Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Celebrate!? Good Times!? Come ON!!

(A Dialogue Reflection for Christmas Eve 2009)

P= Preacher struggling to prepare for Christmas Eve Service
G= God

P: [singing/listening to We Need a Little Christmas] AUGH! This just isn't working! This has got to be wrong. God! You there God! What am I supposed to say this year?!?!
G: You called?
P: You're darn right I called! You really expect me to talk about tidings of great joy this year?
G: Of course. It's Christmas, you do remember that the Christmas story is about good news and hope and all those things right?
P: Yes yes I know all that. It's just that it doesn't seem to fit this year. I mean Celebrate? Good Times? You have to be joking! Haven't you been watching the news these last couple of years?????
G: So times are tough. That doesn't change the story.
P: Times are tough?? That is an understatement. We have 2 major employers who have been closed for 2 years. The whole world is still struggling out of a major recession. We can't seem to find the will or the path to really address pollution and climate change. These aren't good times. Not even close.
G: SO? Where does it say that Christmas is about Good Times?
P: Pardon???
G: Where does it say that Christmas is about Good Times?
P: Well.. I guess it doesn't.
G: Of course it doesn't. Christmas is about all times. Christmas comes when things are going really well and when it is all falling apart. Christmas is about hope and promise and joy. When do you need those more than right now?
P: Well yeah but...
G: But nothing. What happens at Christmas? What do you talk about?
P: Well there is the story of course. You remember, the baby in a manger...
G: You mean the baby born to peasants who had nothing, not even a place to stay. Go on.
P: And there are the angels appearing to the shepherds...
G: Messengers from me to folk who were among the lowest of the low in their place and time. Messengers bringing good news to people who had nothing. Messengers telling them that I am active in the world. GO on.
P: Well I guess that is about it. But the story is so old. Everybody knows it. What do I tell people that is new?
G: New is over-rated. I mean new is good sometimes, lots of times. But sometimes new and innovative gets in the way. Think about that story again. You must see that there is good news in there for the world today.
P: Well maybe. But it seems odd to talk about joy and celebration these days. What is there to celebrate?
G: Lots. Even when life is going badly there are small things to celebrate once in a while.
P: But joy? So many people are unhappy and anxious. What about joy?
G: Hey! Joy isn't about happiness! Christmas Joy has nothing to do with how much you laughed yesterday!
P: It doesn't?
G: NO! Christmas Joy is about recognizing that something special is happening. Christmas Joy is the rush you feel when you remember that you are not alone. Christmas joy is in the promise that I am active in the world. IT isn't about happiness, it goes much deeper. It's about faith and hope. Joy to the World! Listen to the angel song again. And think about that story. Who is in it? What happens to them? I just told you what was important about it.
P: The story? I told you we all know the story. A baby in a manger, angels and shepherds.[pause] oh, you mean that stuff about the couple who had nothing and messengers to the lowest of the low...
G: Now you're getting it. Do you maybe see what needs to be said this year?
P: Sort of. But...
G: I told you, no buts. That song you were just singing. Did you pay attention to the part where it says For I've grown a little leaner, grown a little colder, grown a little sadder, grown a little older,
P: Yeah, that was the part I really found meaningful this year.
G: well the important part is right after that. Think about what it says: I need a little angel sitting on my shoulder, need a little Christmas now. For we need a little music, need a little laughter, need a little singing, ringing through the rafter, and we need a little snappy "Happy ever after," need a little Christmas now.
P: Hey yeah. That matches what we need to hear right now! We need a little Christmas Joy and hope and promise. We need to remember that the angels are still singing to us about tidings of great joy for all people. We need to join in the song about peace on earth, goodwill to all.
G: And the fact that these aren't good times?
P: That's why we need to hear it! Just like the story is full of people who live hard lives being reminded that You are with them, we need to be reminded that we are not alone. Even with everything that seems to be going wrong around the world we can tell the story again and remember that You continue to break into the world today.
G: Now you've got it! That is what Christmas is all about! I really don't care whether anyone believes that Luke got the story right. Arguing about what really happened when Jesus was born isn't what Christmas is all about. Christmas is all about the future, not the past. Christmas is all about people being able to recognizing that I am active in the world around them. Christmas is a promise that things can get better.
P: Thanks for that! If there was ever a time when we need a little Christmas this is one of them. Joy to the World! God is here, we are not alone. Let's all celebrate! Come ON!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Litany of Hope and Promise

Note:  the final 5 lines at the end of each section come from Seasons of the Spirit.

God, there is so much worry and anxiety around the world.
Things seem so unsettled and unstable.
And yet the story of faith reminds us to hope for the future.
Help us to see the possibilities that always come with birth,
help us to be people of hope,
help us live out Your hope and justice.
Teach us to sing your praise, O God.
Teach us to sing with notes formed by hopes and acts of justice.
Teach us to sing with harmonies shaped by mercy’s wide embrace.
May all the earth join the chorus and dance to your beating heart.

God, through wise ones of old you show us a vision of what could be.
Through mystics and prophets of today you challenge our vision of the present.
Remind us of that vision of peace and justice.
Empower us to live as if we believed it was really possible.
Teach us to sing your praise, O God.
Teach us to sing with notes formed by hopes and acts of justice.
Teach us to sing with harmonies shaped by mercy’s wide embrace.
May all the earth join the chorus and dance to your beating heart.

God today there are many who wonder where their next meal will come from,
today there are many who look for work and income,
today there are many who look for meaning in the face of life's disappointments.
Soon we will sing of a child that is born.
Soon we will here tidings of great joy that shall be for all people.
As we tell the story and celebrate the birth, push us look into the face of the newborn,
and see there a world of possibility.
If indeed the birth of any child is Your message of hope for the future,
may we see that hope this Christmas.
Teach us to sing your praise, O God.
Teach us to sing with notes formed by hopes and acts of justice.
Teach us to sing with harmonies shaped by mercy’s wide embrace.
May all the earth join the chorus and dance to your beating heart.

