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.

Prayer Prompts Based on Luke 18, the Widow and the Unjust Judge

summer in the scriptures luke (14)
Prayer Prompts based on Luke 18:1-8
The Parable of the Widow and the Unjust Judge

Use one or more of the following prompts as you pray. Just finish the sentence again and again or use it as a springboard for your prayers. Share your prayer in the comments. What prayer prompt would you write? Share that as well.

How am I like the Unjust Judge?

Mighty One, I confess abusing my power and privilege by …

Mighty One, I confess my lack of reverence for …

Mighty One, I confess my lack of love for …

Mighty One, I confess my resistance to hear and help …

Mighty One, I confess judging …

 

How am I like the Widow?

Mighty One, quickly grant ________ justice

Mighty One, hear my cry for ________. Do not delay.

Mighty One, help _______ to not lose heart

Mighty One, help _________ to trust you to answer

Mighty One, grant ___________ a persevering faith

_______________

For the next few months, I’m reading a chapter from the Gospels each day. This is part of the Summer in the Scriptures reading plan sponsored by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. Click Here for the reading plan.

You’re most welcome to read along and to join the Facebook discussion group, Summer in the Scriptures. You don’t need to be a Methodist or attend a Methodist church. All are welcome and all means all.

As part of the Facebook group, I’ve been supplying prayers based on the day’s reading. Feel free to post your prayers and observations based on the readings here or there as well.

May the grace of the Gospels, the challenge, and the call, inspire us to great faith and great good works in Jesus’ name. – Lisa <

Prayer Prompts based on Luke 18 © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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: Come Holy Spirit. Come Live in Me.

grayscale of photo of man

Photo by Luis Quintero on Pexels.com

John 14:25-26 NRSV
Jesus said, “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.”

John 16:7 NRSV
Jesus said, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you.”

The Holy Spirit is God with us to comfort and convict, to remind and renew, to guide and guard, to sustain and support. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, we are convicted of our sin and assured of forgiveness. We are reminded of Jesus Christ and renewed in our relationship, guided toward the fulfillment of God’s purposes, and guarded against the powers of sin and death. In the power of the Holy Spirit we are sustained and supported amid temptation, suffering, and death. It is the Holy Spirit who draws us toward God and into community with God and one another.
– Kenneth L. Carder, Living Our Beliefs, Revised Edition

The following prayer is based on these promises of Jesus and a passage from Francis Chan’s excellent book, Forgotten God: Reversing our Tragic Neglect of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer: Come Holy Spirit. Come Live in Me.
ONE:
Wondrous God, it is an astounding truth that you raised Jesus from the dead,
and it is equally astounding that you would desire your Spirit to enliven us.

ALL:
Come Holy Spirit. Come live in me.
I do not know what You will do or where You will lead me,
yet I welcome Your presence and guidance.

ONE:
Holy Spirit of God, we are tired of living in ways
which look exactly like people who do not have you living in them.

ALL:
Open me to consistently live with an awareness of Your strength and counsel.
Move in me so I am different today from what I was yesterday.
Manifest Your fruit more and more in me.
Help me submit myself to Your leading on a daily basis.

ONE:
Holy Spirit, Jesus said it is better for us that the You would come.

ALL:
Make my life an example of this promise and truth.
Come Holy Spirit. Come live in me.

_________________________
Come Holy Spirit. Come Live in Me. © 2012 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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.

Blessing the Women: A Prayer for Mother’s Day

Mother and Child by Howard Weingarden

Loving God,
You knit us together in our mother’s womb
and breathe us into being.
Thank you for the gift of life
and for bringing us into this world through our mothers.
We recognize the risk they took
to carry us, nourish us, and protect us within their bodies.

Thank you for the women in our life,
for our mothers and for those who have been like mothers to us.
We are grateful for their tenderness when we were helpless or hurt,
We are grateful for their encouragement and wisdom when we were unsure,
We are grateful for their correction and perseverance so we would stay true,
We are grateful for the way they guided us into Your saving embrace.
Too often we took their love and sacrifice for granted. Forgive us.
Help us to live in such a way
that our words and actions bring honor to them and to You.

Merciful One, gather us all to the safety of your breast.
For many, this day is full of joy and celebration,
but for others, it is an especially painful day.
Pour out your healing, consolation, and peace
on those who are grieving the loss of their mother or the loss of their child,
on families separated by distance or disagreement,
on families plagued by disappointment, abandonment, addiction, or abuse.

