Worship Connection: March 11, 2018

February 11th, 2018

Fourth Sunday in Lent

COLOR: Purple 

SCRIPTURE READINGS: Numbers 21:4-9; Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22; Ephesians 2:1-10; John 3:14-21

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1:

L: How awesome God’s light is!

P: It pours rays of comfort and hope onto this dark world!

L: Come, dance and rejoice in the light!

P: Lord, let your light flood into our hearts and spirits!

L: Come, let us celebrate!

P: Let us bring our praise to God! AMEN.

Call to Worship #2:

L: We gather to share in our love of God.

P: Lord, open our hearts and let us share your Good News.

L: We gather to share our witness to God’s goodness.

P: Lord, let our lives bear witness through service to your people.

L: We gather to praise God whose love is eternal.

P: Lord, open our hearts today to sing your praises. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3:

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 434, “Cuando El Pobre” (When the Poor Ones), and offer the call to worship as directed)

Choir: singing verse 1 of “Cuando El Pobre”

L: In our richness, we have believed that we are the ones who have all the answers to life’s problems.

P: But when those who have little, offer all they have; we are put to shame.

L: In our power, we believe that might is right.

P: But when those who are powerless offer love and mercy; we are put to shame.

Choir: singing verse 3 of “Cuando El Pobre”

L: Joy fills our lives, when we center our lives on Jesus Christ.

P: Hope fills our hearts, when we focus on our Savior.

L: Comfort fills our spirits, when we believe in the Lord.

P: Peace fills our souls, when we seek to do God’s Work.

L: Come, let us celebrate and praise our Lord. AMEN.

Call to Worship #4:

L: Give thanks to God!

P: Proclaim God’s goodness throughout all the world.

L: Let all of us, gathered here, celebrate God’s absolute love.

P: Let us offer our lives in service to others.

L: Thanks be to God for the blessings which have been poured on us.

P: Lord, enable us to use our gifts to serve you in your world. AMEN.

PRAYERS, READING, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer:
Lord, as we gather here, on this day of sharing, remind us that you have shared with us your most precious gift, our Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to model our lives after his messages of compassion and service to you and to all your world. In Christ’s Name, we offer this prayer. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession:
God of mercy and patience, be with us this day as we celebrate One Great Hour of Sharing. Help us to remember that the gifts we give, go to help many people in need. Remind us again that our lives are meant to be gifts to others, for healing, hope, comfort, peace and love. Forgive us when we get so caught up in the details of living and when we become so overwhelmed by our current economic woes that we neglect to help others. Enlighten us again with your spirit and your words of healing love. Caring and sharing are the hallmarks of discipleship with Jesus Christ. Heal and forgive us. Give us hearts for joyful caring and sharing; for it is in Jesus’ name, we offer this prayer. AMEN.

Words of Assurance:
Let God’s love and mercy wash over you as the spring rains wash over the earth, bringing promise of new life and hope. Be at peace. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer:
The days are getting longer, Lord. The suns rays are higher in the sky bringing more light to our world. Warmth begins to flood over the colder portions of our nation. Let the warmth of your mercy and love pour over us. As we have gathered this day to celebrate the good news that you have given to the world, remind us that it is our purpose to offer that good news to others, not only in words but in deeds of love and mercy, peace and justice. As we have offered names of people and situations which have been heavy on our hearts for your healing mercies, remind us also that we stand in need of that self same healing love. As we have prayed for ministries of peace and justice and for those engaged in those wondrous missions, remind us that we are also on a journey of peace and justice whenever we offer comfort and aid to others. Be with us during this Lenten season. Give us hearts of great joy and courage to serve you all our days. AMEN.

Reading:
[Using THE FAITH WE SING, p. 2085, “He Came Down”, offer the following call to worship as directed]

Choir: singing verse 1 of “He Came Down”

Reader 1: Darkness has encompassed the world. Fear and alienation seep into every corner of our lives.

Reader 2: From the very beginning of creation, God’s spirit hovered over the waters of discontent and fear.

Reader 1: The darkness of the waters did not dissuade God’s creative intention for this world. Even now, God’s love floods over the world.

Reader 2: In the fullness of time God sent God’s own Son, Jesus Christ, who offered for us a model of peace and justice, mercy and love.

Choir: singing verse 2 of “He Came Down”

Reader 1: But there were those who would not hear the Good News.

Reader 2: There are those today who scoff at even the possibility of peace and mercy.