God, centuries later we hear again the promise of Dame Julian that
All will be well, all will be well, all manner of things be well.
And part of us finds it to be unbelievable that such a promise could be true.
When our despair grows and the shadow threatens to overcome the light,
remind us that we are people of hope.
When we are tempted to find relief from the present in trying to recreate the past,
call us to be people of the future.
When life's music has faded, or become a funeral dirge,
Teach us to sing your praise, O God.
Teach us to sing with notes formed by hopes and acts of justice.
Teach us to sing with harmonies shaped by mercy’s wide embrace.
May all the earth join the chorus and dance to your beating heart.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

For December 20, 2009 -- Advent 3C

In the darkest time of the year,
God calls us to come and seek the light.
In a world where hardship is real,
God calls us to come and hear words of promise.
As we prepare for the coming of a baby,
God calls us to come and worship together.
Let us pray…

God who brings new life into existence,
we await the birth of hope in our lives.
In our time prayer and song and listening,
open our hearts and minds to the promises of Christmas.
Move within and among us during this hour.
Filling us with hope,
reminding us to look forward to a new future,
calling us to embrace the possibility of new life.
We pray in the name of the baby who is coming, who as an adult taught his friends to pray the words we now sing…

Once again we have heard the old promise of a baby
Once again we have heard the gracious acceptance of God’s challenge to carry the child.
We also have heard the promise and hope of a mother foreseeing a new and better world.
As inheritors of that promise we go out to share its hope with the world in which we live and work and play.
As people of the promise, as people of hope, we go knowing that we never walk alone, God walks with us always. Amen

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

For December 6, 2009 -- Advent 2C

Closer and closer the day comes.
Soon the hills and valleys will ring with songs of praise.
As we prepare for the birth of a child,
as we prepare for the birth of hope,
we gather together in worship and praise

God of Advent, God of Christmas, as we prepare for the coming festival
remind us to take time for quiet amidst the noise and bustle of the season.
In our time of worship and listening this morning,
open our hearts and minds to your voice and wisdom.
We pray in the name of the child who later taught his friends to pray the words that now we sing…

God, you call us to follow The Way.
And we confess that we find it hard at times.
You lay out a set of priorities that lead to life, and that in abundance
But we have our own ideas about what is most important.
For those times when our priorities get in the way of our attempts to follow your path,
forgive us we pray.
For the days when we seem blind and deaf to the messages you are sending us.
forgive us we pray. And open us to see and hear.
…time of silent prayer…
For centuries uncounted God has sent prophets and messengers to call God’s straying people back to The Way. God is loving and forgiving. We are a forgiven people.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Monday, November 23, 2009

GRIEVING WHAT MAY BE LOST – A Prayer for Many Voices

Note: Each paragraph will be read by a different pray-er, hopefully scattered throughout the worship space

OK God, I think we all know that something new has to come.
It has been too long waiting, we need a re-birth of our economy.
And yet we want it to be the same basic model,
an economy we know and find comfortable.
A new basis for how we work may leave some people behind,
it may mean that jobs we once took for granted no longer exist,
it may mean that new skills and new realities need to be learned.
And that frightens and worries us.
That fear and worry may blind us to the new birth that is possible.
God who creates and re-creates,
Open our hearts to the reshaping of our lives.

Ah God, as the years go by there have been so many changes.
Leaving home, getting married, having children, raising children.
With each change something new and wonderful has been added.
But with each change something else has been lost.
What changes lie ahead? What will I have to give up as I get older?
It is always a trade off I guess.
New in, old out. But sometimes I have to admit that I miss the old.
God who creates and re-creates,
Open our hearts to the reshaping of our lives.

The world is going to pieces around us, we echo the age-old lament.
What will the future bring? Will we recognize it?
Will we know how to adapt to it?
Old ways of communicating seem to be disappearing,
old rules about how to act are being ignored.
New ways are coming in, ways we don't understand.
As the new comes in will we lose too much of the old?
What will the cost be?
God who creates and re-creates,
Open our hearts to the reshaping of our lives.

What will the church look like 5 years from now?
Will it still be a part of our community? Will it still be relevant?
Is it relevant now for that matter?
Maybe we need to change how we are the church together.
But what will that changed church look like?
What hymns will we sing? Will the story still be told?
The church needs to be re-born. The church needs to change.
I can see that but it doesn't mean I have to like it!
God who creates and re-creates,
Open our hearts to the reshaping of our lives.

And the people all said amen. Amen.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

For November 29, 2009 -- 1st Sunday of Advent

The day is coming, it is getting nearer.
Soon a baby will be born, soon the world will be changed.
We await the day with hope and joy.
We wait for the child with nervousness and wonder.
Come let us wait for the child together,
Let us worship God who gives life
Let us pray…

God we await the coming of Christ with hope-filled hearts,
the birth of a child, the birth of a new world.
God we await the coming birth with wondering hearts,
wondering what changes that birth will bring to our lives.
God, we look ahead to a changed life with anxiety,
worrying that we will have to give up things that we cherish.
God, as we sing and pray and prepare this Advent season,
remind us that we are not alone as life gets turned upside down. Remind us that the joy of birth is worth the turmoil.
We pray this in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whose birth is but a few weeks away. Amen.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

November 11 Prayer of Invocation

God of many names, another year has come and gone. Once again we gather in this place on the 11th of the 11th. Once again we pause to remember the fallen, young men and women from many different lands who answered the call of their country and never returned.

God of peace, just as the guns fell silent on this day so many years ago, allowing people to hear the sounds of hope and promise again, may our hearts be quieted this hour. And in that silence may we hear the screams of the dead and dying. In that silence may we hear you calling us anew to a world of peace and justice.

God of life, in this time of prayer and song and memory awaken us to your life-giving presence. May that sense of your Spirit within and among us empower us to be people of peace, true peace. Help us remember that true peace comes not from victory on the battlefield but through justice and abundant life for all people of the world. This we pray in the name of Jesus of Nazareth,who was called the Prince of Peace. Amen.

