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 God who makes deserts bloom like roses
Bringing with us
our own cracked and dry places
God of Joy, who brings living water into parched places,
We ask that you would bring
Peace into our chaos
Hope into our despair
Empathy into our apathy
Until streams flow in our deserts
And our deserts become gardens
Joy Candle Liturgy
Grasping for Hope, we light the first candle.
[Light Hope Candle]
Longing for Peace, we light the second candle
[Light Peace Candle]
Today, let us consider the fact that we are able to reach for Hope and seek Peace confidently because of the faithfulness of our God; that in the midst of immense darkness, we see glimpses of Light. In directing our attention to the Light that God is giving us, we are captured by Joy. This joy is neither fleeting, nor is it limited to the range of emotions that we might call “happy.” Instead, Joy is a way of seeing, where our priorities are not dictated by our own benefit, and where we stubbornly refuse to call the way things are “the way things will always be,” because we see that our God is still working to reconcile all things to Godself. With this in mind, we light the third candle.
[Light Joy Candle]
Hear now of the Lord coming into the darkness of Exile to lead us home in Isaiah 35:1-10.
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the Lord,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
‘Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.’
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveller, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
When John heard in prison what the Messiah was doing, he sent word by his disciples and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or are we to wait for another?” Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the poor have good news brought to them. And blessed is anyone who takes no offense at me.”
As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to look at? A reed shaken by the wind? What then did you go out to see? Someone dressed in soft robes? Look, those who wear soft robes are in royal palaces. What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. This is the one about whom it is written,
‘See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way before you.’
“Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist; yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
This week's prayer was written by Kerri Fisher:
We thank God now for Christ, who is our joy--
a spring flowing up and out of us, from a well that lies deep within.
A joy which somehow mysteriously confirms:
That even in our waiting we are complete,
That even in our confusion we can know and be known
That even in our sorrow we might be ever full.
Help us God, to desire to be seekers and cultivators of this joy.
To accept and to share it with children, friends and lovers.
To acknowledge it in strangers, in places, in moments.
To borrow it from one another as we have need--
And to cling to it in the darkness and in the light.