Call to Worship (from Psalm 130)
One: Filled with hope, we come to worship God!
Many: We’re actively waiting, eager for God’s word.
One: Come! With the Lord, there is steadfast love.
Many: God holds the power to redeem each and all.
One: It is the Lord our God who will reclaim us!
Many: Grateful, and confident of God’s forgiveness, we’re ready to pray.
We watch and wait for you, Holy Giver of life.
Help us recognize and celebrate
the ways you reclaim, renew and revitalize your people.
Fill us with a fountain of deep joy because of your steadfast love.
Let the firm foundation your love provides
be space not only for us, but for others we encounter
whose feet may be mired in the slough of despond. AMEN
Moment for Stewardship (from Ephesians 4:31-5:2)
Perhaps you’ve had this same experience.
When opening up a new board game,
you take time to read the rules and explain them to the other participants,
and you all agree to follow the rules in order to enjoy the game.
In Ephesians, the game rules for following Jesus instruct us:
Put away (pack up) bitterness, wrath, anger, wrangling, slander, malice…
Be kind to one another!
Forgive one another.
Be imitators of God.
Live in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us…
Are you a rule-follower?
When we come to this time of offering,
does your gift show you follow the rules as you give?
How does what you give show you imitating God?
In what way are you giving yourself up?
To put it more directly,
is your offering something stinky (stingy) or fragrant?
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Thank you, God, for the many gifts you continue to give each of us,
whether or not we “follow the rules”.
Please receive these gifts and help them become the means by which life is more fully molded into your design for each and all of your children.
Renew in us the desire to live our lives as fragrant and beautiful offerings,
eagerly seeking to imitate you with our whole selves.
Invitation to Communion (from Ephesians 4:25)
In Ephesians 4, several times the community of faith is encouraged
to “put away” what will not build up the community.
Put away your former way of life.
Put away falsehood.
Put away … bitterness, wrath, anger…
For it’s when we have put away the detritus
that we find open space for the important pieces of our life of faith.
Perhaps that’s why so often our communion table is set so simply.
(describe your own table, making sure today it’s laid out simply, with communion elements and only a few other pieces…a cross? Candles?
What’s here helps us focus on the visual reminder of Jesus.
We’ve put away the distractions.
We see the chalice and bread.
Soon we will touch and taste, these elements.
Put away what detracts you in this moment.