Are You Ready To Change The World?
Call to Worship
This is the day that God has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! Welcome to this sacred place where, indeed, all are welcome. It is here, in this safe space, we receive one another just as we are, just as God receives us.
Wherever you are along your life's journey; whatever your name; however you feel-come one and all. Come, and experience the abundance of God's love for you, providing for your every need.
Come, and experience the invitation to give back to our God who has given us life itself. Come, and be empowered by the Good News of Christ so that we can share that abundant love with others.
Come, so that our abundance meets the great needs of our world, and the needs of our sisters and brothers become part of our abundance.
Let us worship God!
Mother and Father of us all, As we gather together, surrounded by the loving care of a community of faith, remind us to invite all those who are without safety, support, and acceptance to this sacred space. Challenge us to Include those in need, whether here in our own community or on the other side of the globe, as part of our faith family. Even if we never meet them, may we always invoke their spirits, stories, and names to grace this space. May we remember them all, whether they be recovering from a disaster; fleeing as refugees or asylum seekers; suffering as victims of violence in any form; attempting to avoid the daily grind of unemployment, hunger, homelessness, and poverty in this country; or struggling among the more than 1 billion people who live in extreme poverty, on less than $1.25 a day, all across our world. God, we can't help but acknowledge what a generous God you are, and yet can't understand why so many of your children do not have even their basic needs met.
Guide us, as your sons and daughters, to respond to the needs of our brothers and sisters, wherever they may be. Call upon us, in all of our abundance, to share what we have so that others may receive what they need to live the abundant life Christ offered us all. Dare us to share, and to do so faithfully, joyfully, and with conviction.
O God of all abundance, hear our prayer. Amen.
(Based on 2 Corinthians 8:1-15)
One: In this world of suffering and poverty, hunger and thirst, violence and tragedy,
Many: Where often we are overwhelmed and even apathetic,
One: We recall the earliest followers of Jesus, who even in their own poverty, found something to give.
Many: For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has,
One: Not according to what one does not have.
Many: There should not be relief for some and pressure for others;
One: Rather, it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need,
Many: So that their abundance may be for your need,
All: In order that there be a fair balance.
One: The one who had much did not have too much,
Many: And the one who had little did not have too little.
One: Nothing left over to the one with the most;
Many: Nothing lacking to the one with the least.
All: But enough for all.
Prayer of Confession
God of sea and sky and sun and rain, God of the African, the Honduran, God of the rich and of the poor and all those in between, we have heard it said that good news for the poor is that they are poor no more. We have learned that Christ came "that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (John 10:10b). This abundance is ours, offered freely and lovingly, to all of us.
Yet instead of thanking you we take it for granted. We forget. We deny. We hoard. We do not always or willingly share - even though we know of the tremendous suffering plaguing this world.
We confess that we contribute to that suffering when we ignore or avoid it. We confess that we have blamed others, or even you, for our sins.
Forgive us, God, for the sin of withholding. Forgive us our lack of faith. Forgive us our reluctance to trust in you. Forgive us, your privileged people, for not acknowledging our own abundance - all of which comes from you and only you.
Gracious God, in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Words of Assurance
(Based on 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 )
Beloved of God, if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation. Brand new! Everything old has passed away! See, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ, God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. For our sake God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Hear the Good News that is ours: by the redemptive, unconditional, and extraordinary love of Christ, we are forgiven.
We are forgiven. Hallelujah!
(Based on 2 Corinthians 8-9)
During what the Apostle Paul calls a "severe ordeal of affliction," the early churches of Macedonia somehow managed to "overflow in a wealth of generosity" for their sisters and brothers in need. Their own extreme poverty combined with their abundant joy resulted in this overflow, and as Paul testifies, they not only gave according to their means, they gave beyond their means. Yes, beyond their means! Even more remarkable, they actually begged "earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints". Giving is a privilege.
"Have you ever imagined what it would be like not to be able to give?"
