September 23, 2023

Worship Resources for
the Center for Faith and Giving

Pentecost +17     

Exodus 16:2-15

Psalm 105:1-6, 37-45 

Philippians 1:21-30

Matthew 20:1-16

Call to Worship
(inspired by Ps. 105)

Leader:  Preparing our hearts and minds for worship,                                              
                        let’s give thanks to the Lord!   
People: Yes!  We’ll sing our praise and rejoice as we call out the
                         wonderful works of God.              
Leader: Remember the way God brought the Hebrews out of slavery,
                         providing them with food, water, safety and joy.
People: We remember how God brings us through trials and tough times.
Leader:  Praise the Lord!
People:  We sing our praise to the Lord our God!

(use a hymn or song of praise as the end of your call to worship,
    like CH#25, Praise to the Lord or CH#10, Bring Many Names)                              

Opening Prayer 

Loving God, we praise your name! 
We celebrate the ways you are at work in our lives and in this world. 
Yet we come with so many different attitudes. 
Some of us are excited, some are weary. 
Some of us eagerly await joyful moments just around the corner. 
Some of us live in anxiety and fear, uncertain about whatever may emerge today. 

Draw us close to you in this hour.  Fill us with your Spirit.
Help us remember and give thanks for all you have done to bring each of your beloved ones to this time and place.  AMEN

Moment for Stewardship  (in response to Matthew 20:1-16)

Do you cringe when you hear the story Jesus told, as Matthew wrote in chapter 20?  Day laborers were hired by a landowner.  Some worked all day.  Some worked two-thirds of the day.  Some worked only 1 hour.  Yet when it came time to be paid, the last-hired were the first paid, and received a full day’s wage!  Surprised?  Of course!  And we can imagine the others were delighted, anticipating they would receive proportionately more than the agreed-on wage.

When all the workers received the same amount, those who worked longest grumbled.  (Imagine!)  But the landowner replied, “didn’t I pay what we agreed?  What’s your complaint?  Or are you just sorry I was generous to your fellow workers?”

As we come to this time of offering, what will you give back to the generous God who has given us life?  Will you respond with generosity?  elp

The body of Christ we know as this congregation functions fully when each of us participates in offering our time, our treasure and our talents.  Let us share the symbols of our lives, transformed into gifts which help grow God’s Realm on earth.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Holy God, we bless your name as we offer these tithes, offerings and gifts.  Thank you for the abundance with which you bless us, day by day. 
Thank you for this opportunity for us to share.
Accept our gratitude for all we’ve been given.
Receive these signs of our love, and help us use them wisely.  Strengthen us to be more and more generous even as we recognize it’s impossible to out-give YOU! AMEN

(if you use music videos, consider Matt Redman’s “Blessed be Your Name”

Invitation to Communion

The workers who were employed by the landowner in Matthew 20 expected they would be paid for the work they did.  Then, and now, most people anticipate receiving what was promised for our work.

What joy, then, for ALL the workers to receive enough to buy daily food: a day’s wages, despite some of them not working as long as the others had worked.

And here?  At this table, Christ offers this feast of remembrance and thanksgiving to all who come, whether you’re feasting for the first time or you’ve been on the Way since you were first baptized as a child.

Here, Christ meets each one of us in the gifts of bread and cup whether we believe we’re fully incorporated into Christ, or we know we’ve detoured far from the love and compassion shown by Jesus. 

Jesus blessed and broke the bread. Those around the table in that upper room all shared it.  Moments later, according to the Gospel record, Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss, Peter denied ever knowing Jesus, and the others could not bear to follow the winding way to Calvary.

You are invited to this meal.  Come, eager to be forgiven for the broken parts and ready to be restored to full life.  Come, prepared to meet the One who loves you.