Sunday, March 26, 2017

Bear with one another in love March 26

Worship on Sunday, March 26, the 4th Sunday in Lent …

Our exploration of God’s call to love our neighbors as ourselves turns to a story about the healing of ten lepers …

╬  Bear with one another in love.”

The illuminating story of Jesus healing the ten lepers winds its way through traditional understandings and religious practices of the Jews, and a radical new revelation of what it means to love neighbor as self.  Luke’s Gospel relates it among a host of other sayings and teachings and parables of Jesus.  They all share in common features of breaking down old prejudices and breaking through barriers that separate people, one from one another. This is in mind for Paul as he proclaims that old divisions are gone – between Jew and gentile, between slave and free, between male and female – all giving way to Jesus’ vision of common humanity, each loving others as we would be loved.  As Paul says, “Christ is all, and in all!”

Below are the Prayer of the Day and Readings. 

The song “Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart” is playing in my head as I write.  Perhaps there is something we can do with that on such a fitting Sunday.

Blessings to you all as we continue this Lenten journey together!

- Pastor Brad Highum

Here is a bulletin cover image.  Attached are Sermon and Reflection Slides.  Below are the Prayer of the day and Readings.

Blessings to you all as we make this Lenten journey together!

- Pastor Brad Highum
click here to listen to the early service 

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

God of all, teach us the truth of our shared humanity.  Teach us the unity that you are calling forth in all the world.  Teach us to overcome the fears and prejudice that divide us.  Teach us that all are one in you.  Amen.

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

First Reading:  Numbers 12:10-15

10 When the cloud went away from over the tent, Miriam had become leprous, as white as snow. And Aaron turned towards Miriam and saw that she was leprous. 11 Then Aaron said to Moses, "Oh, my lord, do not punish us for a sin that we have so foolishly committed. 12 Do not let her be like one stillborn, whose flesh is half consumed when it comes out of its mother's womb." 13 And Moses cried to the Lord, "O God, please heal her." 14 But the Lord said to Moses, "If her father had but spit in her face, would she not bear her shame for seven days? Let her be shut out of the camp for seven days, and after that she may be brought in again." 15 So Miriam was shut out of the camp for seven days; and the people did not set out on the march until Miriam had been brought in again.

Psalm 69:1-8
1 Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.
2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me.
3 I am weary with my crying; my throat is parched.  My eyes grow dim with waiting for my God.
4 More in number than the hairs of my head are those who hate me without cause; many are those who would destroy me, my enemies who accuse me falsely.  What I did not steal must I now restore?
5 O God, you know my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from you.
6 Do not let those who hope in you be put to shame because of me, O Lord God of hosts; do not let those who seek you be dishonored because of me, O God of Israel
7 It is for your sake that I have borne reproach, that shame has covered my face.
8 I have become a stranger to my kindred, an alien to my mother's children.

Second Reading:  Colossians 3:9-17

9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have stripped off the old self with its practices 10 and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator. 11 In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!  12 As God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. 13 Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Gospel:  Luke 17:11-19

11 On the way to Jerusalem Jesus was going through the region between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he entered a village, ten lepers approached him. Keeping their distance, 13 they called out, saying, "Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!" 14 When he saw them, he said to them, "Go and show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were made clean. 15 Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice. 16 He prostrated himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him. And he was a Samaritan. 17 Then Jesus asked, "Were not ten made clean? But the other nine, where are they? 18 Was none of them found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19 Then he said to him, "Get up and go on your way; your faith has made you well."

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Give me some of this “living water!”

LOOKING AHEAD to Sunday, March 19 …

We continue in our Lenten focus on “Who’s My Neighbor,” as Jesus encounters the woman at the well.

╬  Give me some of this “living water!”

A travelling Jewish rabbi.  An outcast woman with a past.  A well in the withering heat of midday.  These elements coalesce into a powerful story of ministry that leaps divides, that breaks traditional taboos and crashes through barriers.  Jesus, reaching to another – across everything that should separate them – creates a place of profound transformation and sets in motion a life-changing evangelism … all in the face of shear impossibility.  And yet, with God nothing is impossible – for Jesus or for us – when we are willing to engage the stranger with compassion and love.

Below are the Prayer of the Day and Readings.

We will have a multi-voice reading of this wonderful Gospel story in worship!

Lenten blessings to you all,

- Pastor Brad Highum

click here to listen to the late service 
click here to listen to the early service 

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

God of life and all creation, in your Christ is the invitation to all who thirst to come to the water of life.  We gather to drink at your fountain, that this water might become in us a spring, welling up to eternal life, and pouring forth in a thirsty world.  Amen.

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

First Reading:  Exodus 17:1-8

17 From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2 The people quarreled with Moses, and said, "Give us water to drink." Moses said to them, "Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?" 3 But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?" 4 So Moses cried out to the Lord, "What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me." 5 The Lord said to Moses, "Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6 I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink." Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7 He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, "Is the Lord among us or not?"

Psalm 95

1 O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
3 For the Lord is a great God, and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth; the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it, and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
6 O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7 For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand.  O that today you would listen to his voice!
8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your ancestors tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation and said, "They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they do not regard my ways."
11 Therefore in my anger I swore, "They shall not enter my rest."

