Worship Elements: February 19, 2017

January 20th, 2017

Seventh Sunday after the Epiphany

COLOR: Green
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Leviticus 19:1-2, 9-18; Psalm 119:33-40; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11, 16-23; Matthew 5:38-48


The first two verses of Leviticus 19 convey the overall emphasis of today’s readings: God is holy and God’s people must be holy. Through prayer, the psalmist depicts holiness as a hunger to know and walk in God’s ways. The epistle reminds us that we belong to God as a holy building, as a temple. The key to this holiness is to be foolish to the world but wise to God. Finally, the parallels between the Gospel reading and our Leviticus text remind us that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was a commentary on Old Testament Law. Moses and Jesus both remind us that holiness is as much about ethics as it is about worship.


Call to Worship (Leviticus 19, Psalm 119, 1 Corinthians 3)

Hear the word of God:
“You shall be holy, for I am holy.”
We choose holiness and reject futile thinking.
We look today at life and turn our eyes
from the vanities of this world.
We want to be holy, for the Lord is holy.
We affirm that we belong to Christ.
We crave his wisdom and his ways.
(This reading could be followed by the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy”
or the praise song “Holiness.”)

Opening Prayer (Psalm 119, Matthew 5)

Almighty Teacher,
instruct us in your statutes today.
Help us turn the other cheek when we are wronged
and do so without bitterness.
Inspire us to give to those in need
and do so without resentment.
Turn our hearts,
that we may learn how to love our neighbor,
even our enemies.
Teach us and show us the way of holiness,
that we may be a holy people. Amen.


Prayer of Confession (Leviticus 19, Matthew 5)

(Station Reader 1 at the front of the worship space and Reader 2 at the rear, thereby putting the people in the midst of the prayer.)
Reader 1: Holy God, forgive us for our sins against our community.
Reader 2: We have not provided for the poor or the alien in our land. We have not paid just
wages to those who labor. We have made life difficult for the blind, deaf, and those with
special needs. We have rendered improper judgments about right and wrong. We have
done harm to the environment.
Reader 1: Holy Jesus, forgive our sins against our neighbors.
Reader 2: We have not been generous. We have not prayed for our neighbors’ needs. We have
slandered friends and foes alike. We have loved ourselves more than we love others.
People: Holy Spirit, thank you for the assurance of forgiveness. Help us move beyond our sin, that we may make the world a better place to live. Amen.

Words of Assurance (1 Corinthians 3)

We belong to Christ:
our past belongs to Christ;
our sins belong to Christ.
We belong to Christ:
our right now belongs to Christ;
our moment of forgiveness belongs to Christ.
We belong to Christ:
our future belongs to Christ;
our holy future, free of guilt and shame,
belongs to Christ.

Passing the Peace of Christ (Matthew 5)

That we may all be as daughters and sons of God, our Mother and our Father, let us greet one another with signs of peace and blessing, affirming that God desires love and kindness to all.

Response to the Word (Psalm 119)

By your word, O Lord,
you have taught us.
May your Holy Spirit
grant us understanding and guidance
to live your word.
Lead us in the right paths
of true spirituality.
Turn our hearts and our eyes toward Jesus
and confirm in our souls
the beauty of your ways. Amen.


Invitation to the Offering (Leviticus 19, 1 Corinthians 3)

If we learn nothing else from Leviticus, we learn that the Lord cares how we use our financial resources. God cares whether we help the poor, pay just wages, or steal from others. The so-called wisdom of our time is oppressive and power hungry, devaluing benevolence, charity, creation care, and equality. But Christ, in whom we believe, values these things, and so must we. We belong to God, and all we have belongs to the Lord. Let us show what we believe by being holy with our money.

Offering Prayer (Leviticus 19, Matthew 5)

We bring these offerings to you, O Lord,
not because you need them,
but because you are holy.
Through these resources
we ask that he who is without a cloak be clothed,
and she who is hungry be fed.
We bring these offerings before you
and ask that they be used
to fulfill your holy purposes. Amen.


Benediction (Leviticus 19, 1 Corinthians 3)

If you belong to Christ, then you belong to God.
We belong to Christ; we are God’s.
Go and be holy in the world, as God is holy.
We will walk in the way of holiness,
giving glory to God in all we do.


Gathering Words (Psalm 119, 1 Corinthians 3)

Have you had enough of the wisdom of the world?
Yes, we’ve had enough!
Do you want to know true wisdom?
Yes, we do!
Do you want to be taught, given, led, and confirmed
in the holiness of Christ Jesus, our Lord?
Yes, we long for this.
Come and embrace the ways of God,
the ways of true life and wisdom.

Praise Sentences (Leviticus 19)

Speak to the congregation.
God is holy.
Speak to the community.
God is holy.
Speak to the whole world.
God is holy.
God is holy.
God is holy.

From The Abingdon Worship Annual edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © Abingdon Press. The Abingdon Worship Annual 2017 is now available.

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