Saturday, December 29, 2012

For the Sunday between Christmas and New Year's

We, who continue to celebrate the birth of Christ,
Go out to share the message that the angels sang:
Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Humanity
The Old Year is Passing, the New Year is about to dawn.
Are we prepared for what it might bring?
Whatever it brings we will face it. But not alone.
God will go with us, supporting us in the future, as we have been supported in the past.
And so we will spread God's word of Love throughout 2013.
Indeed. For we are loved, called to love, by the Lover.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Christmas Prayer

God of Hope
We live in a world that all too often gives us reason to despair. And yet You offer us the promise of hope. In a world where so many struggle to get enough to live on, where it seems impossible to move forward against the force pushing us backwards, where it is so hard to see that things will get better, You offer us the promise of the Kingdom of God. This Christmas season, rekindle the fire of hope in our hearts. Reawaken in us a vision of the possibilities the world holds. Make us into hope-bearers, carrying Your Hope to places where despair seems to be winning.

God of Peace
So often Peace is just a word, a word whose meaning has been lost. Certainly it hardly seems a word that describes a world where children are shot at school, or firefighters shot responding to a fire, or marketplaces are blown apart by bombs, or enough money is spent annually on military expenses to feed the globe for decades, or so many other things that shatter the peace of which the angels sang. Tonight we celebrate the birth of the One we call the Prince of Peace. Tonight we listen again for the song of angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold. May we hear the siren call of Peace in our world. May we become makers of peace, in ways big and small, wherever we go. And may the Peace of Christ become not just a greeting we share in worship, but a reality in the world at large.

God of Joy
Churches and houses around the globe this night ring out with the sounds of Joy. “Joy to the World! The Lord is come” we sing. And yet joy is far from the minds of many this Christmas season. We hold in our hearts all those who are alone this night, and those who have an empty space at the table this Christmas, and those who find themselves in or beside a hospital bed. Sometimes Christmas is not what we want it to be. And the Joy seems to be lost. May all those who struggle to find joy in their lives know that they are not alone tonight. May they hear the word of promise that the baby is born for them, that in the midst of their struggles there is a promise that in the long term all will be well, all manner of thing will be well.

God of Love
That is the core of our lives isn't it. Love. That is what keeps us going, that we are loved and that we love others. In the end that is what it is all about. In love You continue to break into our world, into our lives. This Christmas season, and throughout the year that is to come, fill our hearts to overflowing with love. And may we, having experienced Your boundless, unlimited, passionate love, pass it on to all we meet. May love become the watchword and guidepost of our lives and the lives of all Your children.

God of Birth
Tonight we gather to celebrate a birth that happened long ago, the birth of a child laid in a manger because there was no place for his family in the inn. But tonight we also celebrate births that happen everyday. We sing praises for hope born anew in the midst of despair. We watch as peace is born in the middle of violence and struggle and disparity. We listen as joy is born afresh in the broken-hearted. We are overcome with emotion as love is born time and time again, overcoming fear and distrust and hatred. For all the births we celebrate this night we offer songs of thanksgiving and praise.

These things we pray in the name of the baby who now lies in the manger, the child who later taught his friends to pray together saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven…

December 24 Call to Worship (based on Isaiah 9:2-7)

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.”
The people who walk in darkness. That's us! We have seen deep darkness in the world around us.
So we have come to search for the light. We want the light to shine on us!
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given”
A child is born for US! A son is given to ALL of US!
We come to see the child that has been born, we come to gather in the glow of the stable, we come to sing with angels and wonder with shepherds.
Come and worship, come and worship. Worship the one who is born for us this day...

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

An Opening Funeral Prayer for teh Christmas Season

God of Christmas, we gather here today
while the world continues to celebrate and sing joyful songs
with hearts that are heavy with grief.
There was a face missing at our Christmas this year,
and so we have come to say our farewells.
God who is with us in our joys and our sorrows,
you are one who gives us the gift of Life-in-Abundance
and so we come here today to celebrate life,
giving thanks especially for the life of NAME
God, you are mysterious beyond our full understanding,
and wonderful beyond our wildest expectation
yet you are also compassionate,
as protective as a mother watching her children at play,
as tender as a father holding his newborn child,
as watchful as a shepherd with the sheep,
as comforting as a grandparent’s warm embrace.
Today as we come into your presence to grieve NAME’s death,
we ask that your Holy Spirit would be here to ease our pain.
Be with us now, as we sing and pray and remember.
Through the shadow of death may we see the light and peace
promised in the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem, Amen.

A Funeral Blessing for the Christmas Season

We go out from this time of remembering and farewell
into the world which is still festooned with the decorations of Christmas.
As we go, may we take comfort that the Babe of Bethlehem was born to share our joys and our sorrows.
May we remember that Emmanuel, God-With-Us comes to a world of struggle to bring peace, hope, joy, and love.
May the God who is revealed in a baby in a manger go with you this day.
May you remember the words of the angel “do not be afraid”
Even in the darkness of grief, may we all see the light that can not be overcome. Amen.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

A PRayer for Children:

Spurred by the Connecticut School Shooting of Dec 14 but also remembering the dozens of children who die needlessly every single day:

God of life, God of laughter, God of death, God of tears,

Even as we pray for those families whose hearts break wit
h an act that we honestly believe should be rare (though increasingly it is not) we also remember that hearts are breaking and broken all over the world on a daily basis.

