You can watch today’s service here.
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)
Come in from the night.
It is a new day, and this is where love lives.
Take off your coat, let the weight fall off your shoulders;
For here, you are known. Here, you are loved.
Come in from the rain.
We can do anything together. We can survive together.
When the world unravels from under your feet—come in.
God is here. You are home. You will never be alone.
Let us worship the God who weaves us together. Amen.
O God, author and giver of all good things, plant in our hearts the love of your name; increase in us true religion; nourish us with all goodness; and bring forth in us the fruit of good works; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION
Siblings in Christ, we have not always walked with integrity or trusted the Lord without wavering. Our love of God and neighbor has lacked zeal and at times we have done the very things we hate. We need God’s grace, God’s mercy and God’s transforming power. Confident in God’s promise to be with us always, we boldly confess our sin and seek to be made new in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Please join me in the prayer of confession, followed by a silent personal prayer.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION (written by Sarah Are for A Sanctified Art LLC)
Holy God, we have been angry because we see suffering and we don’t understand. We have been skeptical because we know heartbreak that doesn’t seem fair. We have withheld love because sacrifice only feels real when it’s our own. Forgive us for forgetting that you created the heavens and the earth. Forgive us for withholding our pain from you. Forgive us for thinking that we know everything. When the world falls apart around us—when love unravels and life slowly fails—draw us in. Show us grace; for you gave the wind its weight and you gave our bodies life. Forgive us for forgetting that. Amen.
Moment of silent prayer–people of God, what do you confess this week?
Assurance of Pardon
We seek the Lord’s strength and presence, knowing that those who seek will find. We believe that Jesus came to save sinners. We rejoice in the truth that we are forgiven and made new, freed to live a new life in Christ.
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
I AM, you call out to us by name, wanting to speak to us, to instruct and send us. Help us to notice your near presence, so that we will stop to listen for your voice. In your goodness, grant us yet again a holy encounter that transforms us and, in turn, relieves the suffering of your people. Amen.
FIRST SCRIPTURE READING
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say that the Son of Man is?’ And they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.’ He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ And Jesus answered him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’ Then he sternly ordered the disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah.
- Have you ever been asked by someone about your Christian beliefs? About Jesus? How did you, or would you, answer?
- In our current culture, who do various people/groups say that Jesus is?
- Who do you say that Jesus is?
SECOND SCRIPTURE READING
‘But where shall wisdom be found?
And where is the place of understanding?
Mortals do not know the way to it,
and it is not found in the land of the living.
The deep says, “It is not in me”,
and the sea says, “It is not with me.”
It cannot be bought for gold,
and silver cannot be weighed out as its price.
It cannot be valued in the gold of Ophir,
in precious onyx or sapphire.
Gold and glass cannot equal it,
nor can it be exchanged for jewels of fine gold.
No mention shall be made of coral or of crystal;
the price of wisdom is above pearls.
The chrysolite of Ethiopia cannot compare with it,
nor can it be valued in pure gold.
‘Where then does wisdom come from?
And where is the place of understanding?
It is hidden from the eyes of all living,
and concealed from the birds of the air.
Abaddon and Death say,
“We have heard a rumor of it with our ears.”
‘God understands the way to wisdom,
and knows its place.
For God looks to the ends of the earth,
and sees everything under the heavens.
When God gave to the wind its weight,
and apportioned out the waters by measure;
when God made a decree for the rain,
and a way for the thunderbolt;
then God saw it and declared it;
established it, and searched it out.
And God said to humankind,
“Truly, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom;
and to depart from evil is understanding.” ’
You can listen to Pastor Leia’s sermon, “Unraveled and Falling Apart,” here.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (JILL DUFFIELD)
Almighty God, it feels as if we are lingering in the wilderness with threats all around us. We wonder when better days will come, when the public health crisis will abate, when the violence in your world will come to an end, when your people’s suffering will cease. Ease our anxious minds, encourage our trembling hearts, embolden our sometimes-struggling faith. As we make our way to your holy mountain to worship, do not let us miss your angels along the way. Attune us to those sights and sounds, those wonders and miracles, that you make manifest through ordinary bushes and everyday bread.
People of God, where have you seen goodness this week?
Hearing your voice call our name astounds and frightens us. How is it that the maker of heaven and earth knows us by name and entrusts us with doing divine work? As we haltingly say, “Here I am” and seek to faithfully fulfill your call, remind us again that you are with us, always and forever surrounding us with your peace and power.
People of God, what do you pray for this week?
Recognizing that you, Lord of all, have observed many injustices and too much sorrow in your beloved world, we ask you to reveal to us how we are to intervene and we begin with praying for those people, places and circumstances that keep us up at night.
People of God, how are being called to follow God this week?
As the political process heats up and we are tempted to further divide ourselves by demonizing each other, we pray for patience, for gentleness, for mutual affection. May our unity in Christ be leaven for the whole world, a witness to what it means to love genuinely, to outdo one another in showing honor.
People of God, who needs your love this week?
As the pandemic persists, we feel the pain of those most impacted by it, the sick and those who grieve the death of loved ones, the essential workers and the unemployed. We are indeed one body, one singular creation; when one part hurts, we all weep in solidarity. Do not let us neglect to do good, to uphold the weak and strengthen the fainthearted. May we be so knit together that no one falls through the cracks.
People of God, what names are on your hearts this week?
As we grow weary with the upheaval of these days, lagging in zeal for the work you set before us, afraid to stand up to the powers and principalities of this world that oppress, exploit and threaten your good creation, send the flame of your Holy Spirit. Set us ablaze with your power. Help us to burn so brightly that we are indeed the light of the world you call us to be. Make us such close followers of our Lord that we cannot help but live in harmony with each other and bless even those who persecute us.
People of God, how are being called to offer your gifts to the world this week?
May we freely lose our lives and be saved through the One 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.
lyrics written by Rev. Stephen Fearing; used with permission
There are no easy answers when suffering comes our way.
We seek the explanations, the tired, old cliches:
Like “bad things for bad people and good things for the good.”
But we know this is foolish, a trope misunderstood.
God’s servant, Job, was faithful, but evil came his way.
He lost all his possessions when came that fateful day.
His life had come unraveled, he lost all he held dear.
Why must a good man merit a sentence so severe?
Lord, each of us knows heartbreak, a pain so unexplained.
Sometimes us humans ask if it’s random or ordained.
When evil forces threaten, our careful plans unwind.
Lord, in the midst of suffering help us your wisdom find.
INVITATION TO OFFERING
Our Lord tells us that if we are to be his followers, we must deny ourselves, take up our cross and go wherever he leads us. We struggle with such a total commitment and often go our own way instead. And yet, Jesus promises us that it is in losing our lives that we find them. As a sign of our desire to lose our lives for Christ’s sake, we joyously give 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
Loving God, when we stumble in our discipleship you do not give up on us, but instead invite us again to follow you. We recommit ourselves this day, giving these gifts as a symbol of our will to give ourselves entirely to you. Take them, we pray, to relieve the suffering of your people. May these offerings be a means through which others find reasons to rejoice so that we may rejoice and praise you together. In Christ’s name we pray. 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 with us,
no matter how lost we feel
no matter how desperate our grief
no matter how unraveled our lives become
This is not the first time that God has seen us through times when everything has fallen apart,
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.