Call to Worship
(Joanne Carlson Brown, The Abingdon Worship Annual 2017)
As for me, I shall behold your face. . .. When I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
Why have you come this morning?
We have come to encounter the Holy One.
You know you’ll never be the same if you do.
We have come to wrestle with our faith, our doubts, and even our convictions.
Then come; let us venture into this time of worship and prepare to encounter God face to face.
Hymn TIS 578: “How firm a foundation, you people of God” God is our rock. Everything else and everyone else can fail us but God, we can always depend on. Always.
O God of night-time visits and daylight assurance, we come to this time of worship to wrestle with who we are, and who you call us to be. Search our hearts and know us thoroughly. We long to meet you face to face, even if the encounter leaves us forever changed. With open ears and ready hearts, touch us with your words and transform us with your presence. Amen.
A Prayer of Confession
God who sees, knows, and touches us, we have many things in our lives that we are not proud of.
We are scared to come before you with all that we are. We are frightened that you will judge us and find us wanting. We are afraid of your rejection or abandonment.
Forgive our shortcomings, large and small.
Reassure us that you are always present with us, that you always love us and want only the best for us.
Forgive our fearful reluctance to open ourselves fully to an encounter with your holy presence.
Wrestle with us, touch us, and awaken us to your love— a love that never lets us go. Meet us face to face, that we may be forever changed. Amen.
Declaration of Forgiveness
Dawn comes, and we will see God face to face. We will behold the face of unconditional love. In this meeting, we will understand the depth of God’s reassuring forgiveness. And in this understanding, we will be changed for good.
Thanks, be to God! Amen
A flash of brilliant light, a mushroom cloud rises. Nothing will ever be the same.
We dedicate ourselves to work for peace as we boldly proclaim:
Forgive our inhumanity.
May wars cease as we work to be peacemakers and not merely peace hopers.
Touch us, O God, and we will never be the same. In life and in death we are not alone.
Thanks be to God.
In gratitude for the gift of eternal life, let us greet one another with signs of peace. The peace of Christ be with you.
The peace of Christ be with you always.
Invitation to the Offering
Loving God, take our hearts and set them on fire. Take our lives and transform them. Take our church and resurrect it with your life-giving Spirit. Take our gifts and use them for the fulfillment of your vision
of peace and unity. Amen.
Hymn TIS 138: “Eternal Father, strong to save” The theme continues. We can rest in God’s eternal arms, in full security that we will be cared for as none other can care for us.
I have included the service so far, almost as Rev. John delivered it today, because everything that was said and sung touched my heart so poignantly and I thought it would do the same for those who read it. We continued on with the Service of Communion. This never fails to quieten my soul. Whether it be the mighty prayers, the historical events remembered or the reverence of the people celebrating the service, I am stilled. Somehow, there are so many centres to this service. Jesus Christ and his willingness to turn his face to Jerusalem is clearly at the centre of our attention. The effect of that sacrifice on our lives and then as we are offered the bread and the wine, each of us is given the impression that it is just for us. Hallelujah!
The Service of the Word.
The Readings: Genesis 32:22-31. Romans 9: 1-8. Matthew 14: 13-21 brought to us by Lyn.
The first reading about a man wrestling with God no doubt has a traditional meaning and message. However, as one who has wrestled with God, I can say that it leaves a mark like the limp of the man in this reading, that never goes away. No matter how things around me are or how much I would like to sulk in a corner because things aren't as I would like them, I can't say that I don't know my maker. I am stuck.
To take Paul's message and place it in a modern context is difficult because there are so many possibilities. I think the message that is coming to me is to let God run his world. Do as we see God guiding us to do and then leave the rest to God.
And the third reading for me says that I (and each of us) have been given resources. Use them to serve others.
Preaching of the Word - God is Good.
Rev. John made these points:
* After a long and exhausting day, Jesus’ disciples come to him and suggest that the crowds be sent away so that they may go into the villages and buy food.
*Jesus answers, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.”
* The disciples protest. Jesus then tells them to bring him what food they have,
*Jesus tells them in no uncertain terms that it is their job to help feed those who are hungry.
*It’s not someone else’s problem to fix.” The body of Christ is called to help those who are hungry
*Don’t send them away
*Jesus says to us, no matter how meagre our resources “Bring them to me.”
*God can raise up amongst us what we need.
And in those words I heard God’s voice.
Hymn TIS 530: “Now let us from this table rise” The words that leapt out to me were ‘renewed in body, mind and soul’.
Grahame played to provide background for our thoughts and prayers.
Rev. John prayed to God who is steadfast in love, giving thanks for answered prayer. He continued, bringing before our God, all those affected by war, terrorism, disaster and famine. He prayed for the homeless, the addicted and everyone afflicted in any way, that leaders will see fit to dispense mercy and justice to right wrongs that create the circumstances in which all these terrible evils flourish.
He prayed for those who are close to us and that our gifts will be used for those in need.
He prayed that we will welcome anew all those who come to the table with us, that we will provide the nourishment of fellowship and friendship. We then joined in The Lord’s Prayer.
Hymn TIS 201: “King of glory, King of peace”. To love may never cease. Amen to that.
Go forth, knowing that God has heard our cry and will give us the strength to follow God’s call. Go forth to touch the lives of others, as our lives have been touched by God. Go and be the face of God to a world that so desperately needs the loving, affirming face of God. And may the wrestling God be with you always. Amen.
Hymn TIS 778: “Shalom to you now” May God grant you every good thing. Amen.