G+M Worship – January 27, 2013

The following was written by Joshua for the service of worship and prayers held at Grace and Main Fellowship on January 27, 2013.

Worship on the Third Sunday After Epiphany – January 27, 2013

Preparing and Setting the Altar

Lord Jesus, who is the light of the world, we invite you to be present in our midst as we worship you.
Be present among us, Lord. Fill this place with your Spirit.

Lighting of the Christ Candle

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us—sinners that we are—and hear these ours prayers:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Silence

 


As we worship our God before whom all knees will bow and every tongue will confess, let us sing!
Singing

There is no radiance greater than the light of the spirit’s initiation…

From Narsai of Edessa’s The Book of Mystical Chapters
There is no radiance greater than the light of the spirit’s initiation;
no wisdom on earth possesses comparable power.
It cannot be measured on the scales against pearls or precious gems;
no priceless thing can be compared to it; nothing approaches its inner beauty;
all other beautiful things fail in comparison.
It is more desirable than anything on earth,
and its beauty can even lead the world captive in desire,
seducing angels and humans alike.

 

There is no radiance greater than the light of the spirit’s initiation…
1 Corinthians 12:12-31
There is no radiance greater than the light of the spirit’s initiation…
Luke 4:14-21
There is no radiance greater than the light of the spirit’s initiation…

We Listen and Interpret Together

Martin Buber recorded many stories about Hasidic Jewish rabbis and teachers. In one particular, he recalled:

“Whenever the rabbi of Sasov saw anyone’s suffering, either of spirit or of body, he shared it so earnestly that the other’s suffering became his own. Once someone expressed his astonishment at this capacity to share in another’s troubles.

‘What do you mean “share?” said the rabbi. ‘It is my own sorrow; how can I help but suffer it?’”

Prayers for OthersThe Lord’s Prayer

Singing

Our Lord has pronounced his platform and the platform of the Kingdom of God. He has made promises to our beloved and proclaimed release to the bound. Go in peace, knowing that God has revealed the way forward for the One Body of Christ of which we are a blessed part.


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you.
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.
Amen.

G+M Worship – January 20, 2013

The following was written by Joshua for the service of worship and prayers held at Grace and Main Fellowship on January 20, 2013.

Worship on the Second Sunday After Epiphany – January 20, 2013

Preparing and Setting the Altar

Lord Jesus, who is the light of the world, we invite you to be present in our midst as we worship you.
Be present among us, Lord. Fill this place with your Spirit.

Lighting of the Christ Candle

The Anima Christi

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us—sinners that we are—and hear these ours prayers:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Silence

 


As we worship our God before whom all knees will bow and every tongue will confess, let us sing!
Singing

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 36:5-10
Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O Lord.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your salvation to the upright of heart!

 

How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
1 Corinthians 12:1-11
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
John 2:1-11
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

We Listen and Interpret Together

Our sister, Dorothy Day, was a 20th century Roman Catholic journalist and activist, who was committed to nonviolent, direct action. Along with Peter Maurin, she founded the Catholic Worker movement. She once remarked: “True love is delicate and kind, full of gentle perception and understanding, full of beauty and grace, full of joy unutterable. There should be some flavor of this in all our love for others. We are all one. We are one flesh in the Mystical Body as man and woman are said to be one flesh in marriage. With such a love one would see all things new; we would begin to see people as they really are, as God sees them.”

Prayers for OthersThe Lord’s Prayer

Singing

Go in peace, knowing that each of us has seen the works of God in our lives and in the lives of others. Like the disciples who witnesses Jesus’ first miracle at the wedding in Cana, let us believe and trust in the one who is working miracles of redemption and love in our lives and in the lives of those near us. Amen.


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you.
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.
Amen.

G+M Worship – January 13, 2013

The following was written by Joshua for the service of worship and prayers held at Grace and Main Fellowship on January 13, 2013.

Worship on the First Sunday After Epiphany, Baptism of the Lord Sunday – January 13, 2013

Preparing and Setting the Altar

Lord Jesus, who is the light of the world, we invite you to be present in our midst as we worship you.
Be present among us, Lord. Fill this place with your Spirit.

Lighting of the Christ Candle

Remembering Our Baptisms

 

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us—sinners that we are—and hear these ours prayers:

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.

Silence

 


As we worship our God before whom all knees will bow and every tongue will confess, let us sing!
Singing

The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

Psalm 29:1-7
Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
Ascribe to the Lord the glory of his name; worship the Lord in holy splendor.
The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord, over mighty waters.
The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon.
He makes Lebanon skip like a calf, and Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire.

 

The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
Isaiah 43:1-7
The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.
Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

 

We Listen and Interpret Together

The notes in the Geneva Bible, first published in 1560, were authored by brothers such as John Knox, John Calvin, and Miles Coverdale among others. It includes the following note in regards to our Gospel passage: “If we would rightly and fruitfully receive the sacraments, we must neither rest in the signs, neither in him that ministers the signs, but lift up our eyes to Christ, who is the author of the sacraments, and the giver of that which is represented by the sacraments.”

