United Church of Christ

OGHS Worship Resources

MORE THAN WE CAN IMAGINECoinbox_man.jpg
INTERPRETING THE 2019 SPECIAL OFFERING THEME

 

IMAGINATION
It may seem a weak word when compared with all the need that we see daily in the world. We hear the word “imagination” and we may think to ourselves “fantasy.” We hear the word “imagination” and we wonder if it is truly helpful in a world where some would say, “clear-eyed realism is what is needed to face the challenges before us.”


IMAGINATION
Yet far from being a light, weak, or un-real thing, imagination is actually one of the most powerful engines for change that human beings have! Long ago, the philosopher Aristotle said that “Thinking itself begins in wonder, begins in imagination,” and he was right. Imagination, particularly when it is fueled by a vision of God’s hopes for all humankind, can keep us energized to do the good that is possible.

IMAGINATION
The theme for the 2019 One Great Hour of Sharing Special Offering is “More than we can imagine!” The theme, based on Ephesians 3:20, reminds us that we are not alone in our imagining a better world for all of God’s children. For it is God’s imagination that fuels and empowers ours! You see, God imagines a world where:

  • No one is left to face the ravages of natural disaster alone - neighbor helps neighbor, stranger helps stranger - for we are the church together
  • Even if things will never quite be the same after a disaster, God can work through all events to bring new life, new hope, and even more resilience
  • Clean and abundant water and ample sanitation facilities are available to every person;
  • Work brings security from hunger and the land is treated with respect
  • Families displaced from their homes are able to build new lives
  • Women are no longer subject to discrimination and gender-based violence

And God also imagines Christians of many traditions, coming together to help make these things ever more a reality for more and more people!  For you see, our imagination of what might be is founded and grounded in what God envisions and hopes for. We can help – through our gifts of treasure and talent, prayer, and presence to make this world ever more like the way God imagine it would be!

Please, give generously to the One Great Hour of Sharing special offering, so that your imagination might indeed be ever more joined with God’s!

WORSHIP MATERIALS

CALL TO WORSHIP (inspired by Psalm 46)

LEADER: God is our refuge and our strength, a very present help in trouble.

PEOPLE: Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.

LEADER: This morning we enlarge our hearts; we offer our prayers; we share our treasure with those siblings in our world who are dealing with tumult and disaster and injustice.

PEOPLE: We will not be discouraged. We shall remember that God’s steadfast love is always with us and the whole world, that God’s compassion is for each and all.

LEADER: We will celebrate that love and compassion can do far more than “we can ask or imagine”!

PEOPLE: May we always be inspired by our hope in God, to serve, care, and live in hope!

 

PRAYER OF CONFESSION & WORDS OF

ASSURANCE (inspired by Mark 9:24)

LEADER: Let us confess our sins before our God, who is slow to anger and keen to show mercy.

PEOPLE: We believe; O Lord, help our unbelief.

LEADER: We confess, O God, that instead of believing in your goodness and mercy and love for all people, we have fallen prey to cynicism; we have looked for the worst in others instead of presuming the best; we have spoken words which demeaned instead of dignified.

PEOPLE: We believe; O Lord, help our unbelief.

LEADER: We confess that we have presumed to draw the circle of your grace much more narrowly than you do, treating some as “the other,” not deeming them our brothers and sisters in Christ.

PEOPLE: We believe; O Lord, help our unbelief.

LEADER: We confess that our attention has been too short-lived when tragedy has come to those you love in any part of the world, forgetting that you call us to be there for them in word and deed over the months and years.

PEOPLE: We believe; O Lord, help our unbelief.

LEADER: We confess that we have sometimes allowed compassion fatigue to take root in our souls, closing our hearts to those who need our help.

PEOPLE: We believe; O Lord, help our unbelief.

Words of Assurance

Our God, whose imagination for the good of all people is always wider than our prejudices will empower and transform us. God will help us change our unbelief into faith, and our self-serving cynicism into love for “the least of these” who are also God’s beloved.

PEOPLE: Thanks be to God! Amen.

RESPONSIVE PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING AND HOPE

LEADER: God of grace and wonder,

PEOPLE: Be with us in this place.

LEADER: We love you, Holy God. We love you for the feast that is life: for friendships and laughter, intimacy and trust, moments of discovering deep truth, hidden potentials we never knew we had; for beauty—serene beauty and rugged beauty, the world you have crafted; and for the words, sounds, and colors with which people reflect and explore life. God of grace and wonder,

PEOPLE: Be with us in this place.

