Proper 5C: Is There Really Room at the Table?

Photographer: Antonio Parente
“The Last Supper”, Tom Phillips, 2013, Flowers Gallery (Photographer: Antonio Parente)

FIRST LESSON:  1 Kings 17: 8-24

To read the passage from 1 Kings

The seventeenth chapter of 1 Kings begins the three-chapter account of the conflict between King Ahab of the northern kingdom of Israel and Elijah the Prophet.  After confronting King Ahab for his introduction of the pagan god Baal, known for insuring rain for crops, Elijah goes into hiding from Ahab.  (Actually, it was Ahab’s wife Jezebel that pushed for this affirmation of Baal.)  The passage that we read is included in a grouping of three stories of Elijah’s experiences while in hiding.  These stories serve to establish Elijah as a legitimate and God-sent prophet.

The main reading is the first part of our whole passage and the second of these three stories.  The story begins with YHWH’s command to Elijah to go to Zarephath where a widow feeds him.  Elijah obeys and finds a widow gathering sticks.  He requests that she bring him water to drink, which she does.  Elijah then asks her for bread.  This time she protests the request, explaining that she only has enough to prepare a last meal for herself and her son.  Elijah assures her that the supplies will not fail until YHWH sends rain again.  (Because, after all, it is God, not Baal, who sends rain.)  She obeys and they eat for days.  The point is that even in this land of Baal, God’s grace and extravagant generosity is present.  It’s a commentary on what can happen when we live a life of abundance, rather than hoarding our resources in a life of scarcity.

The second act that we read, the sons of the widow falls ill.  It was severe; he was near death, possibly, according to some commentators, already deceased. The widow blames Elijah for her son’s demise.  She believes that the illness has come about because of something that she has done and that Elijah’s presence as a man of God has turned God’s attention or, in her understanding, God’s wrath toward her.  Elijah offers a prayer of lament, complaining to God that God has caused this illness and brought it upon the child of a woman who had saved him at God’s calling.  Elijah petitions God to save the child. (If, as many commentators claim he was dead, this was REALLY an unimagineable request.)  YHWH hears Elijah’s prayer and the boy is revived.  Elijah takes the child back to his mother.  Her response is a confession of faith, an affirmation of Elijah as YHWH’s prophet.

On the surface, it seems that Elijah, just like the widow, doubted that God would provide, questioned whether or not God would come through after all this.  In fact, Elijah got downright angry at God:  “I did what you said and you give me this???”  That’s probably a normal reaction.  But Elijah kept going—he kept believing and praying and otherwise imagining.  And the text says that God listens.  This God to whom we are told over and over that we should listen has listened to Elijah.  Maybe that’s saying that this is more of a conversation, more of a relationship with God than we thought.  Maybe it IS about what we do.  Maybe when we do somehow learn to speak Truth, God listens.  The truth is that faith is not a blind, unquestioning embrace of God’s promises; we’re just called to imagine something beyond it, imagine what we cannot fathom, imagine what makes no sense at all.  We are called to imagine something beyond ourselves and then go there.  That is why Elijah is considered a great prophet—not because he knew how to preach and obviously not because he never swayed in his faith in God’s response but because he just dared to keep believing and imagining that there is always a resurrection—here, from scarcity to abundance and then from death to life.

How powerful it is to be reminded that sometimes we are part of resurrection, sometimes God works through human agents that dare to imagine something beyond themselves, dare to imagine what the Truth really holds, dare to imagine that God is offering us all the abundance that we need.


1)      What is your response to this passage?

2)      What most often stands in the way of our believing and imagining what God can do?

3)      How quick are we to blame God when our prayers are not answered in the way that we envision?

4)      What would it take for us to truly imagine resurrection in our lives or for our world?

5)      What stands in the way of our praying for the unimagineable?



NEW TESTAMENT:  Galatians 1: 11-24

To read the Galatians passage

Paul had founded the churches in the area in and around Galatia and then had moved on to do the same in other places.  But after he left, there were those who had questioned his authority, his “pedigree”, so to speak.  Instead, they were insisting that these new Christians had to first become Jews (or, in other words, be circumcised) or they were not really righteous at all.

So Paul begins by first re-establishing his authority not as a rabbi, a trained teacher, but rather as one called by God.  Paul doesn’t talk about his “conversion”, as if he is part of another religion.  Instead Paul refers to his experience as his “calling”, an experience in which his authority came not from human succession but from God.

This letter is odd.  It doesn’t begin with the normal salutation of the day.  Instead, Paul gets right to the point.  He is frustrated and angry that this newly-formed community seems to have gotten so incredibly off-course.

This is a difficult passage.  Paul is insisting that his calling, his authority, is divinely-received.  There is no tradition of the church or teachers.  There is no apostolic authority bestowed or any “laying on of hands” as Paul was ordained.  Paul, in fact, had never met Jesus and had actually spent years fighting against the very version of the Gospel that he was now so adamantly preaching.  This passage could very easily be interpreted as one in support of “non-organized” religion.  And yet, Paul is not completely denouncing Judaism; he is instead calling it to renewal.  (Hmm! It seems that most new denominations or new religions begin with a call of renewal for the ones that are already there.)  It’s not really clear if Paul sees himself as called to a revelation about Jesus Christ or a revelation given by Jesus Christ.  But Paul’s understanding of the faith was not one based on a set of rules or traditions but rather one that offered the tradition of faith to those on the outside.  Paul dared to believe that the revelation of God and the love of Christ is not limited by the bounds of our understanding of who God is.

In Feasting on the Word, Wendy Farley says it like this:


If this letter is bad news for authoritarianism, it can be good news for those committed to the constant renewal of Christianity.  It is good news for those outside systems of power who might see more clearly ways in which Christianity has cut off some of its own limbs in the name of tradition.  It is good news for all those oppressed by the church:  women, slaves, the poor.  It is good news for al those lovers of Christ whose wisdom about the Divine is distorted or repressed by leaders of the church.

Stepping back from the heat of this controversy, it seems that Christianity absorbed more of James than of Paul.  Though the Holiness Code and circumcision did not come to define Christianity, the rest of the Hebrew Scripture remains authoritative for Christians.  The authority of the church and its leaders has also survived just fine, but Paul reminds us that, as important as tradition may be it can never be adequate to the gracious and extravagant love God pours out on us.  For Paul, corralling grace in a particular community or in relation to particular practices will always violate the gospel.

I, personally, love the tradition of the church.  It keeps me grounded.  It gives me a springboard on which to start my journey of faith.  I don’t think Paul was against that.  He just didn’t believe that we should stop there.  So, Paul would probably contend that there was nothing wrong with holding the traditions of the faith and the traditions of the church close.  You just need to let them breathe into the present and leave room for the Holy Spirit to breathe into them a little.


1)      What meaning does this passage hold for you?

2)      What does holding too tightly to traditions do to the church?

3)      What does letting traditions go do to the church?

4)      Why is it that this balance is so difficult for us today?



GOSPEL: Luke 7: 11-17

To read the Gospel passage from Luke

This passage cannot help remind us of the passage from 1 Kings that we read earlier.  Elijah, which, of course was part of the tradition here, serves as an archetype for the growing understanding of Jesus.  But here, the widow never speaks to Jesus.  She’s really just a catalyst for the story.  Instead, the story draws attention to the character of Jesus and the character of God as one who embodies compassion for all.

There is something more here than Jesus raising the dead.  Remember that in this time, widows were typically poor and vulnerable.  They were the least of the least, the very margins of acceptable society.  And now this one has lost her son too.  Jesus probably didn’t even know this woman.  He heard about her dilemma from a bystander.  And, yet, he is filled with compassion for a total outsider.  Jesus, with compassion and inclusion, raises both to life.

Note that the people did not see this as Jesus looking favorably upon the woman, but being filled with compassion.  The woman didn’t even ask Jesus to heal her son.  There was no evidence of her faith.  It doesn’t say that she DIDN’T have faith; it’s just not an issue.  There’s not even any real gratitude when it’s all over.  This is the not the story that you would expect.  It’s not really about faith but, rather about grace—undeserved, unexpected, unimagineable.  The choice is whether or not to receive it.  It just depends on whether o not we’re ready to imagine the unimagineable.

The following is from a blog by R.M.C. Morley, “A Garden Path”, available at

This was big. A solemn and holy moment. And, they had no idea. Jesus tells the man to sit up.  And he does. The son of the widow is brought to life again by the touch of Jesus and his spoken word.

… on Trinity Sunday we wrestled with a God that is so big and mysterious that we have great difficulty comprehending how [God] even exists. God’s very existence is a struggle for us. And that is troubling to the soul and mind. But, here, we wrestle with the closeness of God. We have a God, a Savior, who touches us – solemnly, profoundly, and with purpose. And, isn’t that just as troubling? Isn’t it so much more desirable to have a God who is at arm’s length? Maybe not a universe away separated from us by incomprehension, but certainly not a God intimately reaches out his hand and places it upon us. We don’t do that.

