Justice is: Grace

The Celebration of the Gospel

  January 29, 2017 —4th Sunday after the Epiphany

 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the realm of heaven.
 — Matthew 5.3

    ________We Gather as the Body of Christ______

PRELUDE  Be Thou My Vision     Tune: SLANE, arr Robert Lau
[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.

Leader:  Holy One, we appear wealthy but we are poor in spirit.  We have nothing but you.
All:    You bless us with the realm of heaven.  Alleluia.
We appear happy but our hearts are broken.
You bless us with your deep comfort.  Alleluia.
We prefer being satisfied, but we hunger and thirst for you.
You bless us with your presence and your grace.  Alleluia.
For your grace that comes to us without our earning or effort, we thank you.
We praise you. We worship you. Alleluia.

* SONG    Just As I Am   Blue hymnal # 357 vv. 1-4


___________We Attend to the Word___________

(10:30) THE WORD IN SONG   Blest Are They   David Haas.

God of grace, free us from the world’s illusions of power, wealth and happiness. Return us to your realm of grace, to your presence and mercy and joy.  Bless us with pure hearts that we may see you.  Speak your Word to us, and give us life. Amen.

OLD TESTAMENT   Micah 6.6-8
[Through the Epiphany season we’ll hear scriptures repeat the theme of God’s concern for justice. God has delivered us from slavery.  What, then, shall we give God in return?  Obedience to religious rules?     No: what God wants is for us to do justice, be kind, and walk humbly with God—to live in life-giving relationship with God, with other persons, and with society as a whole.]

With what shall I come before the Lord,
and bow myself before God on high?
Shall I come before God with burnt offerings,
with calves a year old?
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams,
with ten thousands of rivers of oil?
Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression,
the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?”
God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, and to love kindness,
and to walk humbly with your God?

RESPONSE   Do Justice   Steve G-H
Do justice, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.
God, help us humbly live your justice, your love, your mercy.

NEW TESTAMENT    1 Corinthians 1.18-31
[The world values power and accomplishment; therefore the cross seems to be a sign of powerlessness and failure.  Yet the cross is the sign of our salvation, because it reveals God’s grace that overcomes our sin and failure.  God uses what is weak in the world to overcome what is strong.  Our wisdom is foolish when we try to use it to figure out God and God’s grace.]

The message about the cross is foolishness to those who don’t mind throwing their lives away, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
and the discernment of the discerning
I will thwart.”

Show me one who is wise. Show me a scholar. Show me a debater of this age. When it comes to understanding God, all their worldly wisdom is completely foolish.  Reason doesn’t work to come to know God.  So God uses this news about the cross, and even thought it sounds foolish, it saves the people who trust it.

Jews demand to see signs from God, and Greeks want to figure everything out.  But we are proclaiming Christ crucified, which sounds awful to the Jews and makes no sense to the Greeks. But to those whom God calls, both Jews and gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.  For God’s foolishness is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.

GOSPEL      Matthew 5.1-12
[The Beatitudes, delivered on a mountain like Moses’ commandments, are the core of Jesus’ teaching: trust in God’s grace to bring blessing and life out of what appears to the world’s eyes to be weakness, barrenness and failure. God gives grace to those who are suffering and brokenhearted.  In this trust, we live lives that are radically gentle, compassionate and courageous, serving for the sake of peace and healing.]

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you
and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven,
for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

SONG    Blessed   Steve G-H

Dear God, receive me anew, mourning and poor in my soul,
hungry for what makes me whole.
Bless me by making me simple like you.
Blessed are the ones who have nothing but God,
for God and God alone shall fill their lives.

Mercy  please  grant me anew. Make my heart pure by your grace,
humble, that I may see your face.
Bless me by making me gentle like you.    
Blessed are the ones who have nothing but God,
for God and God alone shall fill their lives.

Courage please give me anew, peace in the world to make,
and to suffer for your Gospel’s sake.
Bless me by making me faithful to you. 
Blessed are the ones who have nothing but God,
for God and God alone shall fill their lives.

By the grace of God, and God’s Spirit working in us,
we accept our poverty willingly, for God gives us the realm of heaven.
We will mourn honestly, for God will comfort us.
We will be gentle, for we will inherit the earth.
We hunger and thirst for God, knowing we shall be nourished.
We will be merciful, knowing we shall receive mercy.
We seek to be pure in heart, so that we may see God.
We will be peacemakers, for we are children of God.
We will accept persecution, for ours is the realm of God.
In all things we trust God’s grace above all else.
Help us, God, to live in deep trust of you, in the Spirit of Christ.  Amen.

* SONG   Do Justice

[Anyone who wishes may share a prayer concern at the microphone.]
RESPONSE: This is my prayer.  All: This is our prayer.
Our Mother, 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, forever. Amen.


______ We Are Sent in Ministry to the World_____

OFFERING OUR GIFTS   Just A Closer Walk With Thee   Traditional, arr: Lyndell Leatherman

*  OFFERING SONG    Do Justice

Gracious God, in gratitude for all you have given us, and in faithful stewardship of what you have placed in our hands to share with the world, we give our lives, symbolized in these gifts.  Receive them with love, bless them with grace and use them according to your will.  Grant us deep trust in your grace, that we may serve you without fear,  for the sake of the healing of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.


*  SONG   Amazing Grace   Blue hymnal #378 vv. 1-4

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     Variations On “ St. Peter”   arr: Roy Brunner

[During the postlude there are people ready to pray with you at the candles in the corners.]

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