a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

Prayers of the People: eternally victorious

We give you praise, O God,
because you are eternally victorious over death.
In faithfulness you have raised up Christ for us,
and your mercy knows no end.

God of life, we pray for those who are bowed down
under the weight of hunger, injustice, uncertainty, or despair.
You who provide every good thing,
uphold your people.
Open your hands wide
and satisfy the needs of every living thing.

God of hope, we trust in your righteousness
and depend on your love.
Be near to those on whose behalf we call upon you;
to those who face sorrow, illness, injury, or death.
Fulfill our longings for wholeness, healing, and new life;
hear and answer all who cry out to you.

Steadfast God, preserve us in your love,
that we might speak your praise
and bless you forever
in the name of the holy one, the Risen Christ,
who teaches us to pray as we say:
The Lord’s Prayer

 

Rev. Nathan Williams, Covenant Presbyterian Church, West Des Moines, IA

Affirmation of Faith for Holy Humor Sunday

We believe in God who was before all things, maker of all things, source of all life. We were made in God’s image for vital work in this world – to do justice, to speak truth, to live in love. But we recognize that God’s image also blossoms in our lighter side when we are curious, playful, laughing. God has given us the gift of humor to laugh at ourselves, to unmask the weaknesses of sin, and to turn back to the arms of love. In Christ Jesus, God came and walked among us, teaching us to embrace the weightier matters with a light touch. Though we sinned and rejected him, he still chose to die for us. The forces of evil grasped to contain him, but he arose, laughing, breaking all the bounds of sin and death. As we follow him, we laugh with him, following the true light that cannot be conquered. We believe in the Holy Spirit who teaches us to smile, to bear with difficulty, and to endure from now until the joyful resolution of all creation. We look forward to the coming kingdom of heaven where laughter and love resound in every home and every heart. Amen.

 

Rev. Elana Keppel Levy, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Bixby, OK

confession: pursuing individualism

Loving God, you created all things to work together in your kingdom, and you call us to live as one Body. We confess we often prefer to go our own way, and our unwillingness to love when we don’t understand put us at odds with your creation. We pursue our own individual success and we miss the chance to celebrate your gift of community. Forgive us. Open our ears to hear you speaking, and our hearts to embrace your purpose. Amen.    ~silence~

 

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

call to confession / declaration of grace: mind-expanding faith

CALL TO CONFESSION

God doesn’t call us to a blind faith…
but to a faith that is eye-opening and mind-expanding.
But we often find it more beneficial for ourselves
if we pretend we cannot see or understand God’s vision for creation.

So please join me in the prayer of confession…

 

DECLARATION OF GRACE

(NOTE: The words of Jesus in italics, which are the words spoken to Thomas, could be spoken by another person besides the worship leader, perhaps someone sitting within the congregation with a microphone)

This is Good News:

God does not mock us when we fail to trust,
but invites us into a deeper, more intimate relationship.

Put your finger here. Look at my hands. Put your hand in my side. Trust me!

God does not shame us when our faith waivers,
but challenges us to be strengthened by God’s promises.

Happy are those who don’t see…and yet trust!

God’s purpose is not to tear us down…but to build us up…
forgiven…refreshed…and renewed!

So let’s sing…and let’s give thanks to God!

confession: resurrect your song within us

Holy God, the Alleluias of Easter still ring in our ears – and it is when we sing along that we get into trouble. It’s so easy to sing our Alleluias so loudly that it drowns out the sound of our neighbors needing help – of our family members’ pain – of our own need for you. After all, it’s much easier to sing than to do the reconciling work you call us to. God, you listen in the darkness for our pleas to you – help us to do the same for our friends, family, and even enemies! Resurrect your Song within us, that we might sing while we work. Through you, may the Song of Life call us together in your Holy Harmony. Amen.

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

CTW: in this sacred space

Gather in this sacred space
and hear God inviting us to imagine and create!
Gather in this sacred space
and know that the peace of Christ surrounds us!
Gather in this sacred space
and let the Spirit of God inspire us once again!
Gather in this sacred space
and let’s worship God together!

Submitted by Scott Cervas, pastor at Meadowthorpe Presbyterian Church (Lexington, KY)

illumination: that we may cling to your heart

Draw us from our tombs…
from the dark, self-imposed prisons of knowing-it-all…
into the light of your unflinching good news.
Use our encounters with the stories of scripture
to unbind us from our fascination with the status quo…
so that we may cling to your heart,
and see the world through your eyes.
Amen.

Submitted by Scott Cervas, pastor at Meadowthorpe Presbyterian Church (Lexington, KY)

confession: behind closed doors

Sometimes we hide ourselves
behind closed doors…
afraid to love…
afraid to share…
afraid to be vulnerable.

Sometimes we hide ourselves
behind locked minds…
unwilling to love…
unwilling to share…
unwilling to be vulnerable.

But you always invite us
to step outside…
to trust…
and to embrace your new life.

Forgive our faintheartedness…
release us from our reluctance…
and inspire us to go and be and tell and do
your good news…

Submitted by Scott Cervas, pastor at Meadowthorpe Presbyterian Church (Lexington, KY)

call to worship and prayer: now what?

One: Christ is risen!
Many: Now what?
One: The disciples clung to each other. They huddled in the upper room, waiting.
Many: Would the authorities come to take them, too?
One: Instead, Jesus himself appeared, despite the locked door.
Many: What next?
One: Next came doubts and questions, assurances and instructions, and a last word:
Many: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”
One: Christ is risen! Now what?
Many: Now we come together to wait for him.
One: May the risen Christ bless us as we worship what we have not seen, yet believe.

Invocation
God of new life, move through the locked doors of our hearts. Open us to your love moving in the world. Instruct us as you taught the disciples. Make a new church of us, a blessed place where we live in unity. Help us to learn from those first believers who prayed as we do, using the words Jesus taught, etc.

Submitted by Rev. Martha Spong, First Congregational Church, North Yarmouth Maine.

confession: reluctance

Call to Reconciliation
How often have we heard the good news of forgiveness and restoration? Yet, we are still reluctant to believe. God offers us new life, yet we are afraid to let go of the old. Let us confess our doubts and fears to the One who waits to make us whole.

Unison Prayer of Confession
We use a lot of words, Gracious God, but do little to turn them into deeds. Instead of being of one heart and soul, we choose sides and form groups of folks just like us. Blessed with great grace, we have trouble sharing it with those who need it the most. Forgive us, God of love. Forgive us, as we step out of our shadows into your light. Restore us, as we reveal our brokenness. Hear us, as we proclaim Jesus Christ as our Lord and our God.

(Silent Prayers may be offered)

Assurance of Pardon
L:  This is the good news we have declare: God leads us out of the shadows to walk in the light of Christ.
P:  This is the word we have heard: our faithful God forgives our sins and raises us to new life. Thanks be to God. Amen.

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