A Prayer for Bartenders and Baristas

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Creator of Coffee Beans and the Fruit of the Vine-

With gratitude, we bless the bartenders and baristas in our midst. Their sweet libations – whether with or without alcohol – bring neighbors together for conversations and celebrations.

Whether mixing cocktails, shaking martinis, blending frappés, or creating a heart of foam on the top of a latte, their attention to detail is focused on serving their patrons. Their time and talents bring joy to their guests sitting at bars and tables and as conversations flow between friends and work is done silently in corners.

Their pastoral care from behind the bar gives our neighbors a chance to be heard and seen. The confessional by the beer on tap allows our friends to feel less alone. For our baristas and bartenders who listen, we give our thanks.

Holy Mixologist, may we celebrate their service in the hospitality industry. Give them the courage to care for their guests, holding boundaries and discerning when to stop the drinks from flowing as guests reach their fill of spirits.

We honor their calling as we remember your son, the Great Sommelier, who served the best wine in celebration of love and joy.

Amen.

*****

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

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A Prayer for Beauticians and Barbers

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Divine Stylist of Creation,

For the cuts and colors by our stylists and barbers, we give our gratitude. Their clips and foils, manicures and braids bring a sense of warmth to the lives of their clients.

Bless the work of their hands as they give the care others seek. Bless their own hands as they trim and color, wax and shave. May their hands hold up in this repetitive work. Protect their fingers, wrists, arms, and backs as they clip and stand for hours to care for their neighbors.

For the times they listen to our life stories and work hard to give us the result we desire, we celebrate. May these caregivers find the energy they need to continue in their careers joyfully.

Amen.

*****

This is part of a series of Lenten daily prayers for various careers.

 

A Prayer for Bankers

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Divine Source of All Resources-

In seasons of financial stability and uncertainty, we pray for our bankers. As they sit behind desks and bullet-proof glass, allow them to feel safe in their places of work.

May they see the ways in which their practices encourage growth in the world. May they embrace justice and righteousness as they assess and calculate. May they feel the nudge from you to make decisions that serve the entire community. May grace light the way in their decision-making and their service-giving.

While we know their decisions must be financially responsible, we pray that they can discover ways in which they can work with our neighbors who are struggling. By co-managing with our bankers, God, encourage them to create systems where people of all means – including those who have financial challenges – can find their own well-being.

With joy, we give thanks for the ways they invest in our communities. No matter the market, allow them to see their purpose and place in our cities.

Amen.

*****

This is part of a series of Lenten daily prayers for various careers.

A Prayer for Bakers

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Divine Culinarian who brought forth the Bread of Life and Cup of Salvation,

With gratitude, we celebrate the bakers in our midst. Through the work of their hands, they create edible masterpieces that neighbor can share with neighbor.

Their offerings bring peace to the ones looking for comfort food. Their offerings bring joy to the young people celebrating birthdays and the couples joining their lives together in marriage.

The bread they bake sits on communion tables as your children are reminded to “take and eat.” The pastries created by them will bring people together in our fellowship halls when worship ends.

Bless their hands in the rolling of dough and the ovens as breads rise and bake. Bless the hearts who laugh together in the kitchen as they decorate cookies or finish pies.

Through the work of their hands, we partake in fellowship and see the presence of the Christ in our midst.

Amen.

*****

This is part of a series of Lenten daily prayers for various careers.

A Prayer for Artists

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Holy Chaos, Holy Creator,

Through the hands of your artists, the world shines. Through the minds of your artists, the world holds no confines. Through the hearts of your artists, the world continues to grow.

In works of art, your universe explores your visions and solidifies your dreams. By answering this calling, our earthly creators co-design a just-filled world with you.

Kindle imaginations and spark energy in the souls of our artists. Allow the world to see your presence through the work of their hands.

Amen.

*****

This is part of a series of Lenten daily prayers for various careers

A Prayer for Air Traffic Controllers

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Spirit who abides in the air and on the ground,

We pray for our neighbors who shepherd the skies. As they evaluate screens and data, may they become aware of the necessity of their vocations. Allow them to grasp how their time and talents ensure the safety of many.

We pray that their hours in front of computers are filled with meaningful moments. May clarity guide their minds. May peace guilds their hearts. May stress fall from their souls.

For their time in towers, we send our thanks. Allow their spirits to become refreshed and renewed. And nudge us to send them a prayer each time we enter the skies.

Amen.

*****

This is part of a series of Lenten daily prayers for various careers.

A Liturgy and Blessing for Church Vocations Sunday

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CALL TO WORSHIP

One: God calls us here – no matter who we are.

Many: Knowing we are messy and magnificent, God calls us here.

One: God summons us to boldly serve our world.

Many: God cultivates our gifts to nurture creation.

One: God sanctifies our voices as we uphold justice.

Many: God warms our souls as we foster kindness.

One: May strength be the foundation of our growing souls.

Many: May courage be the base of our strengthening hearts.

One: For such a time is this, we are here.

Many: For such a time as this we worship and serve our Creator.

 

INVOCATION

Divine Nourisher of Gifts, you paint a photo of the ideal world.  In our messiness and our magnificence, you call us to co-create your realm.  May we see ourselves as you see us. May we respond to your call in our lives with a joyous “Amen!”  May we encourage our neighbors in their pursuits to embrace their most authentic lives. Amen.

 

CALL TO RECONCILIATION

One: Have we nurtured the call of our neighbors?  Have we encouraged their gifts? Have there been times when we’ve crushed dreams rather than lifted spirits?

 

PRAYER OF RECONCILIATION

One: Gracious Nurturer, Holy Spirit, in the highlights of our lives, we’ve seen your presence.  In the shadow-filled valleys, we’ve neglected your call. Self-fulfilling prophecy has melted our hopes.  Negative remarks have washed away others’ dreams.

Many: May collaboration become our road and encouragement our compass.  Let us work together to nudge our neighbors to live into your call. Let us shed negativity from our own voices and the voices of others to create room for fulfilled visions.  Amen.

ASSURANCE OF GRACE

One: Loving God, our Gracious Nurturer, will continue to hope with us throughout our entire lives – – and beyond!  God will infuse joy in our journeys and mercy in our discernment. Let us tap into God’s grace, and let us extend this grace to others.

All: Amen!  Thanks be to God!

 

CALL TO OFFERING

One: Spirit of God, Gracious Nurturer, throughout our lives, you have tended to our talents.  You have celebrated the times they have flourished and showered your mercy when we needed to attend to our gifts.  In this time and space, let us reflect on the ways we have cultivated our talents together, God. In this space and time, let us give as we can with the hope that our contributions will expand our world.

DEDICATION PRAYER

Gracious Nurturer, for the gifts in our hands, we give our gratitude.  For the gifts in our hearts, we sing with joy. For the gifts in our souls, we share with our world.  Loving God, may our co-nurturing strengthen our communities and encourage our neighbors to share their talents with the world.  Amen.

 

BENEDICTION

Let us exit this space with hope.

Let us move into the world with joy.

May the God who shares visions,

the Christ who dreams,

and the Spirit who sustains our souls

nurture our sense of call today and always.  Amen!

All: Amen!

 

Optional LITANY OF BLESSINGS FOR PEOPLE IN CHURCH VOCATIONS

One: Spirit of God who stirs our souls and inspires us to build a just and peace-filled world:

With gratitude we celebrate our siblings in faith who dedicate their time, talents, and treasures in the church.  With appreciation and joy, we pray for them this day and bless the work of their hands and hearts.

One: For those who are sensing a nudge by God’s Spirit to enter ministry: may they attend to the seeds in their souls to see what God may be cultivating.

All: Spirit of God, we delight in their gifts.

One: For members in discernment and those attending seminary: may patience and endurance be their staff in the long nights of study and writing.

All: Spirit of God, we delight in their gifts.

One: For our siblings in administration: may they grow to see you in numbers and emails, in phone calls and meeting minutes.  May technology become a route to experiencing God more clearly.

All: Spirit of God, we delight in their gifts.

One: For our musicians and artists: may the creativity in their souls overflow, and may they see God in their process of creation.

All: Spirit of God, we delight in their gifts.

One: For our friends leading youth ministry: may they nurture the next generation of hearts to serve our world enthusiastically.

All: Spirit of God, we delight in their gifts.

One: For the stewards of our buildings and the keepers of the grounds: may their care for the property create hospitality and peace for visitors and congregants alike.

All: Spirit of God, we delight in their gifts.

One: For our Christian educators: may they be inspired to create a community of faith formation, and may knowledge be their companion.

All: Spirit of God, we delight in their gifts.

One: For the pastors who lead and serve, for the encouragement of their souls and the strength of their health: may wisdom be breathed in like air.

All: Spirit of God, we delight in their gifts.

One: For our retired clergy friends: may their years of service warm their hearts, and may they remember their steadfast love for the Church.

All: Spirit of God, we delight in their gifts.

One: For our siblings at associations and conference, at the national church and affiliated ministries, for chaplains and professors and all who build the Body of Christ: may their strength cascade to the ones they serve and may they see the fruit of their labors and God’s presence surrounding them.

All: Spirit of God, we delight in their gifts.

One: Bless all who work with and in and through the church.  Through these vocations and many other positions, Gracious Nurturer, may we see your presence and may we pass along your illumination to the world.  Amen.  

Worship Service Liturgy and Litany of Blessings for People in Church Vocations written by Rev. Michelle L. Torigian

Permission to use this liturgy with attribution.

 

“Illuminate Your Winter” Worship Service

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The idea for this worship service was brought to me at my last congregation by a retired pastor.  As the days are often extremely gloomy and cold in January and February, this is a time to remind ourselves that God’s steadfast presence is near.  For many of our siblings in faith, seasonal affective disorder is a struggle because of the dreary, chilly winter days.  This worship service is to recognize that there are things that obstruct us from seeing God’s brilliance, and we are called to carry light even on gloomy winter days.

This is also an opportunity to look at darkness as something beautiful.  While we are recognizing gloomy, cloudy, cold days as difficult, we recognize the night sky and darkness as glorious and a gift from God.

Ideas for Scripture texts:

Isaiah 60:1-5, Matthew 5:14-16, John 1:1-9

 

Call to Worship
One: In this space, God’s glow surrounds us.
Many: In this place, God’s glimmer brightens the surrounding gloom.
One: We yearn to see the radiance from the sun’s company.
Many: We hope to see the moon’s glow accompanying us until the morn.
One: Winter’s malaise will not last long.
Many: Arise, friends.  For God’s warmth endures forever.

Invocation
Holy Radiance, Holy Spirit, in our seasons when gloom invades our skies, may your mirthful glow shine brightly.  As brisk winds monopolize our air, may your welcoming breezes nudge us to comfort and serve our world.  Help us to seek you beyond thick layers of clouds.  Encourage us to steer our neighbors to see you in the short days of winter and the long nights of summer.  Amen.

Prayer of Reconciliation
One: God of breezy nights and dreary days, we hoard Divine Brilliance for ourselves – even when we have been reminded that to love our neighbors means to spread light into the world.

All: Without thinking, we cast shadows across the earth.  Shift our perspectives so that we avoid becoming obstacles to God’s gleam.  May we become carriers of light instead of  barriers to God’s glow.  Amen.

Assurance of Grace
One: God will always share Divine Beauty with us.  God will call us to find splendor in darkness and magnificence in daylight as both are where God abides.  God will continue to ask us to share radiance and joy with our neighbors.  God gives us second chances, calling us again and again to be channels of love and warmth.

All:  Amen!  Thanks be to God!

Call to Offering
Holy Radiance, you fill our hearts with levity and our souls with joy.  Even in the seasons that appear gloomy, your steadfast presence kindles our spirits, sustaining us until the new season approaches.  In our gratitude for love and light, we share our gifts and our luminosity with our world.  Loving God, let us take these moments to share our treasures and reflect on how we share your Divine Glow with our world.

Prayer of Dedication
We look to you for what we need, God of Love.  We ask that you continue to fill our hearts with your Divine Glow.  Ignite our spirits so that we can pass along your radiance with our world.  We pray all of this with hearts of hope.  Amen.

Benediction
One: In seasons of despair, God’s Glow will warm our hearts.
In seasons of hopelessness, Christ’s Light will spark our minds.
In seasons of gloom, Holy Radiance will sustain our souls.

As clouds droop low and shadows stretch, let us carry Divine Illumination into our world!  Amen!

All: Amen!

Liturgical Prayers for Epiphany 4C

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Primary text: 1 Corinthians 13

CALL TO WORSHIP
One: In this place, we seek the presence of God.
Many: In this space, we yearn to discover companionship from the Divine.
One: In our lives, we cast our hopes upon an all-loving God
Many: Knowing that our Creator dreams with us.
One: Throughout each season, our Divine Partner of Endurance sustains us
Many: Giving us the strength, the patience, and the desire to live into our callings.

INVOCATION
One: Spirit of Love, as you hover above us, dance below us, encircle us, and energize us, our souls find transformation.  No longer do we believe that we are on our own; we belong to you. We are not without companions; we have the love of neighbor sustaining us.

All: In this season of hearts and flowers, open us to new ways of showering love in our world.  With gratitude, we celebrate the love of our neighbors when we hurt. With thanksgiving, we celebrate your steadfast love.  Allow us to share this love and light with all who ache and all who are lonely. Amen.

+PRAYER OF RECONCILIATION
One: We often refuse to read the world through your Divine Lens, God.  We prefer to find a complete picture of the world through our own scratched, muddied monocle instead of your loving glasses.  When we choose our own angles of people, we act out of a partial picture. We refuse to embrace God’s detailed depiction of the world and God’s people.

All: We prefer to gaze at your people through the lens of our preconceived notions instead of the spotless spectacles of God offers to us.  However we see the world, may we attempt to see others’ lives through the perspective of God. May God’s steadfast love transform our hearts and reawaken our souls.  Amen.

+ASSURANCE OF GRACE

One: Our Divine Partner of Endurance weathers the storms with us and warms our hearts made bitter by hatred.  Let us celebrate that God is always traveling with us, sharing grace and love along the way. Amen!

All: Amen!  Thanks be to God!

Liturgy may be used with attribution to Rev. Michelle L. Torigian.

That Body of Christ Thing from a Mama Bear in the Pulpit

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All views are solely mine and not necessarily the perspective of any group in which I am associated.

Many times as a younger person, I was hurt by Christianity.

Most of those times it’s been from people of the Evangelical perspective.  When I was in college, I was told by a Christian counselor that I needed to dump a boyfriend because he wasn’t a Christian.  In my 30’s, I was told that I wasn’t going to be allowed in heaven because I different views on salvation.  I was told that I was in that same decade, I also had to stand up to a pastor because he dismissed me after I told them that his pro-marriage views belittled me.  I had to stand up to him because he wouldn’t sell a property to people of another major religion because they didn’t hold the “truth.”  And he told me that he couldn’t support me to go into the ministry if I believed that people who are LGBT should be allowed to be married or ordained.

I’ve seen how some Christians have told a City Manager who is transgender that Jesus would want her fired.  I’ve seen how people with these perspectives have shamed women who have been raped or had abortions.

(Before we go any further, I’d like to say this: many who consider themselves Evangelical are absolutely NOT like this.  A few have tarnished the reputation of the many.  If you consider yourself Evangelical but do not identify with the above, I acknowledge and appreciate your perspective.  Likewise, there are many fellow Mainline Protestants that can be equally judgmental.)

Pieces of my soul have been itching to recover from my spiritual injuries.  And they’ve left not just scars but scar tissues that flares when triggered by words and sentences.

And yet, I’ve refused to let them kick me out of the Body of Christ.  Instead, I’ve felt responsible to continue to be a part of the Body of Christ and create spaces that welcome and include people.

I’ve been working for years to make sure to care for my wounds that continue to reopen and keep the wounds covered so as not to infect my ministry.  Yet there are some piece of my experience that I never want another young person (or anyone) to experience, and I will reflect deeply to make sure to separate my wounds from the reality of the situation.  But I will also reflect deeply to ensure those who I minister to are emotionally and spiritually safe.

There’s never been a unified Christianity.  Ever.  It’s a myth.  Right after the time of Jesus, the early Jesus movement folks were arguing about the necessity of following the purity issues and circumcision.  Even today, Catholics, Mainline Protestants, and Evangelical Protestants range from liberal to conservative.  Assuming that a person has certain beliefs and values solely based on their religion or their place of worship is damaging to them, us, and the church.  It’s truly important to speak to each individual before making assumptions about their theology.

I suppose we all “other” some Christians who believe differently than we do.  Who gives us the right to establish a purity test for the faith?  Yet as leaders in the faith, we should be in relationship with people who think differently and learn something from our relationship with them them even when we are called to create programs that fall in line with our ethics and values.  I don’t expect a person on a different side of the Body to be pro-choice.  However, I will not support programs or perspectives which condemns those with my view and those that try to inject shame into our faith community or spiritual lives.

Saying that you must believe (Fill in the Blank) in order to be a Christian is blasphemy.  There are Christians who are pro-life, some who are anti-choice, and some who are pro-choice.  There are Christians who believe in the sacrificial death of Jesus and others who believe that it was Jesus’ life that brought salvation to the world.

  • You can believe in excluding refugees in our country and still call yourself a Christian, but I will not support a Christianity with that perspective.
  • You can believe in complimentarianism (different roles for women and men) and still call yourself a Christian, but I will not support a Christianity with that perspective.
  • You can believe that a marriage is only between a man and woman and be a Christian, but I will not support a Christianity with that perspective.
  • You can think some people need to change before calling themselves a Christian and still call yourselves a Christian, but I will not support a Christianity that deems anyone not made in the image of God as they are today.

My challenge is this: When I am faced with allowing these competing perspectives into the places where I lead and into our programs, I take on a Mama Bear approach.  Because these perspectives often exclude and shame people in the name of Christ, I want to protect others from having to go through what I have endured.  I want them to experience Christianity in a more-loving and open way than I have experienced it.

So from this Mama Bear in the Pulpit to you – I’m doing my best to balance unity in the Body of Christ and ensuring that the spaces for which I’m responsible are filled with theology and ethics that stand for love.  I’m trying my best to expose people to other Christian perspectives in dialogue but distance ourselves from those who say what Christianity MUST be.  As an ordained person, I have a responsibility to reach out to people across the Body, and I have a responsibility to create faith formation that represents a loving, accepting, and inclusive Christ.  I have a responsibility to ensure that vulnerable people experience safety for their bodies, minds, and souls as much as possible.  All of this is a tough balance.  I’ll keep doing the best I can in my service to God, neighbor, and Church.