Looking to Heaven: Eastertide

Jesus went to heaven, and the disciples would have liked to have stayed there.

Looking at the heavens.

Just like the transfiguration.

Let’s move in, we are ready for heaven.

Or at least we can spend all the time with the pure ones, the disciples, the ones in the know.

And Jesus said, don’t worry I’m going to send you to the ends of the earth, don’t worry I’m going to give you a million Easters, 2,000 years to learn; 2,000 years of grace.

Talk about a grace period for one’s debts.

Many weeks and Sunday for Easter to unfold into your hearts, and your children’s hearts and your children’s children’s children’s house.

I’m going to give you time to learn how to be community.

I’m going to leave you with my one commandment, love one another.

Stop looking at heaven, the answer isn’ there.

Look to earth, to the relationships.

Easter Unfolding: Narrative Lectionary Seeds of Faith Resources

Remember: Easter didn’t happen in one day. It started at dawn with a few women and slowly unfolded. Next the disciples were stuck in a room for 50 days til Pentecost. Then Pentecost Easter started to be shared with the public. We have been unfurling Easter for the 2,000 years since. Every Sunday is a piece of Easter, Easter, the resurrection, the promise that Christ will return is still taking place today. Easter never was a one day event. That’s why Mark ends so abruptly, it was the beginning.

Simple Steps to Making a Beautiful Origami Flower | ULearning

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April 19th: Acts 1 and Mark 6 You Shall Be My Witness/Acts(ion)

Bulletin & Sermonby Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl

I Want Answers: Confession about the God I want & the Grace I Need

Grief: Missing the Big & Small Things

Looking to Heaven (for answers)

Apr. 26, 2020

Peter Heals in Jerusalem Prayers: Call to Confession, etc

Acts 3:1-10

(Mark 6:53-56)

Psalm 6

Bulletin & Sermon by Dr. Barb Hedges-Goettl

Prayer:Healing Touch

Prayer/Meditation: Standing in the Breach

Body of Christ

May 3, 2020

Church at Thessalonica

Acts 17:1-9

1 Thessolonians 1:1-10

Mark 13:9-11

With Ref to Amos 5:24

May 10th, 2020

Church at Corinth

Acts 18:1-4

1 Cor. 1:10-18

(Mark 9:34-35)

May 17th, 2020

Faith, Hope, and Love: Resources, Commentaries and Prayers by Rev. Dr. Barbara Hedges-Goettl

1 Corinthians 13: Rewritten for the Pandemic

1 Cor. 13:1-3

(Mark 12:28-31)

 

Body of Christ Litany

Mother’s Day Confession Prayer

Mother’s Day Litany Prayer (in light of the pandemic)

May 24, 2020

Death Swallowed in Life

1 Cor 15:1-26, 51- 57

(Mark 12:26-27a)

May 31, 2020

Pentecost

Gifts of the Spirit

Acts 2:1-4; 1 Cor 12:1-13

(Mark 1:4-8)

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Virtual Communion Resources

Pandemic Resources

Easter is the beginning

Remember: Easter didn’t happen in one day. It started at dawn with a few women and slowly unfolded. Next the disciples were stuck in a room for 50 days til Pentecost. Then Pentecost Easter started to be shared with the public. We have been unfurling Easter for the 2,000 years since. Every Sunday is a piece of Easter, Easter, the resurrection, the promise that Christ will return is still taking place today. Easter never was a one day event. That’s why Mark ends so abruptly, it was the beginning.

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’d 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

Presence over Perfection

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Lord God,

Remember me? I was the one who realized at the tender age of 3 that I would never be perfect.

Then at 5 I proclaimed I didn’t want to be perfect anymore, I just didn’t want to make any more mistakes

At 8 or 9 I decided it was ok to make mistakes, as long as I don’t make the same ones over and over again.

In seminary, I really understood that knowing what my faults are is not the same as being able to fix them (having been well aware of my faults for years at that point)

Here I am, thrust in the middle of crises and I am valuing presence over perfection.

I am sending out videos and virtual worships and trying not to review what went wrong.

I’m trying to let go of the fact I prayed the Lord’s Prayer Incorrectly last week.

I’m trying not to worry that I left someone off the contact list completely, and didn’t call her when I first called everyone else.

I’m trying to not clench my teeth every time I remember that somehow I thought ahead and wrote Ether instead of Rubina on someone’s sent envelope.

Let’s not talk about the zoom prayer that really never came together.

And Homeschooling is more for sanity’s sake than the illusion my children will actually learn anything new.

I’m making the videos, I’m throwing together the worships, the prayers, the phonecalls.

