Worship Connection: Ninth Sunday after Pentecost Yr. B

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COLOR: Green
SCRIPTURE READINGS: 2 Samuel 11:1-15; Psalm 14; Ephesians 3:14-21; John 6:1-21

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1

L: Come, rest your spirits in the Lord.
P: We come, hungering and thirsting for God’s word.
L: This is a place of peace and hope, where all may be fed and healed.
P: Bring us to the time of healing.
L: Come, place your trust in God who is always near you.
P: Open our hearts, Lord, to hear your word and feel your presence AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Today is a day especially created for you to find peace and hope.
P: In the midst of our hectic lives, we surely need such a time as this.
L: Come, rest in the Lord.
P: Our souls long for God’s refreshing love.
L: Let the demands of your week melt away in God’s presence.
P: Refresh and restore us, O Lord, we pray. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 347 "Spirit Song", offer the following call to worship]

Choir/Soloist: singing verse 1 of "Spirit Song"
L: Let your hearts be open to the Lord today.
P: Let our spirits be ready to feel God’s power and love.
L: Let go of all the things that bind you in pain and sorrow.
P: Help us to place our trust in God.
Congregation: singing verse 2 of "Spirit Song"
L: Come, let us praise the God of love.
P: Let us bring our hearts to God. AMEN.

Call to Worship #4

L: Turn your hearts to God.
P: What shall we do when we are worried?
L: Place your trust in God’s love and mercy.
P: What shall we do when our lives seem too crowded and busy?
L: Take time for the refreshing words of God’s love for you.
P: Open our hearts, O Lord, and make us ready for your words to us. AMEN.

PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION

OPENING PRAYER

Lord, we come into your presence this morning with the busy schedules of summer activities crowding our lives. Our souls need to be fed and yet we seem powerless to find nurture and feeding that will sustain us. Open our ears, our eyes, and our hearts this day to hear your words of hope and healing for us. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

You know how we are, Lord. We say that we will take time to refresh our spirits and our souls and then we quickly crowd our lives with activities to the point of exhaustion. We turn to you for feeding and nurture, asking you to give us something to sustain us through our times. We even are willing to tell you what we have, but when we look closely, we discover that we bring so little to you. Take what we have, our gifts and our needs. Heal and forgive us when we boldly disobey your word. Remind us that you have given to us all that we need to serve you in this world. The world abounds with your miracles of love and hope. Open our eyes to see them and our hearts to know that these are from you and not of our own making. Heal and restore us to your everlasting love. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.

WORDS OF ASSURANCE

Cease your fearful fretting! God’s love is lavished upon you. It is always there for you, offering healing and hope. Rest in God’s love. AMEN.

PASTORAL PRAYER

What powerful images the scriptures present today, Lord, of Jesus feeding the thousands of people who have gathered. The Gospel lesson tells us that with the small offering of five barley loaves and two fish, he offered sustenance to the many. We wonder about this and have our doubts that such a thing could really happen in today’s world. We see the big picture, the thousands of dollars that are spent on trivial things, but we do not hear about the small wonders that are performed everywhere in your name as good people reach out to those in need. Take away our blindness and our doubt. Surround us with a strong faith that, when we hear the words of healing, we may confidently know that you are in the midst of all our lives. Heal our wounded spirits. Restore in us a spirit of joy. As we have lifted names of dear ones in our prayers before you, O God, we ask your healing blessing on each of their lives and situations. We also ask your healing mercies on all areas in which there is strife, oppression, and despair. Comfort your people with your love. Empower your disciples to serve you fully in your world. We ask this in Jesus’ Name, AMEN.

LITANY/READING

L: There are people in need whom we encounter each day.
P: How shall we care for them? Their need is so great!
L: What gifts do you have?
P: We have so little.....our energy, our love, our willingness to serve.
L: Those are not little gifts. With those gifts, mighty work can be done.
P: You have worked miracles in our lives, Lord.
L: Now you are being sent as those who bring the good news to people in need.
P: We place our trust in God’s presence.
L: Place your hope in God’s eternal love.
P: As we go to serve, may we also be thankful for the many ways in which God has blessed us.
L: Now is the time to serve and witness to God’s good news.
P: Now is the time to let go of our doubts and trust in God’s guidance. AMEN.

BENEDICTION, BLESSING

You have been given every good gift for proclaiming God’s presence and God’s love. The world is thirsting for this good news. People struggle for words of hope and peace. As you have been blessed, now go to be a blessing in God’s Name. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional color for this Sunday is GREEN.

Note: I recommend putting a brief paragraph describing or explaining the symbolism used in your visual display. These become good teaching tools for a congregation.

Note: If you are using the Gospel lesson today, there are several visual directions you could take. One would be the traditional display of baskets with 5 barley loaves and 2 small fish (if you are using fish, make sure that they are dried fish, and only use them for display for the service and then remove them - they will give off an odor which, by itself, will claim the attention of the congregation - and believe me, you don’t want that!!). You may also consider the image of Christ walking on water. John’s gospel does not do much with that story, so my focus would be on the miracle of the loaves and fishes.

SURFACE: Place 5 risers on the worship center. The tallest of the risers (about 10") should be in the upper left corner, diagonal (kitty-corner) to the center line. The other risers may be placed as you choose on the top of the worship center. Place a riser about 6-8" high in front of the worship center to the right.

FABRIC: Cover the worship center with burlap, preferably Landscaper’s Burlap, which is loosely woven, letting the fabric drape down from the table and over the riser in front.. On the top riser use a 16" square fabric of cream colored cloth or some other earth tone material - this may be dark or light, depending upon your choice. Use a matching square of fabric on the riser in front of the worship center.

CANDLES: On one of the risers on the worship center, place an 8" pillar candle - it may be white or cream colored. You may want to wrap it in raffia or a band of burlap to give it a roughened texture.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: I would place some "spiky" plants, like mother-in-law’s tongue, or snake plant, in earthenware pots in front of the worship center to the left. Place a jade plant or other succulent plant near the top riser and use several smaller succulents on the worship center to break the "brown-ness" of color.

ROCKS/WOOD: Small stones and rocks may be placed throughout the worship center at your discretion. I’m not sure I would use wood in this setting, but if you have a piece that works well in the display, go for it.

OTHER: Willow or wicker baskets, unpainted, or other "rough" baskets may be placed in the worship center. Have a willow basket placed on its side on the top riser on the left. Place five loaves of Italian Bread, or Hard crusted rolls, or a collection of bread spilling from this basket. You may place the two fishes prominently displayed from the same basket. Place smaller loaves in various baskets on the worship center, and again, place a basket, leaning on its side on the riser in front of the worship center with some small crusty rolls in it. If you wish, you may use a cloth napkin to line the lower basket and place the rolls on that cloth. That is up to you.

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