Worship Connection: January 28, 2024

December 28th, 2020

Color: Green
Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 18:15-20; Psalm 111; 1 Corinthians 8:1-13; Mark 1:21-28


Call to Worship #1

L: From the pillar of fire and cloud of smoke, God led the people.

P: Praise be to God!

L: Through the voices of the prophet, God proclaimed the way to live.

P: Praise be to God!

L: Through the power and witness of Jesus Christ, God offered us new life.

P: Thanks be to God who has showered us with blessing upon blessing! AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Come, let us praise the Lord!

P: We praise God with our whole heart!

L: God’s works are great!

P: Open our hearts and spirits to see your works, O Lord!

L: Come, let us worship the Lord who has saved us!

P: May our lives reflect the wondrous love of God that all may see and know of God’s greatness. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[In THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2011, use "We Sing of Your Glory" as an antiphonal call to worship. Begin with the Choir, using the first verse. With the choir assisting in the singing, the people on the left side of the congregation sing the second verse; the people on the right side of the congregation sing the third verse, and all the people and choir sing the final verse]

L: God’s eternal glory is showered on us.

Choir (singing): We sing of your glory, we praise you again, for you are eternal. Amen. Amen.

L: God’s eternal power and honor is revealed to us.

Choir and congregation left (singing): We sing of your power and honor again, for you are eternal Amen. Amen.

L: Surrender your lives to God.

Choir and congregation right (singing): We sing of surrender to you, God, again. Your power is eternal. Amen. Amen.

L: Let all the earth and heavens praise God. Alleluia!

All: "Glory in the highest, on earth," sing again. Glory, alleluia. Amen. Amen!

Call to Worship #4

L: Come to worship this day. Bring with you all your joys and sorrows.

P: Jesus will offer hope.

L: Come to worship this day believing in the power of God through Jesus Christ.

P: Jesus will bring us healing.

L: Come to worship this day feeling the presence of God.

P: Jesus will teach us new ways to live. AMEN.


Opening Prayer

Open our hearts and spirits this day to hear the great good news of your power and presence with all your people. Fill our hearts with rejoicing as the words are proclaimed in song and story. Enliven us and remind us that you are with us, through the pillar of fire, through the magnificent words of the prophets, through the ministry and love of Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

We think we know so much, O God, and with our meager knowledge we presume to judge others. We arrogantly announce our own righteousness without a compassionate thought. We proclaim your word when it suits us and often only to those with whom we want to associate. We shut others out because of our faulty judgment and our blindness. There have been so many times in which our humble help would have been a blessing to someone, but we have placed our comforts before serving others. In the competing voices of today’s world, we have turned around and around, trying to find the way to live. Help us, merciful God, to again listen to you. Help us to truly open our hearts to you. Remind us again of your great love and presence in our lives. Forgive us our foolishness and our stubbornness. Create in us new spirits, filled with your love, offering peace and hope to all. In Jesus’ Name we pray. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Quiet your hearts, beloved of God, for God is speaking to you with love. Rest your spirits, struggling ones, for God will surround you with peace. Open your lives to God’s power and presence and do not be afraid. God is with us, now and for all time. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer

What have we done, Lord? We want to praise you, so we splash your words on screens on a wall, with brightly colored and powerful images. We shout your praises, with hands held on high. We teach and preach your word. But we don’t listen carefully for you. We are so busy trying to shout above the noise of the day, that we don’t take time to really listen and know you. The voices of the prophets spoke to people long ago who were too busy and anxious to hear. Their words streamed in the winds of time and have come to us. We need to pay attention to your message offered through them. You are our God, the God of all creation, the God of power and love, whose mercy is offered to us. In Jesus’ time, he proclaimed the good news through words and actions, reaching out to those who were troubled, alienated, cast aside. He offered healing and hope to those others turned away. Help us to learn that you alone can heal us and fix those areas in our lives that are wounded and twisted. Help us to understand that you alone can offer to us a new way of life through Jesus Christ. Remind us again that as we have spoken the names of people and situations that concern us, praying for your healing touch, that the same touch is offered to us in Jesus’ name. Lord, we need to let go of our control issues and place our trust wholly in you. Now and forever. AMEN.


