Looking Ahead: still working on Lent

there’s a great conversation going on over at the Ash Wednesday post–how do we work with children during Lent? What kinds of prayers, litanies, songs, or children’s moments might help us enter into this season?

There’s also still lots of room for ideas for Lent–what are you thinking? What dreams are you imagining? What hopes do you have for this Lent?

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Looking Ahead: Lent

Last week we started up a conversation about Ash Wednesday. Stop in and share your ideas, contribute a line to a prayer of confession, or just tell us what you normally do so we can brainstorm together!

This week we’re looking toward Lent. When it comes to major seasons like Lent, do you prefer to look for a theme to follow through the whole season? If so, do you get that theme from the lectionary or from somewhere else (the needs of the community, something you read, etc)? Or do you use whatever comes up in the lectionary? Or some other plan?

Do you do anything special for Lent–special decoration, artwork, worship style? I’ve heard of churches fasting from a printed bulletin during Lent, which sounds super interesting. I’ve also heard of going instrument-free, using only unaccompanied singing. And I’ve heard of giving up preaching for Lent, instead using other forms of proclamation.

Many of us will have a special focus on repentance during Lent, and we’ll pay more attention to our prayers of confession than we might otherwise. Do you have an idea for a confession? Or maybe a call to confession or a declaration of forgiveness that will be particularly poignant during this season?

Join in the conversation in the comments as we look toward the 6 weeks of Lent.

Looking Ahead: Ash Wednesday

I know, Lent feels far away.

 

But it isn’t.

 

Six weeks from today is Ash Wednesday.

As we take a moment to recover from that reality, let’s also take a moment to breathe in, breathe out, and contemplate.

What tone do you want to set for Lent this year?

Do you have Ash Wednesday services? Do you share them with another congregation? Is it something you don’t really do in your tradition or context?

Ashes, or symbolic (aka no-) ashes?

How will you engage this service of repentance, calling, and recognition of mortality?

Let’s work together to write something new–perhaps something we can use as a confession before we hear those great traditional words calling us to a holy lent? Add your ideas, phrases, things we need to confess, or hopes for Lent in the comments.

Looking Ahead: Transfiguration

I know, I know, it’s still only the 11th day of Christmas, but some of us have to work really far ahead. Whether it’s because we have a lot of volunteers involved and they need more time to create, or we’re trying hard to do new creative things that always somehow seem to require more work, or our brains just need the lead time to let things simmer, it’s time to look forward in faith…toward everyone’s favorite holy day, Transfiguration. Every year, the same story of the shiny Jesus and the whole Moses-Elijah-crazy-Peter-dwellings-falling-on-our-faces-overshadowed-by-clouds-voice-from-the-sky thing. So…what are you thinking about for T-Fig? How can we experience the holy in this story this year? What creative ways–music, liturgy, movement, art, etc–can help us encounter God on this Sunday before Lent?

The rest of the service

It’s Thursday. Which means for me (@revlkb), the copier will be working away, and the bulletins will be folded and placed in the narthex with care. Inserts will be safely tucked inside, with visions of the Magnificat dancing in their heads.

But there is still much to do for Sunday’s service. There are prayers to write. There are children’s sermons to plan. There are more services next week too!

So, what are you working on today? Do you have prayers to share? How are you talking about Mary’s beautiful song with the children? Or are you going in a different direction on this fourth Sunday of Advent?

Prayers for each of you as you approach the home stretch of this busy and sacred time!

In the Now: Blue Christmas/Longest Night

Some of us had Blue Christmas services this past week. Others of us still have that coming up. Some of us have Longest Night services. Whatever we call it, this service is often the balm to a hurting soul–offering space in the midst of a cheery and hustle-and-bustle season to acknowledge grief, pain, or other un-holiday-ish feelings.

What do you do in this kind of service? What format do you use? What liturgy? Do you have favorite resources? Did you write anything new this year? Do you want to write something–perhaps a litany or a prayer acknowledging the difficulty of the season, or a call to worship that leaves room for both celebration and sadness, or a dedication of our memories instead of a dedication of an offering?

To get us started, we have a new hymn written by Carlos Wilton, pastor at Point Pleasant Presbyterian Church in Point Pleasant Beach NJ.

Comfort Your People, Lord
A Hymn for Blue Christmas Services
(Tune: “The Coventry Carol”)
text by Carlos Wilton

O Lord, we bring to you, this day,
Hearts that are raw with pain:
For sorrow has companioned us,
And in our lives does reign.
You promise to make all things new:
Comfort your people, Lord.

Would that we could turn back the clock
And for one precious hour
Reach out, clasp hands, and touch again
Love’s fragile, with’ring flower!
You cherish all times in your hands:
Comfort your people, Lord.

All through our lives we’ve trusted you
To be most fair and kind:
Though, in the dark night of the soul,
Anger enthralls our minds.
For freedom you have set us free:
Comfort your people, Lord.

We have not always trusted that
Fairness has been your way.
Too soon it’s seemed to watch our dreams
Float up and fly away.
For good, all things together work:
Comfort your people, Lord.

My soul, why are you so downcast:
Caught up in grief’s malaise?
We trust the day will soon arrive
When we will sing God’s praise!
Not Yuletide mirth, but Easter joy:
We ask this gift, O Lord.

Copyright © 2011, by Carlos E. Wilton. All rights reserved. Permission is given for congregations to reproduce the text of this hymn in worship bulletins, as long as the copyright information is included.

Looking Ahead: New Year’s Day is a Sunday, too

So this year, as would mathematically make sense, has both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day on Sundays. Last week we began contemplating what to do with the Christmas Day/Sunday service. This week, join in as we wonder how to best ring in 2012…in worship. What ideas, thoughts, germs-of-phrases, songs, or actions do you have in mind? What kind of service would you like to have, if you could do anything you wanted?

Share your ideas, hopes, and dreams–for the New Year’s Day worship experience, and the New Year–here!

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