Offertory Prayer

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 the Episcopal Fund, your church not only supports the Bishop who serves your conference, but the global work of our United Methodist episcopal leaders. Your giving makes possible their witness for the whole church in many areas including evangelism, justice ministries, global health and working with the world’s poor. This ministry happens thanks to the generous support of United Methodists like you. I invite you once again to give generously as we worship God through the sharing of our gifts, tithes and offerings.

Learn more about the work of the Council of Bishops of the UMC at: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/council-of-bishops

August 24, 2014 -- Eleventh Sunday after Pentecost/in Kingdomtide
Almighty and merciful God, as we give our tithes and offerings this morning, we are reminded that it is here that the relationships of our hearts and our connection to the material world intersect. You have called us into the world, into its need, its suffering, its injustice, and its pain; not to be claimed by the world, but as those claimed by you to be agents of change and transformation and healing in the world. So use not only these gifts, these dollars we offer, but use us. Use our hands, use our feet, use our voices, and use our hearts to shape the world for which you long. We pray in the blessed name of Jesus, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen. (Romans 12:1-8)
(Genesis 45:1-15)

"Prayers by Ken Sloan. Copyright General Board of Discipleship. www.GBOD.org Used by permission."

Sunday, July 31, 2011

God's Family Loyalty. Reflection on Romans 9:1-5

In the first eight chapters of Paul's letter to the Romans, he has been talking about Gentiles, their sins deserving of God's judgment and the gift of grace offered to them through Jesus Christ. Gentiles are not subject to the law; rather, God has adopted them into the family (as Jews themselves had been earlier adopted).

Krister Stendhal, and others, assert that the climax of the letter is in chapters 9 through 11 in its discussion of the redemption of the Gentiles and the salvation of Israel (from Reinventing Paul, John G. Gager).

Paul preaches that Christians do not have to become Jews to be included in God's family. Nor do Jews have to become Christians in order to stay: 

to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever (Romans 9:4-5).

The question for us moderns is whether God still has flexibility in defining family. 

Daily Prayer, Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 24

The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it, the world, and those who live in it.

You have founded it on the seas and established it on the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in your holy place?
...

Lift up your heads, O gates!
and be lifted up, O ancient doors!
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is the King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty,
the Lord, mighty in battle.

Who is this King of glory?
the Lord of hosts,
You are the King of glory.



Psalms 52, 53, 54

Daily Lectionary Reading, Romans 9:1-5
1 I am speaking the truth in Christ--I am not lying; my conscience confirms it by the Holy Spirit--2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my own people, my kindred according to the flesh. 4 They are Israelites, and to them belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; 5 to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.




Prayer for Today:

Document date:  1.01.1991

Prayer for Peace

The following prayer authored by Christian, Jewish and Muslim clergy was used in many places in inter-religious worships around the time of the Gulf War in 1991:

Eternal God, Creator of the universe, there is no God but You. 
Great and wonderful are Your works, wondrous are your ways. 
Thank You for the many splendoured variety of Your creation. 
Thank You for the many ways we affirm Your presence and purpose, 
and the freedom to do so. 
Forgive our violation of Your creation. 
Forgive our violence toward each other. 
We stand in awe and gratitude for Your persistent love 
for each and all of Your children:
Christian, Jew, Muslim, 
as well as those with other faiths. 
Grant to all and our leaders attributes of the strong; 
mutual respect in words and deed, 
restraint in the exercise of power, and 
the will for peace with justice, for all. 
Eternal God, Creator of the universe, there is no God but You. Amen.
(Excerpted from Current Dialogue 24/93, p.36) Source: World Council of Churches http://bit.ly/nXU1YJ


Evening
Psalms 78, 79, 83, 86

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Praying for Protection and Connection, a Reflection on Psalm 17:1-7, 15

We read the account in Genesis of Jacob's wrestling match with a man. Or was his opponent God?

The lectionary response to this passage is a portion of Psalm 17.  We can see several connections between the two readings; e.g. seeing the face of God, Genesis 32:30 and Psalm 17:15.

The psalmist asserts innocence, innocence in every word and deed. Not many of us can honestly pray this part. Nor do we assert that Jacob could either.

But, moving to verse 6, we can find words that we can use as our own:
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words.
 The words that the psalmist wants to hear are a plea for protection:
Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from the adversaries at your right hand.
Depending more on the history of what God has done than on the history of what the one making the prayer has done, the psalm concludes with these confident words:
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

Daily Prayer, Saturday, July 30, 2011


Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 67

God, be gracious to us and bless us
and make your face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

Let the nations be glad and sing for joy,
for you judge the peoples with equity
and guide the nations upon earth.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

The earth has yielded its increase;
God, our God, has blessed us.
May God continue to bless us;
let all the ends of the earth revere you.




Psalms 50, 51


Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 17:1-7, 15
17:1 Hear a just cause, O LORD; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit. 2 From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right. 3 If you try my heart, if you visit me by night, if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me; my mouth does not transgress. 4 As for what others do, by the word of your lips I have avoided the ways of the violent. :5 My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not slipped.

6 I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words. 7 Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand.
15 As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.

Prayer for Today:
I tried, but I don't see how I can improve on the words of the psalm itself. I suggest praying verses 1, 2, 3, and 6. I myself would not be comfortable praying verse 3.


Lectio Divina: From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right (Psalm 17:2).

Evening
Psalms 75, 77

Friday, July 29, 2011

Wrestling at the Edge, Seeing God, a Reflection on Genesis 32:22-31

Jacob had left home because of fear of his brother's retribution. He's not over that fear yet. Returning home, Jacob sent his wives and children on ahead, sent them with everything he owned, but he stayed behind for the night, stayed alone.  But, not alone, after all. A man wrestled with him until daybreak.
Before he enters his homeland again, a man wrestles with him. This image evokes the memory of Jacob and Esau wrestling in the womb. Further, it evokes images of metaphorical wrestling matches--Jacob getting his brother to trade his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup and later tricking his father into giving him the blessing that would have gone to Esau as the elder son. He has also engaged in metaphorical wrestling matches with his father-in-law Laban.

James Kugel reminds us that the name, Jacob, sounds like the Hebrew word for "he struggles." He then points out that although his new name, Israel, can be translated as "God rules," it also could mean "God struggles."

Who is Jacob wrestling with this time? Who has he been wrestling with all along?

When Jacob wrestled Esau's blessing away from Isaac, he then went into exile for a couple of decades. Blessings can carry costs.


We're told in verse 24-25, that a man struggles with Jacob. Yet, in verse 30, Jacob says that he has seen God face to face? Who was he struggling with? Is it possible to wrestle with anyone without that struggle being with God?


How much has Jacob changed because of each of his wrestling matches? He walks away from this match, limping. Will he continue to limp?


How much of this is about the man Israel and how much about the nation Israel? How much is about us?

Daily Prayer, Friday, July 29, 2011

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.


Morning
Invitatory Psalm 118
O Lord, we give thanks to to you, for you are good;
 your steadfast love endures forever!
….
Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
With the Lord on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
….
Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.

This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.



Psalms 41, 42, 43, 47


Daily Lectionary Reading, Genesis 32:22-31 
22 The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23 He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24 Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25 When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob's hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.

26 Then he said, "Let me go, for the day is breaking." But Jacob said, "I will not let you go, unless you bless me." 27 So he said to him, "What is your name?" And he said, "Jacob."

28 Then the man said, "You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed." 29 Then Jacob asked him, "Please tell me your name." But he said, "Why is it that you ask my name?" And there he blessed him.

30 So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, "For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved." 31 The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.



Prayer for Today:
God beyond all seeing and knowing, we meet you in the night of change and crisis, and wrestle with you in the darkness of doubt. Give us the will and spirit to live faithfully and love as we are loved. Amen. (from RCL Prayers, Fortress Press, 168)

Lectio Divina:
My steps have held fast to your paths; my feet have not stripped (Psalm 17:5).


Midday Psalm 119:78-88


Evening
Psalm 74

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Compassion of the Lord, a Reflection on Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21



The next time you have to listen to someone disparage the one he calls "The Old Testament God," you might point out that, despite human intransigence that God kept loving them and caring for them. For example:

The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love (v.8)
This grace, mercy, and steadfast love is not restricted to just a few:
The Lord is good to all, and is compassion is over all that he has made (v.9).
Good to all--all who are falling, all who are bowed down. God's care includes basic necessities, like food, and also more than necessities. 

We can be further reassured or perhaps not when we read that the Lord is just  in all his ways. We do read some qualification of God's qualities in verses 19 and 20.f


We are part of a long line of worshippers who have praised God, learned about God's care, and told others:
My mouth will speak the praise of the Lord,
and all flesh will bless his holy name foever and ever.

Daily Prayer, Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.

