Pandemic Prayers for Proper 25

A blind beggar started to shout and they silenced him. They ordered him to be quiet. I don’t know why that is jumping out at me right now. Is it that I have been silenced so many times as a woman? Or is it that I haven’t felt that I have spoken enough? I haven’t used my power and might to speak out for the things that matter. I could always do more.

That’s my baggage. Maybe not yours. Still, it leaps off the page to me. I love these healing stories for their fantastic imagery. Even in Mark’s brevity, there is this wild gesture of throwing off his cloak. There’s that voice that gets louder over the silence and so many great little nuggets from Jesus. Take heart. What if that was literal? What if we held each other’s hearts so close? Or even our own?

What do you want me to do for you, Jesus asks. Ooooh boy. Do you have a minute? Let me tell you about some things Jesus. I’m not sure you really know what you are asking but of course you do. Of course, you do.

Call to Worship
Inspired by Mark 10:46-52

What do you want me to do for you?
We've heard this question so many times 
before too often forgetting it is an invitation 
to heal. We come to hear it now
as broken people blinded
by racism and poverty.
There is so much that 
we refuse to see 
and so much 
God needs
us to see.

We come to find
healing and redemption
not just for ourselves but
for this whole broken world. 
We come with urgency for all that has 
happened and all that still needs to happen
and we feel powerless to change anything. 
We come to find faith in ourselves and 
in the one who dares to ask us such impossible questions
as, What do you want me to do for you?

Unlike the past couple of weeks, I actually wrote a whole new prayer for this Sunday but I always feel like I’m cheating you by only offering one lousy prayer. I’m a wee bit shocked I have nothing in my archives inspired by Psalm 126. I love this psalm. How is this possible? Here is an adaptation of Psalm 126 to close worship. I rediscovered these Living Psalms as I prepared to preach a few weeks ago and I just love them. Do you have a favorite collection of paraphrases of psalms? I’m always looking for more.

I know you’re all busy planning well beyond this Sunday and into the season of Advent. I’m working on some resources with the amazing Jo Owens of Vibrant Church Communications. Jo just released her Simple Gratitude Bundle for Thanksgiving. You should definitely check it out here. If you’re looking beyond Thanksgivings, there are some liturgies and group studies in my kitchen that might help your planning. Or if you can wait, you’ll be super excited to see what will come into your inbox in my very occasional liturgy-filled email. You can sign up here.

I am praying for you, dear pastors, liturgists and musicians. I’m praying for you so much.

Pandemic Prayers for Proper 24

I remember the last time this passage from Job popped up in the Revised Common Lectionary. I remember thinking that the whirlwind was how I felt then. I wish I didn’t still feel that now.

Still, I went looking for that prayer. You can find the original here paired with another bit from the Gospel of Mark. I’ve adapted it here for this week’s lections. I’m sharing it with another from Transfiguration Sunday earlier this year which I really didn’t adapt at all. I like it just as it is even if it doesn’t quite fit.

I remember too what it felt like to write these words and imagine the space at home that we were all were before in-person worship became a possibility. It isn’t for all of us still and so this prayer still speaks to the hope some of us carry in the same four walls we have spent so much time in the past two years. (Is it two years yet?! My my.)

Call to Worship
Inspired by 2 Kings 2:1-12

Stay here.
It has been a whirlwind
of confusion and wonder
but you are here. 
You are right here
in this place 
where nothing 
and everything will happen. 

Stay here.
Right here 
in this very room 
where life has unfolded
is now where God will be.
God was always here.

God never left.
God has always
been right here
with you. You have 
wanted to wander. 
You have wanted to be 
anywhere but here
but stay. Here we 
will be great. Stay 
and find God
is here again. 

A Prayer for the Whirlwind
Inspired by Mark 10:35-45 and Job  38:1-11

O God, it has been 
a whirlwind. We have 
felt caught up in the storm
of change. We thought the surge
had calmed only to be hit by 
another front. We thought glory would come
but it has not and we are so impatient.

O God, we really thought there
was nothing we couldn't do 
and maybe we only needed to ask you
for help but we were wrong. 
We are learning so much
about our limitations.
We thought we had 
the wisdom we needed
but never really understood 
how much we needed
you to lay the foundations
for what will come. 

O God, remind us 
again what it means 
to be a servant to
your hope. Stretch your 
hand out to us again 
and encourage us
to choose your wisdom
over our own. Help us
to rely on your grace
more than our own counsel.
May every one of our questions
and doubts lead back to
your good grace. Amen.

That’s all I’ve got for this particular Sunday but I am faithfully working on a round-up of Advent and Christmas ideas to be shared in News from My Kitchen that will be further delayed because o of the amazing things that Jo Owens of Vibrant Church Communications and I are cooking up for Advent. It’s also why you’re seeing edited prayers rather than new ones. I took on a few too many projects right now. Oops. It’s good though. It’s good to have things to share in and people to good people to ponder big ideas with. I am grateful.

