Worship Elements: June 3, 2018

April 28th, 2018

Lections:

I Samuel 3:1-20; Psalms 139:1-6, 13-18; 2 Corinthians 4:5-12Mark 2:23-3:6

Call to Worship:

L: The God who answers in a day of trouble is among us,

P: And, behold, it is very good!

L: The God who lights a candle during the night is here,

P: And, behold, it is very good!

A: Hearts, rejoice! For peace has triumphed over trouble, and morning has broken eternal night!

Invocation:

O God, you do not see as we see. You do not look upon us as we look upon others. Our eyes are seduced by outward appearance, but yours cut straight to the heart.

Search us, O God. Lay bare our ardent longing for you, and grant our heart's desire.

Litany:

L: When a tattered stranger is wounded, and those around us tend the better-dressed:

M: Shall we be Law, an impatient toe tapping upon the floor?

W: Or shall we be Love, an able hand probing for a human pulse?

L: When a fragile spirit is shattered, and those around us will not pick up the pieces:

M: Shall we be Destruction, another empty bottle smashing against the wall?

W: Or shall we be Creation, old glass fragments being melted into something new?

L: When the defenseless earth is poisoned, and those around us hide from the hideous places:

M: Shall we be Silence, an unseen snake hissing before its strike?

W: Or shall we be Sound, a thunderstorm drenching a thirsty forest?

L: O Lord, whether body, spirit, or world requires healing, let us not withhold it. If the choice be ours, let love triumph over law.

A: If the choice be ours, let creation overcome destruction.

L: If the choice be ours, let sound resound through silence.

A: In the name of the tattered stranger, the fragile spirit and the defenseless earth, we pray.

Prayer for One Voice:

Almighty God, what power you pour out upon us! What possibilities you instill within us! You fill our hearts, these fragile earthen pots, with strength and promise. A treasure, indeed, you bestow.

Yet we are tempted to hide it, to hoard it. While we conserve our power for some rainy day, the powerless are consumed around us. While we preserve our potential for the day of destiny, the actual threatens us with the day of doom.

It is an old story, Lord, heard and told a hundred times. Yet we have not learned. We must still confess our resemblance to Eli, the cowardly chief priest of Israel, who knew of his sons' abuse of their priestly office but whose love of his position made him reluctant to discipline them. Like him, we rely less on your power than on our judgment. Our concern is less for your purpose than for our privilege.

We must also acknowledge our likeness to the Pharisees, whose authority was bound by a rigid religion. Like them, we depend less on your mercy than on our purity. Our loyalty is less to our neighbors than to our rules.

Remind us, O God, that Jesus Christ our Lord was a rule-breaker; that he called tax collectors as disciples, partied with sinners, and even healed people on the sabbath. Teach us that sometimes, like him, we may have to break human rules in fidelity to a higher law—the law of love. Remind us, too, that Jesus Christ stood against all authorities to proclaim that law, even unto death on a cross. Remind us lest we, like the Pharisees, should plot against truth; lest we, like Eli, should dishonor our calling.

Your purpose, O God, will not be thwarted. You have poured out your power upon us! You have instilled your possibilities within us! You have filled our hearts, these fragile earthen pots, with strength and promise. If some of us become misers and hoard the treasure you have placed within us, open the generous hearts of others and loose their treasures upon the earth. In the redemption of the world, let their treasures be returned to you a thousandfold.

Benediction:

Return now to the world, and go gladly, despite your fears. Though afflicted, you will not be crushed; though perplexed, you will not be driven to despair; though lonely, you will not be forsaken. The Lord of life dwells in you and among you, now and forever.

From Litanies and Other Prayers: Year B; Copyright © Abingdon Press

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