I’m appreciating the fact that my 8 year old son wanted to help me to very sloppily put labels on the Easter Cards, I’m trying to appreciate that for the first time ever I’m sending out Easter cards.

I’m finding special things for my kiddos to do.

I’m trying to remember the ways I am praying for family, colleagues and facebook friends. I’m trying to appreciate every essential person who is still working onsite right now.

And my family did get to have a “Zoom Dinner.”

I’m finding scattered time for you, God, in the midst of pulling my hair out.

I’m imagining Mary and Martha, standing tear-stained by the tomb. I’m remembering that when they saw you (tending the garden of course), they couldn’t even recognize you.

I’m remembering the same thing happened on the way to Emmaus, where the disciples even got to talk to you and didn’t realize you were Christ.

But in both instances, the meeting wasn’t about perfection, it was about presence.

The time they spent with you, the time you spent with them.

Easter was all about showing up!

So as I cobble together Holy Week, as I know that there will be no flowers, no choir & no little children running about sharing their joy. Help me to find Presence, I pray.

Remind me today and every day, O Lord: Presence Over Perfection.

Breathe in the Presence, Breathe out the Perfection,

Amen.

More Pandemic Prayers

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday was the premature victory parade.

People in the streets, gathering because they thought the battle was over.

In the great tradition of Greek & Roman celebrations, they came and laid cloaks and palms at the victor’s feet to soften his path.

But Jesus, knew the hardest things would be next–

The Sedar Meal where Jesus spends his last night on earth with his beloved.

Then he tries to tell the disciples that he is–that they all are–betrayed, but no one believes him, and Judas denies his complicity

I wonder if this is the moment that Jesus decides he’s going to wash his disciples feet. Lavishing love upon them one last time, giving them another more personal memory to be layered upon the parade where I’m sure the disciples walked on the dusty ground near Jesus.

The long journey to Jerusalem, the cries of victory and the soothing touch of the Lord Jesus, the bellies full of good food all of the makings of the end of a good day.

Palm Sunday was the premature victory parade; people gathered in the streets thinking that there was going a battle that needed to be won. Unaware that it would instead be about healing.

I think about this as Holy Week seems creeps into today. In the midst of a pandemic I feel the need to celebrate the good, the anguish of seeing people die, the waiting, waiting, waiting of Holy Saturday.

I don’t want any premature victories, let me tell you that straight off. And I don’t want us to be going to war. And I already tire of the heightened violence, the excuse for evil racist attacks, the righteous violence of those who knock over people who are spitting on food or violating the social distancing rule–Peter’s anger in the garden seems way more present these days.

I want reconciliation, I want healing. I want us to all act like Easter is coming. Not according to any human calendar or calculation, but because Shalom is the ultimate goal. I want to work towards the healing of the world, because it’s the right thing to do, not because I need this victory or that one.

Palm Sunday was fine, but I’ll wait for Easter as long as this Holy Saturday takes.

More Prayers and Resources about the Pandemic Here

 

Seeds of #prayer: Liturgy for #Easter Abundant Discipleship

Matthew 28:1-10 and Psalm 118: 19-24

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Call to Worship

Jesus, Lord, you have become our salvation.

I shall not die, but I shall live.

I was pushed so hard, that I was falling, the Lord helps me.

The Lord is my strength and my might, he has become my salvation.

 

Call to Worship

Let us proclaim the good news

He is risen

He is risen Indeed.

Come let us celebrate  the resurrection.

Call to Worship

It is a new day, the first day

Come let us see the new creation God has wrought.

See the stone has been rolled away.

Surely, Jesus is here! Come let us worship him. 

 

Prayer of Confession: Lord we confess that we are not always an Easter people. Too often we dwell with our sins, too afraid to confess them, and too stubborn to change our ways. Remind us that you make all things new. Roll the stone in our hearts away, create an earthquake in our souls, so that we too may experience the grace of Jesus Christ we pray.

Prayer of Confession: Lord, we confess that even when the stone has been rolled away and the good news has been proclaimed, we are sometimes afraid to see your glory. We feel inadequate or unprepared. Remind us of God’s favor and grace, and open our eyes so we may see the visions of God’s love.

Assurance of Pardon: Christ has died, Christ has risen, Christ will come again. In these words we know the truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Communion Prayer: Risen Lord, we know that you are an embodied God, promising to be particularly present in the holy bread and cup. Send your promised encourager and advocate here. Bless this bread and bless this cup so we can be filled with your life and light. Renew us with the power of your resurrection we pray. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication: Christ alive, be present with us here today, from this moment on. Walk with us into the world, guide our hearts and minds and steps so that we can bring Easter to all the world we pray. Amen.