But God provides all we need, enabling us to be in a constant posture of giving. All that is ours is God's, so everyone has a gift to give. God does not leave people out. God has created a world where there is more than enough; the sheer joy of that blessing is sharing it! Giving back to God is a matter of faith - it is the natural reaction to our saying "yes!" to following Christ. Once you know the invincible love of God and the Good News of the Gospel, you can't help but share it. In the sharing of your resources, you are living out your confession of faith as followers of Jesus the Christ.
For almost seven decades, we have been putting our faith into action and making a difference, alongside literally millions of other Christians throughout North America, through the ecumenical One Great Hour of Sharing offering which funds disaster relief, food security, clean water, resettles refugees, empowers women, and provides sustainable development all over the world. For example, your gifts have been hard at work in places such as the Philippines, where Typhoon Hagupit caused major damage impacting over 1 million people. Our response helps the entire community. Praise be to God!
Giving itself is a gift; A privilege; an opportunity to respond to God's outpouring of love for you. Giving through One Great Hour of Sharing not only changes the lives of more individuals and communities in need, it changes the world.
Join our ministry of saints as we receive this offering. Overflow with the wealth of generosity and feel our own hearts, minds and lives change just as we're helping improve and transform the quality of life for others. Amen.
Creator of all that has been, is, and will be, You are the God who sees us. You are the God who sustains us. How can we ever thank you for all that you have granted us? For you have granted us our very lives, creating us in your own divine image, and calling us good.
Thank you for the capacity and the privilege of giving. May these gifts, which we give right back to you, transform hunger into nutritious food; literacy into education; thirst into clean, accessible water; disease into healing; displacement into welcome; and despair into hope. We humbly ask you to consecrate these gifts for the transformation of lives and communities so that our abundance may be for their need and their need become our abundance.
To you, God, be the glory! Amen.
Invitation to Communion
Welcome, family, to the feast! This is the feast of our God, where all are fed. No one goes away hungry. No one is turned away. At this table, there is room for everyone. This is not our table, of course, but Christ's. It is He who has set the table and prepared a meal with enough for all. Just as the early followers of Jesus, who would come together to share a meal, share stories, and share community, we too gather at this table, hungry and eager to be fed. Here, we can eat to our fill.
At this table lies the mystery of our faith; for Communion doesn't work without a broken body. To share bread, we must break it. To share of ourselves, we must be willing to share our own wounds, worries, and fears. Out of brokenness emerges wholeness and holiness.
This is the paradox of life abundant: love shared not out of perfection, but out of messiness, frailty, confusion, and self-absorption. The stories of our lives shared honestly. This is the perfect love that casts out fear. This is Communion, learning to love one another as we gather around a common meal, regardless of age, gender, class, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, political affiliation, disability, or name. This is the Feast of Justice, where compassion starts. This is where we are fed and likewise commit to feeding a hungry world, empowered by the divine nourishment of this, the Lord's Supper. At this abundant feast, we partake and participate in creating a fair balance for all.
Come to the table. All - all, no exceptions! - are welcome.
(for many voices, two voices, or only one)
One: God of grace and abundance, we have received your word and tasted your truth: Jesus the Christ, your very presence is among us.
Many: We pray that your Christ will guide us that we may live with each other in unity, equity, and love. May we grow in faithful assurance that our future-the future that all of your children share-is in you today, every day, and always.
Church, hear the Good News: there is enough for all! May we do our part to distribute our abundance equitably and compassionately, so that the needs of our world may be no more. Our sisters and brothers are counting on us. Go now, from this sacred place into a world that is waiting for all you have to give.
Amen and amen!
"We Give Thee but Thine Own"
"Will You Come and Follow Me"
"We Are Not Our Own"
"God Whose Giving Knows No Ending"
"To God Be the Glory"
"Seek Ye First"
"Take My Gifts"
"Take My Life, God, Let It Be"
"Lord, Whose Love Through Humble Service"
"Fill the World with Love"
"Diverse in Culture, Nation, Race"
"Draw Us in the Spirit's Tether"