A Prayer Before Daybreak

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God of Mystery-

As the night peels away from the far reaches of the sky
And the dew visits the tips of grass’ blades,
May your calmness wrap around our souls
Like a blanket.

May the sounds of morning’s friends
Welcome us back from dreamland.

Rescue us from the grasps of anxiety
And the claims of hopelessness.

Sing to us the songs of mercy,
And grant us the grace to embrace this fresh start that we see with each sunrise.

Amen.

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Showing Hospitality to Strangers: A Communion Liturgy

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This communion liturgy was written for a Sunday in which we were featuring the musical The Sound of Music.  I was preaching on welcoming the stranger and caring for immigrants and refugees.  Scriptures included that morning were of the Holy Family’s escape to Egypt as found in Matthew 2, Hebrews 13:2, and the Leviticus 19 text in which we are given the following command:

“When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” 

SERVICE OF COMMUNION

Invitation
One: God be with you,
Many: And also with you.
One: Open wide your hearts!
Many: We open them up to God.
One: Let us give thanks for this time and space,
Many: Giving praise to God for this meal we will share.

Prayer
One: We are surrounded by a world of hunger and hurt.  We are surrounded by injustices, loneliness, illnesses, and hate.  Yet through you, God, we know a different story.  

Our sacred story tells us of many times when our ancestors dined with the Divine. When the Israelites left Egypt, they escaped with little resources.  As refugees, they moved into the wilderness. In their exile, God rained sacred sustaining bread from heaven.  

Our sacred story tells us of times when our ancestors dined with those who hungered.  When Abraham was approached by three strangers, he offered them bread to rebuild their bodies and refresh their souls.

Our sacred story tells us that when sojourners listening to the teachings of Jesus became hungry, Jesus gathered loaves and fish, ultimately providing enough for all in attendance with twelve additional baskets to share.

Our sacred story tells us that on the night before Jesus died, as he and his friends gathered in a room, Jesus clenched a loaf of bread.  He broke the loaf and said “do this in remembrance of me.”  And after supper, as the night grew long, Jesus took a cup.  As he blessed its contents, he exclaimed “Drink in remembrance of me.”

And our sacred story tells us that two of the disciples were on their way to Emmaus and came upon a stranger on the journey.  In a spirit of hospitality, they invited him to stay. As their new friend broke the bread, they were able to see the Christ.

Our table extends beyond this time and space: to food pantries, to community meals, to dinners shared with home-bound friends, and to coffee shared with friends who grieve.  When two or three are gathered, the Christ is present. As scriptures detail, in showing hospitality to strangers, we entertain the angels in our midst. As we have experienced, while sharing bread and cup, we have encountered angels among us.

May the Spirit of God encircle these gifts with love.  May the Spirit of God bless these gifts and, in doing so, bless the connections between all here and all in our hearts.  May the Spirit of God bless the widows and spouseless ones, children without parents and children from foreign lands, the last and first, the poor in spirit and the ones who hunger and thirst for righteousness.  May all of your children in each space on our earth feel your love and experience the winds of your righteousness. Amen.

Distribution of Elements

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

We celebrate our gratitude, Divine Companion.  As this spiritual meal has nourished us, inspire us to feed our neighbors and journey with the lonely.  Through our co-creation together, may we spread love throughout our world and extend your hospitality to people in need.  Amen.

(c) Rev. Michelle L. Torigian.  Free to use with attribution.

A Prayer Upon Receiving a Diagnosis

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Molecular God who abides in my veins,
As the words spill from the doctor’s mouth
Of a new diagnosis,
Of a new reality,
Of a new normal,
Hold steady my shaking soul.

There are words now for the pain I’ve been feeling,
And I’m happy that it’s finally not “all in my head.”
Yet now it’s real.
Now I really must face this.
Now I must see that this body of mine is finite
And admit I will not live forever.

May good days be good, and may they be plentiful.
May bad days be few and far between.
May medicines work.
May side effects be rare.
And may the aches not distract me from your presence.

Amen.

To My Representative – My Letter to You on Immigration

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Today, I received the following email blast from my Congressional Representative Mike Bost:

Without question, we have a national crisis occurring on our southern border. I have long said that we will never be able to secure our nation until we start fully enforcing our immigration laws and closing existing loopholes.

For too long, migrants from other countries have abused and exposed current immigration laws to gain access to our country, costing taxpayers billions of dollars. That is why I recently voted against legislation that would have hamstrung our agents working at the border, broadened loopholes and failed to fix the crisis. I will continue to ensure our laws are enforced and that our border is protected.

I paused my evening to write the following:

Your most recent email to your constituents was hyper-focused on crafting inflexible rules on immigration.

I do not care so much to “combat” illegal immigration as I care that those who are being held are being treated humanely and with compassion. Separating children from families and not giving any of the incarcerated refugees basic necessities (personal hygiene items, proper clothing, showers, food) lacks that compassion. There is a lack of care to God’s children being detained at the border.

In Matthew 2, scripture says that Jesus, Mary and Joseph were refugees in the land of Egypt in order to escape danger. If Jesus had come into this country without proper paperwork, would you separate Jesus from his parents? Would the agents keeping watch hold back hygiene items, medicine, food, proper blankets and clothing, etc. from Jesus and his parents?

My grandfather was a refugee to this country. Like some of your other constituents, I am a descendant of the Armenian Genocide. In the early 20th century, the powers-that-be in this country deemed our ethnicity as white so that they could become citizens. If not, I may never have been born, and my grandfather could have grown up in a country without our freedoms.

Many of our ancestors were immigrants and refugees. Because my family was afforded a place here, I believe we MUST do the same for our neighbors. Leviticus 19:33-34 states this: “When an alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Repeatedly in scripture, we are told to take care of the foreigner/alien, orphans and widows. We people of Judeo-Christian faith have no excuse but to take care of the people that are being detained at the border.

Please make it a first priority to see that refugees/immigrants/asylum seekers are treated with the kindness that we are to treat our friends. Being rigid in the way our neighbors to the south are treated reflects poorly on our country. If you truly love our country, you must truly love our heritage – a heritage of immigrants and refugees who have found home here.

 

Matins

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As the Spirit nudged me from the depths of sleep,

My shoes soaked the tears of joy which collected on the morning lawn.

The chill which remained from mid-night’s festivities,

Lingered around a little longer to wish morning’s visitors a hello.

The crest of the sun reminded us to hold on-

She would only be another minute or two.

It isn’t yet her time.

And as the sun made her full daily appearance,

The geese collected to sing their morning prayer.

Alleluia, Amen.

A Prayer for the Church in Divisive Times

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Spirit of God who hovered over the chaos of the forming planet-

You created humanity to co-create with you. Yet we still haven’t absorbed that co-creating means absorbing and embracing the messiness that comes with renewal and change.

You ask us to carry your precious ekklesia. We hold it too tightly. We are reckless and drop your gift as we see it shatter in millions of pieces.

Forgive us if we have damaged the Church that Christ has gifted us.

As we approach yet another controversial issue, we worry: will this either shatter the hearts of those who have been excluded or shatter the covenant which holds a multi-faceted Church into further broken pieces?

Whichever way your Spirit is blowing, ensure that transformation of hearts happens alongside of this vote. May those who can only see a scripture of exclusion see how God’s love extends beyond pages of text. May those whose hearts are broken in pieces because they feel hated know the love found in you, Holy Comforter.

May our definition of covenant continue to grow. And may our hearts continue to transform and repent when needed.

However this resolves, do not allow us to be noisy gongs or clanging cymbals. May we be bells which resonate love in each toll. Allow our claps be held until the time in which we can all see one another through the eyes of God.

Amen.

A Liturgy for Trinity Sunday

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CALL TO WORSHIP  (Inspired by Psalm 8)
One: God, how majestic is your name throughout this earth!
Many: From the farthest reaches of the planet to the spaces immediately in front of us.
One: Whether we call you Mother or Father, Companion or Lord-
Many: How majestic is your name throughout this earth!
One: Whether we see you as Spirit or Savior, Creator or Comforter-
Many: Your name is majestic throughout this earth!
One: How many ways there are to know you!  How many ways to call you!
Many: How majestic is your Spirit throughout this earth!

INVOCATION (Unison)
Divine Whirl who moves about as three-in-one: we can’t fully comprehend your complete greatness. Our minds spin as we attempt to thoroughly understand the concept of Trinity, of how you work as Creator God, Christ, and Holy Spirit.  Although our minds are finite, we still look towards you in our growing understanding of how you work, God. Inspire us in your movement so that we whirl in your love. Amen.

PRAYER OF RECONCILIATION
One: Spinning, Whirling God, you pirouette as the Creator, Christ, and Holy Ghost.  The three images dance in unison. Unfortunately, with our limited minds, we can only see you in one form.  We then curb ourselves to how we experience you. We call you by only a few of your names. We limit our songs.  We are drawn by few prayers. We make spiritual growth as easy on ourselves as possible.

All: Break down the confines in which we place you.  Encourage us to move beyond our comfort zones. Help us to know you from a variety of angles, and nudge us to listen to others’ stories of you.  May our spirits of understanding grow as we see you from different perspectives. Amen.

ASSURANCE OF GRACE
One: God knows that stepping outside of our comfort zones and seeing the world from different views is difficult on us.  When we stay in safe spiritual spaces, God still loves us. The God who dances in our world will continue to call us new spaces, sharing grace with us in our moments of hesitation.  Amen!

All: Amen!

CALL TO OFFERING
One: The Spirit is calling us to use our time.  The Christ is beckoning us to use our talents. God is desiring us to use our treasures to construct God’s kin-dom.  Let us celebrate all of creation and each of the ways God appears to us as we share in this time of offering.

DEDICATION PRAYER
How majestic is the name of the Christ – the one who asks us to love through our gifts.  How majestic is the name of the Holy Spirit – the one who energizes us to share our time and talents.  How majestic is the name of our God – our source of blessings. May we use our gifts as a way to strengthen our world and build the kin-dom of God.  Amen.

