There must be no theology of liberation without the glorification of God and no glorification of God without the liberation of the oppressed.
—Juergen Moltmann



Thursday, September 23, 2021

Proper 21B/Ordinary 26B/Pentecost 18B


Proper 21B/Ordinary 26B/Pentecost 18B



September 26, 2021

FOR POETRY PEW CLICK HERE


FOR A BEAD AND A PRAYER CLICK HERE


A LITURGY FOR WORSHIP

—Use As Much Or As Little As You Choose—

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I come to you, O God, with who I am . . .
laughter and tears,
smiles and frowns,
joy and sorrow,
comforted and pained,
strengthened and vulnerable,
hopeful and dismal,
trusting and filled with doubt,
real and behind a mask.
You come to me as you are,
in the love of compassion and mercy
accepting, affirming, engaging, transforming
all that is me unto all that you would have me be.
Enter in, O God, my heart of hearts seeks you.
Center me in your presence.


Opening Prayer
To you we turn in times of plenty, when hearts are light and filled with praise.
To you we turn in times of sorrow, when hearts are heavy and filled with prayer.
To you we turn in every season, source of all blessing, here in our meeting, our comforter, healer and God.

—Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary.

[AND/OR]

Eternal God, you create us and you rescue us.
Be here with us now.
Help us know how much we need you.
Teach us that no other power can support us like your power.
As you share your power with us, teach us to be Christ to the world, proclaiming your reign for all people.
As you lavish your love upon us, help us receive that love and offer it to the world, in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Prayer For the Day

Jesus, Brother and Teacher, we are grateful to find our way back to you.
We have carried out another week’s worth of responsibilities.
We have watched another week’s worth of news programs and have listened to another week’s worth of predictions.
Sometimes we have slept well; sometimes not.
But here we are, before you once again, open to your presence.
Revive us with your love and power.
Fulfill your Kin-Dom promises in our lives and in our world.
In the name of God who created us and the Spirit who breathes new life in us, we pray. Amen.

—Scifres, Mary; Beu, B. J.. The Abingdon Worship Annual 2021.


Prayer For Illumination
Your Word is our salt; without it, we lose our being, our joy, and our ability to endure.
Open our hearts and our minds to listen, to really listen, to your Word today. Amen.

—Long, Kim. Feasting on the Word Worship Companion: 2.


Reading From the Hebrew Scriptures
Esther 7.1-6, 9, 10

So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther.
On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.’
Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have won your favour, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request.
For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.’*
Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, ‘Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?’
Esther said, ‘A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!’ Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.
Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, ‘Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.’ And the king said, ‘Hang him on that.’
So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.


Prayer
God of courage, you gave Esther the strength to speak out and the intelligence she needed to save her people.
Help us to believe that you are still present and active in this world and that your grace remains as an everlasting force in our lives.
—Long, Kim. Feasting on the Word Worship Companion: 2.


Psalmody
Psalm 124

If God in Providence and Protection had not been on our side, now may Israel say;
If God in Providence and Protection had not been on our side, when enemies rose up against us;
Then would they have swallowed us alive when their anger burned against us;
Then would the waters have overwhelmed us and the torrent gone over our soul; over our soul would have swept the raging waters.
But blessed be God Most High who has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowler; the snare is broken and we are delivered.
Our help is in the name of God, who has made heaven and earth.


Prayer
O God our Provider and Protector, you free us from the brokenness of our errors and those who err against us.
In your forgiving and life-giving love we thank you for your compassion and mercy that we have in each day.
Grant us, O God, an evermore awakened awareness of your blessedness upon our lives.


Reading From the Epistles
James 5.13-20

Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.
Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the God of Hosts.
The prayer of faith will save the sick, and God will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.
Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.
Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
My sisters and brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another,
you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.


Prayer
O God, give me ​pure lips, ​a clean and innocent heart, and rightness of action.
Give me ​humility, patience, abstinence, chastity, prudence, justice, ​courage and self-control.
Give me ​the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
​the Spirit of counsel and strength,
​the Spirit of knowledge and godliness,
​and of your reverence.
Always lead me to seek your face with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind.
Let me have a contrite and humble heart in your presence—​to prefer nothing to your love.
Most high, eternal, and wonderful Wisdom, drive away from me the shadow of blindness and ignorance.
Most high and eternal Strength, rescue me.
Most high and eternal Courage, help me.
Most high and incomprehensible Light, enlighten me,
Most high and infinite Mercy, have mercy on me
—Gallican Prayer (France), from the time of Charlemagne (ruled much of Western Europe from 768-814)

[AND/OR]

"Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so you may be healed."
A good friend doesn't let you get away with murder but will speak for you in your defense a good friend asks hard questions but stays with you while you struggle with the answers a good friend sees you at your worst but still loves you a good friend has had plenty of practice in forgiving you a good friend has no illusions about you (knows you're only human) but still has hopes for you everyone needs a good friend, otherwise you'd just go on making the same dreary old mistakes God of wisdom, God of justice, God of mercy, be our friend.
—http://www.christianaid.org.uk.


