Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas Hymn: The Debut

This Christmas hymn is sung to the well-known tune Jingle Bells. I wrote it a few years ago, and it was featured on the favorite Moravian Church publication known as "the bulletin back." I am often requested to share the words with others, so here they are. Celebrate!


In this crowd sing out loud: Glory to the One!
God has made things personal by sending us the Son.
In this crowd sing out loud: Glory! Allelu!
Celebrate the birth of Christ --the day of his debut.

The faithful waited long for God to intervene--
To rule with power and might, to give them what they dreamed.
What a big surprise! The Savior was a child!
The Christmas story goes to show God’s plans are really wild!


God’s love is for all, there can be no doubt.
The poor, the weak, the small--no one is left out!
The reason Jesus came: God wanted to be near;
God wanted to draw close to us, and that is why we cheer!


Monday, December 22, 2008

Lively Christmas Song: Rockin' Around the Manger Scene

The lyrics to this fun and spirited Christmas song were written by the 4th/5th Sunday School class and their teacher, Laura Kemmerer, at East Hills Moravian Church. Written to the tune Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree, the congregation joined in easily and heartily when we sang it yesterday during the annual Sunday School Christmas Worship Celebration.

The 4th and 5th graders are glad to share their creativity with the world. If you make use of this song, though, please let me know so that I can tell the kids.

Rockin' around the manger scene
Where Jesus Christ was born
Everyone's gathering here to praise
On this joyful Christmas morn

Rockin' around the manger scene
With the donkeys, cows and sheep
Jesus Christ our Savior there in
His mother's arms asleep.

Shepherds come to see the little
Baby when they hear
Angels singing, "Glory! Glory!"
"Tell the world our Lord's new story!"

Rockin' around the manger scene
Where everyone will sing:
"Follow the star to Bethlehem
To praise our newborn King!"

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Advent 4 Wreath Lighting: Rejoice

An audible gasp. The tingle of every nerve and the sudden rise of goose bumps. A noticeable blood pressure spike. Wouldn’t these be part of Mary’s experience in learning that she was to be the God-bearer—the one to deliver and nurture the Christ?

A swoon? A faint? Who would blame her if she passed out cold?

What thoughts must have rushed through her mind? Pregnant? Me? Now? How?

Improbable! Impossible! Ridiculous!

And yet the honor of being chosen--the honor of being handpicked by God to fulfill a most brilliant plan—caused Mary to blurt out a surprising response.

I am blessed! I am privileged! I will celebrate!

We pray:

We light a candle reminding ourselves that there is always a reason to rejoice because You are always good! Give us hearts as pliable as Mary’s to find the blessings in every circumstance. Amen.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Advent 3 Wreath Lighting: Point

Having known Jesus forever—since the time their pregnant mothers had bumped bellies together and the yet-born babies had danced—John resonated with the hope and promise made tangible in his cousin, the people’s Messiah.

He couldn’t help himself, that peculiar fellow.

As attention-grabbing as a flashing orange arrow placed to warn highway drivers of an upcoming lane shift,

John the Baptist was compelled to aim people in the direction of Jesus.

Those of us who have followed the detour and have discovered the saving goodness of the Lord of Love,

Wouldn’t we want to wave our arms and whistle and point so that others might have their attention grabbed and directed toward Jesus as well?

We pray:

We light a candle to be a bold, luminous road sign marking the journey for ourselves and others. Illuminate our route to Christmas. Amen.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Advent 2 Wreath Lighting: Expect

The porch light left on.
A welcoming fire blazing in the hearth.
Tall tapers set on the dining room table.
Someone is expected. . . . someone whose presence changes everything.

As if the Christ were on his way to my home and yours, we prepare.

Let us bulldoze the barriers that would prevent him from getting inside.

Let us sweep and salt the walk, and then hold open the door.

We pray:

We light a candle reminding ourselves to expect anything and everything from You. Give us the pins-and-needles sensation as we practice Advent. Amen.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Advent 1 Wreath Lighting: Watch

It takes only a little bit of illumination to guide us through any amount of darkness:

A single beam from a thumb-sized flashlight lifts the shadows for a walk after sunset;
A tiny nightlight softly washes away midnight fears in a child’s bedroom;
A lonely coastal lighthouse splits the blackness and wards off peril.

