Sunday After Christmas – December 26, 2021

Lectionary Texts


In 1 Samuel 2.18-20, Samuel is a young boy who lives and serves in the temple. His mother comes every year to bring him a robe. Eli, the priest, blesses the family.

Psalm 148 calls all Creation to praise God, who has raised up a source of salvation for us. Every tree and mountain and even the sea creatures get involved—and all sorts of people, too!

Colossians 3.12-17 teaches us how to live as God’s Beloved Ones: with kindness,
compassion, gentleness, generosity, forgiveness, and above all, love.

In Luke 2.41-52 When Jesus’ family goes to Jerusalem to worship in the temple, they accidentally leave him behind. They find him talking with the teachers, who are amazed at his understanding.

Call to Worship

1. From Psalm 148, paraphrased
Leader: Praise our God! Praise God to the top of the sky!
       All: Praise God all the angels, sun and moon and shining stars!
Praise God, sea monsters and the ocean deep, fire and hail, snow and smoke!
        mountains and hills, fruit trees and cedars!
Bees and cattle, creeping things and flying birds!
       Powerful ones, rulers and all people!
       
Men: Praise God! Women: Praise God Young: Praise God! Old: Praise God!
Leader: Praise God, whose glory fills the world.
       For God’s wonders, we give God our joyful praise!

2.
Leader: Behold! I bring you good news of great joy for all people,
for to you is born a savior who is Christ the Lord!
       All: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
       who has visited and redeemed the people.
He is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Life-Giver, Prince of Peace.
       Hosanna in the highest!
He is named Jesus, for he shall save us from our sins.
He is called Emmanuel, God with us.
       Glory to God in the highest,
       and peace on earth among al!


3.
Leader: Gentle God, we rejoice in awe and wonder:
for your mystery unfolds before us.
All: You have sent a Savior to be with us,
       Emmanuel, your Presence, among us.
A child is born, to give light to those who live in darkness.
       Glory to God in the highest,
       and on earth peace among all, and God’s favor and good will.
In the presence of angels, we sing your praise.
       Alleluia! Come, Holy Spirit, and renew in us the mystery of life. Alleluia!

4.
Leader: Creator God, in the birth of Christ you have given yourself to the world.
All: Bless us that we may receive you with faith.
Living Christ, you dwell among us, sharing our human struggles and delights.
       Be born in our hearts, save us from our sin, and lead us in the way of life.
Holy Spirit, by your grace Mary conceived and bore a son. Work in us also, and restore within us the image and likeness of our Creator.
       We open our hearts to you now. Bless us, that we may be transformed
       into the Body of Christ, and bring your love into the world. Amen.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love, you have come among us in Jesus. Open our eyes to see you. Open our ears to listen for you. Open our hearts, and come to us. By your birth in us, give us new birth. May your Word be made flesh. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, in the birth of Christ you have given us light in our darkness and companionship on our way. As the young Jesus questioned and listened in the temple, we open our hearts to your Word. Speak to us, and shape us by your Word. Amen.

3.
Loving God, as a child Jesus sought you in the temple, talking with the elders. We seek you, too. We come seeking, though others may think we are lost. We come with our experience and our questions, though others may dismiss them. Bless us now that we may speak with clarity and listen with courage, that your Word may shape us, for the sake of the whole world. Amen.

4.
Eternal God, in the birth of Jesus you have come to us in grace. You have made a place among us to accompany us, to save us, to re-create us in your image. Grant that, being born in our hearts, Christ may give us life by the power of your Spirit, so that we may always live according to your delight. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Loving God, we confess the ways we have wandered from your care.
We are sorry, and we ask your forgiveness.
We have not always listened to your guidance.
Forgive us, heal us, and speak your wisdom to us.
Bless us that through our faith
we may continually be in your house.
Loving God, redeem us, and give us life. Amen.

Response / Creed / Affirmation

         We give our hearts to God, Creator of all that is and all that is to come, Source of Life and eternal Presence, who is our temple and our home.
         We follow Jesus, who lived among us as a child, learning and growing, exploring and wondering, questioning and making mistakes. As a teacher and healer he continued to question and wonder, to challenge, and to upset those in authority by his allegiance to the truth. He was crucified, but was raised from the dead, and still lives to guide and to question, to teach and to heal and to feed our souls.
         We live by the Holy Spirit, who is our wisdom and our law, who guides us in the ways of peace, who helps us grow as young Jesus did, and who gives us the gift of trust in God’s unfailing grace. By the power of that Spirit we devote our lives of justice and beauty and the way of love, for the sake of the mending of the world. Amen.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Jesus in the temple, what are you seeking?
Grant us your curiosity.
Young boy among elders, confident in your truth,
grant us your trust.
You were not lost; you were exploring.
Are you among us as well?
Give us faith to speak without fear,
and to listen.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending / after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you that you have given yourself to us. O Radiant One, with our eyes we have seen your salvation, and feasted on your grace. Emmanuel, God With Us, fill us with the curiosity of the young Jesus, to seek you wherever we may find you. May your Word take flesh in us, that we may be your holy people, revealing the glory of your love. Send us into the world, to be your light, by the grace of your Holy Spirit. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Available on the Music page. Click titles to view songs.)

Holy Child
Lyrics: Holy child, holy child,
grant one blessing from above.
Holy child, holy child,
grant the joy of giving you my love.

If the Gospel text you choose is Luke 2.22-40,
Anna and Simeon’s song.

Christmas Eve

Service of Lessons and Carols: Suggested Readings

[The readings of the traditional service developed at King’s College in the 1930’s relied heavily on atonement theology; the emphasis here is more on healing, reconciliation and justice.]

(Optional) Isaiah 64: 1-9 – We long for God to come to us in our brokenness

Isaiah 11: 1-3a, 4a, 6-9 – The reign of the prince of peace and justice

(Optional) Micah 5.2, 4-5a — From Bethlehem shall come a ruler, one of peace.

Luke 1: 26-38 – The Annunciation

Matthew 1: 18-23 – An Angel speaks to Joseph in a dream

Isaiah 9: 2-7 or 2, 6-7 – A child is born, who shall have authority

Luke 2: 1-7 – Luke tells of the birth of Jesus

Luke 2: 8-20 – The shepherds go to the manger

from John 1:1-14 (1-5, 9-14, 16, 18) John unfolds the great mystery of the Incarnation

John Reading:
In the beginning was the Word;
the Word was in God’s presence and the Word was God.
The Word was in the beginning with God.
Through the Word all things came into being,
and nothing that has come into being came into being apart from the Word.
What came into being in the Word was life,
and that life was the light of all people.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it.

The true Light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
The Word came into the world—
the Word through which the world came into being—
yet the world did not recognize the living Word.
The living Word came to its own people, but they did not accept the Word.
But all who received the Word, who gave their hearts to that grace,
were enabled to become children of God,
children born not of natural descent,
nor human desire or will or effort, but born of God.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us,
and we have seen his glory,
the favor and delight parents give an only child, full of grace, full of truth.
From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
No one has ever seen God.
It is the Only Begotten, who is close to God’s heart, who has revealed God.

The light shines in the darkness. And the darkness cannot overcome it.

Prayer

         Blessed God, we praise you on this holy night for the mystery of your Incarnation. We bless you for the birth of Jesus, and for the gift of your grace. We thank you that you dwell with us in love.
         In the name of the infant Jesus we pray for all children, and their families. We pray for peace. We pray for those for whom Christ came: those who suffer, those who are lost or lonely, and those who do not know you We pray for the sick, the powerless and the rejected, those who struggle in life, and all who are oppressed. Blessed are the poor, and those who mourn. Blessed are the peacemakers. Blessed are those who are persecuted: for among them is Emmanuel.
         Holy Spirit, make of our hearts an open manger, that Christ may be born in us anew and live in us always. By your grace help us to receive the gifts of this holy season, to share them with all the world, and to live always in the light of Jesus’ presence. Amen.


Closing Prayer

Gracious God, we thank you for that you have given yourself to us. You have come to dwell with us, within us and among us. By your presence with us, grant us your peace. Send us into the world to bring good news to the poor, to set the captives free, and to proclaim your grace. Send us in the power of your Spirit, in the blessing and the company of your Son, the Beloved, Jesus Christ, who is present among us, now and to eternal life. Amen.

Blue Christmas

For some, Christmas is a mixed blessing, evoking grief over the death of loved ones, or other sorrows. A Blue Christmas service is a serve of hope and healing that is more quiet and reflective than exuberant. It may speak not only to those who bear personal sorrows but also those who lament injustice and broken relationships in their communities or the world. If you offer a Blue Christmas service it’s helpful to have present not only those who are “blue” themselves, but those who would support them. You may want to have people on hand who are trained in listening (like Stephen Ministers), or prepared for healing, praying or other ministries.