Friday, October 30, 2009

For the Last 4 Sundays of Ordinary TIme 2009

Creating and re-creating God, you have called us together in this place,
move among our gathering, opening our hearts and souls to your presence.
We have come here to be refreshed and renewed,
so that we can go from here as lights to the world.
In our time of worship this morning,
awaken in us a vision of what is possible in the world.
We pray in the name and memory of Jesus who taught his friends to pray together with these words…

God, you have called us to be forward-looking people of vision,
and we confess that it is tempting to look backwards to the “Golden Age”.
You challenge us to work for the creation of a new world filled with justice and hope for all,
and we confess that we let our own definitions of justice cloud our sight of your Vision.
For all those times when our blindness or short-sightedness have led us away from the path to the New World,
forgive us and challenge us to repent and turn a new direction.
…time of silent prayer…
God is ever-gracious, ever-loving, and ever-hopeful. Out of Grace God is ever-forgiving. We are indeed a forgiven people.
Thanks be to God! Amen,

Thursday, October 29, 2009

New Beginnings -- A Pageant Service (comments welcome)

Speaking Parts:
Betty: older woman, recently widowed and alone for Christmas (this part could easily be changed into a male role with a few re-writes)
Miriam: single mother, currently staying at a shelter

Setting: Church, day of the Annual Christmas Pageant

Welcome & Announcements (narrator)

Opening Carol: Children Run Joyfully {during this carol Betty and Miriam enter and take seats on opposite sides of the Chancel}

Betty: I do love Christmas. And this is one of my favourite Sundays of the year. Seeing all the little ones dressed up like shepherds and angels, it reminds me of when my children and grandchildren were that age. And now the great-grands are getting there too... I wish they were here this year [sighs]. Maybe I should have gone to spend December in Edmonton like Sam asked me too. But Christmas just isn't Christmas anywhere else. Of course it doesn't really feel like Christmas without John either. I miss him so much. But I need to do this first Christmas alone, I need to be alone with my memories and my tears...

Miriam: Why am I here? I just don't feel comfortable. All these people in their nice clothes and I am lucky to have found some clean jeans without holes in them. Everything has gone wrong since we moved to the shelter. Not that there was much choice I guess – it was either the shelter or sleep in the car. Still, here I am with nothing. If Julia hadn't volunteered to be Mary this year I doubt I would have come. I hate Christmas. It just reminds me how I've failed my kids. But Julia wanted me to come so here I am...

Call to Worship/Opening Prayer (narrator)
Why are we here today?
We are here because God has brought us together to tell the old story again.
It is a story of hope, a story of life.
And yet there is a shadow of fear, of uncertainty.
As we tell the story again,
may God open our eyes to what is being born to us today.
As we fill our hearts with the hope of a baby in a manger,
may God enable us to share the angel song with the world around us.
We pray in the name of the child whose birth is imminent, and who later taught his friends to pray saying...
Lord's Prayer

Carol O Come O Come Emmanuel (verses 1, 4, 7)

Miriam: God, help me make it through Christmas this year. Help me find a way to give Julia something. Help me find a way to celebrate even though my life has fallen apart. I've made so many mistakes in my life. I don't know where to go next. I don't know where I'll be welcomed. God help me find some hope in the world somewhere!

Advent Candles

Betty: God, for 55 years I had someone at my side on Christmas Eve. This year he is gone. God I love and miss him so much. This Christmas I know I need a new start. God help me re-learn how to live without him. God, with your help I know that the Christmas star can still shine brightly in my heart. Please lead me to its light. Amen.


Scripture Reading: Luke 1:26-38

Miriam: Now that is a good way out. I wonder if that line would have worked when I got pregnant with Julia? Maybe then my parents wouldn't have thrown me out. Still, Mary must have been just as scared as I was. Pregnant but not yet married. But she was lucky. She had people who supported her. I got trapped into a bad marriage just to stay off the street. Julia is the best thing that has happened to me, but sometimes I wish it had happened later, or that I could have offered her a better life. She deserves it.

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:1-7

Carol: O Little Town of Bethlehem verses 1-3 {Mary & Joseph enter}

Betty: How must that have felt? I can guess. When Sam was born we had nothing, less than nothing in fact. If John hadn't gotten that factory job I don't know what we would have done. But it really didn't matter. As soon as I saw that little boy I knew I was going to be alright. I am guessing Mary must have felt the same way. And I still feel that when I see a new baby. There is just something about babies that gives me a sense of hope.

Carol: Away in a Manger {Angel Choir enters}

Miriam: Huh! Angels choirs singing lullabies? That would have been helpful lots of times. Both for me and for Julia. I remember being so scared. And so alone of course. But at least I had a hospital, not a cowshed. Still, I bet Mary wondered what was going to happen next, what the future would be like. I know I did. I still do. How will we get out of the shelter, where do we find a new start?

Scripture Reading: Luke 2:8-15

Carol: Angels We Have Heard on High verses 1-3 {Shepherd Enter}

Scripture Reading: Matthew 2:1-12

Carol: What Child is This? verses 1&3 {Magi Enter}

Betty: And there we go. Baby and angels, shepherds and kings. Look at them all up there. It really makes me remember so many other pageants I have seen. All those times John and I watched our family wearing those costumes. And now I've watched the first one without him. It just wasn't the same. But it is the reality now. Life will never be the same. I just have to live with it
{Stable Scene Exits}

Miriam: Oh Good! They are leaving, it must be done. But of course it is done, the story is over. Now what else is left before I can get out of here and away from this group of people who must wonder what I am doing here. (looks at bulletin) Offering! Crap! I forgot to bring anything for the offering. Not that I have anything to give of course. Still, it would be nice to share a little with others. Even just these little coins I guess...

Offering Invitation (narrator)
Carol: Little Drummer Boy {offerings and White Gifts brought forward}
Offering PrayerChristmas is a season of giving and gifts.
And God now we offer our gifts to you and your world.
May the little bits we have to offer,
be tokens of love for a world in need. Amen.

