a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

POP: spark hope

God of promise,
We come to you this day, at the start of a new season, waiting.
Your children, O Lord, are waiting to be seen.
We remember those among us who are feeling forgotten or alone or misunderstood. Grant them assurance that they are whole, and wholly yours, just the way they are.
May your Spirit spark in them hope, and inspire us to do our part in making it so.
Your children, O Lord, are waiting to be home.
Whether they have fled their old ones for a better life, been pushed out of them by others because of who they are, or whether they have slipped through systemic cracks to end up on the street, grant belonging and rest to unwilling wanderers.
May your Spirit spark in them hope, and inspire us to do our part in making it so.
Your children, O Lord, are waiting for justice.
We acknowledge those among us who have been victims of systems set up to make them fail.
May your Spirit spark in them hope, and inspire us to do our part in making it so.
Your children, O Lord, are waiting for healing.
Hold close those who are hurting in body or mind, whatever the reason. Grant them strength, courage, and the help they need.
May your Spirit spark in them hope, and inspire us to do our part in making it so.
Your children, O Lord, are waiting for peace.
Our country and world are fractured, and doing the hard word of making it better can feel insurmountable.
May your Spirit spark in us hope, and inspire us to do our part in making it so.
Faithful God, whatever our own uncertainties, breathe hope into our lungs and courage into our hearts. Not the easy or comfortable kind, but grant us, O God, hope in the unexpected promise of a world-changing child born from the humblest of beginnings. Grant us comfort in the words that that child would teach us to pray together: Our Father, who art in heaven. . .
Submitted by Rev. Allison Wehrung, Presbytery of St. Andrew (Oxford, MS)

Confession: we don’t want to understand

Holy God, we like to claim that your way is mysterious and we are uncertain how to follow. We confess that we don’t want to understand the fast that you choose. You call us to loose the bonds of injustice, to let prisoners free, to break every yoke, to bring the homeless into our house, to feed our neighbours and pray for our enemies. We make it sound like a difficult metaphor so we don’t have to act on your word, because we don’t like to be uncomfortable. Forgive our apathy, our wilful ignorance, our false modesty, and our unexamined privilege. Create in us a clean heart, and lead us into a Holy Lent…and beyond, to abundant life for all your creation. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.


Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson

Confession: come with us

Lord of the Way, you said that where you are, your servants will be. We confess that we would prefer you to come with us, rather than for us to go with you. Too often you are found in places we would rather avoid, with people we are afraid of, doing things we wish you wouldn’t. Forgive our inward vision, and call us to your side once again. Give us courage to follow where you lead, to bring others along on the journey, and to live as people filled with your grace, your hope, your truth, your life. We pray in the name of the One who was obedient even to the cross, and beyond to the empty tomb, Jesus the Christ. Amen.


Submitted by Rev. Teri Peterson

Confession: some other place

Creating and transforming God,
you call us to spread the joy of your kingdom
and live as agents of your renewal in the world.
We confess that we are content to locate your kingdom
in some other place, some other time, some other reality.
We have been unwilling to welcome your ever-present Spirit,
to strive for your justice in this world,
or to recognize the risen Christ in the face of others.
Forgive us.
Open our hearts, our minds, and our lives
to see the truth right in front of us.
Free us from our foolishness,
and teach us to live by your wisdom,
in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

confession: if you had been here…

One: Loving Lord, how often we face tragic news we cannot understand. Our hearts may echo Martha and Mary at Lazarus’s tomb, who said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

All: Lord, if you had been here, our hearts would not be heavy.

One: Lord, if you had been here, these people would not be hungry.

All: Lord, if you had been here, our climate would not be on the brink.

One: We each bring our own situation in silence, when we say, “Lord if you had been here…” (moment of silence) Lord, have mercy on us.

All: Forgive us when we forget your presence and deny love’s work.

One: In prayer, show us you are with us in the deepest sense, and that you weep with all who mourn.

All: Remind us how tragedy and injustice break your heart, and help us see you nearby, wherever people go hungry or your creation is threatened.

One: Grant us faith to trust you are truly here, with us, bringing new life we can now only imagine.

All: Give us hope, that looking towards your resurrection, we might discover and share glimpses of that new life already coming among us, in your name, Amen. (silent prayer)


Assurance of Grace

One: Friends, hear the good news: Seen or unseen, God is with us. Bidden or unbidden, Christ is present.

All: May we live assured of what we cannot see, trusting in the power who makes all things new. Thanks be to God!

Sung response: What a Friend We Have In Jesus, verse 1


Submitted by Laura Cunningham, Western Presbyterian Church, Washington, DC

Confession: A Superficial people

God of Truth and Justice, you do not judge humanity by its appearance. But we do.
We are a superficial people, seeing only what we want to see, hearing what we want to hear.
We have little patience for events that puzzle us, little practice with the search for deep answers.
Yet you call us to be people who do what is right, no matter how long the journey.
Have mercy on us when we defend our half-baked opinions with all our strength
instead of seeking the wisdom that comes from you.
Have mercy on us when reduce our neighbors to our idea of who they are,
without seeking to know them first.
Give us the humility that leads to justice.

Submitted by Lisa M López, Christ Presbyterian Church in Hanover Park, IL

Benediction: recognize Christ

We have heard and claimed God’s Good News in worship.
Now we go into the world to serve, to forgive,
to work for justice, and to give praise to God.
As we go, may we be filled with the Holy Spirit,
so we might recognize Jesus Christ in all people,
to the glory of God the Father,
now and forever. Amen.


