Protect the Environment: A Liturgy for the “Be The Church Series”

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Call to Worship
One: Whether we live near mountains or in the plains-
Many: We are one in Christ.
 
One: Whether our winters are balmy or our summers are cool-
Many: We are one in Christ.
 
One: Whether we live on the East Coast, West Coast or somewhere in the middle-
Many: We are one in Christ.
 
One: Whether we live in urban dwellings, nestled in the suburbs or surrounded by a rural landscape-
Many: We are one in Christ.

One: In a spirit of unity, caring for one another-
Many: We are one in Christ.
 
Invocation
God of Creation, Divine Painter of Countrysides, we stand in awe of your handiwork.  From the bold geysers out West to rich red deserts of the south, your work creates a sense of wonder within each of us.  From the delicate snows of the north to the playful autumn foliage out east, your designs enliven us.  As we celebrate your creation today, we remember all of the times we experienced your presence in nature. We rejoice knowing that your hands made this spectacular earth and everything within it. Amen.

Prayer of Reconciliation
One: Sometimes, we forget that this earth is completely yours.  Sometimes, we neglect to remember that these lands were made by you for all humans.  Sometimes, we think we know better and believe we are entitled without remembering whose hands made this creation.
Many: For the times we neglected to remember you when rejoicing at creation-
For the times we neglected to care for creation when given the opportunities-
For the times we neglected to remember that you formed each human in your own image-
Forgive us God.  Help us to remember whose hands made the soil, the foliage, the birds, the snakes and each and every person on this planet.  Amen.

Assurance of Grace
One:   The cascades of God’s grace falls upon us always.  We stand in the flow of God’s mercy no matter where we abide.  May we rejoice that this grace pours upon us.

Scripture Readings: Genesis 1:1-31 & Psalm 65

Invitation to Offering
One:    We are always connected to all of creation.   Through the call of God’s Spirit, we are asked to care for the work of God’s hands.  We care for this work through our time, talent and treasures.  Let us offer our treasures in this time and space.

Prayer of Dedication
Through our financial treasures we can Be the Church.  Through these gifts we can care for your entire creation.  May your wisdom carry us as we use these gifts to strengthen your kin-dom.  May the winds of your Spirit propel us to use our gifts of time and talent to build a heaven-like earth.  Amen.

Benediction
One:   As we look upon each tree, each flower, each bird, each bee and each human, let us see our God reflected in creation.  As we look upon God’s world, let us share the love of Christ.  And as we love one another, may your Spirit give us the strength we need to care for each and every piece of creation.
All:     Amen.

*****

Worship service Be the Church: Protect the Environment written by Rev. Michelle L. Torigian

(c) 2016 Rev. Michelle L. Torigian.  Free to use with attribution.

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Be the Church Liturgy – Initial Week

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Call to Worship
One: Whether in the peak or the valley of our existence,
Many: We are the church.

One: Whether in the nighttime of our grief or the noontime of our joy,
Many: We are the church.

One: Whether sorrow surrounds us or excitement drives us,
Many: We are the church.

One: Whether two or three.  Whether fifty or seventy.  Whether one or two hundred,
Many: We are the church.

One: In a spirit of gentleness, humility, patience and love,
Many: We are the church.

Opening Prayer (unison)
Creator of Christ’s Body, Unifier of All, we join together this morning knowing we are not alone.  We do not walk solo in this life.  We travel with one another and you.  Through words, songs and silence, may your Spirit open us to the Divine and human company on our journey.  May we see that we are all part of one body, honoring differences in appearances, voices, views and gifts.  Amen.

Prayer of Reconciliation
One: We were created as individual parts of a body yet connected by spiritual tissues, tendons and ligaments.  We attempt to be the church as separate entities, neglecting that the Christ reminds us that two or three are required to be the Church.  In that fight to live divided from our neighbors, we hurt the entire body.  The body aches to work as one.

Many: Like the individual parts of the body attempting to work separately, we don’t work well on our own.  Our spiritual joints become dislocated, and our muscles begin to hurt leading to pain which reaches from one end of the body of Christ to the other.  In our weariness, give us the healing we need to move forward as one body.  Amen.

Assurance of Grace
One:   No matter how far we try to remove ourselves, we will forever be part of the Body of Christ.  We will forever be part of God’s family.  God extends healing to the body, restoring each connection with grace and love.

Scripture       1 Corinthians 12:12-13
Ephesians 4:1-7, 25-32
Matthew 18:18-20

Invitation to Offering
One:    We are many different parts of the one Body of Christ, of Christ’s Church.  As part of this body, we are called to share our gifts of time, talent and treasure.  May we take moments to embrace the giving of our treasures to God’s kin-dom.

Prayer of Dedication
We are ecstatic for the gifts that you have given us.  In our excitement, we give a portion back to you and your Church.  May we strengthen the Body of Christ, each cell, each ligament and each tissue in order to make the body whole, happy and healthy.  Amen.

Benediction
One:   As we go forward help us to remember that we are your church.  We are the body of Christ.  We are never alone or and live in holy interdependence.  May the God of connections, the Christ of wholeness and the Spirit which energizes us bring us together to make this world a peace-filled place.
All:     Amen.

*****

Worship service Be the Church written by Rev. Michelle L. Torigian

(c) 2016 Rev. Michelle L. Torigian.  Free to use with attribution.

A Liturgy for Easter 6C – Waiting for Healing

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CALL TO WORSHIP (Based on Psalm 67)

One: May God bless each one of us.
Many: May God bless our siblings across the world.
One: May God’s face shine upon us.
Many: May God’s face shine upon each of our neighbors of other races and religions.
One: May God’s way be known across this earth.
Many: May all nations experience God’s mercy and love.               
One: Let all nations be glad and sing for joy.
Many: Let all the peoples know you and sing your praises.

INVOCATION

God of Steadfast Radiance, as creation took form across the universe, your light bid all living beings a greeting of wellness. Crossing time and space, your illumination has alleviated the pain of shadows. Through your luminosity, we see the value of each of our worldwide siblings.  Continue to shine your light upon this earth so that we see the needs of our neighbors. May your moonglow and sunshine allow us to see your image in your children across our planet.  Amen.

PRAYER OF RECONCILIATION 

One: In the haste of our days, we rush to meet our needs.  In the process of our living, we occasionally will step in front of people.  On difficult days, we will even spiritually step over or on our neighbors. 

All: Forgive us, Divine Radiance.  May your mercy shine so brightly on our world that we can clearly see our neighbors’ needs. May your glow of kindness remind us to ensure all people have a place in line. May your righteousness move us to safeguard others’ essentials.  Encourage us to step aside to allow our marginalized neighbors to have their greater needs met before ours. Amen.

ASSURANCE OF GRACE

One: God’s Radiance will shower us with mercy and call us to new paths of care.  May the steadfast love of God give us the courage to create God’s realm here on earth.  Amen! Alleluia!

All: Amen!  Alleluia! Thanks be to God!

CALL TO OFFERING

One:   The Divine Radiance of God rains upon us.  As we flourish, may we never forget to care for creation, your children, and the church.  We take this time to reflect and to share from our gifts.

DEDICATION PRAYER

Loving God, Divine Gleam, as your light reaches this earth, may this brightness allow us to see the ways we are called to care.  Let our light shine before others so that our world is encouraged to foster your children across this globe. Amen.

BENEDICTION

One: Beloved Siblings in Christ,

Let us open our windows to the light of God

Let us open our doors to the Christ in our midst,

And let us open our hearts to the Spirit who compels us to share God’s love with our world.

Amen!   Alleluia!

All: Amen!  Alleluia!

*****

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

Not Today, Death

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This contains Game of Thrones season 8, episode 3 spoilers.

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Not today, Death.

Now, I haven’t been on the Game of Thrones bandwagon too long. But since I’ve been watching the past two seasons in real-time and now going back to watch from the beginning, I’m seeing a phrase that Arya Stark learns in season one and follows her into the intense moments of season eight: “Not today, Death.”

This phrase gave Arya the energy she needed to rise about the negativity, the doubt, the potential death she could be facing and take care of a major, necessary task which would save Winterfell and many, many people.

Being people who live into resurrection, we as the followers of Jesus the Christ embrace this statement each year through the season of Easter. Death could not contain the Christ and his love in a tomb. Death could not stop the movement of his passion to love his neighbor or the Good News of new life and grace.

So like Arya Stark on Winterfell’s Good Friday, we say

Not today, Death.

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Eternal Resilience: A Prayer Remembering the Armenian Genocide of 1915

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This was originally posted on my blog in 2015.

Soothing Spirit,
Whose gentle winds hovered over the Euphrates,
Surround our souls with support in these days of remembrance.

Strengthen our resolve to never let anyone forget
The atrocities of April 24 and beyond –
The genocide of the Armenian People.

They wanted to kill all of the aunts and uncles and grandparents
And place the very last one in a museum to show their sordid victory.

But they did not win.
Hate was not victorious.

We remember the spirits of our ancestors,
Of our sisters and brothers in Christ,
Marching through the mayhem
Of death, confusion, loss.
We remember their steps on the march to Deir-Zor-
Their empty stomachs and heavy hearts.
Their lives chipped away
As they lost their mom, or baby, or brother,
and endured violations of body, mind and soul.

In gratitude, we remember those who defied their people,
The Turkish and Kurdish souls who rebelled against the powers-that-be
Saving the lives of our kin.
We are grateful for those who stand against the powers today
And refuse to call these events anything but a genocide.

Heal our hearts as the deniers’ speeches become
Louder and louder.
Their words will melt into the pool of justice one day.

We give voice to the trauma that lingered in survivors’ hearts
From the days they left their homes in the ‘Old Country’
To the moment when they saw the face of God.

Help all who carry the stories of the past into the future
So that we will not forget,
And we will not stand by,
As more of God’s children are massacred.

We pray for the survivors of all genocides that burned our earth
And stole our siblings-
Armenia, the Holocaust, Rwanda, Cambodia, Bosnia, Darfur, and then some…
And then some more…
Knowing that God will give them resurrection from the ashes of yesterday,
rising into the winds of tomorrow.

Read my grandfather’s story of survival during the Armenian Genocide here

National Take a Chance Day Prayer

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Chaotic, Creative God-

The winds of change hover over your creation, nudging us towards a new heaven here on earth.

As the dry winds from the south pick up, causing us to remain inside our comfort zones, your Spirit is throwing open doors and windows, begging us to move back into the world.

In a vulnerable state, we slowly emerge into ferocious terrain- an atmosphere which wants to remain at rest and at unrest.

But here you are, God, asking us to take chances, asking us to speak boldly, love courageously, and care fiercely.

Today, we ask for prayers of strength to advocate for our neighbors on the margins. We pray for bravery as we allow mercy to emerge from our traumatized, closed-up souls.

We are willing to heed your call and take chances that build a more-caring world and share love which unites us and magnifies your image in one another.

Amen.

One Good Friday

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Trigger warning: abuse

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The writing below occurred on a Good Friday over 20 years ago. I was verbally abused by a significant other during my mid-20’s. While he never physically abused me, I believe I would have left as soon as hits and shoves began. Instead, I wondered for months if what I was experiencing was verbal and emotional abuse, often convincing myself otherwise and telling myself that it would get better.

*****

From the rolling tears creeping down my cheeks
And the short breaths attempting to fill my lungs with air,
I inhale your disgust,
The grit spilling from your voice
Tastes like clouds of dust escaping from bottoms of sandals.

Our dinner the night before was a beautiful memory-
A time of quiet celebration…
But oh how the tone has changed quickly.

