God of the Cross

Dear Jesus
You are the God of the Cross

Journeying with Us
Suffering Amongst Us

You do not Proscribe Suffering
But Walk,
Thirsty in the desert with us

Sweet Jesus
You do not make demands
But call us, and listen, when we spill our whole selves to you by the well

Compassionate Friend
You wait for us on the Cross
And tell us, it is not too late to apologize, even then, and You will be there on the other side

How beautiful is the whole testimony of the Cross:
We are not alone, We do not have to suffer, We can be our full self
And we do not have to double down
Because its never, ever to late to apologize

Jesus is waiting for us
Our theology is not ultimately about debates
But about love, and to see the humanity of each other
And Jesus
On the Cross

How beautiful is the Body of Christ,
Thank you for being the God of the Cross
Amen.


Image of Brown hammer, nails and cross of thorns on wood in a the lefthand foreground, and and a cross in the righthand background. Created on Canva

March 12 Parable of the Wedding Banquet

Matthew 22:1-14
Psalm 45:6-7

Call to Worship
The Poor One Calls to The Lord
God hears, and saves the poor, out of all of their Troubles
Looks it is the Angel of the Lord
The Angel of the Lord comes, and encamps around those who fear God, and delivers them
Taste and see that God is God, Blessed is the one who takes refuge in God
Come let us take refuge in God Today

Invitation to Confession: Jesus says come to me those who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest, come let us lay our burdens at the feet of Jesus. 

God: We confess, we do not understand this Wedding Feast. This parable, confuses us and confounds us. Who are we to invite? How are we to dress? Is the violence good or bad? Who is even getting married in the first place? Perhaps the point is not about the invitations or being chosen, but that fact that we are here, at God’s table, together. Help us to gather at the table, whenever God invites us to we pray. Amen. 

Assurance of Pardon: Hear the Good news, Jesus will always forgive us, yesterday, today and tomorrow. Let us proclaim that good news to one another: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. 

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God, help us to walk into the world, inspired to act not just like those invited, but as though Jesus is chasing humanity, over and over again. Let us remember that Jesus came not to condemn the world but to save it, yesterday, today and tomorrow. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen. 

Hymns: On Eagle’s Wings, Jesus Our Divine Companion, Somebody’s Knocking At Your Door, We Walk By Faith and Not By Sight,

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

Canva Image (created by Katy Stenta) Brown Hands welcoming a line of multicultural people, behind which is a basket of bread and wine and the Golden outline of a Middle-Eastern Couple Getting Married

Notes: the differences between invitation and belonging seem relevant

The idea of getting kicked out for not dressing right in the era of anti-Trans/Drag legislation is super ouchy. Handle with Care. But I think it’s also something that may need to be addressed. I bet this person was dressed with hate and thought that was more appropriate than the drag queens and the sec workers off the streets.

Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard

March 5
Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard
Matthew 20: 1-16
Psalm 16:5-8

Call to Worship
God, how is it your grace is so expansive
Truly God, your keep calling us
Come let us bless our God who calls us
God calls us by name
Let us keep God before us, God who is always at our right hand!
God be praised, God is with us! Let us Praise God together!

Call to Confession: God is calling us to confess, Come let us confess ourselves to God

Prayer of Confession: God we confess that sometimes you have to call us more than once. Sometimes we are the ones that do not hear you until close til dusk. We confess that we envision ourselves as the early morning workers–but we do not know when it is you first called our name. God’s love is not a competition. Help us to remember that faith is always a gift, and that you are always, always calling us by name. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Hear the Good News: The Steadfast Love of the Lord never changes, God’s mercies never come to the end, they are new every morning, so we know that God will always love and forgive us. Let us proclaim the Good News: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Let us go into the world refreshed by the Holy Spirit and remembering that it is God who is calling us by name. God loves us from the earliest dawn til the darkest dusk–let us go forth enveloped in that love. Amen.

