Worship Elements: September 6, 2015

July 23rd, 2015

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

COLOR: Green
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9, 22-23; Psalm 125 (or Psalm 124); James 2:1-10 (11-13), 14-17; Mark 7:24-37

THEME IDEAS

We are to tend to the needs of those around us—the needs of the less fortunate and marginalized. Failure to do so results in godly wrath and calamity. There is a strong distinction in these scriptures between rich and poor, especially in the Epistle lesson. There is a strong theme of God’s favor for the poor and a call to live righteously. The Gospel recounts the story of a deaf man healed and a Syrophoenician woman who challenges Jesus to view those outside the Jewish community as worthy of grace and blessing.

INVITATION AND GATHERING

Call to Worship (Proverbs 22:2, 9; Psalm 125:1-2, 4; James 2:5)

Those who trust in God are like the mountains,
immovable and abiding.
God shelters the people:
today and for eternity.
Rich or poor, God creates us to pursue justice
and to care for one another.
Be a blessing, O God, to those who are good
and upright in heart.
God calls us to be rich in faith,
to honor our heritage as heirs of the Kingdom.
We are blessed when we share our blessings,
that peace may be upon the people.

Opening Prayer (Psalm 125:3-4; Proverbs 22:1, 17, 21)

Holy One,
we call upon your name,
for we know that your name and favor
are more precious than human riches.
You hate wickedness
and abhor the neglect of your people.
You call us to righteousness,
to reach out to others with justice and mercy.
You teach us right from wrong,
that we may truly live in your grace.
In the shadow of that grace,
we offer compassion and mercy to others.
Abide with us this day,
that we may serve you forevermore. Amen.

PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE

Prayer of Confession (Psalm 125, Proverbs 22, James 2)

Gracious God,
we come before you today
knowing that we often fall short of your call
to love one another well.
We allow ourselves to be blinded
by wealth and power.
We ignore those around us
who suffer injustice, poverty, and rejection.
We tune out the cries of the poor
and those on the edges of our communities.
Help us to see your great generosity,
hear your word of mercy,
and feel your great love
for all who need your redemptive grace.
Strengthen us to reach out in service
to those who are in need.
Make us aware of those outside our own communities,
that we may see them as your precious children
and serve them in humility and joy.
May we continue to grow in grace
as we learn how to serve you
in the name of the great Servant,
even Jesus Christ. Amen.

Words of Assurance (1 Corinthians 2:12)

We have received, not the spirit of the world,
but the Spirit that is from God.
May we understand the grace and forgiveness
bestowed upon us by God,
that others may find the Kingdom
within us and among us.

Passing the Peace of Christ (John 14:3, 21, 27)

Knowing that God has prepared a place for us; knowing that Christ has come to bring us peace, let us greet one another now in the power of God and the glory of Christ’s peace.

Response to the Word (James 2:14-17, Psalm 125)

It is easy to be overwhelmed by the pain of the world. We want to turn off the evening news and tune out the stories of human suffering, but God calls us to pay attention to those around us, to do more than simply give to worthy causes, to do more than pray the situation into God’s hands. Our faith is to be lived out in righteous actions, that we might resist wickedness and avoid condemnation for our lack of compassion. We are challenged to meet the needs of others, to reach out with hand and heart, to provide for the real human needs of others.

THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION

Invitation to the Offering

We who have been richly blessed are called to share that blessing with the world. Give freely in the joy of serving your neighbor and your God.

Offering Prayer (Proverbs 22:1-2)

All that we do is in your holy name, O God.
Even as we share the riches of our labors,
may we continue to honor your name
in all that we do.
Bless these gifts given freely,
that your justice and mercy may prevail
in a weak and weary world. Amen.

Invitation to Communion

This table is open to all who recognize Jesus Christ as healer and redeemer. This table is open to all who work to bring God’s Kingdom here on earth. No one is turned away because of life circumstances. No one is barred from this table. No one seeking God’s abundant grace and mercy is turned aside. We see before us the abundance that a life of faith offers as we respond to God’s everlasting mercy in prayer and deed.

The Great Thanksgiving (James 2, Mark 7)

Eternal God, Creator of the heavens and the earth
and all who dwell therein,
we give you thanks for all that surrounds us.
We thank you for making us
but a little lower than the angels,
children of your grace.
We are grateful for your mercy,
forgiving our human pride
and our blindness to those in need.
We rejoice in the hope and salvation
found in the person of Jesus Christ,
who shared our earthly suffering and joy.
We remember Christ’s death,
celebrate with joy Christ’s resurrection,
and seek to follow in Christ’s way,
serving those around us.
In the steadfast comfort of the Holy Spirit,
we offer ourselves to your service
as we unite our voices to glorify you.
Holy, holy, holy God of love and majesty,
the whole universe speaks of your glory,
O God Most High.
Blessed is the one who comes
in the name of our God!
Hosanna in the highest!
At this table we recall the night
when Jesus was at table with his friends.
As they were eating, Jesus took bread,
blessed and broke it.
He gave it to the disciples, saying,
“Take, eat. This is my body
which is broken for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same manner, Jesus also took the cup, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it,
in remembrance of me.”
By partaking at this table, we proclaim Christ’s death,
celebrate Christ’s resurrection,
and await Christ’s return.

Communion Prayer

Gracious God,
we ask you to bless this bread and cup.
May we be strengthened through your Holy Spirit
to be the body of Christ,
your servant people,
faithful in all things and humble in our service
to you and your people. Amen.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

We give thanks, almighty God,
that you have refreshed us at your table
by granting us the presence of Jesus Christ.
Strengthen our faith,
increase our love for one another,
and send us forth into the world
in courage and peace,
rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit,
through Jesus Christ our Savior. Amen.

SENDING FORTH

Benediction (James 2:5, 17)

Go forth to love one another.
Be rich in faith and serve one another
in all joy and humility.
And may the power of God our Creator,
Christ our Salvation,
and the communion of the Holy Spirit
be with us now and forever. Amen.

CONTEMPORARY OPTIONS

Contemporary Gathering Words (James 2, Psalm 125, THE MESSAGE)

Friends, don’t let public opinion
influence how you live out your faith.
God lives by different rules.
God lifts up and honors the poor
while sending the rich away empty.
God’s favor is promised to those who love God.
Love is more than saying the right words,
it is doing the right thing for others.
Be good to your people, O God.
The hearts of the people are right!

—OR—

Contemporary Gathering Words (Luke 7, Psalm 125, THE MESSAGE)

We can trust God.
God is like the mountain: rock solid.
God loves all the people:
the poor, the disabled, the outcast,
the stranger.
We can depend on God.
God feeds the hungry, heals the sick,
and restores relationships.
Praise our Loving God.
Hallelujah. Hallelujah. Hallelujah.


From “The Abingdon Worship Annual 2012,” edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © 2011 by Abingdon Press. “The Abingdon Worship Annual 2016” is now available.

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