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.
Update: the seed paper instructions state you need to soak it over night, so I did a test. I wrote Alleluia on half a sheet and soaked it over night. It has held together and the word Alleluia is still visible. My plan is to soak several sheets over night and take them to church in a ziploc bag so they stay moist. The instructions also say to tear them up before planting so that’s what I will have the kids do during children’s time. You could also have them bury a dry sheet and then dig it back up after church, soak it, tear it, and re-bury/plant it without them knowing!

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!)

 

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!

Prayer Walk

As part of our series on the lessons of Mister Rogers, we took this past Sunday to pray for Slide10our neighbors. We divided up into teams to pray for all the families in our village and school district. Four teams walked different routes through the village as we prayed for the families in the homes we passed, while others prayed over maps of the other parts of the school district. We ended the morning with a potluck back at the church.

It was a holy and Spirit-filled morning of worship! You can watch a recap video of the day here: https://youtu.be/IPaYKZBEnUQ

We used prayer sheets to guide the walkers and map-prayers. I took screen shots from Google maps and printed them so that every part of our school district got prayed over and then each walking group and each person praying over a map got a prayer guide. You can download the each version of the prayer guide here:
Prayer Walk Instructions and Prayers
Praying Over Maps – Instructions and Prayers

These are the instructions I shared during a shortened worship service before the walk:
“This idea has been done before in other neighborhoods and it was inspired for me
by Rev. Martha Grace Reese author of Unbinding the Soul. Her advice for doing a prayer walk is to first, ‘Ask God, which route you should take today.’ There are going to be 4 walking routes through the village. We also have maps here of the rest of the parts of the district and written prayers and instructions for people to pray over the outlying areas. So be in prayer about which of these options God is leading you towards today. And as you walk or trace the streets on a map, ‘Pray for each of the houses and schools, the families and visitors. If you’re walking some pray for the right side of the street others pray for the left. Walk quietly together and “think” your prayer to God. You might ask Jesus to walk through the neighborhood with you. (He’s already doing it but asking may help you to realize it!) Pray for God’s presence, peace, and protection to blanket the area. Pray that the neighborhood will be infused with Christ’s presence. If people come out and talk with you, you could mention that you’re from WPUMC on Collins St. and that you’re doing a prayer walk around the neighborhood. Ask them if there’s anything specific they’d like you to pray for.’ If you talk with anyone be sure to invite them to join us for lunch around 11! And if they come be sure to sit with them and get to know them.
If while walking, you see an opportunity to bless someone, do it! (Wave, smile, help someone unload their groceries, etc. When we’re done, come back here for the potluck! Sit with different people than the ones you walked with and talk about how you experienced the time and the prayer. What did you see or notice that you hadn’t before? Any God sightings?”
Our hope is that every church will intentionally pray for all the families in their neighborhood on a regular basis. Hope these resources help your church reach out in prayer.

Cross Fit Faith for Lent

Cross Fit Faith (1)

Health and fitness has become its own culture and much like the Church, these programs seek to help people tackle the challenges of personal growth and improvement. Any good plan will tell you it’s not a quick fix, it’s not a diet, but learning a new way of life that often means unlearning old habits and beliefs.
Lent is the perfect time to train in our faith. This series approaches the journey of spiritual growth like a health and fitness plan for the soul. Using the theme of ‘taking up our cross daily’ and following Jesus, we’ll be exploring daily practices for spiritual growth while balancing Christ’s call to bear our crosses with his promise that his ‘yoke is easy’ and his ‘burden is light’.
Download the entire 7-week worship plan here: Cross Fit Faith Lenten Worship Plan

To compliment this worship series, all of our Bible study groups will be reading Juan Huertas’ daily devotional, The Sanctuary for Lent 2019.
We’ll also be using SALT Project’s Family-Friendly Lenten Devotional, Breaking the Chains during our Family Faith Nights.

I will continue to post liturgies, prayers, Calls to Worship, and more related to this theme. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss any of the resourcey goodness!

Happy Planning!

Bible Verses for When You’re Worried

This Sunday we’re talking about worry. There’s a lot we could worry about in our lives but the Bible is full of messages to not worry or be afraid. I thought I’d provide our congregation with a list of just 144 of those verses, so any time we’re feeling worried we can go down the list and be reminded that God has been telling us not to worry for thousands of years. Click here to download the full printable list: when you’re worried bible verses

Happy Planning!

worry