Reading From the G
ospels
Mark 9.38-49

John said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’
But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me.
Whoever is not against us is for us.
For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of the Anointed One will by no means lose the reward.
‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.
If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to Gehenna (γέεννα)†, to the unquenchable fire.
And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into Gehenna (γέεννα)†.
And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the Realm of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into (γέεννα) Gehenna,
where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched.
‘For everyone will be salted with fire.
Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’
__________

Gehanna, literally, was a garbage dump where refuse, bodies of dead livestock and the executed were thrown to be burned so not to putrify the air. It was a deep crevice like valley with steep sides located to the south and east of Jerusalem (noted also beginning on the west side according to Joshua 15:8. unto the south side of the Jebusite; the same is Jerusalem). The original word had to do with the owner of the land (i.e. the valley of the son of Hinnom). It supposedly was a site of child sacrifice with the throwing of a child into the fire that was kept burning, before King Josiah outlawed it (2 Kings 23:10). The sacrifice was thought to be to the god Moloch. The sound of the child crying out is connected to the name. And, the place was abhorred by the people of Israel, which is suggested to be the reason that the narrative employs it as a symbol for hell, or eternal punishment (by fire).
__________


Prayer
O God, in hyperbole you strike a chord that resonates deeply within us.
We often choose division to unity. We allow diversity to cause exclusion.
Teach us, once again, how sharing differences in common builds a community of justice and peace.
Help us to remember and celebrate your will that all of your creation will be redeemed unto your heavenly Realm.
You, who wish not the punishment of disobedience, but always present us with your loving-kindness.
Grant that we may follow in your Way and find our place in your Kin-Dom, now and forevermore.

[AND/OR]

Eternal God, we are ever so aware of our ties to the biblical world as we have today entered the world of Esther.

We regret that so little has changed in our public life since then.
There is still intrigue in high places.
There are still unholy alliances.
There is still the dynamic of the fearful trying to do away with, or at least to get out of the way, perceived enemies or threats to their power.
There is still the problem of evil in the guise of good.
There is still deceit used to gain selfish ends. So it will be world without end.
Yet we ask your aid as we go about building our lives, our nation, and our world in this twenty first century.
May we not be disillusioned because of the deceit of peoples’ hearts.
May we not lose faith in people because of the faithlessness of the few.
May we not fail to see this as your wonderful world or be dispirited.
May we not lose a faithful and expectant spirit which is expectant for good, expectant for hope, expectant for triumph.
May we not lose hope in the ultimate triumph of good over evil.
As in Esther’s day may we not forget to make days of feasting and thanksgiving and gladness and give you thanks for your goodness to us.
Be with us, O God, who turns sorrow into gladness, weakness into strength, defeat into triumph.
Give us triumphant spirits. Amen.
—Richard Einerson: Prayers Of The People


Call To Confession

Time and again we lose our saltiness. Let us call upon God to renew and transform us in the love that heals and makes whole.

Prayer Of Confession

Brother Jesus, Teacher of the Way, we come from a busy week of tasks and obligations.
In this quiet time, we have a chance to reflect on how we have lived our lives this week.
We have an opportunity to explore the hopes that you have— hopes for compassion for the weak, justice for the mistreated, and love for friends and strangers.
We thank and praise you for your love and power.
We rejoice that you have helped us to be like you; and we regret when we have not been like you.
Pick us up where we have fallen.
Touch us with your renewing grace, Healer on the Way. Amen.
—Scifres, Mary; Beu, B. J.. The Abingdon Worship Annual 2021.

