Sixth Sunday of Easter / Festival of the Christian Home / Mother’s Day
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1:
L: Sing to the Lord a new song, a song of hope and rejoicing!
P: Praise God for wonderful acts of mercy and kindness!
L: God has remembered God’s faithful ones.
P: God has poured blessing upon blessing upon us!
L: Praise the Lord, all the earth, shout your praise!
P: Rejoice, for God is truly with us. AMEN.
Call to Worship #2:
L: It is not difficult to be God’s beloved child.
P: We are called to obey God’s commandments and live in God’s love!
L: The ways which God ordains are ways of peace and hope.
P: The love of God shall conquer the world.
L: Rejoice, O people of God, for God is near!
P: Praise God for God’s power and might, God’s love and peace. 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 described below]
L: Call upon the Lord, who always hears your cries.
P: God listens and answers our prayers
Soloist or Choir (singing): My life is in you, Lord; my strength, is in you, Lord; my hope is in you, Lord, in you, it’s in you. My life is in you, Lord, my strength is in you, Lord; my hope is in you, Lord, in you it’s in you, I will praise you with all of my life. I will praise you with all of my strength; with all of my life, with all of my strength. All of my hope is in you.
All (singing): My life is in you, Lord, my strength is in you, Lord, my hope is in you, Lord, in you, it’s in you. My life is in you Lord, my strength is in you, Lord; my hope is in you, Lord; in you, it’s in you, in you.
L: Blessed be the Name of the Lord!
Call to Worship #4:
L: We come with joy to this celebration of God’s love!
P: Open our hearts, Lord, to receive your love.
L: We come with hope to this witness to God’s power!
P: Challenge and encourage our spirits to serve you, Lord.
L: We come with a willingness to proclaim God’s presence to all.
P: We thank God for this invitation to worship, witness and serve. AMEN.
Call to Worship #5:
L: Welcome to the community of faith, the family of God!
P: We come as families, large and small in number, seeking God’s love.
L: God’s love is here for you.
P: Help us to understand how we are connected to God.
L: We abide in Christ Jesus, in love and compassion.
P: May our spirits be renewed and our connection to God be strengthened through our worship today. AMEN.
Call to Worship #6:
L: Today is a celebration we call the Festival of the Christian Home. For many of us it is also a celebration called Mother’s Day. We are reminded that God has called us together in relationships of love, nurture, and growth that we may witness to God’s love and power in our lives.
P: We celebrate the many ways in which families are designed, from the single person who is in family with God, to the multitude of family systems. In the midst of all these differences, God is the constant loving presence with us.
L: Praise be to God who has called us here!
P: Praise be to God who continues to bless us. AMEN.
Call to Worship #7:
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2050 "Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth", have the choir and the congregation participate in this call to worship as directed]
L: Beloved ones, we have gathered together to celebrate our unity.
P: God has called us into God’s own family and gives to us the name "beloved", loved ones.
Choir (singing): Mothering God, you gave me birth in the bright morning of this world. Creator, source of every breath, you are my rain, my wind, my sun.
L: From the very beginning of creation, God saw all things in relationship to each other. We are part of the magnificence of God’s plan.
P: Lord, help us to remember that there are children far and near who need to know of your loving care and your protecting presence.
Choir (singing): Mothering Christ, you took my form, offering me your food of light, grain of life and grape of love, your very body for my peace
L: Jesus witnessed to us the closeness of God to us by reminding us that God is parent, guiding, supporting, loving, teaching, giving to us the essence of life and peace.
P: Lord, help us to remember that your love sustains all of our lives.
Choir (singing): Mothering Spirit, nurturing one, in arms of patience hold me close, so that in faith I root and grow until I flower, until I know.
L: Rooted in God’s eternal love; blessed by Christ’s life and witness; given guidance and support by the Spirit of God, may we continue to grow in our relationships with each other and with God.
Call to Worship #8:
L: Beloved, we are called to love one another, because love is from God.
P: God’s love is poured in us from our birth.
L: We are called to extend the love of God to all people.
P: God’s loved is taught to us through the witness of God’s faithful people.
L: We are called to proclaim God’s love in all that we say and do.
P: In all creation, in all our relationships, may God’s love be made known. AMEN.
PRAYERS, LITANY, BENEDICTION
Leader: Let the whole earth praise the Lord! Let the mountains and hills proclaim God’s handiwork! Let the seas roar and the waves crash in symphonies of praise! Let all creation sing God’s new song of love!
People: Praise be to God who has created and is creating anew! Praise be to God who re-creates God’s love in us each day!
Leader: Loving, creative God, we praise and bless you for your mighty acts of creation. As we gather here this day we hear your message of power and love through the witness of Jesus Christ as he prepared his disciples for his departure. He gave to them the words of encouragement about living in your love, and through that love being witnesses to the whole world of your peace and hope. Be with us this day, Lord. Open our hearts and minds to receive your word. AMEN.
