(Soft background music: 2164, "Sanctuary," The Faith We Sing) As we gather before you, Wonderful and Magnificent God, reveal yourself to us as you did to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Speak to us in ways that illumine our darkness and enliven our steps. Come alive in us, call us by name, and give us the commandments of new life that will order our steps in this time of worship and as we leave this place. Move our hearts closer to yours and center our thoughts on worshiping you and you alone. Wherever you find us, whether on bended knee, seated, or standing, transform us into your image of perfect love. Lord, prepare us to be pure and holy; and with thanksgiving, Holy One, we'll live as spirit-filled, healed, and transformed sanctuaries just for you.
[Congregational chant: "Sanctuary," 2164, The Faith We Sing. Sing twice.]
Call to Worship
One Voice: We are humbled by your presence and seek your face, God. We bow in spirit and in truth to worship, thank, and praise you; for you are here. Where God is, there is freedom, joy, peace, hope, and a reason to rejoice. So, come, let us worship!
Many Voices: God is here; God is healing.
One Voice: God is speaking; God is comforting.
Many Voices: God is redeeming; God is forgiving.
One Voice: God is saving. God is empowering us.
Many Voices: Hallelujah, God is here.
Hymn of Praise: 2272, "Holy Ground," The Faith We Sing
Psalm 19: A David Psalm (The Message)**
God's glory is on tour in the skies,
God-craft on exhibit across the horizon.
Madame Day holds classes every morning,
Professor Night lectures each evening.
Their words aren't heard,
their voices aren't recorded,
But their silence fills the earth:
unspoken truth is spoken everywhere.
God makes a huge dome
for the sun ?? a superdome!
The morning sun's a new husband
leaping from his honeymoon bed,
The daybreaking sun an athlete
racing to the tape.
That's how God's Word vaults across the skies
from sunrise to sunset,
Melting ice, scorching deserts,
warming hearts to faith.
The revelation of GOD is whole
and pulls our lives together.
The signposts of GOD are clear
and point out the right road.
The life-maps of GOD are right,
showing the way to joy.
The directions of GOD are plain
and easy on the eyes.
GOD's reputation is twenty-four-carat gold,
with a lifetime guarantee.
The decisions of GOD are accurate
down to the nth degree.
God's Word is better than a diamond,
better than a diamond set between emeralds.
You'll like it better than strawberries in spring,
better than red, ripe strawberries.
There's more: God's Word warns us of danger
and directs us to hidden treasure.
Otherwise how will we find our way?
Or know when we play the fool?
Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh!
Keep me from stupid sins,
from thinking I can take over your work;
Then I can start this day sun-washed,
scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.
These are the words in my mouth;
these are what I chew on and pray.
Accept them when I place them
on the morning altar,
O God, my Altar-Rock,
Prayer of Confession
God, who so graciously loves us, we confess that we often live as those who do not believe in your promises. We often live as those who are not convinced of the reality of the gospel. Hence, we leave the world unconvinced.
Forgive us and remind us of who you are.
Forgive us, Lord for esteeming our thoughts above your thoughts; our ways above your ways; our wisdom above your Word; our desires above your desires for us;
The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple (Psalm 19:7, NRSV). Revive us once again and teach us wisdom.
Forgive us for making idols out of created things and people. And forgive us, Lord, for the times that we placed our careers and ambitions before our families and the ones we so dearly love.
Forgive us, Lord. Restore and renew our commitment to build right relationships with your precious people.
Pardon us for not living and proclaiming the gospel in ways that reveal your love within us and illumine your desire to seek and to save the lost.
Strengthen us to faithfully preach Christ ?? with and without words ?? and to live as those empowered by your Spirit and as those thankful for your grace.
Heal us from the fear and doubt that hinder our ability to fully trust in your Word and in your promises.
God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). Therefore, we trust in your promises beyond our emotions and feelings. We trust in your Word above our own. We lean not to our own understanding, but in all our ways we acknowledge you ?? reigning in our lives.
Thank you for hearing our prayer, for bending your ear to our hearts, and for supernaturally recreating us once again. We trust in you, Great Wonder, and we place our confidence in no other God before you. Thank you for saving us, believing in us, loving us beyond our faults to see our needs. Amen.
About the Author: Stacey Cole Wilson serves as the Associate Pastor of Linthicum Heights UMC in Linthicum Heights, Maryland, and is a member of the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.