Worship Connection: September 17, 2023

August 17th, 2017

Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Color: Green
Scripture Readings: Exodus 14:19-31; Exodus 15:1b-11, 20-21; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35

Call to Worship #1

L: When the tides of fear seem to overwhelm us, we cry out….
P: Lord, come to us and lead us to paths of safety!
L: When we feel lost and alone and we wonder if anyone cares about us, we cry out….
P: Lord, come and heal our wounded spirits!
L: When turbulence within and without seem to threaten us, we cry out….
P: Lord, bring us peace. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Sing and rejoice! The Lord reaches out to you with healing love!
P: The Lord is our strength and our power!
L: Dance before the Lord, a dance of joy and hope!
P: The Lord brings us joy and lifts us up in hope.
L: Come, let us worship God who is always with us.
P: Let us celebrate the good news God brings to us each day. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2032, “My Life Is In You, Lord”, offer the following call to worship as directed. Have the pianist/organist quietly play the refrain to the suggested song while the spoken words are being offered; then play an introduction to lead the whole congregation into singing this song. This song should be sung with enthusiasm – do not sing too slowly. I recommend that the choir rehearse the song in advance to provide leadership for the congregation]

L: God is with us!
P: We are not alone, abandoned!
L: Christ redeems us!
P: We are surrounded by Christ’s love.
L: The Holy Spirit breathes hope and peace into our lives.
P: We are one in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit!
CONGREGATION: singing “My Life Is In You, Lord, FWS #2032, through one time
L: And the people of God said…..

Gathering Prayer

(Accent the underlined words below)

“When the storms of life are raging, stand by me. When the storms of life are raging, stand by me. When the world is tossing me like a ship upon the sea; thou, who rulest wind and water, stand by me”. (from THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 512, words and music by Charles Albert Tindley, ca. 1906). Lord, stand by us in the storms and in the sunshine — bring us peace, encourage and empower us to serve you. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

When we feel overwhelmed by the storms of life, enter our hearts with your redeeming love, O Christ. When our fears overtake us and we cannot find our way, give us direction that we might faithfully serve you all our days, singing your praises!. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Lord, we confess that we don’t always turn to you in our troubles. Sometimes we are paralyzed by fear and anxiety. We cannot see “the light at the end of the tunnel”. For us, there is only the ongoing darkness and hopelessness. Clear our sight, O Lord. Bind up our wounded spirits!

Fill us with your mercy and love. Forgive us when we stray; when we fear; when we falter. Pick us up and place us on pathways of peace and hope, for we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

No matter what befalls us, the Lord walks with us on the path, bringing us courage and hope. No matter what, we belong to the Lord, now and forever. AMEN.

Morning Prayer

Loving and merciful God, we come before you this day, fresh from a week in which we have been challenged. Some of the challenges have caused us worry and strife; other challenges bring to us clear directions for our lives. In all of this, you are with us bringing healing and peace for our lives. We offer to you names of those who are ill, who mourn, who feel lost and alienated, wondering if anyone cares about them. [Congregation may offer name of someone in the above categories for prayer]. Hear our prayers, O Lord. Bring your healing mercies to all these people we have named with our hearts and our voices.

We also bring to you, loving God, names and situations of great joy and celebration, for you have been in our midst during these times as well as during the difficult times. [Congregation may offer name of someone in the above categories for prayer]. Hear our praises, O God. Bring your loving presence to all these people we have named with our hearts and our voices. For it is in confidence of your abiding love and mercy that we offer this prayer. AMEN.


In gratitude for all the abundant blessings you have showered upon us, we celebrate as we receive our morning offering. AMEN.

Prayer of Dedication

Lord, you have blessed our lives in so many ways. In gratitude for all these blessings and in confidence that our gifts will be used for ministries of peace and hope, we offer these gifts. AMEN.

Benediction/Sending Forth

Go in peace into God’s world to serve and help others. Go in confidence of God’s presence with you. Go into this world with messages of hope and reconciliation. Go in love. AMEN.

Children’s Time

Good morning! I love reading my Bible and in it I found a story that Jesus told his disciples. Peter wanted to know how many times he should forgive someone who did something wrong to him. This is what Jesus said: You should forgive someone seventy times seven. Then he told this parable: There was a man who owed a large sum of money to his boss. The boss decided that he really needed to have the man pay him back; but when he spoke to the one who owed him a great deal of money, the man said he just didn’t have it. The boss was angry because he had a deal with the man that the money should be paid back by a certain time.

So he talked with the authorities and requested that all the man’s possessions (his house, his car, even his family) be sold and the money be returned to the boss as promised. When the man heard this he fell down on his knees and pleaded with the boss to give him some more time. The boss felt sorry for the man and agreed to give him another month. The man was relieved. He said to himself “I have a friend to whom I loaned some very precious things, including some of the money I got from the boss. I’m going to go to him and get all these things back. I might sell some of the precious objects to raise the funds to repay the boss.”

