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."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Keeping the Law, a reflection on Psalm 119:33-34

If you see any of these signs, please pay attention:  http://bit.ly/pfXTkv

Warning signs are intended to help us. So, are God's statutes.


Daily Prayer, Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Praise the Lord! We sing to you a new song. Praise the Lord! (from Psalm 149)



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 71
In you, O Lord, I take refuge; let me never be put to shame. In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me and save me. Be to me a rock of refuge, a strong fortress, to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O Lord, from my youth. …. My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all day long. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; do not forsake me when my strength is spent. .... But I will hope continually, and will praise you yet more and more. My mouth will tell of your righteous acts, of your deeds of salvation all day long, though their number is past my knowledge. I will come praising the mighty deeds of the Lord God, I will praise your righteousness, yours alone. O God, from my youth you have taught me, and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.


72
Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son. May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice. May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness. May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor. May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth. In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.
....

May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.
For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.
Long may he live! May gold of Sheba be given to him. May prayer be made for him continually, and blessings invoked for him all day long.

May there be abundance of grain in the land; may it wave on the tops of the mountains; may its fruit be like Lebanon; and may people blossom in the cities like the grass of the field.

May his name endure forever, his fame continue as long as the sun. May all nations be blessed in him; may they pronounce him happy.
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous things.
Blessed be his glorious name forever; may his glory fill the whole earth. Amen and Amen....



Daily Lectionary Reading, Psalm 119:33-34
33 LORD , teach me what your statutes are about, and I will guard every part of them.
34 Help me understand so I can guard your Instruction and keep it with all my heart.


Today's Prayer:

Holy God, we seek your presence to learn more about you.
We gather together in community to worship the One True God

Guiding God, you call us to follow in your paths of holiness.
In this sacred space, we come with reverent awe and joy.

Reassuring God, your ancient promises remain the same.
Teach us your holy ways and remind us of your promises. Amen.

If used in shared worship, please provide an acknowledgement as follows:
© 2011 Joan Stott – "The Timeless Psalms" RCL Psalm Year A, used with permission.
http://www.wesleychurchgeelong.net/w_resources/epiphany7a_2011.htm




Midday Psalm 119:105-112


Evening
Psalm 104
Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, you are very great. You are clothed with honor and majesty, wrapped in light as with a garment. You stretch out the heavens like a tent, you set the beams of your chambers on the waters, you make the clouds your chariot, you ride on the wings of the wind, you make the winds your messengers, fire and flame your ministers. You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken. You cover it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. At your rebuke they flee; at the sound of your thunder they take to flight. They rose up to the mountains, ran down to the valleys to the place that you appointed for them. You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth. You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, giving drink to every wild animal; the wild asses quench their thirst. By the streams the birds of the air have their habitation; they sing among the branches. From your lofty abode you water the mountains; the earth is satisfied with the fruit of your work. You cause the grass to grow for the cattle, and plants for people to use, to bring forth food from the earth, and wine to gladden the human heart, oil to make the face shine, and bread to strengthen the human heart. The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has its home in the fir trees. The high mountains are for the wild goats; the rocks are a refuge for the coneys. You have made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. You make darkness, and it is night, when all the animals of the forest come creeping out. The young lions roar for their prey, seeking their food from God. When the sun rises, they withdraw and lie down in their dens. People go out to their work and to their labor until the evening. O Lord, how manifold are your works! In wisdom you have made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. Yonder is the sea, great and wide, creeping things innumerable are there, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan that you formed to sport in it. These all look to you to give them their food in due season; when you give to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are filled with good things. When you hide your face, they are dismayed; when you take away their breath, they die and return to their dust. When you send forth your spirit, they are created; and you renew the face of the ground. May the glory of the Lord endure forever; may the Lord rejoice in his works—who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke. I will sing to the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have being. May my meditation be pleasing to him, for I rejoice in the Lord. Let sinners be consumed from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Warnings, a Reflection on Ezekiel 33:7-11

Matthew, writing to churches in troubled times, reminds us that Jesus said to the disciples, "If another member of the church sins against you, go and point out the fault," (Matthew 18:15-17). As you read these instructions, think about the role God has intended for disciples throughout time: sometimes, to learn a way to avoid destroying our lives; and sometimes, in order to prevent another disaster, to seek understanding why a loss has occurred.


Ezekiel is called by God to speak to Jerusalem as it faced its fall to Babylon, to speak to a people who had lived in a kingdom in a land promised to them by God, and who had lost it.


