Worship Elements: September 30, 2018

July 30th, 2018

19th Sunday after Pentecost

COLOR: Green
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Esther 7:1-6, 9-10; 9:20-22; Psalm 124; James 5:13-20; Mark 9:38-50

THEME IDEAS

God is on our side! is a clarion call of the Christian faith, but one we too often misunderstand to mean that God is our special possession or the champion of our causes. The book of Esther tells how God rescues God’s people through the courage and daring of Esther, who finds herself asked to embrace the role of the advocate for her powerless people—even at the risk of losing her life. In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus warns his disciples against believing that they control access to the power of God. Vying for power in God’s name often leads to abuse of the vulnerable, the weak, and the powerless. Better to choose personal loss, as Esther risked, than break the unity of the kingdom of God through our power plays. Psalm 124 puts it this way: If we rely on anything other than God, we are lost. God is on the side of the powerless, calling us to care for and to protect those who are in need.

INVITATION AND GATHERING

Call to Worship (Psalm 124, James 5)

If it had not been God who was on our side,
the troubles of our world would have swallowed us whole.
If it had not been God who was on our side,
the sorrows of our times would have swept us away.
Are any among us suffering?
Come and pray.
Are any among us cheerful?
Come sing songs of praise.
Are any among us sick?
Come and ask for healing.
Our help is in our God,
the One who made heaven and earth.
Call upon God, creator and rescuer.
God is on our side.

Opening Prayer (Psalm 124, Mark 9)

Eternal God, you create us and you rescue us. Be here with us now. Help us know how much we need you. Teach us that no other power can support us like your power. As you share your power with us, teach us to be Christ to the world, proclaiming your reign for all people. As you lavish your love upon us, help us receive that love and offer it to the world, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

PROCLAMATION AND RESPONSE

Prayer of Confession (Esther 7 & 9, Psalm 124, Mark 9)

Creating and rescuing God, your power amazes us. Yet even in our amazement, we take too long to turn to you, forgetting that you are the power that makes and saves and sustains us. Even when we claim your power, we often do so for our own success and comfort, ignoring your command to use your power on behalf of the weak, the small, and the vulnerable. In Jesus Christ, you show us that you are on the side of all people, but never at the expense of the weakest among us. Forgive us when we try to hoard you for ourselves and try to control who has access to your love. Forgive us when our greed, our control, and our scandals keep others from knowing you. Redeem us and transform us, O God. Open our hearts, our lives, and our ministries, that we may become a doorway to your realm.

Words of Assurance (Esther 7 & 9, James 5)

God turns our sorrow into gladness and our times of mourning into celebration. God hears the prayer of faith. Be confident as we pray for one another, for God heals us and forgives us.

Passing the Peace of Christ (Esther 7 & 9, Psalm 124, Mark 9)

When we are rescued from danger and trouble, we know the peace of Jesus Christ. When we are welcomed into the reign of God, we know the peace of Jesus Christ. As those who are rescued and welcomed, let us greet one another with signs of the peace of Christ.

Response to the Word (Psalm 124, Mark 9)

God, make the words we have heard a living word in the core of our being.
Help us put our faith in no other power than the power of your saving love.
Make us the agents of your love, blocking no one’s entrance into the presence of your love and grace.
Through Christ, enable us to be at peace with one another and to salt the earth with the power of your peace. Amen.

THANKSGIVING AND COMMUNION

Invitation to the Offering (Esther 7 & 9, Psalm 124)

Jesus Christ is on our side, offering us the love of God—a love that gives us all we have, a love that makes us all we are. Jesus Christ is with us in every circumstance, suffering with us when we are in trouble, and rejoicing with us when we are glad. The generosity of Christ calls us to lives of gratitude and generosity. In Jesus Christ we are given new life. Let us celebrate this life by giving generously to the work of God’s redeeming love.

Offering Prayer (Esther 7 & 9, Psalm 124, Mark 9)

Giving God, we can never match your generosity.
When we are in need, you are at our side, present to us even in our darkest moments.
You rescue us from harm.
Make us into a people who celebrate your goodness, drawing others into the celebration of your many blessings.
Receive our offerings, even if they are as small as a drink for someone who thirsts.
Transform them into the mystery of your reign here and now on earth, in the name of Jesus, your greatest gift, amen.

SENDING FORTH

Benediction (Psalm 124, James 5, Mark 9)

God has created all things.
God has rescued us from sin and suffering.
Let us go forth, seeking to be on God’s side.
Jesus Christ finds us when we wander far from God.
Let us go forth, seeking to be on God’s side.
The Holy Spirit empowers us to welcome all
into the reign of God’s love.
Let us go forth, seeking to be on God’s side,
bringing the love of Christ everywhere we go.

CONTEMPORARY OPTIONS

Contemporary Gathering Words (Psalm 124, James 5)

Jesus is on our side!
Come and rejoice.
Are you suffering?
Come and find peace.
Are you joyful?
Come and sing.
Do you need healing?
Come and pray.
Jesus is on our side!
Come and rejoice.

Praise Sentences (Psalm 124, Mark 9)

Praise God, who created all that is.
Thanks be to God, who is on our side.
Praise God, who rescues us in times of need.
Thanks be to God, who is on our side.
Praise God, who welcomes all into God’s reign.
Thanks be to God, who is on our side. 


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

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