Worship Connection: October 25, 2020

August 21st, 2020

21st Sunday after Pentecost/Reformation Sunday

Color: Green
Scripture Readings: Deuteronomy 34:1-12; Psalm 90:1-6, 13-17; 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8; Matthew 22:34-46

Call to Worship #1

L: We are called to be the people of God’s kingdom.
P: In God’s realm we will find healing and hope.
L: We are called to be people who love as God has loved us.
P: In God’s world, we will reach out with God’s love to all God’s people.
L: We are called to be those who would serve.
P: Lord, be with us as we serve you by helping those in need. AMEN.

Call to Worship #2

L: Even when it seems we have suffered for a long time;
P: God breaks through in mercy and love for us.
L: Things may not be easy but we can count on God to be with us.
P: God walks the pathways of both light and darkness with us.
L: God, come quickly into our lives. Erase our fears and doubts.
P: God, come quickly into our hearts and teach us to truly be your people. AMEN.

Call to Worship #3

[Using THE UNITED METHODIST HYMNAL , P. 557 “Blessed Be the Tie That Binds”, offer the following call to worship as directed below. Have the organist/pianist play the hymn through one time]

Congregation: singing verse 1 of “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” one time.
L: With joy we gather as the body of Christ called Christians.
P: Lord, enter our hearts this day and heal our wounds.
Choir: singing (in harmony), verse 2 of “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” one time.
L: Help us to pour out our fears, doubts, frustrations
P: Help us feel your love washing through us, easing our pain.
Soloist: singing verse 3 of “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” one time through
L: We are called to reach out to each other.
P: Lord, help us to share all our joys and concerns, knowing that your love for us is always present in our lives.
ALL: singing verse 4 of “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Gathering Prayer

Lord Jesus, you command us to remember that the first commandment is to love God with all that we are, our hearts, souls, minds and spirits. The second is equal to this in that this love is to be extended to our neighbors. We are to love as we wish to be loved. Help us to internalize these commandments so that when we encounter times of difficulty, we are again reminded of your everlasting love for us. AMEN.

Opening Prayer

Lord, we remember the many ways in which you have helped and saved us, from generation to generation. Be with us this day as we listen for your word for us in our time. Touch our hearts with your healing mercy, for we ask this in Jesus’ name. AMEN.

Prayer of Confession

Merciful and gracious God, we gather here this day, coming together seeking your healing wisdom. Our lives are filled with anxiety and fear. We turn our backs on people in need and close ourselves away from opportunities to serve. Confusion and anger abound in our nation and in our hearts. Forgive us when we have chosen the pathways of greed and fear instead of the high way of peace and hope. Bind up our sounds and calm our spirits. Teach us again to turn to you in love. Write the commandment to love our neighbor as we ourselves would want to be loved, as you have loved us. It is in Jesus’ name that we offer this prayer. AMEN.

Words of Assurance

God’s love has been poured over us to heal and nourish our thirsting spirits. We have been forgiven. Now we are challenged to go forth in peace and hope to a hurting world. Thanks be to God for all God’s mercies shown continually to each one of us. AMEN.

Morning Prayer

In the midst of frightening times when words of war soar to the heavens and anger seems to be the way to treat others and to respond to difficulty, be with us, merciful God. We do not want to live in these hideous ways. We seek your peace and healing love. Our hearts are filled with concern for our families and friends as well as those in far off lands who face greaet times of difficulties, illness, mourning. We share the names of those for whom we seek prayers knowing that you hear our cries and respond in love. Let us pray silently for a minute then offer the names of these dear ones. [Silent Prayer]. Yet in the midst of darkness your light of joy abounds within us as we share those moments which have caused us to rejoice in delight and love. Let us pray silently for a minute and then offer instances of joy that we have encountered this week.

[Silent prayer.]

Lord of hope and peace, we have brought before you the names of dear ones on our hearts. Some of the names have been uttered out loud in the congregation; others are whispered in our hearts. Be with all of us, O Lord. Heal our wounds. Direct our lives in pathways of peace. These things we offer in Jesus’ name. AMEN.


From the abundant ways in which God has blessed our lives, let us share our tithes and offerings in joy and gratitude. Let us receive our morning offering.

Prayer of Dedication

As you have poured your healing love into our lives, O God, we now offer these gifts to you. Let them be used in ministries of peace and justice through the work of this church in your world. AMEN.

Benediction/Sending Forth

God’s love is sending us forth into the world in ministries of peace and justice. We have received forgiveness and been showered with God’s gracious love. Go in peace, bringing hope to this hurting and angry world. AMEN.

Children’s Time

Good morning! I have a very important question for you. Who knows what rules are?

[Give the children time to respond.]

Rules are meant to help us to live together in peace. The authorities asked Jesus what the most important commandment (or rule) is and he responded that we should love the Lord with all our hearts, with all our being, with all our minds. He said that this is the first command and greatest. But then he added something else. He told them that there is a second commandment that they should love their neighbor as they love themselves. So much depends on these two equal commandments. We think the first one is easy. We love God. We thank God for all the blessing in our lives. We turn to God when we are troubled and worried. But it is not as easy to love and care about our neighbors, whether they live next door, in our neighborhood, our nation, our world. We don’t always understand the ways other people think and work together. So we form very negative, and often angry feelings, toward them. Jesus said that love should always be extended to them. That’s so important. Let’s think about that.

