This week could be a combination of remembrance and evangelism. This is about God calling us to follow. For many, if not most in the worshiping community, that is something that happened a while ago. Today would be a good day to remember that call. How did you first hear the call of God on your life? Do you remember how you felt when you realized that it was God? Recapturing some of that experience can act as a revival to our discipleship journey. It could also be a way of assessing how we are doing in following that call. Have we gotten off track? Have we lost the passion that we had for following God’s will? What do we need to redirect or pick up again to feel that we are on the path to becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ?
At the same time, it might be a chance to issue the call again. There might be some who have never heard God’s call and aren’t quite sure what it means. Worship could be an opportunity to invite the congregation to listen for that voice, to come forward to offer themselves again.
In most congregations, however, there aren’t that many who haven’t already made some sort of response to God, so to focus solely on the first-time call would be to exclude the majority. Perhaps, this would be a time to have the worshipers call to mind those they know who haven’t heard God or responded to Christ in any way. Pray for them, resolve to befriend them, to encourage them – not harass them into making a commitment, but walking alongside them and being ready to help them discern the voice of God in their lives.
“Remember” and “invite” might be the words of the day.
If God could redeem Saul of Tarsus, a man dedicated to destroying those who followed Jesus, turning him into the great apostle that he was, then there is hope for our lost loved ones. People, we must return to the streets to reclaim both the helpless and the hopeless, the homeless and the destitute, gang members and prostitutes. We cannot afford to stop until everyone on the face of the earth recognizes just how loving and powerful God is!
Darlene A. Moore, The Africana Worship Book, For Year C, Valerie Bridgeman Davis, PhD and Safiyah Fosua, eds., (Discipleship Resources, 2008), 37.
O my God, teach my heart where and how to seek you, and where and how to find you. Though I have never seen you, you are my God and Master of my life. You have made me and remade me, and you have bestowed on me all the good things I possess, but you are still the unknown, for I have not yet reached that for which I was fully made. Teach me to seek you, for I cannot seek unless you teach me or find you unless you reveal yourself to me. Let me seek you in my desiring, let me desire you in my seeking. Let me find you in my loving, and let me love you in my finding.
A prayer from St. Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109 CE, in Contemplative Invocations: Liturgies for Public Worship and Private Prayer, Lynn C. Bauman, ed, (Praxis, 2009), 85.
Prayer of Confession (Acts 9, Psalm 30)
God of Forgiveness,
hear now the confession of our sins.
Our greed and our lust for power
create enemies where we should find friends.
We fail to offer comfort and aid
to those who are afraid and beat down
by the burdens of life.
We are as blind and willful as Saul
to the pain and the destruction
of our wrongdoings
and our well-meaning crusades.
Forgive us, merciful One.
Give us sight to see with your eyes,
that we may bring hope peace to our world.
Words of Assurance (Acts 9, Psalm 30)
God’s anger lasts but a moment,
but God’s favor lasts a lifetime.
The Lord forgives our shortcomings
and sends deliverance through Christ,
just as the Lord forgave Saul
and used him to spread the gospel.
Thanks be to God!
Sandra Miller, Ministry Matters, https://www.ministrymatters.com/all/entry/3723/worship-elements-may-5-2019.
PRAYER OF THE DAY
God who calls us into service,
Transform us as you transformed Paul. Shape us into children who rejoice in knowing and proclaiming you to the world. Amen.
Mitzi Smith, WorkingPreacher.com, https://www.workingpreacher.org/commentaries/narrative-lectionary/called-into-christs-service/commentary-on-acts-91-19.
Charge and Benediction
Let us go forth into the world as people of the resurrection, people who can look evil in the eye and see beyond it to the sure and certain day when God shall turn all our mourning into dancing. Let us go forth in the power of the Holy Spirit and practice resurrection. Let God’s people say, “AMEN!”
Karen Pidcock-Lester, in The Abingdon Women’s Preaching Annual, Series 2, Year A, compiled and edited by Lenora Tubbs Tisdale, (Abingdon, 2000), 114.