Burying the Alleluia for Lent

alleluiaIn many liturgical traditions the word ‘alleluia’ is purposefully left out of all liturgies and songs used during the season of Lent as a way to honor the solemness of the season. Only then to ring out the Good News on Easter proclaiming, “Christ the Lord is risen today! Alleluia!”

To recognize this tradition many churches have the practice of symbolically burying the alleluia at the start of Lent. We’ve never practiced this tradition at our church before but since we’re spending the season of Lent Growing our Faith in God’s Garden, I thought it would be fun to introduce this practice to our congregation.

Usually, the tradition looks like bringing in a large sign or banner with the word alleluia written on it, explaining that we won’t be using the word again in church until Easter, and then symbolically placing it in a box or even inside the baptismal fount. (This usually happens as the children’s time.) On Easter the paper or banner is brought out of its hiding place and displayed or waved around during worship. I’ve even heard of some churches having lots of little alleluia flags to give to people to wave whenever they hear or say the word during Easter worship. seed paper

I’ve decided, to go along with our theme of growing and plants, we are literally going to bury some alleluias in dirt! I found this seed paper I will write the word alleluia on and then I’ll have the kids bury it in a see-through container during children’s time. But I’m not going to tell them it’s seed paper! So “miraculously” our alleluias will begin to sprout, roots will grow, and by Easter our written alleluias will have grown into nature’s alleluias: flowers! I’m hoping this will also give us a nice, progressing visual for each week of our Growing Faith Lent Series.

I will keep posting ideas and resources to support this series so be sure to follow the blog and Get Lit Worship Resources on Facebook so you don’t miss a post!

You can find lots of other resources for Lent throughout the blog.

Happy planning! (And happy planting!)

 

Growing Faith Lent Series

Growing Faith

I’m excited for our sermon series this year for Lent! We’ll be spending the season Growing our Faith by encouraging the same level of care we give to our gardens to be given to our faith as well. We’ll be using a song from The Porter’s Gate Worship Project called We Abide We Abide in You to compliment this theme. I’ll also be utilizing the Palm Sunday Responsive Reading I shared a few years ago in place of a sermon on Palm Sunday. I will continue to share communion liturgies and other resources that support this series so be sure you’re following the blog and Get Lit Worship Resources on Facebook so you don’t miss a post!

Download the worship plan pdf here: Growing Faith Worship Plan

You can find lots of other resources for Lent throughout the blog.

Happy almost Lent and happy planning!

Christmas Sunday & Epiphany Resources

Many of us are still in the thick of Advent 4 and Christmas Eve preparations so I’d like to share some resources and inspiration that might make your life easier and allow you to have some rest post Christmas.

Cookies & Carols Worship Sunday, Dec. 29 at 10am

For Christmas Sunday, we traditionally hold a Christmas carol hymn sing. This year we’re calling it Cookies & Carols and encouraging relaxed attire (PJs even!). We’ll be worshiping in our social hall so we can enjoy our cookies, cocoa, and coffee while we sing. It will be a standard worship service for us with a hymn sing in place of the sermon. But I up the ante a little and ask everyone to answer a question as they make their hymn request. This year’s question will be: What is the best gift you received this year, for Christmas or at any point through the year? 
We’ll start the service with Joy to the World, read Luke 2:25-38, sing Spirit-Child Jesus from Worship & Song #3062, and close with Go, Tell It on the Mountain in the United Methodist Hymnal #251. It’s a wonderful, relaxed service that doesn’t require a sermon! (yay!)

For Epiphany this year, I’m tying in the new year/new decade to think about what unexpected places God is leading us, just as the magi were led to return home by a different route. We’ll be using the traditional magi scripture Matthew 2:1-12. Our music director made the discovery that the song Shine (Heaven Let Your Light Shine Down) by Collective Soul is actually the perfect Epiphany song! We’ll be singing it as a praise song. I also came across this perfect Epiphany poem just today:
Those Hours by Joyce Sutphen

There were moments, hours even,
when it was clear what I

was meant to do, as if
a landscape had revealed itself

in the morning light.
I could see the road

plainly now, imagining myself
walking towards the distant mountains

like a pilgrim in the old stories—
ready to take on any danger,

hapless but always hopeful,
certain that my simple belief

in the light
would be enough.

star wordsIt’s become tradition at my church that on Epiphany everyone receives a Star Word (a word to guide your year written on a star shaped paper). It’s been really fun to see what words people get, how it plays a role in their year, and how it might guide them. I give them to the kids first during children’s time and then have the kids pass them out during the first hymn. We pray over them and then just choose them at random. I encourage everyone to take it home and put it somewhere they’ll see it every day. Follow these links for a list of suggested words and more information about Star Words.

Finally, here is a Call to Worship I adapted and used for Epiphany last year (updated for 2020):
Call to Worship (adapted from Rev. Andy Bryan)

God, we come to worship in this new year hoping it will be better.
Guide our thinking and doing and help us remember:
2019 will be kinder,
if I am kinder.
2019 will be more compassionate,
if I show more compassion.
2019 will be less anxious,
if I offer more grace.
2019 will be more just,
if I advocate for more justice.
2019 will be less contentious,
if I speak more gently.
2019 will be less violent,
if I more actively work for peace.
2019 will be more loving,
 if I demonstrate love more freely.
Guide us by your Light,
that we may bring your Light to the world.

I know there are lots of great Christmas & Epiphany resources out there so feel free to share your favorites as well! Hopefully in our sharing we can help make worship planning easier for us all during this busy time of year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Planning!

House of Bread Prayer for Illumination

Here’s the prayer for illumination that we’ll use each Sunday before the scripture readings during Advent this year. It compliments our Bethlehem House of Bread Advent Worship Series.

Prayer for Illumination
God who is with us, guide us by your Word. Help us to again receive you in the flesh. May the Promised One lead us in wisdom and truth and may we be sustained by Christ who is the Bread of Life. AMEN

There is also a perfect new song for this series from the Porter’s Gate Worship Project called Jesus, Bread of Life (feat. Diana Gameros). We plan to play it each week just before worship begins.

 

Check out the other resources for this series:
The Great Bethlehem Bake-Off Pageant
Bethlehem Advent Bible Study
Advent Wreath Options

The Great Bethlehem Bake-Off Pageant

I think I’m most excited about this component of our Bethlehem House of Bread Advent Worship Series. While this children’s Christmas pageant compliments our theme for Advent this year, I think it would work wonderfully with any Advent theme. Check out this fun and simple Christmas pageant I wrote and feel free to adapt as needed for your setting (you can easily make it longer by adding some carols interspersed throughout). I’d love to know if you do this pageant and see a recording of your version! I’ll share the recording of ours which will be preformed on Advent 4!

Click here to download: The Great Bethlehem Bake-Off Christmas Pageant Skit

Check out my other Advent resources here:
Hanging of the Greens Worship service
All Earth Is Waiting Advent Series
Fear Not Advent Series
The Gift of Yes Advent Series
Advent Wreath liturgy options
Bethlehem Advent Bible Study

Have fun and happy planning!

great bethlehem bake off 3.jpg

Bethlehem Advent Bible Study

This is a first! This is the first time I’m not sharing a liturgy resource but a Bible Study! It’s been many years since I wrote a Bible study but when I couldn’t find what I was looking for I decided I just needed to write it myself. So here it is! This study will nicely accompany the Bethlehem House of Bread Advent worship series we’re doing this year but it would also work well on it’s own. It’s 4 weeks with just a front and back page each week for each participant.

You can download this fun Bible study here: Bethlehem Advent Bible Study

Check out my other Advent resources here:
Hanging of the Greens Worship service
All Earth Is Waiting Advent Worship
Fear Not Advent Series
The Gift of Yes Advent Series
Advent Wreath liturgy options

Enjoy and happy Advent planning!

Bethlehem-House-of-Bread-print-resized-1024x819

Advent Wreath Options

There are lots of liturgy options for Advent wreath lighting during worship and here’s a few more!

One of things I find is missing from our (mainline Protestant) worship service is a time for sharing. Testimonies are powerful for those who share them and hear them. Sharing about our faith is also something we need to practice in the safety and comfort of our churches so we’re ready when the Spirit moves us to share with someone outside of church. To this end, two of the three Advent wreath liturgies below include an opportunity for those leading the liturgy to share something personal related to the themes for each week (hope, peace, joy, and love). One option is the more traditional call and response liturgy. Let me know what you think and if you plan to use or adapt any of them for your Advent worship service this year! Click the links below to download.
Happy planning!

