Worship Where You Are

The Worship Where You Are blog contains what we think of as "first drafts" of the sermon for each week.  They are prepared mid-week for people who might not be able to be present on Sunday morning but wish to still participate in the worship experience.  They contain scripture, the sermon text, a few questions to ponder and a closing prayer.  May they help you in your faith journey.

All Bible verses come from the Common English Bible

All Saints Day

Ruth 1:1-18

The family in Moab

1 During the days when the judges ruled, there was a famine in the land. A man with his wife and two sons went from Bethlehem of Judah to dwell in the territory of Moab. 2 The name of that man was Elimelech, the name of his wife was Naomi, and the names of his two sons were Mahlon and Chilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in Judah. They entered the territory of Moab and settled there.

3 But Elimelech, Naomi’s husband, died. Then only she was left, along with her two sons. 4 They took wives for themselves, Moabite women; the name of the first was Orpah and the name of the second was Ruth. And they lived there for about ten years.

5 But both of the sons, Mahlon and Chilion, also died. Only the woman was left, without her two children and without her husband.

6 Then she arose along with her daughters-in-law to return from the field of Moab, because while in the territory of Moab she had heard that the Lord had paid attention to his people by providing food for them. 7 She left the place where she had been, and her two daughters-in-law went with her. They went along the road to return to the land of Judah.

8 Naomi said to her daughters-in-law, “Go, turn back, each of you to the household of your mother. May the Lord deal faithfully with you, just as you have done with the dead and with me. 9 May the Lord provide for you so that you may find security, each woman in the household of her husband.” Then she kissed them, and they lifted up their voices and wept.

10 But they replied to her, “No, instead we will return with you, to your people.”

11 Naomi replied, “Turn back, my daughters. Why would you go with me? Will there again be sons in my womb, that they would be husbands for you? 12 Turn back, my daughters. Go. I am too old for a husband. If I were to say that I have hope, even if I had a husband tonight, and even more, if I were to bear sons— 13 would you wait until they grew up? Would you refrain from having a husband? No, my daughters. This is more bitter for me than for you, since the Lord’s will has come out against me.”

14 Then they lifted up their voices and wept again. Orpah kissed her mother-in-law, but Ruth stayed with her. 15 Naomi said, “Look, your sister-in-law is returning to her people and to her gods. Turn back after your sister-in-law.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to abandon you, to turn back from following after you. Wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord do this to me and more so if even death separates me from you.”18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she stopped speaking to her about it.

 

Thoughts on the passage:

There are a lot of reasons that people use a pulpit when delivering the sermon. One of them is that it clearly gives a sense of stature to the preacher because they are speaking, in part, on behalf of God. Every week I pray that God might use me, and the Holy Spirit might speak through my words to touch and inspire people. Today, as we celebrate the saints who have passed away in the last year, I find myself unable to use the pulpit. Rather, I prefer to leave it open, perhaps in the hopes that someone worthier than me might step forward to bring us a message. Like all of you, I find myself overwhelmed at times by the mystery of death, and even the promises of new life that our faith brings us can still leave me with more questions than answers.

I wish I could tell you exactly what happens when a person dies. I wish I knew exactly what heaven is like. I can give you vague generalizations, but even scripture at times paints confusing visions for what is to come. In the end, I think we are better served to trust in the promise of a new life that is given to us, even if we do not know what that will be like. We are better served to trust that no matter what, God loves us and is with us, in this life and in the life to come.

Rather than try and decipher the mysteries of heaven, I wanted to instead reflect on the impact that the saints we celebrate still have on us here on earth. While we trust that they have gone on to something greater and more wonderful, we know that there are ways that they are still present with us. Today we light candles and remember the lives they lived, the impact they had, and the presence of Christ that shined in them.

Our passage today deals with the passing away of three men, a father and two sons. These three men left behind three widows, the mother, Naomi, and two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. What we see in this story is the effect that these three men had on the people they left behind.

In those days, there was a tradition that when a husband passed away without having a child, the widow would marry one of her brothers-in-law and that the first child they had together would carry on the name and lineage of her first husband (rather than the actual father). For Ruth and Orpah this creates a problem. Since both of their husbands have died leaving them childless, there is no other brother-in-law to marry. As Naomi explains, even if she did have another son (difficult since she is already herself widowed) it would be years before that son would be old enough to marry them and provide for them.

