Seventh Sunday of Ordinary Time A, February 19, 2017

I apologize for the lateness of this week’s post. Homework has been brutal, and clearly I have not figured out a weekly schedule that works. But I have to preach this Sunday as well. It’s just that I am my own secretary and you may not be. Again, I am sorry for the delay.

CALL TO WORSHIP
One: The Lord says, “You shall be holy, for I the LORD your God am holy.”
All: The Lord guides us in holy ways and wisdom.
One: We gather to hear the teachings of Christ
All: Though not everything is clear or easy to follow.
One: But we come to the source of the holy.
All: We might yet be holy for the Lord God is holy.

OPENING PRAYER
O Holy God, we are humble before you and do so much wrong, but you teach us how to interact with others in your way.  Help us better understand how to love, not only our friends but our enemies.  Help us stand up and care for others.  Help us grow in you, and not in the wisdom of the world.  Help us as we continuously strive to be perfect like your Son.  Amen.

CALL TO CONFESSION
The Lord knows us too well and still engages with us anyhow.  Let us turn around, come back, and join millennia of followers in confessing our sins.  Let us pray.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
[while different than what I normally do, this was just too perfect and can be a teaching moment on how to use scripture]
Psalm 119: 33-40
Teach me, O LORD, the way of your statutes, and I will observe it to the end. Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart. Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it. Turn my heart to your decrees, and not to selfish gain. Turn my eyes from looking at vanities; give me life in your ways. Confirm to your servant your promise, which is for those who fear you. Turn away the disgrace that I dread, for your ordinances are good. See, I have longed for your precepts; in your righteousness give me life.  Forgive me, I pray.  Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Dear ones, this is an old conversation but still just as fresh and needed as it was then.  And The Lord is just as willing to forgive and re-enter into relationship with you as God has always been.  Know that even before you are finished asking I can declare to you that in the name of Jesus Christ your sins are forgiven.  Now go and live changed lives.

CALL FOR THE OFFERING
God said, “When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest. You shall not strip your vineyard bare, or gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard; you shall leave them for the poor and the alien: I am the LORD your God.”  We do not give offering for our own benefit or to serve ourselves, but we give to God and God’s purposes.  With joy let us collect our tithes and offerings.

PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Gracious God, let the gifts that we have brought from our pockets go to further your will. Let those of us who say we follow you actually do your will as we also offer ourselves up today.  Help us follow your way – your will – with what we have and who we are.  Amen.

Side note:
In reading this Matthew passage I keep remembering the words of my professor, Douglas Adams (of The Prostitute in the Family Tree not Hitchhiker’s Guide).  Very briefly here, turning the other cheek would cause the hitter to self-defile because the other hand was impure thanks to bathroom practices.  Giving the other cloak would make one naked as they only had two garments.  After walking a mile, who is to say that the other mile isn’t a mile away?  The phrases aren’t necessarily completely placid, but could be seen as some pretty good non-violent resistance.

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