Tag Archives: Justice

Advent Candles Lighting 2017

LIGHTING THE HOPE CANDLE

 

This year has been devastating…

Wildfires, hurricanes, shootings, turmoil

It would be so easy to give in to apathy,

to let our hearts grow dark with despair.

But there is a light shining in the darkness.

(the candle is lit)

A single candle, a small voice, a still reminder…

Hope.

Hope in the Word proclaimed by the prophets.

Hope.

Hope in the Promise of Emmanuel.

Hope.

Hope in the birth of our Savior.

Hope.

 

LIGHTING THE LOVE CANDLE

 

She places a hand on her belly to feel the kicking from within as they journey down the road toward Bethlehem…

a Babe will be born, a Savior will arrive, Love will come down.

The lost world pushes on drudgingly, slaves to a never ending care-less-ness.

It would be so easy to give in to apathy,

But there is a light shining in the cold winter.

(the candles are lit)

A simple hope, a wonderful gift…

Love.

Love nurtured by a Mother’s embrace…

Love.

Love shared from the Father’s strength…

Love.

Love in the birth of our Savior.

Love.

 

LIGHTING THE JOY CANDLE

 

Cheerless faces marching in the land of misery…

Chained to our desires, held captive by our regrets, slaves to our brokenness.

It would be so easy to give in to apathy,

to let our hearts grow deaf, our open lips mute with pain.

But there is a song shining in the silence.

(the candles are lit)

A simple hope, the gift of love, a song of joy…

Joy.

Joy brought the Angel’s song to the shepherds.

Joy.

Joy inspired the Wise to follow their starry dreams.

Joy.

Joy in the birth of our Savior.

Joy.

 

LIGHTING THE PEACE CANDLE

 

War affects more than those who are fighting.

Men, women, children, babies, refugees.

Turning a blind eye, pretending it isn’t our problem,

It would be so easy to give in to apathy.

But there is a light shining in the night.

(the candles are lit)

A simple hope, the gifts of love, a song of joy, the peace of Christ…

Peace.

Peace born in a prince lain in a manger.

Peace.

Peace waging in our hearts, seeking justice, offering mercy.

Peace.

Peace in the birth of our Savior.

Peace.

 

LIGHTING THE CHRIST CANDLE

 

(all the advent candles are lit)

She gives him a nod; he realizes it is time,

There is no room in the inn.

It would be so easy to give in to the apathy that surrounds them,

Yet they don’t give up, pressing on to the stable.

Light is born in the darkness.  A child is born unto you.

(the Christ candle is lit)

A simple hope, the gift of love, a song of joy, the peace of Christ…

His name is Jesus.

Wonderful, Counselor,

He is Emmanuel – God with us.

Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace,

He is the Christ child.

Amen.

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“But I don’t want to take a Bath!”

from Isaiah 42:1-9

The little boy and girl were as close to heaven as they were to the earth.  Jessica and Jerome: fraternal and inseparable twins they were.  At age seven, they looked at the world through double lenses of reality and fantasy.  It didn’t take much in their eyes to turn a play house into a castle or a tree with low hanging branches into an attacking dragon, and behind the castle, a puddle of mud into a swimming pool.

They each took turns cannonballing into the mud and the muck.  She first noticed that you could turn it into a slip and slide if you ran first.  He figured out that you could ball up the mud and throw it (even at her).  They were in the ecstatic giggles and youthful joy when mother’s voice called them to dinner.  “Lord have mercy, how did you two get so dirty? You both will have to have a bath before dinner.”

That’s when the buts showed up.   “But mom, we don’t want to.”  “But mom, do we have to?”  “But mom, we look alright to each other.”  And in a tone that warned her that teenage years were approaching far too quickly, “Mother!”

And we understand these feelings all too well in our spiritual journey.  As Christians we see the word through double lenses.  We see the world as it is.  We see the racism that persists in our nation from generation to generation.  We weep at the funerals of police officers that have been ambushed while striving to serve and protect.  The greedy horde while the poor starve.  Nations are shutting doors to immigrants and refugees in irrational fears based on the same nationalism and prejudice that fueled the Nazi party almost 100 years ago.  The world seems to be playing its own version of Hunger games and we are all in the arena.

But as Christians, we also see the world as God believes it could and should be.  Love that sees difference of culture and skin tone not as a bad thing but as an a reflection of God’s own diverse love and color.  Righteous anger at those who abuse power, manipulate crowds with fear, and use tragedy as a means to fuel their own agendas.  Compassion for moms and dads who just want a safe place from war, rape, and unrest for their children to grow up and have it better than they did.

