• Greeting & Announcements
  • Call to Worship
  • Opening Hymn: Holy, Holy, Holy (UMH 64)
  • Opening Prayer (Corporate)
  • Act of Praise
  • Gloria Patri (UMH 70)
  • Scripture Readings – Luke 14:1-24 (CEB), 1 John 5:4 (AMP)
  • Hymn: Seek Ye First (UMH 405)
  • Message:  For Everyone Born
  • Affirmation & Commitment
  • Pastoral Prayer
  • Service of Holy Communion
  • Offertory Prayer
  • Doxology (UMH 95)
  • Benediction – Rev. Val


Good morning! For those who’ve worshiped with us before either in-person or online, welcome back. For those who are joining us for the first time this morning, we’re glad you here. Welcome home!

For those of you who regularly worship with us, the order of worship, the order in which we carry out our worship service, is different today. That’s because today is a special day. This is World Communion Sunday, a day when churches all over the world are receiving the sacrament of Holy Communion. We will be following the pattern for A Service of Word and Table in our worship today, with components drawn from a variety of sources including our own United Methodist Hymnal, the Iona Abby Worship Books, and others from around the world.

I’ve also chosen hymns that we should be able to sing without a pianist and that most everyone should be familiar with so, fair warning, we will be singing this morning! Mr. McGuire, I apologize in advance if we don’t finish on pitch!

If you’re viewing online, I encourage you to go to your kitchen and gather up enough bread and a suitable beverage so you and anyone watching with you can participate right along with those of us here.

Lastly, we’ve gotten comfortable with shorter services here. This one may be a bit longer than our usual worship and involves more of your participation. For those of you worshiping with us from home, know that we are responding on your behalf, too.

Save the date!

  • On-going Prayer Vigil
  • November 7 – Communion Sunday
  • November 28, 2021, 3:00 p.m. – Charge Conference at Maryville First UMC
Call to Worship
From a Service for Word and Table A, UMH 6-11

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

And also with you.

The risen Christ is with us.

Praise the Lord!

Opening Prayer – Corporate Prayer
From a Service for Word and Table A, UMH 6-11

Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hidden.

Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy name,

Through Christ our Lord.


ACT OF PRAISE – Psalm 8 (UMH 743, v. 1-5)


Lord, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit, that, as the scriptures are read and your Word proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you say to us today.


Luke 14:1-24 (CEB)

One Sabbath, when Jesus went to share a meal in the home of one of the leaders of the Pharisees, they were watching him closely. A man suffering from an abnormal swelling of the body was there. Jesus asked the lawyers and Pharisees, “Does the Law allow healing on the Sabbath or not?” But they said nothing. Jesus took hold of the sick man, cured him, and then let him go. He said to them, “Suppose your child or ox fell into a ditch on the Sabbath day. Wouldn’t you immediately pull it out?” But they had no response.

When Jesus noticed how the guests sought out the best seats at the table, he told them a parable. “When someone invites you to a wedding celebration, don’t take your seat in the place of honor. Someone more highly regarded than you could have been invited by your host. The host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give your seat to this other person.’ Embarrassed, you will take your seat in the least important place. Instead, when you receive an invitation, go and sit in the least important place. When your host approaches you, he will say, ‘Friend, move up here to a better seat.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.”

When one of the dinner guests heard Jesus’ remarks, he said to Jesus, “Happy are those who will feast in God’s kingdom.”

Jesus replied, “A certain man hosted a large dinner and invited many people. When it was time for the dinner to begin, he sent his servant to tell the invited guests, ‘Come! The dinner is now ready.’ One by one, they all began to make excuses. The first one told him, ‘I bought a farm and must go and see it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I bought five teams of oxen, and I’m going to check on them. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’ When he returned, the servant reported these excuses to his master. The master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go quickly to the city’s streets, the busy ones and the side streets, and bring the poor, crippled, blind, and lame.’ The servant said, ‘Master, your instructions have been followed and there is still room.’ The master said to the servant, ‘Go to the highways and back alleys and urge people to come in so that my house will be filled. I tell you, not one of those who were invited will taste my dinner.’”

