Liturgy for Epiphany 2C

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Call to Worship (Inspired by Psalm 36)
One: In God’s light, we see light.
Many: With God we are drenched in the fountain of light and life.
One: With God, we experience the river of delights
Many: Experiencing the abundance of gifts from the Source of Life.
One: God’s steadfast love extends from coast to coast
Many: And from earth to heaven, returning again.
One: How treasured is the love of God
Many: Seen in the decanting of talents and surplus of gifts.

Invocation (Unison)
Divine Decanter, you pour your spirit into our souls and your love into our hearts.  Like the transformation of water to wine, our simple aptitudes are expanded to strength our world.  In this space today, may we reflect on how to best use our gifts to better your Kin-dom and care for our neighbors.  May we ponder the ways that we can encourage our spiritual siblings to utilize the gifts they carry on their journeys.  Amen.

Prayer of Reconciliation (Unison)
God, we extinguish others’ dreams in our quest to survive.  We dowse their hopes and their courage with discouragement.  Because of our negativity and jealousy, they stop their quest to develop their gifts.  Give us the vision to see that all of us have a place on this earth.  Help us to seek success for all people – not just ourselves.  May we become a team with our spiritual siblings so that we can use our talents to create a light-filled world.  Amen

Assurance of Grace
One: God, our Divine Decanter, is lavishing us with grace and boldness as we head into the future.  Celebrate this abundance by sharing love and light with your neighbors.

Call to Offering
One: We are vessels filled with the Spirit of Gifts.  With the nudging of God and neighbors, we explore the ways that we can utilize our talents and treasures for the health of the Kin-dom of God.   As we gather our offerings today, let us reflect on the ways we can best employ our gifts.

Prayer of Dedication (Unison)
Spirit of Gifts, with gratitude we pour our talents for you.  Stir our souls today.  Move us to courageous ways of giving and encourage us to fill basins of hope for humanity.  Amen.

Benediction
One: As we head on our journeys this week, Divine Decanter-
Pour your courage into our souls.
Pour your love into our hearts.
Pour your vigor into our minds.
Fill our spiritual vessels to the brim so that we may abundantly lavish life and light into our world.

Amen!

For conversation:
Who was someone in your life who nudged you to step outside of your comfort zone and try out one of your gifts?

*****

Written by Rev. Michelle L. Torigian.  Permission to use with attribution

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Epiphany 1C Worship

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One: In this space, we bring our whole selves to worship God.
Many: In this place, God affirms us for who we are today.
One: Even when drifting away, God calls us back by name.
Many: Even when doubts settle in our mind, God walks with us.
One: In our times of flooding and fire, we are not alone.
Many: In our despair, God nurtures our wounded hearts.

Invocation (Unison)
Divine Designer, you constructed creation and called it good.  You formed all humans in your image, and you celebrated with joy.  Whether we join you here in this place at a time of joy or sorrow, we thank you for your steadfast presence.  May we focus our attention to listen to each other’s stories, and may we grow to understand one another as Jesus the Christ understood the people of this earth.  Amen.

Prayer of Reconciliation
One: There are distracting messages around us which sidetrack our authentic journeys with God.  We believe we are not good enough until we change our looks or our socioeconomic status.  We constantly compare ourselves to our neighbors, wondering why our lives are not as successful.  We will even pressure others to live into society’s shallow principles.

All: We do not follow the Divine’s call to be authentic.  We take our cues from the world’s fondness for superficiality.  Forgive us for placing this pressure upon ourselves and others.  Help us to live an authentic life, and nudge us to encourage our neighbors to live true to themselves.  We are all made in your image, God.  May we allow this genuine picture of ourselves to shine in this world.  Amen.

Assurance of Grace
One: God says “you are mine!”  God knows us throughout, and God is willing to join us on our journey through floods and fires.  Let us embrace grace, knowing that all of your children are integral part of our communities and this earth.  Amen.

All: Amen.  Thanks be to God!

Call to Offering
One: The gifts of God embolden us to serve our world with love and understanding.  How is God calling us to serve in this new year?  With thanksgiving, we explore our gifts from God and seek ways to share them with God’s children.

Prayer of Dedication (Unison)
In this sparkling new year, Divine Designer, we thank you for all we have.  Impart wisdom upon us.  Give us the humility to listen for the best use of our gifts.  Allow the courage that comes from you to enter our hearts so that we, too, can face fires and floods to comfort your children.  Amen.

