Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 124’

Preparation for Worship (same as last week)

  • Something green. Christian worship has different seasons throughout the year. We are in the season after Pentecost. The color green represents this time communicating growth and discipleship. Add some green to your worship area with cloth, paper, or plants.
  • Two candles. Our worship begins with the light of two candles: one represents Christ’s humanity and the other represents Christ’s divinity.
  • Something to eat and drink to celebrate communion. The type of food and drink does not matter for they are merely symbols which help us celebrate the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Caesarea Philippi as seen by Jeff, Sandy, and Annelise.

The Worship of God

Light two candles in recognition of Christ’s presence.  In our practice, one candle represents Jesus’ divinity and the other Jesus’ humanity.

Gathering for Worship

Passing the Peace
Say to one another, “May the Peace of Christ be with you.”
Respond by saying, “And also with you.”

Call to Worship
Psalm 124

Listen to a church member read the Psalm and/or read below.

If the Lord had not been on our side,
let Israel now say;
if the Lord had not been on our side,
when enemies rose up against us;
then would they have swallowed us up alive
in their fierce anger toward us;
then would the waters have overwhelmed us
and the torrent gone over us;
then would the raging waters
have gone right over us.
Blessed be the Lord
who has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowler;
the snare is broken, and we have escaped.
Our help is in the name of the Lord,
the maker of heaven and earth.

Opening Prayer
God our Help and our Redeemer, if you had not chosen to become a part of our lives, through the gift of your Son, Jesus Christ, where and who would we be? Helpless! -helpless without you – and so we offer our heartfelt thanks and praise, for such evidence of your care for us. In and through Jesus, we have become more deeply aware of your goodness and mercy. As your presence enabled him to live courageously, so you strengthen us to live boldly through the gift of the Holy Spirit – your empowering presence in us. We pray that our worship and our daily living will resonate with our gratitude and praise for your presence with us, and all your gracious gifts to us.  This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen

Song of Praise
Alleluia, Alleluia! Give Thanks

Alleluia, alleluia! Give thanks to the risen Lord.
Alleluia, alleluia! Give praise to his name.

Jesus is Lord of all the earth.
He is the King of creation.

Spread the good news o’er all the earth;
Jesus has died and has risen.

We have been crucified with Christ.
Now we shall live forever.

Come, let us praise the living God,
Joyfully sing to our Savior.

Psalm Reading and Prayer for Others

Psalm 138

Listen to church members read the Psalm and/or read below.

I will give thanks to you, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I will sing your praise.
I will bow down toward your holy temple and praise your name,
because of your love and faithfulness;
for you have glorified your name
and your word above all things.
When I called, you answered me;
you increased my strength within me.

All the rulers of the earth will praise you, O Lord,
when they have heard the words of your mouth.
They will sing of the ways of the Lord,
that great is the glory of the Lord.
Though you are high, you care for the lowly;
you perceive the haughty from afar.

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you keep me safe;
you stretch forth your hand against the fury of my enemies;
your mighty hand shall save me.
O Lord, you will make good your purpose for me;
your love endures for ever;
do not abandon the works of your hands.

Prayer for Others
Pause after each paragraph to give voice to prayers as prompted. [Additionally, if you would like our church family to pray for someone or something in particular this week, email the request to]

Merciful God, who shelters us and guides us,
we give you thanks for….

God who comforts,
receive those who are fearful and lonely….

God whose love is steadfast,
be refuge for the ill, the dying, and those who care about them.…

God of righteousness,
we ask for your wisdom and ways of justice
to prevail in our community, this nation, your world….

God who seeks our trust, grow us and guide us in your ways that are life-giving in your world. Amen.

Celebrating Communion

Communion celebrates our unity–our unity with God and with one another. At Cullowhee Baptist Church we practice an open communion which means that anyone who seeks to live the Way of Jesus Christ is invited to share in communion with us. Although we are not able to meet together, our bond still remains with one another and God through Jesus Christ.

Imagine Jesus setting a table for us, a place where we may come together and share a meal. Before we “come to the table,” let us set our hearts aright and seek the Lord’s forgiveness for our shortcomings.

Prayer of Confession
Merciful God, we proclaim that Jesus is Christ, your Son. In Jesus, our lives, our minds, and our hearts are transformed and renewed so that we may discern your will for our lives, and all that is good and acceptable and perfect. We confess, however, that there are times when our actions and our words seem to be conformed more to other values than to doing your will.

