Wiggle Room for Love

We create walls and rules around you and your expectations. In time, we find ourselves worshiping the walls and rules instead of you.
Make our walls and rules porous so that we might have the wiggle room to love.

Keep our hearts and minds focused on your kin_dom and dreams for us. When we create structures, help us to make them tools for fulfilling your calling. 
Remind us that boundaries can be useful tools but they should always provide the wiggle room to love abundantly and do justice concretely. 

You require love of neighbor, care for all peoples, and actions in our fragmented world. You are serious about these expectations.
And, yet, you offer us grace as we strive to fulfill them. 

You offer wiggle room if it means one of your people experiences love and justice. 
For this we are grateful. Amen.

Posted in Call to Worship, Luke, Luke 6, Luke 6:1-16, narrative lectionary, New Testament

Joining the Mission of Christ

The Holy Spirit descended upon Jesus at his baptism, “This is my son in whom I am delighted.” After this, Jesus went into the wilderness where he was tempted by power, by earthly pleasures, and by the Devil.  

Returning home, Jesus proclaimed the nature of his ministry to the folks at home and then went outward to do that ministry in the world. As his followers, we, too are called to carry good news to the poor, liberation to the oppressed, and release to the prisoners.

Let us pray, Holy One, give us inspiration, hope, clarity, and the tools we need to continue the mission of Jesus. Amen.

Posted in Call to Worship, Luke, Luke 4, Luke 4:14-19, Luke 4:14-30, New Testament

A Prayer When the Capitol is Stormed

God of Justice & Love,

The images! The events! 
We are frightened! We are disturbed!
How can this be happening here, O Lord?

We believed we were better than this.
We have degenerated from polarization to uncivil acts.
How, O Lord, can this be our nation?

Having committed our lives to you,
we find ourselves unsure what we can do, 
and, so, we turn toward you at this time.

Calm us,
but more critically,
calm the minds and bodies bent upon destruction and violence

Move our leaders 
and systems they control
to bring these events under control.

Touch our hearts with your love
and likewise, soothe and soften the hearts
of those with whom we disagree 
especially those who stir up the populace for their own ends.

Lead us and our fellow citizens
to find ways to turn from this path
of horror and disunity.

Guide us, all of us, to a willingness,
in the following days 
to face our national demons.

Lead us to learn
and grow as one human family.

In the name of the Christ, 

Posted in Prayers

Following the One in Whom God Delights

John the Baptist calls out, “Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.”
But how do we prepare for the Christ?

Don’t cheat. Don’t harass others. Share what you have. Don’t rely upon the ancestors to cover up your misdeeds.
How can we mark our repentance?

John baptized the people with water.
We publicly proclaim our intention to live as God intends us to live.

While John was baptizing the people, he also baptized Jesus.
Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1 NRSV)

Follow Jesus the one in whom God delights. 
We repent of our old ways. We call upon the Spirit to guide us in the ways of Jesus. Amen.

Posted in Call to Worship, Isaiah, Isaiah 42, Isaiah 42:1, Luke, Luke 3, Luke 3:1-22, narrative lectionary, New Testament, Old Testament

Grow & Follow, Follow & Grow

Jesus was actively engaged in Temple life. He asked questions, challenging ideas, and listened to the rabbis.
He wanted to learn and grow.

Faith is about questions and doubts. It is about listening to those who have studied and experienced beyond our circle.
Even in his tweens, Jesus understood this.

Open your hearts and minds to God. Accept that our growth and learning require discomfort. Be willing to let go of and add-on to the way you thought it was.
God beckons us along a new path. Let us grow and follow, follow, and grow. Amen.

Posted in Call to Worship, Luke, Luke 2:41-52, New Testament

Pondering, Wondering; God is Moving Closer

Gabriel appears to Mary. A practical woman, she asks for more details. “How can this be?”
And she ponders. God is moving closer.

Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth for counsel. Elizabeth’s child leaps for joy in her womb.
And we wonder. God is moving closer.

Mary did not choose to have a child before the marriage. God chose this path for her.
And she ponders the challenging and unknown path before her. God is moving closer.

We do not always choose our paths. but God’s back is never to us. God is within us.
And we wonder about the mysteries of our current age. We ponder as God moves ever closer. 

Posted in Advent, Call to Worship, Luke, Luke 1, New Testament

Jubilation will come.

The people were finally home.
After generations in exile,
they returned to their ancestral land.

The joy that was anticipated was real,
but it was also different to return home.
Though they yearned for the way it was,
the future is a place of transformation.

It was as if they’d never really been in this land.
And, of course, most had not.
They’d been born in bondage and exile.

Into this time and place of transformation,
of a fresh start, a new path, Isaiah speaks:
I bring good news to the poor,
to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim release for captives,
and liberation for prisoners (Isaiah 61:1 CEB)

Isaiah proclaims the year of God’s favor,
a time of jubilee!
Isaiah outlines God’s vision of joy
for all of God’s people.

In this time of Jubilee,
grace and forgiveness will abound.
The people will be re-formed, re-created,
and re-vitalized for a new world.

The time is coming when this season of
pandemic will end for us, too.
As we emerge from the exile of COVID-19,
we will find that the prophet offers us Good News, too.

Let us rejoice! Let us worship!
The LORD’s spirit is upon us!
The year of jubilation is even now

being created within us! Amen.

Posted in Call to Worship, Isaiah, Isaiah 61, Isaiah 61:1-11, Old Testament

What if?

Though the earth is ravaged by pandemic and climate change…
What if there is still reason to hope?

Though the earth is ravaged by a people bent upon polarization and war…
What if there is still a chance for peace?

Though the earth is ravaged by greed and poverty…
What if there is still a love that is building a just world?

What if God and God’s people work together to create a world of God’s dreams?
What if there is a child who will be born and lead the way?

What if that child is already moving toward us…
as we move toward that child?
What if? Amen.

Posted in Advent, Advent Peace, Advent Series, Call to Worship, Joel, Joel 2:12-13, 28-29, narrative lectionary, Old Testament

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
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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