Worship Elements: April 8, 2018

Second Sunday of Easter

COLOR: White
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Acts 4:32-35; Psalm 133; 1 John 1:1–2:2; John 20:19-31

THEME IDEAS

Fellowship is a term we toss around frequently in church life, but too often we simply mean chatting with friends during coffee hour. True Christian fellowship is a radical concept, as the communal life outlined in Acts illustrates. Notice that the power of the community lies in the willingness of its members to testify to Christ’s resurrection. In the gospel reading, the disciples are gathered together, but their focus is fear and doubt. Only when each one (including Thomas) is willing to testify to the resurrection is the stage set for the “great grace” that flows so freely in the Acts story—the story of a community gathered in one heart and soul.

INVITATION AND GATHERING

Call to Worship (Easter, Acts 4)

We gather in the name of the risen Lord.
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
We gather as sisters and brothers of the resurrected one.
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
We gather to share our faith and to worship God.
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
We gather to proclaim the good news of Easter!
Christ is risen! Alleluia!

Opening Prayer (Easter, Acts 4)

God of the resurrection,
we gather this morning
as a community of believers.
We come with joy to greet one another
and to tell again and again the amazing news:
Christ is risen!
Love is victorious over death!
You have given us new life
in the name of your Son!
May our singing, praying, listening, and proclaiming
be a testimony to the power of your love
to make us a new creation
as a community of faith.
We pray in the name of the risen Christ. Amen.

PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE

Prayer of Confession

God of mercy,
we come celebrating our unity,
but we confess the many ways
that we are divided.
Our nationality, ethnic origin, economic status,
gender, age, and musical preferences
all too often obscure the common calling
we share in Christ’s name.
May our common identity as your children
and our communal witness to Christ
bind us together in your name.
Forgive our tendency toward separation and division,
and remind us that we are your Easter people.

Words of Assurance (1 John 1–2)

When we walk in the light of Christ,
we have fellowship with one another.
When we confess our sins,
the One who is faithful and just forgives our sins
and cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
For in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
God has showered mercy upon the entire world. Amen.

Passing the Peace of Christ (Psalm 133)

Teach the refrain (by rote) to “O Look and Wonder (¡Miren Qué Bueno!)” and instruct the congregation to move about to pass the peace as they sing. While a soloist or small group sings the stanzas, people greet one another, then move about while singing the refrain. Continue for several minutes. Have a few people prepared ahead of time to model this.

Invitation to the Word

Dear God,
as we hear your word,
may we be transformed
into a true community of believers,
ready to go into the world
to testify that Christ is alive
and active in our lives today. Amen.

Response to the Word

In view of scripture’s emphasis on testimony and faith, a unison reading of a church creed or statement of faith would be an appropriate response to the word.

THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION

Invitation to the Offering

All that we have belongs to God. As we celebrate our unity as a community of faith and focus our hearts on the risen Christ, we joyfully lay our possessions at the altar [Lord’s table]. Through the grace of God and the bounty of this church, we have the ability to share our gifts so that all may have what they need to live. We thank God for the opportunity to truly be in fellowship with one another and with the world through our offerings today.

Offering Prayer

Generous and surprising God,
when we thought that death
had claimed your only Son,
you amazed us with the resurrection.
Surprise us again
with your ability to turn these humble offerings
into gifts that will transform the world
through our witness to your love.
We lay our very lives at your feet, O God,
knowing that you will use us
to proclaim and embody the gospel. Amen.

SENDING FORTH

Benediction

Go now with the love of God, the grace of Jesus Christ,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Go to share your faith and your lives.
Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Go to proclaim the good news of Easter.
Christ is risen! Alleluia!

CONTEMPORARY OPTIONS

Contemporary Gathering Words (John 20:29)

We are people of the twenty-first century,
far removed from the upper room.
“Blessed are those who have not seen
and yet have come to believe.”

We have put away the festive trumpets,
the fancy clothes, the chocolate bunnies of Easter Sunday.
Must the message of Easter be put away for another year?
“Blessed are those who have not seen
and yet have come to believe.”

We still seek the One who offers victory over death,
whose love conquers evil.
“Blessed are those who have not seen
and yet have come to believe.”

We gather to worship the risen Christ,
who offers us new life.
“Blessed are those who have not seen
and yet have come to believe.”

Praise Sentences (Psalm 133)

How very good and pleasant it is
when we all live together in unity!
It is like precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard.
It is like young children
sitting side-by-side with seniors in worship.
It is like corporate executives
picking in the fields next to farmhands.
It is like Jews, Christians, and Muslims
living in peace in Jerusalem.
How very good and pleasant it is
when we all live together in unity!


From “The Abingdon Worship Annual 2009,” edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © 2008 by Abingdon Press.

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