WELCOME TO A DIFFERENT WAY OF WORSHIPPING
January 3, 2021
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
We forget sometimes that the Jesus whose birth we celebrated at Christmas spent many years growing up in a small Jewish family, growing wiser and stronger, learning a trade, waiting for his moment. Waiting for the pieces of the bigger picture to fall into place, when he would enter the waters of the Jordan, the Holy Spirit descend on him and that voice come from heaven proclaiming, "You are my one dear Son; in you I take great delight."
Father God, as we join together in worship let us not forget your infinite patience and love in dealing with your people, of which we count ourselves. Use us in your service, that we might draw others into your kingdom. To your praise and glory we ask this. Amen.
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
For those who seek a savior, we lead them to the stable to the One who was born to bring freedom, forgiveness, liberty. For those who seek assurance we lead them to the light to the One who opens eyes to understanding God’s Word, truth. For those who seek forgiveness we lead to a grace beyond comprehension to wholeness, healing, peace…
CALL TO CONFESSION
In Christ we meet God’s true self, along with our own. Coming to confession we see the gap clearly between the us we are, and the us we are living. Taking time in this prayer to lift everything that holds us back from the life we have been giving closes this gap and restores our souls.
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
The proof of God’s amazing love is this, while we were sinners Christ died for us. Because we have faith in him we dare to approach God with confidence, knowing that God forgives us and cleanses us from every kind of wrong. Trust this, and be at peace.
PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Let the journey of these wise men from a distant land beckon us to our own journeys. Let their story of coming to Christ help us see our own at work, and give us passion to follow! Amen.
In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, ‘Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.’ When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
“And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.” ’
Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, ‘Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.’ When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star that they had seen at its rising, until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another road.
Home By Another Way
Rev. Jeremy Jinkins
In the Bleak Midwinter
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
Prayers of the People and the Lord’s Prayer
Eternally begotten son of the Father, we thank you for a life that inspires all. Those who live apart come to you, through the deepest of mysteries, often in spite of themselves. For every story of a broken person finding you, there is another story of one who saw the signs and yet could not, would not follow.
Give us wisdom to see stories like the one of the Magi, as a glimmer of your work to gather up all the world in your loving embrace, even us! Give us strength and hope to both believe we too may be part of your redeeming plan, and to embark on the long road to find your Son in our lives.
This new year brings the promise of new beginnings and the ending of a painful chapter for most. Keep us ever mindful that this is not the end of all pain and suffering, there is no magical moment coming to fix all our problems or the trials people face daily. In this knowledge, give us the presence to be a sign of hope for the hopeless and a light for those who are lost in the darkness this world so often lies blanketed in. :
You are invited to silently lift the names of particular people or situations that weigh heavily on your soul at this time.
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
The Epiphany – the day and the larger season – is an expression of witnessing who Jesus is (the Son of God, and the very presence of God on earth) and why Jesus matters (to see, to witness Jesus, is to see the love and grace of the divine at work). One way that we Christians respond to this is to make our very lives an offering. It can be in calling others to check in, through praying for others who have been ill, lonely, or in need of a lift. It can also be through the faithful giving of our time, our talents, and joining with others in the church by giving the fruits of our labors so that larger church can serve our larger community. During this season of Epiphany we are all encouraged to consider – like the Magi – the offerings we bring.
We can join in this work by volunteering to help our neighbors, by joining with our ministries to continue making an impact in the lives of our fellow church members – like helping to teach our children. We can also help by pledging to support this church community financially as we make a bigger and bigger impact in our local, regional, and even international communities.
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.
There is no going back to the way things were with Christ. Once we bump into the holy in our lives, something shifts, something changes. We must find another path to ourselves, a path that passes straight through the one born in a manger and hung on a tree, the one who leaves behind only an empty tomb.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the one for whom we wait; the love of the Father, who calls us back to abundant life; and the communion of the Holy Spirit, who sustains us still with every breath we take, be with you now and always. Amen.
PASSING THE PEACE
Peace be with you
Please pass the peace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, to your neighbors.
Assorted prayers for this week have been taken and/or adapted from The Worship Sourceboo.
The opening reflection and Prayer of Invocation were written by John Birch.