Twenty-first Sunday after Pentecost
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Job 38:1-7 (34-41); Psalm 104:1-9, 24, 35c; Hebrews 5:1-10; Mark 10:35-45
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1
L: Power and might and majesty belong to God who created and is creating.
P: Thanks be to God for God’s mighty wonders.
L: Like the image of the powerful wind, and heavens as a garment, God’s majesty is revealed in all creation.
P: We look around us at the wonders and marvel and the infinite variety and beauty which God has created.
L: Who are we, that God should pay attention to us?
P: We are God’s beloved children, the stewards whom God has selected to care for God’s world. AMEN.
Call to Worship #2
L: We come before God as equal in God’s sight.
P: God knows us thoroughly and loves us completely.
L: None of us is perfect and without blemish.
P: Yet God has called us God’s children and asked us to be compassionate and responsible in our caring and witness.
L: We are called to joyful obedience in God’s realm.
P: Thanks be to God who trusts us and pours God’s abundant love on us. AMEN.
Call to Worship #3
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2031, "We Bring the Sacrifice of Praise", offer the following call to worship. Have a soloist sing the song through one time. The worship leader will then begin the speaking parts with the people responding. Finally all will sing the entire song through one time and conclude with an "Amen".]
Soloist: singing song through one time.
L: We come joyfully to the house of the Lord.
P: We bring our praise and offer our lives to God.
L: This is our gift and our sacrifice - an act of devotion to God.
P: Let us celebrate God’s love with our voices and our lives.
All: singing the entire song through one time.
Call to Worship #4
L: As the rains pour from heaven, soaking the earth that it may produce good things....
P: So God pours God’s love upon us, that we, too, may produce goodness and peace.
L: We have been blessed with many gifts and talents.
P: God desires that we use these gifts and talents for healing, peace, and hope.
L: Come, let us worship and celebrate the mighty love and power of God.
P: Praise be to God who has blessed us in so many ways. AMEN.
PRAYERS, LITANY, BENEDICTION
Lord, everywhere we look we see the imprint of your creative love. The wondrous works of nature show your majesty. As we gather today to celebrate your love and creation, keep us mindful that we are part of that created order, meant to be stewards and not destroyers. Prepare us to work for you in ministries of peace and justice. AMEN.
Prayer of Confession
We can get caught up in selfish pursuits and completely over look the wonders of your creation, O God. All around us are majestic reminders of the beauty you offer to us. But we are weak and easily trapped into attitudes of indifference or destructive behavior. You have not given this world to us that we should destroy it, but rather that we should cherish it and make sure that all receive from its bounty. Forgive our overwhelming greed and selfishness. Help us to let go of the petty desires for wealth, position, and power, and bring us into a ministry which proclaims your love and justice for all your people. These things we pray in the name of the Master Servant, Jesus Christ, our Lord. AMEN.
Words of Assurance
God hears the cries of our hearts, sees our actions, knows our attitudes. In the midst of our sinfulness, God reaches out to heal and forgive us. Receive the forgiveness which God has offered to you. Live in God’s love. AMEN.
We are so competitive, Lord. We want to know who will be best and first, and we hope that it is each one of us. You call us special and we interpret it to mean "the best". And we feel that we are entitled to all that is due to the "best". Jesus reminded us that the best of us will be the servants, will be those who are willing to help and witness to others, not for their own honor but for God’s honor and praise. Far too long, we have decided that we know what is best for the whole world. We want to run the "whole show", but we don’t want to listen to you, God. You want us to bring peace, to listen to others needs and wants. We want to impose our wills on everyone. We have gotten way off the track of discipleship. Bring us back, patient God. Shake the dust of arrogance from us and nourish us with humility and joy. Help us to be the kind of disciples that serve you faithfully. For we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
[Note: if the message has a focus on friendship and servanthood, this litany/reading may work well as an introduction to the message.]
Reader 1: I have worked hard to get where I am. I deserve only the very best and I am determined to get it, no matter what!
Reader 2: What can I do with the gifts God has given me? I know my limits, but maybe there is some way I can be of help to someone else.
Reader 1: Listen! You’ve got to watch out for Number One - that’s you, of course. Don’t worry about others. Let them take care of themselves. And if they stumble and fall, it’s not your fault. They made their own choices. You don’t need to feel badly for them. Just take care of yourself.
