New Worship Connection: October 22, 2017

September 20th, 2017

20th Sunday after Pentecost

COLOR: Green
SCRIPTURE READINGS: Exodus 33:12-23; Psalm 99; 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10; Matthew 22:15-22

Call to Worship #1

L: Brothers and sisters, the love of God is poured over you.
P: We feel our thirsting souls quenched by God’s mercy.
L: We are called to share God’s love by our words.
P: We are invited to share God’s love by our compassionate acts.
L: Come, let us worship the Lord!
P: Let us bow down and proclaim God’s goodness. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: We belong to God.
P: God’s stamp is on our lives.
L: God’s love and compassion is built into us.
P: God’s mercy and hope flow through us.
L: Let’s celebrate the powerful presence of God.
P: Let’s rejoice in all the opportunities God gives us to serve. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2040, “Awesome God”, offer the following call to worship as directed below. The lead-in soloist should sing the verse through slowly; each time thereafter the tempo is increased.]

Soloist: singing “Awesome God” through one time at a somewhat slow tempo.
L: Consider the love and power of God!
P: God is awesome! We can barely imagine God’s power.
Choir: singing “Awesome God” through one time, increasing the tempo.
L: The heavens ring with God’s glory and majesty!
P: The earth and mountains tremble with joy!
Congregation: singing “Awesome God” through one time increasing tempo.
L: We should be dancing in the aisles at God’s love in our lives.
P: We should be shouting and singing aloud of God’s presence with us.
All: singing “Awesome God” through two times, increasing tempo each time.

Gathering Prayer

Majestic God, help us to feel and see your presence in our lives. Enable us to listen clearly to your words of hope and comfort. Encourage us to go into your world serving others and bringing your message of mercy and healing. In Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

God of power and might, help us to recognize the imprint of your love and mercy in our lives. Open our hearts to that love that we may grow in our faith and be strengthened in our witness to you. In Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Patient God, we are so easily distracted from what you would have us be and what you would have us do. We allow ourselves to be claimed by the angry and hurting world as though we bore a stamp reflecting the hostility. You remind us that, from the beginning, your love has been available to us. Forgive us when we so easily turn toward ignorance and greed as ways of living in the world. Heal our wounded souls. Challenge us to be your people — not owned by false promises of instant wealth and status — but strengthened and empowered to be those who bring hope through our words and actions. In Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

In our words, smiles, compassionate living we bear the image of our God. In our willingness to serve the voiceless and alienated, the lost and alone, God’s presence abide with us. Rejoice! You are called “Beloved of God” and given God’s own stamp in your lives. AMEN.

Morning Prayer

Our hearts are filled, O Lord, with your joy and peace. You have placed your imprint on us and challenged us to be your people in thought, word and deed. In gratitude we come to you this day, bringing shouts of joy as well as cries of sorrow. We are concerned about so many of our friends, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who are afflicted with illness of many kinds, who mourn, who feel lost and alone and wonder where you are. We raise their names before you in prayer that your healing love may be poured on them.

[Here prayers of concern may be offered].

Lord, we know that you hear and respond to our prayers for these dear ones. Likewise, gracious God, we shout with joy at the many blessings that have been poured into our lives and into the lives of our family and friends. Our hearts rejoice at the delight they feel. Help us to understand that these blessings our your wondrous gifts of joy for each one of us. We lift the names and situations which reveal to us your loving presence with us.

[Here prayers of joy can be lifted].

We thank you for all these blessings. Help us to bring words of healing and hope to all we meet, for it is in Jesus’ name that we pray. AMEN.

Offering

In gratitude for all God’s blessings in our lives, let us receive our morning offering.

Prayer of Dedication

Accept and bless these wonderful gifts that they may be used to serve you by serving others in need. AMEN.

Benediction/Sending Forth

Beloved of the Lord, go forth in peace to joyfully serve God. Share your lives and your blessings with others in need. Go in peace. AMEN.

Children’s Time

[Prepare red and pink construction hearts to be given to the children. Write the word “God” on one side of each heart. Bring several sharpie markers for the children to write their names. Have several of the youth help the children write their names on the hearts.]

Good morning! God’s days are always very special, but this one is extra-special!

I’m going to ask you to give something to God. That’s right! You guessed it! It’s the hearts on which you have written your names. Hold on to them for just a moment.

A long time ago some officials tried to trick Jesus. They felt that you should only belong to the Emperor and the Empire. They wanted Jesus to tell them what to do about taxes. If Jesus said that they didn’t have to pay taxes then he would be in trouble. That was what they were hoping that he would say. It was a kind of loyalty test. Jesus knew that these were tricky officials, so he said, “Give me a coin.” They handed him a coin and the picture of the Emperor was on it. Jesus asked them whose picture was on the coin and they told him it was the Emperor’s picture. So he said, Use this money to pay the taxes because the face of the Emperor was on it. However he said to give your whole life to God, because God was in your heart. They failed. They hadn’t tricked Jesus.

This morning you have written your name on your heart — many of you noticed that the word “God” is written on the other side. I’m going to ask you to give your little heart to God by placing it in this basket and then we will put the basket on the altar/worship center.

