Offertory Prayer

Each month's Offertory Prayers includes an "Invitation to the Offering" (see below) along with a digital image for those who might want to use it. We hope you will find this a helpful way to remind the people in your pews that their offering travels to many places to make a powerful difference in the lives of people they may never meet. You can find great stories of the difference our giving makes at http://umcgiving.org.

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 our connectional giving, we are playing a key role in the fight against Ebola in West Africa on many fronts. United Methodist Communications formed its Information and Communications Technologies for Development team (ICT4D), whose work includes bringing technology solutions to the fight against poverty. When Ebola was first reported in Liberia this past summer, many residents dismissed it as political propaganda or superstition. The historic text message shown here from Liberian Bishop John Innis, the most effective means of mass communication in this situation, made real the threat. 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 United Methodist Communications at: www.umcom.org/global-communications.

November 30, 2014 -- First Sunday of Advent
Our Heavenly Father, we worship you. You are the God who does awesome deeds that we did not expect! You have come down from on high, sending your precious Son Jesus to make your presence tangible. You work wonders for those who wait for you. Thank you for sending your Spirit to work in our life. Give us patience as we wait for the revealing of your glorious kingdom. May the gifts and offerings we present today serve your purposes as we await your coming in glory. Come soon, Lord Jesus! Amen. (Isaiah 64)

November Offertory Prayers were written by the Rev. Rosanna Anderson, Associate Director of Stewardship Ministries at Discipleship Ministries, The United Methodist Church.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Pruning, A Reflection on John 15:1-5

Go back and read Isaiah 5: The farmer worked very hard to make things right for that vineyard. Yet, the vineyard was a disappointment. The farmer responded.

Here in John's Gospel, the vineyard again is used as a metaphor: The branches that don't produce fruit are removed from the vine. The branches that do produce fruit are pruned so that they will produce more.

Consider the effect on your community from what your church congregation is doing.
Would that community be better or worse off if your congregation pruned some of its actions and practices from the vine?

If the answer is "better off," then what further pruning would make the effect even better?

BTW, according to the notes in the New Interpreter's Study Bible, the other "I am" sayings include: bread of life, (6:35, 48, 51; light of the world (8:12; 9:5); gate for the sheep (10:7, 9); good shepherd (10:11, 14); resurrection and the life (11:25-26); the way, and the truth, and the life (14:6).

Daily Prayer, Monday, April 30, 2012

O Lord, those who seek you shall praise you.

Morning
Invitatory Psalm 95
O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise
   to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!

For the Lord is a great God,
   and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land,
   which his hands have formed.

O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
For he is our God,
   and we are the people of his pasture,
   and the sheep of his hand.
O that today you would listen to his voice!
….

Psalm 34
I will bless the Lord at all times;
   your praise shall continually be in my mouth.

My soul makes its boast in the Lord;
   let the humble hear and be glad.

O magnify the Lord with me...
I sought you, O Lord, and you answered me,
and delivered me from all my fears.
...
O taste and see that the Lord is good;
   happy are those who take refuge in you.
...
Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Which of you desires life,
   and covets many days to enjoy good?

Keep your tongue from evil,
 and your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil, and do good;
seek peace, and pursue it.
….
The Lord is near to the brokenhearted,
   and saves the crushed in spirit.
….
The Lord redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him 

will be condemned.

Daily Lectionary Reading, John 15:1-5
 
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. 3 You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. [Common English Bible]


Prayer for Today: God, you have given us a home, a source, a connection, and a mission. Remind us of all those gifts. Strengthen us to use them so as to maintain and strengthen the vine. Amen.

Midday Psalm 119:41-48
Let your steadfast love come to me, O Lord,
   your salvation according to your promise.
Then I shall have an answer for those who taunt me,
   for I trust in your word.
Do not take the word of truth utterly out of my mouth,
   for my hope is in your ordinances.
I will keep your law continually, forever and ever.
I shall walk at liberty,
   for I have sought your precepts.
I will also speak of your decrees before kings,
   and shall not be put to shame;
I find my delight in your commandments,
   because I love them.
I revere your commandments, which I love,
   and I will meditate on your statutes.



Evening
Psalm 46
God is our refuge and strength,
   a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
   though the earth should change,
   though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
   though its waters roar and foam,
   though the mountains tremble with its tumult. Selah

There is a river whose streams
   make glad the city of God,
   the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city;
it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar,
the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord;
see what desolations he has brought on the earth.
He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
he burns the shields with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us; t
he God of Jacob is our refuge. Selah

Psalm 48
Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised
   in the city of our God.
His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation,
    is the joy of all the earth,  
Mount Zion, in the far north, the city of the great King.
Within its citadels God has shown himself a sure defense.

Then the kings assembled, they came on together.
As soon as they saw it, they were astounded;
they were in panic, they took to flight;
trembling took hold of them there,
   pains as of a woman in labor,
   as when an east wind shatters the ships of Tarshish.
As we have heard, so have we seen
   in the city of the Lord of hosts,
   in the city of our God,
       which God establishes forever. Selah

We ponder your steadfast love, O God,
   in the midst of your temple.
Your name, O God, like your praise,
   reaches to the ends of the earth.
Your right hand is filled with victory.
Let Mount Zion be glad,
let the towns of Judah rejoice
   because of your judgments.
Walk about Zion, go all around it,
count its towers, consider well its ramparts;
go through its citadels,
   that you may tell the next generation
        that this is God,
        our God forever and ever.
He will be our guide forever.


Psalm 49
Hear this, all you peoples;
give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
   both low and high,
   rich and poor together.
My mouth shall speak wisdom;
the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will solve my riddle to the music of the harp.
Why should I fear in times of trouble,
   when the iniquity of my persecutors surrounds me,
   those who trust in their wealth
   and boast of the abundance of their riches?
Truly, no ransom avails for one’s life,
there is no price one can give to God for it.
For the ransom of life is costly,
    and can never suffice
    that one should live on forever
       and never see the grave.
When we look at the wise, they die;
fool and dolt perish together
   and leave their wealth to others.
Their graves are their homes forever,
their dwelling places to all generations,
    though they named lands their own.
Mortals cannot abide in their pomp;
they are like the animals that perish.
Such is the fate of the foolhardy,
  the end of those who are pleased with their lot. Selah

Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
Death shall be their shepherd;
  straight to the grave they descend,
  and their form shall waste away;
Sheol shall be their home.
But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
   for he will receive me. Selah

Do not be afraid when some become rich,
   when the wealth of their houses increases.
For when they die they will carry nothing away;
their wealth will not go down after them.
Though in their lifetime they count themselves happy
   —for you are praised when you do well for yourself—
they will go to the company of their ancestors,
   who will never again see the light.
Mortals cannot abide in their pomp;
they are like the animals that perish.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Altogether Christian, a Reflection on 1 John 3:19-24

Questions addressed in this passage (with some answers):

How do we receive reassurance that we are from the truth? That is, can we give examples of how God's love is demonstrated through our actions?

Believing in Jesus Christ and loving one another. Have we tried to do the first without doing the second? It's one command, not two.

How do we know that Jesus abides in us? We know because we are obeying his commands.

John Wesley preached against what he called the "Almost Christian." The Almost Christian does nothing that the Bible forbids. He avoids murder, theft, adultery, and fornication. He keeps the Sabbath. He does to church, he prays, and so on. But, according to Wesley, he is missing something necessary. He's missing the command to love his neighbor a himself.

How do we become the "Altogether Christian"? We love God and those whom God love--including people we don't even like. After all, this is his commandment:
that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another.

Daily Prayer, Sunday, April 29, 2012

I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

Morning

Invitatory Psalm 24
The earth is the Lord’s and all that is in it,
the world, and those who live in it;
for he has founded it on the seas,
  and established it on the rivers.

Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord?
And who shall stand in his 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 their salvation.
Such is the company of those who seek him,
  who seek the face of the God of Jacob. Selah

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

Who is this King of glory? 
The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah



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.



