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Prayer of the Day | Zacchaeus | From the United Church of Canada | Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost (Year C)

The following liturgy is from the United Church of Canada.

Like Zacchaeus, help us, O God,
to lose our fear of stepping outside our place,
of doing things differently,
of seeking Christ in our lives.
Christ’s invitation awaits us
to start anew,
to make amends,
to live in Christ’s way.
God of change and renewal,
we give thanks for your love
that makes this possible
for each one of us.
Amen.

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Filed under Lectionary Texts, Liturgy, Scripture Reflections

Call to Worship (2) | Second Sunday in Easter (Year C)

The following Call to Worship is from the United Church of Christ.

God’s strong and loving hands are outstretched to all Creation.
Let the world stretch forth and grasp God’s hands with joy.
God’s open hands are as the gate of righteousness.
Let us enter in to God’s abundant life and give thanks.
In God’s hands are new life, strength, and salvation.
Let us be thankful and sing unto our God with gladness.

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Responsive Confession | Easter Sunday (Year C)

The following responsive confession is from the United Church of Christ.

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, the women came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.
We anoint the death of our dreams, even before we allow them a chance to live.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in,
they did not find the body.
We give up on hope so easily, on the expectation that God will do something incredible.
While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them
God speaks through the strangers we encounter, but we don’t hear,
we don’t want to be challenged by a new word.

“Why do you look for the living among the dead? Jesus is not here, but has risen.”
We seek life from the death of the past. We hold to that which breathes only in our memory;
to mistakes long past; to hurts long inflicted; to strings attached to forgiveness.

“Remember how Jesus told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man, the ‘Human One,’ must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified and on the third day rise again.”
Too often torn and scattered, we feel unworthy of the healing of God’s grace or the promise of restoration.
Then they remembered Jesus’ words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.
We forget the promises of God, even those whispered just moments ago. We want proof before we’ll believe, before we’ll be faithful.
Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.
We don’t risk enough to trust the messengers in everyday appearance. We don’t dare ourselves to understand.
But these words seemed to the apostles an idle tale, and they did not believe them.
We think our problems too big for God! We act like frightened disciples, unwilling to allow
God into our crowded lives, unwilling to make room for the One who creates and creates
again.

But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in,
he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.
We are like Peter. We deny God; we fail to share the miracle; we keep the good news to ourselves.

Forgive us, God, for our disbelief—for seeing an empty tomb and thinking a cruel trick;
for discovering a discarded burial cloth yet still holding to death;
for hearing words of life but keeping them to ourselves. Restore us even in our unbelief. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon:

“Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people: to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11 NRSV) Do not be afraid! Receive the good news with great joy! God’s promises are true.
Christ has risen. Believe and be alive.

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Assurance of Pardon (1) | Easter Sunday (Year C)

The following assurance of pardon is from the United Church of Christ.

Sisters and brothers, the power of resurrection is at work in us and with us!
Through the former things of our lives and in the new heaven and earth
that God is yet creating, the Spirit of Christ leads us
onto paths of victory over sorrow and death, disbelief and fear.
Receive God’s grace in the secret place in your heart,
where there are no words.
For the forgiveness of God is too marvelous for words. Amen.

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Prayer of Confession | Palm/Passion Sunday (Year C)

From the United Church of Christ.

Loving God, at this time,
we remember that going up to Jerusalem
cost Jesus his very life.
So we come before you,
conscious of the way religious words
and holy phrases
can slip so easily from our lazy lips
and our hardened hearts.
What do we really know
of your mountainous truth,
your rock-hard integrity,
the depth of your suffering
for love of us all?
Forgive us for the shallowness
of our faith
and the timidity of our following:
forgive us for the ready excuses
we make for going our own way
and claiming it as yours.

Turn us round again, we pray,
by your Holy Spirit,
active within us and among us.
Show us how to be open again
to your faithfulness
and to your freedom,
that we may live
new lives
and be again bearers
of the seeds of the realm
of Jesus.

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Filed under Holy Week, Lent, Liturgy, Palm Sunday

A Prayer of Jesus | Palm/Passion Sunday (Year C)

From the United Church of Christ. From the perspective of Jesus….

This time
there will be no flight into Egypt.
This donkey has too much to carry,
and too far.

The shadows wait for me,
around the table at Passover,
among those in high places
in the condemned cell,
on the hill outside.
Fear haunts my waking moments
and I cannot sleep.
Why has God forsaken me?

The crowd today is with me,
but not for long.
They are the powerless ones
(the ones who matter).
The ones who count
are counting.

Time is running out.
This time
there will be no flight into Egypt.

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Filed under Holy Week, Lent, Liturgy, Palm Sunday

Benediction | Palm/Passion Sunday (Year C)

The following is a benediction from the United Church of Christ.

Before this week ends, the Palm branches will be drying on the roadside.
The joyful crowd will become an angry mob,
and Jesus will replace robes of victory with a crown of thorns.
So then, go in the knowledge that whatever comes to you in this week,
you are held in the hand of God, hugged tight, held close,
and may God, the Three-in One,
bless you, uphold you and give you strength for the journey ahead. Amen.

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Filed under Holy Week, Lent, Liturgy, Palm Sunday