Monthly Archives: September 2014

It’s all about God! 17th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

church steeple webYearly Rhythm

5 October  2014, the 17 th Sunday after Pentecost
Year A,  Colour: Green

“Lent is about preparing people to live as disciples of Jesus. Easter Season is about giving especially the newly baptized or confirmed time to focus deeply on the doctrinal foundations of the faith and on discerning the Spirit’s calling and gifts for ministry, culminating in a celebration and commissioning for these ministries at Pentecost. The Season after Pentecost is about seeking the Spirit’s guidance and supporting one another as we undertake these ministries in Christ’s name.” Source   

Daily Rhythm

Bringing worship into the everyday

Devotional Diary  29 Sep – 5 October 2014

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE

Readings for this week from the Revised Common Lectionary, with thanks to www.gbod.org:

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20. In the hearing of the frightened people of Israel, Moses received the Ten Commandments.

Psalm 19. As thunder and earthquake surround the giving of the law, the heavens proclaim the glory of God.

Philippians 3:4b-14. Paul declares his pedigree and accomplishments, but says none of that is as important to him as knowing Christ.

Matthew 21:33-46. Jesus offers the parable of the wicked tenants. After a farmer had leased his farm to tenants, they refused to recognize anyone he sent to collect his produce. They even killed his son when he came to them. Jesus tells his detractors, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Psalm 188:22, Isaiah 28:16).
READ MORE ABOUT THE READINGS HERE!

 Monday:

Adoration Focus: God is love. (Galatians 5:22)
Confession: Lord, forgive me when I have chosen indifference before the cost of love.
The Word: Read the readings above or follow your own scripture reading plan.
Seeking the Kingdom
Shared Focus: This week you are asked to focus on an area and then pray as the Spirit of God leads you to.  Today: Praying for your church.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

                Dedication: Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (NIV1984)

 Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: God is joy. (Galatians 5:22)
Confession: Lord, forgive me when I have not resolved issues that have festered within and robbed me of joy.
The Word:
Seeking the Kingdom:
Shared Focus: This week you are asked to focus on an area and then pray as the Spirit of God leads you to.  Today: Praying for your town.

Personal Prayers:

                Dedication: Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (NIV1984)

 Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus: God is peace. (Galatians 5:22)
Confession: Lord, forgive me when I have been disruptive and have sown discord and prejudice rather than peace.
The Word:
Seeking the Kingdom:
Shared Focus: This week you are asked to focus on an area and then pray as the Spirit of God leads you to.  Today: Praying for your provincial area/state.

Personal prayers:

                Dedication: Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (NIV1984)

 Thursday:

Adoration Focus: God is patience. (Galatians 5:22)
Confession: Lord, forgive me when I have lost faith in your Kingdom transformation and have gone it alone.
The Word:
Seeking the Kingdom:
Shared Focus: This week you are asked to focus on an area and then pray as the Spirit of God leads you to.  Today: Praying for your country.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (NIV1984)

Friday:

Adoration Focus: God is kindness. (Galatians 5:22)
Confession: Lord, forgive me when I have written off kindness because of my own bruises.  Help me to offer up small acts of kindness.
The Word:
Seeking the Kingdom:
Shared Focus: This week you are asked to focus on an area and then pray as the Spirit of God leads you to.  Today: Praying for your continent.

Personal prayers:

                Dedication: Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (NIV1984)

 Saturday:

Adoration Focus: God is goodness. (Galatians 5:22)
Confession: Lord, forgive me when I have not reflected your goodness.  Fill me with your goodness that I may build positive community.
The Word:
Seeking the Kingdom:
Shared Focus: This week you are asked to focus on an area and then pray as the Spirit of God leads you to.  Today:  Praying for our world.

Personal prayers:

                Dedication: Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (NIV1984)

Sunday:

Adoration Focus: God is faithfulness. (Galatians 5:22)
Confession: Lord, forgive me for my unfaithfulness. Name some areas where you have wondered off the path or given-up half way through.  Lord, fill us with your faithfulness.
The Word:
Seeking the Kingdom:
Shared Focus: This week you are asked to focus on an area and then pray as the Spirit of God leads you to.  Today: Praying for the church universal.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: Philippians 4:4  Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! (NIV1984)

 

Weekly Rhythm

Thinking more about the lectionary readings – linking our stories with the stories of God’s people.     

 DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE

Readings for Sunday, 5th October with thanks to www.gbod.org for readings and short notes:

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20.

In the hearing of the frightened people of Israel, Moses received the Ten Commandments.

That, after all, is the point of this reading, and of these commandments. They are given by God to make a people capable of bearing God’s name and glory in the world. This is why the first four commandments are specifically about our relationship with God. God does not make us capable of bearing God’s glory solely by ethical behavior toward neighbors, but first of all by inviting us and showing us what a proper relationship with God looks, feels, and sounds like. It is an exclusive relationship, with no other gods (or anything else) permitted to take precedence in our lives. It is an intimate, living relationship, incapable of being captured in bronze, wood or stone without distorting it entirely. It is a relationship of reverence and respect, always. And it is a relationship designed for letting go and letting be, which is the purpose of the Sabbath rest, both ours and even God’s in creation. Grounded in this kind of relationship with this kind of God, we are then empowered to live in right relationship with one another in our family relationship, our marital relationships, and our economic and social relationships, honoring parents and the elderly, never killing others, never seizing what belongs to another, never speaking falsely against a neighbor, keeping faith with our marriage partners and, in time, no longer even coveting what is our neighbor’s.

What does a life so grounded and bounded enable a people to do? The very first verse of the commandments declares their purpose as it declares the identity of the God who gives them. “I am the Lord your God who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery.” They were about ensuring a people delivered from political and economic oppression and bondage could, among themselves at least, continue to live free from every form of oppression and bondage.

Psalm 19.

As thunder and earthquake surround the giving of the law, the heavens proclaim the glory of God.

How big is your God?  Are you in awe of God?  How is this healthy/unhealthy?

Philippians 3:4b-14.

Paul declares his pedigree and accomplishments, but says none of that is as important to him as knowing Christ.

List your pedigree and accomplishments.  What does trusting Christ in the midst of these mean to you?

Matthew 21:33-46.

Jesus offers the parable of the wicked tenants. After a farmer had leased his farm to tenants, they refused to recognize anyone he sent to collect his produce. They even killed his son when he came to them. Jesus tells his detractors, “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Psalm 188:22, Isaiah 28:16).

“Last week we heard from Matthew’s gospel the first parable Jesus told the chief priests and Pharisees in the temple. This week we hear the second and see their responses—deepened anger and a choice not to respond or act at that time because they feared the crowds who saw Jesus as a prophet.

This week’s parable is deeply revealing of the actions and attitudes of its intended “target,” the religious authorities. Jesus implies that the tenants’ continued and sometimes violent refusal to release the harvest to the landowner was because they wanted the harvest and the land for themselves, ultimately. They would do everything possible to ensure that outcome, even when their efforts ultimately made no sense. Killing the son was about the most ridiculous means to try to obtain the land or the son’s inheritance one could think of. That’s how completely out of touch with the reality of God’s kingdom and mission Jesus saw some of the religious leaders of his day to be.

Jesus leaves it up to his hearers to determine the outcome of the story. He asks them what they think the landowner would do once the tenants turned tyrants had killed the landowner’s son. “He will put those wretches to a wretched death” they say, “and he will rent out the vineyard to other farmers, ones who will give him the harvest in its season” (verse 41).  Was that the only possible answer? Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. It was their answer.

Jesus agrees with the second part of their answer- that the land will be taken and given to others– then directs the story back at them. “Do you know the scripture about the rejected stone becoming the cornerstone,” he asks (verse 42). “The kingdom of God will be snatched from you and given to a people producing its fruits” (verse 43). God’s kingdom, embodied in Jesus, is the cornerstone. Miss this, and you’ll find yourself destroyed, on the ash heap of history. God, the landowner, does not have “wretches put to wretched death.” But God does establish the standard. When we miss it, especially when it has been so clearly pointed out to us, we have only ourselves to blame for our destruction.”

Source for notes on the readings.

 

Praying the Lectionary Readings

 

 Opening Prayer

(inspired by Psalm 19)

Eternal God,
whose signature we see, if we dare to look,
in the creation of the universe,
help us this hour to look and to listen
for Your handwriting and Your voice in this place,
among these people.

