Prayer Service Honoring 2020 Loss and Hope

Fill the Table Facebook Event (1)

2020 has been one devastating heartache after another. This prayer gathering seeks to name our individual and communal loss.

For me, writing prayers and liturgy helps me process pain. I need to say it out loud. I need to lament. It also helps me reclaim the promises of God. This reconnects me to hope.

This service was designed with the pandemic in mind- an outdoor gathering, less than 45 minutes, with no singing. We call ours Candles in the Garden because of the location of the service.

This service is also designed to be easy to organize and lead. It could be lead by one or more persons. No programs or projection are needed. The music could be live or prerecorded.

Lastly, this service is designed as a community gathering. Persons with little or no faith, and persons from less liturgical traditions, will be able to participate without jumping through “churchy” hoops.

My prayer is that this gathering will be honest and safe with all we are experiencing. I trust our good, good God will meet us there with compassion, blessing, and balm. – Lisa <><

Those who gather will bring their own chair and their own candle. The candle should be in a container so it can be placed safely on a flat service during the gathering. If the service is outside, be sure the candle is in a container which will protect it from the wind. 

As persons check in, they are welcome to name losses they would like mentioned in the service on their behalf. They are also welcome to name their own losses at that point in the service. 

Gathering Music

Welcome  

Scripture: Psalm 61:1-5, adapted    
ONE: Hear our cry, O God; listen to our prayer.
From the ends of the earth we call to you, we call as our hearts grow faint;
Lead us to the rock that is higher.
For you have been our refuge, a strong tower against the foe.
We long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings.
For you, God, have heard our vows;
You have given us the heritage of those who revere your name.

Instrumental Meditation   
Transition music as the next speaker moves forward and the microphone is wiped clean.

Mourning the Loss of Life due to COVID-19    
Light a candle. Update the statics for your gathering. 

ONE: We light this candle honoring the loss of life due to COVID-19.
15,595 deaths in our state
216,000 deaths in our nation
1,090,000 deaths in our world

Lord of Life and Light, bring healing and hope. Hear our prayer for
The grieving
The suffering
The isolated
Those who need access to testing and treatment

Bring strength and encouragement to those risking much to help others
Medical professionals and researchers
Health Departments, the CDC, and the WHO
Cleaning crews and sanitation workers

Hear our prayer for an end to the pandemic.
You are good. You are near. You are strong to save.
We trust you hear our prayer.

Instrumental Meditation
Transition music as the last speaker places the candle in the garden and the next speaker moves forward and the microphone is wiped clean.

Mourning Loss due to the Economy   
Light a candle. Update the statics for your gathering. 

ONE: We light this candle honoring the loss due to our struggling economy
Over 1 million persons out of work in our state
Over 12 million persons out of work in our nation
Over 190 million persons out of work in our world

Lord of Life and Light, bring provision and hope. Hear our prayer for
The unemployed and underemployed
Those who need access to relief, training, and technology
Those trying to keep a roof over their head, food on the table,
Their family together, their business open

Bring strength and encouragement to those risking much to help others
Those who work in shelters, soup kitchens, and food pantries
Social Workers, Teachers, and Civil Servants
Frontline workers who face the public everyday

Hear our prayer for an economic recovery for all.
You are good. You are near. You are strong to save.
We trust you hear our prayer.

Instrumental Meditation
Transition music as the last speaker places the candle in the garden and the next speaker moves forward and the microphone is wiped clean.

Mourning the Loss of Life due to Natural Disasters    
Light a candle. Update the statics for your gathering. 

ONE: We light this candle honoring the loss of life due to recent natural disasters
Over 13 million acres burned in our nation this year
25 storms including 9 hurricanes, over $26 billion in damage

Lord of Life and Light, bring home and hope. Hear our prayer for
The devastated and displaced
Broken earth, broken spirits, broken systems
Broken lives, broken communities

Bring strength and encouragement to those risking much to help others
Firefighters and First Responders
UMCOR, FEMA, and other agencies
Generous people opening their homes, their wallets, and their hands to help

Hear our prayer for an end to the destruction.
You are good. You are near. You are strong to save.
We trust you hear our prayer.

