Worship Resources

Sharing ways to Worship

Sample Worship Service

Call to Worship 1
Call to Worship 2
Children's Sermon 1
Children's Sermon 2
Invitation to Communion
Litany 1
Litany 2
Prayer of Confession and Words of Assurance
Offering and Dedication Prayer
Sermon Starter 1
Sermon Starter 2

 

Worship Resource 1

What Do I Treasure? And, What Do I Do with It?

 

 

Call to Worship

 

Leader:     What does God treasure?

People:   “God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good.”

Leader:     And, God said,

People:   “You are my children, my people, my treasured possession.”

Leader:     Where is your treasure, O people?

People:   In the faces of brothers and sisters worldwide, we see the face of Christ.

All:            We come to worship God and to care for God’s treasured people.

 

Opening Prayer

We come to worship you, O God, thankful that you call us your children. We come to follow Christ’s way, to grow in love and service, to mature to see the face of Christ in all the faces of the world, and to treat each person with the compassion Christ has shown us. Open our hearts to receive your Spirit and grace. Amen.

 

Prayer of Confession

Dear God, we so often take for granted the magnificent abundance you continually pour into our lives—sunshine, rain, shelter, food, family, friends, meaningful work, your presence. These blessings give our life meaning and joy, but we act as though we have earned them through our own merit. Forgive us. Lead us from self-absorption. Forgive our blindness to how our acts affect other lives. We react quickly when others hurt us, and yet often refuse to accept responsibility for the far-reaching effects of our own decisions. Please move us from self-centeredness to being centered in you, that we may wisely balance our needs and the needs of others. Amen.

 

Words of Assurance

As far as east is from the west, so far God removes our transgressions from us. With God daily at the center of our lives, we will come to see the imprint of the Holy One on each person—from distant east to distant west, the face of Christ in all.

 

Litany (Adapted from Luke 6:20-21 and Psalm 146:5-10)

Leader:     Blessed,

People:   Blessed are the poor.

Leader:     Blessed are you who are poor,

People:   For yours is the kingdom of God.

Leader:     Blessed,

People:   Blessed are the hungry.

Leader:     Blessed are you who are hungry now,

People:   For you will be filled.

Leader:     Blessed,

People:   Blessed are the weeping.

Leader:     Blessed are you who weep now,

People:   For you will laugh.

Leader:     Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,

People:   Whose hope is in the Lord their God,

Leader:     Who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them,

People:   Who keeps faith forever,

Leader:     Who executes justice for the oppressed,

People:   Who gives food to the hungry.

Leader:     The Lord sets the prisoners free;

People:   The Lord opens the eyes of the blind.

Leader:     The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;

People:   The Lord watches over the strangers,

Leader:     And upholds the orphan and the widow.

People:   The Lord will reign for ever,

Leader:     Your God, O Zion, for all generations.

All:            Praise the Lord!

 

Invitation to the Offering

Christ has regarded each of us with love and deep compassion. The church’s mission is to share that message, that love and compassion, with all. You are invited to share from your “treasures,” to help care for God’s treasured people, here locally and throughout the world, through the work of our congregation and One Great Hour of Sharing.

 

Dedicatory Prayer

May we do great things, small things, all things, for your realm and for what you treasure. With hope and joy, we thank you that we can be part of your great work of caring for all your children. Bless these tithes and offerings to your work, with our love. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Charge and Benediction

O treasured people of God, may your life and work this week so shine with the holy imprint of Christ, that all may feel God’s love through you.

 

Sermon starter

Theme

What do I treasure? And what do I do with it?

 

Scripture

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:19-21)

 

You are children of the Lord your God. ... It is you the Lord has chosen ... to be his people, his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 14:1-2)

 

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son …. (John 3:16)

 

“Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:28b-31)

 

As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19)

 

Concept

Western culture is sometimes parodied as “Everything in excess, nothing in moderation!” “Everything! All the time!” “Too much of a good thing is—wonderful!” “The one who dies with the most toys, wins.” As we think of various professional athletes and entertainers, we can laughingly agree that sometimes these characterizations carry a grain of truth.

