Easter 5 – May 2

Abiding in Love
Service Prayers for the Fifth Sunday of Easter
May 2, 2021

Acts 8:26-40 Psalm 22:25-31 1 John 4:7-21 John 15:1-8

Since Congregations are returning to “in-person” services at different paces, Worship Ways for will be edited for online use. “Rubrics” for virtual services will be noted in red; take and adapt as you need!

Leader should speak the lines of the people, along with the Leader’s lines.
One: As we gather, may we open our hearts to receive newness of life.
All: Out loud but muted
We come with hope for renewal.
One: In our time of worship, may we be inspired by God’s wisdom.
All: Out loud but muted
We come seeking to learn and to draw closer to God.
One: Come, let us worship, as the beloved children of God.

One: Cultivating God,
we come as your children to grow and learn,
because you are our divine vine grower.
God, we desire for you to abide within us,
and for your grace to be revealed anew daily.
As your branches, we ask you to nourish us
for continued growth.
May you transform our hearts and minds
as we hear your Word, sing your praises,
and engage in holy dialogue through prayer.
All: Out loud but muted
May you help us to bear good fruit
through the vine of Jesus Christ.
In Whose name we pray, Amen.

One: O God, giver of life,
We confess the times when we fail to
love our neighbors as we love ourselves.
God, forgive us when we ignore or
we fail to see our neighbors in need.
Abiding God, also forgive us when we reject love
from others, and shut down completely.
As we confess the times when we did not
tend to our own needs, and denied ourselves
of your forgiveness and grace.
In our failures, we have refused
your invitation to grow closer to you.
All: Out loud but muted
In our confession, O God, we pray your abiding love
be shown through the ways we love more fully. Amen.

O God, hear your beloved community
as we repent and pray for your forgiveness.
Give to us your grace and restore to us
your love that is forgiven and fearless.
God, we desire for your loving Spirit
to renew and strengthen us daily. Amen.

Notes for the worship planners in 2021:
Consider a simple message or even an interactive Bible Study that engages people with the Easter Scriptures for today.
Narrative Context:
Jesus teaches about God’s cultivating garden of love that grows within, and among us all. As chapter 15:1-4, speaks to God’s abiding love that calls upon us to connect to the vine Jesus Christ, as the vine of Jesus Christ connects to us. And in chapter 15:5-6, we are invited to be useful branches, and to daily examine our connectedness to Jesus Christ. Then, in chapter 15:7-8, God challenges the beloved, to be loved, and be love, by trusting in Christ’s love. And by glorifying God, we will become transformed.
Conflicts at Play:
The conflicts at play arise as Jesus illustrates the responsibility of each disciple to be deeply connected to God’s abiding love. As Jesus strips away the notion that they are alone. Jesus strips away the notion of an inactive faith. In that, Jesus invites the disciples to trust in the divine purpose and plan for their lives, so that the world might know of God’s eternal and abiding love.

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.
o 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.

Today we are invited to become deeply attached, close,
and loyal as branches who are connected with Jesus Christ, our vine.
In other words, we are to bear fruit with a spirit of love by helping each other, reaching out to each other, and encouraging each other in our daily faith pilgrimage. As it is written in the wisdom book of Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, that
“Two are better than one, because if they fall, one will lift up the other;
but for the one who is alone and falls, there is not another to lift that person up.”
So, let our offering lift up one another in God’s love
that abides in times of sadness, loss and grief.
Let our offering lift up one another
in God’s love that abides in times of hopelessness, brokenness and failure.
Let our offering be a thanksgiving of God’s love that abides within us
times of hopefulness, forgiveness, unity, and peace.
And let us accept God’s invitation to be ever-present in times of deep despair,
and in times of great joy.
Now, let us offer ourselves in gratitude and with generosity,
as fruits representing the abiding goodness of God.

Generous God,
We offer you the fruits of our time, talents and resources
in celebration of all that we have been given.
Loving God, we give you thanks for all that we have
and ask a special blessing on the fruits we have given back
to help meet the needs of your beloved community.
May the gifts nourish and strengthen the community to
grow spiritually, emotionally, and physically.
In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Let us go forth thankful that we have come.
Let us go forth renewed in God’s abiding love.
And let us go forth rejoicing in the Good News,
of Jesus Christ, whose love will never let us go. Amen.

Abiding in Love: Service Prayers for the Fifth Sunday of Easter Year B, was written by the Rev .Dr. Sheila Harvey Guillaume, pastor of Union Congregational United Church of Christ in West Palm Beach.

Copyright 2021 Justice and Local Church Ministries, Faith INFO 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.