Bulletin for September 27, 2020, Seventeenth Sunday after Pentecost

blue sky over a pumpkin patch

Fall is here!

Bethesda United Church of Christ Worship Service

“We welcome all without exception as we worship God together, journey in the spirit, and share our gifts with each other, our neighbors and the world.”


We invite you to gather for quiet and centering prayer and reflection every Sunday at 10:15 am. May this time and space be a blessing for your journey.

For Your Reflection: “I’m convinced of this: Good done anywhere is good done everywhere. For a change, start by speaking to people rather than walking by them like they’re stones that don’t matter. As long as you’re breathing, it’s never too late to do some good.” — Maya Angelou

Question:  Do you ever procrastinate?  Why or why not?  Do you ever feel “late to the game” of life?  What helped you to “show up” to a particular task/event even when you could have just as easily opted out?


Musical Selection

Call to Worship

Led by Gary Lawson 

The Spirit is a force of love, wild and creative:

She tears down the walls of our hearts, and builds up courage from within.

The Spirit is a practice of freedom:

She is daring and audacious. She nurtures gentle strength.

That our hope may thrive and justice be our aim,

come, Spirit of Christ, and rise among us.

Call to prayerful reflection

Moment of Silent Reflection

Prayer of Invocation (Responsive)

Holy One, our source of life and love, build up our faith. May we dare to believe things can be done differently. May we be willing to take necessary risks for others. May we persevere through our mistakes and missteps. With joy as our companion and wisdom as our guide, we place our trust in you. Amen.  

Passing the peace

Leader: The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!

People:  And also with you.

Opening hymn

Come, O Fount of Every Blessing #459

Music for Come, O Fount of Every Blessing

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

The Living Word

The Contemporary Reading

 “Romans 12:9-18,” adapted and written by Maren C. Tirabassi

Let love be genuine … more than just a Face Book page.

Don’t be poisoned by what is evil,
for good is always a warmer hand to hold.

Love one another even when it’s an effort
or the other person is irritable,
or you are just so tired.

Celebrate the honors of other people,
rather than blogging your own.

Find your energy, open your spirit, serve God.

Notice what gives you hope, then share it.
Be patient with your own suffering
and patient when others need to complain.

Keep praying. Keep praying. Keep praying.
Keep giving.

Open your doors to strangers
and bless friends who lash out at you.

Rejoice with those who rejoice,
even when you do not feel like it.
Weep with those who weep
even when you just wanted to be happy today.

Live in harmony with one another –
it will take a lot – do what it takes!

Don’t just give to the food pantry
this Thanksgiving …
make a friend of someone on Food Stamps.

Think you’re smart? God says, “Not so much.”

Starve and do not feed the angry mouth.
Break and do not spin the circle of violence.
As often as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.

Most of the time it does – depend on you.

A Reading from the Gospel

Read by Gary Lawson

Matthew 21:23-32

23 When he entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” 24 Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. 25 Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things.

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. 30 The father[a] went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. 31 Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. 32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.


Late to the Vineyard

Musical Meditation

Musical selection

Faith and Democracy Moment

We encourage you to view this message from Rev. Rusty Eidmann-Hicks, (Retired), NJ

Giving Thanks

If you wish to give to support the work of Bethesda UCC, you can donate via Venmo @Bethesda-UCC or send a check via mail to Bethesda UCC c/o Treasurer; 10010 Fernwood Road; Bethesda, MD 20817

Invitation to offering

Gary Lawson

In the middle of all that hurts, the heart of God manifests among us. Through the sharing of our resources. In shared laughter and collective weeping. In practices of care and connection. The love of God makes a way for us through the labyrinth of this life. With gratitude, let us bring our offerings to God and one another.

Prayer of Dedication (unison)

Faithful One, your grace carries us through the unimaginable. When we fear we cannot bear the destruction that surrounds, you sustain our spirits. When we struggle to perceive the way to justice and healing, you speak through prophets ancient and new. For all the ways life persists in the midst of everything that deadens, we bring our gifts with thanks. Amen.

Pastoral Prayer and The Lord’s Prayer

Our Mother/Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever.  Amen.

Musical Selection

Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer 

Music and lyrics to Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712


As the whole earth groans for freedom,

we will find our way through practices of love.

Love that is generous. Love that is bold.

Love that is reciprocal and risky.

Love that does not abandon nor neglect,

but is fulfilled in the joy of giving and receiving.

Seeking liberation for all life, let us go and live with faith.


Musical Selection

Liturgical Resources

Except where noted, our liturgy comes from  All resources are used with permission and adapted to our setting.

More food for spiritual thought:

Equality vs Equity

Visual showing people picking apples. People on the left are all given the same sized stool, but only one can reach the apples--Equality. On the right, the people are given different sized stools and all can reach the apple--Equity

Image from Saskatoon Health Region, copyright 2014

“At the very basic level, the idea of equality is that everyone receives the same or equal. Equity, on the other hand, aims to make all things fair.  Take the image as an example. Here we see that “equality” means all the people have the same size of box to stand on, but that does not mean they can all reach the fruit in the tree. When there is “equity”, everyone has the size of box they need, so each has a fair chance to reach the fruit.”

— Author Unknown,

More about us

Bethesda UCC was founded in 1957 as Bethesda Congregational Church.  United Church of Christ is the union of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.

We are located at the corner of Fernwood and Democracy. Our postal address is:

Bethesda United Church of Christ

10010 Fernwood Road, Bethesda, Maryland  20817



Minister: Rev. Dee Ledger

Music Director: Kay Krekow


Today’s music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

A ONE LICENSE Reprint License grants churches, schools, religious communities, retreat centers, and other worshiping bodies permission to reprint or project music for their congregations from any of our Member Publishers.

Permission to podcast / stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE, License #A-726712. All rights reserved.

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