Christian Education, Special services

Training Disciples: Lent Week 4

Bless the Lent We Actually Have

by author Kate Bowler

This week: “Blessed Are Those Who Feel Alone”

Song: We Will Follow
     We will follow, we will follow yo-ou.
     We will fo-o-ollow, we will follow yo-ou.
     We’re gathered here together to sing aloud God’s praise,
     And God is on a pathway to our hearts
     Brothers, sisters, on a journey, long and winding road
     Faith in God will set our hearts on fi-ire (Chorus)
(Repeat a few times, ending with chorus)

Theme of the week: The pandemic has been like a magnifying glass for the loneliness that was already so pervasive in our culture. According to U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, we are suffering a pandemic of loneliness. When humans are isolated, every other kind of suffering is compounded, for we are cut off from the compassion and help that others can offer, in a way that often makes us feel cut off from the God of all comfort. Yet God knows our suffering from the inside out. Psalm 23 is a vivid picture of how God comes to be with us as The Good Shepherd who goes out to seek the one who is alone and lost.

Bible reading: Psalm 23
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
2The Lord makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.

3You restore my soul, O Lord, and guide me along right pathways for your name’s sake.
4Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

5You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
6Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

Bible reading: Romans 12:9-18
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil; hold fast to what is good; 10 love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lag in zeal; be ardent in spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; persevere in prayer. 13 Contribute to the needs of the saints; pursue hospitality to strangers.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be arrogant, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. 18 If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Readings: From The Lives We Actually Have; 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie

  • “For when you need a little hope” (p40)
  • “For truth-telling – however bitter or sweet” (p28)

Reflecting on the readings
You are invited to quietly reflect on the readings by using the following activities, or you may silently meditate on the bible readings or spend time journaling reflections on the texts.

Prayer life check-in: God invites us into prayer and promises to meet us there, a reminder that we are never truly alone. How is your relationship with prayer these days? Circle the statements below that resonate. Reflect on how you would like to feel in your prayer life and then – you guessed it! – take it to God in prayer.

  • It comes easily.
  • It is difficult.
  • I always know what to say.
  • I never know what to say.
  • I don’t think prayer works.
  • I think God listens.
  • Prayer makes me feel better.
  • I pray whatever comes to mind.
  • I prefer scripted prayers.
  • I pray when I don’t know what else to do.
  • I pray to be changed by God.
  • I enjoy praying for myself.
  • I enjoy praying for others.

Web of connections: Grab a pen and paper. In the middle of the page, draw something—anything—that reminds you of your situation right now. Give yourself permission to be a little wild. No need to worry about how much it actually looks like the thing you mean it to! Just a playful drawing that maybe only you can recognize. (Yes, that IS a pickle in a jar. Don’t you see it? 😜) Otherwise, if you’re really stumped, you can just write your own name in a circle.

Now, all around your central image or circle, write the names of the people who love you, the people you love. If you feel so moved, add little drawings that represent them as well. Draw lines representing relationships, if you so choose. Draw a line all the way around the edge of the paper; this line represents God — because whether you write a hundred names or you can’t think of a single one, know that you and all the ones you love are held forever and always in God’s web of love.

Admire your handiwork and take a moment to thank God that you are held firmly in such a beautiful web of connection.

Telling the truth: Think of a time when you were able to truly “weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice” (Romans 12:15). Then think of someone who was able to do the same for you in a time of need. Thank God for the gift of being able to give and receive this kind of presence and compassion. And give thanks to God for unfailingly giving us this kind of presence and compassion, always.


Song: Come to the Water
You said you’d come and share all my sorrows.
You said you’d be there for all my tomorrows.I came so close to sending you away, 
But just like you promised, you came here to stay.
I just had to pray.

And Jesus said, “Come to the water, stand by my side.
I know you are thirsty, you won’t be deni-i-ied.
I felt every tear drop when in darkness you cri-i-ied.
And I strove to remind you that for those tears I died.”

