a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

CTW: Psalm 96

O sing to the Lord a new song, all the earth.
Bless God’s name and tell of God’s salvation from day to day.
Ascribe to the Lord glory and strength, O people;
give God all glory and honor!
Bring an offering, and come into God’s courts;
worship the Lord in holy splendor, now and forevermore.

 

adapted from Psalm 96 by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, NY

litany for All Saints

(This prayer is designed to be interspersed with the singing of the verses of “Give Thanks for Those Whose Faith Is Firm,” #731 in Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal or #428 in Evangelical Lutheran Worship.)

Let us give thanks to God for all the saints of our lives
and the witness they have shared with us
even as we continue to walk the journey of faith
and make our way to the glory that God is preparing for all of us.

Let us pray.

Eternal God,
our help in ages past, our hope for years to come,
we praise you for the saints of all times and places
who have walked the road of faith before us and beside us.
For their witness to your love and their commitment to your justice,
for their trust in your mercy regardless of the circumstance,
we give you thanks and praise.

(verse 1 of “Give Thanks for Those Whose Faith Is Firm”)

God of all creation,
we praise you for all your servants who have witnessed to your truth,
who have shown us your love,
who have inspired us to have hope.
By their example of faith, hope, and love,
remind us of your calling to join in making your new creation real in this world and the next.

(verse 2)

God of grace and peace,
we praise you for women and men and children
who reflect your love into our world.
Guide us to continue their faithful work
as we too walk in the light of your love.

(verse 3)

God of all saints,
today we especially remember the saints from among this community who have departed our company over the past year.
We thank you for the faithful witness of N. and N.,
for their courage amidst strife
and their hope in the face of death.
We remember so many other saints who have walked this road with us,
whom we name before you aloud or in silence:
Continue to inspire us by their faithful witness,
that we too might join in bringing your justice, mercy, and peace to our world.

(verse 4)

Eternal God,
as we walk this pilgrim way,
make our faith firm,
our hope clear,
and our love pure,
that we might join the saints of all the ages in praise eternal,
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Advent 2: The Path to the Holy Mountain

Call to Worship/Lighting Advent Candles

The Advent journey has begun.
We have started getting ready for Christmas.
The light of one candle has guided us this little way.

The hope we have for something new is not enough to show us the way.
We need more light for the journey
if we are to find our way to God’s holy mountain,
the place where beloved community becomes real,
where all creation can dwell together without fear.

As we light this second Advent candle and continue on the journey to this holy place,
we remember that God’s light shows us that things can and will be different.
When things are at their most broken,
God can and will make all things new.

Friends, let us share our hope for this journey together:
Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!


Prayer of Confession

God of hope,
you promise a new and different way of life,
and you invite us to join you on the path to get there.

Yet we usually prefer to stay on our own path.

We put ourselves before others
and so destroy the gift of life in each of us.

We fill our days with human pessimism,
assuming that nothing will ever get better
rather than welcoming your deep divine hope.

Forgive us, Lord.

Show us your hope anew in Jesus this Advent,
that we might see your branch sprouting anew in our midst
and fill our lives and the whole earth with our embrace of you.

 

submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, New York
part of The Path to the Holy Mountain series

Advent 1: The Path to the Holy Mountain

Call to Worship/Lighting Advent Candles

Thanksgiving is over, and Christmas will soon be here.
Even so, it is not yet time to celebrate.
First we must get ready.

Advent is a time of preparation, a season to get our house in order.
While we are decorating our homes, purchasing our gifts,
and getting ready for Christmas,
we also are called to turn our hearts to God,
to set our eyes on the mountain of the Lord,
the place where we find God’s grace, love, and peace
breaking into our world anew.

As we light this first Advent candle and wait for this new day to come,
we remember that God’s light is our guide for life in the world.
In the midst of any darkness that might surround us,
the light of the Lord will still prevail.