[Betty & Miriam turn and face each other]
Betty: Hello Miriam. I am glad to see you made it today. That was your daughter playing Mary wasn't it?

Miriam: Yes, Julia insisted she had to come, and that I had to come see her. I t was good, but I still don't feel comfortable here.

Betty: I know dear, but just keep trying, it will start to feel like home eventually. (pauses) Miriam, what are you doing for Christmas? I can't imagine that they can do much at the...at the place you are staying.

Miriam: The shelter? I really don't know what they do for Christmas. And I don't know what Julia and I will do. I've been so busy trying to hold life together I haven't had time to think about Christmas.

Betty: Why don't you spend it with me. The house feels so empty these days. And Christmas should be spent with others. I was going to spend it alone with my memories but now I think this would be better. If I have to start a new life someday what better time than Christmas?

Miriam: Are you sure? I don't want to intrude...

Betty: Quite sure. You and Julia are more than welcome. You know, I have been thinking about you a lot these last few weeks. Nobody should spend Christmas alone. And nobody should have to live in a shelter. After New Years, if you want, I'll help any way I can to get you settled again.

Miriam: I'll have to think about that. But yeah, Julia and I would love to spend Christmas anywhere besides the shelter. I mean the people there are nice and its warm but...well...it just isn't like home. Thanks Betty.

Betty: No no thank you dear. You have given me a Christmas I didn't think I could have this year.
[they both stand up and leave together]

Commissioning (narrator)
The old story has been told, the carols have been sung.
And we go back out into a world of birth and life and death
But now we can go with the song of hope ringing in our heart,
now we go out ready to remind the world that new beginnings are possible.
And as we go we do not go alone.
No, we walk together with all people whose hearts ring with the songs of hope.
And may God, made known in a tiny baby in a stable, go with us through all the seasons of our lives.

Carol: Go Tell It on the Mountain

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Advent Candle Liturgy 2009

Advent Candles 2009
Birth Means…
Sung response each week is MV#115 Behold, Behold, I Make All Things New

1st Sunday November 29Birth Means Tearing Down the Old
1: Happy New Year!
2: Um, aren't you about a month early?
1: Pardon?
2: For New Years. It isn't even December yet!
1: Well yeah, but today is the first Sunday of Advent, the beginning of the church year
2: Advent? What's that?
1: Advent is four weeks when we get ready for Christmas.
2: You mean shopping and wrapping and baking?
1: No I mean in the church. It's time when we stop and think about what is happening at Christmas
2: Like what?
1: Well Christmas is a time of newness, God is doing something special
2: Yeah, so?
1: Well, if God is doing something new, then we need to make room for the new thing
2: You mean give something up?
1: Maybe. Sometimes making room for new and exciting things means old things have to go away.
2: I'm not sure I like that. I hate giving things up.
1: Well I never said Christmas was always easy
2: But I thought you meant choosing what gift to buy.
1: I know. You know, one of the things we do in the church is light candles during Advent. So let's light one right now. And while we do that let's sing that song in the bulletin, it talks about being comfortable with the new things.
2: OK. [they light one purple candle and go sit down while the response is sung twice]

2nd Sunday December 3 Birth Means Re-Evaluating Priorities
1: OK, so we have the office party on Friday, and the school fundraiser Saturday afternoon, and the church pageant rehearsal on Saturday morning, and...
2: What are you doing?
1: Oh just trying to figure out when I am going to get everything done. It just seems that there is more stuff than there is time.
2: I know, December is terrible isn't it?
1: Not just December. This is what our calendar is like all year round!
2: I used to have that problem too.
1: Used to? What changed?
2: I did. I decided that we were doing too much so anytime something new started we had to make choices.
1: You mean like one thing in equals one thing out?
2: Sort of, but more than that. We decided that we had to make choices about what was really important to us. We started doing that as soon as we decided to have kids.
1: That long ago??? But why?? I mean we didn't start to feel overwhelmed until a year or two ago, when the kids started getting busy.
2: Oh it wasn't because we were busy. We decided that to be parents meant we needed to re-think what was a priority for our time and energy. We started making different choices about work and non-work activities.
1: Interesting. Anyway, speaking about priorities, what are we doing up here again?
2: Lighting candles. Tell you what, as we light them let's sing that response in the bulletin. And maybe we can think about what choices we might want to re-think this Christmas. [they light 2 purple candles and go sit down while the response is sung]

3rd Sunday December 13Birth Means New Beginnings (Pageant)
1: You know what? Some days I wish I could just start again.
2: You mean with a clean slate?
1: Yeah. Just erase the bad decisions I made and start from scratch.
2: Well you sort of can.
1: NO, no you can't, I've tried. But everything keeps coming back to haunt me.
2: Well it can be hard but a new start is possible. We can choose to try a new way of living. We can in fact get re-born to a new life.
1: You mean get born again? Nope, that type of church isn't for me.
2: Yes I do mean born again, and no I don't mean that type of church.
1: What else can born again mean?
2: Well I think that when we are born we have a clean slate. So if we choose to live in a different way, to not make the same mistakes again it is like being born again. We just get to take the wisdom with us.
1: And make all new mistakes right?
2: Probably.
1: Well I guess it is worth a try.
2: Yep, you don't know until you try. And this is a great time of year to do it.
1: Why?
2: Well it's Christmas. We are talking about a baby being born anyway, what better time to think about New Beginnings?
1: And with New Year's only a week afterward it could be like a New Year's resolution
2: Good idea.
1: Tell you what. While I light these three candles and we sing the response, why don't we all look forward to new beginnings in the future? [they light all three purple candles and then sit down]

4th Sunday December 20Birth Means Future Promises
1: You know what I like most about Christmas?
2: What?
1: There is just such a feeling of hope and promise, almost like anything is possible.
2: I know what you mean. But I don't just feel that at Christmas. I feel the same whenever I see a newborn baby.
1: Me too!
2: I remember hearing once that a new baby is God's way of telling us that life should go on. Even with all the terrible things we hear about it is easy to have hope for the future when you are holding a new baby.
1: So many possibilities. You know, I guess that is why I feel that way at Christmas. After all Christmas is about a new baby.
2: A special baby. If any baby is God saying that there is hope for the world, the Christmas baby must be that and more!
1: I think the Christmas baby isn't only God saying there is hope. I think the Christmas story is God promising to help make that hope a reality.
2: So what do you hope for this Christmas? What promises do you want to see come true? Let's think about those while singing the response in the bulletin [they light all four candles and then sit down]

Christmas EveBirth Means Celebration
1: Merry Christmas!!
2: I know, isn't it great! Christmas is my favourite time of year.
1: Me too. I love the bright lights and the decorations and the singing of carols and the presents and the food...
2: It's all good. I love it all. It's almost like a month long party.
1: And why not? Christmas has a story that is a real reason to celebrate.
2: Really? I never thought about that. Most of the parties I go to never talk about a story, we are too busy having fun.
1: Well think about it. When people have a baby what do they usually do?
2: I guess they are happy, they might get together with friends and family and celebrate. Assuming they aren't too sleep deprived that is.
1: Right. And the Christmas story is about a baby being born.
2: Right...OH! I get it. We celebrate the birth of a baby so that is why we celebrate at Christmas!
1: And what better reason to celebrate. After all any baby gives us hope for the future, a baby is God's clue that life has to go on.
2: And a new born baby is full of promise about what might happen in the future. So yeah, it is a good thing to celebrate. Say if this is a birthday party does that mean these are like birthday candles?
1: Maybe a little bit. But they are also signs of light and hope in the middle of a darker world. As we light them let's all think about our hopes for the future and all those things we have to celebrate this year. [they light all five candles and return to their seats]

Monday, October 5, 2009

For Thanksgiving (and the rest of October)

Gift-giver, it is the time of year to gather in the produce of the earth.
And so we give thanks for the gifts of food.
It is the time of year when we admire the bright colours of the season.
And so we pause to give thanks for the beauty of the earth.
In our time of worship this morning,
Move within and among us, awakening us to Your presence, moving our hearts to respond to your grace.

Gracious Creator, you have given us so much,
but too often we take those gifts for granted, or as something to which we are entitled.
You call us to live in caring community,
but too often we place our wants and needs first, with those of others a distant second.
You call us to share Your gifts with the world around us,
but we are worried that there may not be enough, and our worrying gets in the way of our sharing.
For all the times when we mistreat and misuse Your gifts, for all the times we assume that we get what we have by ourselves,
forgive us and lead us back to the path of wisdom.
…time of silent prayer…
God is a gracious giver. God is gracious in forgiveness. God calls us to new patterns and new life.
We are a forgiven people! Thanks be to God! Amen

As our time our worship concludes, our time of service begins.
We return to our living and working amidst a world of need
As you go from this place, carry with you the knowledge that you are recipients of God’s gifts.
As we go, we vow to share those gifts with the world around us.
And may God walk with you as you travel life’s road. Amen.

Monday, September 28, 2009

For October 4, 2009 -- WOrldwide Communion Sunday

Around the world people gather to break bread and pour wine.
We gather with them in heart and mind.
Around the world the broken body is made whole.
As part of that body we join in its unity.
Around the world the Banquet of God is prepared for the table.
We, who share in the banquet, come eagerly to be fed.
Let us worship together, let us share God’s bounty.
Let us pray…

Grain which once was scattered over the fields
was brought together to feed us today.
Grapes pulled from the vine
squeezed to give us drink today.
Now our time of worship and feasting draws to a close.
Now we are dispersed like that grain, off to give the food of life to a hungry world.
Now we who have shared the Banquet of Hope,
go out as people connected to the vine, go out to bring the juice of life where the world has been drained dry.
As people who have been fed, go now to feed the world. As those who have been given hope, bring hope in place of despair.
May God help us to do so.
And always remember that we are never cut off from the Source. The Bread of Life, the True Vine is with us always.
And so we always share in Hope’s Banquet. Thanks be to The One who hosts the banquet! Amen.

Monday, September 14, 2009

To Go with MArk 8:27-38 Proper 19 Year B

God, you have called us to this place and to be your people,
Here we come to be refreshed, to be renewed, but also to be challenged.
You challenge us to explore what we believe and determine how to respond in faith.
In our time together remind us that we do not explore the hard questions alone.
Remind us also that the explorations and struggle matter as much as the answer.
Creator God, send your Spirit in this place.
Fill us with hope and send us out to live and serve and struggle. Amen

Offering Prayer
God who has given us so much, here we share that abundance with your world in need.
May these gifts –
the ones on the plate and the many other gifts of love we share everyday –
be a visible sign of what we believe and why our faith matters. We give them in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Who do you say I am? Jesus’ question echoes through the ages
We struggle to find the answer for ourselves and to share that answer with others.
Who do you say you are? The unspoken follow-up haunts the church.
As people trying to be faithful we reflect on the question and live out our faith in response.
As we wrestle with the hard questions of life, as we struggle to determine what we believe, as we strive to share our faith with the world around us,
We know that God is with us in the questions and the answers. We know that God is sharing in all of our lives. We trust that God helps us to find the Way.
Go with God. Walk with God. Struggle with God.
Always and everywhere. Amen.

Monday, September 7, 2009

For a Service Focussing on Inclusivity

NOTE: These resources use phrases and images taken from Come Join the Circle by Gordon Webber, Draw the Circle Wide by Gordon Light, and The House of Our God by Jim Manley.

