“This Here Flesh” Sermon Series

All errors are my own. For a WORD version of this document (for formatting ease, email me at Katyandtheword at gmail subject line: This Here Flesh) —Topical prayers may be added

This Summer Series is deeply indebted to the Work of Cole Arthur Riley whose liturgy I have been following for many years. Her book “This Here Flesh” discusses embodied liturgy as a life practice through writing, wondering and breathing in and out who God is in your life and I highly recommend buying or borrowing or listening to the book as soon as possible.

Introduction (Can be used as Letter or Foundation for One)

If you use this series you must credit Cole Arthur Riley’s authorship and Book, as it is foundational for all of the work you see here. Please credit Cole Arthur Riley “This Here Flesh” and Pastor Katy Stenta for liturgy. Additionally, if you want to support her patreon which can be done from as little as $5 a month, that link is available here.

Week 1: Body (Ch 5) & Dignity (Ch. 1) Notes

Topical Prayer: Embodied


Genesis 1: 27-28 God creates humans
Hebrews 2:5-9, 14 Humans little less than angels
Mark 6: 34-44 Feeding 5,000

Call to Worship (breath prayer)
I am embodied. (breathe in)
I am created by God. (breathe out)

Invitation to Confession; Come let us present our full selves to God.

Prayer of Confession: I confess God that some days Jesus Christ’s very humanity escapes me. I do not picture him with scraped knees or grubby nose. I do not see him tripping and falling on his face in front of his disciples. Sometimes I want just a radiant, perfect Messiah. And yet, you sent us a Christ who affirmed our dignity. Jesus got to know us, teaching us, healing our bodies, eating with us and feeding us in oh so many ways. Help us to affirm our own humanity and dignity we pray. (Silent Confession) Amen

Affirmation of Forgiveness: As we live and breathe, the Holy Spirit is present and forgives, know the Good News: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication (adapted from Cole Arthur Riley p. 14): God though some say that do be emotional is to be weak. Who says weakness can’t be beautiful? Let us Go in dignity to lie down and feel. I have nothing to prove. and to know that weakness is still embodied dignity. Amen.

Creative Idea; Take a Moment to Notice Your Body, Do you feel Embodied?

Week 2: Place (Ch 2) & Belonging (Ch 6) Notes
Genesis 28:1-5 Jacob promised a home
Matthew 13:31-32 Kingdom of Heaven a Nest
John 14:1-4 Kingdom of Heaven a House Big Enough
Luke 19:1-10 Jesus Makes a Place of Belonging at Zeccheus’s House

Topical Prayer: Belonging

Call to Worship* (Breath Prayer from Cole Arthur Riley’s @blackliturgies )
I am trying (breathe in)
I am here (breathe out)

Invitation to Confession: Come let us confess ourselves to God.

Prayer of Confession: Jesus, we confess that although you say that there is enough room, and you will be there and that we know the way to our Father’s House—we don’t believe it. It all seems just too big a metaphor to be true. Like the disciples we are full of questions. How exactly will it work? We feel like Jacob, like we have to trick our way into the blessing, or like the blessing itself is a trick. Help us when we feel like we are not worthy or like we do not belong. Fill us with love we pray. (Silent Confession) Amen.

Prayer of Confession: God we confess that we do not want everyone to belong. We grumble, like those who did not like Zeccheus. We would rather judge. Or perhaps we are just shy. Make us a place of radical invitation and hospitality and love we pray. Teach us how to be a place of belonging, just like your kingdom is bound to be. (Silent Confession) Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: God is love, we belong, so we know the truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Amen.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Let us go forth proclaiming the Good News is making a home and God wants to invite everyone, let us go into the world confident that we can share God’s love to others. Amen.

Creative Moment: Draw/Write Your Place, the Place you belong, feel the most at home, if you don’t have one, can you imagine such a place? If you can’t, its ok to sit with that discomfort

Week 3: Wonder Ch 3 & Calling Ch 4 Notes

Wonder and Calling Topical Prayer


Matthew 5: Beatitudes
Matthew 18:1-5: Kingdom of Heaven Enter as a Child
1 Samuel 3: Calling of Samuel
1 Timothy 4:11-16: Youth and Devotion
Psalm 19: World Proclaims God’s Wonder

Call to Worship (Breath prayer)
God, you are Wondrous (breathe in)
God, I am your child (breathe out)

Call to Confession: Come, let us be ourselves with God.

Prayer of Confession: God, we confess that we forget. We forget that we are fiercely and wondrously made. We forget that uniquely gifted. We confess that we hide in our busyness or our expertise or our perfection and forget to just be. Help us to be what we are called to be. Beautiful children of God. Beloved and Called exactly as we are. (Silent Confession) Amen

Assurance of Pardon: Christ heals all wounds. Come let us comfort ourselves with the good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God, let us give permission to stand in wonder with you. Let us notice something beautiful today we pray. Amen.

Creative Moment* (from the book): Find 5 minutes today to do nothing and wonder about things. Preferably outside. Pick a flower or a cloud or a blade of grass or a favorite piece of music or doodle. You don’t have to focus on it the whole time, use it as a muse or inspiration instead of a focal point.

Week 4: Fear

Week 4: Fear Ch. 7 Notes
Psalm 23:1-4a: Shadow of Death
Psalm 91  El Shaddei (rest on El Shaddei v. 1) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Shaddai Mountains can mean places to worship and breasts can mean abundance of food so God of Many Mounds is a really rich image of God here. 
Psalm 22: My God, My God Why Have You Forsaken Me
Proverbs 9:10: Fear of God is the beginning of Wisdom
Deuteronomy 10:12-22: Fear the Lord, Love God, Love the Foreigner

Call to Worship (Breath prayer)
God, I am afraid (breathe in) 
But, You are still God (breathe out)

Invitation to Confession: It is time to open our fears to God.

Prayer of Confession: God we confess that we do not want to show fear. Fear means weakness or vulnerability. It means that we admit that we are flawed, mortal and will someday die. It is admitting that we are not God, and only you are. But is it not safe to show fear to you God? Perhaps this is what the phrase “fear of God” means. It means you are my safe sanctuary. Show me that sanctuary space, especially, when we cannot find that space in other places, I pray. (Silent Confession). Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: God knows us, God loves us, God forgives us. Let us assure one another of this truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Amen. 

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God you say fear not, the implication being, because you are with us. Hold our hand, because we are afraid. But hold our hand, so we might walk into the word anyway we pray. Amen. 

Prayer of the Day/Dedication*: God, Protect the part of you that still winces at pain. Refuse to become too familiar with the tragedy. Our souls were made to stir. Stir us, Spirit. Amen.

Creative Moment: What are you the most afraid of? Can you call someone you trust about that fear? Can you take that fear to God? Can you even just take the first step of admitting that fear to yourself? Can you whisper it to yourself in the sunlight? Why is it so hard to confess a fear do you think?

Week 5: Rest Ch 12 Notes
Psalm 23:4b-6: Make me Rest
Psalm 121: I Lift My Eyes to the Hills
Acts 9:36-42: Dorcas/Tabitha Resurrected Did She want to Get Up?
Luke 8: 22-25: Jesus quiets the storm
Genesis 2:1-3: God’s first act with humankind is rest

Call to Worship (Breath Prayer)
God be with me (Breathe in)
God give me sabbath (Breathe out)

Call to Worship* (Breath Prayer)
We’ve done enough. (breathe in)
There is room for our rest. (breathe out)

Call to Confession: Come let us lay our confessions at the feet of Jesus.

Confession: God, we confess that we do not rest easily with you. We feel lazy or lonely. Sometimes we feel like rest is a waste of time, or like our bodies are not worth it, or like we can rest, but maybe not with you God. And we confess, that though your yoke is supposed to be easy Jesus, sometimes we manufacture reasons to make it hard. Help us God. Be the Lord of Sabbath to us Jesus. Refresh Holy Spirit. (Silent Confession). Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: We do not have to earn forgiveness, it is given as soon as we ask, so let us rejoice as we give one another the good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Amen.

Prayer of the day/Dedication. Jesus says come to me all those who are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. May we always find our rest in Jesus Christ. Amen.

Creative Moment: Find 15 extra Minutes to Rest this Week. Rest can mean being still, reading a book, taking a walk. Try to figure out what rest means for you (Its ok if that is tricky).

Week 6: Rage Ch 9 Notes
Mark 11:12-17 Cursing of Fig Tree & Flipping Tables
Psalm 13 How Long O Lord
Matthew 16: 21-23 Get Behind Me Satan
Psalm 8, Psalm 58: Break the Teeth of the Wicked, Imprecatory Prayer
Luke 1: 46-55 Magnificat

Call to Worship* (Breath Prayer)
How long. God? (breathe in)
I’m tired of hoping (breathe out)

Invitation to Confession: Confess, Rage, God can take your anger

Prayer of Confession: God I am angry. I confess that I cannot even comprehend all the injustice at the world, and yet it makes me want to throw things and scream and shake my fist. It makes me wonder. Why do we not go around and curse fig trees. Why does the church not celebrate flipping tables Sunday? I am so angry, sometimes that it wearies me, What should I do with this anger God? Help me to know please. (Silent Confession) Amen. 

