a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

Looking Ahead: Easter

How’s that Lenten Discipline going? One month and one day left of Lent! (not that anyone would count down or anything…)

On Easter morning, do you have a sunrise service? Inside or outside? printed bulletin or no bulletin? preaching or no preaching?

What about the service that happens well after sunrise?

What sparks are just beginning to catch your imagination–ideas, words, phrases, images…or maybe just a feeling or a sense of the atmosphere? What do you need for Easter, sunrise service or later? What have you done before, what would you like to try? Let’s work together to create!

Looking Ahead: Holy Week

One week it’s a special evening service. The next week it’s planning for the next special evening service… But sometimes these things take time to put together–maybe you have a dinner on Maundy Thursday? special music or art on Thursday or Good Friday? Footwashing? Dramatic interpretation of the story? Prayer stations? preaching?

So…what services do you have during Holy Week? What kind of atmosphere do you hope to create for those services? What ritual actions (if any) do you practice?

Are there images or words that can be the spark that gets our creativity flowing? What seed-words might you have that we can play off of to create new liturgy for these ancient holy days?

Leave your ideas–whether it’s a word, a phrase, an image, an idea, a song, an action, whatever!–in the comments so we can create together!

Liturgy Link Does Ash Wednesday

Many of you know that LiturgyLink began as an idea tossed around at Unconference and then developed on Twitter…and then funded by the S3 Project at Columbia Seminary (thanks to the Lilly Endowment). Well, the original four liturgylinkers were all together at Columbia last week and we decided we would try to write an Ash Wednesday prayer together.

The first thing you need to know about us is that we all serve in very very different churches, ranging from an urban congregation with 25 people in worship to Southern small-city churches, to a suburban midwestern church with over 200 people in worship. To say we have different contexts and different expectations for this kind of special service would be an understatement. After an hour of discussion (some of it heated) we realized that at least one of us was looking to write a long prayer that could be the backbone of the entire service, another was looking for something about the length of an average Sunday’s prayer of confession. One of us was hoping to focus on the otherness of God, while one wanted to focus on the closeness of God. Etc.

You can see where this is going, right?

We know that everyone who stops by here has a unique worship context–and that means you have something unique to contribute! We hope you use what is useful here, and we hope you’ll offer your creativity, even if that comes in the form of one word, or one phrase that you haven’t developed yet but might spark the imagination of someone else. In that spirit, we offer you what we did manage to put together–a list of phrases and ideas that we didn’t end up putting into one prayer that would work for all of us. But we suspect these phrases will appear in each of our prayers as we finish them up this afternoon or tomorrow morning.

Take these seeds (posted after the break!), add your own in the comments, and let’s see what this might grow into!

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Looking Ahead: still working on Lent

there’s a great conversation going on over at the Ash Wednesday post–how do we work with children during Lent? What kinds of prayers, litanies, songs, or children’s moments might help us enter into this season?

There’s also still lots of room for ideas for Lent–what are you thinking? What dreams are you imagining? What hopes do you have for this Lent?

Looking Ahead: Lent

Last week we started up a conversation about Ash Wednesday. Stop in and share your ideas, contribute a line to a prayer of confession, or just tell us what you normally do so we can brainstorm together!

This week we’re looking toward Lent. When it comes to major seasons like Lent, do you prefer to look for a theme to follow through the whole season? If so, do you get that theme from the lectionary or from somewhere else (the needs of the community, something you read, etc)? Or do you use whatever comes up in the lectionary? Or some other plan?

Do you do anything special for Lent–special decoration, artwork, worship style? I’ve heard of churches fasting from a printed bulletin during Lent, which sounds super interesting. I’ve also heard of going instrument-free, using only unaccompanied singing. And I’ve heard of giving up preaching for Lent, instead using other forms of proclamation.

Many of us will have a special focus on repentance during Lent, and we’ll pay more attention to our prayers of confession than we might otherwise. Do you have an idea for a confession? Or maybe a call to confession or a declaration of forgiveness that will be particularly poignant during this season?

Join in the conversation in the comments as we look toward the 6 weeks of Lent.

Looking Ahead: Ash Wednesday

It’s time! Ash Wednesday is only ONE WEEK from today. The words, the music, the ritual, the space–what are you thinking? What do you need? What phrases or images are you working with? Now’s the time to use the comments to write a new litany of confession, or to come up with new words for the imposition of ashes, or to think about how we will call people to the observation of Lent. What are you thinking?



I know, Lent feels far away.


But it isn’t.


Six weeks from today is Ash Wednesday.

