a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

Sunday’s Coming: EASTER!

Okay, so many of us are covered in snow. But still–Easter is coming! Like, really soon.

And before that, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Do you have plans? Worship services every day, or just one or two days? Do you do an Easter Vigil?

What kind of liturgy will you use this week? Footwashing? Communion? Stripping the Sanctuary? Sunrise?

Are you planning to stick to your congregation’s traditions and do what you did last year, or write something new?

We’re here, ready to brainstorm, commiserate, plot, and create with you!

Sunday’s Coming: working toward February 24

One Lenten Sunday down…how did your beginning of Lent go last Wednesday and yesterday? Did you do anything designed to help people enter the season in a particular way? What are your hopes for the rest of the season, both worship-wise and in your own spiritual life?

This Sunday we contemplate God’s promises–and wonder what our sign of God’s faithfulness to the promise might be. Abraham could look at the night sky and remember, prompting his own faithfulness. Paul asks us to observe other faithful people so that we might learn and imitate their faithfulness. Jesus looks back at his own people’s history and at scripture to bolster his courage in the face of his coming task. And in the psalm we pray for the strength and courage to wait for the fulfillment of God’s promise.

Or perhaps you see another theme in these readings–please share!!

Where are you, liturgically speaking? What are your hopes for this week’s communal worship experience? What do you need? Do you have an image, a metaphor, a word, an idea, or even a complete prayer? Stop by in the comments to join the conversation!

Sunday’s Coming: Working toward February 17

Well friends, here we are: Lent.

Do you have big plans for Lent this year? A season-long theme or series? A visual aid you are working with? A particular song you plan to sing all season long? A metaphor guiding your reflections on the lectionary?

I know several of us are taking the spiritual-practices approach this year…what practices will you be introducing/teaching/focusing on? How will you do that in worship? What does that mean for your liturgical practice?

For those of us working from the RCL, this week offers us a challenge to remember our story–to be plugged in to God’s narrative in such a way that it becomes a part of us, ready to shore us up in times of temptation, to be our shelter in times of trouble, to learn how to pray and to listen.

Of corse, none of those stories advocate for simple literalistic memorization and parroting–each interprets and reinterprets God’s story for its context. How will you be reinterpreting this story of Lent, told so many times, for your context?

In many ways, this is what we do with liturgy–we hold the story up to the light and see what light might shine in a word or phrase or image, and we play with that until we have something that allows the people of God to access the word from another angle. How will you be working with liturgy this week?

Sunday’s Coming: working toward February 3

Ah, Souper Bowl Sunday! Are you doing anything special for this day? Do you participate in the Souper Bowl of Caring? Do you have a liturgy for that? Do you incorporate it into the communion? Or just let it be?

With just two Sundays left before Lent, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that we have Jesus getting into trouble. And, as is typical in Luke, he’s getting into trouble for challenging the status quo of exclusivity and “chosenness.” He uses the moment of adoration to give a challenging word, and the people appear to have been listening–and they definitely had a reaction. What is the good news for your context in this story?

We also have this week the call of the prophet Jeremiah, who apparently considered himself too young for the task. Or perhaps he’d simply internalized the message that young people should be seen and not heard. Either way, God went for “I have put my words in your mouth” as the solution to the problem–a much quicker way than with the whole Moses-and-Aaron situation, but equally uncomfortable and challenging for one who wasn’t sure about the whole thing! Especially since the task given to Jeremiah is one that will have the people in uproar…pluck up and tear down, build and plant. Again, challenging the status quo is never popular, and Jeremiah certainly did that.

The psalm seems perfectly matched to these two texts–it’s only by keeping their eyes on the one who called them were Jeremiah or Jesus able to pass through the midst of the people who reached out to stop their message. It’s hard work to be a prophet, and it’s nearly impossible work if our hope is misplaced.

And then we have the infamous love chapter. While many cringe when it’s included in weddings, perhaps here is a chance to redeem it for everyday grace. (Sort of like how I love when Psalm 23 comes up so I can rescue it from funerals.) Aside from the usual tricks of replacing the word love with God, or with your own name, or whatever–how can you imagine this might be used in our liturgy? I can imagine reading it responsively as we often do the psalms, or making it the basis of a prayer of confession (because come on–how often do we love like this?). Perhaps there’s an affirmation of faith in there? Or even the ground of a full service worth of liturgy?

What are you thinking about for this week?

(I’m away from the internet this week, so please get to work in the comments so I can have something to work with when I get home! LOL.)

