Tuesday, January 31, 2017

February 5 Seeking God in Word and Sacrament

Sunday, February 5, the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany …

We continue in our focus on Seeking God with all our hearts. 

╬ Seeking God in Word and Sacrament

“Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”  (Psalm 119:105)

The Psalmist expresses for us the central truth about God’s Word.  This “word” is the “logos” – the full expression or revelation of God – in all the ways it comes to us:  spoken by God in creation, writ large in Scripture; incarnate in Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh.  We gather in worship seeking presence with God in the Word and in the sacraments of our liturgy:  celebrations of God’s grace in our baptism and the fellowship of God’s table.  Here God forms us as people of faith, people of Word and Sacrament, and sends us in mission for the sake of the world.  Here we come to know our true selves “en theos,” in God.

The Prayer of the Day and Readings are below.

One of the greatest blessings in life is celebrating God’s goodness with you in the Great Gathering!

- Pastor Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY -----------------------------

God of life, we seek you at the center of our gathering here.  Speak to us in your Word.  Refresh us in remembrance of your grace in baptism.  Restore us and renew us in the blessing of your table.  Come to us in worship that we may find ourselves in you.  Amen.

READINGS -------------------------------------------

First Reading:  Isaiah 56:1-8

6 Thus says the Lord: Maintain justice, and do what is right, for soon my salvation will come, and my deliverance be revealed. 2 Happy is the mortal who does this, the one who holds it fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and refrains from doing any evil. 3 Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say, "The Lord will surely separate me from his people"; and do not let the eunuch say, "I am just a dry tree." 4 For thus says the Lord: To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, 5 I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.  6 And the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to him, to love the name of the Lord, and to be his servants, all who keep the sabbath, and do not profane it, and hold fast my covenant — 7 these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.8 Thus says the Lord God, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, I will gather others to them besides those already gathered.

Psalm 27:1-5

1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
2 When evildoers assail me to devour my flesh — my adversaries and foes — they shall stumble and fall.
3 Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war rise up against me, yet I will be confident.
4 One thing I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.
5 For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will set me high on a rock.

Second Reading:  Revelation 19:6-10

6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the sound of many waters and like the sound of mighty thunder peals, crying out, "Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns.  7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready; 8 to her it has been granted to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure" —  for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.  9 And the angel said to me, "Write this:  Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb." And he said to me, "These are true words of God." 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, "You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your comrades who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

Gospel:  John 14:18-24

18 "I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19 In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them." 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, "Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?" 23 Jesus answered him, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.”

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Seeking God in Silence

Worship on January 29, the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany …

We continue in our focus on Seeking God with all our hearts. 

╬ Seeking God in Silence

“My soul waits in silence for God alone.  All my hope is from him.”  (Psalm 62:5)  The Psalmist gives voice to a deep abiding truth.  Seeking God has active, kinetic aspects.  But one of the most powerful ways to seek and experience presence with God is to become still, within and without.  Christian faith and spiritual traditions of every kind share in common an emphasis on contemplative, meditative practices of seeking God in silence.  Perhaps the shortest route to God in a noisy, jangled world, is to become still, centered and silent.
The Prayer of the Day and Readings are below.

May you and I find places of deep, attentive silence in the midst of life.  For we may well find that God is most abundantly present and available there.

- Pastor Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY ----------------------------------------------

God of all creation, help us to rest ourselves in you.  In the complexity and busy-ness, the challenges and noise of daily life, help us to know peace and grow still, that we might find you in silence.  Amen.

READINGS ------------------------------------------------------------

First Reading:  1 Kings 19:9-13

9 Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah, saying, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" 10 He answered, "I have been very zealous for the Lord, the God of hosts; for the Israelites have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword. I alone am left, and they are seeking my life, to take it away."  11 He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by." Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; 12 and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. 13 When Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. Then there came a voice to him that said, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Psalm 46

1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult. 4 There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved; God will help it when the morning dawns. 6 The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge. 8 Come, behold the works of the Lord; see what desolations he has brought on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear; he burns the shields with fire.10 "Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth."11 The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Second Reading:  Ephesians 1:17-23

17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him, 18 so that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened and you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance among the saints, 19 and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power for us who believe, according to the working of his great power. 20 God put this power to work in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come. 22 And he has put all things under his feet and has made him the head over all things for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Gospel:  Mark 1:35-39

35 In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for him. 37 When they found him, they said to him, "Everyone is searching for you." 38 He answered, "Let us go on to the neighboring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do." 39 And he went throughout Galilee, proclaiming the message in their synagogues and casting out demons.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Seeking God in prayer

Worship on Sunday, January 22 …

As we continue in our series, “Seeking God, we turn our attention to Seeking God in prayer!

╬ Seeking God in prayer.

One constant that rises from the pages of both Hebrew testament and Christian witness is God’s call to prayer.  Individually and communally, in times of danger and despair, in times of joyful celebration, at the top of our lungs and in the intimacy of silence – God invites and encourages us to pray. Paul understands this as a “constant” spiritual discipline: “Pray without ceasing,” he says, “for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”  (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)  This gift of deep communion with God is there for all who will seek God in prayer.

The Prayer of the Day and Readings are below.

To abide in God’s love is to abide in prayer!

Blessings to all,

- Pastor Brad Highum


PRAYER OF THE DAY -----------------------------------------------

Gracious God, in this season of Epiphany light call is into prayer.  Give us the faith and the courage to open our hearts and minds to you  in this communion of spirit.  May we find you  when we seek you in prayer. Amen.

