Sample from Fall 2019

© 2019 Mary Scifres for Mary Scifres Ministries

Writing Team: Dave Sigmund, B. J. Beu, and Mary Scifres



•    Celebrate! (Psalm Series)
•    The Attitude of a Servant (New Testament Series)

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24th Sunday after Pentecost ~ November 15, 2020


Judges 4:1-7; Psalm 123; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11; Matthew 25:14-30 
Alternate Scripture for Celebrate Series: Psalm 65


Today’s sermon ideas can stand alone or be part of a series: Celebrate! or The Attitude of a Servant
•    What Do You Celebrate? (Psalm 65, Thanksgiving lection) 
•    Servants Go and Do (Matthew 25:14-30) 



Thanksgiving is just around the corner, symbolizing for many of us the beginning of the holiday season. But this year, many of us are preparing to celebrate in new and different ways. Still, we yearn to celebrate, reminding us that celebration isn’t just about successes or happy times. What do we celebrate? Why do we celebrate? In Psalm 65, creation seems to celebrate simply for the gift of being. The mountains are strong, and the seas roar, because that’s what they do; and the Psalmist turns their strength and roar into a song of celebration.  Rain falls, and the earth rejoices with growth, and so we celebrate the harvest, not so much a harvest of our hands, but a harvest of creation’s rhythm. In Psalm 65 and in the season of Thanksgiving, we are invited to celebrate the rhythm of nature, the changing of seasons, and the abundance of life, even when life is different than we had expected. The Pilgrims had lost dozens of friends to death in their journey across the Atlantic and their first winter in their new home; yet they celebrated being alive and thanked God for a summer’s harvest to prepare them for the winter ahead. The Psalmist sings of God’s forgiveness, despite our iniquities and celebrates the earth’s might, regardless of whether the mighty mountains and roaring oceans comfort or frighten us. This year, we aren’t likely to celebrate full church sanctuaries or large choral concerts; but we can celebrate the beauty of worship and prayer, or a small family carol sing around the piano or stereo. We may not celebrate a big community Thanksgiving dinner, but we might celebrate a large collection of food and money to support the local food bank. We may not celebrate big neighborhood parties or big shopping trips, but we can send gifts to friends and pray for our neighbors. The holiday season invites us to celebrate. This year with routines interrupted and changing situations, we have an opportunity to reflect on what we are actually celebrating and why we do so.  


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“Praise is the only gift for which people are really grateful.” ~ Lady Marguerite Blessington


(If you are inviting people to respond during online worship, using the same response each time as we do in this Call to Worship may make it easier for people to participate from home. Or consider having two leaders read responsively or a one reader read as a solo voice while worshippers listen and reflect. Feel free to re-write any materials for other Sundays to create a repetitive response or solo reading in one of these ways.)

O you who answer prayer,
praise is due to you.
With shouts and songs of joy,
praise is due to you.

Gracious God, thank you for the many and abundant gifts 
you have entrusted to each and every one of us. 
For this time of worship, 
we give you thanks and praise. 
As we worship, help us expand and transform your gifts 
into blessings for your world and its people. Amen.


Eternal God, you bless us with gifts that are uniquely our own.
We have been given so much, 
yet our talents seem so small to us.
Help us shake off fear and boldly put our talents to use, 
that they may be a blessing to a world 
in need of your blessings.
In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.



Friends, God has created us for salvation, not for destruction or wrath.

God has gifted us to celebrate and grow,

and to rejoice in the creations we are and the gifts we are given.

Celebrate and rejoice, beloved, gifted children of God!



God has blessed you; use your gifts.

But we’re afraid.

God has blessed you; use your gifts.

But others have more.

God has blessed you; use your gifts.

But they may not be enough.

God has blessed you, use your gifts.

We will use our gifts.

Thanks be to God.



Blessed God, we bring forward these gifts

in token of our gratitude for giving us a beautiful world.

Use our gifts to further the growth of your kingdom,

and nurture the seeds of our faith,

that our gifts and our giving may increase

in the time we share.



Go forth into the world God has created for you.

Be awed by the simple beauty of nature all around you.

