Offertory Prayer


Offertory Prayers and Invitation for February 2015

Each month's Offertory Prayers includes an "Invitation to the Offering" (see below) along with a digital image for those who might want to use it. We hope you will find this a helpful way to remind the people in your pews that their offering travels to many places to make a powerful difference in the lives of people they may never meet. You can find great stories of the difference our giving makes at http://umcgiving.org.

Invitation to the Offering
The offering you made last week empowered ministry within our congregation and in response to the needs of our community. It also helped support the work of ministries beyond the local church that reach people who are in desperate need to feel the touch of love and reconciliation. Through our connectional giving, we support ministry with students of all ages, including those who have had the door to education opened to them through our eleven Historically Black Colleges. Through your generosity in support of the Black College Fund, students are empowered to learn, to succeed, and to change the world. For many of these students, your support is “a life-changer.” This ministry happens thanks to the way the people of The United Methodist Church live and give connectionally. I invite you once again to give generously as we worship God through the sharing of our gifts, tithes, and offerings.

Learn more about our Historically Black Colleges at: www.umcgiving.org/pastors/resources?category=2753

February 1, 2015 -- Fourth Sunday after the Epiphany
Holy God, Architect of all we know and all we do not know, bless the gifts we offer up to you this day. As we are reminded this morning of the authority you have given your precious son, so we remember how, in turn, he passed it on to us. Help us to see that the authority we have is not to wield power over one another, but to stir the power of compassion, hope, and love in one another. We pray this in the name of Jesus, the source of compassion, mercy and healing. Amen. (Mark 1:21-28)

February Offertory Prayers were written by the Rev. Dr. Ken Sloane, Director of Stewardship & Connectional Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Sirach 29-31

Be generous when your neighbor is in need. Be quick to repay their generosity.

Be content with little or much.

Sira gives advice on raising children that doesn't suit our times very well.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Sirach 26-28

Since I can't figure out what to say about chapter 26, I have decided to quote from Dianne Bergant's comments in the New Interpreter's Study Bible: "Ben Sira was a man of his time...." and "[We] must discover ways of gleaning the fundamental theological meaning of the teaching in order to interpret it in ways that are more suitable for our times."

Chapter 27: Don't betray your friend's secrets. Don't waste your time with foolish people. Treacherous people get what they deserve.

Chapter 28: Let the Lord take care of vengeance. You forgive. Don't gossip or lie or slander.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Sirach 24-25

Wisdom praises herself. When she was looking for the right home, the Creator sent her to Israel. There she took root and grew. She offers her fruits. Wisdom began like a canal from a river, and water gardens, then became a river then a sea.

Wisdom takes pleasure in three things: agreement among brothers and sisters; friendship among neighbors; and a wife and husband who live in harmony. Wisdom loathes three kinds of people: a pauper who boasts, a rich person who lies, and an old fool that commits adultery.

If you didn't learn anything as a youth, you won't have learned it by the time you are old. OTOH sound judgment is attractive in the gray-haired. How great is the one who has found wisdom, but none is superior to the one who fears the Lord.

Wicked women are evil.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Sirach 20-23

Some truths stay true; e.g,
     Some people keep silent because they have nothing to say, while others keep silent because they know when to speak.
     A liar's way leads to disgrace.
     Favors and gifts blind the eyes of the wise; like a muzzle on the mouth they stop reproofs.
     Hidden wisdom and unseen treasure, of what value is either?
     Flee from sin as from a snake; for if you approach sin, it will bite you.
     Panic and insolence will waste away riches.
     When an intelligent person hears a wise saying, he praises it and adds to it; when a fool hears it, he laughs.
     Weep for the dead, for he left the light behind; and weep for the fool for he has left intelligence behind. Weep less bitterly for the dead, for he is at rest; but the life of the fool is worse than death.
     One who throws a stone at birds scares then away, and one who reviles a friend destroys a friendship.
     Gain the trust of your neighbor in his poverty, so that you may rejoice with him in his prosperity.
     Sinners are overtaken through their lips; by them the reviler and the arrogant are tripped up.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Sirach 17-19

The Lord created human beings and granted them authority over everything on earth, bestowed knowledge upon them, established with them an eternal covenant. The Lord sees everything we do, rewarding our kindnesses.