Recognizing this problem, Naomi seeks to release Orpah and Ruth from their ties to her. Naomi is returning to the land of her kin but feels that Ruth and Orpah would have better luck staying in Moab where their people are than following her back to Judah. Orpah takes her up on this offer, but Ruth declines. Instead, she makes an even greater commitment. Despite being a Moabite, Ruth pledges herself, not only to Naomi, but to God saying, “Where you go, I will go; and wherever you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God will be my God.”

Even the person that had brought Ruth and Naomi together had died, his effect on their lives was continuing. He was still with them in the relationship and connection that they had to each other. There is a lot more to the story of Ruth than this one passage, but in it we are reminded of the power that comes in relationships and those relationships have power even after we pass away.

Today we are remembering and honoring the saints in our lives. These are people who have influenced our lives. Even though they have gone on to somewhere better, their presence is still felt by us. When we light our candles, we remember them. We also are reminded that they are still with us. We celebrate their continued impact on our lives.

When her sons passed away, Naomi gave into despair and tried to send away her daughters-in-law. She wrongly felt that once her sons were dead, there was not value in the connection. Instead, Ruth was willing to stay, because she knew how important that connection still was. Today, we honor the connections we have to those who have passed away. They are sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers, daughters and sons. They are friends and neighbors. They are co-workers and fellow church members. Though they may have passed on, their connections are still felt by us. We who are left are brought closer together by their passing.

When we share today in communion, we remember that we are one together in the body of Christ. We are one with Christ Jesus, who lived, died, and rose again for us. We are one with the first disciples who took bread with Christ. We are one with each other as we gather again today to remember that last supper. We are one with the saints who have gone before us and whose memories we still cherish. For all this we give thanks to God. Amen

 

Questions to Ponder:

Who are the saints in your life that you still feel connected to?

What are ways that you like to remember those who have passed away?

What do you think of when you here the phrase “communion of the saints”?

Prayer:

God of new life, we give you thanks for your unending love and grace that touches us not only in the here and now, but goes with us into the next life as well. Help those of us in this life to not be too dazzled by the mysteries of death, that we cannot remember your presence with us. Comfort those who mourn this day and grant them your peace. Help us to remember that the saints in our lives never leave us, but remain connected to us, even as they go on to something greater.

Amen

Acts of Worship: Action

Matthew 28:16-20

Commissioning of the disciples

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. 18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19  Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20  teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”

 

Thoughts on the passage:

There is an ancient Christian tradition of walking a labyrinth. Christian labyrinths are like mazes except there are no choices. It is simply a path that leads from the outside to the inside through a series of turns. The purpose is to use the simple, slow, repetitive process of walking as a way to focus the heart and the mind on prayer and time with God. Once you reach the heart of the labyrinth you pause, and center yourself before retracing your steps back out.

I think the labyrinth is a great image to use for the flow of a worship service. We enter into worship through praise and confession. These acts help move us from the busyness and clutter of the world and set that aside so that we can enter a special time with God. The heart of worship is prayer and scripture, when we communicate with God and listen to the Holy Spirit speak to us through prayer, scriptures, and hopefully the sermon. The heart of worship is like the center of the labyrinth, it is a deep and mystical place to be, but it is a place that at some point we have to leave and return to the world.

We leave a labyrinth by retracing our steps back out and using the same focusing power of prayer to send us into the world. We leave worship in a similar way. After the sermon we have the response to the Word. It can come in the form of declaring our faith like reciting the creeds. It can take the form of our offerings, which are a way that we respond to what God has done in our lives. It can come in the form of leaving the space of worship and going out into the world, changed by what we have experienced here.

It is my hope that worship is always a call to action. Maybe it is a way that we recharge our spiritual batteries to get through the week. Maybe it is a way that we are challenged to think about what we do and how our lives should be different because of our faith. No matter what, I hope that our time of worship changes us for the better and inspires us to put our faith into action. If worship is not doing that then I feel like I have failed you. Worship should send us out into the world changed for the better by God’s presence and God’s call in our lives.

