Call to Worship

Psalm 131 Call to Worship

Our scripture readings this Sunday are Luke 13:34-35 and Psalm 131. Here is the call to worship I wrote:

Our Creator longs
to gather us under her wings.
We long
to rest near the Divine heartbeat.
In this sacred space of worship,
God’s longing and our longing meet.
Like sheltered chicks,
Like weaned children,
We rest here and are renewed.

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Isaiah 40: 28-31–Call to Worship

Have you not known?
Our God is the everlasting God, Creator of the ends of the earth.
Have you not heard?
God does not faint or grow weary.
Have you not known?
God’s understanding is unsearchable.
Have you not heard?
God gives power to the faint and strengthens the powerless.
Have you not known?
Those who wait for God will renew their strength
they shall mount up with wings like eagles.
We come to hear.
We come to know.
Thanks be to God.

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Calls to Worship For Epiphany 3B

Based on Psalm 62

Our souls wait in silence;
our hope rests in God
our rock
our salvation
our refuge.
We will not be shaken.
In this time of worship,
we pour out our hearts
because we trust in God’s steadfast love.

Based on Mark 1:14-20

Jesus comes along side us and calls us by name:
“[your name], follow me.”
A simple call. A hard call.
Because following requires leaving.
And we look around to see who else Jesus could be talking to.
And we look around to see the trappings of the life we know.
It’s hard to leave our nets and walk away from the lake.
But we have come this far,
to this place where we can listen
and be transformed.

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Call to Worship: 1 Kings 19

Why are you here?
We are passionate for God.
Why are you here?
We cannot bear the sorrow and violence of the world.
Why are you here?
We are hungry; we are tired; we are scared.
God says: I am glad you are here. Watch. Listen.
We hear the howling wind. We feel the earth shake. We shrink back from the blazing fire.
Watch. Listen.
We hear a sound. Thin. Silent.
This ground is holy. Take off your shoes. Cover your face.
Watch and listen for the Holy One.
This is why we are here.

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Worship Piece: 1 Samuel 3

I wrote this Call to Worship to go along with this week’s scripture reading; it also draws on the song “I will come to you in the silence” by David Haas.

God calls us by name in our dreaming
and our waking;
in the Divine voice
and human voices.
God comes to us in the silence
and the noise;
in the calm
and the chaos.
Always, God calls to us.
Always, God comes to us.
Let us now call God’s name.
Let us now come to God.
Let us worship together.

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Worship Pieces for Epiphany 2

This week at Peace Mennonite, three people will be sharing about personal epiphanies. The call to worship is based on Psalm 19:

The heavens declare
and we declare
the glory of God.
Our voices join the speech of creation
to tell of our known and unknowable God.
Now may these words of our mouths
and these meditations of our hearts
be pleasing in God’s sight
and life-giving in our world.

And a prayer of confession:

God of shadows and light,
God of hiddenness and revelation,
Forgive us when we miss you–
when we overlook the love,
when we turn our backs on the hope,
when we gaze too intently at ourselves
ignoring the blessed others that surround us.
Forgive us, God, and in your infinite grace
shine your holy light
or perhaps sit with us in the dark.

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Worship Pieces for Epiphany

Call to Worship

People of God, arise, shine, for your light has come!
The light of Christ has come into the world.
Immanuel.
God with us.
So arise, shine, for your light has come!
And we will follow the light–
when it shines brightly in the night sky
when it glows dimly on the horizon.
We will follow the light–
when it leads down familiar paths to expected destinations
when the road is unfamiliar and the star rests above a dubious-looking home.
We will lift up our eyes and look around.
And when we see the Christ child,
may our hearts be overwhelmed with joy.
When we are in the presence of Immanuel,
may our knees bend in worship.
When our journey brings us, finally, to the heart of God,
May our hands open in generous sharing;
May our mouths open in generous praise.


Blessing (from Isaiah 60)

Arise, shine, for your light has come. So lift up your eyes and look around. May you see and be radiant. May your heart thrill and rejoice at the abundance of love poured upon you through God’s gift of Jesus. Amen.


See also this Prayer for the New Year.


