You can watch the 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)
I have a story to tell—
A story of a God who longed for justice.
A story of a God who pushed back the waters to make dry land.
A story of a God who would not take “no” for an answer when it came to the safety of God’s own.
For God’s people were suffering.
God’s people were crying out.
God’s people were shackled and bound by oppression.
So God said to Moses, “Speak.”
“Let my people Go.”
And Moses spoke—
Over and over again.
Moses stood up for justice,
But over and over again, Pharaoh said no.
Power said no.
The path to justice is never easy, is it?
The path to change is never a straight line, is it?
So like Rosa, who sat on the bus, and Martin who had a dream,
Moses kept trying.
God kept speaking.
Moses kept listening.
Hope kept breathing.
And when power tried to unravel justice,
The people kept dreaming.
God longed for justice.
God still longs for justice.
So let us worship God—
For human injustice will never be strong enough to unravel God’s dream that all might be free,
And all might know love.
Let us worship holy God.
Let us pray: Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve; to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will; through 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
The Lord preserves our lives. God abounds in forgiveness and steadfast love. Therefore, we are free to come without fear to the throne of grace and honestly repent of our sin. Come, all who want to confess, repent and be made whole. Come and call on the Lord who promises to hear our cries.
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)
One: God, you have asked us to be like Moses—
Standing up for your people, standing up for justice.
All: But too often we are like Pharaoh—
Holding onto power, or holding onto privilege.
One: God, you ask us to be like Aaron—
Who stood by his brother to unravel systems of oppression.
All: But too often we align with Pharaoh—
Saying “no” to change and unraveling your vision for justice and peace.
One: Forgive us for all the ways we stand on the wrong side of history.
All: Forgive us for the harm we do to your planet, and for the harm we do to your children.
One: Help us to be like Moses.
All: Forgive us when we’re like Pharaoh.
Moment of silent prayer–people of God, what do you confess this week?
Assurance of Pardon
We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. The death he died, he died to sin, once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Friends, believe the good news, through Jesus Christ we are forgiven!
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Gracious God, you come to us when we are yet far off and you welcome us when we even begin to turn toward you. In the chaos of these days, help us not to lose sight of you, your will, your way. Quiet in us any voice but yours so that we might hear the word you have for us this day, and then grant us the faith to go out and live it. Amen.
FIRST SCRIPTURE READING
‘A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
‘So have no fear of them; for nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows.
‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.
‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
Can you identify ways that Jesus has brought a sword instead of peace?
Is it possible to see him as both “peacemaker” and “sword-bringer?”
Are Jesus’ words here comforting?
Does Jesus call us to be present where there is conflict, if it will result in a greater realization of God’s justice? Does Jesus ever call us to create conflict?
1 I want Jesus to walk with me;
I want Jesus to walk with me;
all along my pilgrim journey,
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me.
2 In my trials, Lord, walk with me;
in my trials, Lord, walk with me;
when my heart is almost breaking,
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me.
3 When I’m in trouble, Lord, walk with me;
when I’m in trouble, Lord, walk with me;
when my head is bowed in sorrow,
Lord, I want Jesus to walk with me.
SECOND SCRIPTURE READING
Exodus 5:1-2, 7:8-23
Afterwards Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, “Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness.” ’ But Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should heed him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go.’
The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, ‘When Pharaoh says to you, “Perform a wonder”, then you shall say to Aaron, “Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, and it will become a snake.” ’ So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did as the Lord had commanded; Aaron threw down his staff before Pharaoh and his officials, and it became a snake. Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers; and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same by their secret arts. Each one threw down his staff, and they became snakes; but Aaron’s staff swallowed up theirs. Still Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh’s heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water; stand by at the river bank to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that was turned into a snake. Say to him, “The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you to say, ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship me in the wilderness.’ But until now you have not listened. Thus says the Lord, ‘By this you shall know that I am the Lord.’ See, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall be turned to blood. The fish in the river shall die, the river itself shall stink, and the Egyptians shall be unable to drink water from the Nile.” ’ The Lord said to Moses, ‘Say to Aaron, “Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over its rivers, its canals, and its ponds, and all its pools of water—so that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout the whole land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.” ’
Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and of his officials he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the river, and all the water in the river was turned into blood, and the fish in the river died. The river stank so that the Egyptians could not drink its water, and there was blood throughout the whole land of Egypt. But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts; so Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart.
