August 20, 2023

Worship Resources for
the Center for Faith and Giving

Pentecost +12       Proper 14

Genesis 45:1-15 

Psalm 133 

Romans 11:1-2a, 29-32

Matthew 15:(10-20), 21-28

Call to Worship
(inspired by Ps. 133)

Leader:  How very good and pleasant it is when we gather together in unity! 
People:  It’s like a gathering of folks who love quilting,
               coming together to stitch a new quilt!
Leader:  It’s like people in support of their town’s marching band,
               cheering them on as they travel to State Fair competition.
People:  It’s like standing at the airport, eager to greet exchange students
               traveling to launch into their year-abroad experience! 
Leader:  When people of faith come together, joyful prayers fill the air.
People:  So we turn to God, sharing our joy.                             

Opening Prayer 

Holy God, we, your people, stand here, eager to pray and praise you!
Thank you for waking us up today.  Thank you for helping us gather in this
place, or tune in on line, to share in this worship hour.
We rejoice in your presence with us, and your Spirit drawing us close to you and to one another.  We celebrate what you call us to be and to do as followers of Jesus, the Christ.  May the words of our mouths and the thoughts in our hearts bind us to you and to one another as we worship you!  AMEN

Moment for Stewardship  (in response to Matthew 15:21-28)

Across America, people who are unhoused illustrate a painful part of our broken world.  A colleague tells the story of someone coming up to him, shouting “I need help!”  On that day, my colleague didn’t want to respond to this unhoused person’s declaration.  He was headed for an important consultation.  But the shouter looked into his eyes, softened his voice, and knelt down before him with a simple plea: “I need help!”

What would you do?

Jesus tried to turn away from the Canaanite woman who pleaded for help, but she replied “even the dogs eat the crumbs!”  My colleague wanted to turn away, but he remembered the Gospel story, which pushed him to stop, look with compassion on the man, and respond,
“I have my bus pass.  You can have it so you can get to the church five miles from here.  They have a place where you can stay, and someone who can help you.”

In our 21st century world, we’re called to respond to the needs of those all around us.  Your generous support in today’s offering helps make care possible through ____________  (name one or two ways your congregation responds to those needing a helping hand). 

Let’s follow Jesus’ lead as we receive the morning offering.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

With care, God of all good gifts, we offer our dollars as symbols of the life you’ve given us.  Receive them, and help us use them to demonstrate your love to those who live each day in need of a helping hand.  Inspire us to acts of compassion and care as we practice what it means to be disciples of Jesus, the Christ.  AMEN

Invitation to Communion

The story of Jesus’ encounter with the Canaanite woman helps us see Jesus’ initial unwillingness to help someone “Other”.  This was a woman, someone considered an enemy by the Jews, an undesirable stranger. 

Yet Jesus spoke to her. 

When she responded to his put-down (did he truly refer to her as a “dog”?!) with a creative retort, Jesus answered her, recognized her faith, and declared her daughter would no longer be tormented.

When we come to this table, no matter if we’re considered (by ourselves or by others) undesirable, strangers, or simply “other”, we can come, ready to reach out to the One who we know will show compassion. 
Here we recognize the Gospel witness.  Here we know there is a place for each of us, where we can share in gifts of bread and juice. 
Here, all who are followers of Jesus, the Christ, are welcome to come and eat.