Fifth Sunday after Pentecost, Independence Sunday
SCRIPTURE READINGS: 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27; Psalm 130; 2 Corinthians 8:7-15; Mark 5:21-43
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1
L: In the midst of celebration, we are also in sorrow.
P: Lord, hear our cries.
L: For all those who have given their lives so that we may have our freedom,
P: Lord, hear our cries.
L: For all those who struggle and strive against great difficulties,
P: Lord, hear our cries.
L: We praise God who has blessed us with freedom and peace.
P: Let our lives be a blessing to others as we serve God in this world. AMEN.
Call to Worship #2
L: Freedom is coming!
P: We can hear it in the voices of the oppressed.
L: Hope is coming!
P: We can see it in the eyes of all those who despair.
L: God is here!
P: We count on God’s presence with us, to guide, heal and uplift our spirits. AMEN.
Call to Worship #3
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2036 "Give Thanks", have a soloist sing the whole song through in the very beginning of the call to worship, then at the conclusion of the call, have the congregation sing the whole song through.]
Soloist: Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ his Son. Give thanks with a grateful heart, give thanks to the Holy One, give thanks because he’s given Jesus Christ his Son. And now let the weak say, "I am strong"; let the poor say, "I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us." And now let the weak say, "I am strong"; let the poor say, "I am rich because of what the Lord has done for us." Give thanks.
L: Shout to the Lord, songs of gratitude.
P: God has blessed us mightily!
L: Remember all the blessings God has poured into your life!
P: We are so thankful for everything God continues to do in our lives.
L: Sing your praise to God, even in the midst of troubles.
P: We sing our praise in the midst of fear and despair, for God is with us!
Congregation: [sing #2036 through once, using the final ending]
Call to Worship #4
L: Independence Day is this week.
P: We celebrate a time when our country declared its independence from foreign domination.
L: But many things dominate our hearts: fear, apathy, intolerance, anger.
P: May God hear our celebrations and also our cries for help.
L: Remember how God has blessed you, and be a blessing to others.
P: Lord, keep our hearts and minds open to your word and your way. AMEN.
PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION
God of freedom and miracles, we wait for your voice and direction this morning. We are so busy with the holiday celebrations and gatherings, yet the words of anguish arise around us. News of tragedy and war blare at us from all directions. Hear our cries, O Lord. Come and comfort and heal our wounds. Open our hearts this day that we might become people who bring peace and hope to those in despair. For we ask these things in the name of the master healer, Jesus Christ. AMEN.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
God of Celebrations and Sorrows, we wave the flag this weekend and our hearts beat with pride at the stirring sounds of the bands. Fireworks emblazon the skies, and families gather for celebrations. But in too many places there is little to celebrate. Our spirits ache for people both far and near who suffer and struggle just to have the basic necessities of life, while we live in abundance. Forgive us when our celebration clouds the needs of others. It is important for us to celebrate, but we must never forget that you have given us a ministry and mission to perform here and now. Help us be mindful of the many ways in which we can reach out to others. By our attitudes and our actions, may we be those who would bring hope, comfort, healing, and peace. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
The Lord who made the heavens and the earth hears our cries and answers our calls. Hope in the Lord whose steadfast love endures with us forever. AMEN.
What a weekend it is, Lord. It is time to gather and celebrate, time to reflect on the blessings of the freedoms that have been so sorely fought for and won, time to commit ourselves to offering the freedoms we cherish to others. We have gathered here in the midst of the business of the summer season to seek your will, to find peace and directions for our lives. Bless us, O Lord, with wisdom tempered with compassion. Remind us that we have such freedom because others who have gone before have stood for principles of hope. Do not let our pride of country overwhelm the needs that still abound within our walls and our land. Where there is hatred, help us to bring your words of love. Where there are injustices, help us to correct unjust systems and become advocates for the voiceless and powerless. Where there is apathy, empower us to bring the good news of your gracious transforming love. Be with us this day and all our days as we seek to follow you. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2136 "Out of the Depths", offer the following using both choir and soloist as instructed below]
Choir: [singing verse 1] "Out of the depths, O God, we call to you. Wounds of the past remain affecting all we do. Facing our lives, we need your love so much. Here in this community, heal us by your touch."
L: O Lord, our Lord, we cry to you in our fears and frustrations. In the midst of plenty, there are so many people who lack even what we call the basics for living.
P: Touch our hearts, O Lord, heal us as we reach out with loving care.
Soloist: [singing verse 2]: "Out of the depths of fear, O God, we speak. Breaking the silences, the searing truth we seek. Safe among friends, our grief and rage we share. Here in this community, hold us in your care."
L: Weeping God, who cries with us, there is so much fear abroad in this land. Even those who offer solutions to problems, do so from the vantage point of fear and terror. The music our young people hear is soaked in anger and frustration; the media floods the waves with misery and death.
P: Touch our lives, O Lord, and make us fully aware of the insidiousness of fear-mongering. Help us to discern your will as we reach out.
Choir [singing verse 3]: "God of the loving heart, we praise your name. Dance through our lives and loves; anoint with Spirit flame. Your light illumines each familiar face. Here in this community, meet us with your grace."
L: Healing and Transforming God, touch our minds, our hearts, our spirits with your restoring love. Let us truly praise you and rejoice in all that you have done and continue to do for us.
P: Empower and strengthen us to be people of peace, love, and hope. Give us courage not to run or ignore situations of difficulties, but to approach these as opportunities to serve you with the same love with which you have loved us. AMEN.
God of fireworks and good works, bless us this day as we go from this place. May our celebrations be joyous and memorable, and may our service to others reflect your love and peace. AMEN.
The traditional color for this Sunday is GREEN
Note: The temptation, because this is Fourth of July weekend, would be to drape the worship center in the American Flag. PLEASE RESIST THAT TEMPTATION. We do not worship the flag, we worship God. Instead consider placing the cross at the center of the worship center and surrounding it with articles that remind us of healing love.
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.
SURFACE: Place a riser in the middle of the worship center. Other lower risers, may be placed on the worship center depending upon the artifacts you plan to use.
FABRIC: If you are using any Red/White/Blue in the service, use only a draping of tri-colored ribbon sparingly over the whole display. The traditional color for the day is green, which signifies new life and growth, so it is the appropriate color in which to drape the entire worship center, puddling the fabric at the base
CANDLES: White candles, representing hope, may be placed throughout the worship center, near the artifacts you would use to signify healing and hope.
FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Flowers may be used near the cross, and large foliage plants may be placed on the floor near the front corners of the worship center to soften the look.
ROCKS/WOOD: not necessary for this display
OTHER: I recommend using a brass cross on the highest riser on the worship center. Other artifacts might be instruments of healing, or helping. You might consider photographs of healing or a picture of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter. If you use red/white/blue ribbon, please use it sparingly, weaving it throughout the display and suggest that it is a reminder that we must be a nation of hope and compassion.