Worship Connection: May 10, 2020

April 6th, 2020

Fifth Sunday of Easter

COLOR: White
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14 

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1

L: God is our midst, forming us to be God’s own people.
P: Though the way may be difficult, God will be with us.
L: We need not fear.
P: In the Lord we will take our refuge, for God is our strength.
L: Come to the Lord who will surround you with God’s own righteousness.
P: Lord, open our hearts and our spirits so that we may faithfully follow you. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: You are never left outside God’s house.
P: There is always room for us.
L: Jesus himself has prepared a place for each of us.
P: When our time comes, we will be welcomed and made whole in Christ.
L: Make your hearts ready to receive the goodness of the Lord.
P: We are ready to step into service for God. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2214 “Lead Me, Guide Me,” offer the following call to worship as directed.]

L: There are times in our lives when following Christ seems almost too difficult.
P: Yet he has promised to be with us, guiding and supporting us.
L: Our fears and doubts crowd out his call.
P: Lord, come to us and lead us, for we are week and fearful.

Choir: singing verse 1 of “Lead Me, Guide Me”

L: Lord, take our hands and walk with us.
P: Bring the brightness of your love to us.
L: Help us see your face, O Lord.
P: For we are ready to receive your healing love.

Choir and congregation: singing verse 3 of “Lead Me, Guide Me”

Call to Worship #4

L: Even though Jesus was rejected by some people, you are invited to come to him in trust and hope.
P: Lord, guide us and give us courageous faith.
L: For he is the cornerstone, and this church will stand faithfully as a house of praise and service because of his love.
P: We are not afraid. We are given a mandate to serve with joy and peace. AMEN.

PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer

We gather this day, O Lord, as people who seek your guiding love. Open our hearts and make us ready to stand firm in the faith that leads to loving service. Create a new people in this place so that your love may surround all who enter here. For we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Lord of abiding love and infinite patience, be with us this day. We have come from times of stress, difficulties, as well as times of hope and joy. We bring to you our concerns and our fears, and you offer your healing mercies. We confess that we haven’t thought a whole lot about you this week. We have let events and demands crowd you out of our thoughts and our actions; yet when we come to this, your house, we again kneel in contrition, seeking your forgiveness for our blindness and apathy. Turn our lives around, Lord. Help us look again at the many ways in which you bless and care for us. Help us be people who will reach out to others in loving compassion. For we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Even though we are a stubborn people, still God absolutely loves and forgives us. In the name of Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Hallelujah!

Pastoral Prayer

The brightness and dazzle of Easter has dimmed in our midst, O Lord. We have allowed ourselves to slip back into old habits and attitudes. Bring to us again your Resurrection Spirit, that we might know of your abiding love and presence. We want to place our trust in Jesus. We want to be of service to you by serving others; but our courage and strength waiver, and we wonder if we can do the work you have set before us. It would be very easy for us to turn away. Turn us around, Lord. Remind us that, as we have brought the names of those people who are near and dear to us, who need your healing mercies and comforting love, we, too, stand in need of the same compassion. We need your love. We need your guidance. You are the cornerstone. You are the strength to whom we can turn when our own strength has ebbed. Build us up to be a people of honor, integrity, and compassionate service to others; for we pray this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Reading

[This is an interactive monologue. Have a small pile of rocks available on the worship center and a basket or bag containing other rocks to be given to the Reader. Prepare baskets of small rocks to be handed out at the end of this reading.]

Reader:

(Sorting through the pile of rocks.) These rocks are amazing! What wonderful colors! Some of the rocks are smooth and polished and others are rough and have little jagged pieces. There’s something about these rocks that draws me. The person who wrote the Psalm talked about God being a rock and refuge. Interesting image! I sure could use a Rock and Refuge. Sometimes life just gets too difficult. I wonder if I am going to make it. Things pile up and I try to handle everything, and then they fall apart. But “God is a rock and a refuge”—a rock—something solid on which I can depend. God is my rock. (Looks at specific rough rock, then looks at smooth rock.) I would like to be all smooth and polished like this stone here, but I have to admit I have lots of jagged and rough places in my soul. I don’t trust easily, because I have been hurt. I have a hard time believing that God could really love me because I don’t find myself particularly lovable. But “God is my rock and my salvation”--my rock—in whom I can trust. God will take away the jagged edges and help smooth the surfaces. Perhaps I’m not useless.

Voice:

“In you, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me. Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me. You are indeed my rock and my fortress, for your name’s sake. Lead me and guide me; take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hand I commit my spirit, you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.”

Reader:

(Kneeling before the worship center.) “Into your hand I commit my spirit. You have redeemed me. You are my rock, my refuge.”

Pastor:

God is our rock and refuge. In a few minutes we will be moving among you, passing baskets containing rocks, some smooth, some plain. Take a rock, think about the strength and solid features of the rock, think about the brokenness and jagged edges. Keep the rock with you, in a pocket, in a purse, for the duration of this Lenten season. Keep it near to you to help you remember the abiding presence of God.

[Several people move among the congregation with baskets containing rocks/stones, some of which are polished and others of which are plain, jagged, and broken. These stones should not be large, but rather small enough to comfortable fit into the palm of a hand; do not make them pebbles, however, for pebbles are too small. When all the stones have been passed out, return the baskets to the worship center, and place the remaining rocks on the worship center.]

Benediction

Go in peace, and may the peace of God, which shines brightly and vanquishes our darkness, always be with you. Go, knowing that God is your rock and your refuge. You are not alone. God is always with you. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

The traditional Color for today is: WHITE

[There is something very compelling about using the image of the rock, the strength, the symbol of God’s abiding presence and refuge. The following artistic elements are based on the use of rocks.]

SURFACE:
Place a 3” riser on the center of the table. Place a riser in front of the worship center, slightly to the right of center. This riser should be about 6” lower than the surface of the table.

FABRIC:
Cover the worship center in a roughened white or off-white cloth. Unbleached muslin works well, because it is light enough and maintains the properties of roughness. Make sure that the whole worship center is covered and that the fabric covers the riser in front of the worship center. Have a strip of brown cloth about 8” wide wind its way across the worship center and down across the riser in front of the worship center. It should begin under the brass cross on the worship center riser.

CANDLES:
Near the brass cross, place a 10” white pillar candle. This should be the only candle on the worship center.

FLOWERS/PLANTS:
Although this setting does not call for plants and flowers, you might want to consider a small cluster of plants, such as Jade plants or other succulents to be grouped on the left side of the worship center, and perhaps a “mother-in-law’s tongue” or “Snake plant” to be placed on the floor to the right of the front riser.

ROCKS/WOOD:
Rocks are the theme today. Place some larger rocks on the worship center, and place a pile of rocks in the middle of the worship center. Make sure that there are some jagged ones as well as polished rocks. You can get rocks from your local craft store and probably get some jagged ones from a garden center or right in your own yard. You should have enough rocks for the baskets you will be using.

OTHER:
Place a brass cross on the riser on the worship center, making sure that the strip of brown fabric emanates from under the cross, across the worship center, down onto the front riser, and then onto the floor. Have baskets containing rocks, to be handed out placed on the front riser. They should be easily accessible for those who will be distributing them.

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