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prayers, liturgies, and other stuff I create which could be used in worship.

 

Why Use Psalms in Sunday Worship

Tuesday, October 18th, 2011

This Sunday, County Line church will try out (for the first time in anyone’s memory, I believe) using Psalms in our worship service. Here is an informational handout I prepared for our bulletin which explains the experiment:

For the next several weeks we will endeavor to incorporate the Psalms in our worship of God. We will have an opportunity to reflect on this practice at the December Consistory meeting.

At County Line Church we are used to having three readings from the Bible. However, we read from every section of the Bible except for the Psalms in our Sunday worship service. Adding a Psalm is not a fourth reading however, but rather a prayer which we have received and which we offer as our own. The Book of Psalms is the original hymnal and prayer book of the church. It spans every human emotion, and when Jesus went to synagogue he would have prayed the Psalms. We believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God. How appropriate then to offer back to God in our worship the words he already gave us!

Using Psalms are quite popular in Reformed traditions such as the E&R. Many hymns in our Favorite Hymns of Praise and The Hymnal are actually paraphrases of Psalms. Our E&R hymnal includes a section on how to chant (sing) the psalms.

We will experience the Psalms in a variety of ways. We may simply pray a psalm aloud, read responsively, or sing. Listen for the word of God in the Psalms, and pray the word of God thru the Psalms over these coming weeks. As we worship today make these 2,500 year-old prayers of the church your own.


Passion Sunday Resources

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

This Sunday our church will read the passion narrative in place of a sermon. We use the New International Version translation and there doesn’t seem to be many liturgical resources that use NIV, so we often have to create or arrange our own.

Scroll down for the passion narrative for Year A (Matthew 26:14-27:66) using NIV 1984 for three readers: 1) narrator, 2) Jesus, 3) other voices, plus a congregational part.

I made a few revisions to the text. I removed most of the “he said” notes to help the dialog flow better. These narration notes are included when it clarifies who the speaker is. I also added a second “even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you” to allow another opportunity for congregational participation. Once or twice I change the order of the “he said” notes to prevent the other-voices speaker from speaking back to back as a different person.

A note on the congregation part. Traditionally in passion readings the congregation has been given the unfortunate role of the crowd which shouts “Give us Barabbas.” and “Crucify him! Crucify him!” and “His blood is on us and our children.” I believe that we are all culpable for the death of Christ because of our sin, however forcing this role upon the faithful strikes me as a pastorally insensitive. Normally the pastor fills the role of Jesus in order to emphasize his or her role in persona christi. So, what image is conveyed when the congregation plays the role of the crowd? – Those who are antagonistic toward Christ and his disciples; which, I believe, is hardly the case among the faithful. The script I composed experiments with giving the congregation the role of the disciples, which we strive to be (and yet the text is clear – the disciples still fall short).

Please let me know if you find this resource useful.

Passion Reading Year A (no highlighting) [pdf] [doc]

Narrator highlighted [pdf] [doc]

Jesus highlighted [pdf] [doc]

Other Voices highlighted [pdf] [doc]

Congregation handout [pdf] [doc]


Small Church Worship

Monday, April 11th, 2011

Small Church

I found in my notebook today just a few thoughts concerning worship in a small church.

  • What if we simplified “the front”: less clutter, removed the altar walls, (maybe even removed the pulpit!), and brought the altar closer to the worshipers? I wonder if this would help to remove the illusion that worship happens “up front.”
  • What if we all came forward for communion at the same time? gathered around the table – there’s only 30 of us; thats a large family reunion size. What if the communion table was used as an actual table?
  • What if everyone processed into the worship space? (Not just the preacher and choir) What if we viewed all the assembled faithful as the ministers of worship?
  • What if I sat in a pew?

What other ways could small churches use their size as an advantage in worship?


Ash Wednesday

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Our Ash Wednesday service at St. Luke’s:

Download as Word document.

I also created a brief order for use at home for those who could not join us for a noon service.

Ash Wednesday

March 9, 2011

Noon

Prayer

Lord God, bless us as we embark on our forty day Lenten Journey. Guide us to have the humility and the courage to confess our sins, to walk humbly with you and to make clean our hearts. We ask this all through your son, our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one god now and forever. Amen.

Hear the commandments of God to his people:

I am the Lord your God who brought you out of bondage. You shall have no other gods but me.
Respond (after each commandment): Amen. Lord have mercy.
You shall not make for yourself any idol.
You shall not invoke with malice the Name of the Lord your God.
Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not commit murder.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not be a false witness.
You shall not covet anything that belongs to your neighbor.

A brief time of silence

Joel 2:1-2, 12-17

Psalm 51:1-17 (Sung response: “Create in me a clean heart, O God. And renew a right spirit within me.” after verses 3,6,9,12,15,17)

2 Corinthians 5:20b-6:10

Matthew 4:1-11

A time of silence – Listen to the call to rend your hearts. How might you return to the Lord with fasting, weeping, mourning; returning to the Lord with all your heart? Contemplate on the mystery of Christ’s testing in the wilderness.

Blessing of Ashes

O God, bless and sanctify these ashes that they may be for us signs of our true repentance; that they may aid us to seek humility, a contrite heart, and an upright spirit; Grant us guidance on our Lenten journey, and strengthen our Lenten disciplines and devotion to you. Bless us who receive these ashes that we may be secure in the hope of your salvation, sealed with the sign of Christ upon our foreheads.

Imposition of Ashes

“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”

Benediction

Let us go forth now, marked with the sign of Christ that we may desire true repentance, a new heart, a right spirit, and peace with you O Lord, our God.


Epiphany Home Blessing

Friday, January 7th, 2011

Our front step

Yesterday was Epiphany in which we remember the visitation of the Magi to the Lord Jesus. It has also been a day for blessing of homes at the new year. Here is a brief liturgy I adapted for use in our church:

Slightly adapted from The Rev. Anne O. Weatherholt, Rector St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, Boonsboro, MD stmarks@myactv.net

Blessing of Homes at New Year’s

Background: A part of church history is the custom of blessing homes on Epiphany, which is Jan. 6, 2011. A family would hold a short service of prayer to ask God’s blessing on their dwellings and on all who live, work with and visit them. In this way, we invite Jesus to be a “guest” in our home, a listener to each conversation, a guide for troubled times, and a blessing in times of thanksgiving.

“Chalking the door” or the door step may be used as a way to celebrate and literally “mark” the occasion. In the Old Testament the Israelites were told to mark their doors with the blood of the lamb on the night of the Passover to ensure that the angel of death would pass them by. Deuteronomy 6: 9 says that we shall “write [the words of God] on your heart; and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, … and you shall write them on the door posts of your house and on your gates.”

Chalk is made of the substance of the earth and is used by teachers to instruct and by children to play. As the image of the chalk fades, we will remember the sign we have made and transfer it to our hearts and our habits. The following form may be used by your family to mark the door of your own home at this holy season. You may assign parts to read and respond as you wish; keep in mind that the leader can be an adult or a child. This blessing can also be used by a single person by changing the personal pronouns. CMB stands for Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar. These are the traditional names given to the three wise men who followed the star to God’s son in Bethlehem. CMB also stands for Christus Mansionem Benedicat, Latin for “May Christ Bless this House.”

An Epiphany House Blessing

You may wish to begin by singing together the first verse of We Three Kings

Leader: The Lord be with you.

Response: And also with you.

Leader: Arise, shine, for your light has come and the Glory of the Lord shall be revealed.

Response: And all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.

Leader: Let us pray.

Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live here with the gift of your love; and grant that they may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives they touch. May they grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen them in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and for ever. Amen.

At this time you may use chalk to draw the symbols and date on the door or door step:

20 + C + M + B + 11

Leader: May God the Father, who by Baptism adopts us as his children,

grant us grace.

May God the Son, who sanctified a home at Nazareth, fill us with love.

May God the Holy Spirit, who has made the Church one family,

keep us in peace.

Response: Amen!


Sunday Evening Sending (final service)

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

Setup:

We split the room into two halfs with a small aisle down the center. Each half had rows of chairs which faced each other. Setup instruction: “Let us prepare this space as we prepare our hearts for worship.” The campers and counselors began outside in “family groups.”

Outgoing instruction: As we continue our worship we are going to go outside and gather in family groups, just outside these doors and in front of the dining hall. Pray with each other a final time as a family group. Brandon will come around to each group and send you back in to our worship space; enter single file and find a seat. Go and gather as family groups outside.


