a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

POP: let us see light

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens,
and your faithfulness soars over us like the clouds.
We call on your righteousness, strong as a mountain,
and your justice, deep as the ocean;
for humans and all that lives on the earth,
we call out for mercy.

Your love is immeasurable,
and we lift up all your people who seek to know you.
Gather us under the shadow of your wings
and unite us with each other by your grace.

We pray for those who count themselves excluded from life’s good things,
that they might feast upon the abundance of your house.
We pray for those who hunger and thirst for righteousness or healing,
that you would give them drink from the river of your delights.
We pray for those whose lives are in danger or at an end,
for with you is the well of life.

In your light let us see light,
and in your loving-kindness let us make you known;
we pray in the name of your Christ, saying together:

The Lord’s Prayer

 

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

Dedication: delight

Lord, you take delight in us
and fill us with every good thing
so that all who hunger may share in our joy.
Receive what we offer as testimony to your goodness,
and let these gifts lead to rejoicing
in your church and all your world;
in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

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

confession: gifts

Creator God, with each breath of life you breathe, you give gifts to your creation, calling us to use your gifts to build up your kingdom on earth. We confess that sometimes we do not see your gifts for the treasures they are. We either take credit for them ourselves, or we dismiss them as not important. We privilege some gifts over others, forgetting that you care about tiny things as much as big things. And when we are called upon to use our gifts for your glory, so often we find ourselves distracted by our own desire and uncertain of your direction. Forgive us. Open our ears to hear you speaking, and our hearts to embrace your purpose. Amen.    ~silence~

 

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

confession: impatient, overwhelmed, and frustrated

Prayer for Confession (Unison)
Gracious God, we pray for new understanding
because we are tormented by our doubts and mistakes.  
We confess that we have been impatient with your ways.
We have not trusted your wisdom but have insisted on our own ways. We have been so overwhelmed and frustrated by what does not make sense that we have denied your righteousness and your salvation. We have ignored your glory.
We have dismissed your love. Forgive us, Gracious God.
Grant us new understanding.
 
Affirmation of God’s Grace (Responsive)
Leader: Beloved in Christ, believe in the good news.
For God’s love is made manifest in our flesh.
God’s love has been poured over us with
wisdom and understanding.
 People: We belong to God. Alleluia! Amen.
Submitted by Rev. Elsa Peters.

CTW: we want to see miracles

Leader:  We come to see glory revealed.
People: We want to see miracles happen.
Leader:It is a time for miracles.
It is a time of new understanding
when God’s steadfast love becomes manifest.
People: O may God’s love become manifest in us!
Leader: May glory be revealed today.
Submitted by Rev. Elsa Peters.

CTW: Renewing God

One: Renewing God, we come together in your presence

All: Wash us. Make us clean and new

One: Rejoicing God, we come together in your presence.

All: Fill us. Make us overflow with the joy of your presence.

 

Submitted by L. Elaine Hall, Bethelview/Valle Crucis United Methodist Churches, Boone, NC

confession: full to the brim

One: Loving God, the world is full to the brim with your grace,
All: yet so often we see only what we do not have.

~silence~

One: Joyful God, you call us to glorify and enjoy you forever,
All: yet so often we insist that faith must be cut and dried, strait-laced, and serious.

~silence~

One: Calling God, you ask for obedience to your will,
All: yet so often we prefer our own way to yours.

~silence~

One: Forgive our faltering faith, O God.
All: Soften our hard hearts, unclench our grasping hands, and open our darkened eyes, that we may follow you into kingdom life. We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ, who makes all things new. Amen.

 

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

rely not…(call to confession)

So often we rely on our own understanding, our own faithfulness, our own desire. But if we believe that to be enough, we deceive only ourselves. Before God, and with the people of God, let us confess our need for forgiveness and guidance. Let us pray.

 

(Prayer of Confession)

 

Even in the midst of our imperfection, God can be seen, and in the midst of our repentance, God’s new life takes root. Friends, believe and live the good news: In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God! Amen.

CTW: God has called

One:  God has called us together to worship and work
All:  young and old, men and women, newcomer and charter member.
One:   God has called us together to love and to serve
All:  introverts and extroverts, leaders and followers.
One:  God has called us together to teach and to learn
All:  faithful and doubting, hopeful and despairing, wise and foolish.
One:  God has called us together to praise and to pray
All:  singer and speaker and hearer, healer and in need of healing.
One:  God has called us together to be the church
All:  and we are filled with gifts to be God’s people!

 

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

Sunday’s Coming: working toward January 20

How did things go yesterday? Did you do a ritual of reaffirmation of baptism? If so, how wet did people get? Did you use a particularly excellent (or terrible) prayer? Did a hymn work spectacularly or fall flat?

Now that we’ve let go a bit of last week, time to look toward this weekend. It’s a bit of an odd one, as it’s simultaneously the season of the Epiphany, MLK weekend (which means a long weekend for many families…and here that means they all run off to warmer climes for a few days respite), and the inauguration. We are also nearing Annual Meeting season for many congregations. I wonder if we could fit in anything else?

If you’re following the RCL, this week has a couple of beauties and a couple of texts that you wonder why they’re put together.

There is of course the Wedding at Cana, often included in the season of epiphany, because it’s one of the times (in John, the first time) we see that Jesus is rather extraordinary. Also extraordinary are the other characters in the story–we see Mary as the pushy Jewish mother, insisting on directing the life of her grown son. We see the people who, for some reason, fill up 150 gallons of water without batting an eyelash or making any snide remarks. We see a steward and bridegroom who appear to believe that no, really, there WAS more wine in the cellar…and through it all, no one appears to need to actually take a ritual bath. Good thing! Though you have to wonder…is there wine in there? Or is there wine only when someone who needs it turns the tap? Is the miracle in the obedience? The moment of need? Or somewhere in between?

 

There’s also the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 to work with this week–a perfect set up if you’re leaning into annual meeting season (especially since the following week, when many many meetings will be taking place to meet those bylaws that it has to be “no later than the first sunday in february” and to avoid a conflict with Super Bowl parties, the text is the second half of the chapter on the Body of Christ). It is one of my favorite things to point out to people that faith is a gift given to whom the Spirit chooses. How do you see the gifts of the Spirit at work in your community? How do people with varying gifts work together for the common good? How might this be a text we can apply to our nation in the midst of the inaugural festivities? This text is just BEGGING to be turned into liturgy–someone write a confession or an affirmation faith, stat!

Isaiah again gives us soaring rhetoric–language more exalted than anything we’ll hear elsewhere. There’s something a little edgy in the subtext of this classic comfort text, though. I can’t quite put my finger on it. There is something here that could be used if you’re celebrating MLK weekend, if you can put your finger on just what that subtext might be. And for those congregations grieving or feeling as if they’re wandering in the wilderness, this is good news indeed. Anyone out there serving a church as a long-term interim? There is good news for impatient wondering people in here.

And the psalm…I must admit that my Presbyterian heart is tempted to simply read the psalm responsively as a confession and assurance of grace all in one fell swoop this week. It’s incredible how easily the psalmist seems to flow from repentance to hope to praise and petition. There is always a part of me that wants to stick with just one for a bit before getting on with it…perhaps there’s something for us all to learn in how they interweave in this psalm.

Are you off lectionary for a series or holiday? Are you following the narrative lectionary? Stop by in the comments and share your idea-seeds–you never know when a little comment-conversation might spark growth of creativity for all of us!