Monthly Archives: December 2016

Prayers of the People for January 1, 2017

We are invited to bring our world and our lives to God in prayer, believing that we will not only be heard, but strengthened for ministry.  Trusting this promise, let us pray.

[Short pause]

Jesus, in whose name we live, we give thanks for your presence with us through this last year, and for your promise that you will accompany us in the new year.  That we may hold to this promise, whatever comes, we lift up our prayer,
Come now, O Prince of Peace, make us one body
Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people.

Jesus, in whose name we celebrate, we give thanks for the gifts we have been given, the relationships of which we are a part, and the forgiveness which embraces all of our realities.  That we may share what you have given, we lift up our prayer,
Come now, O Prince of Peace, make us one body
Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people.

Jesus, in whose name we serve, we offer our prayers for those who are hurting in this world: the hungry, the refugee, the lonely, the victims of violence.  That we may be part of a life-giving answer to a death-dealing world, we lift up our prayer,
Come now, O Prince of Peace, make us one body
Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people.

Jesus, in whose name we worship, we, your church, ask for your guidance in the challenges we face.  That you would give us a vision of what we can become, the will to ask the right questions, and the faith to respond to your invitation, we lift up our prayer,
Come now, O Prince of Peace, make us one body
Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people.

Jesus, in whose name we pray, in gratitude for hearing us, in anticipation of what you will bring, and in the desire to be embraced by your call, we lift up our prayer,
Come now, O Prince of Peace, make us one body
Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people.

We offer all these prayers, as well as the unspoken longings of our hearts, to you, liberating God, in the name of Jesus, our liberating Saviour.
Amen.

Prayers of the People for Christmas Eve, 2016

The congregation sings the response, which is verse 1 of “Come Now, O Prince of Peace,” a song from Korea (found in Evangelical Lutheran Worship, Hymn # 247).

——————————————————————–

We are invited to bring our world and our lives to God in prayer, believing that we will not only be heard, but strengthened for ministry.  Trusting this promise, let us pray.

[Short pause]

Emmanuel, God with us, we offer our thanks for the gift of your presence.  Open our eyes to see.  We lift up our prayer,
Come now, O Prince of Peace, make us one body
Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people.

Emmanuel, God with us, you come to specific people in specific places in specific times.  Show yourself to us in this people, in this place, in this time.  We lift up our prayer,
Come now, O Prince of Peace, make us one body
Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people.

Emmanuel, God with us, your coming shines light into our darkness.  May we embrace the realities which surround us, no matter how dark, no matter how uncomfortable.  We lift up our prayer,
Come now, O Prince of Peace, make us one body
Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people.

Emmanuel, God with us, we still have to contend with Caesar.  Enable us to live your love in all of our realities.  We lift up our prayer,
Come now, O Prince of Peace, make us one body
Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people.

Emmanuel, God with us, use us to touch those in need of comfort, in need of hope, in need to necessities, in need of healing, especially [NAMES, AND] those we name before you.
[Long pause]
We lift up our prayer,
Come now, O Prince of Peace, make us one body
Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people.

Emmanuel, God with us, guide your church in ways of faithful service, that all whom we encounter might catch a glimpse of your loving presence.  We lift up our prayer,
Come now, O Prince of Peace, make us one body
Come, O Lord Jesus, reconcile your people.

We offer all these prayers, as well as the unspoken longings of our hearts, to you, liberating God, in the name of Jesus, our liberating Saviour.
Amen.

Christmas Blasphemy

I always seem to get a little blasphemous at Christmas.

[Blasphemy (blas-fuh-mee).
Impious utterance or action concerning God or sacred things; irreverent behaviour toward anything held sacred, priceless, etc.]
From Dictionary.com

Don’t get me wrong. I like Christmas. The story, the traditions, the memories, the liturgies, are all wonderful ways we connect with our past, and remind us, at least in part, who we are.

At the same time, the relentless cheerfulness, the insane stress we put on ourselves, and the competing story that inundates us 24/7 which tries to tell us that we are what we buy or get or consume (which are admittedly there all the time, but which are exponentially ramped up at this time of year) all combine to make me just a bit cynical about it all.

Just a bit!

So, as I was reading through the story of Jesus’ birth from Luke’s gospel this year, I was struck by the first couple verses.  They are frequently skipped over, or ignored, and sometimes they aren’t even read. But they did something for me this time.

“In those days a decree went out from Emperor [aka Caesar] Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.” Luke 2:1-2

That’s it. Just those two simple time markers.

But what came to my mind when I read them this time was the (admittedly somewhat blasphemous!) statement, “Keep Caesar in Christmas!”

The second thing that that came to mind was the equally blasphemous “Keep Quirinius in Christmas!”

(I think the first has more impact, because Caesar was far more important to the story, and to history, than Quirinius, but I must say, the alliteration of the second is rather nicer!)

The story of the birth of Jesus is a major political statement, in which the big guys turn out to be less than pawns in God’s ultimate chess game. THEY are the ones who are captive; in this case, captive to their own understanding of what Power is, and what it is for.

Meanwhile, God is free, working in the shadows to bring light. God is free, working in the hidden corners to bring into the open; in the middle of powerlessness to demonstrate true strength; in the middle of vulnerability to bring assurance; in the middle of un-named masses to bring true identity.

We need to remember Caesar and Quirinius, for they not only locate the “Jesus event” in time, but also in political realities which affect how the story plays out, and which make this story Good News for those under oppression, for all who live under the thumb of Caesar or his myriad current-day offspring.

The freedom Christ brings is not just a “spiritual” freedom, which somehow applies in all situations (but which, in reality, impacts none of them). Freedom in Christ has real-world, political ramifications; not partisan, but most definitely public, most definitely part of life, most definitely engaged in the concrete struggle for justice.

The church in Europe during the 20’s and 30’s forgot that.  Most Christians  allowed themselves to be convinced that “religion” was “spiritual” (i.e. all about heaven) but in the mean time, they had more important things to do.  And at the top of that list was obeying the government.

In many ways, we are still paying for that.

That’s why I think it might be helpful to have a new figurine added to our nativities, dressed in a toga and issuing orders which Joseph and Mary are legally obligated to follow. We need this reminder that Caesar was “In Charge,” doing “Important Things,” and building the glory that was Rome.

Perhaps then we will be more open to the God who comes in vulnerability, to un-important people, who are doing completely ordinary things, and who are therefore in a position to discover reasons to challenge the claims our current day Caesars might be making.

Keeping Caesar in our Christmas story is a way to make the story real, concrete, and relevant in a world which increasingly wants to dismiss any who challenge the status quo.

Challenge the status quo! Keep Caesar in Christmas!

Prayers of the People for Advent 3, 2016

We are invited to bring our world and our lives to God in prayer, believing that we will not only be heard, but strengthened for ministry.  Trusting this promise, let us pray.

[Short pause]

God of the disappointed, so much of life doesn’t turn out the way we think it should.  Give us patience in difficult times.  Liberating God,
Hear our prayer.

God of the disappointed, relationships turn sour, expectations are not met, situations move in uncomfortable directions.  Remind us that you walk with us.  Liberating God,
Hear our prayer.

God of the disappointed, it is difficult to admit, but we disappoint ourselves.  We don’t behave as we wish; we don’t treat others as we want to be treated.  Make us more loving.  Liberating God,
Hear our prayer.

God of the disappointed, today we admit that we have been disappointed in you as well.  You have not live up to our expectations.  Forgive our presumption.  Liberating God,
Hear our prayer.

God of the disappointed, guide your church into ways of looking that can see what you are doing, into ways of listening that can hear what you are saying, into ways of responding which can join what you are making happen in our day.  Liberating God,
Hear our prayer.

God of the disappointed, you send us to the lonely, the poor, the sick, and all those whose desires for life have been unfulfilled.  May we bring healing and hope to [NAMES, AND] all those whom we name before you.
[Long pause]
Liberating God,
Hear our prayer.

We offer all these prayers, as well as the unspoken longings of our hearts, to you, liberating God, in the name of Jesus, our liberating Saviour.
Amen.

Christmas Eve Dramatic Reading

We used this last year (2015) to begin the Christmas Eve services in the Lutheran churches in Lunenburg and First South, Nova Scotia. It is for three voices (mix male and female voices).

Feel free to use, but please do let me know if you do. Thanks!

 

A Christmas Eve dramatic reading

1 – Dark.

2 – Darkness.

3 – Hopelessness.

1 – Night.

2 – Black.

3 – Questions.

1 – Many question.

2 – TOO many questions.

3 – Hurled at the dark.

1 – Why?

2 – Why Syria?

3 – Why hunger?

1 – Why war?

2 – Why refugees?

3 – Why unemployment?

1 – Why addiction?

2 – Why destructive families?

3 – Why isn’t anyone DOING anything?

1 – Why aren’t WE?

2 – And even when we DO,

3 – It seems so insignificant.

1 – So small.

2 – So why bother?

3 – What’s the point?

1 – Why?

2 – Why?

3 – Why?

All – WHY?

1 – Hurled at the dark.

2 – Thrown into the silence.

3 – Into the silence.

1 – Thrown into the night.

2 – Into the silent night.

All – Into the silent, holy, night.

Pause

3 – A song of hope.

1 – A song of hope?

2 – Yes.

3 – A song of hope.

1 – Sung at the darkness.

2 – Hurled into the night.

3 – Thrown at the hopelessness.

1 – Because it is here.

2 – Right here.

3 – Among US.

1 – That God comes.

2 – Into the dark.

3 – Into OUR dark.

1 – Into the night.

2 – Into OUR night.

3 – Into the bleakness of our lives,

1 – With a word of hope,

2 – A word of acceptance,

3 – A word of presence.

1 – Presence with us.

2 – Presence with the refugee.

3 – Presence with the addicted.

1 – And the unemployed,

2 – And the hopeless,

3 – And all who dwell in darkness.

1 – A light shines in the darkness.

2 – Shines in the night.

3 – Shines in us,

1 – And for us,

2 – And for all.

3 – For all.

All – For ALL.

1 – A song of hope.

2 – Sung in the darkness.

3 – Sung for the world.

1 – And in a manger, a baby cries.

2 – And hope is born again.

3 – For all.

1 – For all.

2 – For all.

All – For ALL.

3 – Amen.

Prayers of the People for Advent 2, 2016

We are invited to bring our world and our lives to God in prayer, believing that we will not only be heard, but strengthened for ministry.  Trusting this promise, let us pray.

[Short pause]

Loving God, you call us to repentance.  Show us where we need to change direction, and give us the courage to do it.  Liberating God,
Hear our prayer.

Loving God, you call us to the wilderness.  Help us trust your presence, no matter what dangers we face.  Liberating God,
Hear our prayer.

Loving God, you call us to confession.  Strengthen our faith to trust your love and acceptance, no matter what we have done, no matter what we haven’t done.  Liberating God,
Hear our prayer.

Loving God, you call us to our true identity.  Enable us to let go of all that inhibits your Spirit flowing though our lives.  Make us even more your people.  Liberating God,
Hear our prayer.

Loving God, you call us to embrace.  May we be open to the poor, the forgotten, the untrusted, the different, the sick, including [NAMES AND] those we name before you
[Long pause]
Liberating God,
Hear our prayer.

Loving God, you call us to change direction.  Help us be open to the new, no matter where it takes us.  Liberating God,
Hear our prayer.

We offer all these prayers, as well as the unspoken longings of our hearts, to you, liberating God, in the name of Jesus, our liberating Saviour.
Amen.