Worship Connection: October 1, 2023

August 25th, 2017

Eighteenth Sunday after Pentecost/World Communion Sunday

Color: Green
Scripture Readings: Exodus 17:1-7; Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16; Philippians 2:1-13; Matthew 21:23-32

Call to Worship #1

L: Welcome to God’s house! We are delighted to have you here!
P: We hunger for God’s word of hope.
L: You have come to the right place. Here you will be fed on the life-giving love of God.
P: We thirst for God’s healing in our lives.
L: At the table of the Lord, you will be fed and your thirst quenched.
P: Thanks be to God who provides for our needs.

Call to Worship #2

L: Place your trust in the Lord, for God will provide.
P: There are times when we are so fearful.
L: Place your trust in the Lord, for God is with you.
P: There are times when we wonder if we can get past our troubles.
L: Come, place your trust in the Lord, every day, in all your ways.
P: Lord, we come to you, seeking your healing love and mercy. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, Singer’s Edition, p. 2224, “Make Us One”, offer the following call to worship as directed below]

Duet (soprano/alto): singing “Make Us One” through one time
L: Our world is so divided, fragmented by anger and hate.
P: Lord, draw us together at the table of our Lord.
Choir: (singing in unison) “Make Us One” through one time
L: Heal our wounds and build bridges of help and hope for all people.
P: Lord, meet us at the table and feed us with your healing words.
Choir: (singing in harmony) “Make Us One” through one time.
L: Lord, call us together to feast on your mercy and goodness.
P: Nourish us with words of peace that we may go into your world with love and compassion for all your people.
ALL: singing “Make Us One” through one time.

Gathering Prayer

Lord, we gather with Christians all around the world to receive your nourishing words of hope and peace. Be with us as we seek your will and wisdom. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

God of hope and peace, you are with us in all our days and in all our ways. As you walked with the Israelites in the desert, when they had given up hope, you came to them with nourishment and your steadfast love. As Jesus walked through Jerusalem, healing the sick and those afflicted, your love was made abundantly clear through acts of love and mercy. Be with us this day as we gather to hear your word. Inspire and encourage us in all that we do, that we may serve you faithfully, bringing hope and your message of love to your thirsting world. In Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

God of mercy, your love has never been far from us. Even when we turn our backs on people in need, when we seek our own comfort and neglect opportunities to help others, when we, by our thoughts and actions, betray you, you always are with us. Forgive us for all those acts of cowardice and self-centeredness that have drawn us away from you. Heal our spirits and rebuild our lives. You have placed us in a global community in which illness, oppression, greed, fear and anger abound. You ask us to proclaim your words of hope and love, of healing mercy for all your people. Place us again on the path of peace for all your children. For we ask these things in the name of Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Hear the good news, friends! While we wandered in fear, God was with us, offering us hope and courage. God is with you this day, this very minute, lifting you from despair to hope. This is the good news! God is always with us. AMEN.

Morning Prayer

Open our hearts this morning, O Lord. Help us to listen closely to the words of encouragement that you offer to us. Let us internalize those words so that they become the very fiber of our being and frame our thoughts and actions. Make us mindful of all those this day who lives in places of fear and greed, of oppression and hate, of poverty and hopelessness. Enable us to be those who will work for peace and hope for all your people. We lift so many people in our prayers this morning. Many of our loved ones face situations of ill health and mourning, of loneliness and fear, and of alienation and sorrow. Bring them comfort and peace. Our hearts cry out for people all around our world who are endangered by systems of hatred and fear. Touch the hearts of these dear ones, O Lord. Make us those who bring messages and actions of hope and faith. Give us courage and nourish our spirits with this worldwide communion of bread and wine. Strengthen us to truly be your witnesses this day and all our days. AMEN.

Celebration of Holy Communion

[Note: You may use the Pastor, a Lay Reader, and an additional reader (Worship Leader) as participants in this communion. You may also offer each of the breads brought forward to the congregation, that they may receive from any of the bread offerings. If you are going to do this, you will want to have those who bring the bread forward, also act as communion stewards for the bread. I recommend offering two cups — one at each end of the “bread line”.]

