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 World Service Fund, your church supports a great tradition of United Methodist support for Higher Education. Providing scholarships and loans, a network of college chaplains, and an ongoing relationship with 113 colleges, universities and seminaries that are part of our connection – together we open doors to education for many deserving students. 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 our General Board of Higher Education & Ministry at www.gbhem.org

September 21, 2014 – Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost/in Kingdomtide
Generous God, you provide for all our needs, if we but put our trust in you. When the Israelites were hungry in the wilderness and began to complain, you gave them bread in the form of manna to eat in the morning, and quail to satisfy their hunger in the evening. You gave just enough, to be consumed with gratitude and trust. Generous God, help us to give with generosity this morning, with gratitude for all we have received from your goodness, and with trust in your faithfulness. We pray in the name of Christ our Savior. Amen. (Exodus 16:2-15)
"Prayers by Ken Sloan. Copyright General Board of Discipleship. www.GBOD.org Used by permission."

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Covenant with Abraham and Sarah and their descendants, Reflection on Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16


This passage parallels last week's reading from Genesis. God chooses to make an everlasting covenant with specific individuals. Yet, this covenant extends to their descendants. 

The Lord reminds Abram (soon to be Abraham) that those descendants include a multitude of nations.

God further says to (now) Abraham, "These descendants are coming to come through your wife Sarah."

Remember these are very old people.

We may not be sure why Abraham and Sarah were chosen, but they were.

How difficult is it for Christians to accept and understand that Jews and Muslims are fellow descendants from Abraham?

How easy is it for us to give up on promises because they have been long deferred?

How are we responding to God's gift of covenant; are we blameless?

Lectio Divina: I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you (Genesis 17:7).

Daily Prayer, Wednesday, February 29, 2012

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 32
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven,
  whose sin is covered.
Happy are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity,
  and in whose spirit there is no deceit.
While I kept silence, my body wasted away
  through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah

Then I acknowledged my sin to you,
  and I did not hide my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
  and you forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah

Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you;
at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble;
you surround me with glad cries of deliverance. Selah

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding,
  whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle,
  else it will not stay near you.

Many are the torments of the wicked,
  but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord.
Be glad in the Lord and rejoice, O righteous,
  and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Psalm 12
Help, O Lord, for there is no longer anyone who is godly;
   the faithful have disappeared from humankind.
They utter lies to each other;
   with flattering lips and a double heart they speak.
May the Lord cut off all flattering lips,
   the tongue that makes great boasts,
those who say, “With our tongues we will prevail;
   our lips are our own—who is our master?”
“Because the poor are despoiled,
   because the needy groan, I will now rise up,” says the Lord;
   “I will place them in the safety for which they long.”
The promises of the Lord are promises that are pure,
   silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
       purified seven times.
You, O Lord, will protect us;
   you will guard us from this generation forever.
On every side the wicked prowl, as vileness is exalted among humankind.

Psalm 13
How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I bear pain in my soul,
   and have sorrow in my heart all day long?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?
Consider and answer me, O Lord my God!
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep the sleep of death,
and my enemy will say,
   “I have prevailed”;
my foes will rejoice because I am shaken.
But I trusted in your steadfast love;
my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.



Psalm 17
Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
From you let my vindication come;
let your eyes see the right.
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.

As for what others do,
   by the word of your lips
   I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.

I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me, hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
   O savior of those who seek refuge
       from their adversaries at your right hand.
Guard me as the apple of the eye;
hide me in the shadow of your wings,
from the wicked who despoil me,
   my deadly enemies who surround me.
They close their hearts to pity;
with their mouths they speak arrogantly.
They track me down;
now they surround me;
they set their eyes to cast me to the ground.
They are like a lion eager to tear, like a young lion lurking in ambush.

Rise up, O Lord, confront them, overthrow them!
By your sword deliver my life from the wicked,
   from mortals—by your hand, O Lord
   — from mortals whose portion in life is in this world.
May their bellies be filled with what you have stored up for them;
may their children have more than enough;
may they leave something over to their little ones.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.



Daily Lectionary Reading, Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16
When Abram was 99 years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, “ I am El Shaddai. (a) Walk with me and be trustworthy. 2 I will make a covenant between us and I will give you many, many descendants. ” 3 Abram fell on his face, and God said to him, 4 “ But me, my covenant is with you; you will be the ancestor of many nations. 5 And because I have made you the ancestor of many nations, your name will no longer be Abram (b) but Abraham. (c) 6 I will make you very fertile. I will produce nations from you, and kings will come from you. 7 I will set up my covenant with you and your descendants after you in every generation as an enduring covenant. I will be your God and your descendants’ God after you. 
15 God said to Abraham, “ As for your wife Sarai, you will no longer call her Sarai. Her name will now be Sarah. 16 I will bless her and even give you a son from her. I will bless her so that she will become nations, and kings of peoples will come from her. ” [Common English Bible]
_________________________________________________
a  Or God Almighty or God of the Mountain
b  Or exalted ancestor
c  Or ancestor of a multitude

Prayer for Today: O God, open us to your will and to your promises. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:17-24
Deal bountifully with your servant,
   so that I may live and observe your word.
Open my eyes, so that I may behold
   wondrous things out of your law.
I live as an alien in the land;
   do not hide your commandments from me.
My soul is consumed with longing
   for your ordinances at all times.
You rebuke the insolent, accursed ones,
   who wander from your commandments;
take away from me their scorn and contempt,
    for I have kept your decrees.
Even though princes sit plotting against me,
    your servant will meditate on your statutes.
Your decrees are my delight, they are my counselors.

