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Worship Elements: August 21, 2016

By Jamie D. Greening

Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost

Color: Green
Scripture Readings: Jeremiah 1:4-10; Psalm 71:1-6; Hebrews 12:18-29; Luke 13:10-17

Theme Ideas

Luke’s gospel uses the occasion of a miracle to communicate other spiritual truths. Physical healing can lead to an understanding for the need for liberation from oppression, spiritual pain, or anything that cripples the soul. Psalm 71 similarly reverberates with a powerful prayer for deliverance. God’s sovereignty, and knowledge of human beings in the womb, provides an opportunity to address such topics as sanctity of human life, individuality, calling, purpose, the family, and election. The theme of worship is strong throughout the readings: Jesus teaching in the synagogue, God as our refuge (sanctuary), God’s word on Jeremiah’s lips, and acceptance and freedom through a powerful God. The contrast of fear and acceptance in Hebrews and Luke reminds worshipers of the inclusive nature of the gospel, and of the attractiveness of grace.

Call to Worship (Hebrews 12)

We have not come to a frightening mountain
or a scary place.
We have no fear or trembling.
This is a heavenly place where angels dwell.
We have come to be the church.
We have come to the mediator between God
and humankind: Jesus Christ our Lord.
We come with reverence and awe.

Call to Worship (Jeremiah 1, Hebrews 12)

Reach out your hand and touch our mouth, O God,
that authentic praise may flow freely from our lips.
Put your words in our mouths, O Lord,
that we might exalt you with reverence and awe.
Empower us to speak truth to the nations
and to build your kingdom here on earth.
Let it be so today. Amen. Alleluia.

Contemporary Gathering Words (Psalm 71)

In a world of pain and trouble, we need a place to heal.
Here and now, we have come into the presence of God
our healer.
God is our rock and our refuge.
We seek deliverance from the evils of sickness, illness,
and disease.
God is our rock and our refuge.
Let the old and the aging, the young and the innocent,
the confused and the lost, turn to the Lord in hope.
God is our rock and our refuge.

Praise Sentences (Hebrews 12)

Praise the Heavenly Father,
the judge of the living and the dead.
Praise the Lord Jesus Christ,
the mediator of a new covenant.
Praise the Holy Spirit,
the fire from heaven that descends to enliven our souls.
Praise the triune God,
whose perfect communion is worthy of our worship.

Opening Prayer (Jeremiah 1, Psalm 71)

Sovereign Lord,
you have brought your word to us today.
Before the womb’s wonders were our home,
you knew us as unique individuals,
sacred parts of your creation.
In the mystery of the womb you protected us.
Out of the womb you have brought us.
Empower us to ministry and mission,
with the confidence of your divine touch. Amen.

Opening Prayer (Seasonal)

Lord of all creation,
we pause before you today,
laying our hectic lives on the altar before you.
Summer’s warmth and rest are almost gone,
and our minds are turning to the time ahead:
students and educators are thinking about school;
farmers are thinking about crops and fall harvests;
business people are thinking about profit margins
and quarterly reports;
politicians are thinking about elections;
retailers are thinking about the holidays.
As we bow our heads before you,
help us put aside today’s worries
and tomorrow’s fears,
that we may worship and revel
in your presence today. Amen.

Unison Prayer (Luke 13)

Lord God, we have come to hear you speak to our hearts.
Yet there is much that binds us and blunts our hearing.
As your daughters and sons, we appeal to you for
healing and liberation—
set us free!
From cancer, AIDS, and heart disease—
set us free!
From diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s—
set us free!
From multiple sclerosis, birth defects, chemical
dependency, and depression—
set us free!
Through modern medicine and the miracles of science—
set us free!
Through your healing touch, bless our lives,
as only you can bless—
set us free! Amen.

Benediction (Hebrews 12)

Having been warmed by the spiritual fire of our God,
let us leave this place with unshakable courage
and reverent awe.

Benediction (Luke 13)

On the Sabbath, Jesus was teaching in the synagogue,
and a crippled woman was healed.
Jesus set her free.
After he touched her, she rose up and praised God.
As we depart today, may God set us free.
May we lead lives worthy of our calling,
and may your praise be always upon our lips.

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