New Worship Connection: February 4, 2018

January 4th, 2018

Fifth Sunday after the Epiphany

Color: Green
Scripture Readings: 
Isaiah 40:21-31; Psalm 147:1-11, 20c; 1 Corinthians 9:16-23; Mark 1:29-39

Call to Worship #1

L: Praise God who has showered us with love.
P: Even in the dark times, God protests and guides us.
L: God has blessed us with a magnificent world
P: If strife should assail, God call us to be people of healing and action to help others.
L: Come! Let us worship God who is always with us.
P: Let us praise God that through all our trials and triumphs, God’s love brings us hope. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Hope is poured upon us this day!
P: God is with us, always offering God’s healing love.
L: Now is the time for us to be people of action, not just those who silently sit and hear the good news.
P: Now is the time to seek the good; to heal those who are broken; to offer peace and hope.
L: Thanks be to God who has blessed us with God’s abundant gifts.
P: We are called to use these gifts in service to God’s broken world. Let us rejoice in the mission to which God has directed us. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using the United Methodist Hymnal, p. 375; offer this sung call to worship as directed below. The congregation will sing the refrain; a soloist should sing the verses – I recommend a strong baritone or bass voice; but alto could work as well. If you wish, you may use three separate soloists, one for each verse. Enjoy this beautiful hymn and the hope that it brings. Don’t rush or drag this music – give it a moderate tempo]

L: No matter how deep the darkness, how fearful is the night – God is with us!
Congregation: singing refrain to “There is A Balm in Gilead”
Soloist: singing verse 1 of “There is a Balm in Gilead”
Congregation: singing refrain to “There is a Balm in Gilead”
Soloist: singing verse 2 of “There is a Balm in Gilead”
Congregation: singing refrain to “There is a Balm in Gilead”
Soloist: singing verse 3 of “There is a Balm in Gilead”
Congregation: singing refrain to “There is a Balm in Gilead”
L: Praise God and offer thanks for all God’s mercies and love given freely to each one of us. There is, indeed, a Balm in Gilead, for every person. AMEN.

Gathering Prayer

God of love and healing, we gather today to hear the words of your love as you touch our hearts with holy balm. Open our hearts and spirits and let your merciful spirit dwell within us that, having heard the good news, we may bring that hope to others. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

God of mercy and love, be with us this morning as we hear the stories of Jesus and his compassion. Remind us again that we also need to be people of hope and compassion in this world which seems so dark. You, O God , open the doors of blessings. You reveal to us the many ways in which Jesus reached out to others at their time of need. Inspire our hearts and lift our spirits this day, for we offer this prayer in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

How amazing it is to us, O God of love, that you look into our hearts and forgive our wayward spirits. So many times we have succumbed to the temptations of this world, seeking comfort in its fleeting enticements. We have turned deaf ears on the cries of those in distress and walked away from opportunities to give aid and comfort. Remind us again of how Jesus reached out to the multitudes who brought their problems and ailments to him. His compassionate touch not only healed their bodies but restored and renewed their spirits. Forgive our stubbornness and our selfishness. Give us hearts of compassion and spirits willing to serve you by serving others. We offer this prayer of contrition in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Hear the good news! In this very instant, God has touched our hearts and offered God’s healing and forgiving love. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven! Hallelujah!! AMEN.

Morning Prayer

We gather here on this peaceful morning to hear the words of hope; to sing the songs that touch our hearts; to prayer deeply and longingly for God’s presence. These things are given to us as a gift. We hear the Gospel message of Jesus’ love and healing touch and we would linger at the courtyard where so many were healed, thinking about all that has happened, but Jesus bids us go on from here, to places unknown to us. We are called to be Jesus’ witnesses to God’s healing presence in all our lives. No walls, no motes, no fences, no chasms can block the movement of the love of God through Christ. We cannot stand by impotently, dreaming about what we might do. We are called to forge ahead. In our hearts today and with our voices we have shared our concerns for family, friends, neighbors, people in need who are encountering disaster, fear, and oppression. We are sent to be their voices, to be those who help find solutions when barriers are erected to block out hope. We ask God’s blessings as we emerge from this time into lives of service, as Jesus would have us do, and we offer this prayer in his name. AMEN.

Offertory

As we have generously received many blessings from God, let us now return blessings and gifts from our bounty that others may be helped in the name of Jesus. AMEN.

Prayer of Dedication

How wonderful it is and what a joy we have to return to God these gifts as tokens of the many blessings God has given to us. Let these gifts and our lives be used in service to others, in the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Benediction/Blessing

Renewed by the power of God’s unconditional love and forgiveness; strengthened by the witness of Jesus to be of service to others, we go from this place rejoicing in the opportunities to serve others in Christ’s name. Go in peace, and may be peace of God always dwell within you. AMEN.

