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Hype Man for Disruption

Children's sermon
For December 6, 2020:

Mary AustinHype Man for Disruption
by Mary Austin
Mark 1:1-8

“What is your son doing for the summer?” I asked a friend last year. “He’s the hype man for a DJ,” she answered. “Moooom,” he chimed in with some exasperation, “we don’t say hype man anymore.” Hype man or not, his job was to get people out on the dance floor, teach them new dances, and keep them dancing. His job was to keep the energy level high, and to keep people engaged in the party.

John the Baptist kicks off Mark’s gospel as the hype man for Jesus, drawing the crowds out to the Jordan River, and proclaiming that something new is coming. He creates quite a buzz, yanking people out of their religious routines. He gets people interested in repentance, and then makes sure they know that this isn’t the end. There’s more to come. Like a good hype man, he keeps the energy up and the interest high.

John is an engine of disruption — he’s plenty weird enough, all by himself. On top of that, he’s promising that someone else is coming to shake up their connection with God, and to drop God’s Spirit into their daily lives. Watch out, he’s saying, there is upheaval ahead.

In the Scriptures
“The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ,” Mark’s gospel begins, and then promptly veers off the expected course from Jesus to John. In Mark’s spare writing, John “appears” and we’re left to wonder where he’s been all these years. What influences shaped his passion for drawing people back to God?

Mark narrates, without ever giving much explanation, and so we’re left to discern the importance of John the Baptist for ourselves. John gets a whole paragraph, which is a lot for Mark, including a description of his clothes. Even with the unadorned language, we feel the fervor of John, and his take in his oddness. Everything he does — and is — is focused on his message. Change is coming. God is doing a new thing.

Writing for Working Preacher, David Schnasa Jacobsen notes, “Our pericope is thus the first half of the fifteen-verse set up for Mark’s forthcoming, gospel-focused narrative of Jesus. And as we know from Mark’s sixteen-chapter unfolding story of exorcisms, “binding the strongman,” demon-thwarting miracles, eschatological feedings, and the sun-darkened crucifixion in Mark 15:33 this Jesus narrative is one of apocalyptic struggle from beginning to end.”

People from the countryside and the city are, for once, joined together in their curiosity to see John, and to participate in the baptism he offers. He’s immersing them in the start of change they can’t even imagine just yet.

In the News
Change has been a hallmark of 2020, and more is coming. We all have already faced more change this year than we wanted. Fortunate people have moved their work to home offices and dining room tables. Others are on the front lines in grocery stores, hospitals, post offices, and doing the work of first responders. Still more people have lost their jobs in restaurants, catering businesses, theaters and countless other places. Students and teachers are dealing with school online. Around the US, a quarter of a million families are grieving loved ones who have died, with millions more around the world.

One thing that hasn’t changed: our economic divides. Fewer people are working at home than we imagine. In September, “the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas reported that 20 percent of people with jobs before the coronavirus pandemic worked full time from home in August. That was up from 8 percent in February…But nearly half of pre-pandemic workers commuted daily to their job last month… The work-from-home rate for white employees was 26 percent in August, according to the survey data. It was 19 percent among Hispanic workers, and 9.4 percent for Black workers. The inability to work from the relative safety of home is one reason Black and Hispanic people have higher Covid-19 infection rates than white people. The disparity also cuts across education levels. The work-from-home rate for people with a college degree was 38 percent in August. For those with a high school degree or less, it was 11 percent.”

Change, welcome or unwelcome, is coming to the country, with a new President and Vice President. In the Washington, DC area, where I live, the change will personally impact the thousands of people who work for the government. “We spend a lot of time wondering who our new bosses will be,” a federal employee told me the other day, looking ahead to January. For the career employees, experts in their subject matter, the work remains the same. The bosses change, though, as a new administration brings in new political appointees. New supervisors, new routines, new people to educate — there’s a lot of disruption ahead.

Like a reverse John the Baptist, scientists are warning that this winter will be brutal.  Before we get to the good news, “this holiday season presents a grim reckoning. The United States has reached an appalling milestone: more than one million new coronavirus cases every week. Hospitals in some states are full to bursting. The number of deaths is rising and seems on track to easily surpass the 2,200-a-day average in the spring, when the pandemic was concentrated in the New York metropolitan area. Our failure to protect ourselves has caught up to us. The nation now must endure a critical period of transition, one that threatens to last far too long, as we set aside justifiable optimism about next spring and confront the dark winter ahead. Some epidemiologists predict that the death toll by March could be close to twice the 250,000 figure that the nation surpassed only last week.” Or, as one expert warned, “the next three months are going to be just horrible.” More change, and not the good kind.

In the Sermon
The sermon might explore how we cope when change is unrelenting. John the Baptist proclaims change with an end point — the transition of the world from its current state into the realm of God. We’re still waiting for the fullness of that change, and yet we live with other kinds of disruption. What spiritual skills do we draw upon to manage the impact of change? “I like change,” I sometimes think, and then remember that it’s easy to like change when I’m the one driving it. Being on the receiving end is less exciting. How do we muster our spiritual skills when life serves up such huge servings of disruption?

What resources do we need to be like the people who come out to the river to see John the Baptist, embracing change, even when it’s difficult? Surely not “all the people” came out to John. What made the difference between the ones who came to be baptized, and the ones who stayed home?

Or, the sermon might look at the disproportionate impact of change. In this pandemic, some of us have weathered change cushioned by health insurance and adequate savings, and others have been pushed closer and closer to the edge. Teacher friends say they see kids on the screens who are living with two or three families per apartment. People who had second jobs in February now have third jobs. Are there ways to make change easier for each other? How can we build up one another’s resources for living with upheaval?

The sermon might also look at where we’re heading. “Prepare the way of the Lord,” we hear. Where will that way take us? What awaits us, when the realm of God comes more fully to life in our midst? What will we see?

Thankfully, Mark’s gospel announces “the beginning of the Good News” — news that has not yet reached its end. It has begun, and continues, and has no end that we can yet see. We live in the middle of this good news, far off as it feels right now. The hype man gets us stirred up to welcome change, and we are more than ready for the change that God is bringing.

We Need a Little Comfort
by Chris Keating
Isaiah 40:1-11

After a long year of exiling ourselves from friends and families, it’s possible that hope may soon be injected into our holidays.

Granted, it is a horrible pun. But the biggest shot in the arm to the holidays might have been this week’s announcement that drug maker Moderna has applied for emergency authorization from the FDA for its coronavirus vaccine. If granted, shots could be administered as soon as December 21. Imagine families explaining to their kids that even though they can’t line up for Santa, they can get in the vaccination queue.

It has been a grueling year, and even Starbuck’s cheer-infused lattes can carry the merry only so far. We are well-versed in the grim statistics: 13.5 million cases of coronavirus in the United States, with hundreds of thousands of new diagnoses each day. Death rates rising well above 250,000. The side effects of the virus have also included a crumpled economy, widespread increases in poverty, and a looming eviction crisis. The inability of Congress to pass additional stimulus and relief packages adds a Dickinson-like element to Christmas.

Without getting too political, is it possible to imagine casting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell as Ebenezer Scrooge?

Add to this a potential government shutdown, a somewhat condensed presidential transition process, and a nearly 50 percent increase in food insecurity this year, and you end up with an overcooked Christmas goose. No wonder families have been stringing up Christmas lights a bit early this year. We don’t need a little Christmas, we need a lot of comfort — and we need it right now.

It is not so far-fetched to acknowledge that the church in 2020 has been living in a pandemic-induced exile. We have been pushed out of our sanctuaries, exiled from gatherings, and otherwise distanced from familiar practices of ministry and worship. It has been a small price to pay in exchange for saving lives, but that has not prevented grumblers from grumbling, nor has it offered comfort to the fatigued.

Clergy have borne much of the brunt of this exile. To paraphrase the comments of a pastor in a Facebook group, “I feel as if Covid has beaten me, and has left my struggling churches several heartbeats closer to permanently closing.”

This is the tableau surrounding the church on the Second Sunday of Advent. As the sounds of exhaustion and frustration rise from our empty pews, the preacher turns to the words of Second Isaiah. Like a singer starting the familiar recitative from Handel’s “Messiah,” the prophet sings, “Comfort! O comfort, my people, says your God.”

The voice crying out in the wilderness is the one we must hear. But what is the substance of this comfort, and what does it imagine?

This voice declares the promised tenderness of a God who has heard the cries of suffering. This voice declares the mercies of one who has seen the long lines at food banks, and who has heard the silent tears of furloughed employees. This voice offers a glimpse of a future hope that is already beginning to emerge.