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Worship Pieces for Isaiah 61 (Advent 3B)

Call to Worship

In our poverty, we await the son of Mary,
Who brings good news.
In our brokenheartedness, we await the Incarnate One,
Who heals our hearts.
In our captivity, we await the Redeemer,
Who proclaims freedom.
In our mourning, we await the Wonderful Counselor,
Who offers comfort.
In the midst of this world’s injustice, we await the Christ Child,
Who brings down the powerful and lifts up the lowly.

Who welcomes all to this holy worship, this holy table.


Prayer of Confession

Holy God,
Open our eyes to the presence of your Spirit
upon us, within us, among us.
For our apathy in the presence of oppression,
Forgive us.
If we have contributed to the brokenheartedness of anyone,
Forgive us.
For our participation in systems that enslave,
Forgive us.
When we are deaf to your good news,
Have mercy and open our ears.
When our mouths remain too tightly closed,
Loosen our lips with songs of praise.
Hear our prayer, O God, and forgive our sins.
Hold us in your mercy, now and forever. Amen.


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Advent 1: Call to Worship

Here is a call to worship for this upcoming first week of Advent, based on Psalm 80, Isaiah 64, and my own desperate need for Advent this year. (Even if the pastor part of me is not ready for Advent yet.)

– – – –

We are broken by racism and militarism.
Restore us, O God.
We live under a dark cloud of fear.
Let your face shine.
We feel helpless against–even as we participate in–the forces that dehumanize humans who are poor, mentally ill, physically impaired, female, queer, not-white.
Tear open the heavens and come down.
This morning, O God, we claim your promise in Scripture.
May our worship ignite a powerful and holy hope. Amen.

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All Saints Day

Call to Worship (Isaiah 25:6-9)

Hurricanes and floods and environmental havoc;
drones and IEDs and handguns;
cancer and heart disease and ebola;
poverty and injustice and oppression.
The ways of death in this world are many.
The words of death surround us.
The fear of death envelopes us.
But we come now to hear a different Word,
a true Word
a life-giving Word.
We are here on Isaiah’s mountain
where tears are wiped away,
where a banquet table has been set,
where death has been swallowed up forever.
We do not fully understand it.
We may not fully believe it.
And yet here it is:
the power of Christ’s life within us and among us.
So let us be glad and rejoice in our salvation!

– – – – – –

grace cheetahReflection on All Saints Day

My youngest daughter and I dressed up as cheetahs last Saturday for “Boo at the Zoo.” I suppose if you saw a real cheetah in the wild it could be frightening. But our cheetah costumes were certainly not scary. I’m not into gory, scary costumes.

But some people are. I’ve seen fierce werewolves and bloody vampires and creepy ghosts wandering the streets. Plenty of costumes that reminded me that Halloween is not really about candy, it’s about death–it is particularly about our fear of death. In many ways, watching horror movies and dressing up as frightening things is a way that we confront our fears; by placing ourselves in the story–even in these imaginary ways–we hope to gain some control over these forces of death that are really uncontrollable.

Scary costumes or not, a lot of people observe Halloween. Not as broadly celebrated in our culture is All Saints Day on November 1, and All Souls Day, on November 2. In the Roman Catholic tradition, All Saints Day is a time to recognize all of the official Church saints–especially ones that may not get a lot of attention otherwise:

St. Columba, patron saint of bookbinders, poets, and Ireland.

St. Lydwina, patron saint of iceskaters

St. Edward the Confessor, patron saint of difficult marriages

St. Blaise, patron saint of throat ailments, veterinarians, and wild animals

And then All Souls day developed within the Church as a time to remember and pray for “normal” people of faith who had recently died. My faith tradition does not recognize formal saints or pray to or for those who have died. But we do remember how the lives of those who have gone before us can strengthen and sustain us in our faith. We do remind ourselves that our loved ones who have died remain alive with God through Christ.

For Christians, Halloween can be a fun celebration–who doesn’t love dressing up and getting free candy? But we do not try to fight death with death. We do not meet violence with violence. We do not try to overcome our fear of the uncontrollable forces of death by participating in the broad story of death.

As Christians, we face our fear of death by participating in the Jesus story. In the story of a God who loves us deeply–so deeply that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” In the story of how Jesus overcame the forces of death and violence through the power of the resurrection.

As Christians, we participate in a counter-story. A life-giving story. We seek to live our lives within the power of Christ’s life. And we seek to understand death in the context of the broader story, the bigger story, of eternal life in Christ.

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