 

Yet, is Jesus also talking to us, in this room, when he cautions about what people go after and consider to be their wealth? “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

 

What do you spend your precious life and time treasuring? What do you, what will you, trade your energy and creativity in pursuing? How do you use your resources? What are the consequences and costs to others of your choices? These are not easy questions, nor are they questions faced only once. Material things are necessary to life—food, shelter, clothing, etc. Jesus realized that, but also knew that great, stored up quantities of “earthly treasure” are transitory. He told a sobering parable about a man who decided to ”have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry. But God said to him, ‘You fool!’” Jesus explained, “Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” (Luke 12:15-22)

 

Unfortunately for us, Jesus did not spell out exactly where the line is between “necessary” and “too much” or give an exact definition of “earthly treasure” versus “heavenly treasure.” We are left to wrestle with these questions in our own lives. For this, as in all things, we turn to God for guidance. What does God treasure and pursue? People, right relationships, service. [Illustrative scriptures include Deuteronomy 14:1-2, John 3:16, Mark 12:28-31.]

 

We particularly ask these questions today because our church is receiving our One Great Hour of Sharing offerings. How much will each of us choose to give to help communities recover from natural disasters? How much of my treasure will I part with to help develop healthy, self-sustaining communities where poverty, hunger, illness, and lack of education now exist? How much will I stretch to help refugees return or resettle after they have lost their home community? How will I order my life in the future, conscious that my decisions effect people elsewhere who are treasured by God?

 

God is not calling us to a joyless life—no new clothes, no new car, no iTunes, no! no! no!—but to a life of greater joy centered in worship, love, justice, and service using the gifts the Spirit has given to us, where our actions and decisions flow from being centered in God. By sharing the relative abundance we have, especially as compared to what many people possess in developing countries or in the aftermath of natural disasters, we help bring closer to reality God’s hopes for the world, and we “take hold of the life that really is life!” Paul’s first letter to Timothy says, “As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not … to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God. … They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share, thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life” (1 Timothy 6:17-18).

 

The Bible records the importance Jesus placed on decisions to share resources we have with other people who need them. “Truly I tell you, just as you [fed the hungry, gave the thirsty something to drink, welcomed the stranger, clothed the naked, visited the prisoner] did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). May your pursuit of “treasure” and your decisions about what to do with that “treasure” bring hope and love to the world and to your heart.

 

Children’s sermon

Supplies

small, lightweight object without sharp corners, like a pincushion, checker, or plastic playing piece from a board game, that will not hurt children if it were to land on them

yardstick, to serve as a lever

an object about 3” high (e.g., large rock, whiteboard eraser), to serve as a fulcrum

(Experiment with the lever and fulcrum set-up before the service, to get optimal flying height while maintaining safety.)

 

Concept

Sometimes we feel that we cannot make much difference in what happens. Suggest or solicit illustrations—like trying to convince parents that ice cream should be served for breakfast or that we should go to the park rather than to school on a school day. It can be disheartening and frustrating to feel powerless to change things.

 

Show the children the small object you brought. Remark on how it just sits still in your hand, but you would like to change things and make it fly while not touching it with any part of your body. Place the object on the floor, move about three feet away, and then jump or stomp on the floor. The object may move a little, but not much. Reiterate that you think the object can fly, but you obviously need their assistance. Invite several of the children to stand where you did and, together, to stomp on the floor. Observe that stomping around when we want something to happen usually has very little effect.

 

Sometimes we just need the right tool to be effective. Bring out from hiding the yardstick and fulcrum. Lay the yardstick over the fulcrum so it looks like a see-saw or teeter-totter, but put about two-thirds of the stick on one side of the fulcrum, with that end resting on the floor. The remaining third, on the other side of the fulcrum, will slant up into the air. Place the small object on the end of the yardstick that rests on the floor. Move the other children back a safe distance from the object, ask them to watch carefully, and then invite one child to stomp on the end of the yardstick that is in the air. The object should fly up. (It will also land somewhere, so “lightweight” and “without sharp corners” are important characteristics.)

 

What a difference we can make when we have the right tool! Seemingly little things that we do can make big things happen! That is why our congregation gives to One Great Hour of Sharing. This offering is the effective tool our congregation uses to turn our pennies, nickels, and dollars into the things hurting people really need—food, medicine, water, blankets, homes, schools, doctors’ clinics—here in our country and around the world. When we choose to share some of our “treasure,” we help change people’s lives in big ways. Great things happen because of our decision to share!


Worship Resource 2: Treasure! Really??

 

 

Call to Worship

Leader:     Come with joy to worship the God who deeply loves us,

People:   Who treasures each person near and far,

Leader:     Who treasures people known to us and people who are strangers to us.

People:   Praise God, to whom no one is a stranger!

All:            Praise God, who regards each of us as beloved.