[AND/OR]

Creating and rescuing God, your power amazes us.
Yet even in our amazement, we take too long to turn to you, forgetting that you are the power that makes and saves and sustains us.
Even when we claim your power, we often do so for our own success and comfort, ignoring your command to use your power on behalf of the weak, the small, and the vulnerable.
In Jesus Christ, you show us that you are on the side of all people, but never at the expense of the weakest among us.
Forgive us when we try to hoard you for ourselves and try to control who has access to your love.
Forgive us when our greed, our control, and our scandals keep others from knowing you.
Redeem us and transform us, O God.
Open our hearts, our lives, and our ministries, that we may become a doorway to your realm.
—Long, Kim. Feasting on the Word Worship Companion: 2.
 
Words of Assurance

God turns our sorrow into gladness and our times of mourning into celebration.
God hears the prayer of faith.
Be confident as we pray for one another, for God heals us and forgives us.
In God's love we are redeemed and reconciled. Thanks be to God.

[AND/OR]

God turns our sorrow into gladness and our times of mourning into celebration.
God hears the prayer of faith.
Be confident as we pray for one another, for God heals us and forgives us.
We praise you, O God, for though you do as you please, your pleasure is justice with compassion.
We worship you, O God, for though you choose your servants as you wish, you elect people who are called to serve all in obedience to you.
We are awed by the powers of nature, but assured that there is no force or being that can overpower you.
We are most grateful that you make yourself known to us through the healing and saving power of the Anointed One, our Leader, Teacher and Friend. Amen.
—B. David Hostetter, Prayers for the Seasons of God’s People (adapted)


Credo
We believe that the Life-Giver God has created and is creating, making all things new.
We believe that the Life-Redeemer God is transforming us and all of creation, reclaiming us as God's own.
We believe the Life-Healer God is bringing health and healing to a broken world and broken people, that reconciliation will come from justice and peace.
We believe the Life-Protector God is watching over us within each of our days to have the Realm of concord and community be here on earth as it is in heaven.
We believe that the Life-Restoring God is at work to establish eternity in our temporal time, resurrecting and keeping us in life.
We believe Life-Saving God, grant us the courage and strength of spirit to live out our beliefs, following in your Way.


Prayer Of Intercession

R God our help; receive our prayer.
Give to your Church, O God, the vision to see you at work in the world.
Forgive us when we try to limit or control you.
May we rejoice in all good and celebrate all loving deeds . . .
R God our help; receive our prayer.
O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity:
comfort all those around the globe who know the devastation of war and the threat of annihilation.
We pray for peace . . .
R God our help; receive our prayer.
We thank you, O God, that you have provided us with those things that make our lives better—fire for heat, salt for seasoning.
We thank you for all of the good gifts we so easily take for granted . . .
R God our help; receive our prayer.
We pray, O God, for all those with whom we share this world.
Bring people together.
Enable healthy relationships.
Help us to be at peace with one another . . .
R God our help; receive our prayer.
Blessed God, as you command us, we pray for those in need of healing and wholeness.
Turn their sorrow into gladness and their mourning into holiday.
O God, raise them up . . .
R God our help; receive our prayer.
Almighty God, were you not on our side, we would be without hope.
But you are our salvation.
Grant us entrance into your heavenly Realm;
may we become partakers of your heavenly treasure . . .
R God our help; receive our prayer.
—Williamson, Jeremiah D.. Praying the Scriptures: Litanies for Sunday Worship.

[AND/OR]

For the Church that we may welcome the gift of the Spirit and be transformed by the Spirit’s work in us so that God’s mercy, compassion, and presence may be manifest to our world . . .

For the grace of discipleship: that we may never prefer anything, even our most treasured possessions, to our relationship with Christ For freedom of spirit: that God will break the chains of jealousy and greed that work to claim our hearts and hold our society in bondage . . .
For a renewed sense of mission: that we may each use our unique gifts and opportunities to share God’s love through words, deeds of healing, hospitality welcome, or cups of water . . .
For all who exercise leadership in the Church: that the Spirit will give them clear insight into the wounds and weaknesses in the hearts of believers so that they may find new ways to connect with God . . .
For openness to the Spirit: that we may welcome all whom God calls to serve the community of faith in ministry and listen for the Spirit’s promptings about new forms and styles of service needed to meet the hungers of human hearts . . .
For all young people: that God’s Spirit will fill them with wisdom and understanding so that they may correctly perceive the values of life and not be seduced by wealth, fame, or power . . . 
For all whose faith is weak: that the Spirit will draw them closer to God and protect them from being scandalized by the human failures within and conflicts between communities of faith . . .
For all who have been cheated or defrauded of their income: that God will overturn the injustice and provide for their needs . . . 
For a new understanding of money: that God will help us to recognize money as a means to fulfill our responsibilities rather than an end in itself . . .
For all children, particularly those who lack food, homes, or healthcare: that God will guide us in providing for these little ones For healing and renewal: that the Holy Spirit will bring healing of mind, body, and spirit to all who have experienced abuse, help their voices to be heard, and guide us in supporting them . . .
For strength: that God will renew and give strength to all who are serving others by caring for the sick, fighting wildfires, or distributing relief supplies . . . 
For refugees and immigrants: that God will give them courage as they seek lives free of violence and intimidation, and that they may find a welcome in their new communities . . .
For the sick: that God will renew the gift of life within them and restore them to activity and health . . .
—Joe Milner


