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Charge and Benediction Christmas Invitation to the table Liturgy Opening prayer Prayers of the People

Liturgy for Christmastide – God of the manger, God of the stranger

OPENING PRAYER

Immanuel, God with us! 

You are indeed with all of us, wherever we are
across the many miles, under our assorted roofs.

In the birth that we celebrate this Christmas season,

You stripped off omnipotence,
burst through the border between Creator and Creation
to curl Your infinity into a finite form,
a frail, physical, form — an infant 

utterly dependent on others to survive.

You who choose
interdependence over self-reliance,
society’s outcasts over mighty kings,
abundance for every creature over excess for the few,
You are indeed worthy of our praise!

As we worship you today, 
may the same Spirit

who brought new life to Hannah and Elizabeth,
who came in dreams to change the mind of Joseph,
who took shelter in Mary and spoke through Simeon and Anna

come upon us all —

a rushing wind to stir up fainting spirits,
a gentle breeze to refresh the weary body.

Spirit of God! Here today!
Breathe new life into us
that we may join the ones who prepare Your way!


PASTORAL PRAYER / INTERCESSORY PRAYER

Like Simeon and Anna, we eagerly anticipate God’s restoration,
which is unfolding even now — yet is not fully here.

We look forward to the future in which all needs will be met,
all cruelty will be transformed into compassion,
all sickness and suffering will give way to flourishing 

for all of humanity, and all of Creation.

In the meantime, we pray for those whose needs we can name –
and for those whose needs we do not know,
those who do not know how to ask for what they need.

Join me now in offering our joined prayers up 
to the God who loves us, who is with us, who is bringing about abundance for all.

God of the Hope born anew at Christmas,

We pray for persistence as we continue to keep each other safe 
in this time of pandemic, even when it means keeping physically apart.

Make your warming Presence felt to all those struggling with loneliness or depression, O God,
and pour your blessing upon those who reach out to their fellow human beings 
in large ways and small.

Encourage and protect all who act in solidarity
with the lonely, the sick, the imprisoned, the oppressed.

We give thanks for protestors who continue to demand justice and equity,
For those who speak out against the violence we wage against this good world you created,
For those who dream of a better reality for all peoples, all creatures,
And who invite all of us into the hard, holy work of making those dreams reality. 

We pray also that those in positions of power will be moved
to take the steps that only they can to reduce sickness and suffering.
We pray for a major transformation of the heart 
in those who shrug off wearing masks,
And in those who perpetrate hate crimes — or who by their silence enable them.  

And God, we offer our deepest gratitude
for the vaccines that are rolling out:
Bless and hover over those who create them,
those who administer them,
those who have received them, those are still waiting to receive them.

As we live into this new stage in our long waiting, revitalize us.
Empower us to be your Presence in the world,
helping others where we can
And attending to our own spirits when there is little else we can do.

God of the manger, God of the stranger,
Carry the most vulnerable of us safely into the future that is coming,
that we can almost reach out and touch, and that we continue to wait and work for.

Amen. 


INVITATION TO THE TABLE

My siblings in the Living God,

The infant born to impoverished Jewish parents
is the one who invites us to his table today. 

He who knew poverty and homelessness
Welcomes you, even if you don’t think you have anything to bring to the table.

Having spent some of his youngest years
as a refugee far from home,
Jesus welcomes refugees and immigrants,
As well as spiritual wanderers, those who do not feel at home at church,
And those who deeply miss gathering physically in their church building.
Jesus welcomes you.

Jesus welcomes oppressors who strive to make amends,
The oppressed who seek sanctuary and justice.
Jesus welcomes you.

Whoever you are, whatever you believe,
Whatever hopes and fears, griefs and doubts you carry to the table with you,
You are welcome here.
Come. Eat. This table is for you. 


BENEDICTION

Siblings in Christ,

having been nourished by the Word made flesh,
by songs that welcome in God’s Kin(g)dom,
by bread offered to us from the one born of Bethlehem,

It is time for us to depart:
to carry our renewed hope out to the despairing,
and to seek the Spirit of God
in the most shunned corners of the world.

Let us go now in peace,
rejoicing that the God who creates, sustains, and redeems us all
goes with us.