Reader 2: I can’t live like that. I admit, I can’t make everything right, but I know that there is something that I can do for someone. Yes, it’s true. We make our choices and are responsible for them, but in the meantime, isn’t it important to reach out and help where we can so that the choices available for others may be more full?
Reader 1: That’s the old goody-goody stuff again. This is a dog-eat-dog world and you better get used to it.
Reader 2: Is there some way I can be of help to you?
Reader 1: I don’t need anything from you. You have nothing to offer me.
Reader 2: Perhaps you need a friend, or maybe just a smile? [smiles at Reader 1]
Reader 1: Don’t try to con me with the nice smile. It won’t work.
Reader 2: Why not?
Reader 1: Because it makes me wonder what you really want.
Reader 2: Just to be your friend.
Reader 1: Why?
Reader 2: Why not?
Reader 1: You don’t want anything from me? Just friendship?
Reader 2: Yep. That’s it. Friendship.
Reader 1: [smiles] I guess that’s OK.
Reader 2: [smiles back at reader 1]: Kind of nice, isn’t it?
Reader 1: Yes. It is.
Reader 2: Good. Then, we are friends. Thanks for the gift of your friendship. I appreciate it.
Reader 1: You’re welcome. Thanks for yours also.
[speaking to congregation]: To be a friend.....what a novel concept! Not to manipulate or control or dominate, not to compete, just to be a friend. This new friend of mine, looks like a person who cares about others expecting nothing in return. Interesting. I have a lot to learn.
You have been called to serve the Lord with gladness. Go from this place knowing that God’s blessings have been poured on you so that you may be a blessing to others. Be at peace and bring the good news of God’s love and peace to all whom you meet. AMEN.
The traditional color for this Sunday is GREEN
Risers refer to any structure or support which will raise a portion of the worship center above the main level. Some risers may be a stack of books, others may be made from wood or whatever will give the necessary support to the object which is going to be placed on the riser. I have used pieces of 2" x 4" wood, stacked on top of each other to achieve the height I desired. Most risers will be covered with fabric.
Worship Center: Because so many churches have different worship spaces, I have chosen to call the main space for worship display (worship center). It may be called an altar, a communion table, a platform - whatever is the focal point of the worship area.
Flowers/plants: I am not a "purist" if the definition means having only real flowers and plants in the chancel/worship area. I believe that there are some really beautiful silk flowers which will suffice in times when real plants are not available. However, go with the tradition of your local church. Generally speaking I like to use foliage plants (minimal or non flowering) as accent pieces. "Spiky" plants such as sanseveria, mother-in-law’s tongue, snake plant, are good when you are looking for a harsh, hard, angular effect. Fern (particularly asparagas or Boston) are wonderful along with some ivys, to soften the effect.
Puddling the fabric: Currently interior decorators use the technique with draperies of letting the fabric spill to the floor in a heap, sort of a puddle. It is a less formal design. Puddling the fabric means not creating even edges with the fabric, which is drawing a line, but rather softening the look by creating a "puddle".
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 long riser across the back of the worship center. It should stand about 6" higher than the surface of the table.
FABRIC: Cover the worship center with green, making sure that the panel comes to the floor but does not "puddle". Place the panel of "hands" down the center of the worship table so that it comes down the front and touches the floor.
CANDLES Place 4-6 votive candles on either side of the panels, and to the side of the front pictures.
FLOWERS/PLANTS: Flowers and leafy plants may be used on either side of the cross and on either side of the "hand" panel on the floor in front of the worship center.
ROCKS/WOOD : Not necessary for this setting
OTHER: To create the "hand" panel, I recommend going to a home decorating fabric store and purchasing about 2 yards of room darkening fabric (the kind to cut light out from draperies). You will want the panel to touch the floor in front of the worship center. It should be about 24-28" wide. When the paint is dry on the panel, it may be rolled up for storage. However, before using it, make sure you unroll it and let it hang flat for about a day. Using acrylic paints, have people paint their hands and make a print on the fabric. The hand prints may be of various colors, but I caution against using yellow as it does not show up well. This will need to be done at least a week ahead of the service. Place four pictures on the worship center that represent some form of Servant Ministry in which your church is engaged. You may want to also repeat the pictures as bulletin covers. Plate stands can be used to support the pictures. A cross should be placed on the riser at the back of the worship center, with a definite path leading to the cross.