a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

confession: Palm Sunday

On this day, O God, we gather with the children who lead the crowd into Jerusalem that first Palm Sunday;

And we consort with the scribes and leaders who condemn Jesus.

We work with the disciples to prepare the way,

And we linger with those who do not understand.

We follow the crowd, shouting, “Hosanna,”

The same crowd who will say all the louder, “Crucify him!”

We celebrate the Son of David,

And we confess we do not follow him to the end. Forgive us, Lord, when we deny you, when we fail to love as you loved or to serve as you served. As we find ourselves in your story this week, reveal the grace you share all the way, even on the cross, Amen. (silent prayer)

Assurance of Grace

One: Brothers and sisters, hear the good news! Who is in a position to condemn? Only Christ, and Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us! (Romans 8:34) Friends, believe the good news!

All: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

 

Submitted by Laura Cunningham, Western Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC

confession: if you had been here…

One: Loving Lord, how often we face tragic news we cannot understand. Our hearts may echo Martha and Mary at Lazarus’s tomb, who said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

All: Lord, if you had been here, our hearts would not be heavy.

One: Lord, if you had been here, these people would not be hungry.

All: Lord, if you had been here, our climate would not be on the brink.

One: We each bring our own situation in silence, when we say, “Lord if you had been here…” (moment of silence) Lord, have mercy on us.

All: Forgive us when we forget your presence and deny love’s work.

One: In prayer, show us you are with us in the deepest sense, and that you weep with all who mourn.

All: Remind us how tragedy and injustice break your heart, and help us see you nearby, wherever people go hungry or your creation is threatened.

One: Grant us faith to trust you are truly here, with us, bringing new life we can now only imagine.

All: Give us hope, that looking towards your resurrection, we might discover and share glimpses of that new life already coming among us, in your name, Amen. (silent prayer)

 

Assurance of Grace

One: Friends, hear the good news: Seen or unseen, God is with us. Bidden or unbidden, Christ is present.

All: May we live assured of what we cannot see, trusting in the power who makes all things new. Thanks be to God!

Sung response: What a Friend We Have In Jesus, verse 1

 

Submitted by Laura Cunningham, Western Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC

CTW Psalm 130

God we cry out to you from the valleys of our lives.
Hear our pleas, listen to our cries, hear our voice, O God.
Lord, we wait, and we wait, and we wait.
Divine one, our soul waits for you, for our hope is in your word.
Hope in the Lord, you people of God,
For God’s love for us is unbreakable!

 

Submitted by Rev. Will Ryan, First Christian Church Burlington IA

CTW: God Refines the Soul

We gather together, full of bountiful hope and terrible fears.

A crucible is for silver, and a furnace is for gold, but the Lord refines our hearts.

Sin coats us like rust, eating away at our connections to each other, but God anoints us with oil to keep us safe.

A crucible is for silver, and a furnace is for gold, but the Lord refines our hearts.

In the fire of the Holy Spirit, we are forged anew – again and again – into the image of God.

A crucible is for silver, and a furnace is for gold, but the Lord refines our hearts.

Let us worship God, who refines our hearts and strengthens our souls for everlasting life.

Amen!

 

(Based on Proverbs 17:3)

Submitted by Rev. Lucus Levy Keppel, Trinity Presbyterian Church in Bixby, Okla.

CTW: return to the Lord

Leader: God’s call rings out through the world, God’s message to us.
People: God calls us to come back, to fast and weep, and ask for forgiveness.
Leader: We need to change our entire lives, what is inside of us, not just outside.
People: For our God is loving and compassionate.
Leader: We enter this season of Preparation by returning to the LORD.
All: Together, let us sound the trumpet and worship God!
submitted by Rev. Will Ryan, First Christian Church Burlington IA

POP: harvest of joy

Lord of glory, Savior of all who call on you,
we pray for your people who are near to our hearts today.
We rejoice with those who rejoice,
whose hopes and dreams have come true today.
Let our mouths be filled with laughter,
and let us sing songs of joy,
for you have done great things for your people.
We give you thanks!
Merciful God, we also weep with those who weep.
We call out on behalf of those whose lives are dry and barren,
for all who long to be restored.
Where there are tears, or suffering, or illness, or grief,
may there be songs of joy once again.
We lift up the prayers of your people
with longing and hope,
trusting that you will bring forth a harvest of joy.
We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Nathan Williams, Echo Hill Presbyterian Church, IA

confession: lip service

Your word still rings true, Lord, generation after generation. You are a God who keeps promises. Yet we confess that we would prefer your work to conform to our timeline, and even better to our desires. We sometimes pay lip service to your word while seeking our own glory. And when we are frustrated and yearn for an answer, our words are often bland and cliché while our faith is in turmoil. Forgive us, O God, for our impatience and our unwillingness to be completely honest, even with you. Help us to trust you enough to grow into real relationship with you. Amen.

 

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

CTW: look to the stars

One: Look to the stars—filling the sky with light!
All: God’s word is a light, shining bright in the darkness.
One: Look to the stars—spread across the universe, farther than any eye has seen.
All: God is everywhere present, whether we go to the ends of the earth or depths of the sea.
One: Look to the stars—more than we even have numbers to count.
All: God’s grace is beyond imagining, beyond language, beyond counting.
One: Look to the stars—signs of God’s promise, shining through all generations.
All: We come to worship God, in whom we trust.

 

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

confession: just enough to be dangerous

Creator God, you made us to live together with you. We confess that we are sorely tempted by the opportunity to be our own gods. We admit to you that we have tried shortcuts to wisdom—we think we know what is best, when really we know just enough to do harm to your creation and your beloved people. Forgive us for acting so arrogantly out of our limited human perspective. Forgive our disobedience, and give us ears to hear your word, and hearts ready to obey your will. Amen.

 

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

CTW: in the beginning

One: In the beginning, when God created, God looked at the world and called it good.
All: Not only way back when, but even now, God is creating, calling us to join the work
of making the world good.
One: Earth and water and air, plants and animals and people, made from dirt and word and love.
All: God gifts us all this and more, so that we can glorify and enjoy God forever.
One: Come, let us worship God together.

 

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