Pentecost 13 – August 30 outline

Standing on Holy Ground
Service Prayers for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost
August 30, 2020

Exodus 3:1-15 and Psalm 105:1-6, 23-26, Romans 12:9-21, Matthew 16:21-28

Since Congregations are returning to “in-person” services at different paces, Worship Ways for Summer 2020 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:             We who dwell in the shelter of the Most High
All:               Out loud but muted
                     Seek God here. 

One:             We who come to be inspired and changed
All:               Out loud but muted
                     Seek God’s Spirit here. 

One:             We who know how little we know
All:               Out loud but muted
                     Seek God’s Word here. 

Gathering Prayer

God, you are made known to us in the rustling wind that blows,
in the blazing fire that does not consume,
in the face of the good,
in the deep of the unknown. 
We meet you here.  We accept your greeting.  We welcome your inspiration. 
We await the change you have in store for us. 
Draw us in to you.  Inhabit our spirits.  Focus our attention. 
Bring us to you – you who are already with us. 
Help us to be as you would have us be. 
Through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
here and everywhere, now and always.  Amen.


(The leader should leave moments of silence between each question.)

As we prepare for confession, let us consider questions inspired by the apostle Paul. 

Is our love always genuine? 
Do we resist the evil we see?
Do we consistently seek to serve God?
Are we hospitable to strangers?
Do we offer blessings to our enemies? Do we even know what this means?  Silence
Do we have close relationships with people who are really different from us? Silence
Do we seek revenge on those who have wronged us?

Good friends, we do these things. 
We do them often – maybe not all at once. 
But they are actions that are part of the human condition. 
They are also actions that turn us away from the love God always offers us. 

In this time of confession, God invites us to examine all this, and to repent –
which really just means to turn back. 
Let us confess our sins and, as we do, let us turn back. 

God of mercy and forgiveness, we confess that:

All:                         Out loud but muted
                               our love isn’t always genuine
                               we see evil and wring our hands instead of resisting it
                               we forget to consider more ways to serve you
                               we turn our back on strangers who could benefit from our hospitality
                               we do not pray enough for our enemies
                               we associate with our own kind, fearing the “other”
                               we relish in fantasies of revenge.

For all this, and for all that burdens our heart today, O God,
we seek your forgiveness. 
Have mercy on us and hear our prayers…

Assurance of Pardon

One:             God’s mercy extends beyond the bounds of even our collective imagination.
                    God’s love seeps through any wall we could ever put up. 
                    God’s goodness is holds more power than the sum of all sin. 

                    It is because of that extensive, seeping, powerful and bold love
                    I declare to you in the name of the blessed and holy Trinity: 
                    That God forgives us all our sins.

All:               Out loud but muted
                     Thanks be to God.

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.  The Exodus passage invites us to wonder at the mystery of the Holy One– “I AM WHO I AM”—compelling, empowering, present always.  God is more than we can imagine or understand; more than we can ever fully name.  How do we experience this Holy One in these days?  An equally vivid, but contrasting passage is Matthew’s gospel, where Jesus begins to reveal the cost of following him and standing up for love and justice.  How do we experience the urgency of following Jesus in these days?

  • 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

Invitation to Offering

(Many of us would acknowledge that the church is in the business of recognizing needs and meeting needs with the gifts offered.  In this offering, if your church doesn’t already have this practice, why not collect needs along with gifts?  This can be done by inviting prayer requests, or inviting people to write out their greatest need on a sheet of paper that they include in the offering basket.)

One:   Good folk: if we pay close enough attention, when we look around,

all we can see is need.  But is that how you think God sees it? 
I think that as God looks around, God sees need, yes, but God also sees great abundance.  God sees all the gifts God has already given us, and God sees opportunity. 
As a church, we are invited to look around through the same lens –
seeing opportunity, gifts, possibilities around us
while acknowledging the deep needs that surround us. 

Each person here has something to give.  And, each person has a need. 
I invite you to prayerfully reach within yourself
acknowledging a need you bring today
recognizing that every person around you brings a need, as well. 
As a church, it is our job, our calling, to join together and meet those needs. 
Share them with us, and we will receive them prayerfully. 

And, as the offering is gathered,
I invite you to acknowledge, in your giving,
that you had a gift to share, too. 
And I invite you to share that gift generously,
trusting that the people around you will do the same. 
Share your gifts with us, and we will receive them gratefully. 

Today’s offering of needs and gifts will now be received with gratitude. 


All:               Out loud but muted

In your Creation, O God, we stand on the holiest of ground. 
May these gifts be a blessing to all that you have made. 
May the church, organizations and people that receive them act as your hands. 
May needs be seen and met, and may the giving fit the need. 
Through Christ, who models infinite giving. Amen.


The blessing of Almighty God: 
+ Source, Word and Spirit, One,
be with us now and always.  Amen

Service Prayers written by the Rev. Kaji S. Douša, Senior Minister of Park Avenue Christian Church (DOC), New York City.  Service adapted for online use by the Rev. Susan A. Blain

Copyright 2020 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. 

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