Worship Elements: August 28, 2022

January 25th, 2022

12th Sunday after Pentecost

Color: Green
Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 2:4-13; Psalm 81:1, 10-16; Hebrews 13:1-8, 15-16; Luke 14:1, 7-14

Theme Ideas

The Scripture lessons call us to choose what is worthy and life-giving. They call us to choose God and God's ways. In Jeremiah, God accuses Israel of following other gods—mere "worthless idols" (NIV) and "cracked cisterns." God alone is worthy. God alone is the "fountain of living water." Hebrews focuses on how we give life to others through acts of mutual love. Implicitly, the writer calls us to choose commitment and connection to others rather than a life ruled by greed. In Luke, Jesus bids us to choose the way of humility and radical hospitality to all, not the way of pride and the exclusion of the lowly.

Call to Worship (Psalm 81, Hebrews 13)

God has led us through our wildernesses.
God has led us into a plentiful land.
God is the fountain of living water.
Come to the Water! Come to God!
We come.
"O that my people would listen to me,
O that they would walk in my ways!"
God is our strength. God is our helper.
Enter the sanctuary. Come and listen.
We come.

Call to Worship (Psalm 81, Jeremiah 2)

Sing aloud to God our strength!
Sing the story of our faith.
Sing of God's providential care:
water in the desert, honey from a rock.
Sing of God's sorrow at our wandering!
Sing of God's love that calls us anew.
Sing aloud to God our strength!

Contemporary Gathering Words (Psalm 81, Jeremiah 2, Hebrews 13)

God says, "I am the fountain of living water.
I will feed you with the finest of wheat,
with honey from the rock.
You who have wandered far from me,
return to me, return to me.
You who have gathered close,
stay near, stay near.
I am the fountain of living water."
You are our strength.
You are our helper.
You are our life.
You are our joy!

Praise Sentences (Psalm 81, Hebrews 13)

Sing aloud to God, our strength!
Shout for joy to the God of Jacob!
Offer a sacrifice of praise to God!
Let us confess God's name.

Opening Prayer (Psalm 81, Jeremiah 2, Hebrews 13, Luke 14)

This morning, O God,
your voice sounds into our lives again.
We are grateful to hear your call,
for on many mornings
we hear other voices—
voices urging us to care only about ourselves;
voices urging us to serve other gods:
our work, our bank accounts, our egos,
our peer groups, our ideologies.
By the end of the week,
we feel trapped in our anxiety, our work, our spending,
our need for control, and our excuses.
And then we hear your voice again,
calling us to your healing care,
to your spacious freedom,
to your giving humility.
We come to rest and be fed.
Call us to your freeing love again.
Feed us now, God of our strength. Amen.

Opening Prayer (Psalm 81, Luke 14)

You are the God of Mount Sinai,
the One who proclaimed:
"I am the Lord your God."
You are the God who summons us.
You are the God of the wilderness,
sending bread with the morning dew
and honey from the crags.
You are the God who loves us.
Summon us again. Love us passionately.
We pray in the name of Jesus,
whom you summoned and loved. Amen.

Prayer of Confession (Psalm 81, Jeremiah 2, Hebrews 13, Luke 14)

Merciful God,
we find it hard to see in ourselves
the trappings our society so admires and serves—
power, wealth, and access that forget mutual love.
We fail to see our allegiance to these dangerous gods—
rushing for places of honor, scorning the humble
and lowly, supporting systems that survive on
greed and abuse.
Forgive us when we are fearful
that there is not enough.
Remind us that you are enough.
Teach us your generosity.
Teach us your world-changing humility.
Teach us your expansive love.
Transform us and heal our lives. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon

God's promises are not only to our ancestors,
they are to us as well:
"I will feed you with the finest of wheat;
with honey from the rock I will satisfy you."
In the living God, we are forgiven.

Benediction (Psalm 81, Hebrews 13)

Hear God's words of blessing.
"Listen to me! Walk in my ways!"
We hear your voice, and will follow.
"I will never leave or forsake you!"
God is our helper. We will not be afraid.

Benediction (Psalm 81, Hebrews 13, Luke 14)

Practice humility and hospitality.
Invite the lowly to your table.
Remember the imprisoned and the tortured.
Honor your covenants.
Be content with what you have.
Love God, and walk in God's ways.
May the way we live offer praise to God,
our helper and our strength.
And may God feed you with the finest wheat
and the sweetest honey. Amen.

From The Abingdon Worship Annual edited by Mary J. Scifres and B.J. Beu, Copyright © Abingdon Press. 

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