Prayers written on the Spring Training Day: Writing Worship Material 16th March 2013

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Springing spirit,
lift us from days – dark, sombre and gloomy –
so that we may have meaning and purpose
and go to our rest with contentment.  (Rev. Andrew Hill)

Spirit of discovery, let us come with open minds and hearts. To listen, to share, to learn from one another. This we can do today. (Alison Patrick)

Let us rejoice in the warmth of our fellowship symbolised by the flame of our chalice, hold it in our hearts, share it with all we meet. (Dorothy Haughton)

Grant that as winter dies away and new life is reborn we may rise to a greater awareness of the gifts of nature round about us and a greater awareness of the rebirth, continuity and unity of life.  Amen. (Gavin Lloyd)

The mornings are lengthening,
The light is growing stronger.
Rise up and meet the new day
Raise your voice in thanksgiving
We are alive! (Kathy Beckett)

May the Forces of Good guide us on the Path of Love and protect us from the Temptations of Evil Amen (Lesley Harris)

Spirit of life and love,
May we live our lives in a spirit of compassion,
That we might leave the world
A better place than we found it.

Amen (Sue Woolley)

God, maker of the fertile earth, the trees and flowers, the sun and rain, thank you for all these things. Help us treat them, and each other, well. Amen. (Tas Cooper)

What wondrous heavens today. Blue skies against white clouds, rolling across, transfigured in shapes so imaginative, exporting souls to their new destination.
May I one day be part of the cosmos in such a way. (Winnie Gordon)

Opening Words (based on hymns)

God of life, God of love.
God of the common things in life.

We know you are there but sometimes it is very hard to see you – in the piles of paperwork on the desk; in the emails in the in-box;  in the sink of washing-up, in the supermarket and the petrol station; on the school run and in the care home.

Our daily duties and routines can seem very small and mean and yet they can still overwhelm us.

Here, let us find space to praise.

Here, let us find energy to find the divine in each part of our lives.

Here, let us find fellowship to seek the divine in each other. (HFL 5) (Alison Patrick)

How can we keep from singing? Well sometimes we can, sometimes it is difficult to sing: and so let us pray:

How can we keep from singing?

  • It is difficult to sing when years ago someone told us that we couldn’t;
  • but in time we have learned that it doesn’t matter what we sound like because singing is good for our health.
  • It is difficult to sing when the lights go out or our eyes grow dim and we can’t read the words;
  • but we soon learn that la-la-ing can be just as effective.
  • It is difficult to sing when the bottom has dropped out of our lives and we are tongue-tied with anger;
  • but after a while the words will come and the tune later.
  • It is difficult to sing when a much-loved life has ended and our eyes are awash with tears;
  • but slowly we find that singing is actually one way of saying ‘thank you’.
  • It is difficult to sing when all around there is war and tumult;
  • but eventually we realise that singing is a way to keep the vision bright.

Singing God, when we find it hard, nigh impossible to sing, please keep singing for us. We’ll join in later – when we are able and ready. Amen (SLT 108 / HFL 133) (Rev. Andrew Hill)

Come share this time with me.
I’ll share this time with you.
We’ll share together here
our dreams and thoughts and minds.
And we shall find hope when hope is hard to find
and we’ll share a song of love
and a bud in the green spring time.
(optional changed last line)
 (SYF 24) (Dorothy Haughton)

We come together seeking light in the tunnel of life, sometimes grey, sometimes dark.  Let us in heart and mind seek guidance and comfort in the chaos and conflict of this perplexing world.  Amen. (Gavin Lloyd)

Eternal God,
We gather here this morning, in a spirit of love and welcome,
To share all that we are, to be open to new insight, from all those great witnesses of light gone before us, and to seek all that speaks truth to our hearts. Blessed Be. (HFL 172) (Kathy Beckett)

Almighty God, Eternal Spirit of Life
We have come here together in Your Name
To rejoice in the beauty of the earth
To be inspired by the untold wonders of the world
And to tune into Your ancient message of Love
Let us counter the forces of Anger, Anxiety and Despair
By commanding ourselves to Your guidance and mercy
And trusting in Your power to steer us through our lives. (Lesley Harris)

Come into this house of worship.
May we enter this hour with joy,
May we rejoice in our fellowship,
May we hold each other in love,
May we listen with the ears of our hearts.
Come! Let us worship! (SYF 33) (Sue Woolley)

As we gather in prayer, may we remember that prayer alone means little without inspiring action.
May we always remember that true religion is not in rites or hymns or even prayers – the holiest worship of all is in a loving, peaceful, generous life.
Feeding the hungry, comforting the sick and the bereaved, sheltering the homeless – loving others as we love ourselves.
May we do all these things whenever called upon to do so, and may we thus make everywhere we go a temple to that which we worship, and every day a holy day. So let us honour you, Spirit of love, in the highest way of all.
So may it be. (HFL 191) (Tas Cooper)