Children’s Time

Good morning! Does anyone know what “Sabbath” means? It’s not a common word to us, but it means to take a time apart from the busyness of life to rest and to think about all the positive things that God has done for us. Our “Sabbath” celebration is Sunday morning. It is here we sing the songs of praise, we pray together, we listen to the Bible readings, and we hear the worship leader preach. This is our day to rest and gather strength for the week ahead. In today’s Gospel lesson we hear the story of Jesus healing Peter’s mother in law and then the crowds of people brought to the courtyard for Jesus to heal. He healed all of these people with such love. But the next morning, very early before sunrise, Jesus went to a quiet place to pray. He needed some time alone, to rest his body and his spirit for the times yet to come. It wasn’t long before the disciples tracked him down and pleaded with him to come to the large crowds, but Jesus said, “let’s go in another direction, for there is very much work to be done.” It’s like that with all of us – grown-ups, teens, elders, children. There is much yet to be done, but we do require some time to rest, to pray, to think about God in our lives, and to ask God to help us. This week you may have homework to do and some of you will complain about it – but Jesus would tell you that there is even more than that to be done if you are going to be ready to serve God. So, get some rest – take some time with God – just be quiet, don’t speak, don’t whisper, don’t sing, don’t shout – just be quiet and listen to God’s loving word for you, for it will always begin with “Don’t worry – I’m with you, forever. You don’t need to fear.” It is the same word for all of us grown-ups, teens, elders, children. And that word is “love”!

Art for the Altar/Worship Center

Place a 12” riser at the center back of the altar/worship center. Place two 6” risers to the right and left and slightly forward of the center riser. Cover all risers and the altar/worship center with a green cloth so that the cloth cascades to the floor. On the 12” riser place a cross of your choosing; on one of the 6” risers place an uncut loaf of bread and on the other 6” riser place a clear glass chalice with grape juice. At the base of the bread riser place small rolls of bread, pita bread, cubes of bread in baskets. At the base of the wine riser place small communion cups of wine and some clusters of grapes. In front of the two 6” risers, place an open Bible. At the base of the altar/worship center, place crutches, canes, bandages (gauze) and other representational symbols of illness. Votive candles may be placed on the main level of the altar/worship center.

Scripture into Script

Reader 1: That was amazing! Peter’s mother was very sick and yet he healed her.
Reader 2: She was even well enough to make supper for us.
Reader 3: Can you imagine what we would have had if you had cooked for us?!
Reader 2: But what about all those people who showed up in the courtyard? I’ve never seen so many people carried on stretchers, or in the arms of friends. There is so much illness, so much hopelessness.
Reader 1: I didn’t want them to bother Jesus, but he said to relax, he would be glad to help the people.
Reader 2: They seemed come in waves. He cured their illnesses and their infirmities, and yet more kept on coming. I knew he was getting tired and asked him to just bid them good-bye and come back in the house to rest. But he insisted on making sure all who came were healed.
Reader 3: I’m glad he is finally getting some rest. He went to his room about one hour ago. Reader 1: Maybe I should check on him – make sure he’s OK. Jesus, are you OK? Do you need anything? No answer – I’ll look in. Hey, there’s no one here. He’s not here.
Reader 2: Maybe he went out to the well to get some fresh water – it’s pretty early. We shouldn’t worry about him. He’s probably fine. [All readers turn their backs to the congregation and then face forward again]
Reader 1: Great night’s sleep. I feel wonderful. Look at that sunrise! It’s going to be a nice day today.
Reader 2: I know I slept well. I wonder if Jesus got back in last night?
Reader 3: I don’t know. I didn’t hear anything - I just passed out and slept all night.
Reader 1: Well we probably should be getting up and see what Jesus has for us today. Jesus, are you awake? Come on, rise and shine!
Reader 2: No answer, huh? Check in his room.
Reader 1: He’s not there. I hope nothing has happened to him.
Reader 2: Maybe we ought to go out and have a look around.
Reader 3: Well,, I just check the courtyard and he’s not there. Let’s to up into the olive grove. It should be nice and cool there.
Reader 1: Jesus! Where are you?
Reader 2: I found him – over here by this copse of trees. Jesus, everyone is looking for you.
Jesus: Let’s head in the other direction, to the other villages where I might preach and heal those in need, for that’s why I came – to bear witness to God’s love and good news.

Message Mover

“There’s always more to do” How many times have we heard that. It just seems as though we accomplish one task when ten others loom up demanding our attention. It’s true! There is always more to do – more people need an advocate, systems of injustice need to be challenged, doors need to be opened to those in need whose lives have been shattered by oppression, war and fear. Welcome must be given to the stranger; clothing to those who do not have any; sustenance to those who hunger and thirst; a witness of visitation to the sick, lonely and imprisoned – so much to be done. We often throw our hands up in the air and cry “I can’t do it all!” and with those words we give up even what we are doing. One thing for sure is that each one of us individually can’t eradicate all the world’s ills on our own. Recognizing the gifts that each one of us has been given, we band together to work to make things better, even in the face of insurmountable odds. Jesus knew this and he took time apart. He took a “breather” to be in prayer, to listen to God’s words of him. This was essential for his ministry. It is the same with each of us. We need a time apart, a time to commune with God, to feel God’s touch on our hearts and God’s challenge to our spirits. These are the moments of preparation. Relax. Open your hearts to God. Let the power of the spirit refresh and renew you for the work ahead, for God has great need for each one of us. And God will prepare us with strength and courage to meet the challenges ahead with love and compassion. Breathe deeply – exhale slowly. Let the tension pass from you and the power of the spirit enter your hearts. Now you are ready! Ready to be witnesses for hope, peace and love. AMEN.

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