Sunday, February 4, 2018

Prayer as We Gather:  Lord, apparently we didn’t get the memo you sent out at the beginning of time, announcing “God makes human dignitaries useless, drying them up with a single breath, to be carried off by the wind like straw.”  Goodness!  Here we are, fretting over the latest unhinged ramblings of our current clown-tyrants, and there you are not sweating it at all, unwearied, your understanding “beyond human reach, giving power to the tired and reviving the exhausted.”   In this holy hour, rekindle our hope in you.  Renew our strength.  Inspire us to rise up on wings like eagles, soaring above the madding crowd, circling like a falcon ever closer to you, our divine Center who holds the universe in place.  Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Isaiah 40)

Call to Worship:

It’s a good thing to sing praise to our God!

God’s the one who rebuilds and re-gathers the faithful,

God heals the heartbroken and bandages their wounds.

We’ll never comprehend what God knows and does,

How God puts the fallen on their feet again

And pushes the wicked into the ditch.

Sing to God a hymn of thanks, play music on your instruments!

God is not impressed with horsepower or human power.

Those who honor God get God’s attention;

They can depend on God’s steady love.*(Psalm 147, The Message)

Morning Prayer:  Lord, help us retrieve the lost discipline of being “much obliged.”  Grant us apostle Paul’s compulsion to “spread the gospel because I’m obligated to do it, and I’m in trouble if I don’t,” instead of the misguided sense of entitlement that sees church as a private club, with paid hirelings posing as ministers purring to the membership “What can we do to meet your needs?”  If we have made no effort this week to draw others into this beloved fellowship, make us miserable in our padded pews.   Spark in us Paul’s notion of partnership with you in “recruiting the weak , becoming all things to all people” so that by every means available we might reach our splintered world with the healing embrace of him who taught us to pray, saying…*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by 1 Corinthians 9)

Prayer of Confession:  Have mercy, Lord, on our uninspired desertion of Jesus’ curative directives, as when “he healed many who were sick and he threw out many demons, but he didn’t let the demons speak.”  In our timid rush to pretend all opinions are of equal merit, we too often allow our personal demons to have the last word, instead of silencing them in the powerful name of Jesus.  We seem also to have lost our sense of decency and outrage in the public square, condoning filthy language and disgusting behavior by those in elected positions from which we formerly demanded higher ethical standards. Re-clothe us in our rightful minds before it is too late, Lord.  Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Mark 1)

Assurance of Pardon:   Take heart, all who find the evening news too nauseating to listen.  Jesus consistently modeled a spiritual discipline you too can practice, as when he “rose early in the morning and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer.”  Unencumbered by the need for public approval, his response when the disciples found him and announced “Everyone’s looking for you!” was to insist “Let’s head in the other direction, to the needy.  That’s why I’ve come.”  Turn off your screens, unplug your ear buds, carve out a few minutes in a quiet place to read and pray.  Don’t have enough time for that?  Then you probably don’t have enough time for Jesus.  Thanks be to God for patiently waiting in line, always beckoning us to come to our senses.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Mark 1)