Worship Connection: September 20, 2020

August 24th, 2020

16th Sunday after Pentecost

Color: Green
Scripture Readings: Exodus 16:2-15; Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45; Philippians 1:21-30; Matthew 20:1-16

Call to Worship #1

L: Open your hearts to God’s loving mercy.
P: Lord, come into our hearts this day.
L: Having received God’s mercy, bring that love to others.
P: Lord, be with us as we reach out to others in compassion.
L: Feel your spirits filled with the goodness of God.
P: Lord, we thank you for the many blessings which you pour into our lives. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Come near to the Lord.
P: Lord, be with us this day.
L: Lift your sorrows and joys to the Lord.
P: Lord, hear the cries of our hearts.
L: Come, rest in the love and mercy of God.
P: Bless us, O Lord, that we may be blessings for others in your name. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE FAITH WE SING, Singer’s Edition, p. 2258, “Sing Alleluia to the Lord”, offer the following call to worship as directed]

L: In the midst of joy and celebration…..
P: We lift our voices in praise to you, O Lord.
Choir: singing verse 1 of “Sing Alleluia to the Lord”
L: In the midst of trials and sorrows……
P: We lift our voices in prayer to you, O Lord.
Choir: singing verse 2 of “Sing Alleluia to the Lord”
L: Throughout all our days we call out to God…..
P: We rest confident in God’s love for us as we sing.
ALL: singing verse 3 of “Sing Alleluia to the Lord”

Gathering Prayer

As we sing our praise to you, O Lord, we remember the multitude of blessings you have given us. We are mindful of the ways in which you have lifted us when we have fallen low. Be with us this day as we gather to hear your word for our lives. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

Lord, who lifts us up, reside in our hearts today. Help us to listen closely for your word to us. Remind us that you are always with us, throughout all of our lives. Give us confidence in your presence, so that we may go into your world ready to witness to your love through our works and our deeds, for we pray these things in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

You know how fickle we are, O Lord. We proclaim your presence with us and then we behave in ways which run counter from your word. We get caught up in our own needs and whine about the injustices we feel in our lives. Help us to place our trust in your mercy and your compassionate love. Forgive us when we stray from your ways and wander into paths of self-pity and self-destruction. Lift us from the deep morass and put us back on track. Give us confidence in your presence and your direction throughout our lives, for we ask these things in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

Feel the comforting power of God’s love and mercy in your lives. God is with us through all our experiences. Though we try we cannot stray from God’s love. Rejoice! This is the good news for all of us! AMEN.

Morning Prayer

Lord, your blessings abound in our lives and we lift our voices in gratitude for these lovely gifts from you. We also lift our voices as our hearts cry out our concerns for those who are ill, who mourn, who feel lost. We offer to your both our joys and concerns, so often intermingled in our lives. Be with each of us and for those whom we name with our voices and in our hearts. Dear friends, let us take a moment to share our joys and our concerns.

[Sharing of joys and concerns; then a brief period of silence.]

Lord, you have heard our cries and our shouts of joy. Make your presence known to us again through the love and forgiveness of others as we have loved and forgiven them. In Jesus’ name, we pray. AMEN.

Offertory

In gratitude for all that we have received, let us offer our gifts and tithes to the Lord this day. AMEN.

Prayer of Dedication

Generous God, you have blessed us with so much. Take these gift and cause them to work for you in this world which you have loaned to us. AMEN.

Benediction/Sending Forth

Go forth into God’s world as God’s own children. Let the love of Christ be reflected in your life and your deeds. Go with joy to serve the Lord. AMEN.

Children’s Time

[Use an old umbrella that has no covering. Make about 25 construction paper hearts; imprint words suggested below on the hearts; add a tie of yarn that can be affixed to the spokes of the umbrella – you may use tape to hold the hearts in place.]

Good morning! I found something that I really like. It’s my new umbrella!

[Take out umbrella, already fully opened, place it above your head]

Isn’t it nice? Something’s wrong? I wonder what it is!

[Show that the umbrella can close and be opened again.]

It seems to work fine! What do you mean, it’s no good? Really? Oh, I see what you mean……it doesn’t have a covering. If it rained I would probably get pretty wet. Well this is my God umbrella. You see I believe that God showers our lives with many blessings, some very big and some very tiny. I wanted to show you this umbrella because it’s so special to me.

[Pick up a box of hearts that have yarn hangers on them.]

Could you help me decorate my umbrella? Good! Let’s tie some of these lovely hearts on the spokes of the umbrella.

[Have one of the adults or a teenager assist with this as the children retrieve the hearts from the box.]

There! Doesn’t that look beautiful……all those hearts and they have words like “peace”, “joy”, “love’, “hope”, “justice”, “faith”…..so many words to describe God’s blessings continually showered on us. I think that this umbrella needs to be placed on our altar/worship center, don’t you?