Some Suggested Scriptures

(Italicized scriptures are included in this year’s Advent lectionary.)
Isaiah 12.2-6 (Week 3: You will draw water from the wells of salvation)
Isaiah 40.1-11 (comfort my people; the people fade like grass but God’s Word is
                     forever; God will carry the sheep in loving arms)
Zephaniah 3.14-20 ( Week 3. God will rejoice over you)
Psalm 13 (A lament: I bear pain in my soul)
Psalm 126 (May those who sow in tears reap with shouts of joy)
Romans 5.1-5 (Suffering leads to hope… )
Philippians 4.4-7 (Week 3. Rejoice always; be gentle; peace will guard your hearts)
Revelation 21.1-4 (The new heaven and new earth)
Luke 1.39-45 ( Week 4. Mary visits Elizabeth)
Luke 1.47-55 (Week 4. The Magnificat. You have remembered me in my low estate)
Luke 1.68-79, especially 76-79 (Week 2. Part of Zechariah’s song:
                       light for those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.)

Opening Prayer

Gracious God, Creator of all, you who make the snow of winter and the darkness of night, the day is yours, and also the night; summer and winter are yours.
      The darkness is yours, and in it we seek your blessing.
Christ, Companion of all who sit in darkness, you came to us on that night long ago, and warmed our night with your presence.
      In the darkness of this night we wait for your coming again.
Holy Spirit, we open our hearts to your light, and our lives to your presence.
      O Come, O come! God, be with us, dwell in our hearts,
      and let your dawn break upon us, and on all who dwell in darkness. Amen.

Listening Prayer

1.
Gentle God, from the beginning you promised to be our God, and to be with us always. In Christ you come to share our darkness, to bless our days and our nights, our joy and our sorrow, our living and our dying. Come, O gentle Savior, be with us, show us the way, and embrace us with your Spirit. Amen.

2.
Creator God, from the beginning of time, when only chaos and darkness existed, you have been with us. In the fullness of time, you sent your light into the world as Christ, to bless our days and our nights, our joys and our sorrows, our living and our dying. Come now, enter into our hearts, anoint us with your Spirit, and comfort us with your healing love. Amen.

Bidding Prayer

Loving God, we thank you for the many blessings you have given us. We remember with grateful hearts our loved ones, and all who have blessed us through our years.
     God of grace, we give you thanks.
We hold in your light what is no longer ours: loves and dreams that have passed, friends and hopes that have died. We hold in your light our struggles, our darkness, our emptiness.
     God of grace, be with us in the night.
O come to us, God, and walk with us. Grant us your consolation, strength and renewal. Enter into the rough stable of our lives so that here, by your presence, there is healing, and hope, and joy.
    God of grace, grant us light.
Gentle God, for all who suffer we ask your blessing. For all who are lonely we ask your presence. For all who struggle we ask your Spirit. Come to us, receive our wounds, dwell with us, and strengthen us by your spirit.
     God of grace, grant us your peace.
God of mercy, we mourn the world’s injustice, and pray in hope. Bless those who suffer oppression. Bless those who work for justice. Bless us, that with hope and courage we may shine with your light even in the darkest night.
     God of grace, grant us your hope.
Spirit of healing, fill us with your grace that we may shine with your light in the darkness, that we may bear your healing to others, that we may be living signs of your coming.
    God of grace, grant us your peace. Amen.

A Litany of Remembrance

Leader: As we near the longest night of the year, we light this advent candle of hope. We pray for all those who suffer—mentally, physically, emotionally, and ask your blessing upon them. Open our eyes to those who are lonely, afraid, and forgotten, that we might be to them a comforting and hopeful presence.
All: As the candle shines through darkness,
may we be your light to those in need of hope.
       Response— O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, verse 1

As we light this advent candle of love, we remember with grateful hearts all those who have blessed our lives with love. We pray for our loved ones who are no longer here with us. We remember their names, their voices, their lives. God, may your eternal light surround them.
As the candle shines through darkness,
may we be your light to those in need of love.
       Response— O Come, Come, Emmanuel, verse 2

As we remember that dawn defeats darkness, God, we light this advent candle of joy. As we experience times of loss—the loss of our health, our jobs, our relationships, our hopes and dreams, God promises to be with us and to lead us into a deeper joy.
As the candle shines through darkness,
may we be your light to those in need of joy.
       Response— O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, verse 3

Though we live in times of conflict and division, we light this advent candle of peace. In a world of unspeakable violence, you came to us as a baby—vulnerable, precious, and pure, offering to us the gift of your love. May your peace, which surpasses all human understanding, fill our hearts, and heal our world.
As the candle shines through darkness,
may we be your light to a world in need of peace.
       Response— O Come, O Come, Emmanuel ,verse 4
Silence

Psalm Meditation

(Psalm 85, paraphrased)

Leader: God of life, the land has blossomed with your favor.
You have restored your people;
you have forgiven us,
all of our brokenness a thing of the past.
In our suffering there was your grace,
your fierce protection.
     All: We listen for your voice, O God,
     for your compassion draws near. …

Restore us again, O God of our salvation.
Heal our fear of you.
How long will we go on distrusting of you,
keeping our distance for generations?
Awaken us from our bad dreams
and renew our joy.
Show us your steadfast love,
and grant us whole and vibrant life.
     We listen for your voice, O God,
     for your compassion draws near. …

We listen for your voice,
for you speak peace.
We turn to you in our hearts.
Even in the darkness, unseen, you are near.
     We listen for your voice, O God,
     for your compassion draws near. …

Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
justice and peace will kiss each other.
Faithfulness will spring up like green plants;
solidarity with one another
will spread over us like the sky.
God will give what is good,
and the earth bloom with joy.
Compassion will walk through the world
and make a way for God to enter.
     We listen for your voice, O God,
     for your compassion draws near. …

Suggested songs

(Available on the music page. Click on titles to view songs… or copy them here.)

Come Again, Poor Jesus
(Tune: In the Bleak Midwinter)

When our souls are wintry, when our hearts are cold,
come to us, dear Jesus, as you did of old.
When our hearts, unsheltered, feel the winds above,
come to us and warm us with your gentle love.

In the dark we wander, searching for our way,
waiting, lost, and longing for the light of day.
Dawn upon your children; fold us in your grace.
Child, be born among us. Show to us your face.

Shepherds on the hillside, poor, without a friend,
kept their watch in silence, vigil without end.
But then in the darkness, angels brought the word:
“God has not forgotten, and your prayers are heard.”

To the simple, poor ones, Jesus came that night.
Come again, poor Jesus. Bless us with your light.
Lamb of God, be with us in our joy and pain,
and companion us, Love, to new life again.


Come, Gentle Jesus
(Tune: Fairest Lord Jesus)

Come, gentle Jesus. Come, to be here with us.
Come, be the light in our darkest night.
Show where we’ve gone astray; come, be our blessed Day.
Come, change us with your healing light.

Come, mighty Jesus. Come, and work your will in us.
Bring forth our gold with refining fire.
Make our hearts pure and clear; come, set us free from fear,
to sing your praise with heaven’s choir.

Come, blessed Jesus. Come and live your life in us.
Let us be your manger here.
Come, be born in us, flowing with love through us.
Oh, savior of the world, draw near!


Drawn by your light

(Tune: Away in a Manger)

In darkness we gather, God, drawn by your light,
your glorious presence that blesses the night,
the light and the deep peace that Jesus imparts,
the Spirit’s bright radiance that burns in our hearts.

The light of Creation that made the first dawn,
the pillar of fire that led Israel on,
the star that led magi to where Jesus was
now draws us to worship with alleluias.

Your light shines so even the darkness is blessed
this night as we wait for the coming of Christ.
God, shine your light warmly in us by your grace,
that we may bear healing and justice and peace.

Savior, In this Holy Darkness
(Tune: Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence)

Savior, in our longing darkness,
waiting in our deepest night,
come and grace our hunger and yearnings;
for we live by hope, not sight.
Christ, we long for you. Come bless us.
Help us all to walk in the light.

Savior, in our lonely darkness
come to us who inwardly mourn.
Raise the love that lies a captive;
mend the cloth that has been torn.
Come to us, O God, with holy love:
wake us with the light of morn.

Savior, in our wounded darkness,
shadowed by our evil ways,
fear and anger and injustice,
violence that shutters our praise,
come, O Christ, and heal our broken lives
with love’s gentle, dawning rays.

Savior, in this deepening darkness,
how we long to see your face!
Yet you move, unseen among us
with your mercy and your grace.
Give us eyes of faith to see you,
hidden in each time and place.

Savior, in this holy darkness,
no one sees the flight of the dove.
No one hears the song of the angels.
Yet there shines a lone star above.
Grant this joy, to know your presence here.
Come and fill our hearts with your love.
____________


Advent 4 – December 19, 2021

Lectionary Texts

Micah 5.2-5 promises that after a time of suffering a ruler for Israel will come from Bethlehem and feed the people, and reign in peace.

Luke 1.46-55 is Mary’s song of praise, called the Magnificat (from the first word of the Latin version). She praises God for blessing her despite her low social position, and describes God’s justice and mercy: God overturns the social stratification of rich and poor, powerful and oppressed. Like Micah Mary anticipates that the poor will be fed and cared for.

Hebrews 10.5-10 quotes Psalm 40: God does not desire that we pay for our sins, but that we do God’s will. Psalm 40 reads, “you have prepared ears for me,” suggesting listening and obedience. But the author of Hebrews changes it to “you have prepared a body:” Christ embodies Gods love. As Mary prepares for the birth of Jesus, the Incarnation draws near.

In Luke 1.39-45 after Gabriel’s announcement to Mary she goes to see Elizabeth, who is six months pregnant. When Mary comes, the child in Elizabeth’s womb (who will become John the Baptist) leaps for joy. Elizabeth affirms Mary’s faith and her gifts.

Call to Worship / Lighting the Advent Candle

1.
READING (from Micah 5.2-5)
Now you, O Bethlehem, who are one of the little clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days. God’s chosen one shall stand and feed God’s flock in the strength of God, in the majesty of the name of the Holy One our God. And the people shall live secure, for their ruler shall be great to the ends of the earth, the one of peace.
RESPONSE
Leader: God of love, you promise our salvation, coming from among us.
      All: Grace stirs within us. Love lives among us.
Christ is near. We waken to the light of your presence.
      We rise in the dawning of the mystery of love made flesh.

2.
              READING [Luke 1.26-38 (The Annunciation)]
              RESPONSE
Leader: The Advent candle shines with light,
        All: the same light that shines in us, the light of your love.
On the darkest day of the year, the longest night, your light shines into the world.
        And it shines in our hearts. Bring to life your holy presence in us
        as we worship now and as we live each moment.
        Christ, be born in us, now and always. Amen.

3.
READING (John 1.1-5, 9)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through the Word, without whom not one thing came into being. What has come into being in the Word was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light, which enlightens everyone, is coming into the world.
RESPONSE
Leader: These candles we light shine with the light that comes into the world.
       All: Your presence and your love shine upon us.
Like a child to be born, your light awaits, the light of life.
      Your presence and your love shine within us.
May we await your coming in hope and joy,
and prepare for your life among us in love.
      Your presence and your love shine out from us.
May your love grow in us, shine upon the world,
and bring life to all people.
      Come, O Christ, and shine in us with your grace!

4.
READING (Luke 1.26-38, the Annunciation)
Leader: God of grace, as we light these candles, we remember your promise.
      All: Your light shines within us.
You have chosen us to bear your love into the world.
      Your presence grows within us.
We await the coming of Christ.
      Your Spirit moves within us.
We prepare for your coming in joy and simplicity.
     Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

5.
Leader: Now you, O Bethlehem of Ephratha, who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth from me one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.
      All: You have promised a ruler, O God,
     to feed your flock and guide us to live in peace.
      May your peace come to all the earth.
O God, you have scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
You have brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
You have filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty..
      As we light these Advent candles, O God,
      kindle in us your spirit of justice.
      As we prepare for your coming may your love grow in our hearts,
      that by our faithful living
      we may bring peace to all the world. Amen.


6.
We praise you, O God, for this victory wreath
that marks our days of preparation for Christ’s advent.
      As we light these candles on the wreath,
      awaken our hearts to your light growing about us
     and within us, as our Savior draws near.
Enlighten us with your grace,
and prepare our hearts to welcome you with joy.
      Kindle within us the gift of love through Christ the Beloved,
     whose coming is certain and whose day draws near. Amen
.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love, you promise your presence, and you pledge to us your mercy and grace. Open our eyes to see the dawning of your light within us and among us. Open our hearts to your Word, that we might trust in what you have spoken to us. Speak to us again, that we may live in the light of your coming. Amen.

2.
God of love, your presence grows within us. Open our hearts to receive, to honor and to nourish the holy child, that Christ may be born in us by your grace. Amen.

3.
Holy One, Promise of Life, Mystery of light, your grace comes to us; your Word grows within us. In the stillness of the morning we open our hearts to you, to receive your Word, to embrace your love, that your grace may be conceived in us and among us. May it be for us according to your Word. Amen.

4.
God of love, as your Word came to Mary long ago, it comes to us nows. You are present for us, and we have only to listen with our hearts to know your desire for us. We want to be open to your Word. We want to hear your promises. May it be for us according to your Word. Amen.

5.
Gracious God, your angel spoke to Mary long ago, calling her your Beloved, and showing her your blessing that grew within her. Speak to us now; call us as your Beloved, and help us see the blessing that grows within us. Grant us open hearts and minds, that as the scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed we may hear with joy what you are saying to us today. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

1.
God, we confess our sin, and what diminishes life in us.
And we confess the life within us yet to be born,
the holy presence yet to be affirmed,
the divine presence in us that leaps with joy.
Forgive our sin, heal our fear,
and bring to life the light within.
Give us the courage of Mary and Elizabeth
to believe you will fulfill what you have spoken.
Amen.

2.
God of love, you who are born in us, we thank you.
And we confess the times
we leave no room in the inn of our hearts
for you to be born in us.
Forgive our being closed off to your gift of Life;
grant us open minds and spacious hearts,
that your love may find new life in our lives.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

God of life,
something in us leaps for joy
when we sense you near.
Blessed are we, and blessed is the fruit of our hearts
when we listen.
In the silence, and in the Word, speak to us.
Come to us.
Be born in us.

Eucharistic Prayer

Beloved, God is with you.
     And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
     We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Faithful One, our God.
     It is good to give God thanks and praise.
How blessed we are that our life-giver and savior has come to us!
      Our hearts within us leap for joy at the sound of your voice.
We praise you, God, for you birth us in love.
     You promise yourself to us, and you are faithfully present.
You defeat the forces of oppression, set us free,
and call us to join you in building a world of mercy and justice.      
      You leave the rich wanting and feed the hungry with good things.
      Therefore with all Creation we sing your praise.
            
                   [Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ:i
      in him you were incarnate among us and live with us always.
He taught and healed, he embodied forgiveness and reconciliation;
      he recognized the divine in each of us and called it to life.
                  […The Blessing and Covenant…]

Whenever we break this bread and share this cup we remember his incarnation,
his death and resurrection, until he comes again.
       Remembering your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
       we offer ourselves, with praise and thanksgiving,
       as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
       as we proclaim the mystery at the heart of our faith.
                    [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of the Holy One Jesus Christ.
       Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
       that we may trust what you have spoken to us,
       and conceive in our souls
       and bring forth your love made flesh,
      that by the grace of your Spirit in us
      may we be for the world the Body of Christ.

                              [Amen]
_____________________

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. In your Spirit you live within us; your presence accompanies us; your love flows from us. May Christ be born in us in this holy season and all the days of our lives, by your grace, to your eternal glory. Amen

Suggested Songs

(Available on the Music page. Click on titles to view songs)

All Songs with “Advent” tag, especially:
Blessed Child of Bethlehem
Magnificat


Advent 3 – December 12, 2021

Lectionary Texts

Zephaniah 3. 14-20 speaks joy to people who are in exile: God is among you, God delights in you, and God will free you from your oppressors and bring you home.

Isaiah 12.2-6 rejoices in God’s saving grace. We will draw from the wells of our salvation, and proclaim God’s goodness to the world.

In Philippians 4. 4-7 Paul encourages us to be joyful, gentle, thankful and prayerful, and rooted in the peace of God.

In Luke 3. 7-18 John the Baptist tells people to prepare for One Who Is Coming, and to repent: to put an end to injustice and exploitation, and to share with the poor.

Call to Worship / Lighting the Advent Candle

1. [Philippians 4.4-7]
READING: Rejoice in God always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Beloved is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    RESPONSE
Leader: Kindle your joy in us, O God.
       All: By the grace of your nearness, instill your gentleness in us.
Heal our worries, lift our hopes, and hear our prayers.
       Receive our thanksgiving, and our silent supplications.
Friends, in the light of the One who is coming,
may the peace that passes all understanding
guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

2.
Reader: Reads Philippians 4.4-7
Leader: We pray that this Advent candle may shine in our hearts with joy.
         All: Even in the darkness we shine with joy, for the Light is coming.
Even in the cold our hearts are warm with joy, for you are with us.
          Even amidst evil and cruelty we bear joy and not despair into the world.
         God, we open our hearts to your grace. Fill us with the light of your joy.


3. [Philippians 4.4-7]
Reader: Loving God, we light this candle as a prayer of hope in your coming.
         All: Kindle your spirit in us, that we may always be prayerful.
We light this candle as an invitation to the Prince of Peace.
         Kindle your grace in us, that we may always be gentle.
We light this candle in joy for your coming among us.
         Kindle your love in us, that we may always be joyful.
         Come, O Sovereign of Joy, and rejoice with us!