OPENING PRAYER 2:
God of small seeds, intertwining vines, and mighty trees, we come to you this day representing families of all sizes and types. Some of our families are represented by one person, others by several people, and still others by multiple generations. All are called by you to be loving and faithful; to nurture and teach each other the great good news of your compassionate love for us. We honor all families, of all types, all sizes, all configurations. We celebrate that you have called us to be your family members, brothers and sisters together in you. Open our hearts and spirits today to hear your words of instruction and witness for us. Help us to prepare to go from this place in joy to serve you all of our days. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION:
Easter is such a wonderful season, Lord. Hope springs anew in our hearts. As the earth is being refreshed by the warmth of spring, so we have been refreshed and made new by the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. And we want to stay in this euphoria forever. But you have called us to go into the valley, to those who need to hear of your love and to feel your caring presence. In his words of hope, Jesus prepared his disciples to be witnesses. We have heard these words before, but far too often, we have turned our backs to this message. We don’t quite believe that we are capable of actually living our whole lives in your love. So we act in ways that are often neglectful and hurtful of others. We take more time pampering ourselves than we do helping other people. It is easier to justify our selfish desires than it is to witness to your transforming love. Stop us in our tracks, O Lord. Turn us around. Help us to face our weakness and your forgiving grace. Heal us of our sins, and place us again on the paths of peace. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION 2:
There are several ways to look at vines, O Lord. Some of us look at vines as tangled messes of wood and fiber, twisted, battered, hopelessly knotted. Others of us see vines as delightful reminders of the many ways in which we are connected and interwoven to the main trunk of the plant. Jesus proclaimed "I am the true vine." The source of our life stems from Jesus. All that we do or say, the directions in which we go, all reflect our anchor in our true vine. But far too often we have failed "the vine"; we have chosen the gnarled and knotted existence of anger, alienation, and bitterness. We have twisted the words of caring into words of self-preservation and self-interest. O great vinegrower God, prune this bitter direction from our lives. In your forgiving love, heal our tendency to strike out on our own, thinking that we have all the answers. Help us to exhibit new growth and strength of character, that we may faithfully serve you. AMEN.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE:
God has remembered God’s steadfast love to all the people. We are healed and called to again be God’s beloved children and witnesses. Receive that healing love and share the good news with all you meet, that God is love and in God there is no darkness or fear. AMEN.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE 2:
The commandment that we have from Christ Jesus is that we love one another, treating each other as beloved brothers and sisters. Abide in God’s eternal love. Let its power and joy penetrate your hearts and spirits, preparing you for new growth in the Spirit. AMEN .
Dear God, how difficult it must have been for the disciples, having again spent time with the Risen Christ, to be confronted with his upcoming return to God. They wanted to keep him near them forever, but he was called back home to his Father. He understood their fears and their concerns and offered to them a sense of what they must do. They must truly love each other as God has truly loved each one of them. Can we do any less? We are called to love each one here, with the kind of love that Christ displayed, patient, respectful, strong. Our world would have us believe that love is that emotion which is manipulative; we love in order to get what we want. How sad it is! We are called to a higher understanding. Love must take the form of service and compassion, of hope and proclamation, of patient waiting and urgent striving for the good of all people. Open our hearts today, Lord, and imprint your message of love upon them, that all we say and do is done in your name and for the sake of your people and your world. AMEN.
PASTORAL PRAYER 2:
Vinegrower God, who has given to us the true vine, Jesus Christ. Help us to look carefully at all the things Jesus taught us about relationships and compassion. He taught us to value each person, and not to be in judgment, but rather to open our hearts to the diversity of people and gifts each person presents. We have gathered here this day to celebrate the Festival of the Christian Home and Mother’s Day. It is a time to praise God for the positive connections and relationships which have enhanced our lives. It is a time to seek forgiveness for the ways in which we have allowed our relationships to be bruised and battered, torn and fragmented. We offer to you, ourselves, as we are - imperfect, flawed, wanting and needing your healing love. Be with us this day. Remind us of how precious each of us is in your sight. Give us insight into the ways in which you would have us care for each other and for those for whom relationships have been brutal and violent. Open our hearts and spirits to your redeeming love, through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN.
[Note: This is best when it is done as Readers’ Theatre, rather than an antiphonal reading. It should be rehearsed several times before presentation in worship. This might be a lead-in Reading to the service or something done during the response to the word segment of worship]
Reader 1: I love reunions! It is so great to see everyone and hear how they are doing. There are some people that I thought would never amount to anything, and others that looked like they owned the world. Wow, did some things change!
Reader 2: There are some things that never change.