Connect our temporary praise to Your timeless rhythms,
Your ageless melodies,
Your everlasting joyful noise.
Guide us now to focus upon You,
knowing that in You,
our distractions become new possibilities for action.

Breathe life into our singing, our praying,
our speaking, our listening, our touching,
that all these activities might become more than they are.
In our worship we reach out to You, O God,
knowing that You have already enfolded us in Your arms.
In Jesus, we pray. Amen.

~ posted on My Redeemer Lives website.

 

Prayer of Praise and Adoration

(based on Exodus 20: 1-20)
We worship you, O God, as Creator and Liberator
You led the captives out of Egypt,
delivering them from the oppression of slavery.
You gave laws which enabled people to relate to you,
to one another,
and to the whole creation.
You implored people to worship only you,
knowing that whatever was put in your place
would all to easily become the object of idolatry,
and the priority of people’s hearts.
You showered us with blessings
by revealing in Jesus just how precious we are to you,
and through him
you delivered us into a new and living relationship with you
and with one another—
with a new commandment—
a commandment of love.
May we reveal the depth of our love
as we praise and adore you, O God,
in Jesus name and in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Amen.

—Moira Laidlaw, on her website Liturgies Online.  See that site for many other great resources.

 

Prayer of Confession

(inspired by Philippians 3: 4-14) 

God of all righteousness, we know how the apostle Paul counted himself as a righteous person when zealously carrying out the law as a Pharisee. He considered himself to be blameless, but counted all that as loss when he came to know Jesus as Lord and Saviour. From that time on, righteousness took on a new meaning.  Paul knew that he no longer needed to perform exemplary deeds in order to earn your love. All he had to do was to accept your gracious and unconditional love. 

Forgive us, O God, when we believe that righteous behaviour is all that is needed to secure your love.

(silent reflection)

We know that we can neither earn nor deserve all that you have done for us.

Help us to surrender our wordly attitudes and values so that, like Paul, we can celebrate anew lives centred in Jesus Christ.

(silent reflection)

Paul acknowledges a desire to participate in the death and resurrection of Christ so that he can die and rise also. He urges others to do likewise.

Forgive us, O God, when we lose sight of the goal of our lives as Christians—that of following Jesus;

even when that means, and perhaps, especially when that means taking up our cross, and sharing in the suffering and struggle that Jesus shares with us.

(silent reflection)

Merciful God, in the agony of the crucifixion, we see the lengths you were prepared to go, to ‘do great things for us’.

Whatever gains we may have experienced in our lives, like Paul may we regard them as loss, compared to the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus as our Lord. This we pray in his name. Amen

 

Words of Assurance 

(Philippians 3:9)
The Lord has indeed done great things for us,
as ‘our righteousness is one that comes through faith in Christ,
the righteousness from God based on faith.’ (Phil.3: 9)

The good news therefore is this:

In Jesus Christ we are accepted,
we are loved, we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!

~ written by Moira Laidlaw, and posted on Liturgies Online

An Example to Follow, 16th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

medium_376276456Yearly Rhythm

28 September  2014, the  16 th Sunday after Pentecost
Year A,  Colour: Green

 “Lent is about preparing people to live as disciples of Jesus. Easter Season is about giving especially the newly baptized or confirmed time to focus deeply on the doctrinal foundations of the faith and on discerning the Spirit’s calling and gifts for ministry, culminating in a celebration and commissioning for these ministries at Pentecost. The Season after Pentecost is about seeking the Spirit’s guidance and supporting one another as we undertake these ministries in Christ’s name.” Source   Image Source

 

Daily Rhythm

Bringing worship into the everyday

Devotional Diary  22 – 28 September 2014

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE.

Readings for this week with thanks to www.gbod.org:

Exodus 17:1-7The people quarrel with Moses at Rephidim because there is no water. The Lord tells Moses to strike the rock at Horeb with his rod. Moses names the place Massah and Meribah.

Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16.

Philippians 2:1-13. Paul urges the Philippians to have in them the mind that was in Christ Jesus. He “sings them their song” and urges the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

Matthew 21:23-32. The chief priests and elders ask Jesus by what authority he acts, but Jesus asks them a question they refuse to answer. He then tells the parable of a father who asks each of his two sons to go work in the vineyard. One says, “no,” but decides to go; the other says “yes,” but does not go.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE READINGS HERE.  

Monday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God.”  Each day focus on a different way in which the glory of God encounters you.  Then respond in lifting up the glory of the name of the Lord.  Thought: a friendly face…

Confession: 2 Corinthians 3:18 “And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”  This week try to spend time allowing God’s glory to fill your life.  Just wait on the Lord in prayer with an open heart each day.   Thought: Bringing down walls…

The Word: Use the readings above or your own Scripture reading plan.

Seeking the Kingdom

Shared Focus:  God’s glory should shine from every aspect of our world.  Our sin has tarnished this glory.  This week pray that we may discover the power of God in our lives so that his glory may shine from us and so that we may be instruments of his glory in every aspect of life.   Pray for these different aspects of life as each day God’s Spirit brings them to your mind.  Our prayer is that in each we may clearly see and reflect God’s glory.   Today’s focus: Your family/friendship circle.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

             Dedication: Dear Lord, may our lives bring you glory in the day ahead.

 Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God.”  Each day focus on a different way in which the glory of God encounters you.  Then respond in lifting up the glory of the name of the Lord. Thought: A kind deed…

Confession: See Monday’s confession.  Thought: Letting go of grievances…

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s focus.  Today’s focus: Your weekday/work environment.

Personal Prayers:

             Dedication: Dear Lord, may our lives bring you glory in the day ahead.

 Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus: Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God.”  Each day focus on a different way in which the glory of God encounters you.  Then respond in lifting up the glory of the name of the Lord. Thought: A hurt forgiven…

Confession: See Monday’s confession.  Thought: Forgiving hurts..

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s focus. Today’s focus:  Your church.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: Dear Lord, may our lives bring you glory in the day ahead.

 Thursday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God.”  Each day focus on a different way in which the glory of God encounters you.  Then respond in lifting up the glory of the name of the Lord. Thought: A new flame lit…

Confession: See Monday’s confession. Thought: Risking in loving…

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s focus.  Today’s focus: A service group you may know of or be involved in.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: Dear Lord, may our lives bring you glory in the day ahead.

 Friday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God.”  Each day focus on a different way in which the glory of God encounters you.  Then respond in lifting up the glory of the name of the Lord.  Thought: Resources shared…

Confession: See Monday’s confession.  Thought: Being the first to reach out a hand of reconciliation…

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s focus.  Today’s focus: Your town or city.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: Dear Lord, may our lives bring you glory in the day ahead.

Saturday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God.”  Each day focus on a different way in which the glory of God encounters you.  Then respond in lifting up the glory of the name of the Lord.  Thought: Time to reflect…

Confession: See Monday’s confession. Thought: Being filled with Christ…

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s focus.  Today’s focus: within your recreational space (sport, hobby group, social circle…)

Personal prayers:

             Dedication: Dear Lord, may our lives bring you glory in the day ahead.

 Sunday:

Adoration Focus: Psalm 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God.”  Each day focus on a different way in which the glory of God encounters you.  Then respond in lifting up the glory of the name of the Lord.   Thought: Good news shared…

Confession: See Monday’s confession. Thought: Having a heart of worship…

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s focus.   Today’s focus:  Your worship environment.

Personal prayers:

             Dedication:  Dear Lord, may our lives bring you glory in the day ahead.

                                                                        

Weekly Rhythm

Thinking more about the lectionary readings
– linking our stories with the stories of God’s people.              

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE

Readings for Sunday 28th   September, with thanks to www.gbod.org:

Exodus 17:1-7.  The people quarrel with Moses at Rephidim because there is no water. The Lord tells Moses to strike the rock at Horeb with his rod. Moses names the place Massah and Meribah.

Here’s a reflection based on Exodus 17:1-7 (where God provides water from a rock in the wilderness).

