Tag Archives: liturgy

Good News: Prayers of the People

These prayers were written with last week’s lectionary texts in mind: Jonah 3:1-10 and Mark 1:14-20.

 

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Liturgy writing is a very colorful process.

Holy God, living word,

hear the prayers of your people.

We give you thanks for wonders great and small:

for warmth in winter,

for peace in chaos,

for family, for health,

for words of hope,

and showers of mercy.

 

Proclaim your good news to us once more,

and help us to repent, believe, and follow.

 

We give you thanks for the stories of faith:

for the scriptures that point to your love for us.

For John, Simon, Andrew, and James,

who left their nets to follow you;

For the story of Jonah, Ninevah, and the king,

who bear witness to your loving mercy;

For all the saints of our lives today,

who have entrusted the faith to us.

Move us, O God, from prayers of thanksgiving

to lives of thanksgiving.

Move us, O God, from breathing with every prayer

to praying with every breath.

 

Proclaim your good news to us once more,

and help us to repent, believe, and follow.

 

As we lift a prayer in thanksgiving, O God,

we lift another in worry.

God whose mercy knows no end,

hear the prayers of your people.

We pray for all who are ill this day:

whose bodies are weary with disease or injury.

Breathe healing upon them, O God,

Breathe healing upon us, O God.

 

Proclaim your good news to us once more,

and help us to repent, believe, and follow.

 

You created the world good,

and we pray for the places where news is bad.

For countries, cities, neighborhoods, and families

torn apart by violence or fear:

Breathe peace, O God.

For your church around world,

seeking to serve you in a new way:

Breathe new life, O God.

For all who are seeking hope, direction, or community:

Breathe your spirit, O God.

 

Proclaim your good news to us once more,

and help us to repent, believe, and follow.

 

In the name of the one who embodied your love,

the one who always invites us to follow,

Amen.

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Completely: Prayers of the People based on Psalm 139

Psalm 139 has always been one of my favorites, and today’s lectionary gave me a chance to reflect on it. May these prayers remind us all that we are known and loved, completely. 

atgt snow

Oh Lord, you have searched us and known us.

  You know when we sit down and when we rise up;

you discern our thoughts from far away.

  You search out our path and our lying down,

and are acquainted with all our ways.

 

We praise you, O living God,

For you know us completely and love us completely.

 

You have created us good and holy,

lending your image in the act of creation.

Again and again, we have fallen away,

and you have brought us back with words of grace.

We have hidden from mystery of your presence,

and you have found us, again and again,

and repeated the call, “Follow me.”

 

You bring peace into the chaos we create;

You bring hope into the webs of doubt we spin;

You bring your holy spirit into the corners of our lives.

 

Even before a word is on our tongues,

  O Lord, you know it completely.

You hem us in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon us.

 

We praise you, O living God,

for you know us completely and love us completely.

 

We pray for the world wrapped in your love,

for the people and places dear to our hearts,

and for the ones known only to yours.

 

For those who are cold, whether in body or in spirit:

Bring the warmth only you can provide,

and move us to us to share the warmth we can provide.

For those who are hungry, thirsty, grieving or ill:

Bring the comfort only you can provide,

and help us to share the comfort we can provide.

(Continue with prayers for your specific community.) 

 

Hear our prayers, O Living God,

for you know us completely and love us completely.

 

On this weekend of marches and commemoration,

we give thanks for the life of your prophet Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

As we celebrate his legacy, O God, let us recognize yours.

Convict us of the ways we support injustice through our action or inaction,

and empower us to work for your reign of justice, peace, and dignity for all.

 

Where can we go from your spirit?

  Or where can we flee from your presence?

If we take the wings of the morning

  and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,

even there your hand shall lead us,

  and your right hand shall hold us fast.

 

In the name of the one who was Love made flesh,

Amen.

 

 

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A Mighty Love: Prayers for Reformation Sunday

A mighty fortress are you, O God,

Creator, redeemer,

Protector, provider.

 

The earth is yours, and all that is in it.

We give you thanks for the bounty of our lives,

and the abundance of your creation.

Move us to recognize your gifts, O Lord,

and challenge us to share them.

 

A mighty fortress are you, O God,

Creator, redeemer,

Protector, provider.

 

A mighty love are you, O God,

Parent, teacher,

Comforter, friend.

