a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

a prayer for the new year

Creator God, the year turns, and we find ourselves uncertain which way to look…
Back, at the blessings you have bestowed upon us—
friends and family,
wonderful summer weather,
beautiful music and theatre,
times for fun and laughter,
new things learned and old habits put away,
the gift of your presence,
celebrations of life and love.
We give thanks for all that has been.

Or perhaps we look back in another direction, at all we have lost—
friends we have said goodbye to,
opportunities missed,
illness or pain that stole our joy,
news that hit too close to home,
worries about livelihoods and about children and about church and about the world.
We pray for healing of our brokenness,
for the comfort of your care to smooth the rough places
and for your light to shine through the cracks.

Or should we look forward, God?
Behold, you are doing a new thing…
we anticipate with wonder that the best is yet to be.
As the old year gives way to the new,
we long for the peace and justice of your kingdom.
We pray that children of every place may grow up with enough food and water and love,
that violence may at last come to an end,
that our leaders might seek the good of all,
that this might be the year when light outshines shadows.

Give us courage to trust you,
to put our hand in yours and walk forward into the unknown with hope.
As we stand at the gate of the year,
looking backward and forward,
remind us also to look inward and outward,
to seek your kingdom first of all.
Remind us that we can see your image in every face,
that you have made us your family, together,
that this world belongs to you and we are its caretakers,
and that there is a still more excellent way—the way of love, faith, and hope.
May this be the year, O God, that all people see your glory together.
We pray in Christ’s name. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, St. John’s Church of Scotland, Gourock

Advent Candles: God-With-Us

Week 1
(Ezekiel 34)

One: Immanuel, God-with-us
One: Incarnate, taking-on-flesh
All: Right here, right now.
One: Light in the shadows,
One: Flickering yet strong,
All: Leading us in the way.
One: We light a candle of hope,
that we might better see our Good Shepherd,
our with-us God
who sits down in our midst
to share our humanity.
~candle is lit~

Sing: O Come O Come Emmanuel, verse 1 and “Wisdom”

 

Week 2
(Isaiah 42.1-9, 56.1-8)

One: Immanuel, God-with-us
One: Incarnate, taking-on-flesh
All: Right here, right now.
One: Light in the shadows,
One: Flickering yet strong,
All: Leading us in the way.
One: We light a candle of peace,
that we might better see the good reason we are called
by our with-us God
who sits down in our midst
to share our humanity.
~candle is lit~

Sing: O Come O Come Emmanuel verse 1 and “Desire of Nations”

 

Week 3
(Jeremiah 31.1-25)

One: Immanuel, God-with-us
One: Incarnate, taking-on-flesh
All: Right here, right now.
One: Light in the shadows,
One: Flickering yet strong,
All: Leading us in the way.
One: We light a candle of joy,
that we might better see the way to good relationship
with our with-us God
who sits down in our midst
to share our humanity.
~candle is lit~

Sing: O Come O Come Emmanuel verse 1 and “Key of David”

 

Week 4
(Matthew 1.18-25)

One: Immanuel, God-with-us
One: Incarnate, taking-on-flesh
All: Right here, right now.
One: Light in the shadows,
One: Flickering yet strong,
All: Leading us in the way.
One: We light a candle of love,
that we might better see the good news
of our with-us God
who sits down in our midst
to share our humanity.
~candle is lit~

Sing: O Come O Come Emmanuel, verse 1 and “Dayspring”

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, St. John’s Church of Scotland, Gourock

** “with-us God who sits down in our mids to share our humanity” is from an affirmation in the Iona Abbey Worship Book.

(we will be using this with two voices alternating the “one” lines, but it could be done with one leader and the congregation responding.)

confession: isaiah 42

Prayer of Confession – Isaiah 42:5-7

(each section is a portion of the sanctuary seating)

Leader: Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out…
Section 1: We confess that we have polluted and over-consumed, living a life that uses up resources with no plans for renewal.
Leader: Who spread out the earth and what comes from it…
Section 2: We confess we have only paid attention to our corner of the house, of town, of the church, of the world.
Leader: Who gives breath the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it,,,
Section 3: We confess that we have stood by and watched when others cannot breathe.
Leader: I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations…
Section 1: We confess we have lived no differently from those who worship no God.
Leader: To open the eyes that are blind…
Section 2: We confess that we have not pointed out injustice.
Leader: To bring out the prisoners from the dungeon…
Section 3: We confess that we have not shared the good news of your love and forgiveness.
Leader: From the prison those who sit in darkness.
All: Forgive us our sins, loving and powerful God. We confess these out loud and others to you, silently now.