BENEDICTION
One: The Divine is spinning, whirling around you.
Taste the sweetness from their fruits.
Feel the winds from her movement.
Hear the joy from his song.
Through the Holy Spirit, may we go forth in strength.
Through the Christ, may we go forth in love.
Through God, may we go forth in peace.
Three-in-one.  One-in-three.
Moving to bring forth love, justice, and mercy in our world.
Amen.

A Liturgy for Pentecost

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INVITATION TO HOLY SPACE
Dream – God said.  It’s time for you to dream in ways you never have before.

It’s time for you to open up your soul to the expanding nature of my Spirit.
It’s time for you to share this joy with the people surrounding you
It’s time for you to look deeply within you
Around you
In front of you
For the ways in which I am talking.

Dream – God said.  In this space you will dream in ways you never have before.
It’s time for you to reconfigure the box you’ve put me in.
It’s time for you to knock down the barriers that you’ve placed between you and your neighbors.
It’s time for you to delight in the ways we are church
And the ways we connect with our friend, foe, and stranger.

Be amazed.
Be perplexed.
Get excited.

CALL TO WORSHIP (Based on Psalm 104)
One: God rides on the wings of the wind.
Many: And God makes the winds messengers.
One: God makes fire and flame ministers
Many: As we seek the delivery of God’s visions.
One: May God’s glory endure forever.
Many: May our songs be praise-filled to God, for I rejoice in the Spirit’s offerings.

INVOCATION
Holy Winds who supply our souls with hope, we enter Pentecost with spirits of anticipation.  As the rush of your gales infuse us with visions, may we continue to keep ourselves open to possibilities.  As the flames ignite our once-cold souls with warm dreams, may we keep ourselves focused on your presence in our lives.  Amen.

PRAYER OF RECONCILIATION
God of the Open Doors, we have tried to cram you into small boxes.  We have repeatedly told ourselves that your dreams won’t become a reality.  We have devoted our time to obstructing doors and locking windows when your Spirit tries to deliver its visions.  Clear doubt from our minds.  Call us from our locked rooms where we hide behind couches of fear and drapes of doubt.  May the hope and boldness of Pentecost become our new way of living.  Amen.

ASSURANCE OF GRACE
One: God’s Spirit ushers grace into our lives.   As the Spirit’s hope endures forever, may the fires of possibility ignite our souls.  The Spirit will transform our minds as she refills our spirits.  May we see new ways of living and loving as we dream the Spirit’s dream.  Amen!

Many: Amen!  Thanks be to God!

CALL TO OFFERING
One: The Spirit’s winds are always nudging us to new ways of giving.  How is God’s Spirit asking us to contribute to our community today?  As we reflect on our offerings of time and talent, we come together to offer God our praise through the giving of our treasures.

PRAYER OF DEDICATION
This is the time for us to dream together, Spirit of Visions.  This is the time for our joy of giving and our imaginations to run wild with hope.  With thanksgiving, we celebrate the gifts contributed today as we commit to dream with you, Holy Spirit.  Amen.

BENEDICTION
One: The Holy Winds of Imagination will lead from behind as we enter our Pentecost journey.  The Holy Christ will lead from ahead, beckoning us to live in love.  Our Holy God will lead from beside us, reminding us always we are never alone.  Get excited – friends!  For this is the time for us to dream in ways we never have before!  Amen!

Many: Amen!

A Pentecost Communion Liturgy on this site can be found here.

(c) Rev. Michelle L. Torigian.  Permission to use with attribution.

A Prayer for Youth Fearing Summer Break

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Possible Trigger Warning of Child Abuse

God of the Midmorning, the Early Summer, the Dusk-

We often focus on the youth who rush out of the classrooms into their summer. We focus on their anticipation of free days and joy like the summers afforded us.

The stars aligned for us… but didn’t for many children.

What we forget is our youths’ dread and concern of extra spending time at home during summer break- houses empty of food and filled with stress and violence.

We forget that they wake in worry of what the day will bring- extra bruises, extra hunger, extra chaos.

May their summer days be filled with activities of fun. As they spend time outdoors, may they find safety in friends and neighbors. May they be able to afford programs that the community offers.

As the fireflies return in the evening, May their homes be filled with peace. May they not feel the emptiness of hunger or the fullness of trauma. May their sleep be restful, and may their tomorrows be overflowing with hope.

Amen.

Tears, Songs, and Hearing His Voice

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This morning, I supercried at church – weeping like a small child.

The song was “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” Beyond the voices of the choir, I could hear the sound of my dad’s voice…

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me…

My dad would sing the song with every fiber of his being. His (probably) tenor voice would sing each syllable with intent. As a civics teacher, a Genocide survivor’s son, and a person who believed Christianity was an active faith, the song was probably the best representation of what he believed.

Let peace begin with me, let this be the moment now…

And so, when this song is sung as it was today with the choir, every piece of my being remembered him. I remembered his articulation of faith, of his voice singing a song that was a prayer in his heart. I remembered our time sitting next to one another in church as my faith grew next to his more matured, more articulated faith.

Songs connect us with people and the past. Of moments of joy and of losses. We know what we no longer have, but we know that we’ve been given the gift of something spectacular – the holiness of song, of love, of spirit.

To take each moment, and live each moment, in peace eternally-

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.