Introduction & Welcome
Welcome to worship today, God’s gift to us because God is good! all the time!
and all the time! God is good!
When we say God is the triune God, we are saying something about who God is beyond, before, and after the universe: that there is community within God. Our experience of this is reflected in Paul’s words today. When we pray to God as Jesus prayed to his Abba (an everyday, intimate parental address), the Spirit prays within us, creating between us and God the same relationship Jesus has with the one who sent him.
Confession and Forgiveness
Blessed be the holy Trinity,☩ one God,
the God of manna,
the God of miracles,
the God of mercy.
Drawn to Christ and seeking God’s abundance,
let us confess our sin.
Silence is kept for reflection.
God, our provider,
It is hard to believe there is enough to share.
We question your ways when they differ from the ways of the world in which we live.
We turn to our own understanding rather than trusting in you.
We take offense at your teachings and your ways.
Turn us again to you.
Where else can we turn?
Share with us the words of eternal life and feed us for life in the world.
Beloved people of God:
in Jesus, the manna from heaven, you are fed and nourished.
By Jesus, the worker of miracles, there is always more than enough.
Through Jesus, ☩ the bread of life, you are shown God’s mercy:
you are forgiven and loved into abundant life.
Prayer of the Day
God of heaven and earth, before the foundation of the universe and the beginning of time you are the triune God: Author of creation, eternal Word of salvation, life-giving Spirit of wisdom. Guide us to all truth by your Spirit, that we may proclaim all that Christ has revealed and rejoice in the glory he shares with us. Glory and praise to you, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, now and forever.
First Reading: Isaiah 6:1-8
This reading narrates Isaiah’s vision of the Lord surrounded by angels. They sing “Holy, holy, holy,” a song the church sings at the beginning of the great thanksgiving. This liturgical text invites the church and all creation to sing in praise of God’s glory. That glory is God’s mercy toward sinners.
1In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lofty; and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2Seraphs were in attendance above him; each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, and with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
4The pivots on the thresholds shook at the voices of those who called, and the house filled with smoke. 5And I said: “Woe is me! I am lost, for I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; yet my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
6Then one of the seraphs flew to me, holding a live coal that had been taken from the altar with a pair of tongs. 7The seraph touched my mouth with it and said: “Now that this has touched your lips, your guilt has departed and your sin is blotted out.” 8Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I; send me!”
Psalm: Psalm 29
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. (Ps. 29:2)
1Ascribe to the Lord, you gods,
ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2Ascribe to the Lord the glory due God’s name;
worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.
3The voice of the Lord is upon the waters; the God of glory thunders;
the Lord is upon the mighty waters.
4The voice of the Lord is a powerful voice;
the voice of the Lord is a voice of splendor.
5The voice of the Lord breaks the cedar trees;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon;
6the Lord makes Lebanon skip like a calf,
and Mount Hermon like a young wild ox.
7The voice of the Lord
bursts forth in lightning flashes.
8The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness;
the Lord shakes the wilderness of Kadesh.
9The voice of the Lord makes the oak trees writhe and strips the forests bare.
And in the temple of the Lord all are crying, “Glory!”
10The Lord sits enthroned above the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned as king forevermore.
11O Lord, give strength to your people;
give them, O Lord, the blessings of peace.
Second Reading: Romans 8:12-17
In describing the new life of faith, Paul refers to all three persons of the Trinity: the Spirit leads us to recognize that we are children of God the Father and joint heirs with Christ the Son.
12Brothers and sisters, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh—13for if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. 15For 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! Father!” 16it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Alleluia. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;* God’s glory fills the whole earth. Alleluia. (Isa. 6:3)
Gospel: John 3:1-17
Jesus’ miracles prompt Nicodemus to visit him in secrecy. Jesus tells him about being born of the Spirit and about the Son who has been sent by God to save.
1Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?
11“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.
17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
Meditation by David O’Brien
Heavenly Father, teach me more of Who You are and show me how flawed my understanding is of who I truly am and of all that Christ has done for me. Thank you for cleansing my lips and washing me clean in the blood of Jesus. Thank You for sending Your Holy Spirit to live in me and for building me up, into the living Temple, with all who are saved by grace, through faith in Christ. In a world that has lost its way, I pray in Jesus’ name, “Lord. Here am I, send me.” AMEN.
