Tag Archives: water

“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.

Confession written August 8, 2011 at Richmond Hill

Refreshing, renewing, resurrecting Lord of the waters,

Forgive me.

Forgive that I have become so

stagnant

in my spiritual life that what once was living waters

has now become

green

pond

scum.

Forgive me.

Forgive that I rush the rapids so violently from one task to the next and never see the scenery

nor hear your voice above my own foam and roar.

Forgive me.

Forgive that overflow my banks

taking on too much much much much

threatening to drown those around me

with all my selfish, self-serving surf.

Forgive me.

Forgive that I do not return to you, my source

and so I dry up,

trickle

barely

moving

in between the dusty dry cracks of my bed.

Forgive me.

Fill my dead pools with life again.  Refresh me.

Slow my rapids to the pace you intend.  Renew me.

Train my tributaries to pull from you and not the chaos of stormy life.  Restore me.

Show me where you want me to go.  Redirect me.

Resurrecting Lord of the waters, hear my repentant prayer!

…silence…then turning to one another…

The Good Lord of the waters has heard your prayer.  Peace of Christ be upon you now.

Celebration of a New Appointment 2015

As I was talking with the leaders at my new appointment, I got the feeling that they felt this service needed a face lift.  Here is my attempt at making something old new again.  One of the things I am trying to emphasize is the aspect of the Word in ministry and Local Missions.  Feedback would be appreciated greatly!

 

Service of Installation for 2015

 

By leader: 

Friends, today we welcome Pastor ________________.

Through prayerful discernment Bishop _____________ has sent him/her to serve, lead, and love in Christ as our Pastor.

_______, you have been called by God and sent by the Church

to live among us as an example of the Word,

to preach and teach the Word in mercy and grace,

and to offer the Word at Table, at Font,

in Mission and in Service.

 

You are sent to love, lead, and with us make disciples for the transformation of the world.

 

By Pastor:

I have been called and sent, and with God’s grace and help

I will love, lead, and with you make disciples for the transformation of the world.

 

By leader:

Friends in Christ, let us celebrate this new beginning!

 

Congregation:

God is with us.  God is with you.

You will pray for us – We will pray for you.

You will be with us in joy and in grief.

We will be with you in celebration and sorrow.

You will give your gifts to God among us.

We will share God’s blessings to us with you.

Together we will serve and witness to Christ’s Kingdom

in our community and to our neighbors.

 

By leader or volunteers with symbolic items given or lifted up:

Preach the Word (Bible)

Baptize new Disciples (Water)

and Offer Christ constantly (Bread and Wine)

as you Lead us to be Servants of all (Towel and Basin)

in Mission in our Community.  (Something that represents the local community)

 

By leader:

This stole reminds us that you have been set apart for the ministry of an Elder. (Stole)

 

Congregation:       

 Shepherd us as our Pastor.

                                   

Pastor:

 This yoke is laid upon me, I take it willingly.

 

All:

Lord, bless the ministries of our church.

Live among us as your Living Word.

Preach your Word through our words and actions.

Give us grace to share with one another and the world

as we seek to be Disciples who make Disciples

in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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