a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

CTW: god is speaking

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One: ​Come those who ​thirst for living water.

​Many​: God is speaking to us.
One: Come to worship in spirit and truth
​Many​: God is speaking to us.
One: Come and know what you have heard from others
​Many​: God is speaking to us.
Submitted by Christy Ramsey.

Maundy Thursday: a complete service

Call to Worship             (based on Psalm 26:3-12)

God’s steadfast love is before our eyes.
We walk in God’s faithfulness.
We wash our hands in innocence.
We go around your altar, Lord.
We sing a song of thanksgiving
And tell about your wonderful deeds.
O Lord, we love the house in which you dwell.
We love the place where your glory abides.
In the great congregation, let us bless the Lord.
God’s steadfast love is before our eyes.

Hymn                  Jesus, Thou Joy of Loving Hearts (or Communion hymn focused on body/blood)

First Lesson                    John 6:1-14

Reader 1: After Jesus healed a paralyzed man near the Temple and argued with the Jewish authorities, he went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they had seen the miraculous signs he had done among the sick. Jesus went up a mountain and sat there with his disciples. It was nearly time for Passover, the Jewish festival.

Reader 2: Jesus looked up and saw the large crowd coming toward him. He asked Philip, “Where will we buy food to feed these people?” Jesus said this to test him, for he already knew what he was going to do.

Reader 3: Philip replied, “More than a half year’s salary worth of food wouldn’t be enough for each person to have even a little bit.”

(Communion elements are brought forward by an adult and a child.)

Reader 1: One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said, “A youth here has five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that for a crowd like this?”

Reader 2: Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass there. They sat down, about five thousand of them. Then Jesus took the bread. When he had given thanks, he distributed it to those who were sitting there. He did the same with the fish, each getting as much as they wanted. When they had plenty to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather up the leftover pieces, so that nothing will be wasted.”

Reader 3: So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves that had been left over by those who had eaten. When the people saw that he had done a miraculous sign, they said, “This is truly the prophet who is coming into the world.”

Prayer of Confession

Holy One, forgive us. We believe only the things we can see. We want to be faithful to you, but we get caught up in the numbers. A year’s salary will only go so far. Our time gets spent just as fast as our paychecks. We look around and see “not enough” instead of rejoicing that you have given us more than enough. We hold onto what is ours for fear it will all disappear.

Bend back the fingers we have clenched tight shut around the last piece of bread or the last bit of fish. There is more left over than we can calculate. Help us to see it.

(Silent confession)

Assurance of Pardon

Our God is not a cruel parent. Our God seeks to be in relationship with us. Our God loves us enough to take on our form and live among us.
God will not turn us away when we have come confessing with open hearts.
God offers forgiveness and welcomes us to the table of grace and plenty where all the faithful gather. This is the Good News that brings new life.
We thank God for it.

Communion Invitation           

The same people who ate the loaves and fishes followed Jesus the next day, all the way to the other side of the lake. Did they follow him hoping for more signs that he was God? No. Jesus said to them, “I assure you that you are looking for me not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate all the food you wanted. Don’t work for the food that doesn’t last but for the food that endures for eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.”

Friends, we gather at this table not to fill our stomachs but to be fed by spiritual food. Jesus told the people, “The bread of God is the one who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said, “Sir, give us this bread all the time!”

Jesus replied, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” Believing in him, we come to this table to share a holy meal.

Communion Prayer  

Let us pray. Lord, we come to you looking to be fed. We remember the stories of miraculous feeding, of manna in the wilderness, and the abundance of loaves and fishes, and the miracle of the wine at the wedding in Cana. We ask your blessing on these ordinary elements, the bread and the juice. We believe you feed us in ways that go far beyond our literal understanding. Through the awesome wonders of creation to the joy of human love and the power found in a group of people working on your behalf, you have blessed us. You became present to us in Jesus and blessed us further with your grace and mercy. You remain present to us in the working of the Holy Spirit. We give thanks for all the ways you show your love for us as pray together using the words Jesus taught us:

Our Father, etc. Amen.