It takes only a little bit of illumination to guide us through any amount of darkness.

It takes only one candle for us to catch a glimpse of where we should step on the way to Christmas.

It takes only one candle for us to stay on watch.

We pray:

We light a candle to remind ourselves that You show us what we need to see. Give us attentiveness as we practice Advent. Amen.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Covenant Renewal Litany

Every day we journey on this earth is a day in which we make choices: left or right, up or down, in or out, yes or no? Some choices are simple, and some are very complex, but one choice informs all the others: Who will be our God? Who will we trust to see us through this journey?

Who has been with us from before the beginning, bringing us into existence?

Who has loved us and blessed us and sent us on our way?

Who has pointed us toward the path and posted the signs we need to find our way?

Who has been at our side when the road has been smooth and gently curving?

Who has kept with us through hairpin turns and construction zones and potholes and detours?

Who will celebrate with us when we complete our course and seek the comfort of eternity?

Only One. The One and Only.

Holy One. The One and Holy.

Will you choose this day to stay faithful to the One who is faithful to us?

Count us in.

Will you choose this day to place your whole trust in the One who is trustworthy?

Count us in.

Will you choose this day to commit your talents and your resources to the One who first endowed them?

Count us in.

Will you choose this day to love the One who loved us first?

Count us in.

Praying together,

We devote ourselves to you by renewing the covenant—the promise you made to humanity so long ago. Because you are our God, we will be your people. Enlarge our faithfulness, our trust, our commitment and our love so that we may graciously uphold our side of the deal. Help us always to recognize your presence and your blessings throughout our journey. Keep us in your care. Amen.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A Call to Worship

This new day is fresh with possibility to encounter the Living Christ.

With bright eyes, let us search.

This new day is fresh with possibility to understand the Living Christ.

With engaged minds, let us ponder.

This new day is fresh with possibility to be moved by the Living Christ.

With compassionate hearts, let us feel.

This new day is fresh with possibility to respond to the Living Christ.

With solid devotion, let us follow.

This new day is fresh with possibility to serve the Living Christ.

With humble intention, let us act.

This new day is fresh with possibility to praise the Living Christ.

With strong voices, let us sing.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Litany: Confessions Along the Journey

Sometimes we stride through this life arrogantly, believing that our achievements come exclusively via our own brilliance, our own perseverance.

Sometimes we race through this life recklessly, feeling that we must compete and that we must finish first.

Sometimes we tiptoe through this life fearfully, worried that we will be shortchanged of what we need and of what we want.

Sometimes we meander through this life inattentively, unsuspecting that our words may harm or our actions may injure.

Sometimes we slip through this life spitefully, supposing that grudges should be kept and forgiveness should be withheld.

Sometimes we wander through this life obliviously, unaware that small and large miracles surround us.

Sometimes we skulk through this life suspiciously, thinking that trust is a misguided danger.

Sometimes we barrel through this life heedlessly, ignoring that there is goodness and beauty to be noticed.

Sometimes we stomp through this life noisily, forgetting that God just may be waiting to meet us in the silence.

(Be seated and enter into silent prayers of confession.)

Forgive us for treading so gracelessly on this journey.

Forgive us, but then outfit us with generosity, purpose, wonder, humility and courage for the next leg of this journey with you. Amen.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

In a Perfect World

In a perfect world, every Sabbath is a glorious celebration of God’s extravagant generosity and endless grace.

In a perfect world, our devoted worship and authentic relationships make God smile.

In a perfect world, all people belong to God.

In a perfect world, all people KNOW they belong to God.

In a perfect world, we are motivated to welcome the stranger and embrace the neighbor.

In a perfect world, the currencies we most treasure are faith, hope and love.

But we are imperfect people living in an imperfect world: Songs can fall flat and expectations can be inflated. Fellowship can take a partisan turn. People can selectively forget to whom they belong and be distracted from the purposes made plain through Jesus.


Save us from all we do to chip away at your perfect truth.

Save us when we are careless with your resources and stingy with our affection.