Your goodness so great I can’t understand,
And dear Lord I know that all this was planned.
I know you’re here now and always will be.
Your love burst my chains and in you I’m free.
But Jesus why me? (Chorus)

Jesus, I give you my heart and my soul.
I know without you I’d never be whole.
Savior, you’ve opened all the right doors.
I thank you and praise you from earth’s humble shores.
Take me I’m yours. (Chorus)

Christian Education, Special services

Training Disciples: Lent Week 3

Bless the Lent We Actually Have

by author Kate Bowler

This week: “Blessed Are Those Who Suffer”

Song: Messiah
Someone’s calling from the desert. 
Someone’s calling from the sea.
Someone’s calling from the mountain.
Someone’s calling from the va-a-ally.

Chorus: Messi——–ah, Messiah, come and be our King. (2x)

Someone’s calling from the city: 
I am young, I am cold.
Someone’s calling from the country: 
I am lonely, I am old. (Chorus)

Someone’s shouting, I am broken.
Someone’s shouting, make me whole.
Someone’s shouting, come and change me.
Someone’s shouting, save my soul. (Chorus 2x)

Theme of the week: The grand paradox of our humanity is that the life of faith is not void of pain and suffering. But present too are joy, peace, and love. Our problems or pain or suffering does not mean we are outside of God’s love… just that we are human, again today. And, lucky for us, we have a God who understands what it means to suffer intimately and promises to never leave our side, so we can learn to suffer in hope.

Bible reading: Romans 5:1-11
1 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand, and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our afflictions, knowing that affliction produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely, therefore, since we have now been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Bible reading: Psalm 56
1Have mercy on me, O God, for people are hounding me; all day long they assault and oppress me.
2My enemies hound me all the day long; truly there are many who fight against me from high ground.

3Whenever I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.
4In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust and will not be afraid, for what can flesh do to me?

5All day long they damage my cause; their only thought is to do me harm.
6They band together; they lie in wait; they spy upon my footsteps; because they seek my life.

7Deliver them over to trouble; O God, in your anger, cast down the peoples.
8You have noted my lamentation; put my tears into your bottle; are they not recorded in your book?

9Whenever I call upon you, my enemies will be put to flight; this I know, for God is on my side.
10In God, whose word I praise; in the Lord, whose word I praise—

11in God I trust and will not be afraid, for what can mortals do to me?
12I am bound by the vow I made to you, O God; I will present to you thank-offerings;

13for you have rescued my soul from death and my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before God in the light of the living.

Readings: From The Lives We Actually Have; 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie

  • “For when it is too much to handle” (p108)
  • “For this overwhelming day” (p90)

Reflecting on the readings
You are invited to quietly reflect on the readings by using the following activities, or you may silently meditate on the bible readings or spend time journaling reflections on the texts.

Reread Psalm 56 and make a list of all the emotions the psalmist describes (there are a LOT!). Good, bad, or otherwise, which of these feelings are resonating with you most today? Ask God to meet you there, in those feelings, to heal what needs healing and to help you to find what is holy in them.

Reflect: How has God met you in times when you have been suffering? What do you need from God right now?

Pray the breath prayer below for yourself, sensing the truth of your situation, and the peace that comes when it is fully acknowledged and shared. Then turn your thoughts to someone else who may be feeling lonely, and pray the breath prayer for that person. Sit awhile calmly with the awareness of their situation. Perhaps something will come to mind as to how you could reach out to them.
Inhale: God, turn to me and be gracious to me, 
Exhale: for I am lonely and afflicted.
Inhale: Relieve the troubles of my heart, 
Exhale: and free me from my anguish.

Make a list of the people, places, circumstances in your life and in the lives of your family, friends, and community that are aching for restoration, or where there has been suffering or struggle. Pray the words of Numbers 6:24-26 over your list—if you have the extra time, do it name by name. (E.g., “The Lord bless and keep _________. The Lord’s face shine upon __________, and be gracious to ___________. The Lord look upon _____________, and give ___________ peace.”)


Song: Go in Peace (The X-es below indicate claps)
May Lord Jesus bless and keep you in his love.
May he stand beside you daily, dusk to dusk.
May he guide you through the night, in him we trust,
And lead us forth into the light. (repeat from beginning)

So go in peace. (X X) Serve the Lord your God with love,
Remembering God will be with you all until the e-e-end.
Let’s go in peace. (X X) Serve the Lord your God with love,
Remembering God will be with us all until the end.