Advent Wreath Litanies – Traditional
Advent Wreath Liturgies – Breathing in Hope, Peace, Joy, & Love 
Advent Wreath Liturgies – Testimonies (We used these to coincide with the All Earth Is Waiting Advent series)

Check my other Advent resources here:
Hanging of the Greens Worship service
Bethlehem House of Bread Advent Worship Series
Fear Not Advent Series
The Gift of Yes Advent Series

AdventWreath

Bethlehem House of Bread Advent Worship Series

Here is the final Advent series option I’ll be sharing for 2019, and I think I’m the most excited about this one. Probably because this is the one we are using at our church this year! I have always wanted to make the connection between Bethlehem (which means house of bread in Hebrew) and the Christ being the Bread of Life! So here we go!
We’ll be baking special rainbow bread for Advent 1 communion, baking bread in bread machines DURING worship for Advent 3, and sharing our favorite bread recipes as Christmas gifts to each other. As Oprah would say:
Image result for oprah i love bread gif

Click here to download the most delicious Advent worship series: House of Bread Advent Series

Below is the graphic we’ll be using for the series as well as the bulletin cover and another cool image I found in my research! If you plan to use this series let me know, I’d be happy to share the Calls to Worship I’ll be writing for each week.

Here is the 4-week Advent Bible study I wrote to accompany this series though it could stand on it’s own as well.

Coming soon will be some Advent Wreath lighting liturgies and more! Be sure to follow the blog so you don’t miss a post! Happy Planning!

Check out my other Advent resources here:
Hanging of the Greens Worship service
All Earth Is Waiting Advent Worship
Fear Not Advent Series
The Gift of Yes Advent Series
house of breadBethlehem-House-of-Bread-print-resized-1024x819bethlehem bakery

 

All Earth is Waiting Advent Worship Series

Another Advent worship series option! This one is based on Rev. Katie Z. Dawson’s Advent devotional, All Earth Is Waiting: Devotions for the SeasonIt was a wonderful devotional to use for small groups but didn’t require folks be reading along for me to preach on the themes. I loved being able to talk about Creation Care through the season of Advent. We went very woodsy and earthy with our decor. We used recycled materials to make tree ornaments and had animals throughout our displays. 

Click here to download: All Earth Is Waiting Advent Worship Plan
(file includes helpful links to supporting music & videos!)

This was the image we used for advertising and as our bulletin cover image.
Below find Calls to Worship for each Sunday!

Check my other Advent resources here:
Hanging of the Greens Worship service
Bethlehem House of Bread Advent Worship Series
Fear Not Advent Series
The Gift of Yes Advent Series

Copy of railsadventure.com

Call to Worship for Advent 1
by Roddy Hamilton

Across the universe creation waits
for the prophets to speak their words of expectation and renewal.
May we gather round them today once more
and let their longing grip us and lead us into birth and blessing.
So come now my friends, this is the meeting place
of promise and prophecy.
Let us listen through the ancient words
that we might be ready to hear a baby’s cry.

 

Call to Worship for Advent 2

A wild man emerges from the wilderness,
“Change your hearts and lives! Here comes the kingdom of heaven!”
A young girl is visited by an angel with the ‘opportunity’ of a life-time,
“God pulls down the powerful and lifts up the lowly!”
The Prince of Peace comes
   disrupting the world in order to heal it. 
Disrupt our hearts again, God
that you would use us to bring the peace of your justice to our earth.

 

Call to Worship for Advent 3

The Good News was proclaimed by heavenly beings
to the shepherds and the sheep.
The Christ broke through to our world
surrounded by the animals of the stable. 
And all of creation rejoices
showing us the glory and splendor of God.

 

Call To Worship for Advent 4
by Roddy Hamilton

Gather round, we have a story to tell of a Giver who reached inside and took a handful of love like a pile of stardust and said: this is for you it is all you need it is all you will ever need there is enough here to change the whole world. Take it.
Many laughed at him, mocked him, and ignored the invitation
but some dared to take it and those who did noticed something about this love,
They found they could do what the gift-giver could do.
They could stand with the lost,
welcome the stranger
eat with the hungry.
   They found themselves doing what the Giver first did to them
giving something of themselves to others, they became like the Giver
offering themselves
and as they offered themselves others took the invitation
and many still do
and many still trust
it is enough to change the whole world.

Fear Not Advent Series

Here’s another sermon series option for Advent! This series looks at the 4 people angels appeared to and said, “Fear not!” This was a fun series for our church because we used lots of angels in our decor and I read a section of the book Probity Jones And The Fear Not Angel by Walter Wangerin to the kids every week for Children’s Time.

Click here to download the worship plan: Fear Not Advent Series Worship Plan
I also have previously posted Calls to Worship for this series which you can find here: Fear Not 1, Fear Not 3, Fear Not 4

Below is the graphic we used to advertise the series as well as my favorite visual image of The Annunciation! Enjoy and happy Advent planning!

Check my other Advent resources here:
Hanging of the Greens Worship service
Bethlehem House of Bread Advent Worship Series
All Earth Is Waiting Advent Series
The Gift of Yes Advent Series

God is with us      The Annunciation by Henry Ossawa Tanner 1896