Here’s an example: let’s call one of the people in this story Johnny and the other Suzie. Johnny is very angry. So many things have gone wrong in his life. He shouts to God that it just isn’t fair. Suzie hears him yelling and goes to see what is happening. When she gets there, Johnny turns toward her and yells at her, using words that hurt and frighten her. She yells back at him that he is being unfair and stupid. And this goes on until neither one will speak to the other. The air is filled with anger. What do you think could have happened to prevent this from becoming such a bad situation?

[Let the children respond.]

Suzie reacted to Johnny’s anger with her own fear and angry words. Johnny didn’t care if the words hurt her. He was so angry. Sometimes we have to be patient and speak softly with words of caring. Listening with our ears and our hearts is key toward mending the situation. We are called to respond in love, as Jesus’ taught us, rather than react in anger. Johnny needed to calm down and talk with Suzie; Suzie needed to wait and invite Johnny to share with her what was happening. Together they might find a peaceful solution to the problem. That’s what God wants us to do — to work together in love and patience to find a peaceful solution. So this week, I challenge each one of you to find ways to work together in peace with each other, remembering that God’s love is with you. Next week, come and tell me how that went and what you encountered. God bless you all. AMEN.

Art for the Altar/Worship Center

Cover the altar/worship center with burlap fabric so that it drapes down onto the floor in front of the altar/worship center. From the back center of the table, drape a few yards of silky blue fabric (representing water) down the center of the table and onto the floor below. Place rocks and stones on the main surface of the altar/worship center and also on the floor surrounding the blue fabric and creating the image of a pool. At the back of the altar on either side of the cross, which has been placed on the blue fabric, put some trailing vines or plants. Altar candles may be used near the plants. Using red construction paper, cut hearts of various sizes and place them on the altar/worship center and pin them to the blue fabric which is cascading over the edge of the altar/worship center. Some of the hearts may be placed on and near the stones at the bottom of the worship center.

Scripture into Script

[Loosely based on 1 Thessalonians 2:1-8]

Reader 1: I get so excited when we come from our church about talking to people about God and God’s love.
Reader 2: Have you tried to do this? Listen, my friend, not everyone wants to hear you spout off about God. It puts people off.
Reader 1: That may be so, but shouldn’t we try anyway?
Reader 2: There are many ways of revealing God’s love – it doesn’t necessarily begin with a speech. Many times is it found in the ways we treat each other.
Reader 1: You mean we shouldn’t speak about this?
Reader 2: No. I mean that the old adage might apply “Actions speak louder than words”. You know, when others see that you are caring for those in need, or working to help people.
Reader 1: I think I understand. If I have the love of God in my heart, then I should respond in love to other’s needs. Is that right?
Reader 2: Yes. You might receive criticism or insults, but if you are operating from the vantage point of love, you will have the courage to continue, and this demonstrates to others that God’s love is stronger than any insults and anger.
Reader 1: That’s no always easy, is it?
Reader 2: No, it isn’t, but it is so important. Let’s give it a try this week, looking for places where we witness to God’s gracious love through our acts of kindness and compassion.
Reader 1: I’m willing. Then let’s get together and share what happened. OK?
Reader 2: OK! See you in a week.

Message Movers

I wonder how the world sees us. We like to think of ourselves, our nation, as a bastion of freedom and hope for others, yet we are behaving in ways that speak volumes about fear and anger. We erect walls and dismantle bridges. We put qualifications on who shall become part of this nation and who shall be cast out. Saber-rattling has taken the place of actions of love and compassion. 

Even in our churches there are great divisions. Not much has changed. The authorities in Jesus’ time wanted to challenge him. They came to him out of their fear and their desperate need to put him in his place. Find out who he is and then find ways to get rid of him. So they decided to use faith to do their work. “Jesus”, they said. “What’s the greatest commandment?” There, they thought. We’ll trap him into making some statement that would show him to be a phony. He looked at them and said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. But there is a second commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as you yourself wish to be loved. On this all the Law and the Prophets depend.”

“Wait a minute!” they thought. “He got the first part right, but what is this about loving neighbors? Doesn’t he know that we are threatened on all sides and also from within. Doesn’t he realize that we have to make the people toe the mark in order to preserve our own peace. Loving our neighbors is not part of the deal.”

That’s it. We want to love others when they agree completely with us. Otherwise, we want to entrap them and throw them out. We are called to love God — and to love others as God has already loved us. That is a tall order. The church, this church, by virtue of claiming to be Christian is called to make love the core value deep within and also demonstrate that love in our attitudes and actions to others. It is not easy! We will be ridiculed for this and insulted by some people. This is truly our challenge – to live the love of God. It is far too easy to shout angry words and treat others who are different from us with disdain. In the response of Jesus to the questions of the authorities, are we, ourselves, trapped? You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. And you shall love your neighbor, seeking pathways of peace. Don’t be fooled. This is no namby-pamby response and stance. This requires great patience, love and compromise. It requires dedication even in the face of ridicule. It’s not the easy way out. It is the way of peace. AMEN.

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