Hymns: Morning has Broken, This is My Father’s World, Here I am Lord,

Lent: Walking towards the Kingdom of Heaven

Christ’s Kingdom begins
with Ashes, on the brow
remembering
we are fragile
Ephemeral
mere mortals

We were transfigured
with Jesus Christ
from humans
into humans
sent back to do the work
of listening
to Jesus–and other humans

The kingdom of God is like
Figuring out the Difference
between forgiveness
and debts

The Kingdom of Heaven is like
Waiting and Preparing
And finally having the waiting en

The Kingdom of Heaven is like
Answering a question
with question

The Kingdom of Heaven is like
the wonder children have
at ants, kindness,
who compliment animals and clouds
on the daily

The Kingdom of Heaven is like
a parable
Hard to explain
but a good story about
humanity’s value

As ephemeral beings
Full of death
and resurrection
Both at the same time

Come, let us walk together

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

Forgiveness, Feb 26th

February 26th
Forgiveness
Matthew 18:15-35
Psalm 32:1-2
Kingdom of Heaven is like Unending Forgiveness

Call to Worship
God is calling do you hear?
God is calling for forgiveness
God is the great accountant
Look, even now God’s grace is spilling upon us
Come let us drink up God’s grace
Come let us gather, by the grace of God

Call to Confession: Is it not beautiful to be able to bring your full self to God? Come let us confess ourselves to God?

Prayer of Confession: God I confess that I do not always understand this forgiveness thing, how do you do it? How am I supposed to do it? Can I forgive when I am still angry? Is there such a thing as forgive and forget? Is seventy-seven times per person, or a metaphor or what? Forgiveness seems to be a complicated thing, please cover me in grace, so I might better glean the beginnings of a forgiveness practice I pray. Amen. 

Assurance of Pardon: Hear the good news, you are forgiven, as soon as you confess, Jesus has made it so, and hopefully, we can learn how not to make the same mistakes again: thus we can proclaim the good news to one another: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. 

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: Let us go into the world, forgiven and forgiving, ready to embody the grace that God has given us as the confessing Body of Christ. Amen. 

Transfiguration, Feb 19

February 19
Transfiguration:
Matthew 16:24-17:8
Psalm 41:7-10
Suggested Micah 6:8 (again)
Psalm 46:10
The Kingdom of Heaven is Like God Shading Godself, for humans to perceive

Call to Worship
God calls us, the deep from the deep
God your magnificence is too great for us
God you are changed from glory, into glory
So you come to us, human, and walk with us
Teach us again, today
Come let us walk with God

Call to Confession: What is confession, but walking with God? Why don’t we let ourselves walk with God here. 

Confession: God we confess that we are overwhelmed by being human. How is it then can we take in your glory of divinity? We feel like we should respond. We feel like we need to do things or say things. And yet, sometimes, stillness is grace. Sometimes we need to just sit with our own humanity. Sometimes its ok to just try to get to know ourselves better, and to remind ourselves that getting to know ourselves is to get to know you. Let us allow ourselves to do that we pray. Amen. 

Assurance of Pardon: Be still, and know God is with your, today, tomorrow, everyday, and feel the good news: In Jesus Christ you are forgiven. 

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: May we walk into the world shaded by God, so that we might better be able to hear and understand the Good News God has for us today. Amen. 

light human figure shining down with glares and a dark cloud slightly obscuring it, giving the eyes some relief

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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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)

A Blessing for (Surviving) Today

Lent isn’t always about giving something up…sometimes it’s about walking through the desert, and surviving without giving into hate, or the voices in your head that tell you that you aren’t worth living.

Here’s a blessing for you.

Because you are still here,

And it’s been a year, of ::gestures inarticulately:: everything.

And we need all the blessings we can get.

So here’s a bless this mess.

A blessing on your head,

one that grants you good dreams,

and moments of respite,

and times to let go,

and moments to connect with your beloveds,

and reminders that your worth is not defined by your productivity

and that its ok not to be ok

and that this is not the new normal, nor should it be.

So all the blessings–

for being here,

and doing the things

and being you.

Keep at it! Take breaks,

Drink water, take care of yourself,

and be blessed,

For you are a beloved child of God.

No matter what.

God bless you, Child of God.

Today, Tomorrow, and Always.

Amen.

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