We hold in prayer all those who live in places where children die. Places where children die because there is not food. Places where children die because the marketplace is wracked by a suicide bomb. Places where children die because they happen to be too close to a place that is deemed by someone to be a military target. Places where children die simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Places where children die simply because there is nobody willing or able to care for them properly. Places where children die because...

God we read that list and our hearts ache for a world that sometimes feels too broken to ever be repaired.

We share the (apparently) idealistic dream that children somehow should be spared from the harsh realities of life. And yet we know it to not be true. And so, trusting in the hope of faith that the world can indeed be changed, we share the ancient words : Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.

May it be so.   May it be so soon.  Amen

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Magi Monologues

The plan for Epiphany Day Worship on January 6 (which happens to be a Sunday this year) is to have three monologues intertwined with the verses of We Three Kings.  After some internet searching (and lamenting the apparent loss of a document I used to have that I could have used as the basis for the monologues) into traditions about the Magi, here are those monologues [courtesy of a lot of creative license]:

Melchior's Story: (Gold --1st) (Persia)
Hello. My name is Melchior. I brought the gold to offer to the child.

I came from the land of Persia. I was not a king as your song suggests. None of us were in fact. We. sometimes advised kings. We sometimes advised those who struggled against kings.

Maybe you would call me a priest? Maybe you would call me an astrologer? I spent my days studying the world and the stars, looking for signs about what would happen. For centuries my ancestors have done just that. We believe that the sky gives us information about what is happening and what will happen both in our homeland and in places far away. It is one of the ways the Creator of the World speaks to us.

Anyway, back to the story at hand.

One night I was taking my regular readings of the sky when something highly unusual caught my eye. A new light in the sky. Quickly I consulted my charts and could find nothing explaining it. So I studied it closely. I watched how it interacted with the other stars in the sky. And soon it was obvious to me that something spectacular was about to happen. The star signified a royal birth. And everything about it suggested it was to happen in the land of the Jews. I needed to learn more.

As it happens there is a tradition in my family that we have a connection to the people of Jerusalem. Many years ago the Babylonians conquered that city and took captives. One of those was a young man named Daniel. He rose high in the esteem of the Babylonian Royal Court, then when my Persian ancestors conquered the Babylonians this same Daniel moved into the service of the Persian King. It is a tradition in my family that Daniel was one of us, that he was in the same group of advisors that we are. For all I know I could be one of his descendants! Because of this we had in our records many writings from the Jewish land. I quickly consulted those to see what I could learn.

At any rate I quickly sent messages to my colleagues in other lands, telling them what I had seen and learned. Something this important required that we gave a reply of some sort. We had to go and see in person this thing that had happened.

While I was waiting for an answer from my friends I began to prepare to travel. A king had been born. I needed to take a proper gift, so I obtained a large casket of gold, a truly regal gift.

Caspar's Story (Frankincense --2nd) (India)
My name is Caspar, a scholar from one of the kingdoms in that part of the world you now call India. I brought frankincense to offer the child.

Like my friend Melchior I study the night skies for signs and warnings and news. When I too saw the strange new light in the sky I wondered what it would be. As I am still young and inexperienced I asked my mentors what they saw. But they had no idea what this new sign was. All they could tell me was that it was something of great importance. After asking every wise man in the kingdom I knew that I had only one other choice.

To the West in Persia was Melchior. Far older than I and much more learned. Quickly I gathered my servants and a small armed escort and started on my way to consult with him. I had barely started out when a messenger from Melchior met me on the road. We made camp and shared a meal together. After the meal I asked him what message he had brought with him. After I had heard it I could not wait any longer. Early the next morning we broke camp and I hastened to meet with Melchior to discuss this news.

When I arrived at his palace I found him preparing to leave. After we had feasted together I asked him to show me the old Jewish writings he had in his records. I spent an entire night and the whole next day poring over them, pausing only to compare my understandings with Melchior. What I found amazed me!

That next night Melchior and I went up to his observation gallery and watched the night sky again. The light had changed slightly. I looked at Melchior and said “It is done. The child is born.” Melchior said nothing, only nodded in agreement.

While we watched I took some more measurements and consulted the notes I had made. “There is more here than the birth of a king,” I said. “My reading of these signs says that God has come to dwell on Earth.”

At that very moment we decided that we would leave the next day. So in the morning we gathered our servants and Melchior called on his apprentices to join us. And with a larger armed escort we set out.

As we travelled we discussed what gifts would be most appropriate to take to the child. Knowing that many cultures burn incense in God's presence I knew what I needed. And so at the next city I sent my most trusted servant out to buy a large quantity of frankincense, so to honour the Child who was God in human form.

Balthazar's Story: (Myrrh -- 3rd) (Arabia)
My name is Balthazar. I come from Arabia and brought Myrrh to lay at the feet of the child.

When the first messenger from Melchior arrived I was stunned. How could I have missed such a sign? How could I have not heard about such things happening in the land of my brothers?

For we are brothers you know? We Arabs and the Jews. We in Arabia count ourselves as the descendants of Ishmael, the firstborn of Abraham, the elder brother of Isaac. But alas, from the time of our shared ancestor we have been at odds with our brothers. But I digress.

I spent many hours mulling over the message I had received, wondering what it might mean. I searched the writings we had in our records, I stared at the night sky, I spent time in deep meditation. What should I do?

