Ninth after Pentecost

Gathered through the power of the Holy Spirit, we worship God with gladness. We encourage you to pray over the words that follow, and follow the links within the liturgy. Prayers in this service are adapted from Celebrate God’s Presence (UCPH). Thanks this week to Cor and Heather!

PRELUDE: “Friends” (Smith)

OPENING PRAYER:

Holy God, we come to worship this morning
brought together by your Spirit.
It is your Spirit who teaches us to pray
and helps us be your faithful ones.
We ask now for the presence of your Holy Spirit:
open our hearts to your mercy,
remind us of the blessing of years past,
and help us move forward
trusting in your goodness.
Speak to each of us today—
bless us and make us a blessing.
Amen.

HYMN OF PRAISE: “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty”

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty, who rules all creation;
O my soul, praise him, at all times your health and salvation.
Come, all who hear:
brothers and sisters draw near,
joining in glad adoration.

Praise to the Lord, above all things so mightily reigning,
keeping us safe at his side, and so gently sustaining.
Have you not seen
how all you needed has been
met by God’s gracious ordaining?

Praise to the Lord who will prosper our work and defend us;
surely his goodness and mercy will daily attend us:
ponder anew
what the Almighty can do,
who out of love will befriend us.

Praise to the Lord! O let all that is in me adore him!
All that has life and breath come now with praises before him!
Let the Amen
sound from God’s people again:
gladly with praise we adore him.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Let us confess our shortcomings,
recalling the words of Christ:
Jesus said, “Peace be with you.”
Yet sometimes we sow discord,
neglecting to make peace with our sisters and brothers.

Jesus said, “As God has sent me, so I send you.”
Yet sometimes we refuse to go, fearing to follow
unknown paths of faith.

Jesus said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
But we turn away, rejecting the gifts of the Spirit.
Forgive us, blessed God,
in the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON

God will give us what we need:
strength for today,
hope for tomorrow,
and forgiveness
for all that is past.
Amen.

SPECIAL MUSIC: “Ask Me What Great Thing I Know/Just As I Am” (Malan/Bradbury)

FIRST READING: Psalm 145

All your works praise you, Lord;
your faithful people extol you.
They tell of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might,
so that all people may know of your mighty acts
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
The Lord is trustworthy in all he promises
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord upholds all who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to you,
and you give them their food at the proper time.
You open your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
The Lord is righteous in all his ways
and faithful in all he does.
The Lord is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.

SECOND READING: Ephesians 3.14-21

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

HYMN: “Jesus, you have come to the lakeshore”

Jesus, you have come to the lakeshore
looking neither for wealthy nor wise ones;
you only asked me to follow humbly.
O Jesus, with your eyes you have searched me,
and while smiling, have spoken my name;
now my boat’s left on the shoreline behind me;
by your side I will seek other seas.

You know so well my possessions;
my boat carries no gold and no weapons;
you will find there my nets and labour.  
O Jesus, with your eyes you have searched me,
and while smiling, have spoken my name;
now my boat’s left on the shoreline behind me;
by your side I will seek other seas.

You need my hands, full of caring
through my labours to give others rest,
and constant love that keeps on loving.  
O Jesus, with your eyes you have searched me,
and while smiling, have spoken my name;
now my boat’s left on the shoreline behind me;
by your side I will seek other seas.

You, who have fished other oceans,
ever longed for by souls who are waiting,
my loving friend, as thus you call me.  
O Jesus, with your eyes you have searched me,
and while smiling, have spoken my name;
now my boat’s left on the shoreline behind me;
by your side I will seek other seas.

REFLECTION

Everything I know about saying goodbye I learned from the movies.

My first instinct was to recreate the end of the Salzburg Folk Festival, where Max says “the highest musical honour in the Ostmark goes to the family Von Trapp” (applause, spotlight in an empty entrance). The family Von Trapp…” Then someone shouts “They’re gone!”

The other option, of course, was to rewind the tape and sing to you:

Regretfully they tell us
But firmly they compel us
To say goodbye to you.
So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, good night.

But I’m not going to sing, so that won’t work. This, then led to my perfect fantasy ending where a twister carries me off to some magical kingdom (maybe THE magical kingdom) and then I wake up only to discover that you’re all still with me—only now you’re transformed into various farm hands and my Auntie Em.

Sadly, I expect it will be more like the end of Casablanca, where you insist we get on the plane, remind us that we’ll always have Paris, and say something like “Here’s looking at you, kid.” That might work.

Better yet, we might want to look to our dear friend St. Paul for some direction on saying goodbye. It was my late mentor, the Rev. Doug Paterson, who once said “do you really think your preaching can improve on the words found in scripture?” He was talking about funeral homilies, but the point stands, because everything we need for learning, guidance, and inspiration is found in the pages of the Bible. Case in point:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (Philippians 4)

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4)

Finally, brothers and sisters, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. (2 Corinthians 13)

But wait until the pandemic is over. I think you can see that Paul is giving us the perfect balance of encouraging the faithful, praising their goodness, and highlighting what truly matters. Now I’m no St. Paul, but I hope that in our time together I have spent enough time encouraging you to be faithful, praising your goodness, and highlighting what truly matters—the love and forgiveness found in our Lord Jesus Christ.

But this sermon is not about me. This sermon—and hopefully every sermon—is about what God can do through us, the grace and peace that we discover through Christ and share with others. It is about lives transformed and communities renewed, it is about the power of work and prayer, and it is about remaining open to where the Spirit leads. Paul captured this too, in our reading for today:

Now to God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Glory in the church belongs to God alone, and we, as God’s servants, get to share in that glory, to dwell in that reflected light, to participate in the next thing God will do in this place. As one chapter closes and another begins, we trust in God’s power to work within you and continue to write the remarkable story of this church.

In a few moments I will stumble over more words, try to express more gratitude, and finally say “auf wiedersehen, good night.” Whatever I say, and however haltingly I say it, the meaning is this: to serve here has been a great gift, a profound honour, and a blessing from God. Amen.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

Glory to you, Almighty God.
You spoke, and light came out of darkness,
order rose from confusion.
Glory to you, Jesus Christ!
You meet us in every age,
the Word made flesh, born for us.
Glory to you, Holy Spirit!
You brooded over chaos,
mothering and shaping God’s new creation.
Glory to you, God, Three-in-One!
You bless our endings and our beginnings,
and turn our sadness to gratitude.

Glory to you, Almighty God.
You create and recreate,
a never ending cycle of grace and renewal.
Glory to you, Jesus Christ!
You show us with most vulnerable,
and name them our sisters and brothers.
Glory to you, Holy Spirit!
You speak to us in very moment,
and invite us to listen.
Glory to you, God, Three-in-One!
You make us, redeem us,
and blow through us still.

Glory to you, Almighty God.
You surround us with the glory that is yours alone,
and compel us to reflect it too.
Glory to you, Jesus Christ!
You heal the sick, tend the lonely,
and comfort those who mourn.
Glory to you, Holy Spirit!
You give us words to speak, to challenge injustice,
and speak your truth in love.
Glory to you, God, Three-in-One!
In every form, and in every age,
we worship you. Amen.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

Our Father who art in heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
and forgive us our trespasses
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever. Amen.

HYMN: “Retell what Christ’s great love has done”

Retell what Christ’s great love has done,
how crib and cross the victory won:
God’s call obeyed, temptations faced,
the good news preached, then death embraced.
Let us who share his Easter light
sing praise to God, our chief delight.

Recall the covenant of grace
in which you freely find your place:
with water washed, at table fed,
in Christ alive, to self now dead.
Then with your lives, by day and night,
sing praise to God, your chief delight.

Review the tapestry of saints,
that canvas which the Spirit paints:
a prophet scorned, a teacher famed,
a host unknown and unacclaimed,
yet one and all who fought the fight
sing praise to God, their chief delight.

Rehearse the chorus of the heart,
let all earth’s hopes and fears take part:
the shouts of youth, the cries of age,
the prisoners’ groans, the victims’ rage.
And may each voice which seeks the right
sing praise to God, its chief delight.

Rejoice at what Christ yet will do,
intent on making all things new:
the hungry filled, the peaceful blessed,
the wounded healed, each heart at rest.
Then sing, till faith gives way to sight,
in praise of God, our chief delight.

BLESSING

Now may the God of peace make you holy in every way,
and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless
until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. Amen.
—1 Thessalonians 5:23

God be with you till we meet again;
loving counsels guide, uphold you,
with a shepherd’s care enfold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

3 thoughts on “Ninth after Pentecost

  1. I’m cry already!

    Thank you for all these meaningful services over the past 16 months… and for joining us on our Voyage with Christ over the past 14 years.

    God Bless

  2. Thank you for these beautiful photos from your sailing boat at sunset. I will really miss these photos. Good luck to you both as you sail on – and watch out for the alligators!

    Judith

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