A Prayer as We Gather
In this holy hour, O God of Deborah, Hannah, Sarah, Elizabeth, Mary and Phoebe, we gratefully invoke the spirit of scripture’s audacious women. May their infectious courage inspire the mothers, wives and daughters of our own age to defy the ancient evils of subjugation and sexual exploitation. As across the ages you have laid low the mighty through the surprising defiance of those they considered helpless prey, so in our own day may the voices of former victims, no longer bullied into silence, swell to a relentless chorus sweeping their abusers from positions of power and authority. Thank you for Jesus’ example of how women should expect to be treated by the men in their lives. Amen. - inspired by Judges 4 and words Jesus spoke concerning mercy and judgment
Call to Worship (for women and girls only)
Heaven-dwelling God, we look to you for help.
Like a maiden attending her lady, we wait and watch,
Holding our breath, awaiting your word of mercy.
Mercy, God, mercy! We’ve been kicked around long enough,
Kicked in the teeth by complacent rich men,
Kicked when we’re down by arrogant brutes. - Psalm 123, The Message
Thank you, Lord, for these bracing days of growing resistance to the old ways of snide chauvinism and sanctioned locker-room banter among grown men who should long since have been shamed into knowing better. We rejoice in the early church’s assurance that “the day of the Lord is going to come like a thief in the night.” When so many boorish buffoons in high places seem determined to usher us into a new Dark Ages, we savor apostle Paul’s reminder: “You aren’t in darkness, brothers and sisters, you are children of light, so stay woke!” May every smirking dose of sick religious fundamentalism still infecting our culture be rebuffed by Paul’s counter-punch: “God didn’t intend for us to suffer God’s wrath, but to be set free through Jesus, so continue encouraging and building each other up, just like you are doing already.” We of UBC’s beloved community promise to do just that, as directed by the Galilean who taught us to pray … - inspired by 1 Thessalonians 5
Prayer of Confession
Forgive us, Lord of bounteous plenty, for living so cautiously, fearful and shriveled in spirit, as though you were a God of scarcity unequal to the evil challenges of the day. Too often we have behaved precisely as the timid, calculating servant Jesus derided for playing it safe with possessions entrusted to him by his master. Like him, we have hidden our spiritual gifts far away from a world urgent for us to invest ourselves in speaking for the voiceless poor. Worst of all, we cloak our ‘fraidy-cat laziness by casting you as “a hard man who harvests where you haven’t sown and gathers crops where you haven’t spread seed.” What a gutless cop-out! Have mercy, we pray. Amen. - inspired by Matthew 25
Assurance of Pardon
I have good news! Jesus’ primary teaching intent is not to threaten God’s foreclosure on our evil laziness, but to encourage and inspire us toward the radical confidence that God will take care of us if only we risk living in faith. Truly, it is no secret what God can do, doing for us what has been done for others: pardoning us with arms wide open. God is far more eager to entrust us with joys beyond our imagining than to punish our recalcitrance. Jesus delights in showing us a God who can’t wait to celebrate with us. Accept God’s invitation to the dance, release your fears to the winds, and join the party of redeemed, flawed sinners invited to the Kingdom banquet! - inspired by Matthew 25 and the poetry of “the singing cowboy” Stuart Hamblen