In such a place I could only long for the future
for wilderness was all there was
an ordinariness that ate my soul
and spoke only dry, thirsty words to me
that even as I tried to hold them back
deliberately broke through
to open dreams of still waters
and feasts of plenty
of cups running over
and a tables set with banquets

For in my everyday-ness
I find I live a wilderness life
more than a kingdom life
I live not looking for water in the desert
nor with expectation that it is willing to flow
if only I ask for it
I walk through my days
expecting nothing more
than today’s happening
repeated tomorrow
not daring to hold out for
nor expecting
the rocks to break open
and for water to gush
or for flowers to bloom
in the desert places
or a word to crack apart
the everydayness and reveal a new story
or bread to fall open
and reveal the feast of the kingdom
in every crumb

Give my soul the longing, Lord
that I might expect
in all the everydayness
the light of justice will break through
and the word of promise will be heard
and the act of kindness will be recognized
and then celebrated
as a gift from you
that changes that wilderness moment
into a kingdom event
like water flowing in the desert
that will feed my hungry soul
with promise and delight
where the ordinary wilderness
becomes the birthing place
of your promises
yet to be.

~ written by Roddy Hamilton, and posted on Listening to the Stones.

Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16.  Celebrate what God is doing in our midst using this psalm as the starting point.

Philippians 2:1-13. Paul urges the Philippians to have in them the mind that was in Christ Jesus. He “sings them their song” and urges the Philippians to work out their salvation with fear and trembling.

We should relate to one another out of our relationship with Christ and be guided by him.  The hymn (vs 6-11) encourages us to follow the example of Christ.  Using the hymn try to list some pointers that illustrate the way Christ relates to us.  Then reflect on how you can use this example to relate to others.

Matthew 21:23-32. The chief priests and elders ask Jesus by what authority he acts, but Jesus asks them a question they refuse to answer. He then tells the parable of a father who asks each of his two sons to go work in the vineyard. One says, “no,” but decides to go; the other says “yes,” but does not go.

How is Jesus’s question a really clever one?

Who were the people who seemed to say “no” to God but then ended up doing what he said?  (Think tax collectors, outcasts, prostitutes..)

Who are those who said “yes” to God but did not do his will? (Think religious people, Pharisees…)

 

Praying the Lectionary Readings

Opening Prayer

(inspired by Psalm 42, Psalm 78, Psalm 104)

 God, you split rocks in the wilderness,
and gave your people abundant drink, as from the deep.
Come to us, Lord.
Give us that abundant water.

You made streams come out of the rock,
and caused waters to flow down like rivers.
Come to us, Lord.
Send the waters down upon us.

You turned the desert into pools of water,
the parched land into springs of water.
Come to us, Lord.
Create springs in the parched desert of our hearts.

As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
Come to us, Lord, and fill our longing. 

(Originally posted on Living Waters for the World. )

Prayer of Confession

(inspired by Exodus 17: 1-7, John 4: 5-42)

God of Living Water, you call us to come and drink.

So why do we sit here and complain that there is not enough water?

You call us to strike the rocks of our world and let your Living Water flow.

But we do not trust enough that the spring is there.

We want to find the water on our own, using our own wisdom.

You call us to share the Water of Life with the world around us.

But we believe that the water is limited,

not abundant and so we are tempted to save it for ourselves.

For all the times we turn away from your Water,

for all the times we sully the Water by misusing it,

for all the times we let others go thirsty instead of offering a drink,

Forgive us we pray.

…time of silent prayer…

The Water of Life flows with abundance to fill us with hope,

to cleanse us of our guilt, to float us to a new life.

Washed in the Living Water,

we are forgiven and set free to live abundant life.

Thanks and praise to God. Amen.

~ written by Rev Gord, and posted on Worship Offerings

 

Prayer of Confession

(inspired by Exodus 17: 1-7, John 4)

God of mercy, hear the prayers of your thirsting people.
For every time we have attributed your miracles in our lives
to our own hands alone,
Forgive us, we pray.
For every time we promised to trust you but turned to our own way
when your response did not come soon enough
or in the way we expected,
Grant us mercy, O God.
For the many opportunities to extend forgiveness
that we have refused,
Show us what it means to love, again, dear Lord.
For each way we put our own understandings above your wisdom,
For each time we resist your command to be reconciled with those
who believe differently from us,
Direct us in the way of peace, we pray.
For our silent sins, our quiet acts of violence,
and our indifference to the suffering round us,
Forgive us, Loving One, and quench our thirst with your grace;
Remake us into vessels of tenderness and compassion.
For Christ’s sake we pray.  Amen.

– by Rev. Renee C. Jackson, and originally posted on the United Church of Christ’s Worship Ways website.