Daily Lectionary Reading, 1 John 3:19-24 19 This is how we will know that we belong to the truth and reassure our hearts in God’s presence. 20 Even if our hearts condemn us, God is greater than our hearts and knows all things. 21 Dear friends, if our hearts don’t condemn us, we have confidence in relationship to God. 22 We receive whatever we ask from him because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. 23 This is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love each other as he commanded us. 24 The person who keeps his commandments remains in God and God remains in him; and this is how we know that he remains in us, because of the Spirit that he has given to us. [Common English Bible]



Prayer for Today: O God, your presence gives us comfort. We remember that you care for us. Help us also to follow your commands that you have set for us to make our ways follow your intentions for us and our well being and the well being of those around us. Remind us every moment how much you love us. Prompt us to show that love to others. Amen.


Evening
Psalm 44
We have heard with our ears, O God,
our ancestors have told us,
   what deeds you performed in their days, in the days of old:
you with your own hand drove out the nations,
   but them you planted;
you afflicted the peoples, but them you set free;

for not by their own sword did they win the land,
   nor did their own arm give them victory;
but your right hand, and your arm,
   and the light of your countenance,
   for you delighted in them.

You are my King and my God;
you command victories for Jacob.
Through you we push down our foes;
through your name we tread down our assailants.

For not in my bow do I trust,
   nor can my sword save me.
But you have saved us from our foes,
   and have put to confusion those who hate us.

In God we have boasted continually,
   and we will give thanks to your name forever. Selah

Yet you have rejected us and abased us,
   and have not gone out with our armies.

You made us turn back from the foe,
   and our enemies have gotten spoil.
You have made us like sheep for slaughter,
   and have scattered us among the nations.
You have sold your people for a trifle,
   demanding no high price for them.
You have made us the taunt of our neighbors,
   the derision and scorn of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations,
   a laughingstock among the peoples.
All day long my disgrace is before me,
   and shame has covered my face
at the words of the taunters and revilers,
   at the sight of the enemy and the avenger.
All this has come upon us, yet we have not forgotten you,
   or been false to your covenant.
Our heart has not turned back,
   nor have our steps departed from your way,
yet you have broken us in the haunt of jackals,
   and covered us with deep darkness.
If we had forgotten the name of our God,
   or spread out our hands to a strange god,
   would not God discover this?
       For he knows the secrets of the heart.
Because of you we are being killed all day long,
   and accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

Rouse yourself!
Why do you sleep, O Lord?
Awake, do not cast us off forever!
Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
   For we sink down to the dust;
   our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up, come to our help.
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love



Psalm 45
My heart overflows with a goodly theme;
I address my verses to the king;
my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.
You are the most handsome of men;
grace is poured upon your lips;
   therefore God has blessed you forever.
Gird your sword on your thigh, O mighty one,
    in your glory and majesty.
In your majesty ride on victoriously for the cause of truth
   and to defend the right;
let your right hand teach you dread deeds.
Your arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies;
the peoples fall under you.
Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever.
Your royal scepter is a scepter of equity;
you love righteousness and hate wickedness.
Therefore God, your God, has anointed you
   with the oil of gladness beyond your companions;
your robes are all fragrant with myrrh and aloes and cassia.
From ivory palaces stringed instruments make you glad;
daughters of kings are among your ladies of honor;
at your right hand stands the queen in gold of Ophir.
Hear, O daughter, consider and incline your ear;
forget your people and your father’s house,
and the king will desire your beauty.
Since he is your lord, bow to him;
the people of Tyre will seek your favor with gifts,
   the richest of the people with all kinds of wealth.
The princess is decked in her chamber with gold-woven robes;
in many-colored robes she is led to the king;
   behind her the virgins, her companions, follow.
With joy and gladness they are led along
   as they enter the palace of the king.
In the place of ancestors you, O king, shall have sons;
   you will make them princes in all the earth.
I will cause your name to be celebrated in all generations;
therefore the peoples will praise you forever and ever.