Over a decade ago the United Methodist Church developed the slogan of “Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors.” While it is meant as a reminder that we are meant to be a welcoming and inviting congregation, I think it is good to remember that doors swing both ways. One of the things we need to do is to open the doors of the church and go out into the world.

There is perhaps no better framing of this purpose for the church than the Great Commission that we read here in Matthew today. The Great Commission is the final instructions that Jesus gives to the disciples. It contains two key concepts. First, the disciples (and us as the church) are meant to go and make disciples of all nations and help people to be faithful followers of God. Second, and sometimes forgotten is that as we go, so will Christ. We are not commissioned to do this work alone, we do it with the help of Jesus. As Christians, as followers of Christ, we inherit this commission and the action that is entailed in it. Our faith is not passive and personal, merely a source of salvation. Rather, it is connectional and transformational. Our faith is demonstrated by our lives.

There is an old Christian saying often attributed to Saint Francis, “Preach the Gospel, use words if necessary.” In other words, we do not make disciples by telling people that God loves them. We make disciples by showing people that God loves them. Our faith is not demonstrated merely by what we say, it is experienced in what we do. It is not putting a Christian bumper sticker on our car that makes us a Christian driver, it is how we conduct ourselves behind the wheel that makes us a Christian driver. Our actions are a response to our faith and our worship.

How does worship inspire you to action? How is your life different because of the time you spend in worship each week? It is my hope that our faith makes a profound difference in our lives, but I think it can be easy to forget. Most of us have been Christians for so long we do not think about how we might be different if we were not Christian. Most of us have been going to church for so long we have forgotten the difference it makes in our lives.

Worship is a call to action, a call to a changed life. The Great Commission is the best framing of that call to action I have found, a call for us to go out into the world and transform it by our actions. So, let us remember this commissioning we have received. Let us go forth from worship each week knowing that Christ is with us as we go into the world. Let us use worship as a springboard into the week and the difference we hope to make as we share God’s love with the world. Amen

 

Questions to Ponder:

When was a time you left a worship service and felt inspired to go and do something because of it?

What part of the service gives you the most energy for the week?

Who do you think God is commissioning you to reach with the message of love and grace?

Prayer:

Ever-present God, help us to remember that whether we are in the church or in our homes or in our schools or our places of work, we are in your presence. Bless us and watch over us as we seek to put our faith into action this week. Help us to remember your command to reach out to a world in need with your love and grace. Help us to be instruments of your peace in the world. Amen

Acts of Worship: Communion

Luke 24:13-35

Encounter on the Emmaus road

13 On that same day, two disciples were traveling to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking to each other about everything that had happened. 15 While they were discussing these things, Jesus himself arrived and joined them on their journey. 16 They were prevented from recognizing him.

17 He said to them, “What are you talking about as you walk along?” They stopped, their faces downcast.

18 The one named Cleopas replied, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who is unaware of the things that have taken place there over the last few days?”

19 He said to them, “What things?”

They said to him, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth. Because of his powerful deeds and words, he was recognized by God and all the people as a prophet. 20 But our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him. 21 We had hoped he was the one who would redeem Israel. All these things happened three days ago. 22 But there’s more: Some women from our group have left us stunned. They went to the tomb early this morning23 and didn’t find his body. They came to us saying that they had even seen a vision of angels who told them he is alive.24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women said. They didn’t see him.”

25 Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! Your dull minds keep you from believing all that the prophets talked about. 26  Wasn’t it necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then he interpreted for them the things written about himself in all the scriptures, starting with Moses and going through all the Prophets.

28 When they came to Emmaus, he acted as if he was going on ahead. 29 But they urged him, saying, “Stay with us. It’s nearly evening, and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 After he took his seat at the table with them, he took the bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he disappeared from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Weren’t our hearts on fire when he spoke to us along the road and when he explained the scriptures for us?”

33 They got up right then and returned to Jerusalem. They found the eleven and their companions gathered together.34 They were saying to each other, “The Lord really has risen! He appeared to Simon!” 35 Then the two disciples described what had happened along the road and how Jesus was made known to them as he broke the bread.

