Prayer as We Gather: Lord, banish from our hearts any festering resentment over recent state and national political choices, recalling your blunt rebuff of Samuel as he lamented King Saul’s disastrous reign: “How long are you going to grieve? Fill your horn with oil and get going!” Just as we cannot choose our earthly fathers, so too are we powerless to assure people’s wise choice of earthly leadership. For every loving father and every virtuous leader, we give you thanks this day. Upon every faithless father and imbecile tyrant, we urge your swift justice. For all your discouraged children, we pray your comfort. In this holy hour, fill us with anointing oil and send us back into the fray in Jesus’ name. Amen.* (Mitchell Simpson, inspired by 1 Samuel 15)
Call to Worship:
I pray God answers you on the day you crash,
Putting you out of harm’s reach.
Exclaim over your offerings, celebrate your sacrifices;
Give what your heart desires, accomplish your plans.
Help is coming, an answer is on the way,
Everything’s going to work out.
Let other people polish their chariots and groom their horses;
We’re making garlands for God, our God.
Their chariots will rust, those horses will pull up lame.
But we’ll be on our feet, standing tall.* (Psalm 20, The Message)
Morning Prayer: Lord, we all yearn for that peaceful, easy feeling that comes from following you. We complain when Satan leads us to do things we shouldn’t, but Satan can’t take us anywhere we don’t already know how to go. Help us never to shrink from speaking truth to power, but to recognize such encounters as opportunities to make you proud of us, unlike those who take pride in superficial appearances rather than what is in the heart. We’re content for the world to call us crazy, if it’s for God’s sake and Jesus’ love controls us. From now on, we want to recognize people not by human standards but through the eyes of Jesus, as part of the new creation in which old things have gone away and new things have arrived, just as Jesus urged us when he taught us to pray, saying …*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by 2 Corinthians 5 and the poetry of Glen Frey)
Prayer of Confession: Forgive us, Lord, for contorting your Kingdom into a reflection of our tortured, linear rationalism, more reflective of the renaissance than the resurrection. Have mercy on our incapacity for mystery as embraced by Jesus in his image of seed scattered on the ground, then sprouting and growing without the farmer understanding how the miracle unfolds. We, of short attention spans and pervasive hunger for instant gratification, admire the mustard seed’s phenomenal growth but lack the patience to tolerate the slow blossoming of our own spirit under the watchful eye of Jesus, our constant gardener. Slow us down, Lord, and grant us the joyful deliberateness of patient discipleship which results in our tree of faith producing large, sheltering branches in which fragile souls, like the birds of the sky, are able to nest in its shade. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Mark 4)
Assurance of Pardon: I have good news: Even Jesus, the supreme storyteller, the weaver of our soul’s narrative, was limited by his disciple’s dull literalness, making it necessary for him to speak to them in parables, “to give them the word as much as they were able to hear.” If Jesus was willing to take extra time with those first disciples, often having to explain his teachings all over again when he was alone with them after speaking to the crowds, he will surely be patient with those of us following along centuries later. Thanks be to God for coming to us in such a compassionate, tender, unhurried Savior.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Mark 4)
Thought for a Sabbath Day: “One way for us fathers to measure ourselves is to note the frequency with which we are viewing what’s on our smart-phones when we’re with the kids. Another measure is how we treat our children’s mother and other women?” - Harvard Business Review, April 2015