Words of Assurance

(inspired by Romans 5, John 4)

Because of God’s great love for us,
we have peace with God and access to God’s grace
all through Jesus Christ
who, while we were still sinners,
died to free us from the bondage of sin.
Therefore, we may ask of Christ
to give us the living water that quenches the dryness of our souls.
In this we know we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God!

~ from Thirsting for Grace: Service Prayers for the Third Sunday of Lent, written by the Rev. Renee C. Jackson.  Posted on the United Church of Christ’s Worship Ways website.

 

 

 

The first will be last, the last will be first…really? The 15th Sunday after Pentecost, Year A

medium_2215679522Yearly Rhythm

21 September  2014, The 15 th Sunday after Pentecost
Year A  Colour: Green

“Lent is about preparing people to live as disciples of Jesus. Easter Season is about giving especially the newly baptized or confirmed time to focus deeply on the doctrinal foundations of the faith and on discerning the Spirit’s calling and gifts for ministry, culminating in a celebration and commissioning for these ministries at Pentecost. The Season after Pentecost is about seeking the Spirit’s guidance and supporting one another as we undertake these ministries in Christ’s name.” Source  

Daily Rhythm

Bringing worship into the everyday.

Devotional Diary  15 – 21 September 2014

DOWNLOAD THE PDF HERE

Readings for the week Sunday 21st September, with thanks to www.gbod.org:

Exodus 16:2-15. A potential coup attempt against Moses and Aaron becomes the occasion for God to test the “whole gathered assembly” about their willingness to follow instruction. God provides quail for meat and “manna” for bread with specific instructions for its gathering and use.

Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45

Philippians 1:21-30. Week 1 of 4 in Philippians. Paul shares his trust in God in life or death, his desire to come and see the Christians at Philippi again, and his hope that when he comes he would find them of one heart and mind with each other and in whatever struggles they may face with those who oppose and persecute them.

Matthew 20:1-16. The economics of God’s kingdom look quite startling to those running on the economics of the kingdoms of this world: the parable of the vineyard.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE READINGS HERE. 

Monday:

Adoration Focus: (Psalm 38:15) But I trust in you, O Lord; and you, O Lord my God, will answer me.

Confession:  We come to God in repentance.  This involves turning from our sins and turning to Christ.  We examine ourselves and confess our sin.  He forgives us. We allow the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead to bring to full blossom the forgiving life of Christ within us.   Each day give yourself into this process in a new way.    First examine yourself in silence then confess, receive the gift of forgiveness and ask God how He is calling you to live out this new life in the day ahead.

The Word: See readings above or use your own devotional readings.

Seeking the Kingdom

Shared Focus:  This week we pray for the living out of the life of Christ in your church community.   In what ways would you like to see the life of Christ expressed within the life of your church?  Each day identify a new way.  Then pray for your church, picturing the life of Christ filling it and empowering it for that part of its journey.  Then pray for yourself that you may give yourself into the journey that Christ is leading your church on.

Personal prayers: (Use this section to list people you need to pray for or situations of personal concern that you need to bring before God in prayer)

               Dedication: I ask you therefore: Do you repent of you sins and renounce all evil?  Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? Will you obey Christ and serve him in the Church and in the world?
(Meth. Confirmation Service)

Tuesday:

Adoration Focus: (Psalm 37:4) Seek your happiness in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desire.

Confession: See Monday’s confession.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s Shared Focus.

Personal Prayers:

               Dedication: I ask you therefore: Do you repent of you sins and renounce all evil?  Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? Will you obey Christ and serve him in the Church and in the world?
(Meth. Confirmation Service)

Wednesday: 

Adoration Focus: (Psalm 36:7) How precious, O God, is your constant love!  We find protection under the shadow of your wings.

Confession: See Monday’s confession.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s Shared Focus.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: I ask you therefore: Do you repent of you sins and renounce all evil?  Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? Will you obey Christ and serve him in the Church and in the world?
(Meth. Confirmation Service)

 Thursday:

Adoration Focus: (Psalm 35:10) With all my heart I will say to the Lord, “There is no-one like you. …”

Confession: See Monday’s confession.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s Shared Focus.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: I ask you therefore: Do you repent of you sins and renounce all evil?  Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? Will you obey Christ and serve him in the Church and in the world?
(Meth. Confirmation Service)

 Friday:

Adoration Focus: (Psalm 34:8) Find out for yourself how good the Lord is.  Happy are those who find safety with him.

