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.

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.


Prayer of Confession: Being Church is Hard

This week’s prayer of confession comes out of our current series on the shorter epistles, thinking about World Communion Sunday, speaking with the MCUSA Executive Board, and . . . you know . . . life in the church.


Prayer of Confession

God of each of us,
God of all of us,
Being church is hard.
We do not all agree
about who you are
or how to follow Jesus
or what faith means
or how to spend our money.
We do not always listen well.
We do not always speak kindly.
Sometimes we forget the truth of church:
We are all members of one body.
Every part is needed.
Every part is honored.
And it is a blessing to have these companions on our journey.
Forgive our failings
and strengthen our love.

Prayer of Confession for My Denomination

I was reading through some of my old worship liturgies this morning and came across this prayer of confession. I wrote it with this passage from Deuteronomy 30 in mind:

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.

As I read this I realized that part of my utter, deep sadness for my denomination right now (MCUSA) is that I see us repeatedly choosing death over life. Death for ourselves, because we are alienating–if not outright rejecting–individuals, families, and a large swath of an entire generation. Death for others, both spiritually–as LGBTQ people and allies wander away from an unwelcoming church–and sometimes physically–when LGBTQ youth believe that their deepest longings for human relationship are sinful and shameful, some of them commit suicide.

And I see us repeatedly choosing curses over blessings. We are denying our church the blessings God wants to give us through the gifts of LGBTQ people. And we are denying LGBTQ people the blessings God wants to bestow on them through the church.

I am sad to see us clinging to law over love, death over life, curses over blessings. So today, this is my prayer for my denomination; a prayer for repentance, forgiveness, and renewal.

 

Gracious and Holy God,
For those times we have chosen death over life for ourselves,
Forgive us. [Silence]
For those times we have chosen death over life for others,
Forgive us. [Silence]
For those times we have chosen not to receive your blessings,
Forgive us. [Silence]
For those times we have prevented others from receiving your blessings,
Forgive us. [Silence]
For each time we have made the easy choice of law over the hard choice of love,
Forgive us. [Silence]
O God of mercy,
Hear our prayers. [Silence]

Worship Piece: Psalm 119

I’m excited because Jill Clingan, my good friend and a fabulous writer, is preaching at Peace Mennonite this Sunday! We are still worshiping our way through Acts, and she will be focusing on Acts 21:17-26. I’ve chosen Psalm 119:33-40 as the Old Testament reading–thinking about our love for the law and the interplay of grace.

So here is our Call to Worship:

Like the psalmist,
we worship with faithfulness and longing.
God, give us understanding;
Lead us on your paths;
Turn our hearts to love;
Turn our eyes to truth;
Confirm your promise of life–
abundant and eternal life.
May our worship be your praise.
May our lives be holy offerings.
Amen.

 

And the prayer of confession (also based on/inspired by these verses from Psalm 119):

Forgive hearts consumed with selfish gain.
Turn our hearts toward love for others.
Forgive eyes gazing at worthless things of this world.
Turn our eyes toward your presence, your action, within us and around us.
Forgive hands that push people away.
Turn our hands to welcome the stranger, the outcast, the enemy.
Forgive feet kicking up dust on dead-end roads.
Turn our feet onto your path of righteousness and life.
By the grace of the forgiving, transforming One–Jesus Christ–
Forgive us, turn us, O God.

And the assurance of pardon: “Hear now the Good News: By the grace of the Holy One, we are forgiven. By the Holy power, we are being transformed. Thanks be to God.”

Acts 11 & World Communion

I wish I could say that I carefully planned out our Acts series so that World Communion Sunday would correspond to Peter’s vision-fueled defense of eating with uncircumcised men. (Acts 11:1-18) But I can’t. It was all Holy Spirit . . . or dumb luck. But it is working out well. Below are a couple of pieces I wrote for Sunday’s worship service.

Call to Worship

Here in this place, God offers us food,
so we take and eat.
Here in this place, our neighbors are hungry,
so we share the bread and the cup.
Here in this place, the table extends
beyond our friends
beyond those who agree with us
beyond these walls
beyond the borders
around the world.
Let us taste and see that our God is good.
Let us worship God with joy.

 

Prayer of Confession

God of deep, abounding, astounding, boundary-breaking love,
Forgive our closed doors;
forgive our closed eyes and ears;
forgive our insulated living,
forgive our safe and comfortable tables.

Wednesday Worship Pieces: Church Celebration

church bigThis Sunday we are celebrating the work of our little church and encouraging people to step forward and serve according to their gifts and passions. Here are some of the worship pieces we will be using:

–One of my favorite calls to worship from Ann B. Day, which you can find here.

–A hymn I wrote with another church member, which is here.

–This prayer of thanksgiving (adapted from an earlier post):

Dear God, giver of life, for each and every part of this church body
We give you thanks.
For those who teach and those who learn. For those who speak and those who listen.
We thank you Jesus, holy teacher.
For those who lead and those who follow. For those working up front and those working in the background.
We give you thanks, O Spirit who enables all work.
For those who share gifts of writing, drawing, sewing, cooking, singing, playing instruments, gardening, and all spirit-filled creative endeavors
We thank you, our Creator God.
For those who share gifts of administration, organization, planning, visioning, coordinating, hospitality, wisdom, discernment, faith, knowledge and all godly attributes necessary to the well being of this body
We give you thanks, O Word of light.
For those who give their time and money; who do what needs done: moving chairs, fixing toilets, caring for children, conducting worship, distributing mail, making phone calls, paying bills,
We thank you, the Giver of all Good things.
For those who share your love and care with others by praying, smiling, hugging, baking, laughing, reaching out and settling in,

We give you thanks, Holy Spirit, our bond of unity.
We thank you for each part of Peace Mennonite church, and we thank you for your power and grace that forms the parts into something more than we could ever be on our own–participants in the Body of Christ.
Amen

–This prayer of confession & assurance of pardon (opening line from 1 Peter 4:10):

Holy One,
We long to be faithful stewards of your abundant grace.

To serve each other in love and humility.
To serve your world with wisdom and energy.

Forgive us when we stumble over pride,
when our words and actions are not guided by love.

Turn our hearts when we act in folly.
Restore our energy when it is gone.

Sometimes, many times, O God, our efforts fail.
But your abundant grace is strong and eternal,
And forgiveness is ours through Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God.
Amen.

–And this offertory prayer:

God, whose giving knows no ending,
we offer up the treasure that you have entrusted to us;
we offer up the skills and time that you have graciously given to us;
we offer up ourselves in service and praise.
Receive these gifts by your grace.
Multiply and use them through the power of the Holy Spirit
to accomplish Christ’s work of love in the world. Amen.

*As always, you are welcome to use these pieces in your own worship setting. Attribution is appreciated.