Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46
CALLS TO WORSHIP
Call to Worship #1:
L: Our hearts are lifted up toward God.
P: God created all that is!
L: We celebrate that great love of God.
P: God gifted us with God’s only son, Jesus the Christ.
L: Rejoice and be glad today!
P: Our hearts and spirits praise God for all God’s blessings. AMEN.
Call to Worship #2:
L: Good morning!
P: Good morning to you!
L: Today is a day that God created!
P: We shall rejoice and be glad in it.
L: Thanks be to God!
Call to Worship #3:
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2168, “Love the Lord Your God,” offer the following call to worship as directed.]
L: They asked Jesus, “What is the greatest commandment?”
P: He said that each one should love the Lord their God with all their hearts and with all their souls and with all their minds.
Soloist: singing “Love the Lord Your God” one time through
L: Jesus has given all of us the key to faithful discipleship.
P: Yet he added something that they had counted as unimportant.
L: That’s right! He said that they should also love their neighbors as they loved themselves.
P: That’s not always easy, but it is vitally important.
Soloist: singing “Love the Lord Your God” one time through
L: Thanks be to Jesus who gives us the total picture of faithful discipleship.
P: Open our hearts, Lord, today that we might truly follow these commandments. AMEN
Call to Worship #4:
L: God has called us to be people of love.
P: God didn’t mean the “syrupy” stuff of movies and novels.
L: Truly loving can sometimes be difficult
P: Yet we are called to reach beyond the difficulty with compassion.
L: In all of this, God is with us, guiding and helping us.
P: Thanks be to God for God’s faithful presence. AMEN.
PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION
Lord of light and hope, be with us this day as we have gathered to hear your word. Help us open our hearts to the commandments to love, even when loving is difficult. Give us the courage to be people who will commit their whole lives in your service. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
Prayer of Confession
Merciful God, it isn’t easy for us to follow the commandments of loving. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to love God and to love our neighbors. But we have allowed misunderstanding, fear, hatred, and prejudice to cloud our spirits, turning them away from those who need our love. We place a test before you, asking that you prove your love to us, or we threaten not to believe in you. Please forgive us for this foolishness and stubbornness. Give us the courage to be people who will care for others. Let us dedicate our lives in your service, always aware of your awesome love for us. This we ask in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
Words of Assurance
Though our hearts were hardened to the needs of others, God has touched them with God’s compassionate care, healing our wounds and giving courage and strength to our souls. Be assured that God’s love is poured out for you and rejoice! AMEN.
Patient God, we find it so easy to give lip service and “check” service to the commandment to love. We can say we know of your love and that we respond in kind, but we far too often do not respond in loving ways toward others. We write checks to support ministries of compassion without ever truly feeling the deep compassion that service demands. Dig deeper into our souls, O God. Expose the vain selfishness and the fear that seem to block true discipleship. Engage us in ministries of justice in which the kind of love that you call us to have is required, not just in our spoken word or in our offerings of monies, but in our very passionate nature. Free us and inspire us to love all persons, those whom we would deem unlovable, and those whom we find it easy to love. Help us love ourselves, respecting ourselves in gratitude for the gifts you have given to us; then move us to use these gifts in service to you. We ask these things in the name of Jesus the Christ. AMEN.
[Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 432, “Jesu, Jesu,” offer the reading as directed.]
Soloist: singing quietly the refrain and verse 1 of “Jesu, Jesu”
[Very dramatic] We are excited today about an opportunity to help the people who have been flooded out by the recent storms in the south. We will be hosting a “bucket brigade” to prepare Flood Buckets to be shipped south to aid the people in their recover; also clothing and blankets and towels will be needed. See the pastor after worship about the ways in which you can serve. We look forward to this mission for our Lord Jesus Christ!
Not another mission “opportunity”! All we seem to do is wave the flag of people in need. That’s all we hear about! It’s getting to be too much!
I know what you mean! There are so many people in this world who are in need. I can’t take it all in, and I sure can’t solve it! I am overwhelmed by all this “love” stuff that the preacher keeps spouting.
Soloist: quietly singing the refrain of “Jesu, Jesu”
Everything is so difficult in the world right now. Our economy is wobbling, and we don’t really know if we will have enough to take care of ourselves, nevermind anyone else.
Yeh! And there’s so much anger and fighting all around the world. Children are being killed; whole cultures are being slaughtered. Even our own loved ones are sacrificing their lives - and we feel helpless and hopeless. I don’t get how this “love” thing, the preacher talks about even works in this day and age.
Soloist 1: singing refrain and verse 2 of “Jesu, Jesu”
Soloist 2: singing refrain and verse 3 of “Jesu, Jesu”
I’m so exhausted! Lord, help me really listen with my heart and my ears to what you are saying. I do truly want to love you with all of my heart, soul, and mind; but you know that sometimes, well, actually, lots of times, I am weak, and I can’t seem to make that kind of commitment.
I get so overwhelmed with the problems in the world. Lord, help me really listen with my heart and my ears to what you are saying. I do truly want to love you with all of my heart, soul, and mind; but I get swept up in the “battles” of life and get lost. Bring me back to you, O Lord.
Soloists: singing together refrain and verse 4 and 5 of “Jesu, Jesu”
Lord, forgive me. Heal my heart! Prepare me to be a good witness to your love in the kind of love and compassion that I give to others. AMEN
Lord, forgive me. Open my spirits and give me strength to stand strong in your love as I seek to help others. AMEN.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Go forth into this aching, hurting world with God’s love, offering healing, hope, and peace to all. Go in peace and may God’s peace surround you always. AMEN.
The traditional color for this Sunday is: GREEN
[Note: This setting is suggested by the reading. You may wish to use other objects showing ways in which we can be of loving service to others.]
Place three risers on the worship center. The center riser should be about 12” above the surface of the table (it is on this riser that you will place the cross). The other two risers, 6” tall, may be placed to the right and left of the center riser and a little bit forward on the table. Place a riser in front of the worship center, about 12” lower than the main level of the worship center.
Cover the table with green cloth--preferably a dark green such as forest green--making sure that the whole center is covered and that the green fabric “puddles” on the floor in front of the front riser.
Place one large white pillar candle , about 12” high, in front of the cross.
Place trailing plants, such as ivy, on either side of the cross.
Not necessary for this setting.
On one riser on the worship center, place a towel on which you will put a basin and pitcher (much the same style as in the foot-washing ceremony). Place a heart about 8” high in front of this riser. On the second riser on the worship center, place a chalice and a loaf of bread, representing Communion; lean an 8” heart against the bread. Place a blanket on the floor in front of the worship center; and on top of that blanket, resting against the fabric that covers the riser, place a large red heart, made from poster board (about 11” high). On the riser in front of the worship center, place a flood bucket (a bucket containing bleach, sponges, paper towels, etc.), tipping it over so that the contents appear to be spilling out of the bucket. Place a red heart, about 8” high” leaning against the bucket.