Prayer for illumination of my bones (Ezekiel 37)

God, speak to my
malleus, incus, and stapes
so I can hear your prophesy.
Pick up my skull
and set it on my atlas vertebrae
at the top of my spine
so I can think about these words.

Rattle me – femur and tibia,
fibula, pelvis, and all those
phalanges and metatarsals –

so that I am ready
not just for the dancing skeleton
we call worship,
and the embodied loving
of justice and compassion,

but for the Spirit’s
wild and holy breath.

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Prayer of the liturgist before reading scripture

God, I confess
I have not practiced this scripture
as if it were the most important
part of worship.
Thank you for your forgiveness
and the privilege
to read your Word aloud.

Slow me down.
Keep me bold with place names
as I invite people to walk
in a landscape
far away and long ago.

Open my voice
to its most beautiful vowels,
and crisp consonants.
Bless me with the microphone
and do not let me presume
my voice is big enough —
for your child with hearing loss
is listening through
the gift of technology.

Help me breathe deeply into these words
and know it is the Holy Spirit.

Remind me that someone
here this morning
needs the very message of this scripture,
more than the sermon to come.

Thank you for the charisms
of the preacher, those who prepared music,
those who made this a place of beauty,
and all who worship
in prayer, song and giving,

and thank you for trusting me
to read your written grace. amen.

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Improv on Psalm 122 A “Psalm of Ascents for March 24! and Health Care”

(light-hearted because my heart is lighter)

I was glad when they said to me,
you can have a colonoscopy,
maybe a mammogram,
an MRI for your friend,
an x-ray for the stranger, also.
Your child can have health care,
young men and women, recovery,
your elders be mended when
frail bones stumble.

Sometimes it is good
to storm the gates of Washington.

Our common life is bound together.
and, when the most vulnerable
are given safety and
the profits of the wealthy controlled,
we give thanks to God
and to the voices of a resistance
speaking out and standing up
emailing and phone calling
to make a difference
at the thrones of decision-making.

We pray for the well-being of all people.
For the sake of relatives and friends
and those whom we will never know —
we say, ‘Peace be within you.’

In the continuation of
Affordable Health Care Act
we have sought one another’s good.

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Prayer before reading scripture in a time of natural disaster

God, open our spirits and our hearts
to the gentle strength of these old words.

May they be received
not as platitudes
but as living water from deep wells.

May they calm the frightened,
comfort those who grieve,
steady those shocked
by losses of home or income,
encourage emergency responders,
give patience to those
who wait for rescue, assistance,
or news of those they love.

May they fill us all
with the flexible backbone
of the saints of God –
to bend and to endure. amen.

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Prayer before reading scripture at home

Open this scripture for me
like a door to the day
and the lives of those dear to me,

like a window through which I see
something new in the world,

like a child’s lunchbox or Halloween bag,
so I can taste the nurture of my Parent
and the sweet surprises
of neighbors and strangers,

like grandpa’s diary letting me read
incredible stories of those
who have struggled with their faith,
like grandma’s toolbox
where I find what fixes the broken.

Open this scripture to me
and remind me that your Word
is never … closed. Amen.

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Come Drink Deep, a Reader’s Theater play

Lucy Brady wrote a Readers Theater play about the Samaritan woman after she met Jesus (John 4). She writes, “It has been done in a small urban congregation by youth, in a large church in the suburbs, and in storytelling workshops I have led. We did not use costumes. The choir sang. “Come Drink Deep” by Carolyn McDade as indicated. I am sure it is in the UU Hymnal, but I bought the music online. There are other songs that would work well -or none a all.”

This lovely play is in two pieces. Many churches that use the Revised Common Lectionary may have read this text last week. As a Lenten program at a supper or bible study or Sunday follow up, some might want to use the second half of the play as a “what comes next.” So many times we have a scripture that then let it go for three years rather than considering how it might have an ongoing impact on our lives.

