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.”
For your reflection: “I acknowledge my feeling and gratitude for life by praising the world and whoever made all these things.” –Mary Oliver
Question: For what are you particularly thankful? Is your gratitude dependent on outward circumstance? How do you typically express your gratitude?
God’s Light Grows
You are invited to light a candle as you worship with us.
Call To Worship (responsive)
Come and seek together the salvation of God.
Welcome the stranger.
Tend needs and practice mutual care.
Abolish all that imprisons.
This is the way of Christ.
Let the old ways be left behind.
Love has come to free us.
#421 We Gather Together
Opening Prayer (unison)
Spirit of God, Holy is your wisdom. You reveal all that has narrowed our imagination, confined our worldviews, and distorted our sense of what’s possible. Come and help us create anew. Within and between us, nurture our creativity in the simple and serious work of love. Amen.
Passing The Peace
Leader: The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
People: And also with you.
A Word With The Children
The children may depart to the breakout room for their classes and activities.
The Contemporary Reading
Read by Mary Bahrs
A Reflection on Matthew 25: 31-46 written by Rev. Maren C. Tirabassi, 2017, https://giftsinopenhands.wordpress.com/2017/10/16/7888/
Come, you who are blessed
with a commonwealth of love and work.
Later, if you insist,
we can talk about heaven.
For I am a California fire victim
and you feed me in your back yard.
I am thirsty in Puerto Rico
and you bring clean water to me,
knowing that after a hurricane’s winds
I do not need anything more
to be thrown at me.
I am earth stripped naked,
and you name me creation –
not natural or any other kind of resource.
I am a Rohingya Muslim refugee
and you welcome me.
I am a child in Yemen
mourning my siblings, sick from cholera,
and you know my story.
I am arrested and detained,
taken from my family and friends
to be deported to certain death
in my home country –
and you walk in vigil for me,
and offer me sanctuary.
I dream every night
of running from the arena in Las Vegas
and you promise that guns like these
will never be put in the hands
of shattered people
who can become killers.
And as for you there
with the Christ-recognition problem –
too busy, you say,
too worried about your own health,
charity begins at home,
second amendment rights,
things will never change,
don’t want to offend anyone,
or need to post, pin, tweet about it.
You curse yourselves.
But God says –
come here, you broken-hearted
and I will heal you.
As for the rest of you – get a life
preferably by saving one,
and come and join
the least of these, my family,
for it is not yet the end of time,
and while sheep are exceedingly awesome,
there’s a lot of head-butting
to be done
and God can take great joy
at the antics of goats.
#425 For the Fruit of All Creation
A Reading From The Gospel
Readers: Arjun Ranade & Victoria Smith
31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family,[a] you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
“Sheep, Goats, And Gratitude” by Rev. Dee
Joys/Concerns, Pastoral Prayer And 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.
Prayer Of Dedication For The Offerings Of Today And This Week
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
Whether material, relational, or spiritual, we all have an abundance of something the world needs. And likewise, we all have needs unmet. We live under systems and norms that dehumanize and isolate, but we have the power to care for each other. Come with your needs. Come with your offerings. In a spirit of collective mutuality, let us bring them to God.
Spirit of Love, as we bring our offerings together we do so in acknowledgment of all that needs re-ordering in the world. We grieve the ways resources are hoarded and withheld. We pray that we may be delivered from any temptation to cling to what should be shared with our neighbors. Free us of the lies of individualism and move us ever deeper into solidarity with all life. Amen.
#423 Great is Your Faithfulness
By the grace of God, we have been set free from the patterns and practices forced upon us.
Selfishness and greed do not have a hold on us.
Generosity and mutuality are the inheritance of our faith.
The Spirit sends us with joy and with hope to live into the freedom of love.
Go in peace, with gratitude and with peace.
Liturgical Resources/Credits: Unless otherwise noted, our liturgy comes from enfleshed.com and is adapted use for our worship today.
More Food For Spiritual Thought
Some Thanksgiving Graces for You and Your Loved Ones
from our friends at https://www.unity.org/resources/articles/say-grace-thanksgiving-blessings-prayers
A Prayer for Holiday Gatherings on Zoom
In gratitude for the divine technology that brings us together across the miles, we open our hearts and eyes in prayer,
sending love to every member of this group through the screen.
Feeling the distance disappear and joining as one,
we appreciate our food, our shelter, our lives, and the love we share.
Expanding outward, we make room for everyone in our town,
our country, and our world within our sacred circle.
For blessings sent and received, we say Amen.
—Trish Yancey, CSE, LUT
Table for One
Today, I am grateful for all the blessings that used to be,
For the ones that surround me right now and
The space of possibility within me.
For this meal, may it serve to nourish my body, and
For the blessings in my life, thank you!
At this table for one,
I am in the good company of my soul and for that
I am grateful. Blessed be!
—Rev. Kathy Beasley
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.
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