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Call to worship Charge and Benediction Holy Days Liturgy

Easter Sunday: call to worship and benediction

CALL TO WORSHIP

Today celebrate the joy that vanquishes grief,
the life that outlasts death.
Today we celebrate an empty tomb and full hearts.
Glory Hallelujah!

In rising, Jesus lifted us all up with him.
No longer is suffering, or oppression, or death the end of any story.

Let us worship the Living God, who lived and died and rose again for us, and who dwells among us this very day. 

Amen.


BENEDICTION

Through the Person of Jesus, God has redeemed the world –
yet we still have work to do.

Revitalized by our worship,
let us take the new life that Jesus gives us freely
out into the world – a world that is still hurting,
a world where pain and grief and death still pervade Creation.

There is so much work to do, but we rejoice to know that the God
who Creates, Redeems, and Sustains us
works alongside us, empowering us
to roll back the stones on every tomb.

Thanks be to God!

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Call to worship Charge and Benediction Holy Days Liturgy Opening prayer

Jesus of the Wounds: Call to worship and benediction for the Second Sunday of Easter

CALL TO WORSHIP

Today we continue our celebration of the Resurrection.
Today, we worship Jesus of the Scars.

Today, we reach out to touch his side –
by reaching out to those who are struggling around us. 

We come with our own small victories.
We come with our own wounds some scarred over,
some still bruising.

We come, still burdened by weariness
over the suffering we feel and see;
We come, because although we don’t yet fully see
the new life won for us, still we hope. Still we believe.

Let us worship Jesus Christ, God with us,
through whom we rise to new, abundant life.
Hallelujah!


OPENING PRAYER

Jesus of the Outstretched Palms,

Though your work is already complete,
though you have liberated us from Death for good and all,
still we dwell in a liminal space:
Already we are transformed,
but not yet do we see all the fruits of that transformation.

Instead, we see scars.

Jesus of the wounded hands and side,
we see your wounds reflected in the world around us.
we feel them on our own hearts.

Jesus, your side, your hands, your feet
bear the marks of your love for us,
your solidarity with every person across the ages
who has been condemned and tortured by human powers.

Glory to you, Wounded Healer.
Glory to you, God of those with wounds.

Amen.


BENEDICTION

Jesus,

You who heal all humanity, all Creation,
bear wounds that we can see and touch.

Send your Spirit to give us the courage to reach out,
to touch them on the bodies and hearts of those around us.

Emboldened by the Good News of your redemption,
we head out into your world. 
We will be your hands.

Though wounded ourselves, we join you in healing your wounded.

We rejoice to know that you will be with us –
Leading us ever closer to Fullness of Life.
Amen.

ALTERNATIVE BENEDICTION

In worship we have been nourished
by our Wounded Healer’s very body –
and now They send us out to be Their hands.

Though we too are wounded, we rejoice
that God empowers us to do this work
and does not leave us to do it alone.

So let us go now, into a bruised world
in desperate need of healing hands and listening hearts

rejoicing that the one who Bore us, who Heals us, who Sustains us
goes out with us.

Amen.

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Call to worship Charge and Benediction Confession and Pardon Holy Days Liturgy My poetry Reflections for worship services

Ascension liturgy (Acts 1, Luke 24, Jesus’s wounds)

Call to Worship:

Here we are, gathered in many spaces but in One Body.
Here we are, ready to worship God, ready to be transformed.

Today we remember Jesus’s ascension,
a rising up of human flesh to mingle with the Divine.

We praise the one who died and rose,
who lifts us all – body and spirit – in his outstretched, wounded arms. 

As we join in prayer and song and praise,
may the Holy Spirit fill us to bursting
both with anticipation of Christ’s return
and an irresistible urge to seek God’s kin(g)dom here and now.

Opening Prayer:

Great Creator,
You who crafted the cosmos and cradle it to your heart,
you who will the flourishing of all your creatures
and weave a tapestry of redemption for humanity –
these embodied spirits whom you fashioned in your image –

Teach us to be your hands, working for the liberation and restoration 
of the outcast and those who fear what they do not know,
of the oppressor and the oppressed.

In the name of your Child Jesus,
who rose in body to you
and who sent us the Holy Spirit to be the very heartbeat of the world,
we pray.

Amen.


Confessional Prayer

Risen God,

too often we live as though you abandoned us
when you ascended into heaven –
as though you are not alive and active in the world,
as though we could make up our own morality,
as though we should wait, dormant, for your return, watching the sky instead of being active vessels for your love and restoration.

When we fail to balance our hope in your return
with living out your already-present Spirit: forgive us. 

When anxiety holds us back: encourage us.
When apathy or resignation leaves us feeling powerless: empower us.

Amen.


Reflection

We are the Body of Christ.