As we take a moment to recover from that reality, let’s also take a moment to breathe in, breathe out, and contemplate.

What tone do you want to set for Lent this year?

Do you have Ash Wednesday services? Do you share them with another congregation? Is it something you don’t really do in your tradition or context?

Ashes, or symbolic (aka no-) ashes?

How will you engage this service of repentance, calling, and recognition of mortality?

Let’s work together to write something new–perhaps something we can use as a confession before we hear those great traditional words calling us to a holy lent? Add your ideas, phrases, things we need to confess, or hopes for Lent in the comments.

Looking Ahead: Transfiguration

Now that T-Fig is a mere 10 days away, it’s time to get serious. What are you thinking for transfiguration this year? What phrases do you want to start working with? What seeds are you hoping will bud into new liturgy? What fig-ments (hahaha) do you want to build on?


I know, I know, it’s still only the 11th day of Christmas, but some of us have to work really far ahead. Whether it’s because we have a lot of volunteers involved and they need more time to create, or we’re trying hard to do new creative things that always somehow seem to require more work, or our brains just need the lead time to let things simmer, it’s time to look forward in faith…toward everyone’s favorite holy day, Transfiguration. Every year, the same story of the shiny Jesus and the whole Moses-Elijah-crazy-Peter-dwellings-falling-on-our-faces-overshadowed-by-clouds-voice-from-the-sky thing. So…what are you thinking about for T-Fig? How can we experience the holy in this story this year? What creative ways–music, liturgy, movement, art, etc–can help us encounter God on this Sunday before Lent?

The rest of the service

It’s Thursday. Which means for me (@revlkb), the copier will be working away, and the bulletins will be folded and placed in the narthex with care. Inserts will be safely tucked inside, with visions of the Magnificat dancing in their heads.

But there is still much to do for Sunday’s service. There are prayers to write. There are children’s sermons to plan. There are more services next week too!

So, what are you working on today? Do you have prayers to share? How are you talking about Mary’s beautiful song with the children? Or are you going in a different direction on this fourth Sunday of Advent?

Prayers for each of you as you approach the home stretch of this busy and sacred time!

In the Now: Blue Christmas/Longest Night

Some of us had Blue Christmas services this past week. Others of us still have that coming up. Some of us have Longest Night services. Whatever we call it, this service is often the balm to a hurting soul–offering space in the midst of a cheery and hustle-and-bustle season to acknowledge grief, pain, or other un-holiday-ish feelings.

What do you do in this kind of service? What format do you use? What liturgy? Do you have favorite resources? Did you write anything new this year? Do you want to write something–perhaps a litany or a prayer acknowledging the difficulty of the season, or a call to worship that leaves room for both celebration and sadness, or a dedication of our memories instead of a dedication of an offering?

To get us started, we have a new hymn written by Carlos Wilton, pastor at Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church in Point Pleasant Beach NJ.

Comfort Your People, Lord
A Hymn for Blue Christmas Services
(Tune: “The Coventry Carol”)
text by Carlos Wilton

O Lord, we bring to you, this day,
Hearts that are raw with pain:
For sorrow has companioned us,
And in our lives does reign.
You promise to make all things new:
Comfort your people, Lord.

Would that we could turn back the clock
And for one precious hour
Reach out, clasp hands, and touch again
Love’s fragile, with’ring flower!
You cherish all times in your hands:
Comfort your people, Lord.

All through our lives we’ve trusted you
To be most fair and kind:
Though, in the dark night of the soul,
Anger enthralls our minds.
For freedom you have set us free:
Comfort your people, Lord.

We have not always trusted that
Fairness has been your way.
Too soon it’s seemed to watch our dreams
Float up and fly away.
For good, all things together work:
Comfort your people, Lord.

My soul, why are you so downcast:
Caught up in grief’s malaise?
We trust the day will soon arrive
When we will sing God’s praise!
Not Yuletide mirth, but Easter joy:
We ask this gift, O Lord.

Copyright © 2011, by Carlos E. Wilton. All rights reserved. Permission is given for congregations to reproduce the text of this hymn in worship bulletins, as long as the copyright information is included.

Looking Ahead: New Year’s Day is a Sunday, too

So this year, as would mathematically make sense, has both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day on Sundays. Last week we began contemplating what to do with the Christmas Day/Sunday service. This week, join in as we wonder how to best ring in 2012…in worship. What ideas, thoughts, germs-of-phrases, songs, or actions do you have in mind? What kind of service would you like to have, if you could do anything you wanted?

Share your ideas, hopes, and dreams–for the New Year’s Day worship experience, and the New Year–here!