I’ve often felt like Isaiah did in today’s reading. I’ve never seen God’s glory with my own eyes, as he did, but I’ve felt unworthy before. Sometimes, when I look back at my life and think about some of the sinful things I’ve done or said, I wonder how I can be of any service to God. I think that people will look at me and call me a hypocrite, because I have been a sinful man. But then I think of Moses, and how the Hebrew slaves of Egypt must have asked themselves, “how can this man, who once enslaved us, lead us to freedom?” Then there’s Paul, who once persecuted the Church. When God called to him, he became a leader of the fledgling Church which he had been persecuting just the day before. Was it easy for the early Christians to trust him? I think it would be easy for them to have been suspicious of his motives. In Isaiah’s case, he may have been a sinful man prior to his encounter with God and His angels, but once his lips were touched by the coal, he was made clean! That doesn’t mean that he never sinned again. It also doesn’t mean that God can’t continue to forgive his sins, again and again. Fortunately, we don’t have to have our lips touched by hot coals for our sins to be forgiven. We must accept Christ Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Then, whatever our previous condition, we are made clean and acceptable for Him. And as we are told in Acts 10, that which God has made clean, we must not call profane. So, having received Christ as my savior and having repented of my sins, I must trust in the Lord’s forgiveness and not think of myself as unworthy to serve whatever purpose God has put before me.
Many times, we are called into God’s service, but we allow earthly things to block that call. It may be that we feel as though we don’t have the time to do what is being asked of us. Our earthly responsibilities can sometimes been seen as being in the way. Things like raising a family may look like an impediment, but God can use that family to give us strength and encouragement as we go about doing God’s work with our hands. In fact, that may be the family’s calling. In my case, my current job may be seen as keeping me from serving God. I don’t look at it that way. Right now, as I prepare this message, I believe I am doing God’s work. Additionally, I meet at least twice a month with others who are interested in the type of ministry that I feel called to, prison/re-entry ministry. We have been working with a group from out west that is already doing something like what we envision and trying to see if we can replicate it in Northwest Ohio. I look at the time that I’m still working as time that can be used for preparing me to serve God more fully. I’m currently taking classes offered by the Synod that I think are both informative and interesting. We’ve been studying things like the history of the Church, Biblical imagery, Christian care-giving and Lutheran theology. My current class is titled the daily habits of a Christian and is about how to meditate and pray. I also plan on entering Seminary on a part time basis while I am still working as a parole officer.
When Isaiah had his vision of God, it was a chaotic time in his world. The king, who was also his cousin, had recently died and it appeared that no one was in control. God contradicts this feeling by showing that He is on His throne and is very much in control. Isaiah also saw God’s angels singing God’s praises in a phrase that we are familiar with. “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of hosts.” (Perhaps an Old Testament vision of the Holy Trinity as we think of it today?) Seeing himself in God’s light like that, he is keenly aware of his sinful state, but God removes his sin and makes him clean. Then when God asks “Whom shall I send?” Isaiah boldly says “Here am I; send me!” When we receive God’s call, whatever it will be, I pray that we will all boldly say “here am I; send me!”
Prayers of Intercession
Let us come before the triune God in prayer.
A brief silence.
We pray, O God, for your holy church around the world. Revitalize and renew us, that we may be reborn once again through the waters of baptism and the blowing wind of your Spirit. Continue to bless Elizabeth & Daniel, our bishops, and Howard, our pastor, and all who have answered when you called them “here I am Lord”. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We give you thanks for your power revealed to us in creation; for cedar and oak trees, for the bountiful and beautiful waters of the Great Lakes and all of it’s tributaries, for the echoes of thunder. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We pray for the nations and their leaders, that led by your Spirit, they work towards a world where all of your children enjoy peace. We pray especially for nations currently experiencing war or turmoil. Bring your peace to these and all lands. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We pray for healing for all those who suffer, especially victims and survivors of trauma or violence. Give respite to those living with PTSD or any other mental health concerns. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We pray for this people called Grace, as we continue to look for a called pastor and continue to be blessed with Pastor Howard, that the splendor of your majesty and the holiness of your mystery may be glorified through our worship and our relationships with one another. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We give you thanks, O God, for those who have died in the faith. We remember also those whose lives have been lost due to the horrors of war. Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.
We lift our prayers to you, O God, trusting in your abiding grace.
Together, let us profess our faith using the words of the Nicene Creed.
We believe in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary
and became truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,*
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come. Amen.
And now, as our Savior, Christ is teaching us, we boldly pray:
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, for ever and ever.
The blessing of God,
who provides for us, feeds us, and journeys with us,
☩ be upon you now and forever.
Go in peace. You are the body of Christ.
Thanks be to God.