Come join the circle for Jesus is calling…
God calls us into the circle of visions and dreams where all are welcome and included
Look around and see who’s here, look at all the faces
God has called us here to celebrate the wideness of God’s community and grace.
Let us worship the God of justice for all times and places together. Let us pray…

God we hear your voice calling out to us, reminding us to do one thing:
Draw the circle wide, draw it wider still.
As we gather in this place and time open our hearts to the breadth and width of Your vision for the church.
Awaken in us a dream larger than we have dreamed before; a dream of a place and time where all are welcome and included.
We pray in the name of Jesus who taught us about the wideness of your grace and taught us to pray words like these…

The house of our God is not just for the holy, or the wise, or those who fit in
But often we have tried to limit access to God’s house in many ways.
Sometimes we have done it on purpose, sometimes purely by accident.
But still we have shut the doors, leaving others outside.
For the times we have not lived out your call to inclusivity forgive us,
Open our eyes and hearts to the needs of those who wait by the door.
…time of silent prayer…
The God who calls us together welcomes one and all, sinner and saint, old and young. When we stray from God’s Way we are forgiven and given a new start.
We rejoice in the wideness of God’s grace and love. Amen

We go from this place to draw the circle wider,
May our hearts and love know no borders, may our dreams be larger than before
We go from here to open the circle to those who call us,
Seeking to answer their cry for justice as part of a global community.
And we go to do this knowing that we travel the journey of life with the God whose love encompasses the whole world.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Monday, August 31, 2009

For September 6, 2009 -- 14th Sunday After Pentecost, Proper 18

(Note these are based on Readings other than the Lectionary texts for this Sunday)

Lady Wisdom calls out in the streets and markets
We hear her call, encouraging us to listen.
How long will you turn from knowledge?
We hear her ask, and pledge to listen.
The God of Wisdom has drawn us here today
As we worship together let us seek to hear God’s wisdom in our hearts.
Let us pray together…

God, we strive to be people of wisdom,
But we sometimes get confused about what true wisdom is.
In a world where there are so many voices telling us what the best road is.
It is hard to follow Your path instead of the path of “common sense”.
During this time together reawaken in us a sense of what true wisdom is.
And send us back out ready to use that wisdom is all we say and do.
We pray in the name of the Jesus, who taught us the Way of Godly Wisdom, and taught his friends to pray by saying together…

The time of worship is ended, the time of service continues.
We go from this place to be agents of God’s foolish wisdom in a world of wise foolishness.
As agents of God may we always be willing to challenge the ways of the world.
And be ready to offer a different vision.
As you go out to live and to serve remember that God, who gives us the gift of wisdom, is with us always and everywhere.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Prayer for Luminary Ceremony at Relay for Life

Creator of the world, giver of life, source of hope,
God of life and death and life beyond death,
Tonight we gather to light flickering candles, symbols of hope in the face of the world's hardships.
May the candles we light this night be beacons of hope and strength to all who struggle.
In particular tonight we remember all those whose lives have been touched by cancer.
We remember loved ones who have fought the disease and survived....
We remember loved ones who fought the disease and died...
We remember family and friends of those with cancer, the ones who gathered to offer support in the fight, we remember that their lives too were changed by the disease.
And as we remember the life-changing effect of cancer we also vow that the disease does not have the final victory.
While it can take our health, and even our life, it can not take our spirit.
Help us to keep the fight strong, help us to work to find a cure for bodies and spirits touched by the disease, help us to be people of hope even in the darkest of times.
And as we continue to walk tonight remind us that each of these lights is a parent, a child, a friend, a partner...
May the memory of their fight empower us to carry the banner forward.
This we pray in the name of your hope and promise, remembering that you are with us in all of our lives, the joys and sorrows, the highs and lows, the healthy and the sickly.

Monday, May 18, 2009

For May 31, 2009 -- Pentecost Sunday

The wind of life has blown us to this place,
the Spirit has brought us together
Here we celebrate the Church throughout the ages.
Here we seek to see where the Spirit is leading the Church in the future.
Let us worship together, let us pray…

God, when we are convinced that the church is dying,
remind us of the power of possibility.
When we have decided that survival only happens through our efforts,
remind us that the Spirit is moving among us.
When we forget to stop and listen for guidance along the path,
remind us that your voice is calling us back.
When we stray from the way of justice and love,
forgive us and draw us back we pray,
…time of silent prayer…
The Spirit of God is constantly moving about us, reminding us that we are loved and forgiven, encouraging us along The Way.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Prayer to end the Good Friday Walk

God of life, today we pause to remember the power of death.
Today we tell the story of what happens when someone angers those in power.
Today we tell a story of betrayal by a friend, trial by empire, execution as a way of silencing the one who names injustice.
Today we tell a story that happened long ago in a land far away.
Today we tell a story that continues to happen today in places close at hand.

As we remember the story today help us to see its truth.
As we tell of Jesus' trial and execution remind us of those who are found legally guitly for doing and saying the right things.
AS we tell of the friends who are conspicuously absent from the cross remind us how easily we slip away when the struggle for justice becomes dangerous or challenging.
As we look at the cross remind us of the power of empire in any age, and remind us of our duty as people of faith to proclaim a different empire, a different kingdom, a new way of living together.

God of life, today we pause to remember the power of those in charge to run the world.
But even as we remember that power we remember that day follows night, hope replaces despair, and life will conquer death.
And now, as we prepare to break bread together with our brothers and sisters in faith, unite us in heart and mind.
May the sharing of this story and this meal bring us together in a sincere desire that your Reign of Peace and Justice become a reality “on earth as it is in heaven”.
May the food we will now eat strengthen us in body.
May the fellowship strengthen us in heart and mind.
And may we leave this gathering ready to challenge the empires of our world, even if such a challenge leads us to a cross outside the city gates.
We pray in the name of the one who taught us all to pray together,
Our Father, who art in heaven...