Then a second messenger came. Melchior had been joined by Caspar from farther East. They were certain that the child was born. Even more they were sure it was more than a human king that had been born, that God had come to Earth. I resolved then and there to join them in their quest to see the child. So I gathered my own servants and a small escort and went to meet them on the road.

In addition to my scholarship I have been blessed with the gift of interpreting dreams. And it was a dream that influenced my choice of gift. My heart carried deep foreboding that this child would some day be killed. And so I gathered together a large supply of Myrrh, a burial spice.

After I joined my fellow travellers we continued to the most logical place to go looking for the new King of the Jews. We went to Jerusalem. We were quite a large entourage by this time, with many armed men as an escort. The people around the King were clearly unsure what to make of us.

While we were there our compatriots, men who also studied the ancient writings and the signs of the times looked into their traditions and told us that we were close to our goal. Bethlehem was where we wanted to go. So it was that we took our leave of the Jewish King and finished out journey.

After we had paid our homage to the child and presented our gifts we made ready to return to our homes. Melchior and Caspar had promised the Jewish King that we would tell him where the child was to be found. Foolish men. They had obviously not heard about the Herod. In Arabia we had heard about how jealous and violent and murderous he was. Then I was warned in a dream. If we told Herod where the child was the child would die. Once I told this to my fellows the choice was obvious. We bypassed Jerusalem and went home by a different road.

Strangely, many years later, I heard stories about a preacher who was thought to be God in human form. He was executed but his followers claimed that he had been risen from the dead. As I investigated the stories I am sure this man Jesus was the same child we visited all those years before. Of him it was said that once people met him they could not follow the same path any longer. They too had to follow a different road.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

For December 23, 2012 -- Advent 4C

We count it in mere hours now. Soon the first pains of labour will be felt.
Soon the Light will shine in the darkness, soon the baby will be born.
Soon God will once again break into our lives,
coming in a way that is expected yet unusual, challenging our expectations and calling us to see life differently. 
God of birth, God of light, in this time of song and prayer and silence,
reawaken in us the awe of Christmas.
As we hear again the story of a young woman and a surprising visitor,
remind us that we are called to respond to you in unexpected ways.
And when we leave this place,
may we be willing to sing praises for a young woman who said YES and the birth that we prepare to celebrate.
We pray in the name of the child who even now is starting to push from the womb, who would later teach his friends to pray saying...

It has been done! The News has been shared!
A young maiden will bear a child, and she will call him Jesus.
But that is the beginning of the story, a story that has not yet ended.
A story that includes us, a story of which we are a part.
So we go out to live the story,
to tell of the Hope that is being born among us the Christmas, to share the Love of the season with the world, to be agents of Peace in times of trouble, to sing songs of deep and abiding Joy.
As you go, may God go with you. Challenging us to respond God's Call
in ways that are new, unexpected and a little unsettling.
And as Tiny Tim said so very well...
God Bless Us Every One. Amen.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christ Candle Responses for Epiphany and the Season Following

God is here! Among us, within us, bringing Light to our lives!
We light this candle to reminds us of God's Light that can never be extinguished.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

For December 9, 2012 -- Advent 2C

Stop and listen! The day is getting closer!
Soon the angel song will ring out again with the birth of a child.
And while we wait we prepare.
Trimming the tree and decking the halls.
As part of our preparation we gather here together
reminding ourselves of the reason for the season, opening our hearts to be filled with hope, peace, joy, and love, asking ourselves how God will change the world this year. 
Creating and Refining God, in this time of worship,
push us to look closely at ourselves and our lives, help us remember to ask where we could come closer to being who you would have us be. 
And when our worship is ended,
send us back into the world ready to sing carols and share the good news that Emmanuel is coming!
 We pray in the name of the child whose birth we await, who later taught his friends to pray together saying...

God of Grace, you blow the breath of life into our lungs, you have formed us in your image.
And yet we acknowledge that sometimes we are not who you would have us be.
You challenge us to embrace the refining fire of your love, to meet you on the threshing floor of life, to be washed as with fuller's soap.
But in our heart of hearts we would rather keep those things that would be removed in such an encounter.
Through your Grace, life-giving God, accept us as we are,
Unrefined, unwashed, the chaff mixed in with the grain.
And help us to move into a new way of being
...time of silence...
Listen! For this is Good News! God's Grace is wider than our wildest imaginings. God's Grace embraces us as we are and where we are and draws us out to be the people we were created to be.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Can you be a voice crying in the wilderness? Can you proclaim that God is active in the world?
The time is near, of the crowning of the year.
We sing with angels, setting the roadways and the buildings humming
As people who are being changed, we go into a world that is being changed.
Ready to share the Good News that the long expected Jesus is coming, that we are being freed from whatever binds us.
Glory be to God! Who walks with us, sings with us, and struggles with us,
each and every day. Amen

Monday, November 26, 2012

For December 2, 2012 -- Advent 1C

God you call us to watch for the new thing that you are doing
but sometimes we are more comfortable with the tried and true.
You share words of promise, reminding us all that “It gets better”
but we are afraid that it might get worse, afraid of what we might lose.
You call us to live as people of hope,
but we let our fears take control, and so we are unsure how to move forward. Through your unmeasurably wide grace,
help us to move past our fears and guide us to the Promised Land.
...time of silence...
There's a wideness in God's grace and mercy. God knows our fears and our worries. And yet God is ready to overcome our fears with hope and love. Through God's grace we move forward into the wonders of birth.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

If you choose, you can be instruments of hope in the world.
We so choose, so we go to spread the hope and promise of a coming child.
If you choose, you can counter the voices of anxiety and despair in the world.
We so choose, so we sing songs of hope because the world can be changed
If you choose, you can fight against the fear that freezes the heart of many.
We so choose, so we will tell of the love that conquers fear, the love of a child in a manger.
The choice is ours to make, how we live into the possibilities of Christmas,
the beauty is that we do not live out the choice by our own strength.
Go with God, who feeds our hopes and quiets our fears
Always and everywhere. Amen.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

For Reign Of Christ Sunday

We have sung, we have prayed, we have worshiped together.
Now we go back out into the world.
We came together to build relationships,
relationships with each other, and our relationship with Jesus.
We go out as people who are strengthened by our connections
Ready to love and to serve. Ready to carry God's love to the world.
As you journey through the ups and the downs of the coming week,
let us remember that God, who has invited us into relationship, is always with us.
Go with God, as the people of God.
So be it! Amen

Monday, November 12, 2012

For November 18, 2012 -- Proper 28B 25th After Pentecost

On a First Day God said “Let There Be Light!”
and time began.
On a First Day God raised Jesus of Nazareth from death
and the world was changed.
On this First Day we gather together for worship
and we wonder what new beginnings lie in store.
O Day of God draw nigh!
Our hearts yearn for the coming of the promised Reign of Peace and Justice.
In this time of worship,
reawaken the hope in our hearts, refocus our vision on the new earth that is to come.
And when our worship is ended,
send us back out to live as if the Reign of God is real in our lives and in our hearts.
This we pray in the name of the One whose name we bear, Christ, who taught his friends to pray saying...

Creator of Life, Giver of Hope, we live in anticipation, praying “Thy Kingdom come”
and yet we are anxious about the changes that Kingdom will bring.
We live in hope for the possibilities of your Kingdom,
and yet we would rather it come without us having to give up, without us having to change.
For those times we slide, those times we actively work against the in-breaking of your Kingdom
offer us the grace to make different choices, help us to learn through trial and error how best to be your people.
...time of silent prayer...
Hear the words of hope revealed to John of Patmos:
“See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes... “See, I am making all things new.”... I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life.
Through the grace of God we continue to move forward, learning and growing. Thanks be to God! Amen

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Nov 11 Memorial Prayer/Prayers of the People for 2012

God of peace and love, on this 11th day of the 11th month we once again gather to remember. We remember that in Jesus of Nazareth you have called us to be people of peace saying, “Blessed are the peacemakers” and reminding us that we are to love our neighbour and our enemy as we love ourselves.
But we also acknowledge that there are times when we as a global community fail to live out those words, times when young men and women hear the call to don the uniforms of their country and serve under their flag.
Today we give thanks for all who have chosen to serve their country. We give thanks for their bravery, their commitment, and their love.
But we know that when armies meet on the field there are always some who don’t come home.
And so we pause in the memory of those who went and did not return to mothers and wives and children left behind.

We remember battles at Ypres, and Passchendale, and Vimy Ridge in the war we were told would end all wars, battles where the blood of enemies mingled in the mud and water of France and Belgium.
And we remember those who fell in the war that came a scarce generation later. And again young men died in places like Hong Kong, and Ortona, and Dieppe, and Juno Beach, and in the Netherlands.
We remember all who fell and were buried far from home, or who sank to a watery grave in the cold Atlantic.

Then as the years past the roles changed and we sent our best to help keep the peace in places like Cyprus, and the Golan Heights, and Cambodia. And still some died and were buried.
And then, in this century we sent that our young back to the battlefield, only to have dozens of them return in a coffin carried solemnly to a waiting aircraft.

God, whose hope for the world is peace, on this day we not only remember the fallen of Canada who lie buried under a military tombstone. We remember also the fallen of Germany, and Japan, and France, and Australia. Or Italians, and native Afghanis, and English. This day we honour all who die as a result of humanity’s common failing to live in the peace you have hoped for all these millennia.

God, we pray too for those who returned from battle forever changed by what they had seen. For those who bore, and still bear, wounds of body and soul.

And now, God of love, as we have remembered and honoured, we prepare to go back into our everyday lives. May the remembering we have done here today reawaken and strengthen our commitment to work for peace, true peace. Help us to remember that peace will never truly come from a gun barrel but from the depths of our hearts. Help us remember our calling to be peacemakers at home and abroad, in the big things and in the small. And may we never forget the cost that has already been paid.

Creator, Life-Giver, Source of Hope, on this day of remembering we pause to share words of thanks. Thanks for all those who have gone before us in this world to create those things that make our life easier and better, thanks for all those things that we too often take for granted, thanks for food on our tables, roofs over our heads and money in our pockets – even while we know that others struggle for the same blessings, thanks for family and friends with whom we share our lives. We also pause in the midst of our remembering to hold in our hearts, minds and souls those who struggle this day. May they know that they are not alone. May Your promised word of peace touch the disquiet and disorder in their lives.

God of peace that surpasses all understanding, we pray our remembrances and our hopes in the name of Christ, the Prince of Peace, who taught his friends to pray by saying together:
Our Father, who art in heaven…

Monday, November 5, 2012

For November 11, Remembrance Day.

On this day of memory we gather to sing and to pray,
we remember the past and look to the future.
On this day when the guns once fell silent,
We come before you God, seeking Your peace.
On this day of hope in the face of terror,
We come before you God, praying with all our hearts:
God our help in ages past, our hope for years to come.
Help us to find the path that leads to the Peaceable kingdom. Open our eyes and the eyes of the nations to find a different path through the disagreements of life in this world.
In this time of story, song, and prayer,
may we be re-committed to being people of Peace, true peace. May we catch a vision of how the world could live together.
And so we echo the old prayers,
Make us channels of your peace. Let there be Peace on Earth and let it begin with us! Amen

Monday, October 22, 2012

For October 28, 2012: Proper 25B,

Come! Come you who are wounded and you who are whole!
We come bearing our wounds and scars, we come to worship.
Come! Come to hear about the one who is known to be a healer .
We come to sing and to pray, to feel God's healing love in our lives.
Come! Come young and old, come and take your place as members of the family of God.
We come to worship with our brothers and sisters.
Let us pray together...

God has gathered us together to worship this morning.
Now God is sending us back out to serve the world.
God calls us to embrace the energy of wholeness and healing.
And also to carry healing and wholeness to the world at large.
So go, filled with the hope of God, ready to proclaim that healing is possible, that we are not alone, that we are loved and accepted.
We go with opened eyes, ready to see the world as God sees it, ready to be agents of God's love.
As you go out into the world this week, may you see the face of Christ in everyone you meet.
And may everyone we meet see the fact of Christ in us. AMEN

Monday, October 15, 2012

To Go with Peter's Confession of Faith Proper 19B

Who are you? Why have you come here?
We are people who bear the name of Christ, we come to learn more about him.
Who are you? Why have you come here?
We are pilgrims on Life's journey, we come to be reminded of The Way.
In whose name have you gathered? Why have come?
We gather in Jesus' name. We gather to explore who he is in our lives.
We gather to sing, to listen, to share God's love, to pray...
God made known in Jesus of Nazareth, God who calls us to follow his path;
we come as people who have set aside a place for the Anointed One in our lives,
we come as people who strive to live the love he taught and showed,
we come that we may have our hearts and souls opened so we can understand better what these things mean.
In this time of song and prayer and speech,
may we be moved forward along The Way, may we be re-energized for the ministry that beckons beyond our doors.
We pray in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, the One we call Christ, who taught us all to pray saying...

Jesus, Name above all names; Emmanuel God-is-with-us,
we admit that sometimes we are not sure how to respond to your presence Gracious God.
Beautiful Saviour, Glorious Lord
You call us to embrace the riskiness of life in faith, to follow you to the Cross but we, like Peter, refuse to admit the Cross is a possibility.
Blessed Redeemer,
for all the times we have wandered from The Way of Wisdom, for all the time our uncertainty about who and how you are in our lives shines through, forgive us.
Living Word,
through Grace lead us back to the path. Through Grace may we be ready to confess who you are and to whom we belong.
These things we pray, God who forgives and blesses us. Always and always, your shower us with Grace
Thanks be to God! Amen

Who do you say Jesus is?
Teacher and Guide, Saviour and Redeemer, Light of the World, the Christ of God.
What difference does Jesus make in your life?
Having met him, having been inspired by his example, having heard his word of hope, we are pushed out to change the world around us by sharing the Love he taught.
And now as our worship ends...
we return to the world where our life and ministry happens
Go now, to change your little corner of the world in the name of Jesus
We go to show by words and actions who he is for us and the difference he makes.
So be it! AMEN!

Monday, September 17, 2012

For September 23, 2012 -- Proper 20B, 17th After Pentecost

Come one, come all, come and pause for a moment of time.
We come seeking to be renewed, we come so that we can be sent out.
Come one, come all, come to join our hearts and souls together,
We come seeking to be reconnected with God, to hear God's Word of hope and challenge.
Come one, come all, come and join our voices in prayer and praise,
let us pray together...
God, in the midst of the busy-ness of the world we take a break to rest, to reflect, to re-energize.
In a world where all too often we feel inadequate or in over our heads, we wonder what it means to be capable,
In a world where there are so many voices claiming to share wisdom, we wonder how to recognize what is truly wise,
In a world which repeatedly tells us we have to try to be first and greatest we wonder what it means to be last and least.
As we work our way through this week, open our eyes and ears that we would see and hear the world as you do. Open our minds and souls that we would be ready to be transformed by your wisdom. And when we feel wholly non-capable, remind us that we do not need to get it all right, but that with your help we can get the important stuff right.
These things we pray, trusting that we are not alone, in the name of Jesus, who taught his friends to pray saying....

Humble thyselves in the eyes of God.
And God will lift us up. Higher and higher.
Go now from this place to live as humble servants of the One who Created us and who sends us out.
We go as those who are sent out to live lives that proclaim the love and hope of God. We go as people who humbly let God's wisdom guide our choices.
Go out knowing that the One who Created and Re-Creates goes with you always.
Guiding and shaping, leading and comforting. Thanks be to God. Amen

Monday, September 10, 2012

FOr Proper 19B

We have gathered, we have prayed, we have sung, we have listened for God's voice
now we prepare ourselves to go back into the world where we live and serve.
We have been reminded that words matter, that we need to speak carefully and caringly,
and so we go to carry the words of love and hope into a world which does not hear them enough.
As you share the words of hope and faith with those you meet,
May God speak through us.
As you go out into the world, remember the most important thing...
we are not alone!
Wherever you go, whatever you do, God is with you
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Monday, August 27, 2012

For Proper 17B, using James 1:22

But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers
We go out to live our faith in action as well as in word.
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers
We go out to love our neighbour as ourselves,
But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers
We go out to show the world that our faith does make a difference.
As you go out, take strength and comfort in the knowledge that God: Parent, Child, and Spirit goes with you.
Thanks be to God! Amen.