 

Thoughts on the passage:

Last Sunday I completed the Twin Cities Marathon in approximately 4 hours and 45 minutes, good enough for about 5,000th place out of about 7,000 runners. I failed in my goal of beating my older brother’s best time of 4:20, a fact that he still reminds me of. Despite this, I was still given a medal. Throughout the week, almost everyone I have talked to would define what I did as a success, to them I am a winner.

We have some strong ideas about the importance of winning in our country. We take pride in our accomplishments. We love competitions and we love to celebrate the people who succeed. When it comes to who they are going to allow to be in the NFL Hall of Fame, how much a person won is important. The ability to win championships is held in higher regard than statistics and personal achievements. We reward winners.

Christianity is not about winning. In fact, it is almost the exact opposite. Christian is a religion of losers. The tension between our expectations of success and how God views the world are at the forefront of what defines our faith. Our symbol is of a cross, a reminder that Jesus died, in a humiliating way, for us. One of Jesus’ core teachings would be that the first would be last and the last would be first. Over and over he chose to meet not with the popular or privileged but with the outcast, the downtrodden, the sinners, the losers.

Woven into our communion liturgy is the phrase “heavenly banquet.” Built into our understanding of communion is this idea that we are sharing now in a feast that will be mirrored in Heaven, that a reward and celebration await us in the next life. Banquets are all about celebration. They are a symbol of winning. Banquets are used to highlight success. Yet, what does it take to get invited to this heavenly banquet? Is it a reward for hard work? Are we invited because of what we did? No, none of us have earned our place at God’s table. None of us have done something to merit the invitation. Instead, we are invited because of who God is. Communion is the symbol of God’s unconditional love for all of us.

In our story today, we see two of Christ’s followers who are struggling to believe in the resurrection or any sort of hope for the future. As they walk along the road, they encounter Jesus. They talk with him. They hear his teachings. They confide their fears and sorrows in him. None of this is enough for them to recognize him. The moment they know him is in the breaking of the bread. It is in that repetition of the Last Supper that they can believe.

We are never told what it is about that act that triggers it for them. Maybe it was just a simple visual trigger in seeing Jesus repeat an action he did just a few days ago in a deeply emotional last meal with his disciples. Maybe it was a reminder of his words then that he would come back that they finally had the courage to believe. Maybe in the breaking of the bread they were reminded of the intimate love and connection that Christ had for them. We do not know why. All we know is that in that moment, they could recognize Christ.

We have been trying to recapture that moment in the church for 2000 years. The words of institution, the liturgy of communion that we use each time we do it harkens back to the teachings of Paul as he sought to pass on the communion tradition to the early churches. Over the years, our understanding of this event have evolved and changed as we seek to understand what a recent United Methodist study called “this holy mystery.”

Everyone has a slightly different belief as to what happens with communion. The Catholics believe in transubstantiation, the idea that the bread and wine literally becomes the body and blood of Christ. By contrast, Lutherans are taught to believe in consubstantiation. This is the idea that that the body and blood of Christ are present with, or alongside, the elements. The United Methodist Church’s historical doctrinal standards teach us that communion, along with baptism, is a sacrament, and a means of grace by which God works invisibly in us. The bread and juice are representations and reminders of Christ’s love and sacrifice but are not physical embodiments of the body and blood of Christ.

Perhaps the most important teaching of the United Methodist Church as far as I am concerned is the idea of open communion. We believe that anyone and everyone is welcomed at the table. We do not set a bar for who can come. Instead we invite all to come and experience the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup and the reminder of Christ’s grace that is offered to us.

By the general standard of winning, I did not win on last Sunday, and yet when you cross the finish line you are treated like a winner. It is not a perfect analogy because there is something I did to earn this treatment, but I still think it fits the welcome that we celebrate at communion. We are welcomed at the table. We are invited to join in the banquet celebration. That invitation is not based on our merits or our actions. It is not because of who we are that we are invited. Rather, it is because of God, and God’s love of us that we are invited. We are welcomed to share in the bread and the cup because God wants us to know and experience God’s love and grace. We are losers in the eyes of the world, but we are winners in God’s eyes. By the measure of our actions we are sinners and failures, and yet God loves us, and Christ welcomes us as sisters and brothers.

