Worship Connection: May 10, 2020

April 14th, 2020

Fifth Sunday of Easter

Color: Cream/Light Tan [I have moved the color of the day from white to cream or light tan in preparation for the bright color of Pentecost, yet to come.]
Scripture Readings: Acts 7:55-60; Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16; 1 Peter 2:2-10; John 14:1-14

Call to Worship #1

L: The Lord is our refuge.
P: We can find peace in God’s abiding love.
L: When troubles assail us, we call upon the Lord.
P: When joys abound, we call upon the Lord.
L: Welcome this day to God’s house, one of many dwellings of the Almighty One.
P: We thank you and praise God for his refuge and sanctuary. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

[Divide the congregation in half: preferably right and left sides.]

L: Come, all of you who feel lost, alienated, alone.
Right Side: At one time we felt that way – we didn’t belong anywhere.
Left Side: We just wanted somewhere to be.
L: Christ, the Strong Cornerstone of our house, welcomes you.
Right Side: Once we were no people
Left Side: Now we are God’s people.
Right Side: Once we had no place to dwell
Left Side: Now we live and abide in God’s love.
L: Thanks be to God for God’s gracious love and hospitality. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Three robed figures stand in the middle of the chancel area. The center figure faces the congregation. The other two figures, right and left of center and a little forward have their backs to the congregation. Another person is in front of the center figure, “crumpled up” on the floor. The leader is reciting the stanzas from “When We Are Called to Sing Your Praise”, THE FAITH WE SING, P. 2216]

L: “When we are called to sing your praise with hearts so filled with pain that we would rather sit and weep or stand up to complain, remind us, God, you understand the burdens that we bear, you too have walked the shadowed way and known our deep despair.”
[The two figures on either side of the crumpled figure reach down, taking the hands of the figure and helping him/her to rise. He/She does not look up.]
P: “When we are called to sing your praise and cannot find our voice, because our losses leave us now no reason to rejoice, remind us, God, that you accept our sad laments in prayer, you, too, have walked the shadowed way and known our deep despair.”

[Two figures on either side of man/woman turn toward the congregation, and reach their hands out in front of them. Figure behind the man/woman raises his/her arms up in praise. All hold these positions through the next stanza]

L: When we are called to sing your praise and life ahead looks grim, still give us faith and hope enough to break forth in a hymn, a thankful hymn, Great God of Love, that you are everywhere you walk the shadowed way with us and keep us in your care.”

[Center man/woman kneels or steps forward, raising his/her arms up in praise. The two side figures also raise their hands up in praise]

P: We thank you, God of Love, who has placed us in families as small as one person and as large as all creation. We thank you for your constant love for each one of us. AMEN.

Gathering Prayer

Lord of love, you have called us together this day. Help us to appreciate all that you have given to us, to cherish our families and our friends, to seek your hope and peace throughout all our lives. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

Gracious God , on this day of the festival of the Christian Home, the celebration of Mother’s Day, the witness to the eternal love of Christ, remind us that we are responsible for caring for each other. We are called to lift up rather than tear down; to support rather than abandon, to reach out when others have turned away. Give us hearts of love that, in all places and times, we may be a witness to the hope that is found in Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Patient and forgiving God, we come to you this day. For many there is a celebration of Mother’s Day and all that our mothers have given to us and taught us; but for some, these memories are too painful, of those who could not parent, who were afflicted. Remind us that your blessings are poured out in many ways, through many people. Give us the confident faith that reaches beyond our own lives to help others. Forgive us when we sink into our own selfishness and pettiness. For it is in those times that we turn our back on you. Bring us back to you, to the awareness of your eternal love. In Christ’s Name, we pray. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Christ, our cornerstone and our salvation, offers to us hope and comfort. On this Mother’s Day Sunday, this Festival of the Christian, help us to make our home in you. AMEN.

Morning Prayer

Holy One, we come together this day celebrating the role that mothers have played in our lives. We thank you for the present love and the memories of our mothers and grandmothers. Open our hearts continually to your love through others. Keep us mindful of those for whom this is a difficult day. Help us to reach out to them. Jesus reminded his disciples that they always have a place in his heart and that there is a special place for them in God’s realm.

Offering

Prayer of Dedication

Lord, we thank you for the many gifts you have poured into our lives for those who love us and nurture us; for those who teach us to be loving people. Bless those people and bless these gifts that we may work for you, bringing healing and hope to our fractured world. AMEN.

Benediction/Sending Forth

Go forth in peace, dear ones. Bring hope to this world. Go forth in love; bring joy to this world. Go forth in the knowledge that Goes goes with you, loving and guiding your steps. AMEN.