How are any of us, living at any point in history, supposed to learn survival lessons? Ezekiel reminds us that God uses prophets, sentinels, to warn us of dangers. Jesus, in Matthew's gospel, is echoing this requirement, "You who are in the church owe it to each other to give warnings as well as encouragements."


"Their well being is your responsibility," Jesus tells the church. God had reminded Ezekiel, "Tell those people that I don't want their destruction. Tell them to turn back, to repent."


Bad things to happen to good people. But, let us remember that sometimes, bad things happen to good people who did bad things. And, let us remember, that if we are going to remain bound together in order to serve God more effectively, then we have to be responsible to one another.


God sent Ezekiel as a sentinel to warn people of danger. God sends each of us to speak--and to listen.


Look back in earlier chapters of Ezekiel to see the kinds of sins he was talking about. For example, "You wore expensive clothes and ate expensive meals but did not aid the poor and needed," (16:1-49). What is lawful and right, according to Ezekiel, includes caring for the poor and hungry (18:5-13).

Daily Prayer, Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Praise the Lord! We sing to you a new song. Praise the Lord! (from Psalm 149)




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.

...





Psalms 65, 66, 70


Psalm 65

1Praise is due to you, O God, in Zion; and to you shall vows be performed, 2 O you who answer prayer! To you all flesh shall come. 3 When deeds of iniquity overwhelm us, you forgive our transgressions.

4Happy are those whom you choose and bring near to live in your courts. We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, your holy temple.

5By awesome deeds you answer us with deliverance, O God of our salvation; you are the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas. 6By your strength you established the mountains; you are girded with might. 7 You silence the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, the tumult of the peoples.
....

Psalm 66

1Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth;
2 we sing the glory of your name; we give you glorious praise.

3Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds! Because of your great power, your enemies cringe before you. 4All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name.”

5 Come and see what God has done: he is awesome in deeds among mortals.
....8Bless our God, O peoples, let the sound of  praise be heard, 9 who has kept us among the living, and has not let our feet slip.

18If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened. 19But truly God has listened and has given heed to the words of my prayer.

20Blessed be God, you have not rejected my prayer or removed your steadfast love from me.

Psalm 70

1Be pleased, O God, to deliver me. O Lord, make haste to help me!….4Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you. Let those who love your salvation say evermore, “God is great!”

5 I am poor and needy; hasten to me, O God! You are my help and my deliverer; O Lord, do not delay!




Daily Lectionary Reading, Ezekiel 33:7-11
7 You, human one, I’ve made you a lookout for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear me speaking, you must give them warning from me. 8 If I pronounce a death sentence on wicked people, and you don’t warn them to turn from their way, they will die in their guilt, but I will hold you responsible for their blood. 9 But suppose you do warn the wicked of their ways so that they might turn from them. If they don’t turn from their ways, they will die in their guilt, but you will save your life. 10 You, human one, say to the house of Israel: This is what all of you are saying: “ How our transgressions and our sins weigh on us! We waste away because of them. How can we live? ” 11 Say to them, This is what the LORD God says: As surely as I live, do I take pleasure in the death of the wicked? If the wicked turn from their ways, they will live. Turn, completely turn from your wicked ways! Why should you die, house of Israel? [Common English Bible]


Today's Prayer: O Lord, you have entrusted us with the responsibility to convey your word. Teach us how to speak in a way and with words that will truthfully and effectively deliver that word to all who need it. Teach us to demonstrate your loving care. Amen.




Midday Psalm 119:97-104


Evening
Psalms 102. 103

Psalm 102

1Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you. 2 Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress. Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call.
….

7 I lie awake; I am like a lonely bird on the housetop. 8 All day long my enemies taunt me; those who deride me use my name for a curse.
...
11 My days are like an evening shadow; I wither away like grass. 12 But you, O Lord, are enthroned forever; your name endures to all generations.

.… 17 You will regard the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their prayer.

….25 Long ago you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. 26 They will perish, but you endure; they will all wear out like a garment. You change them like clothing, and they pass away; 27 but you are the same, and your years have no end. 28 The children of your servants shall live secure; their offspring shall be established in your presence.

Psalm 103

1Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless your holy name.
2Bless the Lord, O my soul, we do not forget all your benefits—3who forgives all our iniquity, who heals all our diseases, 4 who redeems our life from the Pit, who crowns us with steadfast love and mercy, 5 who satisfies us with good as long as we live so that our youth is renewed like the eagle’s.