Save us when our worship is undone by our concern for the clock and the calendar.

Save us when our fellowship becomes exclusive.

Save us when the work we do in your name becomes more self-serving than Christ-serving.

Save us when we believe our most significant investments are on Wall Street rather than in one another.

Where there is Perfect Love, there is forgiveness.

Where there is Perfect Love, there is starting over.

The world may be imperfect, but the Perfect Love that comes from God through the person of Jesus Christ and the inspiration of the Spirit is ours.

With renewed joy, we feast on faith, feast on hope and feast on love this day. Amen.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Litany of Confessing & Assured Forgiveness

This responsive prayer was penned by my partner in ministry and life, the Rev. Darrell Johnson. It is tailored to a uniquely Moravian observance--
remembering the martyrdom of Jan Hus.

O Savior Who makes our hearts rejoice, You teach Your disciples who we ought to be, but we do not always live the mission-minded life of which You speak. We confess that even in our listening we fail to act in ways that show we understand. We choose our own thinking over Your tasks and work.


Jesus, You call us to be meek servants, but we let our pride, selfishness and boasting speak volumes for us. Instead of hungering and thirsting for righteousness, we crave power, possessions and personal gain.


God of abounding grace, You task us with the mission of mercy, but we remain grudge-bearing, vengeful and unmerciful. You teach us that the pure in heart will see You, but our inner selves are lacking, cluttered and impure.


Holy Spirit, we are put to the mission of peacemaking and cooperation, but we would rather compete, fight, demand and argue.


Sovereign, we remember Jan Hus, instrument of reformation and renewal who ON THIS DAY IN 1415 remained faithful in a martyr’s death at the burning stake. In our weak devotion, spark in us a passion for faith and mission that we might stay on fire for our Savior. May a missional mindset mold us.


There is perhaps no greater joy in God’s heart than at this very moment! Right now, we call on our Savior to forgive, grant new life and move us on to a full-joy journey of mission together.


Sunday, June 29, 2008

You Are Holy; We Are Not

We sing, “You are Holy.”

We pray, “You are Holy.”

We shout, “You are Holy.”

We whisper, “You are Holy.”

Created in your image, we are enough like you to recognize your wonder—

your extravagant love shown in bottomless generosity and endless compassion.

Created in your image, we are enough like you to realize our own limitations—

our human love doled out unevenly depending upon our moods and attitudes.

Created in your image, we are enough like you to understand that we will never BE you—

All-gracious, all-wise, all-empathetic, all-insightful, all-benevolent.

Created in your image, we are enough like you to know we can’t live apart from you—

Your imagination, your inspiration, your revelation.

You are Holy, we are not.

But we aspire to be more like you each time we turn our attention toward you.

And so we sing, “You are Holy. Help us to be more like you.”

And so we pray, “You are Holy. Help us to be more like you.”

And so we shout, “You are Holy. Help us to be more like you.”

And so we whisper, “You are Holy. Help us to be more like you.”

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sponge Bob Jesus

Vacation Bible School is underway at church this week, and this song provides a way for all kids to become instantly involved during Praise Time.
I originally penned it for use at 4M Camp (1st and 2nd graders) at Mt. Morris (Wisconsin) Camp and Conference Center five or six years ago. I still receive requests for the lyrics.
Sing this to the tune and in the style of the Sponge Bob Square Pants theme song.
If you're not familiar with the song, get help from anyone between the ages of 4 and 17.
Must Be Jesus
Call: Are you ready kids?
Call: I can't hear you!
Oh, who is the Son of God?
Who's slammin' fine?
Who helps out strangers,
turns water to wine?
Who can heal broken hearts,
make 'em okay?
Who is the truth and the life
and the way?
Must be Jesus,
Must be Jesus,
Must be Jesus,
Jesus Savior!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Eastern District Synod Vesper Worship

This devotional material was prepared for the 2008 Synod of the Moravian Church--Eastern District.

Scriptural Inspiration

Matthew 11:28-29 "COME"

[Jesus said,] "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Matthew 28:16-20 "GO"

Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Devotion Notion

Not long ago, I visited a major amusement park with my family. While they waited in line to board the kind of spine-tingling roller coaster that would surely cause me to search out a long-term relationship with a chiropractor, I occupied myself by embarking on a milder journey. I hopped on the charming passenger train that circumnavigates the park and makes regularly scheduled stops in various “lands.”

