Worship Words-A Prayer in the Night

Holy One, While many are asleep because it is nighttime, many of your children are awake. And so we pray. We pray for those who are restfully sleeping. We pray for parents who wish they were sleeping and instead find themselves rocking infants or caring for sick children. Gracious God, we give thanks for all those working the night shift. They are keeping us safe, keeping our stores open, keeping our heat on and lights working, keeping our roads clear of snow and ice, and doing so many other jobs we don’t even understand. We remember those who find it difficult to sleep at night because of pain or loss or other changes in life. In the cold of winter, we lift up to you everyone who does not have a safe and warm place to sleep at night. Watch over all your children, we pray. For all who are awake worrying, send your peace. And for those who are awake because they love the nighttime, we give thanks. In the dark of night, we give thanks for the diversity of gifts present in your children. Thank you for the night owls and early birds and everyone in between. Thank you for creating all of us in your image. Thank you for the gift of sleep whenever it comes to us. Amen.

Worship Words-Prayer of Illumination

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In this Sunday’s readings there is a theme of staying with one you respect and staying where things are amazing. Instead of allowing us to always stay, sometimes God calls us away. Sometimes away is off the mountaintop back to our ordinary lives. Sometimes away means saying good-bye to a mentor or friends or our plans for how things should be. Our prayer for illumination before reading Scriptures is a time for us to open ourselves to where God is calling us and where God might be leading us away from where we’d prefer to be. Let us pray.

Holy One, We make great plans, and you surprise us with different plans. We turn to your Word expecting to hear what we’ve always heard, and you urge us to open our ears to new possibilities. We will try. Speak to us through the words of your Holy Scripture, and we will try to listen as if for the first time. Amen.

Words for Worship-Five Finger Prayer

file000846384716The Five Finger Prayer is not my creation. I’m sharing it because I believe praying is important and I know most of can use reminders to pray more often. This is a different and fun way to do it. I like it because it works for all ages. Why not give it a try and if it is new to you, share this idea with someone else.

Start by looking at your hand. You’ll be using your hand to remind you of those in need of prayer.

Your Thumb-Your thumb is closest to you and reminds you to pray for those who are closest to you. Pray for and give thanks for your family and friends.

Your Pointer-Pray for those who point you in the right direction. Who leads you? Who are the ones to whom you listen? Pray for those who guide and direct you and pray that you’ll be open to hearing and listening to their words.

Your Tallest Finger-Pray for those in positions of power. Pray for our government and all our leaders. Pray for those with whom you agree and disagree.

Your Ring Finger-This finger is your weakest finger. Pray for those who are seen as the weakest or lacking in power. Remember in your prayers those who are ill, hungry, living with violence or war, homeless, or lonely.

Your Pinky-Finally, you can pray for yourself.

I’ve recently been reflecting on how often our Scriptures remind us that Jesus prayed. In this coming Sunday’s gospel reading, we’ll hear, “In the morning, while it was still very dark, Jesus got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed” (Mark 1: 35). If the five finger prayer can enhance your prayer life, I hope you’ll use it. And if it doesn’t work for you, that’s okay too.

 

 

 

Worship Words-A Winter Prayer

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God of All Seasons, We find ourselves in the midst of winter again. Snow may soon be swirling around us. Help us not to be too jealous of people who get more snow or people who live in Florida. Keep us and all your children safe during winter weather. We pray for those who do not have safe and warm shelter and all those who are working to provide food and shelter to those in need. If we find ourselves inside our homes for longer than we’d like, calm us down so we can enjoy a cup of tea and a good book. If we find ourselves inside with small children, give us the creativity to keep them busy. No matter how long it feel like winter lasts, Loving God, we know that Spring is coming. We know that new life is growing now even though we cannot see it. Help us to see the beauty in all the seasons. Amen.

Today’s picture was taken at Falls Park in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Worship Words-Prayer of Confession

Prayer of Confession

God, we are often like Jonah. We run away from you and wonder why you are so kind to people who don’t deserve your kindness. Somedays, we’d like to go away and pout like Jonah. Open our eyes, so we can see things differently. You are kind to us even when we don’t deserve it. We want to accept your love. Give us the strength to love our neighbors. And help us to repent like the people of Nineveh did. Forgive us, God. Amen.

 

Assurance of Forgiveness

Find comfort and forgiveness in these words from Jonah 3:10. “When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.”

Beloved children of God, we are all forgiven. Amen.

 

Jonah’s story is only four chapters long. Why not read his story this week?