Second Reading:  Romans 5:1-11

5 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person — though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Gospel:  John 4:1-42

4 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, "Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John" 2 — although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized — 3 he left Judea and started back to Galilee. 4 But he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.  7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." 11 The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?" 13 Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." 15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."  16 Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come back." 17 The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!" 19 The woman said to him, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem." 21 Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." 25 The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." 26 Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."  27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, "What do you want?" or, "Why are you speaking with her?" 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?" 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.  31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, "Rabbi, eat something." 32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you do not know about." 33 So the disciples said to one another, "Surely no one has brought him something to eat?" 34 Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 Do you not say, 'Four months more, then comes the harvest'? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, 'One sows and another reaps.' 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor."  39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman's testimony, "He told me everything I have ever done." 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world."

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Who’s My Neighbor March 12

LOOKING AHEAD to worship on Sunday, March 12, the Second Sunday in Lent …

We continue our focus on “Who’s My Neighbor?” as Jesus engages across traditional religious lines.

╬ Born … Again?

“He came to Jesus by night … "  - Luke 10:25

Nicodemus is devoted to Torah, to the “Law,” the revealed wisdom of God as it has been handed down through generations of Jewish tradition.  His beliefs are rooted in the faith and religious practices of his forbears.  And yet, he has heard of this one who has come forth with a new message about what it means to be “righteous,” what it means to live as the people of God. To engage this one may be seen to betray the hallowed traditions of his ancestors, and yet he cannot resist.  So he comes to him by night, in secret, in earnest to understand.  And the Word he hears challenges him to embrace a whole new vision of life in God’s Kingdom, of life “en Theos,” life in God.

Here is a bulletin cover image.  Attached are Sermon and Reflection Slides.  Below are the Prayer of the day and Readings.

Blessings to you all as we make this Lenten journey together!

- Pastor Brad Highum
click here to listen to the early service 

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

Lord, open our hearts and minds to reach across divides, to break through barriers, to overcome what separates us, one from another.  Inspire us to share readily but humbly the Gospel with which you bless us.  Amen.

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

First Reading Genesis 12:1-4

12 Now the Lord said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."  4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him.

Psalm 121

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills — from where will my help come?
2 My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
4 He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6 The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
7 The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
8 The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.

Second Reading:  Romans 4:1-6,13-17

4 What then are we to say was gained by Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh? 2 For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness." 4 Now to one who works, wages are not reckoned as a gift but as something due. 5 But to one who without works trusts him who justifies the ungodly, such faith is reckoned as righteousness. 6 So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness apart from works.  13 For the promise that he would inherit the world did not come to Abraham or to his descendants through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 If it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath; but where there is no law, neither is there violation.  16 For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his descendants, not only to the adherents of the law but also to those who share the faith of Abraham (for he is the father of all of us, 17 as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations") — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.

Gospel:  John 3:1-17

3 Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2 He came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God." 3 Jesus answered him, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above." 4 Nicodemus said to him, "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" 5 Jesus answered, "Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6 What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be astonished that I said to you, 'You must be born from above.' 8 The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit." 9 Nicodemus said to him, "How can these things be?" 10 Jesus answered him, "Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things? 11 "Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.  16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.  17 "Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

March 5, What must I do to inherit eternal life

WORSHIP SUNDAY, March 5 … A contemplative journey of Lent.

My friends, as we enter into the Season of Lent, we begin a new series to explore this profound question a lawyer asks of Jesus:  “Who’s My Neighbor?”

“What must I do to inherit eternal life?"  - Luke 10:25

Jesus teaches powerfully through parables.  Challenged with a question about legalistic righteousness, Jesus takes the opportunity to engage a lawyer in a larger vision of what it means to be “righteous” and to live in the eternal promise of God.  Remarkably, the parable he shares has nothing to do with faith, per se.  Rather, it describes a way of being in the world:  a way of selflessness and compassion; a way that overcomes prejudice and division.  Jesus reveals a Kingdom perspective that strives toward the unity that God is calling forth in all the world.

Below are the Prayer of the Day and Readings.

I am glad to be making this contemplative journey of Lent with you!

- Pastor Brad Highum

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

God of all, you call us beyond what is known and comfortable.  You lead us beyond prejudice, division and fear.  Grant us courage to reach beyond ourselves, into the lives of others, the strangers in our midst, especially in ministry to the most needful.  Amen.

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

First Reading:  Deuteronomy 6:1-9

6 Now this is the commandment — the statutes and the ordinances — that the Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, 2 so that you and your children and your children's children may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all his decrees and his commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. 3 Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.  4 Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. 6 Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. 7 Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 8 Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, 9 and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Psalm 82

1 God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:
2 "How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked."
5 They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk around in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 I say, "You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you;
7 nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince."
8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you!

Second Reading:  Colossians 1:1-14

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father.  3 In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. 7 This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8 and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.  9 For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God's will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. 13 He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Gospel:  Luke 10:25-37

25 Just then a lawyer stood up to test Jesus. "Teacher," he said, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?" 26 He said to him, "What is written in the law? What do you read there?" 27 He answered, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." 28 And he said to him, "You have given the right answer; do this, and you will live."  29 But wanting to justify himself, he asked Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?" 30 Jesus replied, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell into the hands of robbers, who stripped him, beat him, and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. 33 But a Samaritan while traveling came near him; and when he saw him, he was moved with pity. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, having poured oil and wine on them. Then he put him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said, 'Take care of him; and when I come back, I will repay you whatever more you spend.' 36 Which of these three, do you think, was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of the robbers?" 37 He said, "The one who showed him mercy." Jesus said to him, "Go and do likewise."