[AND/OR]

Blessed are you, O God, who has rescued us from those who would destroy us.
Your power and might are great, and your mercy is poured out on us whom you love.
Our help is in your blessed Name, O You who have made heaven and earth.
We have been entrusted with the way of life, for your Word has dwelt among us.
But we become so puffed up with our own importance that we ignore the simplest acts of mercy.
You have called us to be like salt, adding flavor to life.
Yet we lose our sense of mission and cease to be all you have called us to be.
Deliver us from judgement and forgive our sin that we may live forever in your presence and sing your praises for eternity.
By the gift of your Spirit, help us to see that we share your task of evangelism with many people from many different places.
May our work be done for the common purpose of spreading the good news of your all inclusive love.
We lift up before you this day our brothers and sisters who are in distress.
By the ministry of the laying-on-of-hands and anointing and prayer, we have confidence that, as your will directs, you will deliver them from evil, preserve them in all goodness, and bring them to everlasting life.
O God, turn our sorrow into gladness and our mourning into a holiday.
Hear and answer us, for we pray in the name of your Anointed One. Amen.
—Timothy J. Crouch, Nancy B. Parks, Chris E. Visminas, Mark R. Babb, And Also With You.


Prayer of Thanksgiving and Dedication

Giving God, we can never match your generosity.
When we are in need, you are at our side, present to us even in our darkest moments.
You rescue us from harm.
Make us into a people who celebrate your goodness, drawing others into the celebration of your many blessings.
Receive our offerings, even if they are as small as a drink for someone who thirsts.
Transform them into the mystery of your reign here and now on earth.
For Blessed are You and Blessed is your Kin-Dom, forevermore.
—Amy B. Hunter, ministrymatters.com (adapted)

[AND/OR]

God, make the words we have heard a living word in the core of our being.
Help us put our faith in no other power than the power of your saving love.
Make us the agents of your love, blocking no one’s entrance into the presence of your love and grace.
Through Christ, enable us to be at peace with one another and to salt the earth with the power of your peace. Amen.
—Amy B. Hunter, ministrymatters.com

[AND/OR]

God of holy wisdom, we are seekers on the way to a deeper wisdom and a wider vision.

Our lives are full of information and opinions, but in the midst of it all we long to hear the voice of wisdom–Your Wisdom, God–cutting through the noise and teaching us how to live.
God, we have come here this morning to learn wisdom from your Word, from your Holy Spirit, and from one another.
We have come so that wisdom may call us out of the darkness and into the light.
We have come to have the deeper, richer, wisdom-filled life that you have promised to each of us.
O God, make us ready to hear the Words spoken to our hearts this morning.
Call us to hear your wisdom and grant us the courage to respond.
Together we pray as you taught your disciples to pray…
—https://jesusscribbles.wordpress.com/ 


The Prayer Of Jesus (paraphrase)
O God, like a loving parent to their children. you have made us your own.
Your name is so sacred we speak it not, but call you God.
O Sovereign One whose realm is peace with jus, Otice, your will be come to completion here or earth as it is in heaven.
O God of Providence, give to each the portion that ends all want, be it in generosity and sharing.
O Compassionate One, Most Merciful, as you free us from sin, forgive us and we forgive one another.
O God of Covenant, test us not as to our abilities, and keep us from all evil.
For to You, Holy, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, is the Kin-Dom, the praise and the glory, forevermore.
—by the author


Sending Forth
We called to go forth as followers of Jesus.
We are sent to do the work of loving kindness.
We shall be a people who do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God.


Dismissal With Blessing
The peace of the earth be with you
The peace of the heavens too;
The peace of the rivers be with you,
The peace of the oceans too.
Deep peace falling over you;
God’s peace growing in you.

