September 2024


Choosing How We Shall Live

Uncommon Wisdom

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B

This week, the lectionary text features three different couplets from Proverbs 22, all of which point us toward how to engage wisdom-driven decision-making in our daily lives.

If ever there was a service in which we need to pay attention to our words, it is this one. When James brings the focus onto our tongue, we must be careful about the words that we choose and the spirit in which we speak those words. James’s point is that we can wound and we can bless with our words. And often the same words at different times and with different emphasis can go from one to the other more quickly than we realize.

So, care must be taken on the words we use to describe God, for example, and the words we use to talk about us and our relationship with God and one another. Care must be taken on who is given space to speak in our worship spaces, because one way that the tongue can curse is by keeping it silent when it has something to say. At the same time, keeping silent by choice when something needs to be said is a way of cursing with the tongue.

Pay attention to how often our speaking is a part of our prayers and our songs and our litanies. Our worship often reminds us of the need to speak—to sing praise to God with our lips, to announce the good news to any and to all, to proclaim justice in a broken world—yet we often find ourselves reluctant. What can we do during worship to encourage opening our mouths and speaking of our faith? Even with the caveats in the James text, we want to speak, we want to teach. Worship calls for a response, and one of those responses is verbal.

So, speak, and call for speaking. Tell your story, tell the story, invite and encourage, share Christ everywhere with everyone. But watch your language.

Call to Worship

(inspired by James 3, Mark 9:33-37)

We come here today not because we are clever
but because God welcomes the slow learners.

We come here not because we are wise,
but because God loves us in spite of our folly.

We come knowing that the greatest persons will be found
among those who humbly serve like Jesus did,
and that the brightest ideas and the deepest truth will come
from those who see themselves as little children in Christ’s school.

O Lord, open up our mind and our hearts
and enable our lives to declare your praise.

Written by Bruce Prewer and posted on Bruce Prewer’s Home Page, © B D Prewer 2006, http://www.bruceprewer.com.

Lord, We’re Made in Your Likeness

An interactive prayer for James 3:1-12. May be used as a prayer or as a call to worship.

Leader: Lord, I am not perfect. My mouth is just a little too slick and my soul is just a little too sick and tired of stumbling.
People: Lord, we’re made in your likeness.

Leader: I keep falling because sometimes my tongue gets in the way. I know right from wrong, but sometimes my tongue gets the best of me.
People: Lord, we’re made in your likeness.

Leader: It starts arguments and ignites fires that not even the firefighters can extinguish. My tongue, this sword of fire, has become an instrument of life and death.
People: Lord, we’re made in your likeness.

Leader: “If you want it, you can come and get some,” is my attitude. I am a Samurai. I am not the first, nor am I the last. I tried to put this all in my past, but it presently keeps finding itself in my future.
People: Lord, we’re made in your likeness.

Leader: I don’t want to keep living this way. I am ready to lay down my sword and shield to study war no more, but it’s hard. People keep coming for me when I never sent for them.
All: Lord, I am your child and I need you. Please help me control my tongue because we praise you and curse our brothers and sisters with the same tongue. And this should not be. Amen.

Curry F. Butler, Africana Liturgical Resources, Pentecost Package #2, ed. Safiyah Fosua.

A General Prayer for the Day

Glorious God, your law, and your grace is poured upon us and we delight in it. We join with all the company of heaven and earth to offer praise. Speaking your Name is like honey in our mouths.

You have provided everything we need, even the means of salvation through your Son Jesus Christ. But your ways are not our ways. When you show us your plans and they do not meet with our preconceived notions of how they should be, we reject them, and you. We are very good at speaking out of both sides of our mouths when it suits us. O Lord have mercy upon us. Rescue us from our hidden faults; keep us from sin that we might be able to stand before you once more.

We have been commissioned to be teachers and witnesses to your great majesty. Let your Holy Spirit give guidance to the words we speak and the works we do in your Name that in all things we might do honor to you and bring others into your fold.

The way of life is one of bearing the cross of Christ, and for this we give thanks. We lift up before you the people who bear other kinds of crosses. Lift the burdens of those who stumble under the weight of physical distress; aid the ones who struggle with confusion and emptiness. Lead them in the way to eternal life.

May the words of our mouths and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, O God our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

Timothy J. Crouch, OSL, Nancy B. Parks, OSL, Chris E. Visminas, Mark R. Babb, OSL, And Also With You: Worship Resources based on the Revised Common Lectionary Year B, OSL Publications, 1993, 125.

Bridle Our Tongues!

A Prayer for James 3:1-12

Lord, I humbly come to you this day to tell you thank you. You have shown us so much compassion despite our tongues. We have hurt our neighbors, our friends, and our families. Bridle our tongues, God, that we might speak love and not hate. Bridle our tongues, God, that we might uplift and not tear down. Bridle our tongues, God, that we might continue to win more citizens for the kingdom. It’s in the name of the one who saved us, Jesus Christ, that we pray. Amen.

Curry F. Butler, Africana Liturgical Resources, Pentecost Package #2, ed. Safiyah Fosua.

In This Series...

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes