Unfailing Love

Christian. Inclusive. Affirming.

Communion and Anointing Service

Communion

P: Jesus called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits…  So they went out and proclaimed that all should repent. They cast out many demons, and anointed with oil many who were sick and cured them (Mark 6:7, 12-13).

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls (Matthew 11:28-29).

P: Let us pray to the Lord—for our individual needs, for the needs of the whole people of God, and for the needs of all people.

Silent Prayer

P: Lord, hear our prayers. Read the rest of this entry »

The “Anarchy” of the Kingdom

“The greatest among you will be your servant. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” — Jesus

Almighty and merciful God, it is only by your gift that your faithful people offer you true and laudable service: Grant that we may run without stumbling to obtain your heavenly promises; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

First Reading: Micah 3:5-12
Psalm: Psalm 43
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:9-13
Gospel: Matthew 23:1-12

Every single week, I can turn on the news and hear about some leader who has been disgraced due to their mistakes. If you go to Google, and do a news article search for terms such as “pastor” or “politician”, there are a million recent articles of people in such positions getting in trouble for some level of hypocrisy or corruption. There really is nothing new under the sun. People in positions of authority are sinners just like everyone else, and those sins can be disastrous. This is a problem that the people in the Bible knew well. Read the rest of this entry »

Love Your Neighbor

Almighty and everlasting God, increase in us the gifts of faith, hope, and charity; and, that we may obtain what you promise, make us love what you command; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading: Leviticus 19:1-2, 15-18
Psalm: Psalm 1
Second Reading: 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8
Gospel: Matthew 22:34-46

Today’s Scripture passages give us one of the most important messages of the Bible and of Jesus. Our passage in from Matthew 22 gives us one of the clearest and most basic examples of what it means to be a Christian. It is this passage that we refer to in our ministry’s about section concerning the basic principles of Christianity. In Matthew 22 (and it’s parallels in other parts of the New Testament), we learn about the basic core message of the Bible. It’s really boils down to two key principles:

  1. Love God.
  2. Love your neighbor.

Now, of course there is a lot more to the Christian religion, and a lot more contained in the Bible, than these two points. However, these two points are the foundation upon which all the rest of it should lie. As Jesus said, “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Think On These Things

Lord, we pray that your grace may always precede and follow us, that we may continually be given to good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

First Reading: Isaiah 25:1-9
Psalm: Psalm 23
Second Reading: Philippians 4:1-9
Gospel: Matthew 22:1-14

Yesterday, a few of us at Unfailing Love met for a small worship service in my home. Even though the lectionary provides four Scripture passages each week, I specifically focused upon two this week: Psalm 23 and Philippians 4. There has been some hardship in the Unfailing Love community recently, with one person becoming hospitalized and now in rehab, and another person experiencing the death of a family member. With these events in mind, Psalm 23 and Philippians 4 seemed like the perfect passages to focus upon.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Stone That the Builders Rejected.

 

Almighty and everlasting God, you are always more ready to hear than we to pray, and to give more than we either desire or deserve: Pour upon us the abundance of your mercy, forgiving us those things of which our conscience is afraid, and giving us those good things for which we are not worthy to ask, except through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ our Savior; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading: Isaiah 5:1-7
Psalm: Psalm 80:7-15
Second Reading: Philippians 3:4b-14
Gospel: Matthew 21:33-46

Today’s gospel passage in the lectionary follows a similar theme as we reflected upon last week. In last week’s gospel reading, which was from the same chapter, Jesus challenged the Jewish clergy of his day. Jesus tells them very plainly that the tax collectors and harlots (i.e. traitors and sinful women) are going into God’s Kingdom before they are. Today’s passage continues the story. Read the rest of this entry »

The Kingdom Is Full of Rejects and Misfits

O God, you declare your almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity: Grant us the fullness of your grace, that we, running to obtain your promises, may become partakers of your heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

First Reading: Ezekiel 18:1-4, 25-32
Psalm: Psalm 25:1-9
Second Reading: Philippians 2:1-13
Gospel: Matthew 21:23-32

In today’s Scripture readings, I want to call special attention to the readings from Matthew’s gospel and Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In both these two passages, we find out a lot of information about the nature of Christ’s message.  Read the rest of this entry »

Communion and Fellowship

We will be meeting today (Monday the 18th) for Communion and fellowship, and we usually meet every Monday in the late afternoon. If you are interested in joining us, please contact us for more information.

Justice For the Oppressed

O God, because without you we are not able to please you, mercifully grant that your Holy Spirit may in all things direct and rule our hearts; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

First Reading: Genesis 50:15-21
Psalm: Psalm 103:1-13
Second Reading: Romans 14:1-12
Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

I was excited to see today’s psalm in the Revised Common Lectionary. Psalm 103 has a history in my family. If you look at any of the Bibles belonging to my great-grandmother, Psalm 103 is marked off as one of her favorite passages. She wrote a note in a Bible that she gave to my father that she wanted this psalm read at her funeral. It was even written by her in the front my father’s old The Way Living Bible. It seems like Psalm 103 was one of those passages that she shared every chance that she could get. Read the rest of this entry »

The Bible and Women in Ministry

Three women at the tomb of Jesus.

Through my life as a Christian and my activities as a minister, I have found myself in many churches whose views were far more conservative than my own. One of the issues that often comes up when I visit more conservative churches is the issue of women’s ordination. This issue also comes up frequently on the Internet. So common is this debate to the church that is was a problem as far back as the second century. The Montanists allowed for female elders and bishops at the time.

For some people today, this issue seems incredibly foolish. Men and women deserve equal opportunities, as do all people. Right? Well, if you take the Bible and church tradition with reverence, there is a problem. For the Roman Catholic Church, the issue is easily settled due to their reliance upon sacred tradition. The roles of men and women are settled, and have been for a very long time. In our church (the UCCA) and all other churches coming from the Protestant Reformation, we believe in cutting through tradition to the Bible. However, there are even many Protestant churches that still affirm that ministry (especially pastoral ministry) is reserved for men. It is this point that I think needs to be addressed. I have no place to argue sacred tradition with a Roman Catholic, but I can argue the Bible with other Protestants. Read the rest of this entry »

Love is the Fulfilling of the Law.

Grant us, O Lord, to trust in you with all our hearts; for, as you always resist the proud who confide in their own strength, so you never forsake those who make their boast of your mercy; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

First Reading:  Ezekiel 33:7-11 
Psalm: Psalm 119:33-40
Second Reading: Romans 13:8-14 
Gospel: Matthew 18:15-20

Unfailing Love’s name comes from Psalm 33:5, which says, “The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love” (NIV). Our ministry is all about God’s unfailing love. This divine love is the key to everything in the Bible, so I want to bring attention to today’s passage from Romans:

Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. (Romans 13:8-10 KJV)

For the Apostle Paul, love is absolutely everything. All divine commands are not only summarized in loving our neighbors as ourselves. It is also the fulfillment of the law. Read the rest of this entry »