Tenth Sunday after Pentecost
SCRIPTURE READINGS: 2 Samuel 11:26–12:13a; Psalm 51:1-12; Ephesians 4:1-16; John 6:24-35
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1
L: Blessed be the Lord of Hosts, who cleanses and heals our lives.
P: Praise be to God!
L: Blessed be the Holy One, who brings us from despair to hope.
P: Praise be to God!
L: Blessed be the Giver of Life, who nurtures and comforts us.
P: Let us praise God with our whole hearts and souls! AMEN
Call to Worship #2
L: The Bread of Life has come among us.
P: What is this Bread of Life?
L: It is none other than Jesus Christ, God’s beloved Son!
P: We hunger for the true bread that will nourish our souls.
L: Come, then, to Christ who feeds us with his very life!
P: We come, needing sustenance and nurturing. AMEN
Call to Worship #3
[If you are celebrating Communion on this Sunday , you might want to consider the following. Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2265, "Time Now To Gather", have the call to worship done as follows.]
L: All who are gathered here this day are welcome in the sight of the Lord.
P: We come from times of stress and worry, needing God’s healing love.
L: Come to this place of healing and feeding.
P: Chirist bids us welcome!
Congregation sings: Verse 1 of "Time Now to Gather" FWS 2265
L: From the worries of our lives
P: Christ bids us welcome!
L: From the things that draw us down and away,
P: Christ bids us welcome!
Congregation sings: Verse 3 of "Time Now to Gather" FWS 2265
L: Let your celebration begin!
P: Let us partake of the banquet of God in Jesus Christ. AMEN.
Call to Worship #4
L: From God came the sustenance for people who wandered in wilderness places.
P: That was the bread from heaven!
L: From God comes Jesus Christ, the eternal bread that sustains our lives.
P: Christ is the Bread of Life!
L: Let us praise God for such wondrous gifts of life.
P: Let us sing and raise our voices in gratitude for all that God does for us. AMEN.
PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION
Along life’s pathways, we search continually for signs to point us in positive directions. Christ has given us a sign which points us to healing and hope: that is the sign of the Bread of Life. No more shall we hunger and thirst after the things which cannot sustain us. Now we have been fed and nourished by Christ! Open our hearts in gratitude, Lord, for all the wondrous things you have done for us. Open our Spirits to hear your words of hope for us today. AMEN.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
In the daily grind of life, we are so often taught to climb the ladder of success by stepping on each other, focusing only on our own wants and needs. Even as children on a carousel, we were taught to try to grab the golden ring, and it would fulfill our dreams of glory and wealth. How we have been corrupted to think in these terms. Our "dollar for a dream" mentality has gotten us into lots of trouble. We chase after all those false idols that cannot ever sustain us and bring us peace. Forgive our stupidity, Lord. Forgive us when we believe that if we only could win the Lottery, everything would be OK and we would be happy. It is your Son Jesus Christ who leads us in the ways of happiness and peace, sustaining us with his life-giving bread. Nurture us again, Lord, with this Bread of Life, that we may truly focus on the ministries and mission you have set before us. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
Do you not know? It is Jesus Christ who is the Bread of Life! Come to him and feed on his love for you. Find healing in his presence. Know that this is given freely for you, out of his great love. AMEN.
It is easy for us to go through the motions of spirituality. We want to say the "right" prayers, and think that we have found the magical key to make holiness appear in our lives. But we are empty, Lord. We hunger and thirst for something that will sustain us through all the times of our lives. We chase after things that will disappoint and hurt, and look past the very thing that will heal and cleanse our lives. Christ is your Bread of Life, the Manna from Heaven, which was and is sent to feed and sustain us in all the wildernesses through which we travel. Help us to stop running after the glitz and glitter, the easy wealth; help us to look truly for the one who will quench our thirst and nourish our souls. As we have lifted up names of people and situations which lay heavy on our hearts today that need your healing touch, help us to remember that we stand continually in need of your healing mercy. Bring us to you, with open and repentant hearts, for your loving care. As we receive the wondrous gift of bread and wine, may we truly be reminded that Christ nurtures and feeds u s with his own life. When we have been nourished, may we go from this place in renewed commitment to serve you, O God, with our very lives. AMEN.
Reader 1: I want a sign that God is doing something for me, right now!
Reader 2: Why do you need a sign? Have you not seen and heard of all the miracles and the wonders that Jesus has done in God’s Name? Haven’t you listened as he told you of God’s love and forgiveness for your sins?
Reader 1: Words. Miracles. I want something I can latch onto.
Reader 2: What do you believe?
Reader 1: Well, I believe in God, certainly. I believe in God’s creative powers. I look around me and see the wonders of nature. That’s some creativity, I’ll tell you! Oh, yeah, and I believe that Jesus is God’s Son, just as the Bible says. I’m not too sure about the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost! But if that’s part of the mix, I believe it.
Reader 2: What do you believe about your relationship with God?
Reader 1: Well........I’m not sure. I guess that God loves me. I don’t know. God seems to be far to busy with the stuff in the world to really worry about me. But I hope God does care. Okay, what it really comes down to is this: I am hurting, badly. I can’t seem to get away from the pain within. I am starving for healing and no matter how hard I try to find the cure for what ails me, I can’t locate it.
Reader 2: Bring all of these concerns and doubts to Jesus. I mean it! Bring it to him. He is the One who will heal and nourish you. You do not have to starve. Jesus is the Bread of Life. He will give you all that you need for healing in your Spirit and heart.
Reader 1: I’m afraid. I’ve searched and failed so many times before.
Reader 2: Search no longer. Christ has found you. Come to him. He will heal and feed you.
Reader 1: I need his love and healing. I know it. I will try.
Reader 2: You don’t have to try. It is given to you. The Bread of Life brings you love and healing. Come and be fed......Come and be healed.....Come and know God’s love for you, for always and forever.
The Bread of Life has called and fed you. Now go forth into God’s world to nourish others, bring God’s love, hope and peace. AMEN.
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: The image of Bread is used liberally in John’s gospel. You may want to consider a display using bread as the main image. Consider the following: The people who witnessed the feeding of the 5,000, were astonished at what had happened, as were the disciples. For many of the people, the true emptiness in their lives was exposed in their actions and attitudes. They wanted a sign. They hungered for a sign and reminded Jesus about the manna in the wilderness in the time of Moses. They stood at the base of the Holy One, as empty baskets, bringing only their misunderstanding and loss. The candle represents the life-transforming love of Christ. The basket with bread outpouring is self-explanatory
SURFACE Place two risers on the worship center. The first riser should be placed diagonally in the upper left side of the worship center, and the other, lower riser, should be placed somewhat diagonally in the center right side of the worship center. Place a riser in front of the worship center.
FABRIC You may wish to cover the entire worship center with green fabric, which is the color of the season, but my preference would be to use landscaper’s burlap to cover the worship center and all the risers, puddling on the floor in front of the riser. Green fabrc, 12" square may be used on each of the three risers.
CANDLES Place one white 10" pillar candle in the middle of the worship center.
FLOWERS/FOLIAGE It is not necessary to use flowers for this setting. Although a small bundle of wheat may be placed in front of the candle at the middle of the worship center.
ROCKS/WOOD Not necessary for this set.
OTHER If you are using a Brass Cross on the worship center, place it on the taller of the two risers, upper left corner, so that it faces diagonally toward the center. Place a basket, preferably willow or wicker, on its side on the second riser. Have several loaves of uncut bread "spilling" out of the basket. On the lower riser, place an empty basket, and several other baskets, empty and tipped over at the base of the worship center.