4.
READING [from Zephaniah 3.14-18]
Rejoice, O Israel! Do not fear,
God, the Holy One is in your midst.
God says, “I will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in my love;
I will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.”
    RESPONSE
Leader: We light a candle of joy in this wreath of life,
as a sign of God’s joy in us, and our hope in God.
      All: With joy and hope we await the coming of Christ.
The prophet calls us to repentance as we prepare.
      We gladly repent, that like this candle
      we may be baptized with the Holy Sprit, and with fire.


5.
READING [from Zephaniah 3.14-18]
Rejoice, O Israel! Do not fear,
God, the Holy One is in your midst.
God says, “I will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in my love;
I will exult over you with loud singing as on a day of festival.”
    RESPONSE
Leader:, As you look upon us, God, kindle in us the light of your love.
      All: As we await the coming of Christ open our hearts to your joy.
Grant us a spirit of repentance, that we may prepare in faith and confidence.
      As we await the coming of the light,
      kindle in us the courage to be transformed by hope and joy
.
      We worship with gladness in the light of your coming.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of love and abundance, you come to us so that your joy may be in us, and our joy may be full. Fill us with your Spirit, that we may know your delight and rejoice in your presence and your grace. Speak your Word to us and bless us that we may always be joyful, gentle and prayerful, in the spirit of Christ. Amen.

2.
Gracious and ever-present God, we await the coming of your Anointed One, and we worship in the company of the One who is always with us. We await your Word, and yet your Word is within us. We long for your Realm of Grace, and yet even now it is hidden among us. Open our hearts to your Word, to your grace, to your Presence. Amen.

3.
Gracious God, John the Baptist calls us to repentance in preparation for the coming of your Messiah. As the people came to hear him, so we come now to hear your Word. Bless us with open hearts and minds, that as the scriptures are read and your good news proclaimed we may hear with joy what you are saying to us today. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

1.
The grace of God is with you.
      And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
      Gracious God,
      We confess the the dead and fruitless branches in our lives,
      shriveled by the wintery storms of our fears and desires.
      Prune the branches of our hearts,
      that we may bear fruit in your Spirit.
      Forgive our sin, heal our hearts,
      and be born in us again,
      that by your grace we may bear your light.
      O come to us, Beloved, and save us! Amen.
SILENT PRAYERTHE WORD OF GRACE

2.
[Pastor:]
Dearly Beloved, the ax lying at the root of the trees
is not for punishment, but pruning.
Therefore, trusting in God’s tender mercy, we examine ourselves,
that we may see ourselves clearly through the eyes of love.
Grateful for your goodness, we reflect on those parts of our lives
that bear good fruit, and we give thanks.
Silent reflection…
Trusting in your mercy, we reflect on the dead branches of our lives,
the barren or hurtful parts, the parts that do not bear good fruit,
and we seek your grace.
Silent reflection…
O God, prune the branches of our hearts according to your grace,
that we may flourish in doing your will.
Draw from the well of our salvation and water the trees of our souls,
that we may faithfully bear fruit,
and delight in your love, in the grace of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Reading

[Isaiah 12. 2-6]
Leader: Surely God is my salvation;
I will trust, and will not be afraid.
      All: For God, the Holy One, is my strength and my might;
       God has become my salvation.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
And you will say in that day:
       Give thanks to the Holy One, call on God’s name
       make known God’s deeds among the nations;
       proclaim that God’s name is exalted.
Sing praises to God, for God has done gloriously;
let this be known in all the earth.
       Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion
       for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.

Listening Prayer

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

Surely God is our salvation.
      We will trust and not be afraid.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
      With joy we come to the well.
      Thirsting for your grace, we lower our prayers
      into the deep, clear waters of your Word.

Sing for joy, for God is in your midst.
      We come with joy to the well.

Eucharistic Prayer

May God be with you.
      And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
      We lift them up to the Beloved.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One our God.
      It is good to give God thanks and praise.

Gracious God, we rejoice, for you are in our midst.
     You rejoice over us with gladness and renew us in your love.
By your Covenant you have taken us as your own.
     You set us free and ask us to put the axe to the roots
     of all oppression and injustice.

You have prepared the way for us in Jesus, your Christ.
     Therefore at his invitation we come to this feast
     to draw water from the well of our salvation,
     singing your praise with all Creation.

              [Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ,
who loved and taught, who fed the hungry and healed the broken.
      His gentleness was known to everyone,
      and he granted to us a peace that surpasses understanding.

For his prophetic love he was crucified,
but you raised him from the dead,
and he comes among us and invites us to this feast of joy.
           [The Blessing and Covenant•]

As long was we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
      Remembering these your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
      we offer ourselves in joy, in union with his offering for us,
proclaiming the mystery of our faith.

            [ Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of Christ.
      Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
      that we may be the Body of Christ for the world,
      fearless in repentance, and courageous in justice.
      Baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire,
      that we may bear fruit, the fruit of your love and joy in us,
      for the sake of the healing of the world.

             [Amen]
__________________

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer of Dedication / Sending or after Communion

1.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have filled us with the joy of your love, the taste of your delight in us. Send us into the world to share your joy, to serve you in love for one another, and to wait for your coming in gentleness, confidence, patience and joy, in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. Even as we await your coming, you have fed us with your presence. Send us into the world, confident to live in your promised Realm until it is fulfilled, as signs of your coming, in the name and the Spirit of Christ. Amen.

3. (Benediction- Philippians 4.)
Beloved, rejoice in the Beloved always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

Suggested Songs

(Available in the Music Store. Click titles to view songs)

All songs with “Advent” Tag, especially
Drink from the Wells (Isaiah)
Prepare Your Way In Me (Luke)

Advent 2 – December 5, 2021

Lectionary Texts

Today we hear of a messenger who prepares us for God’s coming. In Malachi 3. 1-4 God sends a messenger to prepare us for God to come among us. But it will not all be easy. God is coming to purify us.

Luke 1. 68-79
is Zechariah’s song at the birth of John the Baptist, rejoicing that God has fulfilled the Covenant to save us from all that we fear and all that diminishes life, and establish a new realm of peace. The second part of the song is addressed to John—and us: “Prepare a way for God by showing people forgiveness. The dawn of God’s grace is coming, to save those who live in the shadow of death, and to guide us in the way of peace.”

In Philippians 1.3-11 Paul prays that God will continue a process that God has already begun in us: that our love will increasingly overflow so that we may be pure on the day of the Chosen One’s coming.

Luke 3.1-6 says John the Baptist is like Isaiah’s “voice crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of God!’” The message in Isaiah was a word of hope to people who were in exile: a broad, smooth road through the wilderness, on which God would come to bring them home!

Call to Worship / Lighting the Advent Candle

1. [from Malachi 3.1-4]
Reading: “See, I will send my messenger,
who will prepare the way before me.
Then suddenly the One you are seeking will come to the temple;
the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,”
says God Almighty.
But who can endure the day of that coming?
Who can stand when the Messenger appears?
For God’s chosen will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap,
and will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver;
and will purify the people and refine them like gold and silver.
RESPONSE
Leader: God of love, purify us in the refining fire of your Spirit.
       All: Set us free from all that does not help us serve you.
       Remove from us all that is not love.
       By your Spirit living in us, help us prepare a way for your coming.

       Alleluia! Come, O Jesus, come!

2. [Philippians 1.6, 9-11]
Reading: I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ. And this is my prayer, that your love may overflow more and more with knowledge and full insight to help you to determine what is best, so that in the day of Christ you may be pure and blameless, having produced the harvest of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ for the glory and praise of God.
+
CANDLE SONG The Promises of God (2 Peter 1.19)

RESPONSE
Leader: Holy One, light of our peace, this Advent candle shines to prepare your way.
       All: Prepare a way to come to us; redeem us in our darkness.
Prepare your way around us, that the crooked be made straight.
       Prepare your way within us, that our rough places be made smooth.
       God of grace and love, may all flesh see your salvation. Alleluia!


3.
READING: [Luke 1.78-79]
By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.
RESPONSE
Leader: God of mercy, your light dawns upon us.
       All: We open our hearts in joy.
Your grace gives light in our darkness.
       We rise from the shadow of death.
You lead us into a new day.
      Guide us into the way of peace.


4.
Leader: God of promise, God of Mystery,
you have sent a messenger to awaken us.
      All: May the promise of your dawn awaken our hearts and minds.
      May the light of your promise guide our steps and lead us toward you.
      May the joy of your coming sustain us and uplift us.
God of Love, God of Presence,
you have given us a message for the world.
      May the light of your coming shine within us.
      May your Spirit, alive in us, make us signs of your coming.
      O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and dawn within and among us now.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
As we prepare our homes for the holidays let us also prepare our hearts. Let every decoration, card and cookie be an act of readiness for your coming. God of love, help us prepare a room for Christ to be born in us this holy season. Speak the Word to us that will make room in our hearts for love. Amen.