Hymns

Amazing Grace

What Wondrous Love is This

Christ is Alive!

Jesus Christ is Risen Today!

The Day of Resurrection!

Thine is the glory!

Full List of Lenten Resources (Of course some prayers may be appropriate for other weeks)

When in Doubt: Easter Sunday Resource

John 20: 1-18 and Psalm 118:21-29

Call to Worship (from Psalm 118)
One: Jesus Christ is risen;
ALL: he is risen indeed!
One: And so I thank you, O God, that you have answered me.
ALL: You have become my salvation.
One: The stone that the builders rejected
ALL: has become the chief cornerstone.
One: This is the Lord’s doing;
ALL: it is marvelous in our eyes.
One: This is the day that the Lord has made;
ALL: let us rejoice and be glad in it.
One: For Jesus Christ is risen;
ALL: he is risen indeed!

Prayers of the people* (Silence may follow each refrain of “we seek the Lord.”)
One: People, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for? Many: They have taken away the Lord, and we do not know where they have laid him.
One: In the darkness of our mornings and our nights Many: we seek the Lord. One: When hopes have been tampered with and things are not going as planned Many: we seek the Lord. One: When our nation is deeply divided and violence abounds Many: we seek the Lord. One: When jobs are lost or never found Many: we seek the Lord. One: When darkness overcomes the health we try to hold onto Many: we seek the Lord. One: In the darkness of divorce and bankruptcy, eviction and addiction Many: we seek the Lord. One: When the usual situations and explanations reduce us to tears Many: we seek the Lord.
ALL: O God, in our grief and anguish, we seek you. Call us by name so that we know you and proclaim your living, risen presence. Amen.
*These images are adapted from Taylor, Catherine E., “ ‘Who are you looking for?’ I Corinthians 15:19; John 20:1-18,” Journal for Preachers, 28:3 (Easter 2005), 31-33.

Call to Confession:
We do not always live as people of the resurrection. While it is still dark, we come to the tomb, expecting only death, and the risen one meets us and calls us by name.
Prayer of Confession:
One: Confessing the darkness of our lives and our world, we come to you
Many: God of grace and mercy, hear our prayer.
One: Confessing our part in dealing death and denying hope, we come to you
Many: God of grace and mercy, hear our prayer.
One: Confessing that it is hard to love others as ourselves, we come to you
Many: God of grace and mercy, hear our prayer.
One: Confessing harsh words expressed and kind words unsaid, we come to you
Many: God of grace and mercy, hear our prayer.
One: Confessing the decisions we make about our time, our energy and our loyalties, we come to you
Many: God of grace and mercy, hear our prayer.
ALL: God of hope and resurrection, free us from the stones that block us from living as resurrection people. [Silent confession.] Amen.

Assurance of Pardon:
God has removed the stone from the tomb. The resurrected Jesus meets us, calling us by name, that we may proclaim him as the risen Lord.
Thanks be to God for the Good News:
ALL: In Jesus Christ, we are resurrection people. Thanks be to God.

More Lent Prayer Resources

Rev. Dr. Barbara Hedges-Goettl has her doctorate in liturgy and has worked on the new Book of Common Worship for the PCUSA, she is particularly interested in Communion, and uses her writing skills for bulletins, sermons and IEPs for children with special needs.

 

 

An entire Communion Liturgy is available at https://katyandtheword.wordpress.com/2018/03/12/when-in-doubt-prayer-resource-maundythursday-communion-liturgy-lastsupper/

 

#HolySaturday musings

Saturday is the breath caught, chest aching,

Its the moment when you don’t know if you are going to celebrate or cry

The heartbeat of one in the womb, the phone call with good or bad news, the applications that are awaiting decision.

Saturday is running the race, but not yet knowing who is going to win,

Its crying so much that you can’t recognize the person standing in front of you

Its the why moment.

Why, why, why? Why does this happen? What does this mean? What is the purpose behidn it all.

Saturday is the day of unanswerable questions,

the time of tangled mysteries,

the moment of mindless emotions.

Remember, God gives us that uncertainty, blesses it, and reminds us that we all have that moment of throat-catching, almost-not breathing.

The moment of full humanity,

Because God wants to remind us that our God is the one who catches us by surprise.

Even when we supposedly know what’s going to happen.

Maybe its should be known as Surprising Saturday Instead.

 

Prayers and Liturgy by Pastor Katy Stenta who is the solo pastor at a bigger on the inside church in Albany, NY and enjoys reading fantasy, soaking up sunshine, playing with her three sons and visiting her husband at his work, the library.