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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Call to Worship
we have gathered to worship the Living God
the Word who became flesh
and dwelt among us
to find ourselves transformed
by God’s story
formed more fully
in the way of Christ
that we might be Lights in the darkness
that the darkness
will not overcome.
Moses said: The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.”
Then the Lord replied to me: “They are right in what they have said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command.
Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.”
1 Corinthians 8:1-13
Now concerning food sacrificed to idols: we know that “all of us possess knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up. Anyone who claims to know something does not yet have the necessary knowledge; but anyone who loves God is known by him.
Hence, as to the eating of food offered to idols, we know that “no idol in the world really exists,” and that “there is no God but one.”
Indeed, even though there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as in fact there are many gods and many lords— yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
It is not everyone, however, who has this knowledge. Since some have become so accustomed to idols until now, they still think of the food they eat as food offered to an idol; and their conscience, being weak, is defiled. “Food will not bring us close to God.”
We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this liberty of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if others see you, who possess knowledge, eating in the temple of an idol, might they not, since their conscience is weak, be encouraged to the point of eating food sacrificed to idols?
So by your knowledge those weak believers for whom Christ died are destroyed. But when you thus sin against members of your family, and wound their conscience when it is weak, you sin against Christ.
Therefore, if food is a cause of their falling, I will never eat meat, so that I may not cause one of them to fall.
Human Trafficking Awareness Liturgy
This week, we read a declaration and prayer prepared by the Heart of Texas Human Trafficking Coalition:
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention & Awareness Month, a time for us to take a moment to recognize the prevalence of this modern day slavery both around the world and in our own community. There are nearly 30 million slaves worldwide, and there are currently an estimated 313,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas alone. Our region’s high poverty rates, location on a major interstate, and a number of kids involved in child welfare all contribute to the growing problem here at home.
Human trafficking of all kinds and in all locations capitalizes on the sinful desire of one person to control and maintain power over other human beings, often those who find themselves in vulnerable situations. As people of faith, we must adamantly denounce such behavior as sinful and contrary to God’s will. God created us to love each other selflessly and with constant concern for other’s well-being. Human trafficking defaces human dignity and affronts the image of God. When people anywhere are bought, sold, and enslaved, we are enslaved with them. Violence against one of God’s people is violence against us all.
Human trafficking destroys families and communities. This is an issue that concerns all of us, and it is occurring in our cities. For too long the voices of the most vulnerable have been marginalized, ignored, or silenced. But silence is not spiritual. So this morning, we stand in solidarity with the victims and survivors of human trafficking of all kinds. Forgive us for ignoring you. Help us to open our eyes to these acts of injustice, and to seek ways to compassionately and thoughtfully serve you.
We denounce the sinful actions of traffickers, and we denounce our own silence in the face of suffering.
And we mourn the loss of life and the loss of freedom that has occurred because of human trafficking. We commit ourselves to labor toward a better future, one free from the violence and evil of human trafficking.
God of peace, there are many places and many people who do not experience your peace. Right now, around the world and in the cities we call home, men, women, and children are living under the oppressive evil and darkness of human trafficking. Help them, Lord, and give them strength, courage, and protection. Turn their terror and fear into hope.
Lord, we confess that as a church we have often been silent in the face of the suffering that is human trafficking. Open our hearts to the pain of others. Remind us of your love for all people, and impress upon us ways that we can actively work against this injustice. Give the law enforcement and community organizations who serve victims, survivors, and perpetrators strength and courage.
We acknowledge, Lord, that this battle will be long. But we commit ourselves to be bold in our actions, in our words, and in our prayers. We put our trust in You. Amen.