Benediction
One:  May the God of Courage restore your hearts.
May the Christ of Compassion renew your minds.
May the Spirit of Continuous Presence replenish your souls.
Throughout this new year, may you each remember that God will always exclaim “You are mine!” and accompany you wherever you journey.  Amen!

Conversation: If you could write a note to your eighth grade self, what would you say?  If you could tell a pre-teen, teenager, or young adult words of encouragement, what  would you say?

Communion Liturgy for Epiphany

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Invitation

One: Here at this table and in this sanctuary, let the Divine Spark enter our lives.
Many: Let the Holy Light aid us in seeing the Christ in our midst.
One: The Brightness of Jesus the Christ will illuminate our way.
Many: The Radiance of the Christ will warm our hearts.

One: God is shining upon you!
Many: And God’s light streams upon you!
One: Open your hearts.
Many: We open them to the brilliance of God.
One: Let us give thanks for the light and love of God.
Many: We praise our Creator with joy and thanksgiving.

Prayer

One: We enter this stunning space eager to experience the presence of the Christ.  Notice the Christ in the cries of the children. Spot the Christ your neighbor’s singing.  Recognize the Christ in the laughter from the back of the sanctuary. The Christ is gleaming here, summoning us to share love and light as we greet our neighbors, share peace, pass the bread and cup, and love kindness across this earth.

On the night before Jesus died, when some were plotting to extinguish the Holy Light, warmth was shared between friends.  Jesus took bread. In his blessing, he passed the Divine Glow to his followers. As he broke the bread, he reminded them to eat in remembrance of him.

Later that same evening, Jesus took the cup.  He blessed it and invited his friends to taste from the cup of grace.  “Do this, as often as you drink of this, for the remembrance of me.”’

Holy Spirit, may your Divine Glow bless this bread and cup.  Warm our hearts made cold by a chilled world. May this meal inspire us to carry your warmth into our world.  Amen.

Distribution of the Elements

Prayer of Thanksgiving
God of Light and Love, we cherish this table in this season when the nights are long and cold.  Through this meal, the Christ, and our neighbors, our hearts have warmed. May the comfort in our souls sustain us through winter and nudge us to create welcoming spaces for our neighbors.  With gratitude, we leave here energized to kindle your love in this world. Amen.

Please feel free to use this service of communion with attribution to Rev. Michelle L. Torigian.

 

Christmas Eve – Lighting the Christ Candle

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A warm glow spreads throughout our world declaring that God is with us. The light which extends from the farthest reaches of our earth to the neighbor next door alerts us that we are not alone throughout these long winter nights.

Tonight we proclaim the hope that inspires us to keep moving forward on our journeys. We recognize the peace that extends from our souls into the world. We celebrate the joy that fills our spirits with excitement. And we herald the love passed between the Christ and us and between our neighbors and us.

As the Christ Candle is kindled, we celebrate the compassion which will overcome hatred and the kindness which will overcome isolation.

May the light seen tonight fill our souls throughout the new year and beyond, enlivening our spirits throughout eternity.

Amen.

A Prayer on International Migrants Day

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Wandering Spirit- as we speak aloud or quietly remember migrants in our world, may we seek the stories of those who yearn to survive.

Your children hope for homes in which they can thrive.  May they find a permanent place to rest – if they so choose.  May they have abundant food, healthcare, and housing.  May possibilities for employment be plentiful. May love surround their homes, and may love walk with them on their journeys.

Spirit of Safety, shine on our sojourner siblings.  As they cross borders and walk on arid ground, give them the light they need to find smooth pathways.

As our neighbors walk miles, allow them the strength they need.  When food is insufficient and water is lacking, connect them with the resources they need for survival.

We pray for the families who have lost loved ones on their journeys, in exile, and imprisoned.  May Divine peace which extends beyond time and space comfort our friends who continue to lament.

May the powers that be see all migrants with the dignity they deserve.  May those with authority acknowledge our common humanity yet differing stories.  May we all open our souls to the narratives of neighbors who are unlike us, and may we advocate for the migrants who have been robbed of dignity.

Nudge us to recall the stories of our ancestors who risked everything to migrate to distant lands.  With thanksgiving, we celebrate the bravery of our kin, and pray for the courage of our siblings around this world.

During this season of Advent, may we connect with neighbors near and far, knowing that you, God, are calling us to radically love on our journeys.

Amen.

*****

You can find more information on International Migrants Day here.

