September 12, 2021

Pentecost XVII

Worship Resources

Call to Worship 

(inspired by Psalm 19)

One:  The heavens are telling the glory of God!
Many:  Today we join the heavens, singing praise to our redeemer.
One:  With the Psalmist, we pray, “May the words of our mouths
           and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable to the Rock.” 
Many:  Eagerly we honor God, desiring to follow God’s decrees.  
One:  Let us search to find all that is sweeter than honey
Many:  and offer our thanks for all the decrees of the Lord.

Opening Prayer 

Creator of all the cosmos,

We rejoice in you, giving thanks for the ways you encourage us with your precepts.  In gratitude we gather (or “we connect with one another”) to worship you with our voices, minds and hearts.  Receive our praise, grant us your peace, and give us energy to proclaim the Good News because of your love made known in Jesus Christ,

Moment for Stewardship

Many of us delight in hearing a “good news” love story.  You know, the kind that makes you feel happy inside?  The text from Mark 8 strikes me as a marvelous love story, with Jesus asking his closest companions “who do people say that I am?” and Peter responding “You are the Christ”.

We read the story in three gospels: Mark, Luke and Matthew. We often call that “Peter’s Good Confession”.  Perhaps you, when you joined this congregation, made your own faith proclamation, claiming “Jesus is the Christ.”   

This becomes a love story for each of us (as it was for Peter) when we acknowledge Jesus is the one we want to claim and follow!  And, as we do with all we love, we want to offer our best. 

What is your best?  The “first fruits” of your life?  Using your talents to build up Christ’s body on earth?  Putting time in to be Christ’s hands and feet in our community?  Sharing the financial resources which are yours?

Today, I invite you to consider what it truly means to you to know Jesus as the Messiah/Christ/Savior…and let your offering be a sign of your love.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

God, you are gracious and good. 
Your generosity provides the air we breathe, the water which sustains life, the food which nourishes us. 
In your love you continue to pour out your Spirit, binding us to you and to one another. 
We thank you for Jesus, whom we know as the Christ. 
So receive these gifts and tithes, knowing we’re eager to give our best, for we are wrapped in your love, and we love you.   AMEN

Invitation to Communion 

We hear in Mark’s Gospel “if any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”

When we come to this table, we’re often reminded of those who have literally done that.  As we mark the 20th anniversary of the destruction of the World Trade Towers, the story of Fr. Mychal Judge is certain to be re-told.

Fr. Mychal was chaplain to the NYC fire department.  On September 11, 2001, he heard of the disaster, and immediately went to provide last rites for those he could reach.  Sadly, while working in the North Tower, Fr. Mychal was struck by debris from the South Tower, and killed.  He’s remembered now as victim 0001 of that deadly day.

Remembering, as we share communion today, let us give thanks for Fr. Mychal, and for so many who have taken up their cross to follow Jesus, even if it meant losing their own life. 

While none of us may have been faced with a life-ending challenge, we have a daily opportunity to take up our cross and follow Jesus.  How can we prepare to do just that in this coming week?

Come!  Share in this feast, finding strength and new resolve to let our lives show our decision to follow Jesus, the Christ.

(consider using “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus” as communion music)