Categories
Charge and Benediction Liturgy

General benedictions – thanksgiving, joy, solidarity, lament

Below are several charges + benedictions that may be fitting for various worship services – some for general or joyful services, and others for services that focus on lament or solidarity with the oppressed.


Friends,
The Triune God whose self-sustaining love overflows into all Creation,
who whirls into our lives and sweeps us up in Their lively dance,

now sends us dancing out into Their world
to fill its empty aching with God’s love,
to subdue its pain with Their peace,
to make Their good news known far and wide
in what we say and what we do.

So let us go, glorifying the Source of life in all we do
and growing in Their love.

Let us go, following after the Redeemer of life
and striving to follow the example He set through His ministry.

Let us go, hand in hand with the Sustainer of life
allowing Her to use our hands to transform death
into new, radiant, abundant life for all creation.
Amen.


[referencing protests and activism]

Siblings in Christ,

Nourished by song and by scripture, by God’s Word proclaimed and Christ’s Body shared, it is time for us to go and be a nourishment to others. Whether at home or at work, at the park or at a protest, let us live out God’s good news of liberation and community for the world. 

Go in peace, go with courage, in the name of the One who creates, sustains, and redeems you.


[drawing loosely from Exodus 17:1-7]

Beloved community,

How can we thank God for the abundance that Xe has lavished upon us here? Only by responding in kind, by feeding one another as God has fed us. 

So let us go now, encouraged by the knowledge that we do not go alone:
we have each other;
and the one who Creates, Sustains, and Redeems us is in our midst,
blessing and empowering us for the work ahead.


[drawing from Psalm 23]

Shepherd God,

We have worshiped you and praised you for gathering us,
diverse as we are, into one flock.
Now, it is time for us to enter back into the world.

Lead us forth, guiding us through valleys and shadows,
protecting us as we dine not only with friends
but also with foes,
in the hopes of becoming one with them too.

Help us to be shepherds as well as your sheep,
guiding one another through valleys of shadow
to food, to water, to rest.

The way is not easy, but we rejoice,
because you guide us always
and because you give us to one another
to serve you and to be your church together.

Amen.


[suitable for services of lament / that address suffering, anger, etc.]

Comrades in Christ,
Here we have received good reason to believe
that the God of the Oppressed is with us in solidarity

– not only when we are content or joyful
but also when we are grieving,
when we are enraged,
when we feel disappointed in God,
when we cannot feel God.

Assured of God’s steadfast presence, let us go out
into a world full of grief and disappointment,
full of downtrodden spirits and tortured bodies,
and join God in Their solidarity with all who cry out for justice.

Amen.


Categories
Affirmation of Faith Liturgy

Affirmation of faith: self-emptying God who knows our trauma

Alone, we have doubts, and struggle to believe,
but in community we have all the faith that God requires of us,
even if only the tiniest mustard seed. 
So as one, let us affirm our faith:

We believe in the God of Moses, God the Liberator,
Who revealed Their name from a burning bush,
Who chooses self-restraint in order to leave room for our free will.

We believe in Jesus Christ, who opens his arms to our unbelief
for he knew what it was to be human,
to experience fear, grief, and pain —
even the trauma of the cross.

Though God, he had no interest in exaltation, but chose self-emptying: 

In Jesus, Divinity stripped off omnipotence 
becoming utterly dependent on a human womb; he grew, learned,
and leaned into interdependence within a human community.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to us
after his rising to be God in our midst:
Disrupter of authority, Upturner of the status quo,
Kindler of curiosity and Breath of rebirth in times of upheaval. 

We believe that this Triune God, whose name evokes Steadfastness,
dwells in our midst yesterday, today, and for all time,
empowering our partnership and renewing all of Creation.

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 affirmation, I also incorporated the NT reading Philippians 2:1-13, which talks about Christ’s self-emptying.

Watch or read my sermon here.

Categories
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
Liturgy Prayer of Dedication

Prayer of dedication: God gathers across diverse communities

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.


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 about expanding our community and God’s gathering of all persons.

To read or watch my sermon, visit 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.

Categories
Affirmation of Faith Liturgy

Affirmation of Faith: Creator God-with-us, whose existence is relationship

We believe in the Triune God whose very existence is relationship,
a dance of mutual love that overflows into Their creation.

As beings made in the image of this relational God, 
we are most human when we live outside of hierarchy and individualism
and live into community with God, with each other, and with all creation.

We believe in Jesus Christ, the surest example of God-with-us,
of God-for-us, of a God whose power is not dominance and control
but rather a love that empowers, liberates, and invites us into partnership. 

We believe in the Holy Spirit
who brooded over the deep until She birthed the universe,

who is the breath that animates us,
the air that whispers to seeds till they sprout and bloom,

the wind that stirs up stagnance,
the flame that burns up deadness to make a way for new life.

We believe that this Triune God invites us to join Them 
in sowing a Kin(g)dom of equity and justice here on earth

where God’s blessings are shared fairly and there is plenty for all.


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.

Categories
Affirmation of Faith Liturgy

Affirmation of Faith: God of Hagar, Ishmael, Sarah, Abraham; God of oppressor and oppressed

We believe in the God of Sarah and Abraham
who does not let injustice go unchecked,
but who also does not abandon us in our sin.

We believe in the God of Hagar and Ishmael
who sees the outcast, who hears the cry of the oppressed,
and responds with compassion and blessing.

We believe that God is God for oppressor and oppressed alike,
that Her justice rolls down like mighty waters, 
even while her mercies are renewed every morning.

We believe God holds us accountable for our sins, individual and communal,
and shows us a way out of the prisons we build around ourselves and others.

God of Hagar, God of Sarah,
See us. Hear us. Liberate us from our own sin, 
and from the harm others inflict on us.

Amen.


I wrote this for a virtual service on June 21, 2020 (7A Proper) 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.

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.

Categories
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.