Call to Worship

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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Call to Worship: Jonah

With a little bit of John 1 thrown in for good measure:

 

Call to Worship
(Inspired by this lovely reading from Katherine Hawker.)

The word of God came to Jonah
The word of God comes to us:
Go
Despite your fears
Speak
the truth of God
Love
your neighbor and you enemy
Forgive
as you have been forgiven
Receive
grace upon grace
overflowing from the fullness of God.

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Wednesday Worship Piece: Call to Worship

Call to Worship (from Psalm 28):

Praise be to God
who hears our voice.
God is our strength;
God is our shield;
Our hearts trust
and help comes.
Our hearts leap for joy,
and with our songs we praise our God.

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Welcome Table Call to Worship

Here is a call to worship for communion Sunday based on the spiritual “You’ve got a place at the welcome table.”

We gather together to worship God.

We gather together to share a holy meal.

We gather around this table

To which Christ has invited us.

You’ve got a place at this table.

And you’ve got a place at this table.

We’ve all got a place at this table.

We’ll feast on milk and honey.

We’ll give thanks.

We’ll find our home

with God

together.

So welcome to worship. Welcome to the table.

Hallelujah!

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Worship Pieces: Holy Spirit

photo

An icon depicting Pentecost–given to Peace Mennonite in memory of Cindy Wiens.

Call to Worship

Come, Holy Spirit,
The wind of God, the breath of Life.
Come, Holy Spirit,
Our Advocate, our Counselor.
Come, Holy Spirit,
Teacher of Wisdom, Reminder of Christ.
Come, Holy Spirit,
Granter of forgiveness, giver of peace.
Come, Holy Spirit.
May we feel God breathing through our worship.
May we receive the Holy Spirit in this place. Amen.

Offertory Prayer

Holy One, you have given yourself to us in Creator, in Christ, in the Spirit. We now give back to you:
this money that seems so little; this worship that seems so small; these words that never quite get it right.
Receive what we offer and transform it by the power of your Spirit into:
enough money, sufficient praise, worthy words
for proclaiming and enacting your peace, justice, and love in the world.

Link to Pentecost Call to Worship and Benediction.

A sermon on Pentecost and Baptism.

And another Pentecost sermon “In Praise of Inefficiency.”

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Advent 4 Worship Pieces

IMG_2302And for this week:

Scripture Readings: Isaiah 63:7-9 and Luke 2:8-20

Call to Worship:

Glory to God in the highest!
And hope to every discouraged heart.
Glory to God in the highest!
And peace to every conflicted soul.
Glory to God in the highest!
And joy to every downcast spirit.
Glory to God in the highest!
And love to every one.
Let us sing praises to our God.
Let us offer this light against the darkness.

Prayer:

Holy God of Love,
There is light in our lives because of the abundance of your steadfast love. A love so vast, so deep, so real, that you became one of us. May we live within the power of this love. And may we share its light with a world where too many dwell in darkness. Amen.

Blessing:

May you live within the light of love in these coming days. May love call forth the songs you sing. May love enliven your celebrations. May love be within you, and may love surround you. May you know–deeply know–the abundance of God’s steadfast love. Amen.

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Advent 3 Worship Pieces

This past Sunday we focused on the song of Mary and practiced group lectio divina together.

(The children had been invited to draw a picture as a way to reflect on the scripture readings. I nearly lost it when one boy handed me his drawing to share with the congregation. It pictured the annunciation with a startled Joseph standing next to Mary saying, “What the heck!?”.)

Anyway, here are some pieces of the service that I actually planned ahead of time:

Scriptures: Psalm 146 & Luke 1:46-56

Call to Worship:

Our souls proclaim your greatness, O God.
And our spirits rejoice in you.
We will praise you as long as we live.
We will sing praises to you our whole lives long.
We will not trust in the powerful of this world,
But will trust in you–Creator of heaven and earth,
the One who gives food to the hungry,
the One who enacts justice for the oppressed.
Our souls proclaim your greatness, O God
As we worship you in this place,
As we light these candles in hope, peace, and joy.