[Have the children put their hearts in the basket.]

Let’s go over to the worship center. [Place the basket in a prominent place on the altar]. Let’s pray. “O Lord, we give you this little basket with our hearts. We have written our names on the hearts and your name is on our heart. Help us to be faithful to you and to help other people in your world. Thank you for all the ways you have blessed each of us. AMEN.”

Art for the Altar/Worship Center

Place several risers on the altar. A six inch high riser should be placed at the back. It needs to be sturdy enough to support a brass or wooden cross. Place a three in riser on each side of the cross, a little toward the front of the altar/worship center. Cover the altar with brown burlap so that it drops to the floor. Use green fabric about six yards long and drape it over the risers and the main level of the altar/worship center so that it puddles to the floor in front of the altar/worship center. On the left riser place a basket, tipped over. Have “gold coins” spilling from it onto the altar/worship center, with some of them cascading in the folds of the cloth down the front panel of green fabric. Note: we made coins out of an old broomstick which we cut in “coin” shapes and then sprayed with gold paint. The other riser is reserved for the basket of hearts which will also be tipped over. The hearts with the names will remain in the basket, but have about a dozen hearts to drape from the basket and spill down the front green fabric panel. Ferns or other green leafy plants may be placed at the back of the altar/worship center to soften the look. You may use regular altar/worship center candles or one six inch white pillar candle to place on the altar/worship center in front of the cross.

Scripture into Script

[loosely based in I Thessalonians 1: 1-10]

Reader 1: Look! We’ve got a letter from Paul. Gather around.
Reader 2: Paul says: He’s thankful for us and prays for us all the time. He remembers when he was here visiting. “We remember your work that comes from faith; your effort that comes from love, and your perseverance that comes from hope in Jesus Christ.”
Reader 3: Wow! What a nice thing to say! What else does he have to tell us?
Reader 2: He said that he knows we are loved by God and God has chosen us.
Reader 1: Chosen us? For what?
Reader 3: Let’s hear what he said. OK?
Reader 2: Well, there’s lots more, but he said that we became an example of faithful disciples to all people to meet.
Reader 3: Does that mean that we are especially holy?
Reader 1: I doubt that.
Reader 2: Of course not. He believes it is because of the many ways we delight in helping each other and all others we meet. He was delighted that we were helping those who had no one to speak up for them. We were giving out meals and clothing to those in need. Remember, you open your house to a family who had lost their home and we all helped them find a new place.
Reader 3: Oh, yeah! That’s right. That was such a blessing to us. We learned a lot for that family and remain close to them.
Reader 2: Well, he closes the letter by saying The good news is that we have turned our hearts to God, happily in God’s service. He recognizes that we have placed our hearts in God’s love.
Reader 1: What a nice letter! I hope Paul knows that we learned about Jesus from him and that changed our lives.
Reader 2: I think he knows it; but all the same I’m glad that we are doing as Jesus would have wanted us to do.
Reader 3: Me, too. Thanks be to God who sent Paul to us to teach us and to Jesus Christ who has loved and saved us!
All: AMEN.

Message Movers

A few years ago, I was guest preacher at a medium sized church. It was their stewardship campaign and I was delighted to be asked to preach. I asked them to get for me two wicker or plastic laundry baskets. I would be using them during the children’s time. I purchased some items, such as canned tuna, canned vegetables, boxed Macaroni & Cheese, and nine other items. I got 10 of each item and placed them in twelve different grocery bags. I asked the children to come forward and talked with them about a tithe, one-tenth of something. I explained that a tithe was a special agreement between the giver and God. Long ago the ancient Israelites were asked to tithe to the temple, like this church. I told them about the laundry baskets on the table. There was one that had a large sign with the word {God} and other one had the word {Ours}. I gave twelve children each one bag and asked them to look in but don’t take anything out. I asked them how many items were in their bag. They responded “10”. They were requested to put only one of the things in our bag into God’s basket and then dumped the rest into Our basket. With a great deal of fun, the children each deposited one of their items in God’s basket and dumped the rest into our basket.

Then they came and sat down and I asked them about what they thought of that. One little boy said that it wasn’t fair to give only one thing to God. He said “look at our basket, things are falling out all over the table and even onto the floor, but God’s basket has only one thing from each of us. I think we should do more — we have plenty. I suggested to the congregation that this young man be placed on the finance committee.

“God only asked for a tithe, one-tenth of what we had. God believed that we could do a great deal to help people with that gift.” But then there’s all that abundance that we didn’t realize we had.

When we together pool our resources some mighty wonderful things can happen. We can accomplish together what none of us could have done alone. Just as the recipients of Paul’s letter learned, there is a joy in working together to help others and demonstrate our faithfulness in thought, word and deed.

How is it in this church? I queried. Are we stuck, believing that we cannot possible meet the needs that come to us? Do we believe that through Jesus Christ all things are possible? Just as you are called to praise and pray, you are also called to serve and you are capable of many mighty acts of love and kindness. Take a chance — dip into that “basket” which overflows. Place your gift to God first out of a spirit of thankfulness and then work together to be God’s church, reaching out and serving with joy, hope, peace and love. You can do it! God believes in you. AMEN.

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