Worship Elements: September 22, 2024

July 25th, 2021

18th Sunday after Pentecost

COLOR: Green

SCRIPTURE READINGS: Proverbs 31:10-31; Psalm 1; James 3:13–4:3, 7-8a; Mark 9:30-37


This Sunday’s texts speak about a way of seeing and interacting with the world—a way that comes from God. Each text bids us seek this divine perspective in our human lives. Recent scholarship on the Proverbs text links the “good wife” (better translated “woman of strength”) with Woman Wisdom (Proverbs 1–9). Choose as your partner in life, Proverbs advises, the Wisdom of God, for only she can bring you a life of security, honor, and mercy. While the previous chapters of Proverbs have instructed us how to find this partner, Psalm 1 (a Wisdom psalm), puts it all in a nutshell: seek God and meditate on God’s ordering of the world. James continues this look at wisdom, speaking of this gift as something that comes “from above” and bears “good fruits” in our lives. While Proverbs and Psalm 1 speak of the prosperity that wisdom can bring us, Jesus and James remind us that to embrace this divine perspective is to put aside the usual definitions of success and honor.


Call to Worship (Proverbs 31, Psalm 1, James 3)

Who is wise and understanding among us?
Those who seek wisdom and understanding
each and every day. Those who delight in God
and meditate on God’s law.
Come, learn more about the wisdom from above,
a wisdom that yields a harvest of righteousness.
O God, your wisdom is more precious than jewels!
We draw near to you.

Opening Prayer (Psalm 1, James 3)

We draw near to you, O God,
Source of all understanding,
and ask you to draw near to us.
Teach us your wisdom from above,
that we may bear good fruit in our lives.
Root us beside the streams of your wisdom,
that the green leaves of our goodness,
fed by your insight,
may not wither. Amen.


Prayer of Confession (James 3)

O God,
we live our lives as best we can—
dealing with difficult relationships and situations,
putting failures and disappointments behind us,
and moving into each new day
with as much energy, goodwill,
and optimism as we can muster.
But here, right now,
we seldom have the right answers,
we seldom seek your higher wisdom in our lives,
we just move ahead.
Forgive us for not asking for your insight.
Fill us with your wisdom,
that we may live lives
of goodness and peace. Amen.

Words of Assurance (James 3)

When we come before God in humility and honesty,
God draws near to us with forgiveness
and renewed blessing.
Thanks be to God!

Passing the Peace of Christ (James 3)

Jesus came to bring peace among us. Let us sow the seeds for peace in our world by sharing the peace of Christ with one another, stranger and friend alike.

Response to the Word (Proverbs 31, Psalm 1, James 3, Mark 9)

We ask for your wisdom, O God,
not the earthly wisdom
that we hear and see every day.
Let your understanding
flow through our lives like a stream,
so that we may bear the good fruits
of welcome and compassion.
Teach us that our true dignity
is found in honoring you
by serving others. Amen.


Invitation to the Offering (Proverbs 31:20, Mark 9, James 3)

The writer of Proverbs teaches that God’s Wisdom is present and active in our lives in this way: “She opens her hand to the poor, / and reaches out her hands to the needy.” Jesus lived this wisdom in his life, and called his disciples to this same generosity. Let us give out of this same generous wisdom—a wisdom that seeks a presence and purpose in our lives on behalf of all.

Offering Prayer (James 3)

You are the generous one,
full of mercy
and goodness for your creation.
Send your wisdom with these gifts,
that they may reach those
who need your love and welcome.
Bring about a harvest of goodness
through these gifts sown in peace. Amen.


Benediction (Psalm 1)

We are planted by the streams of God’s wisdom.
We meditate on the desires of God,
taking delight in the laws of God.
Sink your roots deep into the soil,
and draw on God’s wisdom.
For God will nourish us every day with insight.
Go forth, knowing that God watches over you.


Contemporary Gathering Words (James 3)

Are you longing for more wisdom in your life?
Do you face conflicts that need answers,
tough situations that require special insight?
Do you need more peace in your life?
Do you long to bear good fruit in your life?
Draw near to God, the giver of wisdom,
and God will draw near to you.

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

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