Even when my prayers begged for you not to betray me again, you walk back in.
Your hate-filled, dagger-edged sentiments
Came back to the room.
You weren’t finished.

Hit me, I think to myself.
I can finally come down off of the cross to which you nailed my spirit
And I can flee towards the lands of plenty
Where the God of hope and love has promised me
Milk, honey, vines drooping with grapes and nets overflowing with fish.

Hit me, I say to myself. I want to know where you stand
Instead of you driving the crown of thorns upon my sore spirit-
And removing it.  Then placing it and removing it
Again
And again
And again.

Your repeated accusations and condemnations pick apart my heart.

You might as well smack my face or whip me across the back
Or pierce my side with the dagger you kept in your bag
Because I cannot tell if I’ve done something wrong
Or if you’re thriving from my pain
And stirring
Stirring
Stirring the energy around us to kill the dreams leading me forward.

Your ‘love’ dizzies me
Like a ride on a chariot.
Your ‘love’ lifts me
Like a soldier lifting the Christ’s cross.
Your ‘love’ pierces me
Like nails driven into a body.
Such ecstasy is too much for my soul.
You’ve taken my breath – my will to breathe – away.

*****

I’m ready for my empty tomb and riding on clouds
Because my night in spiritual Sheol has captured all of my tears.

I will no longer allow you to cast your die upon my mind.
And I will shed your sins that you have showered upon my soul.

*****

As we wake for the new day
And you wash your hands of last night’s agony,
I barely feel human.

It’s Saturday.
We say goodbye.
The next time we meet face-to-face,
I’ve left the tomb.

 

A Prayer for Firefighters

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Spirit of Healing Winds-

Fires take hold of mountainsides and homes.  Dry weather and electrical mishaps cause tragic infernos.

As the flames heighten and grasp our lands, our firefighters rush to the incidents.  Their courage drives them to risk their well-being for the health and lives of others.

For their strength and determination, we share our gratitude.

We pray for first responders who are facing trauma years after an incident.  We remember that many of our firefighters who worked to rescue survivors and recover victims of September 11, 2001 have fallen ill and struggling to hold onto their lives.  May their peace and health prosper, and may they see a future with hope.

We pray for the many chaplains walking alongside of our firefighters.  May they bring your comfort to our first responders with wounds from the skin to the soul.

May your winds be kind to the raging flames.  May your water soothe the fires that rage.  May your land heal in the seasons that follow a wildfire’s frenzy.

And may those who stand against each fire feel the strength of your presence in their confrontation with nature’s elements.

Amen.

*****

This is part of a series of Lenten daily prayers for various careers. The list was determined by St. Paul UCC, Belleville, IL.

A Prayer for Farmers

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Holy Sower, Holy Harvester-

For the ones who till the ground, we celebrate.

For their early hours and long days, for their weathered hands which plow and pluck, for their strategic minds which plans out lands- – we laud their exceptional efforts.

Bless their hours as they intensely labor in the fields. Bless their land as the seeds burst forth from the soil. Bless the roots as they embed within the dirt. Bless the clouds which bring forth rain, and bless the sun which dances upon the leaves of trees our farmers have planted.

May our farmers, landscapers, and all who work in gardens find time to rest. May their sabbaths be filled with moments of sleep and joy.

We thank you for their endeavors in co-creating with you: the fruits and grains, the vegetables and beans, and the trees which shade our grounds.

Amen.

A Prayer for Electricians

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Holy Spirit who infused our every step with energy-

With gratitude we celebrate our electricians. In the sharing of their gifts hospitals have access to CT scans, homes have access to heat, churches have access to organ music, and teenagers can recharge their phones!

As they cut and reconnect wires, keep them safe from unruly currents. In their crawling and climbing, allow their movement to be incident free.

May they see the value of their vocation. May we verbally share our appreciation of their trade. And may we never take for granted the gift of power wherever we are.

Amen.

*****

This is part of a series of Lenten daily prayers for various careers. The list was determined by St. Paul UCC, Belleville, IL.