a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

charge and benediction: set apart

People of God,

you were set apart even before you came into being,

to proclaim the goodness and grace of our God,

in word and in deed, wherever you go.

Go out into the world this week, sharing God’s love with all people

in Jesus’ name.

And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,

the love of God,

and the communion of the Holy Spirit,

be with you, now and forever. Amen

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

POP: Be our Rock

To you, O Lord, we call out for help,

for you are our rock and our fortress.

Listen to the prayers we raise before you today.

Rescue those who are under the power of injustice and cruelty,

and cleanse our hearts of the desires that do violence against your people.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

Protect and nurture the young,

who are just learning the promise of your constant presence;

keep them safe and cover them with your gracious love.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

Let your mercy surround those who are old,

especially those whose health or mind or family fail them;

let your strength lift them up, and let your praises be on their lips.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

Stand with all who seek to serve you faithfully.

Give them steadfast hope by the power of your Holy Spirit,

and let them celebrate the righteous acts you do through them day after day.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

Reveal yourself in family and community gatherings this week,

that as loved ones gather together for Thanksgiving,

each generation may tell another about the wonders of your love.

Bless and watch over all who travel.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

Revive and comfort those who face trouble and calamity among us,

and let your healing presence be with all who are ill (especially ___).

Bring your people up from the depths, to your honor.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

Show your faithfulness to those who face death or walk in the shadow of grief (especially ___).

Strengthen your people to sing your praises even in the darkness,

and watch over the souls of all who rest in you.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

God our rock, we call to you now and always,

trusting in the name of Jesus the Christ,

who taught us to pray as we say together:

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

prayers of the people: deliver us and set us free

Let us pray to our God, saying,
Lord, in your righteousness, deliver us and set us free.

Holy God, you knew us before we took our first breath.
You uttered your living Word and brought forth light, love, and life.
You gathered us from the dust of the earth and called us your people.
You sent us into the world to proclaim your mighty and wondrous deeds.
You are with us even now as we continue our call.
Lord, in your righteousness, deliver us and set us free.

Mighty God, you have done great things; who is like you?
You alone are our rock of refuge.
You alone are our strong fortress.
You alone are our hope and in you alone is our trust.
Lord, in your righteousness, deliver us and set us free.

Merciful God, your love never ends.
We confess to you that we do not always share your love as we should.
Where you have called us to live as one body, we exist as divided members.
Where you have called us to give our Spirit-given gifts, we ignore your call.
Where you have called us to forgive, we have forgotten your mercy.
Lord, in your righteousness, deliver us and set us free.

Gracious God, do not be far from us!
Strengthen us that we might be givers of your grace and
may your steadfast love be known to all of your children.
Send your Holy Spirit to empower our hands to
clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and love all as you have first loved us.
Lord, in your righteousness, deliver us and set us free.

Loving God, hear today the prayers that we lift up to you.
Be with those of us who are [name of community].
Give us hearts of courage and songs of your grace
to tell others of your righteous acts and deeds of salvation.
Lord, in your righteousness, deliver us and set us free.

Abundant God, be with those of us that yearn for your restoration and healing.
Today, we ask your blessing upon [list names of those in need of healing].
We who are [name of community] also lift up to you those who we bring before you
with our lips or within our hearts…
Lord, in your righteousness, deliver us and set us free.

Faithful God, your power and your righteousness reach the heavens.
Hear us, your servants, as we follow you to the day when
faith, hope, and love will be upon the lips of all of us, your children.
These things we pray in the name of your Son who taught us to pray saying…

submitted by Stephen Fearing, student at Columbia Theological Seminary

illumination: you knew us

Holy God,
you knew us before we knew ourselves.
You consecrate us even now to be your servants.
Create in us hearts worthy to be your prophets
that we might go where you send us,
and speak the Word that you give us.
Through the power of your Holy Spirit,
place your words upon our lips
and your grace upon our hearts
so that we might pluck up and pull down,
destroy and overthrow,
build and plant,
as you, alone, have commanded. Amen.
inspired by Jeremiah 1:4-10, the Old Testament lectionary passage for the Fourth Sunday after Epiphany (year C)
submitted by Stephen Fearing, student at Columbia Theological Seminary

confession: Love

Call to Confession:
Whether we have the gift of beautiful speech, or the gift of understanding and knowledge, or the gift of faith or of generosity or of any other good thing—if we do not love, even our most precious talents are as nothing. And if we believe Love to be a only feeling or a thought, still we miss the Truth. Before God, with the people of God, let us confess the ways we have fallen short of God’s Love. Let us pray.

