Offertory Prayer

April 27, 2014 – Second Sunday of Easter
Living, loving God, we give thanks and praise that the doors of our hearts can't keep you out, and the doors of our churches can't keep you in! May your breath blow anew through the world, may your spirit fill the lives of those who believed they were beyond your reach! May we who have been so blessed with the joy of this Easter redemption be generous in sharing all that we are and all that we have, so that the power of the Resurrection might reach all your children. In Christ's Holy name, we pray. Amen. (John 20:19-31)

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 World Service Fund, a talented group of global communicators, lead by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee, directs messaging that reaches people who have never set foot in one of our churches. Through billboards, digital advertising, video spots, radio and more, they give people outside the church a glimpse of who we are and what matters to us as Christians. 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 United Methodist Communications atwww.umcom.org and www.rethinkchurch.org.


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

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The One You Want Is Coming, a Reflection on Malachi 3:1-14

Although not many Methodist churches recognize it, February 2 is designated for Presentation of the Lord, remembering the day that Mary presented her newborn son to the temple, Luke 2:22-40.


The first reading chosen by the lectionary is this passage from Malachi which is usually dated to the Persian period. The people have known exile, have felt that they had been forgotten by God, and are looking toward a word from God.
  
Christians read this passage in Malachi as a foretelling of the coming of Christ.


Consider the promises made about the messenger: The one you want is coming. But, who will be able to stand it? He will refine and purify the descendants of Levi (us, too?)

After the fire that refines and purifies, the offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be as pleasing as it once was. (How does this promise relate to our situation? Should we translate the refinement as something that happens after death? Or, should we go ahead and repent immediately?)

Allen & Williamson in their Preaching the Old Testament see "the refiner's fire" to be a simile for the transformative love of God:
We are so accustomed to speaking of God's justifying, forgiving, and redeeming grace that we sometimes forget the basic point that God has a purpose in all that God does, and the purpose is that all people should have life and well-being (2:5). Yet clearly they cannot as long as we insist on and persist in living in ways that lead to death and curse. God's love is freely given to each and all, but it is a love that gives and calls us to become people who love God with all our selves and our neighbors as ourselves and to act accordingly in relation to our neighbors.
Lectio Divina: Malachi 3:2

Daily Prayer, Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Praise the Lord!
How good it is to sing praises to you;
   for you are gracious,
   and a song of praise is fitting. (from Psalm 147:1)


MorningInvitatory Psalm 84
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord of hosts!
My soul longs, indeed it faints for the courts of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow for herself
where she may lay her you, at your altars,
   O Lord of hosts, my Ruler and my God.
Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.
....
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 9
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I w
ill be glad and exult in you;

I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.
When my enemies turned back,
   they stumbled and perished before you.
For you have maintained my just cause;
you have sat on the throne giving righteous judgment.
….

You judge the world with righteousness;
you judge the peoples with equity.
The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
   a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
   for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
….
Be gracious to me, O Lord.
See what I suffer from those who hate me;
you are the one who lifts me up from the gates of death,
so that I may recount all your praises,
   and, in the gates of daughter Zion, rejoice in your deliverance.
….
For the needy shall not always be forgotten,
   nor the hope of the poor perish forever.
Rise up, O Lord! Do not let mortals prevail;
let the nations be judged before you.
Put them in fear, O Lord;
   let the nations know that they are only human.


Psalm 10
Why, O Lord, do you stand far off?
Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?
In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor
   — let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.
For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart,
  those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord.
In the pride of their countenance the wicked say,
   “God will not seek it out”;
        all their thoughts are, “There is no God.”
Their ways prosper at all times;
your judgments are on high, out of their sight;
as for their foes, they scoff at them.
They think in their heart, “We shall not be moved;
throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity.”
Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression;
under their tongues are mischief and iniquity.
They sit in ambush in the villages;
in hiding places they murder the innocent.

Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;
they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert;
they lurk that they may seize the poor;
they seize the poor and drag them off in their net.
They stoop, they crouch, and the helpless fall by their might.
They think in their heart,
   “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

Rise up, O Lord;
O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed.
Why do the wicked renounce God, and say in their hearts,
   “You will not call us to account”?
But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief,
   that you may take it into your hands;
the helpless commit themselves to you;       
   you have been the helper of the orphan.

Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers;
seek out their wickedness until you find none.

The Lord is king forever and ever;
the nations shall perish from his land.
O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek;
you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear
to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed,
   so that those from earth may strike terror no more.