Friends, let us share our hope for this journey together:
Come, let us walk in the light of the Lord!


Prayer of Confession

God of mercy and compassion,
you invite us to join you on your holy mountain,
to follow you on a new path,
yet we prefer another way.

We stay close to the ways we know
rather than take up something new.

We prefer to stake out our own path
rather than watching for your way to emerge before us.

We place our trust in other guides
rather than having confidence that you will show us the way.

Forgive us, Lord.

Open a new path for us.
Show us the way to your holy mountain,
that we might know your ways and walk in your paths.

Give us eyes to see and ears to hear the new thing you are doing in our midst,
and give us hearts of hope and joy that walk in your light each and every day
until you come again.

 

submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, New York
part of The Path to the Holy Mountain series

Advent 2013: The Path to the Holy Mountain

It’s hard to believe that Advent is just around the corner—but it is! I’ve started thinking a bit about the liturgy for the season, and with some help from my trusty LiturgyLink colleague Teri we’ve developed something that we’re happy to start sharing here! We welcome further feedback on it in the comments—and of course liturgy submissions around it! You’ll likely be seeing some things based on it here starting soon… Look over the whole outline after the break! [Read more…]

confession: justifying ourselves

Merciful God,
all that we have and all that we are come from you,
yet we prefer to focus on what we have done to justify ourselves.
We count all that we have done to earn your love
rather than confess our need for your grace and mercy.
We point out the shortcomings of others
rather than examine our own waywardness.
Forgive us, Lord.
Open our eyes to our need for your indiscriminate and unconditional love.
Free us from our need to justify ourselves in your sight,
and guide us as we welcome the fullness of your life in Jesus Christ our Lord.

 

Submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, New York

CTW: thirsty, hungry, ready

We are thirsty for the waters of life, O God.
Come, show us our hope and our salvation.

We are hungry for your presence when the wind blows, when the earth shakes, when fire roars.
Come, show us our hope and our salvation.

We are ready for your light and your truth to lead us.
Come, show us our hope and our salvation.

 

Based on Psalm 42-43 and 1 Kings 19.

Submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, NY

communion: sing a new song

Invitation to the Table

Friends, this is the joyful feast of the people of God!
They will come from east and west and north and south
and sit at table together in the kingdom of God,
ready to share the great feast of the new creation
and to sing new songs of praise forevermore.

So come to this table of plenty.
Bring your gifts of new life and your new songs of praise and thanksgiving.
Gather here and share this feast,
for Christ himself is our host.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Glorious God,
it is right to give you thanks and praise,
to sing new songs of thanksgiving
for your endless mercy and amazing grace.
From age to age, you have been with us.
You made the heavens and the earth
and rule over all the nations.
You create all things and guide us into your ways.
Even when we go astray, you call us back,
showing us the fullness of life in you
and giving us new songs of praise for each and every day,
most of all in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Born of humble estate,
Jesus lived for us and among us,
healing the sick,
easing the burdens of your people,
and teaching us the new song of your kingdom.
He showed his love for all your children
in his death at the hands of the authorities of the day.
Yet when you raised him to new life,
you sealed the promise of the new creation for all your people.
For this incredible gift of life,
we raise our new songs of joyous praise.

And so we give you thanks for this holy meal
where we remember Jesus’ death
and proclaim his new life.
By this bread and cup, strengthen us for the life of faith,
that we might sing your new song in this place and in this world
and invite others to join in
until we share this feast with you in the kingdom of God.

Eternal God,
as we wait and watch and work for your kingdom to come,
strengthen us to sing your new song.
Guide us from this table
to sing your praise each and every day.
Open the ears and minds and hearts of those who will hear,
that they too might join in this new song of praise now,
even as we trust that all creation will soon gather
to feast and sing in the joy of your eternal kingdom.

Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor are yours, almighty God,
now and forever. Alleluia! Amen.

 

Inspired by Psalm 96. Submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, NY.

communion: God our shepherd

Invitation to the Table

Sisters and brothers,
this is the joyful feast of the people of God,
a table prepared for us in the presence of our enemies,
a banquet of love in the face of hatred.

Here God’s love for us overflows,
and here we find the depth of God’s kindness and mercy
as we share this strange and wonderful feast in God’s house.

So let us pray for God’s full presence with us here,
for our great shepherd is our host
and invites us to meet him here.

Great Prayer of Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Loving God,
you are our shepherd,
granting us everything that we need,
showing us comfort and peace and hope,
restoring us when we are weak,
guiding us when we are going astray.
You stay with us through the darkest valley
and show us the fullness of your love to beyond overflowing.

In Jesus you gave us the fullness of all these things.
You prepare a table for us
just as he prepared a table for his disciples the night before he was killed.
He took bread and gave thanks to you,
broke it, and gave it to his disciples and said:
Take, eat. This is my body, given for you.
Then after supper,
he took a cup of wine and gave thanks once again.
He passed it among his disciples and said:
Take this, all of you, and drink from it.
This is the cup of the new covenant
sealed in my blood for the forgiveness of sin.
Do this in remembrance of me.

So take these ordinary gifts of bread and cup
and use them to show us your presence and love.
Gather us with Jesus, the disciples, and the believers of every time and place,
that we might be one in this feast
and sustained for the days ahead by the power of your love.
Follow us from this table with your goodness and mercy and peace and love,
that we might rise to serve you with new life and hope
as we dwell in your house forever.
Lord, come quickly! Amen.

Distribution of the Elements

The bread of heaven.
The cup of salvation.

Friends, these are the gifts of God for us, the people of God.
Come, let us keep the feast.

 

Submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, NY

Maundy Thursday communion prayer: wondrous love

This communion prayer includes sung congregational responses using three verses of the hymn “What Wondrous Love Is This.”

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Eternal God,
it is right to give our thanks and praise,
for your love marks the expanse of creation,
your justice stretches out into the farthest land,
and your peace makes all things complete.

You are worthy of praise.

Yet we fall short.
We have stepped away from your love.
We have ignored your call for justice.
We have sowed conflict rather than peace.

Yet you know no boundaries.
Nothing we say or do can keep you away from us.
Even amidst all our brokenness, you kept calling us back,
with prophets and messengers and kings to guide us in your ways.

And in the fullness of time, you sent your own son, Jesus,
to intervene in our world,
to call us to know your love,
to show us that we are worthy to bring you praise.

And so we join our voices with the multitude of the ages,
singing joyfully of your wondrous love:

What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul.
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the heavy cross for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the heavy cross for my soul.

Your love in Jesus Christ is wondrous, almighty God.
In him you stepped into our world;
in him you taught us how to live in harmony with one another;
in him you healed and made whole;
in him you challenged us to journey a new road together.

In his death, you took on the fullness of our pain and suffering,
and in his resurrection, you showed us that death will never have the final word.

So just as he did with his disciples on the night of his arrest,
so we too gather,
sharing a meal,
receiving the bread of his body,
welcoming the cup of his salvation,
and trusting that we too will be made whole.

And so we sing our praise to you for the wonder of this gift:

To God and to the Lamb I will sing, I will sing,
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb who is the great I Am,
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
while millions join the theme, I will sing!

And so gather us with those millions, loving Lord.

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these gifts of bread and cup,
that the bread we break and the cup we bless
may be the communion of the body and blood of Christ.

By your Spirit, make us one with Christ and one another,
united in faith, hope, and love with all those who share this feast
as we reach out and serve the world with your grace, mercy, and hope
until your kingdom comes
and we are free to sing with all creation forever and ever:

And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on;
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and through eternity I’ll sing on.

Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
all glory and honor are yours, almighty God,
now and forever. Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Andy James, First Presbyterian Church, Whitestone, New York