Christian Education, Special services

Training Disciples: Lent Week 2

Bless the Lent We Actually Have

by author Kate Bowler

This week: “Blessed Are the Curious”

Song: Dance with Me
This is holy time. 
We’re gathered together to worship you,
to love one another.
And as we pray,
and as we sing,
and as we dance,
and as we dream,
oh, Lord, I beg of you
just this one thing.

Won’t you dance with me?
Throughout the heavens
And below the sea
And up on the mountaintop
Flow with the breeze.
Come carry me.
Lord, won’t you dance with me?
Repeat all the way through once or twice

Theme of the week: Sometimes we will never get the answers we long for. As theologian Stanley Hauerwas says, “The ability to live well is the ability to live without explanation.” Yet blessed are we in our curiosity and confusion, who allow ourselves to live into the mystery. We who trust that God will stay true to God’s promises to us—to love us, to never leave us, to save us through God’s son Jesus Christ.

Bible reading: John 3:1-17
1Now there was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a leader of the Jews. 2He came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do apart from the presence of God.” 3Jesus answered him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.” 4Nicodemus said to him, “How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?” 5Jesus answered, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit. 6What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7Do not be astonished that I said to you, ‘You must be born from above.’ 8The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” 9Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10Jesus answered him, “Are you a teacher of Israel, and yet you do not understand these things?

11“Very truly, I tell you, we speak of what we know and testify to what we have seen; yet you do not receive our testimony. 12If I have told you about earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you about heavenly things? 13No one has ascended into heaven except the one who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14And just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.

16“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life. 17“Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

Bible reading: Isaiah 43:1-7
But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you, and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my sight and honored and I love you, I give people in return for you, nations in exchange for your life. Do not fear, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you; I will say to the north, “Give them up,” and to the south, “Do not withhold; bring my sons from far away and my daughters from the end of the earth— everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.”

Readings: From The Lives We Actually Have; 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie

  • “For when you feel stuck” (p148)
  • “For when you’re feeling grouchy” (p140)

Reflecting on the readings
You are invited to quietly reflect on the readings by using the following activities, or you may silently meditate on the bible readings or write your reflections on the questions you hold in your heart for God, trusting in God’s love even if the answers to your questions elude you.

Silent prayer: “Redeemed.” It’s a word we use today only transactionally, like when we have a voucher we redeem for a discount. But in Isaiah 43, the meaning is love in action. It is what God did through Jesus, whose dying became our living. Re-read and savor this passage, inserting your name: 
“I have redeemed you, ____________. I have called you by name, ____________. You, ____________, are mine.”
Bring all your frustrations out into the light of this unconditional love for you.

Focusing prayer: Take a moment to notice how and where in your body feelings of frustration or fear affect you. Ask God to comfort you there.

Getting unstuck: Sometimes you just need to get out of your brain and into your body. Walking a prayer labyrinth can be a wonderful, meditative practice for connecting with God in a fresh way. While we don’t have a large labyrinth to walk here at St. John’s, you can choose whatever you’re comfortable doing from the body prayer activities on the handout instead.

Other Body Prayers

Like Nicodemus, we can sometimes get stuck in our own heads, or stuck in a particular way of thinking that keeps us from experiencing the fullness of God’s grace and love for us. These prayers are an invitation to get out of your head and to get curious about what God’s Spirit is sending you today. Give them a try.

Walking Prayer
This can be done indoors or outdoors. For tonight, we will do our walking in the sanctuary (please be mindful of any other walkers as you choose which direction and how quickly you walk). Allow your mind to clear and invite God to walk with you. Focus on the sensations of your body as you walk. Notice your breath. Notice the rhythm of your heartbeat. Feel the ground each time your foot connects with it. Be aware of God’s presence.

Trinity Pose Prayer
Standing or seated, move your body through the following poses, praying the short prayer that goes with each one. Really stretch out your arms to feel the wideness of God’s mercy and the freedom of God’s grace.

  • “I give praise to God the Creator who made me”
    • Reach arms up, palms forward, fingertips stretched toward the heavens
  • “I give thanks to God the Redeemer who saved me”
    • Reach arms out to the sides, palms forward, stretching out hands like Christ on the cross
  • “I surrender to God the Spirit who sustains me”
    • Lower arms to your sides, palms forward, tip your head back, pushing hands back and chest out
  • “In the name of the Triune God, amen.”
    • Bring hands up and press palms together in front of your chest in traditional prayer pose
  • (repeat as many times as you like)

Body Confessional Prayer

  • Clench your hands into fists.  In your mind’s eye, put all that comes between you and God in your clenched hands – all your sin and brokenness, all your stress and anxiety and worry and struggle – hold all these things tight right here in your fists.
  • Whenever you are ready to let these things go, open your hands, palms upward, and offer them all to God. Allow God to take them from you. Receive God’s forgiveness where you need forgiveness.
  • Now that your hands have been emptied, cup your hands to receive God’s blessings.
  • As you finish your prayer, press your palms together in front of your heart in a traditional prayer pose as you express your gratitude to God
  • (repeat as often as you’d like)

Breath Prayer
One of the simplest ways to tune in with your body and with God’s presence. The very simplest way is simply to clear your mind and focus on your breath. You may also wish to pray a short phrase on your inhale and exhale. The following are some examples you could pray:

  • Mothering God, you are here
  • Breath of Christ, breathe in me
  • Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on us

Or choose your own – breathe in as you pray whatever name or title for God most speaks to you, then breathe out a short, simple prayer (no more than 2-4 words) of what you need in this moment.

Finger Labyrinth
click here to bring up a labyrinth you can follow online

  1. Begin by placing your finger at the opening at the bottom of the labyrinth. 
  2. Trace your finger around the labyrinth slowly and meditatively, until you reach the center. 
    1. You may wish to choose an intention – a word or a phrase or a specific want/need you wish to take to God – to focus on as you make your way toward the center
    1. You may also simply focus on God’s presence, as well as your breath and the feel of your body
  3. Pause to be still in God’s presence at the center of all things. 
  4. Then, slowly and meditatively, retrace your path until you exit the labyrinth once more.

As you move out of the labyrinth, give thanks for God’s loving presence with you in every minute of every day. Take this feeling of peace and gratitude with you.


Song: Thy Word
   Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
   Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.
Verse 1:
   When I feel afraid, I think I’ve lost my way,
   Still you’re there right besi-i-ide me.
   Nothing will I fear, as long as you are near.
   Please be near me to the e-e-end. Refrain
Verse 2:
   I will not forget your love for me, and yet,
   My heart forever is wa-a-and’ring.
   Jesus be my guide, hold me to your side.
   I will love you to the e-e-end. Refrain
   You’re the light unto my path.

Christian Education, Special services

Training Disciples: Lent Week 1

Bless the Lent We Actually Have

by author Kate Bowler

This week: “Blessed Are the Imperfect”

Song: Light the Fire
Verse 1
     I stand to praise you, but I fall to my knees.
     My spirit is willing, but my flesh, it is so weak.
     Light the fire, in my weary soul.
     Fan the flames, make my spirit whole.
     Lord, you know where I’ve been,
     so light the fire in my heart again.
Verse 2
     I feel your arms around me as your healing begins.
     You breathe life through me, like a mighty rushing wind.
Repeat Chorus, Verse 1, Chorus
     So light the fire in my heart again.

Theme of the week: Our culture tells us that if we just try a little harder, perfection is possible. The trouble is that we keep on being human—with all our flaws and foibles. Lent is a season of turning from all that we know needs to be changed, not by means of a new self-improvement project, but through God’s understanding of our sin and our flawed condition and the blessing of God’s forgiveness, guidance, and comforting presence.

Bible reading: Matthew 4:1-11 
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written, ‘One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’ ” Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’ ”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory, and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written, ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’ ” Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Bible reading: Psalm 32
Happy are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sin is put away!
Happy are they to whom the Lord imputes no guilt, and in whose spirit there is no guile!

While I held my tongue, my bones withered away, because of my groaning all day long.
For your hand was heavy upon me day and night; my moisture was dried up as in the heat of summer.

Then I acknowledged my sin to you, and did not conceal my guilt. I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” Then you forgave me the guilt of my sin.
Therefore all the faithful will make their prayers to you in time of trouble; when the great waters overflow, they shall not reach them.

You are my hiding-place; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance.
“I will instruct you and teach you in the way that you should go; I will guide you with my eye.

Do not be like horse or mule, which have no understanding; who must be fitted with bit and bridle, or else they will not stay near you.”
Great are the tribulations of the wicked; but mercy embraces those who trust in the Lord.

