Scripture Readings: Isaiah 62:1-5; Psalm 36:5-10; 1 Corinthians 12:1-11; John 2:1-11
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1
L: How can we keep still this day?
P: There is joy in this place!
L: God's steadfast love extends to everyone.
P: God reaches out to us all in forgiveness and compassion.
L: Thanks to God for all the wonderful blessings we have received.
P: Let us celebrate God's joyful love for and with us! AMEN.
Call to Worship #2
L: Sing praise to God, all the peoples!
P: Praise God who really loves us all!
L: Don't be afraid and do not doubt God's love.
P: Open our hearts, O God, and help us to receive that love.
L: Dance in joy to the spirit of God.
P: Let our spirits resound with joy at God's light of joy, AMEN.
Call to Worship #3
[Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 333, "I'm Goin’a Sing When the Spirit Says Sing", offer the following call to worship as directed.]
L: Can you keep silent?
P: Can you close your heart when God calls your name?
Choir: singing verse 1 of "I'm Goin’a Sing When the Spirit Says Sing"
L: Do you dare to rejoice in God?
P: Can you celebrate with joy this day?
Choir: singing verse 4 of "I'm Goin’a Sing When the Spirit Says Sing"
L: Come, then, and lets joyfully celebrate God's presence with us.
P: Let us get ready to praise God for all God's blessings each and every day. AMEN
Call to Worship #4
L: Jesus surprised the people at the wedding.
P: They were sure they would be disappointed.
L: They thought that their host wasn't prepared for their needs.
P: We aren't much different. We aren't sure God is prepared for our needs.
L: Lord, change our whining in to praising!
P: Change our moaning and complaining into celebrations of joy! AMEN.
PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION
Lord, open our hearts to the surprising ways in which you offer to us your love and your presence. Help us to truly believe in the wondrous ways that you work in our lives. Give us hearts and spirits for service to you. In Jesus' Name, we pray. AMEN.
Prayer of Confession
Lord, how we must try your patience! We often doubt, when we should place our faith in your abiding presence. We think that we have to have all the answers, and judge others who fail to live up to our expectations. We think that we are the one thing that matters most in life. So we place ourselves at the center of our own universe. Forgive us when we show how shallow our faith is. Help us to really understand the miraculous ways in which you have already worked in our lives and will continue to work as we journey in faith. Bring to us the Light of Joy, and let it flood through our whole beings, that we may be transformed into people of joyful service and faith. In Jesus' Name, we pray. AMEN.
Words of Assurance
God's love is continually poured out for us. Drink from the cup of forgiveness and compassion, dear ones. In Jesus' Name, we are forgiven! AMEN.
Lord of Light and Joy, the daylight hours are becoming longer for us. Evening comes a little later, and the dawn is earlier, but the darkness in our hearts persists. We continue to look at the miraculous ways you work in our lives as mere stories or happenstance. How foolish we are! From the beginning of all that is, you have poured your love and light into this world and into our lives. You have offered us countless blessings and opportunities for service, some of which we have followed, and others that we have ignored. You have forgiven and healed our spirits. We continue to bring before you the names and situations of people that are in direst need. We ask for your healing mercies and yet we wonder if you really are with us. Turn our moaning and crying into songs of praise and hope. Give us spirits of trust and rejoicing, that we may truly be your people all of our days. Prepare us for joyful service in your world; for we ask this in Jesus' Name. AMEN.
Reader 1: I was just minding my business, sitting out in my car in front of the grocery store, waiting for my spouse to finish the shopping. It had been raining, you know drizzly and spitting showers. The clouds were dark in most of the sky. I looked to my right and got a surprise. Here, in the middle of winter, a rainbow. The light of the sun broke through and showed a rainbow as clear as can be. You have no idea how that made me feel. I'm not a wintry person, but I wasn't feeling particularly joyful…somehow the surprise of that rainbow lightened my spirits. God or not God…just an atmospheric phenomenon?…I don't know…but somehow it made me feel a bit brighter and happier.
