Call to Worship
(inspired by Hebrews 4:14-16)
One: Boldly, let’s approach God’s throne of grace.
Many: There, we may receive mercy.
One: There we will find grace to help in our time of need.
Many: For we know Jesus, who is the Christ.
One: We know Jesus, have confessed our faith in him as the Son of God,
and trust he has faced the challenges of this life.
Many: So, holding fast to our confession, let us worship God!
God of Grace,
Thank you for the gift of this new day.
Thank you for gathering with us and providing the free gift of your grace
to bless us in this particular time and place.
As we worship you, strengthen us to face the challenges of our lives, knowing you’ve provided the One who goes before us without sin.
Help us believe and live into your presence,
even as we pray in the strong name of Jesus, AMEN
Moment for Stewardship
(from Mark 10)
Matthew and Luke also include the story of the rich man seeking eternal life which we hear in Mark 10. A triple threat! Remember how the man comes to kneel before Jesus with his question: “what more must I do to inherit eternal life?”
How challenging it is to hear Jesus answer his question:
“Go, sell what you own and give to the poor.”
Challenging, because on the world scale, all of us are like this man.
Wealthy! We have MANY possessions.
Does putting yourself in his position change how you hear this story?
Here’s the truth. Following Jesus is not always easy!
For most of us, it’s tough to imagine giving away our wealth.
After all, how will we live if we give like that?
Gratefully, Jesus teaches his disciples that salvation is possible, even for the rich.
Today, before you place your cash or check in the offering tray, take a moment to give thanks that your offering isn’t measured by what you COULD give. It isn’t the means by which you receive eternal life.
Instead, make your offering in gratitude that God makes all things possible –
even we who are wealthy and not yet able to give away all we have, receiving eternal life.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
We give you what is already yours, God, for you are Creator of all. But we pray you will receive our gifts, and use them to respond to the needs of the poor.
Help us find ways to truly see the reality which is right before us: of our amazing wealth in a world filled with many who struggle for daily sustenance. Then, once we have seen, embolden us to share ever more, that your Realm may be made known on earth, as it is in heaven. AMEN
Invitation to Communion
(from Mark 10)
I like Peter.
This disciple, whom we first met as Simon, comes across as intense, emotional and, sometimes, foolishly bold. Did you catch how Peter reacts to Jesus and the rich man? Jesus acknowledges the man has done well, but is attached to his possessions (stuff). It’s hard for the rich to enter God’s Realm! In the very next paragraph, then, Peter steps right into Jesus’ space, declaring “yes, but look what WE gave up to follow you!”
Peter wants to make sure Jesus remembers how much he and the other disciples have given up (“we have left everything and followed you”).
Can’t you just hear Jesus, patting Peter on the back and assuring him “you’ll receive all you’ve let go, times 100! You’ll get all that NOW (along with persecutions), plus you’ll receive eternal life in the age to come.”
When we come to this table, does it feel as though Jesus is responding to each of us in the same way as he did to Peter?
“Yes, you’ve decided to follow me. Some of you have made real sacrifices. But look what you have!
Here, come! Find rest for your soul, and nourishment for your body as we share these symbols. Know there will be so much more to come!
This is only a foretaste of the feast when all gather in God’s Realm!”
All are welcome at this table: rich and not-so-rich, bold and not-so-bold, new disciples and life-long followers. In Chalice Praise, Cricket Harrison put the invitation to music (#156, You Are Welcome):
You are welcome, welcome to this holy table, yes
You are welcome, you are welcome here.
(You might sing this, or have a soloist from the choir finish the invitation with this song. The verses are in the full music edition of Chalice Praise)