Gathering in Hope

In a time when hope was veiled beneath laws prohibiting prayer…
Daniel worshiped the God of extravagant love.

In a time when the price of hope was to be thrown into a pit of hungry lions…
Daniel worshiped the God of abundant grace.

In a time when our world is filled with disease, fractiousness, tribalism, racism, and too much hate.
We gather to worship in hope.

Posted in Daniel, Daniel 6, Daniel 6:6-26, Old Testament

Make Us Like Isaiah

We create images of you,
placing you within the constraints of our humanity.
But you are beyond our imaginings.

You call upon us to be your people,
pushing the limits of who we think we can be.
But you know we can be so much more.

Afraid of what you expect, 
we hold back and hesitate to commit.
Make us enthusiastic and quick to commit like Isaiah when you call. Amen.

Posted in Call to Worship, Isaiah, Isaiah 6, Isaiah 6, Isaiah 6:1-13, Old Testament

Before a Contentious Election

God of all peoples,

We are filled with anxiety at the uncertainty. The shock and pain of the past inform our now. We yearn for peace, joy, hope, and compassion while worrying that power, greed, and disregard will carry the day. Give us peace. Calm our spirits in the midst of uncertainty and chaos. Give us strength and benevolent guidance whatever happens in the next seven (or more) days. We trust in you. We commit to following your teachings no matter what. We will love, strive for justice, and hope for a better day. Always and forever.

Amen.

Posted in Elections, Prayers

Not so unnatural

A scavenger delivers food to a man twice a day in the wilderness.
It’s unnatural.

In the middle of a famine, a jar of flour never decreases no matter how often used.
It’s unlikely.

A stranger heals a widow’s son with only a prayer.
It’s unbelievable.

Our need to be physically separate feels unnatural. 
But we love our neighbors.

We are weary of all the struggles the world provides us and fear we will be overcome.
But we keep going one step at a time.

Angst, fear, worries, illness, injury, isolation, war, poverty and so much more overwhelm us.
So we pray. We enter communion with our God whose love remains with us always. 

[moment of silence]

Close in Lord’s Prayer

Our Creator,
who art in heaven,
hallowed be your Name, 
your kingdom come, 
your will be done, 
on earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread.  
And forgive us our debts, 
as we forgive our debtors. 

And lead us not into temptation, 
but deliver us from evil. 

For yours is the kingdom
and the power, and the glory, 
forever and ever. Amen.

Posted in 1 Kings, 1 Kings 17, 1 Kings 17:1-24, Call to Worship, Old Testament

What if our job is to build a new post-pandemic church?

The Creator is worthy!
God is worthy indeed!

The cool breezes, grey and damp days, and blowing leaves remind us of the divinity that undergirds the world.
The Creating One is worthy!

In each generation a particular purpose and particular tasks become a sacred duty.
The Beckoning One calls us to fulfill our purpose!

We look backward and see the sacred responsibilities of previous generations fulfilled admirably.
They were saints of the church!

We look ahead and see the need to bring God out of a mere tent. We look ahead and yearn to build a temple worthy of God.
David wants to build a worthy temple for the worthy God!

Like David, we think we know what God wants. But what if we don’t? What if our job is to open our minds and hearts to become a church informed by the wilderness of the pandemic? What if instead of telling God what we want to build, we listen to God?
What if? 

Let us pray, 

In this hour, God, help us to perceive you. Grant us the foresight to trust your dream for us. As we leave, help us to strive for your kin_dom within and beyond the COVID pandemic. Amen. 

Posted in 2 Samuel, 2 Samuel 7, 2 Samuel 7:1-17, Call to Worship, Old Testament

Our Authentic Purpose

Hannah yearned for purpose in a world in which women’s worth was only childbirth and nurturing children.

Like Hannah, we live in a world which defines our worth by standards not all of us can meet.

Like Hannah, we hurt when the world defines us. We grieve when our desires to fit in and to meet earthly expectations are thwarted.

We cry out! We beg! We plead!

But God defines us by love. God listens and feels with us. Sometimes things change.

And sometimes they do not.

Always God loves us and calls us to use our gifts for good. Let us pray,

Holy One, as we enter into worship, hear our wants and deepest yearnings. Encourage us to focus on loving our neighbors, on doing justice, on being present with you and with one another. Open our clenched hearts and fists that we can share our whole selves with a fragmented world. Amen.

Posted in 1 Samuel, 1 Samuel 1, 1 Samuel 1:1-20, Call to Worship, Old Testament

A Benediction

Give us inner peace, a closeness with you.
Give us clarity, to know what faces us.
Give us heart, to love one another and you.
Give us energy and focus, to do your work in this fragmented world.
Amen.

Posted in Benediction

According to God’s Menu

At the Passover, the people gathered around the table with symbols of their liberation. 
The blood on the doorpost reminds them that God heard their cries and acted as protector and liberator. The unleavened bread marks the flight out of bondage.

Now it is our turn to prepare ourselves and the meal in accordance with God’s menu.
As we chop vegetables, stir the broth, and preheat the oven, we remember all that God has provided for us. 

As we eat and drink, lament or laugh, we re-member that God is trustworthy. We share our whole selves with one another and the divine.
In the darkest of times, God is with us. God is worthy of our trust and praise. Amen.

Posted in Exodus, Exodus 12, Exodus 12:1-13, Exodus 13, Exodus 13:1-8, narrative lectionary, Old Testament

Benediction at Prayer Service

God of Grace & Hope,

Creator of our blue and green globe.
Healer of our bodies and hearts.
Trusters of our ability to grow in empathy, generosity, & open-heartedness.

Lead us through this time of pain, aching, and fear.
Hold our hands as a new age filled with joy and laughter, justice, and love emerges through birth pains of fear, hate, and short-sightedness. Amen.

As we leave this Zoom, open your whole beings to the Holy Spirit who points the way forward. Call upon our rabbi Jesus who walked among us. Go in peace. Go in grace. Go in hope. Amen

Posted in Benediction

Sibling Rivalry (Joseph)

Sibling rivalry.
“Dad loves me the most!”

Rivalry exacerbated.
“Dad gave me this long robe!”

Siblings responding.
“We hate him.”

Rivalry turns to plotting.
“Throw him in the pit! Sell him into slavery.”

Story turns. Released from slavery.
“I have power in Egypt.”

Sibling rivals fear.
“What if he bears a grudge?”

Siblings confess sin.
“Please forgive us, brother!”

Rivalry turns to reconciliation.
“Good has come from bad.”

Listen to the Holy Spirit.
She guides us toward one another and toward hope.

Let us worship.
God’s love continues to move in our time. Amen.

Posted in Call to Worship, Genesis, Genesis 37, Genesis 37: 3-8, 17b-22, 26-34, Genesis 50, Genesis 50:15-21, narrative lectionary, Old 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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