Advent Candle Lighting Prayer for Joy

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In the midst of our exiles, Spirit of Anticipation, your light is eclipsed by cynicism and despair. The wilderness continues beyond our expectations, and the probability of hope lasting in our souls seems unlikely.

The peace to which we seek is covered by the fog of hopelessness.

And yet, occasionally, even in the nighttime of our spiritual deserts, a small light can be seen in the distance.

Even when hope is small and the light is dim, we celebrate the moments that we detect possibilities ahead.

We light the candle of joy to optimistically announce the glow in life’s murkiness and the mirth that grows as we grow closer to the birth of the Christ.

Amen.

Advent Prayers – A Prayer on Premature Nights

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God who thrives in the shadows-
The frigid winds drive us back into our winter abodes
Nearly isolating us from our neighbors
And capturing our uplifted spirits until Spring.

As night arrives earlier than yesterday’s appearance,
We ask that this season refuses to keep us from spiritual seclusion
As we fight against our natural tendency to hibernate.

May this season of long nights
Be ones filled with warm memories,
Inviting conversations,
Cozy dwellings,
And rooms of mirth.

When the shadows grow long
And hope escapes,
May our spirits find breath to endure until tomorrow.

Amen.

Advent Prayers – A Prayer for Focus

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Spirit of Strength who abides with us in the sparkles and shadows-
In the midst of this glitzy season
Filled with every distraction known to people,
Give us the focus to finish what we’ve started.

May Advent draw our attention to the sweetness of the journey-
Not the saccharine superficial sentiments of cultural expectation.

May Advent enliven our spirits and energize our tired minds.

May Advent drive us away from disturbances
And give us the gall to reach into the caverns of injustice
to aid in the delivery of God’s holy righteousness.

Amen.

When We Aren’t the “Good Guys”

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“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” – Deuteronomy 10:17-19

 

“Now after they had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’” – Matthew 2:13-15

I remember through the seasons of The Walking Dead watching how Rick started as a person who wanted to stay as ethical as possible. As time passed and the situation wore on, Rick makes decisions in which his community unilaterally chooses to attack people in another group. While the others appeared more toxic, Rick and his followers forgot their system of ethics. To them, the end justified the means. Killing people out of a vague fear was a better decision than waiting to see what would happen next.

I feel that as Americans we have reached – or are at least nearing – this point once again. There have been times in the past which we have sunk this low. As Native Americans were slaughtered, slavery of people of color was encouraged, and people of Japanese ancestory were placed in internment camps, we were, without a doubt, the “bad guy.”

We acted out of fear and used privilege to invade our hearts. And now we watch refugees fleeing from dangerous parts of Latin America, and we refuse to have constructive conversations about this situation. When children are separated from their parents and kept in cages, we’ve reached an ethical valley. We’ve chosen to allow America to sink into the hole of injustice and fear once again.

We can’t just pretend that we are the “good guys” all of the time just because we are America. When we oppress aliens/sojourners/immigrants as well as widows/single moms and orphans/marginalized children, then we are absolutely not the “good guy.” I remember as children that we were taught that America was the best country and how fortunate to have been born here. As we got older, we heard history beyond the victor’s side. We’ve seen how America is the best country… but not for most Americans much of the time.

Back in the days of the Hebrew Bible, the Israelites always believed that God was on their side. But the prophets disagreed. As they left behind the widows, orphans, and aliens, God was not in favor of their actions.

So when unethical and marginalizing behaviors are being done in the name of America or the name of God, we must embrace a collective self-awareness that helps us to articulate that we have much room to change and grow. Just because we identify as American or Christian doesn’t automatically make us right when unhealthy actions are being done to others. If we wouldn’t treat Jesus this way, then why is it fine to treat others in the same manner?

Friends, it’s time for us to work together to end this reign of fear. It’s time for us to embrace the radical hospitality of Jesus. If we don’t, our country will keep regressing, and it’s spiritual flags will continue to become worn. By moving from exclusively nationalistic to inclusively patriotic, from fully autonomous to covenantal, and from fearful to embracing holy vulnerability, we will build the New Heaven and Earth God visions for our world.

 

A Retail Worker’s Prayer

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Ever-Present One, as the day seems long, and our energy is dwindling, give us the strength to see the hope and joy in this very moment.

Give us patience during these many hours. Help us to reach out in love. Open our eyes to new possibilities in our jobs. Present to us opportunities to spend time with friends and family, And provide us with restful sleep tonight.

Amen.