Luke 10:25-37 (MSG)

Just then a religion scholar stood up with a question to test Jesus. “Teacher, what do I need to do to get eternal life?”

He answered, “What’s written in God’s Law? How do you interpret it?”

He said, “That you love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and muscle and intelligence—and that you love your neighbor as well as you do yourself.”

“Good answer!” said Jesus. “Do it and you’ll live.”

Looking for a loophole, he asked, “And just how would you define ‘neighbor’?”

Jesus answered by telling a story. “There was once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho. On the way he was attacked by robbers. They took his clothes, beat him up, and went off leaving him half-dead. Luckily, a priest was on his way down the same road, but when he saw him he angled across to the other side. Then a Levite religious man showed up; he also avoided the injured man.

“A Samaritan traveling the road came on him. When he saw the man’s condition, his heart went out to him. He gave him first aid, disinfecting and bandaging his wounds. Then he lifted him onto his donkey, led him to an inn, and made him comfortable. In the morning he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take good care of him. If it costs any more, put it on my bill—I’ll pay you on my way back.’

“What do you think? Which of the three became a neighbor to the man attacked by robbers?”

“The one who treated him kindly,” the religion scholar responded.

Jesus said, “Go and do the same.”

1 John 5:4 (AMP)

For everyone born of God is victorious and overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has conquered and overcome the world—our [continuing, persistent] faith [in Jesus the Son of God].

The scriptures of God for the People of God.

Thanks be to God.

MESSAGE – For Everyone Born

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock, and my redeemer. Amen.

Includes excerpts from ‘If God Is Love Don’t Be a Jerk’ (John Pavlovitz) and ‘Inspired’ (Rachel Held-Evans)

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Love is the greatest force in the universe. It is the heartbeat of the moral cosmos. He who loves is a participant in the being of God.”

I want to share some excerpts from the introduction of John Pavlovitz’ latest book, “If God Is Love Don’t Be A Jerk,” with you.

Mr. Pavlovitz writes, “If you want a good laugh, Google the phrase “You had one job.” Mr. Pavlovitz goes on to describe those “You had ONE job” images we see so often on social media where we all scratch our heads and wonder how someone could mess up that bad. He continues, “Seeing these stupefying train wrecks in task execution tends to elicit two responses: usually making you feel a little bit better about yourself while simultaneously wanting to track down the culprits in an effort to understand how they managed to neglect the primary duty assigned to them.”

He suggests a litany of probable causes … they were temporarily distracted, didn’t comprehend the instructions they’d been given, someone in the chain of command above them that dropped the ball, or they were just plain lazy.

Then he says, “I imagine Jesus knows well the curiosity that comes with watching people given clear direction lose their way … I often envision an exasperated Jesus coming back and the first words out of his mouth to his followers as his feet hit the pavement being, ‘You had one job: Love. So what happened?’

“I wonder what massive wave of excuses and rationalizations would come flooding from the mouths of the faithful multitude in front of him, how they might justify their mistreatment of the assailed humanity in their care, the verbal and theological gymnastics they’d attempt to avoid culpability for their own cruelty. Would they stridently recite him a verse from Leviticus? Would they blame the Liberal Media for morally corrupting America? Would they talk about peoples’ wicked lifestyle choices? Would they argue that they were loving the sinners in their midst but simply hating their sin? Would they frantically offer up the same platitudes and parrot back the same partisan talking points they’d gotten used to brandishing on social media and proffering in Sunday school classes? And, if all else failed to convince him – would they quote Jesus to himself in a desperate Hail Mary effort to pass the buck to him for what they did or failed to do while supposedly standing in for him? And there, fully seen in the piercing gaze of the namesake of their very faith tradition, with all their justifications and excuses exhausted and only their fully exposed hearts left – would any of their response be sufficient reasons for refusing to love, when that was the singular task and primary commandment that he left them responsible for tending to?

