Worship Connection: August 2, 2020

June 24th, 2020

Ninth Sunday after Pentecost

Color: Green
Scripture Readings: Genesis 32:22-31; Psalm 17:1-7, 15; Romans 9:1-5; Matthew 14:13-21

Call to Worship #1

L: Welcome to worship this day.
P: Thank you. We’re glad to be here.
L: Some have come seeking; some have come struggling
P: Lord, be with each one of us today. Feed our hearts and souls with your transforming love.
L: God is truly with you all today, guiding, lifting, feeding, restoring your souls.
P: Praise be to God who continually abides with us. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Good Morning! Welcome to a celebration of God’s love for us!
P: We surely need to see that love; stresses weigh us down.
L: You’ve come to the right place. This is a place where all of us can seek God’s presence and share our deepest inmost concerns with God.
P: We are glad to hear that, for we wrestle with our faith far too often.
L: Don’t fear! God is with you always, loving and transforming your lives.
P: Lord of mercy and compassion, be in our hearts this day. Help us to reach out with love to others. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using the UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL, p. 328 “Surely the Presence of the Lord”, have a soloist sing the melody line prior to the words from the Leader]
L: Just when we are feeling most discouraged, God bursts into our lives with healing mercy.
P: Lord, listen to our hearts, our cries, our prayers.
L: Give us peace and hope in our spirits.
P: Direct us in ways of service in your name!
Duet: Singing “Surely the Presence of the Lord”
L: Praise be to God!
P: AMEN!

Gathering Prayer

Patient and persistent God, we thank you for calling us here today. Keep our hearts and minds open for your words of transforming love. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

In the darkness of night and the brightness of day, you, O Lord, are present to us. As we wrestle with situations which seem to drain us of our energy; as we struggle to find out who you call us to be, you reach out to us with reassurance of empowerment and courage for the days ahead. Calm our spirits and prepare our hearts and lives to receive your awesome grace. It is in Jesus’ name that we pray. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Lord of mercy and hope, we come before you with fear. We know that we have fallen short of being the kind of disciples that you have called us to be. We have turned our backs on people in need; we have closed our ears to the cries of the voiceless. And so we hesitate to come before you because we believe that you are disappointed in us. Remind us again that you are merciful and your love transforms and changes our lives. When we falter and slide off the path of hope you place before us, you “pick us up and dust us off” and put us again on the trail, confident of your faithful presence with us. Forgive us our weakness. Strengthen us and give us courage; help us to be bearers of your good news of peace. We pray this in Christ’s name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Feel God’s healing love pouring over you and into your lives. Know that God delights in each one of you and will always be present to you. This is indeed the Good News of the Gospel. AMEN.

Morning Prayer

As the crowds followed Jesus, eager to be filled with hope, we come this day to this place, seeking nourishments for our souls. We hunger and thirst for the word of hope and truth, but our lives are battered by anger and hostility. Our hearts are filled with concerns for family and friends, for our country and our world. We don’t see how we can be of help to others. Sit us down, as Jesus seated the multitude. Calm us down, as Jesus reassured the disciples that all would receive care. Lift us up, as Jesus encouraged others to reach out in compassion. Give us hearts of confident faith in your presence, O Lord. Place your hands of healing on the many situations which we name at this time with our voices and in our hearts. [Prayer concerns are lifted up here]. Lord, we ask your merciful goodness for these situations and these loved ones. It is in Jesus’ name that we pray. AMEN.

Offertory

In gratitude for all that we have received from you, O Lord, we offer our tithes and gifts for the ministry of this church in this world which hungers and thirsts for love and peace. AMEN.

Prayer of Dedication

With great joy, we present these tithes and gifts for the ministry of this church. Be with each of us as we, too, commit ourselves to lives of joyful, thankful service. In Jesus’ name, AMEN.

Benediction/Sending Forth

The Spirit sends us forth to serve. Go in peace, knowing that God will always be by your side in all that you do. Go in love, offering healing and hope to others. Go in joy, that others may be lifted and inspired in service. AMEN.

Children’s Time

Have you ever been part of a large crowd? That can be scary or exciting. Jesus gathered with his disciples, and a great crowd, probably more than 5,000 people in number, had followed him. They wanted to hear what he had to say. For many of them, life had been very hard. About lunchtime, Jesus’ disciples told Jesus that the people should be sent away, into neighboring towns, to get some food for themselves. Jesus said that they did not have to go and he asked if anyone had some food to share. It is said that someone presented Jesus with five small loaves of barley bread and two cooked fish. The disciples wondered what in the world Jesus was going to do with these things. Surely those little loaves and two small fish would not feed very many people, and 5,000 or more people were hungry and waiting to be fed. I think Jesus probably smiled at their disbelief. He took the little loaves of bread and the fish and he thanked God for them and blessed them. Then he broke the little loaves apart and gave them to the disciples to give to all those people. The next thing you know is that all 5,000 plus people were fed and there was so much food left over that they filled twelve baskets. It is called the Feeding of the 5,000 and some say it’s a miracle. I think that Jesus inspired people to share what they brought themselves, to offer some food to the other people around them. Pretty soon everyone had shared, joyfully and willingly. Jesus wants us to share, not to be selfish, but to help others. Would you like to try sharing? Good! I have five bags that have some crackers in them. Would you go around to the people here and offer them a cracker?

