Pentecost 19 – October 11

Standing in the Gap
Service Prayers for the 19th Sunday after Pentecost
October 11, 2020

US elections happen 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 UCC’s Our Faith Our Vote has prepared a series of one page issue education papers and webinars to assist with voter education:

Voter registration and early voting processes offered here at the Civic Action Center:

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

Exodus 32:1-14 with Psalm 106:1-6, 19-23  Philippians 4:1-9 and Matthew 22:1-14


One:             +In the name of the Creator, the Christ and the Holy Spirit.
People:         Out loud, but muted
Many:           Amen.


                    Gather at the mountain of God’s holiness.

People:         Out loud, but muted

                     Today is a day to celebrate God.
                     Gather aware of those you left behind to be here.

People:         Out loud, but muted

                     Today is a day to stand in the gap between God and God’s children.
                     Gather to share God’s presence.

People:         Out loud, but muted

                      Today is a day of transformation for us and for God’s world.                          


Living God,
at times you seem so distant; help us know you are near.
At times we stray; welcome us home.
Standing in your presence, we know there are other people we could be with;
help us bridge the gap between your presence and the people we love.
We pray in the name of Christ who lives and reigns with you
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 


God pours blessings upon us, even as we choose to go our own way.
God is present and seeks to bring healing and wholeness to all. 
I invite you to confess all that would separate you from God or one another.
Let us pray.
When we have fashioned idols of our own desire
or worshiped the temples of our own tradition,

People:         Out loud, but muted

                      Lord, have mercy.

Time for personal reflection and confession.

When have denied your invitation to the banquet of love and justice,
or failed to extend the invitation to others,

People:         Out loud, but muted
                      Christ, have mercy.

Time for personal reflection and confession.

When we have adorned ourselves with worry rather than joy
or failed to be gentle, knowing you are near,

People:         Out loud, but muted

                      Lord, have mercy.

Time for personal reflection and confession.



Praise be to God, our sins are forgiven.
God’s steadfast love endures forever.

People:         Out loud, but muted

                      Praise 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.  In Exodus the people turn to idolatry when they feel that Moses has abandoned them; in Philippians a community is urged to deal gently but firmly with those in conflict; in Matthew the parable of the wedding feast where all are invited has a surprising ending:  communities dealing with Covid-19 isolation may have new insight into the temptations and strategies of  communities under stress.                                    


Before you begin your Pastoral Prayer or Prayers of the People invite the congregation to think of someone for whom they would like to pray this morning.  After a moment of quiet reflection, invite the congregation to pull out their cell phones and call or text that person to inform them that they will be prayed for in worship and ask if there is anything specific they would like prayed for.  This is not a time for a lengthy conversation, simply a “popcorn call.”  It is an opportunity to “stand in the gap.”  You may want to set this up in the sermon.  Members of the congregation could reconnect with the person they prayed for during the week and bring back testimonies to share in subsequent weeks.  Perhaps they can bring the person for whom they prayed as well. You might want to ask people what it felt like to call someone during worship and seek a prayer request.  You could also ask members to find out from those for whom they prayed what it was like to receive a call, simply to ask for a prayer request.

  • 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”   

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


Moses stood in the breach between God and humanity.
It’s our turn to do the same.
What will you give to extend God’s love and care to others?br/> The ushers will receive our morning offering.


People:         Out loud, but muted

Gracious God,
receive the gift of our lives
and this offering of our service
to carry your love from this place to a world in need.
This we pray in the name of Christ,
whom with you and the Holy Spirit,
reign in our hearts and lives,
one God now and forever. Amen.



Go forth, strengthened to do the work of Christ,
          standing in the gap,
          extending the invitation to the eternal banquet,
          rejoicing in God,
          let your gentleness be known to everyone
          and don’t worry about anything.
+ The God who created you,
          the Christ who redeems you
          and the Spirit who empowers you
          is with you today and ever more

+ You may make a sign of the cross.

Written by the Rev. Dr. Bob Gross, OCC, Senior Pastor at Evangelical and Reformed United Church of Christ, Waukesha, WI.  Rev. Gross is a member of the Order of Corpus Christi, (OCC), which is an ecumenical covenantal community that seeks to be a contemporary expression of the Mercersburg Tradition.

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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