2.
God of love, your prophet cries to prepare a way for you. In the wilderness of our hearts, in the rough places of our society, prepare your way with your life-changing Word. Speak to us, and make the crooked straight, for the sake of your mercy. Amen.

3.
God of life, the prophet cries that a way be made for the coming of the Holy One. Make a way into our hearts. Speak to us and re-create us. We throw open the windows of our souls, that we may hear you, that the light of your dawning may flood our hearts. O come, thou Dayspring, enlighten us, who sit in darkness and the shadow of death.

4.
Holy One, you send your prophets among us to speak to us. You send messengers to awaken us, to alert us, to attract us to your light. In Scripture now you speak to us, and call us to new lives. Help us to listen and hear, to receive and be transformed. This is the news we have been waiting for. Speak to us; we want to hear. Amen.

5.
Stir up our hearts, O God, and prepare us for your coming. May the mountains and valleys of our hearts be leveled out, the rough places be made smooth by the healing power of your Word in us. Speak your Word, and we shall be healed. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

The grace of God be with you.
       And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
       Gracious God,
       we confess the darkness and cold in our lives.
       We have not lived at peace with you, with our neighbors,
       or even with our own souls.
       Forgive our sin, heal our hearts,
       and grant us your peace.
       Be born in us again,
       that by your grace we may live in your light.
       O come to us, Beloved, and save us! Amen.



Reading


CANTICLE (Luke 1. 68-79)

Sung Response: O come, O come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.

Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
who has visited us as God’s own people, and redeemed us.
        God has raised up a mighty savior fur us
        in the house of God’s servant David.
So God spoke through the holy prophets from of old,
that we would be saved from our enemies,
and from the hand of those who hate us.
       Thus God has shown the mercy
        that God promised to our ancestors.
God has remembered God’s holy Covenant,
the promise God made to Abraham:
        that being rescued from the powers that destroy us,
        we might serve God without fear,
        in holiness and righteousness,
        in God’s presence all our days.
              
Response

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the most high:
you will go before the Holy One to prepare God’s ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
        By the tender mercy of God,
        the dawn from on high will break upon us
        to give light to those who sit in darkness
        and in the shadow of death,
        to guide our feet into the way of peace.
              
Response

Listening Prayer

(Suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, confession, or invitation to prayer)

God, we are in exile
from peace, from justice,
from our hope, from our true selves.
Prepare a way for our return.
Bring to completion what you have begun in us.
Prepare your way into us;
enter our hearts, and refine them,
that our love may overflow.
Guide our feet into the way of peace.

Eucharistic Prayer

Note: Even though it’s Advent people are eager to jump ahead and sing Christmas Carols. I’ve addressed this with Advent songs to familiar carol tunes: Advent Table Songs (invitation to communion) four whole Eucharistic Prayers and 24 sets of Eucharistic Responses (Sanctus, Memorial Acclamation and Amen).

1.
Beloved, God is with you.
       And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
      We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Faithful One, our God.
      It is good to give God thanks and praise.

We thank you, God, for in the beginning in the darkness and void,
you brought forth light. You prepared Creation for us.
      With the light of love, in the image of love, you created us.
In the darkness and chaos of our brokenness you have sent us a savior
who has set us free from all that diminishes life.
      You judge the forces of oppression and set all your beloved free.
      You level the ridges and fill in the canyons,
      and make a way smooth for your people.
You prepare for us a way toward justice,
and walk with us on that path, and guide our feet in the way of peace.
      We long for such peace in our lives.
      So at your invitation we come to this table you have prepared for us
      to feast in celebration of our freedom, and to sing your praise:
                  [Sanctus]

Blessed is the one who comes in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ, who embodied your love.
      He made room for the poor and outcast,
      and held a sacred space for those who were broken.
He died and rose again,
and promised to prepare a place for us.       
      In his love he showed us how to live, and prepared a way for us to follow.               [The Blessing and Covenant…]

Jesus said “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As often as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
      Remembering these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
      we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
      as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
      as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
               [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
      Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
      that we may be for the world the Body of Christ.
In this meal prepare in us a place for your love,
that we may go before you, proclaiming forgiveness,
and bearing your light to those who dwell in darkness
and in the shadow of death.      
       In this meal, may your mercy dawn upon us,
      and lead us in the way of peace.
                         [Amen]

                         _______________

2.
May God be with you.
      And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
      We lift them up to the Beloved.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One our God.
      It is good to give God thanks and praise.

We thank you, God, for you create us in the image of your love.
      You make Covenant with us to be our God,
      and to set us free from oppression.
You guide us in creating a new realm of justice and mercy.
      You give us Jesus: to proclaim our forgiveness,
      to change our hearts, to guide our feet in the way of peace,
      to give us your Spirit, to heal your world.
Therefore with all creation we sing your praise.            
                       [Sanctus]

We thank you for the gift of Jesus, your Christ, who came among us in your love.
      He loved and healed, he taught with prophetic power.
He was crucified, but you raised him from the dead.
      He lives among us, refining our hearts,
      that our love may overflow..

         […The Blessing and Covenant…]

With gratitude we remember your mighty acts in Jesus Christ.
      In praise and thanksgiving we offer ourselves
      as a living and holy sacrifice,
      in union with Christ’s gift for us.
We proclaim with joy the mystery at the heart of our faith.
                [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of the Beloved, Jesus Christ.
      Pour out your Holy Spirit on us, that we may be the Body of Christ,
      refined by the fire of your grace, overflowing with your love,
      and joining you in smoothing out the rough places in this world.
      By your Spirit in us, prepare the way of justice and peace.
                            [Amen]
                         _______________
3.
Blessed be God, the God of Israel,
who has visited us and redeemed us.
       God spoke through the holy prophets from of old,
       that we would be saved from our enemies,
       and from the hand of those who hate us.
Thus God has shown the mercy
that God promised to our ancestors.
       God has remembered God’s holy Covenant,
       the promise God made to Abraham.
        Therefore with one voice we sing God’s praise.
                       [Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in God’s name,
and blessed is Jesus, who enfleshed God’s Covenant with us.
        God has raised up a mighty savior fur us
        in the house of God’s servant David.

        that being rescued from the powers that destroy us,
        we might serve God without fear,
        in holiness and righteousness,
        in God’s presence all our days.


                     [The Blessing sand Covenant]

Remembering your mighty acts in Jesus,
we offer ourselves as we proclaim the mystery at the heart of our faith:
                     [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts,
that they may be for us the Body of Christ.
       Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
       that we may be the Body of Christ for the world.
And you, child, will be called the prophet of the most high:
you will go before the Holy One to prepare God’s ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
        By the tender mercy of God,
        the dawn from on high will break upon us
        to give light to those who sit in darkness
        and in the shadow of death,
        to guide our feet into the way of peace.
              
[Amen]
              ————————————

* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer after Communion

1.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have visited and redeemed us, according to your promise in Christ. You have saved us from all that would diminish our lives, so that we may serve you without fear, in holiness, in your presence, all our days. Send us into the world now to go before you to prepare your ways. By your tender mercy, may your dawn break upon us and within us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace. Amen.

2.
Leader: We bless you, God, for you have visited and redeemed your people.
     You have raised up a savior for us,
     and saved us from all that diminishes life,
     so that we may serve you in holiness without fear.

And you, children, will be called the prophets of the Most High;
for you will go before our God
to prepare the ways of the Promised One,
to give knowledge of salvation to God’s people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
     By the tender mercy of our God,
     the dawn from on high will break upon us,
     to give light to those who sit in darkness
      and in the shadow of death,
      to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Suggested Songs

(Available on the Music page. Click titles to view songs)

All songs with “Advent” tag, especially:

Benedictus (Song of Zechariah)
          [Luke 1.68-79, to the tune of Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us]
Blessed Be Our God
[Luke 1.68-79, original song]
Prepare Your Way in Me [Luke 3.1-6]
The Promises of God
[1 Peter 1.19]

Advent 1 – November 28, 2021

Lectionary Texts

Advent is a season of watching, waiting, expecting, preparing.

In Jeremiah 33.14-16 God promises Israel a just and faithful ruler, a descendant of David (a “righteous branch”).

In Psalm 25.1-10 we who “wait for God” pray that God will forgive us and lead us in God’s ways.

In 1 Thessalonians 3.9-13 Paul says to his church people, “I thank God for you. I hope I can come be with you. May God help you to love one another, and help you be ready for the coming of Christ.

In Luke 21.25-36 Jesus alerts us to be watchful for the coming of God’s reign into our midst. An as alternative to the world’s despair at the storms of life and our power struggles (“signs in the heavens”) Jesus commends a spirit of inner watchfulness, being alert for signs of God’s presence like we watch for spring.

Call to Worship / Lighting the Advent Candle

Note: For musical responses to the lighting of the Advent candle see The Promises of God and Sleeper, Awake, and Waken Us, a collection of responsorial verses. (Click on titles to view the songs.) I also have Advent Blessing Songs and Responsorial verses.

1.
SCRIPTURE (Jeremiah 33.14-16)
The days are surely coming, says the Holy One, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up from David’s line; a ruler who shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is the name by which it will be called: “God is our justice.”
SONG The Promises of God
RESPONSE
Leader: A new world is coming, according to the promises of God.
The time is coming.
        All: We light a candle in hope, watching the clock.
We cannot hasten the future. But we wait with intention.
        Deepen our longing, God, and bless our waiting.


2.
[Luke 21.29-31; 1 Thessalonians 3.12-13]
Leader: Look to the leaves of the fig tree. When they sprout and begin to grow,
you know that summer is already near.
       This Advent wreath is a sign of hope for us, O God,
       For like a tree that is bare in winter, we await the coming of your grace.
May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all,
and strengthen your hearts that you may be confident at the coming of our Lord.
       As we light this candle, kindle in our hearts the hope in your coming
       that bears fruit in love and joy.
       Come, Lord Jesus, come! Amen.


3.
Leader: A righteous branch will spring up from David,
a ruler who will bring justice and peace to God’s people.
       All: We await your peace, O God, according to the promise of your prophets.
       May the peace of Christ transform our hearts,
       as we prepare for his coming.
T
he peace of God, which surpasses all understanding,
guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
       As we light these Advent candles, Lord,
       kindle in us your spirit of peace.
       Grant that we may prepare for his coming
       in simplicity and joy,
       in peace and reconciliation with all. Amen.

4. (Jeremiah 29.11-14)
Reader: Surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile

Leader: Gracious God, hope of the world, as we light this Advent candle,
waken our minds to your Word.
      All: Waken our hearts to your promise.
Open our eyes to your coming.
      Open our arms to your presence.
      O come, O Come, Emmanuel. Alleluia!



5. (Revelation 21.22-24, 22.5, 7a)
Reader: I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Holy One, God the Almighty and the Lamb. And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. The nations will walk by its light, and the rulers of the earth will bring their glory into it. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. And he said to me, “See, I am coming soon!”

Leader:
God of light, as we light this candle in this season of darkness,
our hearts ache for your presence.
     All: Dawn upon us and be our light.
Spirit of hope, in this season of waiting we turn to you.
     Bless us with your patience, and grant us your hope.
O Loving Christ, we pray for one another, for your church, and for all Creation.
     Come, Lord Jesus, come, and grant us your love. Amen.

6.
We praise you, O God, for this circle of light
that marks our days of preparation for Christ’s advent.
     As we light the first candle on the wreath,
     rouse us from sleep, that we may be ready to greet our Christ
     coming like spring with hands of healing.
Enlighten us with your grace,
and prepare our hearts to welcome Christ with joy.
     Kindle within us the gift of hope through Christ our Beloved,
     whose coming is certain and whose day draws near. Amen.


Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of light, in the darkness of this world your dawn is rising. Your love is at work. Waken our hearts. Keep us ready to see you. Open the ears of our hearts, ready to hear you. Speak, for in the dark, we are watching. We are listening. Amen.

2.
In this dark time of year, God, we long for your coming. When darkness falls upon the world, we long for your peace. For healing, we wait. For justice, we hope. Strengthen our hearts, that we may be steadfast in faith, constant in love, and radiant with hope even when times are dark. In the name of Christ, who is coming, and who is always with us, we pray. Amen.

3.
Loving God, you promise more than we see. You intend more than we know. You lead us more than we trust. Awaken our hearts with your Word. Stir up your Spirit in us to wait for the dawning of your delight among us with grace and faith. Amen.

4.
Holy One, we come to you full of hopes and fears. We bear in our hearts deep longing for you, that you would come and be with us. We ask your blessing on our deepest yearnings that are not even known to us, but only faint stirrings in the darkness. Loving God, we are homesick for you. Come to us; speak to us; bring us into the light and warmth of the home that is your Word. Amen.

5.
Stir up your power, O Christ, and come. By your merciful grace, may the light of your presence dawn upon us, that we may see the signs of your coming, and live in hope; for you live and reign with the Creator and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Prayer of Confession

The grace of God be with you.
       And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
       Gracious God,
       We confess the darkness and cold in our lives.
       Like barren trees in winter,
       we do not bear the fruits of love
       as you would have us.
       Forgive our sin, heal our hearts,
       and be born in us again,
       that by your grace we may bear your light.
       O come to us, Lord, and save us! Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer

Note: Even though it’s Advent people are eager to jump ahead and sing Christmas Carols. I’ve addressed this by putting four whole Eucharistic Prayers and 24 Eucharistic Prayer responses to familiar carol tunes. See also Advent Table Songs for invitation to communion. (Click on titles to view them).

1.
THE GREAT THANKSGIVING
Beloved, God is with you.
       And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
       We lift them up to God.
Let us give thanks to the Faithful One, our God.
       It is good to give God thanks and praise.
We thank you, God, for you create us in your image.
You judge the forces of evil and set us free from all that oppresses,
calling us to justice and freedom.
       You promise a new world, dawning just beyond our imagination.
You walk with us through the dark toward the light;
and we rejoice that your presence is the light.
       Therefore we sing your praise with all Creation:
                      [Sanctus]

Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ, who embodied among us the Realm to Come.
       The light of that Realm began to dawn in his teaching and healing,
       in his witness for justice, in the community he gathered,
       in his death and resurrection.

                  [The Blessing and Covenant…]*

Jesus said, “Do this in remembrance of me.”
As often as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection until he comes again.
       Remembering these, your mighty acts in Jesus Christ,
       we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
       as a living and holy sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
       as we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
                    [Memorial Acclamation]

Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
       Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
       that we may be for the world the Body of Christ,
       in our speaking and praying and acting, living signs of Christ’s coming.


                     [Amen]
_________________
* The Blessing and Covenant
[I usually don’t print the words. I want people to be looking at the bread, not their bulletins.]

On the night in which he gave himself for us
Jesus took bread, blessed it,. broke it, and gave it to his disciples,saying,
“Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
poured out for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”
As long as we break this bread and share this cup
we remember his death and resurrection, until he comes again.

Prayer after Communion

1.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us. You have placed within us the sign of your coming, your covenant to be with us in faithful love. Send us into the world to live and to serve as those who believe in your coming, that in our transformation others may see signs of the transformation of the world, for the sake of Christ. Amen.

2.
Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.
In the Word, the bread, and the community we have seen signs of your presence. Guide and sustain us by these gifts that we may always live in hope of your coming, and confidence in your presence. Send us into the world, increasing and abounding in love for one another and for all, that they may see in us signs of your coming. Amen

Suggested Songs

(Available on the Music page. Click on title to view)

All songs with “Advent” tags, especially
Child of Promise

Songs with weekly responses through Advent:
God, We Are Waiting
Tree of Life (Advent)

Advent Blessing Songs are ideal for the closing of worship, for the congregation to sing to each other.

For the Hanging of the Greens, Adorning Your House.

OT 23 – Pe + 14

Worship resources for:
OT 23  –  Pe + 14  (September 5, 2021)


Lectionary Texts

Proverbs 22. 1-2, 8-9, 22-23 says we are all created equal by God. Blessed are the generous. Do not forsake the cause of caring for the poor.

Psalm 124:  God’s grace alone has saved us when we were in danger.

James 2. 1-17 warns us not to favor the rich over the poor, and not to judge one another.  We are accountable to the whole law: if you judge someone who has sinned, you also are equally  guilty of sin.  We are not merely learning information: we are learning a new way of living. Faith without is dead if it is not worked out in our living.

In Mark 7.24-37   Jesus rejects a woman’s request to heal her daughter because she is a foreigner.  But in her faithful persistence he sees that she is a human being, and he heals the girl. Then he cures a deaf man with a speech impediment, touching the man’s ears and tongue and crying out, “be opened!”

Call to Worship

1.
Leader:  God of ancient truth, our ancestors lead us to this place.
     All:  We open our minds to your Word.
Gentle Christ, your loving community gathers us here to be changed by your grace.
     We open our hearts to your love.
Holy Spirit, our thirst for you has brought us to worship.
     We open our lives to your power,
     and we open our arms to one another,
     that we may open ourselves to the world, in the love of Christ. Amen.

2.
Leader:  Infinite God, Heart of Being, you draw us near.
     All: Open our lips to sing your praise.
Loving Christ, beloved Friend, you lay your healing hands upon us.
     Open our eyes and ears to see and hear your presence.
Holy Spirit, Word of new Creation. you burn within us.
     Open our hearts and minds to live in new ways.
     Your will be done. Alleluia!

3.
Leader: Your Word creates the heavens and the earth, O God;
therefore we listen with open ears.
     All:  Your love gives us life; therefore we open our lips to praise you.
You give us your Christ who heals us, teaches us and calls us.
     With gratitude we receive him with open arms.
You give us your Spirit, that guides us in the wisdom of your love.
     We open our hearts to your presence and your grace.
Open our ears to hear you, God, and our hands to serve you.
     Alleluia!  Arise in us, Spirit of Life, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

4.
God of love, open our eyes to your glory.          Open our hearts to your grace.
Open our arms to your beloved children.
          Open the door and enter our lives
          as we worship you in gratitude and wonder.   Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
Spirit of Love, when we can’t hear your Word, or see your Way, we feel deaf and blind.  When we can’t sing your praise we feel mute.  Heal us.  Open our hearts, and set us on a path of endless learning and growing in the Spirit of Christ.  Amen.

2.
Gentle God, we come to you seeking healing, wisdom and life.  Bless us with your love, your Word, your touch.  Only say the word and we shall be made whole.  Have mercy, O Lord, and bless us.  Amen.

3.
God of truth and power, we observe many traditions, we meet many expectations, we follow many habits.  But now in this moment we release all outward forms. There is no one to judge us or to compare; there is only you, hidden in your Word.  Help us to listen for your presence, to hear what is True, to be changed by your Word.  Our hearts are open vessels. Pour yourself in, and we will receive you.   Amen.

4.
Eternal God, you who have created the heavens and the earth, create us anew in the power of your Spirit.  You opened up the space of the heavens, and set therein stars like eyes to shine on us.  Open our own eyes, that we may behold your glory and worship you.  In Jesus Christ you healed people’s bodies and hearts.  Open our hearts to your grace, that we may made new in the image of Christ. Your Spirit opened the lips of the mute and gave them good news to tell.  O Lord, open our lips, and our mouths shall declare your praise.  Amen.

Listening Prayer  

(suitable as a Collect, preparation for hearing scriptures, or invitation to prayer)

1.
God, I throw open the window of my heart.

Let the light of your grace flood my house.

Let the breeze of your Spirit freshen my air.

Let your love kindle the fire at my heart,

that I may live by your warmth and light all my days,

in the name and the company of Christ.   Amen.

Eucharistic Prayer

[Of course, rather including so much responsive sections, the pastor may read the whole thing…]

 God is with you.
    And also with you.Lift up your hearts.
    We lift them up to the Holy One.
Let us give thanks to the Holy One our God.
    It is good to give God thanks and praise.

Blessed are you, O God, for you create all things in love.
   You make us in your image and call us your Beloved,
   and continually re-create us by your grace.
   You know our struggles and bear our suffering.
   You judge the forces of oppression and set us free.
You guide us into a new world of mercy and justice;
   you heal the splinterings of race and clan, creed and status.
You draw us into the Empire of Grace
   in the company of Jesus your Christ.

[Sanctus, sung or spoken]

5
Blessed are all who come in your name,
and blessed is Jesus, your Christ.
   He taught and healed, and loved all people,
   calling us to repentance and offering new life.

  
He defied barriers and created a new community
   of love, justice and inclusiveness.
He opened heaven to us, that we might commune with God.
For his resistance to injustice he was crucified,
but you raised him from the dead.

   
[… The Blessing and Covenant…] *

With gratitude we remember your mighty acts in Jesus Christ.
    Therefore we offer ourselves in praise and thanksgiving
    as a living sacrifice, in union with Christ’s offering for us,
    as we proclaim the mystery of our faith.

     
[Memorial acclamation]

As the dogs that eat the crumbs that fall from the table,
we come not because we are worthy but because you invite us.
No one is turned away.
     We thank you for these gifts
     that unite us with all who hunger for your grace.
Pour out your Holy Spirit on these gifts of bread and cup,
that they may be for us the Body and Blood of the Beloved, Jesus Christ.
     Pour out your Holy Spirit on us,
     that we may be for the world the Body of Christ.
     Open us to your grace and to the new life you offer us;
     make us vessels of your love.
     Open us to one another; make us one in your Spirit.

Open us to the suffering of the world,
and to your healing flowing through us.
    By your grace in this meal
    prepare us to work for  healing and justice
    for the sake of your delight.
All glory and honor is yours,
faithful and loving God, now and forever.

      [Amen]

____ 
*I don’t print/project the words to the Blessing and Covenant (the “Words of Institution”) because especially at that point I want the congregation to be looking at the bread and cup, not printed or projected words. You may print it for the celebrant—but I encourage you to memorize it.

The Blessing and Covenant

On the night in which he gave himself for us,
he took bread, blessed it, broke it, and gave it to his disciples,
saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.”
In the same way, after the supper he took the cup,
blessed it with thanks and gave it to them, saying,
“Drink of this, all of you. This is my blood,
shed for you and for many, in a new Covenant,
which is the forgiveness of sin.”

Prayer after Communion

Gracious God, we thank you for this mystery in which you have given yourself to us.  You have opened our hearts to your grace.  Now open our hands to do the work you give us, to work for justice and healing for the sake of the wholeness of all Creation, in the name and Spirit of Christ.  Amen.

Suggested Songs

With Open Hands   (Tune: The Water Is Wide)

O Lord, we come with open hands for grace we do not understand.
We simply take, and we are blessed that you receive us as your guest.

We open all our treasure stores in gratitude that freely pour
from open hearts that you have healed, so in our love yours is revealed.
         
You open wide great heaven’s doors; your love includes, heals and restores.
We share your feast, and we are called with open arms to all the world.

I am Open  (See the Music Store)

Open Me (See the Music Store)

OT 22 – Pe + 13

Worship resources for:
Ordinary Time 22 (August 29, 2021) 


Lectionary Texts

The Song of Solomon is a love poem shared by two lovers. In 2.8-13 one beckons to the other to come away into the world of spring flowers and turtledoves.

In the Spirit of the Songof Solomon, Psalm 45 is a wedding ode to a prince marrying a foreign princess, extolling both his personal loveliness and his nobility as a ruler.  (Alternate Psalm, United Methodist): Psalm 72 prays for God’s guidance for the king, that he may defend the cause of the poor, and that he may prevail over the enemies of justice.

James 1. 17-27 says: several things: • Everything is a gift from God.  • We are children of God’s truth, and clear expressions of God’s creativity. • Be quick to listen and slow to speak, and slow to anger. • We do not just hear the Word of God; we do it.  Real religion is both inward and outward: attention to our inner lives and compassion for the poor.

In Mark 7. 1-23 some people criticize Jesus for not observing religious traditions around cleanliness, which was “next-to-Godliness.”  But Jesus responds that it’s the inner life, and choices and actions that flow from it, not external circumstances, that define our spiritual state and our closeness to God. 

Call to Worship

Leader:  Muddy water swirls, clouded and opaque.
     All:  Still water settles out, and becomes clear.
God has called us to this time and place to be still in God’s grace.
     We come to rest in God’s presence, that what is within may become clear.
God desires truth in the inward being.
     Holy Spirit, clarify our souls, cleanse our hearts,
     and renew within us the desire to do your will,
     in the name and grace of Christ.

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of grace, you give us your law not to restrict us but to set us free.  Help us by your grace to hear and understand, to listen and discern; to know and choose wisely.  By your Holy Spirit, your Word in Christ, alive in us, guide us in the way of your Wisdom.  Amen.

Prayer of Confession


Pastor:  Friends in Christ, we desire to be in harmony with God,
who desires truth in the inward being.
     All: We confess what is within us is a mix of love and fear.
God, open to us our inward lives, that we may see clearly, and be made new.
     Help us see clearly what within us is born of love,
     and what is born of our wants and fears.

     By your grace transform our inner desires,
     that what flows from our hearts may be love and healing,
     and the grace of Christ.
[Silent prayer  …   Words of grace]
    
2.
The grace of God be with you.
     And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
God, You who are truth,
You who dwell within me:
You see me as I am; and you receive me as I am.
Help me to shed all attachment to outward appearances,
to see myself truthfully,
and to let myself be filled from the inside out
with your grace, your forgiveness,
your blessing, your love.

[Silent prayer   ..   The Word of Grace]

Response / Creed / Affirmation

[James 1.17-27]
   With gratitude we affirm that every good thing is a gift of God, the Mother of stars, the Father of lights, whose love is not shadowed or changing.
   We give thanks that Christ, the Word of God, the word of truth, has given us birth so that the wonder of Creation might blossom in us.
    By the Holy Spirit we seek to be doers of the word, not hearers only, to live by the perfect law, the law of liberty. We seek to rid ourselves of selfish desires, and welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save our souls.  By the Spirit’s grace we seek to persevere, to be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to anger. We devote ourselves to care for those who are vulnerable, to do justice and act mercifully, and to serve God in all we do, in the name of Christ.  Amen.

Suggested Song

Be Thou My Wisdom  
Tune:  Slane  – Be Thou My Wisdom

Be thou my Wisdom and grant me your sight. 
Help me to see by your love’s perfect light.
Love, be my compass, my balance, my Way:
guide from within what I choose day by day.

Grant me the wisdom to seek and to learn,
to pray for your leading and wait and discern.
Help me to listen with all of my heart,
listen for all of the Truth you impart.

Grant me your Wisdom: a heart that’s made pure,
courage to follow a love that is sure.
Led by your Spirit, listening still,
help me to know and to follow your will.

See music store.


OT 21 – Pe + 13

Worship resources for:
13th Sunday after Pentecost — Ordinary  Time 21 (August 22, 2021)


Lectionary Texts

In 1 Kings 8. 1-43 the Ark of the Covenant, the chest containing the tablets of the law, representing God’s living presence, is brought into the newly built temple.  A cloud fills the temple with mysterious darkness.  Solomon then prays that the prayers of all who enter the temple, even foreigners, be heard.

Psalm 84 says, “How lovely is your dwelling place”—meaning the temple in Jerusalem, and also God’s presence with us. The song invites us to live in God’s presence, in God’s “house.”  All of us, even wild creatures as insignificant as sparrows, are at home there.

Ephesians 6. 10-20 reminds us we are not struggling against other people, but against the power of evil. It invites us to “put on the armor of God”: to renounce the usual ways we protect ourselves,—through violence, coercion, defensiveness and assertion—and instead entrust ourselves in vulnerable nonviolence to love, faith and the grace of God.

In John 6. 56-69  Jesus repeats the image of himself as the bread of life, and takes it farther, inviting people to eat his flesh and drink his blood.  In reaction to such a graphic and challenging image, some people quit following Jesus.  He asks the twelve if they, too, want to leave.  But Peter responds, “To whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Call to Worship

1.
Leader:  God of love, we are hungry for your grace.
        
All:  You feed us the bread of life, and we thank you.
We are thirsty for your presence.
         You give us drink from the well of eternal life, and we rejoice.
We hunger and thirst for true love.
           We feast on your grace, and we worship you.  Alleluia!

2.
Leader: Creator God, many voices in this world would claim our attention.
 All:  But to whom can we turn?  You have the words of eternal life.
Y
ou form us in your image.
 We are in awe.  We worship you.
You beckon us like a loving parent.
 We are in love, and we come to you.
You enfold us in your grace and fill us with your transforming Spirit.
 Alleluia!  Receive us, Heavenly Lover!
 Heal us, Risen Brother!
 Make us new, Spirit of Life!  Alleluia!

3.
Leader:  God’s love is made known to us in Christ.
 All: We come to hear the good news.
We are hungry for God’s grace.
 We come not merely to listen to Jesus,
 but to consume him: to “inwardly digest,”
 to make his love part of who we are.
In that holy hunger, we praise, we pray, we worship.
 Alleluia!  Come, Christ, and feed our souls.  Alleluia!

3.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
     All:  Risen Christ, we greet you!
Holy Spirit, we are one body by your grace.
     You alone are holy, and we worship you.
Glory be to you, O God of all Creation.
     Thanks be to you, O Christ, for our salvation.
You have the words of eternal life.
     Your teaching disturbs us; your wisdom challenges us,
     and yet, we choose to follow you.
Come then, and change our hearts.
     Alleluia!  Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

4.
Leader: Creator God, we praise you!
          You alone are holy, and we worship you.
How lovely is your dwelling place, O Holy One!
Even the sparrow finds a home in you.
          We come to you, and pour ourselves out to you;
          for you have the words of eternal life.
New every morning is your love, God of life,
and you are working for good throughout the day.
            Alleluia!  Come, Holy Spirit, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

5.
Leader: Creator God, how lovely is your dwelling among us!
How desirable is your presence with us.
How deeply we are attracted to be with you in intimacy and safety.
Alleluia!  Holy Spirit, you invite us to take your grace into ourselves,
and so we come to you.
Fill us, and transform us by your grace. Alleluia!

Collect / Prayer of the Day

1.
God of life, we hunger for your love, and you give us Christ, the bread of Life.  So we come to feast on your Word, to listen and “inwardly digest,” and to be changed, that we too may be bread for the world.  Feed us with your grace.  Amen

2.
Gracious God, we have been promised that no one will be turned away who comes to Christ.  We come to you now, to know your presence, to hear your Word, to be transformed by your grace.  Speak to us, touch us, and take our lives as your own.  We pray in the name of Christ and the power of your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

3.
God of Silence, God of the Word, your Christ, Jesus, has the words of eternal life. They are challenging words, sometimes frightening.  We sometimes want to go away.  Help us now to stay near, to listen with courage and with open hearts, so that your Word may live in our souls and transform us by your grace.     Amen.

Prayer of Confession


1.
God of mercy, we confess to you
that we have struggled against other people—
     but we have ignored the struggle against our own evil.
We confess that we have taken on the armor of this world:
     we confess our domination and defensiveness,
     our willingness for others to be hurt to protect our comfort.

We confess that we have closed ourselves off from you:
     we confess the armor of our ego,
     our apathy and our distrust.
     Closed off, we have failed to love you with all we are,
     and to love our neighbor as you have loved us.
We open our hearts to you,
that we may undefended from your grace.
     Forgive us, heal us, and grant us the spirit of your mercy.
    Clothe us with the armor of your love.
[Silent prayer…]

Beloved of God, receive the good news gladly:
that in Christ we know that all our sin is forgiven entirely
and we are set free to live by the Spirit of God, in faith and love.  Amen.

2.
Pastor: The grace of God is with you.
     All: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
     Gentle God, for all that we have done that diminishes life,
     that separates us from you and from others,
     we are sorrowful.
     We give to you our broken hearts.
     Receive us, bless us, and heal us.
     Forgive our sin, and restore in us
     the image of Christ.
[Silent prayer    …    the Word of grace….]   

3.
Pastor: The grace of God be with you.
      All: And also with you.
Trusting in God’s tender mercy, let us confess our sin to God with one another.
     Gentle, healing God:
     for all that is not well in us we seek your healing;
     for all that is in disharmony with your grace
     we seek your transformation;
     from all that is a burden in us we seek relief;
     for all that is broken between us and you, and others,
     we seek your forgiveness, your healing grace,
     and a new way of living.
    Accepting what is. God, we open ourselves in your grace
    to what may be.
[Silent prayer    …    the Word of grace….]   

Response / Creed / Affirmation

1.
            We trust in God, creator of all that is, provider of every good thing to eat.
            We follow Jesus, the Bread of Life, who embodied God’s love, made grace available to all, and gave himself in love for us.  He was crucified and died, and was raised from the dead.  We feast on his grace, and his love becomes the substance of our lives. In Christ we are all made one, as grains united in one loaf.
            We live by the Holy Spirit, the Yeast of God in us, who unites us, nourishes us and gives us strength to love our neighbors.  Graced by the power of forgiveness, the promise of resurrection and the mystery of eternal life; protected only by the armor of God’s grace; we serve in the name of Christ for the sake of others, that in the power of the Holy Spirit we may be bread for the world. Amen.

2.
            We give our hearts to God, Creator of all that is, and all that is to come, who is revealed in Word and deed, and who is yet mystery; yet whom we know as love and the source of life.
            We follow Jesus, though his teachings upset our ways and his miracles upend our world, for his words are the words of life and his love is the light of life.  He was crucified and was raised, and lives among us still, speaking to us, present with us, drawing us to him with alluring power.
            We live by the Holy Spirit, God’s power within and among us, which enables us to follow Jesus, to live lives of love, forgiveness, justice and healing, trusting in the power of grace and the mystery of eternal life.  In the unity of the Spirit we live as one Body, the Body of Christ, devoted to self-giving service to the world in the name of Christ. 

3.
            Creator God, how lovely is the dwelling you have made for us!  You who create all things, we gladly awaken in your presence.  You are our maker, our host, and our home.
            Risen Christ, how lovely is your dwelling with us!  You invite us to feast at your table: to be nourished by your wisdom, to be healed by your grace, and to share in this banquet of life with all the other poor sinners of this world.  You who taught and healed, you who died and were raised, you who are the Bread of Life, feed us with your presence, fill us with your spirit, and lead us by your Word. We desire with all our heart and mind and strength to die and live with you in the mystery of eternal life.
            Holy Spirit, love of God, how lovely is your dwelling within us!  Sophia, Wisdom of God, how gracious is your invitation to feast at your table. You make of us one body, the Body of Christ.  We give our hearts to you, that by your grace we may devote ourselves to lives of compassion, justice and joy, for the sake of the transformation of the world, in the name of Christ. Amen.

Suggested Songs

How Lovely Is Your Dwelling Place  (Psalm 84)  (Available in the music store).