6 The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

9 You will not always accuse, nor will you keep your anger forever. 10 You do not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is your steadfast love toward those who fear you;

12as far as the east is from the west, so far you removes our transgressions from us.

13 As a parent has compassion for his children, so you have compassion for those who fear you. 14For you know how we were made; you remember that we are dust. 15 As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field; 16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.

17But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear you, and you righteousness to children’s children, 18to those who keep your covenant and remember to do your commandments.

19 You have established your throne in the heavens, and your kingdom rules over all.….

Bless the Lord, O my soul.

Monday, August 29, 2011

When We Disagree, a Reflection on Matthew 18:15-20

Earlier in chapter 18, Jesus is talking about the joy of recovering those who stray from the flock. Now, he's talking about the difficulty of living with those who don't leave. "Here's what you can expect: some church members are going to treat you badly. Don't ignore the problem. Even if you are not at fault, you still have the responsibility to mend the relationship."

Here's the hard part. Start by going directly to the offender. Don't go around telling everybody else how much you are hurt. First, tell the one who hurt you.

Then, if that doesn't work, and only if that doesn't work, share your concerns with a couple of other church members. If that doesn't work, and only if that doesn't work, then you may tell others in the church about the problem.

If the offender won't listen to the whole church, then treat that person like a Gentile and a tax collector.

Notice the irony in this last instruction by remembering how Jesus treated Gentiles and tax collectors.


Thinking about forgiveness and the congregatingness (congregatability?) of the congregation, I read Kathleen Norris' typically wonderful poem, Mrs. Schneider in Church:


Here's the first and last stanza:

It's the willingness to sing

that surprises me:
out of tune,
we drag the organist along
and sing, knowing we can't,
and our quite ordinary voices 
carry us over.
....


Now we are changed, 
making a noise 
greater than ourselves,
to be worthy of the lesson:
all duly noted,
all forgiven.


(Excerpted from Cries of the Spirit, Beacon Press, ed. by Marilyn Sewell

Daily Prayer, Monday, August 29, 2011

Praise the Lord! We sing to you a new song. Praise the Lord! (from Psalm 149)



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.
….


Psalms 57, 61, 64

Psalm 57 1 Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, until the destroying storms pass by. 2 I cry to God Most High, you who fulfill your purpose for me. 3 You will send from heaven and save me, you will put to shame those who trample on me. You will send forth your steadfast love and faithfulness. 4 I lie down among lions that greedily devour human prey; their teeth are spears and arrows, their tongues sharp swords. 5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let your glory be over all the earth. 6 They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my path, but they have fallen into it themselves. 7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make melody. 8 Awake, my soul! Awake, O harp and lyre! I will awake the dawn. 9 I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. 10 For your steadfast love is as high as the heavens; your faithfulness extends to the clouds. 11Be exalted, O God, above the heavens. Let your glory be over all the earth. Psalm 61 1Hear my cry, O God; listen to my prayer. 2From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I; 3for you are my refuge, a strong tower against the enemy. 4Let me abide in your tent forever, find refuge under the shelter of your wings. 5For you, O God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name. …. 8So I will always sing praises to your name, as I pay my vows day after day. Psalm 64 1Hear my voice, O God, in my complaint; preserve my life from the dread enemy. 2Hide me from the secret plots of the wicked, from the scheming of evildoers, 3who whet their tongues like swords, who aim bitter words like arrows, 4shooting from ambush at the blameless; they shoot suddenly and without fear.
5They hold fast to their evil purpose; they talk of laying snares secretly, thinking, “Who can see us? 6Who can search out our crimes? We have thought out a cunningly conceived plot.” For the human heart and mind are deep.
7But you will overcome them....9Then everyone ... will tell what God has brought about. They will ponder what you have done. 10Let the righteous rejoice in the Lord who is their refuge. Let all the upright in heart glory.


