Despair, Weariness, Anger…and Trust.

Job was a faithful man. A man of integrity, he was loyal to the God of love, justice, and mercy. His life was blessed. Job’s faithfulness was blessed with a life without strife and challenge.
Or so he thought.

It all fell apart in one afternoon. The institutions, the norms, the wealth, and the people Job counted on were ripped from him.
He grieved deeply but remained faithful.

But the hardship didn’t stop.
Not for Job and not for us.

Our politics becomes more and more polarized by the day. The pandemic prevents us from being physically present with one another in the normal struggles and challenges of living. And the killing of black and brown peoples rises in our awareness.
Like it was for Job, it is easy for us to fall into discouragement.

In our discouragement and struggles, the miserable comforters offer us free advice and judgment. “It’s all God’s will,” they say. “You just need to keep a stiff upper lip,” they advise. Implying God wants us to suffer, they say, “God’s ways are mysterious” and shut down our lament.
It makes us want to slam the door closed and shout, “Leave Me Alone!”

Job cried out in anguish and anger to God:

Perish the day I was born…because it didn’t close the doors of my mother’s womb, didn’t hide trouble from my eyes. But I won’t keep quiet; I will speak in the adversity of my spirit, groan in the bitterness of my life…for my days are empty. Leave me alone! (Job (3:3, 10; 7:11, 22 CEB)

Come and worship! If you’re just done with it all, shout your angry words to God! If you’re weary, rest in Christ’s arms, and if you’re joyful, dance. Created in God’s image, God feels with you. God loves you and is ready to listen and be present with you.

We come to worship with our whole, authentic selves assured God loves us. Amen.


Posted in Call to Worship, Job, Job 3:1-10, Job 3:1-10, Job 4:1-9, Job 7:11-22, lamentation, Old Testament

Living in VUCA Times (An Invocation)

We live in volatile times.
It seems as if things are changing rapidly and often for the worse. We feel hope only to have it dashed by another action or event.

We live in uncertain times.
We aren’t sure of the right thing. Do we return to everything that is open or take it slow and easy?

We live in complex times.
Nothing seems simple. Our heads spin as we face challenges.

We live in ambiguous times.
Everything seems inexact, one path seems right but then again maybe another path is the better way.

We yearn for times gone by, times when the answers seemed simple and solutions to problems were clear. Give us clarity. Give us hope and certainty. Focus us on what matters, on your way. 
Amen.

Posted in Call to Worship, Invocation

Ours is a faith

Ours is a faith focused on love.
The one we call God is
the very definition of love.

Ours is a faith of spiritual growth.
The one we call God is
an ever-creating, ever-evolving breath of love. 

Ours is a faith of action. 
The one we call God provokes us to
speak, demand, & create justice for all peoples especially the poor, oppressed, & marginalized.

We are the imperfect who gather to learn and grow into a people more in-tune with the one we call God.
We gather to love, grow, & act. Amen.

Posted in 1 Corinthians, 1 Corinthians 13, Call to Worship, New Testament

Severed But Not

The world is not as we want it to be.

Our relationships are severed:
by virus and disease
by political discord
by phobias and isms and hatred.
by our fears and insecurities.

And still, we choose to worship.
Come. Be one together through technology and the divine spirit that sparkles and twinkles its unending love between and within us. Amen.

Posted in Call to Worship

Lead Us and Give Us Patience

Come, Holy Spirit. Empower us. Show us the way. Lead us out of this time of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. Be with us as we worship. Move us to patience. Move us forward in our sense of call as followers of the One who stood with the poor, outcast, and brokenhearted. Give us peace in this time of waiting for what will be. In the name of the One, Jesus the Christ, we pray. Amen.

Posted in Acts, Acts 1, Acts 1:1-14, Invocation, narrative lectionary, New Testament

Waiting to Be Empowered

After the drama, we wait.
We wait in a time of uncertainty.

Is this the time when the vaccination for the coronavirus will come?
Wait, the scientists are working. 

When is the time when we can get back to normal?
Wait, it will come. In its time it will come.

Jesus, is now the time when the kin_dom of God comes to fruition?
Wait, it is not for you to know.

Wait. You will be empowered by the Holy Spirit when the time comes. And you will take the Good News to those near and far. 
Though it is hard, trusting in God, we wait.

Posted in Acts, Acts 1, Acts 1:1-14, Call to Worship, narrative lectionary, New Testament

Christ is Risen!

It feels like a pre-celebration. 
Christ is Risen!

It doesn’t feel right when we are apart. 
Christ is Risen!