[Have the children and youth place the umbrella on the altar/worship center.]

We are reminded of all God’s blessings. God’s blessings are showered on you every day. You are called by God to be a person of blessing, helping and caring for others all your days. AMEN.

Art for the Altar/Worship Center

Place a 10” high riser on the upper left hand corner of the altar/worship center. Cover the whole worship center with a green cloth which puddles to the floor on the right side of the altar/worship center. Place the cross on the 10” riser. Place one pillar candle on the main level of the altar/worship center. Pin red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet crepe paper streamers at the back of the main level of the altar/worship center. Let the crepe paper streamers cascade down the front of the altar, just reaching the floor. Tape gold hearts to each streamer [you may use as many gold hearts as you want, but they should be big enough to be identified from the congregation]. You will need a sturdy, wide-mouthed vase, as a support for the opened umbrella. When the children and youth place the opened, streamer-filled umbrella in the vase, make sure that it is properly weighted with small stones to keep it from tipping it over. Make sure that the streamers are not anywhere near the candle flame!

Scripture into Script

Reader 1: There is so much work to be done in my vineyard. I know that I don’t have enough people to bring in the harvest, so I’ll go to the marketplace where people are looking for jobs and see if I can hire a few more workers.
Reader 2: Well, you hired a few more workers, but we will never get the harvest in. We need even more help.
Reader 1: Back to the marketplace for me. I know that there are lots of people who want to work.
Reader 2: A good portion of the morning has passed – you’ll have to figure out the proper wages for the new ones.
Reader 1: Don’t worry. I’ll take care of it. I’ll get twice as many workers as I got before.
Reader 2: Good luck! I hope that there are some who will come and work for you.
Reader1: I got twice the number I did the first time. How is it working?
Reader 2: Well, for a while it was OK, but we are still so far behind. We need more and the day is almost over – we have only a couple of hours left.
Reader 1: Back to the marketplace. Don’t worry, I am sure that there will be many willing workers.
Reader 2: That was great! We were able to get this harvest in. But how are you going to figure out what to pay them.
Reader 1: I am going to pay them all the same wage.
Reader 2: Do you think that is fair? Some of them worked all day from early morning; others worked part of the day and the last group worked only a couple of hours.
Readers 1: We could not have gotten the harvest in if it wasn’t for all the workers. I am not slighting those who worked all day – we had an agreement and they were comfortable with that. I also had agreements with the others. These things are between each worker and me and I choose to treat them all equally in appreciation for all that they have done. I care about each one of them. Do you resent my generosity?
Reader 2: No. You are right. Each person was treated with love and compassion; each person agreed to the wage and know that you are fair in your dealings. Sometimes it is hard for people to understand this kind of generosity – we get caught up in the “he got more than I did,” attitude.
Reader 1: I appreciate all the people who gave of their time! Everyone contributed to the harvest. Through their work we all are blessed.

Message Movers

Showers! Lovely gentle rain that nourishes our gardens, our rivers and streams. I don’t know about you, but I love gentle Spring rains. I love the sound of rain. And so I began to think about using an umbrella as a special symbol today. I hunted around the house and found six umbrellas. Most of them were in great shape; but then there was the one we are using on our altar/worship center today. This one was ripped in several places. I’m not sure why I kept it.

Some rains are driving, piercing, ferocious. We want a sturdy umbrella with a good covering for those storms. We even want to be sheltered from the gentle spring or autumn rain. Today we want an umbrella — one with just spokes.

Much of our lives we spend time covering ourselves, hiding from storms and even sun. We want God to provide and protect us in all kinds of difficulties — we want that umbrella. But we are also given a special umbrella — one without coverings — open to God’s blessing shower. God pours God’s own love into our lives and hearts; God showers us with courage, hope, joy, love, peace, justice… ….so many things and we stand drenched in God’s mercy. I can imagine each one of us could recount the ways in which God has blessed us — some of those blessing might be very large, and others will be tiny ways in which God pours hope and assurance in our lives.

What kind of umbrella do you have when it comes to your relationship with God? Do you hide? Is your umbrella a place of sanctuary or a barrier? If God has given us blessings, what do we do with them? That’s kind of the eternal question — how do we live the love and mercy of God in our and in relationship to others and to God’s world?

Come, stand out in the rain of God’s love! Let it wash over you. Feel yourself drenched in God’s compassion. Rejoice in God’s love for others. Do not demand God treat you any better than others who have only recently come to an awareness of God in their lives! God’s justice is remarkable and awesome for us to behold. Bring that justice to others in forgiveness and encouragement as they begin their journeys of faith. Your reward is already great! God is fair!

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