Prayers for OthersThe Lord’s Prayer

Singing

In our baptisms, we were buried with Christ so that we might be raised with Christ. Take heart, for our Lord calls each of us to pass through the waters so that we might be renewed and redeemed.  Go in peace.


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you.
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.
Amen.

G+M Worship – January 6, 2013

The following was written by Joshua for the service of worship and prayers held at Grace and Main Fellowship on January 6, 2013.

Worship on Epiphany Sunday – January 6, 2013

Preparing and Setting the Altar

Lord Jesus, who has called all people to redemption and repentance, we give thanks that you have knit together this great family: the Church, universal and holy.
Be present in this place and among us, your people.

Lighting of the Christ Candle

 

God who has revealed a great mystery in becoming human like one of us,
who has given light to a world shrouded in darkness,
we pray and ask that you give light to our paths
so that we can follow after you wherever you may lead us.

As we worship our God before whom all knees will bow and every tongue will confess, let us sing!

Singing

For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

Psalm 72:1-7, 11-14
Give the king your justice, O God, and your righteousness to a king’s son.
May he judge your people with righteousness, and your poor with justice.
May the mountains yield prosperity for the people, and the hills, in righteousness.
May he defend the cause of the poor of the people, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.
May he live while the sun endures, and as long as the moon, throughout all generations.
May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth.
In his days may righteousness flourish and peace abound, until the moon is no more.
May all kings fall down before him, all nations give him service.
For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.
He has pity on the weak and the needy, and saves the lives of the needy.
From oppression and violence he redeems their life; and precious is their blood in his sight.

 

For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.
Isaiah 60:1-5
For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.
Matthew 2:1-12
For he delivers the needy when they call, the poor and those who have no helper.

 

We Listen and Interpret Together

Laying Our Gifts before Our King

Our brother, Matthew Henry, the 17th, and early 18 th, century Presbyterian minister and English commentator on the Bible once wrote: “Those who live at the greatest distance from the means of grace often use most diligence, and learn to know the most of Christ and his salvation.”

Prayers for OthersThe Lord’s Prayer

Singing – This Little Light of Mine

Go now and carry God’s light within you to a world still shrouded in darkness and fear. Within you, you carry the Spirit that enlightens all and calls all to life more abundance in free. Go in peace.


May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you.
May he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.
Amen.

Epiphany — The Great Revealing

The following was written by Joshua for his collection of stories, Telling the Stories that Matter.

In the time when a corrupt governor ruled like there was no other power in the world, a little boy named Jesus was born in a backwater town. Powerful and important people–the kind who didn’t spend much time with illegitimate children in backwater towns–came looking for him.They went to the big city nearby because they assumed he had to be there and asked the governor where they could find the one who was going to take his place. “We heard that this one is going to be really special,” they said, “and we want to take the time to offer our respects to this one.” When the governor heard that, he was wounded at the thought that he wasn’t important enough and he got scared. “What if it’s true?” he asked himself when nobody was around.So, he asked the men to wait a moment while he talked to his advisers about it.

His advisers checked their books and said, “Oh! They must mean this little passage. I guess it kind of suggests that it will be in Bethlehem.” “But surely, no ruler can be better than you,” they lied to save their necks. So, the governor called for those dignitaries and pumped them for information before telling them to go and look in Bethlehem.

“And if you find him,” he remarked coyly as if he had just now thought of it, “why don’t you come on back and tell me where he is so I can offer my respects, too.” So, the men left the governor’s mansion and went to the little town without a stoplight. They followed the signs that had led them this far and were glad to see the leading coming to an end and the finding finally starting. They arrived at the little shack and wiped their expensive shoes on the rag that passed for a welcome-mat before entering in to find a teenage girl with her child. Somehow–perhaps it had something to do with the long journey–they knew this was the one and they stood in shocked silence before a little boy. Something amazing had been revealed to them–the birth of God in human flesh–and they could not take it in. So, they offered gifts to express their worship and respect: stock options, a bible with his name embossed on the cover, and–perhaps most shocking to his mother–a cemetery plot near the city. As they were leaving, they felt compelled not to return to the governor and so they caught the early flight out.

As they often do, years passed and things changed. The boy grew into a man and grew into his calling.

Jesus’ cousin John had been spending time out in the woods preaching to anybody who would come near enough to hear his frantic yelling. He preached: “Y’all need to get right cause the kingdom of heaven is right around the corner.” He was forever talking about his cousin and how people should pay more attention to Jesus and less to John. John truly was a voice crying in the wilderness: “Get ready for something new from God! Prepare yourselves for God’s appearance.” Of course, it’s no big surprise that people couldn’t stop looking at John. He wore clothes that he had stitched himself that had been made out of fur. He ate bugs and honey (when he could find it). So, he was an oddity and got lots of attention. With the attentive crowds came some people who were listening and were preparing themselves for God’s big thing–God’s Great Revealing.

