Liturgy, Narrative Lectionary, Reflectionary

All Age Liturgy for Narrative Lectionary Year 1, Week 1 (Noah and the flood)

Noah's Ark by Edward Hicks
Noah’s Ark by Edward Hicks

Call to Worship

One: We come together to read the old stories.

Many: We are looking for God’s word to all people, long ago and today.

One: Some of the stories we remember from Sunday School.

Many: The Lord said to Noah, There’s gonna be a floody floody!

One: Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham and Japheth.

Many: Get those children out of the muddy muddy!

One: Children of the Lord, let us worship God together.


Prayer of Confession

Holy One, you made the Earth and all that is in it. We give thanks for the sky and the seas, the mountains and the valleys, the trees and the flowers, the birds that fly and the fish that swim and all the animals that walk or crawl or creep on the land. You called on human beings to care for Creation, to serve you and praise you by loving all you have made.

We don’t always do it well.

We remember the story of Noah, and a time when people forgot to take care of the Earth and each other. We ask forgiveness for the ways we fail to love your world with our whole hearts. Help us to do better, one step at a time, just the way Noah built the ark one cubit at a time.

Assurance of Pardon

The Lord said to Noah, “But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” God made a covenant with Noah, and God keeps a covenant with us. No one will ever be left behind again. Come into the ark of forgiveness, beloved Children of God!

Passing the Peace

In the Ark of this church, we are one family of faith. Sometimes it feels like close quarters! That’s all the more reason to greet one other with a sign of God’s peace. The peace of Christ be with you.

Children’s Time – Have someone lead “Rise and Shine”

First Reading Genesis 6:18-22 (including Litany of Animals)

Reader 1: Hear the words God spoke to Noah.

Reader 2: Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks.

Reader 3: For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die.

Reader 4: But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.

Reader 5: And of every living thing, of all flesh, you shall bring two of every kind into the ark, to keep them alive with you; they shall be male and female.

Reader 6: Of the birds according to their kinds –

Chorus of Kids: Robins! Sparrows! Flamingos! Ducks! Geese! Chickens! Eagles!

Reader 6: …and of the animals according to their kinds –

Chorus of Kids: Dogs! Cats! Cows! Bunny rabbits! Groundhogs! Deer! Giraffes! Tigers! Lions!

Reader 6: of every creeping thing of the ground according to its kind –

Chorus of Kids: Snakes and Mosquitoes and Bears and Honeybees! Elephants and Kangaroosies-roosies!

Reader 6: …two of every kind shall come in to you, to keep them alive. Also take with you every kind of food that is eaten, and store it up; and it shall serve as food for you and for them.

Reader 1: Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him. This is the word of the Lord.

Congregation: Thanks be to God.

Second Reading     Genesis 9:8-15 (consider doing some kind of display of a rainbow to accompany v. 12)

I created this liturgy in 2014 for Mechanicsburg Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Mechanicsburg, PA. To ask for permission to use it, please leave a comment here.

Advent, Advent Wreath, Liturgy

Advent Wreath Lighting – Narrative Lectionary, Year 3

danielNovember 27 – First Sunday of Advent (Daniel 6:6-27)

One: Sometime we pray, facing an unknown fate.
Many: Sometimes we pray, facing an uncertain world.
One: Although he would soon be thrown to the lions, Daniel trusted in God.
Many: We hold that hope.
One: When life takes us to the dangerous edge, we face our own lions.
Many: We stay awake through the night, trying to tame depression, debt, job loss, addiction, broken relationships.
One: We draw our hope from God.
Many: And at dawn, the light comes again.
(Light the first candle.)
One: “God is rescuer and savior; God performs signs and miracles in heaven and on earth.” (Daniel 6:27a, CEB)
Many: Our living God gives hope.

December 4 –  Second Sunday of Advent (Joel 2:12-13, 28-29)

One: In a torn world, we wonder how to act with compassion.
Many: In our own lives, we wonder where to find harmony.
One: Even when we don’t agree on the details, we want the same thing.
Many: We all want peace.
One: Like people in exile, we feel displaced.
Many: We try to find our way in a world where we cannot find our familiar landmarks, forgetting to look to God first.
One: Without God, there is no peace.
Many: Even now, we can return to God.
(Light the first and second candles.)
One: “Return to the Lord your God, for God is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive.” (Joel 2:13b, CEB))
Many: Our forgiving God brings peace.

December 11 –  Third Sunday of Advent (Isaiah 61:1-11)

One: In this season of gift-buying, it’s easy to confuse possessions with happiness.
Many: Sometimes we choose the material when we need the mystical.
One: Sometimes we hesitate to really feel it; we’re bound up in other worries.
Many: We could all use some joy.
One: We have turned avoidance into a kind of exile.
Many: Now it’s time to come together again, to bind up broken hearts together.
One: Get ready for good news of great joy.
Many: Let us celebrate God’s goodness.
(Light the first, second, and third candles.)
One: “I surely rejoice in the Lord; my heart is joyful because of my God.” (Isaiah 61:10a, CEB)
Many: Our loving God promises everlasting joy.

