commissioning and benediction – back out into the world

submitted by Gord Waldie, St. Paul’s United Church, Grande Prairie, Alberta

Our time of worship concludes, we go back out into the world.
Here we have met the God who chooses to make us clean.
And, having been healed, what is our response?
We share the love of God with all we meet, for they too have been made clean.
As you go to live and serve, go with the sure knowledge that the God who washes and heals us all will go with you.
Always and all ways.
May God bless and keep you this day and forevermore.
Amen.

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prayer of confession and assurance of pardon – wash and be clean

submitted by Gord Waldie, St. Paul’s United Church, Grande Prairie, Alberta

God of grace, you call us to wash and be clean,
but we are proud.
You offer us a simple solution to our dis-ease,
but we think we are important enough for wonders and grand acts.
In those times when our pride blocks our sight of your graciousness,
wash the scales from our eyes, that we may see.
For those times we grow too sure of our own importance,
forgive us.
…time of silent prayer…
Here is Good News! God is willing to cleanse us from our pride, our blindness, our stubborn insistence on having things “our way”. Through God’s grace we are washed and forgiven.
Thanks be to God! Hallelujah! Amen. 

call to worship and prayer of approach – why have you come?

submitted by Gord Waldie, St. Paul’s United Church, Grande Prairie, Alberta

Call to Worship

People of God! Why have you come?
We have come to celebrate God’s healing presence among us.
Servants of God! Why have you come?
We have come to be refreshed, to be renewed, to be sent out.
Children of God! Why have you come?
We have come to worship together.
Then let us do so with joy and gladness.

Prayer of Approach

Gracious God, once again you have called us together in this place.
Here we open our hearts and lives before you, here we seek to hear Your life-giving Word.
God in this time of song and prayer and speech,
open our very souls to receive your challenge, open our wills to accept your instruction. Turn our mourning into dancing, replace our sackcloths with garments of joy.
And when our time of worship is ended,
lead us back out into the world to share the Good News with the world around us.
We pray in the name of the One who brought Your healing love, Jesus of Nazareth.
Amen.

a short pastoral prayer

submitted by Rev. Sarah Wiles, Bethany Presbyterian Church, Tacoma, Washington

Author’s note: This prayer is especially appropriate for weeks with communion. It follows a time of sharing joys and concerns. It needs to be spoken slowly.

. . . All this and much more we bring you, O bright Morning Star.

Our gratitude and praise for this new day, for each new day,

Our joys, our hopes, our fears, our pain, we bring it all to you, because we cannot carry it alone.

We bring you our darkness and ask that you would shine anew.

We bring you our long night and ask that you would be the dawn.

We bring you prayers for which we scarce have words and trust that you will pray for us.

We pray as you taught us, saying…

Echoes of the Lord’s Prayer by Laura Viau

Submitted by Laura Viau, Orlando, FL, MDiv student at Dubuque Theological Seminary

As we come before you, Lord, there is a part of me that can’t help but feel the eagerness of a child, running and leaping into the arms of a loving parent to talk. And yet that nagging question remains – who am I that the Creator of the Universe and Lord of all Lords would know me? And care about me? About each and every one of us?
You placed the Sun, moon and stars in the sky
You created every form of life on earth and everywhere there is life
You are were before time, in time and will remain beyond time…
and that is only the beginning of the mysteries that surround you.
And yet…

By sending Jesus, your Son, you have invited us into a loving, intimate and real relationship. And through his teachings, you encourage us to bring our needs before you.

We are invited to ask for daily bread.
For ourselves and the people around us. For the people in places where droughts, floods, earthquakes and tsunamis have kept farmers from producing enough food.
Lord, in your mercy, feed those who are hungry, whether they are within walking distance of us or half-way around the globe. May we who have more than enough be more than aware, may we be generous and compassionate as you are with us. Lead us into the lives of the hungry, lost and left behind, that we might offer them a meal and the Bread of Life.

We are invited to pray for deliverance from the times of trial, those times that reveal the evil and brokenness that seeks to rule this world.
Lord, in your mercy, show us the ways that we buy into evil too easily. Search our hearts and reveal to us the hatred, fear, jealousy, selfishness and self-righteousness that lead us to behave in ways that glorify ourselves or the world instead of you and your Kingdom. In the name of the true Light of the World, may we shine the light of love into the darkest places.

We are invited to pray for forgiveness of debts, for the year of jubilee that brings relief not only to ourselves but those who owe debts to us.
Lord, in your mercy, reveal to us our true indebtedness. The myriad ways you have paid our way in this world. Not so that we can attempt to buy our way out through good works and kind words, but so that we can give our whole-hearted thanks to you in word and deed. May we be as generous with others as you have been with us, offering forgiveness, love, hope and grace where anger, resentment and rejection are expected.

We are invited to ask for shelter and protection in those moments we are afraid of life.
And those moments we are afraid of death.
Lord, in your mercy, send your Spirit to comfort us and remind us that in life and in death we belong to you. On this day in particular we ask you to be with…
(insert specific names, details, as appropriate)
We entrust their lives to you, believing your promise to hear us when we gather and agree in prayer together.

We are challenged to let go of our will and trust in your will.
For our lives and livelihoods, for our families and friends, for our country and for this world.
Lord, in your mercy, help our unbelief. Help us truly let go of the desires we have that are tinged by our residence in this world. Help us to embrace your desires for this world and live as though we are already in the Kingdom to come.

We lift our hearts to you, giving you glory, honor and praise. And we give you every need, every desire, every dream in the name of Jesus the Christ.

AMEN (or lead into Lord’s Prayer)

Prayers of the People – submitted by Carol Howard Merritt

Submitted by Carol Howard Merritt, Pastor, Western Presbyterian Church, Washington, D.C., author, blogger, speaker

We praise you, Creator God,
In whom we live and move and have our being,
We join all of creation in worship,
As the trees lift their bare branches,
The sky reveals your changing glory, and
The birds find warmth.
As we gather today,
Help us to remember the rhythm of winter,
That often calls us to rest as our internal work is done.

We praise you for your Son, Jesus Christ,
Who proclaimed the message of your love.
Who brought healing to the brokenhearted,
Relief to the fevered,
Peace to the haunted, and
Wholeness to wounded
As we gather today,
Help us to remember the hope we have in our Savior,
That invites us to pray for one another.

[Specific requests may be entered here]

We praise you for your Holy Spirit,
Who draws us to this common place.
Your Spirit moves in and among your gathered people,
Opening bleary eyes,
Comforting the grieving hearts, and
Challenging us to be partners in God’s saving work.
As we gather today,
Help us to be strengthened and renewed,
So that we might serve you, Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

The rest of the service

Happy Groundhog Day, everyone! Apparently, old Phil saw his shadow, which means six more week’s of winter. (Not quite sure what to do with that information for those of us in parts of the country who haven’t experienced much “winter” to have more of). Do you find the seasons affecting your liturgy? Or is it mainly the seasons of a more liturgical nature that inspire you? Or, as Super Bowl (and Souper Bowl) Sunday is this Sunday, perhaps the sports seasons are making a rare appearance this week!

Whatever you are working on this week, feel free to share your ideas and thoughts for the rest of the service here. Do you have a children’s sermon idea to share? Or a prayer? What about some communion liturgy? We’d love to hear from you!

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