 

Opening Prayer

O God, we come before you, amazed that you would treasure us and deeply thankful that you do. Open our hearts to your Spirit and message this day that we may grow in wisdom and maturity, so that we may love as you love. Amen.

 

Prayer of Confession

Dear God, we humble ourselves before you, shamefully aware that we have treated people and this earth as “things” to be used and exploited, rather than as your beloved creatures and creation to be treasured. Our attitude comes out in so many ugly ways— greed, thoughtless consumption, blindness to others’ pain, pollution, war. We pray for a deep change in heart. Help us to really know that you love us, and help us to really love others. We’re asking for miracles, God—long lasting miracle growth in our desire to love, our desire to help, and our ability to see beyond our own selves—because we want to follow Jesus. Amen.

 

Words of Assurance

Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Rest assured, Friends: God treasures you. God’s heart is with you and is wide open to your prayer. Claim the promise of God’s forgiveness! Live with boldness as, increasingly, you love as God loves and thus do God’s will.

 

Litany

Leader:     God’s treasured possession is …

People:   God’s people.

Leader:     We are blessed,

People:   Given food, shelter, rain, and sun.

Leader:     Yet, who will seek and help God’s children in need?

People:   Who will help care for God’s treasures?

Leader:     Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Do you love me? Feed my lambs.”

People:   “Do you love me? Tend my sheep.”

Leader:     How will we tend God’s sheep?

People:   With the joy of God’s love, we will reach out,

Leader:     For we are the Body of Christ.

People:   We will tend God’s treasures,

Leader:     For where God’s treasure is, there God’s heart is, also.

All:            And there we will find our hearts.

 

Invitation to Communion

On the night he was betrayed, Jesus gathered with twelve of his closest companions, his disciples. Even Judas was included, whom Jesus called “Friend” when Judas came to the garden a few hours later to betray him. No one is beyond the love of God. Dearly beloveds, treasured by the Most High, join in this remembrance of our Savior and Redeemer.

 

Communion Prayer

May this meal, endowed with your words and your Spirit, so fill our hearts, God, that no one is beyond our love. May we love as you have loved us—completely, abundantly, constantly. May we share with all your treasured people the blessings of companionship, grace, and strength that we experience at this table. Amen.

 

Invitation to the Offering

One of the joys of being alive in these days is being called to tend to God’s treasured people, near and far. Our One Great Hour of Sharing offering will carry the love of Jesus as it brings help and hope to people in need wherever they are. Our gifts will help others experience the reality of the Realm of God and the caring, compassionate community that is the Church. Please join with Christians throughout the United States this day in bringing from our treasure houses our gifts of love and service.

 

Dedicatory Prayer

We send forth our love, the fruit of our work, our treasure gathered here in this plate to tend your treasures in this far-flung world. Please bless the work our tithes and offerings will do, that your children may be strengthened, healed, housed, schooled, and fed. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Charge and Benediction

Go out into the world, strengthened by God’s care and caring for God’s treasured people.

 

Sermon starter

Theme

God is serious: each person is a treasure.

 

Scripture

You are children of the Lord your God. ... It is you the Lord has chosen ... to be his people, his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 14:1-2)

 

For in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. (Galatians 3:26)

 

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son …. (John 3:16)

 

Concept

The Bible says clearly that God treasures us. Jesus surely lived and died showing that! Yet, it is hard for some of us to really believe it. “Not me, the person who was called ‘fat’ or ‘stupid’ in school!” “Not me, the person who was abused by a relative!” “Not me, the person tormented by guilt about what I’ve done!” “Not me, the person who has more questions about God than has faith!” “Not me, the person who always makes mistakes!” It is sometimes hard to accept, but, yes, God truly, deeply loves and treasures each of us. That is our conviction as Christians.

 

Do we truly believe each person is a treasure? Perhaps not. We tend to focus on distinctions between people and give different status, accord different “worth,” to different abilities, economic classes, educational attainments, races, language groups. God does not. Certainly God knows those unique characteristics; Jesus said that “even the hairs on your head are all counted” (Luke 12:7). But those characteristics don’t make God love us more, or love us less. God truly treasures each of us, and treasures us the same. “[God] makes [the] sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous,” observed Jesus (Matthew 5:45).

