The Celebration of the Gospel
July 23, 2017 —7th Sunday after Pentecost
We are children of God.
— Romans 8.16
________We Gather as the Body of Christ______
PRELUDE Priere á Notre Dame Leon Boëllmann
[As we listen to the music we quiet our minds and bodies,
listen for our hearts’ deepest desires,
and become present to the Holy One who is lovingly present for us.]
* CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: Loving God, Infinite parent, you birth us and claim us.
All: We are in awe, and we praise you.
Gentle Christ, you love us and walk beside us.
We are made new, and we thank you.
Holy Spirit, you breathe your life into us and re-create us each moment.
We are your children, and we live in your love.
* SONG How Can We name a Love Blue hymnal # 111
____________We Attend to the Word__________
THE WORD IN SONG
What Wondrous Love, arr: Kurt Kaiser (Marie Machacek, Trombone)
Holy God, Infinite Love, Intimate Lover, Faithful One, we come from you. We rest in you. We listen for you. Open our hearts to your presence. Open our ears to your Word. Open our arms to your children. Open our future to your grace. Amen.
OLD TESTAMENT Genesis 28.10-19
[Jacob has a dream in which angels move up and down a ladder to heaven. When he wakes up he says, “Surely God was in this place, and I did not know it.” ]
Jacob left Beer-sheba and went toward Haran. He came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.
And God stood beside him and said, “I am the Holy One, the God of Abraham and Sarah your ancestors and the God of Isaac and Rebekah; the land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring; and your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south; and all the families of the earth shall be blessed in you and in your offspring. Know that I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Then Jacob woke from his sleep and said, “Surely God is in this place—and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.” So Jacob rose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up for a pillar and poured oil on the top of it. He called that place Bethel.
PSALTER Psalm 139.1-18
[God is present everywhere and aware of us and participating in our lives, no matter where we are or in what condition.]
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end—I am still with you.
NEW TESTAMENT Romans 8.14-25
[Paul mixes several metaphors for our experience of God: being born, being adopted, and giving birth. We come from God and always belong to God, and we are continually being changed.]
All who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with Christ so that we may also be glorified with Christ.
I consider that our present sufferings cannot be compared with the glory that will be revealed in us. All of creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. Nothing in the world can fulfill its own destiny by itself; it’s doomed to failure. This is no one’s fault, it was made that way by God, in confidence that the whole world will be set free from its slavery to decay, and brought into the glorious freedom of being God’s children.
So the whole creation has been groaning forever in pain, like the pain of childbirth. And so do we, who have the first fruits of the Spirit: we groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as children, the redemption of our whole lives. This hope opens the door for us. Of course hope that is seen is no hope at all. How can we hope for what we already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
GOSPEL Matthew 18.1-5, 19.13-15
[Jesus’ disciples try to keep children away from Jesus but he welcomes them and tells us to welcome them as well. He says we experience the Realm of God when we become childlike.]
Little children were being brought to jesus in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. The disciples spoke sternly to those who brought them; but Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” And he laid his hands on them and went on his way.
At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child, whom he put among them, and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me. “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
SONG Mothering God Black hymnal # 2050
* AFFIRMATION OF FAITH
We love you, God, infinite creator of all that is, and we rejoice that we are your children. We come from you; we are born of your love. You create us as living images of you and your grace.
We follow you, Jesus, Christ of God, Word made flesh, love made real. You healed and taught. You welcomed and blessed all God’s children. You included all people as siblings. You included the outcast, the wounded, the children. For your love and courage you were crucified; but in love God raised you from the dead. You live among us, calling, guiding, blessing.
Holy Spirit, we live by your grace. Born of God, adopted by God, blessed by God, we live by your life and power in us. You lead us to live lives of love and courage, to bless all our siblings, to live together as children of God in harmony and joy,
We give thanks to you, O God, and promise to live as children of your love. Amen.
* SONG Child of God Steve G-H
I’m a child, a child of God,
God’s beloved in whom God is pleased.
I will live in the peace of God.
You’re a child…
THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
[Anyone who wishes may share a prayer concern at the microphone.]
THE PRAYER OF JESUS
SHARING THE PEACE OF CHRIST
______ We Are Sent in Ministry to the World_____
OFFERING OUR GIFTS Breathe on Me arr: Kurt Kaiser (Marie Machacek, Trombone)
* OFFERING SONG Father, I Adore You Black hymnal #2038
Gracious God, we give you our lives, symbolized in these gifts. Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will. Send us in love for all your children, for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.
THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH IN THE WORLD
* SONG You Are Mine Black hymnal #2218
* THE BLESSING AND SENDING FORTH
RESPONSE We stand and sing to our neighbors:
May the grace and peace of Christ be with you my friends.
Go and share the love of God, love that never ends.
POSTLUDE Herr Gott, dich loben alle wir (Lord God, We All to Thee Give Praise)
Thanks to our guest organist today, Cathy Meyer.
[During the postlude there are people ready to pray with you at the candles in the corners.]