Prayer:

Holy God of Joy,
We rejoice in the reality of who you are. We live within the joy of your love for us. Our contentment comes and goes. Our happiness ebbs and flows. Our feelings depend upon our circumstances, our physical health, our brain chemistry. But our joy is deeply rooted in our identity as your beloved children. And we give you thanks. Amen.

Blessing:

As you go out, go with the light of joy. In moments of delight, in moments of frustration; in moments of beauty, in moments of fear; in moments of enthusiasm and moments of exhaustion; may the joy of Christ be ever-present, grounding you in the deep love of God–our Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer. Amen.

 

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Worship Pieces: Advent 2

I thought I had already posted these, but I guess not.  Our scriptures are Matthew 3:1-12 and 1 Samuel 2:1-10 (Hannah’s song).

Call to Worship

We come to prepare the way;
The way for Christ–
the hope of Christ, the peace of Christ–
to enter our world,
to enter our hearts.

We cry out together in the wilderness:
The kingdom of heaven has come near.
We come to be part of the light–
the light that shines in the darkness.

Prayer

Holy God of Peace,
We seek your peace in these darkening days. We seek a calm within, yes. And an absence of conflict between people and nations. But more deeply, we seek your shalom–the deep and abiding peace that will come only through the justice of your kingdom. Amen.

 

Benediction

May you carry the light of peace with you this week. A strong and holy peace that strengthens the weak, feeds the hungry, exalts the poor, and guards the feet of the faithful. Amen.

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Worship Piece: Advent 1 Call and Candle-Lighting

This year for Advent we are looking at four different songs from scripture: Psalm 147, Hannah’s Song in 1 Samuel 2, Mary’s Song in Luke 1, and the Song of the Angels in Luke 2. Secondary readings for each week are chosen from the Lectionary options. This week we will read Romans 13:8-12. The call to worship candle-lighting liturgy and the benediction for this Sunday are below.

Call to Worship:

The night is far gone.
The day is near.
And so we wait.
We wait with hope,
for the brokenhearted to be healed,
for the downtrodden to be lifted up.
We wait for the coming of the Christ child.
In this meantime,
We will sing into the silence.
We will light a candle against the darkness.

Lighting of the Advent Candle

Prayer

Holy God of Hope,
Give us ears to hear and hearts to trust the promises you offer to us in this season of Advent. As we worship together, we offer ourselves to you and we open ourselves to your abundant grace. Amen.

Benediction

May you carry the light of hope with you this week. And may that light burn with the power of the Holy Spirit against all the darknesses you encounter–a stubborn light to mark this season of waiting, this season of hope. Amen.

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Worship Pieces: Advent Emergency Edition

IMG_2277Yes, it’s true. This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Advent. Ready or not . . .

Some of the Rev. Gals are helping each other out by sharing Advent resources today, and I thought I would join the party.

Yesterday I posted this piece over at Practicing Families about Advent practices at home.

Last year (2012) Peace Mennonite focused on the themes of the Advent Conspiracy, for which I wrote weekly candle-lighting liturgies:Advent 1
Advent 2
Advent 3
Advent 4

Here is the offertory prayer we have used for Advent the past few years–changing the second word of the prayer to reflect the “candle word” for the week: hope, peace, joy, love.

God of Peace, in this season of Advent, this time of waiting, we offer to you our money, our time, our energy. Accept what we offer. And use these offerings to shine the light of your peace in the dark places of our world. Amen.

And for those truly planning ahead, Christmas Eve services:2012
2011

And a simple liturgy for family worship on Christmas morning.

Finally, here are a few Advent reflections:on Mary
on Zechariah
on Ashes and Advent
on living these days “Advently”
on Kairos at Christmas

 

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