WELCOME TO A DIFFERENT WAY OF WORSHIPPING
September 6, 2020
First, a word on fancy words. In worship we have this phrase we use called liturgy that feels like a formal way of having a worship leader saying stuffy things about God. The word means, “the work of the people” and liturgy is meant to be held, and owned by the worshippers, i.e. you. This service is planned to give you a path, a guide to pray, interact with scripture, wrestle with it – wrestle with God – and in so doing, have a moment of coming face to face with the divine right here, right now.
So, come and lay all the worries of the day aside. Take a deep breath, and we will start with a prayer.
PREPARATION FOR WORSHIP
The Way It Is
There’s a thread you follow. It goes among things that change. But it doesn’t change. People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread. But it is hard for others to see. While you hold it you can’t get lost. Tragedies happen; people get hurt or die; and you suffer and get old. Nothing you do can stop time’s unfolding. You don’t ever let go of the thread.
William Stafford (1914-1993)
CALL TO WORSHIP
We are our stories. We are stories of what is, what was, what could have been, and also what will be. One of the central questions we must ask ourselves about spiritual growth is, “what am I doing today to prepare for the person God is shaping me to be?” We are our stories, but all too often the stories of many go untold or unheard. Christ meets us here in this place, at this moment, and guides us to see stories we otherwise would miss.
CALL TO CONFESSION
Confession is the chance to admit that we wish we could “edit” our personal narrative. We can look back at the encounters we have had an see what we would rather redact. The beauty of God’s grace is that no such thing is necessary. We are loved and forgiven, just as we are, and God is already helping us write our next chapter. Confident in this promise we are empowered to give our whole “Book of Life” over for reading.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart and mind and strength. We have not loved our neighbor as ourselves.
In your mercy forgive what we have been, help us amend what we are, and direct what we shall be, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways to the glory of your holy name. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Know that your story is not over. In Christ God is writing new adventures and new chances for life, love, and joy. In Christ, your story is one of wholeness and peace.
PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Let this story that too often goes unheard open our ears and eyes to your presence in our lives, and the many stories we encounter each and every day. Amen.
When Mordecai learned all that had been done, Mordecai tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes, and went through the city, wailing with a loud and bitter cry; he went up to the entrance of the king’s gate, for no one might enter the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth. In every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree came, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and most of them lay in sackcloth and ashes.
When Esther’s maids and her eunuchs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed; she sent garments to clothe Mordecai, so that he might take off his sackcloth; but he would not accept them. Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what was happening and why. Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate, and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther, explain it to her, and charge her to go to the king to make supplication to him and entreat him for her people.
Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. Then Esther spoke to Hathach and gave him a message for Mordecai, saying, ‘All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—all alike are to be put to death. Only if the king holds out the golden sceptre to someone, may that person live. I myself have not been called to come in to the king for thirty days.’ When they told Mordecai what Esther had said, Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, ‘Do not think that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silence at such a time as this, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another quarter, but you and your father’s family will perish. Who knows? Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this.’
For Such a Time as This
SUNDAY SCHOOL AT HOME
Although we can’t be in the same proximity physically, we can be together in spirit. We are happy to be able to provide to you age appropriate Sunday school lessons each week for you to do with your children. Click the Sunday School button to be directed to our weekly lessons.
STAYING CONNECTED FOR ADULTS
Faith Formation is pleased to announce the following adult learning opportunities that are meeting “virtually” while we “shelter in place”. Anyone is welcome to participate. Contact information and more details can be found by clicking the Adult Opportunities button.
RESPONDING TO THE WORD
SACRAMENT OF LORD'S SUPPER
Prayers of the People and the Lord’s Prayer
Prayers of the People and Lord’s Prayer (from the Book of Common Worship)
God of peace, we come before you giving thanks for the gift of this day and for the light and promise you offer the world.
We pray for peace for this planet so filled with problems.
Where people look at one another with bitterness and hate in their hearts, teach us ways to reconcile our differences. Where families are separated by anger and frustration, give us love that overcomes disillusion and rebellion. Where nations fight internally or with one another, teach us to live in peace and harmony. Where individuals are overcome with problems, give them your peace that surpasses human understanding. Where there are signs and seeds of peace, tiny though they may be, help us to celebrate their presence, nurture them with vigilance, and rejoice in their growth.
Please take time at this moment to name all for whom you pray, see them in your mind and name for what you are praying. If you are able, write their names on a sheet as you think of them, and pray for them in the morning as well.
We seal these prayers with the one he taught us, saying together:
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 power and the glory, Amen.
How can we pray for you?
Click the button to send us your prayer concerns and joys and stay connected.
OFFERING OUR GIFTS
One thing remains true as we have continued down the road of living our lives, maintaining our friendships, all in this time of disruption; we get so much more than we give. For every call we may give to check in on a friend, we too are comforted. For every act of kindness given, we receive a portion of grace. For every gift given there is joy in the giving.
In our spiritual and faith lives we are invited to relearn how to be fully present in all aspects of life – how we relate to our time, how we employ our talents and gifts, how we invest the fruits of our labors are all a matter of being fully present. We are blessed to be more intentional with every part of our lives so that they may be a gift to others.
If you have struggled finding a way to help support the work PCW does in our local and broader community in these days of worshipping remotely, remember, you can send checks to 140 Mountain Avenue, Westfield, NJ 07090, or email Tina Barulli at email@example.com if you have that ability.
Vulnerability is a gift. By learning to see our own and name it, and see it in honors and honor it, we grow to love in new ways. It is also a powerful antidote to fear; fear robs us of safety and support and even trust. Fear pulls us back from those whom we want to be close to. Fear isolates. Learning to be vulnerable is learning to live the life God created us for.
Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
PASSING THE PEACE
Peace be with you
Please pass the peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to your neighbors.