The Narrative Lectionary on May 17, 2015 is Romans 6:1-14 where it boldly claims, “So you must consider yourself dead to sin and alive in God and Jesus Christ.” My first instinct is to start singing along with Bon Jovi but it really has nothing to do with this text. Except there is something compelling about this idea of Dead or Alive. It would make a good sermon title, I do believe.
Because we’re in this in-between space. Over at Working Preacher, J. R. Daniel Cook points out that in this chapter the verbs referring to Christ are consistently past tense. But the verbs referring to our new life are regularly in the future tense. That is to say that we know about the dead part — but we’re not sure how we’ll come alive. We’re not sure what that resurrection will look like or if it will come. But, the awesome mystery is that we do not have to sin anymore. But, that’s a tricky word. Most might like to avoid it. Perhaps because it’s been overused. Perhaps because it’s hard to define. Or maybe because we’ve used it as a weapon. We’ve charged each other with sin rather than examine our own hearts and minds for sin.
In her little book on this very topic, Barbara Brown Taylor suggests that sin is a “holy, helpful word.” It is in fact “our only hope, the fire alarm that wakes us up to the possibility of true repentance.” It is what points us toward the possibility of becoming alive.
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Inspired by Psalm 51
Dead to the guilt we’ve carried for so many years,
Alive we walk into the newness of life.
Dead to the many things we have done wrong just this week,
Alive we will move for God in Jesus Christ.
Dead to sin that is always before us,
Alive we will be with the grace of God.
Prayer of Invocation
Come to us, Living God,
As we come together as your people,
With our hearts broken and crushed
Feeling like we are more dead than alive,
Wondering how we might walk into your grace again, Come.
Because we are pretty sure that we can’t do anything right
and that we’ll only make it worse if we even try, so come.
Come to us, Living God,
so that we might feel so alive that we might
be moved to walk or dance or sing
because your grace is so present.
Come, Living God.
Be in every word.
Be in every voice.
Be in every song so that we might come alive again.
Come and walk us into the newness of life.
Help us in all our awkwardness and missteps
to move gracefully into your grace.
May it become so alive in us
in our worship and praise
that we can’t remember when it wasn’t there.
Come to us, Living God, and make us alive again.
In Christ Jesus, Amen.
Call to Confession
Never feeling like we’ve really found it, always bound by the weights that we carry from our many failures and mistakes, we come before the grace of God to glimpse resurrection. We seek to come alive for God in Jesus Christ by confessing those things that have deadened our hearts and minds. And so we pray together,
Prayer of Confession (Unison)
We don’t like to talk about sin because we don’t really want to admit that we’ve done anything wrong. We don’t want to believe that we’re all that bad. But, Living God, you know. You know that there are things that we’ve done and things we’ve said that have made us feel dead inside. We’ve carried this guilt around for so long that we can’t forgive ourselves. Living God, forgive what we can’t forgive. Or, if that’s not possible, if we can’t believe that even you would forgive us, help us to see these deadening sins as reminders of your grace. Living God, help us to walk into the newness of life in Christ if we could only let go of these sins.
Silent Prayer & Personal Confession
Assurance of God’s Grace (Responsive)
Walk into the newness of life.
Come alive to God in Jesus Christ!
Because God forgives you. God always forgives you.
So we must consider ourselves dead to sin and alive in God and Jesus Christ. Alleluia!
If you use the prayers I’ve written in your worship, and I hope you will, please do offer me credit with as follows:
The prayers in our worship this morning were written by/adapted from Liturgical Lights for Sunday May 17, 2015 by the Rev. Elsa Anders Peters. Elsa is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ who blogs at revelsaanderspeters.com.