Monday, April 6, 2009

For the last 6 Sundays of Easter

God, in this season of Easter,
we come looking for new life waiting to be revealed.
In this season of rebirth,
we watch for spring growth leaping from once frozen ground.
In this time of worship,
open our hearts to hear your words of hope, open our eyes to see your deeds of life, open our spirits to your refreshing winds of change.
And when our worship is finished,
send us out ready to be agents of resurrection, transformation and new life.
We pray in the name of the Resurrected One, who taught his friends to pray these words…

Offering Prayer
Life-giving God, you have blessed us with abundance. In this season of growth we share from our abundance. May the gifts we give be signs of resurrection and transformation and life for the world. We offer them in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

For April 12, 2009 -- Easter Sunday

We journey with the women to the tomb,
Wondering what we will find there.
What we find defies all our expectations.
The stone is rolled away, the tomb is empty.
Christ is Risen!
Christ is Risen INDEED!
Alleluia! Let us rejoice with great gladness!
Alleluia! Let our praises fill the air!

God, we gather today to rejoice!
We have come to celebrate the power of life over death!
God, we gather today in wonderment.
The empty tomb confounds our wisdom, and breaks our world view.
God, we gather today with a touch of fear.
Fear of the death that comes before resurrection, fear of the transformed life that comes after it.
In this time together fill us with the promise of new life.
And may we leave this place renewed in hope, ready to proclaim resurrection to the world around us. Alleluia! Amen.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

For April 5, 2009 -- Palm Sunday

Look! Over there! Can you see it?
What? All we see are branches waving?
Listen! In the air! Can you hear it?
What? All we hear is people cheering?
Stop! Open your senses! Can you feel it?
What? That strange electricity in the air?
Yes. The branches, the cheering, the electricity. Something exciting is happening. Hope is coming. The king is near.
What are we waiting for? Let’s go join the excitement!
Good idea! Let us worship together in prayer and speech and song…

God, today we join with the crowds by the roadside,
cheering and waving in excitement.
As we remember the story today walk with us on the road,
filling us with hope for the coming of the Lord, pushing us to make the path ready.
But also we need our hearts opened to your wisdom,
because we remember that this triumphant parade leads to a bad end.
In this time of prayer and singing and story remind us what kind of kingdom we are actually awaiting.
and forgive us when we fall victim to dreams of glory without the shadow of the cross.
As forgiven and forgiving people we join in the raggedy band parading to the promised land.
And so we march with the one who leads the parade, saying the words he taught his friends…

Offering Prayer
God of palm branches and cheering crowds, the journey of Holy Week reminds us that our life is not our own. As we embark on that path again this year we offer from our abundance to the service of your love. May these gifts help to bring your reign to reality in the lives of your people. Amen

We have joined with the crowds in the cheering and celebrations.
We look forward to the coming time of glory.
As part of the hope-filled crowd we go to tell those around us of the possibilities that lie before us.
We share the promise of the Peaceable Kingdom found in a king on a donkey.
But off in the distance a shadow looms, a threat to all our hopes.
Nevertheless we will walk boldly towards the shadow, trusting in the light that lies beyond it.
Go out into this Holy Week to walk the path that leads to the cross. Walk that path knowing that we do not walk it alone: the Crucified One goes with us, the Creator is there to strengthen us, the Holy Spirit fills us with hope everlasting. Amen.

Monday, March 23, 2009

For March 29, 2009 -- 5th Sunday of Lent -- Charity or Community – What’s It All About?

We come together as a collection of individuals.
And we become something different.
We come together with a shared purpose.
We come to explore how God is active among us.
We come together to be refreshed.
We come to be part of a community of faith.
Let us worship together, let us pray…

God of community, move among us here today.
As we sing and pray and listen speak to us of how good stewardship of your gifts strengthens the lives of our global community and then send us out ready to keep on the work of embracing your kingdom coming to reality on earth.
We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught his friends to pray the words that we now sing…

Loving community we seek O God.
In the seeking we sometime find it easily and sometimes find it missing.
And yet the community is made by “us”, not by “them”
which reminds us of the times the community may have been lacking because our efforts at community building have been half-hearted.
You have graced us with great abundance.
Help us remember that with abundance comes responsibility.
As we attempt to be good stewards of what we have,
help us to use our gifts in aid of that loving community we seek.
Even though we may occasionally misuse the abundance God has provided the gift is never withdrawn. God forgives our poor choices, God gives us a second chance to embrace God’s community. We are forgiven, and loved.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Offering Prayer
Creator God, we who have been given much now share what we have with the world.
We offer these gifts of time talent and treasure out of our desire to build a better community.
May the offering of these gifts change we who give them.
May the offering of these gifts change the world in which we live. We offer them in your name, God of our abundance. Amen.

We came here from our various homes and lives, now we return to those lives.
But we leave reminded that we are members of a community of faith, reminded that we do not walk alone.
As part of that community we leave as those who have been called and empowered to build God’s community, God’s kin-dom “on earth as it is in heaven”.
With God’s help we commit ourselves to the task.
As you go out to re-build our community go knowing that the Three-In-One: Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer walks and works alongside you.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Monday, March 16, 2009

For March 22, 2009 -- 4th Sunday of Lent, Cash or Credit??? – Tool, Scorecard or Goal??

God, as faithful people we strive to play the game of life and follow your path at the same time.
But sometimes the rules of the game lead us in a different direction.
We lose sight of what the goal is.
We work to build up stores of wealth and treasure in our storehouses and barns.
And yet we wonder why we are not at ease?
God, remind us where our comfort really lies, remind us what the goal of the game really is.
We confess that we have swerved onto a new path.
We confess that the love of money has taken hold in our lives and in our world. We admit that we need to be pulled back onto your path.
…time of silent prayer…
No matter how many times we swerve onto a different path God always calls us back to God’s path. No matter what goals may distract our attention, God always places the true goal in our sights. God forgives our wanderings and distractions.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

God, these bits of metal and paper only have the meaning we give them. We can choose to make them our goal or merely tools to help reach your goals. In the act of offering them to you and your service we signify our choice. May these gifts be tools of your love and your hope active in the world. Amen.