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

communion: life blooms

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Ruler of the universe,
for you have provided for your people.
You have turned manna in the wilderness into the bread of life,
You have turned water from a rock into a spring of everlasting life,
You have turned law into love.
You have called us to this table, to know you in the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup.
Here is grace, here is promise, here is love, here we see you face to face.

You, Lord, are the one who makes life bloom in the desert.
We give you thanks for your creating spirit, creating still,
and for the hope of your promise.
Where people still wait for fulfillment of your promise, give a glimpse of your glory.
Where people have lost hope, breathe your peace.
Where we have turned our eyes away,
choosing instead only to see what we think we already know
call us once again back to your way and your truth.
May your justice spring up in the desert like a river,
your love grow as tall as the trees,
until your whole creation thrives in your kingdom.

We come today bearing the hurts of the world,
seeking your forgiveness,
seeking your healing,
seeking to know your presence with us as we walk this journey.
Walk with us, Lord, and speak.
Walk with us, and show us your transforming grace at work in places we have left behind,
in people we have dismissed, in action and word together.
Walk with us, and then sit down at table
and open our eyes in the breaking of bread.

We pray now, O God,
that you would pour out your spirit again on us
and on these gifts of bread and wine,
that they might be for us the rich feast of life
and that we might be transformed once again into your people,
joined with your body all around the world,
fed with the bread of grace
and the wine of your everlasting love.
As we are fed and nourished,
send us forth as people of grace–
people who answer the call to build
your kingdom on this earth.

We pray all these things in the name of Christ, who taught us to pray together…


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

communion–independence day

Blessed are you, O Lord our God, Creator of the universe,
for you made all things and called them good—
earth, sea, and sky are yours,
every tree and bird, each seed sprouting,
every firefly twinkling and every drop of precious water
is a witness to your grace.
We give you thanks this day for your generosity,
for you are the giver of every good gift.
Today we especially give you thanks for the gift of freedom,
for those who have worked and sacrificed to honor that gift,
and for the many privileges we enjoy in this place.
We thank you for the gift of this community,
the gift of curious minds and ingenuity,
the privilege of learning and teaching.
We thank you for your Son
who became flesh and lived among us
in order that we might know the gift of your abundant life
right here in these bodies, right here in this Body.
When we forget that all we have, from every tiny bone to every big cathedral, is a gift from you,
call us back to your truth.
When we are tempted by the siren song of individual independence,
remind us that we are but one part of your Body on earth.
When we separate this earth from your Spirit,
give us eyes to see and ears to hear your breath in every heartbeat, every gust of wind, every creaking joint, every neighbor’s laugh and enemy’s tear.
We hold in your light those who live in fear, in violence, under oppression.
We remember your people in Syria, in Bangladesh, in Baghdad, in West Virginia, on the streets of Chicago and the homes of our own neighborhood.
As we gather at this table, we remember that many are hungry.
As we share the cup together, we remember that many are thirsty.
May the day come soon when there may be food and water for all.
May the day come soon when justice and peace take the place of violence.
May the day come soon when your freedom may be known by all of creation.
Many grains come together to make bread, and yet our world community is fractured—
as we eat this feast, draw us together in your Spirit.
Make us again into your body, loving, serving, and caring for the world.
We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ, who taught us to pray together…


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

POP: restore and magnify

Let us pray to the Lord our God saying:
“Restore us, O God, and make your face to shine upon us that we might be saved.”:

Our souls magnify you, O Lord, and our Spirits rejoice in you, our Savior!
For you have looked upon the lowliness of your servants,
you have heard our cry and saved your people.
We shall be called blessed because we are called by you to be a blessing to others.
Your mercy is from generation to generation.
Your mercy called Adam and Eve into being.
Your mercy kept vengeance from taking Cain’s life.
Your mercy saved Noah and his family from the flood.
Your mercy caused Sarah’s womb to be fruitful.
Your mercy gave Joseph’s dreams the power to save a nation.
Your mercy heard the Israelites’ cry and called Moses to action.
Your mercy charged Mary with the most special of tasks.
Your mercy strengthened Joseph to care for her.
Your mercy creates Jesus, who has come to save us.
We give you thanks for your mercy; may it continue to shine upon us!

Restore us, O God, and make your face to shine upon us that we might be saved.

We remember this day those upon our hearts that crave your shining face,
who long for the light, who need your power to drive out the darkness:
for those who suffer from depression and other mental illnesses,
for those who cannot bring themselves to forgive others,
for those who cannot forgive themselves,
for those who seek refuge, but have been denied shelter,
for those who seek shelter, but have been denied a home,
for those who have lost loved ones in the past year,
for those who have lost physical and mental abilities,
for those who care for aging spouses and loved ones,
for those who have been living with cancer and other debilitating illnesses.

Restore us, O God, and make your face to shine upon us that we might be saved.

We ask that you would strengthen us as a congregation:
as we seek to be the best stewards of the money with which we’ve been blessed,
as we struggle with the financial burden of an aging building,
as we search for the truth of your word and do our best to live it out in our lives,
as we hold in tension that which we have been with that which you call us to be,
as we serve one another and those with whom you called us into fellowship,
as we continue to grow together as a congregation in a period of transition,
as we wait, watch, and wonder in preparation of the coming of your Son.

Restore us, O God, and make your face to shine upon us that we might be saved.

Gracious God,
as we finish this advent journey,
may we wait with Mary’s joyful anticipation
as we prepare to welcome your Son, our Savior,
into this broken world in need of his redeeming.
Gather us, guide us, and keep us as your people.
Send us into the world that Christ’s hands might be our own,
and his mind one with ours in all that you would have us do.

Restore us, O God, and make your face to shine upon us that we might be saved.  Amen.


Submitted by Rev. Stephen M. Fearing, Shelter Island Presbyterian Church, NY