Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time C, August 21, 2016

Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm 71:1-6
Hebrews 12:18-29
Luke 13:10-17

[I think everyone should have communion this Sunday because I was totally feeling the Invitation to the Table today.  Ok, so I’m a fan of weekly communion anyhow, but today I could *see* that earthy, primitive, essential table and want to commune there badly.  But whatever worship you do, may it be blessed]

CALL TO WORSHIP
One: We come today praising and taking refuge in God.
All: Our rock and our redeemer is beyond understanding.
One: We come today to be freed from what binds us, and to set on our divinely appointed paths.
All: Let us live in your world, O God. Let us do the work that you have for us.
One: Today on this sabbath may we care for others and free the restrained.
All: Today let us worship God and uplift all creation.

OPENING PRAYER
Holy one, you have expectations of us that give us great freedom, but freedom to serve.  Help us better understand this balance today.  You are our refuge, but we are not to hide and serve our own sense of security.  Teach us to be bold in you, to be free in you, to live ever more in you.  Amen.

CALL TO CONFESSION
We come before our Lord who can not be touched – who is like blazing fire and a tempest, yet our Lord wants us to come to this untouchable rock and refuge.  With thanks and awe let us come before this unquenchable fire to be purified of our sins.  Let us together confess.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Gracious God, we muddle about so effectively.  We declare that we are the wrong age, or not strong enough, or that we are confined by some made-up restriction, and we do not do your will.  We even go against you.  We do not free those in bondage.  We do not share your love with the lonely and those wandering.  We do not have ears to hear, hearts to love or hands to do your will.  Help us.  Forgive us.  Rescue us from ourselves, please, such that we may live fully in you.  Amen.

ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Dear ones, our Lord of the purging fire always loves you.  Our Lord, of expectations beyond what we think we can do, is always reaching out to you wanting your company and help.  Our rock and our refuge is with you, ever freeing you from what binds you.  I declare to you today, that in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, your sins are forgiven.  Live into that freedom and go and sin no more.  Amen.

CALL FOR THE OFFERING
Even on this sabbath day there are people to take care of, work to do, justice to further and righteousness to enact.  Let us with productive thanksgiving from our lives and our hands bring forth our tithes and offerings.

PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Loving God, help us understand what you would have us do.  Touch our mouths to give us blessed words, make holy our hands to do your work, and bless these gifts from our pockets and ourselves to enact your will today and beyond.  Amen.

INVITATION TO THE TABLE
Today our table deserves to be lit by fire – not mere candles but a hot, vibrant flame that cooks bread, warms chills, chases away fears, and brings comfort to those lost in darkness.  This simple table of bread and cup is anything but simple, and unites us with brothers and sisters of all time and place and practice.  At this table we hear the reverberations of Jeramiah’s sometimes terrifying words.  We hear the testimony of the woman freed from bondage and all those liberated by our scriptures and our Christ.  This is the table of those who take refuge from the toils of life.  Come before the consuming fire.  Come and eat of the bread of life.  Come and drink of the cup of the new covenant.  Come and satisfy the deepest hunger inside you.  Come.

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