a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

CTW: who do you say?

      Jesus asks us, “Who do you say that I am?”

            O Lord, we say you are the Son of God,

            but sometimes you just seem so plain human.

      Jesus asks us, “Who do you say that I am?”

            Lord Christ, we say you are the Messiah, the anointed One,

            but we’d expected a warrior or a king or a high priest.

      Jesus asks us, “Who do you say that I am?”

            We say that you are Lord; we say that you are Savior.

            But the words on our lips are not always in our hearts.

      I ask you, who do you say Jesus is?

            Our lives tell the story of who we believe Jesus to be.

            May we demonstrate through our worship

            our faith in the Living Word of God.          

submitted by Rev. Rebecca Page Lesley, Green Acres Presbyterian Church, Portsmouth, VA

call to confession/assurance of pardon: calling out to God

Call to Confession

Like the rich Pharisee, we believe that if we do all the right things before God, we will have earned God’s favor. Yet God does not want our pretenses and posturing. God says to us, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” So let us drop the barriers between us and God and our neighbor and call out like the tax collector, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” confessing to God together in prayer the things that keep us hurting and broken…

(Suggest using a part of one of the Reformed confessions of our heritage in honor of Reformation Sunday.)

Assurance of Forgiveness

We have called out to God and God has heard our cries. God’s merciful Spirit is poured out on all people. Our Creator has offered us forgiveness of our sins through Jesus Christ, for we have humbled ourselves before him and sought his mercy, and so we shall be exalted. For these abundant gifts of God’s undeserved grace, let us stand and sing praise.

submitted by Rev. Rebecca Page Lesley, Suffolk Presbyterian Church, Suffolk, VA

 

CTW: pour out your peace

In the last days, when great wonders will occur, says God,
I will pour out my spirit on all people.

On the very first Pentecost, to begin my church, says God,
I will pour out my spirit on all people.

On this Pentecost, in this very church, says God,
I will pour out my spirit on all people.

Your Spirit is here among us, O God.
May we feel the spark of her fire, the rush of her wind.

May our visions and dreams be of justice and mercy for all your creation;
May we prophesy to your vision of a new heaven and a new earth.

Remove our anxious nerves that prevent our calling out your name.
Come, Holy Spirit, come! May you pour out your peace on all your people!

 

Based on Joel 2:28 and Acts 2
Submitted by Rev. Rebecca Page Lesley, Suffolk Presbyterian Church, Suffolk, VA

confession and pardon: pruning

Call to Confession

There are many things that can cut us off from the One True Vine. Our sins are like so much dead wood. When we confess the dead places in our lives, God offers us the forgiveness we need to prune them away and allow us to thrive once more. We come now to confess the parts of our lives that do not bear fruit…

Prayer of Confession

Gracious God, we confess that we each have places in our lives that could use some pruning. Our words do not always give grace to those who hear, our actions do not always witness to our baptism in your name. We have ignored those who need our help the most and focused on hoarding more for ourselves. Our selfish desires only serve to wither us and turn us into dying branches. Forgive us, and prune away our dead places so that we may bear fruit generously in your name…

…moment of silent confession…

Assurance of Forgiveness

We are grafted into the Living Vine. The Vinegrower has tended to us and removed our sinful and withered ways. We are given another chance to live and bear fruit. For these gifts of love and life, let us stand and sing praise!

This confession would be appropriately followed by a Gloria of some sort.

Submitted by Rev. Rebecca Page Lesley, Suffolk Presbyterian Church, Suffolk, VA

Ash Wednesday prayer–guide us

O God, we seek you out this evening with timid hearts, knowing that this night begins our journey into the darkness and towards the cross. Help us to welcome your guidance on this path and to remember that we cannot travel it alone. Keep our walk straight and true with the strength and courage of your Spirit.
As our focus turns towards your sacrifice for us, may we too make sacrifices for others in ways that show your love for the world, as demonstrated in the death and resurrection of your Son.
Be present with us now tonight and throughout this season of Lent that we may follow you faithfully to Jerusalem and view with new eyes the wonders of your love seen as a heavy cross and an empty tomb. Amen.

