Words for Liturgy by Robin Bartlett
Prayers of the People for Hope Central Church
(A UCC/DOC affiliated church)
God of many names gathered into one:
When we look around at Your creation this evening, outside among
the trees and the majesty of our beloved neighborhood of Jamaica Plain with its colorful, vibrant, beautiful people and colorful, vibrant, beautiful landscape, it is easy to imagine that this is earth as it is in heaven; the paradise we have been given. That heaven is here; that we make it so.
And yet we know that we are also surrounded by poverty and
despair, sickness and death, hatred and fear, suffering and righteous anger. We know that though this is the 50th anniversary of The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech, that dream has still not been realized. We know that hell is here on this beautiful and brutal earth too, and that as a faithful people, it is our job to be Your hands, and Your feet—to love the hell out of this world.
And so we pray prayers of gratitude for this earthly paradise,
and we pray prayers of lament for this earthly suffering, in the hope that love will drive out fear, and darkness and despair. Hear now, the prayers of your people.
You taught us to pray without ceasing, to be bold as we pray; to
think big; to love big; that we might make earth as it is in heaven. And so may we live our lives as a prayer; may each step we take on the earth be a prayer; may each encounter with each person we meet be a prayer.
We pray all of this for love’s sake.
A Prayer for When Boston Public Schools are Closed for a Snow Day
Dear God whom we know as Love,
Save all of the parents from being stuck in their tiny homes with their gigantic children and toddlers for three days. Bring to us sibling harmony and creative independent free play. Do not take away our power, and our endless episodes of Angelina Ballerina. Grant us the ability to send our 6 year olds back in time to when they still napped; just for the weekend. Let the sleds not yet be sold out at Roche brothers. Let them frolick outside by themselves without tears for at least 20 minutes at a time. And may the hot chocolate be plentiful. Amen.
Words for Offering
Beloved, we take an offering each week so that the church might use our gifts to be love to one another and the world. Please give your material love generously, extravagantly, in the interest of spreading practical, tangible love like wildfire to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and free the prisoner. Nothing less. This morning's offering will benefit "Our Father's House", a local homeless shelter. The offering will now be gratefully received.
Spirit of Life and Love in Whom We are One,
You who gave us this beautiful earth and each other so that we might learn to be good stewards of that which has worth; that we might love abundantly, holding fast to what is good.
We are gathered here this Sunday because we desire to know what it
means to fill this world up with more love.
We desire to be the hands and feet of the kingdom of equals—to
incarnate this love and justice everywhere we go; from the city to the suburbs to the exburbs to the rural areas to the forgotten places in this empire.
We want to do this because we love this world, and we know how hard it is to live in it sometimes.
We also come in pain—grieving from our own internal hells, some hidden, some so on the surface that we could never keep them secret.
We pray for an end to sickness; for an end to loneliness; for an end to despair; for an end to the pain that comes from lost relationships, severed ties, broken love.
We pray for an end to our addictions—to food, to alcohol, to shopping, to compulsive exercise and gossip and drugs and lying and credit cards and Facebook.
We pray for an end to our anxiety; anxiety that comes from uncertain
financial futures, and parenting children long outside the safety of our wombs; and the fear of being found out; and the fear of being authentically who we are in a world that asks us to mask ourselves in who we are not.
We pray for the ability to come out of the shadows, and for the ability
to live risky and vulnerably.
We know it is never too late.
We pray for all those who suffer from the afflictions of body and
spirit. We pray for comfort and bravery and companionship in the
In the silence, we lift up the prayers of our hearts.
Help us to be brave enough to live what we value.
We pray all this for love’s sake.
This is holy ground we stand on.
This earth island we live on is holy because we make it so.
May we see the whole world as our home,
May we see ourselves as inhabitants of paradise,
May we remember that it doesn't matter so much right now if heaven is above our heads because we know heaven is below our feet.
Let us act as though this were so every day, and in every way.
Following a School Shooting
People of courageous faith; fellow mamas and papas whose hearts, like mine, are walking around outside your bodies on a daily basis: my arms are wrapped around you, and we are huddled around a candle together, shuddering against the cold and keeping each other warm. We are looking for the helpers on the news so we can remember that hope comes in human form. We are praying kyrie eleison. I don’t know if it is biological imperative or insanity that leads us to bring innocent, perfect, beautiful babies into this brutal world, but it takes a whole lot of hope and courage to keep doing this gig. We just keep letting them leave our wombs and our homes and our sanctuaries despite all that we know about brutality and terror and violence, because we are brave and we want our children to be. Because we know love wins. I salute all of you today and all days, my fellow broken-hearted, hopeful, courageous and beautiful parents. May God bless you all, and keep you; you and your children.