A Prayer for World Kindness Day

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Divine Tenderness-

As our world withers from the chills of words
And our souls are flooded from the tides of hate,
We embrace the tiny seeds of kindness still abiding around us.

For the ones who reach across aisles and tear down barriers
Our hearts celebrate.
For the ones who stand up to animosity
And refuse to let hatred win,
We send our songs of thanksgiving.

May we step out of our way to be kind to our neighbor today.
May we eschew cynicism after all of the prejudice we’ve seen.
May we embrace the light within ourselves and all of your creation.

May your holy glow push through the cracks in barriers
To reach each of your children here on earth.

Amen.

A Prayer at First Frost

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God whose love spans the seasons-

Late Autumn’s first frost has spoken,
Giving the world its sparkling gray hairs
And its plants wrinkles and jowls-
A reminder that Summer’s youthful glow
Has fallen away.

Frost’s beautiful glisten distracts us from the cold reality
Of the realm around us.

Divine Warmth, as the temperatures continue to dive,
Bless the ones whose homes lack heat,
The ones whose have no shelter,
The ones who can’t afford heated cars and lined coats.

Only through our work with you can your children feel your warmth.
Challenge us to give and serve
So that winter’s first frost
And the chill of the long nights
Will not have the last word.

Amen.

A Prayer as We Remember Our Saints

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God of Expanding Love,

Our week pauses as we remember the ones who walked with us here on earth. Our day stops as we cherish the memories of the people whose energy are forever embedded within our souls…

For the saints who let us call them grandparents. For our time together in the kitchen and wandering around garage sales, as we learned stitches from them and listened to their stories. May their talents challenge us to be our best selves.

For the saints who led us in classrooms. For their steadfast encouragement which still walks with us today. May their educating spirit uplift our souls until our last days.

For the saints who hit the clubs with us in our twenties and spent countless hours with us as we cried over broken hearts.  For the ones who sat on the phone with us as we shared our joys. May our friendship abide in eternity.

For the saints in the pews near us. For their faith which carried us when we couldn’t see the road ahead. May their songs continue to be remembered on Sunday mornings, in meeting spaces, and fellowship gatherings.

For the saints which called us their children. For their Divine-like love that comforted us when our fevers spiked or skinned knees. May we forever celebrate the peaceful moments of their love.

For our beloveds that no longer walk this earth with us. For the moments of laughter now embedded in our souls. May each tear shed and each tale told be a testament to our love shared.

If only we could hear your voice alive again…

If only we could engage in simple disagreements…

If only we could tell you how sorry we were for that one thing we did wrong in 1995…

Our hearts feel torn by the assault of grief. Our minds feel foggy from mourning’s arrival.

And yet here we are – weeks, months, years, decades removed from the last time we shared space with them. Here we are surviving. Here we are- carrying their love into tomorrow.

God of the broken-hearted, as we walk together into the future, allow us your peace which goes beyond understanding, a peace that will enrich our strength as we continue on our journeys. May the tools left behind by our saints empower us to build your kin-dom here on earth.

Amen.

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.

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.