“In my less compassionate moments, I admit that I like to picture it not going well for them. I know it’s far less than admirable (let alone Christlike), but some days my heart strangely warms at the possibility of a few billion brimstone-breathing evangelists, sanctimonious conservative politicians, and plank-eyed judgmental Christian neighbors all having to explain themselves in a sanctified flop-sweat moment they can’t exegete or gaslight themselves out of, and they all get what they have coming to them – but my self-righteous revelry doesn’t last long. The mirror calls me out as I remember what I think I know about Jesus, and that rescues me from full-blown, unabated hubris. I begin to wonder what my excuses might be, how Id spin the enmity I manufacture here, what story I’d come up with for not doing the one task we both know compromises a disciple’s job description. And, if I really believe what I’m supposed to believe, are any of my justifications sufficient? If God is love and if Jesus is the perfect expression of that love and if I am supposedly trying to follow that Jesus – how can I be so love-impaired so frequently? How do I miss the singular point so consistently?

“It’s not as if I didn’t know what I was signing up for, like some lengthy online user agreement I blindly accepted in haste, missing the bombshell fine print beneath. Having read the Gospels a few million times (give or take a few hundred thousand), I know the primary commandment is not something I need to excavate from cumbersome layers of foreign language translations and cultural mores of the time. Jesus himself clearly laid out the most important commandment for me and for everyone who’s ever cracked open a Bible (and even most people who haven’t but know the story anyway), so we’d all understand what’s being asked of us going in; so there would be no post-altar-call buyer’s remorse or deathbed claims of a sucker-punch bait and switch. Loving God and neighbor and self is the elemental stuff of Christian prayers, songs, t-shirts, and bumper stickers – and we know that. But as the master Morpheus said to protégé Neo in the first (and only truly great) Matrix film, “There is a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”  Love is the path that Jesus laid out for us. I’m going to assume we agree on that, and we won’t waste a lot of time arguing it here.”

I don’t know if you’re feeling convicted yet, but I am. But there’s one more section of this I want to share with you because it’s what we’re taught, what we hear, what we’re supposed to know and what we must recognize about ourselves.

Pavlovitz goes on to say, “I always thought Christians were supposed to care about people – not necessarily agree with them or believe what they believe or even like them, but to see them each as specific and unique image-bearers of the Divine, and to want to work for shalom for them: wholeness, happiness, peace, safety, rest – regardless of where they came from or what they believed or who they loved. I grew up believing that one of the markers of a life that emulated Jesus was a pliable heart capable of being broken at the distress of other human beings: when they are hungry and hurting, when they are homeless and afraid, when they grieve and feel alone, when they believe they are unloved and forgotten, when tragedy befalls them, and when injustice assails them. These things are supposed to move the needle within us if Jesus is softening our hearts, or at least I imagined so.”

I’ve only just begun reading Mr. Pavlovitz’ book. I’m looking forward to finishing it. And I imagine I’ll have a lot of repenting to do.

Here’s what I know and what I believe you know as well.  God is love. The very definition of love. That is the consistent message of the Bible. How we interpret that love is what determines how we, in turn, love.

So today, World Communion Sunday, when churches all over the world are celebrating the sacrament together, I want to focus on the love that God poured out for us from the moment He brought the universe into being. I want us to remember the love Jesus poured out for us when he gave his life that we would be forgiven.

I want us to remember the dinner stories from Luke’s gospel passage today. And I want us to remember what John said in the passage from 1 John … that everyone born of God … and we are all born of God … is already victorious and has already overcome this world through our persistent faith in Christ.

What does that mean? Victory in Christ? Let me first share a poem.

They say the beast was driven out of heaven,

And like a leopard, prowls the earth for prey.

It has four heads, though some claim wight of seven.

It wears ten crowns engraved with blasphemy.

What creature past or present can compare

To one who boasts the teeth of lion kings,

But with the might haunches of a bear

Leaps, lupine, to soar on eagle’s wings?

No legion made of men can it beset,

So nations war and strive to win its favor.

Every Caesar wants it for a pet,

Every superpower for a savior.

All, save the sons and daughters of Abraham,

Who into its carnassial grin send a Lamb.