Monday, March 9, 2009

For March 15, 2009, 3rd Sunday of Lent --Consumption -- Cultural Contagion

Can you hear it?
That little whisper in the wind.
Yes, it draws us together. It brings us to this place to share God’s presence with each other.
Let us listen to the whisper, let us worship together, let us pray…

Gracious God, as we come together in this place we bring with us the dis-ease that comes from living in a troubled world. In this time together re-awaken in our hearts a hope for what could be. Remind us what really counts. Lead us to the cure for our dis-ease. We pray this in the name of Jesus, who taught his friends to pray the words that now we sing…

God of health and wholeness, we come here as people who have been infected.
We confess that we have become ill, that we suffer from the desire to have more and more.
We acknowledge that we have been given much, that we have acquired many things
Looking at all out gadgets, gizmos and what-ya-ma-call-its it is hard to believe we look for the next new thing.
And yet we have accepted the messages around us,
And in accepting those messages we have caught the dis-ease of our time, we have caught consumption.
Help us find the cure to this condition.
Help us bring the cure to the community around us.
Gift giver God, in the silence of our hearts we confess those times we have not been satisfied with the gifts you have given us
…time of silent prayer…
God’s desire for God’s people is health and wholeness. God offers us the path out of our dis-ease. That path begins by embracing the great and wondrous truth that we are loved and forgiven.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

God who has gifted us with such amazing abundance,
here we step out of the desire to get and choose to give instead.
We give out of our abundance so that others may know abundance of their own.
May these gifts enrich the world around us. May the act of giving awaken in our hearts a vision of what is possible in the world. Amen.

We came together as people seeking to follow The Way
And now we go out into the world following the same path
As followers of God’s Path we carry with us a message of hope and challenge
We go with the message that our dis-ease can be cured, our consumption need not be terminal.
And we walk secure in the knowledge that God the Gift-Giver is with us always and all-ways. Amen.

Monday, February 16, 2009

For March 1, 2009, 1st Sunday of Lent -- Creation -- Care and Choices

(Note: For Lent this year I am going off lectionary for a sermon series The C's of Stewardship so the resources on this blog will match those themes rather than the lectionary texts)

God, the old stories tell us that we are to have dominion over the earth.
And we have interpreted that as freedom to treat Creation as a tool that can be bent to our purposes.
The old stories also tell us about a covenant between God and Humanity, a promise for all time that You will not destroy the earth.
But we have not always lived up to our part. We have not always been good caretakers of Your Creation.
Our current stories encourage us to change our approach to life.
However, sometimes those stories leave us feeling nothing but hopelessness and guilt.
We need to find the balance point.
Help us learn how to live where human activity can continue and also Creation can be protected.
Help us learn from the mistakes from the past.
Help us move past the guilt even as we acknowledge our mis-steps.
…time of silent prayer…
The God who Created is also the God who is Creating. Creating new opportunities, creating new life, forgiving the past in hope for the future. We are a forgiven people!
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Offering Prayer
God who has Created and is Creating, all that we have is a gift from you. As part of using these gifts wisely, we share them with the world around us. May the gifts of our heart enrich all of Creation. Amen.

We have gathered to be fed in body and soul.
We have been gifted with bread and cup, with Word and fellowship.
And having been fed and energized we go back into the world God has created.
We go to make new choices and encourage new choices about how we use and care for the Earth.
As you go out take strength from the knowledge that the God who has created and is creating goes with you every step of life’s path.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Invocation Prayer for a Meeting of District Municipal Representatives

Source of life,
none of us lives for or because of ourselves, we all live as a part of a community.
Help us to work together to build communities that sustain and enhance life.
Awaken in us an awareness of how best to raise up the hopes and dreams of all our members.
Make our communities places where all can live fully and fruitfully.

Source of wisdom,
May those of us who have been selected as leaders within our communities remain open to your wisdom.
Remind us that the common sense and wordly wisdom we have been taught sometimes needs to be set aside in favour of a Holy Wisdom, a new way, a different path.
In the discussions that take place this day open our hearts and minds to sense the wisdom you have to share.

Creative Spirit,
We live and move and have our very being in you and in the world you have created and are creating.
In all we say and do keep us aware of the need to ask how this affects the world around us.
Keep us from forgetting that your creative energy is alive and active in the world today bringing life and hope that flies in the face of despair and death.
In this time of discussion about the realities of today and the possibilities for tomorrow help us all be people of hope. Open us to the promise that all will be well, all will be well, all manner of things be well.

May this time of meeting be blessed by your presence, may they who meet be blessed with your wisdom, may the communities they represent be blessed with your hope. Amen.

Monday, January 19, 2009

For January 25, 2008 -- 3rd After Epiphany Year B

It seems that the world is falling apart.
and so we seek comfort in the shadow of the Rock.
In the midst of crisis we seek hope,
we find hope in the presence of God, our Fortress and our Salvation.
In the midst of a troubling world,
we gather together to worship, to be refreshed, to be strengthened.
Come, let us worship together, let us pray…

We go from this place of worship back to our work in the world,
we go as bearers of light and hope to a world that knows too much darkness and despair.
As you go out into the world remember that no matter how chaotic things may seem God is still our Rock and our Fortress.
In the shadow of the Rock we will never be left without hope.
Walk in the world in the sure knowledge that the Triune God: Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer is with you always.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Monday, January 12, 2009

For January 18, 2008 -- 2nd After Epiphany Year B

Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling,
calling us from lakeside and mattress, calling us to share God’s work.
Loudly and boldly the Creator is calling,
calling us to hear and to heed, reminding us how we should live.
Gently, unceasingly the Spirit is calling,
calling us to be present with God, calling us to be energized and refreshed.
Come, let us worship together, let us pray…

We live in a world where God is still speaking…
we go out with a desire to listen.
We live in a world where truth is needed,
we go out trying to see and speak God’s Truth, even when it may be unpopular or going against common wisdom.
As we live and work and share in the world we do so in the sure knowledge that God who is the source of loving truthfulness is there to lead and challenge us always.
Thanks be to God! Amen.