Daily Lectionary Reading, Matthew 18:15-20
15 “ If your brother or sister sins against you, go and correct them when you are alone together. If they listen to you, then you’ve won over your brother or sister. 16 But if they won’t listen, take with you one or two others so that every word may be established by the mouth of two or three witnesses. 17 But if they still won’t pay attention, report it to the church. If they won’t pay attention even to the church, treat them as you would a Gentile and tax collector. 18 I assure you that whatever you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. And whatever you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven. 19 Again I assure you that if two of you agree on earth about anything you ask, then my Father who is in heaven will do it for you. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, I’m there with them. ” [Common English Bible]

Today's Prayer: O Lord, remind me that I am to follow your will. O Lord, remind me that I am not the sole source of what that will is for others, that my task in life is not to criticize others. When I sincerely believe that someone is straying, encourage me to help them back on the path, but remind me that passive-aggressiveness is not helpful to the one who receives it or the one who gives it. Help me always to seek your will and exhibit it. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:89-96


Evening
Psalms 87, 88, 91


Psalm 88
1O Lord, God of my salvation, when, at night, I cry out in your presence,  2let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry. 3For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. 4I am counted among those who go down to the Pit; I am like those who have no help, 5like those forsaken among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.

6You have put me in the depths of the Pit, in the regions dark and deep. 7Your wrath lies heavy upon me, and you overwhelm me with all your waves. Selah 8You have caused my companions to shun me; you have made me a thing of horror to them. I am shut in so that I cannot escape; 9my eye grows dim through sorrow. Every day I call on you, O Lord; I spread out my hands to you.

10Do you work wonders for the dead? Do the shades rise up to praise you? 11Is your steadfast love declared in the grave, or your faithfulness in Abaddon? 12Are your wonders known in the darkness, or your saving help in the land of forgetfulness?

13But I, O Lord, cry out to you; in the morning my prayer comes before you. 14O Lord, why do you cast me off? Why do you hide your face from me? 15Wretched and close to death from my youth up, I suffer your terrors; I am desperate.


Psalm 91

1You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty, 2will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust. 3 You will deliver me from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;4 you will cover me with your pinions, and under your wings I will find refuge; your faithfulness is a shield and buckler.”

5You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day, 6or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.….
9Because you have made the Lord your refuge, the Most High your dwelling place,
10no evil shall befall you, no scourge come near your tent. 11For God will command the angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone. 13You will tread on the lion and the adder, the young lion and the serpent you will trample under foot.

God says, 14 “Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name. 15When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them. 16With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.”

Sunday, August 28, 2011

To-Do List, a Reflection on Romans 12:9-21

Rejoice in hope. Be patient in suffering. Persevere in prayer.

Paul's sermon here is not so much "How to become a Christian," as it is "What to do now that you're a Christian." He stresses, as he has done before, that Christians love each other, really love each other. Give money if they need money. Don't seek revenge against those who may have earned it. Live peaceably (I'm relieved to say that he adds, "as much as possible.)

OTOH: One of my all-time favorite Pauline quotes is verse 20. "Do nice things for your enemies; it's guaranteed to drive them nuts."

Daily Prayer, Sunday, August 28, 2011



O Lord, I love the house in which you dwell, and the place where your glory abides.


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?
Those who have clean hands and pure hearts, who do not lift up their souls to what is false, and do not swear deceitfully.
They will receive blessing from the Lord, and vindication from the God of heir salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek you, who seek the face of the God of Jacob.

....



Psalms 52, 53, 54


Daily Lectionary Reading, Romans 12:9-21
9 Love should be shown without pretending. Hate evil, and hold on to what is good. 10 Love each other like the members of your family. Be the best at showing honor to each other. 11 Don’t hesitate to be enthusiastic—be on fire in the Spirit as you serve the Lord! 12 Be happy in your hope, stand your ground when you’re in trouble, and devote yourselves to prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of God’s people, and welcome strangers into your home. 14 Bless people who harass you—bless and don’t curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy, and cry with those who are crying. 16 Consider everyone as equal, and don’t think that you’re better than anyone else. Instead associate with people who have no status. Don’t think that you’re so smart. 17 Don’t pay back anyone for their evil actions with evil actions, but show respect for what everyone else believes is good. 18 If possible, to the best of your ability, live at peace with all people. 19 Don’t try to get revenge for yourselves, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath. It is written, Revenge belongs to me; I will pay it back, says the Lord [Deut 32:35] 20 Instead, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink. By doing this, you will pile burning coals of fire upon his head. [Prov 25:21–22] 21 Don’t be defeated by evil, but defeat evil with good. [Common English Bible]


Today's Prayer: God of love, sometimes you ask a lot of us. We can hate evil but loving each other is not always easy. Welcoming strangers is not always easy. And, well, blessing people who harass us is just plain hard. Help us with these hard things. Don't let us be defeated with evil. Remind us the way you intend for evil to be defeated is by our being good. Amen.

Evening
Psalms 78, 79, 83, 86