Preparing for Worship 2

Preparing the family doesn’t look the same. I no longer have to dress my kids up–which ironically they love to be dressed up because it elicits so much positive attention. We can go to church in our pajamas now.

Instead of the Panera bribe, I mean stop, we make every Sunday like clockwork for the last 6 plus years (before that we hadn’t committed but still went out for breakfast), we eat piecemeal at home. Now I just buy the ultra sweet supermarket muffins and make some chai pods for the morning. We may even still be eating them during worship.

Instead of hauling all of the kids to the car, usually one is still half asleep and the other two are bickering, we bicker at home and argue over whether or not we can use electronics before church (no)

During worship, attention is scarce, wiggling is paramount, and we try to get my eldest to be responsive. The music is also just not the same. We miss singing together with the booming organ overwhelming our flubs.

But, it’s still time for Dad and the boys to sit together. It’s still the time we are a family. I’m still “leading” up front and the boys are watching/listening/imagining/being bored.

Lord help us to practice worship as a family in whatever way we can, we pray. Amen

Preparing for Worship 1 

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Virtual Communion Resources

All Resources may be used with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Virtual Communion Prayer/Meditation

We are forever practicing virtual communion.

Recalling you, re-membering you. Virtually recalibrating ourselves to be the body of Christ until it becomes a physical reality.

We celebrate with all those saints who have come before us, and all those who have yet to come as a part of your kingdom. It is a virtual party, a foretaste, a glimpse of what is to come.

We worry about the rules a lot: who is truly welcome at the table, does Jesus really mean every single person can be a part of the body of Christ?

We worry about what together means: does communion mean at the same time, does it mean being in the same place? Does it mean the same loaf? Does it mean it all has to be wine? Do chips & grape soda count? What is the food of the people?

In our anxiety to be together, sometimes we do the opposite and make a lot of walls to keep each other apart.

But I’m happy for the gift of virtual communion. To remember that not everyone who is supposed to be there is there, and yet somehow it’s still communion and they are still included.

I am grateful for the celebration of it–for the solemn moment when we realize that we are a part of God’s family, and that Jesus welcomed especially those who are forgotten or overlooked, I remember that Jesus often called those who had no other access by NAME to him.

Because this virtual communion is also a real communion. Somehow, miraculously it’s always both. We are both the unbaked bread beginning to rise, and the crusty bake, dipped in the cup, and no matter what stage we are at we can taste it on our tongue.

However we classify and codify this communion, Lord I pray you make us a part of it.

May we be blessed, broken and consumed, until Jesus comes again.

We pray. Amen.

Eucharist Prayer; As we touch the bread and cup, the body and the blood of Christ to our lips. Let us remember that Jesus came as embodied love. Fully human, he bore the scars of his death upon the cross. When we consume Christ, when we practice communion with his body, we re-member you, we start the healing of coming together. No matter how we are practicing communion, we are practicing with you and therefore with one another. Strengthen us as the body Christ, heal us as the body of Christ and empower us to be the body of Christ we pray. Amen.

Communion Prayer: Lord as we stand isolated in this space. Grant us communion with one another and you, we pray. Remind us that you stand in relationship with us, forever drawing us together whenever and however with gather in your name. Send your Holy Spirit onto the elements we have here, the common food of our kitchens and pantries, so that it is imbued with your essence and love. Teach us how to practice communion in our present state we pray. Amen.

Virtual Commuion Order of Worship

Virtual Communion Invitation: As we are gathered–like the stars scattered upon the sky, let us remember God’s covenantal promise to Abraham, that God will always and forever be our God and we will always and forever be the children of God. Knowing that God loves us, and that Jesus Christ took the most basic and essential food of the people and consecrated them, let us now celebrate communion together, in what may be a new way.

I invite you to respond with the bold at home, I will read both parts today….