Time of Silent Confession

Assurance of God’s Pardon – Isaiah 42:8-9

Leader: Listen to what God says through the prophet Isaiah, “I am the Lord, that is my name. …See, the former things that have come to pass, and new things I now declare.” In the name of the Lord, I declare forgiveness. I declare mercy. I declare love that is stronger than sin and death. And I declare these things to you.
Sisters and brothers in Christ, believe the good news of the Gospel.
People: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

 

Submitted by Rev. John Weicher, Swarthmore Presbyterian Church, Swarthmore, PA

Call For Submissions: PENTECOST!

Alright friends, let’s set the church ablaze with liturgical awesomeness! Let the winds of liturgy blow through our communities! Speak the language of the Spirit in the language of the people!

It’s that time: send us your ideas, your calls to worship, your prayers, your musical suggestions….anything The People might be able to Work in worship!

We’d love to see your liturgy in our mailbox (liturgylink@gmail.com) by Wednesday May 8 if at all possible–think of how ahead-of-the-game you’ll feel, think of how much you can help your fellow pastors who are desperately searching google three days before the Holy Day, think of the joy of being published on this illustrious website… 😉 Let’s fill up the internet with the Spirit, so she can fill our churches with new life too!

Ready, set, create!

 

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!

Looking Ahead: Palm Sunday

not long now, until we wave palms and shout Hosanna! Any liturgical plans for Palm Sunday? Or will you be doing mostly Passion Sunday? Will you have a palm processional? children dancing with palm branches?

What will you sing?

How will you pray?

Ideas–fully formed or half-baked–welcome in the comments!

Sunday’s Coming: working toward March 10

So, here’s a question.

If you pop by Liturgy Link on Mondays, what do you hope to find?

Are you looking for lectionary discussion? My take on the RCL (and/or the Narrative Lectionary) for this week, in a sort of commentary-type format? space for brainstorming? prepared liturgy so you can finalize the bulletin early in the week? hymn ideas? debriefing from yesterday? Something else entirely?

Or do you not do much on Mondays, or maybe even take Monday off, making the Monday post something to gloss over later in the week?

I’m trying to figure out what works best in this space on Mondays. Often we don’t have liturgy already written to post by Monday, and we keep hoping LL will become a space for collaboration, but so far we’re resourcing, not collaborating, so in the interest of serving YOU, our readers and contributors: What do you want to see on Mondays?

 

If you’re contemplating this coming Sunday already: It’s Reconciliation Week! We get the Prodigal (who’s more prodigal in that story?), we get Paul’s exhortation to be agents of God’s reconciliation, we get the Israelites celebrating the Passover and entering the Promised Land as God’s redeemed/covenanted people. So many choices! Will you take the traditional interpretation of the Prodigal Younger Son? Will you ponder what Prodigal Love might look like? (hint: it could look like taking the Israelites to the promised land, even after all that…) Will you contemplate what promised land your congregation stands at the threshold of, and how to enter it as God’s covenant people? Will you wonder together how to pick up Christ’s reconciling work? Or something else completely different?

perhaps you’re following the Narrative Lectionary, or doing a Lent Series. Share your ideas in the comments!

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?

two days to Ashes!

Are you looking for Ash Wednesday resources? Look here!

Are you doing something different for Ash Wednesday?

Are you doing Ashes-To-Go? Is there a liturgy that goes with that, or do you just put ashes on anyone who walks by?

What are you singing for Ash Wednesday?

Do you burn the palms for the ashes? If so, do you do it by yourself ahead of time? How and where? (full disclosure: I order mine from Cokesbury…)

Share here so we can all do our last-minute prep and panic together!

 

And come back later today for the conversation on Lent 1!