Confession: See Monday’s confession.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s Shared Focus.

Personal prayers:

                Dedication: I ask you therefore: Do you repent of you sins and renounce all evil?  Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? Will you obey Christ and serve him in the Church and in the world?
(Meth. Confirmation Service)

 Saturday:

Adoration Focus: (Psalm 33:11) But his plans endure forever; his purposes last eternally.

Confession: See Monday’s confession.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s Shared Focus.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: I ask you therefore: Do you repent of you sins and renounce all evil?  Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? Will you obey Christ and serve him in the Church and in the world?
(Meth. Confirmation Service)

 Sunday:

Adoration Focus: (Psalm 32:7) You are my hiding place; you will save me from trouble.

Confession: See Monday’s confession.

The Word:

Seeking the Kingdom:

Shared Focus: See Monday’s Shared Focus.

Personal prayers:

               Dedication: I ask you therefore: Do you repent of you sins and renounce all evil?  Do you trust in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour? Will you obey Christ and serve him in the Church and in the world?
(Meth. Confirmation Service)

           

Weekly Rhythm

Thinking more about the lectionary readings
– linking our stories with the stories of God’s people.              

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Readings for the week Sunday 21st September, with thanks to www.gbod.org:

Exodus 16:2-15. A potential coup attempt against Moses and Aaron becomes the occasion for God to test the “whole gathered assembly” about their willingness to follow instruction. God provides quail for meat and “manna” for bread with specific instructions for its gathering and use.  What would your “grumbling issue” be, your complaint against God?  How does he supply manna and quail in the face of your complaint?  The daily supply of manna and quail imply trust.  How do you need to trust God in the face of your complaint?

Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45   This psalm celebrates the might deeds and miracles of God.  Try to list these deeds as you read this psalm.  What deeds and miracles of God would your psalm be full of?

Philippians 1:21-30 Week 1 of 4 in Philippians. Paul shares his trust in God in life or death, his desire to come and see the Christians at Philippi again, and his hope that when he comes he would find them of one heart and mind with each other and in whatever struggles they may face with those who oppose and persecute them.  “Paul here uses a term he comes back to—“homothumadon”—to begin to catch this sense of communitas in Christ. We often translate this as something like “with one heart” or “in one spirit,” but the imagery here etymologically is more like either sharing the same “inner smoke” (“thumos” refers to the smoke from a sacrifice, which is thought to represent the inner life force that dwells in the chest cavity) or having hearts that beat in synchrony. Athletes and sports fans might describe this as being “in the zone”—only in this case, the “zone” is a collective experience. The whole team, the whole community, is “in the zone.”

That’s what Paul prays for this community in Philippi—a group of unlikely friends bound together in Christ. He wants them to be that united—not glommed together, but deeply, organically connected. And he wants this for them not for the sake of their own experience, but, as he says, for the sake of the “faith of the gospel.” People this closely bound will not be intimidated by opponents (who are unlikely to have such cohesion, anyway!). And they will not only not fear suffering, they will count suffering a privilege (verse 29) for the sake of Christ.

This is not a unity formed simply around shared assent to common beliefs (though those are not unimportant!). It is a unity formed by the Spirit among members of the body of Christ. And it is a unity that we are free either to embrace or walk away from. Paul calls this ragtag community of jailers, tradeswomen, retired army veterans and former soothsayers, to name just some of the motley characters we know of from Acts, to embrace it, and firmly. We’ll see some of the urgency in this call to these people in chapter 4. But the point for us, here and now, is that being “homothumadon” can also be a possibility, and more than that, an ideal opportunity for us, too.