The Lord be with you

And also with you

Lift up your hearts

We Lift Our Hearts to the Lord

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God

(Feel free to add any Lamb of God/Mystery of Faith elements that fit your congregation)

It is right to give our thanks and praise (Jesus Christ we give you thanks and praise that you are here, gathering us together, in ways the human experience had not not yet imagined. And we recall your promised that wherever–and however–two or three are gathered in your name, you will be there. Here we are gathered, and we praise you for your presence, for your eternal presence in the stars and in every grain of sand upon the beach and in every human child. We give thanks for your consistant and constant presence in our lives. We pray that we can feel your presence here today. Amen)

I invite you to gather whatever communion elements you have, and to hold them close as we pray today.

On the night that Jesus Christ was betrayed, when they were fellow shipping together, Jesus took the food of the people, he gave thanks, and he broke it. He said, this is my body broken for you do this in remembrance of me.

Then in the same way, he took the cup, he gave thanks over it, and he said this is my blood poured out for you. Every time you eat this food and your drink this cup, you celebrate my death until I come again.

Let us Prepare ourselves to celebrate communion (Prayer asking for the Holy Spirit either see above prayers or pray extemporaneously)

Come let us consume the Lord together.

Prayer after Communion: Lord we give thanks for this simple meal to practice communion with one another and with you, may it serve as a foretaste of the kingdom where all the saints will gather once and for all. We give you thanks and praise. Amen.

More Pandemic Prayers & Resouces

Body of Christ

Indeed the Body of Christ consists not of one member but of many members.

The doctors cannot say to the retail workers: You are not necessary. For one feeds the body and the other mends it.

Neither can the CEO’s say to the custodians and trash workers: I have no need of you. For one hand must wash the other.

And we are all the body of Christ.

We cannot say to one another: “it’s ok for this part of the body to become sick and die.”

We cannot chop off any part of our body, because every single part is important.

We cannot tell the teachers and childcare workers that we do not pay you well, because your work is not essential for they tend the seeds of life.

We cannot ignore the truck drivers & postal workers, for they are the circulatory system.

The government cannot say to the immigrants, you are not a part of us: for they stitch society together and gather the nourishment that we need and innovate life itself.

The protestors cannot say to the nurses, your work does not matter. And that your needs are less important than my needs.

The members that we pay the least and ignore the most, are the bones of the body.

Those who we honor and decorate the most, are the least use in a crises.

God has arranged the body, blessing it extravagantly. Inspiring us to work together. For if one part of the body suffers, we all suffer together with it.

If one member is healed and this free to live, then rest is healed: and then freed, with them.

We are of one body, my existence is wrapped up in yours. Let us continue to be the body of Christ, I pray.

Amen.

 

 

Pandemic Resources

Eastertide Resources

Standing in the Breach

Lord, I am not the beggar with a disability waiting at the gate of the church. But I understand their plight better this year. As I stand in the breach of church–trying to hold open the bridge between the world and worship. As we collect money for food pantries, and try to find ways for communities to meet and pray. I feel like we too are stuck at the gate of the temple.

Sometimes we are outside the temple, begging to get in, yet unable to pray.

Sometimes we are at the gates of heaven, barely breathing in and out.

Sometimes we are waiting by the side of someone who is on the cusp of death.

Lord, the breaches are gaping right now: the gap between rich and poor, healthy and sick, abled and disabled, the privileged and the marginal, essential and nonessential, the black and the white and the rest of the people of color.

Help us to be the disciples at the breach, fixing our eyes upon them, seeing not just their stated wants but also their deeper needs. Help us to to touch those who are stuck, and to take their hand and walk with them in the community. Even if that touch and walk is only metaphorical today.

Lord we know what it’s like to be in the breach.

Show us how to be the helpers, the healers, we pray.

Remind us that no help is too little, that we are longing for one another’s company, touch and presence.

Help us to be present and stand in the breach, we pray.

Amen.

Eastertide Resources

Grief

Dearest God,

Who loved us into being. I have the sad today. It is lingering on all the things I touch. As I wake my kids up, I miss putting them on the schoolbus and the few moments breath between home and work as I travel in.