And in all of this God asks us to take a bath.  Our Lord invites us to awaken within our baptismal waters and be transformed by them.  Jesus wants us to be changed by his Grace, to be transformed in his Compassion, to use these waters shared with us as a gift.  God invites us to be more than a people who worship in wishes?  God invites us to be love in action.  God calls us to raise our voice for the voiceless, give our strength to the weak, and lift up those who have been pushed down.   

And that’s when the buts show up.  “But God, we don’t want to.”  “But God, do we have to?”  “But God, we look alright to each other.”  And in a tone that warns of our tendency to rebellion, “Father!”   

Isaiah preaching to the people about the Messiah speaks of who God is.  “He will bring justice to the nations.”  Our Savior brings peace and wholeness to the world.  “He won’t cry out or shout.”  Our Lord doesn’t call attention to himself. God doesn’t have an ego or need all eyes on him.  “He won’t break a bruised reed; he won’t extinguish a faint wick, but he will surely bring justice.”  He won’t brush aside those who are bruised and hurt. The smallest and most insignificant light is still precious in his eyes.  The weak will be made strong, the poor will be rich: this is God’s Kingdom, a revolution through spiritual practice.

Isaiah, preaching, gives a word from God about who we are.  God is an all-powerful God who has chosen to share that power with us.  “I, the Lord, have called you for a good reason… I’m giving you as a promise to the people, as a light to the nations.”  The Lord who created the heavens, the one who stretched the sky from east to west and north to south, the one who breathed life into your lips wants you to be the change.  God calls us to be the life in this world of death.  God calls us to be the hope in this despair.  God calls us to be the new beginning in the end of endings.

We are the folks who have taken a bath.  Jessica and Jerome didn’t want to take a bath.  So their mother gave them a different option.  A little liquid soap up into water balloons, a two water guns, and mom with the hose and bath time was no longer a chore but had become a transformed moment of joy, love, and memory.

We are the folks who have taken a bath.  We’ve been given a gift in our baptismal waters.  We are God’s promise to the nations.  We are God’s lights of joy, love, and testimony.  As we remember our Baptism today, let’s not just be wishful worshippers.  Let’s be the changed, the transformed, the renewed, those who have been washed in God’s love.  Amen.

Advent Candle Readings (intended for a single service)

Advent Candle Readings

Note:  I’ll be using these at my Midnight Mass service for 2016.  They could be used in separate services, however, for future years.  Please feel free to edit the places of conflict mentioned under the Candle of Peace.  

 

We light this candle in hope.

Hope for salvation from apathy and hatred.

Hope for change in our hearts and minds.

Hope for holding hands instead of holding wounds.

Hope to warm us in the dark of night.

 

We light this candle for peace.

Peace for hearts shell-shocked with grief.

Peace for places like Aleppo, Mosel, and Yemen.

Peace for Police and Protester.

Peace to shine in the dark of night.

 

We light this candle for joy.

Joy for a family finding a place for the birth.

Joy for a baby born in a stable.

Joy for shepherds sharing good news.

Joy to comfort in the dark of night.

 

We light this candle in love.

Love for Emmanuel, God with us.

Love for Jesus, Savior born this night.

Love from God; Love come down.

Love to bring light in the dark of night.

 

 

 

Light this candle for Christ.

Christ, the Child who gives us Hope.

Christ, the Promised Prince of Peace.

Christ to whom the Angels sing – “Joy unspeakable!”

Christ, God’s Love.  Emmanuel.  God with us.

Jesus, Love divine that came down from heaven.

Jesus, Joy that awakens each heart this night.

Jesus, Peace to quell the fears and wars of humanity.

Jesus, Hope in this darkness.

God lights this Candle for you and me.

God lights this Candle giving us the best gift possible.

God lights this candle to comfort us in the warmth of hope and joy.

God lights this candle to shine peace and guide us to love in the dark of night.

God light this Candle for Christmas, and may its flame never extinguish.

Amen.

 

(CC) 2016.  Worship’s Wake, Nathan Decker

Call to Worship for Advent 2016

As a church family we gather round the tree.
Lord, we need your hope, joy, peace and love.
The green branches remind us that your love never fails.
Summer and Winter, your love doesn’t change.
Lord, remind us of your love.
The lights on the tree remind us of your gift of hope.
Hope shines through the darkness.
Lord, remind us of your hope.
The ornaments remind us of the joy you share.
Giggles of children placing them there.
Lord, remind us of your joy.
The star on the top shines for peace.
Peace through justice and acceptance of diversity.
Lord, remind us of your peace.
As a church family we gather round the tree.
Jesus, this Advent, we wait for thee.

