Prayers of the People for June 17, 2018

We offer our prayers for the world God loves, the world we are called to serve.

[Short pause]

God of mustard, open our eyes to see you in those things that seem to be in our way.  We do not ask to see the purpose behind everything that is.  We do ask to see the value in everything that is.  Remind us, loving God,
It’s all about the world.

God of dandelion, you provide nourishment and beauty, as well as opportunities not to take ourselves, or our lawns, quite so seriously.  Free us to play in the freedom of your reign.  Remind us, loving God,
It’s all about the world.

God of weeds, all of creation proclaims your handiwork.  Enable us to continue to celebrate the goodness of your whole creation, and strengthen us to serve as caretakers of your world and its peoples.  Remind us, loving God,
It’s all about the world.

God of misplaced plants, we pray for faith to trust your promise when we feel out of place.  We do not just pray for those who are enduring injustice, who are separated from family, who are surrounded by violence, or who are hungry.  We also ask that we would be motivated to care, to take a stand, to speak the loving and honest word.  Remind us, loving God,
It’s all about the world.

God of all the hurting world, we offer our concern for those who are out of place, who are lonely, who are dying, who are grieving, and who are sick, especially [NAMES, AND] all those we name before you.
[Long pause]
Remind us, loving God,
It’s all about the world.

God of mustard and dandelion and weed, those who have eyes to see can be aware of your presence even in the inconvenient, the annoying, the challenging.  Help us see,  Remind us, loving God,
It’s all about the world.

We pray all this, both our spoken desires and our unspoken longings, in the name of Jesus, the Christ.
Amen.

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Christmas Eve 2017 Litany

This was the sermon at the Lunenburg Luther Parish Christmas Eve services in 2017.  It’s a 3-voice Litany.  Feel free to adapt, adopt or use.  I just ask that you let me know how it goes!

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A Christmas Eve dramatic reading (2017)

1 – Mary

2 – Joseph

3 – Shepherds

1 – Three witnesses

2 – Three perspectives

3 – Three voices

1 – Calling us tonight

2 – Calling us to the story

3 – Calling us to hear

1 – To pause

2 – To listen

3 – To reflect

All – To respond

[Pause]

1 – Mary

2 – The mother of Jesus

3 – The mother of our Lord

1 – The UN-WED mother of God

2 – A girl, really

3 – Probably no more than 16, and possibly younger

1 – A girl who said “Yes”

2 – “Yes” to God

3 – “Yes” to scandal

1 – “Yes” to risk

2 – “Yes” to the possibility of being ostracized by her family

3 – “Yes” to the possibility of being abandoned by her fiancee

1 – “Yes” to the possibility of being killed for being unfaithful

2 – A girl who said “Yes”

3 – “Yes” to God

1 – Mary

2 – The mother of Jesus

3 – The mother of our Lord

1 – Was no shrinking violet

2 – Placid, submissive, quietly taking what was dealt

3 – Softly sitting in the dark, singing soothing lullabies

All – Not HER!

1 – Mary, the mother of Jesus

2 – Was, in fact, a burning flame

3 – Was, in fact, a prophet of justice

1 – Was, in fact, a voice crying out in the wilderness

2 – Upsetting the apple cart

3 – Overturning the status quo

1 – Heralding the new creation

2 – Where justice and peace are the norm

3 – And foreigners are welcome

1 – Where the hungry are fed

2 – And the rich are turned away

3 – Where the poor are embraced

1 – And the mighty are stripped of their strength

2 – Where the anonymous masses are named by God

3 – And the arrogant are reduced to nothing

[Pause]

1 – Joseph

2 – The father of Jesus

3 – The father of our Lord

1 – Stoic

2 – Quiet

3 – Worker

1 – Provider

2 – Protector

3 – Dreamer

1 – Always in the background

2 – Always the silent partner

3 – Always in the shadows, behind the mother and child

All – However!

1 – He is just as crucial to the story

2 – He is just as important

3 – And he is just as dangerous

All – Yes, dangerous!

