Pentecost 6 – July 12

Growing God’s Word
Service Prayers for the Sixth Sunday after Pentecost
July 12, 2020

Isaiah 55:10-13                    Psalm 65: 9-13                    Romans 8: 1-11                   Matthew 13: 1-9, 18-23


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

The purpose of this service is to celebrate God’s care for creation and God’s gift to us of the word. The rituals affirm God’s word within and call for continuing nurture of that word within.

If you are gathering in person, organize a few tables with gear for planting, watching out for appropriate social distancing! Have  paper cups potting soil, water and fast-growing seeds. Radishes or lettuce will sprout in 5-7 days; dried beans from the grocery store in 7-9 days. Also have gloves,  hand sanitizers and paper towels, or another way for people to clean their hands.   Have a person at each station who can give specific directions or coaching.

Prepare in advance small cards or pieces of paper each with a bible verse on it.  They can have a planting, or garden, or other creation theme.  Have enough that everyone will be able to take a card home with them. there will be enough verses for every person in attendance, whether or not people offer verses of their own.

If you are gathering virtually, invite people in advance to prepare to plant with flower pots, soil, water and seeds.  If they have access to a yard or garden, encourage them to worship outside!  Create some screens with bible verses about creation, gardens or planting, so that folks at home can have something to meditate on this week.

Call to Worship

Today we worship with our hands as well as our hearts and voices.
With our bodies, we celebrate God’s word given to us,
in literal words, and God’s Word to us made flesh in Christ Jesus,
and known to us in our experience of life in creation.
Come to one of the tables to enjoy the feeling of the earth
and to connect with God’s creation.
Our table is set with soil, seeds, water, and containers to plant the seeds.
I invite you to come to the table to plant a seed.

Demonstrate the planting, or have someone else ready to do the demonstration. The containers with planted seeds may be left on the tables or may be brought to the altar or some other visible place.

                     Join me in the spoken call to worship:

                     God visits the earth and waters it
People:         Out loud, but muted
                      Greatly enriching the earth.

                     God waters the earth, softening it with showers,
People:         Out loud, but muted
                      And blessing the earth.

                     Along with the hills, the meadows, and the valleys,
People:         Out loud, but muted
                      Let us shout and sing together for joy! (Based on Psalm 65:9-13)


Loving God, you created life in us and all around us.
Open us to receive your gifts of your world and your word
that we may be not just hearers of the word, but doers also. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Gracious God,
your gifts to us: our lives, this world, and your word to us.
When we receive your word,
may we nurture it so that it grows roots within us.
May we not be distracted by the lure of wealth or the cares of the world.
Let us be good soil, receiving your word, understanding it, and acting upon it.


Assurance of Pardon (based on Romans 8:1-11)

We claim what the apostle Paul teaches:
the Spirit of God dwells in you.
You are forgiven and free.
There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

Scripture, Sermon, Prayers of the People

Notes for the worship planners in 2020:

  • Take the gospel and design a choral reading, involving people both in church and at home.  Rehearse in advance!
  • Consider a simple message or even an  interactive Bible Study that engages people with the Scriptures for today.  Make some connections between the planting activity and the Word of God taking root in the (hopefully) good soil of people’s lives.  What kind of nourishment and care do they need for the Word to take root in them?

  • 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 for the Offering

When we give of our time, talent, or treasure to the church,
we offer back to God a portion of what we have been given.
God has given us God’s word, in the Bible, among other ways.
Today, we first offer back to God and to each other biblical gifts.
What are your favorite Bible verses?

(Invite the congregation to call aloud their favorite verses as well as to put their cards into the offering plate.)

Prayer of Dedication

Gracious God, filled by your generosity to us,
may we be generous to others.
Accept from us these gifts of word and money
as we commit our lives to you. Amen.

Benediction/Commissioning    (Based on Isaiah 55: 12-13)

As you tend the seed that you take home,  (or have planted at home)
tend the word in yourself.
While you watch for the seed to sprout,
meditate on a verse from the Bible.
Observe what happens when you memorize the verse.

Go out in joy and be led back in peace
The mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Go from here in the joy of God,
secure in God’s presence around you and within you.

As the congregation leaves, hand each person one of the planted seeds along with one of the cards with a Bible verse.

Written by the Rev. Ruth Garwood, ordained Minister in the United Church of Christ. Rev. Garwood is a certified leader of InterPlay, a system of forms in movement, story-telling and vocalizing that brings body and soul together, and brings communities together.  She teaches suicide first aid via Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training.  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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