 

You walk with us through joy and heartbreak,

and you bind us together in holy community.

You poured out your grace in the life of Christ,

and we witnessed your love in his resurrection.

 

Move us to know the depth of your love,

and challenge us to share it.

 

A mighty love are you, O God,

Parent, teacher,

Comforter, friend.

 

A mighty Spirit are you, O God,

Reformer, sustainer,

Challenger, change-agent.

 

On this Reformation Day,

we give you thanks for the saints of our faith,

who have followed your leading at any cost:

For Mary, John, and Peter,

who were there to tell the news of the first Easter Day;

For Paul, Lydia, and Chloe,

who built the church on the foundation you laid;

For Martin, John, and Marie,

who dared to lead your people in Reforming;

For all the reformers since,

who have dared to challenge the status quo.

 

A mighty Spirit are you, O God,

Reformer, sustainer,

Challenger, change-agent.

 

As we remember the Reformation 500 years ago,

do not let us sit idly and reflect on the past.

Move us to follow your Holy Spirit

into the leading of the future.

 

Help us to be your church, reformed and still being reformed.

Help us to be your people, formed and still being formed.

 

Glory be to you alone,

Soli deo Gloria.

 

Move us to be people reformed and reforming,

standing on the cornerstones of our faith:

Scripture alone, Christ alone,

Faith alone, Grace alone,

Glory always, to you alone,

Knowing that we are never alone.

Amen.

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Prayers from Matthew and Esther: For Such a Time as This

These prayers were written with Matthew 10:34-49 and Esther 4:1-17 in my mind and my transgender friends in my heart.

Let us pray.

Speak to us this day, O God,
and humble us to hear your word.
Make us still enough to notice your presence,
Quiet enough to hear your voice,
Brave enough to speak your good news,
and wise enough to follow your spirit.

So often we pray to you for life:
to preserve life, to prolong life,
to guard life, to begin life.
Today we pray something else.
We pray for courage to lose our life for your sake,
and we pray for the wisdom to find it.

As Mordecai challenged Esther to be faithful at all costs,
make us hear the voices of people oppressed,
whose stories challenge our way of life.

We pray for your children everywhere:

For your people who are suffering,
Discriminated against because of their race, gender identity,
sexuality, or religion.
For your people who are fearful,
Faced with losing their access to healthcare or treatment.
For your people who are isolated,
Living in the shackles of addiction or abuse.

Holy comforter, challenger, redeemer,
We know that you are in our midst.
Help us recognize your spirit on the move,
and empower us to join your work.

Help us be your church, reformed and still being reformed.
Help us be your people, formed and still being formed.
Help us boldly share the news of your love,
For such a time as this.

Amen.

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Holy Holy Holy: A Prayer from the Lips of Isaiah

Refrain: Holy are you, Lord of Hosts. Holy, holy, holy.

God of mercy we pray to you,
With all our joys and all our burdens.

Holy are you, Lord of Hosts.
Holy, holy, holy.

Your power is beyond our imagination;
Your grace is beyond our comprehension;
Your presence is beyond our senses;
Your goodness is beyond our wildest hope.

We give you thanks for the movement of your spirit:
In the church and in the world,
In the past and in the present,
In our lives and in our neighbors,
In our hearts and in our minds.

Holy are you, Lord of Hosts.
Holy, holy, holy.

Even as we praise you for your power and your might,
We carry the weight of a hurting world.
Where there is pain, breathe your comfort.
Where there hunger, help us share our bread.
Where there thirst, splash living water.
Where there is weakness, help us know your strength.

Hear the prayers of our hearts,
O God our maker,
and hear the prayers we dare not put to words.
Lift them into your being,
Lift our hearts to your presence.
Into our lives, breathe your love.
Into our silence, breathe your mercy.

Holy are you, Lord of Hosts.
Holy, holy, holy.

In the name of Christ,
In the love Christ,
In the grace of Christ, we pray.
Amen.

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Common Ground: Liturgy from the Garden

A few years ago, I planted my first vegetable garden. I fell in love with the way the soil felt under my fingernails, with the looks of surprise on neighbors’ faces when I brought them fresh vegetables, and, of course, with the taste of a freshly picked cherry tomato, still warm from the summer sun.