Just like Jesus our God,
we are embodied spirits and inspirited bodies –
bodies of many colors, many (dis)abilities and shapes,
many desires and dreams.

When the world tells us our bodies are wrong,
that we are not the right color or size, that we are useless or broken,
that we love the wrong way,

may the vision of our embodied God –
Jesus of the wounded hands and feet,
Jesus of the brown and callused skin,
Jesus of the poor person’s belly
and kind person’s love of food and fellowship –
appear to us.

When we feel swayed to judge
the body of another and what they do with it
may the vision of Jesus’s table, set for
women and eunuchs, tax collectors and poor persons,
practitioners of many faiths, the Roman centurion and his lover,
deaf and blind persons, lepers and those with mental illness,
and ever other stranger and outcast
inspire us to expand our own table. 

When we feel anxious as the first disciples did
that Jesus arose in body, seeming to leave us on earth behind,
may his Spirit enfold us, a reminder that we were not abandoned
but empowered and transformed.

In the body and divinity of Jesus,
heaven meets earth –
thanks be to God!


Benediction 

The Risen One is here among us, here and now.
Jesus calls to us, not to look toward the sky,
but into the faces of those who surround us –

to listen to them; to commune with them;
to live peaceably with them whenever possible
and to disrupt injustice wherever necessary.

May we hear that voice and invitation as we go out into the world,
here and now, together,
to celebrate and cultivate the gifts of the Holy Spirit
whom we find wherever there is life.

Amen.

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Call to worship Charge and Benediction Holy Days Liturgy

Pentecost – Call to worship and benediction

From many places, we come.
From many cultures and walks of life, we come.
Bearing unique gifts and unique burdens, we come
to worship the One God. 

Spirit of Life, who breathes and dances among us today,
Ignite us with your passion and power.
Stir us into joy and wonder as we worship now,
preparing us to go on our way renewed and ready to share your gifts.

Amen.


Benediction / Closing prayer

Spirit of courage and reverence, knowledge and wisdom,
right judgment and understanding, wonder and awe,

We praise you for whirling through the world
as a wind that blows where it wills,

stirring up all that you pass without showing partiality
and breathing new life into lifelessness. 

As you, Irresistible Wind, push us out into the world,
let us remember that unity is not uniformity,
that we may rejoice in your diverse gifts,
that we may share your richness with one another
whatever our gifts, whatever our creeds.

Filled with your fire, flame that consumes decay and corruption
and enkindles justice and new life,
we go forth boldly.

Hallelujah.

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Call to worship Liturgy

Call to worship and opening prayer

Beloved community,

Though we remain separated by physical space,
the Spirit who transcends walls and borders gathers us together. 

We come as a community on a journey
Still learning how to show up for each other
And how to live into God’s Kin(g)dom.

We come with minds buzzing with questions,
or burdened by mental illness;
We come with spirits heavy with loneliness, grief, or dread;
We come with bodies weary with pain, sickness, or fatigue
To worship a God who hears, feels, and responds.


OPENING PRAYER

Oh you who are Holy Other and God With Us,

You choose to enter our daily lives,
to share our burdens with us.

You pervade space, time, and all the divisions we devise:
You who came to Moses and liberated an enslaved people,
You who came to them in fire and in darkness
to carry them through the wilderness
truly are the same God here in our midst today. 

We have come to worship you, strange and steadfast God
Who makes a way out of no way.


I wrote this for a virtual service on September 27, 2020 (21A Proper) centered around trauma and community’s role in the journey to recovery; an affirmation of protest is also woven throughout the liturgy. My sermon was based around Exodus 17:1-7, looking at the wilderness wandering through a lens of generational trauma and applying it to the collective and individual traumas we are facing today, from those caused by pandemic and police violence to personal struggles.

Watch or read my sermon here.

Categories
Call to worship Liturgy

Call to worship and opening prayer: draw the circle wide; God gathers us in our diversity

Beloved community, let us draw the circle wide!
And draw it wider still.

We come — laden with doubts, fears, resentments —
to worship the God who gives us faith, courage, renewal. 

We come — overwhelmed with remorse,
or struggling with what it means to forgive — 
to worship the God who teaches us true restoration. 

We come — with identities varied as the colors of the rainbow —
to worship the God who weaves our many threads into one tapestry.

We come, and the circle is drawn wide — and wider — and wider still!
Not by our strength, not by our merit, but through God’s grace.


OPENING PRAYER

God the Gatherer,
God the Grafter,
God the Weaver of our many threads into a colorful whole —
In which no color drowns out any other, and all have their role in the tapestry — 

Open us to your presence today, now!
Pour like rain into the cracked soil of our parched spirits; 
Seep into our dreams and set us alight with grand new visions of You.

Nourishing rain in desert places,
Night’s relief among sun-burned sands,
Revitalize us so we can worship you 
With the joy and wholeheartedness you deserve.

Amen.


