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.

August 31, 2014 -- Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost/in Kingdomtide

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

Holy God, we bring our gifts to your altar this morning, remembering that Jesus told us that if we were truly to be his disciples we would need to “deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow.” It’s tempting to try to follow, without taking the cross; or to try to follow, without denying ourselves. More often, we seek to simply take the name of “Christian” without the denying, the taking of the cross, or the following. Guide us, Lord, on this journey of discipleship. Use these gifts, and use us. In our Savior’s holy name, we pray. Amen. (Matthew 16:21-28)

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

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Words to Sinners, Reflection on Isaiah 40:1-5

God has instructed the prophet Isaiah to speak tenderly to the people, to tell them that they have suffered long enough. 

You may be living in the wilderness. Prepare for God to come to you there. You may be living in a desert. Prepare for God to come to you there. There are low places in your lives. Fill them in. There are obstacles. Knock them down. When something gets in your way or trips you up, move it out of your way.

God is coming into your life.

And this is good news.

Lectio Divina: Isaiah 40:3

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Let us hear what God the Lord will speak;
   for you will speak peace to your people,
   to your faithful,
   to those who turn to you in your hearts (from Psalm 85:2)

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 120
….
“Deliver me, O Lord, from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.”
….
Too long have I had my dwelling among those who hate peace.
I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.



Psalm 121
I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come?
My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.



Psalm 122
I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
Our feet are standing within your gates, O Jerusalem.
Jerusalem—built as a city that is bound firmly together.
To it the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel,
   to give thanks to the name of the Lord.
For there the thrones for judgment were set up, the thrones of the house of David.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.
Peace be within your walls, and security within your towers.”
For the sake of my relatives and friends I will say, “Peace be within you.”
For the sake of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.



Psalm 123
To you I lift up my eyes, O you who are enthroned in the heavens!
As the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master,
   as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress,
   so our eyes look to the Lord our God, until he has mercy upon us.
Have mercy upon us, O Lord, have mercy upon us,
   for we have had more than enough of contempt.
Our soul has had more than its fill of the scorn of those who are at ease,
   of the contempt of the proud.

Psalm 124
If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—let Israel now say—
if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us,
then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;
then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;
then over us would have gone the raging waters.

Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers;
the snare is broken, and we have escaped.

Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.



Daily Lectionary Reading, Isaiah 40:1-5
Comfort, comfort my people! says your God. 2 Speak compassionately to Jerusalem, and proclaim to her that her compulsory service has ended, that her penalty has been paid, that she has received from the LORD ’s hand double for all her sins! 3 A voice is crying out: “Clear the LORD ’s way in the desert! Make a level highway in the wilderness for our God! 4 Every valley will be raised up, and every mountain and hill will be flattened. Uneven ground will become level, and rough terrain a valley plain. 5 The LORD ’s glory will appear, and all humanity will see it together; the LORD ’s mouth has commanded it.”


Prayer for today: O God, in these times of fear and disruption and despair, we need to hear your comforting message. Prepare us, and strengthen us to prepare others, to welcome your presence in our lives. Amen.



Midday Psalm 119:153-160


Look on my misery and rescue me,
   for I do not forget your law.
Plead my cause and redeem me;
   give me life according to your promise.
Salvation is far from the wicked,
   for they do not seek your statutes.
Great is your mercy, O Lord;
   give me life according to your justice.
Many are my persecutors and my adversaries,
   yet I do not swerve from your decrees.
I look at the faithless with disgust,
   because they do not keep your commands.
Consider how I love your precepts;
   preserve my life according to your steadfast love.
The sum of your word is truth;
   and every one of your righteous ordinances endures forever.


Evening
Psalm 130
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
Lord, hear my voice! Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in your word I hope;
my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
O Israel, hope in the Lord! For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
….

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More Powerful than I, Reflection on Mark 1:4-8

The NRSV translation of verse 4 is "John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The term "repentance" does carry the connotation of regret, but it means more than that. The Greek word metanoia that we translate as "repentance" means literally, "a change of mind." Not a simple "I'm sorry" or "I wish things could have been different," but rather a "I'm traveling a different way now."

Morna Hooker, in her commentary on Mark, lists the OT references implied in Mark's description of John: The rough garment of camel's hair is probably to be taken as an indication that he was a prophet (Zechariah 13:4). The reference to the leather belt echoes the description of Elijah (2 Kings 1:8). He calls the nation to repent as did Malachi (4:5). The locusts and honey are typical food for travelers in the wilderness and locusts were permitted in the Torah (Leviticus 11:21).

John is preparing his world for a new age with a new leader, one who is not only more powerful than the prophets who foretold his coming, but one who also is more powerful than the governors and Caesars of his time.

During this Advent season, let us remember John's promise. And let us remember that the Holy Spirit continues to work in the world and in our lives, to sustain us and to prompt us.

Lectio Divina: Mark 1:5-8; Psalm 85:8

Daily Prayer, Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Let us hear what God the Lord will speak;
   for you will speak peace to your people,
   to your faithful,
   to those who turn to you in your hearts (from Psalm 85:2)



Morning
Invitatory Psalm  84
....

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 a day in your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than live in the tents of wickedness.
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 97
The Lord is king! Let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!
Clouds and thick darkness are all around you;
righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne.
...
The heavens proclaim you righteousness; and all the peoples behold your glory.
All worshipers of images are put to shame, those who make their boast in worthless idols;
all gods bow down before you.

Zion hears and is glad, and the towns of Judah rejoice, because of your judgments, O God.
For you, O Lord, are most high over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods.

You love those who hate evil; you guard  the lives of his faithful;
you rescue them from the hand of the wicked.
Light dawns for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart.
Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous, and give thanks to the holy name!



Psalm 98
O sing to the Lord a new song...
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
   break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
   with the lyre and the sound of melody.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn
   make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
   the world and those who live in it.
Let the floods clap their hands;
let the hills sing together for joy
   at the presence of the Lord,
who is coming to judge the earth with righteousness,
   and the peoples with equity.



Psalm 99
….
Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity;
you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
….
Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy.



Psalm 101
I will sing of loyalty and of justice; to you, O Lord, I will sing.
I will study the way that is blameless.
When shall I attain it?
I will walk with integrity of heart within my house;
I will not set before my eyes anything that is base.
….
I will look with favor on the faithful in the land,
so that they may live with me;
whoever walks in the way that is blameless shall minister to me.

No one who practices deceit shall remain in my house;
no one who utters lies shall continue in my presence.

….




Daily Lectionary Reading, Mark 1:4-8
4 John was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. 5 Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. 6 John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. 8 I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” [Common English Bible]


Prayer for Today: Gracious God, you send to us messengers, but too often we may be confused or distracted by all the other messengers in our world. Help us to recognize your word. Encourage us to be attentive to your presence among us. Amen.



Midday Psalm 119:137-152


You are righteous, O Lord, and your judgments are right.
You have appointed your decrees in righteousness and in all faithfulness.
My zeal consumes me because my foes forget your words.
Your promise is well tried, and your servant loves it.
I am small and despised, yet I do not forget your precepts.
Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and your law is the truth.
Trouble and anguish have come upon me, but your commandments are my delight.
Your decrees are righteous forever; give me understanding that I may live.
With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O Lord. I will keep your statutes.
I cry to you; save me, that I may observe your decrees.
I rise before dawn and cry for help; I put my hope in your words.
My eyes are awake before each watch of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
In your steadfast love hear my voice; O Lord, in your justice preserve my life.
Those who persecute me with evil purpose draw near; they are far from your law.
Yet you are near, O Lord, and all your commandments are true.
Long ago I learned from your decrees that you have established them forever.



Evening
Psalm 115
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.
Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?”
Our God is in the heavens; he does whatever he pleases.

Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands.
They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see.
They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell.
They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk;
they make no sound in their throats.
Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them.

O Israel, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.
O house of Aaron, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.
You who fear the Lord, trust in the Lord! He is their help and their shield.
The Lord has been mindful of us; he will bless us;
he will bless the house of Israel;
he will bless the house of Aaron;

he will bless those who fear the Lord, both small and great.
May the Lord give you increase, both you and your children.
May you be blessed by the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
The heavens are the Lord’s heavens, but the earth he has given to human beings.
The dead do not praise the Lord, nor do any that go down into silence.
But we will bless the Lord from this time on and forevermore. Praise the Lord!



Psalm 116
I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my supplications.
Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me;
the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;
I suffered distress and anguish.

Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, save my life!”
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.
The Lord protects the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return, O my soul, to your rest,
   for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For you have delivered my soul from death,
   my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling.
I walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
I kept my faith, even when I said, “I am greatly afflicted”;
I said in my consternation, “Everyone is a liar.”

What shall I return to the Lord for all his bounty to me?
I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord,
I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.
….
I will offer to you a thanksgiving sacrifice and call on the name of the Lord.
I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people,
in the courts of the house of the Lord, in your midst, O Jerusalem. Praise the Lord!




Psalm 117
Praise the Lord, all you nations! Extol him, all you peoples!
For great is his steadfast love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever. Praise the Lord!

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Beginning of the Good News, Reflection on Mark 1:1-3

Isaiah had told them centuries before that God would be sending a messenger, one who would call from the wilderness for them to prepare for God's presence. Now John the baptizer is echoing this call. (Note that the quote in verses 2-3 are a conflation of sources: Exodus 23:20 and Malachi 3:1 as well as Isaiah 40:3, Preaching the Gospels by Allen & Williamson).

Mark's audience was living under domination by Rome. According to Allen & Williamson,
Isaiah was especially popular among the apocalyptists because they used the Babylonian oppressors and the exile to interpret Rome as a latter-day idolatrous and unjust Babylon and their situation of exile as they awaited the apocalypse. Isaiah 40:30 reinforces the theme from Malachi: John prepared the community for the eschatological invasion of the present, broken world by Jesus.
What does Mark mean by "beginning"? Is John the beginning of the good news? Or, is Mark's gospel the beginning of the story that continues to this day? (NT Commentary by Boring & Craddock)

For us, what is wilderness? What is our Babylon? Is it time for us to return from exile? How does the call for repentance relate to our lives?

