Worship Words-A Prayer for Our Country

Gracious God, This is a time when we celebrate our country. And we are thankful for all the goodness in this place we call home. So much has happened in our country recently. Everyone has an opinion to share on the recent events in the USA. And many, many people have been sharing their words-some of these are joyful, some angry, some heartbroken, and some defensive. We often try to put words into your mouth, Holy One. Help us to stop and think before speaking for you. Encourage us to turn to your Word before claiming to speak for you. Remind us that you are the Creator of Love who calls us to love each other. You are the Compassionate One who calls us to live out compassion. You are the Great Listener who urges us to stop talking and start listening. Holy God, our country is divided, confused, overjoyed, and saddened. You call us to hold all these emotions together and live each one. You ask us to cry with all who mourn. You ask us to cheer with all who are rejoicing. You ask us to sit with all who need more time to understand and seek out your will. Because we have so much to see, hear, and do, be with us in this time of silent prayer as we listen for your voice and sit quietly with you. (time of silent prayer)

Eternal God, As we celebrate Independence Day, let us be thankful for the progress that has been made toward equality for all and strengthen us for the work that still needs to be done so all your children may be free. Amen.

 

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This photo was taken by Sara Slade of Sara Slade Photography. I’d like to thank Sara for regularly sending me pictures of two very American foods that I do not prefer-hot dogs and orange soda.

Worship Words-A Prayer for Guidance

1929921_11757933825_2917_nWorship yesterday included music by a bell choir. As I was reflecting on what to share for today’s worship words, one of the songs they played kept reappearing in my thoughts. The song was Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah. Today’s prayer is a prayer for a time of discernment or seeking God’s wisdom now and in the future. Pray with me.

Guide me, O my great Redeemer. We seek your guidance, O God, for there are many choices in our lives and many paths we could take. We need your wisdom. We need to know how best to live in your ways. Hear us cry out for help.

Pilgrim through this barren land. God, you know there are days when it seems like no choice is a good choice, days when nothing we say comes out right, and we wonder how to turn back to you. We are wandering and wondering.

I am weak, but you are mighty. Your strength and power amazes us, O God, and we need to feel your presence when we feel like we have no power. Give us the words to speak. Point us in the right direction.

Hold me with your powerful hand. God, we need to be held in your hand, to hold your hand, and to be pushed on with your hand. Give us comfort, support, and a nudge in the right direction.

Bread of heaven, feed me till I want no more. Loving God, you feed us with your Word, with our communities of support, and with blessings too many to count. We are so thankful for all the ways you reveal yourself to us. We pray for all of your children who need to be fed physically or spiritually. We know what you provide is more than enough to share, so revive our spirits of generosity until everyone has enough.

As we seek out what is next for our lives, may we always begin by saying, Guide me, O my great Redeemer. Amen.
The words in italics are from The New Century Hymnal #19, Guide Me, O My Great Redeemer.

In the picture, I am posing beside a cross at the Camas Centre on the Isle of Mull. The Camas Centre is part of the Iona Community. I spent a week volunteering at the Camas Centre in 2005.

This prayer was published on liturgy link on June 28, 2015.

Worship Words-Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Forgiveness

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Let us pray. God, We are busy people. We need reminders. We need help remembering what is important. In this time of silent confession, we will try to slow down our thoughts and be present with you, Loving God. If something needs to be confessed, we will silently share it, God, and then continue in silence. We will be still and be with our God.

(a time of silent prayer)

God, silence is hard. Confession is hard. Faithful God, you stay with us through all the difficult parts of life. You have heard our confession and been with us in our silent prayers. For your faithfulness and love, we are grateful. Amen.
Our good news is this-The steadfast love of God never ceases. God’s mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is God’s faithfulness. (Lamentations 3: 22-23).

Today’s picture was taken at the amazing Camp Albemarle. This is a place I highly recommend for retreats and summer camp.

Worship Words-Pentecost and Retirement Sermon from June 8, 2014

A year ago, I was preaching at my Dad’s church. We were celebrating his forty years of ordained ministry. We were celebrating his retirement from full-time ministry. It was my parents’ last day with this congregation. A special joy for me was celebrating communion with my Dad. My ordination was the only other time we’ve celebrated communion together.

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Although this sermon seems very specific to the events happening somewhere in central Illinois 365 days ago, when I reread it today I was delighted to see universal themes that apply to all people of faith every day of the year.

Scriptures-

Ephesians 4: 1-16

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.

But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it is said,
‘When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
   he gave gifts to his people.’ 
(When it says, ‘He ascended’, what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.) The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ. We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming. But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and knitted together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

Acts 2: 1-4

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

John 20:19-23

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.’

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Worship Words-Call to Worship (We Are Welcome Here!)

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One-Is there anyone here who has ever felt scared or worried on a Sunday morning? Were you wondering-will I fit in? Will I be welcome? Does God still love me? The answer is yes!

