Sunday, March 29, 2020

Worship March 29, 2020 -  A Service of Worship, Reflection & Renewal

Fifth Sunday in Lent March 29, 2020

Greeting and Prayers
God of compassion and grace,  
be with us in times of peril and separation. 
 Be with us in times of spiritual desert and isolation.  Be our guide and our salvation and lead us forth into the light once more.  Amen.

A Reading from Isaiah

 Have you not known? Have you not heard?  
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary;
 his understanding is unsearchable.  He gives power to the faint, and strengthens the powerless.  
Even youths will faint and be weary, and the young 
will fall exhausted; but those who wait for the Lord 
shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint. 

                                                            Isaiah 40:28-31
A Reading from Matthew
 At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.  
All things have been handed over to me by my Father; 
and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to 

whom the Son chooses to reveal him. 
 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble
 in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 
For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." 

                                                       Matthew 11:25-30

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Self Forgiveness Mar 22, 2020

Worship on Sunday, March 22 …

It may be the hardest of all, but it all begins here!

Watch and listen to the on-line Service Here:

╬ Self Forgiveness

For many – most? – this is hardest of all.  Blessed by the Spirit of God we can find incredible strength to forgive in cases of extreme injury and grievous hurt – to ourselves, to others, to God’s world.  But too often we find ourselves incapable of extending that same blessing to ourselves.  We know all the truth of us and in our failings and brokenness can find ourselves unworthy, irredeemable.  Yet the truth is, our ability to live in the grace of forgiveness may well begin here.

Below are the Prayer of the Day and Readings.

Let’s explore together the need to forgive ourselves, and how we might set ourselves – an others – free!

- Pr. Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY ------------
God of all, you know the whole truth of us, yet love us still.  Teach us to love and value ourselves, to extend the blessing of forgiveness to ourselves.  For only from there can we begin to share that blessing with others.  Amen.

READINGS ----------------------
First Reading:  Isaiah 55:6-9
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; 7 let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.  8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.  9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Psalm 51:1-4,6
1 Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love; according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions.
2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin.
3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
4 Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are justified in your sentence and blameless when you pass judgment.
6 You desire truth in the inward being; therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.

Second Reading:  Romans 7:14-25
14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am of the flesh, sold into slavery under sin. 15 I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree that the law is good. 17 But in fact it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells within me, that is, in my flesh. I can will what is right, but I cannot do it. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I do. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I that do it, but sin that dwells within me.  21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do what is good, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God in my inmost self, 23 but I see in my members another law at war with the law of my mind, making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Gospel:  Matthew 11:25-30
25 At that time Jesus said, "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and the intelligent and have revealed them to infants; 26 yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 27 All things have been handed over to me by my Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.  28 "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Unforgiveness Mar 15,2020

Worship on Sunday, March 15 …

We have the power to forgive, but we also wield a power to imprison, to bind and to stop grace short:

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╬ The Power of Unforgiveness

Forgiveness has the power to remove shackles and chains, to “set the prisoner free.”  God is forgiving and calls forth forgiveness.  Jesus models a way of forgiveness, but reveals also the consequences of “un-forgiveness.”  If we are unforgiving, Jesus says, we cannot receive forgiveness ourselves.  What do we do when we can’t, or won’t, forgive?

Below are the Prayer of the Day and Readings. 

Let’s explore together places of unforgiveness and how we might set others, and ourselves, free!

- Pr. Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY ----------------
God of life, teach us and guide us your truth.  Teach us the power we wield in forgiving and in failing to forgive.  Teach us the healing and blessing that comes from setting others free, as surely as we live in the grace our your forgiveness ourselves.  Make us peacemakers in your world.  Amen.

READINGS --------------------------
First Reading:  Micah 7:18-20
18 Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over the transgression of the remnant of your possession?  He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in showing clemency.  19 He will again have compassion upon us; he will tread our iniquities under foot.  You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.  20 You will again show faithfulness to Jacob and unswerving loyalty to Abraham, as you have sworn to our ancestors from the days of old.

Psalm 25:11-18
11 For your name's sake, O Lord, pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who are they that fear the Lord?  He will teach them the way that they should choose.
13 They will abide in prosperity, and their children shall possess the land.
14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him, and he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever toward the Lord, for he will pluck my feet out of the net.
16 Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart, and bring me out of my distress.  18 Consider my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.

Second Reading:  Ephesians 4:25-5:2

25 So then, putting away falsehood, let all of us speak the truth to our neighbors, for we are members of one another. 26 Be angry but do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not make room for the devil. 28 Thieves must give up stealing; rather let them labor and work honestly with their own hands, so as to have something to share with the needy. 29 Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up, as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those who hear. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were marked with a seal for the day of redemption. 31 Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger and wrangling and slander, together with all malice, 32 and be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you. 5:1 Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children, 2 and live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

Gospel:  Matthew 6:7-15

7 "When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.  9 "Pray then in this way:  Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.  10 Your kingdom come.  Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.  14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

The Way of Forgiveness March 8, 2020

Worship on Sunday, March 8 …

In all things, we can look to Jesus the embodiment of the Godly life.  The Way of Jesus is …

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╬ The Way of Forgiveness

Jesus teaches powerfully about what it is to be separated from God and what it means to receive forgiveness.  He reveals that rebellion against the way of God will have consequences.  Breaks and breaches will come between people and God and amongst ourselves.  Jesus shows us a “way” that leads to forgiving and being forgiven, but requiring both: “Forgive and you will be forgiven.”

Below are the Prayer of the Day and Readings.

The way of forgiveness is simple, but far from easy!  Let’s gather and talk about it … and don’t forget:  Spring Ahead on March 8!