Reader 2: The ground here is slushy, some of the snow has melted with a January thaw.But it's not pretty…it's muddy and slushy…everything is muddy and slushy. It tracks in everywhere, leaving watery and dirty patches on floor and rugs. Yuck! Where is the pristine whiteness of my beautiful winter scenery? Why is all so muddy and slushy? And as I looked in disgust at the mud and slush, I thought about the mud and slush that I have allowed in my life. I have opened rooms in my spirit for sadness, frustration, pettiness, prejudice, bitterness, envy, greed. I put up, "Come on in and join the party" signs.
They came in. But it wasn't a party -unless you call it a "pity party"…me feeling sorry for myself…dancing or slogging around in my own mud and slush. I'm not sure how it happened, if it was the reference to Jesus at the wedding in Cana, when he surprised the guests by his gracious transformational gift of turning water into wine; but Jesus has turned my whining spirit into dancing and thankfulness. I have spent too much time in my pity rooms, I needed to go outside my fears into the Light of Joy! Well, here I am. And it's good!!!!!
Reader 3: Do this, do that…keep moving. I need this, I need that…always bend to the needs of others. You don't need time to yourself, that's just being selfish, they said. What you need to do is to forget about yourself. Immerse yourself in work…work…work. Well. I have. I have lost myself. I have hidden myself away in pitiful caring…which means, that I am caring without really caring. I am going through the motions. I don't know how to stop and ask for help anymore. God is somewhere, but not here. Nowhere, that's where I am. And it looks like that's where I'll stay. I need something. I need joy! But Joy can't just be manufactured. Not all the stuff in the world will create joy. Someone said that it comes from within. In that case, I'm in trouble, because the only thing inside me right now is emptiness and loneliness. Where is God? Where is that source of Light and Joy that the preacher keeps talking about? Where is God in my life? I look within. What can I do? What do I do? I try to help. I work with older people, helping to make them more comfortable. I work with small children, teaching them to take care of each other. I work with my family, as a caregiver, parent, friend. I work, work, work…is that what God would have me do? Work? Where is the joy…is it in the face of that elderly lady who just needed someone to talk with for a few minutes? Is it in the joy of the children who are learning to play nicely with each other. Is it in my family, who are safe and warm. Is it in me? Is God's light of Joy in me? Jesus said, "Come to me, all you who are feeling burdened. Let me take your burdens and carry them. I will give you release and relief from them. Rest in my love, and I will strengthen and sustain you". Lord Jesus, lift me gently. Open my spirit again to your joy. Breathe into me the breath of new hope and joy.
Look around you, dear people. God's joy is poured out for you so that you might be a blessing to others. God will continually walk and work with you, relieving your burdens and giving you strength. Go into God's world, rejoicing! AMEN.
The traditional color for this Sunday is: GREEN
Today's theme is LIGHT OF JOY. The focus is on celebration, surprising, healing, joyful!
SURFACE: Place a 10" riser at the center back of the worship table. Place two 4" risers to the right and left of the center riser and slightly to the front.
FABRIC: Cover the entire worship center in a medium green fabric, possibly with a woven pattern, such as a brocade or damask. Make sure that this fabric covers the entire worship center and puddles down onto the floor.
CANDLES: On either side of the 10"riser place two altar/worship table candles or two tall white pillar candles.
FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: On either side of the tall altar/worship table or pillar candles place a container of ivy so that it extends across the table and down the front of the worship center.
ROCKS/WOOD: Not necessary for this setting.
OTHER: Place a brass cross on the 10" riser. Coming from beneath the cross, place streamers of bright colors, such as the kind that are tossed about in celebrations they may be purchased at local stationary or craft stores. Place some confetti liberally on the table and down onto the floor in front of the worship center. (A small hand vacuum should be able to pick it up easily).