a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

A day of holy celebration

Children of God, let us rejoice in the day of Pentecost! We give thanks to God for the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Today is a day of holy celebration.

Siblings in Christ, we are inheritors of the work of the church- work done by apostles and preachers, disciples and teachers, lay leaders and children, followers of the Way of Jesus and their loving neighbors.

Today is a day of holy celebration.

We come to this place- perhaps not recently from Mesopotamia or Cappadocia or Phrygia and Pamphylia- but from other states, cities, and townships. We come from states of doubt, rejoicing, and curiosity, drawn here together by the Holy Spirit.

Today is a day of holy celebration.

Peter assured those who heard the many languages of the apostles that they were not drunk, but overwhelmed by the power of the Spirit.

Today is a day of holy dedication.

Those who were gathered to celebrate the giving of the law, the Torah, were awed by the fire of the Spirit, pouring forth in line with the teaching of Jesus- burning away divisions and clearing a path for unity.

Today is a day of holy dedication.

The work of the Holy Spirit always brings order out of chaos- as it did in the beginning over the face of the darkness, on the day of Pentecost, and in the church across creation today.

Today is a day of holy dedication.

The Holy Spirit has been poured out and move, unrestricted, over young and old, without regard to race, gender expression, physical or mental ability, or sexual orientation.

Today is a day of holy inspiration.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control- are not mix and match, but are planted and nourished in the words and deeds of those who have been found by grace in the Way of Jesus.

Today is a day of holy inspiration.

We give thanks, with our whole hearts, bodies, and minds, for the power and pervasive love of the Holy Spirit, which guides our prayers, preserves our faith, and leads us into path of righteousness for God’s own sake. We are awed and appreciative.

Today is a day of holy inspiration.

Thanks be to God! Amen!

Submitted by Rev Julia Seymour, Lutheran Church of Hope, Anchorage, AK

Litany to Commemorate the Victims of 9/11

On this day we remember the fear and the anger, the shock and the chaos that shrouded our nation 15 years ago.  We cried out that day for answers, for peace, for justice. We shed countless tears for lives lost, for families ripped apart, for people missing and injured.

We will not forget the beauty of each soul that fell that day – the promise that their lives held, the hopes they had for the future.

We remember the 2,606 innocent victims of the Twin Towers. Abide with us, G-d. 

We remember the 125 innocent victims at the Pentagon. Abide with us, G-d.

We remember the 246 innocent victims on the airplanes. Abide with us, G-d.

We remember the first responders – the police and firefighters and paramedics – who faced the chaos with unimaginable courage to save and give hope to all that they could. We remember those who survived and the 411 who perished in the line of duty. Abide with us, G-d.

Holy G-d, we know that you hold their lives in your hands. Though they have fallen here, they are not lost forever. Through your Spirit, you have lifted them up, close to your heart where there is no more death or sorrow or crying or pain.

We cry out to you once more this day, Almighty G-d. Give us the courage to be peacemakers, to carry on in love, to have hearts uncorrupted by hatred. Speak to those who would be lured by the power and madness, the violence and the evil that is terrorism in our world. Show them that this seeming power is never the final victor. Touch their hearts so that they may see that love is stronger than death, that goodness is stronger than evil, that light casts out all darkness. Give them a way forward so that the world may be a home for all of us.

Gracious G-d, hear our prayer. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Elana Keppel Levy, Trinity Presbyterian Church in Bixby, OK

**Note from the author: I envisioned a ritual to go along with this litany. We have a large, clear glass jar on the chancel. As each group of victims is listed, we will drop flower petals of different colors into the water. In the prayer following, the water is swirled so that the petals are seen being lifted.

A Litany of Compassion

I promise to see you as a beloved child of God.
We promise to see each person as a beloved child of God.
I promise to listen to you and not assume I know your story.
We promise to listen to each other and hear your stories.
I promise to love you and support you living your life.
We promise to love each other and support each one in living our own lives.
Let us embody the words of 1 John 4:11.
“Friends, since God loves us so much, we also ought to love one another.” Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto, Christ Congregational Church and Takoma Park Presbyterian Church

Installation Prayer

This was used as a prayer of installation for a Presbytery moderator, but could be easily adapted for congregations installing pastors or elders/deacons or other officers. The different “divisions” of the congregation were designed to ensure that a wide cross section of people lent their voices in different areas of the room and different areas of the Presbytery’s life.

 

One: Gracious God,
you have gifted your servants throughout the ages
with courage, grace, cheerfulness, vision, and hope.
Grant, we pray, this same spirit to your church in this place,
and to your servant ______ as she guides us to follow you.

women: We have seen your gift of vision in her,
opening our eyes to see your new thing.

men: We have seen your gift of compassion in her,
caring deeply for each one of us as your children.

younger: We have seen your gift of cheerfulness in her,
with a smile that comforts and encourages.

older: We have seen your gift of courage in her,
stepping in to hard places to be present with your grace.

