Tag Archives: Kingdom

“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.

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Call to Worship based on the Lord’s Prayer

As we gather today, we call you
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
As we gather today, we lift up who you are and what you represent
hallowed be your name
As we gather today, We seek your ways, not our own
Your Kingdom come, your will be done…
As we gather today, we say sorry to you and one another
Forgive us as we forgive…
As we gather today, we need you.
Give us this day our daily bread,
Lead us away from temptation,
Deliver us from Evil.
As we gather today, we pray.
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!

Vine and Branches Communion

Jesus said,

 

“I am the vine, you are the branches.  Abide in me as I abide in you.  You cannot bear fruit all by yourself.  You need me.  You need each other.  I ask you; abide in me at this table.”

 

Lord, we confess

that we have not lived up to the calling you first whispered in our ears.

We have gone astray.

We have been weeds of isolation

and thorny vines that carry no seed,

choking our brothers and sisters of fruitfulness,

stealing their sunshine,

allowing no rain to fall upon new seed.

We are guilty of serving our own needs

rather than contributing to the whole.

We are not connected to you.

We are not connected to one another.

Forgive us, connect us,

graft us once again in grace.

 

There is good news,

Christ came in the flesh to abide with us.

God’s love still grows in this world!

In the name of Christ, you are forgiven.

In the name of Christ, you are forgiven.

 

Lord, You are the Vine, we are your branches!

 

The Lord is with you.

And also with you.

 

Like Trees, let us aspire to raise our hearts!

We lift them up to the Lord!

 

Let us give thanks to the God of relationships!

We give our thanks and praise!

 

Holy God, to you the creator who gave us

vines to climb, trees to lay down in the shade, and fields to run and play.

You are the source of our life.

All life flows from you and connects to the river of your purpose –

the Kingdom that is here and is coming fuller and fuller each day.

 

Your love flows, eternally chasing us to the sea.

Our love has failed.  We have splashed up on dry banks you did not intend for us.

Yet, you still part the waters.  You still pour out your baptismal love.

You still speak through your prophets and preachers.

 

And so, we join together in that rushing water that flows from the heavens to the earth:

 

Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord, God of power and might!

Heaven and Earth are filled with your glory!

Hosanna in the Highest!

Blessed is the one who comes in the Name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the Highest!

 

You, Jesus, flow as the Source, the Love.

You are the Vine.  We are the branches.

You taught us that when we connect with you, we grow.

When we are not connected, we wither and die.

 

You know what it is to die.  You are the seed that was planted.

Christ has died.

You give us the faith in your Church – a growing, living, plant of your creation.

Christ is risen.

You give us the hope in the Kingdom.

Christ will come again.

 

On the night in which Christ died for us, he took the bread.

Wheat that had grown in the fields gathered and prepared.

He gave thanks, broke it, gave it to his disciples, connecting each of them to the single loaf.

“This is my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”

 

After the supper, he took the cup.

Grapes from the vine, crushed, poured out freely for all to share.

He gave thanks, gave it to his disciples, inviting them to be in the vine.

“Drink from this all of you, this is my blood of the new relationship, poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of brokenness.  Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

 

A time of silence.

 

Pour out your Holy Spirit here on your branches.

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon these gifts of the field and of the vine.

Make this cup and this bread be for us the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus.

Connect your branches to your vine so that all may grow in your love and grace!

 

All this we pray in the name of the Vine-grower, the Vine, and the Spirit of life within, Amen.

– (C)2015 Worship’s Wake, Nathan Decker

God is in the Herd (Newsletter Article November 2014)

God is in Herd

Cows are my passion.

What I have ever sighed for has been to retreat to a Swiss farm,

and live entirely surrounded by cows – and china.”  – Charles Dickens

 

I can relate to Charles Dickens in one way.  There is peace inside the herd.  Herd animals have been taught by life’s experiences that things are better when you flock together.  For animals this means that only those on the edges and those who wander off are vulnerable to predators.  Being in the herd means strength in numbers.  Being in the herd means there are more than just your eyes looking out to protect you.  Being in the herd means protection against the coldest winter wind and help finding the water hole during the scorch of summer’s sun.  Sure, you have to put up with the smells and crazy mooing of others, but for most animals let’s be honest.  Being in the herd means life.

This is especially true for us as Christians.  We as Christians have been taught by our experiences with God in this life that things are better when we grow together.  I have found that I’m a better Christian when I gather together with other people on the path of salvation.  I have found that I usually find myself in spiritual (and sometimes mental, emotional, and physical) danger when I wander off too far from God’s people.  The edge is a place we all go to in our lives.  And hopefully while we are there, we are bringing new folks into the flock, but it is not safe to always be on the fringe.  Being in the Church means strength in the number of prayers being lifted up.  Being in the Church means there are more than just your eyes looking out for you, loving you, helping you raise your children, helping you care for your parents.  Being in the church means protection against the loneliest winters of our souls and help in returning to the font and table of our faith to find nourishment.  Yes, we do have to put up with hypocrites, bad smells, loud mooing and the occasional crazy rants, but let’s be honest with ourselves.  Being in Church means life.

Recently, at Charge Conference, Rev. Dr. Rob Colwell, quoting Adam Hamilton, asked our church leaders three questions.  “Why Jesus, Why Church, Why Our Church?”  I was so proud of our answers.  We saw Jesus as Salvation: a place of refuge, a different future, hope and love, the one who can tell us who we truly are.  We saw church as the people and place where we focus on the Kingdom and experience Jesus.  We saw our Church as more than just a growing family.  “Small enough to be a part of it, but big enough to be a group,” one person said.  That sounds to me like a herd.  Life is in the herd.  God is in the herd.

 

42 The believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the community, to their shared meals, and to their prayers. 43 A sense of awe came over everyone. God performed many wonders and signs through the apostles. 44 All the believers were united and shared everything. 45 They would sell pieces of property and possessions and distribute the proceeds to everyone who needed them. 46 Every day, they met together in the temple and ate in their homes. They shared food with gladness and simplicity. 47 They praised God and demonstrated God’s goodness to everyone. The Lord added daily to the community those who were being saved.” 

  • Acts 2:42-47

Isaiah 56:1-8 (Call to Worship)

Lord, We come as Dead Trees.

We bare no fruit.  We have no ability to create life apart from you.

Lord, We come as Strangers in a Strange Land.

Not one of us is originally from here.

Our ancestors came chasing herds, by accident, in hope,

by oppression, and in chains.

But Lord, We are here.

Plant us firmly in your rich soil.  Help us sprout goodness and mercy!

Lord, We are here.

Let us open the doors to the House of the Lord and Welcome All!

-(CC) 2014 Nathan Decker, www.worshipswake.wordpress.com