If you’re eager to order things and have Advent planned and done, there are some goodies in my kitchen that might help your planning. Or if you can wait, you’ll be super excited to see what will come into your inbox in my very occasional liturgy-filled email. You can sign up here.

I am praying for you, dear pastors, liturgists and musicians. I’m praying for you so much.

Pandemic Prayers for Another World Communion Sunday

The world doesn’t feel like it did last year when I offered pandemic prayers for what I had thought would be the one and only pandemic World Communion Sunday in my lifetime. It feels different now.

This is the song that has been at the center of my prayers with each and every headline. The refrain soars from the deep when I read what we have done to each other. So much has happened that it seems impossible to believe that we were planning for World Communion Sunday only one year ago. It feels longer but here we are again to wonder what it means to be a global community sharing in one bread and one cup.

Last year, I imagined liturgical elements focused on the central images in our faith: water, bread and cup. I feel the need for something else this year — and not just because this year I’ll actually be preaching with the good people at Old First Reformed Church in Philadelphia. Like so many of your congregations, their worship will be on Zoom again after being in-person for a short while. I crave being together as I imagine so many others do but I’m grateful for the mysterious blessing of the internet that allows us to worship together while I am all the way from Germany.

I’m thinking about this year differently when it feels like so much has been torn apart. Part of me is even wondering about if divorce is how to speak of such things. Any other year I would gladly skip over that passage but this year I might turn my heart into it. I might need to hear that good news for this whole wide world. There are indeed hints of where I am leaning in the following prayers.

Call to Worship

Inspired by Hebrews 1:1-4 and Psalm 8

Long, long ago
God spoke. 

God spoke 
to our ancestors
in many and various ways.

God spoke in and through
the created world
whispering the glory
that could be and 
would be as surely 
as the moon and the stars 
were established in 
the heavens above.

We come to 
listen and to 
listen for God
whispering 
and inviting us 
into glory.
Prayer of Confession

With open ears, we come as a global people
to admit that the world is not as it should be.
It is not what our ancestors imagined
or even what we once dreamed 
could be. O God, there have 
been too many times recently
that we have given up. We have
believed in the worst in people and 
allowed ourselves to be convinced 
that nothing in this whole wide world
will ever change for the better. 

We have not seen glory
but only screaming babies. 
We have not seen the work of your fingers
but only environmental destruction.
We have found no evidence 
that people are coming together
to heal this world but only
the pain of separation. O God, 
forgive us for not seeing
what you can see. 
Give us a hint of 
your glory today. 
Words of Assurance

Today, dear child of God, remember that glory is as simple as this: 
God has crowned you with glory and honor. God cares for us all.
God redeems us all and with God all thing are possible. Thanks be to God.

It has been a long time since I’ve preached and so my creative energy is going into my sermon creation. I really wanted to provide something fun and different for this week but it seems I had more creativity last year and so it might be worth checking out last year’s Pandemic Prayers for World Communion Sunday even if it was for a different set of readings. (I am toying with doing something with this version of Psalm 8 though. I still haven’t quite figured out what though.) Mysteriously, I didn’t include anything for the table last year so here is one for this year. I still feel like I might edit it but here is a first draft.

Invitation to the Table

Inspired by Mark 10:2-16 and Psalm 8

We have been so divided
in ideas and solutions. We have 
separated ourselves and 
felt so alone. 

We have been alone
so much and could only
watch as terror erupted. 
We have been so divorced
from each other that it seems impossible 
that any human being could ever 
be a little lower than God
but here God invites us
through all that separates and divides us
to find wholeness in our brokenness.
We gather around this table 
as global community to 
remember and believe that
in this bread we are one. 
In this cup, we are united
to share in what could be
for ourselves and this world.

We come to this table
again to remember
we have a place here.
Everyone born
has a place at this table.
Nothing can separate us
and in this feast, we will 
become whole again. 

I won’t be choosing music this Sunday because there are talents for this in the church that far exceed my own. (This is nearly always true. I am so grateful for the gifts and inspiration that musicians bring to our worship each week.) Still, I like this one and may or may not be playing it on repeat as I try to form a sermon around that Gospel Lesson.

Though the joke has been made that I’m now an international preacher, the prayers I offer obviously don’t reflect the diversity and brilliance that exists in God’s people. Most denominations have a wonderful gift of resources and prayers which you already knew but maybe forgot. For those of you on Zoom, you might want to search your denomination’s YouTube channel for something that would add to your worship experience on Sunday. The World Council of Churches also offers some prayers from the global church that are quite lovely though it requires a bit of searching. The prayers for the Week of Christian Unity in 2017 were focused on reconciliation and might pair well with this week’s readings. You can find those prayers here. I also really loved some of the prayers in this recent publication of pandemic prayers in a global perspective. There are a ton of other resources but I’ll add more for link to this Affirmation of Unity for times like these.

That’s all I’ve got for this particular Sunday but I am faithfully working on a round-up of Advent and Christmas ideas to be shared in News from My Kitchen. If you haven’t yet subscribed to my very occasional liturgy-filled email, you can do so here.

I am praying for you, dear pastors, liturgists and musicians. I’m praying for you so much.