Worship Connection: September 10, 2023

August 1st, 2020

Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost

COLOR: Green
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Exodus 12:1-14; Psalm 149; Romans 13:8-14; Matthew 18:15-20

Call to Worship #1

L: Come out of the darkness of despair into the brightness of God’s transforming love.
P: We praise God for God’s presence with us!
L: Prepare your hearts and spirits to receive God’s mercy and healing.
P: We thank God for God’s mercy toward us.
L: Come, let us praise and worship God who is always with us.
P: Thanks be to God at all times and in all places. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Welcome to this community of faith.
P: We come seeking hope and courage for the future.
L: Here you will find peace, hope, love and joy.
P: We come weighed down by difficulties in our lives.
L: Here you will find Jesus who will take your burdens on himself.
P: Lord, we come to you this day in need of your mercy and love. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2236 “Gather Us In”, offer the following call to worship as directed]

L: We come from far and near to this community of faith.
P: Lord, draw us together in celebration of your love.
Choir: Singing verse 1 of “Gather Us In”
L: We are young, older, middle aged.
P: We are rich, comfortable, poor, struggling,
Choir: singing verse 2 of “Gather Us In”
L: Now is the time of Celebration! God is with us!
P: Now is the time of Rejoicing! God’s love is poured over us!
ALL: singing verse 4 of “Gather Us In”

Gathering Prayer

Lord of mercy and light, you have called us out of the darkness of our lives into the light of your love. Your love encourages and sustains us always. We praise and thank you for all the blessings we have received throughout our lives. It is in Jesus’ name that we pray. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

Gracious God, we come this day seeking courage and hope for the future. Our world is in such peril. Heal these wounds and quiet the words of war. Help us to be those who bring peace in our families and communities. Banish the darkness of doubt and fear; anoint us with your light and love that we may spread the good news of your mercy to everyone. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Forgiving and loving God, our hearts are filled today with pain and concern for the future of humankind. Words of anger assail our airways — we cannot escape from the threats being thrown about. In our fear, we cry “Where are you, O Lord?” We wander around in the darkness of the spirit, seeking light and hope. Forgive us when we forget that you are always with us, through times of peace and times of war. Heal our souls. Help us to reach out to others with the assurance of your love and presence, for we ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

God hears our prayers and our cries. God leads us out of the darkness of the past into the bright promise of today. We are called to stand strong and confident in God’s Love. Rejoice, dear friends, for that love which began before creation flows in and through you this day! AMEN.

Morning Prayer

Lord of light, in the midst of darkness and fear, you call us to be a community of peace, love and hope. You remind us of the blessings we have and the opportunities to share those blessings with others. We praise and thank you for all these things and for your constant presence with us. Today, as a community seeking peace and healing, we offer the names of loved ones who are struggling with illness, with loss, with feelings of alienation and fear. We name these dear ones aloud in this congregation that all may enter the prayer for these people, seeking your healing and hope in their lives. Let us share our concerns with this community of faith. [Prayers of concern are offered here]. As we have lifted up our concerns, we also offer messages of love and rejoicing. Let us offer prayers of Thanksgiving and Joy in this community of faith. [Prayers of joy are offered here]. Lord, we thank you for your healing mercies and your sustaining love for us. We are confident in your abiding presence with us. Help us to be faithful to you in all times and in all places. Give us the grace to accept the forgiveness you have offered to each of us. For it is in Jesus’ name that we offer this prayer. AMEN.


Because God has so richly blessed us, let us receive our morning offering in gratitude for all God has done and continues to do in our lives.

Prayer of Dedication

These offerings we present to you, O Lord. May they be used for ministries of love and reconciliation through this community of faith. AMEN.

Benediction/Sending Forth

You are prepared to walk away from the darkness into the light. Go into this world confident in Christ’s love and God’s eternal presence with you. Go to be a witness for good and a bearer of peace to all you meet. Go in peace! AMEN.

Children’s Time

[Have ready about 100 strips of red, blue, green, and yellow construction paper. Divide them into bundles of 25 strips of each color; have four small staplers on hand]

Good morning! It’s great to see you today. I love being here. It’s like I have a great big “family” in this church. We all try to take care of each other; to be friends, helpers when help is needed. That’s part of what a family does. On our altar/worship center are four boxes each with a special word on it: the first one, the red box, is called LOVE; the green box is called HOPE; the blue box is called PEACE, and the yellow box is called FAITH. Each of those words is special when it comes to being a family, either at home or at church. As I thought about the Red Box I thought about God’s love that is always here for us, no matter what is happening in our lives. The green box has the word HOPE on it, and it reminds me that we have to have hope for the future. Surprisingly each one of us is part of that hope. It keeps us going, moving ahead into the future. The blue box is special to me because it reminds me of PEACE. Being at peace is important in community. Where there is anger and strife, there is separation and hurt. Finally the yellow box, with its sunshine colors helps me to think of FAITH. Faith brightens my life! It is something that gives me strength when things are difficult and gives me courage for what lies ahead. The problem is that my paper chain is not complete. It only has a few links. I think I would like to have more.

