Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Ruth 3:1-5; 4:13-17; Psalm 127 (or Psalm 42); Hebrews 9:24-28; Mark 12:38-44
Can you imagine coming to worship as a widow who is ready to give her last dime for the sake of the cross? Imagine the cost of her devotion. Today is about honoring the sacrifice of both the widow and her savior. Our themes from scripture include: accepting the values of God’s kingdom; releasing the grasp of our culture; learning to give out of our abundance; and nourishing our souls with the hope that comes from God, through crying out in honest, searching prayer. The psalmist in particular reminds us that all human activity has no value outside of God’s economy — be it the securing of housing, the protection of cities, or providing for families. We can rest in these assurances: God builds, God protects, God provides.
INVITATION AND GATHERING
Call to Worship (Psalm 42)
Our souls long for you, O God.
When shall we behold your face?
Our souls are uneasy.
When shall hope lead us to praise you again?
During the day, your steadfast love sustains us.
During the night, your song washes over us.
Our hope leads us to praise you.
We praise you, our song of hope.
Opening Prayer (Ruth 3–4, Psalm 127)
we come into your house
as people seeking a heritage.
We need your provision in our lives,
just as you provided
for your daughter Ruth.
A foreigner without status,
you gave her a home,
a family, and a heritage.
Your provision is enough;
it is all we need.
Bring us into your heritage
and form us into your people,
mighty God, restorer of our lives!
PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE
Prayer of Confession (Mark 12)
Lord of all,
the nations are yours.
The poor are your treasured ones—
widows, orphans, the aliens you protect.
Your justice reigns over all.
Forgive us when our ways
devour your beloved.
We don’t mean to cause harm,
yet we do.
Forgive us when we consume
more than our fair share,
all the while knowing
that our excesses deny the poor
the things they need to live.
Forgive us for building bigger closets,
and not clothing the naked.
Forgive us for vacationing in leisure,
when multitudes long simply for rest.
Hear our prayer, Holy One.
May your justice and grace
reign forever. Amen.
Words of Assurance (Hebrews 9)
We long to mend our ways.
Christ can bear these sins
for all who eagerly wait for him.
His sacrifice on our behalf,
his grace toward us,
washes us anew.
Passing the Peace of Christ
Family members of the risen Lord, it’s time for a reunion! Turn to your Christian brothers and sisters and pass the peace of Christ.
Response to the Word
(Consider giving everyone a dime, today’s widow’s mite, at the conclusion of the service. Remind the congregation, prior to the benediction, of the relative “cheapness” of this token remembrance gift. In Tanzania, for example, this would purchase clean drinking water for one day and equate to 30 percent of one’s wages. A widow’s mite—it is costly to bear the truth of God’s economy.)
THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION
Invitation to the Offering
you graciously pour out your blessings on us.
Your gifts surround us.
Despite our abundance,
help us see the widow’s gift,
for we long to give as she did,
gladly giving all she had.
All we have
is a gift from your hand.
Help us loosen our hands,
giving to work of this church on your behalf,
for in giving freely to you,
we gain the opportunity
to live abundant lives!
Offering Prayer or Communion Prayer or Great Thanksgiving
Take this, the gifts of our hands,
and the enterprise of our families,
and bless and multiply them
for the sake of your kingdom alone. Amen.
To live as God’s people of abundance,
while not giving in to the pull of our culture,
you’re going to need the power
of the Holy Spirit.
Lift your hands and hearts,
in the name of the Father, who sustains us,
and the Son, who instructs us,
and the Spirit, who leads us.
Go forth to love and serve the Lord—
the one who loves the widow and the orphan.
Sing the Lord’s song of hope in dry lands!
Contemporary Gathering Words (Psalm 42)
My soul thirsts for you, O God.
Lord, be my provision.
We are without comfort and are lost.
Lord, be our guide.
Your people long to know your hope.
Lord, be our song.
We come to worship you, Lord of all!
From “The Abingdon Worship Annual 2009,” edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © 2008 by Abingdon Press. “The Abingdon Worship Annual 2016” is now available.