Conspiring with God: A Prayer

As rumors of microchips and aliens and kidnapped sex workers abound.

I hear you whispering that you are the God of the Conspiracy theorists too.

You hear their cries for a world that makes sense, you feel their arms when they reach out for someone/anyone to go along with what they are proclaiming, you take their anger when the world does not go the way it should.

You hold their hands, even when they think guns are the answer.

You continue to tell them the truth, even if their hearts are hardened with entrenched racism, sexism, homophobia, ableism and other forms of bigotry.

Only you know, God, what conspiracies abounded when Jesus rode the small colt, you are the one who knows what the palms and cloaks symbolized for those who threw them.

You alone understand what poisonous lies, or world bending truths were whispered in Judas’s ear, to sell you out.

And still, the Truth is God’s, I can’t believe in any conspiracy but your love.

We humans are too clumsy, too small minded, too telltale to conspire.

I believe there are gross inequities, there are systems that run and thrive on corruption, I believe that there is, indeed, real evil manifest in the world.

But though I believe that power seeks out and protects power, and that small lies can lead to big lies, that there is no grand scheme.

Because evil is niggling and sneaky.

It hurts in micro-agressions and permission-giving for bad behavior, and in letting those who are in power believe their own lies. It’s not systemized, but all too often, it’s allowed to become prevalent.

So that bad decision stacks upon bad decision leading to the mistreatment of immigrants, the white supremacy becoming cultural, to faith being inseparable from the very flag that corrupts it and weighs it down.

And that’s why, I believe you conspire and inspire for good–all the time and every time.

This is why you said “Tell Herod that fox that I’m going to keep healing and preaching til I breathe my last.” This is why on your last day on earth, you had a ginormous good meal with your closest peeps, and then spent time loving on them and washing their feet.

You will never stop. Jesus. Jesus who meets us by the well, in a tree, and even upon a cross as we lay dying. Even then, you conspire for good.

And if I blink, I can see the co-inspiring works of the Holy Spirit.

If I blink: I can see how you make it so that babies remain impossibly cute and a couple of droplets of baptismal water are enough to start the flood of your never-ending grace

If I blink, I can see how the stars still sing out Abrahamic promises and rainbows still speak of a weaponless future of love,

If I blink I can feel your presence “your church” in all of the communities and all of the neighborhoods in the world, and its then I can taste how bread and the cup are enough to tie us to every one of your beloved: those who have come before, and those who have yet to be.

Holy Spirit, help me to conspire with you, and only you.

Stand with me as I work to find the threads of truth and love and hope.

Imbue in me, imbue in us, a faith that we humans can be beloved into a better being, and help me to talk and walk in ways that blot out the evils of the world. I pray in your most Holy Name, Jesus Christ.
Amen.

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

Friday isn’t Good

God, I’m raging today against good Friday. Its bad Friday, it’s mistaken Friday, its very, very human Friday.

We humans should never equate abuse and violence with good. Because too often we malign those who are different than us for “good.” Too often we consider police violence “for the greater good.” Too often we glorify those who have weapons as “good guys” and end up glorifying them for Good.

Did you have to die on the Cross God? Probably, because we humans could only see the “good” of violence. Only humans would think Emmet Till dying was worthwhile because it helped to spur the civil rights movement. *

Only humans consider martyrdom something to strive for (how did we even get there, ew!).

We are not a death cult, God, we do not want to make the long count to forty lashes, and we Christians should be the first in line to be against the death penalty, realizing that it is inhumane for us to kill one another.

We should be creating community and stopping abuse at all levels. And I must confess, sometimes we are too scared, or too nice to name and cast out evil.

God, I don’t think Friday will be Good for me, anymore.

Not after a pandemic where so many have died for the “good” of the economy.

Not after a summer where death after death of Black People resulted in a lot of noise, and little change.

Not in a culture where the first thing we experience after reopening is racist attacks and has shootings of AAPI siblings and mass shootings ing general.

Lord, no, Friday isn’t good.

But I’m glad you transformed it. I’m glad you could withstand it. I’m glad your beyond it.

And I hope that someday, violence will no longer be allowed or celebrated, or deemed as necessary for the good.

I hope the sun goes down on this Good Friday, God I hope it ends soon.

And I pray that we let the resurrection sneak up on us, that we can still hear its whispers and that we can, even in the midst of Friday, follow where it leads.

Lord hear my prayer, as I stand, living in the midst of a this terrible, horrible, no good very bad Friday time.

Amen.

*With Credit and Thanks for Rev. Lenny Duncan who challenged if Jesus or black bodies should have to die for us humans to “get it” or be “woke” or to spur us into action.

Feel free to use and adapt with writing credit to Pastor Katy Stenta and theology credit to Rev. Lenny Duncan.

#GoodFriday #Bulletin #Worship #liturgy

Good Friday April 14th, 2016 6:30pm

New Covenant Presbyterian Church Won’t You Be Our Neighbor?

