Pentecost -- Ordinary Time -- Service of Holy Communion

Ephphatha – Open!
Service of Holy Communion for the 14th Sunday after the Pentecost

Scriptures
Isaiah 35:4-7a
Psalm 146
James 2:1-17
Mark 7:24-37

CALL TO WORSHIP
One:    If your clothes are fine and you got lots of gold rings, you’re welcome here.
Men:    If your clothes are dirty and you don’t have a place to sleep, you’re welcome here.
Women:    If you’re feeling alone and you have no one you can call a friend, you’re welcome here.
Men:    If your soul aches and you need a healing balm, you’re welcome here.
Women:    If you’re filled with anxiety and you seek peace, you’re welcome here.
All:    Come into this house to give thanksgiving and praise to the One who knows each of us by name.

PRAYER OF INVOCATION
Loving and gracious God, you embrace us with your extravagant welcome.  You heal the lame and open the eyes of the blind.  You execute justice for the oppressed and give food to the hungry.  You set the captive free and lift up those who are bowed down.    Inspire us to do the same.  Teach us your ways so we may bring this world another step closer to the kingdom Jesus promised.  Amen.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
O God, the Syrophoenecian woman opened Jesus to the truth about his ministry; it was reserved for neither Jew nor Gentile, but was for all people.  Even though we know that truth, we still struggle with it.  Our tolerance for people who differ from us is narrower than we willingly admit.  We may offer the hand of fellowship, but begrudgingly.  Forgive us.  As Jesus’ heart was turned, turn ours when we encounter our Syrophoenician woman.  Amen.

WORDS OF ASSURANCE
God will judge those who show no mercy.  Those who show mercy need not fear God’s judgment.  Thanks be to God.

OFFERING
If we come to this church dressed in nice clothes, we have enough.  If we have a bed to sleep in, we have enough.  If we can count on eating three meals on any given day, we have enough.  We give not the crumbs of our lives, but our riches from the abundance that we have.  This offering helps those in this community and beyond who don’t have enough.

PRAYER OF DEDICATION
We thank you, God, for the comforts of our lives.  You have blessed us in countless ways.  Accept our offerings with our profound gratitude.  Consecrate them.  Grant that they may bring comfort those who don’t have enough.  Amen.

Service of Communion

INVITATION
One:    All are welcome at this table.  You don’t need fancy clothes and you won’t eat the crumbs that fall on the floor.
Many:    We come to this table to be in God’s presence and to eat the bread of heaven and to drink from the cup of blessing.
One:    Come to this table to renew within you mercy and loving kindness towards family, friends, neighbors, and strangers.
Many:    We come to this table to have our ears opened that we may hear the cries of the widows and the orphans who live in the shadows of our community.
One:    Come to this table to feel God’s love and to remember that it is justice’s foundation.
Many:    We come to this table to have our tongues freed to proclaim God’s love for all people so they may know true justice.
One:    Come to this table.  A place has been set for you.

COMMUNION PRAYER
Beginning with Creation’s abundance, God bestowed blessings upon us both large and small.  We are blessed that God liberated our forebears from bondage in Egypt.  We are blessed that even as Israel was exiled in Babylon, God never abandoned them and eventually restored them to Jerusalem to be a light for all nations.

Ephphatha – open your mouths to speak aloud those ways God has blessed you. (Note:  This may be new for some congregations; people may be reluctant to speak.  You might suggest some blessings:  family... friendships... homes... community...  When people have stopped lifting up their blessings, continue with the following.)

We are also blessed by Jesus’ ministry.  Ironically, we are also blessed by the cross upon which he died because in his death and resurrection, we now know that life always triumphs over death, hope will always overcome despair, and that we will have eternal life in God’s heavenly realm.  We give thanks for this meal with the words of the ancient hymn:

Holy, holy, holy God of love and majesty,
the whole universe speaks of your glory,
O God Most High.  
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of our Creator.  
Hosanna in the highest.

WORDS OF INSTITUTION
Jesus shared many meals with his friends during his ministry.  But in an upstairs room he would have his last meal with them because one of his friends would betray him.  Knowing his time had come, he took bread and after blessing it he gave it to them saying, “Take.  Eat.  This is my body broken for you.”  Later after supper he took a cup and after blessing it he gave it to them saying, “Drink this.  This is my blood of the new covenant poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

When we eat this bread and drink this cup, we open our mouths to proclaim together:

Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.

EPICLESIS
Set your Holy Spirit upon this bread and this fruit of vine, O God, that they may be for us the body and the blood of Christ.  Ephphatha.  Open our eyes to the injustice around us.  Ephphatha.  Open our ears to hear cries of anguish.  Ephphatha.  Open our mouths to proclaim your peace.  Ephphatha.  Open our hands so we can work towards bringing this world a little closer to your kingdom.

SHARING THE FEAST

UNISON PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
Loving and awesome God, you care for us and love us no matter who we are.  We thank you for the bread and the cup you generously provided.  Grant that they will help us to open our ears to the cries of those who are bowed down and oppressed.  May they renew in us love and compassion for the stranger.  Let us leave this table proclaiming your kingdom of peace and justice for all.  Amen.

BENEDICTION
Repeat after me, Ephphatha.
Turn to those around you and say to them, Ephphatha.

Let the stranger on path turn your heart.  Say to the person next to you, Ephphatha.

Let the cries of the widow and orphan fall upon your ears.  Say to another person near you, Ephphatha.

Let God’s love and peace go with you.  Ephphatha.

SECTION MENU
CONTACT INFO

Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland,Ohio 44115
216-736-3869
blains@ucc.org