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)
Sometimes life takes us where we don’t expect.
Sometimes, God takes us where we don’t expect.
In worship, we gather to get in touch with God’s bigger narrative.
In worship, we gather to expand our hearts.
So let us worship the God of unending surprises.
Let us worship the God of love.
Let us pray: Author of our life and End of our pilgrimage: Guide us by your Word and Spirit amid all perils and temptations, that we may not wander from your way, nor stumble in the darkness; but may finish our course in safety, and come to our eternal rest in you; through the grace and merit of 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 (written by Sarah Are for A Sanctified Art LLC)
Being faithful has never been easy.
God asked Noah to build a ship.
God asked the Israelites to plant gardens and build homes while in exile.
God asked the prophets to speak challenging truths.
God asked the disciples to drop their nets and follow you.
And God asks us to love bigger than society wants to.
Being faithful has never been easy, and as a result, we often miss the mark.
Please join me in the prayer of confession, followed by a silent personal prayer.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Lord of all, we are quick to judge others, certain we know what is weed and what is wheat around us, even as we fail to see within us that which does not bear good fruit. We confirm our biases, listen only to those who agree with us and assume your will equates with our own. We confess that we do not like to acknowledge the many ways we fail to follow your commandment to love you and our neighbors. Forgive us, we pray, for forgetting that everyone is created in your image and therefore worthy of our compassion. In your mercy, amend what we are and shape us into the people you call us to be. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Moment of silent prayer–people of God, what do you confess this week?
Assurance of Pardon
Friends, the Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness. We need not fear God’s judgment but rather rejoice in the Lord’s saving grace that frees and transforms us. Believe the good news, in Jesus Christ we are forgiven!
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Lord God, the knowledge that you are always with us, never abandon us, right now pray for us, is truly too wonderful for us to comprehend. We can only give thanks for your sure presence and ask to hear rightly your word that guides, instructs, encourages and forms us. Amen.
FIRST SCRIPTURE READING
Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43
Jesus put before them another parable: ‘The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field; but while everybody was asleep, an enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and then went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared as well. And the slaves of the householder came and said to him, “Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where, then, did these weeds come from?” He answered, “An enemy has done this.” The slaves said to him, “Then do you want us to go and gather them?” But he replied, “No; for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them. Let both of them grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Collect the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’
Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples approached him, saying, ‘Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field.’ He answered, ‘The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man; the field is the world, and the good seed are the children of the kingdom; the weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!
This is the word of the Lord.
When do you find yourself judging others? Why? On what basis?
Have you ever felt judged by someone? Did you think their judgment fair? Accurate?
What are you called to plant and tend in this season of life?
- How do you go about sowing gospel seeds in your daily life?
SECOND SCRIPTURE READING
These are the words of the letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles, and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people, whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. This was after King Jeconiah, and the queen mother, the court officials, the leaders of Judah and Jerusalem, the artisans, and the smiths had departed from Jerusalem. The letter was sent by the hand of Elasah son of Shaphan and Gemariah son of Hilkiah, whom King Zedekiah of Judah sent to Babylon to King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. It said: Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
You can listen to Pastor Leia’s sermon, “When Unraveled in Exile, Plant Gardens,” here.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (JILL DUFFIELD)
This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven. Wherever we are, God is present with us, we are united in Christ and the Spirit intercedes for us. There is nowhere we can flee from God’s Spirit and nothing we cannot speak to our Creator. In this time and place, we share the hopes of our hearts, the questions on our minds and the worries that keep us up at night. We pray to the Lord our God who is like no other, the first and the last, the beginning and the end, the one in whom we live and move and have our being.
People of God, what do you pray for this week?
Lord, from whom we cannot flee, we ask you for wisdom in the face of ever-growing uncertainties. We remember those in our midst and those known only to you who are consumed with fear — fear not only for their livelihoods, but for their very lives. Grant us the resolve to do whatever is required for everyone to have enough to eat, a safe place to live, the ability to get the care they need and an education that values individuals and creates a society of people of character. Do not let our imagination fall short of your ability to make all things possible.
People of God, what names are on your hearts this week?
Loving God who searches and knows us, reveal to us those places in our hearts that need to be broken so that we might go to the places in the world that break your heart. Do not let us turn away from the people who need to know they are not alone. Ease the loneliness of those unable to see their families and those without family. Expand the household of faith to include all those on the margins of our society, the imprisoned and the impoverished, those who have been neglected and those seeking asylum and safety. Do not let us reject those whom Jesus came to save.
People of God, how are being called to follow God this week?
Generous God who overwhelms us with goodness and mercy, we thank you for waking us up this day, giving us the gift of this life, calling us to be your people. When we are tempted to judge others harshly, remind us to forgive as we have been forgiven. When we feel paralyzed with doubt or awash in anxiety, grant us the peace that passes understanding. When we do not know what to do or where to turn, make your word a light unto our path so that we can take one step closer to Christ as he leads us in the way everlasting.
People of God, what do you give thanks for and rejoice in this week?
We make our prayer in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ, 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.
1 Come, ye thankful people, come;
raise the song of harvest home.
All is safely gathered in,
ere the winter storms begin.
God, our Maker, doth provide
for our wants to be supplied.
Come to God’s own temple, come;
raise the song of harvest home.
2 All the world is God’s own field,
fruit in thankful praise to yield,
wheat and tares together sown,
unto joy or sorrow grown.
First the blade, and then the ear,
then the full corn shall appear.
Lord of harvest, grant that we
wholesome grain and pure may be.
3 For the Lord our God shall come,
and shall take the harvest home;
from each field shall in that day
all offenses purge away;
give the angels charge at last
in the fire the tares to cast,
but the fruitful ears to store
in God’s garner evermore.
4 Even so, Lord, quickly come
to thy final harvest home.
Gather thou thy people in,
free from sorrow, free from sin,
there forever purified,
in thy presence to abide:
come, with all thine angels, come;
raise the glorious harvest home!
INVITATION TO OFFERING (based on Isaiah 44:6-8)
God asks: “Who is like me? Let them proclaim it, let them declare and set it forth before me. Who has announced from of old the things to come? Let them tell us what is yet to be.” We know that no one is like our God, who made heaven and earth, whose mercies are new every morning. In gratitude and praise we offer a portion of the resources entrusted to us as a sign of our loyalty and faith to the Lord of hosts, the first and the last.
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 give thanks to you with our whole hearts, mindful that you hem us in and hold us up. Even when the world feels chaotic and the future uncertain, we trust in your power to save, your promise to be a light unto our path. We pray that these gifts given in faith and thanksgiving will be used to encourage those lagging in hope and provide for those overwhelmed with worry. Bless and multiply these offerings so that all will know your goodness. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (from A Brief Statement of Faith)
We trust in Jesus Christ, Fully human, fully God. Jesus proclaimed the reign of God: Preaching good news to the poor and release to the captives, teaching by word and deed and blessing the children, healing the sick and binding up the brokenhearted, eating with outcasts, forgiving sinners, and calling all to repent and believe the gospel. Unjustly condemned for blasphemy and sedition, Jesus was crucified, suffering the depths of human pain and giving his life for the sins of the world. God raised this Jesus from the dead, vindicating his sinless life, breaking the power of sin and evil, delivering us from death to life eternal.
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,
even in the wilderness.
Someday, God will call us home,
but until then, we will plant our gardens,
and we will wait, and we will trust.
God has seen us through times of planting before,
and God will see us through to the harvest and beyond 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.