On Mondays I share liturgical writing focused on the Luke passages for each Sunday in the Revised Common Lectionary. This week’s scripture is Luke 18:9-14, a parable about a contrast in prayer. Celeste McQuarrie, chaplain at Heritage Heights in Concord, New Hampshire offers a blessing for prayer shawls. Following are some liturgical pieces.
The text speaks to humility in prayer, so I thought it would lend itself to a time set apart in worship for a blessing of prayer shawls. This was inspired in the community where I work among an elderly population. Recently I brought a prayer shawl to the long term care facility where several residents gather each week to pray and sing. I described for them the uses of the shawl, and how the tradition holds that the knitter of the shawl prays with each stitch. As they sat listening, I asked them if they would like to bless the shawl before it was given to someone who was in special need of prayer. Each person responded lovingly, one after another reaching out in a silent laying on of hands and blessed the shawl.
Bless you, loved one out there whom we do not know.
Bless you, the one whose need for prayer will be embraced,
your weary shoulders wrapped,
or chilly limbs lightly robed
with this prayer shawl.
May your strength be restored;
your humble prayers and ours
whispered to holiness
as you wait on healing,
the shawl’s fringes grazing the floor
of your quiet room,
yarn’s woven color tempered to your liking; may it soothe.
God, hear the prayers prayed ‘round this shawl:
First the swift knitters’ hands, as the stitches flew, and the shawl grew
in hope, blessed assurance,
then carried to our gathering to be touched,
fondly held by youthful hands,
busy, grown up hands, pausing,
or set upon with gentle, aged, gnarled hands of trust.
Bless you, loved one out there whom God does know.
Be blessed with tenderness as you rest,
this shawl, our prayers, your companion.
Call to Worship
We come with the shirts of our hearts hanging out.
We come embarrassed because we forgot someone’s name.
We come, aware that, for all our good intentions,
we had a week of “random acts of dumb.”
We come the least likely saints and sure we are sinners.
We come, not with clever speeches,
pitch-perfect hymns, push-the-envelope giving,
naming rights to the church …
We come with simple words –
“please” and “thank you” and “I’m sorry.”
And God welcomes us.
God welcomes us all.
God, we have come to pray. Help us strip off the Kevlar of self-protectiveness, leave behind our claims to fame, release our favorite opinions like puffs of smoke, and wait. We pray. We wait. You will find us. Amen
Prayer of Confession
God forgive us our boasting … Face Book posts, Christmas letters, CROP Walk totals, wedding and vacation photos, children and grandchildren’s games and grades.
God, forgive us when we say, “I am the busiest,” when we over-share illness or weight-loss plan, when we interrupt someone else’s story with … “well, it happened to me.”
God, wipe the smug off our hearts and teach us small egos. Amen
Assurance of Grace
God forgives you, and you don’t have to be the center of attention ever again.
All of these resources were given freely and they may be used in worship contexts. They may be adapted to fit your context. Please cite the original author when you reprint them or share them orally. For any other use please contact me so that I can put you directly in touch with that particular author.