Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost
SCRIPTURE READINGS: 1 Kings 2:10-12; 3:3-14; Psalm 111; Ephesians 5:15-20; John 6:51-58
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1
L: Come, give thanks to the Lord with all your heart and soul!
P: We come, rejoicing over God’s many blessings poured out on us!
L: God’s works are great!
P: We delight in learning about them.
L: Respect for God and all that God offers to us is the beginning of wisdom.
P: With gratefulness, we shall praise and honor God all our lives. AMEN.
Call to Worship #2
L: Come, be nourished by the words and witness of Jesus Christ.
P: He came that we might know of God’s absolute, steadfast love for us.
L: Receive the gift of the Bread of Life and hunger no more.
P: We are grateful for Jesus Christ, who has given to us this magnificent gift.
L: Come, let us worship and rejoice!
P: Let us sing our praises to God. AMEN.
Call to Worship #3
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2216, "When We Are Called to Sing Your Praise", offer this call to worship as directed.]
Choir/Soloist: singing "When We Are Called to Sing Your Praise", verse 1
L: So often it is easier to cry and bewail our difficulties.
P: Jesus walked the ways of struggle and fear, as we do now.
L: Come to this time of worship, seeking the One who understands your needs.
P: We come with hope and faith, that we will receive nourishment for our hungering souls.
All: singing "When We Are Called to Sing Your Praise, verse 3
Call to Worship #4
L: Welcome to worship!
P: We come seeking healing and hope.
L: You have come to the right place. God awaits you.
P: Even though we have not always followed the ways God would have us go;
L: God loves, forgives, and awaits you.
P: Praise be to the patient, steadfast love of God. AMEN.
PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION
Lord of life and hope, we gather this day seeking nourishment for our souls and healing for our spirits. Give to us your living bread, that having been nourished in soul and spirit, we may be witnesses to your transforming love. Through the ministry and mission of Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, we offer this prayer. AMEN.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Gracious and Merciful Lord, you have offered to us food for the journey. You remind us that your very life will sustain us as we witness to your love. But sometimes we let those reminders slip from our consciousness. We wallow in our difficulty; make excuses for not living the kind of life that you would have us life; treat others in ways which are not healthy or loving. Please forgive us, Lord. Stop us in our tracks and help us to examine the many ways in which we have not served you well and the callous things we have done to others. Cleanse our spirits and our souls from these unrighteous acts, and cause us to follow you more closely. Remind us again that you are the Bread of Life, having given yourself for us. Sustain us and encourage us in our service. These things we ask in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
Even though we turn our backs on God, God is ready to forgive and heal our spirits. God’s love never fails, and we can rejoice in the power of that eternal love. In the name of Jesus Christ, you are healed and forgiven. AMEN.
We like directions, Lord. We want an owner’s manual; a guidebook; a how-to guide for our faith. Rules and regulations, time constraints seem to dominate our lives and we forget the most basic understanding for our faith; that is our relationship to God through you. God has drawn us here this day, to be healed, to listen, to be encouraged in our service to God’s world. We have lifted up names of dear ones who struggle with a host of issues and situations over which we feel powerless. Remind us again that your power is sufficient for their needs. They are all in your loving care. Help us to place our trust and confidence in you. Let us feast on the Bread of Life who has given to us the best example of what it means to truly serve you and witness to your love. Encourage us to serve you more fully. For we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
Reader 1: I don’t know about this "eating Jesus’ flesh and drinking his blood" stuff. It sounds way too strange for me. It makes me very uncomfortable. It makes me think of cannibals. I know that’s strange to say in a service of worship, but really the language throws me off. So rather than take time to understand it, I would just as soon skip over it and think about something else. You know, think about something like majestic mountains, crashing seas, wonderful sunsets. Those are things that capture my interest.
Reader 2: The language of the Bible and the concepts are not always easy to comprehend. Be patient. Think about it. What if you were to think about the ways in which the food you consume is utilized by your body. You try to eat a healthy diet, lots of fruits, veggies, proteins, etc. You want to stay away from the fats and starches that would clog up your system. When the components of the food are broken down, they nourish your body so that you can do many things. When we take the witness of Jesus Christ into our lives in such a way that they become the very fibers of our being, we are nourished by his life-giving love. Our souls and spirits feast on the wondrous love of God and the incredible healing, restorative powers of the Holy Spirit. We are filled with the joy of the Lord. We have taken Christ thoroughly into ourselves; living with his joy and peace in our hearts.
Reader 1: Hmmmm. I hadn’t really thought of it that way. Jesus nourishes me!
Reader 2: Always and forever. AMEN
Reader 1: AMEN!
Reader 2: And the people of the Lord said:
Filled to the brim with the goodness of God; the nourishment of Jesus Christ, the Bread of Life, and the power of the Holy Spirit, go now in peace to serve God in all that you think, do and say. God’s peace will always be with you. 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. For many of the people, the true emptiness in their lives was exposed in their actions and attitudes. Jesus reminded them that they were drawn by the Father to him, and through him they would receive life-sustaining "bread". Today’s focus is on the Living Bread - Jesus Christ. The image offered is the Bread of Life come down from Heaven, into the wildernesses of our lives.
SURFACE: Place three risers on the worship center. The first riser should be placed in the center of the worship center, and the other two, lower risers, should be placed somewhat diagonally on each side and to the front of the center riser. 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 fabric, 12" square may be used on each of the risers. Using white netting, approximately 3 yards, gather it so that it bunches across the back of the worship center, somewhat reminiscent of clouds (heaven).
CANDLES: Place one white 10" pillar candle in the middle of the worship center. Using 8-10, 3-4" white pillar candles, place them in various places on 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: Scatter bunches of small stones here and there in the worship center to give texture..
OTHER: Place a picture of Jesus with outstretched hands in the center on the worship table. If such a picture is not available, the Brass Cross would suffice. Even though many churches will not be celebrating the Eucharist on this day, place a chalice and loaf in the center of the table, in front of the tall white candle. On the lower riser, fill the basket with the loaves of bread and also place some bread at the base of the worship center. You may want to use some more sheaves of wheat and bunches of grapes in the worship center.