Call to worship for Christmas season 2016

Raindrops on roses
And whiskers on kittens
Bright copper kettles
And warm woolen mittens
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite things

This year let us be more focused on Christmas; Focused on Jesus instead of our wish list.
The gift of God blooms brighter than spring

Let Christmas time be our favorite thing.

 

When the poor come,

Let us feed them!

Give of what we have!

And then we’ll remember just why we sing

Christmas day is glad!

Blessing of Men and Women in Law Enforcement

Blessing of Law Enforcement April 2016

Beloved Jesus,

You came down to serve, to protect, and to give your life to save another.

You served humanity, showing us love and sharing what we could be when shaped by that love.

You protected the weak, the abused, the outcasts, and those society have given up on – walking with the least and the worst.

You gave your live for the cause of those who didn’t deserve it, and we are eternally grateful for your gift.

Before us now are men and women who seek

to follow you

to serve and protect

and who daily place their lives in danger on behalf of our community.

Bless them, Savior.

Provide mercy and justice in each call they answer.

Protect them with the Armor of God in addition to body armor.

In those moments when quick decisions can change and save lives, Spirit, give that peace and practiced discernment of choosing right over wrong, love to conquer hate, and restrained force to rein in unrestrained behavior.

Lord, these men and women, especially today, endure such judgment and difficulty in completing the work set before them

give them patience, perseverance, and understanding

and let them know your presence in the patrol car, in the dispatch room, in the day and in the night.  You are the Lord who said you would always be with us, to the end of the age, Jesus.  Amen.

Invitation to New Life based on Luke 19

 

Christ our Lord invites himself to our Table

Calls us out of the sycamore tree, inspires us to charity.

Christ our Lord invites us to see the world differently.

Generously giving half of what we own,

Providing a path for the poor.

Christ our Lord invites us to live in peace with one another.

If we have cheated anyone, let us repay them four times!

We seek a life lived through justice.

We seek relationships filled with wholeness and peace.

Christ our Lord invites us to salvation,

to seek and save the lost.

Let us come down and dine with Christ!

Confession from Jeremiah 5:1-8

We run from You, great forgiver and lover.

We run through the streets terrified because we know

You seek truth, You seek justice, You seek humble hearts

so that You can forgive them.

but We have refused to live forgiven lives.

We have made our faces harder than rock

and We have no excuse. 

We are not the poor.

and yet, We are not truly rich.

We have all broken the yoke that was easy.

We have all torn the bonds that gave us freedom.

 

forgive us, we pray.

You can protect us from the Lion in the roaming in our forest,

those dark voices roaring in our minds.

You can lift us from the Leopard seeking to rip us to pieces,

those evils of self-indulgence and self-gratification.

You alone can feed our hungry spirits and heal our hurting souls.

 

Sisters and Brothers, the Great Forgiver calls us.

Because of God’s Love, the Living Bread descended to us in the desert.

Our cry of “Lord, help my unbelief” has been heard!

Here is the only proof we ever need.  God’s Love!

 

In the name of Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven!

In the name of Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven!

Hallelujah!  Amen!

Cain’s Morning Prayer

Cain’s Morning Prayer
Great Judge and Lord of Justice:
you are righteous, we are unjust,
you are merciful, we are judgmental,
you offer the grace we need
and so often reject.
Move our hearts to your presence.
Forgive our unforgiving of others and ourselves.
Remind us that you have marked us
so we may recognize you, 
live forgiven lives,
and share our mark of mercy and grace,
through the one whose blood cleans and chooses us,
Amen.

Call to Worship with Superheroes (From Ephesians 6:10-20)

Lord, we need a Savior.

Where are the superheroes? 

Where can we find Superman or Batman?

Where are the Avengers or the X-men?

Listen to the screams, Lord, creation is broken!

Not just floods and earthquakes, but hunger and neglect.

The arch-nemesis of all things good wages war and pain.

Lord, have mercy!  Where are the superheroes?

 

Friends, find strength in the Lord, he shares his power with you!

Put on the Armor.

Make a stand against the enemy – apathy, hate, war, greed.

Put on the Armor.  Put on the Armor of God.

You are armed with truth, justice, the good news of peace.

Put on the Armor.  Put on the Armor.  Put on the Armor of God.

Carry the Shield of Faith and the Sword of the Spirit.

Wear your Salvation for everyone to see.

Put on the Armor.  Put on the Armor.  Put on the Armor of God.

We are Heroes in God’s Kingdom.  Our Super Power is God’s Love.

Lord, have mercy!  We are the superheroes with Christ!