Liturgy and Poetry

& Poetry
to enliven worship

My work is free to use.

If you’re using something I’ve written for an ordinary worship service: credit Avery Arden and include a link to this website.

If you want to use something I wrote
somewhere outside of an average worship service,
please let me know at!

Affirmation of Faith in the Wounded God who calls us Good

We worship a Mystery, a Being too vast to capture in words,who reveals Godself to each of us in different ways. While making room for different understandings,let us affirm the faith that draws us together: We believe in the God whose Word birthed the cosmos, Who shaped human beings from the rich topsoil,breathed Her own […]

Waiting with Mary Magdalene — lament that wrestles God

A reflection that draws from John 20 and Isaiah 56. Happy Easter, all. As Mary Magdalene sits alone in the predawn stillness, she weeps — but her tears are not only grief: they are tears of frustration. Tears with questions. Tears that demand something of Divinity. Mary is not passive in her weeping: she is […]

Jesus Flipping Tables: Unpacking antisemitic readings of the “Temple Cleansing”

Lent is one time of year we talk about Jesus marching into the Court of Gentiles, sitting down and braiding a whip, and proceeding to wreak havoc upon money-changers’ tables and sacrificial animal cages. It’s a weird, fascinating, fun story (that you can read in Matthew 21, Mark 11, Luke 19, and John 2)! Progressive […]

Mary’s in-laws

the in-laws you acquaint yourself with firstupon arrival in your husband’s homeare in-laws hen and cow. as other travelers recline upstairson the best of this household’s cushions, you make dowith straw that in-law goat keeps trying tosnatch out from under you. you hardly mind: these relatives are warm.their smell obscures your smell — the sweat […]

Revisiting Nativity: Jesus bursts in

we are more comfortable when you are tuckedinto your designated corner — butyou were never one to stay put where you’re told. from birth, you have been boldabout breaking right into the thick of things — pinpointing the pulse of human happeningsand blaring through with news of God’s Kin-dom, come. … into the cliffsides outside […]

Nativity Beads: a poem & an essay exploring alternative interpretations of the Luke 2 story

As I prayed through different versions of the Nativity story, with all their contradictions — a painless Mary versus a groaning Mary; Mary alone or Mary with midwives; Mary dismissed to the outskirts or settled in the heart of a Bethlehemite home — they all found their place, side-by-side, along that line of beads. In spending time with each story, the sense of contradiction as conflict faded away.

intertwined inceptions:

written upon realizing that the first days of Chanukah and Advent coincided this year Happy Chanukah to those who celebrate it, and blessed Advent to those who observe it! Constructive criticism on this poem is invited and appreciated — particularly from any Jewish folks who take the time to point out any accidental misrepresentations of […]

Invitation to the Table: “If the world tells you that you are unworthy…”

If the world tells you that you are unworthy of a seat at the table,that your presence is unwelcome or even unwholesome,know that Jesus extends an invitation to you personally. This table does not belong to human beings,but to the God who delights in you,Who welcomes you without demanding you be anythingbut your own beautiful […]

Call to Worship & Opening Prayer: Queer God with diverse children

Call to Worship Gracious God,in this time of worship and wonder, story and songinto which you have gathered us, we marvel at the wondrous diversity of your human creation.Each of us — Black, white, Latine, Asian, Indigenous, and beyond — is an integral part of your magnificent spectrum. You call us to join in joyous worship, […]

Reflection for Coming Out Day services: Fighting damaging silence, honoring formative silence

There are cocoonsof silence, soft merciful darkness enveloping you until you are ready to emerge as somethingnew— And there are tombsof silence. Darkness gone awry,a heaviness that presses down your lungs,so that your shouts of “I’m alive!” diebefore they can escape your lips. My shoulders ache with the ghosts of silences too long carried. Mom, Dad, […]

Confession & Pardon: Learning to Face Hard Truths with the Prophet Amos

Call to Confession God sent the prophet Amos to Israelto warn the rich and powerfulthat the natural consequence of their mistreatment of the vulnerable would be destruction for all. In many ways, the modern United States is not unlike that ancient nation — A land of plenty only for the powerful few,while the oppressed go hungry and […]

Call to Worship (drawing from Micah 6:8)

We gather to worshipthe God who calls us to do justice. God, here we are!All glory belongs to you. We gather to worshipthe God who calls us to cherish kindness. God, here we are!From you all good things come. We gather to worshipthe God who calls us to journey humblyside-by-side with Them. God, here we […]


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