Liturgy Seeds: Narrative Lectionary for 6/2

Romans 6:1-11  and Matthew 6:24 or 24-34


This pericope is in RCL for Proper 7A/Ordinary 12A/Pentecost +3, where it is paired with—and overshadowed by—the story of Hagar and Ishmael. See

NL pairs it with Matthew 6:24 (?)

The theme of newness is also found in 2 Corinthians 5:(14-15), 16-20; Revelation 21:1-5, and in the psalms referring to singing a new song: Psalm 33(:3); 40(:3); 96(:1); 98(:1); 144(:9); 149(:1).

My congregation has communion the first Sunday of each month, so I am thinking about the relationship between baptism (once and done new birth) and communion (ongoing renewal). This also dovetails with emphases on being born-again (think Saul->Paul) and being a lifelong Christian (think Timothy). Both are needed and helpful; it’s more both-and than either/or.

I am thinking of a bulletin cover with tags marked: new/renewed/renewal/revived etc. Also see (many copyrighted):

Resources on Baptism/Renewal of Baptism in Worship

Opening Prayer from Romans 6


Call to Worship:

God calls his people together before him.
Our new life in Christ is celebrated and nourished
in the fellowship of congregations
where God’s name is praised,
his way taught;
where sins are confessed,
prayers and gifts are offered,
and sacraments are celebrated. 
(“Our World Belongs to God,” par.39)
Come, let us worship the Lord.
We come with praise and thanks!

To reprint the above Call to Worship for personal use, a ministry setting, or classroom use, include this credit line: © 1987, CRC Publications, Grand Rapids MI. Reprinted with permission.

CALL TO WORSHIP (from Psalm 98, Good News Version)                          Reader    [One] Sing a new song to the Lord

[Many] he has done wonderful things!
By his own power and holy strength
he has won the victory.
The Lord made his saving power known to the nations.
He kept his promise to his people, with loyalty and constant love for them.
All people everywhere can see the victory of our God.                                                           and so we gather to praise and give thanks.                                                                              [ALL] LET US WORSHIP GOD TOGETHER.                                                                                     by Rev. Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl (please give credit if using/adapting this resource)

Opening prayer: God of grace, you have brought us from slavery to freedom, from despair to hope, from death to life. May our words and music, our thoughts and our prayers and our very lives bring honor and glory to you. This we pray in the name of Jesus,  whose death and resurrection have brought us new life. Amen.                                    by Rev. Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl (please give credit if using/adapting this resource)

*Call to Confession (Romans 6:10-11, Good News Version)         

Because Christ died and rose again, death’s power to touch him is finished. He now lives for God forever. In the same way, we have died to the appeal and power of sin. We are alive and responsive to the call of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.                                      by Rev. Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl (please give credit if using/adapting this resource):

*Prayer of Confession CALL TO WORSHIP (from Psalm 98, Good News Version)

O God, when we hear your call to new life, sometimes we just feel old and tired.  The pains and sorrows of this life weigh us down.                                                              We don’t know how things can ever change.                                                                              We do not see how we can be renewed and revitalized.                                                          We forget that nothing is impossible with you. We find it hard to believe that you can and do grant more than all we can ask or imagine. Forgive us and renew us. (Silent confession)                                                                                                                            by Rev. Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl (please give credit if using/adapting this resource):

*Assurance of Pardon (Romans 6:10-11 The Message) When Jesus died, he took sin down with him. Now, alive, he brings God down to us. From now on, sin speaks a dead language that means nothing to us. Instead, God speaks our mother tongue, and we hang on every word. We are dead to sin and alive to God. This is the Good News for which we give thanks be to God: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.                                                            by Rev. Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl (please give credit if using/adapting this resource)

Call to/Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Forgiveness from Romans



Romans was a very important book for the reformers

Calvin’s commentary

Wesley’s commentary

Luther’s sermon

Sermon about the “hole within” (Romans 6:1-11) Faith Evangelical Lutheran Church, Waterloo, IA


Beyond the above resources, this text seems to be a topic mainly addressed from what is sometimes considered the “conservative” side of Christianity; see resources below:

Blue Letter Bible Commentary:

Audio of sermon titled “Holiness: The Journey of God’s People” from an Evangelical Presbyterian Church

Audio of sermon from the Village Church in Texas: “The Good Life Accomplished”–2

Audio of sermon “A Call to Resurrected Thinking” from Baptist Church in Beach Haven (Long Beach Island), NJ:



6/2 hymns Newness/baptism/Lord’s Supper
PCUSA Presbyterian Hymnal 1990 (The .x means the x verse is particularly relevant)
104.3 Christ is Risen! Sing Hosanna!
285.3 God, You Still the Whirling Planets
296 Walk On, O People of God
316 Breathe on Me, Breath of God
317.2 (Author of the New Creation)
353.5 Great God, Your Love Has Called Us Here
376.4 Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
442.1 The Church’s One Foundation
492 Baptized in Water
493.2 Dearest Jesus, We Are Here
495.4 We Know That Christ Is Raised
500 Become to Us the Living Bread
507 I Come with Joy
CCM type
Hope, 1984 Worship and Service Hymnal
201 Come Ye Sinners, Poor and Wretched

Image result for spring resurrection

Loneliness & Church

Churches feel like lonely places. It is clear to me that one of the reasons that big churches do so well is because they don’t feel lonely, at least not immediately

•I have no doubt there are many reasons to explore about why churches are having trouble…therefore I am only tackling this one

But walking into an empty-ish church of mostly older age feels…lonely….

The loneliness is everywhere; and worse its palpable.

Here is the thing, pastors talk about this a lot…pastors tend to be lonely but little is talked about the layperson’s loneliness. The feeling that “we aren’t in this religion thing together” any more–we are in it alone.

Perhaps that is why the Spiritual but not religious label hits so hard….What do you mean you can do your religious thing by yourself? Where does that leave us…and me?

Religion can be a lonely place to be right now

I just watched Breuggeman’s Prophetic Preaching on the Old Testament which is wonderful

And he talks about how Prophetic Preaching is the breaking of the totalism (or hegemony), which is a SILENCE that leads to VIOLENCE with an outside voice

Good News is so important

Hope is so important

God is not a God who wants us to have to live and die and do everything alone.

Don’t let the emptiness of the church trick you.

Aren’t we the people of the empty tomb?

Aren’t we the people of the empty cross?

Didn’t God make the world out of the emptiness?

Didn’t God create space within God’s very self to give birth to us?

Didn’t God empty out her very self in the personhood of Jesus Christ to give us new and better life?
Churches don’t have to be lonely…don’t buy into it. The lie of death, the lie of not changing, the lie of security and worries about looks and judgements…..don’t believe these lies

God creates…we are called to create and be CREATIVE with God

To me that work is fulfilling, not lonely at all…

Behold I make all things new!

God and Paperwork

Have you ever found things bogging you down?

Sometimes, as a pastor of a small church, I find myself amazed by how much of my job is paperwork. Especially since most of it is created by myself. ACK! There’s the bulletin, my sermon outline (which I hate doing, because then I feel tied down to it), contracts (we also are landlords), meeting agenda, worker checklists, rules, regs, letters to tenants, letters to congregation members, newsletters, applications/registrations for all the junk I need to be at, grants, fundings, thankyous, checklists, calendars for myself, the congregation and the building use etc. Sometimes I think the only thing I don’t write down on a regular basis are my extemporaneous prayers.


In an age of holding people accountable, and in a denomination where if its not written down it isn’t real (otherwise known as Presbyterian), I find that needing to do millions of paperworks exasperating, and “not-the-ministry-I-want-to-be-doing.”

So I find myself asking two questions: Can we do with less with paperwork, or even bureacracy in general…(note how many of the “What my mom thinks I do” memes actually end in paperwork, the ministry one I saw was def. like that)Image

What would service look if we did less bureacracy?

How about session/board meetings? (Not to mention Presbytery/Judicatory)

How about the entire “Call” Process?

How can we hold onto responsibility but lose some paperwork? How can we move with the Spirit and say Yes even as we follow protocol? What would this church look like??

I guess it would be faster, but it would also have to be more flexible. A greater trust would have to be had in staff (many of my paperworks are follow ups), out loud discussion would be even more greatly depended on (no more surveys), Leadership would have to be tighter and communication of goals, objectives and the order of things would have to be clearer and more precise (i.e. no agendas for meetings).

Alternatively (and knowing that God promises to make all things new, including paperwork) How does God work through our processes?
Had to say a quick prayer about this question…how does God work through paperwork? It slows us down, makes us double check things, it helps us to ponder and gives us an excuse to work through the stuff in our office (“our” being the staff of the church) at our own pace….It also allows for clearer accountability and gives us a security blanket to try new things (a new form of worship goes much easier if its on paper)….

What do you think? I’m really curious to know how we can both limit our paperwork, and yet use our paperwork as a form of ministry.