Victory in Christ, overcoming this world, is when we look into the eyes of the Beast and say, “Not today.” And as Rachel Held-Evans reminds us, sometimes just showing up to the communion table is a way of looking straight into the eyes of the Beast and saying, “Not today.”

Today, we will come to the table. Today, we will remember the commandment to love. Today, we make a commitment to not just know the path, but to follow the path He’s laid out for us.


From Iona Abbey Worship Book (c)2016

L:  We believe in God

A:  Who is older than eternity and younger than our next breath; who is beyond describing yet know us all by name; who inspires faith yet cannot be contained by religion.

L:  We believe in Jesus Christ, flesh of our flesh, bone of our bone;

A:  he came in the body to give worth to every human life. He touched the untouchable, loved the unlovable, and endured slander, persecution, and death.

L:  We believe that God’s Kingdom comes on earth through Christ’s suffering love.

A:  He rose from the grave as living proof that what is laid down in faith will be raised in glory. He ascended to heaven to be present at all times to all people.

L:  We believe in the Holy Spirit,

A:  who leads us into truth and freedom, who gives good gifts to all God’s children, who works through prayer and politics, through justice, care of creation and the healing of the nations.

L:  We celebrate the potential God has given:

A:  The life in our bodies, the yearning in our souls, the promise of good things in store for those who love and serve their maker.


Adapted from Sunday Morning Communion Service B, Iona Abbey Worship Book, The Iona Community 2016.

Almighty Creator, Holy, God, who, incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth, walked the earth you created, admiring its beauty, and blessing its people, we honor you for the gift of life and all the gifts that life brings us:

For food, shelter, company, friendship and fellowship, the experiences that make us think, and the people that bring out the best in us.

Hear our prayers for those places in this world where beauty has turned to ugliness, food has been replaced by famine, friendship has been forgotten, and fear, hostility, and hopelessness have the upper hand.

Lord, in your mercy, bring healing, bring peace.

Hear our prayers for people who cannot put their prayers into words because of pain, loss, or worry.

Lord, in your mercy, bring healing, bring peace.

Hear our prayers for those who will not love themselves and so, cannot love their neighbor; for those who fail to recognize your image in those they find unworthy of Christ-like love; in those who have never known what it is to be loved without condition or judgment.

Lord, in your mercy, bring healing, bring peace.

Hear our prayers for ourselves – for our private yearnings, our secret hopes, and any doubt, jealousy, or anger to which we hold too tightly.

Lord, in your mercy, bring healing, bring peace.

Hear our prayers and petitions …

  • For the eradication of COVID-19 in every form and an end to this pandemic that kills and destroys and divides.
  • For protection of all innocents in all war torn nations, in all nations under authoritarian regimes, especially the women, girls, and racial or ethnic minorities of those nations.
  • For all nations and places suffering the devastation of acts of nature and the extreme effects of climate change, and for those first responders and others addressing the aftermath of the devastation or battling the effects of climate change in those places.
  • For the healing of the planet.
  • For the protection and preservation of democracy here and around the world
  • For an end to discrimination and oppression in any and all forms

Lord, in your mercy, bring healing, bring peace.

            Hear us now as we say the words Jesus taught us to pray:

Our 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 trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.



Adapted from A Service of Word and Table I (UMH 6-11), and from Sunday Morning Communion Service A and Service B (Appendix to Sunday Morning Services), Iona Abbey Worship Book, The Iona Community 2016 

We do not provide a transcript of this portion of our service.


James 5:13-20

Please join me in a prayer for our gifts this morning:

All that we have and all that we are are God’s gifts to us. Lord, bless the token of our wealth that we have returned this day, that it and all we possess be used to your glory.



From Iona Abbey Worship Book (c)2016.

Thank you for being here this morning, whether in-person or through our live-stream and I hope you found some value in today’s service.

Now hear this benediction:

Now, go in peace, do what God wills, follow where Christ calls, pray for the gifts of the Spirit; and may the blessing of God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer rest on and remain with you now and always.



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