Monday, June 11, 2012

For June 17, 2012 -- Proper 6B

God, you have gathered us together again,
here we come to celebrate your presence,
here we come to listen for your Word,
here we come to wrestle with how you are active in our lives.
God, you call us to see the world as you see it.
In this time together open our eyes that we may see,
glimpses of Truth you have for us.
And with eyes that have been opened, send us back into the world,
ready to see others for what they are worth, ready to look beyond the surface.
We pray in the name of the one whose name we bear, the one who saw others as Your Beloved children, the one who taught his friends to pray together saying...

God has seen into our core, seen our potential, seen who we are
God has anointed us with oil, set us apart for a task
though the road to the future may not always be straight or easy,
May God help us be the people God would have us be,
may God help us live out the task with which we have been charged,
may God push us forward when the road seems too hard.
As you go out to the world where we live and serve, remember that you do not go alone.
May God walk with us, re-create us, sustain us every step of the way. Amen.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

For June 10, 2012. Proper 5B 2nd After Pentecost

People of God, why have you come here?
We have come seeking to hear about the King.
People of God why have you come here?
We have come to listen and to contemplate, to pray and to sing.
People of God, why have you come here?
We have come to be refreshed, to find our way back to the Way of Wisdom, to be re-energized for the week that is to come.
God, in this time together,
remind us that we do not always need to be like other people. Remind us that there is an alternative path. Remind us that whatever other leaders we may have, you are the One who we are called to follow.
God, as we sing and pray and listen,
fill our hearts and minds and lives with the possibilities of Your Kingdom. And send us back out to live and serve.
We pray in the name of Jesus, the one we call Your Anointed One, who taught his friends to pray by saying...

We have come to be reminded who our King truly is!
And now we return to the mission field where we live and serve.
We return to that mission field with a task. We are called to carry the love of God in our hearts, our faces, our actions.
And in doing that, may we bring honour to the name of the King.
Go with God who Creates, Redeems, and Sustains.
Always and All Ways. Amen.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Funeral Sermon

Life is not fair. Sometimes there is no other way to put it. Or at least nothing that makes it as clear at that. Life is not fair. That is one of the hard truths that we face today.

Life contains pain. Another hard truth we face. Life contains pain. Sometime we can handle the pain, sometimes we can't. Sometimes we seek out others to help us handle the pain, sometimes (for whatever reason – maybe being “brave”, maybe afraid to ask, maybe we don't believe anyone can help) we try to do it by ourselves. And sometimes the pain just feels like too much to deal with and we try to find a way to put it behind us.

Other people's choices sometimes hurt us. A third hard truth. Perhaps the hardest one of all. Sometimes other people make choices that hurt us. And for whatever reason she made that choice, H's choice to end her own life has caused great pain. I do not believe this is why she made that choice. I believe that H was most likely trying to escape from pain that she found unbearable. But it is undeniable that her making that choice hurts her family and friends. And so we gather together to begin to deal with our pain and sorrow.

I am sure that there are many different emotions in this room this morning. There are people here who are sad. There are people here who are still asking “Why?”. There are people here who are angry, maybe angry at H, maybe angry at themselves, maybe angry at the world. There are people here who are anxious, unsure what the future will bring. There may also be people here who feel guilty, wondering if they missed something, if there was something they could have done, or not done, or said or not said that would have helped H find other choices. And there are likely people here who have some or all of these feelings in combination. All these things are normal. All these are ways we respond to a tragic, totally abnormal event in our lives. And the best thing to do is to let ourselves feel what we need to feel. We need not try to push the feelings aside or deny them. Only by allowing them their space will we be able to start the process of coming to a “new normal”, of figuring out what life is going to be like on this side of H's death.

But take heart. We do not face these feelings alone. We have family and friends to help us express our feelings. And we have God walking with us, giving us support, giving us strength, helping us through the rough patches. We do not have to face the pains and struggles of life alone. And that is good. Indeed that is very good.

As we deal with these feelings there are some things we need to acknowledge as well. One is that there are questions to which we will never know the answers. We can never answer all the “Why?” questions. We can never know what was troubling H, what the sources of her pain were. We can make guess, but the only one who knew the whole story was H, and for her own reasons she chose not to share those things. Another piece that we need to acknowledge is that while it is normal to ask us if there was something we could have done, if we could have been more supportive, even if somehow we were part of causing H's pain; we need to know that H's death is not our fault. And we need to allow ourselves to be forgiven, as God has already forgiven us, for any way in which we might think we failed her.

How do we move forward in the face of tragedy? How can we face the future when the world seems to make no sense?

One of the things people have done for centuries, probably for all of human history, is gather together just like we have done today. Here we have taken time to share some memories, and later today there will be more time to share memories. As you came in you were offered a piece of paper on which you could write some memories to share with H's family. All this storytelling, all this sharing of memories is a part of how we move forward, a part of how we say good-bye. And strangely it is in sharing memories with each other that we get to know H better. Some people knew H through dance, some knew her through school. For some she was sister, or cousin, or niece, or daughter. But when stories are shared about all those different ways she was known a clearer, more complete picture of who she was (both the good and the bad – she was a real person with flaws and all) is drawn. Yes 15 years is too short a life. But still we can find things to say thank you for in those 15 years.

