Worship Elements: January 18, 2015

Color: Green
Scripture Readings: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20); Psalm 139:1-6, 13-18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; John 1:43-51

Theme Ideas

Each of these scriptures seems to hold a unique challenge for the preacher and worship planner. The familiar story of God’s voice calling to Samuel is muddied by the disturbing tone of God’s plan for Eli. The Corinthians passage holds the thorny challenge of preaching on fornication and prostitution, and the Gospel’s clear-cut statement about Philip’s decision to follow Jesus is juxtaposed against the account of Jesus’ somewhat puzzling conversation with Nathanael. But in the midst of this brow-furrowing, the words of Psalm 139 offer comfort to preacher and worshiper alike. God’s mystery is indeed too wondrous and complex for us to understand, yet we take refuge in the knowledge that God understands us, and loves us still! The mysterious God who calls to us does not abandon us, even when we falter while trying to follow.

Call to Worship (1 Samuel 3, John 1)

God, you call each of us to serve you, and we answer,
“Here I am!”
Jesus, you call each of us to follow you, and we answer,
“Here I am!”
Holy Spirit, you call each of us to worship you this day,
and we answer,
“Here I am!”

Contemporary Gathering Words (John 1)

Shhh! Listen! Do you hear it?
Our ears are filled with the noise of traffic and TV
and video games.

The call of Jesus is louder than that.
It shouts out above the noise of the world.
Perhaps the signal is too powerful for us to hear.
The call of Jesus is quieter than that.
It whispers in your heart.
We hear it! Praise God!

Contemporary Gathering Words (John 1, Epiphany Season)

Come into worship,
and see what God has in store for us today!
We have busy lives, but still, we’re curious . . .
Come into God’s presence,
and see the difference love makes!
We’ve been burned by love before,
but still, we’re needy . . .

Come into the light and see the glory of God!
Our eyes have been closed for so long,
but still, we yearn for the light . . .

Come and see! Come and see!

Praise Sentences (Psalm 139)

We praise you, O God.
You have known us since before we were born.
We love you, O God.
You know us better than we know ourselves.
We worship you, O God.
Your knowledge is more wonderful than we can imagine.
We glorify you, O God.
Your creation is ever-changing and ever-amazing.
We praise you, O God.
Your love is with us forever.

Opening Prayer (Psalm 139)

Loving God,
you know us better than we know ourselves.
Our prayers are in your heart
even before they are on our lips.
And yet we must utter our prayers.
We must proclaim our praise of you
and all your wondrous creation.
Your love surrounds us
and you have promised to be with us always.
You know our hearts’ desire to serve you.
We pray that you will keep us true to that desire.
And so we utter our prayer, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Opening Prayer (1 Samuel 3)

O God,
you call to us today,
just as you called to the boy Samuel
so long ago.
Gathered here today,
we are many different ages,
but we pray for the maturity of faith
to hear your call and respond to your Word.
Open our ears and our hearts
as we worship, as we work,
and as we care for one another.
We ask that you would give us courage and integrity
to answer your call with the heart-felt words,
“Here I am!” Amen.

Prayer for Illumination (1 Samuel 3, John 1)

Open our ears, O God,
that we might hear your Word
speaking to us in this moment.
Open our ears, O God,
that we might listen for your voice
calling to us through scripture.
Open our ears, O God,
that we might understand your promises
to followers both old and young, ancient and modern.
Open our hearts, O God,
that we might enter into the love
you offer us. Amen.

Prayer of Confession (Psalm 139)

Awesome God,
you have made all of creation
and each cell of our bodies.
You know our thoughts
and you know our sins.
We desperately try to hide our mistakes,
our weaknesses, our embarrassments.
But you know it all,
and so we come before you now
asking for your forgiveness.
Even as you know the limits of our human capabilities,
we know the unlimited power of your love.
Forgive us, cleanse us, make us whole.
(prayer continues in silence)

Words of Assurance (Psalm 139, 1 Corinthians 6)

The God who has made us will never desert us.
The God of creation is creating still, making us new.
The God whose love gave us the gift of Jesus Christ
is the same God whose love forgives and sustains us.
Amen.

Benediction (John 1)

Go into the world, listening for God’s call in your lives.
Go into the world, ready to follow Jesus Christ.
Go into the world, sustained by the love and power
of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Benediction (1 Samuel 3, Psalm 139)

And now, sisters and brothers,
go from this place knowing that the God who made you
also sustains you.
The God who calls you also goes with you.
The God who loved you before you were born
still loves you today, and into all the tomorrows. Amen.


From “The Abingdon Worship Annual 2006,” edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © 2005 by Abingdon Press. “The Abingdon Worship Annual 2015” is now available.

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