Liturgy

Entrance Song (Paul): Come Let Us Worship [playing as people were coming in single file]
After all have gathered:

Chalice Worship #707 (p.430)

Go now, remembering what we have done here.
Go now, remembering what God has done for us.
Go now, into the world where apathy and half-heartedness are dominant,
Where love too often is hard to find.
Go now, walking with each other
And working with each other in the spirit of love.
Be awake, be alert, be alive to the needs around you
And to the glory of God in Jesus Christ.
And May God’s peace and joy be with us always.

Music (Paul): Get Up & Go.
Scripture: 1 Cor 12:14-26 (one body, many parts)
Prayer: We have gathered on this mountain as individuals, churches, and the Body of Christ. Let us come together as the Body to pray in our own way. I invite each of you to pray out loud as the spirit leads you. Pray for your fellow campers, your church, and that you can carry the love of Christ with you when we depart. We will gather again to pray the Lord’s Prayer. Let us pray
[a time of self-led prayer]
The Lord’s Prayer. [after a time]

Instruction: We are going to send out in the same way we came. You will be dismissed by row to exit this place, single file. Stay in the main camp area and wish your fellow campers and counselors fair-well with a sign of peace.
We are gathered here now as one Body with one voice, though we are many. From this place we scatter, not to leave this Body behind but to carry it with us – down the mountain, back into the cold; to our churches, to our homes, and to all we encounter.

Music (Paul): Get Loud
Sending


Commentary.

The same campers that helped plan Saturday evening’s service also worked on this one (plus two more). Andrea helped me on the counselor end at both planning sessions.

Originally this service was just going to be another evening service. So, the campers wanted to continue the Pentecost account which we began the night before. Due to the weather, however, it had been decided that program would end that night and this would be the final worship wervice. We got this news about 5 minutes into our planning meeting and adapted.

Since it would be the last one, I put out the idea that the entire service should serve as a benediction – a sending out. The campers went with it and picked a dismissal litany to serve as the call to worship. Another camper came up with the idea of praying out loud for one another in order to fit with the Pentecost scripture from the day before. It would be many-voices/one-voice in prayer. To facilitate this, we decided that people should face one another.

The “pair-prayer” came naturally out of these themes. It was a bit difficult to read from the power point because it took the attention off of the patner and put it on the screen. It may have been better served as a “repeat-after-me” prayer.

We wanted to convey the message of the gathering in this weekend and then sending out. That is why we had people come in single file so that the voice could grow as more people were gathered in the worship space. We also sent out single file to convey the message that even though we left the weekend, there are those who are behind that continue to sing (in a metaphorical sense). The weather had started to pick up at this point and we had to send everyone straight to their cabins instead of mingling/prayer time. But this did not hinder the worship experience.


Sunday Morning Communion Service

Sunday, February 22nd, 2009

Setup

Chairs in a semi circle with a center aisle. The focus was on a table. The chairs were arrange in four sections to facilitate the reception of communion at four different stations.


Liturgy

Opening Prayer/Call to worship (Joel)

#66 (p. 248) from Chalice Worship

Let us praise our God, Holy Mystery, Source of all being, Word and Spirit. Let us Praise and exalt God above all, forever.

Song: Highest Glory (Paul)

OT Reading: Isaiah 53:2-6 (Camper)

Responsorial Ps (Camper/Paul) Psalm 118

Choral Response: Asalam Shalom
Verses 5-7: When hard pressed, I cried to the Lord;
He brought me into a spacious place.
The Lord is with me;  I will not be afraid.
What can human beings do to me?
The Lord is with me; he is my helper.
I look in triumph on my enemies.
Choral Response: Asalam Shalom

NT Reading: Acts 17:16-23a [stop at "to an unknown god"] (camper)

Song: Alleluia

Gospel Reading: Matthew 16:13-16 (Camper)

Reflection on the reading from Acts with the Gospel as a response.

Summary: We live in a world which is spiritual but not religious. Many claim that they cannot know God. We, as Christians however are able to call our God by name, and we know him as Jesus Christ.