Reader 1: Just as fear reigned in the lives of those who turned away from Jesus; so fear reigns in the lives of some people today.

Reader 2: Peace does not even seem a distant possibility to them. But we have known the peace Christ offers.

Choir: singing verse 3 of “He Came Down”

Reader 1: Joy! Celebration! A reason to laugh, dance, rejoice.

Reader 2: Jesus came to remind us that we have choices. We can choose to rejoice and celebrate the many ways in which we can serve and love others; or we can choose to moan and weep about our lot in life.

Reader 1: We can keep everything we have and hoard and hold onto all the trinkets of life.

Reader 2: Or we can share! That’s what it is all about - God shares God’s best with us and we are called to share our best with others. Jesus came that we may have life abundantly…..and to share that abundance with others. Praise be to God!

Benediction:

As God has shared the best with you, now you are challenged to go forth to share your blessings with others. May the peace and love of God go with you always. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

THE THEME FOR LENT: TAKING STEPS TOWARD THE CROSS

The traditional color for this Sunday is: PURPLE

Although the traditional color for this Sunday is purple, I am asking you to consider covering the worship center with the brown landscapers’ burlap, so that the coarseness of the fabric will set the tone for the weeks which are coming. The movement throughout Lent this year will be taking step toward the cross. Each week, there will be a representation on each step concerning the gospel message for that Sunday (also including Holy Thursday and Good Friday). Each week will be build upon the previous week., building upward from the bottom step toward the cross. Follow the prompts in the directions below to see the suggestions for each step. The Sunday in Lent will be in italics and bold print.

LENT 1: This is the first step (Ash Wednesday begins with the display on the floor of the worship center, in front of the steps). The journey upward toward the cross begins here. Today’s representation will be THE WILDERNESS.

LENT 2: This is the second step. Today we move forward in commitment, being willing to deny ourselves, and take up our crosses and follow Jesus. Today’s representations will be THE CROSSES of DISCIPLESHIP

LENT 3: Our greed and selfishness have become the focus of today’s representation. Jesus’ overturns the tables of the money changers, for they have been cheating the people for their own profit, they have corrupted the house of worship by their avarice. Today’s representations will the COINS.

LENT 4: We often want God’s purpose for sending Jesus to be that of retribution for all the hurts and alienation we have felt; however, Jesus came to heal and restore us to a right relationship with God….”for God sent Jesus into the world so that the world through him might be saved….God did not send him into the world for condemnation…”

Today’s representation is A SMALL GLOBE or A PARTIALLY UNFOLDED MAP.

SURFACE: You will be creating 11 steps, leading from the cross down onto the floor of the worship area. These steps should be about 8” high You will need to make each step about 2 feet wide and about 12” deep. This might mean building some additional steps to be placed on the worship center and extending the other steps well into the chancel area. If you are limited in space. Make the steps slightly smaller and put them in a staggered format to the right and left of the main step, which should be the highest one. It is on this one that the Lenten cross will rest, to be replaced by an Easter cross

FABRIC: Cover the entire worship area with landscapers’ burlap, making sure that all risers are covered and that the fabric puddles on the floor in front of the worship center.

Take 3 3” wide ribbons or strips of royal purple cloth and place them on the center of the top riser, under the Lenten cross. Make sure that they are separated about 1-2” apart. Bring them forward down over the risers and onto the floor in front of the worship center.

CANDLES: Ash Wednesday: On the top step, in front of the Lenten cross, place a 10” white pillar candle. Lent 1: Place a 3” white candle on the bottom step. Lent 2: Place a 3” white candle on the next step up from the bottom. Lent 3: Place a 3” white candle on the next step up from the previous week‘s step. Lent 4: Place a 3” white candle on the next step up from the previous week’s step.

FLOWERS/FOLIAGE: Ash Wednesday: If you can get cacti, or other large, spiky plants, place them on the floor on either side of the steps leading to the cross. Place some smaller spiky plants on either side of the cross, but make sure that there is about 8” between the cross and the plants. Lent 1: Place several cacti on the bottom step. Lent 2, 3, and 4: no additional cacti or floral pieces necessary

ROCKS/WOOD: Place piles of rocks on each of the steps, just to give some texture. Don’t use too many, but have some there for effect. Lent 4: If you choose, you may place a small pile of rocks by the globe or map.

