a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

Prayer: God of Rainbow Promises

Prayer of the Day
How you love us, God of rainbow promises!
Like a mother who teaches her son
the steps for his first dance,
like the father who goes out
with his daughter after work
so she can learn how to drive,
you love us that much and more.

How you offer yourself to us, Brother of the beloved!
You gather us up in your arms,
simply to hear our deepest hopes;
you reach out your scarred hands
to gently wipe our fears away;
you stain a cross with your blood,
so we might washed clean in the tears
pouring down God’s face.

How you share yourself with us, journey’s Spirit!
You bathe our wearied souls
in the cooling waters of baptism;
you wipe the dust of the wilderness
out of our eyes so we can see the kingdom;
you teach us those ancient ways
which offer new life for each of us.

God in Community, Holy in One,
be with us in this Lenten season,
even as we pray, saying,
Our Father . . .

 

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

confession: distracted

You call us to love you with all our heart, all our mind, all our strength.
But so often we are worried and distracted by many things.
We forget your love and your call to love,
and we begin to think it is about us—
about our image, about doing it right,
about being the best, about getting what we want.
We forget to look to you, and even when we look, our vision is clouded.
Clear the chaos within us, O God,
that we may focus on you.
We will seek you with our whole hearts.
Amen.

 

Submitted by the Rev. Teri Peterson, Ridgefield Crystal Lake Presbyterian Church, Crystal Lake IL.

confession: walking reluctantly

(inspired by Ann Weems’ poem “The Walk”)

For those of us who walk along this road reluctantly, Lent is not our favorite time of year.

You call us to rest and reflect, O God, but we’d rather be more active – planning and scurrying around. The Lenten season is too contemplative to suit us. Besides we don’t know what to do with piousness and prayer. Perhaps, Merciful God, we’re afraid to have time to think, for thoughts come unbidden. Perhaps we’re afraid to face our future knowing our past.

Give us courage, O God, to hear your word and read our living into it. Give us the trust to know we’re forgiven, and give us the faith to take up our lives and walk in your path.

submitted by Rev. Shannon Meacham, Pastor, Ashland Presbyterian Church, Cockeysville, MD

confession: ready, willing, and able?

God of our renewed lives,
we talk about being better people…
doing things differently…
living more disciplined lives;
but we always talk about doing it tomorrow…
or next week…
or after the beginning of the new year.
Meanwhile, your Spirit surrounds us…
and we swat you away like a pesky fly…
because we don’t have the time, or the energy,
to be transformed.
So lead us to a quiet place of readiness…
and inspire, in us, a willing attitude…
so that we may be able to welcome your newness…
even now…as we offer our silent confessions…

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

Lenten communion: covenant keeper

L: May the God of Lent be with you.
P: And also with you.
L: People of God, open your hearts.
P: We open them to the One who calls us ‘Beloved.’
L: Beloved of God, give thanks and praise to the One
who loves you forever.
P: We sing our hymns of joy to the One
who leads us into the kingdom.

Hearts overflow with you, Covenant Keeper,
as we lift our hearts to you.
When there was no time as we know it,
you crafted day and night,
so we could wait for you in every moment,
tasting the savory goodness of grace.
You imagined those moments
of gathering us to your side
to teach us all the wonder of your ways,
but we turned our ears towards
the whispered invitations of the Evil One,
running off to play in the wilderness
with rebellion and death our guides.
You recalled the promises you had made
to Noah, to Sarah, to Joseph, and to Hannah,
and so sent the prophets to remind us
of the good gift of your covenant
and to point out the ways to your heart.
When we continued to ignore their words,
you sent Jesus to be with us,
to set us free from the imprisonment
we had created for ourselves.

So, we lift our voices with those who waited patiently,
and with those who trust your covenantal promises,
joining the choirs of heaven and earth,
who forever sing of your hope and love:

P: Holy, holy, holy, Everlasting God of grace.
Every living creature in heaven and earth sing your praises.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed is he who sits as your right hand of mercy.
Hosanna in the highest.

Faithful and holy are you, Creator of all,
and blessed is Jesus Christ, Steadfast Love and Hope.
When he could have stayed at your side
during the days of our rebellion and pride,
he came to be our friend and guide.
When he could have feasted on your power,
in those days of glory with you,
he came to prepare a Table for us
where our hardened hearts might be softened,
and our broken lives might be made whole.
When he could have the angels waiting on him,
he came to serve us your forgiveness and grace,
enduring death on the cross
so we could have life forever.

As we begin once more our Lenten journey,
as we seek to follow faithfully, remembering
the life, the death, the resurrection of Jesus,
we tell the story of that mystery we call faith:

P: Christ died to set us free from sin;
Christ rose to break the power of death;
Christ will come again, to bring the kingdom
as close to us as God’s heart.

Pour out your Spirit of imagination
upon this bread, and this cup,
gifts of your good and wonderful creation.
As we are embraced at the Table
by the One who has prepared it for us,
may we open our hearts to welcome
our sisters and brothers.
As we have been set free by your love,
may we proclaim freedom to the prisoners
confined by fear and oppression;
as we are filled with the Bread of life,
may we never cease feeding
the hungry of our world;
as we are nurtured by compassion’s cup,
may we go out into the wilderness around us,
to take the lost, the last, the least, the little
by the hand to walk together
into that kingdom prepared for all your children.

And we we are gathered around the Table
with your beloved children of every time and place,
our songs will join together as our tears of joy mingle,
singing your praises forever and ever to you:
God of David and Rebecca, of Mary and Noah;
Jesus of the outcast and lonely;
Spirit of those who seek peace and reconciliation:
God in Community, Holy in One. Amen and Amen.

 

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

confession: flood of worries

Call to Reconciliation

God takes broken promises and turns them into vows of faithfulness.
God takes our biggest failings and shapes lives of service. God
listens to our prayers of confession and changes them into songs
of mercy. Let us come to the One who pours forgiveness into
our lives, praying,

Unison Prayer of Confession

We admit we are hesitant to walk to Jerusalem and beyond with
you, God of Glory. In a world where we worry about tomorrow
before enjoying today, we race by your moments of silence, of
learning. In that flood of worries, which can overwhelm us, we may
miss that assurance that you have not cut us off from your grace.
In the deserts of our desires, we may ignore that feast of hope, of
joy, of life you offer to us.
Forgive us and have mercy on us, Gentle Guardian of our souls.
In humility, may we offer our lives to others. In love, may we share
your grace with everyone we meet. In hope, may we wait for you
all our days, as you come to us in the life and joy of Jesus Christ,
our Lord and Savior.

Silence is kept

Assurance of Pardon

L: In this place we find God’s word, God’s way, God’s love,
God’s forgiveness. What more do we need to sustain us
as we continue as pilgrims along the Way?
P: In every wilderness, on every road;
in every moment, in every life;
in every journey, in every heart,
we receive the daily bread we need – God’s hope,
God’s mercy, God’s joy. Thanks be to God, we
are forgiven. Amen.

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

confession: forgotten covenant

Prayer of Confession

There are times O Spirit that we forget all that you have given us.   Our sight has become obscured.   We have forgotten that rainbows which still grace the skies are reminders of your Great Love.   Your covenants take on infinite number of colors and shapes, and in our confused nature, we want to push everyone and everything into one box, one shape, and one size thinking that this is how You would want things.  How wrong we have been.   Remind us that your creative genius cannot be boxed up, that your covenants cannot be controlled.   In this time of worship send your Spirit to disrupt and then renew our troubled souls.   Restore in us the hope of your promises.  We pray all these things in the name of the One who came to redeem all of Creation.  Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo, Watchung Avenue Presbyterian Church, North Plainfield NJ

CTW: a promise for all time

One: God has made a covenant with us, a promise for all of time.
All: A promise that began with Noah,
A ribbon of vibrant color in the sky.
One: God has made a covenant with us, a promise for all of time.
All: A vow that continued with Abraham,
The uncountable stars in the heavens would all be gifts from God.
One: God has made a covenant with us, a promise for all of time.
All: With Moses and the refugees who crossed the Red Sea,
Words to order life in peaceful community.
One: God has made a covenant with us, a promise for all of time.
All: For David and those who would come after him,
That they would inherit it all.
One: God has made a covenant with us, a promise for all of time.
In Jesus, the Christ,
Price of Peace—who calls us to New Life,
Invites us to live the promise and the covenant
With our lives, without fear, with total abandon.
All: We gather today to worship
To remember the promise of the covenant
And to go out into a world where rainbows still grace the skies.

Submitted by Rev. Shannan Vance-Ocampo, Watchung Avenue Presbyterian Church, North Plainfield, NJ.

CTW: the intersection of Enduring Love & Faithfulness

Call to Worship

L: We come, so God might open our eyes,
P: that we may discover the wonders surrounding us;
that we may embrace the joy deep within us.
L: We gather, so Christ might widen our hearts,
P: that we may hear the sounds of brokenness around us;
that we may sing the melodies of hope.
L: We are here, so the Spirit might teach us the ways of humility,
P: that we may walk that street named Enduring Love;
that we may wait at the corner called Faithfulness.

 

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

Sunday’s Coming: working toward February 26

Lent is upon us. This week we’ll enter the journey, some of us, on Ash Wednesday. We’ll come face to face with mortality and sin, then turn our faces and our lives back toward God, seeking a new relationship with God, God’s people, and God’s world. Throughout Lent we continue seeking both the truth of our own lives and the Truth of God’s desire for us…and this Sunday is the first time we get to explore that fully.

So maybe you’ll be working with God’s rainbow covenant. Maybe, along with the psalmist, you’ll be pleading “Teach me your ways.” Maybe you’ll be contemplating Paul’s call to Be prepared to suffer for doing good, and connecting baptism and the Flood… or maybe you’ll enter the season with the traditional story of Jesus’ baptism, and you’ll follow him out into the wilderness.

Do you have a theme for the whole season, or will you work week by week? Are you planning to follow one set of readings (all old testament, all psalms, all gospel, etc) throughout the five Sundays, or are you mixing it up? Are you following the lectionary or working on a series off-lectionary? Share your ideas in the comments!

Perhaps you have just one word or one phrase so far…if you put that in the comments, you can inspire others and we can begin bouncing ideas around. Who knows, we may even end up with a brand new piece of liturgy we can share!