You can listen to Pastor Leia’s sermon, “Let Your Hardened Heart Be Unraveled,” here.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (JILL DUFFIELD)
Loving God, we come to you now more afraid than we would like to admit. The fear of contagion surrounds us. The fear of economic hardship abounds. The fear that justice and reconciliation are impossible creeps into our consciousness even when we want to be a people of hope. As we continue to navigate the unfamiliar waters of a pandemic and the all too familiar storms of long entrenched inequity, we admit we are afraid. We name our deepest anxieties before you, knowing that you know them before we speak them. You tell us that even the hairs on our heads are counted and therefore we pour out our hearts before you, trusting not only that you will hear our cries, but that you will answer them.
People of God, what do you pray for this week?
Hear our cries on behalf of the oppressed and the exploited…let justice roll down like water and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.
Hear our cries of lament on behalf of those whose losses are too many to name and too heavy to continue to carry… give to them your easy yoke and your light burden.
People of God, how are being called to offer your gifts to the world this week?
Hear our cries of grief as we join with our siblings who mourn… comfort them until they see you face-to-face and crying and death are no more.
Hear our cries for the sick and suffering, the lonely and the shunned… heal them, restore them, help us to seek them out and bring them home in your name.
Hear our cries for those we love, those we are called to love, those we find it difficult to love… grant us your Spirit of strength and wisdom so that we can live the commandment we know, the greatest commandment to love you with all we have and love our neighbor as ourselves.
People of God, what names are on your hearts this week?
Gracious God, you come to us now, assuring us of your presence with us and your power working through us. In confidence that perfect love casts out fear, we commit to seeking to live with unafraid faith, proclaiming boldly the good news of Jesus Christ that will set us all free.
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, 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 When Israel was in Egypt’s land,
let my people go;
oppressed so hard they could not stand,
let my people go!
Go down, Moses,
way down in Egypt’s land;
tell old Pharaoh:
let my people go!
2 “Thus saith the Lord,” bold Moses said,
“Let my people go!
If not, I’ll smite your firstborn dead.
Let my people go!” [Refrain]
3 “No more shall they in bondage toil:
let my people go!
Let them come out with Egypt’s spoil:
let my people go!” [Refrain]
4 O let us all from bondage flee;
let my people go!
And let us all in Christ be free:
let my people go! [Refrain]
INVITATION TO OFFERING
Knowing that Christ came into the world to save sinners, and that Christ died for us and was raised in order that we might be dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus, we respond with gratitude represented in the giving of God’s tithes and our offerings. Freely we have received; freely we give.
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
Let us pray: Generous God, your love and attentiveness to us astounds us. Fathoming your grace stretches the lengths of our greatest imagination. We rest in the glorious truth that you created us, called us good and love us still. Accept, we pray, a portion of resources you have entrusted to us. Bless and use these gifts to care for your creation and show your children that they are beloved. In Christ’s name we pray, amen.
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (from The Confession of 1967)
The reconciling work of Jesus was the supreme crisis in the life of humankind. His cross and resurrection become personal crisis and present hope for people when the gospel is proclaimed and believed. In this experience, the Spirit brings God’s forgiveness to all, moves people to respond in faith, repentance, and obedience, and initiates the new life in Christ.
The new life takes shape in a community in which people know that God loves and accepts them in spite of what they are. They therefore accept themselves and love others, knowing that no one has any ground on which to stand, except God’s grace.
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 will never stop calling to you
no matter how hard your heart may be.
God has seen us through times of stubbornness 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.