A place of respite.

Come into this space of respite. The stress, evils, and hardships of the world have manifested in our bodies and souls.
Beleaguered by the world, we are weary.

Come into sanctuary with the great mystery. Be present with dust and breath, with earth and divinity.
We come to be restored by the breath of the creating One. We come to be one in the presence of one another.

Acknowledge the stress, evils, hurts, and hardships of the world that you’ve absorbed and carry with you. 
We seek healing and wholeness and connection.

Take into yourselves the world, integrate it with the Imago Dei (the image of God) within you and together create something holy.
We seek to remake, to restore, and transform ourselves before one another and the mysterious One.

Come into this space of respite. Open your whole beings to the balm of healing. 
We open our hearts to the new creation made of dust and breath, of the world and of divinity, of our dark places and the light that resides within.

Be ready. Wholeness awaits. Amen.

Posted in Call to Worship, Mark, Mark 7, Mark 7:1-23, New Testament

Confession & Assurance: Psalm 51

Prayer of Confession

Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love!

Wipe away my wrongdoings
according to your great compassion!

Wash me completely clean of my guilt;
purify me from my sin!

Because I know my wrongdoings,
my sin is always right in front of me. (Psalm 51:1-3 CEB)

Assurance of Grace

The boundless love of God has purified you with hyssop and second chances. Each one of you is beloved and forgiven, clean as new-fallen snow (inspired by Psalm 51:6-7)

Posted in Confession of Sin & Assurance, Old Testament, Psalm 51, Psalm 51:1-3, Psalm 51:6-7, Psalms

Be Vulnerable, Be Authentic

You heal. 
And want us to do the same. 

You love. 
And expect us to love. 

You give us authority.
And send us out. 

You tell us, “Be vulnerable, be authentic.”
And remind us it is risky. 
You tell us, “Go. Do the work.”
And accept not everyone or everyplace is ready. 

Let us pray,
Give us strength and willingness,
Strengthen our resolve to love and act. 
Supply us with your wisdom,
That we know when to stay or go. 
Make your presence known,
guide our steps 
assuring our journey 
is an extension of you. Amen. 

Posted in Call to Worship, Mark, Mark 6, Mark 6:1-13, New Testament

Demons Among the Stones of the Dead

Prayer of Confession

We confess we cling to the demons we know and wander among the stones of the dead. We bind ourselves to the that which is unhealthy for humanity because we cannot imagine the Beloved Community. Open our spirits, make us willing to let go of the familiarity of the status quo for your kin_dom. Amen.

Assurance of Grace

God dreams so much for each of you, for each of us. Do not be afraid. You do not need the demons. What God is creating for humanity is filled with joy and peace and enough for everyone. This is the Good News. 

Posted in Confession of Sin & Assurance, Mark, Mark 5, Mark 5:1-20, New Testament

Demons – A Call to Worship

We gather in this place, on this sacred ground weekly.
We come to be with friends.
We come for inspiration and hope.
We come to be among those
   who love like Jesus.

The demons surround us. We yield to them. We adapt to their ways because change is hard.
We find it hard to imagine another way.
We speak the Sunday words but they don’t always permeate our being.

Systems of this world are powerful. The chains and leg irons cannot contain the legion of demons. The demons oppress us. 
We cry out for freedom, unity, love, and justice!

Jesus commands: “Unclean spirit, come out!” Release the people! 
Praise be to the One who can release us from the demons! Praise be to the power of extravagant, expansive, unending love. 

Holy Spirit, call out our demons in this hour. Leave us filled with God’s breath of hope, justice, and unending love that we may let go of the status quo and truly be your people in our hurting world. Amen.

Posted in Call to Worship, Invocation, Mark, Mark 5, Mark 5:1-20, narrative lectionary, New Testament

Installation of Leaders in the Church

Installation of Leaders of the Church

Pastor: In the night, Samuel heard a voice. 

Now the boy Samuel was serving the Lord under Eli. The Lord’s word was rare at that time, and visions weren’t widely known. One day Eli, whose eyes had grown so weak he was unable to see, was lying down in his room. God’s lamp hadn’t gone out yet, and Samuel was lying down in the Lord’s temple, where God’s chest was.

The Lord called to Samuel. “I’m here,” he said.

Samuel hurried to Eli and said, “I’m here. You called me?”

“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go lie down.” So he did. (1 Samuel 3:1-5 CEB)

After multiple episodes of God’s voice in the night and the help of his guardian Eli, Samuel finally recognizes God’s calling for his life. 

A third time the Lord called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?”

Then Eli realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So Eli said to Samuel, “Go and lie down. If he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down where he’d been.

10 Then the Lord came and stood there, calling just as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel said, “Speak. Your servant is listening.”

