Resource: By Pastor Katy Stenta, solo pastor of a bigger on the inside Church New Covenant Presbyterian in Albany, NY
Additional Scripture: Matthew 5-7, Psalm 115
Meditative Thought And the Lord said Go Go into the world and tell the good news, for what is news if you keep it to yourself?
Call to Worship:
This is the day that the Lord has made
Let us rejoice
This is the church that the Lord has made
Let us rejoice
Bless and be a blessing, this is the covenant that the Lord has made
Let us rejoice and be glad in it
Call to Worship
Lord we like it here.
Go into the world
We are happy with the Church
Make more disciples and include all nations, sexualities and genders
What can we do to make certain they are Christian?
Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit
Call to Worship
Bles the Lord, all the people
Praise God’s Holy Name
Blessings are given to us by God
And they never run out, so let us be blessed and be a blessing to all
Prayer of Confession: Holy One, we confess that we do not count our blessings, instead we hoard them, thinking they run out or are like pie. Remind us that blessings are not pie, they are like seeds or a cup overflowing or a banquet for all people. Give us the vision of how your blessings work we pray, and forgive us when we stumble or forget. In your Holy Name we pray. Amen
Prayer of Confession: God most high, forgive our sins we pray. Reclaim us as your baptized children, remind us of your love and mercy. You were the God of Abraham and Sarah, you blessed them and promised to always be their God. Be our God, teach us to be your people we pray in the name or your son. Amen
Prayer of Confession: Heavenly God, we confess that we do not know how to bless one another. On our worst days we give gossip and judgement to one another. On our best days we share food and money with one another. But blessings are harder. Teach us how to bless one another. Reveal to us your blessings in the rainbow, the taste of the bread and the cup and the splashing of the baptismal waters, so we might begin to bless one another again, we pray together in the name of Christ. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Go forth, proclaiming the blessings of Jesus Christ, practice forgiveness as you are forgiven in Jesus Christ.
Assurance of Pardon: God’s mercy is from everlasting to everlasting, infinite grace for each and and every one of us. Let us proclaim the truth to one another: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven
Assurance of Pardon: Amazing Grace, how sweet the song, that saves wretch like me. Know the truth, once you were lost to love, but now you are found in the grace of Jesus Christ, know that you are completely forgiven in the name of Jesus.
Eucharist Prayer: Source of all blessings, you breathed life into earth and then formed an everlasting covenant with Noah to nurture us with rainbows, and with Abraham and Sarah to spread your blessing throughout the universe of stars. You then blessed us with Jesus Christ, your only son who insisted on blessing the young and old, the poor and the rich, the sick and the well. Jesus’ continuous blessings overflowed even into the last meal that he has with his disciples, where he took bread, blessed it, broke and said “This is my body broken for you do this in remembrance of me” and then he shared that blessing in the bread to feed all present. Then in the same way, Jesus took the cup and in the same way blessed it and said “this is the blood of my new covenant, poured out for each of you. Whenever you eat this bread and your drink this cup, you proclaim my death until I return.” Bless this bread and cup with your most Holy Spirit, we pray, so we might be nourished to continued your work of blessings as we go forth, we pray. Amen.
Prayer Dedication/Ending Prayer Bless be the one who binds us together, reminding us to love one another through sharing our blessing. Send us forth as true disciples of hope and sharing we pray. Amen
Food for Thought
John Calvin “All the blessings we enjoy are Divine deposits, committed to our trust on this condition, that they should be dispensed for the benefit of our neighbors.”
Mr. Rogers “The real issue in life is not how many blessings we have, but what we do with our blessings. Some people have many blessings and hoard them. Some have few and give everything away.”
The following reflection on the Beatitudes comes from Elias Chacour, a Palestinian Christian, in “We Belong to the Land” (pp 143 – 144).
Knowing Aramaic, the language of Jesus, has greatly enriched my understanding of Jesus’ teachings. Because the Bible as we know it is a translation of a translation, we sometimes get a wrong impression. For
example, we are used to hearing the Beatitudes expressed passively:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for justice, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
“Blessed” is the translation of the word MAKARIOI, used in the Greek New Testament. However, when I look further back to Jesus’ Aramaic, I find that the original word was ASHRAY, from the verb YASHAR. ASHRAY does not have this passive quality to it at all. Instead, it means “to set yourself on the right way for the right goal; to turn around, repent; to become straight or righteous.”
How could I go to a persecuted young man in a Palestinian refugee camp, for instance, and say, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted,” or “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of justice, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven?” That man would revile me, say neither I nor my God understood his plight, and he would be right.
When I understand Jesus’ words in the Aramaic, I translate like this:
Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you who are hungry and thirsty for justice,
for you shall be satisfied.
Get up, go ahead, do something, move, you peacemakers,
for you shall be called children of God.
To me this reflects Jesus’ words and teachings much more accurately. I can hear him saying, “Get your hands dirty to build a human society for human beings; otherwise, others will torture and murder the poor, the voiceless, and the powerless.” Christianity is not passive but active, energetic, alive, going beyond despair.
One day two bats fell into a pot of milk. The pessimistic bat said, “What can I do? Will I struggle and sink, and die so very tired? I will not die tired.” He sank and drowned immediately. The optimistic bat said, “I will strive to the end, and at least they will say I tried everything.” She struggled and struggled, trying to fly, until she fainted. Later she awakened and found herself resting safely on a big roll of butter. This is not giving in to despair, but going beyond despair.
“Get up, go ahead, do something, move,” Jesus said to his disciples.
Taize: Bless the Lord My Soul
Bless Be The Tie that Binds
Lord I Wanna Be a Christian In My Heart
As For Me and My House, we will serve the Lord
Bless Be the Tie that Binds
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing
Blessed Assurance Jesus is Mine
Lord Dismiss Us with Your Blessing
Great Is They Faithfulness
The God of Abraham Promise
God of the Ages, Whose Almighty Hand
Craft Ideas: God’s promises as knots with rainbow beads in a bracelet, Decorate tissue boxes and remind people to “Bless and be a Blessing,” Crayon draw a lot of white stars on black paper, Draw white stars on white paper and then watercolor paint over it for it to “appear,” Start a gratefulness chain writing down so you can “Count your blessings” together