Pastor: The table of our Lord is open to all. You do not have to qualify by virtue of righteousness to come to the Lord’s table. This holy meal is prepared for your nourishment in remembrance of Jesus Christ who offered his whole life that we might become people of hope and peace.
Reader: We do not live by ourselves. We are part of a global community. Today we present breads from around the world, asking God’s blessings on these offerings of bread and wine. We also offer bread which is gluten free for those who struggle with this need.
[As each one is announced, a member of the congregation will bring the bread forward to be placed at the communion table for blessing]
Worship Leader: From lives of comfort and security, we bring forth soft white bread. [The loaf of white bread is brought forward and placed on the communion table]
Worship Leader: From lives of struggle and strife, we bring forth the crust bread. [The loaf of crusty bread is brought forward and placed on the communion table]
Worship Leader: From lives filled with mixed blessings and challenges, we bring forth this marbled bread [The marbled bread is brought forward and placed on the communion table]
Worship Leader: From lives confronted with oppression and sorrow, we bring forth this dark loaf of pumpernickel bread. [The pumpernickel bread is brought forward and placed on the communion table]
Worship Leader: From lives enriched by faith and remembrance of the Israelites who were saved from fear and enslavement, we bring forth this unleavened bread. [The unleavened bread is brought forward and placed on the communion table]
Worship Leader: From lives framed by physical impairments, we bring forth this gluten-free bread that all may be nourished at the Lord’s table. [The gluten-free bread is brought forward and placed on the communion table].
Pastor: Let us pray: Lord, bless each of these bread offerings that we may be mindful of our brothers and sisters throughout your world. Nourish us with your life-giving love and mercy. Bless each one of us as we receive these elements of bread and wine.
On the night in which Jesus was betrayed, he took bread. He lifted it up toward heaven and blessed it and then he broke it. He gave it to his disciples and said, “Take, eat. This bread represents my body, my life which was given for you. As often as you break bread together, do this and remember my love for you.”
Likewise, he took the cup. He raised it up and blessed it, then, looking at his beloved disciples, he said, “Drink from this, all of you, for this is my blood of the new covenant which has been poured out for you for the forgiveness of sins. Do this and remember my love for you which never ends.”
Pastor: All these breads represent this world and its people; those who live in abundance and those who are oppressed. This table of the Lord is open to all people. Come, the feast is ready.

Prayer at the Close of Communion

Lord, this special communion reminds us of being members of a global community. We have feasted at your table. As you have nourished us, may we go into your world to bring a feast of peace and hope to others, listening with loving ears and acting with loving hearts, in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ. AMEN.

Benediction/Sending Forth

We are no longer islands unto ourselves. We are a worldwide community, living in the love and abundant mercy of God. Go in peace to serve God by serving others in need. AMEN.

Children’s Time

[Borrow a globe on a stand, and place it on a table near the area where the children gather for children’s time. Place a loaf of bread and some blades of wheat, and a glass of grape juice and a bunch of grapes, near the base of the globe but not touching it.]

Today is a very special day in the life of our church. I have brought this globe, showing all the countries of the world. This day is known as Worldwide Communion Sunday and we pray for all our brothers and sisters around the world today, that God’s peace and love may be found in their lives. A long time ago, Jesus and his disciples had a special meal together. At first it must have seemed to be like any other supper to them, but Jesus did something very different. After the supper, he stood up and took a loaf of bread in his hands. He looked at his friends and blessed the bread. He told them to take a piece of this and eat it and remember his complete love for them. Then he took a cup which was filled with the juice of the grape. He also blessed it and gave it to them. He asked them to remember this love and that his life was the beginning of a new covenant, or agreement, between them and God. They agreed to love God’s world and all its creatures, to take care of each other and to help those in need. They didn’t say much about this event, but they remembered it long after he was gone. They remembered his love and his challenge to be people who helped others. All the people in this church are invited today to take part in a service called Holy Communion. Each person will receive a piece of bread and some of the juice. They are asked to be thankful for all God’s blessings and pledge themselves to being those who try to live lives of faith and hope.
[Many churches allow children to receive communion with their families. This is an opportunity for the pastor to offer communion directly to the children. This segment may be added at the discretion and tradition of the local congregation]. Today, you will be receiving a piece of bread and I am asking you to carefully dip it in the grape juice and then eat it. When you do this you will be remembering those disciples who gathered over 2,000 years ago with our Lord when he gave us this gift.

Let’s pray. Lord, we bless this bread and this juice. Help us to be faithful disciples and to help others in need. AMEN.

I am giving each one of you a piece of bread. “This is a reminder of the many ways in which Jesus gave his whole life for us. Help us to be faithful and thankful, O Lord.” [Give each child a morsel of bread]. I am going to hold this glass and ask you to dip your piece of bread into the juice, “This juice reminds us of a new opportunity to be God’s children, forgiven and loved.”

[At this point the children may receive the elements].

Art for the Altar/Worship Center

Cover the altar/worship center with a white cloth which drapes to the floor. On the center of the altar/worship center, place a cross. This may be elevated by a six inch riser, which should also be covered with white fabric. Place two white candles on either side of the cross. Following the children’s time, place the globe on the right side of the altar/worship center. Allow space for the various breads to be brought forth, if they are going to be placed on the altar/worship center. A chalice of wine and a basket of bread may be placed on the altar/worship center, if the bread is placed on the Communion table.

Scripture into Script

Reader 1: We have a story to tell to the nations. We will not hide it in fear or hold back so that we are not ridiculed.
Reader 2: We will whisper it in the halls, sing it in the congregation, shout it by our loving words and actions.
Reader 1: This event, ancient and yet new, is given for us this day. We are invited to the Lord’s table just as millions of people in the past have gathered.
Reader 2: This is nourishment for the future. We are healed and loved in Christ’s name.
Reader 1: Don’t hold back. Remember Jesus who gave fully of himself that we may have life.
Reader 2: Remember that this is a new covenant, a new challenge, a new agreement. We are called to be God’s bearers of peace and hope to all people.
Reader 1: As Jesus humbled himself and was steadfast even to the end of his life, we also are called to humble ourselves in gratitude for all that he taught us and for his challenge to us to truly be God’s people in this global community.
Reader 2: This is the time of celebration, of thanks-living for all God’s blessings. This is the time to take up the blessing of service to others inn Jesus’ name.
Readers 1 and 2: The table is ready. This is your time.

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