11 The Lord said to Samuel, “I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of all who hear it tingle! (1 Samuel 3:8-11 CEB)

Service in the church is sacred work whether you have an official role or not. It is work guided by the Holy Spirit. Serving God should be work that makes your ears tingle and your eyes water. You have been chosen to do work that God is using to bring about the unfolding of the beloved kin_dom!

Elders

Pastor: You have been nominated, elected, and called to be elders of this congregation. Your church family sees gifts in you that they believe are Spirit-endowed. As elders, you serve as spiritual leaders of the congregation. Though you are imperfect human beings, your role as elders is to lovingly shepherd this congregation. You are called to help them to view the many varied challenges of daily life and church life through the lens of Jesus’ teachings and life. 

Have you prayerfully discerned that God is calling you to this role?

Elders: We have.

Then, we will now install you as elders of Albany First Christian Church. 

In light of your calling, do you publicly reaffirm the promises made at your baptism? Do you affirm that Jesus is your teacher, your model, and the one whose love spurs the unfolding of the kin_dom of extravagant, unending love for every human being?

Elders: We do. 

Will you seek to live prayerful lives consistent with the radical teachings of the One who ate with those who were rejected, who pushes out the boundaries of the circles of exclusion humanity draws, and never gives up on any one of us? 

Elders: With God’s help, we will. 

Do you commit to guiding this congregation and all those you encounter in the ways of love, hope, justice, and peace? Do you commit to fulfilling your calling as elders to the best of your ability?

Elders: We do.

Let us pray, 

Divine One, We thank you for the gifts of these elders. We thank you for lifting them up in our midst. Be with them always. Make their ears tingle and fill their hearts. Provide them with the gifts and wisdom they need to be our spiritual leaders. Guide them in ways that build up this church community and the broader community in which we live. Move them and us ever closer to the beloved kin_dom you dreamt of at the genesis. Amen.

Distribute Elders pins as appropriate.

Officers and Diaconate of the Church

Pastor: The Apostle Paul writes that we each have gifts that matter to the whole. Each of us has particular gifts to offer in the furtherance of the beloved kin_dom.

4 We have many parts in one body, but the parts don’t all have the same function. 5 In the same way, though there are many of us, we are one body in Christ, and individually we belong to each other. 6 We have different gifts that are consistent with God’s grace that has been given to us. (Romans 12:4-6a CEB)

You have been nominated, elected, and called to be leaders and servants of the church in this place and time. You are the diakonos, the diaconate, servants of Christ within the church. You are called to lead and assist in the sacred ministries and work of the church. Have you prayerfully discerned that this is the role to which you are called? 

Officers & Diaconate: We have.

As the one body of Christ, each of you has something unique and special to offer us all. Your church family recognizes your particular gifts. Some of you are called to serve on a committee among others. Some of you are called to use your specialized financial skills or to lead us as co-chairs. Some of you have gifts of being handy or gifts of supporting the personnel of the church. Some of you have a passion for social justice. Some of you seek to preserve the wisdom of the saints who came before us. And some are called as faithful representatives of the congregation at large. 

Each of you brings your gifts of the spirit to the tasks at hand. Do you commit to carrying out your tasks with humility, with a spirit of love, and to pray regularly for God’s guidance in your service?

With God’s help, we do.

Let us pray,

Divine One, Be with each of your servants as they go about their ministries and tasks in the church. Fill each with your spirit of graciousness and love. Give them hope, compassion, and humility. Called by you, provide each with the gifts — make their ears tingle — as they do their part in the unfolding of your beloved kin_dom on earth. Amen.

Distribute chalice pins as appropriate.

Hymn Make Me a Servant, Chalice Praise #99

Posted in 1 Samuel, 1 Samuel 3, 1 Samuel 3:2-11, Installation of Deacons, Installation of Leaders, Installation of Officers, New Testament, Old Testament, Romans, Romans 12, Romans 12:4-6

God Knows It's Hard

Prayer of Confession

We seek oneness with you but fail to accept and love our neighbors. We say we care for all. In reality, there are limits to our caring and our willingness to take risks for love.  Forgive us, O God! Re-ignite our love and commitment. Make us more like Jesus. Open our hearts that we might sit among the tax collectors and others rejected by our world. Amen.

Assurance

God knows it is hard. God knows that you want to live as Jesus taught. God also knows it’s scary and intimidating and sometimes confusing to do so. God will stay with you. God will keep challenging you and holding you in God’s arms and heart. God will love you when you make the next mistake. God will not give up on you. You are beloved.

Posted in Confession of Sin & Assurance, Mark, Mark 2, Mark 2:1-22, narrative lectionary, New Testament
Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

All materials by Tim Graves unless otherwise noted. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

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