United Church of Christ

Online Easter 7 - May 24

Witnesses to Hope
Service Prayers for the 7th Sunday of Easter
May 24, 2020 

Acts 1:6-14  •  Psalm 68:1-10, 32-35  •  1 Peter 4:12-14; 5:6-11  •  John 17:1-11

Leader will speak the words of the people, as well as the leader’s part

Call to Worship (based on Ps 68, The Inclusive Bible translation)

Leader:        We shout for joy,
           to God who rides upon the clouds!
People: out loud, but muted        
           We sing praises to our awe-inspiring God,
           before whom the earth quakes,
           and whose abundant blessings provide for all in need!

           God is Sovereign over the earth,
           Defender of the defenseless, and Parent to orphans;
           God creates families for those who are alone.
People: out loud, but muted        
           God leads captives to freedom
           and breaks the yoke of oppression.

           God goes forth before the people,
           marching through the wilderness of their lives,
           bringing forth restoration and justice.
People: out loud, but muted        
           Sing praise to God,
           Rider of the ancient skies,
           who dwells in holiness.

           Proclaim the power of God!
People: out loud, but muted        
           O God, how awesome you are in your sanctuary!
           You give power and strength to your people.

           Let us worship God!

Invocation

God Most High, we gather to honor and glorify you.
Receive our invitation to dwell with us.
Enfold us in your presence and
fill us again with holy awe and mystery.
We are yours and we claim you as our God. Amen.

Confession

Blessed One, you created human beings
for your glory and pleasure.
Forgive us  our anxiety in these troubled days,
And  empower in us your vision for a just and loving life in community.
Forgive us for ignoring the prompting of your Spirit,
your purpose for our lives, and for placing our will above yours.
Grant us courage to share in Christ’s sufferings, to be his witnesses, and
to carry your loving compassion to a hurting world. Amen.

Words of Assurance

As the Body of Christ,
we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to be Christ’s witnesses.
Each of us has our own story of what Jesus’ life means for us.
Through our life-stories we can convey hope to the hopeless,
joy to the downtrodden, and peace where there is turmoil.
Therefore, let us “clothe ourselves in humility,”
sharing the Good News of Christ, that we “may all be one.”
In this God is well pleased.

Scripture, Sermon, Prayers of the People

Notes for the worship planners in 2020:

  • Consider a simple message or even an  interactive Bible Study that engages people with the Scriptures for today.  Each in their way may have a word for people living in quarantine, or considering leaving quarantine.  The Acts passage recounts the experience of the Ascension of Jesus, leaving his followers to await the Spirit.  They withdraw into the “upper room” to ponder faithfully what was happening to them, and to await the Spirit which would empower them to be witnesses to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.  Has the time in quarantine—in many “upper rooms”—alone yet together, offered any insight into the congregation’s life?  Has mission come into any new focus?  Is patience wearing thin, or proving an unexpected source of strength?  1 Peter counsels solidarity with others who are suffering, and encourages people to “Cast their anxieties on Christ.”  Is this possible?  What is the experience of those who are praying, and trying to stay faithful and confident in God? 
  • For the Prayers of the People, you might use a bidding prayer (“God, we pray today for those who are sick, including ….”) and encourage folk to type in their prayers using Zoom chat or Facebook Live; allow for more time in silence for those prayers to be typed and read. Consider a collective response at the end of each bidding prayer.
  • A caution regarding prayers of the People online: Folks gathered in-person often recount a lot of detail in their prayers concerning other members or family (“Elderly Name, living alone, experiencing isolation…”  In  a private, in-person gathering, this information may be safe, but online, it can expose vulnerable people to harm, since we can’t control who will join the gathering or access it later online.  Invite people to be prudent in offering prayers:  “For First name only, in need of healing”; “For First name only, comfort in grief”  etc. 

    Encourage people to contact the pastor directly with news of those needed extra pastoral care.

Call to Offering

The author of the First Letter to Peter encourages us
to humble ourselves before God
so that we may be exalted by God on “the appointed day.”
Let us share in today’s offering with humble spirits and generous hearts.

Dedication

Ever-present and loving God,
your Word tells us to cast our cares on you because you care for us.
In faith and trust we present these gifts, and ourselves, to you.
Bless and multiply them to meet the needs,
both hidden and apparent, of your beloved ones.
Inspire each of us to live as Christ’s witnesses,
today and ever more.
By the power of the Holy Spirit, we pray. Amen.

Benediction

Continue to be faithful, remain committed, be witnesses for Christ.
For the God of all grace has called you to eternal glory
through Jesus Christ,
and will fulfill, restore, strengthen, and establish you
through suffering and struggle.
Be empowered by Christ’s love,
          keeping Christ’s name on your lips,
          the Wisdom of the Holy Spirit in your mind,
          God’s love in your hearts,
          God’s beloved ones always in your sight, and
          God’s still speaking voice in your ear.            Amen.

Witnesses to Hope: Service Prayers for the 7th Sunday of Easter was written by the Rev. Renee C. Jackson, Minister for Ministerial Formation, MESA (Ministerial Excellence, Support and Authorization) Team, UCC.

Copyright 2020 Justice and Local Church Ministries, Faith Formation Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved. 

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