Darkness deserves gratitude. It is the Alleluia point at which we learn to understand that all growth does not take place in the sunlight.Joan Chittister, Uncommon Gratitude
LIGHTING THE ALTAR CANDLE
CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: O come, let us worship the Holy One,
our rock and our fortress.
People: We come to worship,
for the Holy One is our refuge.
Leader: O give thanks to the Holy One,
whose steadfast love endures forever.
People: We give thanks to the One
whose love assures us of growth in the darkness.
Leader: O come, with gratitude for the faith
that is assurance of things hoped for,
conviction of things not seen.
People: We come, giving thanks in the Spirit
who searches us and knows us,
whose steadfast love endures forever.
Leader: Faithful and loving God,
you call us to be faithful even in hard times.
People: All we see is the darkness looming in front of us,
and we want to escape to easier sunlit times.
Leader: Our ancestors in faith –
John Lewis and Etty Hillesum –
engaged the darkness,
and they and the world around them were transformed.
People: We are afraid that we can never measure up
to these giants of faith.
Leader: We are called to do our part,
to take the next step,
to engage the darkness,
to grow and be transformed.
All: Help us, Holy One, to be grateful for the darkness,
which helps us grow ever closer to you. Alleluia!
INDIVIDUAL PRAYERS OF CONFESSION
Leader: Our God, who is faithful and present even in the darkness,
forgives us and helps us grow and be transformed.
People: Alleluia! Amen.
THANKSGIVING AND PRAISE
INTERCESSION AND PETITION
All: O Holy One, we come today
to claim our relationship with you.
We pray for the commitment to grow together,
sharing the gifts you give us with others
here and in the wider world.
Forgive us for the hurt we have inflicted,
and help us forgive those who have hurt us.
Give us strength and discipline
to nurture our relationship with you;
to care for every part of your creation;
to foster justice and be in solidarity with those in need;
to work to end all war, and violence, and discord;
and to respond joyfully when you call,
freely giving our selves as you have shown the way.
We open our hearts to you and your creation
in the name of Jesus, who is the Christ. Amen.
Leader 1: This is the table of the heavenly feast,
the joyful celebration of the people of God.
Leader 2: We gather now as one body, joined around the table.
Here we celebrate God’s presence among us,
united in Christ’s spirit, broken and whole all at once.
All: Nourished and hungry, loved and loving,
sinner and forgiven, we make one circle
of knowing, believing, rejoicing, being,
as God lights and rests among us.
Leader 1: Holy Maker of all creation,
we give you thanks and praise
for nurturing our faith in these dark times.
People: Holy Wisdom, we give you thanks for Jesus,
a steady, loving guide who shines the light of hope
to help us walk together on the hidden path.
Leader 2: Holy Breath of life,
we give you thanks for your loving Spirit,
moving in, among, and all around us in the dark.
All: Holy faithful and loving God
we give you thanks for your Church,
a fragile, earthen vessel where we deepen our roots together.
BLESSING THE ELEMENTS
Leader 1: Christ invites everyone to eat the bread of life,
to drink the cup of the new covenant.
Leader 2: Jesus said, I am the bread of life.
You who come to me shall never hunger;
you who believe in me shall never thirst.
Leader 1: On the night he gave himself up,
Jesus took bread,
and after giving thanks to God, broke it and said,
This is my body,
broken for the healing of the world.
Whenever you eat it, do so remembering me.
Leader 2: After supper, Jesus took the cup and said,
This is the cup of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for all.
Whenever you drink it, do so remembering me.
All: O Holy One, send down your Spirit
that these gifts of grain and grape,
and work of human hands
may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Unite us with Christ forever
and bring us with the whole creation
to your eternal realm.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING AND DEDICATION
All: God of abundance and mercy,
we give joyful thanks
for your eternal love and healing presence
in our celebration of bread and cup.
Bless this Body of Christ
that we may attend faithfully
to our call to be your servants,
with each other and throughout the world. Amen.
Leader: Let us remember
that even as darkness surrounds us,
it nourishes our growth
and strengthens us to go forth,
sharing signs of peace.