Guest Post … beginning again, Rosalie Sugrue, Aotearoa New Zealand

Rosalie Sugrue wrote a liturgy for multiple churches for 2020’s beginning which I am sharing here. Why? you ask. Isn’t that about 37 days past?

… because we are a people who begin again. We begin at the beginning of Advent and on January 1. We often begin again at Lent. We rise up at Easter and certainly, if anything is true of Pentecost — it is that it is a time to offer our faith to the world. Then in the United States mainline church life September is the “begin-again of the program year.” Is that foolish? Six times in twelve months specifically asked to begin again? No. It mirrors what we know of life, the willingness of God to begin again with us in the midst of every confession, in the personal renewing of anniversaries and birthdays, in the child’s excitement at a new school year, in the guidance of therapists and counselors, of retreats and sabbaticals, in walking away from addiction which may have a date — for me that is May 5, 1990 — but that is also always, always, always, one-day-at-a-time.

…because she shows all how we can be specific — a new decade, part of a cycle — Year A, and yet with the tenaciousness of faith hold up our ongoing commitments like the Treaty of Waitangi continually believing that we can live into them.

…because she models open-handed worship leadership by giving the words of the “prayer of the people” to four lay people. So often I long for this prayer, which is often better named a “pastoral prayer” (even if that sounds old-fashioned) to truly be of the people, and yet worship leaders and clergy don’t often offer ways to learn into that praying (a preparation-free “feel free to pray aloud from your pew” generates a lot of silence). And this is one such way — first hand the prayer words out, then invite ideas and write from them, then invite pre-written lay prayers, then ask for spontaneous ones.

Enjoy …  A Liturgy for 2020

Call to Worship
(L = Left side; R = Right side)
Leader: 2020 is upon us
L: A new decade has begun
R: Children are back at school
L: Our working year is underway
R: The Lectionary cycle is Year A
L: Once again we are reflecting
R: on the Gospel of Matthew
L: the first book in the New Testament
All: May 2020 visions bring new insight
Leader: Let us worship God
All: with heart and soul and mind

Prayer of Approach
We gather in this place as Christians,
We meet as local community of persons
who seek to be good people
by acknowledging the Divine.
The Divine exists within each individual
and is present in all Creation.
The Divine has many names
but we most commonly call you God.
We believe we can best worship you
by following the Way of Jesus.

As we delve into the Holy Scriptures
we are confronted by stories of conflict,
we read of struggles, hardships and horror.
But Jesus teaches us that you are with us
in our struggles, hardships, and horrors.
In Matthew’s Gospel we learn that You
care for us with that special parental bond
that offers unconditional love
to each of your children. Open us:
to seeking this love
to seeing this love
to feeling this love
to being this love
and living in it forever and ever, amen.

We ask your blessing in this place
humbly seeking to know your grace.
We know that this significant year
brings new hopes and also new fears.
May what we give help lessen strife
and what we do bring light and life. Amen

Prayer for the People 

allocate a verse each to 4 people
God of Love,
We come to you aware that although we try
we often fail to love, as you want us to love.
We want to do better but often don’t know how.
In this year of 2020 we accept that
perfection is beyond reach for most of us.
But 20/20, so called ‘perfect vision’
does not mean exceptional and unattainable.
It is a measure of normal good vision,
a state that some have always lacked
and most will lack with increasing age.

Perfect sight would not mend the world,
but insight might…
insight plays a vital role in perfect outcomes.
We ask that you bless us all with increasing insight
and give more to those who need it most …
Please bless all leaders with visions of perfection,
and the insight of compassionate understanding
required to reform the world to a place where
all people are valued, as you value all people.

This month we celebrated our National Day –
the signing of The Treaty of Waitangi.
And sadly, as with many National Days,
some citizens do not consider
the chosen date worthy of celebrating.
We ask for the insight to better understand our history.
Give all, the will to right wrongs with good actions and good grace,
and may all good will, and good actions, be accepted with grace.

Help us to reflect on The Treaty as did the missionaries
and some Maori signatories – as a Holy Covenant, made
between Maori and Pakeha – in the manner of Covenants
God made with chosen people in the Old Testament –
as a promise and binding commitment made in faith.
May such reflecting lead to a spirit of hope, that brings
peace with justice, and a better future for us all. Amen

Silent prayer followed by the Lord’s Prayer

2020 is upon us!
A new decade has begun!
Embrace this significant year!
We give thanks for the year 2020.
We will look for new insights
to better serve the bringer of light.


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4 Responses to Guest Post … beginning again, Rosalie Sugrue, Aotearoa New Zealand

  1. dabar96 says:

    This is beautifully powerful! Thank you both for sharing.

    • Rosalie Sugrue says:

      Thank you, it is lovely to be appreciated. I do hope you will be able to make use of it in some practical way.

  2. Rosalie Sugrue says:

    Arrgh! I’ve just seen the photo Maren added (not supplied with the script) but can’t complain too much as my motivation was to make a statement while doing a quick trip round the world that 3 weeks later would take me to Maren’s house, alas it had faded by then.

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