He went to his friend, and his friend pleaded with him to wait a little longer. He didn’t have the funds to repay him. The man was very angry and decided to throw the friend in jail until he could pay back the funds. When the unforgiven man’s other friends heard about this, they were furious and went to the man’s boss, telling him what the man had done to his friend. Again the boss called the man to him and was very angry with him – the boss had been fair; the man had been wicked. He turned the man over to the guards to be imprisoned until the funds could be paid back.

That’s a pretty strong story. There are so many things going on — it’s like an onion with many layers. At first we think it’s about owing someone money or something and not living up to the bargain to pay it back; then in the next layer we see the one who has been granted more time and forgiven, not treating one who owed him fairly. When we make an agreement, a good agreement, and we set a time in which we will repay it, we should live up to that. It’s only fair.

Jesus told Peter that he should forgive someone seventy times seven — that’s a lot of times. Likewise the forgiven one should also forgive his debtors the same amount. We are called to be fair and understanding; to forgive others. It’s not always easy to do this, but it is very important to do. Try forgiving someone this week; let go of the anger. You’ll be glad you did! AMENl

Art for the Altar/Worship Center

For this Sunday, the altar will be covered with a lot of burlap. Make sure that the burlap is bunched up and spills over the edge of the altar/worship center to the floor. In the center of the altar/worship center, beginning at the cross, drape an 18” wide strip of blue cloth, you might use silky cloth, as a reminder of the peaceful waters. This should also puddle onto the floor. On various areas of the altar/worship center use large rocks, as well as placing some of them at the base of the altar/worship center. You may use green leafy or trailing plants on either side of the cross at the back of the altar/worship center.

Scripture into Script

(a rough paraphrase of Romans 14: 1-12)

Reader 1: Paul sent us a letter to remind us about how we should treat others.
Reader 2: Let’s hear it – or at least give us an idea of what it’s about.
Reader 1: Evidently Paul has been getting lots of questions about acceptance, particularly when it comes to different ways of doing things. He says that we have got to be open to people who do things differently. Like, well, you know……eating things you like.
Reader 2: Me? I love veggies and fruit – so I guess that I’m sort of a vegetarian.
Reader 1: I love a good steak or some pork chops, a barbeque. Yum! Anyway, I shouldn’t make fun of you because you prefer only veggies and fruit – that’s your choice; just as you shouldn’t put me down because I like meat and such. He says that God has already accepted each one of us, not based on what we eat, but who we are and how we practice God’s love.
Reader 2: I guess that goes for lots of things – just because I do things differently, that doesn’t mean that my way is the right or the only way to do the same thing. I’ve got to stop being so judgmental.
Reader 1: Remember that we all belong to God – Christ came to us to prove that to us and we are saved through Christ – we are called to love others and be gracious in our love.
Reader 2: Sounds good to me. I’ll save my judging statements for those things which hurt or demean people and hurt God’s earth. Goodbye, pettiness! So long, bitterness, fear, and hatred. Those attitudes have no place in my life.
Reader 1: Good for you. Reach out in compassion to those in need; be the voice of justice for the voiceless and those who are oppressed and beaten down; celebrate the healthy and good diversity among us.

Message Movers

My sister has a saying, “I’m not going to let that [whatever the issue is] rent space in my head”. She just refuses to get caught up in inconsequential things and petty arguments. Instead, she seeks the best in each person; acknowledging that each one of us has flaws and makes some very strange decisions in life — but she says “it is their life and not mine. I will cherish them as friends.” Her life is happier because she is not weighed down by grievances and annoyances.

Forgiveness is not an easy thing. It requires great courage and also a commitment to yourself not to hold only your anger over past injustices. It means that you are willing to move on, in hope and peace. I’ve heard people say that they will “forgive but never forget.” That’s a struggle. We can say with our lips and our voices that we forgive someone who has hurt us, but we hold onto the anger surrounding the event with everything we have. We just can’t let it go. If you are going to forgive someone, truly forgive, then do so. Let it go — let go of all the memory of what happened and move on.

I’m sure that there are instances in many of our lives where we simply cannot forgive an act so vile and horrible that it has colored our lives and bruised our souls. Some people need to stand before the throne of the Almighty and listen to their past horrific acts and seek forgiveness. But here and now they may go unforgiven by the one offended.

Paul was saying that we get caught up in judging petty things in other people. He used the example of eating, judging someone’s friends, challenging which days are to be considered holy. Basically these things are immaterial. He said that we don’t live for ourselves and we don’t die for ourselves. We live and die for God. In all things we belong to God who cherishes each one of us as unique individuals.

If we live for God, we are called to love for God. A part of love is the ability to forgive and to rebuild relationships wherever possible. This week, I challenge you to take a look in your “grievance closet” and find out what’s hanging there. Can you get rid of that grievance? Can you take it back to its original donor and tell him/her that the “grievance doesn’t fit anymore”? What will you do to live and love for God this week? The challenge is issued to each of us. Go in peace and forgiveness. AMEN.

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