Pentecost 17 – September 2

In the Name of Jesus…
Service Prayers for the 17th Sunday after Pentecost
Sep 27, 2020

Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 78:1-4, 12-16, Philippians 2:1-13, Matthew 21:23-32

The US elections take place on November 3, 2020  While the churches can take no partisan stands, we can pray and work for a just common life as a natural extension of our faith.  The scripture readings today offer a number of images, metaphors and instruction for a good community life.  Conversations in and out of church may become very contentious these days; check out the UCC Our Faith Our Vote suggestions for Being a Civil Voice in Uncivil Times:

Since Congregations are returning to “in-person” services at different paces, Worship Ways for 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:             Watch and listen for the wonders of our God.
People:         Out loud, but muted
                     Our God is among us.

One:             Watch and listen for the goodness of our God.
People:         Out loud, but muted
                     Our God moves among us. 

One:             Watch and listen, for God is here.
People:         Out loud, but muted
                     Our God dwells among us. 

Gathering Prayer

God, the encourager, God, the compassionate,
God, the merciful, holy, blessed:
Disturb us.  Rouse us from our sleep. 
Lift us into consciousness of your presence. 
Change us, move us, mold us for the better;
So that, at the sound of your voice
At the call of our name
We will never be the same.
May this worship do this and so much more, in the name of Jesus.  Amen.


Called to follow Christ, we are called to a life of humility. 

But what does that even mean? 

Do we seek to exalt ourselves – to be lifted above others?
Does our sense of success depend on someone else’s failure?
Does our love of God entirely guide our relationships?
Do we twist service into convenience and leisure,
ignoring the idea that to serve is to be a servant?


Let us pray:
People:         Out loud, but muted
Disturb the habits of our sin, O God. 
Rouse us from the sleep that cradles sin’s embrace. 
In the name of Jesus, we pray –
Show us your ways
Highlight what we can change
People:         Out loud, but muted
And change what we cannot.


Assurance of Pardon 

One:             Good friends:
                    God is at work in you! 
                    God is alive in us!
                    God lives – but sin is dead. 
                    And our sins are forgiven,
                    through Christ, our Savior. 

People:         Out loud, but muted
                     Alleluia!  Amen.

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 Epistle and the Gospel both upend conventional wisdom about ambition and personal power.  The model of Jesus in Philippians is one of casting off divine power and entering deeply into human solidarity—even to death on a cross.  In Matthew, Jesus presents himself as one who does not seek after the powerful, but immerses himself where he is needed, among the sinners and the poor of the day. Where do our loyalties lay in these fraught 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

God promises to hear the prayers asked in the name of Jesus. 
And God’s people have asked. 
God’s people have asked for support and resources, for direct aid, for money and food.  They have asked in the name of Jesus. 
And in the name of Jesus, we respond.  
Through this offering, we pool together the resources of every person gathered here,
in the name of Jesus, who gives and saves and shows us the way. 
Let us give and save and show others Christ’s way.  Amen. 


People:         Out loud, but muted

These gifts represent the best of ourselves, O God –
we attest, with joy, that we can do no better. 
Receive them with our prayers. 
Take and use them for your goodness. In the name of Jesus we pray.  Amen.


The sweet Spirit of God has blessed us!  Let us give thanks. 
People:Out loud, but muted
Thank you!
The great Spirit of God will guide us!  Let us give thanks. 
People:Out loud, but muted
Thank you!
The humble Spirit of God is with us.  Let us give thanks. 
People:Out loud, but muted
Thank you!
And may the blessed, eternal Trinity +
grant you the peace the world cannot give, now and forever. 
People:Out loud, but muted

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

Copyright 2020 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. 

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