Worship Connection: November 6, 2016

October 2nd, 2016

25th Sunday After Pentecost

COLOR: Green
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Haggai 1:15b–2:9; Psalm 145:1-5, 17-21; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-5, 13-17; Luke 20:27-38

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1:
L: Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised!
P: Each day God brings to us new opportunities to learn and grow.
L: God is near to all of us.
P: We will not fear to call upon the Lord.
L: Come, let us praise God who walks with us daily.
P: Let us open our hearts and spirits to God who loves and lives with us. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:
L: Welcome this day to a celebration of hope and abundance.
P: We have come from a busy week in which we have been pulled this way and that, with demands on our lives, our time, our energy.
L: Come and rest in the Lord who heals and restores you.
P: We need this restoration in all of our lives.
L: Pour out your needs to the Lord who will always hear and respond.
P: Lord, we praise you and seek your calming spirit in our lives. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:
[Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 393, “Spirit of the Living God,” offer this call to worship as directed.]

Soloist: singing “Spirit of the Living God” through one time

L: There are times when our lives feel empty.
P: We pose questions to the Lord, questions of frustration and hopelessness.
L: Yet, God is patient and listens to our cries.
P: God is faithful to us and will help us to overcome our fears.
L: Spirit of the Living God, fall afresh on each one of us.
P: Heal our spirits. Change our lives into joyful service to you.
All: Singing “Spirit of the Living God”

Call to Worship #4:
L: Even though we don’t always feel it, God is with us.
P: The darkness and doubt of the world can threaten to consume us.
L: Yet God is with us.
P: All around us there is fear and hopelessness.
L: God brings to us hope and peace. We place our trust in God’s abundant love.
P: Let us freely and without fear open our hearts to God’s healing words of hope. AMEN.

PRAYERS, LITANY/READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer
Redeeming God, come and heal our lives this day. Open our hearts to receive your words of hope and joy that we may become faithful servants of yours in this world which you have loaned to us. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession
Faithful God, we come before you with many issues on our hearts. We get frustrated and angry at the way things are going in the world. We want your immediate intervention; and when we don’t see things happening the way we think they should be, we are quick to dismiss you and any thought of your presence. Help us stop our selfishness and our quick anger. Remind us that you will work with us and through us for peace and hope. Release us from the traps of quick tests of your faithfulness and help us see the “big picture” of your awesome love that spans all of time. Forgive us for our pettiness and our stubbornness. Bring us back to you, O Lord. Help us shout your praises and live lives of joyful service. For we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance
Even though we get frustrated and angry, God still loves us and seeks to heal us. Open your hearts to receive God’s blessings and to feel God’s healing power in your lives. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer
Lord, we are people who want instant answers to all our questions. We want to know how everything is going to work out throughout all of our lives. So we pose questions in which we do not necessarily seek answers but rather entrap you into giving us what we want. Help us understand the broader picture--the scope of your faithfulness and love for us. Remind us of all the times when you have lifted us and brought us to new opportunities for learning and growing. Let us place our trust in you totally, without reservation, for you are indeed faithful and just. As we have brought our prayers before you for our loved ones and for situations in the world in which pain and anger dominate, let us place our trust in your response and your healing love. Give us courage that our faith will be a witness to those who struggle; that our lives will bear the love you have lavished on us. For we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Reading
[The following should be done as “Readers’ Theatre” and should be rehearsed. I would recommend that each “reader” face the congregation while giving their speech. They should remain facing the congregation through the speech of the “voice” that follows their speech. The voice may be off-stage or over to the side of the congregation. It should be a strong voice, but not demanding or arrogant. Let the positive message of the voice come through with compassion. At the end of the reading, have the choir sing “Great Is the Lord," p. 2022, from THE FAITH WE SING.]

Reader 1:
I’ve been out digging in my garden. I bought all these bulbs and other plants that are supposed to be put in the ground in the fall or winter to ready for spring blooming. This is a tough and dirty job, but if I want the flowers in the spring, I have to plant the bulbs now. While I was planting and digging up the soil, I came across some bulbs already in the soil, clustered together, bunched up. I don’t even remember what they were, but here they were and they needed to be thinned out and replanted for better growth. They didn’t look too bad, so I planted them. Then my job was finished. All the plants and bulbs were in. Now I have to wait and hope for the best.

Voice:
Wait on the Lord who has planted goodness and love within you. Trust in all God’s gifts, even though you may think that they are hidden and buried deep within. For they will bloom and give joy to all.

Reader 2:
I have been so frustrated with my life. It seems that everything I try to do doesn’t work out. I struggle and fail to make the goal I have set for myself. I have let people down and just don’t know if I have any energy in me to continue. I don’t know what to do. All around me there is emptiness and fear. Darkness floods in from everywhere, from all the news on television and in the newpapers, from the actions of others who want everything for themselves and don’t seem to care about anyone else. I give up. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

Voice:
Quiet your spirit. Do not fear, for God is truly with you. In your doubting, there is faith and a prayer for God’s intervention. Place your trust in God’s love and rest in the knowledge that God is just. Wait on the Lord, for God will surely pour God’s blessing into your life.

Reader 3:
I believe in God. Truly I do. I come to church and hear the great words of faith and the stories about all those people whose lives God has touched and changed. Thankfully my life is just fine. I am doing well. Everything is going well for me and for my loved ones. The skies are sunny in my world. Yes, of course I know about the strife and hunger in the world, but that is somewhere else, not on my doorstep. I have done well in taking care of my own. Truly I am blessed by God.

Voice:
In the midst of your rejoicing, may you find your heart tuned to God’s love for all God’s creation. May you find that you have been given gifts for helping others, for alleviating the pain and hunger around you. Open your eyes to God’s calling. Your blessings are to be used for healing and not to be kept for your own enjoyment. Step out of your shell into the true light of God’s love, which is service to others in need. That is truly what God’s blessings are about--serving, healing, hope, restoration for all God’s people.
Choir singing “Great Is the Lord,” p. 2022, THE FAITH WE SING

Benediction
May the love of God, abundant through Jesus Christ, and freely given to us, be with you all your lives. Go in peace to serve God in all that you do. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional color for this Sunday is Green.
Note: Today’s scriptures do not lend themselves easily to artistic interpretation. You have to dig deeply to visualize ways to enhance the scripture. The theme is hope beyond what we can see presently. My approach this day is to use a single flower, not a rose or some other elegant bloom, but a carnation, daisy, or local flower. The focus for the setting is new life and hope springing from desolation and fear.

SURFACE:
Place several risers on the worship center and in front of the worship center; they should be staggered. The taller riser should be placed at the left back portion on the worship center. It is on this riser that you will place a simple cross.

FABRIC:
Cover the entire worship center in burlap or some other earth tone rough fabric. The fabric should spill onto the floor in front of the worship center. Do not let the fabric hang in neat folds, it should look wrinkled and rough.

CANDLES:
On the upper right hand side of the worship center, place a cluster of white candles of various heights--my preference would be to use pillar candles in a grouping of three or five candles.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE:
Only the single flower will be used in this setting. This flower should be placed in a container that will not be seen but can be hidden behind rocks and wood.

ROCKS/WOOD:
Use rocks and wood in clusters on the risers and in front of the worship center. However, focus on the cluster of wood and rocks in the middle of the worship center, from which the “flower will spring.” The wood should be broken branches, gnarled and rough. The rocks should be rough stones of various colors. Place the stones at the base of the worship center in clusters.

OTHER:
Use a simple cross for the worship center.

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