Sunday April 8, 2018
Year B, Second Sunday of Easter :: White ::
Call to Worship (Responsive)
Adapted from Psalm 133
L: How good it is when kindred live together in unity,
P: Like an anointing with precious oil.
L: Like the dew of Hermon,
P: which falls on the mountains of Zion.
L: For there the LORD ordained the blessing
P: The blessing of life forevermore!
We come before you, O God, in this Easter season hoping to know your will. As the Disciples before us, in the aftermath of all you have done, we are gathered together. We long for your Spirit, and to know your presence. We ache for your guidance and direction. We come seeking your love, and for you to know our love and devotion. Breathe upon us anew, and fill us. Anoint us with the blessings of your presence as you receive our praise and prayers. For we offer them in the name of our risen savior.
The first chapter of the First Letter of John could be at the heart of every commissioning service for every missionary. “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life.” More than a hundred Missionaries, Interns and Associates, serving from Australia to Zimbabwe, to Laos, to Ecuador, to Germany and Japan, have heard these words or similar ones. Then they go out on OUR behalf, trusting us to meet their basic needs as they carry the Good News of Jesus Christ from our doorsteps to the ends of the earth. Our gifts, combined with those of our Brothers and Sisters across North America, empower their ministries. We will now receive the tithes and offerings which help support the work of our missionary efforts.
Gracious and Giving God, we bring before you but a portion of that which you have given us. Bless and use these tithes and offerings to further your work on earth. We offer them with a prayer for all of those who serve in foreign lands. Bless and keep them, as we shall keep them in our hearts and prayers. Amen.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus appears to ten of the remaining eleven and breathes the Holy Spirit upon them. Only Thomas is reported to be missing. When Jesus appears again for Thomas, he reminds us how blessed we are for believing even though we have not physically seen him. Yet around this table we do see Christ. We see his body, broken. We see his blood, spilt. But perhaps most importantly, we see his face. “His face?” you ask. That’s not in the words of institution. And you are right. We see his face in the love of those who serve you. Not just Elders and Deacons, but anyone who passes a tray or holds a cup. For as a body of believers, that is one of the reasons we do come together. To see and share the LORD.
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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. Check out all of the awesome resources there at http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu