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Leader: God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)

People: As we recognize the beauty and value of ourselves and others, we praise our Creator for sharing himself with us.

Leader: The Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created — people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord. (Genesis 6:6-8)

People: Our humanity, though no longer perfect and obviously broken, still demands from us faithful stewardship of God’s gift — his image shared with us.

Leader: The Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son,[d] full of grace and truth. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. (John 1:14,17)

People: Jesus, the Word, reveals to us our glorious Creator and models a life of truth and grace. He overcame sin and enables us to live the abundant life.

Leader: No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. (John 15:13-17)

People: God’s great love, revealed in Jesus, embraces us and names us friends. The embrace of God helps us to reach out and embrace others in His name. Jesus commands us to reach out in love, and he enables us to do so.

Leader: In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 2:26-29)

People: Jesus’ friendship destroys all barriers that divide people. As his representatives we cross over barriers in order to become friends for his sake.

Leader: The creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; for the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to decay and will obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies. (Romans 8: 19-23)

People: Within our friendship with Jesus and others, we groan in frustration as we see brokenness in ourselves and others. We wait with eager expectation for the release of our world and of ourselves from the decay of our present age.

Leader: See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and, that is what we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is. And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure. (1 John 3:1-3)

People: As friends — children of God — we bask in his love as we live and serve him, holding onto the hope that we will live with him forever and will be like him.

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