Prayer as We Gather: If ever we needed a shepherd and a safe place, Lord, it is now. We’re here this holy hour because you beckoned us, sought us, rescued us from all the places we were scattered. Bind up our wounds, strengthen us where we are weak, grant us thankful hearts for all your protective mercies. Amen.* (Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Ezekiel 34)
Call to Worship:
Bring God a gift of laughter,
Sing yourselves into God’s presence.
Know this: God is God.
God made us, we didn’t make God.
We are God’s people, God’s well-tended sheep.
Enter with the password: “Thank you!”
Make yourselves at home, talking praise, thanking and worshiping God.
For God is sheer beauty, all-generous love, loyal always and ever.*(Psalm 100, The Message)
Morning Prayer: Lord, give us just enough. Just enough wisdom to withstand Caesar’s hollow, tweeted folly. Just enough revelation to know there are brighter days ahead. Just enough light to glimpse the hope of your claim upon us. Just enough memory to recall a cross and an empty tomb, from which emerged One who is “far above every ruler and authority and power named not only now but in the future.” Just enough courage to follow that voice calling us to pray, saying …*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Ephesians 1)
Prayer of Confession: Have mercy, Lord. With no help from Harry Potter, we have created dandy little Invisibility Cloaks all by ourselves. We employ them daily, a nifty strategy by which people and circumstances unpleasant to us simply disappear from our sight: the poor, the hungry, the sick, the homeless, the imprisoned. Poof! Racial prejudice, religious bias, sexual misconduct by those in high (and low) places, they all vanish from our mind’s eye, nudged aside by the mindless minutiae inhabiting our smart phones and laptops, twitter and facebook. And because we don’t see those people, we don’t see you. Forgive us, we pray. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Matthew 25)
Assurance of Pardon: Take heart, for our consignment to eternal punishment is not yet a done deal. Right now, this very day, we are invited by Jesus himself to “receive good things from my Father,” allowed to “inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the world began.” How? By giving food, offering a quenching drink, welcoming a stranger, providing clothing, caring for the sick, visiting the prisoner. Not a shabby offer, right? So what are you waiting for? Take Jesus at his word, and get on with it!* (Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Matthew 25)