Who Is the Holy Spirit? A Liturgy

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Call to Worship
One: Holy Breath, fill our beings with new energy.
Many: Holy Breath, fill our lungs with calming air.
One: Holy Winds, encircle us with your stirring breezes.
Many: Holy Winds, encircle our minds with dreams and visions.
One: Holy Gales, set us on a path of strangeness and surprises.
Many: Holy Gales, fill our souls with courage and our hearts with joy.

Invocation
Spirit of God, Divine Gust,

The mystery of your being swirls around us as you inspire us to co-create with you.  As we reach to God, your great exhale nudges us closer to our Divine Parent.  As we seek to share our stories, you place the images and words into our minds.  Through your presence and power, we are inspired to joyously share the adventures of our faith with and in you.  Holy Gale of God, encircle us with your realm here on earth.  Amen.

Prayer of Reconciliation and Reflection
Spirit of Warmth and Wonder,

The chills of this world paralyze our anxious hearts.  We become stagnant when listening to the discord from other voices instead of listening to your harmonies.  We shun your visions and dreams because we stop believing the future is possible.  We feel as if all life is being drained from us, that we are simply dry bones.  May your winds awaken us.  May your breath enliven us.  May we see new life as we inhale your breath.  Amen.

Assurance of Grace
Our God, the flicker of new life in our world, ignites our hearts to share love with our neighbors.  God’s Spirit will help us to understand Divine Grace in our lives, understanding that second chances and hope are the path to unimagined possibilities.  Amen.

Invitation to Giving
The Spirit’s winds are always nudging us to new ways of giving.  Could this be through our time?  Could the Spirit be emboldening us to give from different talents?  In what ways are we called to give of our treasures today?  As we reflect on the ways we share, we come together to offer God our praise through our gifts.

Blessing of the Gifts
This is the time for us to dream together, Spirit of God.  May we run wild with hope as we embrace our Spirit-infused imaginations.  With joy, we celebrate the offerings contributed this week, this month, and this year as we commit to dream with you, Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Benediction
May Spirit’s flame warm our chilled hearts.
May the Spirit’s winds encircle our anxious minds.
May the Spirit’s breath enliven our souls.
Through the Spirit’s presence, we embrace the love of God and the hand of neighbor as we dream together.  Amen.

(c) 2022 Rev. Michelle L. Torigian. Permission to use and stream with attribution.

Who Is Jesus? A Liturgy

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Call to Worship (Based on John 1)
One: In the beginning was the Word.
Many: The Word was with God and the Word was God.
One: The Word abided in the beginning with God.
Many: Through the Word, all things came into being.
One: Life and light came into being with the Word.
Many: This Life and Light shone in the shadows.
One: In celebrating the Word, the Christ, we see the Divine Light.
Many: Let us celebrate the Word, the Christ, as we bask in Divine Light.

Invocation
Illuminating God, Divine Light who entered our world as a human, we celebrate your son, Jesus the Christ.  Through his nurturing presence, our neighbors have seen you clearer. Through Jesus’ radical love, we have learned to boldly care for one another.  Through his death and resurrection, we have seen new life ahead of us.  Stretch our souls as we challenge ourselves to be like Jesus each day.  Amen.

Prayer of Reconciliation and Reflection
Holy God, Harmonizing Healer,

We say we embrace the walk of Jesus, but we trek another way.  We say we live in a world of resurrection, but we shun the possibility of new life.  We close ourselves from the grace that Christ afforded us, and we refuse to share mercy with our neighbors.  Allow the way of Jesus the Christ to be our way.  Create in us the compassion of the Christ as we go about our daily lives.  Amen.

The Great Healer, Jesus the Christ, fills our hearts with hope and love.  May we celebrate Divine Grace on our messy and magnificent journeys, knowing that, through the love, life, and light of Jesus, we see the blessings of God’s mercy.

Reflection on Giving
Like a flame spreading from one candle to the next, we, too, are encouraged to share the Light of Christ with our neighbors and church. Through our gifts of treasures, talents, and time, we follow the footsteps of Jesus the Christ.  May the Light of Christ be experienced by all through the gifts we give throughout this week.

Blessing of the Gifts
Gracious God, Divine Light of the World, with these offerings, may our neighbors experience your love.  With these gifts, may the world know your love and continue to pass your brilliant hope to all.  Amen.

Benediction
May the Road of Christ welcome your authentic beings.
May the Light of Christ illuminate your journeys.
May the Energy of Christ soothe your pensive minds.
May the Grace of Christ connect you greater with a neighbor.
May the Words of Christ invigorate your hearts.
May the Love of Christ send you into the world to spread Divine Kindness from corner to corner of this world.  Amen.

(c) 2022 Rev. Michelle L. Torigian. Permission to use and stream with attribution.