Assurance of Pardon: Christ is for us, Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, Know the truth of God’s love: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Jesus Christ, we rage and we hope, we hope and we rage. Let us not lose our emotions, but keep our energy and somehow still keep our eye on you we pray. Amen. 

Creative Moment: Let out a Scream in a field, or read this article about it, or Look at Edvard Munch’s Scream Painting or read one of the Psalms above to yourself very dramatically! Call a Senator about something that you want to be changed and angry (but not shouting, be polite to the workers) or write a letter about something that needs to change ASAP: https://www.senate.gov/senators/senators-contact.htm

Week 7: Repair Ch 11 & Joy Ch. 13 Notes
Ezra 3:10-13: Joy and Sorrow of Repair Mixed
John 20:19-31: Disability & Thomas Resources
John 9:1-41: Man Born Blind Prayer Resource Here
Philippians 4:1-9 Joy and Love beyond understanding

Call to Worship* (Breath Prayer)
I make peace with myself (breathe in)
I know who I am (breathe out)

Call to Worship* (Breath Prayer)
God restore my expectations. (Breathe in)
I want more for us than expectations (Breathe out)

Invitation: Join the Holy Spirit, who inspires us to confess today

Prayer of Confession: Holy Spirit, come and inspire us today. Too often we think repair is all about seeing the cracks and the holes. We forget that repair work can be joyful and beautiful and awe-inspiring. Do you find scars beautiful Jesus? We confess that we do not. We confess, we do not even like confession! Be with us, inspire us, laugh with us, repair with us we pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Jesus says the word, and all is forgiven, and look it is so—let us say the joyful news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. 

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God you give us the task to repair things not out of duty, but joy. Inspire in us that joy that is found in being made in any kind of health, and help us to separate that from perfectionism we pray. Amen.

Creative Moment: Do a Puzzle, Or Make a Collage.

Week 8: Memory Ch 14 Notes

Communion Recommended

Luke 24: 13-35 Story of Emmaus
Genesis 16:7-13 Hagar the God who Sees
1 Samuel 7:7-12: Samuel Erects Stones of help
Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Teach and Write so you remember

“It is queer and beautiful that some of us belong to a God who tells us to consume his body and blood in remembrance. What do the body and blood have to do with a memory” p. 67

Call to Worship (Breath Prayer) 
Do this in remembrance of Me (breathe in)
We Let us Re-Member You (breathe out)

Call to Worship (Breath Prayer)
We are Christ’s Body (breathe in)
We are Christ’s Blood (breathe out)

Call to Worship* (Breath Prayer)
This Body is good (breathe in)
I won’t abandon it (breathe out)

Invitation to Confession: Remember, you belong here, so you are allowed to give it all to God, come let us confess together.

Prayer of Confession: God we confess that we view memory making as a right of conquest or a competition, instead of opportunity to hear the stories that bind us together. Forgive us, Remember us to each other instead, we pray. Amen. 

Assurance of Pardon: God has taught us the good news, and continues to teach us how to forgive one another, so it is with joy we are able to practice what only Jesus can do so easily. Let us proclaim it: It Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Let us go into the world remembering God, and listening for where God’s story might already be in the world. Amen. 

Communion Prayer: It is truly right to give our thanks and praise to you God, because you re-member your body for us. Making each one of us a living breathing piece artifact of your kin(g)dom. Breathing us into the embodied earth. Reminding us that Christ was a savior who put sweat equity into teaching, who put his very spit into teaching and indeed healing. Reminding us that We are attach our memories to things because we are an emobodied existence. How much more, does God remind us to take care of ourselves when he says this is my body broken for you, take and nourish yourselves with it. This is my blood spilled for a new covenant of hope and forgiveness, whenever you eat and drink it, you have a remembrance embodied until I come again. So we pray down your promised Holy Spirit onto these simply elements, to bless them, to make them holy and complete a meal as we need for our bodies and souls so that we might taste the kingdom on our tongues and be in communion with you and the saints as we pursue the world we need. Bless these as elements of your work we pray. Amen. 

Creative Moment: Find an important artifact and Spend a moment with it. Or take a moment to find one: a rock, a feather, a leaf, write a letter. Think about what makes an artifact and why. Make an artifact to commit to yourself that you are an embodied beloved of God’s and that you are going to touch it everyday this week to remind yourself of that. Put it in your car or office or bathroom so you remember to do it.

