a community creating for the relentless return of Sunday

dedication: joy expressed

Gracious God,
you are so good to us.
We give you thanks for these blessings
and would ask that the joy we feel in our hearts
not only be expressed by our lips but with our hands also.
May these gifts be used to embody the joy we find in you
by sharing it with those who need it most.
This we pray in your holy name.  Amen.

 

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

communion: thankful

As thankful people we approach this table. As invited people we come to share in the feast that is prepared for us but does not belong to us. We come as Christ’s own at his invitation, for this table is not for the worthy but for the hungry.

Let us pray.

Gracious God, we give you thanks for all your blessings,
but even in this season of thankfulness we struggle to be thankful people

We are thankful that the angel of death passed over our ancestors in Egypt,
but we quickly forget your blessings when we become fearful in our own desert.

We are thankful for clean water to drink and healthy food to eat,
but we forget that you will provide and we demand more than manna.

We are grateful for strong leaders like Moses and the judges,
but we forget to follow them and wander our own ways.

We are thankful for the voices of the prophets, then and now, calling us to be better, to repent, to pray, and to follow your commands –
but we wonder in our thankfulness, do they have to be SOO persistent?

We are thankful for Jesus. Who wouldn’t be thankful for a cute little baby savior?
But we forget that we don’t get to create him in our image.

We are grateful for the teachings of Jesus.
Except for the ones that are confusing, frustrating, or hard to follow.

We are thankful for the night that Jesus shared a meal with his friends and how he took the bread, blessed, and broke it and gave it to them telling them to “take and eat and do this in remembrance of me.”

And we are thankful that Jesus took a cup and poured wine into it saying, “this is the cup of my covenant, poured out in my blood for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink of it, remember me.”

Yes, we are thankful. But did he really have to die?
It is hard to be thankful for death.

But we are grateful that death is not the end. With the women we stare open-mouthed at the empty tomb.
With confused understanding we are grateful for resurrection.

Lord, send your Spirit to lift us above our lukewarm thankfulness.  Turn our desire to be grateful into true gratitude. Take these simple gifts of bread and wine and use them to transform us. Mold us into people who are truly thankful for your blessings as we participate in your very body and blood.

With Christ, in Christ, through Christ, in communion with the Creator and the Spirit we are thankful. Amen.

 

Submitted by Rev. Nikki Cooley, First Presbyterian Church, Liberty, MO

POP: Be our Rock

To you, O Lord, we call out for help,

for you are our rock and our fortress.

Listen to the prayers we raise before you today.

Rescue those who are under the power of injustice and cruelty,

and cleanse our hearts of the desires that do violence against your people.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

Protect and nurture the young,

who are just learning the promise of your constant presence;

keep them safe and cover them with your gracious love.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

Let your mercy surround those who are old,

especially those whose health or mind or family fail them;

let your strength lift them up, and let your praises be on their lips.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

Stand with all who seek to serve you faithfully.

Give them steadfast hope by the power of your Holy Spirit,

and let them celebrate the righteous acts you do through them day after day.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

Reveal yourself in family and community gatherings this week,

that as loved ones gather together for Thanksgiving,

each generation may tell another about the wonders of your love.

Bless and watch over all who travel.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

Revive and comfort those who face trouble and calamity among us,

and let your healing presence be with all who are ill (especially ___).

Bring your people up from the depths, to your honor.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

Show your faithfulness to those who face death or walk in the shadow of grief (especially ___).

Strengthen your people to sing your praises even in the darkness,

and watch over the souls of all who rest in you.

O God our protector: Be our rock of refuge.

God our rock, we call to you now and always,

trusting in the name of Jesus the Christ,

who taught us to pray as we say together:

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

Good Friday prayer: the hosannas have died away

O Holy God,
the hosannas have died away,
the palm branches have turned brittle.

Now, today, there is only this –
each of us,
all of us,
sitting in the darkness,
the hymns of lament in the air,
the mumblings of our own feeble confession,
on this Friday
which we tremble to call Good.

What is good about Good Friday?

What is good about the innocent one nailed to a cross?
What is good about the darkness of war that persists today?
What is good about our devastation of the planet?
… about people living in poverty?
… about the fog of addiction, depression, disease and despair?
What is good about the crushing weight of hunger, racism, scapegoating, apathy?

No, there is nothing good and desirable in these things.

Yet you, O God, are Good.

When suffering reigns, yours is the first heart to break.

When despair lurks about, we remember that you were there first,
peering into the abyss and crying out, incredibly:
“Father, forgive them.”

When we feel forsaken, we remember that in your last moments,
you cared for your mother and your beloved disciple,
binding them to one another as a new family.

When we feel overcome by guilt, we remember that you spoke grace to a thief:
“Today you will be with me in paradise.”

Your love for us is just that boundless,
and ever-present,
and Good.

Thank you.
What else can we say here, in the dimness,
in the darkness,
but thank you.

Amen.

MaryAnn McKibben Dana is pastor of Idylwood Presbyterian Church in Falls Church, VA.