a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

A Benediction

May love rain down on us, so we know why God calls us beloved.
May challenges and questions fill our days, so we know the Spirit of Wisdom and Creativity who walks with us.
May many opportunities to see Jesus in each other arise, so we practice compassion, justice, and mercy as Jesus did.
Go out into God’s world knowing you are never alone and always loved. Amen.

submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto, Salisbury, Maryland

CTW: Come Holy Spirit!

A word about how this call to worship might work. This will require a bit of planning and knowing your congregation. I picture the congregation facing forward and the gifts of the Holy Spirit coming from behind the congregation toward the front of the sanctuary. I’d like to have the visuals stay where they are visible for the whole service. They may even be utilized while talking with the children or preaching the sermon. Be creative and have fun! I would suggest having multiple readers but not having the congregation read responsively. This will allow the visuals time to move around the sanctuary before the next line is read.

 

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!
Live and move among us like a dove of peace!
(Enter the dove-possibly a fake dove on a stick that can “fly”, possibly a banner with a dove on it that floats through the congregation, maybe even a real dove?!)
Swoop down. Surprise and delight us like a red kite.
 (Enter someone flying a red kite through the sanctuary!)
Flash and flicker as our light of inspiration.
   (Enter someone with flashlights or glow sticks or lanterns!)
Warm our hearts so we may be fire-filled followers.
 (Enter someone carrying a lit candle!)
Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

Submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto, Salisbury, Maryland

Charge and Benediction: CtK

Jesus has told us who needs us to care. As you go out into God’s world, keep your eyes open for those who are hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick, or imprisoned. See Christ in them and help them.

And remember you are God’s beloved. The Holy Spirit lives in you. Christ’s compassion shines forth in what you do. Live as those who know and have experienced God’s goodness. Go now in peace.

Submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto

Advent Candles: hope, peace, joy, love

1.
The first week of Advent is all about hope.
Think about hope as you hear Lamentations 3: 21-24:
“But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
God’s mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in the Lord.”

One purple candle is lit.

Gracious God, As the Advent season begins, we cry out to you. We come to you looking for hope. When everything else we rely on fails us, our only hope is in you. When we do not understand what has happened, we hope in you. We can hope for better days because we trust you. We know you and we know you are here with us no matter what we are facing. Some of us see only darkness this time of year. Some of us find life overwhelming. Some of us are filled with Advent joy. Wherever we find ourselves today, Loving God, remind us that our hope is in you. Be with us on this journey. Amen.

 

2.

For the second week in Advent, we focus on peace.
In John 14:27, Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.”

Two purple candles are lit.

Prince of Peace, reveal yourself to us today. We need peace in our lives, our homes, our families, our church, and our whole world. Help us to slow down and seek out the peace you provide, so we may become peacemakers for ourselves and others. In your name, Prince of Peace, we pray. Amen.

 

3.

During the third week in Advent, we spend time thinking about joy.
From Psalm 5:11, we hear these words,
“But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them ever sing for joy.
Spread your protection over them,
so that those who love your name may exult in you.”

Two purple candles and one pink candle are lit.

Too often, we think joy is something big, O God. A brass band or a parade can certainly bring us joy. Just as easily and far more often, we can feel joy in a hug or the squeeze of hand, we can see joy in a smile or hear it in laughter. Help us to not overlook the simple joys that peak into our lives daily. This week in our Advent journey, open our eyes to the joy that surrounds us. Amen.

 

4.

In this final week of Advent, our attention is on love. The following Scripture verses may sound very familiar, so we will hear them twice. The first time is in the New Revised Standard Version. The second time you’ll be reading from the Message. Listen for the call to love in these words.

Matthew 22:36-40 says, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

”Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

Three purple candles and one pink candle are lit.

God, we have learned to love from being loved by you. And so today, let us enact that love. Let us live that love. We know that what the world needs now is more love. We need to remember how much you love each one of us and we must share that love with others. Amen.

 

Christmas

Merry Christmas! Today is the day we have been preparing for throughout Advent. Jesus is born. Here is the story as recorded in Luke’s Gospel.

“ In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria.  Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled.  Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea.  He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant.  While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby.  She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.

Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night.  The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.

The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people.  Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord.  This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child.  Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them.  Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.”

All five candles are lit.

We have been waiting for this day, Loving God. We have prepared ourselves for this special day. On this Christmas Day, let us live as those who let hope, peace, joy, and love reign in our lives. As the candles burn brightly and light our path, let us live as those who have the Christ’s light burning inside us today and everyday. Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto

Confession: too often we say…

Gracious God, too often we say we choose you and yet we do not live in your light. Forgive us for the many times when our heart, our words, and our actions don’t show we have chosen to follow you. Hear the honest pleas of our hearts for forgiveness as we ask for another chance to love you with all we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Christ, in your mercy hear our prayers. Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto.

All Saints Litany

All-We remember

One-teachers and storytellers who made God’s stories come alive for us and

All-we give thanks!

All-We remember

One-choir members, praise bands, organists, and all the musicians who sang and played your praises and

All-we give thanks!

 

All-We remember

One-preachers and lay leaders who led our worship through the years and

All-we give thanks!

 

All-We remember

One-parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters, and brothers who sat with us on Sundays and lived out their faith all week long and

All-we give thanks!

 

All-We remember

One-our church families-this one and others we have loved. We remember all those who have been a part of this faith family and

All-we give thanks!

 

All-We remember

One-our ancestors in the faith whose courage enables us to be here today. For our sisters and brothers in the faith whose names are remember only by God

All-we give thanks!

Submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto.