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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.

Categories
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.

Categories
Liturgy My poetry Opening prayer Reflections for worship services

Opening prayer / reflection: Strange God, Wisdom for fools

O World’s Restorer, Status quo’s Demise,
you look into our minds, survey our assumptions and our plans
and you throw back your head and laugh.

You do not reveal your Wisdom
to the ones the world calls wise.
(They would not know what to make of it, anyway.)

Rather, Wisdom dazzles children’s minds;
She scoops up outcasts in a heady dance,
swaps secrets with the stranger and the fool.

Incomprehensible God!
The ones we call “unwanted”
you call Beloved.
The ones we call “broken”
you call whole and holy.

Impossible to think you look upon
our frail flesh and even frailer hearts
overgrown with greed and desperation
and fall in love with our potential!

Deepest desire of our hearts! Come!
Lift our burdens from our shoulders
and take us in your arms as your Beloved.

Categories
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.