When we break the bread each month, we remember how Christ was broken for us. When we share in the cup each month we remember how God welcomes each one of us. The acts of communion are a way of embodying the story of our faith, that all are welcomed, that all are loved, and that all are celebrated. All of this is thanks to the love and sacrifice of Jesus who died our death and rose of our sake that we might know God’s awesome power.

Thanks be to God. Amen

 

Questions to Ponder:

What are some of your first memories of communion?

What comes to your mind when you think about what it means to be a winner?

How do we avoid the trap of judging ourselves and others by our actions when God uses a totally different metric?

How do you experience God in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the cup?

Prayer:

Gracious and wondrous God, just as you appeared to disciples so long ago, appear to us once more in the breaking of the bread. Help us to see your love when we share in a meal together. Help us to remember your grace when we share the cup of salvation. May we experience your presence, not just in these simple gifts of the grape and the grain, but each and every day as your Spirit blesses us and goes with us in all that we do. Amen

Acts of Worship: Confession

Psalm 51

Psalm 51

For the music leader. A psalm of David, when the prophet Nathan came

to him just after he had been with Bathsheba.

51 Have mercy on me, God, according to your faithful love!
    Wipe away my wrongdoings according to your great compassion!
2 Wash me completely clean of my guilt;
    purify me from my sin!
3 Because I know my wrongdoings,
    my sin is always right in front of me.
4 I’ve sinned against you—you alone.
    I’ve committed evil in your sight.
That’s why you are justified when you render your verdict,
    completely correct when you issue your judgment.
5 Yes, I was born in guilt, in sin,
    from the moment my mother conceived me.
6 And yes, you want truth in the most hidden places;
    you teach me wisdom in the most secret space.

7 Purify me with hyssop and I will be clean;
    wash me and I will be whiter than snow.
8 Let me hear joy and celebration again;
    let the bones you crushed rejoice once more.
9 Hide your face from my sins;
    wipe away all my guilty deeds!
10 Create a clean heart for me, God;
    put a new, faithful spirit deep inside me!
11 Please don’t throw me out of your presence;
    please don’t take your holy spirit away from me.
12 Return the joy of your salvation to me
    and sustain me with a willing spirit.
13 Then I will teach wrongdoers your ways,
    and sinners will come back to you.

14 Deliver me from violence, God, God of my salvation,
    so that my tongue can sing of your righteousness.
15 Lord, open my lips,
    and my mouth will proclaim your praise.
16 You don’t want sacrifices.
    If I gave an entirely burned offering,
    you wouldn’t be pleased.
17 A broken spirit is my sacrifice, God.
    You won’t despise a heart, God, that is broken and crushed.
18 Do good things for Zion by your favor.
    Rebuild Jerusalem’s walls.
19 Then you will again want sacrifices of righteousness—
    entirely burned offerings and complete offerings.
        Then bulls will again be sacrificed on your altar.

 

Thoughts on the passage:

Wednesday was Yom Kippur, which is the day of atonement in the Jewish tradition. On this day, Jews across the world gather in synagogues to confess their sins and seek atonement from God. Seeking atonement for one’s sins however starts long before this high holiday. Before one can begin to ask God for forgiveness, one first has to admit one’s mistakes and then seek forgiveness from the person you have wronged. Atonement from God is the culmination of a process of taking responsibility for our actions. It is not a shortcut to grace, but the completion of a transformation that occurs in an individual.

The Christian faith, with its understanding of a grace that comes from Jesus Christ, has changed a lot about how we view sin and repentance, but in this area, our stance has changed little. We still believe there is a need for a person to own up to their mistakes and to seek the forgiveness of the person they have sinned against before they seek God’s grace. In the gospels, Jesus teaches his followers that before one brings an offering to the Lord one should first go and find the person they have wronged and apologize. Thanks to Christ, God’s grace is available to all, but to receive it fully we need to accept our need for that grace, and that requires us to confess our sins, not just to ourselves, but to God and those we have wronged.

If you are like me, when you read the Psalms it is easy to skip past the headings at the beginning of the texts. There is not a heading on all of them, and some of them are pretty basic like “a Psalm,” or “Of David,” or “To the leader: with stringed instruments.” None of these really changes how we read the psalm. Psalm 51 is different. The heading on this psalm tells us it is from David, after Nathan has convicted him of his sins in how he treated Bathsheba and Uriah. This is not an ideal psalm of a poet expressing regret for a minor infraction. This is the confession of a king who abused his power to sleep with one person and kill another.