It feels like a meaningless ritual. 
Christ is Risen!

It feels too soon. Our worries are great and we’re still sheltering in place.
Christ is Risen!

[A moment of silence.]

And yet…our hope is assured. Life and love have survived the vilest torture and hate. 
Christ is Risen!

Though the struggles of living are real, God’s love overcomes. God’s love has overcome! Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen indeed! Alleluia!

Posted in Call to Worship, Easter, Mark, Mark 16, Mark 16:1-10, Mark 16:12-15, New Testament

Hope. Injustice. Compassion. The Promise Remains.

L: Their hope rose to a crescendo on that day.
1: The people waved branches and cheered as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a colt.
2: May we always place our hope in the One who is worthy of our trust.

L: Jesus grew angry at the greed and power-seeking.
1: Entering the Temple, he overturned the tables of disregard and greed.
2: May we be passionate when we encounter injustice.

L: She sensed what was to come and offered salve and preparation.
1: She gave human comfort to Jesus.
2: May we provide comfort to one another in the times when our path is rocky and steep, and the skies are dark.

L: Though the injustice continues, though the path is treacherous, hope remains. 
1: Though our path leads through Good Friday, hope remains. 
2: The promise of Easter remains.
1: Alleluia! Praise be to God!

Posted in Call to Worship, Mark, Mark 11, Mark 11:1-11, Mark 11:1-21, Mark 14, Mark 14:3-9, narrative lectionary, New Testament

Quakes & Tornadoes, Virus & Famine, and Sunshine & Storms

Across the waters,
the restless breath blew.
And God began to create.

Beneath the stars,
the earth was filled with quakes & tornadoes, virus & famine, and sunshine & storms.
And the people struggled to survive.

God loved the ones, 
created from the dust 
and God’s own breath.
And the people strived to be faithful.

Through the centuries,
God journeyed with humanity.
And our forebears failed,
to live up to God’s hopes.

Forgive us, our forebears cried.
We have failed even now.
Forgive us, we beseech you, God.
Guide us as we strive to live as you would have us live.

And one arrived who inhaled the breath of God,
Jesus breathes out God’s ways of grace and love.

Through Jesus, we can see the way.
Through Jesus a new earth begins to unfold.

Jesus tells us that the violence, the wars and hatred, pandemics and pestilence, the collapsing institutions, and the rapid change are but birth pangs of a new way.
The birth pangs are signs that love will win. 

Love always wins.
God’s love always overcomes.

Praise be to God whose love unfolds even in our time.
Praise be to God whose love is even now being born in our world. Amen.

Posted in Call to Worship, Confession of Sin & Assurance, Genesis, Genesis 1, Genesis 1-2, Genesis 1-2:1, Mark 13, Mark 13:1-8, 24-37, narrative lectionary, New Testament, Old Testament

Morning Prayer

Creator of the mountains, the rivers, and the rolling hills,

You reached down to the dust and molded us in your image. You breathed your divine breath into us. You made us to be in relationship with one another and with you.

As our ancestors came of age, they told stories of walking side by side with you or of angelic visitors sent by you. Throughout our first sacred testament, the people — we — were faithful to you only to fall away. This pattern of back and forth of remembering to love and forgetting to love continues to this day. We do a good job of loving you and our neighbors only to turn our backs when it gets hard.

Still, your love and faithfulness to us — to your people of dust and divine breath — is steadfast. Thank you! Thank you! for your patience with us. 

God of microbes and humanity, of puppies and alligators, creator of hope and purveyor of wisdom, in this time of fear and anxiety, of pandemic and polarization we turn to you.

We turn to you in this inexplicable time. God, we’ve never experienced a global pandemic before. We don’t know how to do this. It is so easy for us to be fearful and, yet, we know that is not the way you created us to be. You tell us time and again in our sacred text, “Do not be afraid.” 

But it is hard. REALLY hard. Our anxiety threatens to separate us from one another. We forget our connectedness and hoard toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Help us to share that toilet paper. Help us to use this time of physical separation to reach out by telephone, or Facetime, email, or text to one another.

In the silence, perceive what is on our hearts. Hear the names of those about whom we worry and those who need your healing caress.

[silence]

Holy one, remind us, nudge us, move us in this time to see just how connected we are as a human family. Move us to be responsible and trust that you journey with us in this time of pandemic. Remind us that we are called in the midst of this time to choose love — of ourselves and of one another.

In the name of the Human One, we pray.

Amen.

Posted in Pastoral Prayer, Prayers
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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