Holy God, through baptism
you save us from sin and evil
and deliver us from death.
Nourish us at your table
and train us for your service
that we may help to set others free;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.





Our help is in the name of the Lord,

who made the heavens and the earth.

If it had not been the Lord who was on our side,

then the flood would have swept us away.

The God who saved Israel is still at work in the world,

hearing the cries of the afflicting and setting God’s people free.

Thanks be to God!


*HYMN No. 22                      “God of the Sparrow”

1 God of the sparrow
God of the whale
God of the swirling stars
How does the creature say Awe
How does the creature say Praise

2 God of the earthquake
God of the storm
God of the trumpet blast
How does the creature cry Woe
How does the creature cry Save

3 God of the rainbow
God of the cross
God of the empty grave
How does the creature say Grace
How does the creature say Thanks

4 God of the hungry
God of the sick
God of the prodigal
How does the creature say Care
How does the creature say Life

5 God of the neighbor
God of the foe
God of the pruning hook
How does the creature say Love
How does the creature say Peace

6 God of the ages
God near at hand
God of the loving heart
How do your children say Joy
How do your children say Home


The Apostle Paul writes, “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but think of yourself with sober judgement, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.” In sober judgment and humility, let us confess our sin before God and one another:



Gracious God, you are always present and active amid your people. We confess that sometimes we fail to recognize and respond to your saving work in the world. We defer to power and privilege, expect the tried and true, and succumb to doubt and despair when your ways are not clear. Behold, you are doing a new thing; help us to perceive it. Forgive us when we do not respond to your call. Liberate us from our fears and self-imposed limitations. Guide us into the fullness of life and love that you are at work preparing. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.





Friends, hear the good news: Our God makes a way where there is no way, infusing our world with grace and hope when such goodness feels long gone. We are a people redeemed and restored.

In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Thanks be to God!


*RESPONSE No. 647            “Give Thanks”

Give thanks with a grateful heart;
give thanks to the Holy One;
give thanks because we’re given Jesus Christ, the Son.

Give thanks with a grateful heart;
give thanks to the Holy One;
give thanks because we’re given Jesus Christ, the Son.

And now let the weak say,
“We are strong”;
let the poor say,
“We are rich because of what the Lord has done for us!”

And now let the weak say,
“We are strong”;
let the poor say,
“We are rich because of what the Lord has done for us!”
Give thanks.
Give thanks.



As Christ welcomed everyone, no matter what their background, no matter what their social status; as Christ welcomed enemies and friends, outcasts and leaders, foreigners, and neighbors, let us open our hearts and homes and lives.

Let us be Christ to everyone we meet.

Peace be with you.

And also with you.






UNISON PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION                Elder Linda Blackwell

Mysterious God, we trust that you are at work among us, even when you are hidden from our sight. By the power of your Spirit, open our eyes to see you, our ears to hear you, and our arms to embrace your truth, as it comes to us in your Word. Amen.


SCRIPTURE               Romans 12:1-8

12I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect. 3For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, 5so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.


6We have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us: prophecy, in proportion to faith; 7ministry, in ministering; the teacher, in teaching; 8the exhorter, in exhortation; the giver, in generosity; the leader, in diligence; the compassionate, in cheerfulness.




This is the Word of the Lord.


Thanks be to God!!


SERMON                   “How are we transformed?”

“80 percent of life is just showing up.” This well-known quote, often attributed to actor and director Woody Allen, indicates the importance of presence in life. And it makes sense, after all, you can’t get ahead if you aren’t there to receive it. In times of crisis, a friend’s simple presence is often worth the most. A child or teenager in a school production or sporting event will scan the crowd for a familiar face to cheer them on. Showing up matters.

“Present your bodies as a living and holy sacrifice” Paul writes. It’s the ancient version of this quote, reminding believers of the importance of showing up for God. Here in Romans, Paul lays out that how we engage our physical selves is a reflection of our faith. He puts it in terms that believers in Rome would understand, referencing practices of sacrifice. But, instead of a specific animal brought to the temple, Paul calls it a “living sacrifice,” a phrase that plays on what is known with something new. For Paul, our presence is not some sacrifice that ends in death, but instead is a consecration or dedication to the will and work of God that is live-giving. It marks renewal and wholeness, and is even included in many of our communion prayers as a sign that we wish to be made new by God at Christ’s table. And so, we present ourselves, freely and openly, trusting that when we show up, God does too.