One of the things we have to do today is make a choice. As we lament H's death, as we face all the mixed emotions her death brings, as we share stories and weep, and maybe even laugh in fond memory we have to choose between hope and despair. Will we lament with hope or despair? Will we choose to believe the claim that we can stare into the face of death, even unexpected, premature, tragic death, and proclaim that life still wins? It doesn't make sense after all. How can we, is it even possible to, lament with hope?

There is, in my mind, only one way we can lament with hope. We can only do it through faith. We can only do it by reminding ourselves of the promise we find in our faith stories, stories of people who often found reason to weep and lament and worry, but who also had hope. We only do it by reminding ourselves that we are not alone.

Every Sunday people gather together in this place to remember the story of Jesus, the one who promised his friends that there was something beyond death. At one point Jesus is talking to his friends and talks of going to prepare a place for them. Going to prepare a place means that there is a place for us. It is our promise that something lies beyond death. This is good news. Even in the face of tragedy this promise can give us hope.

Writing to the church in Rome, Paul proclaims his conviction that nothing, NOTHING can separate us from God. Nothing in life, not even death can separate us from the God who watched us grow in our mother's womb, who has shared every step, every breath of our lives. Here is more hope. If death can not separate us from God then there must be something beyond death. Something beyond the tragedy not only for H but for her friends and family who have been left to mourn her death.

“Yeah sure”, I can hear some of you saying. It's easy to talk about hope. Easy to talk about faith. Easy to talk about God. But where is God in these times? For that I think of the chorus to a song from my teen years – “Lean On Me”:
Lean on me, when you're not strong
I'll be your friend, I'll help you carry on.

And later
we all need somebody to lean on.
In times like this God speaks these words. In times like this God is the one who helps us get up in the morning, who helps us stand up when the weight of the world crushes in on our shoulders.

The book of poetry we know as the Psalms contains much wisdom for times such as this. In Psalm 46 the poet says that God is our rock, our refuge, a help in times of trouble. Even when the earth shakes and life seems uncertain God is our rock and refuge. In Psalm 121 the poet looks up at the seemingly barren hillsides and asks “where will my help come from”. Think of that image, down at the bottom of a deep valley, surrounded by high hills that seem insurmountable. That sounds to me like a good image for the depths of grief we feel at a time like this. And the Psalmist knows that his help will come from God, that God is always there, that God is not asleep at the switch, that God “will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.”

God is not there to stop the tragedy from happening, as much as we might want that. But God is there to help us climb back out of the valley. Even when the world is falling to pieces around us, God is there to help us put the pieces back into some sort of order. And this is a cause for hope.

On Tuesday the unimaginable happened. A young person who was loved by many but who was apparently feeling that there was no other option chose to end her pain by ending her life. It makes not sense. It isn't fair. And now we need to find a way to live in a world that has been changed. As we try to do that we can take hope from the realization that God is with us, that we do not face the pain and anger and emptiness and uncertainty alone, or solely with our own strength. This is a cause for hope. We can also take a measure of comfort in knowing that for H the time of pain and unhappiness is ended. Jesus told his friends there would be a place waiting for them, for us, when our time on earth was over. When we make the journey to the life which lies beyond this life we are welcomed with the open loving arms of the God who has been with us since before our birth, the God who loves and accepts us unconditionally. There is comfort there, there is promise there, there is even hope.

We are not alone. We live in and walk with God. God will walk with us through the valley of grief. God will lead us back into life. In life, in death, in life beyond death we are NOT alone. Thanks be to God. Amen

Prayers for a Funeral Service


God who creates and re-creates us,
God who laughs with us and weeps with us,
God who walks with us each step of the way, carrying us when our strength fails,
we gather today with hearts breaking with grief, with voices crying out words of lament.
And so we ask that you would move in and around us today.
As we gather to remember and say good bye to NAME,
be the shoulder we can cry on, the arm we can lean on,
help us to see through the veil of tears that there is hope
for life continuing.
Gracious God, as mysterious and wondrous as you are,
you are also a compassionate God,
as attentive as a hen with her chicks,
as tender as a mother with a newborn child,
as watchful as a shepherd with the sheep,
as protective as a father’s warm embrace.
and so we come into your presence to grieve NAME’s death,
asking that your Holy Spirit would be here to ease our pain.
As we give thanks for all that he/she added to the lives of those around her/him,
as we release our tears and anger,
as we say our good-byes, remind us that we are not alone.
In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

God of life and death and life beyond death,
we gather together today all too aware of the fragility of life.
We gather today all too aware of the pain in the world,
and of the ways we may not respond to that pain.
We know that we are not perfect,
that we do not always live out Your love as we truly could.
There are times we carry guilt for things we have done,
for things we have not done but could have,
and for things that we only see in hindsight.
Some of this guilt is warranted, and some of it is not,
sometimes we take on things that are not ours.
To deal with the guilt we have earned and the guilt we place on ourselves, we need your grace.
As we open ourselves to you, naming in silence the times we think or feel that we have come short, move in our hearts, remind us that we live in Your grace, remind us that we are loved and forgiven and accepted.
...time of silent prayer...
Here is the Good News! Nothing in death or life separates us from the love of God. We are loved. We are accepted. We are forgiven. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Monday, May 14, 2012