One: Now give her, O God, a double measure of your Spirit,
for we know she will need it in the coming year.
Clothe her in compassion and kindness, love and forgiveness.
Give her a sure sense of your abiding presence and everlasting hope.
Keep her eyes and heart focused on you.

All: And give us the grace to respond to her leadership
with gratitude and peace, energy and love.
Give us the courage to look where she is looking
and to see what you are doing through her and through us.

One: Your creative spirit still flows free in the world, loving God,
and we pray this day that in days to come,
_____ will allow your imagination to be hers,
open to possibility, building on all you have done before.

ruling elders: We pray that she would fulfill her office with humility and grace,
always remembering that it is you who are the head of the body.

teaching elders: We pray for your guidance in her life,
that she may continue to be a leader in deed as well as word.

choir side: We pray for the Presbytery:
for courage to be honest and forgiving,
to speak for ourselves and with love,
to use the tools you have given us
for your work, not only our own.

pulpit side: We pray for the Presbytery:
for courage to listen deeply to one another,
to grow in love across divides,
to be re-made yet again as your body,
loving, serving, and caring for the world.

One: May the dawn of your tender mercy break forth from on high,
bringing light to those who walk in darkness,
guiding our feet, together with you, in the path of peace.

All: Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson, Palatine Presbyterian Church, Chicago Presbytery

Prayer for the New Year

This is a prayer modeled after the ancient New Year prayers or “first-footing” prayers of Scotland and northern England where villagers often went house to house wishing each other a good year.  

It is a reciprocal prayer where the worship leader first models the intention and the congregation offers a blessing.  The roles are then reversed.  If the congregation has a large door through which most of the congregation enters and exits, it would be appropriate and meaningful to have an usher fling the door open near the beginning of the prayer. (Unless, or course, it’s below freezing outside!)
The prayer is followed by a joyful, opening song, hymn, or carol. 
A Common Prayer for the New Year 
One: This day is a new day that has never been before.
This year is a new year, opening the door to transformation.
One: Let us open the door of our hearts.
One: Enter, Lord Christ—
All: that we may feel the joy of your presence.
One: You give us life,
All: and we welcome you with opening hearts.
One: I turn now to face you.
I open my life to you.
Be the light shining on my face, O Beloved;
be the blessing in my eyes,
and the fire in my heart.
All: May the inner eye of your soul 
behold the beauty within you;
may your outer eye behold the beauty around you—
may you see your neighbors, your loved ones,
and those you find difficult to love 
as treasured gifts shaped by God’s good and generous hands.
Silence
One: Enter, Lord Christ—
I feel joy in your presence!
All: I turn now to face you.
I open my life to you.
Be the light shining on my face, O Beloved;
be the blessing in my eyes,
and the fire in my heart.
One: May the inner eye of your soul
behold the beauty within you;
may your outer eye behold the beauty around you—
may you see your neighbors, your loved ones,
and those you find difficult to love
as treasured gifts shaped by God’s good and generous hands.
Silence
All: Enter, Lord Christ—
I feel joy in your presence!
Submitted by Dr. Chris Neufeld-Erdman, Davis Community Church, CA

A Prayer for Back to School

Back to school time is fast approaching where I live. In churches, this time of year (often) means a return to regular schedules. Any group that takes a break for the summer is getting ready to start again. When I think about the children and youth of the church, I am always aware of our responsibilities to them. We promise in the baptismal covenant with these words.

“Do you, who witness and celebrate this sacrament, promise your love, support and care to the one about to be baptized as he/she lives and grows in Christ?

Congregational Response- We promise our love, support, and care.”

(United Church of Christ Book of Worship, 139).

We promise in our Safe Sanctuary covenant to protect our children and youth as we help them live into the baptismal promises. As the new school and program year begins, I think churches should welcome and celebrate this time of year, and we can do that by sharing this prayer.

One-I’d like to invite all of our children and youth to please come up front. If you would sit or stand facing the congregation. We’d like you to be able to see all those adults out there.

(after the children and youth are up front)

Today, we are going to pray for you as summer ends and a new year of school and church begins. You may have already started back to school or may not be in school yet. You may be changing to a new Sunday School class or starting youth group for the first time this year. As so many things in our lives change, some things do not change. All of those people out there have promised to help you grow and know God loves you.

I invite the teachers to stand. Anyone who teaches here at church, youth group leaders, and teachers in our schools please stand.

Teachers-Dear God, we surround these children and youth with our love and support for the coming year. Give them a spirit of curiosity. Give them time to play and learn outside in your creation. Give them a sense of wonder at how much they know and how much there is to learn. Give all of us who teach a spirit of compassion as we journey with our students. Amen.

