It can be hard to find liturgical language that meets the particular challenges of January 2021, can’t it — on the one hand, there is some comfort in the words we have used for centuries. On the other hand, those word imply physical gathering together in the same room, and often seem to gloss over the full truth of earthly existence in favour of a timeless feel. If there’s anything about this “unprecedented” moment in our lives, it’s that we really don’t want it to feel any more timeless than it already does!
So here are some new words that we hope will help, offered by RevGals around the world. Feel free to use or adapt, for online or in-person worship (if that is happening where you are). If you do post a video, and can credit the author in the video description, that would be great, thanks.
Opening Prayer by Teri Peterson (based on Psalm 62)
Our hope is in you, O God,
for power belongs to you.
As we turn our attention to you this day,
renew our trust.
As we pour out our hearts,
our longings and our tiredness,
our losses and our desires,
our desperate hopes and our cautious dreams
remind us that you alone are our refuge, and you will not be shaken.
Where our confidence has been misplaced,
our hopes pinned on one person or one event or one moment,
call us back to your truth:
you are our hope,
and your steadfast love endures forever.
Prayer of adoration by Julie Rennick
Creator God, who made the earth and all that is in it
We come before you,
We worship and adore
You call us, each to our own place, our own time, our own calling
Accept all we offer you this day, our praise and prayers
Our hopes and fears
The work of our hands and the words of our mouths
That everything within us will cry Holy!
As we listen again to Jesus’ call, “Follow me”
May we choose to follow, to walk, to love
In his ways
This we pray
This we offer
Confession by Teri Peterson
God, you call us to come….we look around at all we have had to give up and we confess that we aren’t sure we want to let go of anymore. And we admit that sometimes “fishing for people” doesn’t sound great anyway. We’ve had more than enough of feeling trapped, honestly, so why would we want to do it to others? Yet you call us to bring in your people, to encircle them with grace and love, even the ones who would rather swim away. We confess that it can be very hard to love our neighbour, and we are going to need more help. So we pray for your grace to abound, that we may live graciously. We pray for your love and justice to overflow so that our only choice is to share it. We pray for courage to leave our old ways behind and embrace your way, wherever it leads. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Reflective prayer on the gospel by Julie Rennick
He called them,
The fishermen; the rough and ready workers
With torn hands and resilient hearts
He called them,
To leave it all behind for an uncertain adventure
To drop family and friends and livelihoods
For a more undefined future
They were bold enough
Or foolish enough
To follow, to go where he led,
And they were never the same again.
May we too, be bold and brave as we choose to follow
Pastoral Prayer by Teri Peterson
Your voice reaches us wherever we are,
at work and play, through screen and silence,
in the endless ordinary days,
even when we are numb to the possibility that we might be called
to belovedness and belonging.
Your call is so urgent, so clear
to leave what we know
to discover that what seems impossible~
justice, mercy, love, equality~
is your dream for your kingdom here on earth,
and we can be a part of it as we follow You.
We lift up to you, O God,
people who live each day with violence and fear,
for our neighbours who can’t see their way through the system,
for our friends who do not see how they hurt or how they could help.
We pray, O Christ, for those suffering in mind, body, or spirit.
For those awaiting the research that could bring relief,
and for those awaiting the day when every tear is wiped away,
and for those who work each day to save lives and heal people.
We remember, O Spirit, those who have no heart or hands or will
except our own, as your disciples.
Give us courage to speak up, to work, to care, and to go out
on behalf of those you love.
We give you thanks for those who make our world, our nation, our community, our church work:
those who serve in office, and those who hold them accountable to our highest ideals,
those who work behind the scenes, and those who are at the forefront of the news.
Give them wisdom and courage to seek the good of all people and of your earth,
and to do what is right.
for our world.
for our country.
for our earthly home.
for our children and our children’s children to the seventh generation,
for the sick and lonely,
the disengaged and angry.
Help us to remember
that we belong to You,
and you are Love,
and we are beloved.
Gather us up as your disciples,
Bind us together in peace,
Claim us so completely that we give all we have
to be healers of the breach,
offerers of grace,
a voice of hope.
In the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Prayers of intercession by Julie Rennick
Here are some ideas that reflect on both the Gospel and events happening in our world this week
We give you thanks for the call to follow that Jesus gives to each one of us, help us to honour that call, and follow in his ways, seeking always to choose to help and support others; choosing to speak out for the lost and the overlooked; choosing to stand up for justice and righteousness
For the USA
Holy God, we pray for our new President, that the transition of power will be right. Not easy, not quiet, but strong and powerful, blessed by you.
May strong voices be heard
May truth prevail
May hope be restored
For the UK
Holy God, we pray for our governments in Westminster and Holyrood; for the sharing out of power, for the establishing of right ways to work under the Brexit agreement that will allow for equality and a recognition of those whose voices are seldom heard
Holy God, we see hope on the horizon, vaccines are being shared all around the world; we pray that patience will prevail. That anxiety will be kept down. We pray that no one will feel left out or overlooked, but that all who are vulnerable, all who feel afraid will find strength and resolve.
Be with all who are working on the front lines: in health care, in management of our states; in the keeping of the peace.
We pray for all who suffer from midwinter blues: this month of January feels especially long, and it is hard to find hope in the darkness. Help us to find the light, to seek the brightness, to discover in each new day moments clarity and joy to lift the spirit.
We pray that all will choose to follow your ways, with light and love
Today and always,
I (Teri) also write the liturgy for Bibleworm (a narrative lectionary podcast) and this month the liturgies are free! You need to make a patreon account but you don’t need to pay for that. You can find this week’s liturgy here.
Music videos are provided for inspiration — we do not own the videos, so you’ll need to contact the owners if you want to use them, or you’ll need to have the correct licenses in place to reproduce them yourself. But we hope they provide a bit of inspiration for your own worship planning.
This hymn has been floating through my mind this week as I think about both Psalm 62 and the NL’s Luke 5 text about “put out into the deep water” (when they’re exhausted already):
This one is a different tune than either of the two I’m most familiar with, but I love the feel of it for this week:
For a different take on the psalm (and aspects of the gospel readings)…
RevGalBlogPals encourages you to share our blog posts via email or social media. We do not grant permission to cut-and-paste prayers and articles without a link back to the specific post. For permission to use material in paper publications, please email revgalblogpals at gmail dot com. For Worship Words, you may use or adapt what you find here, but please credit the author in printed orders of service/web publications and in public video descriptions if possible.
If you have written words for worship in this strange new world that you are willing to share, please send us an email: revgalblogpals at gmail dot com.
Teri Peterson is a minister in the Church of Scotland and a member of the Board of RevGalBlogPals. She lives in a manse with her cat, and serves a delightful congregation in a beautiful town on the west coast, and spends a lot of time looking out the window at the view….and at all the people who have suddenly taken up outdoor exercise during lockdown.