Words of Institution

Jesus said to them, “I assure you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day. My flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.  Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in them. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me lives because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. It isn’t like the bread your ancestors ate, and then they died. Whoever eats this bread will live forever.”

Sharing of the Bread and Cup

This is the bread. This is the cup. These are the things of God for the people of God. Come, for all things are ready.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Holy and gracious God, for the meal we have shared, for the nourishment of the spirit and for the life of this community, we give you thanks. Help us to see miraculous signs wherever we see you. Help us to work always for the food that endures, in Christ’s name. Amen.

Anthem/Hymn                             Ah, Holy Jesus (or similar hymn)

Second Lesson                              John 19:23-24                (Reader Three)

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and his sandals, and divided them into four shares, one for each soldier. His shirt was seamless, woven as one piece from the top to the bottom. They said to each other, “Let’s not tear it. Let’s cast lots to see who will get it.” This was to fulfill the scripture, They divided my clothes among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing. That’s what the soldiers did.

Lord Jesus, we divide you. We claim you belong to us. Others claim you belong to them. Help us to see you in your wholeness, pouring out your love for all people.

(Reader Three leaves during hymn, to be followed by choir members, Deacons/Elders w/ chancel items.)

Hymn                                  When I Survey the Wondrous Cross (or similar hymn)

Third Lesson                                  John 19: 25-27               (Reader Two)

Jesus’ mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood near the cross. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, here is your son.” Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Lord Jesus, some of your followers stayed with you to the end. We want to have that kind of faith. Give us the strength to see things through, even in the midst of darkness, danger and despair.

(Reader 2 leaves as hymn begins, to be followed by remaining choir members, Deacons, etc.)

Hymn                                  Beneath the Cross of Jesus (or similar hymn)

Fourth Lesson               John 19:28-30                                (Reader One/Pastor)

After this, knowing that everything was already completed, in order to fulfill the scripture, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar full of sour wine was nearby, so the soldiers soaked a sponge in it, placed it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips.

Lord Jesus, you showed us God’s abundant hospitality and turned water into wine. We showed you human hospitality and let things go sour. We showed no mercy, and yet we ask for your mercy, Lord.

When he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, “It is completed.” Bowing his head, he gave up his life.

(Reader One closes Bible, carries it out of sanctuary.)

 

Submitted by Rev. Martha Spong, Reflectionary.

confession: we lose our way

Loving Christ, you tell your disciples that you are the Way, the Truth, and the Life, yet how often we lose our way, confuse the truth, and choose little deaths rather than live in your abundance. We confess our distractions, how tempted we are by roads more traveled. We admit the seduction of certainty, of those who say what we want to hear. We know our ways of life make us sick and threaten our planet, yet we feel powerless to live otherwise.
Still, in your grace, you give us the cross, the signpost on your Way. Your Truth confronts the powers of this world, revealing their self-service and false promises. Your Life grows as we follow you and so discover an abundance we could never imagine on our own, bringing life to communities everywhere. As we travel our Lenten journey, may we know where you are going, and may we follow and find our home. Amen.

Silent Prayer

Assurance of Grace
In the difficulties of the holiest week, no matter how others gave up on him, Jesus continued to love others. We remember that Jesus still shows us the depths of God’s love and calls us to share that love with others. Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Laura Cunningham, Nauraushaun Presbyterian Church, Pearl River, NY

Confession: You invite, but…

One:    You, Lord, invite us into relationship

All:     but relationships are messy and hard work, so we turn you into an idea instead.

~silence~

One:    You, Lord, invite us to trust,

All:     but we insist trust must be earned, so we turn back to what we know.

~silence~

One:    You, Lord, invite us to come in,

All:     but we aren’t sure we want to commit, so we stand in the doorway, undecided.

~silence~

One:    You, Lord, invite us to go out,

All:     but we don’t want to offend anyone, and we don’t know enough,

            so we stand at the threshold and look but never leap.

~silence~

One:    Forgive us, O God,

All:     for our chosen captivity to the kingdoms of this world.

