a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

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

confession: overstuffed

Let us follow the Baptist’s cry
to present ourselves before the Lord,.
to repent of our sins,
and ask for forgiveness,
that we might receive the joy of his salvation.

 

John the Baptist gave us wise advice,
he said “whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none;
and whoever has food must do likewise.”
We confess that we do not always do this.
Our closets are overstuffed and our cabinets overflow
while people around the world freeze and starve.
Help us, gracious God, to share the joy of blessing with others around us.
May we remember that as long as there is one cold person left in the world,
as long as there is one hungry person left in the world,
we still have work to do.  Amen.

 

Hear these words of comfort from the prophet Isaiah:
“Surely God is our salvation; We will trust, and will not be afraid,
for the LORD GOD is our strength and our might; God has become our salvation.”
Friends, God has become our salvation, indeed!
Open yourselves to the joy to be found in our forgiveness;
never more are we to be held captive by that which seeks to tear us from God.
Hear the Good News of the Gospel:  we are forgiven.  Alleluia!  Amen!

 

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

confession: justice is too hard

O God, You are faithful to all generations—from the beginning of time, you have called all kinds of characters to be your people. When we forget that their story is our story, forgive us. When we admire them from afar while insisting that kind of faith isn’t practical for us, forgive us. We confess that your justice is too hard for us to do, and we prefer to create our own. We confess that we do not often bear the fruit you expect of your vineyard, resisting your kingdom’s way when it conflicts with our desires. Forgive us yet again, and plant your word of justice deep in our hearts and lives. Amen.

 

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

POP–stretched out

Holy God,
your grace is amazing
beyond comprehension
surrounding and filling
all creation.
We give you thanks
for your unbounded love
for glimpses of your kingdom
for faith lived and visible
for hope that will not let go
for joy that has come
in the morning.
Where weeping lingers
where grief overwhelms
where color divides
where fires rage
where hate is on display
where love is unacceptable
where cynicism threatens
Give us courage to reach out a hand.
And where we have tried to pull away—
ignoring our part
whitewashing our history
accepting lies as truth
—stand firm in your call and your promise
and give us courage to live your truth
according to your way
in order that all may have life.
O Christ the master carpenter
use your tools well in the workshop of your world.
Build us into your household and fill the house with your Spirit.
Hold us together and never let us go.
When we are tempted to move on
from Charleston
from Ferguson
from McKinney
from the South Side
give us your heart, and break us open
to tear down dividing walls
to love one another as you love us.
When we are tempted to downplay joy
as a sacrifice to our fear
as a new prison for those now free
give us courage to rejoice with those who rejoice
to celebrate love and commitment
to insist that your covenant is indeed for all
and to love one another,
even beyond the measures of our mind.
You, O God, are the builder of the house
and we your living stones.
Ground us in the word preached
by your apostles and prophets
and build us up into your kingdom
with room for all
and dividing walls for none.
Open our hands as you open our hearts
move us by your Spirit to reach out
beyond our comfort
beyond our understanding
into the work of your hope and promise.
We pray in the name of the One whose empty hands stretch out to all creation, creating one humanity fit for your kingdom, Jesus the Christ, who taught us to pray together…

 

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

confession: such a time as this

Emanuel, God with us, we know it is Advent, yet we wonder what time it is. Is it time to clean out our homes and our hearts, or is it time to be filled with cider and sweetness? Is it time to sing out carols with candles, or is it time to call out in anguish and lament?
According to scripture, there is a time for every purpose, and we trust that you create us for such a time as this. Give us wisdom to read the signs of our times, whether signs of hope in our halls or protest in our streets. Give us faith to read in all of them signs of the tiny child, the Human One. Give us ears for any alarm set for his hour of peace on earth, quickly coming, and help us all to be there in time. Amen.

Silent Prayer

Assurance of Grace
Friends, Jesus comes so that God’s time might exist in our time, so that we might know the fullness of heaven here on earth. Let us live with eyes wide open! Thanks be to God!

Submitted by The Reverend Laura Cunningham, Nauraushaun Presbyterian Church, Pearl River NY