Prayers of Intercession (Tamara)

Confession/Pardon

Communion Song: Let’s Break Bread Together (Paul)

Procession of Gifts (2 Campers)

Eucharistic Prayers (Tamara)

The Lord be with you
And also with you
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks the the Lord our God.
It is right to give him thanks and praise.

Prayer over the elements

Song: (Paul)

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

Words of Institution (Tamara)

Song: (Paul)

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Song: Lord’s Prayer (Paul)

Peace (Tamara)

The peace of the Lord be with you always
And also with you.
Let us offer each other the sign of peace.

Song: (Paul – Sung during peace above)

Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world have mercy on us (x2) Lamb of God you take away the sins of the word, grant us peace.

Instruction (Joel):

Come forward, down the center isle, one row at a time. Take a piece of bread, and dip in cup. Receive the Lord and each other in this meal.

Reception

Dismissal.


Commentary

The common practice at this camp is to celebrate communion at the final worship service on Monday morning. However, in Disciples tradition it is (nearly) universal to celebrate communion at least every Sunday. I presented the idea to celebrate communion at both the Sunday morning service as well as the closing Monday morning service to honor both traditions – that of the camp and that of the Disciples whom we serve at camp. This proposition was accepted and we celebrated communion on Sunday morning. Due to the weather camp ended early and we did not have the final worship on Monday morning as originally planned, so this was a good change given the circumstances.

I used the following resources as a guide:

I went more “high church” for several reasons:

  1. To fit with the co-exist theme of the weekend. There is a great deal of diversity within Christiandom, and I felt it was appropiate to show that here.
  2. I have always been critical of our denomination’s weak Eucharistic Liturgy. The one found in our ecumenical order of worship is more rich and full, and I wanted to expose the campers and counselors to it. For those who may not be aware, a Disciples’ Eucharistic liturgy often consists of only the Words of Institution.
  3. Admittedly my personal preference leads me to desire a full Liturgy of the Word with a Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Paul was very talented and composed original arrangements for many of the Eucharistic songs.

There were a few technical/communication problems which may be due to the lack of familiarity with the liturgy. If I were to do something similar in the future I would insists on a quick run through with the musician and minister. I do admit that it can be somewhat complex. On the other hand, again due to the lack of familiarity, no one noticed that anything was out of order.


Saturday Evening Worship

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Setup

The chairs were arranged in a large semi-circle with many rows, directly adjacent to the stage. There was a small center which the leaders spoke from. “Let the preparation this room be an act of worship in itself.”


Instructions: We are going to enter our worship with a meditative song. Meditate on these words and let them guide your worship this evening. Even if you know the words, I ask that you remain silent and hear them anew.

Meditative Song (Colin & James):  We Are the Body.

Instruction (Brandon):  Turn in your seats and pair up in twos. The person on the left will pray the first part to their partner, the person on the right will pray the second part in response, everyone will respond “Alleluia.” Pray with me.

Brandon (left) : The Lord said you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you shall be my witness to the ends of the earth.

Andrea (right): Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will fill the hearts of the faithful and kindle in them the fire of God’s love.

ALL: Alleluia!

Scripture (Michelle): Acts 2:1-12 [skipping people names]

Song (Colin & James): Rising From the Ashes.

Prayer (Trevor)

Continue song (Colin & James)

Chorus (Paul)

Benediction (Brandon): Let this song be our benediction.

Continue song (Paul): Get Up and Go!


Commentary

This worship experience was designed with the help of campers and a fellow counselor during free time earlier that day. The planning experience was not only planning but also partly instruction on what it means to worship: How do we enter and exit worship time and space? It is not about what happens up front, but rather we should ask “how can we lead our fellow campers to worship where they are?”

A camper suggested the reception of the Holy Spirit as the focus of the evening worship. Earlier that day the keynote speaker talked about different names for God. In the scripture we read how many people heard about God in their own language.

I asked how we might set up the space convey this message and a camper suggested that we avoid the traditional center aisle as it might show division whereas the scripture conveyed a unity. We went a step farther and created the semi-circle to better foster the unity and community expressed in the Scripture. Worshipers were able to look at each other.

Two campers happened to be gifted musicians and offered a song they had written themselves which was most appropriate. They allowed for a time of prayer in the middle of the song. It was titled Rising From the Ashes. The campers acknowledged how this fits with the fire imagery of Pentecost. The verses of the song were wonderfully Christ-centered. This helped to balance the largely horizontal focus thus far with a vertical (direct praise of God).

