Prayer as We Gather: Lord, may Holy Spirit disengage us from staid everydayness. Craft us into visionary vessels like exiled John on the island of Patmos, whose pungent, poetic ramblings have befuddled dull orthodoxy’s gate-keepers these two millennia past. Amidst the crescendoing chaos of our national governance, steady our resolve with confidence that “victory belongs to God,” our enthroned and sheltering Shepherd, who remains unthreatened by the babbling tweets of a reckless anti-Christ spirit set loose upon the earth. May it one day be said of us, as John observed of faithful saints in his own day, “these people have come out of great hardship, and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” Amen*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Revelation 7)
Call to Worship:
I live and breathe God, who freed me from my anxious fears.
When I was desperate, God got me out of a tight spot.
Open your mouth and taste how good God is.
Who out there has a lust for life?
Embrace peace, don’t let it get away!
God picks up our every moan and groan.
Is anyone crying for help?
God is listening, ready to rescue you.
The wicked commit slow suicide;
They waste their lives hating the good.
God pays for each slave’s freedom;
No one who runs to God loses out.*(Psalm 34, The Message)
Morning Prayer: On this All Hallows sabbath, Lord, as we lovingly recall those UBC saints who this year have slipped the bonds of earthly care and now see you face to face, we are joyful with scripture’s assurance that we, no less than they, “shall be called God’s children.” May we not be troubled that “it hasn’t yet appeared what we will be,” despite culture’s neurotic infatuation with long-range planning, along with religion’s obsession over what heaven will be like. Instead, we embrace the promise that “when God appears, we will be like God, and will see God as God is.” That will be enough, Lord. That will be enough. In the meantime, we pray as Jesus taught us to pray, saying … “*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by 1 John 3)
Prayer of Confession: Have mercy on us, Lord. Although most people desperately want to be happy, not many think happiness can be found in church. We church folk know better, because Jesus told us who would truly be happy, “people who are hopeless, grieving, humble, merciful, pure in heart, peace-making, insulted and harassed because of me.” Forgive us for failing to do the one thing that could bring abiding happiness to neighbors, fellow workers, classmates and family members: Invite them to church, where they can experience the joy of our risen Lord in a welcoming, compassionate family of equally flawed fellow saints Forgive us for keeping your beloved community a selfish secret. Amen.*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Matthew 5)
Assurance of Pardon: Hear the good news: Jesus urges us to “be full of joy and be glad, because you have a great reward in heaven,” as Charlie Adams, Dina Bray, Frank Fearrington and Pat Vincent now know first hand. May God help us, each time we remember them, to emulate their best spiritual gifts and embody their most positive Christian witness, thus drawing others of your children into the loving embrace that is the body of Christ. Thanks be to God for their lives and our second chances to be found faithful!*(Mitchell Simpson, inspired by Matthew 5)