If we believe that our faith experience is superior to the way others have come to faith and so fail to recognize and share the humility that life in Christ possesses. Forgive us.

If our relationships are so shaped by bitterness and jealousy, that we fail to recognize and share the joy that life in Christ reveals. Forgive us.

If we exclude people from our fellowship through our prejudice and discrimination; and so fail to recognize and share the love that life in Christ imparts. Forgive us.

If selfishness and greed so corrode our lifestyles that we fail to recognize and share the generosity that life in Christ delights in. Forgive us.

Merciful God, so transform us with the life of Christ and renew us in your image that the grace, humility and compassion which marked the life of Jesus will be clearly visible in and experienced through our lives; so that we who are one body in Christ may delight in sharing the gifts you graciously give us for both the building up of this community of faith and the communities where we live and work and play. This we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness
2 Corinthians 5:17-18a
If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, to whom we have been reconciled through Christ.

Now let us come to the “table.”

The table has been prepared as Jesus requested,
and we have been invited to the meal.
We come to the table
like Peter, with more enthusiasm than resolve;
like James and John, dismayed by Jesus’s vision of a kingdom.

We come to the table
like Martha, hosting and leading with confidence;
like Mary eager to learn, and full of grief and love.
We come to the table
like Judas, disillusioned and rebellious;
like Mary, faithful to the end.

Jesus offers us the bread and the cup.
We come to the table of Christ.

Share what you have to eat.
Before eating, have someone say,
“This food represents the body of Christ.
As we eat, we remember Jesus.”

Share what you have to drink.
Before drinking, have someone say,
“This drink represents the covenant Christ made with us
that our sins will be forgiven.
As we drink, we remember Jesus.”

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Dear God, thank you for your abounding compassionate love. Thank you for guiding and leading us through these difficult times. Thank you for always being with us. Amen.

Song of Faith
Amazing Grace (NEW BRITAIN)

Amazing grace how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I am found,
was blind but now I see.

The Gospel Reading

A Reading from the Gospels
Matthew 16:13-20
13 Now when Jesus came to the area of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Human One is?” 14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” 15 He said, “And what about you? Who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

17 Then Jesus replied, “Happy are you, Simon son of Jonah, because no human has shown this to you. Rather my Father who is in heaven has shown you. 18 I tell you that you are Peter. And I’ll build my church on this rock. The gates of the underworld won’t be able to stand against it. 19 I’ll give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Anything you fasten on earth will be fastened in heaven. Anything you loosen on earth will be loosened in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered the disciples not to tell anybody that he was the Christ.

Reflection on the Gospel from Tonya

Listen to the reflection and/or read below.

Throughout the summer our scripture readings for the most part have been from the Common English Bible translation. It is the translation of the Bibles that was given to our church children at the beginning of June. The Common English Bible is a very readable translation. One hundred and twenty scholars from 22 faith traditions worked on this translation which was completed in 2011. The translators chose to be accurate in translating, but to also offer clarity of expression.

For example, the phrase “Lord of hosts” appears hundreds of times in older Biblical translations. Those of us who grew up with those translations know the word “host” is referring to heavenly beings, like the angels and all those in the heavenly realm. We think of the Christmas story in Luke’s gospel where a multitude of the heavenly hosts were singing and praising God.  But “hosts” doesn’t have the same meaning for English readers today. Instead “hosts” are people in charge of a party or a dinner. Or in the realm of science, a “host” is something on which a parasite lives.  Although God is the Lord of Entertainment especially when it comes to meals, and one could say God is the the Lord of homes for all parasites, this is not exactly what the Bible was trying to say. Therefore, the CEB translators renders the phrase “Lord of hosts” as “Lord of heavenly forces.”  

All that is to say that when you listened to gospel being read or as you read it yourself, you heard or read Jesus referred to as “the Human One.”  This is how the CEB translates the Greek phrase we typically hear translated as “Son of Man.” You may have found the reference to Jesus as “the Human One” a little jarring, but it probably does us some good to be jarred by the names of Jesus every once in a while.