Compassionate One, shelter us all beneath Your outstretched arms.
Bring your healing, consolation, and peace
to women whose desire to be a mother has not been fulfilled,
to mothers and guardians who are exhausted
as they labor to balance work and raising children,
to mothers and guardians who are overwhelmed as they struggle
to bring up children in the midst of poverty, disease, or war.
The need is deep. Come quickly. Our hope is in You.

At this point in the prayer, all the girls and women in the room are invited to stand as they are able. Those who are seated are asked to place a hand of blessing upon those who are standing.

Gracious God, thank You for every woman and girl here today
and for every one we have brought with us in our hearts.
Reveal Your purpose and plan for their life.
Bless them and protect them.
Deepen their love and trust of You.
Strengthen them, empower them, and anoint them with Your Holy Spirit
that their faith, influence, and achievement would bring You honor and glory.
Receive our thanks and praise again for these women and women in the making
for they are precious to us and to You.
In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

_____________________
© 2011 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
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.

Praying for the Pandemic (Matthew 8)

Fasting Prayer graphic

How are you doing, dear one? Really, how are you?

A friend said our situation reminded her of the polio epidemic. She told stories of the precautions and the fears and those she knew who got sick.

I have nothing to compare this to. Over and over again I find myself saying, “We’ve never been through this before.”

Folks are working so hard. There’s wonderful information on steps to take to keep yourself and others safe. Please be wise and compassionate and wash those hands!

Below are some suggestions for how to pray. That’s how I process stuff that feels big. I write prayers and pass them along hoping they’ll be helpful. ⁠

There’s, of course, no one way to pray or the right way to pray. I’m offering a way to pray using a passage of scripture as a guide. It’s a rich, long-standing practice that’s broadened both the content and language of my prayers. It also keeps me grounded in God’s character and promises.

I find this prayer practice especially helpful in times of great need, as we are in right now. I hope it is helpful for you. 

Matthew 8 found me Thursday morning as I was using the Lenten Bible Reading Plan. In this one chapter, there are five diverse stories of Jesus’ healing power. I chose this passage (or it chose me) to guide the prayer. ⁠

Let’s use this passage to guide our prayers today. Leave a comment below with other scriptures which would be helpful to guide our prayers.

Keep praying dear ones. Prayer is doing something. The prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective. – Lisa <

Jesus, we see you healing the leper (Matthew 8:1-4). Hear our prayer
For the quarantined
The stranded
The vulnerable
Those feeling isolated
And those being treated as diseased outcasts
End the prejudice and mistreatment
Make us one in you
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, we hear the Centurion and see you healing the paralyzed servant (Matthew 8:5-13). Hear our prayer
For those feeling paralyzed
by fear
by uncertainty
by the markets

For business owners and all unable to work
For students and educators as schools close
For congregations unable to gather
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, hear our prayer
For those, like the Centurion, risking much to help others
Medical professionals and researchers
Health Departments, the CDC, and the WHO
Cleaning crews
First responders
Those who work in assisted living facilities and nursing homes

Like the Centurion, grant us all great faith
And the strength to ask for help
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, we see you healing Peter’s mother-in-law, bedridden with a fever (Matthew 8:14-17). Hear our prayer
For equal access to testing and treatment
For virus carriers and authorities to make wise choices
For an end to this pandemic

Heal all who are sick with the virus and those who will become sick
Raise them from their sickbeds to bless their homes and communities
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, we see you crossing to the other side to heal the Gadarene Demoniacs (Matthew 8:28-34).
Deliver us from evil, Jesus
End its destructive influence
Turn the hearts of all who use this pandemic for selfish gain

Deliver us from panic, Jesus
Help all who are struggling with their mental health
All who’s souls are screaming
We welcome your presence and peace
Lord, hear our prayer

Jesus, we see you calm the storm (Matthew 8:23-27)
The situation is beyond us, Jesus
It feels out of control and dangerous
We are swamped
We are perishing

Save us, Jesus
The waves of news and need overwhelm us
But not you
You calm the storm
You bring good out of this great need
You hear our prayer
Glory to your Holy Name. Amen.

Be sure to also check out Sarah Bessey’s Breath Prayers for Anxious Times. Grounded in scripture. Centering. Honest. 

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