Sunday, May 13, 2018

Prayer as We Gather:   Thank you, Lord, for the contrasting images of this Mother’s Day/Graduation Sunday, when we reward measurable academic progress even as we marvel at  immeasurable maternal love. Guard us from reducing Jesus’ ascension to mere levitation magic, ignoring his stern directive to wait patiently “for what the Father had promised,” insisting it isn’t for us to know the eternal plans you have set for us.  May our worship amount to far more than “standing here, looking toward heaven,” as we invoke Holy Spirit’s power to guide our steps.  Amen.* (Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Acts 1)

Call to Worship: 

Clap your hands, people!  Shout joyfully to God!

Because God is the great king of the whole world.

God subdues nations and chooses our inheritance;

Sing praises to God!

God sits enthroned, with the leaders of all people gathered around,

Because the earth’s guardians belong to God. (Psalm 47, Common English Bible)    

Morning Prayer:  We cannot stop giving thanks to you, Lord, when in our prayers we remember mother-love.  Grant us “enough light from the eyes of our hearts” to show others the sort of hope our mothers instilled within us, the hope of your call upon our lives.  As this election year unfolds, with human greed and political intrigue ratcheting up mistrust and fear among us, help us reclaim a sturdy, resilient faith in your powerful grace, “far above every ruler and authority and power,”  allowing us to shut out the chaotic chatter of dark forces stalking Caesar’s hallways, seeking whom they may devour, for we make our appeal in the name of the Galilean who strikes fear in the heart of the deep state through words he taught us to pray, saying … *(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Ephesians 1)

Prayer of Confession:  Forgive us, Lord, for squandering Jesus’ example of opening minds through his explanation of scripture, when we so often have manipulated scripture to close our own minds.  Eager to gain the religious upper hand through our selective misuse of the Biblical narrative, we rush about frantically, desperate to defend our entrenched doctrinal position and claim the theological high ground, meanwhile ignoring Jesus’ counsel to “wait until you have been furnished with heavenly power.”  Because we are not willing to wait for a word from you, Lord, we have nothing worthwhile to say when we do speak, so a hurting world finds it easy to ignore us.  Have mercy on our babbling superficiality.  Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Luke 24)

Assurance of Pardon:  Take heart, all who are more prone to panic or withdraw than pause and reflect.  If you yearn to get off the frantic busy-ness merry-go-round this world wrongly labels “self-actualization,” take comfort in Jesus’ promise:  “I’m sending to you what my Father promised, and you will bear witness when Holy Spirit comes upon you.  There is nothing more authentically Christ-like than pressing the pause button, rethinking your assumptions and reimagining what is possible.  When you do, you will realize you were always waiting for this moment to arrive.  Thanks be to God for the chance to come down from your fences, come to your senses and open the gate to genuine peace of mind.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Luke 24, Thomas Friedman, Paul McCartney, Glen Frye, and Don Henley)

Thought for an Eastertide Sabbath:  “In each pause I hear the call.”     -  Ralph Waldo Emerson, American transcendentalist