Who Is God? A Liturgy

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Call to Worship
One: Our God searches us and knows us.
Many: May we search for God on our journeys.
One: Our God is acquainted with all of our ways.
Many: May we seek the ways of our God.
One: Our God flees with us to the farthest limits of the sea.
Many: May we sense our God in our fleeing and retreating.
One: We praise you, Creator God.
Many: For we are fearfully and wonderfully made.  Your works are wonderful, as we know very well.

Invocation
In the cracks of the cement and in the flickering streetlights, you are present.  In the summer breeze and the wandering firefly, you make your presence known.  Open us to the small ways you speak to us.  As you reveal yourself in the mighty and miniscule, may we be willing to embrace the unconventional pictures of you.  Amen.

Prayer of Reconciliation and Reflection
Holy Savior and Seeker,

As we wander aimlessly about this world, we become distracted by empty, shiny objects.  We focus on the dramatic instead of the holy.  Instead of seeing your presence in the ordinary, we look for something more glamorous.  Fill our hearts with hope in humble voices and simplicity.  Make way for your visions to enter our dreams.  Amen.

Assurance of Grace
Our Loving God, the Holy Savior and Seeker and Great Creator, will transform our minds as we set our sights upon the intentions of God.  Throughout our journeys, God’s grace will fill our lives with hope for the future.  Amen.

Call to Offering
As we continue to recognize the image of God all around us in our lives, we will begin to sense how God is calling us to use our gifts to build our church, our community, and our world.  May we recognize the ways we build our relationship with God and neighbor as we dedicate our gifts to God.

Blessing of the Gifts
Radiant God, Holy Light,
In gratitude for your love, we share our treasures, our talents, and our time with this congregation and community.  We humbly ask that you illuminate our minds and hearts to recognize your presence as we use all our resources to craft a kind and just world for all.  Amen.

Benediction
As we leave this space and continue to co-create with God,
May we sense God our Creator filling us with inspiration to craft a world of love.
May we sense God our Seeker and Savior accompanying us into the valleys and peaks of life.
May we sense God the Carpenter of Justice and Love awakening us to new avenues of caring.
May God of the Expanding Universe open us to a world of new visions and dreams.  Amen.

Rev. Michelle L. Torigian (c) 2022
Permission to use and adapt with attribution

A Communion Liturgy for National Holidays

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Invitation
May the Spirit of love be with you
And may the love of Christ be with you
Open wide your cautious hearts.
May the hope of our Creator pour peace in our souls.
Let us give thanks to the one who created this time and space
From our joy we give God thanks and praise.

Prayer of Communion
God of the fair winds and bounteous fields,
Of the storms overhead and the seas below,
With joy we celebrate the connection we have with all of creation
“From sea to shining sea,” 1
From the beauteous mountain caps to the rivers winding across the land.

We honor the connection we have with your beings-
from the chipmunks scurrying through our yards
to the swallows swooping in the air above.

We embrace the relationships with our neighbors near and far-
the ones who are close to our hearts,
and the ones with whom distance in miles and souls sets us apart.

And so we come to this table:
The ones with many opportunities, and those seeking liberty.
The ones who have been disregarded and those embraced,
knowing that Christ’s welcome receives all.
knowing that Jesus the Christ ate with sinners and tax collectors,
with those who disapproved and those who leapt for joy,
with Judas and Peter, with Mary and Martha, with Philip and Thomas.

And so we too come to the table.
The table of God’s freedom. The table of God’s justice and love.
The table which reflects the true kingdom, empire, realm of God where all are welcome.

We come to the table remembering the night before Jesus died.
As he ate with his followers in a room away from the world,
“taking a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.’
And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant.”2 Whenever we eat and drink at the table, we remember the Christ in our midst.

Spirit of Hope, Holy Winds of Divine Freedom,
encircle this bread and cup,
Encircle us in our eating and drinking
that we may experience the radical love of Christ here today
and sharing this care as we journey throughout this week. Amen.

*****

Liturgy (c) Rev. Michelle L. Torigian 2022. Permission to use liturgy with attribution.

1“From sea to shining sea” from America the Beautiful.

2 Quote from Luke 22:19-20 (NRSV)

Blessing of the Building

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Holy God, Divine Architect of All-

This beautiful space today reminds us that we co-create with you. Each brick reminds us of our strength through you. Each window reminds us of your light that shines through us.

God of Love and Light: Bless the space today. Bless each brick, each panel of wood, each nail which has assembled this building. Bless all of the hands and hearts which have built and restored this place as we give much gratitude for their gifts. Bless all who have given their treasures in making this day possible.

Each time two or more are gathered in this space, may they see your presence surrounding them. In gatherings of joy, fill their hearts with happiness, and may this room be filled with laughter. As groups congregate for solemn occasions, surround them with your peace, and may their souls experience your comfort.

We give thanks for the saints whose gifts continue to echo in this sanctuary. May their memories continue to bless current and future generations who congregate in this place.