Go in peace.



  • Revelation Song – Kari Jobe (Psalm 65)

  • What a Beautiful Name – Hillsong (Psalm 65)

  • Your Love Awakens Me – Phil Wickham (Psalm 65)

  • Good Good Father – Chris Tomlin (Psalm 65)

  • Celebrate - MIKA ft. Pharrell Williams (Psalm 65, Celebrate Theme Song)

  • Do It Again – Elevation (Psalm 65, Celebrate theme Song)

  • Celebration – Kool and the Gang (Psalm 65)

  • Wide Awake – Katy Perry (Matthew 25)

  • Song for Someone – U2 (Matthew 25)

  • As it is in Heaven  – Hillsong (Matthew 25)

  • No Longer Slaves  – Bethel (Matthew 25)

  • Here as in Heaven  – Elevation (Matthew 25)

  • Strong Enough - Matthew West (Matthew 25)

  • It is Well  – Bethel (Matthew 25)

  • Do Something – Matthew West (Matthew 25)

  • Hands and Feet – Audio Adrenaline (Matthew 25)

  • Glass House – Jaci Valesquez (Matthew, Attitude of Servant theme song)



  • Times of Celebration, families celebrating happiness, nature, vast bodies of water, gates, a family home (Psalm 65)

  • Fear, courage, coins, investments, buried treasure, contrast of 3 people using their gifts/money differently (Matthew 25)



  • “Joy Meditation” – A meditation that centers around joy and finding some happiness. (Ps. 65)

  • Pride and Prejudice - Elizabeth reminds Darcy that his lack of interpersonal talents is due to his refusal to practice, as she exemplifies her own lack of piano proficiency (Matthew 25)

2005 clip: - Chapter 9, Minute 1:03:00 – 1:04:45

1995 clip: - Chapter 17, Minute 2:19:30 – 2:21:52

  • The Fellowship of the Ring – “I wish the ring had never come to me,” - Frodo recalls Gandalf’s wisdom during “Journey in the Dark,” calling him to decide what to do with the time he’s been given, and both Frodo and Sam move forward in faith (Matthew 25) - Beginning of Scene 46

  • Teens Skype AIDS Orphans – UMTV video of American youth connecting with the African youth with whom they are in a mission partnership (Matthew 25)

Partial clip &


  • Let Us Give Thanks: A Photo Prayer – Meditative moment for centering (Thanksgiving)

  • Grateful – Projected images from John Bucchino’s children’s book and song lyrics

  • George Winston Thanksgiving (Piano Solo) – Set to beautiful fall color imagery, use this instrumental video for meditation, prayer, or dedication of offering (Thanksgiving, Stewardship)

  • The Science of Happiness: An Experiment in Gratitude – This social experiment measuring happiness levels when people express gratitude is a great discussion starter (Thanksgiving)

  • Grateful – Projected images from John Bucchino’s children’s book and song lyrics



  • During a congregational video call or fellowship gathering, invite people to share photos or symbols of people, situations, and things for which they are grateful or things they wish to celebrate and rejoice over.Alternately, invite people to submit photos beforehand so your tech team can create a slide show to be shown during the worship service.

  • For the morning offering, play a joyful song and invite people to dance in place or from their homes as a solo dancer or dance video dances offering plates to the chancel altar, symbolically presenting them to God. (Psalm 65, Matthew 25)

  • With a $1 or a $10 bill, challenge them to multiply the value of that bill in the coming month. Invite people who don’t want to accept the challenge to return the bill to the offering plate during worship. In the coming month, provide ways for people to tell/show/write the stories of where those bills made a difference in the world or multiplied in value. For people who use the money to raise money, invite testimonials about their stories. (Matthew 25).

  • In place of traditional worship, schedule a church day filling or delivering Thanksgiving baskets with a local food bank or host a Stop Hunger Now packaging event (Matthew 25, stewardship)

Details at


  • In preparation for next week’s thanksgiving emphasis, remind people there will be a food collection either in worship or in the church office or at the local food bank. Determine the safest collection plan in coordination with your local food bank.


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