Daily Lectionary Readings: 
Malachi 3:1-4
Look, I am sending my messenger who will clear the path before me; suddenly the LORD whom you are seeking will come to his temple. The messenger of the covenant in whom you take delight is coming, says the LORD of heavenly forces. 2 Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can withstand his appearance? He is like the refiner’s fire or the cleaner’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver. He will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. They will belong to the LORD, presenting a righteous offering. 4 The offering of Judah and Jerusalem will be pleasing to the LORD as in ancient days and in former years.

Psalm 24
The earth is the LORD’s
and everything in it,
the world and its inhabitants too.
2 Because God is the one
who established it on the seas;
God set it firmly on the waters.
3 Who can ascend the LORD’s mountain?
Who can stand in his holy sanctuary?
4 Only the one with clean hands
and a pure heart;
the one who hasn’t made false promises,
the one who hasn’t sworn dishonestly.
5 That kind of person receives blessings from the LORD
and righteousness
from the God who saves.
6 And that’s how things are
with the generation that seeks him—
that seeks the face of Jacob’s God. (r) Selah
7 Mighty gates: lift up your heads!
Ancient doors: rise up high!
So the glorious king can enter!
8 Who is this glorious king?
The LORD —strong and powerful!
The LORD —powerful in battle!
9 Mighty gates: lift up your heads!
Ancient doors: rise up high!
So the glorious king can enter!
10 Who is this glorious king?
The LORD of heavenly forces—
he is the glorious king! Selah
_________________________________________________
r  LXX, Syr; MT seek your face, Jacob
[Common English Bible]

Prayer for Today: O God, prepare us for your coming into our lives. Prepare us to prepare. Help us to recognize you. Help us to live in ways that will help others to recognize you. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:9-16
How can young people keep their way pure?
   By guarding it according to your word.
With my whole heart I seek you;
do not let me stray from your commandments.
I treasure your word in my heart,
   so that I may not sin against you.
Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes.
With my lips I declare all the ordinances of your mouth.
I delight in the way of your decrees as much as in all riches.
I will meditate on your precepts, and fix my eyes on your ways.
I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.

Evening
Psalm 11
In the Lord I take refuge;
   how can you say to me, “Flee like a bird to the mountains;
   for look, the wicked bend the bow,
   they have fitted their arrow to the string,
   to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart.
If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
The Lord is in his holy temple; the Lord’s throne is in heaven.
His eyes behold, his gaze examines humankind.
The Lord tests the righteous and the wicked,
   and his soul hates the lover of violence.
….
For the Lord is righteous; he loves righteous deeds;
    the upright shall behold his face.

Psalm 14
Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds;
    there is no one who does good.
The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind
   to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.
They have all gone astray, they are all alike perverse;
   there is no one who does good, no, not one.
Have they no knowledge,
   all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread,
   and do not call upon the Lord?
There they shall be in great terror,
   for God is with the company of the righteous.

You would confound the plans of the poor,
    but the Lord is their refuge.
O that deliverance for Israel would come from Zion!
When the Lord restores the fortunes of his people,
   Jacob will rejoice; Israel will be glad.

Psalm 15
O Lord, who may abide in your tent?
Who may dwell on your holy hill?
Those who walk blamelessly,
    and do what is right,
    and speak the truth from their heart;
    who do not slander with their tongue,
    and do no evil to their friends,
    nor take up a reproach against their neighbors;
    in whose eyes the wicked are despised,
    but who honor those who fear the Lord;
    who stand by their oath even to their hurt;
    who do not lend money at interest,
     and do not take a bribe against the innocent.

Those who do these things shall never be moved.

Psalm 16
Protect me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.”
As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.
Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
   or take their names upon my lips.
The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
I have a goodly heritage.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I keep the Lord always before me;
  because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices;
   my body also rests secure.
For you do not give me up to Sheol,
   or let your faithful one see the Pit.
You show me the path of life.
In your presence there is fullness of joy;
in your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Still Healing, Reflection on Mark 1:29-34

Right after healing a man in the synagogue, Jesus and his disciples went to Simon and Andrew's house. As soon as he heard that Simon's mother-in-law was ill, he healed her, too.

I find interesting several things. One is we are given no indication that those needing healing asked Jesus to do so. Another is that we are not told that Simon's m-i-l had faith in Jesus' power to heal her. Also, interesting to me is her response. As soon as she is healed, she gets up and serves them a meal (my interpretation of "waited on them").

The word spreads. The whole town shows up including all who are ill or possessed.

Once again, Jesus won't let the demons speak because they know who he is.

Questions that linger: Do they have faith or knowledge in Jesus other than his ability to heal?



Application for our time:
The Global Health Initiative is major area of focus for the ministry of The United Methodist Church,which aims to combat diseases of poverty such as malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis as well as provide health education, advocacy and infrastructure. We have long been a key player in the fight against malaria through the hospitals, clinics and missions centers we have operated across Africa for more than 160 years.

