Monday, February 20, 2017

February 26 Lifting the Veil

WORSHIP this Sunday, February 26, the last Sunday after Epiphany …

We complete our focus on Seeking God with a celebration of the Transfiguration! 

╬ Lifting the Veil

“And all of us, with unveiled faces …"  - 2 Corinthians 3:18

The Transfiguration is a pivotal experience in the lives of Jesus’ disciples, as it is in our own lives and faith journey.  It profoundly captures the deeper meanings of the season of Epiphany – the revealing, the “making-known” of God.  The Gospels describe a mystical, mountaintop experience in which certain of Jesus’ followers see him transfigured.  In the story, Jesus’ appearance changes dramatically, he looks different to them.  In reality, a veil is lifted from their understanding and they see him in a new light.  It is an invitation to awaken to the true reality of Christ as the one promised by the prophets, the One in whom God is re-creating the world.  It is an invitation to them – and to us – to be transformed by that revealed identity. 

The Prayer of the Day and Readings are below.  PLEASE NOTE: I have chosen to use more traditional Transfiguration First and Second Readings.  This will not affect the wonderful song selections you have for the day!

Blessings and peace to you all,

- Pastor Brad Highum

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

Almighty God, the light of your truth shines from the mountaintop into our hearts.  Transfigure us in the love of your Son, and illumine the world with your image, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

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

First Reading:  Exodus 34:29-35

29 Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. 30 When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him. 31 But Moses called to them; and Aaron and all the leaders of the congregation returned to him, and Moses spoke with them. 32 Afterward all the Israelites came near, and he gave them in commandment all that the Lord had spoken with him on Mount Sinai. 33 When Moses had finished speaking with them, he put a veil on his face; 34 but whenever Moses went in before the Lord to speak with him, he would take the veil off, until he came out; and when he came out, and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, 35 the Israelites would see the face of Moses, that the skin of his face was shining; and Moses would put the veil on his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

Psalm 99

1 The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
2 The Lord is great in Zion; he is exalted over all the peoples.
3 Let them praise your great and awesome name. Holy is he!
4 Mighty King, lover of justice, you have established equity; you have executed justice and righteousness in Jacob.
5 Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!
6 Moses and Aaron were among his priests, Samuel also was among those who called on his name. They cried to the Lord, and he answered them.
7 He spoke to them in the pillar of cloud; they kept his decrees, and the statutes that he gave them.
8 O Lord our God, you answered them; you were a forgiving God to them, but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
9 Extol the Lord our God, and worship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy.

Second Reading:  2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

12 Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness, 13 not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside. 14 But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside. 15 Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds; 16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.  4 Therefore, since it is by God's mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. 2 We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God's word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.

Gospel:  Matthew 17:1-9

17 Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. 2 And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. 3 Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. 4 Then Peter said to Jesus, "Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah." 5 While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, "This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!" 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. 7 But Jesus came and touched them, saying, "Get up and do not be afraid." 8 And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. 9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, "Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead."

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

February 19 Seeking God in Others

WORSHIP on Sunday, February 19, the Seventh Sunday after Epiphany …

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

╬ Seeking God in Others

“You shall love the stranger, for you were strangers once yourselves."  - Deuteronomy 10:19

Jesus says the full measure of the “law and the prophets” – the “bible” of his time – is summed up in a single commandment:  to love; to love others as we would be loved ourselves.  This can be challenging within our own cultural enclaves, our national and religious identity groups, our communities, even our families.  But God’s commandment extends beyond our comfortable spheres, to engage the “other,” the stranger, with that same love.  And yet, we may find that when we look into the face of the stranger, with integrity and humility, it is God we find looking back.

The Prayer of the Day and Readings are below.  PLEASE NOTE: I have made substitution in the text for the Second Reading.

Blessings and peace to you all,

- Pastor Brad Highum

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

God of all life and all creation, it is your face we seek.  Reveal yourself to us in the faces of our beloved.  Reveal yourself to us in the faces of strangers. And may it be your face that the world sees shining forth from us.  Amen.

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

First Reading:  Deuteronomy 10:17-22

17 The Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, 18 who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. 19 You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall revere the Lord your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. 21 He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen. 22 Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy persons; and now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars in heaven.

Psalm:  A Responsive Reading from Job 29:11-17

11 When the ear heard, it commended me, and when the eye saw, it approved;
12 because I delivered the poor who cried, and the orphan who had no helper.
13 The blessing of the wretched came upon me, and I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy.
14 I put on righteousness, and it clothed me; my justice was like a robe and a turban.
15 I was eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame.
16 I was a father to the needy, and I championed the cause of the stranger.
17 I broke the fangs of the unrighteous, and made them drop their prey from their teeth.

Second Reading:  Ephesians 2:13-22

13 Now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. 15 He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, 16 and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. 17 So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; 18 for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, 20 built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. 21 In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; 22 in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Gospel:  Matthew 25:34-40

34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.' 37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?' 40 And the king will answer them, 'Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.'

Friday, February 3, 2017

February 12 Seeking God in Creation

LOOKING FORWARD TO WORSHIP on Sunday, February 12, the Sixth Sunday after Epiphany …

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

╬ Seeking God in Creation

“Creation is the primary and most perfect revelation of the Divine."  - Thomas Aquinas

When Thomas Aquinas wrote this in his Summa Theologica – the grand “summary” of his faith – he touched the very heart of our belief as it relates to the natural world.  All creation is infused with the presence of the Creator.  The Psalmist affirms, “The heavens show forth the glory of God, the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”  (Psalm 19:1)  The original testament of God is the creation itself.  Scripture mirrors restored relationship between humanity and God with restored natural harmony.  In nature, we experience God’s ongoing creative work and here our call to join in that work. 

The Prayer of the Day and Readings are below.

The glory of God is all around us, as surely as it is within!

Blessings, to all,

- Pastor Brad Highum

The following links will work after Sunday Feb 12th, 2017
PRAYER OF THE DAY -----------------------------------------------

Creator, source and ground of all being, we give thanks for the wonder, the beauty and the mystery of the natural world.  Help us to find our true place in it, and therein find our true selves in you.  Reveal yourself in the glory of your creation.  Amen.

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

First Reading:  Genesis 1:26-31

26 Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."  27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.  28 God blessed them, and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth." 29 God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so. 31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

Psalm 145:1-9

1 I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.
2 Every day I will bless you, and praise your name forever and ever.
3 Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; his greatness is unsearchable.
4 One generation shall laud your works to another, and shall declare your mighty acts.
5 On the glorious splendor of your majesty, and on your wondrous works, I will meditate.
6 The might of your awesome deeds shall be proclaimed, and I will declare your greatness.
7 They shall celebrate the fame of your abundant goodness, and shall sing aloud of your righteousness.
8 The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 The Lord is good to all, and his compassion is over all that he has made.

Second Reading:  Romans 8:18-24

18 I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; 20 for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; 23 and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

Gospel:  Matthew 6:25-33

25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you — you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.