from the book
THE WORK OF THE PEOPLE
John H. Will
Call to Worship
We worship the Christ who promises to be with us always.
Christ has ascended to heaven, there to rule with love and mercy.
Yet God, by taking Christ from us, has not abandoned us.
Christ instead intercedes for us and continues to nurture us.
Indeed, Christ creates the bond that enables us to support one another.
So would we pull each other higher and higher into God's presence.
Just like those first disciples, O God, we do not have to worry about our future, for we are assured of your presence with us. We know that by mercy, forgiveness, and love we are connected to you. So can we feel at peace, though the world rage around us. Thanks to you, O God, for this wondrous good news that transforms our whole mode and purpose of living. Moreover, since your love shows no partiality, no one of us can claim to be better or more important than the other. Just as we have together received, so we together reach out to one another and affirm those bonds that make us your church. Indeed, even as we need you, we need one another! So guide us this hour, we pray, by your holy presence that we come to know all the more this connectedness that defines us as family, your family, O God. Amen.
Call to Confession
It is when we doubt God's presence, it is when we begin to feel disconnected, that we begin to complain. We get edgy and irritable with one another. We are hardly of one accord; rather, each tends to go his or her own way. Hurtful criticism is heard, far from God's mandate that we be witnesses of love. Let us confess those ways in which we spurn Christ's presence, ignore the Spirit that he sends to us, and fail to connect with hope, joy, love, and peace.
Prayer of Confession
Even though Jesus has gone before us to prepare a life--filling and life--fulfilling communion with the Holy, we often fail to display such conviction in our living. Others cannot see how we are connected - connected to the risen Christ - or that we value the acceptance, the love, and the guidance that our Lord provides. So therefore do we lack that depth of fellowship that you, O God, make possible; and the church languishes. We do not grow beyond that point of superficial knowledge one of the other. We do not allow those strong bonds of support to develop that your Spirit would prompt among us. Forgive us, O God. Help us to see what you through the living Christ offer each of us, all of us; and help us to trust you more fully with our lives. For we do wish to be connected with you and with one another, that the way of the healing, reconciling, and uniting Christ be clearly seen here in this congregation of your people. Amen.
Words of Assurance
God has gone up. But God has not gone up and away, leaving us to our confusion. Rather, Christ sits at the right hand of God to intercede for us, to be our Advocate. Moreover, through the gift of the Spirit, we know that we are so connected with the Holy - and with one another. Thus can we be confident about our future and about that work which God would have us do as God's people, the church, here on earth.
Praise be to God! God does not leave us alone. We are connected to the Holy - and through that Spirit to all believers.
Psalter Reading (Psalm 47)
Clap your hands, all you peoples; shout to God with songs of joy.
For the Lord, the most high, is awesome, a great king over all the earth.
He subdued peoples under us, and nations under our feet.
He chose our heritage for us, the pride of Jacob whom he loves.
God has gone up with a shout, the Lord with the sound of a trumpet.
Sing praise to God, sing praises, sing praises to our king, sing praises.
For God is king of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm.
God is king over the nations; God sits on his holy throne.
The princes of the people gather as the people of the God of Abraham.
For the shields of the earth belong to God; he is highly exalted.
Even as we are blessed by God's continuing presence, let us find ways to share this blessing with others. This means sharing a portion of ourselves - our time, our talents, our treasure - that others too may feel that they belong, that others may also joyfully see their lives transformed by Christ's reconciling and sanctifying love. So do we now worship God with our tithes and offerings.
Prayer of Dedication
May these gifts of our hearts and hands, O God, fashion strong connections, connections that will link your church to all in the world that is hurting, hoping, hovering on that brink between life and death. Yours, O God, is ever a word of life! May we in all aspects of our living reflect that life in the presence of the risen Christ, with us even as he would be with all peoples everywhere. In his name we pray. Amen.
Christ has not abandoned us. Indeed, Christ is with us. Let us then be of a single mind and heart in our service to him and to one another. Let us hold on tenaciously to this lifeline that we have with the Holy. Amen!