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Affirmation of Faith Call to worship Confession and Pardon easter Holy Days Liturgy

Pentecost Liturgy: Spirit of breath & flame, howling gale & still small voice

Call to Worship 

Christ is risen! Alleluia!
Alleluia! Christ is risen indeed!

We are a resurrected people! Alleluia!
Alleluia! We are raised up into new life!

The Spirit of God is upon us! Alleluia!
Alleluia! God’s Spirit dwells
among us, within us, around us, always!

Opening Prayer

Holy Spirit of breath and flame,
howling gale and still small voice,

We praise you in your elusiveness,
how you whirl through the world wherever you — not we — will.

You dodge every attempt to pin you down,
slipping through our fingers like thin air
when we try to claim control of you —

even as you pulse through our cells with every heartbeat,
settle deeper into our lungs with every breath.

Another Prayer

Holy Spirit, Giver of life,
We praise you for your multifaceted movement:

Like gale force winds you stir up stagnant spirits,
upturn tables in high places,
whisk us up from apathy 
into your heady dance;

Like a cooling breeze you comfort battered bodies,
refresh parched hearts;

Like oxygen you resuscitate the hopeless,
bringing life to lifeless places, 
dreams and visions that revivify the future.

As you, Irresistible Wind, pour over us now,
set our hearts on fire with passion
for justice and for your abundant life.   

Amen.


Confession and Pardon

Call to Confession

We have come to worship the Holy Spirit who whirls around us
as wind, as breath, as the air in our lungs,

But so many of our siblings find the breath of life
squeezed from their lungs;
and God’s good creation is suffocating.

Only in acknowledging our complicity
can we join in God’s restorative work. 

So let us confess our failings, 
first in silent reflection,
and then as one.

Silence

Prayer of Confession

We confess that we are bystanders and collaborators 
in the stifling of God’s children —

not only on national and global scales
but here in our own congregation.

Our society teaches us that to admit to being wrong
is a moral failing
instead of an act of courage, 
so we stick to our side out of spite,
resisting repentance,
refusing reconciliation.

In our refusal to budge,
meanness and malice engulf us all.

Lord, we forget that we are one Body, your Body.
We forget that you call us not to complete 
all the colossal tasks that stack up across the world, 
but to do our small part, in our small place, 
and to strive even when all seems hopeless.

Assurance of Pardon 

Look! God is doing a new thing! 
In the hopeless void of suffering and sin, God’s Spirit comes: 

She revives parched hearts and desiccated bones,
opens us to visions and dreams, to possibilities for improvement. 

In the new life won for us by Jesus
and breathed into us by the Holy Spirit,
we are empowered to dream bigger, to act more boldly,
to join together in God’s liberating movement.

Alleluia!


Affirmation of Faith / Responding to God’s Word        

While making room for fresh insight,
and celebrating the diversity of thought
that sets the cloud of witnesses aglow,

there are some beliefs that we in the church
commit ourselves to holding in common.

As one, let us affirm
some of that shared faith
while lifting up the wisdom
of one of our fellow witnesses.

We believe in one Triune God,
Creator of all things.

When God formed human beings from the earth,
They brought us to life by breathing
Their own breath into us,
making us in Their own image. 

Though God made us for interdependence
we play-act self sufficiency,
severing ourselves with binaries and borders
and labels of “us” versus “them.” 

Still, God remains faithful, 
urging us ever towards justice and abundant life for all.

Professor Philip Vinod Peacock of the Church  of North India writes,

“No one human or even a set of humans can claim that they are made in the image of God or are God’s representatives here on earth. Rather, only the whole of humanity together can claim that they are in the image of God. …

[Thus] God is best represented by diversity: Only the whole diversity of the world in terms of different cultures, gender, sexual orientation, and religious experience can represent who God is. This means that no [one] culture, gender, sexual orientation, or religious experience can claim superiority over another. It is only together that all of them represent who God is.”

God’s breath that divinizes all flesh, 
God’s Spirit who whirls through communities
of all kinds of cultures and creeds, 
God’s flame that burns and builds anew
knits all of humanity into one Body.  

All glory belongs
to the God who made us varied
and the God who makes us one. 

Amen.


I wrote this liturgy for Pentecost, May 2021 that centered around Ezekiel 37’s valley of dry bones, but much of it would fit well in any service focused on the Holy Spirit.

An alternative prayer of confession that focuses on the Movement for Black Lives, environmental justice, and other global social justice issues can be found here.

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Confession and Pardon Holy Days Liturgy

Confession: our siblings and God’s world are suffocating

Call to Confession

We have come to worship the Holy Spirit
who whirls around us as wind, as breath, as the air in our lungs,

But so many of our siblings find the breath of life
squeezed from their lungs;
and God’s good creation is suffocating.

Only in acknowledging our complicity
can we join in God’s restorative work. 

So let us confess our failings, 
first in silent reflection,
and then as one.

Silence

Prayer of Confession

We confess that we are bystanders and collaborators 
in the stifling of God’s children.

Eric Garner, George Floyd,
and the uncounted souls of lynched Black folk 
cry out to us even now,

“I can’t breathe!”

But we cannot bear to listen.
We would prefer to bury, not to say, their names.

Our siblings across the world
are desperate for vaccines, for resources

but in our dread of scarcity and the idolatry of nationalism, we hoard what we have.

We numb ourselves to stories of their need for oxygen, ventilators, the breath of life our greed denies them.

Others are being stifled by their own governments,
by settler colonialism, by xenophobic regimes:
From Colombia to Palestine,
Uighurs in China and Indigenous populations near and far;

But how can we pay attention to all this suffering? 
We ourselves languish under compassion fatigue,
a sense of helplessness or disconnect.

Our planet chokes on the fossil fuels we rip from its depths
as we burn its lungs, the rainforests, to the ground.

To slow our consumption would mean drastic changes
in our everyday lives, fewer luxuries,
and an active struggle against
the main culprits of climate change
a select number of corporations that seem invincible.

It is just too much. 
O God, it is all too much, and we are too small.

We forget that we are one Body, your Body.
We forget that you call us not to complete these colossal tasks, 
But to do our small part, 
to strive even when all seems hopeless.

Assurance of Pardon 

Look! God is doing a new thing!
In the hopeless void of suffering and sin, God’s Spirit comes: 

She revives parched hearts and desiccated bones,
opens us to visions and dreams, to possibilities for improvement. 

In the new life won for us by Jesus
and breathed into us by the Holy Spirit,
we are empowered to dream bigger,
to act more boldly,
to join together in God’s liberating movement
that loosens the ropes from wrists and throats.

Alleluia! Amen.


I wrote this piece for Pentecost Sunday, but it would work well for any service emphasizing the work of the Spirit or the breath of God.

Categories
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.