To read more about the history of Methodist efforts to promote healing and a current example of what the church is doing now see UMC efforts to heal





Daily Prayer, Monday, January 30, 2012

Praise the Lord!
How good it is to sing praises to you;
   for you are gracious,
   and a song of praise is fitting. (from Psalm 147:1)

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 1
Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
   or take the path that sinners tread,
   or sit in the seat of scoffers;
       but their delight is in the law of the Lord,
       and on it,  they meditate day and night.
They are like trees planted by streams of water,
   which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither.
In all that they do, they prosper.
The wicked are not so,
   but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
….

Psalm 2
Why do the nations conspire,
   and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
   against the Lord and his anointed,  saying,
       “Let us burst their bonds asunder,
         and cast their cords from us.”

The One who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord has them in derision.
Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
   and terrify them in his fury, saying,
       “I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”
I will tell of the decree of the Lord:
   He said to me, “You are my son;
   today I have begotten you.
….
Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
….

Psalm 3
O Lord, how many are my foes!
Many are rising against me;
many are saying to me,
   “There is no help for you in God.”
But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, 

my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.
I cry aloud to the Lord,
   and he answers me from his holy hill.
I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.
I am not afraid of ten thousands of people
   who have set themselves against me all around.

Rise up, O Lord!
Deliver me, O my God! ...
Deliverance belongs to the Lord;
may your blessing be on your people!

Psalm 5
Give ear to my words, O Lord;
give heed to my sighing.
Listen to the sound of my cry,
   my King and my God, for to you I pray.
O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice;
   in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.
For you are not a God who delights in wickedness;
   evil will not sojourn with you.
….
Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness

because of my enemies;
make your way straight before me.



 For there is no truth in their mouths;
 their hearts are destruction;
their throats are open graves;
they flatter with their tongues.
….
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
   so that those who love your name may exult in you.
For you bless the righteous, O Lord;
you cover them with favor as with a shield.


Daily Lectionary Reading, Mark 1:29-39
 
29 After leaving the synagogue, Jesus, James, and John went home with Simon and Andrew. 30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed, sick with a fever, and they told Jesus about her at once. 31 He went to her, took her by the hand, and raised her up. The fever left her, and she served them. Jesus’ ministry spreads 32 That evening, at sunset, people brought to Jesus those who were sick or demon-possessed. 33 The whole town gathered near the door. 34 He healed many who were sick with all kinds of diseases, and he threw out many demons. But he didn’t let the demons speak, because they recognized him. 35 Early in the morning, well before sunrise, Jesus rose and went to a deserted place where he could be alone in prayer. 36 Simon and those with him tracked him down. 37 When they found him, they told him, “Everyone’s looking for you!” 38 He replied, “Let’s head in the other direction, to the nearby villages, so that I can preach there too. That’s why I’ve come.” 39 He traveled throughout Galilee preaching in their synagogues and throwing out demons. [Common English Bible]



Prayer for Today: We give you thanks that you still come to the sick, still offer healing. Help us then when we are healed to follow the example of Simon's mother-in-law to serve others. We ask that you continue to send your church where people need comfort or exhortation. Amen.


Midday Psalm 119:1-8
Happy are those whose way is blameless,
   who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are those who keep his decrees,
   who seek him with their whole heart,
   who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways.
You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently.
O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Then I shall not be put to shame,
   having my eyes fixed on all your commandments.
I will praise you with an upright heart,
   when I learn your righteous ordinances.
I will observe your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.



Evening
Psalm 6
O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger,
   or discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.
My soul also is struck with terror, while you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.
….
The Lord has heard my supplication;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror;
they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.



Psalm 7
O Lord my God, in you I take refuge;
save me from all my pursuers, and deliver me,
or like a lion they will tear me apart;
they will drag me away, with no one to rescue.
....
O let the evil of the wicked come to an end,
   but establish the righteous,
   you who test the minds and hearts,
        O righteous God.
God is my shield, who saves the upright in heart.
God is a righteous judge,
   and a God who has indignation every day.
….
I will give you the thanks due to your righteousness,
   and sing praise to your name, O Lord, the Most High.



Psalm 8
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouths of babes and infants
   you have founded a bulwark because of your foes,
       to silence the enemy and the avenger.
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers,
   the moon and the stars that you have established;
what are human beings that you are mindful of them,
   mortals that you care for them?
Yet you have made them a little lower than God,
   and crowned them with glory and honor.
You have given them dominion over the works of your hands;
you have put all things under their feet,
   all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,
   the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea,
   whatever passes along the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!