Historically, this is the voice of one who understands the devastating impact of the Babylonian exile. The prophet’s previous oracles have forecasted the destruction of Israel. Now the voice of Second Isaiah begins to imagine what it will be like when the exiled return. The prophet knows that this reversal of fortunes will be a soothing salve to the blistered wounds of Israel.

There is hope. There is joy. Things may not be exactly as they were, but the displaced have served their term. Consolation, no matter how imperfect, offers relief. The change in foreign policy is ascribed to Yahweh’s decisive action in allowing Israel to return to their native land. The pathways, which up until now have been blocked and impassible, have suddenly been cleared.

Such encouragement goes beyond the superficial elements we often ascribe to comfort. The relative privilege of most Americans often results in an understanding of comfort as an indulgence that is marketed and sold. Privilege affords us the opportunity to commodify comfort: better incomes can mean better health insurance, wider seats on airplanes, or even a chance to cut to the front of the line at Disneyworld. Such benefits are not the sort of comfort imagined by Isaiah.

This morning, my aging hands were comforted by the heated steering wheel of my new car. It’s a small luxury — as well as a sign of privilege. Meanwhile, Isaiah looks beyond the elements of what Nelson Schwartz has described as the “velvet rope economy.” Our Advent hope for comfort likewise go well beyond peppermint lattes and holiday cheese spread.

Schwartz’s book explores the benefits of privilege that have extended premium benefits into the travel, leisure, education and health care industries. These comforts can include upgrades at theme parks, preferred options for travel, or even an exclusive “member’s only” gate at major airports. Comfort can easily become a commodity.

Those who are less wealthy experience this as a double-edged sword that both entices and punishes. Consider the tale of generational poverty and addiction explored in the Netflix movie “Hillbilly Elegy.” The movie is not without its faults, despite having an outstanding cast. It is an edgy and not always easy to watch retelling of J.D. Vance’s memoir of the same title. Vance, a former Marine and Yale-educated attorney whose family had deep roots in Appalachia, struggles with balancing an Ivy League education with hillbilly heritage. His family is both seduced by images of culture, while trapped in a system of poverty that offers little hope. This relentless generational cycle of poverty and abuse ends in addiction, untreated mental health concerns, and a whole host of medical issues. It’s clear that Vance’s family, whose contentment is largely centered in cheap booze, cigarettes and fried bologna sandwiches, are nonetheless caught in the snares of comfort-less comfort.

Our Advent hope offers a vastly different image of comfort. Instead of pushing us to the front of line or setting our hopes on lottery tickets, Isaiah calls us to imagine the gift of comfort from a God who is not immune to suffering. This comfort breaks through the diminishing ozone layer of Earth and replenishes both creation and creature. It brings release to the oppressed and bridges barriers of injustice. It provides true and lasting relief to those who have endured hardship, exile, and defeat. This comfort is hope to those whose lives have been crushed like wilted grass or fading flowers.

Yes, indeed, we are the ones who need a little comfort — and we need it right now.


Tom WilladsenFrom team member Tom Willadsen:

Isaiah 40:1-11
Four voices
Scholars believe that today’s passage from Isaiah consists of four distinct voices. You may want to divide this reading into four parts, a different person reading each voice.

Voice 1 covers vv.1-2 — it is the prophet speaking the Lord’s word.

Voice 2 covers vv. 3-5 — it is another speaker, reporting on the voice of one in the wilderness crying out “prepare the way of the Lord.” It may be that voice crying out, “Prepare the way of the Lord in the wilderness.” There is ambiguity in the Hebrew about whether the road or the voice is in the wilderness.

Voice 3 covers vv. 6-8 — another speaker depicts the fragility of life on earth, especially when compared to the creator and the creator’s power.

Voice 4 covers vv. 9-11 — this is the message to the entire world. The news starts in Jerusalem. The Lord comes with might and power, and also profound tenderness. Challenge your congregation to put those two characteristics together in this moment.

* * *

Isaiah 40:1-11
Comfort ... Now!
The first word of this reading is imperative. The prophet is instructed to comfort the people, but there’s an urgency in this word that the preacher should not overlook.

* * *

Mark 1:1-8
In the wilderness
Tradition has it that Mark’s gospel is symbolized by a lion. (The others were symbolized by a lamb, Matthew; and ox, Luke; and an eagle, John.) Mark is symbolized as a lion for several reasons: his gospel begins in the wilderness and lions symbolize courage, and it was believed that lions sleep with their eyes open, a reference to the Resurrection.

* * *

Isaiah 40:1-8
A New Start or a New Beginning?
Clearly both the Isaiah and the Mark readings point us to something new coming and our need to prepare for this new thing. There’s a difference between a new beginning and a new start. “A new start is not synonymous with a new beginning. The new start happens in response to an event — the building is opened, the new pastor arrives, the new worship service begins. A new beginning happens when the people are spiritually and emotionally ready to move out of liminality into a new chapter of live.” (How to Lead When You Don’t Know Where You’re Going: Leading in a Liminal Season, Susan Beaumont, New York: Rowan & Littlefield, 2019, p. 18)

* * *

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
This psalm was probably recited at an autumn harvest festival. There are references to the harvest. There are also promises of God’s having already restored Israel in the past, so God can be counted on to do so in the future. This psalm is part of the liturgy for the high holy day in Judaism, Yom Kippur, יום כפפר the Day of Atonement. God’s faithfulness and mercy reaches beyond the people’s sin, and will embrace the nation again in the coming year, the psalmist indicates.

* * *

Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
(v. 10)

This verse may have special resonance with our members this year. When many churches are not even offering in-person worship, the idea of being able to come together — even when it’s not people but abstract concepts like righteousness and peace — has great appeal!

* * * * * *

George ReedWORSHIP
by George Reed

Call to Worship:
Leader: God has been favorable to our land
People: God has forgiven the iniquity of us all.
Leader: Let us listen to what our God will say to us.
People: Surely God’s salvation is at hand.
Leader: Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet.
People: Righteousness and peace will kiss each other.


Leader: Hear the good news: God comes to comfort us.
People: We rejoice to hear these tidings in our distress.   
Leader: God sees our struggles and comes to share them.
People: We are glad to not be left alone and forgotten.         
Leader: Prepare your hearts for the love of God which is coming.
People: We open our hearts to our God and to our neighbors.

Advent Wreath Lighting
Reader: Get ready! The word is out. God is coming and bringing good news. God has seen our distress and our turmoil and is coming bringing comfort to us. John the baptizer tells us to look for the one who is bringing the Holy Spirit to us. Our Savior is at hand!

We light this second candle to await the comfort of our God.

(Light the second candle.)

Reader: Let us pray:

O God, you are coming among us to gift us with the Holy Spirit and to comfort us in our troubles. We await your coming as we prepare for your advent among us. Amen.

Hymns and Songs:
Hail to the Lord’s Anointed
UMH: 203
H82: 616
AAHH: 187
NCH: 104
CH: 140
LBW: 87
ELW: 311
AMEC: 107
Renew: 101

Blessed Be the God of Israel
UMH: 209
H82: 444
CH: 135
ELW: 552
W&P: 158
Renew: 128

Savior of the Nations, Come
UMH: 214
PH: 14
LBW: 28
ELW: 263
W&P: 168

Word of God, Come Down on Earth
UMH: 182
H82: 633
ELW: 510

Christ, Whose Glory Fills the Skies
UMH: 173
H82: 6/7
PH: 462/463
LBW: 265
ELW: 553
W&P: 91

My Faith Looks Up to Thee
UMH: 452
H82: 691
PH: 383
AAHH: 456
NNBH: 273           
CH: 576
LBW: 479
ELW: 759
W&P: 419
AMEC: 415  

Be Still, My Soul
UMH: 534
AAHH: 135
NNBH: 263
NCH: 488
CH: 566
W&P: 451
AMEC: 426  

Out of the Depths I Cry to You
UMH: 515
H82: 666
PH: 240
NCH: 483
CH: 510
LBW: 295
ELW: 600

Fill My Cup, Lord
UMH: 641
PH: 350
AAHH: 447
NNBH: 377
CH: 351
CCB: 47

O Morning Star, How Fair and Bright
UMH: 247
PH: 69
NCH: 158
CH: 105
LBW: 76
ELW: 308
W&P: 230

You Satisfy the Hungry Heart
UMH: 629
PH: 521
CH: 429
ELW: 484
W&P: 705

God Is So Good
CCB: 75

You Are Mine
CCB: 58    

Music Resources Key:
UMH: United Methodist Hymnal
H82: The Hymnal 1982
PH: Presbyterian Hymnal
AAHH: African American Heritage Hymnal
NNBH: The New National Baptist Hymnal
NCH: The New Century Hymnal
CH: Chalice Hymnal
LBW: Lutheran Book of Worship
ELW: Evangelical Lutheran Worship
W&P: Worship & Praise
AMEC: African Methodist Episcopal Church Hymnal
STLT: Singing the Living Tradition
CCB: Cokesbury Chorus Book
Renew: Renew! Songs & Hymns for Blended Worship

Prayer for the Day/Collect
O God who is love and light:
Grant us faith to trust that you are bringing comfort
as we wait with patience for your appearing;
through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen.


We praise you, O God, because you are love and you are light. You desire only for your creation and your creatures to be made whole. Help us to trust in your great love as we await you bringing us comfort and grace. Amen.

Prayer of Confession
Leader: Let us confess to God and before one another our sins and especially our failure to trust in you as our loving creator.   

People: We confess to you, O God, and before one another that we have sinned. You are our faithful God and yet are unsure about your love and grace. We fear your coming instead of anticipating the joy that you desire to bring to us. Help us to remember your love is everlasting as we prepare to celebrate your coming among us in the Christ. Amen.  

Leader: God is love and light and comes to bring us wholeness, joy, and peace. Receive God’s gifts and share them with your neighbor.

Prayers of the People
We bless and praise your name, O God, because you are boundless love. In love your created us and in love you sent the Christ to declare your love for us. 

(The following paragraph may be used if a separate prayer of confession has not been used.)

We confess to you, O God, and before one another that we have sinned. You are our faithful God and yet are unsure about your love and grace. We fear your coming instead of anticipating the joy that you desire to bring to us. Help us to remember your love is everlasting as we prepare to celebrate your coming among us in the Christ.

We thank you for the ways in which you share your love with us and all of creation. We thank you for the beauty of the universe in all its expansive greatness and for the beauty in the microscopic world within it. We thank you for the love which is shared among us. We thank you for the opportunities to share your love with others. We thank you for the joy of anticipation as we await the coming of the Christ to Bethlehem. 

(Other thanksgivings may be offered.)

We pray for all your children in their need. We pray for those who like Jesus of Nazareth are born into poverty and want. We pray for those who are oppressed and pushed aside. We pray for those denied their place at the table of plenty.  

(Other intercessions may be offered.)

All these things we ask in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ who taught us to pray together saying:

Our Father....Amen.

(Or if the Our Father is not used at this point in the service.)

All this we ask in the Name of the Blessed and Holy Trinity. Amen.

Children’s Sermon Starter
Do you have something that you like to have with you when your are scared and upset? A favorite blanket, like Linus; a teddy bear; a picture. (Share something that you have or had that comforts you.) We all want to be comforted sometimes. In our scripture lesson today the prophet Isaiah hears God calling him to comfort God’s people. God wants them to know they are loved and that God is looking out for them. As we get ready for Christmas we are getting ready to hear the good news that Jesus is going to share with us: God loves us and comes to comfort us.

* * * * * *

by Dean Feldmeyer
Mark 1:1-8

Mark 1:2-4: As it is written in the prophet Isaiah, "See, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way; the voice of one crying out in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight,' " John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

Good morning, boys and girls. The Lord be with you.

(They respond: And also with you. If they are not familiar with this greeting, take a minute and teach it to them.)

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. Two down, two to go, right?

Advent is the season when we are getting ready for the arrival of Jesus, who arrives, on what day? Christmas!

So, how do we get ready for the arrival of Jesus?

Well, once there was a man named John the Baptizer who went around teaching people how to prepare and he said the best way to prepare for Jesus is to repent.

Do you know what that means? To “repent?”

It means to “turn again” or, as we would say, “turn around.” It means to change what we’re doing and do something else, instead.

So, maybe there are some things that we’re doing that we aren’t proud of —

Like, maybe we don’t always tell the truth?
Or maybe we fight and bicker with our brothers or sisters?
Or maybe we don’t put our toys away when we’re done playing with them?

Well, John the Baptizer says that this is the season when we can change all that. We can repent. We can turn around and do things differently. We can tell the truth, we can treat each other with kindness, we can help out Mom and Dad by picking up our toys and put them away.

So, this morning I thought we’d practice repenting a little bit. Okay?

Okay, everyone get on this side of the room and, when I tell you “Walk,” you walk toward that side of the room. But whenever I say “repent” you turn and walk the other direction. Okay? Got it?

Okay, here we go.

Walk! (Children walk together in one direction)

Repent! (Children change direction.)