Sunday’s Coming: working toward January 27

Often when the lectionary cuts out verses of a passage, it’s to avoid something uncomfortable. This week, it cuts out our discomfort with hearing lay liturgists try to pronounce 26 beauties of old Hebrew names, though I confess there is a small part of me that thinks it would be amusing to schedule someone to be liturgist and hand them the list: “Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodiah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah…” I mean, I’d never do it, of course, but a little daydreaming never hurt anybody.

Once you read around all those names, you find actually a touching story of a community hearing the word of the Lord, read and proclaimed, and finding all the mixture of emotion and knowledge that comes with a real encounter with the living word.

Perhaps you’ll be contemplating how the creation proclaims the word–while many of us in the north are experiencing something like the dead of winter, and others farther south wondering if winter will ever appear (or dealing with record heat in southern hemisphere summer), it’s easy to forget that human language isn’t the only way to experience God’s goodness. The psalm reminds me of the Celtic understanding of the big and little book. The written scripture is of course crucial (as the psalmist says), but it’s the little book–we can also read of God’s grace in the big book of creation.

The two New Testament readings lend themselves, in my opinion, beautifully to annual meeting season. When we reflect on who God calls us to be as a community, and how we have lived that out in the past year and how we might do so in the coming year, what better place to begin than with Jesus’ mission statement? Or with Paul’s vision for the church? So often we are captivated by the mission and vision statements we write in committees, only to be forgotten until the next annual meeting. How do we live out this vision and mission passed down to us in scripture? Both would make stellar prayers of confession, I think–so often we pursue our own self-interest rather than that of the whole body, so often we sanitize the mission of Jesus into nice healing and teaching and bleeding and rising. What does it mean to be the body of a Christ who says he is here to be with the poor, captive, blind, oppressed?

What are you contemplating this week? Do you have any ideas for visually enhancing the worship space this week? For calling us to generosity in the offering? For assuring us of forgiveness in the midst of our brokenness? For calling us together to worship? Affirming our faith?

No matter how formed or unformed your idea, stop in to the comments for conversation and inspiration!

Sunday’s Coming: working toward January 20

How did things go yesterday? Did you do a ritual of reaffirmation of baptism? If so, how wet did people get? Did you use a particularly excellent (or terrible) prayer? Did a hymn work spectacularly or fall flat?

Now that we’ve let go a bit of last week, time to look toward this weekend. It’s a bit of an odd one, as it’s simultaneously the season of the Epiphany, MLK weekend (which means a long weekend for many families…and here that means they all run off to warmer climes for a few days respite), and the inauguration. We are also nearing Annual Meeting season for many congregations. I wonder if we could fit in anything else?

If you’re following the RCL, this week has a couple of beauties and a couple of texts that you wonder why they’re put together.

There is of course the Wedding at Cana, often included in the season of epiphany, because it’s one of the times (in John, the first time) we see that Jesus is rather extraordinary. Also extraordinary are the other characters in the story–we see Mary as the pushy Jewish mother, insisting on directing the life of her grown son. We see the people who, for some reason, fill up 150 gallons of water without batting an eyelash or making any snide remarks. We see a steward and bridegroom who appear to believe that no, really, there WAS more wine in the cellar…and through it all, no one appears to need to actually take a ritual bath. Good thing! Though you have to wonder…is there wine in there? Or is there wine only when someone who needs it turns the tap? Is the miracle in the obedience? The moment of need? Or somewhere in between?

 

There’s also the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 to work with this week–a perfect set up if you’re leaning into annual meeting season (especially since the following week, when many many meetings will be taking place to meet those bylaws that it has to be “no later than the first sunday in february” and to avoid a conflict with Super Bowl parties, the text is the second half of the chapter on the Body of Christ). It is one of my favorite things to point out to people that faith is a gift given to whom the Spirit chooses. How do you see the gifts of the Spirit at work in your community? How do people with varying gifts work together for the common good? How might this be a text we can apply to our nation in the midst of the inaugural festivities? This text is just BEGGING to be turned into liturgy–someone write a confession or an affirmation faith, stat!

Isaiah again gives us soaring rhetoric–language more exalted than anything we’ll hear elsewhere. There’s something a little edgy in the subtext of this classic comfort text, though. I can’t quite put my finger on it. There is something here that could be used if you’re celebrating MLK weekend, if you can put your finger on just what that subtext might be. And for those congregations grieving or feeling as if they’re wandering in the wilderness, this is good news indeed. Anyone out there serving a church as a long-term interim? There is good news for impatient wondering people in here.