INTRODUCTION TO THE SERVICE

The service tonight is known as the “Service of The Nails”.  It is a series of readings, responses, and silent reflection and prayer designed to help us enter more deeply into the meaning of Good Friday.   Everyone is requested to take a nail to keep it with them for use during the service. For the service, you are asked to remain seated.

 

Call to Worship  (based on Is. 52:13-15)

L  The Lord be with you.

P  And also with you

L  See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.  Just as there were many who were astonished at him–so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals– so he shall startle many nations;  kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

THE NAIL OF STUMBLING                                           MATTHEW 26:36-45

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.”  He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.  So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners.  Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Sung Response Extinguishing the Light

      Were you there when he prayed upon the hill? 

      Were you there when he prayed in upon the hill? 

O Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;

       Were you there when he prayed upon the hill?…..(silence)

Meditation and Prayer

O God – help us consider how we waver, how we seek to avoid

responsibility and to blame others for our actions.

O God – do not let us deceive ourselves. 

       Our indecision hurts us and creates walls between us and others.

                                

THE NAIL OF BETRAYAL                                       MATTHEW 26:48-56

Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.”  At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.  Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.”  Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.  Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear.  Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at  once send me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”  At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit?  Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me.  But all this has taken  place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.”  Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

   

Sung Response: Extinguishing the Light

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 

      Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 

O Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;

                 Were you there when they crucified my Lord?(silence)

THE NAIL OF CRUELTY                                 MATTHEW 27:27-31, 39-42

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him.  They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head.  They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”  They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.  After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!  If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”  In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.  He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.”

Sung Response Extinguishing the Light

Were you there when left him on the cross?  

      Were you there when they left him on the cross? 

O, Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;

      Were you there when they left him on the cross? (silence)

Meditation and Prayer

O God – help us consider how we are cruel to others, how we malign

and slander others and add to the evil that comes upon them.

O God – do not let us deceive ourselves.  

       Our cruelty hurts us and creates walls between us and others.

RESPONSIVE READING: THE PROMISE OF MERCY       ISAIAH 53:8-13

They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.

Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.

The righteous one, God’s servant, shall make many righteous, 

   and he shall bear their iniquities. 

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

THE NAIL OF HATRED                                          LUKE 6:22, 32-33, 44-46 “ Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. When he had said this, he breathed his last..”

Sung Response: Extinguishing the Light

Were you there when the sun refused shine?  

      Were you there when the sun refused shine? 

O, Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;

                Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (silence)

Meditation and Prayer

L   O God – help us consider how we show hate to others, how we fail to

care for others and make distinctions among them.

O God – do not let us deceive ourselves.

       Our hatred hurts us and creates walls between us and others.

THE RESPONSE

ACT OF CONFESSION                                             ISAIAH 53:4-6

You are invited to have your sins nailed to the cross

Meditation and Prayer

O God – help us consider how we betray others, how we abandon

them in their time of need, how we think of ourselves first

O God – do not let us deceive ourselves.  Our acts of betrayal hurt us and           

      create walls between us and others.

Communion

The Lord be with you

And also with you

Lift up your hearts

We life them up to the Lord

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God

It is right to give our thanks and praise….(Pastoral Prayer & Lord’s Prayer)

Jesus came into the world, not to judge it, but to save it.

We are so grateful for God’s infinite love, and we celebrate with all of creation, the saving work, of our Suffering Saviour. On the night before he was nailed to the merciless cross,

Jesus shared His last meal with His friends. He took the bread, He broke it, and He gave thanks, and then He passed it among them saying,

This is my body which is broken for you. Eat it and remember Me.

He took the wine, and He gave thanks, and then He passed it among them saying,

This is my blood which is shed for you. Drink it and remember Me.

And so, we take, we eat and drink, and we remember:

There is no greater love, than this sacrifice which You, Jesus, made for us

Sung Response: Extinguishing the Light

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 

      Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 

O Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;

                 Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (silence)

(Blow out remaining Candles and Leave in silence)

Crucifixion/Good Friday Links of Prayer Lenten Resource

crucifixion-taormina-6

Image

Invitation to by Rev. Rev Lee Ann Higgins

Feel free to use/edit. Credit to the original author (i.e. based on prayer/prayers written by Rev Lee Ann Higgins) appreciated.

Luke 23:32-47 and Psalm 31:5-13 ro Palm 31:5a

Call to Worship

(Based on  KJV – Psalm 31:1, 5-13)

Into thine hand I commit my spirit:  thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.

 I have hated them that regard lying vanities:  but I trust in the Lord.

I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy:  for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;

And has not shut me up into the hand of my enemy:  thou hast set my feet in a large room.

Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble:  mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing:  my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance:  they that did see me without fled from me.

I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind:  I am like a broken vessel.

For I have heard the slander of many:  fear was on every side:  while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

But I trusted in thee, O Lord:  I said, Thou art my God.

My times are in thy hand:  deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.  Amen.

Opening Prayer:

Loving Father,

We come today, not only to worship and praise you,

But also to remember Your Son, Jesus Christ,

Who gave up his life for us.

