Twentieth Sunday after Pentecost
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Lamentations 1:1-6; Psalm 137; 2 Timothy 1:1-14; Luke 17:5-10
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1:
L: How shall we sing the Lord’s song in a land of suffering?
P: We shall sing of courage and the strength of the Lord.
L: How shall we sing the Lord’s song when we feel so lonely?
P: We shall sing of unity and faithfulness, of reconciliation and hope.
L: Come, let us sing the Lord’s song this day.
P: Let us praise God in all our ways forever. AMEN.
Call to Worship #2:
L: Place your trust in the Lord.
P: God shall heal our suffering and pain.
L: Place your faith in God’s abiding presence.
P: We shall be strengthened.
L: Place your lives always in God’s care.
P: We shall be made whole in the Lord of all compassion. AMEN.
Call to Worship #3
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2157, “Come and Fill Our Hearts,” offer the following as a call to worship. Begin by having a soloist sing the song through one time; add the choir or a small ensemble of singers who will sing the song continually until ]
Soloist singing “Come and Fill Our Hearts” through one time.
L: Lord, in this world of strife we need your peaceful presence in our hearts.
P: We struggle. Tensions abound. O Lord, hear our cries!
Add the choral ensemble singing “Come and Fill Our Hearts” at this point. The Leader will pause until the song has been sung through one time, then the leader will continue.
L: Lord, when we are torn and do not know in what direction to turn, guide our steps.
P: Bring us back to you, merciful God.
[The singing continues]
L: Lord, open our hearts and our lives this day to be filled with the radiance of your love.
P: Help us to receive your peace and to be bearers of that peace to others. AMEN.
Choral ensemble: singing through “Come and Fill Our Hearts” one last time.
Call to Worship #4:
L: In the fullness of time, God gave us Jesus that we might understand God’s love.
P: Yet we turned our backs on him and went our own way.
L: God’s loving presence continued in the disciples, bringing again the message of hope and reconciliation.
P: Open our ears and our hearts, O Lord, to receive this message.
L: Let the bread and the wine we receive today give us strength and courage to do God’s will.
P: Let our lives thus strengthened be a witness to God’s eternal love for all God’s people. AMEN.
PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION
Lord, throughout the world today, Christians are sharing in the sacrament of Holy Communion. We come together with a bountiful table set in the midst of struggle and strife. Help us to receive the elements of bread and wine for the nourishment of our souls and for the strengthening of our witness to your love for us. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.
Prayer of Confession
Merciful and forgiving God, we need a spirit of love and acceptance to flood into our lives this day. Even though we celebrate World Communion Sunday with the giving of the precious bread and of the beloved wine, still we harbor anger and vehemence against others. We act out of frustration rather than love. We hoard your gifts and only grudgingly share our bounty with others. We find ways to turn our backs on you, claiming that other things are more important than our faith. And then in the midst of struggle and strife, we come back to you, awash in tears and sorrow. We plead for your help and salvation. Remind us again, O Lord, that your love has always and will always be with us. You have called us to be witnesses to the good things that can happen when we follow your ways. You have asked us to reach out, across our borders, our oceans, our fears to others with the reconciling love of your Son Jesus Christ. Heal us from our selfishness and our apathy. Give us courage and strength for the ministries in which you have placed us. For we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
Words of Assurance
From the beginning of all creation, God’s word was love. That love has been lavished upon you, not because you did anything to earn it, but because it is God’s great gift to you. Live in that love and bring peace to others. AMEN.
Generous God, it is easy for us to comfortably imagine so many other Christians praying today and receiving the elements of Holy Communion. We like to think of this as a nice event; yet you remind us that when we have received these gifts we are also called to use the strength that they provide to witness to others through acts of reconciling love. This Communion is not a “nice” service, meant for our comfort. It is a challenge for us to truly accept the love of Jesus Christ, who gave to us his body and his blood, that we might be redeemed to do God’s loving will. As we have gathered here this day, bringing our prayer concerns to you, O Lord, help us to remember that you hold each one of us gently and lovingly, offering your healing mercies. Give us courage to be your witnesses, seeking peace in this war-torn world. For we ask this in the name of Jesus the Christ. AMEN.
Reading [This may be done as Readers’ Theater, but it should be rehearsed. The person reading the second part should be a little arrogant in the beginning and then soften in attitude toward the end. Likewise, the person reading the first voice should be a little hesitant and apologetic in the beginning but as he/she voices his/her concerns, the voice is given more confidence and strength.]
[whispering, or speaking in a very soft voice, but just loud enough to be overheard] Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart. Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart.
What are you saying? Speak up!
[apologetically] Oh, I was just asking God to help me a little.
What do you need help with? Have you got a problem?
Well, it’s just that I’m not always a very good person.
You see, I know that I really need to be better, to have a better attitude toward things, like people that make me uncomfortable, like, you know, the difficult things. I mean, Jesus had a wonderful attitude toward all people . . . he loved them and saw them as people of value. Well, I don’t always have that attitude.
I look around at this world, even at our own community in which there is so much need and I turn my back on it. I spend so much time helping myself rather than helping others.
You think that’s what you are supposed to do? To help others?
Yes. I really am. I am afraid and I want to be freed from the fear and work in helping other people.
What’s stopping you?
My lack of faith, probably. I thought I had a strong faith. I’m not so sure.
What does it take to get that strong faith back?
I guess it is just acknowledging the fact that sometimes I don’t feel as strong and confident. I know that God wants me to place my life and my trust in God’s care. It’s just difficult.
How can you do that?
First by letting go of my own selfishness. God has always been so good to me and has given me such gifts to use to help others. I need to just do it.
Is it hard to do?
No. No, it isn’t. I can do all the things God has asked of me because God is with me. I can. I know I can.
Good for you. Now, can you help me?
What do you need?
A friend. Someone who will listen to me. Someone who will care about me.
You’ve come to the right place.
As God has poured God’s love on you, go now in peace to bring God’s love to all people. Rest in the confidence of God’s abiding presence with you and be joyful in your service to God. Go in peace and love. AMEN.
The traditional color for this day is GREEN.
Note: Many churches will be celebrating World Communion Sunday this day. For some it will mean placing a globe on the worship center to remind us of the world-nature of this Communion Sunday. Think carefully about what you want to convey on this day. Will the focus be on the elements of the Holy Communion? Will it be on the global aspect of this day? The following suggestions are really a combination of the two foci.
Place a table-top artist easel on the center of the worship table. Place a 3” riser on the center left and center right. Place a riser in front of the worship center, approximately 6” lower than the main surface of the table.
FABRIC: Cover the whole surface of the worship center with burlap or some other rough cloth. Place a long strip of white cloth over the easel and down the center of the table. The cloth should not be smoothly placed, but should have “hills and valleys” of rippled fabric. This cloth should flow down over the riser in front of the worship center and puddle on the floor.
CANDLES: Place a 4” white pillar candle on each of the 3” risers on the worship center.
You may place votive candles elsewhere in the worship center, as you see fit.
FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Using ivy or other trailing foliage, place the plants on either side of the easel and also on the floor beside the riser in front of the worship center.
ROCKS/WOOD:: These are not necessary for this setting
OTHER: On the easel, either place a painting of a chalice in which there is wine and a loaf of bread or have someone make a felt/flannel board representation of the chalice and the bread. This should be about 24” high and should dominate the center of the table. In front of the board/painting, place the actual Communion elements (the chalice and the covered paten). On either side of them place some good-looking grapes (artificial is fine) and some stalks of wheat or other grain. If you wish, place a globe on the riser in front of the worship center. You may also use a small collection of national flags (the small ones are usually about 3x4 and may be placed in a foam container). Think about ways in which you might want to specify global concerns. I have had the youth create, from double layers of construction paper, an outline of their hands, using the traditional colors of white, yellow, red, black, and brown to represent people of all races. These hands are mounted on cardboard “easels”--one for each hand. They may be placed throughout the worship center, but most notably on the riser in front of the worship center.