LEADER: We love you, holy God. We love you for the challenges of community: for moments of joy and celebration, for times of anxiety and questioning, for opportunities to listen deeply, for moments to start anew, for possibilities of reconciliation, for partnerships to work for peace and hope, for commitments to join

hands for justice. God of grace and wonder,

PEOPLE: Be with us in this place.

LEADER: Gathering God, we give thanks for the vision, adventure, and passion that have brought us together in this holy place. Help us to be open today: grateful to meet Jesus in each other and in our neighbors near and far; happy to do a new thing; thankful to be your church together, to do that which by your design cannot be done apart. Challenge us, inspire us, strengthen and renew us. God of grace and wonder,

PEOPLE: Be with us in this place; may our worship today strengthen us to do more than we can imagine, that your world might be healed, that your justice might come, that your hope might be spread. May it be so! Amen.


OFFERING PRAYER

In a world so filled with brokenness and sorrow, it would be easy to lose ourselves in never ending grief, to be choked by our outrage, to be paralyzed by the enormity of suffering, to feel our hearts squeeze tight with hopelessness. Instead, this morning, let us simply breathe together as we hold our hearts open. (Breathing in) let our hearts fill with compassion.  (Breathing out) let us pray for healing in our world and in our lives. (Breathing in) open ourselves to the transforming power of love. (Breathing out) As we pray for peace in our world and in our lives. (Breathing in) the knowledge that through Christ, we may know our strength and be filled with courage. (Breathing out) a desire to pour our love into the world through our gifts that provide hope and healing, showing God’s care near and far. Amen,


OFFERING DEDICATION PRAYER

We offer these gifts, O God of all people, in the hope and trust that you will use them to bring healing and hope where there is need. Where natural disaster has befallen, may these gifts help build new life. Where refugees seek

safety from violence and fear, may these gifts enable caring and welcoming hearts and hands. Where hatred sullies your hope for your human family, may our gifts be a sign and instrument of reconciliation. Thank you, God, for the privilege of this offering. May it indeed do more than we can imagine!  Amen.

HOLY COMMUNION

LEADER: This is the feast of our Lord Jesus Christ!

PEOPLE: As it says in the scripture, “people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the kingdom of God.”

LEADER: We come, not because we must but because we may.

PEOPLE: We come to be nourished by grace that we might go forth to share the grace, the love, the justice of God with the whole world.

LEADER: We come with thanksgiving, grateful for who we are and whose we are.

PEOPLE: For we are God’s own people, called, fed, commissioned, and sent!


WORDS OF INSTITUTION

We recall that on the night that would be our Lord and Savior’s last earthly night, he gathered his disciples around him to break bread together. They surrounded him at that table – both the disciple whom he loved and the disciple who would betray him, along with all those disciples who had been with him through his ministry, witness to his teachings, bearers of his grace, ones who saw how he broke down the barriers that separated us from them, friend from enemy, neighbor from stranger.

And as they were eating, he took the bread and blessed it and broke it and gave it to them, saying “This is my body broken for you, do this in remembrance of me.” Do this and be reminded that life is in too many places broken and hurting, and you are my witnesses and ambassadors to bring the news of help and wholeness from a loving God. In the same manner, following their meal, he took the cup and blessed it and poured it out for each one of them and said “This is the cup of the new covenant, sealed in my blood, given for you and for all for the forgiveness of your sins,” for the transformation of your lives and the lives of all who hunger and thirst. “As often, then, as you eat this bread and drink this cup, do so in memory of me.” Do so in hope. Do so knowing that God will feed you and this whole world in ways that you cannot begin to imagine. For that good news, thanks be to God! The gifts of God for the people of God!

 

PRAYER FOR BREAD AND CUP

Gracious God of every time and place, every people and nation, we come to this Table to receive these symbols of your grace, your hope, your sustenance. We come grateful that you feed us and call on us to help feed one another. Thank you O God. We pray that you would bless these elements to our good that we might join you in doing good for this world. May we go from this Table refreshed and renewed, having drunk deeply from the cup of courage that we might confront hunger and injustice. In the holy name of Christ we pray. Amen.

 

PRAYER FOLLOWING COMMUNION

We eat and we drink in hope that one day, none will know hurt or hunger or hopelessness. We thank you, God, for the opportunity to be fed and for the commission to go forth into the world, seeking to be bearers of your Good News for all people. Amen.

 

Find all One Great Hour of Sharing Resources from www.ucc.org/oghs_resources.