But attentive crowds aren’t always attentive because they like you or agree with you. Often, John would see some of the members of the local ministerial council hanging out in the crowd and would greet them in his own special way:

“You sons of snakes! Who gave you a clue and told you about the storm that’s brewing–I know you didn’t see it for yourselves. You came out to hear me? Well, get to changing yourself because your name and your reputation aren’t going to do anything for you. Your titles and influence are worthless here. Even now, the chainsaw is gassed up and waiting to be picked up to cut down the trees that don’t produce good fruit. And what do you do with bad wood? You burn it up because it’s useless. I’m out here baptizing with water because of repentance but there’s one coming after me who can do you a sight better–shoot, I’m not even worthy to shine his shoes–and he’ll baptize you in the Holy Spirit and fire. Oh, and don’t kid yourselves…God’s judgment is right around the corner. He’s going to sort out the good from the bad real quick.”

One day, Jesus came to John to be baptized in the creek where John preached. When Jesus took off his shoes and waded in, John shook his head and said, “If anybody should be doing the baptizing it ought to be you and not me.You should baptize me, Jesus.”

But, Jesus smiled and said, “No, John, you’re doing right. This is the way it’s supposed to start. This is the way God’s great revelation begins.” So, John agreed begrudgingly and baptized Jesus in the creek. When Jesus came up out of the water, he looked up and the skies were torn apart before him. The barriers between God and humans had been broken and cast aside and the Spirit of God came down and a voice was heard saying, “This is my boy. I love him and I’m proud of him.”

It was on those two days–the revelation of God to the wise men and at Jesus’ baptism–that we see God choosing to self-reveal to the world. The obstacles have been dismissed and the way has been paved. The paths are being made straight. The Kingdom of God has arrived and is arriving.

Seraphim of Sarov, Peaceful Spirit

The following was written by Joshua for his collection of stories, Telling the Stories that Matter.

Seraphim had traveled into the city to attend a very important trial. His presence had not been demanded or even requested but yet he had made the long and arduous journey in spite of his injured back and new physical deformities. Of course, his presence was received joyously because his reputation preceded him. The people were happy to see the Russian holy man who had grown up and experienced notable visions throughout his life. Seraphim had been the son of a loving merchant and wife who had raised him within the faith that would form him for the remainder of his life. He had become a novice monk at a young age and had devoted himself to hermetic and ascetic practices in the outlying regions of the Russian countryside. Yet in spite of his hermetic desires and tendencies, people were constantly traveling to visit and study under Seraphim in his hermitage. He had few opportunities to be alone but he was a spiritual mentor and confessor to many. He was known for one supreme teaching: “Acquire a peaceful spirit, and thousands around you will be saved.” Yet, they were still surprised to see him draw close to the court.

Hunched over his cane, he could barely walk and so the entrance into the courtroom was a long and protracted affair and every eye was upon him–especially the eyes of the defendants. The judge allowed Seraphim to draw close and offer testimony. After all, the defendants were charged with assaulting and beating Seraphim before attempting to rob him. They had crept into the clearing near his hermitage while remaining ignorant of who it was they were planning on taking advantage of. “My joys!” Seraphim exclaimed in greeting to the men as he left his hermitage, “Come now and join with me to eat.” He gave the first surprised thief a kiss on one cheek before being bludgeoned in the back by a second thief. A painful shock coursed through his body as his legs collapsed beneath him. Once he had fallen, they began to savagely beat and abuse the old man. As he moaned in agony with a broken shoulder and bruised bones, they roughly looted his person before going to his hermitage to finish the job. In the hermitage they found a bowl and only one item of any value: an icon of the virgin Mary. In shame, they fled from the place but their flight was observed by a pilgrim who also found Seraphim beaten and slowly dying. They were turned over to the government to be judged but Seraphim insisted on being there–even if it tortured him to travel and be present but he had a compelling reason to be there: to plead for the mercy of the court for his attackers.

History doesn’t record the fate of the men who assaulted and debilitated poor Seraphim but we do know that his earnest plea for mercy was received with surprise but also a delightful sense of expectation–the people knew that mercy and peace were the governing forces in Seraphim’s life. He could not imagine seeking punishment for the men even though they had revealed their most savage aspects to him and the world expected him to seek vengeance. Instead, he returned love and grace for their blind hatred and rage. For the rest of his life he pushed himself to delve deeper into the spiritual life of renunciation and discipline. Even though he had been nearly crippled, he was devoted to physical disciplines that would have been taxing for anybody. The pilgrims never stopped coming and Seraphim never stopped greeting them with a kiss and open arms–this is what he had been called to and this is what he lived out.