OTHER: If it is possible, have someone create a rough, rugged cross, about the size of the brass cross that you might normally use on the worship center. This is known as the Lenten Cross. Place that Cross on the center of the uppermost riser, on top of the strips of purple ribbon/fabric. Lent 2: Place a collection of small crosses, about 6” high on the second step from the bottom. Lent 3: Place coins and other monies on the step (heaped up and spilling over from a basket. Lent 4: Place a small globe or partially opened map on the step (The map should be opened so that some of it is leaning against the next step up and a small portion of it is spilling down over the edge to the step below.). If you are using a globe, place the candle slightly in front of the globe.


YEAR B - Lent 4 - BARRIERS to the Cross: Walking in Darkness

CALLS TO WORSHIP

Call to Worship #1

L: God’s love for God’s world is so great!

P: From the very beginning of time, God poured love into the world.

L: In the fullness of time, God sent the Son to witness to the Love.

P: We were taught that God’s love is eternal, now and always.

L: Come, celebrate the Love of God in Jesus Christ!

P: Praise God for the awesome Love given to us. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2 

L: Sometimes our lives seem to be lived in darkness.

P: There is so much anger and frustration in the world.

L: God has sent the Light into the world to chase away our darkness.

P: Thanks be to God for the light of life.

L: Open your hearts today to God’s love.

P: We rejoice in the Good News of God’s love for us, even as we sit in darkness. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using the United Methodist Hymnal, p. 579, "Lord God, your Love Has Called Us Here", have the congregation sing the following verses as directed below. This is sung to the tune "St. Catherine", page 710 (Faith of our Fathers)] 

L: Come all who are weary and burdened. Christ calls to you.

P: Through all the stresses of life, we come. We are tired and need God’s healing love.

Congregation (verse 1): "Lord God, your love has called us here, as we, by love, for love were made; your living likeness still we bear, though marred, dishonored, disobeyed. We come, with all our heart and mind, your call to hear, your love to find." 

L: Know that as Christ has called your name, He has redeemed your life.

P: We rejoice in Christ’s love for us, in that he gave his life that we might live.

Congregation (verse 5): "Lord God, in Christ you set us free your life to live, your joy to share; give us your Spirit’s liberty to turn from guilt and dull despair, and offer all that faith can do, while love is making all things new."

Call to Worship #4 

L: Give thanks to God, for God is Good.

P: God’s steadfast love endures forever and ever!

L: Praise God with every fiber of your being!

P: God’s power and mercy are poured on us.

L: Thank God for all the wonderful gifts that you have received.

P: Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised, for God has done wondrous things for us! AMEN.

PRAYERS, LITANY, BENEDICTION

Opening Prayer 

Lord God, you know how we are! We are fearful, fretful, weak, and fickle people. We find it easy to give lip-service to you and pretend that we live in the light of your love, but we too easily drift back into the darkness of our own indifference, apathy, greed, and despair. Today open our hearts and spirits to hear your words of salvation offered for us. Help us to not fear the light, but rather to rejoice in its comforting warmth. For we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession 

There’s something about darkness that we love, Lord. Perhaps it is that in the darkness our sins and our misdeeds will not be noticed so readily. Perhaps we fear the light of your love because of our guilt and embarrassment about not following you. You sent the light into the world that all might see your love and learn how to live in the light. But we haven’t done very well in the light. We have stumbled, fallen, and failed far too often. Sometimes we just want to give up. Reach through the darkness of our souls and spirits and let your light of love and hope shine on us and eventually in us, that we might bring others to the Light. For you sent your Son that we would be redeemed. We need to trust in that gift. Heal and forgive us for our waywardness. Pick us up and put us on the right path, the path to the Cross and beyond where we will serve you by serving your world. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.

Pastoral Prayer 

Gracious and Patient God, there are so many things that block our path to the Cross. Our inability to believe; our greed and selfishness; our desire to hide rather than to open our hearts to you. We don’t like to think that we hide, but we do. We hide when we turn our backs on people in need; we hide when we criticize and malign others viciously. We disappear into the darkness when we support systems of injustice and oppression. Today we are called to celebrate One Great Hour of Sharing. This is a noble and worthy endeavor. But we too often take it literally to mean that we only have to share what we have and what we are for one hour; then it’s over. This is not true. One Great Hour of Sharing reminds us that we are all in this world together, responsible for each other; walking through the darkness toward the light of your love and peace. Open our hearts today as we truly share our love, concerns, and resources. As we have offered the names of persons in our experience who suffer, struggle, are lost and lonely; as we have reminded each other of the world’s struggles, and those that oppress us locally, let your light of compassion shine in us. Having received that light, send us forth into the world as healing agents, bringing your peace and love. In Jesus’ Name, we pray. AMEN.