I miss stopping for tea-coffee for some- as a pick me up.

I miss seeing my friends.

I miss alone time, truly alone, with no one in the house.

I also miss hugging others. How can I miss both at the same time? Only you know Lord.

I miss funerals.

I miss all the kids I’ll see grow: at church, nursery school, elementary school, at the college, and ALL the babies at playgroup!

Jesus who missed sitting by Lazarus when he died, who wept openly when his mother had to leave him to die alone.

I miss not having to wear an itchy mask that fogs up my glasses every time I go out.

I miss touching my face.

I miss not worrying if every small business, theater and church is going to be open next year.

I miss the therapies for my kids. I miss anyone taking over for the kids for an hour or two, I miss babysitting.

I miss talking on the phone for fun. I miss real meetings (Who thought I’d say that?)

I miss sitting in church, and singing and praying together.

I miss my sister coming out for Easter. She already missed last year, to miss two in a year feels a cruel trick.

Jesus what did you miss those three days in the tomb? The friends, the family, the touch. Did you miss the purposeful meaning-making of work? Did you miss your favorite food? Did you miss the beautiful lakes you frequented? Did you have a plan you had to cancel the morning of the last supper, when you realized the arrest was coming that very day? Did you miss a child’s first step or word? A niece or a nephew you had been waiting on?

I wonder if Jesus misses the very  crowds that annoyed him now that he has ascended into heaven?

Grief is the slow journey of realization: That my middle child will never go back to elementary school he will suddenly move to fifth grader, my eldest will never be Peter Pan in Shrek, that my youngest will never get to see his brand new friends–who he just made this year–in school until after summer.

I’m grieving the small overnight trips I was going to make: for business and to see friends, I love traveling.

I’m grieving all the misses and the can’ts: the events, the peoples, the milestones, the simple moments.

I’m grieving not being able to go to the library and pick out a free book, pick up an art supply or even my favorite pasta from the grocery store (shell noodles).

It’s all, every single bit of it, real.

There is no piece of grief too small for Christ. Each one appears in my path, threatening to derail my journey–whether it’s a mountain in the way or a pebble in  my shoe.

Lord, help me journey through my crumbs and mountains of grief I pray.

I lift my eyes to the hills of my grief, from whom shall my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, my God.

Help me I pray.

Amen.

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Can You Hear Easter (the good news)

Can you hear Easter?

It’s ringing in the stilled bells, the empty chapels, creeping up with the quiet growth of spring

It’s on the lips of exhausted doctors and nurses—too tired to murmur

It’s in the silent wave between neighbors, keeping too far away to talk, but close enough for company

It’s in the silent hug between family members stuck together; where entire conversations flow through the body

It’s on the breath of the sick, in that place between waking and sleeping

It’s in the angel’s nod of greeting to the women, the absence of guards and the rolling away of the stone

If s a stone rolls away and nobody hears it; does it make a sound?

It booms like the rise thunderous sun, bedecked in glory, shining out the news wordless in its proclamation

Can you hear Easter?

Say Nothing Easter

Here we are Jesus, at our say nothing Easter.

And the truth is, I really don’t know what to say. An angel told us you’re alive, but what does that really mean?

Your angels are frightening God, full of life & death; we cannot fully understand who or what they are. We are blinded by the angels eyes, and need some holy shade to think. And we are not exactly filled with hope.

Where is Jesus? He promised to return, but here we are and Mark leaves us with a rolled back stone, one angel and bunch of women. Who would believe what they had to say anyway?

Would Peter and the disciples really hear what needed to be done?

This is a say nothing Easter, where we are alone with ourselves and think, what can we say.

What will you say?

More Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Thank God it’s Friday? Psalm 22

My God, My God why have you abandoned us?

The churches are empty, The offices, the schools, the streets are laid bare.

and demons are everywhere.

The diseases hide in plain sight, and surround us.

And we are stuck, alone, in our own personal pit left with only with our anxieties and depressions.