For May 20, 2012 -- Easter 7B

In the middle of a holiday weekend, we have gathered together.
Because we have chosen to come here, to seek and celebrate God's presence, to be renewed for the week that is to come. In the middle of the busy-ness and bustle of life, we have gathered together.
Because we know that life calls us to make many choices, and we seek out God's Word to help us make those choices wisely.
In the middle of a noisy city, we have gathered together,
Because we want to take a break from the noise and the bustle, because we need to quiet our hearts and minds to focus on the things that matter the most.
God who has called us together, in this time of song and prayer and listening,
open our hearts and minds and lives to your Presence. Fill us with hope and promise for the world in which we live.
And when our worship comes to an end,
send us back out to live and serve. Send us out to share your love, your hope, your possibilities with the world around us.
We pray in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, who taught his friends to pray by saying together...

“Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers...They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.”
As we live our lives, may we drink deep of the Living Water, may we be fruitful. As we leave this shell of worship, we go out to live and serve in the everyday tasks of life,
As we do so may the Living Water sustain and guide us in the decisions we make each day.
And as the witness of our choices is an example to others,
May our choices point to what we truly believe is important and valuable.
May God help us in the choosing and in the acting.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Christ Candle Responses for Pentecost

As the fire of the Spirit gave life to the Early Church
So may the Life-Light symbolized in this candle flame give us a fiery thirst for justice, and hope for the future.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Christ Candle Response for the Easter Sason

In this Season of new growth, new life, new hope,
We light a candle to remind us of the Light which could not be put out, the light that shines from the Empty Tomb.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Easter Communion Liturgy

Easter Celebration of Communion

The Resurrection has begun! The Day of Celebration is here!
We gather at the table to share in the Banquet of Life!
Here we meet all who share with us the hope for a brighter future!
All who wish to follow The Way of Life are welcome to eat and drink at God's table.
Let us eat together.

Christ is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!
We should give thanks!
Thanks and praise to the One who brings life!

Gracious God, we raise voices hoarse from shouting alleluias,
we sing praises for the wonder of an empty tomb,
we give thanks for the gifts of life, of life that breaks the bonds of death.
We sing songs of praise for the world you have given us, for the beauty of the earth, for the glory of the skies.
As the spring deepens and the earth thaws, as green breaks through the brown of winter,
we sing songs of hope for new life springing from dead soil, for the promise held in every seed that is sown.

As people of faith we remember all those who have gone before.
People like Moses and Miriam, leading their people to freedom; like Sarah and Abraham, seeking a new life in a strange land; like Peter and Mary, proclaiming an empty tomb and life beyond the cross.
We remember these and many others, named and unnamed, who have embraced Your life, Your hope, and moved into a new age.
And we trust that in remembering and retelling their stories, we too can take the leap into New Life.

Deep among all those memories we remember the life of a Special One.
Jesus, Child of Mary.
Born of a woman, he grew to adulthood among people who struggled daily for life.
Baptized by John, he embraced the life to which You called him.
He taught and preached a vision of a world where all divisions were broken down, where all had what they needed for abundant life, where the Reign of God was as real on earth as in heaven.
And though the powerful in his world fought back, he stood strong.
When offered a chance to take the easy way he overcame his own fear and instead prayed “yet Thy will be done”.
Even though they put him to death you raised him to life, vindicating his vision and bringing hope and healing to the world.

As inheritors of that hope we join together in the cries the welcomed him into Jerusalem, the cries of hope for the world:
Hosanna! Hosanna! Holy One!
Blessed is the One who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!

As we gather at this table we remember a story told mere days ago
and yet also an age ago
We remember that Jesus gathered with his closest friends in an Upper Room to share the feast of liberation
And while sharing the ancient story of freedom, he called them to remember the promised freedom of God's Kingdom.
We remember that at that table he took the bread, gave thanks for it, blessed it, broke it and passed it among them saying:
This is my body, broken by and for the world. Whenever you eat it remember me.

Then later he took the cup of wine, blessed it and passed it among them saying:
This is the cup of the New Covenant, sealed in my blood. Whenever you drink it remember me, and look toward the fulfilment of God's Kingdom.

And so we break the bread and pour the cup and we remember with hope.
On this Easter Day we share in the Banquet of Freedom to celebrate Life Victorious!

God of Life, in the beginning your Spirit hovered over the water, calling forth life, creating and inspiring.
Send Your Spirit upon we who gather to share this meal, infuse this bread and this juice with the Spirit's power,
As we eat and drink my we feel the power of Life Triumphant pulse in our veins, the fire of hope blaze in our hearts, and the joy of the Empty tomb dance in our souls.
Christ who died is now alive!
Alleluia! Amen.
And so, as children of a loving Parent, we pray together the words that Jesus, the Risen Christ, taught his friends
Our Father, who art in heaven...

Breaking and Pouring
Here at this table we break the Bread of Life
On this Day of Celebration we pour the Cup of Promise
These are Gifts from God for the People of God
Thanks be to God
Come and eat, for all is now ready.

We have eaten, we have drunk, we have embraced the beginning of the new age.
Grant, O God, that we who have gathered together on this Day of Resurrection, will move on as people of hope, people of life, people of the Kingdom.
May the meal we have shared today revive us in body and soul and energize us as we go out to share the Good News. Christ is Risen! Death is Defeated! Life Wins! Alleluia and Amen!