Liturgy for Sunday, November 10, 2013

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 20:27-38, challenge and questions. There are two contributors, Jerry Hebenstreit of Reston, Virginia, who offers a children’s story, a poem, and liturgy and Linda Curtis-Stolper of Newton, Iowa, who offers a prayer of confession and assurance of grace.  

Gift of Jerry Hebenstreit:

A Children’s Story

Joey, aged 12, was talking earnestly with the Pastor one Sunday after church. The Pastor had preached about Luke 20: 27-38 and Resurrection. “Pastor”, he said, “my family owned a St. Bernard named Bruno. I loved him a lot, but we had to move to a much smaller house and we couldn’t keep him. So we gave him to my cousin, Bernie, who lived in the suburbs. Bernie loved Bruno, but his mom developed allergies. So they gave him to my other cousin, Marty, who lives on a farm. Marty loves Bruno, too. You said we’d all be resurrected, so I figure Bruno will come back. But who owns him? Will he be Marty’s dog, Bernie’s, or mine? We all love him a lot.”

The Pastor smiled. “Well, Joey, the best part is that Bruno won’t be your dog, or Marty’s or Bernie’s. He’ll be God’s dog. Just like you and Bernie and Marty will be God’s children. And God will be very happy to see the children enjoy playing with each other and loving each other.”

Willie on Halloween

Willie on Halloween

Joey thought about that a bit, and then smiled. “Thanks, pastor, that’s neat! Wait till I tell my cousins!”

My dog, Willie is a rescue dog. I know he still loves his “truck-driver” from Indiana who went to work for a company that didn’t let dogs sleep in the cab. Willie “sees” this young man in different places and then realizes that the smell is wrong. Whose dog, indeed. Willie’s dog. God’s dog.

Opening Prayer (based on Luke 20: 27-38)

Patient God, we want it all nailed down, don’t we? We want every detail laid out before we commit. When we ask “Whose wife will she be?” we miss the wonderful, basic truth. She will be Your child! We will all be your children! We will be alive in You!

Help us to see past the “now” that makes us comfortable to the glorious “then” that awaits us. Help us to hear Your words this morning without the filters of our own short-range desires. Give us eyes to see and ears to hear and hearts to anticipate with joy.

Confession

Loving God, we spend so much time arguing about the details – angels on a pin, who sits at Your right hand, seven-times-married widows. It’s fun, in an odd way, and it keeps us from having to ask the big questions: Are we faithful to You? Are we living Your Word?  Are we acting the way Your children should?

Forgive us, O God. Break through our smoke screens. See them for what they are: fig leaves to cover our shame at not being Your people the way You call us to be; attempts to be rigorous rather than righteous. Turn us aside from petty squabbles over details of little importance.

Lift our eyes to the glorious reality of Your love for us now and the promise of eternally living in that love. Help us admit our wrong-doings. Give us the courage to reject that which is not of You in our lives. Strengthen our commitment to live Your will in this world as we wait with hope for what is to come.

Assurance of Pardon

Leader:   Sisters and brothers,

God hears us when we cry out to be forgiven for our
short-sighted,
detail-obsessed,
litmus-testing ways.
God smiles when we pray to be something more,
something better,
something God-pleasing.
God reaches out with love to show us the glory of what will be.
God’s love for us as children leads to forgiveness.

People:   Glory be to the God whose love for us knows no bounds.
Glory be to the God who sees in us what we cannot see by ourselves.
Glory be to the God who forgives us our foolishness and elevates our humanity.
Hallelujah!

Poem

She married many men, they said,
but whose wife will she be
when once that Resurrection comes
and all are raised in Thee?

You smile and say, it matters not
what was, back in the day.
What matters is the joy to come
when death has gone away.

You all will be my children,
more loved than you conceive.
There’ll be no need for wistful sighs,
to moan or weep or grieve.

Enjoy the now, this life you have;
work hard to grow and thrive,
But know that on that glorious day
in Me you’ll be alive.

Blessing

Go forth now, as God sends you. May the life you lead be blessed with grace and peace. Work hard to do God’s will in this world, knowing that in God’s time you will be made fully alive in the next. Amen

Gift of: Linda Curtis-Stolper

Prayer of Confession

Merciful God,
You created us to live in loving relationship
with You and each other.
You gave Moses commandments
to help the people understand
what was acceptable in Your sight.
Through Jesus, You opened the way
for all who believe to live with You forever.

But we are stiff-necked and stubborn;
we want to live by our own rules.
And so we ask trick questions
and search for loopholes
and rationalize in our efforts
to avoid answering for our sins.

Forgive us. Remind us
that it is not our place
to understand everything.
It is our place to trust in You
and to do our best to obey.

Assurance of Pardon
Psalm 145: 17-19 says,
The LORD is righteous in all his ways
and loving toward all he has made.
The LORD is near to all who call on him,
to all who call on him in truth.
He fulfills the desires of those who fear him
he hears their cry and saves them.

God hears us when we cry out.
Jesus saved us when He died.
Live thankfully, assured of the Good News:
In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.
Allelulia!

 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.

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