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Worship Words: May 16, 2021

PRAYER 1 by Sarah Erickson Merciful God, you invite us to be in beloved community, connected to you and one another. Help us nurture these connections so that they lead to the fullest expression of our shared humanity instead of building walls of separation between one another and the community you desire. We pray in the name of the One leads in the way of resurrection hope. Amen.

PRAYER 2 by Sarah Erickson Merciful Jesus, you shower us with grace. You show us how to be faithful disciples. Yet we are often quick to dismiss the complex simplicity of it all. Forgive our stubbornness. Help us see your vision of shalom and do our part to make it so. In the name of the One who is mercy incarnate. Amen.

PRAYER 3 by Sarah Erickson You, Lord, are the thread connecting us to one another. You weave together days into months and years. As this week begins,  hear our prayers and make sense of them, the laments and wails of despair, the sighs too deep for words, the acclamations of praise and wonder. Open us to receive your responses, so that we may connect our lives to You and the world you so love. In the name of the Christ who binds us together in love. Amen.

CALL to WORSHIP by Barb Hedges-Goettl

Why are we waiting on the promises of God?                                                            

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ is coming again.                                      

Why do we believe in the coming of God’s kingdom?                                                            

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ is coming again.                                           

What do we witness to?                                                                                        

Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ is coming again.                                 

Why do we devote ourselves to prayer?                                                                           

 Christ has died. Christ has risen. Christ is coming again. 

PSALMS in a TIME of SICKNESS: PSALM 1 paraphrase by Barb Hedges-Goettl

O God, bless us by making us more and more your people.

Keep us from following the bad advice of those who aren’t seeking you.

Redirect us away from the paths taken by those who don’t listen to you.

Free us from sitting with those who disbelieve the truth

    and scorn compassion.

Let us delight in you: in your Word and your teachings.

Fill our hearts, minds, and souls with you every hour of the day and night.

Plant us by your streams of living water. Grow us into trees rooted in you.

Make us fruitful according to your time and plan.

Let us flourish as your people, following your way,

    without withering or faltering.

Those who don’t follow you are like chaff driven by the wind.

They cannot withstand judgment.

They do not stand with the congregation of the righteous.

Their way perishes.

Chart the path for us, O God.

Watch over us on the way, O Lord, to you.

May your way guide our feet,

    and our paths help others find their way.

In the name of Jesus, our Guide and Pioneer, Amen.

PRAYER of CONFESSION by Barb Hedges-Goettl based on the Belhar Confession

Prayer of Confession #3

Call to Confession:

One: God has given the church the message of reconciliation in and through Jesus Christ, but we fall short of God’s call to be salt of the earth and the light of the world.

Prayer of Confession:

All: God, our fears and prejudices run deep. Sometimes we can only see our own point of view.

We stick with those who are like us, rarely venturing outside our comfort zones. We do not hear

those crying for justice and true peace. We blame those who are suffering and in need instead of standing by them. We deny the power of your gospel to unite us with those who are different from us.

Lord, give us eyes to see and ears to hear. Use us to open new possibilities of life for all of your people.

Assurance of Forgiveness

One: We are reconciled with God and with one another through Christ’s work. Thanks be to God

for the Good News: All:  In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

Confession of Faith #3/Litany by Barb Hedges-Goettl (drawn from the Belahr Confession)

The three parts of this litany may be used separately or in flexible combinations.

a.

One: We believe that unity is both a gift and an obligation for the church of Jesus Christ.

Many: Through the work of God’s Spirit, unity is a binding force.

One: At the same time, unity must also be earnestly pursued and sought.

Many: We must be continually built up to attain this unity.

One: Our unity must become visible to the world.

Many: Separation and hatred between people and groups is sin, already conquered by Christ.

One: Anything threatening our unity has no place in the church.

Many: We commit ourselves to resisting anything that threatens our unity.

One: The unity of the people of God is active and made manifest.

All: Thanks be to God.

(For this next section it works well for the two groups to make the proclamations below to each other.)

Group One: The communion of saints called from the entire human family is united by God.

Group Two: As the people of God, we love one another.

Group One: We experience, practice, and pursue community with one another.

Group Two: We give ourselves willingly and joyfully to one another.

Group One: We are a benefit and blessing to one another.

Group Two: We share one faith and have one calling.

Group One: We are one body, and are of one soul and mind.

Group Two: We have one God and Father.

Group One: We are filled with one Spirit.

