Have you been caught up in the race for Gold, Silver and Bronze at the Olympics-a little distracted this week by the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat? Are you in the U.S. watching hearings that are like tearing the scabs off of barely healing wounds from last January 6th? Our texts this week speak into these days with comfort, challenge and hope. Here are a few worship words to help you on your way as you prepare to lead God’s people. Use them as they have been written, or let them be a spring-board for your own creativity, (and then share with us what you have written, if you will be so kind). Please give credit in print and video descriptions, but verbal attribution is not necessary.
Blessings Rev Gals, may God’s ever-creating love flow through you; inspiring, encouraging and uplifting you and your flocks.
Call to Worship (based on John 6:24-35) by Sigrid Rother
One: We come because we are hungry
All: Jesus gives us more than food
One: We come searching for life
All: Jesus is the bread of Life
Opening Prayer by Sigrid Rother
Generous God, often we do not know what we are looking for. We are searching, we feel lost in a world which seems to sell everything beside true meaning and love. You offer us all what we need. Christ is the bread of life. All we need to do is to take and eat, and you fill us with more than we can imagine. We pray for open hearts and minds and that we can be ambassadors of your love to the world,
In Christ’s name we pray, Amen
Prayer of Confession (based on Psalm 51:1-12) by Megan Klose
1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love.
Not according to my calculus of loyalty and utility;
not according to my balance sheet of favors and of wrongs;
not according to my zero-sum supply of compassion and grace;
but according to your free and flowing love.
Cleanse me from my sin according to your abundant mercy.
Do not hold grudges, or remember my past, or define me by my worst mistake.
Wash away my every stain, every smudge, every glaring flaw.
I will always remember my wickedness, even when the evidence is no longer visible.
I could not stand if you remember it, too.
I have sinned against you every time I have sinned against the creations of your love:
Repair the consequences of my evil and restore its collateral damage.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
filled with steadfast love,
overflowing with mercy,
delighting only in life and companionship.
Restore me to the joy of your salvation not according to my merit, but according to your will.
A Responsive Reading (around Ephesians 4:1-16 NRSV) by Rebecca Z. McNeil
Leader: I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,
People: Of course, we will! We are eager to live up to our calling in Christ.
Leader: With all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
People: But that’s a tall order! Have you heard some of the crazy things other people claiming to be Christians are saying? We’re not so sure we want unity with those folks.
Leader: There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
People: Help us to see God above all and through all and in all of our neighbors, for these are divisive times and even Christ’s body has been carved up into factions.
Leader: But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said, “When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive; he gave gifts to his people.” (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.)
People: God give us grace upon grace in all our dealings with those high up and those low down and everyone in between. Help us be as gracious to others as you, through Christ, have been gracious to us.
Leader: The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.
People: We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.
Leader: God, build us up in love.
People: God, build us up in love. Amen.
A Responsive Prayer (after II Samuel 11:26-12:13a) by Rebecca Z. McNeil
Like David, there are those today willing to do whatever it takes to get what they want, to have what is not rightfully theirs.
Sometimes it is we who are like David.
People: Lord, have mercy.
Like Bathsheba, there are those today grieving loved ones taken from them, not by age or by illness, but in the prime of their lives, dead by deceit, by violence, by corruption.
Sometimes it is we, sometimes it is our neighbors who are grieving.
People: Lord, have mercy.
Like the people of Israel and the Ammonites, nations of the world today are quick to take up the sword leaving sorrow in the wake of unending war.
Sometimes it is we who suffer the lasting effects of war’s traumas, sometimes it is our neighbors.
People: Lord, have mercy.
Like Nathan, there are those today who bravely testify to the truth, and stand tall in front of officials and politicians holding them to account.
Sometimes it is we who are called to be prophetic, to speak the truth in love, even when—especially when, the stakes are high and keeping quiet would be easier, safer.
People: Lord, have mercy.
God, give us tongues that speak truth, hearts gilded with golden kindness, and souls forged with the steel of your Holy Spirit that we may care for the grieving, hold accountable the guilty and create a world more beautiful and just for all people. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Rebecca Zahller McNeil retired June 1, 2021 after serving ministries in Oklahoma, Kentucky, Zaire, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Nebraska in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ. She and her husband Mike just moved to Trinidad, Colorado and having just unpacked all but six boxes, they can begin packing their camper and heading out for parts unknown to hike and to drink in the beauty of God’s creation. Becky blogs at http://everydaystories.blog
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