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)
One: Through Moses, God said,
All: “Let my people go.” (Ex.9:1)
One: In scripture, the law declares:
All: “In the seventh year, you must cancel all debts.” (Deut.15:1)
One: With grace, Jesus said:
All: “Give one coat away.” (Luke 3:11)
One: With honesty, Jesus taught:
All: “Sell what you have, give that money to the poor.” (Matt. 19:21)
One: Faith has always involved letting go, releasing, setting free,
Dropping our nets, giving to others, and following.
All: So in this hour of worship, may we release that which binds us.
May we worship with open, untamed, and porous hearts, so that we can walk freely with God.
One: Let it be so.
Almighty God, you call your church to witness that in Christ we are reconciled to you. Help us so to proclaim the good news of your love, that all who hear it may turn to you; 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
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
Lord Christ, you declare: Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. You instruct us to forgive seventy-seven times, to remember God’s grace toward us and extend it to one another. Despite your clear word to refrain from judging others, we pronounce others guilty and unworthy of our compassion. We quarrel over opinions and sow division when you call us to cultivate relationships and demonstrate our unity in Christ. Instead of responding to your grace with gratitude, we attempt to limit the love you command us to share. Forgive our hard-heartedness. Expand our circles of concern. Enliven our communities with your boundary-breaking, reconciling Spirit. Amen.
Moment of silent prayer–people of God, what do you confess this week?
Assurance of Pardon (Psalm 103:11-13)
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is the Lord’s steadfast love toward those who fear God; as far as the east is from the west, so far the Lord removes our transgressions from us.
Friends, believe the good news, through Jesus Christ we are forgiven!
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION (written by Sarah Are for A Sanctified Art LLC)
Gracious God, we release our hearts to you. First, we remove the pressure, for release requires the freedom to be moved. Then we allow our hearts to return to their original resting position— in sync with you, with the rhythm of summer cicadas, and this whole wild creation. Then, we pray that you will find our hearts available— not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. So like the mockingbird releases her song, we release our hearts to you. Move in them. Stir us awake. Speak to us now. We are waiting. Amen.
FIRST SCRIPTURE READING
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and all that is within me,
bless God’s holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and do not forget all God’s benefits—
who forgives all your iniquity,
who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from the Pit,
who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy,
who satisfies you with good as long as you live
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
The Lord works vindication
and justice for all who are oppressed.
The Lord made God’s ways known to Moses,
God’s acts to the people of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
God will not always accuse,
nor keep anger for ever.
God does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth,
so great is God’s steadfast love towards those who live in holy awe;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far God removes our transgressions from us.
SECOND SCRIPTURE READING
Then someone came to Jesus and said, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ And he said to the man, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ He said to Jesus, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these; what do I still lack?’ Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to live in complete faith, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.
- The story ends as the man walks away grieving. What do you think might have happened next?
- Does Jesus ask too much?
- The man’s question is what he has to do to have eternal life, because he is only thinking of himself. How does Jesus’ answer direct him to reconsider his relationships with his family and community?
You can listen to Pastor Leia’s sermon, “Release Your Expectations and Enter God’s Economy,” here.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (JILL DUFFIELD)
Almighty God, you alone are Lord of conscience. In life and death, we belong to you. Ultimately, we are accountable only to you. Trusting in your mercy, confident as your children, we come to you eager to be in your presence and receive your wisdom. When uncertainty swirls all around us, we rest in your peace. When the world feels threatening, we find solace in your compassion. When we are overwhelmed by the needs of the world, we remember your power to heal and bring wholeness in ways we could never imagine. When we fear we are alone, you promise never to abandon us. When we yearn to unburden our hearts, you assure us that you hear our sighs too deep for words.
People of God, what do you pray for this week?
Merciful God, there is much on our minds this day: people still recovering from hurricanes and fires, communities reeling from racial injustice, families grieving the death of loved ones, students, parents and teachers attempting to navigate a school year like no other. In all these places and with all your people, bring relief and offer encouragement. We suffer with those suffering from hunger, illness and loneliness. We rejoice with those who rejoice at the birth of a baby or the beginning of a marriage. We give thanks for the care we receive from friends and the kindness shown to us by strangers. Make of us, we pray, reflections of your goodness and grace to those most in need of your mercy.
People of God, what names are on your hearts this week?
Loving God, we seek only to be faithful in this season, as in all seasons. Do not let us forget that you equip us to do your will. You surround us with others with whom to do the work you call us to do. You send your Spirit to give us the words, show us the way and empower us to keep going when we are tempted to turn away from you. We hold fast to your promises in order that others might come to experience your love through us.
People of God, how are being called to offer your gifts to the world this week?
Gracious God, we are bold to pray for those closest to us and even for ourselves. As we wrestle with “what if?” and “what now?” we ask for a sure sense of your providence even when we cannot yet perceive it. Grant us the wisdom to know the next thing we must do in order to follow you. Give us the courage to do that next thing with our whole heart and the faith to do it with joy.
People of God, how are being called to follow God this week?
We make our prayer in the name of our Lord, 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.
HYMN Be Thou My Vision
1 Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart;
naught be all else to me, save that thou art;
thou my best thought, by day or by night,
waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.
2 Be thou my wisdom, and thou my true Word;
I ever with thee and thou with me, Lord;
thou my soul’s shelter, and thou my high tower;
raise thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
3 Riches I heed not, nor vain, empty praise;
thou, mine inheritance, now and always;
thou and thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my treasure thou art.
4 High King of Heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
still be my vision, O Ruler of all.
INVITATION TO OFFERING (Romans 14:7-8)
We do not live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord; so then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord’s.
Knowing this truth we hold nothing back from the God to whom we belong, offering with thanksgiving a portion of what God has entrusted us to steward.
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
Generous God, we worry that we cannot possibly give you what you deserve, that despite our desire to be faithful, we will fail and fall short. In your grace, you remind us that we need not, that we cannot, repay you for your mercy and goodness toward us, but that you accept and use whatever we offer in gratitude. Bless these gifts given as a symbol of our loyalty and love for you. Amen.
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (written by Sarah Are for A Sanctified Art LLC)
We believe that on the first day,
God released love and creativity over a void;
and that void became mountains and rivers, sunsets and starry nights.
We believe God released
God’s people from the grips of slavery,
liberating us day in and day out.
We believe God laid down with death
and was released from its grip,
knowing suffering and freeing us from this fragile life.
And we believe God invites us—
day in and day out—
to release our fears,
let go of assumptions, tear down walls,
throw open the doors, and walk closer to love.
May it be so.
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 what questions we ask
no matter what our priorities are
no matter what lives we choose to lead.
God has seen us through crossroads 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.