November 8, 2020
Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25
I Thessalonians 4:13-18
Call to Worship (based on Psalm 78)
Leader: Give ear, O people, to the teachings of the Lord.
People: We are listening to what God has to say to us.
Leader: Do not hide God’s words from your children.
People: We will tell the coming generations of the glorious deeds of the Lord.
Leader: He established his decree in Jacob and gave us the law.
People: We will teach our children so that they will know God.
Leader: God has given us a word to guide our steps and guard our hearts.
People: We have set our hope and trust in God.
Loving God, you have entrusted us with the gift of each generation and called us to teach them your word. Speak to us now, O Lord, so that we may be filled with your Spirit and emboldened to speak the good news to all those who need to hear it. May this worship renew our hope and trust in you. Amen.
Moment for Stewardship
Who do you serve? The right answer, of course, is “Jesus.” But if someone were to watch your life for a day, would they arrive at the same answer? Or would the words you speak, the decisions you make, the way you spend your time lead them to conclude that you serve someone or something else?
Joshua puts this question to the Israelites, challenging them to recommit themselves to serving the one true God in a land filled with foreign gods. We also are surrounded by foreign gods, gods like money and status and possessions. How do we respond to Joshua’s challenge? He says, “As for my and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
We are encouraged to forsake the foreign gods that clamor for our attention, and instead to worship the God we know through Jesus Christ. Because we have been so blessed, we are called to be a blessing, not just in word, but in action. Who do you serve? Let us now collect our tithes and offerings.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Almighty God, we are thankful that you give us the freedom to come to you on our own. We witness to your generosity each time we give of what we have for your work in this world. We do so cheerfully, trusting that you receive our gratitude and multiply it for your use. Bless these gifts and these givers. Amen.
Invitation to Communion
In the parable of the ten bridesmaids, Matthew paints a harsh picture of the kingdom of God. A cursory reading of this story would make us think that God will shut out those of us who aren’t prepared, those of us who are too harried or exasperated to remember all the details of faith, like filling our flasks with oil or checking off all the things on our spiritual to-do list.
The God we know through Jesus may seem different than the master in this story, but the message is still relevant: be prepared. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we have no idea what can happen. How do you prepare for a pandemic? For racial divisions? For a train wreck of a campaign season? Being prepared seems like an impossible task.
Or, maybe it’s a deceptively simple one. Maybe being prepared simply means coming to this table, week after week, to be reminded of God’s love and grace in the midst of our constant imperfect efforts to be people of faith. This is where our lamps get filled and our burdens get lifted. This is where we meet Christ again and hear the words of blessing we so desperately need. The invitation isn’t just for those who are ready; it’s for all of us. Let’s share in communion together.