Children’s Time

Props: [Give each child a pink paper heart. Have markers available and assistants to help the little ones. Cardboard cutout of the church or a symbolic church; double stick tape]

You are so special. God loves you so much. Jesus loved his friends and told them not to worry. He reminded them that they belonged to God’s family and that there was always a place for them in God’s house. Today we are looking at this cardboard cutout of the church. We know that the church is one of many of God’s houses. All are welcome here, whether they are young or old, wealthy or poor, sad or happy, whatever way they find themselves, they have a place here. You have a very special place in our church. We love you so much and are proud to have you here. Our assistants are going to help you to write your name on your pink heart; then, as I call your name, your heart will be placed in the church .

[After all the children have placed their names in the church, gather them in a circle for a prayer.]
Dear God, thank you for families and for your church which is one great big family. Help us to love each other all the time. AMEN.

Altar Art for this Sunday

Supplies and Equipment: Cream colored/light tan fabric to cover entire worship table (about 6 yards, 45” wide); Celery green fabric, about 3 yards; Two white pillar candles, with holders; Large cardboard cut out of the church with children’s names affixed to it [this is left from the children’s time – make sure there is enough space left for additional names]; pink construction paper hearts, placed in the bulletin [have some extra]

During the message have the adults write their names on the hearts and then as they come forward at the worship leader’s signal, the hearts will be placed in the church as well. If any are unable to come forward, invite someone near them to bring their name to be affixed to the church cutout.

Scripture as Script: (Paraphrase of John 14: 1-3)

Jesus: What’s wrong? Why are you so fearful?
Disciple 1: You’ve seen what’s going on. The authorities hate us and are out to get us. We are hiding here because we have no place to go
Disciple2: It was different when you were with us. You helped us to feel safe. But what do we do now? We don’t belong anywhere. That’s why we are afraid. We have left everything behind and now we have nothing – we are nothing, we are no people.
Jesus: Don’t be afraid. Trust in God and also trust me. There is a place for you in God’s house.
Disciple 1: Really? God has a place for each of us?
Jesus: that’s right. It’s like God’s love and realm are like a giant house, bigger than anything you can imagine. It’s a place of safety and welcome and a special spot is reserved for each of you when your time come. There is room for all and rooms to spare!
Disciple 2: Sounds good to me. I’d like to get out of this place of hiding. How is this all going to happen?
Jesus: I am going to prepare this place for you and when your time has come I will bring you home. But you have a responsibility now – right here.
Disciple 1: I thought so. Nothing is free…….
Jesus: I have called you my friends and shown you the way to live. God has sent me to you so that you would be able to learn and help others. I am the way, the truth and the life! You have been given a mission to go into the world bringing healing and hope. When your mission is complete I will come for you to bring you home. There will be no more fear or hiding. Until then, trust in me and what I tell you.

Message Movers

This world has become an increasingly difficult place in which to live. The culture in America which existed in 1957 has passed and we are ill equipped to face the new future. Many of us who grew up in the late 50s find ourselves woefully lacking in technological skills which seem to be a breeze to the younger generation. My granddaughter is a whiz at computers — I am not. What seems so simple to her, is way too complex for me. I hear some of my generation saying that there is no place for them now. They just don’t fit. They don’t belong – not that they will plan an early “check out”, mind you. This is the dilemma which has befallen each generation as things rapidly change beyond our understanding. Where do we fit in?

The question is rather simple, as the answer might appear to be. We can still tell the stories of our faith and our journey. That is a response which makes us feel a little better. But who will listen? Who will see? I believe that this same dilemma was presented to Jesus as the life which the disciples had come to know was changing rapidly and in some very unexpected ways. What do we do now? Where do we go? What is expected of us. This world is a very angry place, they stated. Jesus brought a gospel of love, peace and hope but it appears that at every turn this message is squashed by hatred, bigotry and prejudice. They were discouraged, very discouraged.

Jesus reminded them that they were loved by God and belonged with God. That would never change, no matter what the other circumstances were. Now is the time to rest in that knowledge and then to go to work, spreading this good news. The greater the hostility, the greater the need for healing and hope. They had a job to do and when that job was complete, in God’s good time, they would find their rest.

God has a job for you to do. God has called you here to receive healing balm, to experience love and peace, to abide in the eternal hope which is Christ. When the disciples gazed upon Jesus, standing before them, they could see God in a most unique way. Now they needed to represent God to a broken world. And Jesus would be with them. He wouldn’t let them down. They could count on that – you can count on that! God needs your witness of healing love, right now, in this world, at this time. You, who abide in God’s house, are called, empowered, and challenged to be the witnesses. You are not too old or too young. It does not depend on your computer literacy or the understanding of the latest technology. Live the love you have been shown, be a welcoming presence in the name of God to all whom you meet. Go in peace now and forever. AMEN.

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