Forsake your sins. The Lord is merciful.

The Lord is great; humans, not so much. But, the Lord is patient with us, pouring out mercy, granting forgiveness.

Advice:
Do not mix reproach with your good deeds, or spoil your gift by harsh words.
Restrain your appetites. Don't waste your money on luxuries.
Don't gossip.





Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sirach 13-16

Disadvantages of associating with the rich; disadvantages of not being rich. Misery is evil.

On a more positive note: Enjoy yourself everyday. Seeking wisdom results in happiness.

You are free to choose how you live; so, choose to keep the Lord's commandments. Great as is the mercy of the Lord, so also the Lord's chastisement.


Monday, January 26, 2015

Sirach 8-12

Occasionally I need to remind myself  that our Bible was written by men to male audience. And, sometimes, I need to remember that this book of wisdom, like much (all?) of our Bible was written to faithful Jews who were living in a place that was being ruled by a powerful foreign nation that definitely was not Jewish.

That said, much of the advice in chapters 8 through 12 is still applicable and helpful but cynical; don't be rude to the rich because they have enough resources to overcome you; don't ignore the advice of the elderly; don't abandon old friends; don't get mad about everything; and, if you hang out with sinners, you will get what you deserve.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sirach 5-7

Remember, and act as if you remember, that God has helped you and will continue to help you.

Stand up for what you know to be right, but be quicker to listen than to speak.

Distinguish between faithful friends and temporary ones.

The search for wisdom may have difficulties but it's worth it.

Do not be evil.
Don't stop praying or giving alms.
Don't lie.
Don't be lazy.
Don't mistreat anyone.
Don't avoid those who mourn or those who are sick.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sirach Prologue-Chapter 4

Scholars date this collection about 180 BCE, a time of Hellenization. The Jews, and everyone else too, were aware of the advantages the Greeks had provided to their world. Sirach (the grandson of  Ben Sira) presents evidence that real wisdom comes from the Lord.

God created Wisdom before all other things, poured her out upon all creation, lavished her upon those who love the Lord. Fear of the Lord enables glory, gladness, and long life. 

Wisdom begins in humans in the womb and continues to live with them, enabling them to flourish.

Advice: "Unjust anger cannot be justified, for anger tips the scale to one's ruin. Those who are patient stay calm until the right moment, and then cheerfulness comes back to them. They hold back their words until the right moment; then the lips of many tell of their good sense."

Trust in the Lord. The Lord is compassionate and merciful, forgiving sins and saves in times of distress.

Woes will come on the timid, the lazy, double-dealers, and cowards.

Honor your parents. Help them when they get old.

On humility, "The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself; so you will find favor in the sight of the Lord. Your humility glorifies the Lord."

Living out humility: Recognize your limitations. Don't meddle. Don't be stubborn.

Warning: Aid the poor. God is listening to their prayers. 

More advice: Rescue the oppressed and those who are orphaned. Do not refrain from speaking at the proper moment. But "Do not be reckless in your speech, or sluggish and remiss in your deeds."

Friday, January 23, 2015

Wisdom 18-19

Wisdom 18-19 continues the review of the events of the Exodus and of lessons learned. Reassurance: God is with us, guiding and protecting us. Contrast the punishment God imposed on the powerful nation: They deserved it because they were unkind to immigrants.

The book of Wisdom closes with this address to God:
For in everything, O Lord, you have exalted and glorified your people,
and you have not neglected to help them at all times and in all places.
Tomorrow we will begin reflecting on (The Wisdom of Jesus Son of) Sirach, also known as Ecclesiasticus.  Read the Prologue and first four chapters.