Now, I will take some exception to this psalm, David mentions that he has sinned against God alone, and I would argue that this is not true. David has sinned against Bathsheba, Uriah, and all the people who trusted him to be their leader and to behave honestly. David has also sinned against God who blessed him and called him to lead the people. Ownership of his mistakes and confession of his sins does require him to acknowledge that harm that he has done to God. In my mind he must also do something to repent and atone for his sins to others. Scriptures make no real mention of any confession he might have made to Bathsheba or Uriah’s family and since David and Bathsheba have a son together it seems likely some atonement occurred. What I want to highlight is that earnest repentance does not merely mean confessing our sins to God, but also to those we have harmed.

What I love about this passage is the distinction that David makes about God’s desire not for sacrifices but a broken spirit. Burnt offerings have long been a sign of repentance. The slaughter of animals and the burning of them, is a way of paying a cost for our mistakes. David is highlighting the fact that these costs are not what God is really after. They are the product of our broken spirit not a substitute for it.

Take for a moment parking tickets: they are not really common here in Willmar but are a frequent occurrence in bigger cities like Minneapolis or Chicago, where I went to school. If you think of breaking a parking law as a sin, then the fine is a part of our repentance, our debt to society. Another way to view the fine however is merely the cost for parking where you want to. Where I lived in Chicago there were streets that had weekly street sweeping which meant you needed to move your car by 7:00 am or get a ticket. Many a morning I would be bolting out of the apartment at 6:55 to go and move the car to avoid such a fine. A wealthier person than me might merely see the ticket as the cost they must pay to stay in bed a little longer. When they pay the fine, they are not really repenting of their bad action, merely paying a cost to park their car somewhere.

Our sacrifices to God are not merely us paying the cost of our choices. Rather, they are meant to reflect our earnest feelings that we have wronged. God does not want us to pay for our mistakes, God wants us to repent of our mistakes. God wants us to seek to be in a good relationship with God, with our neighbors and with ourselves. When we sin, when we break that relationship, what God needs is not a dead animal or a monetary gift. Instead, what God needs is for us to accept our failings, acknowledge the harm we have done, and seek to do better.

In our congregation we do not do weekly confession in worship, though maybe we should. It still is an important act of worship. If worship is about deepening our relationship to God, then confession is important because it is an acknowledgement of the brokenness in that relationship. One piece of advice I received from my grandfather at my wedding was to never go to bed mad at each other. (We have both tried to do this in our eleven plus years together) I think the same advice applies in our relationship to God. We need to make confession a regular part of our worship of God because otherwise we cannot have a complete relationship to God. If we cannot admit our mistakes or hide them from God, we are damaging our relationship. In order to worship God and grow closer to God, we need to admit just how far we are from God at times.

The act of confession in worship has three parts, there is the prayer of confession and pardon, the words of assurance, and the passing of the peace. First, we admit our sins, then we are forgiven those sins, and then we pass on that grace to those around us. Just as God has released us from our sins to God, so too are we to forgive those who have sinned against us. All three parts are important when it comes to worship and confession.

David highlights this in his cry to God. His plea is that if God will forgive him, then David will teach other wrongdoers about God. David is ready to pass along the grace and forgiveness he has received to others. We are challenged to do the same. Like David we must take ownership of our mistakes. Like David we must confess them to God and seek God’s grace. Finally, like David we need to take the grace that God has given to us and extend to all we meet.

Amen

Questions to Ponder:

What do you think of when you think of confession?

When is a time you have asked forgiveness of someone for a mistake you made?

Is there someone in your life that has asked for your forgiveness and you have struggled to give it?

How do we experience God’s grace when we do confess?

Prayer:

Ever-loving God, like David we fall short of who we are called to be. We fail to follow you and to love you like we should. We fail to love our neighbors and we even fail to love ourselves. Forgive us, God, we pray. Help us to know that when we sin, all that is needed is for us to confess it and your grace will be offered. We give you thanks, for your unending love and grace that we see in the life, death, and resurrection of your son, our savior, Jesus Christ the Lord. Amen