a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

prayers of the people–lent 5

God, your faithful love surrounds us,
and we give you thanks
for the gift of life, and the gift of new life,
and for the many ways you sustain and nurture us.

We come before you this day,
some of us tired and hungry,
looking for your word to sustain us,
your spirit to comfort us.
some of us come bruised and sore,
looking for healing,
longing for wholeness.
some of us come despairing,
wondering what has happened
and where the joy of life has gone.
some of us come with heavy hearts,
praying for young people harmed by those who should protect,
praying for those who look different and so are suspect,
praying for a world on edge, tense with fear and hate and violence.
We come, looking for good news in the midst of the world’s bad news.
We come, seeking forgiveness for our wrongs,
seeking to know your presence when we feel so alone,
seeking to know your heart and will for a world with so much need.
In the silence, we offer you our prayers, and we listen for yours.

Let your grace rain down on us, O God.
May we be surrounded by your love, your peace, your hope.
Open our eyes and our hearts to see you in unexpected places,
guide our hands to show your love.
You are a God of surprises,
a God of peace, a God of hope,
a God of love.
Fill us with your spirit, that we may widen the circle until all the world knows your grace.

We pray these and all things in the name of Christ, who taught us to pray together…


Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, Ridgefield Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, Crystal Lake IL.

great prayer of thanksgiving: maker of covenants

L:    May the Lord of Lent be with you.
P:    May the Lord of Lent also be with you.
L:    God’s people: lift up your hearts.
P:    We lift our hearts to the One who has
       engraved them with love.
L:    God’s people:  offer thanks to the One
who creates new life in you.
P:    With our lips, and with our lives, we
       will praise the God who sustains our spirits.

Hearts overflow with joy,
Maker of covenants,
as we lift our songs to you.
In the midst of that creation
filled with bright stars and blue skies,
you shaped us in your divine image.
Cradling our hearts in compassion,
you planted those seeds of hope and joy
which could bring us the life you envisioned.
But we hardened our hearts,
preventing them from blossoming,
and we chose to live in the shadows of sin,
rather than dance in the light of your grace.
Yet even our arrogance and anger
could not keep you from loving us,
as you called to us through prophets’ voices,
inviting us to come back to your side.
And when we continued to love our way more,
your steadfast love became even more abundant
as you sent Jesus to restore our brokenness.

Therefore, we will join with all those
of every age and every place,
our mouths singing your praise:

P:    Holy, holy, holy!  God of compassion and grace!
      Heaven and earth overflow with your goodness.
      Hosanna in the highest.

      Blessed is the One who comes with a willing spirit.
      Hosanna in the highest.

Only you are holy, Engraver of our hearts,
and blessed is the Lord of Life, Jesus Christ.
Your Beloved, he was baptized
and chosen by you to share our life.
He came, to melt our frozen hearts
with the warmth of your mercy.
He came, to be broken
that we might be mended.
He came, to suffer death for our sake,
that seed of new life planted
deep in death’s cold tomb,
so he could be raised to newness,
your glory and hope made known
to all who come seeking him.

Here, at this Table of forgiveness and life,
we remember his life of humility and service,
even as we proclaim that mystery we call faith:

P:    The Word that spoke creation into being
       has become the Voice which shattered death,
       and will call us home at the end of time.

Here at the Table of peace,
we find the gifts you provide,
the bread and the cup drenched
with the Spirit of hope and life.
As we are fed by the bread
created from creation’s goodness,
may the seed of your compassion
which has been planted deep in us,
bloom forth in service to your children.
As we drink from the Cup
which is filled with your righteousness,
may our spirits overflow with justice,
as we bring your good news
and generous presence to all
who are oppressed in our world.

And when, at last, all people are free,
when creation has been restored once more,
when we gather around your Table in glory
with our sisters and brothers from all time,
we will join in singing your praise forever and ever,
God in Community, Holy in One.  Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Thom Shuman, author of Lectionary Liturgies.

call/confession/assurance: we cannot see Jesus

Call to Reconciliation
We close our heart’s eye, and wonder why we cannot see Jesus. We wander down the same old paths, and are amazed that Jesus is not ahead of us. We speak and live in ways which keep us from being God’s children. Ler us come to the One who offers us grace and mercy, as we pray together, saying,

Unison Prayer of Confession
Love that knows no boundaries: we crowd our lives with so much activity, that it is hard to find time for you. We become so focused on ourselves, we can overlook those around us who are searching for hope. We fill our spiritual emptiness with junk, rather than feasting on your Word.

Abundant Mercy, forgive us. Open our eyes, that we may see your new covenant written in plain sight on our hearts. Open our hearts, that we may join you in serving the broken of the world.  Open our love, so we may pour it out as abundantly and graciously as your love is given to us in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Silence is observed

Assurance of Pardon
Like a parent tenderly washing her child, God bathes us in the warm waters of forgiveness, cleansing us, and restoring us to new life.
Through Christ, we are made whole;
through Christ, we are loved;
through Christ, we become new people.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Thom Shuman, author of Lectionary Liturgies.

confession: if we’re honest…

You call us to love you with all our heart, all our mind, all our strength.
But, if we’re honest, we don’t give you all we have.
We hold back—because we aren’t worthy, because we are afraid, because we are selfish.
We aren’t always sure what love really is.
We forget to look to you, and even when we look, our vision is clouded.
Clear the chaos within us, O God,
that we may focus on you.
We will seek you with our whole hearts.


Submitted by the Rev. Teri Peterson, Ridgefield Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, Crystal Lake IL.

prayer: when we fess up

Scribe of our Hearts:
when we ‘fess up
to messing up our lives,
you feed our souls
with gritty resolve.
When we are through
playing in the puddles
from sin’s tempting showers,
you douse us with your grace,
wrapping us up in
mercy’s warm towels.

Hour Bringer:
when arrogance kept us
from seeing God’s glory,
humility became second nature
for you as you walked among us.
When our hopes
were an arid riverbed,
you became the wellspring
of living waters gushing forth.

Planter of Peace:
when doubts blister our hearts
and fears buckle faith’s foundation,
you recondition our spirits
with mercy and joy.
When our lives become
so gunked up with worries,
you pour out your lifesaving compassion,
until we have to grab extra buckets
to be able to hold it all.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we join our voices in thanksgiving,
even as we pray saying,
Our Father . . .

Submitted by Rev. Thom Shuman, author of Lectionary Liturgies.

CTW: each day

Each day is a gift from God:
each moment is that opportunity 
to reach out in service to all creation.
Each day is a reminder of the new covenant:
not written on stone tablets easily broken,
but inscribed on our hearts filled with joy and hope.
Each day we draw closer to God:
who has forgotten more than we ever learn;
who has forgiven us more than we ever acknowledge.

Submitted by Rev. Thom Shuman, author of Lectionary Liturgies.

Sunday’s Coming: working toward March 25

Here we are, approaching the last Sunday in what I sometimes call “regular Lent”–Lent 5 is upon us. When we were doing our Lent worship planning several months ago, we discovered that all the good texts were on Lent 5…we rather wished we could just use the 5 texts from Lent 5 throughout the season. So…an embarrassment of riches this week!

Perhaps you’ll be focusing on the new covenant, written in our hearts.

Perhaps you’ll be causing the congregation to ask “who on earth is Melchizedek?”

Perhaps you’ll be praying together for clean hearts and new and right spirits.

Perhaps you’ll be seeking God with your whole heart. (this is where we built our entire Lent2012 theme, actually!)

Maybe you’ll be asking whether we really do wish to see Jesus, and what that means in 2012.


What images, words, or ideas are sparking your imagination this week? Let’s create together!