Be present with us here today as we remember

This sad day and why it had to happen.

Help us to see the joy within the tragedy,

A life so willingly given, …

For me … for us … Amen!

Prayer of Confession

Forgiving Father,

On that Friday, oh so long ago,

Your Son asked you to forgive his killers,

Because “they know not what they do.”

As we stand here in our humanness

Not always knowing what we do,

We cannot possible understand the

Great love you had for those people, and

We do not understand the great love you have for us.

You allowed your Son to be put to death

In a cruel fashion, yet, we know it was because of

Your unceasing love for us.

Just like those soldiers, we have sinned

And fall short of your glory.

We aren’t always aware of where we fall short,

But we don’t mean to disappoint you.

You are our perfect God who wants nothing

But the love of Your children.

Through Your Son’s death we are assured of your love

And we ask for your unconditional forgiveness.

Lead us to your way.  Guide us in our path.

Forgive us, we pray.  AMEN!

Assurance of Pardon

(from Chalice Worship)

Our redeemer God, we bless you for meeting us in Jesus Christ,

Who for our salvation humbled himself to die for us.

We bless you for all the burdens Christ has borne,

For all the tears he has wept,

For all the pains he has suffered,

For every word of comfort he spoke on the cross,

For every conflict with the power of darkness,

And for his eternal victory over the terrors of death.

 

Lead us through the valley of the shadow of death,

That we may fear no evil, for you are eternally with us;

Through Jesus Christ, our Lord.  Amen.

Communion & Communion Prayer

On the night He was betrayed, Jesus met with His disciples in the upper room and they ate a meal together.  This began the tradition of the Lord’s Supper that we now observe every Sunday.

Paul wrote about Communion in 1 Corinthians 11:26.  He said, “whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes”.

The meal that Jesus ate with His disciples on the night He was betrayed is known as the Passover meal.

  • When Passover was 1st observed, the Israelites were slaves in Egypt.  God sent Moses to confront Pharaoh, and to bring God’s people out of slavery.
  • Part of the way God “convinced” Pharaoh to release the Israelites, was through the 10 plagues.

The last of those plagues was the death of the firstborn of every household that did not have the blood of a spotless lamb painted on its doorposts.

  • The people of Israel were commanded to slaughter an innocent spotless lamb, paint its blood on their doorposts
    • And eat the meal that would now be known as the “Passover”, because God told His people,
    • That when He saw the blood of the lamb on their homes, He would pass over their homes, and death would not visit their families.
  • They were to eat the Passover meal dressed to leave the next day – BECAUSE on the next day they would leave the land of their slavery and enter into freedom.

Let us Pray:

Gracious and loving Heavenly Father.  A lamb died on that first Passover so that the people of Israel would live.  Our lamb (Jesus Christ) died so that we might live.

A lamb died so that the people of Israel would be freed from the fear of enslavement.  Our Lamb (Jesus, the Lamb of God) died so that we might be freed from the slavery of our fear of death.

Thank you dear Lord, that, in communion, we receive the message of freedom from the grave.

Thank you that this message is not received only at Easter.  Thank you that we receive this message every time we gather around this Table as believers.

Thank you for the message that:  DEATH HAS BEEN CONQUERED!  AMEN!

Offering Prayer/Prayer of Dedication

Heavenly Father,

We give back but a portion of ourselves,

Wishing we could give so much more.

You have made many things out of nothing;

You fed thousands with a basket of bread and fish,

You made wine from mere water,

And You made Saul into Paul.

We have faith that you will magnify these morals.

Allow us to see Your perfect vision,

And to continue your work on Earth.

Gird us up to share with the world; that You sent YOUR Son as

THE ultimate offering and sacrifice.

That by accepting this truth, all would be forgiven

And spend eternity in your presence.

AMEN.

A Link to a Good Friday Liturgy of the Nails http://wp.me/p2rhxZ-25W

More Narrative Lectionary Lenten Themed Prayers  

 

“I believe that…

“I believe that the divisions between these aspects of Christ’s person and life are artificial. All three Christological aspects (incarnation, crucifixion, resurrection) are a part of the answer to human brokenness. As incarnate, Christ demonstrated that human bodies and experiences are not inimical to intimate relationship with God. As crucified, Christ showed that God understands and participates in human pain, suffering and even in mortality. As resurrected, Christ manifested God’s power over that pain, suffering and death. To share in the Lord’s Supper is to share with Christ Jesus in all these aspects of his person and life.” –Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl PCUSA Pastor

Communion, the real deal

I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never be hungry; he who believes in me will never thirst” and “I am the vine, you are the branches. Cut off from me you can do nothing,” both of which emphasize the relationship between believers and Christ without specifically including Christ’s body.[1]

 

his body as a living sacrifice and his use of common things, including bread and wine, to bless and heal, reconcile, and bind people together, and also to exhibit “the grace, power, and presence of the Kingdom of God.”