WELCOME TO A DIFFERENT WAY OF WORSHIPPING
February 7, 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
I should have known better, To see what I could see, My black shroud, Holding down my feelings, A pillar for my enemies.
I should have wrote a letter, And grieve what I happen to grieve, My black shroud, I never trust my feelings, I waited for the remedy.
- Sufjan Stevens, Should Have Known Better
PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Great God of all, you have set the stars on their courses and given order from chaos. The earth radiates your glory, and even the most devastating loss is met by your Spirit. We turn to you now and give over to you all we are and all we have. From our doubts and failures, to our joys, our concerns, the deepest yearnings of our hearts. We turn to meet you in this place. Welcome us in and make room for us to dwell in you. Amen.
CALL TO CONFESSION
Trusting the promise of God’s loving grace, let us pause for a moment to bring our hearts to God.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Forgiving God, we turn back to you from all the ways we have drifted. You have called, but we have let your voice get lost in the noise of our culture. You have lit the way before us, while we have preferred to take our own way. We sense that we need you, but instead of turning back to you, we weep and lash out, we hurt ourselves and others, forgetting we do so because we are trying to get your attention. Forgive us, heal us, and lead us back to you, that we may learn to show mercy to all we meet. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
This is the Word of God: in Jesus Christ you are forgiven, freed, and given new life. Be at peace and know that you are loved.
PROCLAMATION OF THE WORD
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Father, we have come seeking to see you at work in our lives. We have come hoping to catch glimpses of your presence and work in this world. We do this carrying preoccupations and worries, distractions and all manner of other thoughts. Help us set this aside to turn to you now. Open our hearts and minds as you open the scriptures to us. We pray this in the name of the one we follow, Jesus, the Lord. Amen.
As soon as they left the synagogue, they entered the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they told him about her at once. He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up. Then the fever left her, and she began to serve them.
That evening, at sunset, they brought to him all who were sick or possessed with demons. And the whole city was gathered around the door. And he cured many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.
In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed. And Simon and his companions hunted for him. When they found him, they said to him, ‘Everyone is searching for you.’ He answered, ‘Let us go on to the neighbouring towns, so that I may proclaim the message there also; for that is what I came out to do.’
Rev. Jeremy Jinkins
We Cannot Measure
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
God of new beginnings and of lasting presence, as we see the coming Lenten season ahead of us we recognize with new clarity that this world is not as we would have it and much that your prophets spoke against, even that your Son came to reconcile, is still broken. Looking over the past year we feel the weight of separation and of sickness, of friends who have lived through tragedies and a world thrown into chaos. We miss the rhythms of life; we miss “normal,” even if what we accept as normal allowed for injustice to rule.
We confess, Father, that because we do not always behave the way we desire for ourselves, there are times when your abiding presence makes us squirm, when the brilliance of your light makes us run for cover. We also confess that so often we also forget that you are with us. We feel that if we are not getting what we want that it means you are ignoring us. Remind us that you are a companion in our joys and sorrows alike and that all of life is filled with your sacred presence.
As we started this new year there was so much hope that it would bring relief, change, and a new start for us. Now, having only taken a few steps in the calendar, we look back on resolutions abandoned, and so much social carnage following from what we had hoped to leave behind us. In the past months we have lost loved ones, seen jobs lost, homes at risk, suddenly all of life changed. We did not see any of it coming and we do not have the sight to see what lies ahead. All we can do is petition you for mercy and strength for what is to come, for hope in the knowledge that you have proven to be with us before.
We need to sense your love because we know how many in our community feel hopeless. So few sense your presence. So many are lonely. So many endured the holidays alone, without friends and dinners and parties – no gifts nor love to share. The lonely feel invisible, forgotten. Help us to sense your love so that we may shine it into their darkness.
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
Jesus preaches and heals. Jesus restores and reconciles. Jesus forgives and gives new life. Jesus also steps apart from all the expectations of the crowds and his disciples – and yes, even us – in order to show that at the heart of all his life is a relationship with the divine. Our lives are a gift and every moment is imbued with the presence of the holy. There is no greater form of gratitude than turning back to face this presence with all that we are and all that we have.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org if you have that ability.
Christ sets himself apart that we may find the holy in all of life. We so want for God to turn and face us, to listen to us and heal us; Christ makes it possible to turn and see God is already there.
May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the one who calls us to new life; 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.