Open wide the door of life, and give us courage to walk through.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, the Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL.

confession: denial

You, O Lord, are the giver of every good gift. Your love is the ground of our being. You call us to listen, to feast upon your word, and to follow in your way. You call us to trust you with everything we are and everything we have. Yet so often we deny you—by claiming we deserve what we have, by remaining silent in the face of injustice, by keeping busy so we do not have time to hear the cock crow.

For all the ways we have betrayed you, and ourselves, forgive us, O God.

~silence~

One:    Open wide the door of life, O God,

All:     and give us courage to walk through.

confession: your path, your way

PRAYER OF AWARENESS AND RECONCILIATION
God of all creation, following your path is not easy. It seems to us that you never take the easy way – indeed, your Way is always surprising. Forgive us our blind stumbling, and guide us back to your path. Call out to us, as you have to our ancestors in the faith. When we see you, do not run up ahead, but enfold us in your arms, even if just for a moment. O Dearest God – even when we are turned away from you, we yearn for your love and peace. 

A time of silence for reflection and prayer

KYRIE

WORDS OF ASSURANCE
When we read in the scriptures that heaven opened, and God spoke to Jesus, “You are my beloved child, with whom I am well pleased,” it is good for us to hear these words as though God were speaking them to us, too. Because we are God’s beloved children – and God has sent Christ into the world that we might experience eternal life, eternal love, and eternal peace. Let us follow the Way ever more closely, knowing that God loves us dearly with every step we take.

submitted by Rev. Lucus Keppel, Ancho + Corona Presbyterian Churches, New Mexico

confession: we keep you at arm’s length

You, Lord, are closer to us than breathing, nearer than hands and feet. And yet we so often try to keep you at arm’s length, even as we beg for you to be with us. We close the door to protect our privacy, believing security can be gained by keeping others out. We stand outside, believing you don’t really invite us in…and if you do, certainly not along with them.

When we take a step back, insisting on both physical and emotional distance in the name of what is proper, forgive us. When we believe that surface relationship is plenty deep enough, and protest your call to be fully real with one another and with you, forgive us. When we rely on custom as a way to keep ourselves apart, forgive us.

Close the gap between us, Lord, and show us what true love does.

~silence~

One:    Open wide the door of life, O God,

All:     and give us courage to walk through.

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, the Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL

confession: we’d rather keep the door closed

One:    You, Lord, are Alpha and Omega—beginning and end.
But in between sometimes it feels like we are on our own,
and then the illusion of control is so seductive.

All:     Forgive us when we try to control you, insisting that your will must match ours.
For we confess that we do not like the unknown,
so we fill that void with shoulds and musts we expect both you and others to obey.
We’d rather keep the door closed with certainty than risk opening to changed life.
We’d rather be bound up in our own beliefs than risk being set free by love, for love.

~silence~

One:    Open wide the door of life, O God,
All:     and give us courage to walk through.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, the Presbyterian Church of Palatine, IL

CTW for Ash Wednesday

One: This is the season of Lent, a time when we recognize the ways we have moved away from God, a time when we look deeply into our lives and see the ways we have not lived faithfully. Lent is also a time of reorientation and renewal; a time of turning our hearts and minds back to God.
Many: Have mercy on me, O God, according to your steadfast love

One: God is a God of abundant mercy, who seeks reconciliation with wayward Creation.
Many: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.

One: God is a God who constantly reaches out to us, inviting us into love, inviting us into life.

Many: Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and sustain in me a willing spirit.

One: The sacrifice which is pleasing to God is a contrite heart and a spirit of brokenness; let us turn to God humility and faith.
Many: God, you are merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. Wash away our guilt, heal our brokenness, and draw us ever closer to you.

Submitted by Laura Brekke, Campus Minister at Santa Clara University in California, adapted from Psalm 51

CTW: come in and go out

One:    God invites us to come in and go out and find pasture:

All:     to come into the kingdom, into abundant life, into the light;

to go out to serve, out to live our faith, out to be the Body of Christ.

One:    Christ calls us to hear his voice

All:     and so we come to listen and seek and follow.

One:    We stand at the threshold of God’s future,

All:     the Spirit stands at the door and knocks.

One:    Come, let us worship.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, the Presbyterian Church of Palatine