May 3, 2020

May 3, 2020

Worship Resources for
the Center for Faith and Giving

Easter 4A

Acts 2:42-47

Psalm 23

 1 Peter 2:19-25

John 10:1-10

 (consider opening worship with a solo voice singing “God is my Shepherd”,
CH 79)

Call to Worship  (adapted from Psalm 23, inspired by Joan Stott)

One:  In trust, we gather to worship our Shepherding God.
Many:  We’re strong because our Shepherd guides us, day by day.
One:  The caring Shepherd is always with us,
Many:  so we will not fear!
One:  God’s goodness and mercy will fill us all the days of our lives,
Many:  so in this day, we lift our hearts and voices to worship God!

Opening Prayer 
(looking to Psalm 23)

God of life and hope, wrap us with the familiar images of Psalm 23!
Help us turn to you for the rest and care we need.
Faced with so many challenges, we come eagerly to stand before      you, yearning for your TLC.
When we feel over-whelmed and anxious, calm us with your presence.
Remind us in this hour that you fill our cup.  Let it overflow!
Be our shepherd, loving God, and we will not want.   AMEN

Moment for Stewardship  (from Acts 2:46-47)

In these weeks after Easter day, we’re reminded again and again that Jesus’ resurrection brought new life not only to Jesus, but also to the disciples!  In Acts, we hear how Peter encouraged the believers (both old and new) to live.

What a joy it would be if we could model our lives on those early followers, spending much time together in the (church building), breaking bread in each other’s homes and eating together with glad and generous hearts!

Because of the global COVID pandemic, we’re not able to do those first three acts (spend time together, break bread in each other’s homes, or even eat together)…but we CAN live out our faith by acting with glad and generous hearts!

How are you spending your days?  Are you sharing time with those who are lonely, calling to encourage others?  Are you generously opening your heart, using your talent to create and give away face-masks or reading on-line to children stuck at home?  Are you acting on your concern for others by contributing your regular giving to the church and reaching beyond to support a local business or restaurant?  Are you providing extra food for the Free Pantry, or for the artists in your community who cannot sell their art?

Know your actions may be exactly the encouragement someone else may need to praise God as s/he comes to join the company of believers!

Prayer of Thanksgiving

We do give you our thanks, God of love, for the many ways in which we are able to build up our hearts through actions which are glad and generous!  Thank you for each gift which is offered, and for each one seeking to grow in generosity.  Strengthen this congregation through these givers and these gifts, that together we might share Good News with a fear-filled world!  AMEN

Invitation to Communion 

Acts 2 has been considered by many to be an early description of how the early Christians functioned in community.  The apostles were doing signs and wonders.  Believers had their possessions “in common”.  People who needed something were able to access it because of the generosity of those coming together.

And the baptisms mounted up!  People, newly baptized, then devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread (this communion) and to prayer!  (Acts 2:42)

What a wonderful, contagious reality!  Especially when many believers today are separated from the community in an effort to “flatten the curve” of COVID-19, this image of believers coming together to encourage one another, sharing what they have, listening and learning from one another, praying together…!  This description becomes a picture of the promise of what “faith community” truly means.

So let’s hold tightly to this.  Like a dream, let it fill our minds and hearts, as we take the elements we have, and “in remembrance”, eat and drink.

Remember the resurrected Jesus,
sharing breakfast fish with his disciples on the shore!
Remember the early disciples,
sharing Good News and bringing thousands to be baptized!
Remember our own congregation,
sharing bread and juice,
holding the plate for our neighbor,
and drinking, together, with glad hearts!    AMEN