Instrumental Meditation
Transition music as the last speaker places the candle in the garden and the next speaker moves forward and the microphone is wiped clean.

Mourning the Loss of Life due to Injustice     
Light a candle. Update the statics for your gathering. 

ONE: We light this candle honoring the loss of life due to prejudice and systemic injustice
In 2018, the average black worker earned 62% of the average white worker
Of the 535 voting members of congress, only 57 are black
Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and more, killed by those entrusted to protect them

Lord of Life and Light, bring justice and hope. Hear our prayer for
An end to evil and oppression
An end to hate and discrimination
An end to apathy and silence

Hear our prayer for all who live in constant fear
All who are beaten down, profiled, and held back
All who mourn and rage
All who are called to protect and serve

Bring strength and encouragement to those risking much to help others
The prophets, awakening us to truth
The witnesses, opening our eyes with their stories
The just, working to change hearts and systems

Hear our prayer for peace and dignity for all.
You are good. You are near. You are strong to save.
We trust you hear our prayer

Instrumental Meditation
Transition music as the last speaker places the candle in the garden and the next speaker moves forward and the microphone is wiped clean.

Mourning Loss due to Division 
Light a candle

ONE: We light this candle honoring loss due to our division
Religious division
Racial division
Political division
Economic division

Lord of Life and Light, bring community and hope. Hear our prayer for
Empathy
Understanding
Trust and Grace

Bring strength and encouragement to those risking much to help others
Peacemakers and Artists
Mediators and Neighbors
All who gather and nurture
All those working for an honorable election, no violence or corruption

Hear our prayer for compassion and the common good.
You are good. You are near. You are strong to save.
We trust you hear our prayer

Instrumental Meditation
Transition music as the last speaker places the candle in the garden and the next speaker moves forward and the microphone is wiped clean.

Candles in the Garden  
ONE: Who or what loss have you lit your candle for? Name it as you place your candle in the garden now.

ONE: read the petitions collected as folks check in. Allow folks to name their own petition. 
This moment includes social distancing and musical underscoring. After all persons have placed their candle, the following is read. 

Reading: For Life by Steve Garnaas Holmes
For the empty seat, we hold silence.
Love, have mercy.
For the two hundred thousand, we weep.
Love, have mercy.
For the homes incinerated, we mourn.
Love, have mercy.
For the rule of law, we lament.
Love, have mercy.

For kindness and nonviolence, we pray.
Love, have mercy.
For courage to stand, to speak, to act, we pray.
Love, have mercy.
For faith in one another, that we still hold the future in our hands, we pray.
Love, have mercy.

For justice that dismantles oppression,
hope that overcomes despair,
for faith that overpowers dread,
for love that defeats fear,
for joy that will not be taken from us, we pray.
Love, have mercy.

In the face of all that oppresses,
give us trust in grace unseen;
give us hearts to rise, to serve,
yes, even to sing
for life, for life.

Scripture: Hebrews 10:23-24
ONE: Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds.

Closing Blessing

Departure Music

Consider a time of distanced listening following the gathering. Participants may need compassionate persons to listen as they continue to process what they experienced or what the experience revealed.

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Candles in the Garden © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia (www.revlisad.com)
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Worship Resources for All Saints Day

all-saintsSERMONS AND SERMON STARTERS
How Jesus Grieves, a Sermon for All Saints Day
Scripture: Matthew 14:1-21

There’s No Place Like Home, a message on the now and note yet of heaven
From the sermon series Finding God in Oz
Scriptures: Revelation 21:1-5, 22-26; 1 Peter 2:9-12

Church as Communion of Saints, Cloud of Witnesses
Quotes and Sermon Illustrations

PRAYERS, POEMS AND LITURGIES
All Saints Remembrance
This liturgy includes quotes from Nelson Mandela and James C. Howell, a reading of 1 Corinithians 1:2-3, a brief explanation of what it means to be a saint, a prayer, naming saints who have strengthened our faith, and flowering the cross. Feel free to use only parts of this liturgy and to assign multiple persons to lead it.

Run Beloved, Run- a poem for All Saints Day

All Saints Day– a poem by Steve Garnaas Holmes based on 1 John 3:1, “See what love God has given us, that we should be called children of God.”

All Saints Remembrance 2020
Let us remember who we are in Jesus-
Beloved, Wounded Healers,
Saints set apart by God and for God

Let us remember our purpose-
To lead a devoted life of compassion, generosity, justice, and hope
A life worthy of the calling to which we have been called
A life which inspires faith in others

Let us recommit ourselves to this life,
by first honoring the lives of those who have inspired us
The heroic and humble who ran the race before us
The martyrs who sacrificed all for the sake of Jesus
And especially those who we have known and loved
who led us to Jesus and encouraged us to deeper faith and service

Name those persons out loud now… pause

From wherever you are worshiping, repeat after me.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God
ALL: Blessed are you, O Lord our God

You surround us with witness after witness to your transforming love
Inspire us and empower us to persevere
Fill our hearts with courage

From wherever you are worshiping, repeat after me.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God
ALL: Blessed are you, O Lord our God

You weep with us in our personal heartbreak and loss
Name those you are grieving out loud now… pause
Comfort us and protect us in our mourning
Fill our souls with hope

You weep with us in our communal heartbreak and loss
COVID… Fires… Storms… Division… Injustice… Death
Comfort us and protect us in our mourning
Fill our souls with hope

From wherever you are worshiping, repeat after me.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God
ALL: Blessed are you, O Lord our God

You cry out in victory over sin and the grave
Raise us and release us to fulfill your calling
To be saints
Fill our lives with faithfulness and good works
Honor and hope
In Jesus’ Name and for His Glory. Amen.

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How Jesus Grieves, a sermon for All Saints Day © 2019 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
There’s No Place Like Home… © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
All Saints Remembrance © 2016 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Run Beloved, Run © 2014 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
All Saints Remembrance 2020 © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia (www.revlisad.com)
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Worship Resources for World Communion Sunday

World Communion Altar Table, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

World Communion Altar Table, photo by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia

In the story of the feeding of the 5,000 we see Jesus once again addressing the most essential, physical needs of his fellow human beings – hunger, thirst, companionship – and once again, breaking down every socially-constructed barrier that keeps us from eating with one another. He did the same thing when, much to the chagrin of the religious leaders, he dined with tax collectors and prostitutes and told his more well-to-do hosts that “when you give a banquet, invite the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed.” The English word companion, is derived from the Latin com (“with”) and panis (“bread”). A companion, therefore, is someone with whom you share your bread. – Rachel Held Evans, 5000 Companions

Sadly, the way we as Christians have historically responded to the gift of the Eucharist is to make sure that we understand it, then to make sure we put boundaries around it and then to make sure we enforce both the correct understanding and the correct boundaries. But on the night Jesus was betrayed he didn’t say “this is my body broken for you…UNDERSTAND this in remembrance of me….he didn’t say ACCEPT this or DEFEND this or BOUNDARY this in remembrance of me he just said do this in remembrance of me. – Nadia Bolz Weber, “This teaching is HARD, who can accept it” – a sermon on the Eucharist

The table is rich-laden; feast royally, all of you! The calf is fattened; let no one go forth hungry! Let all partake of the Feast of Faith. Let all receive the riches of goodness. Let none lament their poverty, for the Universal Kingdom has been revealed.
– John Chrysostom

PRAYER: Make us your children
Heavenly One,
Your reach extends to every person, every nation,
offering grace, forgiveness, wholeness, and hope.
A saving embrace drawing us to you and each other.

We are your children:
grateful for a place at your feast,
humble before your love and generosity,
rejoicing in the beauty of each sibling.

Make us your children:
faithful in honoring and welcoming all,
eager in sharing what we have found in you-
safety, belonging, identity,
a home of nurture and growth and sending forth.
Amen.

HYMN: Come Sup With God
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Meter 88.88 (LM)
Suggested tunes:
HURSLEY (United Methodist Hymnal #339) or
GIFT OF LOVE (United Methodist Hymnal #408)

Come sup with God all you who thirst
All you who hunger be the first
Feast on Christ’s Body and his Blood
O taste and see this meal of Love

Come children, elders, blind, and spent
Come foolish, able, indigent
Confess, repent, and then receive
Forgiveness flows abundantly

Come often, friend, for here is grace
made manifest in time and place
Christ’s mercy floods our brokenness
with healing balm and righteousness

Come to be changed. Come to be fed.
Come savor Christ, the Life, the Bread.
Drink deep the gift of healing poured
and leave a vessel of our Lord.

Sing Praise to Christ our Host and meal
Whose saving work provides the seal
for us once bound, now freed from death
to live for Christ with every breath

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Make us Your Children © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Come Sup with God © 2000 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia (www.revlisad.com)
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer for the 19th Anniversary of September 11th Attacks

911-terror-attacks_3036315kWe come together with persons all over the world to remember the day our world changed. We come together in faith, in hope, in God’s infinite love.

Heavenly Father, we commend to your mercy and grace all who died in the September eleventh attacks and all who have died in the past nineteen years while laboring to end terrorism.
In New York City: 2,342 persons
In Arlington, Virginia: 184 persons
In Shanksville, Pennsylvania: 40 persons
411 New York City rescue workers that day plus so many more from the aftereffects
Thousands of military personnel and civilians

Over 70 countries lost loved ones that day: family members, friends, co-workers, neighbors, heroes. In the face of all this loss we claim your grace, your faithfulness, and your power to bring good out of evil.

Compassionate One, it’s been nineteen years, yet the pain is fresh for many. Comfort all who continue to mourn the loss of loved ones. Come with assurance and peace for all who remain traumatized, anxious, or fearful for the future.

Bring wholeness and hope to every broken place- to broken bodies, broken hearts, and broken spirits. To broken relationships, broken systems, and broken faith.

Our world remains a dangerous place, O God, but with you there is safety and shalom. With you there is hope. You are our Rock, our Shield, our Defender forever.

Draw together leaders of every nation. Give them ears to hear your wisdom and the courage to respond. Inspire them to work together for peace, justice, and freedom.

Strengthen all who risk their lives to protect others. Guard and favor all who work to make your world a place of peace.

God of the Nations, hear our prayer for our enemies and for ourselves. Help us love and pray for those who hate us. We claim your abiding, your humility, and your strength as we strive to fulfill this call.

Save us from revenge, false teaching, and blind suspicion. Help us recognize our contributions to conflict. Help us understand the hurt that feeds the hate.

Change the hearts of all who seek their way by evil and violent means, by coercion and corruption, including our own. Create in us clean hearts that beat with your unconditional compassion.

Leave no one in the dark, O God.
Fill us all with your light and make us all instruments of your peace.
Amen.
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9/11 Anniversary Prayer © 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia and Nicole Sallee
Updated 2020
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please leave a comment for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

Prayer on the Murder of Ahmaud Arbery

pillar candle near clear glass window

Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

We light this candle for Ahmaud Arbery
For his family
For those who know him and love him
For those who murdered him

We light this candle
For all who feel unsafe in their own homes
in their own neighborhoods
in their own skin

We light this candle
For all who are followed because they’re labeled suspicious
For all who are targeted, profiled, and hunted

We light this candle
For all who mourn too many precious lives lost to discrimination and murder
For all who cry out for justice

We light this candle
For all who see themselves as more valuable, more entitled
than other people
For all who see themselves as more human, more worthy
because of their skin driven advantages

We light this candle
For all who are unaware or apathetic

God breathe and birth in us the fullness of your Shalom
Save us
Save all of us
Save us now

Save us and send us
Use our voices
Our connections
Our privilege to end our entrenched national sin of supremacy and racism

No one is Supreme but You

Grant us holy anger and humility
Grant us holy wisdom and determination to speak and act now
And to keep speaking and acting
until your truth, justice, and wholeness are known by all

Until your kingdom come, your will be done
On Earth as it is in heaven

We ask this in the name of the Father,
For this is our Father’s will
We ask this in the name of Jesus,
Son, Savior, Shalom
We ask this in the name of the Spirit,
Who leads us into this new life
Amen

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Prayer: on the murder of Ahmaud Arbery © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
by Lisa Degrenia (www.revlisad.com)
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.