1 – Because he, too, said “Yes”

2 – “Yes” to God

3 – “Yes” to scandal

1 – “Yes” to risk

2 – “Yes” to accepting a wife who would be regarded as tainted

3 – “Yes” to public mistrust of his OWN standing and behaviour

1 – “Yes” to having to confront his own jealousies and fears

2 – Joseph, the honourable man

3 – Joseph, the radical lover

1 – Joseph, the over-thrower of the expected

2 – Who refused to let suspicion set his agenda

3 – Who refuse to let fear dictate his response

1 – Also burned with divine flame

2 – Was also consumed with a vision of justice

3 – In which all are welcome

1 – ALL are welcome

2 – No matter how disruptive they might be

3 – Joseph welcomed the Christ-child into his own family

1 – And let go of the need for revenge

2 – And let go of the desire for retribution

3 – And let go of being in control of his life

1 – And lovingly

2 – Faithfully

3 – Dangerously

1 – Embraced his dangerous wife

2 – Embraced her dangerous son

3 – Embraced the dangerous new creation

All – Coming to birth in front of him

[Pause]

1 – Shepherds

2 – The first witnesses

3 – First recipients of the Good News

1 – Glad singers of tidings

2 – Joyful tellers to all who would listen

3 – Praising and thanking God for what they had seen and heard

1 – Shepherds

2 – Biblical symbol of those who care

3 – Protectors of the vulnerable

1 – Leading their flocks

2 – Feeding their sheep

3 – Finding green pastures in which their charges can find rest

1 – But THESE shepherds are dangerous

2 – THESE shepherds upset the status quo

3 – THESE shepherds over-throw what passes for normal

1 – NOT by what they DID

2 – NOT by saying “Yes”

3 – NOT by their singing and telling and praising

1 – These shepherds are dangerous because of what happened TO them

2 – Because of what they were TOLD

3 – Because it was SHEPHERDS who were told it

All – Because of WHO.  THEY.  WERE.

[Short pause]

1 – We need to remember the truth about shepherds

2 – In spite of all the good PR

3 -And biblical imagery

1 – They were assumed to be lazy

2 – Which might have been true

3 – They were portrayed as dirty

1 – Which was PROBABLY true

2 – They were regarded as smelly

3 – Which was CERTAINLY true!

1 – They were, in fact, viewed as outsiders

2 – As less than important

3 – As undesirable

1 – And THESE shepherds were also UNRELIABLE

2 – Remember what happened when they had their vision?

3 – Remember how they responded?

1 – They RAN!

2 – They LEFT THEIR FLOCK!

3 – They ABANDONED THEIR DUTY!

All – They had ONE JOB!

1 – “Stay with the sheep!”

2 – “Care for the sheep!”

3 – “Don’t leave the sheep!”

1 – And they left

2 – They ran off

3 – Leaving their livelihood

1 – Or possibly, even worse, leaving someone ELSE’S livelihood

2 – In order to see a baby

3 – The child of an un-wed mother

1 – The child of a radical father

2 – Who had been born a nobody

3 – Just like them

All – JUST.  LIKE.  THEM.

1 – Just

2 – Like

3 – Us

[Short pause]

1 – The angels came to shepherds

2 – Lazy

3 – Dirty

1 – Smelly

2 – Unreliable

3 – Shepherds

1 – Saying, “To YOU is born a Saviour.”

2 – To YOU

3 – To YOU

1 – A dangerous

2 – Scandalous

3 – Risky

1 – Saviour

2 – Through whom God says “Yes”

3 – To shepherds

1 – And outsiders

2 – And strangers

3 – And everyone who is considered “Other”

[Pause]

1 – Mary

2 – Joseph

3 – Shepherds

1 – Three witnesses

2 – Three perspectives

3 – Three voices

1 – Calling us tonight

2 – Calling us to the story

3 – Calling us to hear

1 – To pause

2 – To listen

3 – To reflect

All – To respond

1 – Respond to the flame of justice burning within

2 – Respond to the new creation being born in front of us

3 – Respond with joy to the Good News being sung to us

1 – The lowly are regarded with favour

2 – The fearful are shown mercy

3 – The weak are lifted up

1 – The hungry are fed

2 – The outsiders are welcomed

3 – And the dangerous

1 – Scandalous

2 – Risky

3 – Promise of love

1 – Is fulfilled

[Short pause]

2 – In you

[Short pause]

3 – This night.

[Short pause]

All – Amen.

Prayers for Advent 3, 2017

Based on the Magnificat, from Luke 1.

 

Anticipating the advent of our God, we offer our prayers for all in need, for the church, and for ourselves.

[Short pause]

God who comes, open our eyes, our ears and our hearts, so we may perceive your coming to us today.  Free us from waiting for the future.  Help us live our faith now.  We pray, come, loving God.
Come Lord Jesus.

God who saves, you are not waiting for heaven to forgive, to welcome, to restore.  Save us from waiting.  Motivate us in the present.  We pray, come, loving God.
Come Lord Jesus.

God who looks with favour on the lowly, remind us that you are to be found with the stranger, the foreigner, the one who is different, the one who is less.  May we set aside our prejudice, and discover your presence.  We pray, come, loving God.
Come Lord Jesus.

God who scatters the proud and tears down the rich, your love challenges us; your presence changes us.  Give us faith to accept the uncomfortable changes you bring, regardless of what it does to our expectations.  We pray, come, loving God.
Come Lord Jesus.

God who lifts up the poor and needy, you come to us in our dark times, our lonely times, our helpless times.  Send us to be your presence with the sick and hurting, especially [NAMES, AND] those we name before you.
[Long pause]
We pray, come, loving God.
Come Lord Jesus.

God who fills the hungry, in this season of your coming, enable us to give concretely.  Keep us from spiritualizing your promise and your presence.  Free us from waiting till we have more to give.  Make us generous today.  We pray, come, loving God.
Come Lord Jesus.

God who promises, you do not fail.  You are who you say are for us.  Give us faith to trust; give us hope to respond today.  We pray, come, loving God.
Come Lord Jesus.

Trusting the promise of your presence, trusting the hope of your coming, we pray in Jesus name.
Amen.

A Christmas Eve Litany

This was used last year (2016) for the opening of the Christmas Eve services in the congregations of the Lunenburg Lutheran Parish, in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.  It’s for three voices, and probably most effective when done at the start of the service, before anything has been announced or sung.

It is attempting to be real.  Therefore, some will perceive it as dangerous.  But such is the way with Incarnation…

Feel free to use (and let me know how it goes!), or simply reflect on it for your own devotional practice.

Pax….

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A Christmas Eve dramatic reading (2016)

1 – In the towers of power,

2 – The people of power play their games,

3 – Treating people like pawns in a chess match.

1 – Expendable.

2 – Replaceable.

3 – Forgettable.

1 – Un-named.

2 – Un-noticed.

3 – Un-important.

1 – Valued only when it’s time to vote.

2 – Needed only when it’s time to pay taxes.

3 – Called upon only when it’s time to go to war.

1 – Consulted only if it will benefit the tower,

2 – And the power people inside,

3 – And their never-ending power games.

1 – Passing laws that others must obey.

2 – Passing laws which benefit the power people.

3 – Passing laws about who counts,

1 – Who is included,

2 – And even more importantly,

3 – Who is NOT.

1 – Making speeches about who is OUT,

2 – Who doesn’t BELONG,

3 – Who doesn’t FIT

All – With US!

1 – In the towers of power,

2 – The people of power play their games,

3 – Listening to money,

1 – Listening to themselves,

2 – Listening to their cravings

3 – For more.

All – For MORE!

1 – More power,

2 – More wealth,

3 – More control.

1 – But wait.

(Pause)

2 – Because,

(Pause)

3 – Something has happened.

(Pause)

1 – GOD has happened.

2 – OUTSIDE the towers of power,

3 – OUTSIDE the power games of the power people,

1 – OUTSIDE of strength,

2 – OUTSIDE of wealth,

3 – OUTSIDE of control.

1 – God has happened,

2 – In weakness,

3 – In helplessness,

1 – In love.

2 – In love,

3 – In love.

1 – Come to claim the expendable.

2 – Come to embrace the replaceable.

3 – Come to remember the forgettable.

1 – To name the un-named.

2 – To see the un-noticed.

3 – To be with the un-important.

1 – To live among God’s chosen,

2 – Those outside the tower,

3 – Those excluded from power.

1 – God has happened,

2 – To the casts offs,

3 – To the lepers,

1 – To the foreigners,

2 – To the refugees,

3 – To the children,

1 – To the addicts,

2 – To the misfits,

3 – To everyone who is outside.

1 – To proclaim that they belong.

2 – They matter.

3 – They are welcome.

1 – A baby is born.

2 – Outside.

3 – And angels sing.

1 – Outside.

2 – And shepherds rejoice.

3 – Outside.

1 – Where God has happened.

2 – Where God is happening.

3 – Where God comes.