 

Worship Words-Call to Worship

One-God calls us by name

All-And we wonder who is calling.

One-God calls us by name

All-And we run to others thinking they must have called us.

One-God calls us by name

All-And a wise one tells us it is God.

One-God calls us by name

All-And we respond, “Speak for your servants are listening.”

 

You may read the whole passage, 1 Samuel 3:1-20.

A Prayer for Epiphany

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Like the wise ones of old, help me to be open to your leading, Gracious God. Where might you be leading me? What new things should I be looking for around me? Open my eyes to the stars in the sky. Open my ears to the voices speaking to me and with me. Open my heart to those I too often overlook. As this new season and new year begins, remind me of your constant love, Holy One, while urging me forward to see where you will guide me. Amen.

A Prayer for New Year’s Eve

Faithful God,
I am preparing to say good-bye to 2014 and hello to 2015. Before I shut the door on this year, I pause to remember…

Thank you, God, for the opportunities I had this year. I remember…

Loving God, thank you for being with me through the difficult days. It isn’t easy or fun, but I remember…

Thank you, God, for community…for people who loved and supported me and for those I loved and supported. Thank you for the people who walked with me, who challenged me, and who laughed with me. Thank you, God, for my loved ones…

Thank you, Holy One, for seasons of the year. Thank you for the winter days of waiting and resting. Thank you for the springtime days of new life and opportunity. Thank you for summer days of growth and change. Thank you for fall days of enjoying the fruits of our labor and pausing to give thanks. In the seasons of this year and the seasons of our lives, I give you thanks, O God.

And now after remembering, I turn 2014 to my memories and to You and open myself to all that You have for me in 2015. Be with me, Loving God, as you have always been. Amen.

Worship Words-Advent Candle Lighting – Christmas

Merry Christmas! Today is the day we have been preparing for throughout Advent. Jesus is born. Here is the story as recorded in Luke’s Gospel.

In those days Caesar Augustus declared that everyone throughout the empire should be enrolled in the tax lists. This first enrollment occurred when Quirinius governed Syria.  Everyone went to their own cities to be enrolled.  Since Joseph belonged to David’s house and family line, he went up from the city of Nazareth in Galilee to David’s city, called Bethlehem, in Judea.  He went to be enrolled together with Mary, who was promised to him in marriage and who was pregnant.  While they were there, the time came for Mary to have her baby.  She gave birth to her firstborn child, a son, wrapped him snugly, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the guestroom.

Nearby shepherds were living in the fields, guarding their sheep at night.  The Lord’s angel stood before them, the Lord’s glory shone around them, and they were terrified.

The angel said, “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people.  Your savior is born today in David’s city. He is Christ the Lord.  This is a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped snugly and lying in a manger.”  Suddenly a great assembly of the heavenly forces was with the angel praising God. They said, “Glory to God in heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors.”

When the angels returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Let’s go right now to Bethlehem and see what’s happened. Let’s confirm what the Lord has revealed to us.” They went quickly and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in the manger.  When they saw this, they reported what they had been told about this child.  Everyone who heard it was amazed at what the shepherds told them.  Mary committed these things to memory and considered them carefully. The shepherds returned home, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen. Everything happened just as they had been told.”

Now, you can light the three purple candles, the pink candle, and the white candle.

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We have been waiting for this day, Loving God. We have prepared ourselves for this special day. On this Christmas Day, let us live as those who let hope, peace, joy, and love reign in our lives. As the candles burn brightly and light our path, let us live as those who have the Christ’s light burning inside us today and everyday. Amen.

 

Also published on liturgy link on November 11, 2014.

Worship Words- Advent Candle Lighting Week 4-Love

In this final week of Advent, our attention is on love. The following Scripture verses may be very familiar to you, so I’m asking you to read it twice. The first time is in the New Revised Standard Version (you may hear similar words at church). The second time you’ll be reading from the Message (a modern interpretation). Listen for the call to love in these words.

Matthew 22:36-40 says, “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?”  He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’  This is the greatest and first commandment.  And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

”Teacher, which command in God’s Law is the most important?” Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your passion and prayer and intelligence.’ This is the most important, the first on any list. But there is a second to set alongside it: ‘Love others as well as you love yourself.’ These two commands are pegs; everything in God’s Law and the Prophets hangs from them.”

 

Light three purple candles and one pink candle.

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God, we have learned to love from being loved by you. And so today, let us enact that love. Let us live that love. We know that what the world needs now is more love. We need to remember how much you love each one of us and we must share that love with others. Amen.

 

Also published on liturgy link on November 11, 2014.