Litany

L: In the very beginning of all things, God shone God’s great light of creation.

P: Help us, God. Come find us in our darkness!

L: In the earliest of times, when people turned their backs on God, God’s light shone through the prophets.

P: Help us, God. Come, find us in our darkness!

L: In the fullness of time, God’s light shone through the Son to lead us back to God.

P: Help us, God. Come, find us in our darkness!

L: When the followers of the Way huddled in a darkened room, fearful of others. God’s light of resurrection shown through in the message brought by Mary to the disciples.

P: Help us, God. Come, find us in our darkness!

L: When the witnesses to Christ gathered in a darkened space, the God’s light burst forth as though it was tongues of fire, resting upon each person.

P: Help us, God. Come, find us in our darkness!

L: In these dark times, as in all times past, God’s light continues to shine, lighting our path, comforting our spirits, inspiring our souls.

P: Lord God, help us reach out to you and receive your light. Be with us as we journey through our darkness toward the light of joy that is to come. AMEN.

Benediction, Blessing, Commission 

The darkness has been banished. God’s light is given for you. Go on this journey of discovery and hope. Bring peace and joy with you wherever you go. Be God’s bearers of light to this dark world. Go in peace. AMEN.

ARTISTIC ELEMENTS

Note: It is a good idea to write a brief description of the visual presentation in the worship bulletin describing the symbols and their meaning.

[The Lenten Services will be progressive in nature, that is, we will create a visual display that will move people through the services of Lent to the Easter Resurrection Celebration. There are several ways in which this visual display can be accomplished. The first way uses multiple levels, both on the worship center and in front of the worship center. Each Sunday and worship service during Lent, the symbols of a barrier and its "key word" will be placed on a riser. All symbols will remain on the riser to which they are assigned. The list will build as the Sundays progress. The second way, more simple than the first, will be using only two or three levels. The barrier for the week or worship service will be put in place each week prior to worship and then following the service it will be removed in preparation for the next week’s worship service. ]

THE TRADITIONAL COLOR FOR LENT IS PURPLE 

SURFACE: The surface or structure of this display is created through the use of multiple risers. Create three levels with risers on the worship center. The center riser, placed near the back of the worship table, should be the highest, approximately 12" high. The two other risers should be about 4-6" high and should be to the left and right of the center riser. They should come toward the front of the worship center so that a gap of about 6-8" occurs. The other risers should be placed in front of the worship center. You will need a two risers that are 4" shorter than the level of the worship table. These should be placed in front of the worship table with a space of about 12" between them. The next two risers should be about 6" shorter than the previous risers and are placed in front of them, slightly off center so that they do not look like stair steps. The floor may suffice for the first level, although you may want to make risers about 2-3" high to create slight elevations from the main floor.

FABRIC: Purple is the traditional color for Lent. However it is very effective if you cover the entire worship area in burlap. Landscaper’s burlap, once it is aired out, is a great cover. It comes in 50 foot rolls and can be purchased at any landscape or home improvement store. However, do air it out! Using purple cloth, weave the cloth from the center riser, across the worship table and then down onto some of the other risers. Do not cover all the risers with purple cloth, but rather create a draping effect with it. Puddle both the remainder of the burlap and purple cloth on the floor in front of the worship center. Have a piece of dark material, black or very dark navy blue, approximately 1 yard in length, cover the brass cross on the top riser.

CANDLES: Place a candle on each of the risers, with the exception of the top center riser, the riser on which the suitcase is placed, and the riser which will be used for the "coins".. The pillar candle which was in place in front of the top riser is to remain there during most of the Lenten Services. These candles may be purple, the traditional color for Lent. They should be pillar candles about 4-6" in height. On the fourth riser, representing Lent 4, place a small collection of votive candles along with the pillar candle. This will represent the light of Christ in the world (today’s emphasis is moving from darkness into light).

FLOWERS/PLANTS: No plants are placed in this setting.

ROCKS/WOOD: Place some rocks in the setting, in the "valleys" of fabric. The larger rocks that were in place in the Ash Wednesday service may remain at the base of the worship center.

OTHER: Place a brass cross on the top riser and cover it with dark fabric. The cross remains hidden during the first portion of Lenten services. The other items remain on the risers on which they were placed. The "keyword" today is darkness.. On the riser opposite the one with the coins place several votive candles along with the pillar candle which is on the riser.

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