So why did the CEB translators choose to say “the Human One” instead of “the Son of Man”? When the Greeks used the phrase “son of x,” they were implying “one who has the character of x.” So if we were to use the phrase, “son of Mother Teresa,” we would be implying that this one has the character of Mother Teresa, not that Mother Teresa had a son. Another example can be found in Acts 13:10.  Paul calls a sorcerer “a son of the devil.” Paul isn’t saying the person’s daddy is a devil. Rather, Paul is saying the character of the sorcerer is like the character of the devil.  In other words, he is devilish. So when the phrase “son of man” is used to describe Jesus, the phrase is saying Jesus is humanish. Jesus identifies with humanity. Jesus has taken on the characteristics of human beings. Jesus shares in our humanity. So the CEB chose to translate the phrase as Jesus, “the Human One.”

Now, let’s take a look at the gospel story. What good news does God have for us today?

In this Sunday’s reading, Jesus and the disciples have traveled north into the area of Caesarea Philippi.  If you have a chance to look at a map of Palestine from that time, find the Sea of Galilee, paddle your way north up the Jordan River all the way to Lake Hula. By the way, you won’t find Lake Hula on a map today. The lake was drained in the 1950’s. Zionist philosophy in the 50’s wanted to increase the amount of land for growing crops and grazing cattle. They also touted the claim that draining the lake would help eradicate malaria. Now they are working to restore the Hula Valley and hopefully the lake. Look back to your biblical map which still shows the tranquil lake. Now go a little east and a little north from the lake and you will be that foot of a mountain chain (think Mt. Hermon) and there you will find Caesarea Philippi.

Sometimes it is good to see where the story is happening. Jesus and his disciples always seem to be on the move: traveling along the Mediterranean seashore, hopping over to the Sea of Galilee, and now back up north to Caesarea Philippi. I’m not sure there’s a rhyme or reason to the zigzag travel pattern, but I’m sure someone has affixed some spiritual or religious meaning to it.

Back when Jesus was in the Mediterranean seashore cities of Tyre and Sidon (which are south of present day Beirut), Jesus encountered a woman who sought healing for her daughter from Jesus. However, the woman wasn’t Jewish. Jesus called this to her attention when she asked for his help.  He had been sent to help Jewish people who had been overlooked by their faith tradition. She knew better and would not be deterred by what he perceived to be his marching orders. She begged him to help her little girl. He again pointed out that she was not Jewish and that it wouldn’t be good to take what gifts and talents he had and use them for those who were not Jewish. And then she counters what he says by implying that there is enough of Jesus for everyone. It was just like she had heard Jesus’ story about the mustard seed or the one he told about the wee little bit of yeast leavening a ton of bread. Jesus, just even a little bit of you will do. You are more than enough for everyone. Jesus answers her with these words, “Woman, you have great faith.” I’m not sure he ever said that to the disciples–the great faith part; however, I do recall him saying to them, “O ye of little faith.”  

It fascinates me that shortly after this encounter with the woman of great faith, Jesus tries to get a feel from his disciples for how he is being seen by others. He has had the Jewish religious leaders barking at him. They want him to do some tricks especially for them so they can see if he really is who people say he is. He declines the invitation. But up north, at the foot of Mt. Hermon, Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do the people say I am? What’s the talk out there in the field about me?”  They give him the laundry list. Well, some see you as John the Baptist come back to life. Some rumors are going around that you are Elijah come back to life. And then there are some out there who say you just might be Jeremiah. And there are tons of other rumors floating around saying your are one of the other prophets come back from the dead.  

Then Jesus asks them what they think.  “What about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Peter is the only one the gospels record as speaking up. However, no additional word was needed. Simon Peter confesses, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”   

You are “the Christ” means You are the One who has been anointed and appointed by God to come and save the world. You are the “Son of the living God” means we see the character of God in you. I view Peter’s confession as an affirmation and thus a blessing. Did Jesus need someone to say these words so that he could become the Savior of the world? No. But what a difference it makes when others can see the living God in you. What an encouragement when your closest companions can see that God has anointed you and sent you to save the world. Jesus, the Human One, can relate to our need to be affirmed. Jesus, the Human One knows what it is like to just need a little bit more encouragement from those around you.

You know what a difference it makes, how empowering it is when the community of believers affirms you and the identity God has created within you. You know how uplifting it is when the community of believers lets you know that they can see the nature of the living God in what you do and say. You know how assuring it is when the community of believers affirms the calling of God in your life. Did Jesus need Peter to say these words?  No.  But think of how leaders of the faith tradition wanted to suppress Jesus. They did not affirm the anointing of God upon him. They did not affirm the character of God in him that everyone else could see. They could not affirm him because Jesus did not fit into their definition of what God would look like or act like. Jesus didn’t meet their expectations. So think what a difference it must have made to Jesus to have those who knew him best affirm his identity in God.

