For Sunday May 8, 2016
Seventh Sunday of Easter :: White :: .
Acts 16:9-15 :: Psalm 97 :: Revelation 22:12-14, 16-17, 20-21 :: John 17:20-26
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 97
L: The LORD is sovereign, let the earth rejoice;
P: The heavens proclaim God’s righteousness.
L: The LORD loves those who hate evil;
P: The LORD guards the lives of the faithful.
L: Light dawns for the righteous,
P: And joy for the upright in heart.
L: Rejoice in the LORD, O you righteous,
P: And give thanks to God’s holy name!
O Alpha and Omega, O beginning and end, O first and last, we come again into your sanctuary, seeking to know your presence. We come claiming the promise that you are coming soon, so we wash our garments, and look for the tree of life. We come because the Spirit said to us, “Come”. We are thirsty for your Word, O God, pour into us the water of life. We will offer ourselves before you in prayer and praise and thanksgiving. Guide us now and draw us closer to you we pray.
In the seventeenth chapter of John, just before entering the betrayal and arrest story, Jesus prays for the Disciples. He also prays for “those who will believe in [Jesus] through their word.” We know that among those who believe through the word of the Disciples is us. Do we remember it is also those whose lives our missionaries are touching right now? Jesus is praying that the word will travel through time and space. The practical side of me begs the question: “but how will that word get to remote villages of the Congo or China?” The answer lies in our tithes and offerings. When we give, a portion of what we give supports the work of missionaries who are working on our behalf. So in a way, our tithes and offerings are an answer to Jesus’ prayer. We will now receive the tithes and offerings which help become an answer to Christ’s prayer.
Here are our gifts, O God of wonder and majesty. We bring them as a sign that we remember all the many ways you have blessed us. We ask your blessing upon these gifts, that you will use them so new believers will come to Christ our Lord, and Savior. We bring them with thanksgiving in our hearts, and hope in our souls.
I think it is interesting that the Apostle Paul, in a story in the sixteenth chapter of Acts removes the spirit of divination from the slave girl because it was annoying. No one asked him to remove the spirit; in fact, he got himself arrested for removing the spirit, which was proclaiming Paul as a “servant of the Most High God, who proclaims a way of salvation.” At the risk of annoying you for saying it week after week; this table is a proclamation of the way of salvation, given by the Most High God. Come and receive the gifts of God.
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Scripture Quotations from the New Revised Standard Version. Online Scripture links a service of the Jean and Alexander Heard Divinity Library, of Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN