Sunday, May 20, 2018

Prayer as We Gather:  Lord, when the cynical world sees us celebrating Pentecost, they may say we’re dreamers … but we’re not the only ones. May we, like the early disciples, be dazed and confused by the constant audacity of Holy Spirit’s dance among us, breaking down walls with an unfettered joy that spills over into the weariness of the everyday.  Help us dance our faith like there’s nobody watching and love the unlovely without fear of rejection. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Acts 2 and the poetry of John Lennon)

Call to Worship:

What a wildly wonderful world, God!

You made it all, with Wisdom at your side.

All the creatures look expectantly to you,

To give them their meals on time.

The glory of God, let it last forever!

Let God enjoy God’s creation!

Oh, let me sing to God all my life long,

Sing hymns to my God as long as I live!  (Psalm 104, The Message)

Morning Prayer:  Thank you, Lord, that our life is more than merely an extended dress rehearsal for death.  Though we do wonder about life beyond this life, and often yearn for the day our bodies will be set free from illness and pain, we want to be fully present in every moment you give us, patiently hopeful for those things we cannot yet see.  When we struggle with prayer, hardly knowing what we should even say, your Spirit sweeps in to earnestly plead our case, defending us with sighs too deep for words.  Search our hearts, Lord, as did the Galilean carpenter among his befuddled disciples when he taught them to pray, saying … *(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Romans 8)

Prayer of Confession:  Forgive us, Lord, for consistently missing the second coming, and the third, and the thousandth, all those daily occasions when your Spirit revisits us and we are too distracted to notice.  Forgive us our stubborn obsession with triumphalist, Hollywood-esque notions of your return, complete with smoke, trumpets and special effects.  We so cleverly ignore your stark warning of how your Spirit will “show the world it was wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment,” too dull to recognize that sober reprimand being played out in the daily foibles of our self-appointed leaders, bumbling and mumbling and stumbling their narcissistic way toward destruction, consistently wrong about everything, with all of us in mute, sheep-like complicity following merrily along.  Have mercy, we beg you.  Amen.* (Mitchell Simpson, inspired by John 15)

Assurance of Pardon:  I have good news!  Jesus’ expectations of our collective wisdom are apparently mercifully low, as when he told his closest followers prior to his ascension “I have much more to say to you, but you can’t handle it now.”  No they couldn’t, and neither can we, and God loves us anyway.  It has never been up to us to completely understand or perfectly enact Jesus’ instructions, only that we be willing to follow him, willing to learn how to be fishers of hurting souls, willing to show mercy and dispense grace to all the lonely people yearning for hope.  That’s all.  Thanks be to God, that is enough!* (Mitchell Simpson, inspired by John 15)

Thought for a Pentecost Sabbath:  “People are more than the worst thing they have ever done.”      - Sister Helen Prejean, O.S.J., anti-death penalty activist