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February 7, 2021, Fifth Sunday After Epiphany

Snow covered scene over looking a pond

Photo by Herr Bohn on Unsplash

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.”

Gathering

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: “It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”–Lena Horne, American singer/performer and civil rights activist

Question: What “load” are you currently carrying?  How are you managing to carry it?  Do you feel like your burdens are shared?  How might you “carry the load” differently, in a more life-sustaining way?

Welcome

Rev. Dee Ledger

Prelude

God’s Light Grows 

Call To Worship (Responsive)

Leader: Are any among us weary? Do we carry heavy burdens?
People: Here is a place of rest. Here we encounter Christ’s healing and grace.
Leader: Are any among us frantic and scattered, breathless in our busy-ness?
People: Here is a place of deep peace. In our worship, we meet the unhurried God.
Leader: Are any among us feeling brittle and broken, thirsty for the gospel?
People: Here we encounter Jesus, the living water — tranquil and ever-present.
Leader: Are any among us feeling hollow and empty, hungry for truth?
People: Here we encounter Christ, the bread of life — nourishment for the journey.

Hymn

#516 O Grant Us, God, a Little Space

O Grant Us, God, a Little Space

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

Opening Prayer (Unison)

Gracious God, we are weary.  Weary of the virus, weary of politics, weary of systemic racism, and weary of trying to wait patiently our turn for the vaccine.  We yearn for Spring, but we are still in midst of Winter.  In our homes, we are too much with ourselves and our family members.  We bring our roiling selves here to worship to find a precious moment to simply “be” and hear a good word that will give us strength for another day.  We search for you and, in searching for you, we search for ourselves.  Help us to nourish those parts of our hearts and souls that languish in these days.  Amen.

Alleluia #765

Al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia;
Al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia;
I will praise you, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia;
I will praise you al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia, al-le-lu-ia

Passing The Peace

Leader:       The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
People:      And also with you.

Children’s Moment

The children may depart to the breakout room for their classes and activities.

Readings from the Gospel and Contemporary Reading

Message

“A Deserted Place”

Musical Meditation

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

We thank you for your generous support of this faith community and of our ministry together.  Let us bless the offerings from this week together.

Prayer Of Dedication For The Offerings, Pledges, And Gifts Of Today And This Week

Joys/Concerns, Pastoral Prayer & 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.

Hymn

#332 As We Gather At Your Table

Music and lyrics to As We Gather at Your Table

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

Celebration Of The Sacrament Of Communion

Tim Graber and Margaret Klotz

Invitation to Communion

Dee:   Come to this table
because you want to celebrate –care in illness,
comfort in sorrow,
healing beyond curing,
peace in forgiveness,
hope in times of fear or threat.

Tim: Come to this table
because you claim your abundance,
as culture defines it
or as your heart knows it.
Come to this table
because you have discovered
your own generosity
and need to start giving.

Margaret: Come to this table
because you are willing
to be welcomed,
even when that is awkward,

and willing to welcome
to the limit of your resources,
and even to offer welcome
knowing it may be rejected.

Come to this teeter-totter table,
where the bakers and the starving,
touch elbows and hearts.

Words of Remembering

Tim:  We remember that Jesus Christ came
from a culture of oasis hospitality,
stories of manna, grain gleaned,
a raven feeding the prophet Elijah,
Abigail hurrying to offer a feast,
and a Passover meal
for which everything stopped
and all were fed.

We remember that Jesus came
from both family Sabbath evenings,
and the rule-bending
of grain plucked from a field
when someone was hungry.

Margaret: We remember
that Jesus remembered,
that on his first day in the healing business,
he lifted up a woman from her fever
and she responded by serving everyone
from the generosity of her wellness.
Jesus sat and ate at that table.

We remember
that Jesus remembered
that, near the end of his ministry,
he called a short man from a tree
into a forgiveness so abundant
it became a meal for the least and lost.
Jesus sat and ate at that table, too.

Tim: And we remember that Jesus knew,
when it was the last Passover,
how important healing
and turning  lives around was,
and blessed unleavened bread.
and poured wine and love freely,
inviting us always to share
both brokenness and grace.

Prayer of Consecration

Gentle Host, rest upon us as you rested upon water and light, earth and creatures, human beings, all in your image, and even the cooking pots and serving bowls of those who love you. Send your Spirit of life and love, power and blessing upon your children that this bread may be broken and gathered in love and this cup poured out to give hope to all. Risen Christ, live in us, that we may live in you. Breathe in us, that we may breathe in you.

Sharing of the Elements

Leader: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the bread of heaven.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the bread we share.

Leader: Let us with our many needs and many blessings, receive the gift of God, the cup of blessing.
Unison: We are one in Christ in the cup we share.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Spirit of Christ, we give thanks for this grace, from our deep heritage of sanctuary Eucharists and community meals, and from our personal memories of many generous plates and your Holy Supper. Wrap your hopeful presence around all whose bodies, spirits and hearts need healing or hope, and let us become your compassionate spoon, your safe refuge. May we be lifted up to serve you and all your children in the world. Amen.

Announcements

The Congregation

Hymn

#612 Strengthen All The Weary Hands

Music and lyrics to Strengthen All the Weary Hands part 1

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

Music and lyrics to Strengthen All the Weary Hands part 2

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

Benediction

Postlude

Notes on Resources and Acknowledgements: Our Call to Worship, Prayer of Dedication, and Benediction come from Homileticsonline.com.  Opening prayer written by Rev. Dee.  Our Communion Liturgy was written by the Rev. Maren C. Tirabassi and is from giftsinopenhands.wordpress.com, used with permission.

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
301.365.3387

www.bethesdaucc.org

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.