God of water and wine,
bring us together this morning
to pour and drink deeply
from the storehouse of your grace.
Let us pause for a moment to breathe
and welcome in this new year.
[Pause for a few seconds]
After a year of losses, bruises,
and slights, a year of unmet hopes,
we are here to rest and to recline
in the living room you have set.
Teach us, Welcoming Spirit,
the look and feel of wonder,
as you ply our minds, bodies, and hearts,
into vessels of your fullness.
Thank you, Three-Personed God,
for the divine display,
for the holy emanation,
of the plenty that is Love.
We pray in the name
of God, our Creator,
of the Son, our Savior,
and of the Holy Spirit, our ever-present Guide.
We invite you to hear from the Book of Isaiah 61:1-6.
1 The spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord
has anointed me; he has sent me to bring good news to the
oppressed, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim
liberty to the captives, and release to the prisoners;
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the
day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who
mourn; 3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion
- to give them a garland instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
the planting of the Lord, to display his glory.
4 They shall build up the ancient ruins, they shall raise
up the former devastations; they shall repair the ruined
cities, the devastations of many generations. 5 Strangers
shall stand and feed your flocks, foreigners shall till your
land and dress your vines;
6 but you shall be called priests of the Lord,
you shall be named ministers of our God;
you shall enjoy the wealth of the nations,
and in their riches you shall receive glory.
The Good News of the Lord.
Thanks be to God!
The grass withers and the flower fades,
but the Word of the Lord endures forever. Amen.
Sermon and Reflection
Where do you see evidence of God’s grace in your life?
How can you cultivate a discipline of holy gratitude?
A new year has dawned!
Despite what we see and hear
in the world around us,
the sun will always rise.
When it comes, it will break through
the darkness of our world —
darkness caused by violence
and death, corruption, and despair.
And all those who now sit huddled in
the shadows will be able to rise and
walk with confidence in God’s light.
May we endure and press onward
this year, with courage and hope,
to love and serve the Lord, that all
may know of our Savior and rejoice.
We pray in name
of our God, the Creator,
of Christ, our Savior,
and of the Holy Spirit,
our Breath of Life.
Go in peace, and live the church.
May you find safety and rest this week.
[Photo by Theodore Mitchell-Bey]