a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

confession: caught between options

God, so often we do not know what to do. We feel caught between the options, uncertain of where you are leading. In our anxiety, we turn on each other, relying on sarcasm and mocking to bolster our pride. In our frustration, we ask all the wrong questions while never listening for an answer. In our fear, we sacrifice you on the altar of our own security and desire. Forgive us, O God.


One:    We stand at the threshold of your kingdom, Lord.

All:     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: 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.


One:    You, Lord, invite us to trust,

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


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.


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.


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.


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

All:     and give us courage to walk through.

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!

Good Friday prayer: the hosannas have died away

O Holy God,
the hosannas have died away,
the palm branches have turned brittle.

Now, today, there is only this –
each of us,
all of us,
sitting in the darkness,
the hymns of lament in the air,
the mumblings of our own feeble confession,
on this Friday
which we tremble to call Good.

What is good about Good Friday?

What is good about the innocent one nailed to a cross?
What is good about the darkness of war that persists today?
What is good about our devastation of the planet?
… about people living in poverty?
… about the fog of addiction, depression, disease and despair?
What is good about the crushing weight of hunger, racism, scapegoating, apathy?

No, there is nothing good and desirable in these things.

Yet you, O God, are Good.

When suffering reigns, yours is the first heart to break.

When despair lurks about, we remember that you were there first,
peering into the abyss and crying out, incredibly:
“Father, forgive them.”

When we feel forsaken, we remember that in your last moments,
you cared for your mother and your beloved disciple,
binding them to one another as a new family.

When we feel overcome by guilt, we remember that you spoke grace to a thief:
“Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Your love for us is just that boundless,
and ever-present,
and Good.

Thank you.
What else can we say here, in the dimness,
in the darkness,
but thank you.


MaryAnn McKibben Dana is pastor of Idylwood Presbyterian Church in Falls Church, VA.

Good Friday prayer

On this day, God of all tears,
you call us in the midst
of our busy lives
to look at the suffering and death
of the One who came to carry
the pain of the world into your heart.
Give us eyes to see your love
this day.

On this day
you would gather everyone
to your side,
Grace of Calvary,
but we leave you
to carry the cross alone.
You came simply as love incarnate,
but hate and bitterness
were the gifts we offered to you.
You poured out your love
so our emptiness might be filled.
Give us ears to her your pain
this day.

On this day,
you would pray for us,
for we cannot find the words
on our own,
Shattered Spirit.
Hear the cries of those in need.
Listen to the lament of the lonely.
Cradle the whispered hopes of children.
Set free the dreams of prisoners and captives.
Give us hearts to pray with you
this day.

God in Community, Holy in One,
we lift our prayers to you in the name of the One
who suffered and died for us
this day
and who teaches us to pray, saying,
Our Father . . .


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

holy week confession

Call to Reconciliation
Confident of the hope received by the death of Christ, we bring our hearts –
broken, stained with sin, filled with failings – to the One who sprinkles
them with grace, cleansing them with the waters of life.

Unison Prayer of Confession
Like little children who can wander off in a crowded store, we have lost our
way, God of the grim day. We betray you when we do not befriend the poor; we
deny you when we are afraid to speak up for the voiceless; we turn our backs
on you when we do not do good for others; we crucify you when we harm our
family and friends.

At the foot of the cross, we stand with all who have forgotten you and
forsaken the way which you offer to us. Forgive us, Lamb of God, and fill us
with the mercy, the hope, the grace you poured out for us, as you gave your
life for the sins of the world.

Extended silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon
L:  Christ has lifted our suffering onto his shoulders, carrying all our
hurts and rejections into God’s heart. There, God casts them away into the
sea of forgetfulness, so we may be restored to hope and live as new people.
P:  Fed with grace, carried in God’s arms, we know that we are forgiven.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

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

Good Friday–the 1 hour 24 hour story

A complete Good Friday service, remembering Jesus’ last 24 hours (in a one hour service)


(Note: Some believe the Passion Story in Mark’s Gospel was written to serve
as an Easter Vigil, telling the story as early Christians ‘re-lived’ the
last 24 hours of Jesus’ life as they prepared to celebrate our Lord’s
Resurrection. Today’s service ‘reduces’ those 24 hours into one, as we
remember the final hours of our Lord’s life.)

The people gather in silence

Call to Worship
L:  Into the shadows of chaos
P:  the Light of the world steps;
L:  from the silence of death
P:  the Word of God breaks free;
L:  for the emptiness of our souls,
P:  the Bread of the world is broken.

First Three Hours (6:00 – 9:00 p.m. Thursday)

Eating with Friends – Mark 14:17-25

L:  it was at table
that the story began:
a people longing
for freedom;
P:  a meal to prepare them
for the journey
into the wilderness;

L:  it was at a table
that the story was re-told:
a teacher and students
wondering what
the coming hours
would bring;
P:  a meal to prepare them
for the journey
into death;

L:  it is at the Lord’s Table
that the story is remembered:
by people struggling
to be faithful;
P:  a meal to prepare us
for the journey
into resurrection.

Second Three Hours (9:00 p.m. – midnight Thursday)

Running Away – Mark 14:26-50

L:  we convince ourselves
that we would not
act as Jesus’ friends do in this story,
but lest we forget:
P:  we are the ones
who slip quietly away
when asked to stand
beside the poor and oppressed;

L:  lest we forget:
P:  we are the deniers
of Jesus
when we turn our backs
on those whom
our world does not recognize;

L:  lest we forget:
P:  we are the greedy
who cling to our possessions
we never use
when they could bless others;

L:  lest we forget:
P:  we are the comfortable
who can sleep
through the cries
of hungry children;

L:  lest we forget:
P:  let us remember
who we are
and who we can become.

Third Three Hours (midnight – 3:00 a.m. Friday)

The Troublemaker – Mark 14:53-65

Unison Prayer

rock star,
pro athlete:
of all the people
you could have been,
you chose to become
a servant –
for us.

of all the privileges
you might have grasped,
you chose to take hold
of a cross –
for us.

Los Angeles;
of all the roads
you might have taken,
you chose the one
running through Jerusalem –
for us.

Of all the people
you might have died for –
you did.

Fourth Three Hours (3:00 – 6:00 a.m. Friday)

“I do not know him” – Mark 14:66-72


Fifth Three Hours (6:00 – 9:00 a.m. Friday)

Trial – Mark 15:1-24

L:  no one asked him . . .
not the chief priest
P:  or his bought judges
fear would
have deafened them;

L:  not the governor,
P:  balancing
political options

L:  not the mob:
P:  pockets full of nightmares,
stomachs full of poverty,
voices brimming with bile
no goodness or mercy
flowing over
their cupped hands;

L:  no one asked him
(but don’t you think)
Jesus himself
would have said
(maybe he whispered
it to himself . . .)
P:  give them Barabbas!

Sixth Three Hours (9:00 a.m. – noon Friday)

Crucified! – Mark 15:15-32

L:  Ridiculed by his enemies,
outcast of his kin,
deserted by his friends,
P:  the Morning Star of Creation
covered with the grit
of the sins of the world.

L:  Nailed to the cross,
the Carpenter of Calvary
P:  repairs our brokenness
so we might be
restored to God’s kingdom.

Seventh Three Hours (12 noon – 3:00 p.m.)
Mark 15:33

Silence is observed for 4 minutes

Eighth Three Hours (3:00 – 6:00 p.m.)

From the Cross to the Tomb – Mark 15:34-47

L:  feet that danced
through the streets
of Jerusalem
welcoming the Messiah
P:  now softly pad
the back alleys
in search of shadows;

L:  hearts that leapt
with joy at the sight
of David’s true son
P:  are thrown out
with Golgotha’s

L:  hands that wrapped
a new born son
in bright bands of cloth
P:  now shroud
his broken body
and lay him
in death’s manger.

L:  where glad hosannas
rang out
P:  there is now only the silent,
weeping heart of God.

The Service is Concluded.
Please depart in silence.


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

Good Friday CTW: in the midst…

L:  Here, in the midst of these people,
we come to worship you.
P:  We come with the groans of our lives,
and the whispers of hope in our hearts.
L: Here, in the midst of these people,
we come to remember you.
P: We come, trusting you have not forgotten us;
and that here, promises will be fulfilled.
L  Here, in the midst of these people,
we come to have our hearts touched.
P:  We come, knowing you hear our souls;
we come, to praise you for your steadfast love.


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

Thursday and Friday

Okay, now that the Easter bulletin is done (hahaha!), it’s time to turn our attention to Thursday and Friday. Do you have services on Thursday and Friday, one or the other, or none? Daytime and/or evening? A meal together? Communion? Footwashing? Stripping the sanctuary?

What kind of mood are you looking to set? What kind of theme are you following, if any (for example: this year’s Maundy Thursday theme here is “extravagant love poured out”)? How do you plan to explore these stories at the center of our faith?

These services are often a time when we can be a little bit out-of-the-box, so let’s create together!