Worship Connection: October 22, 2023

August 14th, 2020

21st Sunday after Pentecost

COLOR: Green
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 99; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22


Call to Worship #1:
Though there are rulers, presidents, kings, queens, God is the Lord of all life.
In God we live and move and have our being.
God requires our faithfulness and our service.
We reach out to others with the same kind of love with which God has touched our lives.
Come, let us worship the Lord who is always with us.
Let us praise God who walks daily by our side. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:
Celebrate God’s love, which has been poured into your life!
Forgiveness, encouragement, support, and healing are gifts of God to us.
Reach out and care for those around you.
We will be people of peace and justice.
Shout for joy!
Sing God’s praises always! AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2220, “We Are God’s People,” offer the following call to worship as directed.]

What joy we have in the Lord!
What peace fills our spirits!
We are God’s people
The chosen of the Lord!

Choir: singing verse 1 of “We Are God’s People”

We have been called to serve.
We have been challenged to offer justice and peace.
God goes with us in our ministries.
God is with us wherever we are.

Choir: singing verse 3 of “We Are God’s People”


Call to Worship #4:
Welcome to worship, just as you are!
We come, seeking, needing healing.
God will always give you healing!
We come, praying and praising!
Blessed are you whose faith is in the Lord!
For in God’s love and healing power we are strengthened to be of service to others. AMEN.


Opening Prayer

God, you are our refuge. When the world gets to be too much with us, we turn to you for consolation and healing. Help us today to hear your words of compassion. Enable us to be those who would willingly serve all people in need. For we ask these things in the name of Jesus our Lord. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

We are so easily pulled this way and that way by those who would promise instant healing for all the world’s woes. We want to have everything be whole and happy, and we don’t know what to do, so we pay attention to those voices that cry the loudest, whether they are voices of blame or promise. In our fearfulness, we love to place blame for all our woes on the shoulders of a few people. In our anguish, we seek instant answers from sources that are very unreliable. Lord, help us. Turn us around. Help us know that you are our Lord and you have provided much for us. You have given to us abilities, and understanding, and ways in which we can be those who would bring peace and justice. You have blessed our lives. Heal and restore our spirits, Lord. Help us truly place our trust in you and to work in ministries that uplift people. This prayer we offer in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

The Lord has given to us gifts and abilities to work for peace and justice. You are especially blessed by God. Go into this world in confidence of God’s presence and love. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer

Lord, we enter these “gates” with thanksgiving and praise. Many of us have come with burdens, seeking your healing; others have come with joys, celebrating the goodness and blessings that abound. Each one is welcome here. We know that there is much work to be done in this world. Injustice, greed, isolation, alienation all exist when we have forgotten to be your people of peace. As we have spoken the names of people who are dear to us, seeking prayers for their needs, let us also remember to be faithfully working for you in all that we do. Help us give to you our complete faithfulness. Teach us to be good citizens of your kingdom here on earth. Be with us as we go from this place. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.


[This may be done in monologue/readers’ theater style. You may want to have Reader 1 at the pulpit/lectern, while Reader 2 is placed either in front of the congregation or at another reading station. This monologue/response needs to be rehearsed, and you should use people who are excellent readers and who can read with expression. I suggest that the Pastor be present at the practice for interpretation or assistance, if possible.]

Reader 1: The Pharisees sent people to Jesus. They said, “Teacher, we know that you are sincere and teach the way of God in accordance with truth and show deference to no one; for you do not regard people with partiality.”

Reader 2: Wow! Listen to them buttering Jesus up, trying to get on his good side, flattering him. They really want something, don’t they! They aren’t approaching him because they believe in him; they are just setting him up to test him, to trap him.

Reader 1: And, they continued, “Tell us, then, what you think. Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor or not?”

Reader 2: There it is, the TRAP! Get him to say, yes it is lawful and they will prove him to be a fool. They think that he is after their money and all their possessions. They probably wonder if he is going to take over their jobs, ruin their lives.

Reader 1: Jesus was aware of their cunning trick. And he asked them to give them the coin that is most commonly used to pay taxes to the emperor. “Whose image is on this coin and by what title is he called?” They said “It is the emperor.”

Reader 2: Hah! Now he’s got them! They are the ones trapped although they don’t know it yet.

Reader 1: Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor’s, and to God the things that are God’s.”

Reader 2: Sounds simple enough: give the emperor the tax that is asked for. But what’s this “give to God the things that are God’s”? Wasn’t he just responding to their question, trying to spring their own trap on them? What are we supposed to give to God?

Reader 1: “When the people heard this, they were amazed, and they left him and went away.”

Reader 2: Everything is God’s. Every thing belongs to God. Everything, in all creation. We . . . we belong to God. We are God’s, beloved, chosen, redeemed. We are God’s. How incredible is that?!

[As the Pastor is speaking, helpers are bringing forward the long paper chains that have been created and are placing them at the base of the cross, trailing them over the worship center and onto the floor toward the congregation.]

PASTOR: Incredible? Perhaps, but perhaps not. You see, God has always loved us all, and we are God’s own people. God has chosen us to be a blessing to others, to promote healing, to create atmospheres in which all people are welcomed and accepted, to reach out in compassion to each other and to all who are in need. We give to God the things that are God’s; we give ourselves, our hearts, our souls, our spirits, our energy, and our minds, in loving and joyful service to God. Today you wrote your name on this strip of paper, not knowing its purpose or its use. It was formed into a circle, a reminder of the continual love of God in our lives, and it is linked with others. Each circle/link gains strength and support from the others. We are not alone. God is with us, lifting, encouraging, and healing us for service, to link with others in compassionate ministry. Thanks be to God. AMEN.


Blessed and redeemed, go forth into this world, linked together, in the knowledge and love of God; and the peace of God, which passes our understanding, will go with us, everywhere, now and forever. AMEN.



[Note: there is an interesting way to make this worship setting interactive. Have strips of paper, about ¾” wide and 5-6” long, given out to each person in the congregation. Ask them to write their name on the piece of paper as they enter and give it to the people who will be collecting them in a basket. As the slips are handed in, have several people, armed with scotch tape, take each strip with the name facing out, and make them into a circle, linking them with other circles, forming a paper chain. During the reading the long paper chain--or several paper chains--will be brought forward and placed on the worship center at the base of the cross, trailing over the edge of the worship table and onto the floor toward the congregation.]

SURFACE: The only riser on the worship center is a center riser, about 3” high, on which the brass cross will be placed.

FABRIC: Cover the worship center with green fabric so that it puddles to the floor.

CANDLES: Place a 8” white pillar candle on the left and the right of the cross.

FLOWERS/PLANTS: Place vines or trailing plants on the outside of the white pillar candles.

ROCKS/WOOD: Not necessary for this setting.

OTHER: If you do not already use one, place a brass cross on the worship center. Have pencils, pens, and strips of paper (¾” x 5-6”) ready for people to write their names on. Have baskets ready to receive these strips. Have several rolls of scotch tape ready for the workers to use as they form the paper chains.

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