If you are watching our live stream this morning, you are invited to find a candle, so that we can all light candles at the same time.
CALL TO WORSHIP (written by Sarah Are for A Sanctified Art LLC)
So much in life is unpredictable.
Life begins and ends.
The weather changes.
Love surprises us.
Life is unpredictable,
But what we can count on is finding God in this space;
For this is God’s house, and all are welcome.
So bring your questions and concerns, your doubts and wonderings,
For in the midst of this unpredictable life, we can predict this:
Love lives here.
Let us worship God.
Let us pray: Almighty God, your Son Jesus Christ fed the hungry with the bread of his life and the Word of his kingdom. Renew your people with your heavenly grace, and in all our weakness sustain us by your true and living bread, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION (Psalm 145:8-9)
The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and the Lord’s compassion is over all creation. Confident of this promise, we come before God and one another to confess our sins, repent and seek God’s forgiveness.
Please join me in the prayer of confession, followed by a silent personal prayer.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
You ask us to follow you, and we respond with logistical questions—
How long? Where to? Will we return?
You ask us to love each other, and we respond with excuses—
I don’t know how. We don’t see eye to eye.
You ask us to dream and we get stuck in our own heads—
Change will never come. Is it worth it?
You ask us to believe, and like Thomas, we ask for proof—
Unless I see the nails in his hands, I cannot believe.
Forgive us for our small-minded ways.
Open our eyes as you open our hearts.
Unravel our doubt. Unravel our unbelief.
Lead us to rest in you.
Gratefully we pray, Amen.
Moment of silent prayer–people of God, what do you confess this week?
Assurance of Pardon (Psalm 145:17-18)
The Lord is just in all ways, and kind in all that God does. God is near to all who call on the Lord, to all who call on the Lord in truth. Friends, having called on the Lord in truth, we can trust that God is near, just and kind. Believe the good news, in Jesus Christ we are forgiven!
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Lord, we seek to speak the truth in Christ. We long for our speech to reflect yours, our actions to embody your performative, living Word. We come, therefore, seeking to hear what you would say to us this day, attentive and eager to Scripture, ready to listen, to learn and to act in ways that honor and praise you. Amen.
FIRST SCRIPTURE READING
Psalm 17:1-7, 15
A Prayer of David.
Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry;
give ear to my prayer from lips free of deceit.
From you let my vindication come;
let your eyes see the right.
If you try my heart, if you visit me by night,
if you test me, you will find no wickedness in me;
my mouth does not transgress.
As for what others do, by the word of your lips
I have avoided the ways of the violent.
My steps have held fast to your paths;
my feet have not slipped.
I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God;
incline your ear to me, hear my words.
Wondrously show your steadfast love,
O saviour of those who seek refuge
from their adversaries at your right hand.
As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness;
when I awake I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.
SECOND SCRIPTURE READING
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’
But Thomas (who was called the Twin), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord.’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.’
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.’ Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Jesus said to him, ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.’
- How are you feeling about the new realities facing our everyday lives? What is holding you back from accepting them?
- How have you seen and felt and heard Jesus?
- Thomas hears about the resurrection but does not believe until he sees it. Are there times where it is hard for you to believe, whether because of difficulties, doubts, discouragement, or anything else? What does this scripture seem to say to us in times such as those?
- What can you do this week to “not doubt, but believe”?
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (JILL DUFFIELD)
God of abundant compassion and extravagant love, we join our hearts and voices in prayer to you, trusting your promise to hear and respond, not as we deserve, but as your mercy dictates. When we look within ourselves, we are chastened by the many ways we fall short of delighting in your law. We heed the advice of the wicked without even recognizing we are neglecting your commandments. We hurt those closest to us, injure those whom you call us to be compassionate toward and dread the consequences of our own behavior. And yet, it is in those dark, lonely places that you appear and bless us, make of us new creations and reshape us for your divine purposes. We praise you for your unwillingness to let us go and we cling to you now as we wrestle with the chaos within and around us. We rejoice that you are present right here in this place.