—https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/
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POETRY PEW


“An Autumn Equinox Blessing”
By Wendy Janzen

Blessed are you, autumn,
season of unavoidable endings.
You show us how letting go can be a glorious, 
joyful practice with your spectacular colours.
You model how to hold paradoxes with grace—
the balance living and dying, 
relinquishing and receiving,
gathering and sharing.
You know that death is not and ending, 
but a passage,
a transformation into new life.
May we learn these lessons well
to celebrate 
with abandon to practice reverence 
to surrender completely 
to embrace tenderly to love without regret.






"O Comforting Fire of Spirit"
By Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179)

O comforting fire of Spirit, 
Life, within the very Life of all Creation.

Holy you are in giving life to All.
Holy you are in anointing those who are not whole;

Holy you are in cleansing a festering wound.

O sacred breath, 
O fire of love, 
O sweetest taste in my breast 
which fills my heart with a fine aroma of virtues.

O most pure fountain through whom it is known that God has united strangers and inquired after the lost.

O breastplate of life and hope of uniting all members as One,

O sword-belt of honor,
enfold those who offer blessing.

Care for those who are imprisoned by the enemy and dissolve the bonds of those whom 
Divinity wishes to save.

O mightiest path which penetrates All, 
from the height to every Earthly abyss, 
you compose All, 
you unite All.

Through you clouds stream, ether flies, 
stones gain moisture,
waters become streams, 
and the earth exudes Life.

You always draw out knowledge, bringing joy through Wisdom's inspiration.

Therefore, praise be to you who are the sound of praise and the greatest prize of Life, 
who are hope and richest honor bequeathing the reward of Light.
__________
In an age when life expectancy was somewhere around forty, Hildegard of Bingen (1098–1179) lived a life that was remarkably long and incredibly productive.The Benedictine abbess founded two convents, conducted four preaching tours, penned at least 400 letters, wrote music and a morality play, supervised illuminated manuscripts, cared for her fellow sisters, and wrote three major theological tomes based upon her famous visions. All this despite her pronounced feelings of self-doubt, the lack of formal schooling, chronic illnesses that probably included depression and migraine headaches, and the subservient roles assigned to women by a male-dominated church and culture. Until her death almost seventy years later, she devoted herself to the life of a Benedictine nun. After keeping her visions to herself for decades, when she was forty-two Hildegard says that God told her to write what she had seen and heard: "So now you must give others an intelligible account of what you see with your inner eye and what you hear with your inner ear. Your testimony will help them. As a result, others will learn how to know their Creator. They'll no longer refuse to adore God.
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A BEAD AND A PRAYER



CROSS
I come to you, O God, with who I am . . .
laughter and tears,
smiles and frowns,
joy and sorrow,
comforted and pained,
strengthened and vulnerable,
hopeful and dismal,
trusting and filled with doubt,
real and behind a mask.
You come to me as you are,
in the love of compassion and mercy
accepting, affirming, engaging, transforming
all that is me unto all that you would have me be.
Enter in, O God, my heart of hearts seeks you.
Center me in your presence.


INVITATORY
To you we turn in times of plenty, when hearts are light and filled with praise.
To you we turn in times of sorrow, when hearts are heavy and filled with prayer.
To you we turn in every season, source of all blessing, here in our meeting, our comforter, healer and God.

—Birch, John. The Act of Prayer: Praying through the Lectionary.


CRUCIFORM

Jesus, Brother and Teacher, we are grateful to find our way back to you.
We have carried out another week’s worth of responsibilities.
We have watched another week’s worth of news programs and have listened to another week’s worth of predictions.
Sometimes we have slept well; sometimes not.
But here we are, before you once again, open to your presence.
Revive us with your love and power.
Fulfill your Kin-Dom promises in our lives and in our world.
In the name of God who created us and the Spirit who breathes new life in us, we pray. Amen.
—Scifres, Mary; Beu, B. J.. The Abingdon Worship Annual 2021.


WEEK I

Esther 7.1-6, 9, 10
■ So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther.
■ On the second day, as they were drinking wine, the king again said to Esther, ‘What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.’
■ Then Queen Esther answered, ‘If I have won your favour, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me—that is my petition—and the lives of my people—that is my request.
■ For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have held my peace; but no enemy can compensate for this damage to the king.’
■ Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, ‘Who is he, and where is he, who has presumed to do this?’ Esther said, ‘A foe and enemy, this wicked Haman!’ Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.
■ Then Harbona, one of the eunuchs in attendance on the king, said, ‘Look, the very gallows that Haman has prepared for Mordecai, whose word saved the king, stands at Haman’s house, fifty cubits high.’ And the king said, ‘Hang him on that.’
■ So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then the anger of the king abated.



