Go, Despising None: Tuesday, May 17

General Conference Worship
Tuesday, May 17, 8:00 AM
Go, Despising None

Gathering

GREETINGS AND INTRODUCTION OF ECUMENICAL GUESTS
Bishop Mary Ann Swenson

PRELUDE     Mark Miller, organist

“Tshotsholosa (Go Forward on These Mountains)” (traditional South African; setting by Jeffrey Ames), Combined Seminary Choirs

CALL TO WORSHIP

Come, Thou Fount (tune: NETTLETON)

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount I’m fixed upon it
mount of God’s redeeming love.

LITANY

The song of praise is not ministry to the poor,
but ministry with all God’s people.
Tune our hearts to sing God’s praise!
The song of praise is not self-serving or self-congratulatory
but a song of partnership and solidarity with.
Tune our hearts to sing God’s praise!
The song of praise does not divide into “us” and “them”;
those who have and those who do not.
Tune our hearts to sing God’s praise!
Let us worship the God whose song reverses the order,
where the least are valued most,
Tune our hearts to sing God’s praise!
where the little ones reflect the face of God,
where the song liberates all,
Tune our hearts to sing God’s praise!
where all people are sister and brother—
The song of praise is sung when together we are transformed by grace.
We will sing God’s praise!

SONG

Join the Song of Praise and Protest (tune: NETTLETON)

PRAYER

Leader: Once again I invite you to take the prayer beads that were created for you. For many of us, these prayers have been crucially important over this past week. Hold the beads, feel their now-familiar shapes, acknowledge your gratitude for the prayers they represent. (If you don’t have prayer beads with you, simply sit with your hands cupped and ready to both receive blessing and offer thanksgiving.)

As you pray, with or without beads, listen for this phrase, “But you, O God, know them all,” which will be a cue to look to the screens for your spoken response in the prayer. Let us pray together.

Dear God, gathered in this space, we are aware of the many prayers that are lifted up for us, for our work, for our church. More numerous than all the beads in the room…there are too many for us to count. But you, O God, know them all.

God, you count each prayer.

Gathered in this space, we come today from all the corners of Methodism, all the corners of Christianity. We lift our voices in many languages, many songs…there are too many for us to count. But you, O God, know them all.

God, you sing each song of praise with us.

Gathered in this space, we rejoice in the opportunity to worship and work as one flock, together. But there are many others who are not with us, who have become separated from the flock. There are so many who are too poor to travel, too consumed with finding food to worry about finding Discipline, too abused, too neglected, too oppressed to be here with us…there are too many for us to count. But you, O God, know them all.

God, you love each one of your children.

We cannot count as you count, God, but we can pray. We can pray for the entire church. We can love each person in our Christian family, even those–especially those–who are not here with us today. And we can sing our praise to you with all the voices of your church, and with all the angels in heaven. Amen.

ANTHEM

“Holy God, We Praise Your Name” (arr. John Ferguson), Combined Seminary Choirs

Proclaiming

SCRIPTURE    Matthew 18:10-14

“Take care that you do not despise one of these little ones; for, I tell you, in heaven their angels continually see the face of my Father in heaven. What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.”

SERMON  “Go in the Name of Jesus of Palestine Rather Than Jesus of Constantine,” Bishop Ivan M. Abrahams

RESPONSE

The Lord Has Made Me with Dignity (tune: DIGNITY)

A TIME OF CONFESSION

Leader: As we pray together, we will use our bodies — our beautiful bodies, made in the image of God — to pray incarnationally. You may remain seated, with eyes open, and simply follow the motions of our prayer leaders as they model each gesture.

God, you have made us in your image. Each one of us is a beautiful reflection of the Light of the World, Jesus Christ.
[hands spread wide on either side of the face, with fingers splayed and “shimmering” (jazz hands)]

And yet we have not embraced your image in ourselves.
[hands stop shimmering, turn palm in, close to the face]

We regularly block our vision of your image in those around us.
[hands turn to palm out, back out away from face; hands are still close to each other, fingers still splayed]

We deny your image in others, and thus deny your love.
[hands move up (toward heaven), head tilts to look up (but vision is blocked by hands)]

Forgive us, O God.
[hands and head slowly move down; hands are now crossed over the chest with head slightly bowed]

Challenge us to embrace all creation with the same love
that you so passionately and patiently offer to us,
over and over and over and over again.
[head comes back up, arms and hands extend outward in “open” position; hands bounce gently for emphasis on each repetition of “over”]

Gather us once more into your flock, faithful Shepherd.
[arms move slowly together into the body in an embrace]

We need to hear again your message of love and grace.
[arms fall open, palms up, parallel to floor, in a “receiving” position, with head tipped up slightly]

We push aside certain sheep we deem to be unworthy,
[arms move with energy and force to the front, together, arms straight out, fingers closed in a sign of blocking]

We tear apart your flock.
[with arms still out, cross the hands, and then forcefully close the fists while moving the hands apart in a tearing motion]