One:    Love is patient and kind
All:     and we are in a bit of a hurry…
One:    Love does not insist on its own way
All:     but really, God, my way is clearly best.
One:    Love is not envious or resentful
All:     and yet we hoard it as if there might not be enough.
One:    Love is all these verbs—rejoices, bears, believes, hopes, endures—
All:     but we are so tempted to confine it where we can understand and control, domesticating love into romance or intellect.
One:    God is Love, and those who abide in Love abide in God.

silence

One:    When we have not lived in your love, when we have insisted and hurt and believed ourselves to know fully even as we know only in part,
All:     Forgive us, O God.
One:    When we have thought, spoken, and acted in childish ways even as you call us to grow in your grace,
All:     Forgive us, O God.
One:    Draw us again into your embrace, that we may abide in faith, hope, and love.
All:     Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness:
Friends, hear this good news: Though now we see dimly, as through a tinted window, Love is clearing the way for us to know God just as fully as God knows us. We will live the good news: in Jesus Christ, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God! Amen.

CTW: formed, known, appointed

One:    The word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, as it had come to many others before him:
All:     I formed you, I know you, I appoint you.
One:    And Jeremiah, like many others before and since, protested.
All:     But God doesn’t take excuses, and sent him to go and speak and build and plant.
One:    God put the words into his mouth, that he might proclaim good news.
All:     Still God puts God’s word out into the world through human mouths!
One:    The word of the Lord comes to us, too, in this place and this time: I formed you, I know you, I appoint you.
All:     And so we come to worship, to be made yet again into the builders of God’s kingdom.

 

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

Sunday’s Coming: working toward February 3

Ah, Souper Bowl Sunday! Are you doing anything special for this day? Do you participate in the Souper Bowl of Caring? Do you have a liturgy for that? Do you incorporate it into the communion? Or just let it be?

With just two Sundays left before Lent, it probably shouldn’t be surprising that we have Jesus getting into trouble. And, as is typical in Luke, he’s getting into trouble for challenging the status quo of exclusivity and “chosenness.” He uses the moment of adoration to give a challenging word, and the people appear to have been listening–and they definitely had a reaction. What is the good news for your context in this story?

We also have this week the call of the prophet Jeremiah, who apparently considered himself too young for the task. Or perhaps he’d simply internalized the message that young people should be seen and not heard. Either way, God went for “I have put my words in your mouth” as the solution to the problem–a much quicker way than with the whole Moses-and-Aaron situation, but equally uncomfortable and challenging for one who wasn’t sure about the whole thing! Especially since the task given to Jeremiah is one that will have the people in uproar…pluck up and tear down, build and plant. Again, challenging the status quo is never popular, and Jeremiah certainly did that.

The psalm seems perfectly matched to these two texts–it’s only by keeping their eyes on the one who called them were Jeremiah or Jesus able to pass through the midst of the people who reached out to stop their message. It’s hard work to be a prophet, and it’s nearly impossible work if our hope is misplaced.

And then we have the infamous love chapter. While many cringe when it’s included in weddings, perhaps here is a chance to redeem it for everyday grace. (Sort of like how I love when Psalm 23 comes up so I can rescue it from funerals.) Aside from the usual tricks of replacing the word love with God, or with your own name, or whatever–how can you imagine this might be used in our liturgy? I can imagine reading it responsively as we often do the psalms, or making it the basis of a prayer of confession (because come on–how often do we love like this?). Perhaps there’s an affirmation of faith in there? Or even the ground of a full service worth of liturgy?

What are you thinking about for this week?

(I’m away from the internet this week, so please get to work in the comments so I can have something to work with when I get home! LOL.)