So many of my fellow passengers looked weary: Moms toting squirmy, sticky toddlers; dads wrestling with collapsible strollers; seniors schlepping the accumulated stuffed animal winnings of their teenage grandchildren’s arcade escapades; employees dragging toward the parking lot at the end of their shifts under the Southern sun. Most seemed to be using the train as a place to seek respite—a sort of sanctuary from heat and exertion and the kind of overstimulation caused by the combination of punched up colors, spinning attractions and cotton candy.

Each time the train pulled into a station, riders had the option of disembarking or staying on board. It was surprising to me how many people were content to remain in their seats, looping around the park’s perimeter over and over again. But at one stop I witnessed a heartening scene. A cluster of pre-teens (I suspect cousins) stood behind the safety barrier and waved vigorously to an older couple sitting a few rows ahead of me. “Come on!” they yelled encouragingly. “It’s no fun if you stay on the train all day!”

With that invitation, the grandparents rejoined the young people on the adventure. “Follow me,” one of the ‘tweens said. “There’s something here for everyone to do.”

I so enjoyed watching that scenario play out because it reminded me of what the Church is meant to be, and of what the Church’s people are meant to be about.

Like the train, the Church is where we often come to sit a spell and recuperate. It’s where we come to take a break from the kind of overstimulation caused by living life. It’s where we set aside everything that weighs us down, at least for a little while, and regain strength. It’s one place—though not the only place—where we encounter Jesus who promises to help us out, especially when we’re worn out.

But also like the train, the Church is not a place where we’re meant to stay all day. Once we’ve been renewed, it’s time to GO! It’s time to spill back out of the church doors and DO SOMETHING! It’s time to take that newly reclaimed energy--that freshly found inspiration—and USE IT! It’s time to discover who else out there in the world needs what Jesus has and SHARE IT!

Your preferred method of going into the world to make disciples may be as adventurous as a turn on a steel coaster with a 97 degree plunge, or closer to the intensity of a merry-go-round ride, but as the young man at the train station said, “There truly is something here for everyone to do.”

In Christ’s name, go and come. In Christ’s name, come and go.

Litany of Coming and Going

Dearest Jesus, you have reached out your hand, motioned with your fingers curling inward, and coaxed us to come to you.

You have drawn us close by your promise to gently unburden us when we are overwhelmed.

You have given us permission to set aside stoicism and self-sufficiency. You have offered to partner with us and to shoulder the bulk of the load.

You have saved us! You have rescued us from ourselves by pulling us out of our isolation. You have restored us with your gentle love. We are grateful.

And Dearest Jesus, you have reached out your hand, pointed with your finger toward the distance, and commissioned us to go.

You have prepared us to know what is expected of us through crazy parables offered in teachable moments. You have shown us by stellar example and hands-on training how to emulate you.

You have won us over by loving us with such a pure love that we are we are compelled to pass it along.

You have convinced us to step beyond the safety and comfort of our place at your side, and to extend the same benefits of your compassion to others.

We come in. We go out.

We go out. We come in.

We receive. We give.

We give. We receive.

We rejuvenate. We reciprocate.

We reciprocate. We rejuvenate.

We collect love. We reflect love.

We reflect love. We collect love.

We are blessed. We become a blessing.

We become a blessing. We are blessed.

Amen. We depart.

We depart. Amen.

Eastern District Synod Vesper Worship

This devotional material was prepared for the 2008 Synod of the Moravian Church--Eastern District.

Scriptural Inspiration 2 Corinthians 6: 1-10

As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says,
"In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation.

