Liturgy for Sunday, September 8, 2013

On Mondays I share liturgical writing focused on the Luke passages for each Sunday in the Revised Common Lectionary. This week’s scripture is Luke 14:25-33, which speaks of the terrible cost of discipleship. The first contributor is Susan Gilbert Zencka of Stevens Point, Wisconsin.  She offers a prayer of confession and assurance of grace. The second writer LL DuBreuil of Union, New Jersey offers liturgical resources that connect with this passage and are also appropriate if this is a Christian Education Sunday. She includes a conversation with scripture which works with single voices and confirmands or congregation.

Gift of Susan Gilbert Zencka

Confession
Great and loving God, again and again, we have proven ourselves faithless in following you, yet knowing what it may cost, you continue to love us.  But for our part, we seem only to consider what we hope to gain in our discipleship – inner peace, meaning, guidance, happiness – and never what following you might cost us.  Forgive us.  Help us to understand that if we want to receive what you would give us, we must let go of all we are holding, that holds our hearts.  Teach us that you will always give us more than we give up following you.

Assurance
Despite our stubborn hearts, despite our weak understanding, despite our unsteady faith, God loves us, claims us as God’s own, and forgives us again and again.
We are forgiven!
Alleluia!   Amen.

Gift of LL Du Breuil

Unison Call to Worship:
Focus! Now is the time to center on God.
Focus! Now is the time to listen to Jesus.
Focus! Now is the time to breathe in the Holy Spirit.

Call to Confession:
The beauty of this world is God’s gift to us, but sometimes the beauty blinds us to the Creator. Let us confess our weaknesses to God – first in unison words aloud and then silently, personally from each heart.

Unison Prayer of Confession:
Creator, you have grown for us a garden of dazzling beauty and countless blessings. You place us in this garden and bid us to follow your will. We accept your generous gifts and your call to be your people.
At times, Holy One, we are so beguiled by the flowers and the fruits that we miss seeing the weeds and the work you set before us. We wander lazily, ignoring the paths that need to be tended.
Forgive us, loving God. Help us to focus, not only on the bounty you prepare for us, but also on the work you set before us. As disciples of Jesus, may we not pridefully plunge blindly into the tasks, but seek your guidance as we tend to your work. May we humbly approach each need you set before us. Help us to focus on being your loving and grateful workers in the garden of your grace.
Words of Assurance:
When we work for God’s good, God strengthens and blesses us.
When we seek God’s grace and love, God smiles.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

Benediction:
Our charge is to be disciples of Jesus –
to go out into this world enriched by his beauty
to go back to our studies and work strengthened by his care
to go into life ahead focused on his love.
Go with the sure knowledge that he will go with us. Amen!

Conversation with Scripture:

This liturgy may be done with Confirmands or the Congregation. It is set up for one voice and then many voices, but can be done with any number of participants. The idea is to engage the scripture by giving voice to questions and wrestling with possible answers, learning together some of what the scripture is saying. This is only a beginning of making disciples.

ONE: We are called to be disciples of Jesus.
ALL: How do we do that?

ONE: Listen to how Jesus described what it takes to be his disciple: Read Luke 14: 25-33

(Two translations may be used, and this conversation reflects a choice of the words used in each. NRSV uses “carrying.” The Message uses “shouldering.” Word choices are included in the format “carrying/shouldering.” Please edit the text to reflect which version will be read.)

ONE: Do you hear what Jesus is telling us to do?
ALL: We hear, but we are not sure we understand what he is telling us to do.

ONE: First: Focus! Don’t let family and friends clutter and obstruct the Way of Jesus.
ALL: So we should focus on carrying/shouldering the teachings of Jesus as we walk along his path?

ONE: Yes. focus. And don’t let distractions sap your will and your strength.
ALL: But what is this about building a tower/house? We have no plans to build a tower/house.

ONE: Building your discipleship of Jesus is a huge process. Find doable ways to live his teachings. Don’t plunge in without having a plan.
ALL: We sure would look foolish if we started something we couldn’t finish.

ONE: Yes. And when opposed by evils that threaten you, don’t pick battles you cannot win.
ALL: We need to focus on what we can overcome in this time and place, and save the big battles for another day discipleship.

ONE: Focus on what you can overcome. Then you will be stronger and can enlist other disciples for the bigger struggles with evil.
ALL: And to focus on Jesus, we cannot be carrying possessions/plans and people.

ONE: Possessing doubt, pride, anger, and avarice will weigh you down.
ALL: Today, as we take our next steps as disciples of Jesus, we will focus on hearing what Jesus is teaching us and following his Way.

Prayer:
Jesus, give us courage and strength and wisdom and love as we, your disciples,
follow you and walk in your Way. Amen.

Luke for Sharing – A Community Resource
A Collaboration of Forty-four Writers on the Scriptures from Luke
June – November, 2013

edited by Maren C. Tirabassi

All of these resources were given freely and they may be used in worship contexts. They may be adapted to fit your context. Please cite the original author when you reprint them or share them orally. For any other use please contact me so that I can put you directly in touch with that particular author.

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