Worship Elements: August 20, 2023

Twelfth Sunday after Pentecost

Color: Green
Scripture Readings: Genesis 45:1-15; Psalm 133; Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32; Matthew 15:(10-20) 21-28

Theme Ideas

It's just three verses long, but Psalm 133 still manages to communicate a joyful vision of God's kingdom. Paired with the Genesis story, we see a picture of a God whose love is so abundant that all sins are forgiven. We marvel at God's capacity for reconciliation, mercy, and unity, and we get a glimpse of the joy that's in store for us when we work together with God to fulfill that vision.

Invitation and Gathering

Call to Worship (Psalm 133)

We have gathered from our different places
to worship here.
How good it is to worship together in unity!
We come from our different occupations,
our diverse activities.
How good it is to worship together in unity!
We come as unique individuals,
bound together in the love of Christ.
How good it is to worship together in unity!

Opening Prayer (Genesis 45, Psalm 133, Romans 11)

Merciful God,
we boldly pray to you,
confident that you will not reject us.
In spite of our human failings,
your love continues to draw us together.
Be with us today,
as we rejoice in the power of your love.
Sing with us today,
as we proclaim the good news of your grace.
Dance with us today,
as we celebrate the unity we share in Christ.
How good it is to be together!
Hallelujah! Amen!

Proclamation and Response

Prayer of Confession (Genesis 45, Psalm 133)

God of Love,
we have come here today for a family reunion!
We know that we are sisters and brothers in Christ.
Each of us is your precious child.
And yet there is division in this family.
There is sibling rivalry, old resentments, new irritations.
We are quick to anger, slow to forgive.
We would rather choose our relatives,
than acknowledge the all-inclusive nature
of your family.
Open our hearts to your love,
and show us the way of reconciliation.
Teach us to see each brother and sister with your eyes.
Help us claim our heritage as your own children,
and live together in unity as your family.

Words of Assurance (Genesis 45, Psalm 133, Romans 11)

Do not be distressed or angry with yourselves,
for the God who reconciled Joseph and his brothers,
can surely reconcile us.
God's mercy extends to everyone.
Rejoice and live in unity!

Invitation to the Word (Genesis 45, Psalm 133)

Seeking unity, we come to the scriptures.
Open our hearts to hear and live your word.
Acknowledging our discord, we come to the scriptures.
Open our hearts to hear and live your word.
Realigning our lives with God, we come to the scriptures.
Open our hearts to hear and live your word.

Thanksgiving and Communion

Call to Intercessory Prayer (Genesis 45, Psalm 133)

God of All,
gather us into a time of prayer
for our family.
Expand our vision
to understand each human being
as our sister or brother;
and enlarge our hearts
to offer love for each other,
even as you love each of us.
As we prepare to continue our family reunion
in our community and in the world,be with us now as we pray for members of your family.
(Intercessions may be offered silently or aloud.)

Invitation to the Offering (Psalm 133)

Our hearts are overflowing with your love, O God:
like precious oil that cascades down
on the beards of old;
like the rains that shower down
upon your creation.
Guide us now, as we share with others
the abundance of our joy.
We pray that you will give us the vision
to use our blessings to offer hope to others.
In Christ's name we pray and act. Amen.

Sending Forth

Benediction (Genesis 45, Psalm 133)

It is time to take the party to the streets!
Go out to celebrate our common kinship
as children of God.
Go out to tell the good news of Christ
to every sister and brother.
Go out to let the power of the Holy Spirit
unite us around the world.
Go out to continue this family reunion
with all those who are longing to join the party.
Go out and rejoice!

Contemporary Options

Contemporary Gathering Words (Genesis 45, Psalm 133)

Mail out the invitations, blow up the balloons.
It's time for a family reunion!
Cousins and grandparents, sisters and brothers—
hugs of joy for all.
It's time for a family reunion!
Memories, stories, feasts, shared experiences.
It's time for a family reunion!
Look around you and know
that we have come to celebrate.
When the family of God gathers, it's party time!

Praise Sentences (Psalm 133)

How good it is when sisters and brothers
live together in unity!
It is like precious oil, running down your head
and dripping over your collar.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on Zion.
From one side of the land to the other,
we are bound together in Christ's love.

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

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