may 2018

Liturgy 5-27-2018

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 Creator and Sustainer of all that is

the One in whom we live and move and have our being

we have gathered to devote our attention
to the Word who became flesh

the One who has entered into our condition,
shared in our suffering,
and shown us what love is

we have gathered to embrace the Spirit of God

the One who dwells among us as Advocate and Comforter,
and is making all things new

hoping to be formed in the way of Christ

that we might be the Body of Christ in the world.

amen.

Scripture

Isaiah 6:1-8

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew.

And one called to another and said:

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”

The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”

Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”

John 3:1-17

There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 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.”

Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 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?”

Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 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.”

Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

“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. If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

“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.

“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.

Trinity Sunday Reading

This is a reading arranged from For All God's Worth by N.T. Wright:

Left to myself, the god I want is a god who will give me what I want.  He—or more likely it—will be a projection of my desires.  At the grosser level, this will lead me to one of the more obvious pagan gods or goddesses, who offer their devotees money, or sex, or power. All idols started out life as the god somebody wanted.

At the more sophisticated level, the god I want will be a god who lives up to my intellectual expectations: a god of whom I can approve rationally, judiciously, after due consideration and weighing up of theological probabilities.  I want this god because he, or it, will underwrite my intellectual arrogance.  He will boost my sense of being a refined modern thinker.  The net result is that I become god; and this god I’ve made becomes my puppet.  

Nobody falls down on their face before the god they wanted.  Nobody trembles at the word of a home-made god.  Nobody goes out with fire in their belly to heal the sick to clothe the naked, to teach the ignorant, to feed the hungry, because of the god they wanted.  They are more likely to stay at home with their feet up.

But on one particular day in the year we celebrate the God whom we didn’t want—how could we ever have dreamed of it?—but who, amazingly, wanted us.  In the church’s year, Trinity Sunday is the day when we stand back from the extraordinary sequence of events that we’ve been celebrating for the previous five months—Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Good Friday, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost—and when we rub the sleep from our eyes and discover what the word ‘god’ might actually mean.  

These events function as a sequence of well-aimed hammer-blows which knock at the clay jars of the gods we want, the gods who reinforce our own pride or prejudice, until they fall away and reveal instead a very different god, a dangerous god, a subversive god, a god who comes to us like a blind beggar with wounds in his hands, a god who comes to us in wind and fire, in bread and wine, in flesh and blood: a god who says to us, ‘You did not choose me; I chose you.’

You see, the doctrine of the Trinity, properly understood, is as much a way of saying ‘we don’t know’ as of saying ‘we do know.’  To say that the true God is Three and One is to recognize that if there is a God then of course we shouldn’t expect him to fit neatly into our little categories. The doctrine of the Trinity affirms the rightness, the propriety, of speaking intelligently about the true God, while at the same time affirming intelligently that the true God must always transcend our grasp of him, even our most intelligent grasp of him.

When St. John the Divine found himself looking into the open door of heaven, he didn’t see the god he might have wanted; he saw all creation worshipping the awesome and majestic creator God; and, when he looked closer, he saw a Lamb that had been killed and was now alive forevermore.  The doctrine of the Trinity declares the mystery which is above all else what this broken world needs to hear: that the true God is not detached from the evil of this world, but has come to share it and bear it in his own body.

Prayer

Living God, you have gifted us with breath in a particular time and a particular place.  

As we navigate the varied paths of our lives, we ask that you would form us more fully in the way of Christ—that you would make of us the body of Christ—because in Christ we have found hope and care. 

We ask that you would make us mirrors of that hope and care, that you would teach us to bear one another’s burdens as he did; to stand with-and-alongside when we would rather offer advice, prayers, and platitudes from a safe distance.

And in our bearing of one another’s burdens, we ask that your Spirit would be our Advocate and Comforter—that when our words fail to express the burdens we share, the Spirit would offer truth, and when our minds are full of noise, that the Spirit would whisper peace.  

And indeed, we ask that you would form us in the Spirit, making of us advocates and comforters, that we might bear your light in our time and place until Your will is done on earth as it is in heaven.

Amen.

 

 

Liturgy 5-20-2018

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

Creator God, who hovers above the waters of our lives

speak meaning into our chaos
and weave our stories into Yours

Holy Fire, who burns yet does not consume

form us in to the way of Christ
and set your love in our hearts

Breath of Life, who dwells among us

draw us into your work in creation
and teach us to seek the fullness of life
for all of Your creatures

amen

Scripture