Unless we understand ourselves as hanging on the precipice of birth and death. Unless we realize that we walk a tightrope, and in the balance is life itself. Because this story isn’t just about some guy who is brought back to life. I mean, that’s great and all, but this story is about us.

As Luke crafts this story he saturates it in death. There’s a woman who’s a widow. She is now a grieving mother. The corpse of her son is there. It’s a funeral procession. This story has been dipped and coated in death. It wreaks of decay, despair, and grief. And the one who is dead, is us. And Jesus, reaches out his hand and touches us. And he tells us to get up. And do we? Do we even know we’re dead? Do we even know that there’s a lifeline? Do we even know that there’s a life that’s so much better, if only we get up as Jesus asks us to? We get so comfortable in life that we think that everything is just normal – that all is ok. We’re “fine.” We’re “good.”

We can even get comfortable in church-life, shuffling along making our way to our pew. Sitting attentively. Behaving. Going up for Communion when it’s time, and dropping our money in the plate when the nice man comes by. We’re “fine.” We’re “good.” But, no we’re not. We’re either dead, or we’re being birthed by God. And, when you put it like that, touching is just fine. Bring it on. Bring those calloused hands on, and stop the parade. This is big. And we have no idea.

This story is not like many of the other healing stories.  We’re accustomed to Jesus being approached and asked for healing.  And we’re used to Jesus attributing their healing to faith  (as if somehow they deserved their own healing because they had faith). But nothing is said here about faith.  The woman doesn’t even ask.  She just cries.  Maybe that’s the point.  Healing is not predicated on our faith.  God is present when we ask and when don’t, when we listen and when we wander off doing our own thing.  God is God; we are not.  But, here, Jesus had compassion for one who was hurting, whether or not she asked, whether or not she deserved it, whether or not she was the “in-crowd” or not.  God’s Presence is not because we have faith.  God is there through pure, unadulterated, undeserved, unwarranted Grace.  What faith gives us is the ability to every once in a great while, get out of ourselves and imagine the unimaginable.  And then, just for a moment, we will experience the Sacred and the Holy, God’s Presence that is always there whether or not we know.

1)      What meaning does this passage hold for you?

2)      Why is it so difficult to chalk something up to pure, unadulterated grace?

3)      Why are we uncomfortable with the closeness of God?

4)      What do you think of the idea that we are either “dead” or “being birthed by God”?



Some Quotes for Further Reflection:

Our spiritual famine is concluded—we are just beginning to restore the honor of the imagination. (Lauren Artress, Walking a Sacred Path)


Come not to discuss the words of others, but to listen…For in the sacredness of the moment Divine Grace is telling you alone all that is required.  (Jean Pierre de Caussade)


God is ready to give great things when we are ready…to give up everything. (Meister Eckhart)



Holy God of wind and fire;

Dance through this room today.

Holy God of [tornadoes] and illness;

Share our tears of sadness and pain.

Holy God of creation and new beginnings;

Show us again your vision of healing and wholeness. Amen.


(Katherine Hawker, “Outside the Box”, available at


Proper 8A: Choosing God


Abraham and Isaac, Rembrandt, 1634
Abraham and Isaac, Rembrandt, 1634

OLD TESTAMENT:  Genesis 22: 1-14

To read the Old Testament Lectionary passage, click here

Remember that Genesis is a book about not only the beginning of the world but also the beginnings of God’s interaction with that world.  It is a patchwork of traditions that is begin retold in light of a specific context and how the image of God is seen through that context.

This story is one of the best-known and one of the hardest to understand.  In fact, taken at face value, it is disconcerting, disenchanting, and downright shocking.  But we need to understand the context from which this story probably came.  While it was probably from a pre-Israelite setting, suggesting that it originated from within the circle and intimacy of a family, the story was handed down for generations upon generations before it was even written down. But think about those who lived during the time of the exile hearing this story.  What they heard in this story was a God who put them to the test, called them forth from their continuing faith, and delivered them with renewed promises.  What they saw was their own life and, in it, a God who provides.  Because, you see, during the exile, it would have been very easy to assume that God was no longer available.  They had lost everything that they knew.  Where was God?  But this story says, “here is God!…the God of new possibilities and renewed life.”  From that standpoint, it is an important story in that tradition.

The Hebrew term for it is Aqedah, “the binding”.  The Arabic term for it is Dhabih.  Arabic?  You see, this story is also in the writings of Islam.  But in that case, the story is often told of the Binding of Ishmael, Abraham’s other son, rather than Isaac.  So, the whole point is that it is a story set in the context of the whole story of Abraham.  And, it is apparently important enough to be told in multiple traditions.

The narrator states that God “tested” Abraham.  If Abraham were to carry out God’s instructions to sacrifice his son, then the promises that God gave would be nullified.  The heir upon whom the future depended would be gone.  Abraham obeyed—binding the boy and raising the knife.  And just at the right moment, God stops him.  God provides.

Now, we need to realize that this is not merely a story of filicide or, even worse, a God gone wrong.  Sacrifices were a normal part of that society.  In fact, human sacrifices of the firstborn were not only acceptable, but an honored tradition.  So, for its first hearers, this story makes all the sense in the world.  And then, God steps in and stops it—against all odds, against all culture, against the norm. But does just looking at this as evidence that God provides sort of oversimplify it?  I mean, it appears to be the point.  After all, Abraham makes this pretty explicit at the end by naming the place of this encounter “The Lord will provide.”   But is that the only point?

Throughout the Scriptures, there is a rhythm of calling, responding, and testing. Why the test?  There are two words for test in Hebrew.  One denotes testing to see whether or not standards are being maintained, much like our tests in schools.  The other is used for experimenting–pushing an entity beyond its present limits to see how much it can bear. We might compare this to a chemical test where you combine elements into something else.  A person who undergoes a test like this might succeed or fail.  That’s not really the point.  But one thing is certain—he or she emerges changed, either shattered or risen to new heights.  Either way, one will not be the same as before.  This is the word for testing that is used in this Scripture.  Testing, here, has nothing to do with right or wrong.  It has to do with Lech- lecha, the Hebrew for “to go”, “to move”, as in to a different place in one’s life. The test, you see, had little to do with whether or not Abraham would sacrifice Isaac, but, rather, whether or not he had moved to the point where he could truly trust God.

I don’t think God deliberately creates difficult circumstances in our lives.  And God has never implied that we have to earn God’s love or get it right for it to happen.  Contrary to the way many interpret this story, God does not call us to blind obedience.  God simply calls us to grow into who we are called to be.

But I think many of us spend our lives as if we’re preparing for a test.  We try very hard to learn right from wrong, to know the right answers, to prove that we’re right, and to do the correct things.  And we miss the opportunities God gives us for lech-lecha, to move beyond where we are into the place we are meant to be.

Rabbi Arthur Waskow claims that the best contemporary midrash to the Aqedah comes from Esther Ticktin.  She says that the “strongest imperatives of Torah are to rear children and to break idols.  What happens when we turn our children into idols?  We must break our idolization of them—kill the image of of them we have erected…This is what God asked of Abraham:  Lift him up to me:  But Abraham had so totally made Isaac into his idol that he couldn’t fathom how to do it without killing him.  The lifted knife was the breaking of the idol.”  That was all God wanted—for Abraham to break the cast of any idols that he might have set between himself and God.  God wanted Abraham to realize once and for all his own faith to trust in what God was doing in his life.  The question is, then, do each of us have enough faith in ourselves to have that level of faith in God? (From “Is This Going to Be on the Test”, sermon by S. Williams, 06/29/2008)   

  • What meaning does this passage provide for you?
  • What do you think this says about Abraham? Does Abraham obey because he is told to do so or because he trusts God? What is the difference?
  • What do you think this says about Isaac?
  • What does this say about God?
  • What do you think about the whole concept of the “test”? 


NEW TESTAMENT: Romans 6: 12-23

To read the Lectionary Epistle passage, click here

The first couple of verses provide a bridge from the previous verses to what follows. It sounds like a logic argument:  IF the reign of sin has been broken in Christ, and IF the Christian truly live in Christ, THEN sin has no business continuing to rule.  In other words, if one is in Christ, sin is not an issue.

Remember that the emphasis of Romans has much to do with God’s righteousness.  Here, God’s righteousness is revealed apart from the law.  It is instead justified by faith.  Beginning in verse 15, Paul lays out a choice between two obediences, between two loyalties—a slave to Christ or a slave to the world.  The difference is in the slavemasters—one perpetuates slavery, one initiates freedom.  The Greek word for “slave” is doulos.  It can mean “slave”; it can also mean “servant”, perhaps the distinction between enslavement and service.

The point is that we have changed masters—from sin to obedience to God.  Obedience here is not, as we often assume, merely following rules.  God is much more nuanced than that, I supposed!  Obedience is not following rules; it is living within God’s will, God’s vision of what we are created to be.  Obedience is the freedom to become who you are.  This is true liberation.  This is transformation.

And yet, we still allow ourselves to become enslaved—to things, to security, to nice houses and nice cars, to too many clothes and too many pairs of shoes (Really, can you ever have too many shoes?  No, I’m [sort of] just kidding!!!)  The point is, we have sacrificed the freedom that God gives us not to just what we want, not to fall into step with everyone else, but to truly listen and follow God’s will for our lives.


  • What meaning does this passage provide for you?
  • What does “freedom” mean for you in this passage? (Think about this concept of “freedom” as it relates to the Genesis passage. What “freedom” did Abraham have? Or, for that matter, Isaac? Or, for that matter, God?
  • How does the whole idea of “competing slaveries” set for you?
  • How does this idea of transformation speak to the idea that “God accepts us as we are”?



GOSPEL:  Matthew 10: 37-42

To read the Lectionary Gospel passage, click here

This is a conclusion of a speech that authorizes and empowers the disciples as representatives of Christ.  There is an implicit claim that Christ represents God and this passage, then, deals not with specific “12” disciples, but with the nature of discipleship. The whole idea of persecution is inherently unfamiliar to us in our society.  After all, for good or bad, many see us as a “Christian nation”.  (I use the term loosely.)  But in this context, they WERE, on some level, being persecuted for their beliefs.

Keep in mind that in the writer of Matthew’s Gospel’s theology, God is the faithful creator and redeemer of all of Creation.  Creation and eschatology are not alternatives, but complement the God who embraces all.  These rules, which for us seem rigorous and unforgiving, were set out to distinguish true missioners from what we would call “entrepreneurs”, who were set out to make money for their preaching and their good works.  It is a matter of discerning true disciples from the false prophets of the day.  For us, it’s a matter of living as true disciples, not holding anything back, and only giving God the time and the part of ourselves that we can spare.

I don’t think Jesus was “anti-family”, so to speak.  I think I would assume that loving and caring for our relatives and having a good relationship with them was the expectation.  But, it’s back to the Genesis passage.  Was God trying to make Abraham realize that even those relationships do not come “before God”?  The truth is that they are God’s wonderful gift to us and part of our relationship with God.  They are part of who we are called to be—not to idolize or put ahead of who we are before God but to take it into us and figure out what it is about that person or persons that God is using for our lives.

Next week my 22-year-old son, Matthew, and I are going on a mission trip to Casa Esperanza, a children’s dental clinic and medical center in Puerto Lempira on the Mosquito Coast of eastern Honduras. Getting there involves three plane flights, a cab ride, and a bus trip. Reading through the “Instructions for Volunteers,” handout, I learned about all kinds of details Jesus doesn’t go into in his “Instructions for Volunteers” in Matthew 10:5-15.  Jesus doesn’t go into airport taxes, the expected tips for people who handle your luggage, safety, appropriate attire, passports (your passport can’t expire less than six months after you plan to leave Honduras), where and how to exchange money, immunizations, luggage weight limits, malaria pills, insurance, and liability forms. Jesus’ “Instructions for Volunteers” simply says “Go to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Proclaim the good news that the kingdom of heaven has come near. Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons.”  He just tells the Twelve where to go and what to do.

My Honduran mission trip handout also includes a “what to pack for Honduras” list. It includes all kinds of items Jesus doesn’t mention in his packing list in Matthew 10:9-10: ear plugs, hat, motion sickness pills, flash light, small battery operated fan, rain poncho, water bottle, camera, water shoes, sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or above, mosquito repellent, antiseptic hand wipes, an extra pair of shoes in case one gets muddy, snack food, and several other items I won’t bore you with. But if you were going you’d want to know about them.

I am very grateful for the detailed “what to pack” list for Honduras. But I can’t help but compare it to Jesus’ “what not to pack” list in Matthew 10:9-10. No money. No bag for the journey, no extra tunic or pair of sandals, not even a staff.

I don’t know that I would want to go on a mission trip whose team leader was Jesus. I picture Jesus as the airline employee who, just as you are dragging your roller board onto the plane stops you and says, “I’m sorry you’re going to have to check that.” But what he really means is, “You’ll never see this roller board again. Now get on the plane.” Without the preventive medications and small comforts of daily life, I am afraid a Jesus-led mission team would all come back home sunburned, dehydrated, and with blisters on our feet.

