Friday, March 29, 2013

Prayer at the Foot of the Cross

God of life, God of beginnings and endings, 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 guilty 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 endings, today we hear the agonized words “It is finished”.
Today we think of all those things that are stopped before they come to fruitiion,
of hopes crushed beneath reality's heavy foot,
of promises left unfulfilled,
of possibilities that leave us wondering....

God of life and death, beginnings and endings, today we pause to remember the power of those in charge to run the world.
Today we remember the many people near and far who are broken by that power:
those who live in places where peace is just a word, not a reality, not even a dream
those who are pushed to the margins because of their race, their gender, their bank balance, their marital status, their orientation, or any of the countless other ways we find to set people apart
those who live with nothing so that others may live with abundance
those who choose to challenge the injustices in their world and are crushed beneath the feet of those in charge
...time of silent prayer...
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 leave this gathering, may we do so ready to challenge the empires of our world, even if such a challenge leads us to a cross outside the city gates.
Help us remember that every ending is a new beginning, even if in the depths of The End we have no way of seeing what that new beginning might be.
We pray in the name of the one who showed us the depth of his passion for Your Kingdom, who taught us to live in love and justice, in whose life, death and resurrection we can find the path to Kingdom living, and who taught his friends to pray by saying:
Our Father, who art in heaven...

Monday, March 25, 2013

A Prayer for Worship Leaders & Planners during Holy Week

God of life and death and life after death,
God of parade and cross and empty tomb,
during this holiest of weeks we re-tell the stories of our faith,
preparing for the great surprise that awaits us on Sunday.
But during this holiest of weeks we admit that the hustle and the bustle fills our lives,
leaving us little time to stop and experience the story for ourselves.
Help us find the time to just BE this week.
Amidst all the bustle of preparing all the worship experiences of the week,
may we feel again the passion of the supper, the trial, the death,
so that we can feel again the shock, the awe, the wonder of the empty tomb.
We pray in the name of the one with whom we walk through the week.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Easter Sunday Drama (Based on John 20:1-18)

Cast: Mary
         Disciple #1
         Disciple #2
         Jesus (voice over only)

Mary enters up the aisle, goes over to the tomb [doorway to the stairs at East side of Chancel], looks in, then runs back across the Chancel where D1 and D2 are coming up the ramp

M: while running come quickly! Something terrible has happened!
D1: What! What is it?
D2: What could have happened that is worse than what already happened?

M: I went to the tomb this morning..
D2: interrupts to the tomb? Why would you do that?
D1: He's dead. We saw him die. You saw him buried. Did you need to remind yourself?
M: ignoring them I went to the tomb this morning because I had to say good-bye, I just needed to be near him again. But when I got there the stone was rolled away..

D1: Rolled away? Who would do that?
M: It gets worse. When I looked in, the tomb was...well it was...EMPTY!
D2: Empty? You mean the body was gone? I don't believe it!
M: Yes Empty. They have taken him away. Where could they have put him?

D1: I don't believe you! I have to see for myself! D1 and D2 run over to the tomb. D2 gets there first and stands there looking in, D1 gets there and goes down through the doorway

D1: calls out Mary's right! There is no body here! I see the cloths they wrapped him in. But he isn't here!
D2: enters, then they both come back out It is just as he said! Remember!

D1: Are you sure? They both leave down the aisle, chatting to each other

M comes back over to the tomb and looks in

J: Woman, why are you crying?
M: Because they have taken my Lord away and I do not know where he is. Please sir, if you know where they put him can you tell me?

J: MARY! the tomb is filled with light
M: with a shock of recognition Rabbouni!
J: Yes. Now go and tell the others that I have been raised. Tell them I am ascending to my God and your God.

M: looks straight out at the congregation I have seen the Lord! She then dances out the aisle as the hymn begins.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Christ Candle Responses for the Easter Season

As the light of new life shines out from the Empty Tomb,
So may we in this Easter season shine with the light of hope and share the promise of life.

Monday, March 18, 2013

For Palm Sunday, Year C

God we gather on this day to begin a week of contrasts.
From hope to despair to hope again.
As we begin the week, as we join with the crowd
help us cut through the noise to see what is happening, to see what is at stake.
As the story unfolds,
open us to both the hope and the pain.
In this time of worship,
prepare us to celebrate, to weep, and to wait. We pray in the name of the one who leads the parade as we share the words he shared with his closest friends...

God who is present when we are standing alone,
through your grace give us the courage to stand alone, to face the crowd, in defence of what we believe to be right.
God who is present in the midst of the crowd,
give us the courage to join in the crowd yelling and cheering, calling out for what we feel is right.
God who calls us to witness the actions of hope and the actions of despair,
give us the wisdom to know when to join with the mob and when to stand against it.
God of the parade,
we admit we are sometimes too quick to join in, and too quick to turn away. For all the times we make the wrong choice, for all the times we choose safety over the challenge of changing the world, forgive us we pray.
...time of silent prayer...
God, who calls us to stand alone at times and to join with the mob at times, gives us the chance to learn through experience. Through grace God's call continues as we explore how best to respond. We are called and forgiven.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

We have gathered with the crowds crying Hosanna!
Because even if we were silent the stones themselves would have called out.
We have shared the hope for a world about to be changed,
and then it changed.
We have walked with another crowd.
One that called words of scorn and condemnation.
And now we follow the crowd as it leads out to the cross, and yet even as the world grows dark, we can not lose hope.
Because God is with us. God will be with us. Whatever happens. We are not alone.
And so we watch the crowd and we follow...

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

For Good Friday

From the busy-ness of our lives we have come here on a day that is different.
In the midst of the world which holds the promise of spring and new life, we have come to share a story of betrayal and execution.
Come and hear the tale, come and share the tragedy, come and embrace the darkness.
God of Light, God of Shadow, in our time together today,
keep us aware of your presence in the darkness,
help us to see meaning in this terrible story,
and keep the fire of hope alive in our hearts.
This we pray in the name of the man from Nazareth, the one who lived with a great Passion for your Way, the one whose death is nigh, the one who taught his friends to pray saying...

God of Passion, on this day of betrayal and death,
we remember those times we have been part of the crowd seeking our best interest over what is right and good.
God of Fidelity, on this day of fear and denial,
we remember those times when we choose the path of safety over loyalty to your Way.
God of Constant Presence, on this day of despair and loss,
we remember the ways we have wandered away from your presence, only to complain that we are abandoned.
God of the Cross, for all the ways we have missed the mark, all the ways we have come up short,
forgive us. Through your Grace bring us back into relationship. Help us find the path again.
...time of silent prayer...
Even in the face of betrayal and rebellion, even in the face of death and denial, even in the face of fear and despair, God's Grace knows no bounds. We ARE forgiven, we ARE called back into relationship, we ARE set back on the path that leads to the Realm of God.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

The story has been told, and now we return to the world where we live and wait.
The worship is over?
No, the worship continues while we wait and watch. Our worship will close after the stone has been removed and the flame of hope has been re-lit.
So we go out to wait, we watch for the hope that defies despair, the life that defies death, the beginning that defies the end.
While we wait, while darkness covers the land of faith, remember that no matter how abandoned we may feel we are not alone.
God has not and will not abandon us. Thanks be to God. Amen.

Christ Candle Responses for Good Friday

As the darkness deepens, as the story gives us chills, we light a candle to remind us of the Light that can not be put out.
May its light give us hope, may it be a light when all other lights go out. 

The deed is done, the body has been laid to rest, the mourning has come.
And so we blow out the candle, hoping against hope that soon it will once again burst into flame.

Christ Candle Response for Palm Sunday

We sing and dance with the crowds as we enter the city, joyfully we share the light of God that is among us.
May its light continue to glow as the week draws on and the darkness gathers.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

To go with The Church in the World: Poverty and Wealth

We are called to be people of faith in the midst of the world,
and so we mix our worship and our work, our faith and our life.
We know that in the world there are winners and losers,
People who have a lot and people who have next to nothing.
We are called to care for our brothers and our sisters,
Seeking out abundant life for all.
God of abundance, we come to this time of worship,
thirsty for the water of life, seeking to be fed with rich food.
During this time of prayer and song, speaking and listening
open our hearts and our minds so that we will be ready to face the challenging question in a world of winners and losers.
We pray in the name of Jesus, who taught his friends to pray by saying together...
God, you created the world and said that it was good!
And then you called your human creations to be stewards of what was created.
God, as stewards, we are called to manage the abundance that surrounds us,
but we know that our stewardship has been found lacking.
God, you call us to care for those who struggle in life,
to ask seriously why the world has abundance for some while others lack what they need.
In a world where there are always those who do not have enough,
and where we sometimes fail to ask the hard questions, where we have failed to be good stewards of the world's abundance,
Forgive us, redirect us, lead us back to the path that leads to Eden...
...time of silent prayer...
God created the world and said it was good! God calls us to live in the Kin-dom of God! Through Grace we continue to return to the path to Paradise, where all have what they need.
Thanks be to God! Amen. 
As people of faith we have gathered for worship.
As people of faith we now return to the world.
We go from here to a world where there is great abundance.
We go from here to a world where there is great need.
Go out to challenge yourselves and those around you.
We go to ask the hard questions about how best to respond to the reality of winners and losers
Go to share the good news of God's abundance, calling those who thirst to come and drink, those who have no money to come buy and eat.
So that all enjoy the abundance of God.
Go with God, who calls us to return to Paradise on this Earth.