COME DRINK DEEP A Readers Theater after the Samaritan woman meets Jesus
In response to John 4:1-42 By Lucy Brady

CAST: Peter, Jesus, John, Elizabeth, Rachael, Sarah, Samaritan Woman, Hannah, Leah. Rain stick turner

Jesus, Peter, and John are seated by a well

ACT 1 Rain stick (as men take their places)

Peter: Jesus, I have a question.
Jesus: Only one, Peter?

Peter: One for now. I saw you talking to a woman at Jacob’s well.
Who was she?

Jesus: She was a thirsty woman.

Peter: I get that. Obviously she was thirsty or she wouldn’t have been at the well.

John: I don’t get why she was at the well at noon- the hottest part of the day!

Peter: What does it matter? It was lucky for us she was there or we wouldn’t have had anything to drink.

John: But Jesus, she was a SAMARITAN woman.

Jesus: Yes, she was a Samaritan. We are in Samaria, John.

John: But we’ve been taught that we are not supposed to go near THOSE people.

Peter: Let alone talk to them. They worship the wrong way.

John: They don’t believe the things we believe.

Peter: They don’t do things the way we do.

Jesus: I thought I had gotten through to you about God’s love. Remember how upset you used to get when I talked to any woman?

Peter: I almost left you when you called women to become disciples like us.

John: I still don‘t like it, but I do understand- we are all created by God.

Jesus: Samaritans are God’s children too. The woman at the well
was thirsting for God’s love just like you.

Peter: We couldn’t help overhearing some of your conversation. You told her she had been married five times and the man she was with now wasn’t her husband.

John: Jesus, hanging out with those people is not good for your reputation.

Pete: I know you came for all of us, Jesus. But can someone like that ever really change? And if she can change, will the people in her town accept her?

Jesus: She began to see that she needed something in her life that would last. She chose the new life that I have to offer. I believe she will change and that her whole community will be glad for her and welcome her.

Peter: WeII, let’s hope they believe her. We saw her running toward her village calling to people, “I have met a man and he told me everything I have ever done.”

John: Look, people are coming this way. I guess we are staying here for a while.

Jesus: Yes, we may need to stay one or two more days.

Rain stick

The Samaritan Woman – John 4:1-42 Jesus Mafa, Vanderbilt, Art in the Christian Tradition

SONG Come Drink Deep by Carolyn McDade vs. 1, 2 From Rain Upon Dry Land

ACT 11
Three days later Rain stick (as women come forward)

A group of women are coming to the well. They are talking about the weather, meals, their children…. They are happy and laughing. Suddenly they see a woman coming toward them.

They say things like: “Look!” “What is SHE doing here?” “ Who does she think she is!?” “Pretend you don’t see her.” “She has some nerve!”

Elizabeth: Let’s get to well (They all begin to help to remove the top of the well.)

Samaritan Woman: Here, let me help. I often do this alone. (They all stop and stare at her)

Rachael. (she steps toward her looking at the other women) It would be easier if we do did it together.

Elizabeth: We always manage! (She moves to take the cover off)

Rachael: ELIZABETH!!

Sarah: She is only saying what we are all thinking. (Turning to face the Samaritan Woman) You have never dared to come to the well when we were here.

Hannah: We thought you knew your place.

Elizabeth: We should not even be talking to you!

Leah: Elizabeth. Sarah. Work is hard enough. Save your energy for drawing and carrying the water. Let her be!

Samaritan Woman: (to Leah) You met the stranger too didn’t you?

Elizabeth: What stranger?

Hannah: What does she mean, Leah?

Leah: Yes, I met him.

Rachael: So did L

Samaritan Woman: Then you understand why I came in the morning today, instead of…

Rachael:….coming all alone…

Leah. in the heat of the day.

Elizabeth: (to Leah and Rachael) Why are you talking to her. You know the way she has lived – all those men.

Hannah: She should be ashamed!

