved community of believers a wild spirit of untamed generosity!*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Matthew 20)