Jesus’ question to the disciples is a question we must ask ourselves, not just once, but every day. Who do we say Jesus is? 

I hope and pray that we can join with Peter in saying, “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.” We may be like the woman on the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. We have been shunned and pushed away from the Christian faith because we were seen as the wrong kind of person to be included. Others may think that there is no way on God’s green earth that we could live the way of Jesus  We may be like Jesus’ close companions. We didn’t have a difficult time being seen as a Christian and we are eager to learn so we can better live the Way of Jesus.  We may even be like the religious leaders. We refuse to believe because Jesus doesn’t do what we want or what we say we need in order to believe.  I pray for each us no matter where we are in our relationship and understanding of Jesus, that we will join with Peter in saying, “Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God.”  

But these are not just the words we say with our mouths. Last week’s gospel reading has already made this point. These are words that we live as well. How we act and what we do says a lot about who Jesus is to us. You may want to think of it this way. If we confess that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, do others know this by what we do and how we live? Turn the idea a little bit more and ask yourself, what kind of Jesus am I confessing and professing through what I do. Does my family see my profession of Jesus matching with my actions? If I’m professing Jesus is the Christ, what kind of Jesus are my actions reflecting to my coworkers? Think about your neighbors? Member of the community? Members of our church family? Our sister church in Brazil?  Are our words and actions confessing Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God?

Jesus says, “What about you? Who do you say that I am?”

Questions for Reflection

  1. In what ways do you want to be more like Jesus? 
  1. How do our choices and actions communicate the goodness of God? 
  1. How do you distinguish between your faith in God and faith in God’s people? Do they depend upon one another?

Prayer of Thanksgiving. Thank you God for constant love. Please help our church family grow deeper and deeper in your love. Amen.

Song of Faith
Christ is Made the Sure Foundation

1 Christ is made the sure foundation,
Christ the head and corner-stone
chosen of the Lord and precious,
binding all the Church in one;
holy Zion’s help for ever,
and her confidence alone.

2 All within that holy city
dearly loved of God on high,
in exultant jubilation
sing, in perfect harmony;
God the One-in-Three adoring
in glad hymns eternally.

3 We as living stones implore you:
Come among us, Lord, today!
with your gracious loving-kindness
hear your children as we pray;
and the fulness of your blessing
in our fellowship display.

4 Here entrust to all your servants
what we long from you to gain
that on earth and in the heavens
we one people shall remain,
till united in your glory
evermore with you we reign.

5 Praise and honour to the Father,
praise and honour to the Son,
praise and honour to the Spirit,
ever Three and ever One:
one in power and one in glory
while eternal ages run.

Sending Out
May the blessing and peace of God uphold you,
May the compassion and love of Christ enfold you,
and the vitality and power of the Holy Spirit nourish and sustain you
today and always. Amen.

Closing Song.  In our tradition, we close worship by singing the first verse of Blest Be the Tie.  Mindy starts us each week, and so she does today as well.

Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.
The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above. Amen.

Credits: The psalm readings are from the Anglican Liturgical Psalter ( Psalm 124 was read by Donna. The Opening Prayer, Prayer of Confession, and Sending Out were written by Moira Laidlaw. Alleluia, Alleluia. Give Thanks was written by Donald Fishel and set to the tune ALLELUIA, NO. 1 composed by Fishel. Psalm 138 was read by Tonya, Laura, and Kelly. The communion litany was written by the Mennonite Worship and Song Committee, 2018. Amazing Grace is set to the tune NEW BRITAIN from the Virginia Harmony, 1831. The words were written by John Newton (1807). The song was played by Aidan. Christ is Made the Sure Foundaion is set to a tune REGENT SQUARE composed by Henry T. Smart (1879). The words were written by John M. Neale. Blest be the Tie is set to the tune DENNIS which was composed by Johann G. Nageli (1836) and arranged by Lowell Mason (1872). The words were written by John Fawcett (1782). The gospel reading is from the Common English Bible translation. Hymns were played by Tracy on the organ and sung by Mindy. Permission to podcast / stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE with license #A-724755. All rights reserved.  All writings have been used by permission from the posting sites or authors.  

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