O God, I am torn.
Do I rant or praise?
This world is so magnificent,
and I cannot divert
CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: Holy One, the ancient stories tell us
that you are a wrathful, punishing God.
People: And yet, we read that you are slow to anger,
showing steadfast, loving kindness
to all your creation.
Leader: Today, the prophets tell us
that the world will reap a terrible harvest
from the seeds of greed and selfishness
that we have sown for much too long.
People: And yet, we trust in your promise
that faithfulness will spring up from the ground,
and righteousness will look down from the sky.
Leader: You are God, our God,
a fountain of living water,
who will never leave us or forsake us.
All: We come to worship you, Holy One,
and Hope of the world.
Leader: Holy Source of all that is,
we are enraptured
by the beauty of your created world.
People: We offer you songs of praise and thanksgiving
even as we soil and abuse your gifts.
Leader: Holy Lover of all that is,
we feel the pain and suffering
of your broken world.
People: We cry tears of compassion and sorrow,
even as we are paralyzed by anger and guilt.
Leader: We are caught between fear of wrath
and hope of love.
All: We do not know whether to rant or praise.
INDIVIDUAL PRAYERS OF CONFESSION
Leader: The Holy One hears the cries of God’s people.
Jesus the Christ offers forgiveness and healing.
The Spirit blows new life into every open heart.
PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING AND INTERCESSION
PRAYER OF COMMITMENT
All: O Holy One, we come today
to claim our relationship with you.
We pray for the commitment to grow together,
sharing the gifts you give us with others
here and in the wider world.
Forgive us for the hurt we have inflicted,
and help us forgive those who have hurt us.
Give us strength and discipline
to nurture our relationship with you;
to care for every part of your creation;
to foster justice and be in solidarity with those in need;
to work to end all war, and violence, and discord;
and to respond joyfully when you call,
freely giving our selves as you have shown the way.
We open our hearts to you and your creation
in the name of Jesus, who is the Christ. Amen.
Leader 1: Holy and Loving God, we give thanks
for the magnificent beauty and diversity
of the world you created us to inhabit.
People: We give thanks for the wonder
of our human sisters and brothers,
whom you knitted together
in our mothers’ wombs.
Leader 2: We give thanks for the power of the Holy Spirit
that sees our frailty
and calls us back
when we turn away from you.
People: We give thanks for your son, Jesus,
who shows us your hope
for this flawed and hurting world.
BLESSING THE ELEMENTS
Leader 1: Christ invites everyone to eat the bread of life,
to drink the cup of the new covenant.
Leader 2: Jesus said, I am the bread of life.
You who come to me shall never hunger,
You who believe in me shall never thirst.
Leader 1: On the night of his arrest, Jesus took bread,
and after giving thanks to God, broke it and said,
This is my body,
broken for the healing of the world.
Whenever you eat it, do so remembering me.
Leader 2: After supper, Jesus took the cup and said,
This is the cup of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for all.
Whenever you drink it, do so remembering me.
SHARE THE ELEMENTS
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING AND DEDICATION
All: God of abundance and mercy,
we give joyful thanks
for your eternal love and healing presence
in our celebration of bread and cup.
Bless this body of Christ
that we may attend faithfully
to our call to be your servants,
with each other and throughout the world.
Leader: This magnificent, flawed world is waiting for us,
inviting us to see with open eyes.
Go with the hope and promise
of God’s sustaining love.
Reflection: Ted Loder, So magnificent…so flawed from Wrestling the Light: Ache and Awe in the Human-Divine Struggle, pg. 10
Bulletin Cover Image:
All Around the Carpenter’s Shop
© 1996 Ginger Henry Geyer
glazed porcelain with platinum and gold
4 parts, 11” x 6” x 6”
The piece includes adaptations of (1) Robert Campin, St. Joseph’s wing panel from the Merode Altarpiece, c. 1425, (2) a 15th c. Spanish manuscript illustration of The Holy Family in Joseph’s Workshop, (3) Rembrandt, Holy Family with Angels, 1645, (4) John Everett Millais, Christ in the Carpenter’s Shop, 1849-50, (5) Holman Hunt, The Shadow of Death,1870-3.
“The tendency of Christians to “keep Jesus in a box” is a recurring theme in my art. Jesus as a Jack-in-the-Box is startling—for this is not Jesus. This clown has a turning head with a choice of faces; it is not so much the Trinity as three stereotypical Christ images: (1) The fierce judge, the Pantocrater, full of smite (2) the bloody, beaten to a pulp Man of Sorrows, and (3) Sweet Jesus Gentle and Mild, a blue-eyed blonde who is ineffectual and indifferent. Turn his head, cram him back into the box, and crank him up in whichever way you want him to appear…need a Jesus to damn somebody you disapprove of? Or one who will come to your self-pity party? Or one who assures you that everything is OK?”