Nov 27th Hope: Faith as a Way

Justice, Mercy & Light Extended Advent
Nov 27 Hope Candle
Faith as a Way of Life
Habakkuk 1:1-7; 2:1-4 3: [3B-6], 17-19 
Prophet grieved by injustice: Faith as a way, not an answer
Matthew 26: 36-38 Gethsemane Jesus is grieved, asks Disciples to watch
Psalm 73:21-26

Advent Candles Liturgy

Hope

Call to Worship
God, we gather in faith
Looking for your ways
God we gather looking for you
Stay with us, as we gather in your name God

Call to Confession: Come all you who are heavy burdened, let us lay them at God’s feet

Prayer of Confession: God, we confess that we want faith to be an easy answer to all of our questions, not a path to follow. I confess that like the disciples, sometimes keeping watch does not feel like enough. Sometimes faith does not feel like something to keep for others, or likes something that others can keep for me when I have a long lonely night of despair. I confess that sometimes the emptiness feels too overwhelming for me to trust the community to keep faith for me. Forgive us when we make one person keep faith alone. Help us to be a community of faith we pray. 

Assurance of Pardon: Jesus is with us, we are never alone. So know the truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Amen

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Let us God forth reminded that there is an entire choir of Saints, holding the notes of faith, singing for us when we falter. Help us to rest  in the chorus we pray. Amen. 

Hymns: God the Weaver to Away in the Manger, Come Thou Long Expected Jesus, For All the Saints, We Walk By Faith and Not By Sight, A Mighty Fortress is Our God, It Came Upon a Midnight Clear (Which I feel like is an Advent Prophetic Song)

With Children: The Invisible String, by Patrice Karst What ties us altogether even when we cannot see one another 

Cover of The Invisible String: A mom and one kid whispering to another, the title, and a heart on a string, author: Patrice Karst, Illustrated by Geoff Stevenson

Image Found Here

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Full Extended Advent Resource

Good Friday/Empty Saturday Prayer

Jesus
Tonight is when you
We’re so human
You experienced
Godlessness
You hit rock bottom
You died
And knew what it was to be
Abandoned, forgotten
& unloved.

Because all of these feelings
All of these experiences
Each of these realities
Are part of being human.

Jesus, you truly
Utterly
Emptied
Yourself for us
In a Friday that
Wasn’t good!

(Yet)

And Jesus
Even without you there—
You invite us
To sit in that emptiness
All of Empty Saturday.

(How do you even do that?)

Thank you
For the emptying
And the emptiness
Jesus.

Thank you for being that human.

Amen

Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

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Easter Egg, a Prayer

Jesus,

I’m thinking about how your last act in John,

is to give your mother and disciples to each other–

as family.

I’m thinking about the women and the beloved,

you know the ones who stayed to the very end

became what they always were

the marginalized found family.

Your last act, was church, God.

It was so church, and church didn’t even have a name yet.

Like, there wasn’t even a Holy Spirit in the world yet,

and yet this was your last act–

in the version of the crucifixion we barely read

with a story we never preach on.

Jesus I’m thinking about

how you didn’t just tell us to love one another,

nope.

You made a family of belovedness

as the last act you did on earth.

And then I’m thinking how its a hidden treasure,

that we need to find again

it’s the Easter egg message.

Lord, show us how to do this belovedness

how to find the Easter Eggs

how to be a family,

Because surely if there is one more thing to do before we die,

it’s to give each other

to each other

Teach us to give ourselves to one another we pray.

Amen.

Feel free to use/adapt/share with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

If you enjoy my work, please consider supporting my writing by funding my D. Min in Creative Writing as a Public Theologian at Pittsburgh Seminary

Image from @PaperCutPrayers https://twitter.com/PaperCutPrayers/status/1503074625063985156?s=20&t=oYE_Vey0BAFMex1M8lHuYg

Maundy Thurs (or Resurrection Promises) a prayer

Jesus

You promised to show up

Whenever we feed one another

In your name…

You promise that we can celebrate

Communion

With one another and you

Whenever we want/need to

How is this possible?

Jesus let me hang onto your promises,

And remind me,

Even if I let go—your promises remain

They are better than time or borders

Or any other human invention

God, I’m going to stand on your promises,

Or hide in them

Or even if I lose them—

I’m going to wait for them to find me again

Like Ruth and Naomi,

Like Joseph in Egypt,

Like Paul

Your promises don’t find us because we are perfect

Or deserving

They find us simple because we are loved.

May we feel beloved today.

Amen.

Feel free use/adapt/share with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Good Friday Tenebrae based on John

(take a nail, and gather in silence, feel free to hold the nail throughout confession; we will be nailing our sins to the cross)

Call to Worship  

L  The Lord be with you.

P  And also with you

1. PRAYER                                          MATTHEW 26:36

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.

Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.

Lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

2. HE NAIL OF STUMBLING                              John 18:5-7

So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, ‘Here is the man!’ When the chief priests and the police saw him, they shouted, ‘Crucify him! Crucify him!’ Pilate said to them, ‘Take him yourselves and crucify him; I find no case against him.’ The Jews answered him, ‘We have a law, and according to that law he ought to die because he has claimed to be the Son of God.’