May this space be one which builds community, believing that your love will strengthen our ties and create your realm on this earth.

Amen.

*****

This was written for the Celebration of the Restoration of Heritage Hall at St. Paul United Church of Christ, April 2022.

A Prayer for International Women’s Day

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Mother God-

As the sun breaks the bounds of the horizon, we celebrate the limitations broken by women in our world.

From work in humanities to the hours spent researching in labs, we honor the gifts of women throughout this world. May they continue to see wisdom and knowledge that comes from you.

We celebrate and bless women’s agency – especially regarding health care and careers. May they work with you to discover the best path for their own lives.

We continue to work for equal pay and health care for women. Continue to transform our hearts to see women as beams of strength and courage.

Bless the ones who are mothers and those who mother. Heal the hearts of the ones who hurt from not yet being a mom. Bless all older and younger and middle age. Bless transgender women and the ones who love women. May they live into your calling – even when that means both career and motherhood, and may we as a world honor and create roads for their sacred paths.

The possibilities of their work are endless, God of Love. Clear paths and open the souls in our world so that your light can be seen beaming from them.

Amen.

A Prayer in the Tedious Moments of Recovering

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God of the Bland and the Boring-

Now I lay me down to rest as I have been on days on end. There are only so many movies to stream and shows to binge and Wordles to solve and naps to take.

My mind is willing. But my body is weak.

In this season of healing and boredom, may I see your presence in the spinning of ceiling fan and the pillows beneath my head. May I see your rainbow of colors in the blandness of days. May this body heal as it should, and allow me to see how my stillness rebuilds a healing body. May this season of rest nurture the soil which will hold the seeds of my creativity.

Above all, help me to see your light and love surrounding me in the comfort of my resting spaces.

Amen.

A Less Fatalistic Ash Wednesday

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Today happened to be another Ash Wednesday in which I was home-bound on medical leave.

Once again, like in the past, I was dealing with endometriosis. The pain was increasing even though I was menopausal, and the hysterectomy proved that there was a lot of rogue endometrial tissue in my pelvic region. I’m on medical leave and not able to lead worship as I take time to heal.

Which brings me to this year’s Ash Wednesday. After two weeks of lying in bed, doom-scrolling news about the invasion of Ukraine and heightened nuclear alert in our world, the worst thing right now is to remind someone who is deathly afraid of death that she will die. (Obviously, there are many dying in Ukraine from this senseless war- and something for us to discuss another day.) I worried about what could go wrong prior to the surgery (as always), and I dealt with two years of pandemic concerns. The last thing I want to hear through sacred liturgy is that I’m going to die.

I know this with every fiber of my being. My anxiety reminds me each day that death could be imminent.

So for this year, I work to establish a different relationship with the ashes.

First of all, everything is fleeting. And this should include my worries. My concerns should be no more than the weight of the ashes which could easily be blown away by the wind. Easier said than done, but it’s worth the effort.

Secondly, as I begin Kate Bowler’s Good Enough devotional book, I’m reminded of my imperfections. The ashes remind me of an imperfect self and the need to embrace a self that works to try her best rather than attain the impossible.

I refuse to rid myself of Ash Wednesday. But the day was not always ours to dwell on death but focus on what continues to be the greatest priorities while we are alive: loving one another as Christ loved us; doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God.

And today my focus won’t be nuclear war, health issues, or pandemics, but my growing relationship with God.

Advent Candle Lighting Prayer for Love

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Tensions rise between neighbors. Hate lurks in stores and on roads, in school hallways and political discussions. Humanity focuses more on its own individual well being instead of the well being of all.

Yet animosity isn’t the last word, and hate will never win because God’s love endures forever. Divine love dissipates all venom and sweetens all bitterness.

Even as we walk in the shadow filled valleys of toxic interactions, God’s love is lighting the path to the future. Through the Spirit of the Christ in our world, the vapors of hate will not last in our world. Love will spread from person to person, lifting the toxic fogs that linger between people.

We light the candle of love to clear the cloud of hate in our world and dissolve the mists of gloom as the Christ enters our world and brightness continues to grow. Amen.

(c)2021 Rev. Michelle L. Torigian. Permission to use in a worship service (including a streamed service) with attribution.

Under the Night Sky – A Christmas Poem

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Under the night sky
We abide the beauty of God’s darkness.
Beyond midnight- where miracles fill the earth and magic fill the skies.
Where stars and planets twinkle, delighting both the greatest skeptics and believers.

Under the night sky
In the chilly winds of nighttime,
A young woman met her son,
And light came into her world.
This illumination spread beyond time and space,
Expanding beyond human limitations into our world.

Under the night sky
Humans saw the alignment of planets birthing an extraordinary light-
The greatest star declaring a birth.
And as human and divine aligned that night, the world shifted to a new realm.

(c)2021 Rev. Michelle L. Torigian. Permission to use in a worship service (including a streamed service) with attribution.