Processing with God: Narrative Lectionary, Liturgy, Prayers
Pastor Katy has enjoyed ministry at New Covenant since 2010, 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 is an writer and is published in Enfleshed, Sermonsuite, Presbyterian's today and Outlook. She writes prayers, liturgy, poems and public theology and is pursuing her doctorate in ministry in Creative Write and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary.
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. 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.
Capitalism was created on plantations. We as a culture class over this historical truth. We must grieve. Grieving is a sacred act and one of the ways we can begin to reconnect with out bodies, as we craft a rest practice.” p. 15
“We should use every tool we have to constantly repair what grind culture has done to us” p. 16
“We have been trained to believe that everything we accomplish is is because of our ownpushing alone. This is false because there is a spiritual dimension that exists in all things and in everything we do. To understand that we are spiritual beings navigating life in a material world opens us to the possibility os rest as a spiritual practice. Our entire living is a spiritual practices. Much of our resistance to rest, sleep and slowing down is an ego problem….We can do nothing alone.” p. 18
“Fear is a function of grind culture..” p. 22
“From a very young age we being the slow process of disconnecting ourselves from our bodies’ need to rest and are praised when we work ourselves to exhaustion. p. 23 “We become rigid and impatient when our checklist isn’t completed to perfection” p. 24
“We believe we are only meant to survive and not thrive. We see care as unnecessary and unimportant. We believe we don’t really have to rest. We falsely believe hard work guarantees success in a capitalist system. p. 24
“What stories are we holding deep inside that are untold and uncovered because we are tooexhausted?” p. 26
most concise ways: “Rest makes us more human. It brings us back to our human-ness. To be more human. To be connected to who and what we truly are is at the heart of our rest movement.” p. 27
“Grind culture has traumatized us and then begin the lifelong process of healing from thistrauma. This work is about more than simply naps and sleep, it is a full unraveling from the grips of our toxic understanding of our self-worth as divine human beings. Grieving in this culture is not done and is seen as a waste of time because grieving is a powerful place of reverence and liberation.” p. 28
“You are worthy of rest. We don’t have to earn rest. Rest is not a luxury, a privilege, or a bonus we must wait for once we are burned out.” p. 28
“Rest is not a privilege because our bodies are still our own, no matter what the current systems teach us….Our bodies and Spirits do not belong to capitalism, no matter how it is theorized and presented.” p. 28-29
Call to Worship (Breathe in) I am here (Breathe Out) I will be present
Prayer of the Day Holy Spirit, Be with us as we unentangle the sources of our exhaustion and try to find life giving practices to do more than sustain–so that we might thrive and be in community with one another In Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
Call to Confession: Jesus says my yoke is light, come to me all those who are heavy burdened, and lay your yokes at the feet of Jesus today through Confession.
Confession: God, we confess that we are so weary, that we do not know what it is like to be fully rested. We see children pass us by and say “I wish I had that energy.” However we confess, that we are also envious of their joy and freedom from responsibilities. Help us to find true soul-sustaining, life giving rest, the peace beyond understanding the Jesus promises, so that we can find that new way of being we pray. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: Jesus Christ promises to make all things new, hold fast to that promise and know the Good News: In Jesus Christ we renewed and forgiven.
Can you encourage your congregation to rest? What is the culmination of this season? Is it going to be less committees? A period of prayer only? A shift to retiring/merging congregations? A decision to take every 4th or 5th Worship off to just rest? How can you be more sanctuary?
How are you going to model this in your Worship? Will you encourage pillows and blankets? Put moments for stretches in worship? Hopefully at least time to close your eyes and do nothing, to listen to the birds, music, to do nothing.
Cultivate rest–do what you can to encourage sleep, encourage Sabbath, sanctuary.
Who would come to Church if it was a place of Rest?
Less is more.
These Questions might help your preaching* But may be “too much” for your congregation, that’s ok, meet them where they are at.
Week 1 “What would it feel like to be consistently rested?”p. 56 Come & Rest with Me Genesis 1:27-2:3 So God created humankind* in his/their image, in the image of God he created them;* male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.’ God said, ‘See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.’ And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation. Psalm 146:10 Be still, and know that I am God Notes
Week 2“What does exhaustion look like for me?” p. 56 Broken Humanity: Scarcity & Hate Hosea 5:15-6:6 I will return again to my place until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face. In their distress they will beg my favor: “Come, let us return to the Lord; for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us; he has struck down, and he will bind us up. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him. Let us know, let us press on to know the Lord; his appearing is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us like the showers, like the spring rains that water the earth.”What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes away early.Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have killed them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Psalm 3:1-6 1 O LORD, I have so many enemies; so many are against me. 3 But you, O LORD, are a shield around me; you are my glory, the one who holds my head high. 5 I lay down and slept, yet I woke up in safety, for the LORD was watching over me. 6 I am not afraid of ten thousand enemies who surround me on every side. Notes
Week 3 “What would it feel like to be consistently rested?” p. 56 Bounty Psalm 34:8-10 Taste and see how good YHWH is! Happiness comes to those who take refuge in YHWH. Fear the Lord, you his holy people, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing. Ecclesiastes 4:6 Better is a handful with quiet than two handfuls with toil, and a chasing after wind.
Week 4 “Who was I before the terror of the toxic systems? p. 56 (w)holistic Self Psalm 127:7 In vain you get up early and stay up late, sweating to make a living, because God loves us and provides for us even while we sleep. Isaiah 40:31 But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint.
Week 5 “What have you been told about your worth and existence?” p. 56 Worth and Blessedness Isaiah 14:3-4 When the Lord has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon: How the oppressor has ceased! How his insolence has ceased! Psalm 62:1 In God alone my soul finds rest, for my deliverance comes from God, who alone is my rock, my salvation, my fortress: I will never be shaken.
Week 6 How do you make space to transcend the confines of a system that prays to the call of ‘profit over people’? p. 56 Sabbath Practice Psalm 127:2 Surely Goodness and Mercy John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Week 7 “Who do I want to be?” p. 56 Restoration 1 King 19:4-7 But [Elijah] himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep. Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.” He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water. He ate and drank, and lay down again. The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”
If you appreciate my work, please support my D. Min in Creative Writing. I am in my final year and raising money here: https://gofund.me/391febb1
Call to Worship will be practiced with Breath Prayers: the hope will be that they can be a little deeper and longer as the sermon series goes on. Here is information about breath prayers that you can educate your congregation on through word or reading material https://www.asacredjourney.net/how-to-practice-breath-prayer/
Call to Worship (Breath Prayer) (Breathe in) Be Still (Breathe Out) and Know that I am God
Prayer of the Day God invites us to rest to spend time to sit to be still the first invitation before we move, spoke, thought God said Let us do nothing together. God Let us remember that, as we practice Sabbath.
Call to Confession: Let us rest our burdens with God.
Confession: God, we confess that we are not good at resting. We do not even know how to do nothing. And, we confess, if it is difficult to do nothing by ourselves, it is even harder to do it together. Yet your invitation–to be still, in community, is beautiful and daring. Help us to hear it, hold it, and savor it; not with guilt but with sacredness we pray. Amen
Assurance of Pardon: Hear the Good News: God is always awaiting to restore us, so we can proclaim the Good News: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
“We have been trained to believe that everything we accomplish is is because of our own pushing alone. This is false because there is a spiritual dimension that exists in all things and in everything we do. To understand that we are spiritual beings navigating life in a material world opens us to the possibility os rest as a spiritual practice. Our entire living is a spiritual practices. Much of our resistance to rest, sleep and slowing down is an ego problem….We can do nothing alone.” p. 18
“All of culture is in collaboration for us not to rest. This includes: K-12 public education, higher education, faith and religious denominations, medical industry and not-for-profits, activist organizations, corporations.” p. 24
“We are divine. Our bodies are divine and a site of liberation. Wherever our bodies are, we can find, snatch, and center rest.” p. 26
“When we honor our bodies via rest, we are connecting to the deepest parts of ourselves. We are freedom-making.” p. 26
“You are worthy of rest. We don’t have to earn rest. Rest is not a luxury, a privilege, or a bonus we must wait for once we are burned out.” p. 28
“I want you to firmly plant yourself inside your imagination Take refuge in the beauty and power of community care and our daydreaming…Rest is a portal. Silence is a pillow. Sabbath our lifeline. Pausing our compass. Get your healing. Push back. Slow down. take a nap.” p. 32
Call to Worship All Creation is laboring God is even now creating The first fruits of the Spirit are Here We are freed into Jesus Christ Come let us rejoice with creation Come let us worship God
Call to Confession: Let all who long to be refreshed by the Holy Spirit confess themselves to God
Prayer of Confession: God, I confess that I do not always see all of creation laboring for Good. I confess that it is hard to find God. And it is easy to think that God does not want me. That I am orphaned instead of adopted by God. Forgive me. Teach me that God longs for an ecosystem of love and understanding. Continue to send your Holy Spirit to intercede and encourage I pray. (Silent Confession)
Assurance of Pardon: The Holy Spirit is with us, loving us and reconciling us, know the good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Amen.
