a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

communion preface: Gather Us

One: Great God the evidence of your love covers our world.
All:   Great creator, gather us as your children
One:   Jesus, God incarnate, we are grateful for your continued lessons of love, service, and sacrifice
All:   Great redeemer, gather us as your friends
One:   Breath of God, we feel your presence in, around, and among us
All:   Holy Spirit, gather us as your people
One:   (continues with communion prayer)

Submitted by Rev. Kathleen Sheets, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Jesup, IA

confession: bewildered, afraid, impatient

Gracious God, we come to you bewildered. You call us to peace, but we see a world at war. You call us to love neighbors, but we are afraid to leave our own places of comfort. Scripture tells us that we cannot bear all you have to reveal, but we are impatient in our desire for the coming of your Kingdom. Strengthen us in your truth and guide us to your service. Amen.


Submitted by Rev. Kathleen Sheets, Pastor, First Presbyterian Church of Jesup, IA

CTW: wildly mysterious world

One: In the beginning you, oh God created everything.
All: You filled the ocean with life. Made the squirming things of the ground. Gave birds wings to soar.
One: You made orbiting planets, expansive atmospheres, and bright burning stars.
All: And yet, you took the time to create us too.
One: Entrusting us with the care of this wildly mysterious world.
All: O Lord, our God, how majestic is your name throughout creation!

CTW: follow me

One: To the fisherman Jesus said:
All: “Follow me and I will make you fish for people.
One: To the tax collector Jesus said:
All: “Follow me.”
One: To the rich man Jesus said:
All: “Go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.”
One: At the last supper Jesus said:
All: “Follow me”
One: To you and to me and to all of us Jesus says:
All: Follow me!
inspired by Matt. 4:19-20; Luke 5:27, Mark 10:21, John 21:19
submitted by Rev. Kathleen Sheets, Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Jesup, IA

confession: love we cannot earn

Creator God, we come to you today as people who desire to follow you. Forgive us, O Lord, for the times when we think our church attendance, our committee work, or our busy schedules earn us a special place beside you. Remind us, gracious God, that you give us love we cannot earn and salvation we cannot afford. Humble us Lord, so that we may be able to see those who are journeying alongside us. As we reach out to you, let us not forget to also hold up those who have not yet experienced your grace. Amen.

CTW: it is good

Leader: It is good to give thanks to the LORD, to sing praises to your name, O Most High.
People: We declare your steadfast love in the morning, and your faithfulness by night.
Leader: As flowers unfold in the light of the sun, our creation comes to fullness in the presence of our God.
People: Christ brought a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
Adapted from Psalm 92 and 2 Corinthians 5 by Kathleen Sheets, Pastoral Assistant, First Congregational Church of Williamstown, MA

CTW: family, neighbors, witnesses

(based on Hebrews 12:1)
Leader:  We come to worship with family – family by birth, by marriage, by friendship.
People:  As Noah’s wife and children filled the ark, as Aaron spoke for Moses, as Ruth came alongside Naomi, we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.
Leader:   We come to worship with neighbors – neighbors by proximity, by circumstance, by need.
People:  As God’s people traveled together in the wilderness, as Abraham entertained angels unawares, as the Samaritan cared for the Israelite, we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses.
All:   As we come before you, Oh God, make us your cloud of witnesses.

ash wednesday: introduction to the imposition of ashes

At the very beginning,
God scooped up the dust of the earth and molded it into human beings,
breathing divine breath into those creatures of dust.
Over time though, we dust creatures have forgotten who we are and whose we are.
We believed a serpent in the Garden of Eden who said we could become like God.
We believed that the gold calf Aaron made could guide us in the wilderness.
We believed the builders of Babel who thought by our own hands we could be greater than God.
We have covered up with leaves and clothes.
We have stopped taking time to walk with God in the gardens of the world God created.

But God does not stop finding ways to meet us.
God spoke through a burning bush, a whisper, a cloud pillar, the laws given to Moses,
and then ultimately through Jesus Christ.
By living a perfect sinless life,
Jesus exposed our lies of self-sufficiency.
Our sinful pride is brought into the light.
Our dusty nature is right there on the surface.

Come forward to reclaim the dust with which you were formed.
Come forward to recognize your need for the God who created you
and for the savior who desires to wash you clean.

Submitted by Kathleen Sheets, Pastoral Intern, First Presbyterian Church, Maumee, OH