One-Teachers remain standing. Parents and guardians please stand.

Parents and Guardians-Loving God, give us patience on hard days. Remind us you love our children even more than we do. Give our kids a spirit of kindness in a world that isn’t always kind. Give our kids strength to stand up for what is right. May they always know how much you love them and we love them. Amen.

One-Parents, guardians, and teachers keep standing. Now, I invite the rest of the congregation and any of our guest to stand.

All-God, remind us of the promises we made to protect and love these children and youth. Help us to live those promises daily. Bless all these children and youth that they may know your love and share it with others. We promise to keep these children safe, give them opportunities to know you, and involve them in the life of the church with God’s help. Amen. 

One-Look out at all those people who love you and have prayed for you. I hope you will remember how much your church family loves you and how much God loves you as we start a new year together.

Submitted by Susannah deBenedetto

prayer–guide me

Guide me, O my great Redeemer. We seek your guidance, O God, for there are many choices in our lives and many paths we could take. We need your wisdom. We need to know how best to live in your ways. Hear us cry out for help.

Pilgrim through this barren land. God, you know there are days when it seems like no choice is a good choice, days when nothing we say comes out right, and we wonder how to turn back to you. We are wandering and wondering.

I am weak, but you are mighty. Your strength and power amazes us, O God, and we need to feel your presence when we feel like we have no power. Give us the words to speak. Point us in the right direction.

Hold me with your powerful hand. God, we need to be held in your hand, to hold your hand, and to pushed on with your hand. Give us comfort, support, and a nudge in the right direction.

Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more. Loving God, you feed us with your Word, with our communities of support, and with blessings too many to count. We are so thankful for all the ways you reveal yourself to us. We pray for all of your children who need to be fed physically or spiritually. We know what you provide is more than enough to share, so revive our spirits of generosity until everyone has enough.

As we seek out what is next for our lives, may we always begin by saying, Guide me, O my great Redeemer.

 

Submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto, Salisbury, Maryland
(The words in italics are from The New Century Hymnal #19, Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer.)

litany of affirmation: we have an Advocate

We are not alone, sliding through a mystery with no guidance.
We have an Advocate who guides us with power and truth.

We do not pray alone, worried about “getting it right” or being heard.
We have an Advocate who prays with us, in deep, wordless sighs.

We do not work alone for the healing of the world.
We have an Advocate who directs our paths and reveals Christ to us.

We are born of water and fire, adopted into the family of God.
We have an Advocate who strengthens our relationship with the Holy.

We are a people of bountiful gifts and many connections.
We have an Advocate who blesses and encourages us.

We are yet coming to know more fully the height and depth and breadth of the love of God.
We have an Advocate who does not rest in revealing that truth to all creation.

 

Submitted by Rev. Julia Seymour, Lutheran Church of Hope, Anchorage AK

affirmation of faith: a litany for justice

Moses, Nehemiah, Jesus,
and many other leaders in the stories of scripture
brought hope with their courage to speak against injustice
by calling out those responsible, and saying:

“What you are doing isn’t good!”

Susan B. Anthony, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela,
and may other leaders in the history of the world
brought hope with their courage to speak against injustice
by calling out those responsible, and saying:

“What you are doing isn’t good!”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said,
“The church is only the church when it exists for others.”
He wrote those words while he was in a Nazi prison,
because he had to courage to speak against injustice
by calling out those responsible, and saying:

“What you are doing isn’t good!”

We don’t have to write books from prison,
but we ARE the church…
and we ARE a community whose purpose
is to exist for others…

So we MUST have the courage to speak against injustice
by calling out those responsible, and saying,
“What you are doing isn’t good!”

We don’t have to be nailed to a cross,
but we ARE the church…
and we ARE a community whose purpose
is to exist for others…

So we WILL have the courage to speak against injustice
by calling out those responsible, and saying,
“What you are doing isn’t good!”

…and may our words be followed by our actions,
so that God’s light might shine bright in the world.
Amen.

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

dedication/stewardship commitment: Choose This Day

Choose this day, whom you will serve
We serve the Lord with gladness!
God is good, all the time. God’s generosity extends far beyond our wildest imaginings.
We thank you God, with renewed gratitude.
With hands and feet, hearts and voices…
We serve the Lord with gladness!
We remember, O Lord, how you brought slaves out of Egypt, how you humbled yourself into human form, and how you bring this collection of people in to be your heavenly body on earth.
We pledge to live in witness to your legacy of freedom and in service to your holy name. 
Following the vision you have given us: of humble service and self-sacrifice, we boldly step out in faith.
We commit to you, O God, using our time, talents, and treasure, to serve with gladness. 
Amen.
 
Submitted by Rev. Elaine Murray Dreeben, Canyon Lake Presbyterian Church, Canyon Lake, TX