Group Two: We are baptized with one baptism.

Group One: We eat of one bread and drink of one cup.

Group Two: We confess one name and are obedient to one Lord.

Group One: We work for one cause and share one hope.

All: Thanks be to God.

c.

All: Together we confess that God unites us in faith.

Together we come to know the height, and the breadth, and the depth of the love of Christ.

Together we are built up to the full stature of Christ.

Together we know and bear one another’s burdens.

We admonish one another. We comfort one another. We suffer with one another.

We need one another and we build up one another.

Together we pray. Together we serve God in this world.

Together we fight against all which may threaten or hinder this unity.

Thanks be to God for drawing and keeping us together.

Charge/Benediction in 2 voices by Barb Hedges-Goettl

L: By the power of the Holy Spirit         P: we are Christ’s witnesses. 

L By the power of the Holy Spirit          P: we witness to Christ at work in you. 

L: By the power of the Holy Spirit          P: we witness to Christ at work in others. 

L: By the power of the Holy Spirit         P:  we witness to Christ in the world 

ALL: We live, love, and are blessed by the power of the Spirit. Thanks be to God. Amen. 

______________________________

Barb Hedges-Goettl is a Presbyterian pastor with a doctorate in liturgy. She and her husband recentlly moved from Philadelphia to Rehoboth Beach, DE. She has been working with inner-city middle school students as a special ed teacher and will soon begin to serve as a full-time interim pastor at Makemie Memorial Presbyterian Church, Snow Hill, MD.

_____________________________

If you are looking for some words to use for worship, or some inspiration for your own, here are some you can use or adapt, thanks to members of our RevGals community. If you can please give credit in video descriptions or print versions, that would be great, though spoken verbal attribution is not necessary.

Worship Words: April 18, 2021

Psalm 4 Paraphrase by Barb Hedges-Goettl                                                                                                                                                      

God, you are right and just and true.

When I call with a loud cry,

    You answer me.

You widen the straits of distress

   that bind and besiege me.

When my world is small, narrow, and cramped,

  You give me room to breathe.

When I am stuck between a rock and hard place,

   You let me loose in your broad, wide pasture.

You bend to me in kindness and mercy,

    understanding my prayer.

How long will people hurt God’s reputation

     and damage God’s honor and glory?

How long will we love empty words,

     seeking lies and requiring falsehoods,

     and yearning after worthless things?

Set us aside for yourself, O Lord.

     Make us your good and faithful ones,

     Your kind and godly ones,

     Your saints by Your mercy.

O Lord, hear me when I call to you.

When I am trembling and quivering,

       Agitated and disturbed,

       Angry and disquieted,

       Worried and anxious,

             Keep me from sin.

Inspire me to meditate on you at night.

    Put me to bed and tuck me in with your comfort.

    Whisper to the ears of my heart, that I may hear you.

    Quiet and calm me in my whole being.

I confess my dependence on you.

    Enable me to wait upon you

    With confidence and patience.

I offer myself in thanksgiving;

    I give myself to you because of your mercy.

    I respond to your love with love of my own.

    I respond to the all you give me

        With my all.

I put my trust in you.

    I hold out my hand for your hand.

    I offer my heart to your heart.

    I offer my mind to your purposes.

    I offer my body to your body.

Be my hope,

      my boldness,

      my security,

      my confidence,

             my God.

There are many who say:

       “Oh, that we might perceive some good!”

Shine your light upon us, O God!

        Make your presence dawn upon us.

Give us joy and gladness

        at our deepest heart of hearts–

Joy greater than a bountiful harvest

         or material riches.

Bestow gladness in our very being,

         A share in your joy.

We will lie down and sleep;

         We will be stilled and remain at peace,

         dwelling in God’s house,

         where we can safely lie down.

Thanks be to God.

Opening Prayer(adapted from Psalm 4) by Barb Hedges-Goettl

My God,

Be my hope,

      my boldness,

      my security,

      my confidence,

My God.

Call to Worship (adapted from Psalm 4) by Barb Hedges-Goettl

There are many who say:

       “Oh, that we might perceive some good!”

Shine your light upon us, O God!

        Make your presence dawn upon us.

Give us joy and gladness

        at our deepest heart of hearts–

Joy greater than a bountiful harvest

         or material riches.

Bestow gladness in our very being,

         A share in your joy.

