Sunday, September 23, 2018


Prayer as We Gather

Thank you, Lord, for the Biblical roots of “Me Too” activism as detailed in Proverbs’ unswerving defense of women’s worth.  The strong portrait of women’s expertise and leadership in business, agriculture, education and advocacy on behalf of the poor creates a picture of strength and honor as the very garments of wise women.  May such vigilant female confidence in a better future be encouraged in this beloved community this holy hour, as we at UBC model for our young women the audacious courage God provides women to hold powerful men accountable for the violent sexual disregard so often silenced and condoned in the past. Amen.*          - inspired by Proverbs 31

Call to Worship                                                                                            

The truly happy person thrills to hear God’s Word,

Chewing on scripture day and night,

Refusing to follow wicked advice

Or sit with the disrespectful,

Choosing instead to follow God’s instructions,

Thriving like a tree replanted by the water:

It bears fruit at just the right time,

Its leaves never fade.*                                    - Psalm 1, Common English Bible

Morning Prayer

God of full disclosure, it’s no wonder we’re so good at pretending not to understand Jesus: We’ve been at it ever since he walked among his first disciples. It’s also no wonder Jesus didn’t want folks to know what he was actually teaching those first disciples: That he would be handed over to his enemies, crucified, then be raised from the dead. Fact is, we’d still prefer an easier way than Jesus’ way, preaching delivery to captives, restoring sight to the blind, attacking the systemic roots of poverty that seep like flood waters across entire generations of poor people. This thing of following Jesus is tough, Lord! We want to be first, not last. We’d rather be considered sophisticated than childlike. Help us, Lord. Restore us to our rightful minds, for we make our appeal in the name of the Galilean who taught us to pray, saying …*   

- inspired by Mark 9


Prayer of Confession                                                                                              

Lord, forgive us our cravings, especially our unquenchable competitiveness and perpetual thirst for more money and a bigger pile of stuff.  We expend great portions of our energy in pursuit of social standing and influence, often ignoring the needs of those closest to us who are desperate for our attention, but for whom we do not have time because we are futilely following after our illusive dreams and fleeting schemes.  No matter how often we hear the testimony of flood victims who have lost homes and possessions, “these were only things, which can be replaced,” our addiction to accumulation proves we still don’t get it.  We continue to live as though things were in fact more valuable to us than relationships.  Have mercy, we pray. Amen.*     - inspired by James 3


Assurance of Pardon                     

Take heart, for there is encouraging news from Jesus’ own brother James: The jealousy, selfish ambition and disorder all about us can be defeated by “God’s wisdom from above, which is pure, peaceful, gentle, obedient, fair, genuine, filled with mercy and good actions. You can sow the seeds of justice by peaceful acts. You don’t have God’s peace because you don’t ask.”  So go ahead, ask God to grant you peace, then go about making peace among the people in your life. Sound too simple? James’  promise is blunt: “Resist the devil, and the devil will run away. Come near to God, and God will come near to you.” It’s worth a try, thanks be to God!*   - inspired by James 3

Thought for a Sabbath

“When I drive my car over a bridge, I want to be certain the engineers who built it weren’t thinking about faith but mathematics. But when I come to church for worship, I’m hoping there won’t be an engineer in the pulpit. My parched soul doesn’t need a great logical  argument. It needs living water.”       - M. Craig Barnes, President of Princeton Theological Seminary