Worship Connection: August 23, 2020

July 4th, 2020

12th Sunday after Pentecost

COLOR: Green
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Exodus 1:8–2:10; Psalm 124; Romans 12:1-8; Matthew 16:13-20 


Call to Worship #1:
L: You have called us to this place, O Lord.
P: Each one of us is unique, with differing gifts and talents.
L: Yet each talent represented here is valuable in God’s realm.
P: Lord, help us find ways in which to use our talents for healing and hope.
L: Come, let us praise the Lord who has called us here.
P: Let us open our hearts and spirits to God’s word for us. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:
L: God has blessed each and every one of us.
P: We want to serve God.
L: Each talent, each skill can be used for peace and justice
P: Lord, help us be part of ministries that promote hope and peace.
L: Come, let us praise God for the diversity present here.
P: Enable us, O God, to discern what you would have us do. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2153, “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me,” offer the following call to worship as directed.]

Soloist: singing verse 1 of “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me”

L: What magnificent diversity of talents is represented here today!
P: God has called us to this place to share our gifts and talents.

Duo: singing verse 2 of “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me”

L: There are so many ways that we can serve the Lord!
P: We pray that God will enable us to use our talents to help others.

Trio: singing verse 3 of “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me”

L: Our lives should be prayers of thanksgiving to God.
P: Let our hearts be open and our voices raise in song to God who continually blesses our lives.

ALL: singing verse 4 of “I’m Gonna Live So God Can Use Me”

Call to Worship #4:
L: If it had not been for the Lord, who reached out to us
P: We would have perished in our own selfishness.
L: If it had not been for the Lord, who healed our wounds
P: We would have succumbed to pain and sorrow.
L: Praise be to God who reaches out to us, healing and restoring our lives.
P: All thanks be to God for the many ways in which our lives have been blessed. AMEN.


Opening Prayer

Lord, be with each one of us today. We have come seeking your guidance and direction for our lives. Help us  recognize the gifts you have given to us, and enable us to put these gifts to good use in your world. We ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession
It is so easy for us, Lord, to diminish the gifts you have given us. We have come to believe that either we are experts in some areas or we know nothing. Each of us has been given special talents and gifts that can be used to help others, but for some reason we have chosen not to use these gifts, deciding that they are unimportant or not needed. Forgive us when we make decisions not to act. Help us look at the blessings that you have poured into our lives and to discover the special talents that we have. Open the doorways of service and let the gates swing wide on the “grease of grace,” that we may go forth to serve you in this world. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.

Words of Assurance
Each one of us has been blessed with unique talents. The Lord has need of our talents, our energies, our spirits in the world in which we live. Place your trust in God’s loving guidance and open your hearts to serve God. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer
Lord, many of us grew up in a time during which thinking highly, in a spirit of appreciation, about our talents was considered bragging. We were taught not to discern the difference between acceptance/appreciation and haughty behavior. And so we belittled the gifts you gave us. We believed that they were not good enough, and ultimately that spilled over into a concept that each of us was not good enough to serve. How foolish we are! You lavish your love on us every day. You do not demand that we earn it. You give it freely, just as you have given each one of us special and unique gifts. We can recognize the gifts in others. Now help us claim the gifts you have given to us and to use them in your service. Enable us to encourage others to identify their special talents and to find ways to help one another. We offer this prayer in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

[Using the song, “Many Gifts, One Spirit,” offer the following reading as directed. This can be done “readers' theater style," using three chairs or stools placed in front of the congregation. When the Choral group is singing, the readers remain in stationary position. Begin the readings with a cynical spirit, for reader 1, a reflective spirit for reader 2, and an exhausted spirit for reader 3. As the reading progresses, readers 2 and 3 become more open to the possibilities; At the end, reader 1 is almost willing to explore the possibilities, but there is still a bit of doubt.]

Choral Group: singing verse 1 with refrain of “Many Gifts, One Spirit”

Reader 1:
Yeah, yeah, yeah, many gifts. I don’t have any gifts, not any that are worth anything. I look at that person over there who is so artistic and wish I would do that, but I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler.

Reader 2:
I know what you mean. I couldn’t carry a tune if it had a handle on it. I can’t sing, and I’m not artistic either.

Reader 3:
Me, either. I spend all of my days chasing kids around the house. With a houseful of small children, you don’t have time for much else. My talent might be catching up with the kids and taking care of them, but most of the time it’s just being a mom.

Choral Group: singing verse 2 of “Many Gifts, One Spirit”

Reader 1:
The pastor wants us to identify our “talents.” Ha! What a joke! The pastor just wants us to do some free work for the church.

Reader 2:
I don’t know about that. I think the pastor actually wants us to think about the things we can do. The pastor has never said anything about giving free work to the church.

Reader 1:
Are you blind? They are always looking for someone to help out with something.

Reader 3:
That’s okay with me. But I’ll have to find someone to help out with the kids.

Choral Group: singing verse 3 of “Many Gifts, One Spirit”

Reader 1:
Look, just because there are pretty sunrises and sunsets, and lots of trees and flowers, doesn’t mean that we have to look at our gifts. I don’t get it.

Reader 2:
Maybe that’s the problem. You don’t get it. Take a look. These are gifts from God. Call it nature and natural occurrence, but it all starts with God. Such variety, such beauty, it’s awesome.

Reader 3:
You’re right. Maybe what I should be doing is helping my kids look around them at all the wonders and, instead of fretting about little things, helping them to discover the gifts they have. It would make things a lot easier and pleasant for everyone.

Reader 1:
Well, I’m gonna take some convincing, that’s for sure. This is a little too simplistic for me.

Reader 2:
Don’t worry, we’ll help. Maybe your gift is the gift of questioning and seeking. Hey, you never know.

Go into the world with peace and joy, delighting in the diversity and blessings that God has lavished upon each one. Celebrate the good news of the love of God with all people and offer peace and blessing to each one. Go in peace. AMEN.


The tradition color for this Sunday is: GREEN

[Note: I have combined the concept of diversity (in the variety of green fabrics and the colors of the candles, with the “keys,” which proclaim our willingness to be workers for the Lord, and the “golden cord,” which binds us together in Christ. If you use this setting you may want to write a word of explanation concerning the symbolism.]

Place a 6” riser on the center back of the worship table. Place a 3” riser on the left center of the worship table. Place a riser, about 6” below the surface of the worship table, in front of the worship table.

Cover the worship table and all the risers in green fabric so that it drapes to the floor. Make about 12 squares, 12” each, of various colors and patterns of green fabric and place them over the risers and on the riser on front of the worship table. Some may be placed directly on the main level of the worship table. Make sure that they drape over the edge of the center. You do not have to put them at specific lengths; be creative.

Place three 6” pillar candles--colors of your own choosing--on the various squares. You can even add some votive candles if you wish. Some candles should be placed on the front riser.

Not necessary for this setting.

Not necessary for this setting.

Place a brass cross on the riser in the center of the worship table. Take a long gold cord, about 20 feet in length. At intervals tie a large key to the cord. Beginning at the cross, wind the “key cord” across the table, bringing it down the front onto the front riser and eventually draping it down onto the floor.

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