Simply Liturgy, for next Sunday, for Not Ordinary Times

There is an extra-ordinary effort to lift up the season after Pentecost as “Not Ordinary Times” in development by Eco-Justice Ministries.  Themes and core questions are found here. I want to commend and encourage every church to consider this prophetic call as part of a weekly or monthly commitment. Our little church started as monthly and now, it is twice a month that we specifically lift up care for creation issues.

I have done some worship writing for this amazing group. These resources are for next week’s Revised Common Lectionary texts Genesis 28:10-19a and Romans 8:12-25, and I wanted to share them here as well as just a few confessions at the end which are general.

Gathering Time / Call to Worship (Genesis)

Leader: “Surely God was in this place.”
What was a place in nature from your childhood days – whether that
is now or quite a while ago, where, if you thought about saying it, you could have turned around and said, amazed, “Surely God was in this place.” It could be a vacation to the Grand Canyon or your favorite tree in the backyard, a park, a playground, a mountain …
Please call them out and the rest of us will respond: Surely God is in this place.

All: Call out special places … Congregation responds: Surely God is in this place.

Leader: Now think of places that are special to you right now – your garden, the seacoast … even a bench in a cemetery. We will respond the same fashion: Surely God is in this place.

All: Call out special places … Congregation responds: Surely God is in this place.

Leader: Now I invite you to consider natural places or creatures that are endangered or fragile … vulnerable.

All: Call out special places needing care and reminding ourselves that a crucified God is there … Congregation responds: Surely God is in this place.

Unison Prayer (Romans)

God, the sufferings of the monarchs in this present time touch my life, and the eager longing of the salmon for clear streams reveals your desired patterns for all life. Only we subject the fields to futility and put chickens in bondage to decay. All the setting free of creation is to the glory of God, and we, your human children, will be groaning until the first fruits of this earth are redeemed for your loving purpose. For this we do hope with patience through the Spirit’s intercession in sighs too deep for words. Amen.

Prayer of Confession (Romans)

God, I met the creation groaning and it is me.

Forgive us our mental distance from the rest of creation, our objectification of honey bee and GMO seed, our indifference to animals except the few who are companions of humans, our expectation that the economics will heal botany, or politics, biology, and that our generation will not be inconvenienced.

Forgive us when we subject all of creation to futility, bondage and decay and forgive us when we lose our hope in what we do not experience.

Hear us as we pray with through the Spirit who still hovers over all of us. Amen

Assurance of Grace
All of creation is groaning and we who notice, receive our forgiveness and anticipate God’s first fruits, arriving with the pruning hook of repentance and the trowel of hope.

or

Prayer of Confession (Genesis)

God, I have used the “I did not know” excuse this week, especially when I almost recognized you in some modern-day, real-life, twenty-four-seven reality that could have used my care to make a small difference. God, I have run away from my messes physically, emotionally and spiritually. Please meet me in my self-imposed loneliness and show me both the ladder of angels, that is my future longing, and your path in the wilderness, that is my present responsibility. Amen.

Assurance of Grace
Jacob used the “I did not know,” excuse only once. When he woke up, he trusted God to go with him as long as he was noticing. We too receive the grace of God’s get-your-attention forgiveness that puts us on the journey with God.

Prayer of Illumination before scripture or sermon (Genesis)

God, for all the stone pillows that keep us restless in our lives and nights, show us a ladder of angels even in the scripture we open today, so that we can begin to understand your faithfulness in accompanying us on all our long and winding roads. Amen.

Benediction

May you find angels when your nights are rocky,
hope when sufferings are all too present,
and may you always hear God say –
I am with you and I will keep you
wherever you go,
and I will bring you back,
oh, I will bring you back.
Amen.

Two more general confessions to these themes:

Prayer of Confession
God, the disparity is great between rich and poor.
and we say that it is — “ordinary.”
People are hungry, uneducated, without medical care –
this, too, is “ordinary.”
Earth is damaged, air polluted, water poisoned.
Animals live in conditions of torture
for meat or medicine or make-up,
and many have become extinct,
while plants genetically modified
may never bear seed .
All of this is “ordinary.”
Forgive us – not just our inability to “fix” your world,
but our indifference to its pain. Amen

Words of Assurance
God’s forgiveness is extra-ordinary for our most personal intimate failings and for our insensitivity to things that seem beyond our power. God’s love is extra-ordinary by using even us to bring great blessings.

Prayer of Confession
For the beauty of the earth – that we have not noticed,
For the beauty of the earth – that we have not allowed
to inspire us, renew us and bring us closer to you,
For the beauty of the earth – that we have not preserved,
For the beauty of the earth – that we have damaged
or been silent at its destruction,
Forgive us.
And forgive us, O God that we do not recognize that human love
and care for the church are rooted first in our connection
to all of your creation. Amen.

Words of Assurance
God teaches us to raise a song of praise, not only with our lips open, but with wide-spread hearts and hands. We are forgiven and given responsibility again – for the beautiful earth and all aspects of human love. Amen

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