RESPONDING TO THE TEXT
The text this week from Matthew illustrates the continued confrontation between Jesus and Jerusalem’s religious authorities. This text provides an opportunity for discussion about who is welcomed in our midst, and how we respond to our invitation to be among God’s “chosen few.” Rather than a text in favor of God’s selection of a special few, this parable is an indictment against the abuse of religious authority and can be used as a chance to discuss the wideness of God’s welcome.
See the prompt page from Trinity United Methodist Church at TrinityofRahway.com: Unchosen.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: Rejoice! All are welcome! The day of salvation is here.
People: Rejoice in the Lord always! Heaven is drawing near.
Leader: Celebrate! Let us lift our hearts. Rejoice! Have no fear.
People: Celebrate! Let us lift our hearts. Rejoice! The Lord is here.
All: Come, let us rejoice!
God of transcending peace, when the world around us turns us astray, we come here not to escape, but to rest, rejoice, and turn our minds on things that are worthy. Help us not to be anxious about anything, but to turn to You in everything, knowing You are near. In Your holy name we pray. Amen.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
God of mercy, we confess that we have lived in fear and anxiety, impatient for the things to come, turning our eyes to evil and rejecting your offer to receive Your love and peace. We have been too passionate about being right, often doing violence in word and deed to those with whom we differ. Rejoicing at the invitation of your banquet, we have failed to arrive in humility, with the gentleness to which we are called. Forgive us. Strengthen us. Draw near to us, and provide for us that peace that will guard our hearts and minds. In Jesus’ name we pray.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE
Leader: Hear now the good news: In Christ, God’s salvation has been made available to us. In Jesus’ name, you are forgiven. You are made new.
People: In Jesus’ name, you have been forgiven. You have been made new.
All: Glory to God! Amen!
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION
Eternal God, Your ways are not our ways. Your thoughts are not like ours. By the power of Your Spirit at work within us, open Your word to us this morning. Teach us what is noble, what is right, what is pure, what is lovely, and what is admirable. Empower to truly see as You see, and to hear what You hear, and put Your word into action. Through Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.