Morning


Invitatory Psalm 150
Praise the Lord!

We praise you in your sanctuary;
we praise you in your mighty firmament!
We praise you for your mighty deeds;
We praise you according to your surpassing greatness!
We praise you with trumpet sound;
We praise you with tambourine and dance;
We praise you with strings and pipe!
We praise you with clanging cymbals;
We praise you with loud clashing cymbals!

Let everything that breathes praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord!



Psalms 39, 40

Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 145:8-9, 14-21
8 The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.
14 The LORD upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.
15 The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.

16 You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing.

17 The LORD is just in all his ways, and kind in all his doings.
18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth.
19 He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them.
20 The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy.
21 My mouth will speak the praise of the LORD, and all flesh will bless his holy name forever and ever.


Prayer for Today:
O Lord, you are always near us, always watching over us with kindness, nudging us, leading us, protecting us. Amen.


Midday Psalm 119:68-77


Evening
Psalm 69

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Whose job is it to feed strangers?, a Reflection on Isaiah 55:1-5

Isaiah is writing to exiles in Babylon describing for them what their new life in an old place will be. Water for the thirsty. Food for the hungry. God promises to make with them an everlasting covenant. And because God has done so much for them, they are to reach out to strangers, to foreign strangers....

Whose job is it to feed all the strangers? The disciples in Matthew didn't get it right away that it was their job. It was late. They were tired. They hadn't planned to feed them. They hadn't set aside enough resources. All very sensible reasons. But they didn't convince Jesus. He made it explicit on whose job it is to feed strangers, "You give them something to eat."
Through Isaiah, the Lord said, "Incline your ear, and come to me; listen so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant." We in the modern church need to think about what the Lord intends for us to do. What is the job of the church? Who is supposed to feed those strangers? 

Read Dan Dick's essay comparing Christian fruit with  Christian Fruit Loops.
.

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 100
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into the Lord’s presence with singing.

We know that you are God.
It is you that made us, and we are yours.
we are your people and the sheep of your pasture.

We enter your gates with thanksgiving,
and your courts with praise.
We give thanks to you, bless your name.
For you, O Lord, are good;
your steadfast love endures forever,
and your faithfulness to all generations.

Psalm 37

Daily Lectionary Reading, Isaiah 55:1-5

 All of you who are thirsty, come to the water!
Whoever has no money, come, buy food and eat!
Without money, at no cost, buy wine and milk!
2 Why spend money for what isn’t food, and your earnings for what doesn’t satisfy?
Listen carefully to me and eat what is good; enjoy the richest of feasts.
3 Listen and come to me; listen, and you will live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful loyalty to David.

4 Look, I made him a witness to the peoples, a prince and commander of peoples.
5 Look, you will call a nation you don’t know,
a nation you don’t know will run to you because of the LORD your God, 
the holy one of Israel, who has glorified you.
Prayer for Today:
Glorious God, your generosity floods the world with goodness and you shower creation with abundance. Awaken in us a hunger for food to satisfy both body and heart, that in the miracle of being fed we may be empowered to feed the hungry in Jesus' name. Amen. (RCL Prayers, Fortress Press, 168)
Lectio Divina
He fulfills the desire of all who fear him; he also hears their cry, and saves them (Psalm 145:19)

Midday Psalm 119:57-67

Evening
Psalms 63, 68

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Metaphorical or Literal? a Reflection on Matthew 14:19-21

Jesus took the bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to the crowds.

At the last supper with his disciples, "While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, 'Take, eat; this is my body.'" (Matthew 26:26).

We remember these steps each time we participate in the Eucharist.

If you want to know more about how United Methodists view this sacrament, read United Methodists and the Sacraments by Gayle Felton

The metaphorical interpretation of verse 19 as foreshadowing eucharist is not the only possible interpretation. We might read it as literally descriptive of what Jesus did that day, and, so, literally descriptive of what his disciples are called to do. Think about this verse at the next church supper you attend. Who's eating with you--only other church people or some hungry crowds?

Daily Prayer, July 26, 2011


Daily Prayer, Tuesday
Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
Morning
Invitatory Psalm 84
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord;
....

O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer;
give ear, O God of Jacob!
Behold our shield, O God;
look on the face of your anointed.

....
For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
who bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does the Lord withhold
from those who walk uprightly.
O Lord of hosts,
happy is everyone who trusts in you.