 

That our world, and even we ourselves sometimes, do not treasure each person as God treasures them is painfully evident. Dr. Paul Farmer, a world-renown physician who has lived his faith in years of committed work with the destitute in Haiti and Peru, and the imprisoned in Russia, believes that “the idea that some lives matter less is the root of all that’s wrong with the world.”[1] No one is a “throw-away”! Not you; not me; not the poor in the world; not the old man who cannot read; not the 13-year-old in Malawi orphaned by AIDS and now “head of household” for her brothers and sisters. J. K. Rowling put it before the contemporary world in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, “Every human life is worth the same, and worth saving.”[2]

 

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus called us to “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48). “Perfection” here is not about obeying rules and behaving “perfectly.” God knows we are human! To be perfect as God is perfect means to love like God loves—to treasure each person, to recognize and treat them as a beloved child of God. When we pursue this meaning of “perfection”—loving as God loves—we come closer to imitating Christ. And that is why we give to One Great Hour of Sharing. Our gifts of $15, $60, $300 express to people who deeply need help that we honor them, respect and love them. Through One Great Hour of Sharing, we share what we have that they may be reminded, in the midst of their hard circumstances, that God treasures them and that their lives may be changed for the better.


 

 


 

Children’s sermon

Supplies

distinctive items to identify the persons illustrating “treasure”

large mirror

 

Concept

Before the service, recruit several people who will be present during the children’s sermon to serve as living examples of treasure. Look for people who the children can readily understand in that way, e.g.,

·         someone who tells good stories

·         a teacher (Sunday School or otherwise)

·         a health care worker

·         a librarian, fire fighter, police officer

·         a mommy, daddy, sibling, or grandparent

·         a baby (in the arms of someone who can carry the baby forward later)

·         a youth group leader or Scout leader

·         a good cook or baker

Loan each of the “plants” a readily identifiable object to wear or wave—a distinctive red hat, a purple sheet of paper, etc. Ask the “plants” to sit where they normally would during the service and to wear or wave their object when you send the children out to hunt for treasure.

 

Gather the children for the children’s sermon and explain that they are going on a treasure hunt in the sanctuary to find some treasure that God gave us. Commission

small groups or individual children to find and bring back the persons wearing or waving the distinctive items. When all have re-gathered, explain why each of the “plants” is a treasure from God.

 

Say that you have found more of God’s treasure. Ask the children to look in the mirror. What do they see? Make sure each child sees him/herself. Explain and elaborate on their being treasure in God’s eyes and in this church’s eyes. God loves and really treasures each person God has made. Hold up a One Great Hour of Sharing treasure chest coin box. Explain that we give to One Great Hour of Sharing to help God’s treasures throughout the world—people just like the people here: teachers, grandparents, nurses, good storytellers, parents, babies, children—who need medicine, help getting to school or getting shelter, or emergency supplies after a natural disaster.

 

End with prayer thanking God for each treasured person here. Ask God’s blessings on the One Great Hour of Sharing offering, that God’s treasures throughout the world may receive our love and the help that they need.


 

Offering Reminder Activity

 

 

Purpose

To prompt the congregation to pray about the One Great Hour of Sharing offering before it is taken and to remind them of the offering date

 

Materials needed

  • offering plates
  • dried beans
  • pieces of gravel small enough to be easily handled, yet too large to fit into ears, noses, or mouths

 

Activity

During worship service a week or two before the offering is taken, show the One Great Hour of Sharing poster and announce when the offering will be taken. Pass around the offering plates filled with dried beans. Invite each adult and youth to remove several beans from the plate, take them home, and put them some place where they will be often seen (for example, by the phone, sink, or computer; on the dashboard of the car).

 

Offer a safe alternative for families with small children: pass around the gravel-filled offering plates. Invite those families and children to take several rocks home and put them some place where they will be often seen.

 

For many people, a small handful of beans plus some rice or a tortilla is their only food, day after day. For many children, their only toys are what they can make for themselves from nature or from what they can dig up from the earth. When you see these beans or these rocks, remember to pray for people in tough situations and for our church’s One Great Hour of Sharing offering. The offering will help people in such situations remember that they are treasured by God and that we care.



[1] Tracy Kidder, Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure the World (New York: Random House, 2003), 294.

 

[2] J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (New York: Scholastic, Inc., 2007), 440.

 

To support One Great Hour of Sharing:
Make an online gift today
Gift a generous gift at your local UCC church
or
Send your gift by mail, made payable to:

One Great Hour of Sharing
United Church of Christ
700 Prospect Avenue
Cleveland, OH 44115-1100

 

 

 

 

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CONTACT INFO



Ms. Phyllis Y. Richards
Program Associate
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-3215
richardp@ucc.org