READINGS ------------------------------------------------------------

First Reading:  1 Kings 8:27-30

27 "But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Even heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you, much less this house that I have built! 28 Regard your servant's prayer and his plea, O Lord my God, heeding the cry and the prayer that your servant prays to you today; 29 that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you said, 'My name shall be there,' that you may heed the prayer that your servant prays toward this place. 30 Hear the plea of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place; O hear in heaven your dwelling place; heed and forgive.

Psalm:  A Litany of Psalm Verses on Prayer (141, 42, 16, 66)

I call upon you, O Lord; come quickly to me; give ear to my voice when I call to you.

Let my prayer be counted as incense before you, and the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice.

By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.

I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

I cried aloud to him, and he was extolled with my tongue.

If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.

But truly God has listened; he has given heed to the words of my prayer.

Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me.

Second Reading:  James 5:13-18

13 Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise. 14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. 16 Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. 17 Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.

Gospel:  Matthew 6:1-6

1 "Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.  2 "So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.  5 "And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Seeking God in daily life

Looking ahead to Sunday, January 15 … we begin to explore our Epiphany theme of “Seeking God.” 

╬ Seeking God in daily life.

The astounding truth is that the God of the universe, the God of all life and all creation, wants nothing more than an intimate relationship of love with each one of us, moment by moment, throughout our days.  Yet how easily can this connection of ultimate love can be lost among the cares and complexities of our daily lives.  God does not insist, or demand or assert.  Rather the abiding promise is that if we will seek God in daily living, God will be found!

The Prayer of the Day and Readings are below.

It is a blessing to experience this Epiphany revelation of God’s presence with you!

- Pastor Brad Highum


PRAYER OF THE DAY -----------------------------------------------

God of life and all creation, we hold to your promise of presence.  The object of all our longing is you.  With the whole of our being – with all our heart – we seek you on the path of daily life.  God of grace, draw near.   Amen.

READINGS ------------------------------------------------------------

First Reading:  Exodus 16:1-7

16 The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2 The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3 The Israelites said to them, "If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger."  4 Then the Lord said to Moses, "I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. 5 On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days." 6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, "In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7 and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord.

Responsive Reading from Proverbs - 8:22,30-35

22 The Lord created me at the beginning of his work, the first of his acts of long ago.
30 Then I was beside him, like a master worker; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing before him always,
31 rejoicing in his inhabited world and delighting in the human race.
32 "And now, my children, listen to me: happy are those who keep my ways.
33 Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.
34 Happy is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors.
35 For whoever finds me finds life

Second Reading:  Acts 17:21-28

21 Now all the Athenians and the foreigners living there would spend their time in nothing but telling or hearing something new.  22 Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, "Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. 23 For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, 'To an unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. 24 The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, 25 nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. 26 From one ancestor God made all nations to inhabit the whole earth, and allotted the times of their existence and the boundaries of the places where they would live, 27 and that they would seek God and perhaps feel their way toward him, and find him — though indeed he is not far from each one of us. 28 For 'In him we live and move and have our being'; as even some of your own poets have said, 'For we too are his offspring.'

Gospel:  Luke 11:1-4

11 He was praying in a certain place, and after he had finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples." 2 He said to them, "When you pray, say: Father, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come.  3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us.  And do not bring us to the time of trial."


Worship on Sunday, January 8 …

We enter into the time of Epiphany – the revealing of God’s Christ – with the traditional celebration of Jesus’ baptism.

╬ Baptism

As the prophets foretold, "They shall name him Emmanuel, which means, God is with us." (Matthew 1:23)  Yet Jesus comes among us not only as “God with us” but as one of us, in every respect.  He enters fully into human experience.  He says that his baptism by John fulfills God’s righteousness in him just as he calls for the fulfillment of God’s righteousness in all people.  Today, we embrace our own baptismal heritage as people claimed by God, washed in the water life and sent forth for the sake of the world.

Below are Readings and the Prayer of the Day.  

Thanks be to God for the gift of baptism that unites us in the Body of Christ!

- Pastor Brad Highum


PRAYER OF THE DAY ------------------------------------------------

Creating God, in the waters of baptism you claim us as your own.  Help us each day to renew and refresh ourselves in the water of life.  Set us free to live as your people and to proclaim in all the world the gift of life that is your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ.   Amen.

READINGS -------------------------------------------------------------

First Reading:  Isaiah 42:1-9

42 Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations.2 He will not cry or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street;3 a bruised reed he will not break, and a dimly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. 4 He will not grow faint or be crushed until he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his teaching.  5 Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it:6 I am the Lord, I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, 7 to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.8 I am the Lord, that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to idols.9 See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth, I tell you of them.

Psalm 29

1 Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; worship the Lord in holy splendor.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord causes the oaks to whirl, and strips the forest bare; and in his temple all say, "Glory!"
10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord sits enthroned as king forever.
11 May the Lord give strength to his people!  May the Lord bless his people with peace!

Second Reading:  Acts 10:34-43

34 Then Peter began to speak to them: "I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. 36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ — he is Lord of all. 37 That message spread throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; how he went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with him. 39 We are witnesses to all that he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put him to death by hanging him on a tree; 40 but God raised him on the third day and allowed him to appear, 41 not to all the people but to us who were chosen by God as witnesses, and who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43 All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."

Gospel:  Matthew 3:13-17

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. 14 John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" 15 But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. 16 And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. 17 And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."