Be glad, you righteous, and rejoice in the Lord; shout for joy, all who are true of heart.

Readings: From The Lives We Actually Have; 100 Blessings for Imperfect Days by Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie

  • “For an unfinishable day” (p180)
  • “For when you want more” (p186)

Reflecting on the readings

You are invited to quietly reflect on the readings by using the following activities, or you may silently meditate on the bible readings or write your reflections on how God’s love makes you whole and holy, regardless of your imperfections.

Moving with Christ against the current: “In this culture of more, more, more, make me less,” the blessing prays. Fill in the blanks below with your own answers to how you want to move against our culture’s exhausting pressures to be MORE:

In this culture of perfection, make me


In this culture of effortless success, make me


In this culture of judgment, make me


In this culture of _____________________________________,

make me ___________________________________________.

Self-portrait, imperfect and beloved: Draw a self-portrait (it doesn’t have to be good!). Around it, write down the things that make you, you. Maybe your kindness or stubbornness (for better or worse) or the way your nose crinkles when you smile. Take time to notice the humanity in your gifts and imperfections (which are sometimes gifts, if we look close enough!).


Song: Lord Fill My Life
Part I
     Lord, fill my life with you alone.
     Empty myself of all that’s my own.
     Lord, fill my life with you alone.
     Jesus, keep my eyes on you.
Part II
     Help me stand! Help me stand for what’s right.
     Help me walk! Help me walk in the light.
     Help me run! Help me run for the prize.
     Jesus, keep my eyes on you. Jesus, keep my eyes on you.
Repeat Part I, Part II, Part I
     Jesus, keep my eyes, keep my eyes,
     Jesus, keep my eyes on you.

Thank you for joining us! Please tune in again next Wednesday for another evening of scripture, reflection, and prayer!

Christian Education

Stewards of Creation: Week 2

Training Disciples
Spring 2022: Stewards of Creation

Week 1: May 4, 2022, 6pm

The “Faith5” practice from the Faith Inkubators ministry is designed for use at home, to build up families in faith through sharing joys and concerns, reading scripture together, and blessing and praying for one another.  Below are the five steps that we will practice this evening. If you’re gathered at home with family, you can practice this, or if you live alone, you might call a friend or family member.

Step 1: Share your highs and lows
Listen attentively, especially to the person to your right – you will be praying for them later. If you did the Creation Appreciation activity last week, you might share this now too!

Step 2: Read a bible verse, passage, or story
At home you might choose something from the lectionary or another meaningful portion of scripture; tonight we will read from the creation stories in Genesis 1-2 and also Psalm 8.

Step 3: Talk about the bible reading
Tonight we’ll do this with words and an activity!
• What words or phrases catch your attention?
• How does this scripture connect with your highs and lows?
• What do you think it means to be made in God’s image?  What does it mean to you?
• What is stewardship – what does it mean to be a steward?

Take home (or stay home!) activity: Homemade Play-Dough
We are created in the image of our loving Creator!
You can find the recipe we used for making play-dough here.

To keep your play-dough soft and moldable, put it in a ziploc baggie and store it in an airtight container at room temperature (no need to refrigerate).  
Or, if you want to make more long-lasting art, mold your play-dough into the shape(s) you want and let it dry – once completely dry, you can apply a protective coating/varnish to keep it even longer.  You could make a cross to hang on your wall, a small pot/dish, a pendant, beads – the possibilities are as limitless as your imagination!

Step 4: Pray for one another
Starting with Pastor, we will each pray for the person on our right. It doesn’t need to be long or elaborate; it can be as simple as giving thanks for what they lifted up as their highs and asking God to care for them in whatever they listed as their lows

Step 5: Bless one another
Turning to the person on our left, we will mark the sign of the cross on their forehead as we bless them. Tonight, we will use this blessing:
[name], beloved child of God, you are made in the image of our Creator, called to be a faithful steward.

READING: Genesis 1:26-31, 2:4b-9, 15
26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

27 So God created humankind in God’s image,
    in the image of God they were created;
    people of all genders God created them.

28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” 29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. 31 God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

2:4b In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed the first human from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the human became a living being. 

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there God put the human who had been formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

15 The Lord God took the human and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.

READING: Psalm 8
O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;

what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?

Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.

You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,

all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,

the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!