December 18 –  Fourth Sunday of Advent (Luke 1:26-49)

One: There are many kinds of love in this world:
Many: Between parents and children, with extended family, for friends we have known all our lives,
One: romance pressured by the season, and the selfless kindness of strangers.
Many: We’re all looking for love.
One: The angel called on Mary to bring God-with-us into the world, to love and nurture Jesus.
Many: The conversation started with, “Do not be afraid!”
One: O, make us brave to say it!
Many: Love requires courage.
(Light the first, second, third, and fourth candles.)
One: “Happy is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill the promises he made to her.” (Luke 1:45, CEB)
Many: Our in-breaking God is love.

December 24 – Christmas Eve (Luke 2:1-14 and Psalm 96)

One: Our living God gives hope. (Light the first candle.)
Many: Our forgiving God brings peace. (Light the second candle.)
One: Our loving God promises everlasting joy. (Light the third candle.)
Many: Our in-breaking God is love. (Light the fourth candle.)
One: Now our waiting comes to an end.
Many: The time for rejoicing is here!
One: Sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Many: We will sing to the Lord! We will bless God’s holy name!
(Light the Christ candle.)
One: “Don’t be afraid! Look! I bring good news to you—wonderful, joyous news for all people.” (Luke 2:10, CEB)
Many: Jesus Christ is born!

You are welcome to use these liturgies in weekly worship at your local church. Looking for a carol of response? Now It’s Time to Light the Candle includes Advent themes of hope, peace, joy and love. These liturgies were created, and are copyrighted, by the Rev. Martha K. Spong, 2016, adapted from the Common English Bible. You are also free to modify them to your circumstances (using multiple or single readers, for instance). Please leave a comment to let me know where they will be used. You are also welcome to share the blog links. You will find readings to go with Revised Common Lectionary Year A here.

This does not constitute permission to publish the readings as a set or to claim credit for them online or in print. 

Advent, Advent Wreath, Liturgy

Advent Wreath Lighting – Revised Common Lectionary, Year A

Lighting the Candle of Hope        Advent 1A           November 27, 2016

candleReader One: Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: “In days to come the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; all the nations shall stream to it…He shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Reader Two: Our hope is in God, who will bring all nations together.

Reader One: As we wait faithfully for God’s time, we light the candle of Hope.

Reader Two: Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

(Respond with verse 1 of “Now It’s Time to Light the Candle.”)

Lighting the Candle of Peace       Advent 2A           December 4, 2016

Reader One: Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.  The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.”

Reader Two: Our peace comes from God, who became one of us in Jesus.

Reader One: As we wait faithfully for God’s time, we light the candles of Hope and Peace.

Reader Two: Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

(Respond with verse 2 of “Now It’s Time to Light the Candle.”)

Lighting the Candle of Joy            Advent 3A           December 11, 2016

Reader One: Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: “The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom; like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice with joy and singing.”

Reader Two: In God’s time of joy, all sorrow and sighing will leave us.

Reader One: As we wait faithfully for God’s time, we light the candles of Hope, Peace, and Joy.

Reader Two: Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

(Respond with verse 3 of “Now It’s Time to Light the Candle.”)

Lighting the Candle of Love         Advent 4A           December 18, 2010

Reader One: Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah: “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.”

Reader Two: In God’s time of love, we will learn to choose what is good.

Reader One: As we wait faithfully for God’s time, we light the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love.

Reader Two: Come, let us walk in the light of the LORD!

(Respond with verse 4 of “Now It’s Time to Light the Candle.”)

Lighting the Christ Candle             Christmas Eve Year A      December 24, 2016

Reader One: Hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined…For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Reader Two: “His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”

Reader One: Tonight we stand on the brink of God’s time.  Faithfully, we light the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.

Reader Two: Tonight we enter God’s time. Faithfully, we light the Christ Candle, to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus, the Light coming into the world.

All: Come, let us walk with the Light of the LORD!

(Respond with a carol, such as “Angels From the Realms of Glory.”)

Books, Liturgy, Maundy Thursday, Narrative Lectionary

Maundy Thursday litany

One: Picture him in the garden, in the fever of the moment, left with the soldiers while his friends ran away.
Many: We can picture him, surrounded but alone.
One: Did the stories cross his mind, the moments he spent with his friends, the conversations they had?
Many: Did his life flash before his eyes?

One: A woman came into the house, carrying her jar of ointment. Its rich aroma filled the room where it happened, a beautiful sign of love and care. (Remove the jar.)
Many: We remember her anointing as a gentle act of prophecy.
All: O God, make us prophets.

One: The disciples sat close, across from the Temple, and listened to all he said, the last teachings he would offer in words, a warning that all the things they counted on would come crashing down. (Remove the rock.)
Many: We remember how he told them, “Keep awake.”
All: O God, make us wakeful.

One: A widow brought her offering to the Temple, giving all she had, just as he prepared to give his all. (Remove the coins.)
Many: We remember we are to love God with all we have: heart, mind, soul and strength.
All: O God, may we be truly giving.

One: The scribes and Pharisees came to question him, and he taught them with parables, predicting his own death in the story of the vineyard workers. (Remove the grapes.)
Many: We remember the beloved son, seized and beaten.
All: O God, help us to see the truth in his stories.

One: The people shouted as he rode into Jerusalem; they laid palm branches on the road, crying “Hosanna!” (Remove palms.)
Many: We remember, yet tomorrow they will shout, “Crucify him!”
All: O God, forgive them. Forgive us.

One: James and John asked to sit by his side, one on the left and one on the right, but he reminded them of the cup they would have to drink. (Remove chalice.)
Many: We remember. How blind they were to the truth!
All: O God, give us eyes to see.

One: The young man asked his question sincerely, and he stated his faith practices with confidence, but it was not enough. (Remove paten.)
Many: We remember the camel and the eye of the needle, the fields with persecutions.
All: O God! we may not starve, but it will not be easy.

IMG_7440One: Peter rebuked him when he spoke the truth about the kind of death he would die. He struck back with words. No one can keep this from happening! Get behind me!
Many: Get behind me!
All: Get behind me, Satan! (Remove ashes.)

One: If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.

All: All of them deserted him and fled.

This litany is based on the texts in the Narrative Lectionary for Year 2, moving backwards through the narrative from Holy Week to Ash Wednesday. We’ll be removing the items mentioned from the worship center during the litany, which will come after reading Mark 14:43-50. I am happy to share this litany; just leave a comment saying where you will be using it.

Confession, Liturgy, Philippians 4:1-9, Proper 23A

Flipping Philippians (Confession for Proper 23, Year A)

*Call to Confession

The apostle Paul urged the church at Philippi to think on “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable.” (Philippians 4:8a) We mean to hold to all these things, but it does not always come easily. Let us turn to God in prayer.

*Prayer of Confession

Gracious God, whatever is false, we have believed it and sometimes repeated it. Whatever is shameful, we mean to reject, but sometimes we can’t do it. Whatever is unfair, we object to, unless it is fair to us. We know we are supposed to turn our hearts toward all that is pure and pleasing, but sometimes the world only shows us the ugly and the demeaning, and we watch anyway. We watch, and we don’t try to stop it. Forgive us. Forgive us.

 Faith UCC*Time for Silent Confession

*Assurance of Pardon (Responsive)

One: Paul also wrote, “Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Many: We have asked God to forgive us.

One: Do not worry, beloved Children of God. We are forgiven. This is the Good News that brings new life.

Many: We thank God for it.


I am happy to share liturgy I have published here. Just let me know in the comments where you are using it!

Easter, Liturgy

An Easter Call to Worship

Because we were talking about it at RevGalBlogPals–I used this for an early Easter service, which started in the Narthex, with the sanctuary doors closed. After the Call, we opened the doors and processed in while the (already in place) Choir Director sang “Were you there when Christ rose up from the tomb,” a capella.  

Call to Worship     (John 20:1 and Psalm 118:19-23)
Leader One: Early on the first day of the week…
Leader Two: Open to us your gates of righteousness,
All: That we may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
Leader One: While it was still dark…
Leader Two: This is the gate of the Lord;
All: The righteous shall enter through it.
Leader One: Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw…
Leader Two: We thank you that you have answered us;
All: We thank you that you have become our salvation.
Leader One: …that the stone had been removed from the tomb.
Leader Two: The stone that the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.
All: This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes!
Epiphany 7A, Liturgy, Revised Songbird Version

Liturgy for an odd week

It’s the Seventh Sunday of Epiphany, Year A, this week. We haven’t had one of these in 20 years, because it’s rare for Easter to be so late and Epiphany to be so long. Resources are sparse. (Even the wonderful Vanderbilt site has exactly one art example!) So I’m working up my own. Here’s an attempt at turning a sliver of Psalm 119, verses 33-40 to be precise, into a Call to Worship. Your critique welcome. My goal when I’m turning Psalms into Calls is to retain something of the rhythm of a Psalm but also get the ideas into words that have some actual meaning for 21st century English-speakers.

So, here goes.

Leader: Teach us, O Lord, your law of love, and we will observe your way to the end of our lives.
People: Help us to understand; then we will keep your law and observe it with our whole hearts.
Leader: Lead us in the path of your commandments.
People: We will find delight in following you.
Leader: Turn our hearts to your way, not to selfishness or gain.
People: Turn our eyes away from unimportant things; give us life in your way.
Leader: Assure us of your promises, given to all who hold you in respect and awe.
People: Our hearts want to follow you. Your good rules for our lives will bring us back into relationship with you and with each other. 
Leader: Through God’s goodness and love, we will find new life.