Week 9: Justice Ch. 10 & Liberation ch. 15 (no notes, because you probably should just reread this chapter) Notes

Week 9: Justice Ch. 10 & Liberation Ch 15
Amos 5:23-24 No false ceremonies, Justice 
Habakkuk 1:1-4 Come make justice
Matthew 11:28-30 My Yoke is Light
Exodus 10: 17-21 Justice for the widow and alien
Psalm 103:1-6 justice and freedom
Psalm 145:5-9 Justice 

More Justice passages: https://justiceco.org/resources/gods-heart-of-justice/scriptures-on-justice-mercy-oppression-and-freedom/

Call to Worship (Breath Prayer)
God wants justice (breathe in)
We get free together (breathe out)

Call to Worship (Breath Prayer)
Justice will roll like waters (breathe in)
Righteous like an everflowing stream (breathe out)

Call to Confession: We are being called to Justice, so confess yourself, because we all want to get there, together. 

Prayer of Confession: God we confess that we confuse freedom with justice. We think that it is just that we are free, and do not understand that true liberation will only come with complete justice for all of our siblings. Open our hearts and minds and spirits to hear from those who are on the margins: the poor, the marginalized, the voiceless, the voteless, the different, those who are not of our race, gender, sexuality.  Give us ears to hear, and melt our hearts so that we can all have grace towards one another we pray. And forgive us in the meantime. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Hear the good news, Jesus was all about forgiveness, Jesus forgave people from all walks of life, even unto the cross. All they had to do was ask. So we can stand and assure one another, as a community, of the good news; In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. 

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Let us go into the world seeking justice that flows down like water and righteousness and liberation becomes like an ever-flowing stream. Amen.

Creative Moment: If identify as a White/CisPerson Follow someone on Social Media who is very different from you: a different gender, race or religious belief . Just listen, don’t comment. Digest. Think about what they say–maybe share their thoughts with comments such as “yes” or “Listen to this” or “Something to consider” be a Magnifier like Mary.

If you are Queer or a POC: Have you checked out The Nap Ministry of late or your accountability partner for relaxation (therapist/spouse/best friend)? Have you followed some of Tricia’s amazing advice of recent? Gentle reminder to check in with that if you haven’t. https://thenapministry.wordpress.com or @TheNapMinistry

*Cole Arthur Riley’s Writing, Instagram Account here

If you would like to support Cole Arthur Riley she has a venmo account available here her venmo is @colenae–she has a patreon available for only $5/$10/etc a month here. You can give one time for a year for $54! If you would like to support my writing I am funding my way through a Phd in Creative Writing in Theology here, but encourage you to support Cole Arthur Riley with venmo, book orders, etc. 1st.

If you want a word doc version of everything for easier formatting (ie copy and paste) please email me at Katyandtheword at gmail and I will send it to just title the email “This Here Flesh” you can do it before the series is finished and I will save it to send to you upon completion. Obviously you are free to use part/all of the series to fit your context; I hope I am keeping in the integrity of Cole’s work.

Bibliography

Cole Arthur Riley, This Here Flesh: Spirituality, Liberation, and the Stories That Make Us (New York: Convergent, 2022)

Available For Purchase Here

*Denotes Prayers directly written by Cole Arthur Riley from her Instagram site here

Author: katyandtheword

Pastor Katy has enjoyed ministry at New Covenant for 7 years, where the church has solidified its community focus. Prior to that she studied both Theology and Christian Formation at Princeton Theological Seminary. She also served as an Assistant Chaplain at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and as the Christian Educational Coordinator at Bethany Presbyterian at Bloomfield, NJ. She enjoys working within and connecting to the community, is known to laugh a lot during service, and tells as many stories as possible. Pastor Katy loves reading Science Fiction and Fantasy, theater, arts and crafts, music, playing with children and sunshine, and continues to try to be as (w)holistically Christian as possible. "Publisher after publisher turned down A Wrinkle in Time," L'Engle wrote, "because it deals overtly with the problem of evil, and it was too difficult for children, and was it a children's or an adult's book, anyhow?" The next year it won the prestigious John Newbery Medal. Tolkien states in the foreword to The Lord of the Rings that he disliked allegories and that the story was not one.[66] Instead he preferred what he termed "applicability", the freedom of the reader to interpret the work in the light of his or her own life and times. "Hallows, not Horcruxes" Harry Potter

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