Monday Muse: Prepping Worship for April 27

The brightly-colored hard-boiled eggs gradually disappear, mixed into cobb salads or egg salads or eaten plain with a dash of salt & pepper. The chocolate bunnies and pastel candies disappear faster. Pastors and priests — who have been going full-steam since the start of Advent (yes, I said Advent) — now collapse into well-deserved vacations.

IMG_20140420_142727 - Version 2

But wait! There’s one detail that must be done before packing the car and getting out of town for a few days: the bulletin for the guest preacher on April 27th. For the liturgically exhausted pastor, today’s Monday Muse offers worship ideas and liturgies based on the Revised Common Lectionary readings for the Second Sunday of Easter.

CALL TO WORSHIP (on 1 Peter 1:3-9)

One: Blessed be the God and Parent of us all!
Many: Blessed be the Holy One who gives birth to life!
One: Blessed be the Resurrected Christ whose glory is our hope!
Many: Blessed be the God of power who meets us with mercy!
One: Rejoice in the Great Gift that is indestructible, imperishable and unceasing!
Many: Rejoice in faith, for the love of Christ is forever!
One: Laugh to know it: God’s salvation has the final word!
Many: Laugh for this Good News: Christ’s resurrection is our inheritance!
One: Come and worship in the joy of Eastertide!

EASTER AFFIRMATION (on Psalm 16)

One: Let us bless the LORD and affirm our faith.
Many: The One God is our God. God is our help and our hope, our joy and our meaning. God knows the bounds of our lives, every length and width and intersection, therefore we keep God ever before us. The LORD of Life is our source of wisdom by day and by night; our hearts rest in peace. Our spirits are singing! Our feet are sure! With the God of Resurrection, we walk confidently in the path of life. Here we find fullness of joy! With the Living God, there is life evermore!

SERMON IDEAS

“All of Us Are Witnesses” on Acts 2:14a, 22-32. Lead a conversation with the congregation, asking “What is your witness to God’s power and faithfulness? How have you experienced joy in your faith journeys?”

“Body and Breath: The Grossness of Resurrection” on John 20:19-31. Easter Sunday is an occasion of high triumph, soaring music, and a miracle beyond imagination. On the Sunday after Easter, the miracle gets up close & personal — Jesus breathes on the disciples and lets Thomas touch his scars. The resurrection is not only glorious & spiritual: it’s also beautifully sweaty and smelly and life-changing.

Easter Sunday: Transformation

On this Easter Sunday, praying with Jesus in the last of his seven words … marking a beginning with words from the end: “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit.” (Luke 23:46)

My life in your hands.
My life, I daresay, out of hand
in the wake of this crazy, joyful twist:
the release of the spirit
out of itself,
unlike itself,
committed to you;
Ready to be
wildly different
wholly exhilarant
delightfully inventive
by the slight of your hand
as it holds my spirit, my life
gently before the blinding power
of Easter resurrection.

IMG_3553

Part of the 2013 exhibit, “NE6: Kingdom Come,” at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas

 

Lent 40 (Holy Saturday): Death

In the final hours of Holy Week, we pray and reflect on the 6th of Jesus’ 7 last words: “It is finished.” (John 19:30)

How late did they stay awake that night, counting the stars, recounting the stories? Were there long spaces of silence between them? Did they laugh, too, just once in a while, remembering the wedding wine … the outrageous catch of fish … the donkey? Surely they wondered what was next (although you can’t really think too far ahead when grief is here and now). The end of one life forces a pause upon surrounding lives: what is finished for one is finished for all. You can never go back.

Lent 39 (Good Friday): Thirst

Continuing to pray with the seven last words of Christ. On this Good Friday, the fifth word: “I am thirsty.” (John 19:28)

At the last: a most human need.
For all of the times you had poured out wine
and provided a miraculous feast,
now at the end you thirsted.

Can I replenish you, the Christ?
As your life wanes, is there anything I can do?
The best I have is sour wine & a sponge,
not even a proper cup.

And if I could, at this moment,
return the favor of spreading an abundant table,
what purpose would it serve? You are dying.
Thirst is the lesser pain to ease.

Still, let me run for more wine!
Give me purpose, urgency, a grocery list and task, I plea,
so that I have a reason to avoid this bitter scene.
Your thirst gives me something to do…

…which reveals what I cannot face
at the foot of the cross: death and uselessness.
We have endowed your death with function and meaning,
trying to save our own from futility.

But there it is:
my own futility, in lengthening shadows;
my uselessness, on the end of a hyssop branch;
your need, unsatisfied at the last.

Lent 38 (Maundy Thursday): Forsaken

We pray today on the fourth of Jesus’ seven last words, according to Mark 15:34 — “At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

No! Don’t leave us alone!
Don’t let go of us!
You are our lifeline
amidst the raging storm, you are
the ray of light at the end of this long tunnel.
Don’t abandon us, for we don’t know
how to support one another.
We lurch and sway
wrecklessly
without care for the
collisions we cause while casting off
one from another, disowning sister and brother,
forsaking God in everyone we meet.
Do not leave us alone,
we cry . . . yet
we have left one another.
O God, how we have left one another!

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)