Worship Connection: November 19, 2023

October 3rd, 2020

Lectionary: Judges 4:1-7; Psalm 123; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30



Call to Worship #1:
L: The time for harvest is close at hand. What have you done with the gifts God has given you?
P: We have brought our gifts to the house of the Lord.
L: Praise God for the gifts and for opportunities for service that they represent.
P: We praise God for all the ways in which our lives have been blessed.
L: Generous God, accept our gifts and our lives this day.
P: Loving God, accept our praise and gratitude. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:
L: We lift our eyes to the Lord.
P: God created the heavens and the earth
L: We raise our voices in songs and speech
P: We raise our voices in prayer and praise.
L: Lord, hear our prayers, accept our praise.
P: Lord, open our hearts to receive your blessings of peace. AMEN.

Call to Worship #4
L: How shall we enter the house of the Lord?
P: With songs of great praise and rejoicing!
L: How shall we prepare ourselves to receive the blessings?
P: With hearts, minds, and spirits that are open.
L: Come, let us worship the Lord and bow down.
P: Let us offer our praise to God who has redeemed us. AMEN.

Call to Worship #5
[From the United Methodist Hymnal, p. 87, "What Gift Can We Bring", you may use the following as a call to worship]

L: Come to the house of the Lord. Come with your prayers, your presence, your gifts and your service.

Choir: (singing) What gift can we bring, what present, what token? What words can convey it, the joy of this day? When grateful we come, remembering, rejoicing, what song can we offer in honor and praise?

P: We bring the gift of prayer to this house. We raise to God our hopes and our fears, our wounds and our triumphs.

L: We bring the gift of our presence, being together in worship and fellowship, work and witness.

P: We bring the gift of our tokens, given freely from our hearts to be used in service to God.

L: We bring the gift of service, commitment of our time and talents to serve God by working in God’s world.

ALL: (singing) This gift we now bring, this present, this token, these words can convey it, the joy of this day! When grateful we come, remembering, rejoicing, this song we now offer in honor and praise!


Invocation/Opening Prayer: [WBW: Yr A, Pentecost 26, Creation, Blessing & Thanksgiving, God’s Love, Salvation, Discipleship, Personal Service]

Awesome God, you created the world and all that is in it. You blessed each element of creation with your love. You called us from slavery into witness and service. Be with us this day as we gather to worship. Clear our minds of all the distractions which would draw us away from you. Open our hearts and spirits and let your healing and empowering love flow in. Prepare us to be witnesses to your power and love as we use the gifts with which you have blessed us in your service. For we offer this prayer in the name of your Son our Lord Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession [WBW: Yr A, Pentecost 26, Forgiveness, Blessing & Thankfulness, Commitment, Obedience, Personal Holiness, Acceptance, Faith, Peace]

We are "pack rats", O Lord. You continually pour gifts and blessings into our lives and we hide them away for fear that they might disappear or not be worthy of acclaim. We squander them wastefully on things that are not healthy or helpful to others. We confess that we have not always recognized the talents we have been given. We find it easier to belittle the gifts than to honor the giver. As Jesus reminded his listeners to honor the giver of the gifts by using them to create something better, for healing, for hope in the world; remind us that the message of Jesus is truly pertinent to us today. Forgive us when we have treated it as a nice story. Help us to take the gifts you have given us, to develop them, and use them in ways which will offer healing and hope. In Jesus’ blessed Name, we pray. AMEN.

Words of Assurance [WBW: Yr A, Pentecost 26, God’s love, Gifts, Talents, Service]

You are loved by God and given so many gifts to be used to help others. Do not fear to use these gifts, for God is with you, continually blessing you and the gifts in your service. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer [WBW: Yr A, Pentecost 26, Attributes of God, Faith, Fear & Anxiety, Strength, Temptation, Patience, Forgiveness, Personal Holiness, Personal Service, Witness]

Wise and Patient God, we know what you want us to do, but we are far too often hesitant to follow through for you. You give us multiple blessings and ask that we develop these gifts and use them to help others. In times of great crisis we come through, we mobilize. But in the intermediate times, we hold back. We develop a "let someone else do it" attitude. We often think of our gifts, our talents as things that are less than worthy. In this country in which competition is the ruling code, we don’t want to compete with others, because we feel we just don’t have the right "stuff". How blind we are, Lord! To each one of us you have given gifts which can be used to help others. Each gift and talent is precious in your sight. Rather than compete with others to see who has the greater talent, let us use the gifts we have been given joyfully.

