a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

A Litany of Compassion

I promise to see you as a beloved child of God.
We promise to see each person as a beloved child of God.
I promise to listen to you and not assume I know your story.
We promise to listen to each other and hear your stories.
I promise to love you and support you living your life.
We promise to love each other and support each one in living our own lives.
Let us embody the words of 1 John 4:11.
“Friends, since God loves us so much, we also ought to love one another.” Amen.

Submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto, Christ Congregational Church and Takoma Park Presbyterian Church

A Prayer for Ordinary Time

God, I appreciate the extra effort and energy we pour into our holy days. I love when the sanctuary is fuller than usual. I love the banners and flowers and special music. And, God, I love ordinary days like today. Days when we bring our best to worship you in the regular part of the church years. Days like today remind me how much of our life is spent in ordinary time. We go to work. We go to school. We wish it was the weekend or vacation or any day but today. God, give us the courage to live in the now. Help us to live into the ordinary days of our lives and of the church year. Remind us again that this day is a gift from you in all its ordinariness. For this day, we give you thanks, Gracious God, because you gave us another day to love you and to love each other. On this ordinary day in ordinary time, we will worship you, Loving God. Amen.

submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto, Director of Cooperative Youth Ministry, Christ Congregational Church and Takoma Park Presbyterian Church

benedictions for Advent

A Hopeful Benediction
Be people of hope.
Let hope live in your heart and share the hope of Christ with all you meet.
Share hope by noticing someone else’s humanity.
Share hope by listening to someone’s story.
Share hope by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share hope.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share hope with those you meet. Amen.

 

A Peaceful Benediction
Be people of peace.
Let peace live in your heart and share the peace of Christ with all you meet.
Share peace by acting out of compassion and not fear.
Share peace by listening to all sides of the story.
Share peace by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share peace.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share peace and hope with those you meet. Amen.

 

A Joyful Benediction
Be people of joy.
Let joy live in your heart and share the joy of Christ with all you meet.
Share joy by seeing the good in each other.
Share joy by remembering good times and hoping for good times to come.
Share joy by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share joy.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share joy, peace, and hope with those you meet. Amen.

 

A Loving Benediction
Be people of love.
Let love live in your heart and share the love of Christ with all you meet.
Share love by loving those you see regularly. Start by loving your community.
Share love by loving those you do not know. How do your actions affect the rest of God’s creation?
Share love by praying for our world.
In this Advent season, we need to see, feel, and share love.
As you go out into the wonder of God’s creations, share love, joy, peace, and hope with those you meet. Amen.

 

Christmas Eve Benediction
Tonight, as we celebrate God is with us in the birth of Jesus, let us continue to live lives of hope, peace, joy, and love.
Share God’s love with the shepherds you meet on the hillside.
Let the communion of the Holy Spirit fill your heart with glad tidings like the angels.
And the Prince of Peace born again tonight, may He live in your heart to comfort and challenge you as you seek to live as one of his disciples. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto, Christ Congregational Church & Takoma Park Presbyterian Church, Takoma Park MD

CTW: we are welcome

One-Is there anyone here who has ever felt scared or worried on a Sunday morning? Were you wondering-will I fit in? Will I be welcome? Does God still love me? The answer is yes!

Come in your suits, your shorts, your flip flops, and your dresses.

All-We are welcome here.

One-Come from your jobs, your shelters, your schools, and your retirement homes.

All-We are welcome here.

One-Come wearing smiles, shedding tears, looking nervous or frightened, and with your anger.

All-We are welcome here.

One-Come with your questions and answers. Come with your prayer requests and answered prayers. Come to sing songs you love and songs others love. Come to hear God’s Word as part of this faith community.

All-We are God’s beloved. Let us worship our God who loves us just as we are.

 

Submitted by Rev. Susannah DeBenedetto, Salisbury, Maryland

A Prayer for Back to School

Back to school time is fast approaching where I live. In churches, this time of year (often) means a return to regular schedules. Any group that takes a break for the summer is getting ready to start again. When I think about the children and youth of the church, I am always aware of our responsibilities to them. We promise in the baptismal covenant with these words.

“Do you, who witness and celebrate this sacrament, promise your love, support and care to the one about to be baptized as he/she lives and grows in Christ?

Congregational Response- We promise our love, support, and care.”

(United Church of Christ Book of Worship, 139).

We promise in our Safe Sanctuary covenant to protect our children and youth as we help them live into the baptismal promises. As the new school and program year begins, I think churches should welcome and celebrate this time of year, and we can do that by sharing this prayer.

One-I’d like to invite all of our children and youth to please come up front. If you would sit or stand facing the congregation. We’d like you to be able to see all those adults out there.

(after the children and youth are up front)

Today, we are going to pray for you as summer ends and a new year of school and church begins. You may have already started back to school or may not be in school yet. You may be changing to a new Sunday School class or starting youth group for the first time this year. As so many things in our lives change, some things do not change. All of those people out there have promised to help you grow and know God loves you.

I invite the teachers to stand. Anyone who teaches here at church, youth group leaders, and teachers in our schools please stand.

Teachers-Dear God, we surround these children and youth with our love and support for the coming year. Give them a spirit of curiosity. Give them time to play and learn outside in your creation. Give them a sense of wonder at how much they know and how much there is to learn. Give all of us who teach a spirit of compassion as we journey with our students. Amen.

One-Teachers remain standing. Parents and guardians please stand.

Parents and Guardians-Loving God, give us patience on hard days. Remind us you love our children even more than we do. Give our kids a spirit of kindness in a world that isn’t always kind. Give our kids strength to stand up for what is right. May they always know how much you love them and we love them. Amen.

One-Parents, guardians, and teachers keep standing. Now, I invite the rest of the congregation and any of our guest to stand.

All-God, remind us of the promises we made to protect and love these children and youth. Help us to live those promises daily. Bless all these children and youth that they may know your love and share it with others. We promise to keep these children safe, give them opportunities to know you, and involve them in the life of the church with God’s help. Amen. 

One-Look out at all those people who love you and have prayed for you. I hope you will remember how much your church family loves you and how much God loves you as we start a new year together.

Submitted by Susannah deBenedetto