We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger; in purity, understanding, patience and kindness; in the Holy Spirit and in sincere love; in truthful speech and in the power of God; with weapons of righteousness in the right hand and in the left; through glory and dishonor, bad report and good report; genuine, yet regarded as impostors; known, yet regarded as unknown; dying, and yet we live on; beaten, and yet not killed; sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

Devotion Notion

I have a wristwatch that usually works properly. It will go for days or weeks keeping time just as it’s expected to. Only occasionally does it halt, and if I give my wrist a good, firm shake, the watch will miraculously restart. The trouble with this scenario is that I can never be sure what time it is. I can be on time for my dentist appointment on Monday, punctually pick up the kids from school on Thursday, make it to the movies just as the previews are getting underway on Friday, and even arrive at church before the Sacristans get there on Sunday morning. But say the precision instrument just stops ticking at—oh, I don’t know—11:37 on that same Sunday morning, I might just keep on preaching until every worshiper’s stomach rumbles, body squirms and children whine. (This is how I originally discovered the quirkiness of my timepiece.)

Some thirty years ago, the band Chicago popularized the philosophical question, “Does anybody really know what time it is,” and tonight I resurrect a variation of that question with you. In his letter to the church in Corinth, Paul says, “Now is the time of God’s favor.” But when is now? At the same time Paul was speaking to his contemporaries, he was also referencing a quote from centuries previous (Isaiah 49:8) which noted that then may have been the time of the Lord’s favor. And, of course, as we read the passage tonight, we have to wonder if now might be that time of favor.

Certainly, we want this to be the case. It would be beyond disheartening to put so much effort into discerning and negotiating and crafting and refining plans for our Moravian Church only to learn that God wasn’t paying attention! Still, when we go about this work knowing that our denominational membership has been in decline since the aforementioned band Chicago topped the music rankings, and that our financial resources are stretched as tightly as the top of a drumhead, and that our people are influenced—not always to the good—by the prevailing culture, we might feel that we are out of sync with the Lord.

But it sounds like Paul was up against the same sorts of challenges, doesn’t it? And it sounds as though Paul and the others on his team kept moving forward—intentionally—in spite of hindrances far more daunting than we can begin to number. And they did so presuming that as long as they were about carrying out Christ’s purposes, they could also presume that they were on schedule and fully synchronized with the God who was and is and always will be. Cannot we presume the same?

Though it is late in the evening, let’s depart from this session assured that when we are one in mission and one in call with our Transcendent Timekeeper, our timing is on the dot.

A Timely Litany

Transcendent Timekeeper, the sun has set and the sky has darkened. We look forward to the delightful sensations of head touching pillow, of relaxation overcoming muscles, of drowsiness crossing the threshold of slumber. Sleep is a marvelous gift to all who are your beloved.

Thank you for engineering us to receive the refreshment of sleep.

And yet it seems as though there is hardly time for such pleasure, barely enough hours for such luxury.

How will we do the work of your church in such a compressed framework, and one which is already half over?

Remind us that as the Architect of All Time, there is an appropriate period for all things to be accomplished. As surely as there is a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot,

There is a time to labor and a time to rest.

As surely as there is a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build,

There is a time to press forward, and a time to recuperate.

Like there is a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance,

There is a time to drink coffee, and a time to play basketball.

There is a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain,

There is a time to debate, and a time to mull things over.

As you give us a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away,

You give us a time to brainstorm, and a time to polish.

Because there is a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,

There is a time to pray, and a time to decide.

If there is a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace,

There must also be a time to remember, and a time to dream dreams.

Release us to dream those dreams in full color as we are regenerated in these coming hours.

Bring us together again once the clock has advanced to a new day, and give us revitalized imaginations to make the most of your favor. Amen and good night.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Eastern District Synod Evening Vesper Worship

This devotional material was prepared for the
2008 Synod of the Moravian Church--Eastern District.

Scriptural Inspiration

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Philippians 2: 1-2

Devotion Notion

Can you think of a time when you have been especially purposeful? A time when you knew exactly what outcome you needed to achieve and felt compelled to push onward until you completed the task? This slice-of-life story is about such a pursuit.

All he wanted to do was plant a little garden to see what would become of the 3 inch tall bean seedling his pre-school teacher had helped him start in a Dixie cup. The only trouble with my son’s simple request was that our yard was populated with an assortment of maple, birch and crab apple trees. Under such a canopy of lovely shade, we were hard pressed to find any one patch of ground kissed with enough daily sunlight to cultivate a crop.

“But I see a sunny spot,” my four-year-old pointed out with enthusiasm. A tiny square of brightness lit up the fence line in the very back corner of the yard.

“You’re right!” I exclaimed. “Let’s keep an eye on that spot and see if it stays that way.” We went about our chores and playtime. After lunch, we checked on the sunny spot.

“It moved!” Daniel observed. The sunlight now came down in a wide swath in the exact middle of the backyard, right beneath the clothesline.

Periodically throughout the rest of the day Daniel checked on the progress of the traveling luminosity. And that’s when it hit me. If the available sunlight in our yard was going to shift, then any garden plot would need to shift with it.

The next morning, Daniel and I headed for the garden center where we picked out 3 patio containers, potting mix, kid-friendly dirt-digging tools, a cucumber vine and a cherry tomato plant. Eagerly, we potted up the new greenery along with the baby bean stalk. . . and loaded our terra cotta collection onto Daniel’s little red wagon.

From that moment, our summer agenda was set. We became devoted to moving our wheeled garden 4 or 5 times a day, forever seeking the sunlight. Sometimes we’d anticipate it, sometimes we’d chase it, but we always pursued it with devotion. Sometimes we’d approach the task with gleeful giggles, sometimes we’d be cranky and bored of making the effort, but we remained dedicated.

And what was the outcome? Together we experienced the joy of discovery as we watched the plants grow and blossom and develop fruits which we were eventually able to harvest and devour! We realized that wanting to achieve our goal meant that we had to be observant, think creatively, work diligently, keep each other encouraged and stay focused. We learned that no other beans, tomatoes or cucumbers on the planet could possibly taste as delicious as ours!

And then there was the lesson about purposefully following the Light.

But I’ve no doubt you’ve already picked up on that.

A Purposeful Litany

Holy One, our day started with purpose. With one goal in mind, we packed suitcases and laptop cases and briefcases; we filled our vehicles with bags and bodies and Books of Order; we followed our maps and our GPS devices and our homing instincts; we arrived and unloaded and embraced; we assembled, we convened. . .

We began this Synod.

We began to build a temporary community upon the solidly permanent foundation of your love—a community which would be Church and represent Church, a community which would define Church and celebrate Church.

Thank you, God, for the Church which we treasure, and for Jesus Christ whom we adore.

Jesus Christ whom This configuration in which we gather tonight is new to us. We have never before been with this exact group of people in this exact place. As we make connections and establish relationships make us mindful of those in our midst who may be anxious in an unfamiliar setting among unknown faces.

Calm our apprehension and remind us that in this room there are no strangers—only Brothers and Sisters with whom we are not yet acquainted.

Make us mindful of those in our midst who have a history of involvement in denominational assemblies such as this.

Inspire us to share any wisdom our experience has caused us to acquire while keeping any shreds of cynicism at bay. Prevent us from being burdened by preconceived notions and open our minds and hearts to your creative visions.

Make us mindful of those in our midst who have passion and energy for achieving particular solutions to particular issues.

Help us to listen well to all who are called to be here and to respect the views of our fellow Moravian Christians who also trust you passionately and energetically.

Make us mindful of one another’s cares—both the dreadfully heavy worries and the winsomely light joys that tip the scales of our hearts. In this protected space and time, hear the petitions we offer silently or aloud:

(Anyone may offer a sentence prayer.)

We will continue to build this community over several days, and as we do, let us be aware that we are also uniting to build the Realm of God.

This is our purpose! This is our task! This is what draws us together and motivates us! We are one in mission and one in call. Amen.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Statement of Faith for a Mile Marker on Life's Journey

We held a Service of Blessing for our graduating high school seniors today.
This is the Faith Statement we spoke in unison.

We journey together as people of faith who seek to step firmly and confidently upon the path God has created for us, the trail mapped and marked for us by Jesus himself. Inspired by God’s Spirit, we move gracefully and yet with purpose on this excursion through life.

We rely on the directions we have received, the maps we have been learning to interpret. Scripture guides us with this clear starting point: God loves us. To navigate our way, we love God in return, and we demonstrate that by loving others without reservation.