Reader 1: Like old friendships, you mean? Well, I don’t know about that. So much water has gone under the bridge or over the dam or whatever that saying is. Time changes all things. Nothing stays the same. You can count on that. I don’t know of anything that hasn’t undergone change. You have. I have. All these folks here have changed. Some in their looks, some in their occupations, some in their lifestyles, some in, well, you know, everything.
Reader 2: I know something that never changes.
Reader 1: What’s that?
Reader 2: God’s love given to us through Jesus Christ.
Reader 1: O, brother, hear we go again with the "God’s love talk".
Reader 2: It sounds like you have a problem with that.
Reader 1: Well, when you start talking about God’s love, you sound all holy and stuff. I don’t know what to say to you. We don’t talk much about You-Know-Who.
Reader 2: God is never just You-Know-Who. God’s love transforms us, and, yes, changes us. It deepens us and broadens our spirits and our outlook. It is always there for us.
Reader 1: That’s something that I would like to be able to count on - something that is always there for me. Haven’t been able to find it in this world.
Reader 2: Perhaps you’ve been looking in the wrong places. Take a look at Jesus. He loved his friends and also lots of people that no one else loved at all. He treated each one as special and precious. That’s the way God’s love is.
Reader 1: Well, if that’s so, how can I get this love?
Reader 2: You already have it.....in the person of Jesus Christ. He loves you enough to give his life for you - he loves you always, even when you are at your most un-loveable.
Reader 1: I’m not very loveable, that’s for sure.
Reader 2: According to the Scriptures, Jesus gives his love unconditionally and asks us to love one another, to treat each other and this world with kindness and tenderness.
Reader 1: I want to do that. I want to feel that love.
Reader 2: Just offer this prayer: "Dear Lord, I know that I have done some things that have frustrated and disappointed you, but you continue to love me into wholeness. Be with me in my heart and in my spirit. Help me feel your presence and your love. Help me to be loving with others. In the name of your Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, I pray." AMEN.
Reader 1: That’s it?
Reader 2: That’s it!
L: Flashes of blinding light, Creation, earth, water, wind, fire, all came together to form this world.
P: In the beginning God lovingly created.....
L: Beasts of the field, creatures of the waters, birds of the air, people, all that have breath received the holy breath of God.
P: And God called all of it good and blessed it all.....
L: God’s love was poured to all the people, no matter how many times they turned their backs and decided that their own ways were best.
P: Time after time, God called to the people to return......
L: In the fullness of time, God’s son, Jesus, came to teach and witness to the powerful and gentle love of God.
P: And in God’s time, Jesus changed the whole world....
L: From a huddled group of frightened disciples emerged a mighty source of proclaiming witnesses to God’s presence and power through Jesus Christ.
P: And we have seen such a great cloud of witnesses.....
L: Now, in this time and in this place, we, the family of God, are called to live and breathe the Good News of salvation through Jesus Christ.
P: In our homes, in our work, in our schools, everywhere, we are called to be God’s family of compassionate love and justice. AMEN.
Friends and Beloved of Christ, you have been chosen to go into this world with the message of God’s love. Bear fruit of hope and joy, peace and justice, with all that you meet. May God’s peace be with you all. AMEN
Note: It is advisable to write a brief paragraph of explanation concerning your worship setting for your bulletin. This is a good teaching opportunity on symbolism and visual arts]
The Traditional Color for this season is White; however, you may use other colors if you wish to create your setting
[Note: How do we reflect God’s love? The mirrors in today’s worship center, ask us to consider the reflections of the light of God’s love in our lives and in our presence. You may want to offer this explanation for your bulletin. If you have a source for small mirrors, or mirror panels, about 1-2" square (Craft stores often have small mirror pieces), you may want to consider putting magnets on the back of each one and hand them out to the congregation to take home with them. These can be placed where they will be reminders of God’s love]
SURFACE: Create about 6 levels of height on the worship center, using various risers. Place two or three risers in front of the worship setting, again of various heights.
FABRIC: Cover the worship setting with white fabric, so that all risers are covered, including the ones on the floor in front of the worship center.
CANDLES: Place one large white pillar candle on the highest riser on the worship center. Votive candles or 3" pillar candles may be used near the other risers. Candles will be placed in front of each mirror, slightly off to one side.
FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Flowers or leafy plants may be placed in the worship center, but do not crowd the various risers. Ferns may be placed at the back of the worship center on the right and the left of the highest riser, and taller leafy plants may be placed on the floor in front of the worship center, to soften the look of the center.
ROCKS/WOOD: Not necessary for this setting.
OTHER: For each riser, with the exception of the highest riser, have a free-standing picture stand on which a mirror may be placed. You will need about 6-10 mirrors, some may be placed on the flat portion of the worship center. These mirrors represent the reflection of God’s love