Toward the end of my last call, I stopped writing liturgy. There were so many other things to do. So very many things. I just didn’t have time. Or I didn’t make time. Because writing liturgy takes time. Lots of time to get the words right. It is holy work.
It is holy work that I miss. I realized this a few days ago as I was writing my morning pages. Writing is good. I like writing. I need to write. But, I really want to write some liturgy. I want to be connected to this practice even if I am not writing these prayers for a particular congregation. I also know that there are pastors — as I was one of them — that don’t have the time or energy to commit to writing liturgy so they go scouring the internet for some worthy prayers to lead God’s people on Sunday morning. Voila!
On this Sunday, we find ourselves in the middle of Lent. There are only a few more Sundays before we tell the story of the good news of resurrection, but we’re not there yet. There are still things that need to be done. There are practices that need to be revived. (Because I, for one, have gotten really bad about my Lenten discipline lately.) On this Sunday, and perhaps on every Sunday, we need to remember that God is in the middle of all of our stories working toward resurrection.
To capture this hope, begin worship by singing Butterfly Fish’s All in All. Let these words — and this music — be what gathers God’s people. Spend the $3.00 and download the printed music because there is something completely and totally different about singing these words together. Teach the choir (whether older or younger) these words and invite the congregation to join in on the refrain. Let the choir sing it a few times before inviting the congregation to join. (Or you could simply play the song as recorded by Butterfly Fish as the people gather. Because it takes a long time to learn music and your choir is probably busy preparing for Easter. It’s the 13th track on Great and Small.) From this music, allow a bit of transition time with an extended silence before beginning the Call to Worship.
Call to Worship (Responsive)
We do not feel wise.
We feel foolish and silly.
So we come. We come asking God to take our hand.
We come asking God to catch us when we fall.
Because we have fallen so many times this week.
We have bee told over and over again how wrong we are.
And we feel so unprepared for what we hope will come.
Open the door to us.
Open the door of your hope.
Open the door of your love.
Keep us awake enough to see what doors might be opening.
Keep us hopeful enough that we might always feel unprepared.
Come, Lord, open to us.
Open to us this hour.
Prayer of Confession (Unison)
Every time that a door has slammed in our faces,
we try to find hope with those that feel foolish and wise.
We try to keep awake with those who are prepared
and those who just can’t quite get their act together.
But the truth is: we can’t quite get our act together.
Because we’ve started to lose hope.
No matter how many times we’ve been told to keep awake,
it seems that there are only doors slamming in our face.
Nothing changes. Nothing gets better. Forgive us, Lord.
Forgive us for not allowing ourselves to be wedded to your hope.
Assurance of God’s Grace (Responsive)
Even if you can’t quite believe it,
Even if it feels like every door has slammed in your face,
God will never stop taking your hand.
God will always be there to pick you up when you fall.
There is no way to prepare for God’s grace.
God already is our All in All.
No one knows the day or the hour.
No one knows how it will happen or when it will come.
But, keep awake for the kingdom of heaven is here.
Open yourself to receive this grace.
For the grace of God, our All in All,
is with you now and always.
For other musical ideas for worship, I always explore Singing from the Lectionary first. It is a wealth of music information especially if you are preaching from the Revised Common Lectionary (which is not as helpful when you’re using the Narrative Lectionary) but it also includes a Scripture Index. Hymns and songs for Matthew 25:1-13 can be found here. Butterfly Fish writes their music especially or children so you’ll also want to offer special opportunities for worship and connection for little ones. The best resource out there is Carolyn Brown’s Worshiping with Children. Once again, you’ll need to ignore everything about the Revised Common Lectionary, but here are some ideas for this particular passage to connect with children. If you use the prayers I’ve written in your worship, and I hope you will, please do offer me credit with as follows:
The prayers in our worship this morning were written by/adapted from Liturgical Lights for Sunday March 15, 2015 by the Rev. Elsa Anders Peters. Elsa is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ who blogs at https://elsaacook.wordpress.com.