Evening
Psalm 18
I love you, O Lord, my strength.
The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer, my God,
   my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield,
   and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
I call upon the Lord, who is worthy to be praised,
   so I shall be saved from my enemies.
The cords of death encompassed me;
the torrents of perdition assailed me;
the cords of Sheol entangled me;
the snares of death confronted me.
In my distress I called upon the Lord;
to my God I cried for help.

From his temple he heard my voice,
   and my cry to him reached his ears.
Then the earth reeled and rocked;
the foundations also of the mountains
   trembled and quaked, because he was angry.
Smoke went up from his nostrils,
   and devouring fire from his mouth;
glowing coals flamed forth from him.
He bowed the heavens, and came down;
thick darkness was under his feet.
He rode on a cherub, and flew;
he came swiftly upon the wings of the wind.
He made darkness his covering around him,
his canopy thick clouds dark with water.

Out of the brightness before him there
  broke through his clouds hailstones and coals of fire.
The Lord also thundered in the heavens,
   and the Most High uttered his voice.
And he sent out his arrows, and scattered them;
he flashed forth lightnings, and routed them.
Then the channels of the sea were seen,
and the foundations of the world were laid bare
   at your rebuke, O Lord,
   at the blast of the breath of your nostrils.

He reached down from on high, he took me;
he drew me out of mighty waters.
He delivered me from my strong enemy,
   and from those who hated me;
   for they were too mighty for me.
They confronted me in the day of my calamity;
but the Lord was my support.
He brought me out into a broad place;
he delivered me, because he delighted in me.
The Lord rewarded me according to my righteousness;
according to the cleanness of my hands he recompensed me.
For I have kept the ways of the Lord,
   and have not wickedly departed from my God.
For all his ordinances were before me,
   and his statutes I did not put away from me.
I was blameless before him, and I kept myself from guilt.
Therefore the Lord has recompensed me
   according to my righteousness,
   according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

With the loyal you show yourself loyal;
with the blameless you show yourself blameless;
with the pure you show yourself pure;
   and with the crooked you show yourself perverse.
For you deliver a humble people,
   but the haughty eyes you bring down.

It is you who light my lamp;
the Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.
By you I can crush a troop,
   and by my God I can leap over a wall.

This God—his way is perfect;
the promise of the Lord proves true;
he is a shield for all who take refuge in him.
For who is God except the Lord?
And who is a rock besides our God?—
the God who girded me with strength,
   and made my way safe.
He made my feet like the feet of a deer,
   and set me secure on the heights.
He trains my hands for war,
   so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze.

You have given me the shield of your salvation,
   and your right hand has supported me;
your help has made me great.
You gave me a wide place for my steps under me,
and my feet did not slip.
….
The Lord lives!
Blessed be my rock,
   and exalted be the God of my salvation,
   the God who gave me vengeance
        and subdued peoples under me;
        who delivered me from my enemies;
indeed, you exalted me above my adversaries;
you delivered me from the violent.
For this I will extol you, O Lord, among the nations,
   and sing praises to your name.
Great triumphs he gives to his king,
   and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
   to David and his descendants forever.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Prescribed Burning, Reflection on Mark 8:34-38

As I think about how I need to adapt my life to fit this teaching of Jesus, I am reminded of the practice of prescribed burning. 

Here's two quotations (the first by Tess Tescher, TTescher@Juno.com); the second by Alan J. Long, University of Flordia Cooperative Extension Service, (edis.ifas.ufl.edu/BODY_FR061):
Prescribed burning is a useful tool for maintaining and restoring diversity in our native grasslands. Buildups of dead plant litter can be a fire hazard, lessen the biodiversity of the area, and aid in the establishment of invader species.
Reasons We Burn: Reduction of Hazardous Fuels; Altering Vegatative Communities; Improving Wildlife and Livestock Habitat; Controlling Pest Problems; Improving Access

Surely, we can metaphorize prescribed burning in some way that will demonstrate our need for Lent practices.

Lectio Divina: Mark 8:35-36. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. For what will it profit them to gain the whole world and forfeit their life?

Daily Prayer, Tuesday, February 28, 2012

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.

Morning
Invitatory 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.
….
I am weary with my moaning;
every night I flood my bed with tears;
I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eyes waste away because of grief;
they grow weak because of all my foes.

Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
  for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my supplication;
the Lord accepts my prayer.
….

Psalm 9
I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will 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 Reading, Mark 8:34-38


34 After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “ All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me. 35 All who want to save their lives will lose them. But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them. 36 Why would people gain the whole world but lose their lives? 37 What will people give in exchange for their lives? 38 Whoever is ashamed of me and my words in this unfaithful and sinful generation, the Human One (m) will be ashamed of that person when he comes in the Father’s glory with the holy angels. ”
_________________________________________________
m  Or Son of Man
[Common English Bible]


Today's prayer: O Lord our God, teach us temperance and self-control, that we may live in the Spirit and be mindful of all that Jesus endured and sacrificed for our sakes, and how he was made perfect through sufferings. Help us so to keep the fast that you have chosen, that we may loose the bonds of wickedness, undo the heavy burdens, and let the oppressed go free; through the grace of Jesus Christ our crucified and risen Savior. Amen. (UMBOW 337)

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.