Psalm 36


Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 14:19-21
19 He ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass. He took the five loaves of bread and the two fish, looked up to heaven, blessed them and broke the loaves apart and gave them to his disciples. Then the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 Everyone ate until they were full, and they filled twelve baskets with the leftovers. 21 About five thousand men plus women and children had eaten. [Common English Bible]


Prayer for today:
We give you thanks for the bounty you have entrusted to us. Remind us that these possessions were not gifts for us alone but to help us to carry on your mission. Amen.


Lectio Divina: The eyes of all look to you, and you give the their food in due season. You open your hand, satisfying the desire of every living thing (Psalm 145:15-16).


Midday Psalm 119:49-56


Evening
Psalms 55, 59, 60, 62

Monday, July 25, 2011

How Much Is Enough? a Reflection on Matthew 14:13-18


The Hour is Late, and the Crowds are Hungry, Reflection on Matthew 14:13-18

Matthew was talking to people that would have been familiar with the Scriptures--what we call the Old Testament. So, they would have known that God provides food for people in the wilderness (See Exodus 16:13-35; Numbers 11:7-9, 31-32) and that God can feed a lot of people with only a small food supply (See 2 Kings 4:42-44). [Thanks to Allen & Williamson, Preaching the Gospels without Blaming the Jews.]

Of course, Jesus' disciples would have known those texts. Why did they think that they were incapable of feeding the crowds, that the only solution for hungry folks is to find their own food?

Well, we've read the same texts, and we've read Matthew's Gospel, as well. How much have things changed?

Daily Prayer, Monday, July 25, 2011

Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry; give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.


Morning
Invitatory Psalm 95
O come, let us sing to the Lord:
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
We come into your presence with thanksgiving;
we make a joyful noise to you with songs of praise.
You, Lord, are a great God,

In your hands are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are yours also.
The sea is yours, for you have made it,
and the dry land, which your hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us we kneel before our Maker!
For you are our God,
and we are the people of your pasture,
and the sheep of your hand.
….



Psalm 34


Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 14:13-18
13 When Jesus heard about John, he withdrew in a boat to a deserted place by himself. When the crowds learned this, they followed him on foot from the cities. 14 When Jesus arrived and saw a large crowd, he had compassion for them and healed those who were sick. 15 That evening his disciples came and said to him, “ This is an isolated place and it’s getting late. Send the crowds away so they can go into the villages and buy food for themselves. ” 16 But Jesus said to them, “ There’s no need to send them away. You give them something to eat. ” 17 They replied, “ We have nothing here except five loaves of bread and two fish. ” 18 He said, “ Bring them here to me. ” [Common English Bible]


Prayer for Today:
Long ago Jesus said, "It's your job to feed the hungry. Is that still true? Give us the wisdom to figure out how to handle this task. Amen


Lectio Divina:
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made (Psalm 145:8-9)




Midday Psalm 119:41-48


Evening
Psalms 46. 48, 49

Sunday, July 24, 2011

On Predestination By John Wesley Sermon 58 Reflection on Romans 8:26-39


Paul said, "For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son....And those whom he predestined, he also called..."

What do Methodists think about predestination?

Here's what John Wesley said: On Predestination .

Source: John Wesley's sermons on the internet posted by The United Methodist Church. http://new.gbgm-umc.org/umhistory/wesley/sermons/58/

Daily Prayer, Sunday, July 24, 2011

Turn to me and be gracious to me



Morning


Invitatory Psalm Sun 67
God, be gracious to us and bless us
and make your face to shine upon us,
that your way may be known upon earth,
your saving power among all nations.
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

....
Let the peoples praise you, O God;
let all the peoples praise you.

....



Psalms 32, 33


Daily Lectionary Reading, Romans 8:26-29

26 In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit itself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. 27 The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because it pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will. 28 We know that God works all things together for good for the ones who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 We know this because God knew them in advance, and he decided in advance that they would be conformed to the image of his Son. That way his Son would be the first of many brothers and sisters. [Common English Bible]


Today's Prayers:
O Wisdom on High, by you the meek are guided in judgment, and light rises up in darkness for the godly. Grant us, in all doubts and uncertainties, the grace to ask you what you would have us do, that we may be saved from all false choices, and that in your light we may see light, and in your straight path may not stumble; through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen. [UMBOW 525]


O Lord, we give thanks to you for all your wonderful works, the miracles you have performed, and your judgments. We seek your presence that provides strength to us so that we can continue to be your people. Amen (from Psalm 105)






Evening
Psalms 44, 45