I wrote this for a virtual service on August 16, 2020 (15A Proper), a service that centered around themes of reconciliation and interdependence. I preached on Genesis 45:1-15, exploring Joseph’s gender nonconformity as a source for the brothers’ violence against Joseph; how Joseph was brought from suffering into thriving and was celebrated for the very gifts that the brothers had hated; and how Joseph as the wronged party got to choose how and when reconciliation would take place.

Meanwhile, I wove that theme of reconciliation into my liturgy alongside our need for community and to draw the circles of our community ever wider, drawing from the alternative reading Isaiah 56:1-8. This is why the above liturgy is all about expanding our community and God’s gathering of all persons.

To read or watch my sermon, visit here.

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Call to worship Liturgy

Call to worship and opening prayer: God the sower who invites our partnership

Beloved community, we gather to worship the God who invites us to join Them in creating a new world.

When our souls are trampled on, made too hard to bear fruit,
Let us gather.

When our hearts exclaim over God’s word for a moment,
but never break open to let it sink in,
Let us gather.

When the cares of the world prick at and stifle our spirits like thorns,
leaving no room for joy or hope, no time for kindness or compassion,
Let us gather. 

And when God comes, heals, cultivates in us hearts soft enough to receive, to nurture, to blossom,
Let us gather to worship our Creator, our Redeemer, the Breath within our lungs.


OPENING PRAYER

God of Life in all its seasons,
you are the Sower who softens us like soil,
slowly but surely, so that your Word may sprout in us. 

You are the source of the water, the sun, the air 
that sustain our being and unite us with all living things. 

You are the Wind that stirs our stagnation,
who takes us by the hands and pulls us into action,
inviting us to be co-laborers in the hard harvest work
as your Kin(g)dom takes root, grows, and blossoms across the world.

We come to worship
you who guide all Creation into flourishing.


I wrote this for a service with a central theme of imagination, and how God’s gift of imagination can help us envision and enact a better world, a world liberated from oppressive binary and hierarchical structures like cishetero-patriarchy and white supremacy. My sermon’s text was Genesis 25:19-34 and explored the relationship between Jacob – with his marginalizing identities who assimilates into patriarchy – and Esau with his privilege who eventually seeks out reconciliation with his brother. You can read or watch the sermon here.

While the Genesis text was my sermon focus, I wanted to fit the lectionary’s Gospel reading into my liturgy. That reading was Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23, the Parable of the Sower – hence references to God as sower in the liturgy above.

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Call to worship Liturgy Opening prayer

Call to worship and opening prayer: God gathers the oppressed, and the oppressors

Beloved community,
We come together as one
while under different roofs.

We come together as one
while holding different ideas, dreams, struggles, fears.

We come together as one
as outcasts, and as those who cast out others.

We come together as one
gathered by the One
who befriended the oppressed
and the oppressor.

Let us worship God.


OPENING PRAYER

Strange God, untameable God,
You will not let us confine you or your children to a box!

You lavish love upon those we call unloveable;
You embrace those we shut out and call stranger;
and you delight in choosing people who shock us
to bring your blessing into the world. 

God who died and rose again,
You look upon barrenness and unkindness and hopelessness 
and say, “I can work with this.” 

When you touch death, it blossoms into life.
You make a way out of no way. 

Fearsome God, gentle God,
When we are merciless
you come in mercy.

When we deny justice
you come with justice.

We come with praise. We come with prayer.
We come with gratitude to you
Our creator, our redeemer, the breath within our lungs. 


I wrote this for a virtual service on June 21, 2020 centered around themes of oppression, patriarchy, and white supremacy; it explored how our world shapes each of us based on our various identities and what kind of reconciliation is possible between oppressors and the ones who oppress. My sermon text was Genesis 21:8-21. My sermon, “No Good Patriarchs – Solidarity with Hagar” can be read or watched here.

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Call to worship LGBT/queer Liturgy Multifaith Weddings

A call to worship that welcomes non-Christian participants

The Being worshipped in this space
is vaster than walls can contain or religions can claim.

All true loves have this Being as their source,
and so the love we celebrate today
transcends gender and bloodlines and state borders.

Here we are united
in all our diversity:

welcome, you with faith and you with doubts,
you from the North and you from the South,
welcome with all your joys and pains, fears and hopes.

We invite you to join us in praising the One
who fashioned human beings to experience all sorts of love.

Here in this space,
Love grafts us together.


This is the call to worship that I wrote for my wedding back in May 2019. Because many of the attendees were not Christian, I wanted to explicitly welcome them into worship too.

The language of this call to worship is rather specific to the context (for instance, the reference to North and South is because most of my relatives hail from the Northern portion of the United States, while most of my wife’s hail from the South; plus all the “love” stuff is clearly because it was for a queer wedding), so feel free to edit this piece to suit your own context.