[Note: in this litany, I have chosen some people who have been strong witnesses to me in my faith formation. The phrases that contain their names have been italicized. Feel free to substitute those who are important in your own setting and life.]

L: The Lord shows us the way to life.

P: We want to see it again. We aren’t sure we understand it.

L: Long ago God gave to people in bondage, a pillar of fire to guide them to freedom.

P: We have seen God’s fiery pillar in the lives of those who have offered peace and freedom to all people in bondage

L: To people brought in bondage to a new world, God raised up a simple man: Abraham Lincoln

P: To people who, once freed from chains, needed full participation in decision making for their lives, God raised up a kind man: Martin Luther King, Jr.

L: To people who needed respect and dignity, God raised up a strong woman: Rosa Parks

P: To people who were disenfranchised, God raised up a woman of hope and power: Elizabeth Cady Stanton

L: To all people, God gave Jesus Christ, his Son and our Lord, that we might know of God’s awesome power and love.

P: Lord, help us to remember all those whom you have lifted up to faithfully speak your word.

L: Help us to be people of blessing and hope to those in darkness.

P: Help us to be people of strength and courage to those who struggle.

L: Help us to be people of compassion and peace, throughout all our lives.

P: Break down the barriers we erect. Help us build bridges of peace.

L: Alleluia!


Benediction, Blessing, Commission

Jesus comes to us, offering healing and hope, speaking and acting with authority. Listen to him. Go into this world, confident in God’s love and healing power. Go in peace and may God’s love and peace always be with you. AMEN.


Note: It is a good idea to write a brief description of the visual presentation in the worship bulletin describing the symbols and their meaning.

Note: The traditional color for this season is green. This is a difficult Sunday for visual display. There are several approaches you might consider. One is to place a picture of Jesus, your favorite depiction, in the center of the worship space and surround it with candles. Another is to place the Cross in the center of the table and put pictures of people of great power and faith who have been a source of strength for your congregation. These can include "famous" people, and also local people. God speaks through many people. The cross should be the dominant feature.

Option 1: The Centering Cross and Candles

The large pillar candle represents Christ. The cluster of candles represent the prophets and witnesses to God’s love. The flowers represent the lives that have blossomed in God’s loving presence

SURFACE: Place a 6" riser in the center of the worship table. Place a 3" riser in front of the 6" riser.

FABRIC: Cover the worship center with green fabric, draping it to the floor

CANDLES: Placing candles in groups of three and five, make clusters on the table near the cross

Place a 3-4" pillar candle on the riser in front of the cross.

FLOWERS/PLANTS: Using leafy foliage and clusters of flowers, make arrangements on either side of the cross. Place large ferns or other leafy plants at the base of the worship center.

ROCKS/WOOD: Not necessary for this display

OTHER: Brass Cross

Option 2: The Witnesses in our Lives

So many people touch our lives and teach us. Place a picture of Christ, or if you do not have a picture, use a large while pillar candle, about 10" high, on the center riser, so that it is above the pictures on the worship center. Have your worship team select people who have influenced the church and place pictures of them in the worship setting. The pictures should be no larger than 8" x 10". Select only a few, about 5 and make sure that you write explanations about the influence of these people in the life of your church. You may want to place a votive candle near each picture, representing the divine light

SURFACE: Place a 12" riser in the center of the worship table. Place 2 3" risers to the right and left of the center riser. Place a riser in front of the worship table.

FABRIC: Cover the entire worship center in green cloth. You may also use strips of contrasting green cloth coming from beneath each picture.

CANDLES: Place a large 10" while pillar candle on the center riser. If you are using votives near the pictures, place them as you desire.

FLOWERS/PLANTS: Leafy plants and floral arrangements may be placed on either side of the large pillar candle, and in front of the worship center by the front riser.

ROCKS/WOOD: use flattened glass beads, the kind that you find in craft shops or aquarium supply stores, and puddle them in front of the various pictures, near the votive candles and in front of the large pillar candle. These glass beads will pick up the light and act as reflectors.

OTHER: If you are using a brass cross or Bible on the worship center, display them as follows. Place the brass cross on a riser behind the 10" white pillar candle. Place the open Bible, tilted forward so that the pages may be seen, in front of the Christ Candle.

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