Benediction using Romans 12: 1-8

Benediction using Romans 12: 1-8
Go out into the world knowing you are God’s beloved children and knowing each person you meet is beloved by God. Be transformed by your time here in this place and by the people you meet here and when you leave this place. Be humble knowing you are blessed by God with talents and gifts just as every other person in the whole wide world is blessed by God with gifts and talents too. Look for God in those you meet. Spend more time listening than talking to those you love and those you try to love. And always remember that you are not alone because God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer is with you always. Amen!

Benediction-Psalm 133:1

Benediction-Psalm 133:1

How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!
And what does this look like in today’s world? We must ask for forgiveness for what we have done wrong and seek justice for all! We must listen to the stories of our kindred and seek justice for all! We must speak out against violence to any of our kindred and seek justice for all! We must work toward a day when all have enough food, equal opportunities, safety and security. And we look forward to the day we can say-How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!

 

Words in italics are Psalm 133:1 from the New Revised Standard Version.

The Sound of Silence

The Sound of Silence

 

Recently, I was sick. Sore throat, fever, headache, coughing. It was terrible. I had no energy. I was not hungry. And possibly the worst part,  I could not talk for three days. No talking. No whispering. I communicated with my husband using hand gestures and texting. As I was not talking, I was thinking. Here are some things I learned-

I would not enjoy a week-long silent retreat!

I enjoy the sound of my own voice.

I enjoy communicating with others.

 

“But God definitely listened. God heard the sound of my prayer.” –Psalm 66:19

 

God, you hear my prayers whether I say them out loud or hold them in my heart. You know me when I feel well and when I feel terrible. And through all my days, you love me and I am thankful for your love. I pray for all those who are feeling unwell today. Ease their pain. Grant them rest. Blanket them with your love. In your healing and holy name, we pray. Amen.

 

Stopping By a Church

I love visiting churches. I love hearing stories from church members as they celebrate their history and their hopes for the future. Earlier this summer, my Dad and I were walking through Ketchikan, Alaska and discovered St. John’s Episcopal Church was open to visitors. We opened the door and climbed the steps to step into their sanctuary. We were greeted by a very welcoming church member who told us the history of her church.
In 1904, when the church building was completed, it was at the water’s edge. You could tie your boat up at the front door and come into worship. As the town has expanded they have created land farther into the water and now you can drive or walk to the church. I took pictures of some of the stained glass windows that date from the 1930s.
I recommend you stop in the next time you pass a church that is open for visitors. You never know what or who you might meet inside.
Loving God, Thank you for your faithful communities across the world who share your love. Thank you for open doors and open hearts. Give us the courage to stop and strike up a conversation. Open our eyes to see you in each other. Amen.

Call Out to God (Based on Psalm 17)

Call Out to God (based on Psalm 17)

Faithful God, I am calling out to you! Hear a just cause, O Lord; attend to my cry. Listen to me, God, I need you now! From you let my vindication come; let your eyes see the right. Now, God, is when I need you. Be here with me. I call upon you, for you will answer me, O God; incline your ear to me, hear my words. Listen to me, God, I need you now! Wondrously show your steadfast love, O savior of those who seek refuge from their adversaries at your right hand. My hope is in you, Faithful God. Answer me when I call unto you. Amen.

The words in italics are Psalm 17 from the New Revised Standard Version.

Worship Words for a Time of Waiting

Recently, I spent a long period of time waiting for an answer. I spent my time watching tv, eating comfort foods, and worrying. I wrote this piece afterward to help myself the next time I find myself in a time of worrying and waiting. I recommend repeating this ritual each time that the concern comes to mind.

 

Light a candle, take three deep calming breaths, and pray.

Faithful God, I pass this concern on to you. It is too much for me to carry and hold on my own. Hold those in my heart in your loving hands. Amen.

 

“So now, Lord, what should I be waiting for? My hope is set on you.” – Psalm 39:7

“Who among you by worrying can add a single moment to your life?” –Matthew 6:27

 

Watch the flickering candle while taking three deep calming breaths and pray.

Faithful God, Again I pass my worry to you. Quiet my mind and calm my spirit. Be with me and those on my heart. Amen.

 

Worship Words-Psalm 105

Encouraging the participation of as many people as possible in each worship service is very important. This requires that we look at the service and see where people are excluded who cannot read, who cannot stand up for long periods of time, who cannot see the printed words, etc. I’ve rewritten Sunday’s Psalm (Psalm 105:1-11, 45b) to make it more inclusive and participatory. It could be used as a call to worship, read with the rest of the Scriptures, or a litany somewhere in your service. Before reading the Psalm, the reader will need to instruct the congregation that their role is to repeat the phrase, Praise the Lord!, whenever the reader pauses and raises a hand.
Because this reading is responsive, there is no need to print it in the bulletin or project it on the screen. This change encourages people to look around and look up while responding to the Scripture reading.

One-O give thanks to the Lord, call on God’s name, make known God’s deeds among the peoples.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-Sing to the Lord, sing praises to God; tell of all God’s wonderful works.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-Glory in God’s holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-Seek the Lord’s strength; seek God’s presence continually.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-Remember the wonderful works God has done, God’s miracles, and the judgments he uttered,

All-Praise the Lord!

One-O offspring of God’s servant Abraham, children of Jacob, the chosen ones.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-The Lord is our God; God’s judgments are in all the earth.

All-Praise the Lord!

One-God is mindful of the covenant forever, of the word was commanded, for a thousand generations,

All-Praise the Lord!

One-the covenant that God made with Abraham, the sworn promise to Isaac,

All-Praise the Lord!

One-which God confirmed to Jacob as a statute, to Israel as an everlasting covenant,

All-Praise the Lord!

One-saying, “To you I will give the land of Canaan as your portion for an inheritance.”

All-Praise the Lord!

Psalm 105 is quoted using the New Revised Standard Version.

Worship Words-Psalm 139 as Confession

Sunday’s Psalm reading is 139:1-12, 23-24.
When I visit a hospice patient and am asked to read Scripture, I ask what they would like to hear. Many times the response is a request for me to pick something good. Psalm 139 is a reading I return to regularly. No matter where we are in our lives, we all need a reminder that God is with us right here and right now. I encourage you to read this Psalm on good days and bad days whenever you need a reminder of God’s constant presence in your life.
Call to Confession

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts.

See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Prayer of Confession (Unison)

Faithful God, You know each one of us. You see us. You listen to us. And yet, we still run. Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? Holy One, we know the answer, and yet, we keep running. So forgive us for doubting your faithfulness. Forgive us for doubting the gifts you have bestowed upon us. Forgive us and help us to forgive ourselves and each other.  Amen.

Assurance of Forgiveness

Beloved children of God, Remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made by the Creator of the Universe. God knows you and loves you. Live your life remembering you are forgiven and loved. Amen.

 

The words in italics are from Psalm 139 in the New Revised Standard Version.

Litany on Psalm 119:105-112

One-Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

All-Light our way, Loving God, so we may travel in your way.

One-I have sworn an oath and confirmed it, to observe your righteous ordinances.

All-Keep us faithful to the promises we have made and forgive us when we fall short.

One-I am severely afflicted; give me life, O Lord, according to your word.

All-Hear us and heal us, God, for we need you today.

One-Accept my offerings of praise, O Lord, and teach me your ordinances.

All-We seek your acceptance and your wisdom, Holy One.

One-I hold my life in my hand continually, but I do not forget your law.

All-Even in times of trouble, we turn to you because you are faithful, God.

One-The wicked have laid a snare for me, but I do not stray from your precepts.

All-With the support of this faith community, we do not walk alone no matter what.

One-Your decrees are my heritage forever; they are the joy of my heart.

All-We are thankful for our ancestors in the faith who lived their faith.

One-I incline my heart to perform your statutes forever, to the end.

All-Give us the strength to remain faithful for you are faithful, Loving God.

 

The words in italics in the litany are Psalm 119:105-112 from the New Revised Standard Version. 

Thoughts for a Memorial Service

Today I am speaking on behalf of my hospice team at a service for a patient who has died. My hope is that the short reflection I share will bring peace to the family and friends gathered and remind them of God’s unending love for all of us. When I was asked to pick a Scripture to read, I immediately turned to the verses that bring me comfort and hope.

21 But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope: 
22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end; 
23 they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. 
24 ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul,
‘therefore I will hope in him.’ 
25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him.                         -Lamentations 3:21-25

I will talk about how it was a privilege to serve as part of his hospice team as we watched him transition from living at home with his wife to living in a nursing home. I will share how I hold in my heart the stories he shared about his time in the military, raising his family, working hard to support them, and enjoying retirement surrounded by family. And I will remind those gathered that this man’s faith was important to him and helped him cope with the changes in his life. As he is laid to rest today, I hope we all remember the faithfulness of God today and everyday.