Lectio Divina: Mark 1:2-4

Daily Prayer, Monday, November 28, 2011

Let us hear what God the Lord will speak;
   for you will speak peace to your people,
   to your faithful,
   to those who turn to you in your hearts (from Psalm 85:2)



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 94
....
The Lord knows our thoughts, that they are but an empty breath.
Happy are those whom you discipline, O Lord, and whom you teach out of your law,
giving them respite from days of trouble, until a pit is dug for the wicked.
For the Lord will not forsake his people; he will not abandon his heritage;
for justice will return to the righteous, and all the upright in heart will follow it.
Who rises up for me against the wicked? Who stands up for me against evildoers?
If the Lord had not been my help, my soul would soon have lived in the land of silence.
When I thought, “My foot is slipping,” your steadfast love, O Lord, held me up.
When the cares of my heart are many, your consolations cheer my soul.
Can wicked rulers be allied with you, those who contrive mischief by statute?
They band together against the life of the righteous, and condemn the innocent to death.
But the Lord has become my stronghold, and my God the rock of my refuge.
He will repay them for their iniquity and wipe them out for their wickedness; the Lord our God will wipe them out.



Psalm 96
O sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth.
Sing to the Lord, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples.
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be revered above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Honor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts.
Worship the Lord in holy splendor; tremble before him, all the earth.
Say among the nations, “The Lord is king! The world is firmly established; it shall never be moved. He will judge the peoples with equity.”
Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
let the field exult, and everything in it. Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy
before the Lord; for he is coming, for he is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.



Daily Lectionary Reading, Mark 1:1-3

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, 2 happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah: Look, I am sending my messenger before you . He will prepare your way, 3 a voice shouting in the wilderness: “Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight .” (a)
_________________________________________________ a Isa 40:3; Mal 3:1; Exod 23:20


Prayer for Today: O God, you have sent messengers to us. Open our ears to hear your promises and your commands. Open our hearts to receive your word. We confess that we have not always done what you would have us do. We ask for your forgiveness and your help in living the life you intend for us to enjoy. Amen.


Midday Psalm 119:129-136


Your decrees are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.
The unfolding of your words gives light;
it imparts understanding to the simple.
With open mouth I pant,
because I long for your commandments.
Turn to me and be gracious to me,
as is your custom toward those who love your name.
Keep my steps steady according to your promise,
and never let iniquity have dominion over me.
Redeem me from human oppression,
that I may keep your precepts.
Make your face shine upon your servant,
and teach me your statutes.
My eyes shed streams of tears because your law is not kept.


Evening
Psalms 110
The Lord says to my lord, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool.”
The Lord sends out from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your foes.
Your people will offer themselves willingly on the day you lead your forces on the holy mountains. From the womb of the morning, like dew, your youth will come to you.
The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter heads over the wide earth.
He will drink from the stream by the path; therefore he will lift up his head.



Psalm 111
Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart, in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.
Full of honor and majesty is his work, and his righteousness endures forever.
He has gained renown by his wonderful deeds; the Lord is gracious and merciful.
He provides food for those who fear him; he is ever mindful of his covenant.
He has shown his people the power of his works, in giving them the heritage of the nations.
The works of his hands are faithful and just; all his precepts are trustworthy.
They are established forever and ever, to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
He sent redemption to his people; he has commanded his covenant forever. Holy and awesome is his name.
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever.



Psalm 112
Praise the Lord! Happy are those who fear the Lord, who greatly delight in his commandments.
Their descendants will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.
Wealth and riches are in their houses, and their righteousness endures forever.
They rise in the darkness as a light for the upright; they are gracious, merciful, and righteous.
It is well with those who deal generously and lend, who conduct their affairs with justice.
For the righteous will never be moved; they will be remembered forever.
They are not afraid of evil tidings; their hearts are firm, secure in theLord.
Their hearts are steady, they will not be afraid; in the end they will look in triumph on their foes.
They have distributed freely, they have given to the poor; their righteousness endures forever; their horn is exalted in honor.
The wicked see it and are angry; they gnash their teeth and melt away; the desire of the wicked comes to nothing.

Psalm 113
Praise the Lord! Praise, O servants of the Lord; praise the name of theLord.
Blessed be the name of the Lord from this time on and forevermore.
From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the Lord is to be praised.
The Lord is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.
Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high,
who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?
He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.
He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the Lord!

Psalm 114
When Israel went out from Egypt, the house of Jacob from a people of strange language,
Judah became God’s sanctuary, Israel his dominion.
The sea looked and fled; Jordan turned back.
The mountains skipped like rams, the hills like lambs.
Why is it, O sea, that you flee? O Jordan, that you turn back?
O mountains, that you skip like rams? O hills, like lambs?
Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob,
who turns the rock into a pool of water, the flint into a spring of water.