We understand that some parts of our journey will be challenging, sometimes seemingly impossible. We remain encouraged to move forward in hope, trusting that with God, all things are possible. Amen.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A Prayer of Confession about Our Praying

You are only as far away as the sound of our whispers will travel, Lord, yet we so often struggle to speak with you intimately. We make small talk sometimes, thanking you for sun and rain, for gentle breezes and low humidity. Though we may be grateful, we know that chatting about the weather is something we do with casual acquaintances and even strangers.

Hear our purposeful prayers.

We maintain substantial vocabularies—collections of words we use for term papers and interoffice memos and for bantering with our buddies. But do we use them to deepen the conversations we have with you?

Hear our purposeful prayers.

Forgive us when we are shallow, seeking a quick blessing or a fast favor from you without being willing to invest fully in a trusting, committed relationship with you. Forgive us when we are one-sided, asking always for mercy and compassion, but not returning the same.

Hear our purposeful prayers.

Forgive us when we approach you begging for guidance and direction, but then neglect to follow your instructions. Forgive us when we cry out with our pressing questions, but then stop listening for your answers.

Hear our purposeful prayers.

May we have another chance to appreciate the fullness of your love? May we try, once again, to shed our self-interest and find joy in serving your interests?

Hear our purposeful prayers. Amen.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

An Ordinary Thursday Statement of Faith

I place my faith in the One Who creates me; Who has always known the pattern of my heartbeat, the swirl of my fingerprint and the color of my personality; Who seeds me with abilities and talents and a full measure of potential; Who grants me freedom of will to choose my path, but Who also desires to see me choose well.

I place my faith in the One Who loves me beyond the limits of life; Who teaches and demonstrates truth through story and action as captured in the Gospels; Who saves me again and again by forgiving me for the self-centeredness I perpetuate.

I place my faith in the One Who surrounds me and fills me with inspiration; Who is present and available in each moment; Who brings forth comforting assurance as well as powerful advocacy on my behalf.

This faith is personal and precious, yet it is strengthened when I realize that I do not hold it alone, but that I hold it in common with all who have been blessed to be in relationship with God. Amen.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Sensory Overload: A Prayer of Confession

We confess, Lord,

That it takes very little to distract us from You.

There are screens all around us obscuring our view of You: Fifty-two inch plasma TVs and tiny little cell phone displays, eye-catching LCD billboards and DVD players mounted in our vehicles.

Forgive us when we fail to focus on You.

There are voices everywhere competing with our desire to hear You: news analysts spinning opinions and radio hosts inciting controversy, self-help gurus practicing pop psychology and advertisers offering enticements.

Forgive us when we fail to listen to You.

There are never-ending activities hindering us from revering You: Sabbath- day sporting events and lawns that need mowing, overstuffed schedules and a thousand errands to run.

Forgive us when we fail to pursue You.

When we are so preoccupied that we miss out on Your wonder,

We are foolish.

When we become so sidetracked that we miss out on your wisdom,

We are ignorant.

When we become so diverted that we miss out on your love,

We are lost.

Save us from ourselves.

Please hear our prayers and help us find our way back to You. Amen.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Litany: Creator, Created, Creative

Praise the Creator, the Originator, the Artist,
Who drafted the blueprints of the universe
with unencumbered imagination;

Who sculpted our globe into rough-hewn mountains and impressive canyons; Who carved hollows for waterways and planed the plains smooth;

Who etched texture upon a tree's trunk,
and embossed pattern upon its leaves;

Who painted the sunset backdrop with a sweeping wash of orange, and the sunrise scene with more delicate shades;

Who composed the soundtrack of nature, writing melodies for songbirds and accompaniments for bullfrogs;

Who molded humanity deftly and with care, shaping the intricacies
of body and mind, of personality and ability;

Who molded humanity after a particular model;

Who molded humanity in the Creator's own image.

Praise the Creator, the Originator, the Artist,
Who wove the very threads of Godself into our DNA;

Who embroidered God's own initials upon our souls.

We are the signed originals, the artwork of the Creator, created to be creative.

We are among the Artist's masterpieces, created to be creative.

Praise the Creator. Praise the Originator.

Praise the Artist. Praise God. Amen.