I wrote these pieces for a virtual service on December 27, 2020 (First Sunday of Christmastide) centered around the story of the Presentation at the Temple as told in Luke 2:22-40. There are also some references to Isaiah 61.

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Invitation to the table Liturgy Prayer after Communion

An invitation to the table and two prayers after communion – no gatekeeping; acting out our gratitude

INVITATION TO THE TABLE

Sisters, brothers, and siblings in Christ,
this table is not ours to guard or gatekeep,
and there is no shortage of blessing here.

This is the table of Jesus Christ,
whose abundance is overflowing
and whose arms are open wide to receive
all who hunger and thirst.
Come to the table: you are welcome. 


PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

What words of gratitude are big enough to express
the miracle of being nourished by our God’s own body and blood
across time and space?
Under all our different roofs, in so many corners of the world?

Words fail. So we will act out our thanksgiving,
fueled by this meal to bring glory to God
by working for peace, grafted to justice, for all God’s creatures.


PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

Let all the people thank you, God, 
for the nourishment of your own body, the sharing of your Spirit.
Having been fed at your table, may we be a nourishment to others,
sharing your good news with the world
until all know your justice, your mercy, and your abundance.
Amen.

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Invitation to the table Liturgy Prayer of Dedication

An Invitation to the Offering and several Prayers of Dedication

INVITATION TO THE OFFERING

God is the giver of all good things,
the one who fashioned each of us with unique gifts
that together make the Body of Christ whole. 

In gratitude for all we have received,
we offer our lives back to God — we share our time, our skills, our money
and in so doing, we say “yes” to God’s invitation
to join in Her Kin(g)dom building work here on earth.


PRAYER OF DEDICATION

Bountiful God,

All that we can offer you stems from your generosity. 
May the gifts that we return to you
become a blessing for your whole community,
enriching and empowering us for the work to which you call us.
Amen.


God of plenty,
Bless these gifts, and the ones who gave.
May our circle of giving and receiving draw us close
with each one’s gift cherished and each one’s needs met.
Amen.


O God who gathers more, and still more, people to your table — 
a table that is not contained by our one church, but extends 
across varied worship spaces, across diverse cultures and communities —  

bless the gifts that each of us brings today.
May they strengthen bodies and nourish spirits,
and be used for your glory.

Amen. 


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Invitation to the table Liturgy Prayer after Communion

Invitation to the table and prayer after communion: come with your doubts

Sisters, brothers, and siblings in Christ,
as we gather around different tables to partake in the same feast,
let no one be afraid to wonder, “Is God really in our midst?”

Let no one be ashamed to admit they do not fully believe or understand —
for who among us does? 

Jesus truly does welcome us — welcomes you! — to his table just as you are, with your doubts and your dread, your trauma and your pain.
So come, sit with us, and be fed by the One who loves you dearly.


PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION

Jesus our Lord and our sibling, 
At this table you have proclaimed your resounding “Yes!” to our question, “Is God really here with us?”

Through the sharing of your life, your love, your Spirit, you take up our causes as if they were your own. All we can say is thank you. Thank you. Amen.


I wrote this for a virtual service 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.

For this invitation, I draw from the Exodus reading.

Watch or read my sermon here.

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Invitation to the table Liturgy

Invitation to the table: Let no one be led to believe, “I have no place here.”

Sisters, brothers, and siblings in the Living God,
in a world of fear and famine,
you will find no walls erected around Christ’s table;
nor will its bounty ever run dry. 

You need not have a perfect faith,
or look or act a certain way,
to partake.

Let no one say, “God has cut me off from the Body.”
Let no one be led to believe, “I have no place here.”
For Jesus stands, and beckons, and says,
“Come! Yes, you! Come, and be fed.”


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. The above liturgy quotes directly from the Isaiah text.

To read or watch my sermon, visit here.

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Invitation to the table Liturgy

Invitation to the table: outcasts welcome, bring your struggles and guilt

Sisters, brothers, and siblings in Christ,

When we are shunned, shamed, called unloveable,
Jesus sets a place for us.

When we are the ones doing the shunning and shaming,
Jesus sets a place for us, too, inviting us into a better way. 

Whoever you are, whatever struggles you face,
whatever guilt weighs you down,
come. Join us. This is God’s table, and Her feast is for all.


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.