Prayer of Dedication:Let us go into the world remembering that God is creating and birthing the world towards good, and participate in that as much as we can. Amen.
Call to Worship God welcomes all of us into God’s arms Come let us rest with God God comforts us and eases our burdens God calls us home Come let us worship our mother God Come let us worship God
Call to Confession: God calls us all to confess our faith, for faith is enough, come let us confess ourselves to God
Prayer of Confession: God we confess that sometimes we do not feel like we are good enough to be your children. We shy away, not convinced that faith is really enough. We are worried that we have the endurance or the hope that we need. We are convinced that we have not suffered enough. Help us when we are weary or scared, to remember, that you walk with us and are gentle and humble with us to ease our burden, and that you want to ease our burden, like any mother would. Comfort us when we feel anxious or afraid we pray. Amen.
Assurance of Pardon: God says God will give us rest for our souls, know the good news: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.
Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Let us go into the world remembering that we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have accessed Grace, and that grace is even now spilling out into the world. How can we not share it with everyone we meet? Let us go and do so we pray. Amen.
Call me Mara Today, God Because I am bitter, and the back of my throat aches from too much crying, as the grief hits me again, and again
And the place I call home is a nation that likes to “protects” the unborn, but locks up immigrants & Black and Brown kids, and cannot strike that will not feed thousands of children,
Corners the the market on formula and then doesn’t regulate it properly, stops the payments for vulnerable families,
totally and actively destroys queer bodies children and families,
and reopened the nation before any babies could receive vaccinations.
Call me Mara, God, Embittered that people want “young families” don’t come to church in a culture where parents, especially mothers, are expected to do every single thing on their own, and are judged for every imperfection*
Call me Mara, God, For I am broken;
When there is a market for bulletproof backpacks, and its somehow acceptable for THIRD GRADERS learn Tourniquet techniques, God no!
when the news is about the latest, becomes background noise domestic violence and white supremacy is acceptable And there are no warning signals are put out for terrorism
Lord God Almighty, Seems we that we are stunned..unable respond to violence. Call me Mara, God. Because despite voting, and letters, and marching and the sobs of countless families…
Call us Mara God.
Because, these too are our Children And tomorrow, my throat will still be sore from crying and I will still taste the bitterness of tears–that’s what home tastes like now.
I bet you want to be called Mara too, God. Because they are your children too!
We are all Mara.
Selah! Mara, Selah! Amen.
*And then we say Happy Mother’s Day as if its a “Good” thing and not further gender violence
Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta
God, we confess we want some kind of Hallmark Mother’s day. But this is a complicated holiday, where not everyone is included, where people have complicated relationships with their mothers, where those of other sexualities and genders are forgotten or mocked or excluded.
Or those for whom mother’s day is just too hard or lonely–
For whatever reason.
We confess that we breeze over those who deal with infertility or who do not define themselves by their gender or motherhood, and we too often only value “women” by how many children then have produced–and place even more value if they have produced sons, even today.
We confess that all too often we through in God as mother as a token, and then move on. We confess that we throw in Mary as meek and mild, which she is never described as, and then move on. And we admit that we do not honor Mother’s day roots as a feminist, empowering and a day to start to bring equity to all of the genders. Forgive us, and teach us to do better we pray. In your nonconforming, mothering child Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.