[The children go into the congregation and share the crackers.]

I see some of you have some crackers left. Was everyone here offered a cracker? Yet, look at what we have left! Did people smile at you and say thank you? Were there some who could not eat these crackers, but they thanked you for making the offer anyway? That’s how it works. We share willingly, not so that God will love us, but to do what God wants us to do as we care for others. This week, find one way that you can share something special with someone. God bless you all and thank you for sharing this food. AMEN.

Art for the Altar/Worship Center

Equipment and supplies: Green fabric to cover the altar/worship center; Baskets containing five loaves of uncut bread; Green leafy plants placed at the back of the altar/worship center, as a backdrop to the baskets; wooden or brass cross placed at the center back of the altar/worship center; 12 votive candles placed on the main level of the altar/worship center.

Scripture into Script

Reader 1: Man, it’s hot out here. He’s been talking with this crowd for quite a while.
Reader 2: He’s probably tired and could use a rest. It’s about noon time. Let’s suggest that these people take a break and come back later.
Reader 1: Jesus, how are you doing? You look tired and this huge crowd is getting restless. They are probably hungry. There’s a town not too far from here. They could go into town and get something to eat and be back in a couple of hours.
Reader 3: There’s no need to send them away. There’ll be plenty of food for all these people.
Reader 1: I saw a little boy with a basket of five small barley loaves and two baked fish. That’s not going to go very far.
Reader 2: Where are you going to get enough to feed these people.
Reader3: Folks, could you all sit down please. It might be easy if you could sit in little groups. We are going to be fed.
Reader 1: I give up. I don’t get it.
Reader 2: Me, either, but I’ll ask the little boy for the bread and fish.
Reader 1: It may be all he has.
Reader 2: Let’s hope he’s willing to give it to Jesus.
Reader 1: Jesus, this was all the food we could find.
Reader 3: It is sufficient. Lord God of the universe, bless these beautiful loaves of barley bread and these delicately cooked fish. Nourish our souls and bodies with their goodness. Now, friends, please distribute these things as best you can.
Reader 1: We’ll do the best we can with the little we have.
Reader 2: Wait a minute - some others seem to have brought something to eat. Look! They are sharing it with others – this is great!
Reader 1: That’s happening all over the place. They are laughing and smiling and making sure that everyone has something to eat. One of the groups over there called me to come over. They have too much food and wondered if we could collect it.
Reader 2: Same here. Look at this! Some people are bringing forward baskets filled with the remaining food. There are all kinds of foodstuffs in each basket. It looks as though we will have about twelve baskets filled with food. It’s a miracle.
Reader 1: Perhaps the miracle is in helping the people to know that they can share from their bounty for the well-being of others. No one is hoarding the food; they have all shared. Why did we doubt?
Reader 2: It appears that we have much to learn from this event. By the way, have a piece of fish, it’s delicious.

Message Movers

John planted zucchini this spring. These small plants he lovingly placed at the edge of his garden. He prepared the soil, made sure that the plants were gently installed in the ground, and watered them. Now, I don’t know too much about zucchini, but my experience says that when they are given that kind of loving care, they flourish, and flourish, and flourish. This was definitely the case for John — he realized that he was going to have far more zucchini than he would ever use, so he offered it to a neighbor — and then another, and another. The little village became recipients of his beautiful zucchini — bread was made from it, casseroles, salads, even a dessert. Nothing went to waste. The bread was shared with neighbors, the casseroles were brought to people in need, salads were in abundance, and the dessert was thoroughly enjoyed by all. John and his zucchini. Simple plants with a bounty that fed many people.

We think that we don’t have much to offer — that our gifts, our talents are minimal. Jesus calls us to share our gifts and our talents. We never know what kind of influence and joy they will have with others. Your smile, a very simple thing to do, might cause others to smile and feel better. You may be called to be a reader of stories for children or for those whose eyesight is failing; you may be the one who organizes rides to doctor appointments. Whatever the case, you have so much that you can share — so don’t keep those talents and gifts hidden. Share! You will love doing it. In Jesus’ Name, share! AMEN.

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