On Mondays I share liturgical writing focused on the Luke passages for each Sunday in the Revised Common Lectionary. This week’s scripture is Luke 12: 49-56, Jesus as a source of division. Contributing a reflection on this complex and disturbing scripture Is Janet Cooper-Nelson of Providence, Rhode Island. I follow this with traditional Sunday morning liturgy.
Gift of Janet Cooper-Nelson
The peace of the Boston Marathon shatters; the one we knew as classmate becomes a suspect, the chilly wind of Jesus’ ancient words shadows the sun’s warmth.
His coming will not be a season of peace– but rather begins time of vast, heartbreaking division rending family members one from another. The indicators of this looming trouble will be as apparent as storms rising on the horizon. But we will not see them easily.
In Jesus immediate family members divided over his Messianic identity–tensions only exacerbated by his execution and the fervent contentions that: He is risen.
Centuries pass: Jesus’ family continues to divide. Yawning chasms open. Slavery, racial justice, immigration, women’s ordination, reproductive rights, global warming, evolution, and gay marriage divide us. Still we read the meaning of these clouds badly and with fear.
Divisions, an absent peace, — the clouds on the horizon, confirm, not deny, the coming age of the Messiah. As with each new life, so the birth of this resurrection season is presaged with labor pains. We wince at their depth even as we breathe and strive to build a peace to bridge our ancient divisions, — to be present for the birth of God’s realm in power.
Call to Worship
We gather to worship and outside there’s weather.
Weather opens our conversations –
it is our unofficial passing of the peace.
A cloud in the west means rain.
A wind from the south brings heat.
We gather to worship, each of us
with personal emotional and spiritual weather.
We have tornado relationships,
fog in our prayer life, or
sunshine on growing seeds of hope.
Scripture says that we interpret the weather of the sky,
but do not read the signs of the times.
We gather in community — here we
forecast in the Spirit and shelter from the storm.
God, our times are always now. These are our clouds, our droughts, the pressure changes and fronts of circumstance we can never predict. Come to us as saving rain, stir us up as holy breeze, shine upon us, O loving Creator. Amen
Prayer of Confession
God, forgive our easy peaces. We have swallowed our points of view, ignored injustices to others and tolerated unkind words just to avoid conflict. We have sometimes put consensus above right and supported majority cruel. Forgive us and teach us how to live the truth in love with courage. Amen
Assurance of Grace
God’s justice brings discomfort, God’s compassion brings division, and God’s forgiveness loosens the bonds of convention so we can grasp unconventional hope. Thanks be to God.
Luke for Sharing – A Community Resource
A Collaboration of Forty-four Writers on the Scriptures from Luke
June – November, 2013
edited by Maren C. Tirabassi
All of these resources were given freely and they may be used in worship contexts. They may be adapted to fit your context. Please cite the original author when you reprint them or share them orally. For any other use please contact me so that I can put you directly in touch with that particular author.