There is one more sheet in my mission trip handout packet. It’s called the “Mission Trip Participant Pledge.”

To go on the trip I need to agree to do the following:

I promise to . . .

  • Lift up Jesus Christ with my thoughts, words, and actions.
  • Maintain a servant attitude toward the people our team serve and toward team members.
  • Refrain from negativism and complaining. Travel and ministry in Honduras may present unexpected and even undesired circumstances. Your cooperation and flexibility will make the challenges less stressful.
  • Remember that I am a servant of Jesus Christ called to be in ministry. I will serve as best I can so that both the spiritual purpose and the task of the mission will be accomplished.


At the bottom of the “Mission Trip Participant Pledge” is a place for me to sign and date the document.

Wouldn’t those four promises be good to make every day of discipleship wherever in the world we are? Because even armed with a battery-operated fan, a bag of Planters salted peanuts, and some antiseptic hand wipes, we will experience “unexpected and even undesired circumstances” in our journey with Jesus. When we do, can we count on others to welcome and receive us? Can they count on us to welcome and receive them?

I saw an interview with actor Michael Douglas recently on Oprah. He spoke of his relationship with his father, Hollywood legend Kirk Douglas, and told the following story.

Dad called me the other night. He said, “Michael, I was watching myself in an old movie earlier tonight and I didn’t remember making it.”  “Well, Dad, you made 75 movies and you are 94. Don’t be so rough on yourself.” “No, Michael, you didn’t let me finish. I realized halfway through that I was watching one of your movies.”

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if certain aspects of our lives and ways of relating to others were all but indistinguishable from Jesus? If they reminded others of Jesus, just a little bit? We seek, every day, in every place, on this mission trip of life, to be emissaries of Jesus: representatives of Jesus who welcome others as if they were Jesus and who relate to others in the spirit of Jesus?

Who is the representative of Jesus? New Testament scholar Craig Keener, reflecting on 10:39-39 in relation to 10:40-42, concludes that “The one who relinquishes control of his or her own life (10:38-39) becomes a representative of Jesus.” (Keener, 211) Easier said than done, but we do so with confidence in our leader and the goal that, when we encounter others on our trip, we’ll welcome the Christ in them and they’ll welcome the Christ they see in us.

But first we have to get off the website and get on the plane. We have to get off the shore and into the boat. (From “Mission Trip Guidelines from Jesus”, by Alyce McKenzie, available at, accessed 22 June 2011).


  • What meaning does this passage hold for you?
  • How do you view this considering that fact that their being persecuted for their beliefs was a normal occurrence.
  • What does this say about the idea of “true missioners” as opposed to “entrepreneurs” of our faith?
  • What images of righteousness and following the will of God does this bring about for you?


Some Quotes for Further Reflection:

The most important thing in this world is not where we stand but in what direction we move. (Johann von Goethe, 1749-1832) 

Humanly speaking, we could interpret the Sermon on the Mount in a thousand different ways.  Jesus knows only one possibility:  simple surrender and obedience.  He does not want it to be discussed as an ideal; he really means us to get on with it.  (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945) 

Whatever is honored will be cultivated.  (Plato, 424-348, BCE)




That there is a planet circling the sun, which we call earth, our first, wonderful home.

Give thanks to the Lord who is good, whose mercies last forever.


That the earth is full of loving gifts, beautiful scenes, and complex creatures.

Give thanks to the Lord who is good, whose mercies last forever.


That from earliest days God spoke to people and called them into faith and service.

Give thanks to the Lord who is good, whose mercies last forever.


That God’s people are called to be friends of the earth and stewards of its bounty.

Give thanks to the Lord who is good, whose mercies last forever.


That God came uniquely to us in Christ Jesus, bearing our sins and healing our diseases.

Give thanks to the Lord who is good, whose mercies last forever.


That we belong to a community called the church, where Christ lives on in love.

Give thanks to the Lord who is good, whose mercies last forever.


That no evil can finally win out against God, and that complete reconciliation is assured.

Give thanks to the Lord who is good, whose mercies last forever.


That through Christ’s ministry even death has lost its sting and the grave its victory.

Give thanks to the Lord who is good, whose mercies last forever.


That we are surrounded by a crowd of heavenly friends, whose lives are hid with Christ.

Give thanks to the Lord who is good, whose mercies last forever. 


(Bruce Prewer, Uniting Church in Australia, available at, accessed 22 June, 2011)