And the psalm…I must admit that my Presbyterian heart is tempted to simply read the psalm responsively as a confession and assurance of grace all in one fell swoop this week. It’s incredible how easily the psalmist seems to flow from repentance to hope to praise and petition. There is always a part of me that wants to stick with just one for a bit before getting on with it…perhaps there’s something for us all to learn in how they interweave in this psalm.

Are you off lectionary for a series or holiday? Are you following the narrative lectionary? Stop by in the comments and share your idea-seeds–you never know when a little comment-conversation might spark growth of creativity for all of us!

Sunday’s Coming: working toward January 13

To those in Orthodox Traditions: Merry Christmas!!

To those in Western traditions: Happy Epiphany!

And to all of us: it may only be Monday, but Sunday’s coming.

This Sunday, many of us in western traditions will be celebrating Baptism of the Lord–when all the readings are about water, choirs will sing River In Judea, and some more adventurous churches may even break out in song…”As I went down to the river to pray….”

Of course, this being Year C, the story of Jesus’ baptism is pretty sparse. Luke has done some cleaning up of the narrative until we’re left only with “and when Jesus also had been baptized…” (after “all the people”??)

Then again, we do get the soaring rhetoric of Isaiah. I just cannot resist that man’s golden pen. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you…”

Maybe you’d like to take a twist on the baptism theme with “The voice of the Lord is over the waters….” Or perhaps you’d like to bring the Holy Spirit back to church on a day other than Pentecost.

Personally, I’ve been away (and LL has been on a mini-break), transitioning between two calls. This Sunday is my first in a new congregation–what better way to begin a new life together than with Baptism of the Lord Sunday? So I’ll be pondering new things and the call we receive (and have confirmed!) in our baptism. There may or may not be a reaffirmation of baptism–but if there is, I hope it has the excitement of Splash Mountain rather than the dreary winter drizzle.

What are you thinking this week? Will you be doing a reaffirmation of the baptismal covenant? If so, will you write new liturgy or use something from a denominational or other resource?

Imagine the confessions that could be written from that Isaiah reading. Or the call to worship from the psalm.

Leave your single droplets or fully formed rivers of ideas here, so we can create together!

hurricane or no hurricane, Sunday’s Coming: working toward November 4

Many prayers for all our faithful contributors and readers who are in the path of the storm–may you be dry, warm, and safe!

What happened in worship yesterday? What worked, or didn’t work? Was there a moment when the liturgy truly became the “work of the people”?

And looking toward this Sunday…are you going for All Saints, or Ordinary 31, Stewardship Commitment, or some other season/theme/series?

If you’re working on All Saints, then yesterday’s Prayers of the People post might be of use to you as you ponder and prepare. If you write something, or have just a phrase you want to work with but aren’t sure what to do with it yet, put it all in the comments and we’ll all join in the creating–a virtual cloud of witnesses to celebrate the more literal one.

If you’re working on Ordinary 31, perhaps you’ll be pondering the relationships of 3 women in Ruth, or the High Priestly nature of Jesus, or Praising the Lord!!!! with the Psalm, or answering the eternal question about the most important commandment.

If you have stewardship commitment this Sunday…is it also a communion Sunday for you? How do you combine those two things in the service without giving the impression that one pays for the privilege of coming to the table?

Lots to think about this week–let’s create together!

Sunday’s Coming: working toward October 28

so–are you on Reformation Sunday? All Saints? Something else? The usual lectionary? The narrative lectionary?

Perhaps you’ll be thinking about Blind Bartimaeus and his request: “let me see again.”

Perhaps you’ll be thinking about a psalm–either the Mighty Fortress one or taste-and-see.

Perhaps you’ll be contemplating Job or Jeremiah.

Or are you thinking about Hebrews and the atoning sacrifice and the priestly nature of Jesus?

Or something else entirely?

Grab some coffee or tea, a snack, and a brainstorming hat–join the conversation as we create for this week!

Sunday’s Coming: working toward October 21

This Sunday is my birthday! Therefore I will write only birthday-related liturgy.

What’s that? That’s neither helpful nor church? Sigh.

How about Blessing The Lord? Or seeing if Jesus can give me a great gift? Or perhaps you’ll be spending it listening to the liturgist try to pronounce Melchizedek more than once. Or maybe continuing with Job, contemplating God’s “answer” to Job’s question.

Is it stewardship season? How’s that coming? What invitations, prayers, dedications, ritual actions, or other liturgical opportunities are you engaging in this season? Please share–some of us still have no dedication-Sunday plan and we need some help!

Whatever you’re working on, stop in with your ideas, or to hear the ideas of others. It’s like a virtual coffee shop in here, complete with collaborators and comfy chairs and good background music!