The “pair-prayer” was another camper’s idea, again to convey unity and also a commission. It may have worked better as “repeat-after-me” as opposed to reading form the screen (which took the focus off of one’s peer).

Paul had a great sending out song, Get Up and Go. Which we felt stood on its own as a benediction.


Saturday Morning Worship

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Setup

Simple rows facing forward with a center aisle.


Liturgy

Call to Worship: Deut 6:4-9

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (tNIV)

Responsorial Psalm (with choral refrain): 104

Choral Refrain: A Salam Shalom (Paul)

Bless the LORD, O my soul!

O LORD, my God, you are great indeed!

You are clothed with majesty and glory,

robed in light as with a cloak.

Choral Refrain

All creatures look to you

to give them food in due time.

When you give it to them, they gather it;

when you open your hand, they are filled with good things.

Choral Refrain

If you take away their breath, they perish

and return to their dust.

When you send forth your spirit, they are created,

and you renew the face of the earth.

Song (from the refrain)

Silent prayer/journaling With the Shema on powerpoint give the worshipers an opportunity to “write the words of the Lord.” Carry this with you in a pocket throughout this day.

Song: (Paul)

Dismissal inspired by Chalice Worship 708 (p.431)

God has planted his word within our hearts. Our God sends us forth this day to carry this word where-ever we go. Enter this day with his word as our guide. Let us continue to worship the Lord our God in all we do this day. Amen.


Commentary

The theme for the weekend was “coexist.” I did not feel comfortable to go too far outside of the Christian tradition when it came to worship. However, I believed that the Shema and a responsive psalm fit well. The focus on the Old Testament aided the theme as well as looked at an often neglected portion of our Scriptures.

There was a balance between the community and the individual. We responded to the psalm together as a community, and the journaling allowed for a private response. Unfortunately I was not able to get the words on power-point in time and instead I read the Shema several times. On the other hand this may have fit with the text “Hear, O Israel.”


Friday Gathering

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

Setup

The room was cleared of all chairs so that we had open space. I asked everyone to spread out as far as possible.


Liturgy

Call to Worship:

Come, let us worship the Lord our God. Let us praise him in song and prayer as we gather this evening to commit ourselves and this camp to his Holy Name. Amen.

Leader:

To begin our worship, I invite you to pray silently, by yourself, asking God to guide you as we seek him this weekend.

30 seconds silent prayer.

Song: I Will Worship My God (Paul)

Leader:

Now, find those who you came to camp with, the people from your local church. Hold hands as

you gather together in a circle. Pray with your fellow church members that as a local community you may come closer to Christ and each other this weekend.

1-2 minutes for small group prayer.

Song: Come Let Us Worship Our God (Paul)

Leader:

We come together not only as individuals and local churches but also as the Body of Christ. Look for other churches near you and open your circle to include them. As your circle grows, find other groups around you and include them in your circle as well. Continue growing the circle until we are all gathered together in one large circle.

1-2 minutes for the gathering into one large circle.

After all are gathered…

Prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, we ask that you be with us now. We come to this mountain top as individuals, as churches and as your assembled Body so that we may grow closer to you. Bless us and guide us in this quest. Be with our speaker, our counselors, our leaders, and each one of us that our hearts may be opened to receive your word for us this day, on this mountain top and for the days to come. Amen.

Song: Come Let Us Worship Our God (Paul)


Commentary

This service was intentionally very horizontal in nature. That is, it was focused on the worshiping community and their commitment to God and the weekend rather than explicitly vertical (address to God).

I understood that the youth culture is very individualistic. I didn’t want to attack this, but rather use it.  Still, I wanted to convey the message that while we are individuals, we still come together as a community.

The actions within the worship (standing individually, as a local church, and as an assembled body) helped to define what was happening at the retreat and the purpose for it – to gather as a church. Each phase did not overshadow the preceding one, but allowed for individualism within a local community, and local communities within the larger church.

There was also a transition from I language to We language in the music and prayers. This also helped to accomplish the sense of gathering and community.

The song was an original work by Paul. It did present a problem when all were gathered in a large circle that some people had their backs to the projector screen and could not see the words.