5 December 2018

Gathering Music 

Call to Prayer

One: Since the beginning, God has been relentlessly pursuing us in love.
Many: Though our faithfulness ebbs and flows, God’s love endures forever.
One: Taking on flesh like ours, God became one with humanity in the person of Jesus Christ.
Many: God lived and moved and ministered in the margins of power.
One: God incarnate was not what we expected. We did not recognize God in Jesus. Still, we struggle to recognize God with us.
Many:And yet, God continues to dwell in our midst. Thanks be to God.

Sung Evening Confession

“Vindicated” by Dashboard Confessional

Vindicated
I am selfish
I am wrong
I am right, I swear I’m right
Swear I knew it all along and
I am flawed
But I am cleaning up so well
I am seeing in me now the things you swore you saw yourself

Scripture

John 1:1-5, 9-14, 16 (CEB)

1 In the beginning was the Word
and the Word was with God
and the Word was God.
2 The Word was with God in the beginning.
3 Everything came into being through the Word,
and without the Word
nothing came into being.
What came into being
4 through the Word was life,
and the life was the light for all people.
5 The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light.
9 The true light that shines on all people
was coming into the world.
10 The light was in the world,
and the world came into being through the light,
but the world didn’t recognize the light.
11 The light came to the light’s own people,
but they didn’t welcome him.
12 But those who did welcome him,
those who believed in the name,
the light authorized to become God’s children,
13 born not from blood
nor from human desire or passion,
but born from God.
14 The Word became flesh
and made a home among us.
We have seen the glory of the light,
glory like that of a parent’s beloved child,
full of grace and truth.
16 From the fullness of the Word we have all received grace upon grace.

Sung Response

“Come, Come”

Come, Come, whoever you are!

Worshipper, wanderer lover of leaving.

Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Though you have broken your vows

a thousand times,

Come, come again come

Reading

Accidental Saints by Nadia Bolz-Weber (p. 188-189)

It was Jesus who had all the powers of the universe at his disposal but did not consider his equality with God something to be exploited. Instead, he came to us in the most vulnerable of ways, as a powerless, flesh-and-blood newborn. As if to say, “You may hate your bodies, but I am blessing all human flesh. You may admire strength and might, but I am blessing all human weakness. You may seek power, but I am blessing all human vulnerability.” This Jesus whom we follow cried at the tomb of his friend and turned the other cheek and forgave those who hung him on a cross. He was God’s Beatitude – God’s blessing to the weak in a world that admires only the strong.

What is this coming together to live and tell and be made into the story of Jesus if not a melting and being reformed?

We expose ourselves to the brightness of God’s light and it warms us for a while, but eventually we melt. Our resistances and plans and schemes and scars and pride all melt down in times when we are forgiven by friends … and when we embrace that thing we were trying to hide from (in others and ourselves), and when we meet someone else’s need … When all of it is given meaning in the larger story of Jesus Christ, it destroys us, then pours our melted selves back into another form that still bears the marks of how we got there. Then we become something that can bear light, the brightness of which is not diminished, even when divided and borrowed.

Silent Reflection

Sung Response

“Come, Come”

Come, Come, whoever you are!

Worshipper, wanderer lover of leaving.

Ours is not a caravan of despair.

Though you have broken your vows

a thousand times,

Come, come again come

Prayers of the People

One:
God, we lift up to you those who are far from home, those you have gathered from the east, west, north and south, from all around the world, and those lost in the wilderness, lonely and afraid.

Many:
Give them a space, a city in the desert, a broad place in which to thrive. Help them to find their way.

One:
God we bring before you the hungry and thirsty, those saddled with financial debt and those suffering the weight of shame, those with empty stomachs and those with hollow hearts.

Many:
Plant them in the rich soil of your Spirit, fill their lives with people who will share their hearts, homes, and tables.

One:
God, we lay at your feet the prisoners of this world, the truly guilty and the wrongly accused, those who are incarcerated and the loved ones chained to addictions and depression or trapped in abuse.

Many:
Deliver them from their desperate circumstances. Bring them out of the shadow. Shatter their chains and spit their cages in two. Show them where your Spirit lives, for where the Spirit is, there is freedom.

One:
God, we entrust to you those staggering through the storms of life, shipwrecked on the shore of illness, death, grief, and loss.

Many:
Quiet the storm to a whisper; calm the waves to a hush. Break through the clouds with hope. Stand with them and help us to stand.

One:
We pray all of these things, confident of your love, grateful for your faithfulness and in awe of all you’ve already done. Amen.

Blessing

The New Beatitudes by Nadia Bolz Weber (Accidental Saints p. 184-187)

In her book Accidental Saints, Nadia Bolz Weber suggests some new beatitudes. She says, “Maybe Jesus was simply blessing the ones around him that day who didn’t otherwise receive blessing, who had come to believe that, for them blessings would never be in the cards.” So, friends let us imagine Jesus the Christ, standing among us saying:

Blessed are the agnostics. Blessed are they who doubt. Those who aren’t sure, who can still be surprised.

Blessed are they who are spiritually impoverished and therefore not so certain about everything that they no longer take in new information.

Blessed are those who have nothing to offer.

Blessed are the pre-schoolers who cut in line at communion.

Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

Blessed are they for whom death is not an abstraction. Blessed are they who have buried their loved ones, for whom tears are as real as an ocean. Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like.

Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried.

Blessed are they who don’t have the luxury of taking things for granted any more.

Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else. Blessed are the motherless, the alone, the ones from whom so much has been taken. Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.”

Blessed are those who mourn. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

Blessed are those who no one else notices. The kids who sit alone at middle school lunch tables. The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex workers and the night-shift street sweepers.

Blessed are the losers and the babies and the parts of ourselves that are so small, the parts of ourselves that don’t want to make eye contact with a world that loves only the winners.

Blessed are the forgotten. Blessed are the closeted. Blessed are the unemployed, the unimpressive, the underrepresented.

Blessed are the meek. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.

Blessed are the wrongly accused, the ones who never catch a break, the ones for whom life is hard, for Jesus chose to surround himself with people like them.

Blessed are those without documentation. Blessed are the ones without lobbyists.

Blessed are foster kids and trophy kids and special ed kids and every other kid who just wants to feel safe and loved.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. Blessed are they who know there has to be more than this. Because they are right.

Blessed are those who make terrible business decisions for the sake of people.

Blessed are the burned-out social workers and the overworked teachers and the pro bono case takers.

Blessed are the kindhearted NFL players and the fundraising trophy wives.

Blessed are the kids who step between the bullies and the weak.

Blessed are they who hear that they are forgiven.

All:
Blessed is everyone who has ever forgiven us when we didn’t deserve it. Blessed are the merciful, for they totally get it.

Sending

“Child of God” by Mark Miller

Worship Notes:
– Call to Worship: https://enfleshed.com/pages/calls-to-worship
– Prayers of the People: from the PC(USA) UKirk Worship Resource

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