Worship Elements: March 31, 2019

January 24th, 2019

Fourth Sunday in Lent

COLOR: Purple
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Joshua 5:9-12; Psalm 32; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

THEME IDEAS

Today’s readings speak of the power of honest human speech, heard and answered by a God who delivers us from burden and bondage to freedom and possibility. These readings testify that even before we speak, God, as loving parent, waits for the wandering child; God, as provider, gives
manna even while we wander. God waits on us, listens for us, plans for us, and reaches out to us most compellingly in Jesus Christ. Our texts instruct us to speak our deepest failings and fears, for to be silent, to hold everything within, is to waste away. When we speak boldly and honestly, we hear
God’s glad cry: “Quickly, bring out a robe!”

INVITATION AND GATHERING

Call to Worship (Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21)

In Jesus Christ, there is a new creation.
Everything old has passed away.
Everything has become new.
This newness is from God,
who has reconciled us through Jesus Christ.
Rejoice and be glad!
Everything has become new.

Opening Prayer

God of steadfast love and mercy,
remind us once again that in Jesus Christ
everything has become new.
For far too often,
things seem as they have always been:
old habits die hard,
difficult situations linger,
failures from our past linger.
We look for your promised newness
but cannot see it.
Speak to us again of your new creation.
Open our eyes to its presence in our lives.
Call us forth to claim this newness,
that we may be healed and made whole. Amen.

PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE

Prayer of Confession (Psalm 32)

O God,
when we keep silence about our sin,
we waste away with regret and guilt;
we feel your hand upon us,
and our strength dries up.
And so we acknowledge our sin to you,
holding nothing back,
for you are a hiding place for us;
we trust in you to preserve us.
Forgive us and reclaim us, we pray. Amen.

Words of Assurance (Psalm 32)

Steadfast love surrounds those
who put their trust in God,
for God forgives the guilt of their sin.
Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven!
Be glad in God!

Prayer of Preparation (Psalm 32)

O God,
teach us the way that we should go;
counsel us in the ways of life.
We wait upon your teaching and counsel,
for we are lost without it. Amen.

Response to the Word (Luke 15)

(Use this as a Prayer of Confession after a sermon based on Luke 15)
Loving God,
when we wander to distant places,
you watch the road to greet us
when we finally come home.
Whenever we are far from you,
remind us that we are your beloved children,
the longing of your heart,
and give us the strength and courage
to return to your open arms.
When we have sinned against heaven and before you,
forgive us, for we are coming home! Amen.

Words of Assurance (Luke 15)

Quickly, bring out the robes, the best ones.
Put them on—and these golden rings, too!
For my children who were lost are now found.
Let us celebrate and rejoice!
(Hobby shops sell very inexpensive, bendable rings. Drape a
luxurious robe on the Communion table, and pass out baskets of
golden rings to joyous music.)

—OR—

Response to the Word or Benediction (Psalm 32)

Happy are those whose sin is forgiven!
In times of distress,
the mighty waters shall not reach us.
You, O God, are our hiding place.
You preserve us from trouble.
You surround us with glad cries of deliverance.
Happy are those whose sin is forgiven!

THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION

Invitation to the Offering (Luke 15, 2 Corinthians 5)

Through the gifts of our possessions and our presence, we let those who are far from home know that we are their brothers and sisters. Through our gifts, we welcome them to our home, to God’s home. We are the ambassadors for Jesus, our brother and savior, spreading the news of a home of love and hope through our gifts.

Offering Prayer (Luke 15)

Bless these gifts, Generous God,
that they may be used to find your children—
children who wander in hunger,
children who long to come home.
Through our gifts,
may all who wander set off for home,
and may we celebrate and rejoice
in their homecoming. Amen.

SENDING FORTH

Benediction (Psalm 32, Luke 15)

Go forth in renewed strength, knowing who you are:
the sons and daughters of God—
celebrated, rejoiced in, welcomed, dearly loved.
Wear your robe and ring with joy!
Be glad in God and rejoice, O you righteous!

CONTEMPORARY OPTIONS

Contemporary Gathering Words (Psalm 32, 2 Corinthians 5, Luke 15)

Have you looked for crocus shoots or buds on trees?
Look around and see the newness!
Did you hear this week about love in action?
Look around and see the newness!
Did someone who was lost find her way home?
Look around and see the newness!
In Jesus Christ, God is busy making all things new!
Be glad in God and rejoice!

Praise Sentences (Psalm 32)

Be glad in God and rejoice!
Everything old has passed away!
Be glad in God and rejoice!
Everything has become new!


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

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