Repent! (Children change direction, again.)

Repent! (Children change direction, again.)

Hey, I think we’ve got it!

Now we know what it means to repent. It means, what? To change the direction we’re going and to turn around and go the other direction. Right! Well done.

That is one of the ways we prepare for the arrival of Jesus. By repenting.

Thanks for joining me this morning.

Happy Advent, everyone. And Merry Christmas.

Close with a prayer celebrating the coming Christ and asking God’s help in our efforts to repent.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

The Immediate Word, December 6, 2020 issue.

Copyright 2020 by CSS Publishing Company, Inc., Lima, Ohio.

All rights reserved. Subscribers to The Immediate Word service may print and use this material as it was intended in sermons and in worship and classroom settings only. No additional permission is required from the publisher for such use by subscribers only. Inquiries should be addressed to or to Permissions, CSS Publishing Company, Inc., 5450 N. Dixie Highway, Lima, Ohio 45807.
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New & Featured This Week

The Immediate Word

Thomas Willadsen
Dean Feldmeyer
Mary Austin
Christopher Keating
Katy Stenta
George Reed
Bethany Peerbolte
For May 9, 2021:
  • One Nation Under God? by Tom Willadsen — What would the United States look like if we truly were “one nation under God?” What would it be like to live in a place where everyone was treated as one who has been “born of God?”
  • Dying Is Easy by Dean Feldmeyer — Dying is easy; living the gospel is hard.


John E. Sumwalt
Frank Ramirez
“Waking Up to Racism” by John Sumwalt
“Twists and Turns” by Frank Ramirez

Waking Up to Racism
by John Sumwalt
Psalm 98

Let the floods clap their hands;
    let the hills sing together for joy
 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
    to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
    and the peoples with equity.
(vv. 8-9)

Emphasis Preaching Journal

David Kalas
In the mid-1960s, a popular song declared, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of.”1 It was an era of both national and international unrest. And the American landscape was reeling from the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, and opposition to both. Amidst headlines so marked by unrest and division, therefore, the sentiment of the song struck a chord with an American audience. 
Bill Thomas
Mark Ellingsen
Frank Ramirez
Bonnie Bates
Acts 10:44-48
Prejudice is always wrong. Nat King Cole is a well-known artist who was the first African American to host his own national television program. In 1948, he purchased a beautiful home in an exclusive Los Angeles neighborhood. When the local neighborhood association confronted him and informed him it didn’t want any undesirables to move in, Cole responded, “Neither do I. If I see any coming in here, I’ll be the first to complain.” He lived in that house until his death in 1965.


John Jamison
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (vv. 9-12)

Hi, everyone! (Let them respond.)

The Village Shepherd

Janice B. Scott
Call to Worship:

Jesus gave up his life for us. In our worship today let us explore how to love one another as he has loved us.

Invitation to Confession:

Jesus, sometimes our love for each other is thin and pale.
Lord, have mercy.

Jesus, sometimes we pretend to love but fail to care.
Christ, have mercy.

Jesus, sometimes we don't know how to love.
Lord, have mercy.


John E. Sumwalt
Jo Perry-sumwalt
One evening, when I was 26 years old, beleagered by guilt for acknowledged sins, I was deep into an hour-long prayer of repentance. In despair, I grieved that I had broken the commandments and that I was not worthy of God's love.

Near me lay the Bible, unused and unfamiliar. I had never, ever read from the Bible. Yet my hands reached out and took the Bible to open it. I knew not where, nor why. But my hands knew the way. They opened to John 15:9-11 and as my eyes began to read, my mind knew the meaning with clarity. My eyes read verse 10 first:
Mark Ellingsen
Theme of the Day
God's love brings us together.

Collect of the Day
It is noted that God has prepared great joy for those who love Him. Petitions are then offered that such love may be poured into the hearts of the faithful so that they may obtain these promises. Justification as a reward for our deeds (love) is communicated by this prayer.

Psalm of the Day
Psalm 98
Stan Purdum
(See Christmas Day, Cycles A and B, for alternative approaches.)

Richard E. Gribble
Once upon a time a great and powerful king ruled over a vast territory. There was something very strange about this kingdom, however -- everything was the same. The people ate the same food, drank the same drink, wore the same clothes, and lived in the same type of homes. The people even did all the same work. There was another oddity about this place. Everything was gray -- the food, the drink, the clothes, the houses; there were no other colors.

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