Show us again the beauty of your image in each one of us.
[“shimmering” gesture near face, as at the beginning]

And when we get a little too full of our own worth, with our good intentions of helping the less fortunate, those we think are somehow less worthy,
[looking down, one arm is now extended downward with hand out (as if to help someone up off the floor) while the other arm is also moving down with flat palm parallel to the floor (as if pushing down on someone’s head)]

Remind us that we do our best work together, and that you call us to be one flock together.
[both hands now extend to take the hand of the person nearby] 

When we are so busy “helping” people…
[snatch away both hands from the hand-holding; both hands now move forward from the chest, cupped together, palm up, extended outward over and over as if trying to get someone to take something]

that we cannot see your image reflected in the faces around us,
[one hand continues the motion above while the second hand moves up to cover the eyes]

call us back to be your flock together,
[the hand that was covering the face moves to hold the hand of the next person (head turns to look from side to side)]

call us back to be your disciples together,
[the other hand moves to hold the hand of the person on the other side (head turns to look from side to side)]

call us back to live together in a world transformed by your love.
[both arms, still holding hands with persons on either side, slowly raise upward]

Amen!
[smile and small shake of the hands while connected, then drop hands]

SONG

I Need You to Survive

PRAYER

At the 2000 General Conference, we came together in an Act of Repentance for the racism that split the Methodist Church 200 years ago, and which continues to do harm even today. This morning we join our hearts in the prayer that was lifted up at that service:

O God, the author of all mercy,
who has reconciled the world
through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,
and who has sent the Holy Spirit among us
to affect the forgiveness of sins,
grant us pardon and peace
and the courage to right both our personal sins
and the wrongs of our church.
May Almighty God have mercy on us,
forgive us all our sins, strengthen us in all goodness,
and by the power of the Holy Spirit
keep us in eternal life. Amen.
(from the Liturgy of Repentance, May 4, 2000, the General Conference of The United Methodist Church)

PASSING OF THE PEACE

Thanksgiving

CELEBRATION OF THE 200TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE AFRICAN METHODIST EPISCOPAL CHURCH
The Office of Christian Unity and Interreligious Relationships

Hear these words and rejoice: The Shepherd will not rest until all the sheep are found. The flock will be united in God’s love, and there will be great rejoicing!

singing: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, all praise to Jesus Christ!

Hear these words and rejoice: It is God’s will that not a single one of these little sheep will be lost. Not a single creature will be despised. Not a single child will ever be outside the fold of God’s love.

singing: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, all praise to Jesus Christ!

Hear these words and rejoice: All praise to our redeeming Lord, who joins us by his grace, and bids us, each to each restored, together seek his face.

SONG

All Praise to our Redeeming Lord

All praise to our redeeming Lord,
Who joins us by His grace
And bids us, each to each restored,
Together seek His face.

He bids us build each other up;
And gathered into one,
To our high calling’s glorious hope,
We hand in hand go on.

The gift which he on one bestows,
we all delight to prove,
the grace through every vessel flows
in purest streams of love.

And if our fellowship below
In Jesus be so sweet,
What height of rapture shall we know
When round his throne we meet!

THANKSGIVING FOR OUR CHRISTIAN UNITY

Celebrating New Ecumenical Connections
Council of Bishops’ Ecumenical Awards

Sending

BENEDICTION    Bishop Abrahams

BENEDICTION RESPONSE

Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, all praise to Jesus Christ!

 

****************

Acknowledgements:

We are grateful for the leadership of these guest musicians:

Combined Seminary Choirs (Boston University Seminary Singers, Boston, Massachusetts; Perkins School of Theology Seminary Singers, Dallas, Texas; Candler Singers, Atlanta, Georgia)

We are thrilled to welcome Mark A. Miller to the organ console this morning. Mark served as the Music Director for the 2008 General Conference, and composed the theme music for worship at the 2012 GC.

Unless otherwise noted, all liturgical pieces are written by Laura Jaquith Bartlett, © 2016 The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music & Worship ARts.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing; words: Robert Robinson; tune: NETTLETON, Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second; found at #400 United Methodist Hymnal. Public Domain.

Join the Song of Praise and Protest; words: Michael Forster; tune: NETTLETON, Wyeth’s Repository of Sacred Music, Part Second; found at #94 Sing of the World Made New. Words © 1998 Kevin Mayhew Ltd.

The Lord Has Made Me With Dignity; words and music: Jack Bruce; © 1990 Jack Bruce, found in For the Living of These Days: Resources for Worship (ed. C. Michael Hawn).

I Need You to Survive; words and music by David Frazier; © God’s Music, Inc.

All Praise to Our Redeeming Lord; words: Charles Wesley; tune: Swee Hong Lim; found at #5 Put Your Arms Around the World. Music © 2000 Swee Hong Lim, admin. by General Board of Global Ministries, GBGMusik.

Image: Todd Pick, © 2016.

 

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