- Pr. Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY ---------------l creation, in your Christ you reveal the way of forgiveness as a way of being for your people in daily living.  As we ourselves experience your redeeming grace, inspire us and strengthen us to meet the world and the experiences of life with a spirit of healing, reconciliation and forgiveness.  Amen.

READINGS ----------------------
First Reading:  Daniel 9:4-10
4 I prayed to the Lord my God and made confession, saying, "Ah, Lord, great and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love with those who love you and keep your commandments, 5 we have sinned and done wrong, acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and ordinances. 6 We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name to our kings, our princes, and our ancestors, and to all the people of the land.  7 "Righteousness is on your side, O Lord, but open shame, as at this day, falls on us, the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and all Israel, those who are near and those who are far away, in all the lands to which you have driven them, because of the treachery that they have committed against you. 8 Open shame, O Lord, falls on us, our kings, our officials, and our ancestors, because we have sinned against you. 9 To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, for we have rebelled against him, 10 and have not obeyed the voice of the Lord our God by following his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets.

Psalm 130
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
2 Lord, hear my voice!  Let your ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications!
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you, so that you may be revered.
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!  For with the Lord there is steadfast love, and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel from all its iniquities.

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 18:21-35
21 Then Peter came and said to him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often should I forgive? As many as seven times?" 22 Jesus said to him, "Not seven times, but, I tell you, seventy-seven times. 23 "For this reason the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his slaves. 24 When he began the reckoning, one who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him; 25 and, as he could not pay, his lord ordered him to be sold, together with his wife and children and all his possessions, and payment to be made.  26 So the slave fell on his knees before him, saying, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.' 27 And out of pity for him, the lord of that slave released him and forgave him the debt.  28 But that same slave, as he went out, came upon one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii; and seizing him by the throat, he said, 'Pay what you owe.' 29 Then his fellow slave fell down and pleaded with him, 'Have patience with me, and I will pay you.' 30 But he refused; then he went and threw him into prison until he would pay the debt. 31 When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their lord all that had taken place. 32 Then his lord summoned him and said to him, 'You wicked slave! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. 33 Should you not have had mercy on your fellow slave, as I had mercy on you?' 34 And in anger his lord handed him over to be tortured until he would pay his entire debt. 35 So my heavenly Father will also do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother or sister from your heart."

Sunday, March 1, 2020

God’s Forgiveness March 1, 2020

Worship on Sunday, March 1,2020

We enter into the season of Lent, and a series focused on “Forgiving and Forgiven.”  Today we give thanks for the ultimate source of all forgiveness …

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╬ God’s Forgiveness
God is the well-spring, the ultimate source of all forgiveness.  There is a forgiveness in God that may well be beyond our capacity to achieve in our own experience of life in the world.  Yet in God, is the wonder of forgiveness, full and complete.  This is the One who separates from us anything that might separate us from God, from one another and from God’s world.  “As far as east is from west,” says the Psalmist.  From a distance, we hear the loving invitation:  repent, “turn” and receive the embrace of forgiveness.

Below are the Prayer of the Day and Readings.

This may be the aspect of theology and faithful living with which people struggle the most.  Let’s explore it together in the sojourn of Lent!

- Pr. Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY --------------
God of grace, you invite us to repent of anything that threatens to separate us from your love and goodness.  Help us to live in the blessing of your forgiveness and to share it as freely as we receive it from your hand.  Amen.

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

First Reading:  2 Chronicles 7:11-17
11 Thus Solomon finished the house of the Lord and the king's house; all that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the Lord and in his own house he successfully accomplished.  12 Then the Lord appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: "I have heard your prayer, and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, pray, seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. 16 For now I have chosen and consecrated this house so that my name may be there forever; my eyes and my heart will be there for all time.

Psalm 103:6-17
6 The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.
7 He made known his ways to Moses, his acts to the people of Israel.
8 The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
9 He will not always accuse, nor will he keep his anger forever.
10 He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who revere him;
12 as far as the east is from the west, so far he removes our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion for his children, so the Lord has compassion for those who fear him.
14 For he knows how we were made; he remembers that we are dust.
15 As for mortals, their days are like grass; they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.
17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who revere him, and his righteousness to children's children.

Second Reading:  1 John 1:5-10
5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true; 7 but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Gospel:  Matthew 9:2-8
2 And just then some people were carrying a paralyzed man lying on a bed. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven." 3 Then some of the scribes said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming." 4 But Jesus, perceiving their thoughts, said, "Why do you think evil in your hearts? 5 For which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Stand up and walk'? 6 But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" — he then said to the paralytic — "Stand up, take your bed and go to your home." 7 And he stood up and went to his home. 8 When the crowds saw it, they were filled with awe, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to human beings.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday Service
February 26, 2020

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Sunday, February 23, 2020

Transfiguration Feb 23, 2020

Worship on Sunday, February 23 …

We come to the culmination of the Epiphany revelation:  the mountaintop experience of Transfiguration!

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╬ Transfiguration

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 our whole celebration of Epiphany light – the revealing, the “making-known” of God.  The Gospels describe a mystical, mountaintop experience in which certain of Jesus’ followers see him transfigured before them.  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 prophet – Immanuel, “God with us,” in the flesh.  And it is an invitation for them – and for us – to be transformed by that revealed identity. 

Below are the Prayer of the Day and Readings. 

We celebrate on this festival Sunday, even as we prepare ourselves for the journey of Lent!

- Pr. Brad Highum

PRAYER OF THE DAY --------------
Almighty God, the resplendent light of your truth shines from the mountaintop into our hearts. Awaken us in the transfiguration of your Son to the transformation you seek to work in all of us.  Illuminate the world with your image, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.  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.  4:1 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:  Luke 9:28-36
28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray. 29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white. 30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him. 31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem. 32 Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him. 33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, "Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah" — not knowing what he said. 34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud. 35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, "This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!" 36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.