Liturgical Resources from The Jubilee Fund
For Sunday February 12, 2017
Year A, Sixth Sunday after the Epiphany
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 119
L: Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.
P: Happy are those who keep the decrees of the LORD, and seek the LORD with their whole heart,
L: Who also do no wrong, but walk in the ways of the LORD.
P: You have commanded, O LORD, that your precepts be kept diligently
L: O that our ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes.
P: Then we shall not be put to shame.
L: We will praise you with upright hearts.
P: And we will observe your statutes.
Here we are again, O God, gathered as your people, offering our praise to you. We have come knowing we are far from perfect, yet we bask in your perfection. We have come knowing we are far from sinless, yet we marvel that Christ walked as one without sin. We have come seeking wholeness, knowing you are the source of grace and soul repair. Move within and among us, O God, and guide us in our worship, for we come in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
I Corinthians 3: 1-3a, says “And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ.I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh.”
When we talk about stewardship, and tithing and offerings with mature Christians, we tend to talk about the spiritual benefits of giving and generosity. And it is great and right that we do so. But today, I am going to talk to you about giving as I would to an infant in the faith. Are you ready?
You need to give something in some way on a regular and consistent basis. It will be hard, but it will prove to you that God provides. Don’t question me. Just do it. Not a few bucks when you are here, but a consistent amount each week or month. If you miss, keep up the giving. When you do this, God sees your effort for a relationship and returns those gifts over and over and over again in your awareness of God’s blessings.
As a bonus, you will start seeing the gifts you return to God are making a difference to people around the world. And you will really start to like how you feel about that. So make a decision and start giving. You will be glad you did.
Generous God, bless these gifts that we return to you, and bless the hearts that give. Unite our hearts with those hearts that will be strengthened, helped, and healed through these gifts. May this money be used faithfully to your purposes, furthering your reign of compassion and justice around the world. Amen.
Matthew 5:23 and 24 tell the story of Jesus teaching that if you are offering your gift at the altar and remember your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift, go and reconcile, then come back and bring your gift. I have encountered folks who use these verses as a reason why sometimes they choose not to take communion. They have told me it is because they are not worthy or reconciled. I think they miss the point.
Communion is not a gift we bring to God; Communion is a gift God brings to us. It seems to me that to refuse it is equal to saying to God: “You don’t get to decide whether or not I am worthy, I do.” Forgive me, but I think God is the better and ultimate judge of worthiness. Today we invite you, at the insistence of God through Jesus Christ, to come and receive the gifts of God.
Year A, Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany
Call to Worship (Responsive)
L: Happy are those who fear the LORD
P: Who greatly delight in the LORD’s commandments.
L: For the righteous will never be moved;
P: They will be remembered forever.
L: They are not afraid of evil tidings;
P: Their hearts are firm, secure in the LORD.
L: They have given to the poor;
P: Their righteousness endures forever.
A: Praise the LORD!
We come as your faithful people, O God. We come hoping to be salt and light to the world. Yet we come knowing our lights need to be brightened and our flavor restored. Move among us, O God, and renew our spirits. Help us to know your presence and experience your renewal. Hear our prayers and fill our hearts, for we offer ourselves in the name of Jesus the Christ.
“Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin?” Isaiah 58:6-7, NRSV
A couple of blocks from the Guadalupe Culture Arts Center, in the middle of the San Antonio, Texas Housing Authority’s Alazan-Apache Courts’ boundaries, lies a ministry of the Christian Church. Since 1913, when Dr. Samuel Guy Inman, the Christian Women’s Board of missions, Central Christian Church, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) founded Inman Christian Center, you have been working to make a difference. How does Inman Christian Center make a difference you ask? Inman Christian Center offers a food pantry, an affordable housing ministry for low income elderly, clothing supplies and social services, Adolescent Substance Abuse Treatment, child care, counseling, a vital volunteer/mission trip ministry and more. Perhaps more simply, Inman Christian Center works every day on your behalf to loose the bonds of injustice, to let the oppressed go free, to share bread, shelter the homeless poor, to clothe the naked and to help us be aware of our kin in the greater human family. Inman Christian Center is living out Isaiah’s fast, which God chooses in partnership with all of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). When we bring our tithes and offerings, we bring some of the resources which make ministries like Inman Christian Center possible.
God of grace and mercy, we come as a people aware of the great need in our society, and as a people sometimes overwhelmed. Take these gifts, and make of them a great and mighty work. Take these offerings, and turn them into a fast pleasing to your sight. Bless these gifts to ministries of help and hope, that your realm will be known. Amen.
Here we are again, at the Lord’s Table. If we are willing to be honest with ourselves, sometimes we come without examining the marvel and wonder we meet here. Because it is familiar and safe, we just come. And yet, week after week, God faithfully meets us here. God challenges us with our shortcomings, AND God offers us grace: Grace given freely by God, through the gift of Jesus Christ. So here we are again, at the Lord’s Table: what a marvelous and wonderful place to be!
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Scripture Quotations from the New Revised Standard Version. Online Scripture links a service of the Jean and Alexander Heard Divinity Library, of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN. Check out all of the awesome resources there at http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu