a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

communion: bring many names

Prompt in Bulletin
As you come into worship this morning, you’re invited to write your name on one of the index cards provided. During the singing of our first hymn, Bring Many Names, you’re invited to bring your many names forward to place on the bare communion table. Before we celebrate the mystery of Holy Communion, this table will be transformed especially for those gathered here on this day.   
Action in Worship       

Our kids hang out on a quilt in the front of our worship space during the summer. They gather for a Children’s Sermon that may or may not introduce the activity they will share in that day. Often, it’s a coloring sheet related to the RCL. But, there are also books and playdoh and other good things for busy hands. This week, they will take the names gathered on the table during the first hymn and add those many names to a tablecloth that will set upon the table just before communion begins. Then, they will stand with me as we serve communion together.

Invitation to the Feast of God
“God created the world — the plants and the trees.
The fish and all the animals were given a name.
And each person, young and old, had a special name:
Ruth, Samuel, Joshua, Hannah.”*

And you were given a name — a special name. Names like:
(Ask kids to read names from tablecloth.)
Jesus calls each of us by name.
Just as called the twelve apostles:
“first, Simon, who is called Peter; and Andrew his brother;
James the son of Zebedee; and John his brother; Philip; and Bartholomew;
Thomas; and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus; and Thaddaeus.”**
Jesus didn’t limit his ministry to these twelve.
He called Mary and Martha.
He called Lazarus and those whose names were never written down.
Jesus knows all their names, and invited them to wrestle all night long with what it means to love and serve our God in this time and in this place.
And each time, just as the angel asked, he said, “Tell me your name.”
Beloved in Christ, say your name. Say your name aloud.
(Pause to let every worshipper say their names.)
Jesus calls you to this table.
Jesus calls you to fill your hunger and your thirst for righteousness.
Come to this table and know that God is good.
For this is the the good news that Jesus shared with his friends in that upper room.
He gathered those wrestling people together and…
Words of Institution

Prayer after Communion (Unison)
God of Many Names, we give you thanks for this holy mystery of bread and cup.
We give thanks that you have called us each by name — to sustain and redeem us.
May go from this table to dine at other tables to celebrate in this mystery,
in the name of Jesus Christ, our Sustainer and Redeemer. Amen.   

 

* From Sandy Sasso’s In God’s Name.
** Matthew 10:1-3, CEB.
Submitted by Rev. Elsa A. Peters, The United Churches of Olympia, WA

thanksgiving for the music ministry

This will be offered on the last Sunday with our choir.
Members of the choir will be given party store horns to blow (thus the toot).
We will follow this litany with an alleluia before coming together for Communion.
Celebration of Choir
One: Let every living thing praise God!
All: Let every person with voice lift their praise!
One: Let every heart be joined together!
For we have offered great praise to our God the Creator.
And we give you thanks.
All: We give you thanks for the members of this choir.
One: We praise your holy name for every tune they have learned,
for each new lyric they have memorized
and every Wednesday night they have spent in the basement of our church
lifting their voices to praise your holy name.
We praise you for the gifts that each member of this choir
has offered to our worship from September to June –
for the hours they have spent,
for the love they have offered,
for the gifts they bring every Sunday.
Praise God our Creator in this sanctuary!
All: We celebrate the ministry you have each offered
in our church family. We thank you for your time and your talent.
We look forward to the new songs that you will bring in September.
One: But now, as the skies begin to clear,
and summer comes close, we celebrate your rest.
Let every living part of you praise God!
In these summer months, praise God in resting your voice
and nurturing your spirit. Go and blow your horn!
Choir:  Toot!
All: Thanks be to God!
Submitted by Rev. Elsa Peters, The United Churches of Olympia, WA.

CTW: heavens open

One: We come as people filled with great expectation.
All: We come filled with hopes and dreams.
One: We come with serious questions.
All: We come with doubts that weigh us down.
One: We long for the heavens to open.
All: We need to hear the voice of God,
One: Whispering our names,
and telling us again,
All: You are Beloved with whom I am well pleased.

 

Submitted by the Rev. Elsa Peters, the United Churches of Olympia, WA.

Epiphany Communion: We Have Come…

We have come asking for the child —
Wondering where that love might be born,
Seeking that joy that might satisfy our thirst,
Wandering through the darkness of so many mistakes.

We have come to this place where
wisepeople and shepherds and young women met.
We have come to this place called Bethlehem.
To this place where our hearts rise like yeast.
To this place where we meet our newborn hope.
To this place where we taste our deepest joy.
In Bethlehem, where we assumed the worst,
Imagining that no good can come,
We somehow missed its name.

Bethlehem.
Lehem meaning bread.
Bethel meaning house.
There is something here that will satisfy our hunger.
No matter how long we have wandered,
Here our hearts arise. Our light has come.
In this bread and in this cup,
We celebrate something we can’t quite understand.
Because God has made a house at this table.
Because God satisfies our hunger in the most unlikely places.
Because God comes to be with us.
Now and always.

It is with this expectation that we come to the table
to taste and see that God is here.

Let us pray:

Holy Spirit, come into this bread and this cup.
Transform these ordinary objects
As you change our hearts
To shape and form your world
With the joy you promise.
Pour your grace upon us,
so we overflow with your love.
Help us to remember how
An newborn baby might grow
Into a little child that would one day
Turn to his hope-filled friends
In an upper room…

Submitted by Rev. Elsa Peters, the United Churches of Olympia, WA.

stewardship commitment

Charge to All Stewards

PASTOR: Today is a day of celebration in the life of (church name) because today we remember that each and every one of us — young and old — is called by God to be stewards of justice, stewards of creation, stewards of peace, stewards of this family of faith. Stewards give from all aspects of their lives. As we accept this call to be stewards, we each become a living example of Christ’s gospel, proclaiming faith through all that we do and all that we give. As it is written in I Peter, “Like good stewards of the manifold grace of God, serve one another with whatever gift each of you has received.” (I Peter 4:10) And so, people of God, I ask you now, do you promise to enter into this covenant together to be God’s stewards with all your mind and heart? If so, please answer, “I do.”

Litany of Commitment

(Invite the congregation to stand.)

PASTOR: Gracious God, you have made a world for us and given us incomparable gifts: air and water, family and friends, your steadfast love and forgiveness, and your son Jesus the Christ. For all the gifts and wonders you have bestowed on us.

PEOPLE: We thank you and worship you with renewed gratitude.

PASTOR: O God, you created us to love one another as Christ has loved us. We are concerned about all your children, those who live near us, and those who live far away. We are eager to participate in the work of the whole church and to further the ministry and service of this congregation.

PEOPLE: We are called to be your stewards. We thoughtfully shoulder our personal share of responsibility, and we pledge to witness to the good news of Christ with our hearts and hands and voices.

PASTOR: We are confident in your love and care for us.

PEOPLE: We gladly give back to our Gracious God our whole lives, our time, our talents, and our financial resources.

The Commission

O God, throughout the ages you have challenged your people to step out in faith and follow you. You have put purpose and direction in the lives of your people. We have before us a new direction and a new purpose. We have set our feet on the pathway. Be our guide. Whisper in our ears when we need to make decisions. Hold us up if we start to stumble. May your Holy Spirit lead us in joyful song and fill us with eager anticipation. You are our vision, O God; lead us on our journey. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Elsa Peters, The United Churches of Olympia, WA.

ctw and blessing: are any?

Call to Worship

We call ourselves together in worship through the words of James 5:13-20.
If your answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you are invited to rise in body and spirit to hear the church respond to your needs.

One: Are any among you suffering?
All: We will pray with you.
One: Are any cheerful?
All: We will sing songs of praise with you.
One: Are any among you sick?
All: We will be the church for you. 
We will pray with you.
We will anoint you with oil.
We will bless you with all the goodness of God.
One: Do you feel wandering and lost?
All: We will be salt for you.
We will bring you God’s peace.

Benediction
One: My brothers and sisters, you are salt.
All: And salt is good.
One: Go into the world and be salt
to those who wander and those who hurt.
Be salt to those cheerful and suffering.
Be salt because salt is good.
All: We will have salt in ourselves.
And make peace with the world.
Submitted by Rev. Elsa Peters, The United Churches of Olympia, Washington

benediction: above the babble

One:     Send us, Holy Spirit, to speak and to listen.

All:      Send us, Holy Spirit, to hear your still speaking voice clearly above the babble of the world.

One:     Send us, Holy Spirit, to find that we are never alone.   

All:      Send us, Holy Spirit, to be the assembled together even when we are apart.

 

Submitted by Rev. Elsa Peters, First Congregational Church, South Portland ME

CTW: come, Holy Spirit

One:     Come Holy Spirit. Come.

All:      Come Holy Spirit and move through the babble of our worship words.

One:     Come Holy Spirit. Come.

All:      Come Holy Spirit so that we might clearly hear your still speaking voice.

One:     Come Holy Spirit. Come.

All:      Come Holy Spirit and blow through our hearts today.

 

Submitted by Rev. Elsa Peters, First Congregational Church, South Portland ME.

benediction: fishing for alleluias

One:    O Holy One, worship might be over. We might be done with our praise.
All:       But, let’s not go to our own homes greiving and sad. Let us go fishing for alleluias in the seas of your love! 

 

Author’s Note: On Easter 7, I’m breaking from the RCL to preach from the Gospel of Peter as we conclude the Easter Season. Though these prayers are based in that scripture, they certainly carry the story of the entire Easter Season – and its end.

Submitted by Rev. Elsa Peters, First Congregational Church, South Portland, ME

confession: you know why we’ve come

O Holy One, you know why we’ve come. You know what it is that we are looking for. You know why we are bending our bodies to peer into dark places. You know why we come looking for new words and new wonders. You know why we search the horizons for new signs. You know why each crashing wave calms our souls. We come because we are looking for something. Holy One, come and sit beside us. Give us a new word. Give us a new hope. Give us the power of resurrection as we’ve never experienced in the words that we continue to pray:

(The Lord’s Prayer)

 

Author’s Note: On Easter 7, I’m breaking from the RCL to preach from the Gospel of Peter as we conclude the Easter Season. Though these prayers are based in that scripture, they certainly carry the story of the entire Easter Season – and its end.

Submitted by Rev. Elsa Peters, First Congregational Church, South Portland, ME