CRUCIFORM
God of courage, you gave Esther the strength to speak out and the intelligence she needed to save her people.
Help us to believe that you are still present and active in this world and that your grace remains as an everlasting force in our lives.

—Long, Kim. Feasting on the Word Worship Companion: 2.


WEEK II
Psalm 124
■ If God in Providence and Protection had not been on our side, now may Israel say;
■ If God in Providence and Protection had not been on our side, when enemies rose up against us;
■ Then would they have swallowed us alive when their anger burned against us;
■ Then would the waters have overwhelmed us and the torrent gone over our soul; over our soul would have swept the raging waters.
■ But blessed be God Most High who has not given us over to be a prey for their teeth.
■ Our soul has escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowler; the snare is broken and we are delivered.
■ Our help is in the name of God, who has made heaven and earth.


CRUCIFORM
O God our Provider and Protector, you free us from the brokenness of our errors and those who err against us.
In your forgiving and life-giving love we thank you for your compassion and mercy that we have in each day.
Grant us, O God, an evermore awakened awareness of your blessedness upon our lives.


WEEK III
James 5.13-20
■ Are any among you suffering? They should pray. Are any cheerful? They should sing songs of praise.
■ Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the God of Hosts.
■ The prayer of faith will save the sick, and God will raise them up; and anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven.
■ Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.
Elijah was a human being like us, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.
■ Then he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain and the earth yielded its harvest.
■ My sisters and brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and is brought back by another,
■ you should know that whoever brings back a sinner from wandering will save the sinner’s soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.


CRUCIFORM
O God, give me ​pure lips, ​a clean and innocent heart, and rightness of action.
Give me ​humility, patience, abstinence, chastity, prudence, justice, ​courage and self-control.
Give me ​the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
​the Spirit of counsel and strength,
​the Spirit of knowledge and godliness,
​and of your reverence.
Always lead me to seek your face with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind.
Let me have a contrite and humble heart in your presence—​to prefer nothing to your love.
Most high, eternal, and wonderful Wisdom, drive away from me the shadow of blindness and ignorance.
Most high and eternal Strength, rescue me.
Most high and eternal Courage, help me.
Most high and incomprehensible Light, enlighten me,
Most high and infinite Mercy, have mercy on me.

—Gallican Prayer (France), from the time of Charlemagne (ruled much of Western Europe from 768-814)


WEEK IV
Mark 9.38-49
■ John said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.’ But Jesus said, ‘Do not stop him; for no one who does a deed of power in my name will be able soon afterwards to speak evil of me.
■ Whoever is not against us is for us.
For truly I tell you, whoever gives you a cup of water to drink because you bear the name of the Anointed One will by no means lose the reward.
■ ‘If any of you put a stumbling-block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea.
■ If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to Gehenna (γέεννα)†, to the unquenchable fire.
■ And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into Gehenna (γέεννα)†.
■ And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the Realm of God with one eye than to have two eyes and to be thrown into (γέεννα) Gehenna†, where their worm never dies, and the fire is never quenched. ‘For everyone will be salted with fire.
■ Salt is good; but if salt has lost its saltiness, how can you season it? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.’


CRUCIFORM
O God, in hyperbole you strike a chord that resonates deeply within us.
We often choose division to unity. We allow diversity to cause exclusion.
Teach us, once again, how sharing differences in common builds a community of justice and peace.
Help us to remember and celebrate your will that all of your creation will be redeemed unto your heavenly Realm.
You, who wish not the punishment of disobedience, but always present us with your loving-kindness.
Grant that we may follow in your Way and find our place in your Kin-Dom, now and forevermore.


INVITATORY
God, make the words we have heard a living word in the core of our being.
Help us put our faith in no other power than the power of your saving love.
Make us the agents of your love, blocking no one’s entrance into the presence of your love and grace.
Through Christ, enable us to be at peace with one another and to salt the earth with the power of your peace. Amen.
—Amy B. Hunter, ministrymatters.com


CROSS
The peace of the earth be with you
The peace of the heavens too;
The peace of the rivers be with you,
The peace of the oceans too.
Deep peace falling over you;
God’s peace growing in you.

—https://www.churchofscotland.org.uk/
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