Samaritan Woman: I was ashamed. I have lived in shame all these years.

Sarah: YOU made the choice. Now you want us to feel sorry for you?

Samaritan Woman: You talk about choice! What kind of choice did I really have? When my first husband died- I was grateful to become his brother’s wife. I even grew to love him. Then he was killed and there was an uncle to care for me. By then I stopped loving. I was numb with grief and when he died….

Elizabeth: …you lived with whatever came along.

Samaritan Woman: (quietly) Yes, I guess I did. (pauses, turns toward them angrily) Have any of you had to face being a woman alone? No husband, No relative, no sons NO ONE to care for you. (She turns and begins to walk away)

Rachael.- (moving toward her) No, we have never faced being totally alone. We have sons and brothers. You did not even have friends.

Leah: We made sure of that. But, after all these years, why today?

Samaritan Woman: I had given up having friends. I had no hope for a happy life. I felt dried up and lifeless. Three days ago, I came at noon to draw my daily supply of water from Jacob’s well. There was a man sitting there.

Sarah: (to the others) She met another man.

Rachael and Leah: Shh Shh Shh!

Leah: Go on.

Samaritan Woman: He was not a Samaritan, so I was cautious. I drew my water and tried to ignore him. Then, he asked me for a drink,

Hannah: He SPOKE to you

Sarah: He was a bold one!

Hannah: I would have been afraid.

Samaritan Woman I was afraid. I was outside the village alone, so I tried to sound tough. ‘Why are you Jew, speaking to me a Samaritan?”

Rachael: What did he say to that?

Samaritan Woman: Listen to this. He said, “If you knew who I was and you understood God’s gift, you would ask me for a drink and I would give you living water.”

Elizabeth: God’s gift! I thought I had heard every line before.

Hannah: (sarcastically) Living water!

Elizabeth: And you bought it!?

Samaritan Woman: (takes a deep breath) It was not like that. He was not trying to seduce me. I have never met a man like him before. He was kind. It did not matter to him that I was woman or a Samaritan. He seemed to care about me despite my past. He knew everything I had ever done and he told me I could change. He reminded me of God love for me. He said I could have the life I have always wanted. When he spoke I really believed him.

Elizabeth: You mean you met some smooth talking man with charisma and he changed your life.

Samaritan Woman: No. I mean I met the promised Messiah and yes, my life has changed. I came today because I need to be part of the community again. I am tired…. and SO alone…
SILENCE
(She tums again and begins to walk away)

Leah: You’re not alone any more.

Rachael: You are one of us.

Sarah: (tentatively) We used to be friends.

Elizabeth: We played together as children.

Leah: Sister, I am glad you came to the well today.

Sarah: Let’s draw deeply from the well, TOGETHER!

Rain stick

SONG Come Drink Deep by Carolyn McDade vs.5, 6
From Rain Upon Dry Land

5. Come rains of heaven on the dry seed
Rains of love on every tortured land
Roots complacent awaken in compassion
So hope springs in our hands

6. Come drink deep of living waters Without cup bend close to the ground Wade with bare feet into troubled waters Where love of life abounds. Come drink deep.

Rain stick

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Prayer (spoken or unspoken, but probably unspoken) before scripture in a wedding

God, I’ve read these words
so many times.
Most of them have nothing
to do with marriage
and I am fairly sure
the couple is not listening.

But now that I have whined …
let the power of these words soar –

into the ears
of an unchurched generation
who have never heard them,

into the hearts
of those who will recognize
they need them
for some non-matrimonial
crisis their lives,

into tender memories
of some for whom they were read
last year or many years ago —
whose lives have been
full of better and worse,
rich, poor, sickness and health,

into my hard head
to remind me to love every couple
willing to share such a
daring and oblivious,
sweet, sweaty, and complicated,
moment in their lives.

I pray for them —
may your word be written
on their hearts
like it is for all of us —
when we least realize it.

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