But, as another clichéd phrase goes, “showing up is half the battle.” For Paul, there is more to embodied faith than just physical presence. It also involves an opening of the mind. This past Sunday during the “Bike Church,” ride, I always try to have riders pay attention to the surroundings – we ask the following questions:  what did you experience?  What did you learn?  What surprised you?  Where did you experience God?  It is an attempt to combine presence of body and mind, encouraging us to be both physically present and mentally present during the bike ride. By thinking about what we are experiencing – being mindful during this activity, we can experience the Divine.  The body and the mind are connected, and at their best work together as a team – ride and reflect.

In order to be our most faithful selves, we need to wrap our minds around things in new ways, ways that push and challenge us to better examine ourselves, our communities, our nation and even our world. We have to do more than just show up; we have to think about it, too. It is easy to fall into the trap of just going through the motions without really engaging our minds. This is especially true when it comes to our worship. We like to be lulled and comforted. And sometimes that’s what we need – a sanctuary from all the chaos and conflict that is happening in our world, a haven from the shouting pundits and not-so-funny memes and arguments in the comment threads.  But I don’t think that’s what Paul had in mind for the early church, certainly not in Romans. If anything, the Roman church had a very persuasive argument for the need for shelter and separation from the world. They were under attack, persecuted by the Empire, forced into hiding because of very real risks. But even then, perhaps especially when the world was at odds, Paul called them to reflect on the ways of the world so that they would not conform to the evils that surrounded them, but could be transformed by the renewing of their minds – something that happened in the context to true, authentic worship within the body of Christ.

A seminary friend posted a genuine question several weeks ago, asking “how important is it to you for current events to be addressed specifically in worship?” The responses varied, but all seemed to point to the fact that our time together of worship should include wrestling with the issues of the world, not as partisan or policy debates, but rather in relationship to our understanding of what it means to be part of the kingdom of God – to be followers of Jesus. We must hear the words of Scripture not just as ancient texts, but as the Word of God here and now to us in our context, too. We have to trust that the church, particularly in our worship, can be a place where transformation can happen; in fact, we need to come expecting it. Otherwise, we will only experience a temporary escape without any real toolset for what we encounter outside of these walls, and are likely to fall into patterns of old ways and old thinking, conforming to the world as we blend in. Paul insists that God is calling us forward, into a new transformed way of being -in which:

We must be ready to challenge those parts where the present age shouts, or perhaps whispers seductively, that it would be easier and better to do things that way, while the age to come, already begun in Jesus, insists that belonging to the new creation means that we must live this way instead. – NT Wright

We have to be a people who embody, body and mind, what it means to live with Jesus Christ as our Lord, not anyone or anything else. Worship can be a place where we find a balance point of human initiative and divine intervention as we grapple with the concerns of our day and seek to understand what the will of God is in the midst of it. When we are transformed, we are able to be a true witness to the work of Jesus Christ.

The beginning point of that witness starts with us. It starts with our honest and humble admission that we are prone to conforming to the world’s standards for life and that through our conforming, through our inaction, and through our silence, we have been complicit in the escalation of discord and disharmony within our society. This is a part of the renewing of minds that has to take place within us to live into our identity as the transformed body of Christ.

One of my favorite example of transformation is from Victor Hugo’s classic French novel about Jean Valjean.  Early in the story, he is forgiven by a priest and makes promises to be a new person.  He proclaims that another story must begin:





I am reaching, but I fall
And the night is closing in
As I stare into the void
To the whirlpool of my sin
I’ll escape now from that world
From the world of Jean Valjean
Jean Valjean is nothing now
Another story must begin.


Another story must begin….


I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to take part in this joyous thing God is offering. Hear Paul’s words in verses 1 and 2 as an encouragement and a charge to you in these moments, made fresh to our modern ears by Eugene Peterson’s adaptation in The Message:

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.


Commentary and Liturgy from the Book of Common Worship (PCUSA), Mindy Douglas, Gianna Bairby, Elizabeth Lovell Milford, David L. Bartlett, NT Wright, Paul Achtemeier, Doug Bratt, and Scott Hoezee


*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH                        The Apostles’ Creed

Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty?

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.


Do you believe in Jesus Christ?

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,

born of the Virgin Mary,

suffered under Pontius Pilate,

was crucified, died, and was buried;

he descended to the dead.

On the third day he rose again;

he ascended into heaven,

he is seated at the right hand of the Father,

and he will come to judge the living and the dead.


Do you believe in the Holy Spirit?

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic church,

the communion of saints,

the forgiveness of sins,

the resurrection of the body,

and the life everlasting. Amen.


*HYMN No. 66                      “Every time I feel the Spirit”

Every time I feel the Spirit
moving in my heart I will pray.
Yes, every time I feel the Spirit
moving in my heart I will pray.

1 Upon the mountain, when my Lord spoke,
out of God’s mouth came fire and smoke.
Looked all around me, it looked so fine,
till I asked my Lord if all was mine.

2 Jordan River, chilly and cold,
it chills the body but not the soul.
There is but one train upon this track.
It runs to heaven and then right back.



God of the exodus, we give you thanks for your continuing power of liberation in the world today. You create all that is out of chaos and formlessness. You draw your people out of our suffering, making a way where there is no way. You save us and forgive us and restore us to new life. Hear our prayers this morning for the whole human family.


God of Jochebed, we give you thanks for the fierce, maternal love in which you enfold us. Help us to hold one another and all creation with that same love, tenderness, and fidelity. May we see everything and everyone that you have made, treat the earth and one another with respect, and rejoice that all you have created is, indeed, very good.


God of Miriam, we give you thanks for caregivers in our world, for all who watch over and tend to those in need. Give them strength, wisdom, and endurance for the task at hand. Surround them and us with your loving care that we may remember you are the one who sustains us all.


God of the Egyptian Princess, we give you thanks for people in positions of power and privilege who use the resources at their disposal to seek justice, pursue peace and offer compassion to those in need. Pour out your sovereign wisdom on presidents, governors, and all elected and appointed officials that they might lead the people entrusted to them in paths of righteousness.


God of Shiphrah and Puah, we give you thanks for those among us practicing faithful resistance to the powers of evil. Give us the courage, persistence, and humor necessary to stand up to Pharaoh in our day, to choose life over death, to usher in those new things being born in our midst.


God of all people, this morning we lift those in our midst and in our world in need of your healing and wholeness. Be with people who are sick or injured, hungry or homeless, grieving, or lonely, in prison or estranged from loved ones. Comfort the afflicted and send your presence to all who suffer.


God who forms the church out of diverse and disparate people, send your Spirit to enliven us and equip us for ministry. As our bodies are made up of many members, build us up into the Body of Christ that we may be your church and members of one another. Keep us faithful to the gospel until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray, saying, “Our Father…”.



Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name.  Thy kingdom come.  Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.





By the mercy of God, we are called to present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, for this is our act of worship. Our gifts differ, but all can be used to further God’s kingdom. Let us receive the morning offering.




*RESPONSE N0. 609                        “Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow”

Praise God, from whom all blessing flow, Praise God, all creatures here below.  Alleluia, Alleluia Praise God in Jesus fully known; Creator, Word, and Spirit one. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.



Generous God, you are the source of all good gifts, and you are the one who taught us how to give. Receive our offering — an act of faith that even our small gifts have power and purpose in your world. Amen.


*HYMN No. 839                    “Blessed Assurance, Jesus is Mine!”
Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
O what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight;
Angels descending bring from above
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long;
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior, all the day long.



Go forth from this place, to speak truth to power, to love and serve the least of these, and to seek God’s Spirit and embody that Spirit, in the places where God seems absent.


And as you go, may God’s creative energy animate you, may Christ’s liberating mercy surround you, and may the Holy Spirit’s subversive presence empower you, now and forever more, Amen.