I have a special project that I need some help with. Could you all help me? I have begun to make a paper chain, using my strips of construction paper. I tried to glue them together, but making the links of the chain worked better when I stapled them. I need four pairs of helpers: One to pick out the color strip to be used; and one to staple the strip into a ring making a chain.
Take a few minutes to make the chain – [Meanwhile the choir can be softly singing “Bind Us Together” FWS #2226]. Since we don’t have much time we need to work fast. I can give you three minutes – ready, set, GO. [Teams create chains]….. OK, time is up. Let’s see how you did. Beautiful – you got most of the strips put together into chains – what would happen if we hooked them together with white strips representing COMMUNITY. Staple helpers, please take one strip of white construction paper and make a link to your neighbor’s chain. When this is done we will go to the altar/worship table.

[Chains are linked into one long chain] Let’s bring this to the altar/worship center. Let’s pray. God, we thank you for the blessings you have given us and your guidance as we become a true community of faith. Bless each person here and all those who could not be with us. AMEN.
Now, let’s weave the chain in and around the boxes. This is how community is formed – people working together in Love, Hope,, Peace, and Faith. Let’s pray: O God, bless this community that it may faithfully serve you always. AMEN.

Art for the Altar/Worship Center

[The four boxes may be placed on the worship center before the beginning of worship. The paper chain will be added during the children’s time.]

Cover the altar/worship center with green cloth, making sure that it “puddles” to the floor. On the altar/worship center place four boxes that have been painted in bright colors (one red, one green, one blue, one yellow). On the Red Box, in white paint, write the word LOVE; on the green box, in white paint, write the word HOPE; on the blue box, in white paint, write the word: PEACE; on the yellow box, in white paint, write the word FAITH. Create a paper chain made from construction paper in the above mentioned colors; weave the chain around the boxes and let it spill over the edge of the worship center.

Scripture into Script

(gentle paraphrase of portions of Psalm 149)

Reader 1: When you are feeling so joyful that you think you will burst….
Reader 2: Sing to the Lord a new song!
Reader 1: When words do not seem to be enough in praise to our Lord…..
Reader 2: Let us praise God with joyful dance, lovely and lively instrumental music, with the rhythm of the drum!
Reader 1: God watches over us, guards and guides us!
Reader 2: Therefore we will celebrate the good news of God’s love in our community of faith, in our towns and cities, in our nation.
Reader 1: When praises to God rise heavenward in many languages……
Reader 2: Let us thank God who blesses us with such a rich diversity of friends!
Reader 1: In all ways, and in all our days, Let us praise God!
Reader 2: Praise the Lord!

Message Movers

There is something fascinating about chains. Many are made from various metals ranging from steel to gold; some are made with intricately carved links of wood; others might be plastic or glass, and still others created using paper links. Some chains are meant to be decorative; others to bind things up; others to prevent items from being stolen; some to be worn as a clothing accessory; but one of my favorites are the paper chains which so often appeared in our house at Christmas. These chains were very fragile. We tried to keep them from year to year, using flour and water paste, but many links had to be replaced due to deterioration.

Today our children had fun creating that long paper chain which now graces our altar (worship center). They commented on how pretty it looks up there. Let’s look a little deeper at the symbol of chains…..specifically as it relates to our church.

Each one of us is a link — each one of us brings something unique to the chain. Some of us feel strong and others feel weak. Yet it is God who uses our strengths and our weaknesses to create this remarkable chain called the church. We are bound together in love, so the hymn says. In that love binding we are empowered for ministries of hope and healing that we never could have undertaken alone. Some time ago we made a commitment to create an ARK for Heifer International. Our children brought this idea to us. One of our members actually made a beautiful rendition of an Ark that we could place at the side of our worship area. Weekly we added little stuffed animals representing the gifts to the Ark until the Ark was full and “ready to sail”. With over $5,000 collected, we made our gifts to Heifer International that people all over the world, in our country and abroad, would receive nourishment and sustainable industries for their communities. It took all of us, linked together, to do this. No one person could have done all of this alone. Yet look at what we accomplished! We weren’t sure we could do it, but bound together in common mission, we achieved the goal.

We can do so much because we are bound together. When one link feels week, the others will provide the necessary strength needed to accomplish the goal. The point is that we are all important; we all bring unique gifts; we all are called to be in supportive community with each other. And together, in the love of Christ, we can achieve great things.

So, I remind you today, that this community of faith; this chain needs you and your wonderful gifts. We need your prayers as we faithfully seek to discern God’s will for us; we need your presence which always lifts and encourages us to go on; we need your gifts (those wonderful talents that you possess which builds up this body of Christ), and we need your service, the willingness to work together in whatever way is best.

At the close of worship I invite you to come, take a strip of paper, and link it to the children’s chain on the altar/worship center. This is a special way to demonstrate our common-unity as we go into the world to serve Christ by helping others. So, dear friends, go in peace and may God’s peace go with you. AMEN.

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