God of bread and fish, hillsides and healing, we come to you like the crowds, in need of relief, fearful we do not have enough, eager to see Jesus face to face. We heed his instruction to sit and we cannot believe that the Savior of the world serves us and refuses to send us away. Having been satisfied with the bread of heaven, we ask to be a part of distributing the mercy, grace and justice of our Lord. We know we have been blessed in order to be a blessing to others. In that recognition we remember those in our midst who are hungry. As this pandemic continues and many wrestle with unemployment or underemployment or dangerous employment, grant security in all its forms to those most anxious about their well-being and that of those they love. We know that all around us your beloved children long for healing in body, mind or spirit. We know you see them with compassion and want for them abundant life. May we be conduits for Christ’s power, embodying your love to all.
God of blessing and sending, we cannot count all the ways you come to us and give us that which we need. We revel in the beauty of creation. We relish the care of friends and family. We enjoy the taste of food, the voice of a loved one, the familiar melodies of hymns and the everyday mercies that are new every morning. As we sing our praise and express our thanks, we ask you to empower us to participate in your compassionate care for all the earth and every creature upon it.
We pray in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, who taught us to say when we pray:
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
1 We walk by faith and not by sight;
with gracious words draw near,
O Christ, who spoke as none e’er spoke:
“My peace be with you here.”
2 We may not touch your hands and side,
nor follow where you trod;
but in your promise we rejoice
and cry, “My Lord and God!”
3 Help then, O Lord, our unbelief;
and may our faith abound
to call on you when you are near
and seek where you are found.
4 And when our life of faith is done,
in realms of clearer light
may we behold you as you are,
with full and endless sight.
INVITATION TO OFFERING
No matter how small the gift, how meager our offering feels in the face of such large needs, Jesus receives it with gladness, blesses it, multiplies it and asks us to help distribute it to those who are hungry, weary and hurting. This is the time when we are given the unspeakable joy of participating in God’s miraculous, abundant grace. Let us worship God with our morning’s offering.
If you are able to, please consider mailing your offerings to the church (210 Smith Street). Alternatively, there is a link at the top of this page that will take you directly to a secure page where you can make a one-time donation. We appreciate your generosity as we seek to continue our mission and ministry throughout the community during this difficult time.
PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Lord, we look in awe at the extent of your compassion, the unbounded care you give to all the earth. We rejoice that when we give you whatever we have, you accept it, give God thanks for it, expand its power to provide and allow us to witness the miracles of mercy that ensue as a result. We pray that you would take these very offerings and do with them what you did in that desolate place so long ago, feed people, nurture people, grant relief and give those who are hurting hope and assurance that they are seen and beloved. Amen.
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (written by Sarah Are for A Sanctified Art LLC)
I believe in God, the Great Tailor—
Who weaves us together in community,
Collecting our loose ends and turning them into belonging.
I believe in the Holy Spirit—
Who hems us in before and behind,
Catching us when we fall and writing us into God’s holy narrative.
And I believe in Jesus Christ—
Who loved and claimed the people society had thrown out, refusing to disregard anyone as scrap.
I believe God has woven part of God’s self into the fiber of our being,
Making us inherently worthy of love and belonging.
I believe the fabric of my life is weak,
That I am prone to error and need God’s handiwork to remind me of love.
I believe in the Church, and that like a quilt of different fabrics,
She is designed to be as diverse and beautiful as God’s creation.
And I believe that when life unravels,
God is there to stitch my wounds together,
To hold me in the palm of God’s hand, to tell me of love,
And to invite me into a new journey.
CHARGE AND BENEDICTION
May the Lord bless you and keep you.
May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May God’s countenance be lifted upon you and give you peace.
Remember that God is always with us,
no matter what holds us back from fully accepting God’s embrace.
God has seen us through times of doubt before,
and God will see us through again.
From wherever you are, serve the Lord: Creator, Son, and Holy Spirit.
VIRTUAL COFFEE HOUR
If you are using this page to follow along with today’s worship service while it is being live streamed, please join us for virtual coffee hour! Turn on your video camera and join us after the benediction with this link. You could also join over the telephone by dialing (312) 626-6799 and entering the meeting code 146 874 134, followed by the password 075003.