james cone

Liturgy 2-18-2018

This blog is a record of the call to worship, Scripture readings, and prayers from our Sunday liturgies.  If you are interested in writing something for the liturgy, or if you have a concern about any aspect of our liturgy, please email jamie@ubcwaco.org.

Call to Worship

we have gathered to worship the Lord of all creation,

the One who is gracious, merciful,
and abounding in steadfast love

to follow Jesus into the wilderness of Lent

and face the truth about ourselves;
our brokenness, and our fears

to open ourselves to the transformation of the Spirit

that we might be formed more fully in the way of Christ



Genesis 17:1-7, 15-16

When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him, “I am God Almighty; walk before me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and you, and will make you exceedingly numerous.” 

Then Abram fell on his face; and God said to him, “As for me, this is my covenant with you: You shall be the ancestor of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you the ancestor of a multitude of nations. 

I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. I will establish my covenant between me and you, and your offspring after you throughout their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you.

God said to Abraham, “As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. I will bless her, and moreover I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall give rise to nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.”

Mark 1:9-15

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 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. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”


This is an excerpt from God of the Oppressed by James Cone (93-94):

Story is the history of individuals coming together in the struggle to shape life according to commonly held values.  The Jewish story is found in the Hebrew Bible and the Rabbinic traditions.  The early Christian story is told in the Old and New Testaments, with the emphasis on the latter as the fulfillment of the former.  The white American story is found in the history of European settlements struggling against dark forests and savage people to found a new nation.  The Black American story is recorded in the songs, tales, and narratives of African slaves and their descendants, as they attempted to survive with dignity in a land inimical to their existence.  

Every people has a story to tell, something to say to themselves, their children, and to the world about how they think and live, as they determine and affirm their reason for being.  The story both expresses and participates in the miracle of moving from nothing to something, from nonbeing to being. 

When people ask me, “How do you know that what you say is true?” my reply is: “Ultimately, I don’t know and neither does anybody else.” We are creatures of history, not divine beings.  I cannot claim infinite knowledge.  What I can do is bear witness to my story, to tell it and live it, as the story grips my life and pulls me out of nothingness into being.   

However, I am not imprisoned within my story.  Indeed, when I understand truth as story, I am more likely to be open to other people’s truth stories.  As I listen to other stories, I am invited to move out of the subjectivity of my own story into another realm of thinking and acting.  The same is true for others when I tell my story.

It is only when stories are abstracted from a concrete situation and codified into Law or dogma that their life blood is taken away and thus a people begins to think that its ways of thinking and living are the only real possibilities.  When people can no longer listen to other people’s stories, they become enclosed within their own social context, treating their distorted visions of reality as the whole truth. 


This week's prayer was written by Mary McLeod Bethune:

Father, we call Thee Father because we love Thee.

We are glad to be called Thy children, and to dedicate our lives to the service that extends through willing hearts and hands to the betterment of all mankind. We send a cry of Thanksgiving for people of all races, creeds, classes, and colors the world over, and pray that through the instrumentality of our lives the spirit of peace, joy, fellowship, and brotherhood shall circle the world.

We know that this world is filled with discordant notes, but help us, Father, to so unite our efforts that we may all join in one harmonious symphony for peace and brotherhood, justice, and equality of opportunity for all men. The tasks performed today with forgiveness for all our errors, we dedicate, dear Lord, to Thee. 

Grant us strength and courage and faith and humility sufficient for the tasks assigned to us.