The powers that be are useless, stuck running around in circles, contradictions abound.

We are stuck in the mire. Things suck, and for those who have to watch their beloved ones die alone this is the shitstorm that never ends.

And God, you know I do not say shitstorm lightly.

We are stuck in the pit. Are very bodies are disturbed. I feel like not eating, then eating everything. I cannot sleep, but neither can I stay awake.

My God, My God. Why would you send your only son on earth to suffer with us.

To see those who are falling through the cracks: the maligned: Zacchaeus, the ignored: the woman by the well, the ones with long term diseases: the lepers and those living with disabilities: the lame and the blind.

Then to see friends die of disease. First Jairus’ daughter, then his beloved friend Lazarus.

Thank God it’s Friday, Good Friday.  A day to cry out, a day to admit that not everything is alright. The kids are not alright, neither are their parents or grandparents. The doctors and nurses are not alright, nor the grocery and retail and mail workers. The teachers are not alright, nor the aunties or the uncles. Those who live with abusers, those who are not yet out to their family aren’t alright, those who are lonely and have no one to call are not alright. The thousands and thousands of people on unemployment are not alright.

Lord, why have you abandoned us? We are not alright. If it’s possible, please let this cup pass.

But your will be done.

We are not alright, and Jesus is not alright with us.

We are vulnerable, he made himself vulnerable. We are cold, sick, naked, alone, uncertain and unsafe.

We are face to face with the cross and we do not like it.

Lord hear our prayer! Be with those who are not alright, be with us for we are not alright. Help us. Hosanna in the highest.

Amen.

More Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Virtual Communion

Ways to remember the lives and work of church saints | United ...

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We are forever practicing virtual communion.

Recalling you, re-membering you. Virtually recalibrating ourselves to be the body of Christ until it becomes a physical reality.

We celebrate with all those saints who have come before us, and all those who have yet to come as a part of your kingdom. It is a virtual party, a foretaste, a glimpse of what is to come.

We worry about the rules a lot: who is truly welcome at the table, does Jesus really mean every single person can be a part of the body of Christ?

We worry about what together means: does communion mean at the same time, does it mean being in the same place? Does it mean the same loaf? Does it mean it all has to be wine? Do chips & grape soda count? What is the food of the people?

In our anxiety to be together, sometimes we do the opposite and make a lot of walls to keep each other apart.

But I’m happy for the gift of virtual communion. To remember that not everyone who is supposed to be there is there, and yet somehow it’s still communion and they are still included.

I am grateful for the celebration of it–for the solemn moment when we realize that we are a part of God’s family, and that Jesus welcomed especially those who are forgotten or overlooked, I remember that Jesus often called those who had no other access by NAME to him.

Because this virtual communion is also a real communion. Somehow, miraculously it’s always both. We are both the unbaked bread beginning to rise, and the crusty bake, dipped in the cup, and no matter what stage we are at we can taste it on our tongue.

However we classify and codify this communion, Lord I pray you make us a part of it.

May we be blessed, broken and consumed, until Jesus comes again.

We pray. Amen.

More Pandemic Prayers & Resources

Broken for you: Maundy Thursday Prayer

Heavenly God

I know the story. After they had supped with one another—Jesus took bread & blessed it & broke it. He did so saying this is my body broken for you.

And when the Coronavirus was coming—we went to the grocery stores and the stores that sold toilet paper. And we called our far way family, our everyday colleagues and our close friends and sent heartfelt blessings to one another, and then we said to each each other I will broken for you.

And then, Lord, as Jesus washed the feet of the disciples he told them to love one another—passing on the gift that Mary Magdalene gave him, he knelt in front of each and every one of them to cleanse the dirt off their feet.

We too are washing in service–washing the germs from our hands when we enter a building, washing the germs for ourselves when we exit. Let each washing be a blessings. A spillover of your love. A symbol of the cup spilling over and filling our souls. Washing people from our presence, standing at least six feet from one another out of love. Bless this washing we pray.

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