Come in your suits, your shorts, your flip flops, and your dresses.

All-We are welcome here.

One-Come from your jobs, your shelters, your schools, and your retirement homes.

All-We are welcome here.

One-Come wearing smiles, shedding tears, looking nervous or frightened, and with your anger.

All-We are welcome here.

One-Come with your questions and answers. Come with your prayer requests and answered prayers. Come to sing songs you love and songs others love. Come to hear God’s Word as part of this faith community.

All-We are God’s beloved. Let us worship our God who loves us just as we are.

This Call to Worship was published by liturgy link on October 2, 2015.

A Summer Prayer

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A Summer Prayer

Creating God,

As the days grow warmer and longer, we give you thanks for summer.

As the smells and tastes of cook outs and campfires delight our senses, we give you thanks for summer.

As school days and work days are exchanged for vacations, we give you thanks for summer.

And we know that summer isn’t joyful for everyone.

We pray for –

everyone who works in the hot sun,

everyone who misses meals because school isn’t in session,

everyone who doesn’t have air conditioning or a cool, dry place to sleep at night,

everyone who doesn’t have vacation time.

Loving God, hear our prayer.

Faithful God, we pray for all who love summer and all who would like to love summer. Keep us safe this season. Open our eyes to the beauty of your creation this summer. Amen.

Worship Words for Pentecost

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A word about how this call to worship might work. This will require a bit of planning and knowing your congregation. I picture the congregation facing forward and the gifts of the Holy Spirit coming from behind the congregation toward the front of the sanctuary. I’d like to have the visuals stay where they are visible for the whole service. They may even be utilized while talking with the children or preaching the sermon. Be creative and have fun! I would suggest having multiple readers but not having the congregation read responsively. This will allow the visuals time to move around the sanctuary before the next line is read.

 

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

Live and move among us like a dove of peace!

(Enter the dove-possibly a fake dove on a stick that can “fly”, possibly a banner with a

dove on it that floats through the congregation, maybe even a real dove?!)

Swoop down. Surprise and delight us like a red kite.

(Enter someone flying a red kite through the sanctuary!)

Flash and flicker as our light of inspiration.

(Enter someone with flashlights or glow sticks or lanterns!)

Warm our hearts so we may be fire-filled followers.

(Enter someone carrying a lit candle!)

Come, Holy Spirit, Come!

 

Published on liturgy link on May 11, 2015.

Worship Words-Benediction Inspired by John 17:18

 

Jesus said, “As you have sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.”

We are the ones Jesus sends out into the world. What are we sent to do in the world? We are sent out to love God and to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are sent out to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with our God. We are sent out to feed those who are hungry, visit those who are lonely, and to love those who have no one to love them. We are sent out into the world as Jesus’ disciples to love as he loved. Do not fear! You are not sent out alone. As you go remember you are one of God’s beloved children and let the love of God bring you joy. You are one of Jesus’ disciples and let the teachings of the teacher live in your life. You are filled with the Holy Spirit and let the Comforter be your companion on your way. Go in peace!

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Worship Words-Offering

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Invitation for Offering

Jesus commands us to love each other. This isn’t a suggestion he made. Jesus was serious about love. And one way we love each other is through our tithes and offerings. Let us give generously as we are able.

Let us pray-

Loving God, these gift that we bring are already yours. Bless these offerings so through them lives may be changed and your love may spread throughout the world. Bless the givers, the ones who wish they had more to give, and the receivers of this offering. In the name of Jesus who taught us about giving and love. Amen.

 

Worship Words-Prayer using 1 John 4:11

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God, you taught us to love by first loving us and today as we join together in prayer-we will pray for others.

God,we pray for your children we hear about on the news. We never know their whole story but you do.

God, we pray for those living in the public eye-our elected officials, famous people, others who fascinate us. We never know their whole story but you do.

God, we pray for your children living around the world. People we will never meet. We never know their whole story but you do.

God, we pray for our classmates and colleagues. They are the people we see regularly. Some we know well and others we don’t. We never know their whole story but you do.

God, we pray for your children who we overlook. People who are in prison or struggling to find a job after being released. People who are underemployed or homeless. People who seek safety and security after being denied it. We never know their whole story but you do.

God, we pray for our neighbors. They are the ones who live closest to us. We wave as we pass by. We may even say hi over the fence. Do we invite them into our home? We never know their whole story but you do.

God, we pray for our friends and family. These are the people we know the best. We pray that our relationships are ones of honesty, love, and compassion. And yet, we never know their whole story but you do.

God, we want to live out these words from 1 John 4:11, “Beloved, since God loves us so much, we also ought to love one another.” So open our eyes to your children today. Open our hearts to your children reaching out to us today. For your love, Gracious God, we give you thanks. Amen.