Justice is: love

The Celebration of the Gospel

February 12, 2017 —6th Sunday after the Epiphany

“You have heard it said, ‘You shall not murder,’
But I say to you that if you are angry, you will be liable to judgment.”
 — Matthew 5.21-22

    ________We Gather as the Body of Christ______

PRELUDE    Lead, Kindly Light     John B. Dykes, arr: Ethyl Tench Rogers

[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:  God of love, we are not alone.
All:    We are one with all Creation, and we thank you.
You come to us in our neighbors, with love and blessing.
We are one in Christ, and we praise you.
You live in us, and your love binds us together.
In your Spirit we are one, and we serve you with gladness;
we worship you with joy.  Alleluia!

* SONG        Blest Be the Tie That Binds     Blue hymnal # 557 vv.1-3


___________ We Attend to the Word___________

(10:30) THE WORD IN SONG     Gentle Voice   Lee Dengler

Pastor:   The grace of God is with you.
Congregation: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, we open ourselves in honesty to God.
God of love, help us to see ourselves with the eyes of love,
to see what is in us that is loving,
and what is not loving.

God, we recall when we have been in harmony with you, or with life, and we give thanks. [silent prayer…]
We recall when we have been out of harmony, and we seek your grace. [silent prayer…]
God of mercy, in Christ you have shown us your grace.
Forgive us, heal us, and perfect your love in us.

There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole.
There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

God of truth, we hear it said there are things we should do and ought to do.  But we long to know what you want us to do. We long to listen to your voice alone, and hear your Word, to know your desire for us.  Speak to us.  Teach us your will, and lead us in the path of your love. Give us Jesus, to show us your ways, and we will follow.  Amen.

OLD TESTAMENT     Deuteronomy 30.15-20
[God sets before us a choice: God’s ways, which lead to life, and the world’s ways, which lead to death.  God implores us to choose life.]

God said: See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity.   If you obey the commandments of Yahweh your God that I am commanding you today, by loving the Holy One, walking in God’s ways, and observing God’s commandments, decrees, and ordinances, then you shall live and become numerous, and Yahweh your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to possess.

But if your heart turns away and you do not hear, but are led astray to bow down to other gods and serve them,   I declare to you today that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess.

I call heaven and earth to witness against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants may live, loving the Holy One your God, obeying God, and holding fast to God; for that means life to you and length of days, so that you may live in the land that the Lord swore to give to your ancestors, to Abraham and Sarah, to Isaac and Rebekah, and to Jacob and Leah and Rachel.
PSALTER      Psalm 199. 33-40
[ The life and power of living in faithfulness to God.  Each verse speaks of God’s Word or law using a different metaphor: God’s statutes, ways, testimonies, ordinances, precepts…]

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.

NEW TESTAMENT        1 Corinthians 3.1-9
[The apostle Paul is troubled to hear of divisions in the church in Corinth.   He reminds them that it is God who creates and grows the church, not any individual.   We are all God’s servants, God’s tools—we are God’s farm!]

Brothers and sisters, earlier I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people controlled by selfish desires, as infants in Christ.  I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still controlled by those desires. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, aren’t you just controlled by desire, and behaving according to human inclinations?  For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?  But what is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each.  I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.  The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each.  For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

GOSPEL    Matthew 5.21-30
[Jesus examines the laws of God not as legal requirements, but as guides to love.  The point of the law is not to technically avoid wrongdoing, but to actually love people—even those who hurt us or anger us.]

You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder;” and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you yell at someone you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your companion has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to them, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with them, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that if you look at another with lust you have already committed adultery with them in your heart. If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away; it is better for you to lose one of your members than for your whole body to go into hell.


SONG   The Servant Song   Black hymnal # 2222

[Anyone who wishes may share a prayer concern at the microphone.]
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_____

There Shall Be Showers of Blessings   James McGranahan, arr: Teresa Wilhelmi

*  OFFERING SONG   Doxology   Blue hymnal  #94

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.  Send us in your Spirit to serve in love, for the sake abundant life for all, in the name of Christ.  Amen.


*  SONG       Help Us Accept Each Other   Blue hymnal #560

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     Fuga      G. F. Handel

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

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