But not if we just wish it so, or simply think nice thoughts or write neat articles, blogs or Facebook posts about it. Paul’s language is clear and concrete. “Homothumadon” happens when we “stand firm… striving side by side with one mind for the faith of the gospel, in no way intimidated by opponents.” This is language of contest and unified struggle moved by a common impulse. This is what happens when disciples of Jesus Christ bind themselves to one another in the power of the Holy Spirit and watch over one another in love as they engage their ministries in the world, together and separately. This is what happens as we fulfill the missional purpose for which the early church created this season after Pentecost and we have revived it.”  Source

Matthew 20:1-16. The economics of God’s kingdom look quite startling to those running on the economics of the kingdoms of this world: the parable of the vineyard.”  This parable is not about economic values, it speaks about the economics of God’s grace:  there is more than enough for all…it cannot be earned…it makes no sense from the perspective of worldly values…the last will be first and the first will be last.

How does this parable drive home these values of grace?

Praying the Lectionary Readings

Litany

(based on Psalm 105: 1-6, 37-43)

 

Give thanks and publish God’s fame,
among all races celebrate our Saviour’s deeds.
With your best songs and sweetest music
delight in all that God has done for us.
Glory in the Redeemer’s name,
rejoice from the bottom of your hearts.
In your worship find your true strength,
in praises celebrate God’s Presence.
Never forget the wonders God has done,
the surprises and the dark judgements,
We are a people of faith like Abraham,
the new race that has been chosen to serve.
God had led out his called people,
not a despairing soul among them.
God’s cloud sheltered them by day
and the fire led them by night.
God was with them across the sands
and rivers flowed out of the rocks.
For meat the quails were sent,
the bread of heaven was plentiful.
All the sacred promises are kept by God,
by faith we are the children of Abraham.
Happily the people of God come out,
they chose to shout and sing their joy.

B.D. Prewer, 2004

 

Call to Worship

(inspired by Matthew 20:16, Mark 9:30-37)

The first shall be last.
We come to worship as we are.

The last shall be first.
We come with confidence.

The first shall be last.
We come with questions.

The last shall be first.
We come burdened by failure.

The first shall be last.
We come celebrating success.

The last shall be first.
We come fearful of the future.

The first shall be last
and the last shall be first
and a little child shall lead them.

~ written by Katherine Hawker, and posted on the Liturgy Outside 

 

Prayer of Invocation: Matthew 20:1-16

Call all the laborers, O God,
Call your laborers who woke early,
Call your laborers who came late,
Call your laborers who feel wronged,
Call your laborers who feel overlooked,
Call your laborers who can’t feed their children with this wage,
Call your laborers who know they are working in your fields,
Call your laborers who use their wage to increase your love,
Call all your laborers, O God,
Tell us to roll up our sleeves
For we know that we have work to do.
Let us find you in the work we share here and now,
in Christ’s presence we pray.                                       Amen.

 

— posted on the United Church of Christ webpage.

 

Prayer of Intercession

(Ex. 16:2-15; Phil. 1:21-30; Matt. 20:1-16)

God,
like the Israelites in the wilderness,
we too have known Your love,
and experienced Your care and provision.
You call us to extend Your love to the world around us—
to care for others as deeply as we care for ourselves.
And so we bring the needs of our world before You now.
In Your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who do not have what they need in order to survive;
those without enough food to eat, or shelter to keep them warm;
those without employment, or enough money to pay their bills;
those without access to medical care, or medicine to keep them healthy.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who have more than enough to meet their needs,
but who continue to feel empty inside;
who struggle to find meaning and purpose in life,
who turn to alcohol, drugs, or other destructive behaviours
to try and hide the pain,
who entertain thoughts of suicide.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

We pray for those who are struggling physically,
who are battling life-threatening disease or injury,
who are living with chronic pain,
who are coping with Alzheimers,
or facing death.
Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

God of the first and the last,
and all those in between,
Your grace reaches out to all of us—
life-long believers or newcomers alike.
You call us to live as citizens of heaven,
to work together with one mind and one purpose,
to reach out in love to those in need.
Strengthen us so that we might live in a manner worthy
of the Good News we have received,
offering our lives to the building up of Your upside-down kingdom,
where the last are first, and the first are last,
and there is grace enough for all.

Lord, in Your mercy, hear our prayer.

In the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord, Amen.

Christine Longhurst

 

Call to Worship

(based on Matthew 20: 1-16)

Come!
Come and worship,
you who woke early and you who slept late;
you who come often, and you who don’t.
Whether we are first or last or somewhere in between,
there is room for all of us in God’s kingdom,
and more than enough grace to go around.
Let’s worship God together!
Christine Longhurst

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