(would work especially well to follow this prayer with the hymn “What Wondrous Love is This”)

Submitted by Rev. Rebecca Page Lesley, Suffolk Presbyterian Church, Suffolk , VA

prayer of confession – broken, but reluctant to be made whole

submitted by Rev. Rebecca Page Lesley, Suffolk Presbyterian Church, Suffolk, Virginia
inspired by Mark 1:29-39

O God, we come to you knowing that we are broken but reluctant to be made whole. We confess that we often fear your healing touch and what it might mean to be made well. We are comfortable in our brokenness because it is familiar. We are afraid that we would owe you too much if we allowed you to make us new. Yet that is what we long for, deep in our souls, for you to make our lives whole again. Heal our hearts, forgive our failings and mend our hurts. Reach out to us, O Lord, so that we might have the courage to reach back… (time for silent prayer)

another confession for September 11

Submitted by Rev. Rebecca Page Lesley, Suffolk Presbyterian Church

Merciful God, you teach that we should love our neighbors as ourselves. We confess that we mostly just love ourselves. We see those who are different than we are and we harbor fear and suspicion. We forget that they too, are your beloved children. O God, have mercy on us.

In our search for safety, we have put others at risk and though many lives have been lost, we have not found the security we seek. Forgive us, Lord, for our misplaced sacrifices. Have mercy on us.

Christ teaches that we should forgive, but we like to hold on to grudges and they become our own weapons of mass destruction. We seek to be controllers of rather than partners in our relationships—even our relationship with you, O Lord. Have mercy on us. Forgive our faults, strengthen our weaknesses, and lead us forth in love.

confession: scattered

Prayer of Confession (using Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23 as inspiration), submitted by Rev. Rebecca Page Lesley, Suffolk Presbyterian Church

We watch in horror, loving God, as you scatter seed with abandon, never even looking to see where it will fall. We think we could do it better—plowing and planting in only the best soil, carefully measuring out just the right amount of seed, fertilizer and water. “No waste, no want,” we say. We fear that there will not be enough and so we hoard what we have been so generously given by you, saving what we should be sharing. O God, forgive us for not trusting your ways and for doubting your extravagant abundance. Our own roots are shallow and we quickly fall away in the heat of the day; the weeds of our lives choke our commitment to you. Release us from our fears so that we may bear fruit for you and grow in us a desire to live abundant lives, flowering with generosity and mercy…

(…moment of silent confession.)

confession: we hear the mighty rush of wind

submitted by Rev. Rebecca Page Lesley, Suffolk Presbyterian Church, Suffolk, VA

Creator God, we hear the mighty rush of wind, and assume it is only the weather. We see the power of a flame, and are reminded only of combustion. We admit that we are hardly ever amazed and awed anymore. Often our prayers for help come with reservations and conditions, products of our own insecurities. We ask that you uphold us as we lay before you our doubts and fears.

We confess to you, holy Lord, that we are afraid of the chaos your Spirit leaves in its wake; we do not like chaos and disorder. We are worried that you might ask of us things that we’d rather not do or say; we don’t like to be uncomfortable. We fret about the way other people perceive us; yet you can see into our very hearts, O God. Those who sneered at the disciples, saying they were filled with new wine, did not understand the power of Pentecost and your Holy Spirit. Save us from ourselves, merciful God.

Spirit of new life and renewed life, remove our fears and inhibitions and fill us with strength and courage so that we may use your gifts to the absolute fullest. May we feel your power within us so that we can live and love and witness and serve with utter abandon, following only your will for our lives. Forgive our selfish ways and righteous attitudes that we might return to a right relationship with you and all creation, sharing your forgiveness with all those whom you call your children.