Confession of Faith in the Good News cf. Acts 3 (RCL) and Acts 6-7 (NL) by Barb Hedges-Goettl                                                                                                                         

We believe and receive the Good News. We experience God’s confounding of the evil of crucifixion with the grace of resurrection.  We participate in God’s conversion of mourning into dancing. We are dressed in grave clothes made over into glad rags. We are lifted up from the grave and given new life. God lifts us up from down-and-out to up-and-at-‘em. For this Good News, we give thanks to God. Amen.

Prayer of thanks for a witness by Barb Hedges-Goettl

God, we thank you that we have a witness. You bear witness to yourself:  You proclaim that we are made in your image, and that image is very good.Jesus proclaims love for all people, the sacrificial love of a Shepherd for the sheep.The Spirit proclaims you with sighs too deep for words.

O God, we thank you that we have a witness. Witnesses have come before us: Prophets proclaim your justice for all people, rolling down like waters. The women at the tomb proclaim your confounding of evil and death through the resurrection. Astounding the crowd by healing the lame, Peter witnesses to forgiveness and resurrection. Condemned by false witnesses, Stephen witnesses to the Son of Man and forgiveness.

O God, we thank you that we have a witness. Witnesses are all around us:Give us ears to hear voices long silenced, peoples whose experiences challenge and correct our own. Fill our hearts with love for the diverse ways in which you speak, that we know and hear your word through each person’s own experience, and so honor your image and your presence in each one we meet.

O God, we thank you that we have a witness. Make us witnesses going forward, sharing what we have known, what we have heard:  your love, your hope, and the Good News of the resurrected life  redeemed from evil, death and all that would separate us from you and from one another.

In Jesus’ name and by the power of the Spirit we pray, Amen.

The below are from Rev. Katy Stenta, see https://katyandtheword.com/2021/04/13/prayers-for-acts-6-stoning-of-stephen/?fbclid=IwAR3hB6dxy9lTay-hhKQB1fNNGEWd6t6qPogFHHIt7j1lFjfox1L8VT5vaUw

Prayers for Acts 6: Stoning of Stephen

Acts 6:1-7:2, 44-60

Suggest Pairing Isaiah 66:1-2, 22-23

Call to Worship (based on Isaiah 66:13-14, ) 

God promises, asa  mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you

We shall see, and our hearts shall rejoice. 

Come let us pray for the Lord, for God is Good. 

Come let all flesh give God Thanks and Praise. 

Prayer of Confession: God, we confess that we find comfort in tradition. We have struggled throughout this year as so many things have had to change. Walk with us this spring and we try to understand what it is we need to keep, and what it is we can leave behind. Help us to choose, always and forever, the ways that lead us closer to your kingdom. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen 

Assurance of Pardon: God’s promises to remake heaven and earth in God’s forgiveness. Let us share the good news with one another: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of Dedication: (unison) Lord, let us go forth giving thanks for all that is good. Place praise for you on our lips and on our tongues, that others might see and know and understand your love. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Hymns: Morning Has Broken, Jesu Jesus Fill Us with Your Love, Called as Partners to Christ’s Service, Great is Thy Faithfulness, Amazing Grace,

The Pastoral is Political: Climate–and Culture–Change

Did you notice the sea change? The climate change? The culture change? The water we drink, the air we breathe, our world, is increasingly polluted. And I don’t mean the climate change affecting (just) our water and air and world. I mean the change in our culture.

The U.S. climate has taken a turn for the worse. The number of violent attacks on people who are “different” is up. Lies are taken as truth. Values are dissed. Reputations are in tatters. Authenticity is hard to find. And all of these negatives threaten to take over. They are compelling; they demand our attention; they engender in us a desire to respond in kind. They threaten to bring about a change in us, rather than vice versa.

My jobs in the past five years have been in urban public charter schools. A big piece of what such schools hope to accomplish occurs in our climate; through our culture. We seek to build a place of mutual respect, of caring, of truth; a place encouraging us all—staff and students, to do and be our best selves.

I used to think our kids came to the charter school because their families were interested in education. But then a fellow staff member clued me in. Their home public schools are, many times, places of danger and violence, so they may come because, the last time they checked, no one had been killed or even seriously injured at the charter school. That is, the charter school’s culture and climate may be just enough better that they don’t fear for their lives there. And that alone is worth the change in placement.

Climate and culture are of great importance in our learning, living, working and worshiping. Continue reading “The Pastoral is Political: Climate–and Culture–Change”

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