(Silent Meditation & Extinguishing of Candles)

Were you there when they crucified the Lord (x2)

oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble,

Were you there when they crucified the Lord?

3.THE NAIL OF BETRAYAL                               John 18:2-3

Now Judas, who betrayed him, also knew the place, because Jesus often met there with his disciples. So Judas brought a detachment of soldiers together with police from the chief priests and the Pharisees, and they came there with lanterns and torches and weapons. So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him.

4. THE NAIL OF DENIAL  John 18: 12, 17-18,25-27

 Peter was standing outside at the gate. So the other disciple, who was known to the high priest, went out, spoke to the woman who guarded the gate, and brought Peter in. The woman said to Peter, ‘You are not also one of this man’s disciples, are you?’ He said, ‘I am not.’  Now Simon Peter was standing and warming himself. They asked him, ‘You are not also one of his disciples, are you?’ He denied it and said, ‘I am not.’ One of the slaves of the high priest, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, asked, ‘Did I not see you in the garden with him?’ Again Peter denied it, and at that moment the cock crowed.

5. THE NAIL OF CRUELTY                                 John 19: 16-17, 

Then he handed him over to them to be crucified.

So they took Jesus; and carrying the cross by himself, he went out to what is called The Place of the Skull, which in Hebrew is called Golgotha.

(Silent Meditation & Extinguishing of Candles)

Were you there when they nailed him to the tree (x2)

oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble,

Were you there when they nailed him the the tree?

6. RESPONSIVE READING: THE PROMISE OF MERCY      Psalm 22:1-5a

We know what it is like to cry out, as the psalmist did 

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

   Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;

   and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried, and were saved.

Lift up your hearts

We lift them up to the Lord

7. RESPONSE:ACT OF CONFESSION    

Lift up your hearts

We lift our hearts to the Lord                                     

     You are invited to have your sins nailed to the cross

(In our congregation all nails are handed to the pastor and in silence they are nailed to the cross)

(Silent Meditation & Extinguishing of Candles)

Were you there when they laid him in the Tomb (x2)

Oh, sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble

Were you there when they laid him in the Tomb?

8. COMMUNION

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God

It is right to give our thanks and praise…(God we thank you that even tonight you can send your Holy Spirit on these elements, that we can remember that on the night that Jesus was betrayed, just before he has crucified. He took bread, he gave thanks and he broke it and he shared it among all who were there saying this is my body broken for me do this in remembrance of me. When they were finished fellowshipping with one another in the same way he took the cup and as he poured he said, this is the cup of the New Covenant spilled for you. Whenever you eat this bread and you drink this cup you proclaim my death until I come again. Come let us proclaim the death of Jesus Christ, together we pray. Amen)

9.  DARK John 18:28-30

After this, when Jesus knew that all was now finished, he said (in order to fulfill the scripture), ‘I am thirsty.’ A jar full of sour wine was standing there. So they put a sponge full of the wine on a branch of hyssop and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the wine, he said, ‘It is finished.’ Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

(Silent Meditation & Extinguishing of Candles)

(Easter Sunday the Cross Returns Nail Free)

Palm Sunday, a Prayer

Jesus as the apostles went to get the colt

Did you have to psych yourself up

As you rounded the corner to enter the gates did you think

“This is going to suck”

When people threw their cloaks—did you focus on the children and try to think of how real their joy was?

Jesus did you laugh on Palm Sunday?

Did you steal your victory moment—because it was in peace.

Did you think of unions and BLM and Trans kids and all of the unnamed saints who live quietly.

Did they all flash before your eyes when you sighed and took a deep breath to continue your march into Jerusalem?

Did a tear of weariness and joy trickle down your face at the end of the day?

Did you rub your forehead, and smell the remnants of Nard and remind yourself that you too were beloved after a full and important day?

Jesus the longer I live—

The more human you become.

The more I see how you took on Sarc (flesh) for us so that our emotions are real to you–

Real and valid; thank you for celebrating Palm Sunday with us.

Thank you for it’s flashes of joy and humility and peace.

Hosanna.

Amen.

Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Image: https://i.swncdn.com/media/800w/cms/CCOM/65029-thinkstock-azerberber-palmbranch.800w.tn.jpg

If you enjoy my work, please consider contributing to my writing by supporting my Doctorate in Ministry in Creative Writing for Public Theology at Pittsburgh Seminary

Affirming Prayer

I want to pray for you and affirm

As the ashes have just been smudged

On your forehead

And we feel a little fragile these days

With war, and pandemic and climate change

And racism

And transphobia and homophobia

And all the Ableism

And all the hate—

So much hate that it’s bitter on our tongues

And it polluted the air we breathe

And we can feel it—

trying to X us out of existence

Because hate hurts all of us;

Even as it tricks the hater into feeling powerful.

But anyway I’m praying that you..

Yes you, know that you

Are created in the image of God

Exactly as you are.

With all of your so called flaw

And imperfections

And differences,

Remember that our God is

Manifold, and that they

Love multiplicity and variety

And invented rainbows

And galaxies

And microbes we can’t even see—

So trust me, and be affirmed

Even in, especially in your fragility

That you are known, created and beloved

By God, exactly as your are

And take their blessings I’m your heart I pray.

Amen.

Feel free to use/share/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta