Sunday, January 28, 2018

Trials and Testing Jan 28,2018

Worship on Sunday, January 28 …

As we continue in our focus on The Way, we engage the inevitable tests and trials of faith that beset us in seeking to live God’s Way in the world today.

╬ Trials and Testing

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial,” says James. Such a one has stood the test and will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”  The People of the Way understand as well as anyone that following Jesus into the midst of the world will test and try their faith.  Living the way, the truth and the life embodied in Jesus can put us at cross-purposes with the ways of the world.  And yet the promise is that faith is proven and refined in the crucible of testing, even as precious metal is purified in the refiners fire. 

The Prayer of the Day and Readings are below. 

It’s an optimal day for “Refiner’s Fire” and the like. 

Blessings to all!  Our faith is strengthened in community!

- Pr. Brad Highum

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

God of life, our trust and our hope are in you.  Give us the strength and courage to endure the testing of our faith, while holding true to you.  Amen.

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

First Reading:  Isaiah 48:10-14

10 See, I have refined you, but not like silver; I have tested you in the furnace of adversity.  11 For my own sake, for my own sake, I do it, for why should my name be profaned? My glory I will not give to another.  12 Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called:  I am He; I am the first, and I am the last.  13 My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they stand at attention.  14 Assemble, all of you, and hear! Who among them has declared these things? It is that one the Lord loves.

Psalm 22:11-21

11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.
12 Many bulls encircle me, strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
13 they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion.
14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
15 my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.
16 For dogs are all around me; a company of evildoers encircles me.  My hands and feet have shriveled;
17 I can count all my bones. They stare and gloat over me;
18 they divide my clothes among themselves, and for my clothing they cast lots.
19 But you, O Lord, do not be far away!  O my help, come quickly to my aid!
20 Deliver my soul from the sword, my life from the power of the dog!
21 Save me from the mouth of the lion!

Second Reading:  Hebrews 4:12-16

12 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account.  14 Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Gospel:  Luke 4:1-13

4 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the wilderness, 2 where for forty days he was tempted by the devil. He ate nothing at all during those days, and when they were over, he was famished. 3 The devil said to him, "If you are the Son of God, command this stone to become a loaf of bread." 4 Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'One does not live by bread alone.'" 5 Then the devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the kingdoms of the world. 6 And the devil said to him, "To you I will give their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me, and I give it to anyone I please. 7 If you, then, will worship me, it will all be yours." 8 Jesus answered him, "It is written, 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.'" 9 Then the devil took him to Jerusalem, and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down from here, 10 for it is written, 'He will command his angels concerning you, to protect you,' 11 and 'On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.'"  12 Jesus answered him, "It is said, 'Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'" 13 When the devil had finished every test, he departed from him until an opportune time.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

The Way of Transformation Jan 21, 2018

worship on Sunday, January 21 …

We continue in our Epiphany exploration of the Way … as it is revealed in Christ and called forth in the body of believers.

╬ The Way of Transformation

“I do not understand the mystery of grace -- only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us.”  This insight from spiritual writer Anne Lamott speaks to the transforming power of faith.  The Way that Jesus embodies – and calls us to enter into – is a passage from what we are and have been.  It is an invitation to let the grace of God have it’s way with us, knowing that through the experience we will be changed.  The Way of Christ is a way of transformation, along a journey that leads to the very heart of God.

Below are Readings and the Prayer of the Day.\

We travel together in the season of light!

- Pr. Brad Highum

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

God of light, lead us forth on the journey of faith.  Form us as a community and shape us as people to live your way, to your glory, in the world you love.  Amen.

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

First Reading:  Ezekiel 36:22-31

22 Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. 23 I will sanctify my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them; and the nations shall know that I am the Lord, says the Lord God, when through you I display my holiness before their eyes. 24 I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will remove from your body the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 I will put my spirit within you, and make you follow my statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. 28 Then you shall live in the land that I gave to your ancestors; and you shall be my people, and I will be your God. 29 I will save you from all your uncleanness, and I will summon the grain and make it abundant and lay no famine upon you. 30 I will make the fruit of the tree and the produce of the field abundant, so that you may never again suffer the disgrace of famine among the nations.

Psalm 51:10-17

10 Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
11 Do not cast me away from your presence, and do not take your holy spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.
14 Deliver me from bloodshed, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your deliverance.
15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise.
16 For you have no delight in sacrifice; if I were to give a burnt offering, you would not be pleased.
17 The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Second Reading:  Acts 9:1-9

9 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest 2 and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem. 3 Now as he was going along and approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" 5 He asked, "Who are you, Lord?" The reply came, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 6 But get up and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do." 7 The men who were traveling with him stood speechless because they heard the voice but saw no one. 8 Saul got up from the ground, and though his eyes were open, he could see nothing; so they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. 9 For three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

Gospel:  Matthew 9:14-17

14 Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, "Why do we and the Pharisees fast often, but your disciples do not fast?" 15 And Jesus said to them, "The wedding guests cannot mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them, can they? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast. 16 No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old cloak, for the patch pulls away from the cloak, and a worse tear is made. 17 Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved."

Sunday, January 14, 2018

People of the Way Jan 14,2017

Worship on Sunday, January 14 …

Happy New Year everyone!  We continue in the Season of Epiphany – making Christ known – with our focus on “The Way!”  We’ll engage this as a powerful revelation of God in Christ but also as a community of believers and their precepts for living.

╬ “The way!”

The early followers of Jesus referred to themselves as “people of the Way.”  They were responding to a powerful revelation Jesus made regarding himself and the calling of God on all people of faith.  Obeying Christ’s command, they ordered their lives and actions according to “The Way of the Lord.”  They understood that true discipleship is less a set of beliefs than it is a Way of being in the world, a Way characterized by the goodness and love, forgiveness and compassion embodied in Christ … a way and a truth that leads to life!

Below are the Prayer of the Day and Readings.  

Blessings to you all as we make our way together into the new year!

- Pr. Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY --------------
God of grace, your Son reveals to us the Way to live as your people in this world.  Make your Way our way.  Teach us to love and to serve, to forgive and to bless as he does.  Amen.

READINGS -----------------------
First Reading:   Isaiah 43:15-21

15 I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.  16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, 17 who brings out chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick: 18 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old.  19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  20 The wild animals will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches; for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, 21 the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.

Psalm 86:8-13

8 There is none like you among the gods, O Lord, nor are there any works like yours.
9 All the nations you have made shall come and bow down before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name.
10 For you are great and do wondrous things; you alone are God.
11 Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
12 I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your steadfast love toward me; you have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

Second Reading:   1 John 4:7-21

7 Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love. 9 God's love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. 11 Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.  13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14 And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world. 15 God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. 16 So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.  God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. 17 Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love. 19 We love because he first loved us. 20 Those who say, "I love God," and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. 21 The commandment we have from him is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also.

Gospel:   John 14:1-12

14 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. 4 And you know the way to the place where I am going." 5 Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?"  6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him."   8 Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." 9 Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. 12 Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Baptism of our Lord January 7 2017

Worship on Sunday, January 7 …

We enter in to the Season of Epiphany, launching our focus on “The Way,” and celebrating the Baptism of  Our Lord!

╬ Baptism of our Lord!

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 baptismal heritage as the beginning of a path of revelation and spiritual growth … the first step along The Way!
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The Prayer of the Day and Readings are below.

Blessings to you all as we explore this time of revelation and the “making known” of The Way!

- Pr. 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.  Lead us, as your people, in the way, the truth and the life of your Christ.  Amen.

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

First Reading:  Genesis 1:1-5

1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, 2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. 3 Then God said, "Let there be light"; and there was light. 4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.

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 19:1-7

19 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples. 2 He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" They replied, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." 3 Then he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They answered, "Into John's baptism." 4 Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus." 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied — 7 altogether there were about twelve of them.

Gospel:  Mark 1:4-11

4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. 7 He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. 8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."  In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."