One of the greatest gifts is the gift of prayer. And we have brought before you, Lord, the concerns which have been weighing on our hearts. Touch the lives of all these people and situations with you healing love. Give each one a sense of your powerful presence. Flood their lives with hope and peace. Help each one of us to be workers for you. Help us to trust in your abiding presence and love for us. Challenge us to use the gifts and to honor the giver, for we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Offertory Prayer [WBW: Yr A, Pentecost 26, Blessing & Thanksgiving, Witness, Gifts]

There are no limits to the gifts you have given us, gracious Lord. Now we return thanks to you for these gifts and we bring these token to you, asking for your blessing on givers and gifts. Help these gifts and givers to be your witnesses throughout the world. AMEN.

Litany [WBW: Yr A, Pentecost 26, God’s Presence, Forgiveness, Healing, Hope, Faith, Comfort, God’s love, Blessing, Commitment]

L: The voice of God is speaking to you. God is calling you today to come and rejoice. Come to me, dear ones. Open your hands.

P: We can’t, Lord. Our hands are calloused and dirty, rough.

L: Open your hands. My healing and cleansing love will protect and soothe you.

L: Come to me, beloved friends. Open your hands.

P: We can’t, Lord. Our hands have been wounded and they are bleeding.

L: Open your hands and I will touch your wounds and stop the bleeding.

L: Come to me, disciples, witnesses. Open your hands.

P: We can’t, Lord. We have nothing to offer to you. Our hands are empty.

L: Open your hands and I will give you my peace. Now you are healed.

P: Now we can reach out to help.

L: Now you can go into the world to offer blessing and hope.

P: Praise be to you, O God, who has taken our excuses and turned them into commitment.

Benediction, Blessing, Commission:[WBW: Yr A, Pentecost 26, Blessing, Witness, Dis;cipleship, Peace, Hope, Healing & Comfort, God’s love]

As you have been blessed, now go to be a blessing to others. Go, bringing the news of peace and hope, of healing and love. Go and the God of peace will always go with you. AMEN.


[Note: the artistic focus for this setting is the image of the hand print, suggesting helping and using our gifts. The design is a simple one and can involve a number of people. I have suggested that room-darkening fabric, the kind that is used to back drapes, be used. Generally it is canvas on one side and rubberized on the other. It takes well to acrylic paints and can be rolled for storage. If you use tempera paints in the project, they will crack and peel from the fabric. In lieu of fabric a long roll of wide paper may be used; or even shelf or butcher paper. It should be long enough to flow nicely from the top of the upper riser across the worship center and down onto the floor. The advantage of fabric is that it can be used again in another display. Paper is difficult to store.]

SURFACE: Place several risers on the main worship center. They should be placed with the higher riser in the center back of the worship setting. Other risers may be placed on the worship table. Place a riser in front of the worship center.

FABRIC: Cover the table in green fabric (the traditional color for the season) making sure that there is enough fabric to cover the riser in front of the table and that the fabric "puddles" on the floor. Using 5 yards muslin (approx. 44-45" wide) or room darkening fabric (the kind you would find as a backing for drapes, cut in 44-45" wide strip), have adults and children coat the palms and fingers of their hands in tempera or acrylic paints and make handprints on the fabric. Let this dry. When it is dry, place it beginning at the top center riser, and coming down over the risers in the front of the worship center and onto the floor.

FLOWERS AND FOLIAGE You may want to use leafy plants behind the worship center and at the sides to soften the edges of the fabric.

CANDLES Use small votive candles here and there throughout the worship center.

ROCKS & WOOD Not recommended for this setting.

OTHER: On the top of the center riser, place a brass or wooden cross. This suggests that the "hands" are working for God in service. You may have some pictures of people helping other people that you could place around the worship area. Have someone in the church use their handprint to create a bulletin cover, if you do not use preprinted covers. This is a very effective way to use the theme.

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