Worship Connection: September 2, 2012

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Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

COLOR: Green
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Psalm 45:1-2, 6-9 (or Psalm 72); James 1:17-27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1

L: Every generous act of giving is a tribute to God’s love for us.
P: Lord, let us be people of generous and abundant gifts for others.
L: Be ready to listen and slow to react in anger.
P: Lord, prepare us to be peaceful people.
L: Keep your hearts and spirits ready to serve the Lord.
P: Lord, open our hearts to hear and respond to your words of life in ministries of hope and peace. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Summer wanes and the autumn draws close.
P: Lord, help us to be ready for opportunities of service.
L: We have felt the refreshment of time-away.
P: Lord, give us spirits of joy for the times ahead.
L: Come, let us celebrate God’s eternal presence and love.
P: Let us open our spirits to receive God’s direction for our lives. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2032, “My Life Is in You, Lord”, offer the following call to worship as directed, if you do not have the pew editions of THE FAITH WE SING, have the choir sing the final run of the song through twice]

L: Don’t play games with God.
P: God knows us better than we think God does.
L: God is waiting for us to come into God’s presence, honestly.
P: Let our lives be in you, O Lord.
Choir: singing “My Life Is in You, Lord” through one time.
L: Place your whole life in God’s loving care.
P: Lord, we come to you, seeking your healing mercy
L: God is ready to give you new life.
P: Come, Lord Jesus, come into our hearts and let our lives be in you. AMEN.
Choir and congregation: singing “My Life Is in You, Lord” through twice.

Call to Worship #4

L: God has given us this day for praise!
P: Praise be to God for this most generous gift!
L: God has given his Son to us that we might learn ways of peace and mercy.
P: Let the words of God’s own Son, Jesus, enter our hearts and transform our lives!
L: Come, let us worship this great God of abundant mercy and love!
P: Let our songs, our words, and our thoughts reflect God’s healing and restoring love. AMEN.

PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer

Lord of mercy and abundant love, we have gathered here this day to hear your healing words of compassion and to be transformed by your love. Help us to become more faithful servants in our thoughts, words, and deeds. It is in Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

God of mercy, you know us so well. We like to think that we can hide from You, but we are just kidding ourselves. You have offered to us new life, characterized by honesty, compassion, joy, and peace. You have invited us into ministries of peace and justice; but we have far too often turned our back on opportunities for service and witness to your transformational love. Forgive us for our stubbornness. Help us to turn around and listen to your words of hope. Remind us again that you require compassion and mercy in all who serve you; that you will guide our steps and our lives. Give us courage to truly be your witnesses in this world. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Even if you have transgressed and done what you know to be wrong, remember that God will heal and forgive you; sending you on your way to become a person of peace, hope, love and justice. Be at peace. God is with you. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer

Compassionate God, we like to think that all we have to do is be “religious”, to speak the words, but that we really don’t have to “walk the walk”. We can get so caught up in ritual and rules, that we forget the essence of your word for us. We forget that we are called to truly be people of peace, not just to speak the words, but to practice lives of compassion and hope. So many times in this world, we are challenged to “take sides”, one against the other; but that is contrary to your will. You call us to stand for mercy, justice, love, forgiveness, hope, and peace. You want us to be people who care deeply about others and about this world. Help us to be ready to truly and joyfully serve you, O God. Free us from selfishness and self-centeredness. Lift us to lives of peace; for we offer this prayer in the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Reading

[using the readers from the previous two weeks, continue with the dialog that has been established]

Reader 1: What does it mean, to “play church”?

Reader 2: To me, it means that you are pretending to have Jesus in your life. You are going through the motions but you’re not really meaning what you do or say; or you are doing and saying “religious” things just to make people think you are holy or something.

Reader 1: Someone said that many folks are really afraid of being the church…...it’s easier to “play church”. If you are playing church, that must mean that you go through the motions on Sunday, but the rest of the week you forget things like hope, forgiveness, sincerity, compassion…..you know what I mean.

Reader 2: I think you’re right. If you are being the church, then the attributes of hope and peace, love and joy, which you speak of in church are actually an integral part of your life. You really mean what you say.

Reader 1: The scriptures today from Mark’s gospel said that we should be honorable and honest in our faith - being genuine - and he refers to the Pharisees as those leaders who listened to the “letter of the law”, but did not have the “heart of the law” in mind. It’s not the rituals that are the most critical - rituals are meant to remind us of the greater truth, the love of God through Christ Jesus for all people, right?

Reader 2: In the passage from James, the writer says we need to be “doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” So, we need to do acts of kindness and justice and peace. We need to support ministries that uplift people.

Reader 1: Then it is truly responding to being fed by the “living bread” - being those who actually do what Christ requires of them. Sounds good to me. Let’s get going.

Benediction

As Christ has fed and redeemed your life, now go into the world in peace and love offering ministries of hope and justice. Go in peace and may the peace of God always be with you. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional color for this Sunday is: Green

SURFACE: Place a 10” riser at the center back of the worship table. Place two 3” risers on either side of the 10” riser. Place a riser in front of the worship table, about 6” below the surface of the main table.

FABRIC: Cover the worship table completely with green fabric, making sure that all risers are covered and that the green fabric puddles onto the floor in front of the worship center. Taking the 5 yard piece of fabric, have children or youth and adults make handprints all over the fabric. These handprints may be in many colors. Take a 5 yard piece of white fabric, about 30” wide, and place one end of it on top of the 10” riser at the center back of the worship table. Bring the remainder of the fabric forward so that it trails down over the riser in front of the worship center and onto the floor.

CANDLES: Place a 6” white pillar candle on each of the 3” risers on the side of the 10” riser. Place a white 6” pillar candle on the riser in front of the worship center.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: You may use trailing vines or other leafy foliage plants on the back of the worship table, beside the white candles. You may also wish to place a “bushy” plant on the floor, near the front riser.

ROCKS/WOOD: Not required for this setting.

OTHER: Place a brass cross on the center riser on the worship table. 

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