Sunday, August 19, 2018

Prayer as We Gather:  God of wisdom and compassion, breathe your fresh winds of joy within us this holy hour, as we enter a new school year of study, friendships and opportunities to transcend old boundaries.  Fill us with your Spirit as we dance to the music you have planted in our souls.  Help us sing your songs of hope and courage, always giving thanks for everything in the name of our dearest friend, Jesus of Nazareth.  Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Ephesians 5)

Call to Worship:

I give thanks to God with everything I’ve got!

God’s works are worth a lifetime of study,

God’s generosity never gives out.

This God of grace and love keeps the ancient promise,

Establishing truth and justice,

Never out of date, never obsolete,

So personal and holy, worthy of our respect:

The good life begins in reverence for God!  (Psalm 111, The Message)

Morning Prayer:  Lord of the Dance, plant within us your audacious Spirit of poetic whimsy, so we might soar beyond the cramped confines of a too literal, hide-bound faith.  Free us to run stride for stride with Jesus, who dared see himself as living bread and fear-calming wine.  As you sent Jesus into a restrictive world of rigid religion and state-sponsored cruelty, so now also send us into our polarized culture where fear spawns fierce tribal mistrust and forced separation of immigrant children from their sanctuary-seeking parents.  Thank you for a Savior who insisted “Let the little children come to me, for they embody God’s Kingdom!”  We pray as he taught us to pray, saying …*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by John 6)

Prayer of Confession:  Forgive us, Lord, our perpetual excuse-making.  We keep dodging your covenant instructions to our Hebrew forebears, promising them life-blessings if they would walk in your ways and obey your commands.  Like King Solomon, we have all protested at some point “But I’m young and inexperienced.  I know next to nothing.”  Too often, we’d rather whine over our insufficiencies and wallow in false modesty than accept your call for laborers in your vineyards, fields bursting with needing, hurting people desperate for some good news and hope in their lives.  We confess the comfortable heresy of our Sunday worship habits, slipping into the pew expecting the church to meet our needs without ever giving thought to bringing someone along with us, some new friend or long-time work associate, who so profoundly needs what our loving Lord offers freely.  Have mercy, we pray.  Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by 1 Kings 2)

Assurance of Pardon:  Take heart, for our compassionate God is still pleased to answer our pleas for forgiveness and the restoration of discernment in our distracted daily lives.  God sees each of us as unique children, worthy of compassion and pardon.  Trust God’s profound, unconditional love that treasures every child as a miraculous creation, and receive God’s reassuring whisper as Solomon heard it:  “There has never been one like you before now, nor will there be anyone like you afterward.”  Thanks be to God for such fathomless grace!* (Mitchell Simpson, inspired by 1 Kings 2)

Thought for a Sabbath Day:  “Like Michelangelo, calling forth a figure out of stone, the Spirit of Christ is trying to bring us to life, trying to free us from our own individual blocks of marble that imprison us.”  -Ken Kovacs