I often find metaphors in the garden, and, luckily for me, so did Jesus. This liturgy was written for Central Presbyterian Church, based on the lectionary gospel for this Sunday: Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23.

 

Garden

My happy place

Opening Sentences

Listen, O people, for the word of God,

Giving seed to the sower and bread to the hungry.

Listen, O people, for the word of God,

Growing trees in the desert and fruit in the wilderness.

Listen O people, for the word of God,

Planting faith in the weary and hope in the desperate.

Listen O people, for the word of God,

And worship God with gladness.

Prayer of Confession

God the maker of all things good,

Have mercy upon your creation.

We gather on Sundays to nourish our faith,

But we find the seeds scorched in the light of Monday morning.

We want to bear fruits of compassion and kindness,

But we  fall into selfish habits,

and our discipleship withers.

Forgive us, God of mercy.

Shower us with your grace, and free us to try again.

The Affirmation of Faith draws from several of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s writings. While his words are not explicitly about gardening, they ring in my head every time my hands are in the soil. Weeds in one corner of the garden mean weed seeds in every corner. Earthworms in one place means good soil in another. Pesticide in one place means poison in every place. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. 

Affirmation of Faith Adapted excerpts from the writings of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We believe that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

We refuse to believe that we are unable to influence the events which surround us.

We refuse to believe that we are so bound to racism and war,

that peace, brotherhood and sisterhood are not possible.

We believe that we need to discover a way to live together in peace,

a way which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation.

The foundation of this way is love.

We believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality.

We believe that what self-centered people have torn down,

other-centered people can build up.

By the goodness of God at work within people,

we believe that brokenness can be healed.

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God So Loved: A New Liturgy for John 3:16

I have a complicated relationship with this Sunday’s lectionary gospel text, John 3:1-17. John 3 is a beautiful story of Jesus speaking with Nicodemus in the night. It is a witness to Christ’s invitation into communion with God, and it is a story that has been reduced to a catchphrase.

In worship at Central Presbyterian this week, we will reframe our thinking about John 3:16 and its surrounding story with words of love, invitation, and hope. Perhaps these words will resonate with you, too.

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Nicodemus by Henry Ossawa Tanner


This Call to Worship draws from scriptures about love, including quotes from 1 John 4:7, Leviticus 19:18, 1 Corinthians 13:8, Romans 13:10, Matthew 22:37, and John 3:16. 

Hear these words from Scripture:

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God.”

“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

“Love never ends.”

“Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.”

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”

“God so loved the world.”

God so loves the world.

Let us worship the God of love and life.

 

Prayer of Confession

Holy one, holy three,

The winds of your Spirit beckon us to follow,

but we cannot hear the wind over the noise we have created.

Again and again, you call us to believe.

Again and again, we look the other way.

You offer us freedom, but we choose independence,

Pretending that we have ultimate control.

You offer us life, but we find ourselves perishing,

Buried under the weight of our own self-interest.

Forgive us, God of life.

Heal us, and bring us peace.  

Silence and kyrie

 

Assurance of Pardon

God so loved the world that God would come among us,

Become one of us, live with us, and suffer for us,

That we might have life and have it abundantly.

Hear this good news:

God loves us, God forgives us, and God calls us to try again.  

Thanks be to God. Amen.

 

Affirmation of Faith                  Excerpts Adapted from the Heidelberg Catechism (1562)

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

That I am not my own,

but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—

to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

What is true faith?

True faith is not only a sure knowledge by which I hold as true

all that God has revealed to us in Scripture;

it is also a wholehearted trust,

which the Holy Spirit creates in me by the gospel,

that God has freely granted,

not only to others but to me also, forgiveness of sins,

eternal righteousness, and salvation.

These are gifts of sheer grace,

granted solely by Christ’s merit.

But why are you called a Christian?

Because by faith I am a member of Christ

and so I share in his anointing.

I am anointed to confess his name,

to present myself to him as a living sacrifice of thanks,

to strive with a free conscience against sin and evil in this life,

and afterward to reign with Christ over all creation for eternity.

Since we have been delivered from our misery by grace through Christ without any merit of our own,

why then should we do good works?

Because Christ, having redeemed us,

is also restoring us by his Spirit into his image,

so that with our whole lives

we may show that we are thankful to God for God’s benefits,

so that God may be praised through us.

Amen.

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