You may have entered through our door with grief in your heart.
But today will be a joyful day.
Your ears and eyes may have been opened to the distress of the world around you, the poverty, the crime, the unemployment.
But today will be a joyful day.
You may be afraid of some changes, of the unknown and the known.
But today will be a joyful day.
For you entered here in fellowship,
You will rejoice in being together,
And allow the Spirit to come in.
Come, and let us begin our worship, welcoming each other with singing enter, rejoice and come in. (SYF 33)(Winnie Gordon)

Closing Words (based on hymns)

Spirit – quench our thirst, cleanse us, as we close our worship and begin again, today and every day, our quest in life. (SYF 103) (Alison Patrick)

We are a free  people, we are a simple people. We have created for ourselves a place just right – a valley of love and delight. May we go out from here unashamedly greeting all as friends. (HFL 146) (Dorothy Haughton)

What we have said and sung with our lips we may believe in our hearts, and what we believe in our hearts may we show forth in our lives from this time forth and for evermore. (Gavin Lloyd)

Blessed Spirit of our lives, may we leave here strengthened to face the world with clear vision, to have ears open to hear the still small voice, and with peace and love in our hearts. So be it. (SYF 11) (Kathy Beckett)

We celebrate the loving travels that have brought us here today and the paths of exploration we have pursued in this service.

As we extinguish this chalice, let us return to the outside world with renewed hope, love and courage to continue our journey through life. (Lesley Harris)
Let us go forth from this place

Inspired by the words of the hymn

“Make friendship, human worth
our common faith and deed.”
And may we try to follow the Golden Rule in our lives
Until we meet again. Amen (HFL 125) (Sue Woolley)

As we leave this place, let us carry with us the communion with the Spirit of life that we have found here today. Let us keep the light of the chalice, that we now put out, lit in our hearts throughout the coming week. Let us remember the Spirit of life and love at all times, being thankful for happy moments and trusting in it to help us through hard times. And may that flame still burn bright in our hearts when we return to rekindle it here next week. Go in peace. (HFL 303) (Tas Cooper)

As we open the door to step back into the wider world,
Take with you the peace of our church community,
The love of our fellowship,
And the hope to abide well with each other and your divine.
Until we are together again,
Go in peace. (SYF 126) (Winnie Gordon)

Versions of the Lord’s Prayer

Mystery of Love that we cannot define,
We cherish you.
We strive to bring you to life.
Feed our bodies and our minds.
Let us find the freedom of forgiveness for ourselves and others.
Help us to see what truly matters
And to resist evil and negative behaviour,
Living fully in the spirit of love, truth and freedom.
Amen (Alison Patrick)

Dear friends, here in this place we hold each other in reverence, we hope for a kingdom of peace and truth in all corners of the earth.
May we who have bread not take bread from the mouths of others.
May we, who are selfish, self-willed, unkind, accept and forgive the ill-will shown to us by others.
For ours is the kingdom. (Dorothy Haughton)

Sustainer of Life and of abiding human values, may your name be hallowed; may your kingdom be without and within; may your purposes prevail both in this world and beyond.  Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us for the limitations of our human nature, as we forgive the limitations of both others and our selves.  May we not be tempted beyond endurance, and may we be delivered from evil, for yours is the realm of eternal values, the power of ultimate goodness now and always.  Amen. (Gavin Lloyd)

Ever present, unknown essence of our existence, may we give honour and respect to life. Would that all life could respond in goodness so that our earth and all it’s people may live in harmony. May we learn that bread alone doesn’t give life, but that our hope is in loving and caring. We are sorry when we lose our way and hurt those we meet. May we reach out in apology as we turn in love to those who hurt us. May life’s difficulties not hinder us or cause us misfortune. In this way may we bring about peace, love and hope, the glorious aim of our world for all eternity. So be it. (Kathy Beckett)

Spirit of love that is in the best of ourselves and around us
Let your goodness be praised
Let your ideals come to us
And let your loving commandments be carried out
So that our imperfect lives of today
Become the perfect lives that they could always be
Continue to nurture us every day
And forgive us when we fall short of your ideals
As we forgive those who do not treat us ideally
And to not encourage us to pursue the path of wrong living
But enable us to free ourselves from all negativity
For Love is the ideal that conquers all
Throughout eternity, Amen (Lesley Harris)

Spirit of Life and Love, without and within,
May we be aware of your presence in our lives,
May our world be blessed,
And may we do what our hearts and minds tell us is right.
May our daily needs be met,
May our shortcomings be forgiven,
As we forgive those of others.
Give us the strength to resist wrongdoing,
And the inspiration and guidance to do right.
We are your hands in the world;
May we show compassion to all living things.
Amen (Sue Woolley)

Parent of all, in and around and beyond all things,
Most Loving, Most Beautiful, Most Pure,
Help us make earth a foretaste of heaven, living in harmony with all things.
May we have all we need, but never more,
And of our excess may we give to those who lack.
May we know our wrongs and seek forgiveness for them.
May we be blessed, but only as we bless others,
Helped as we help others, forgiven as we forgive.
Keep us safe from harm, and help us to keep others safe.
Help us treat all others as your children, so that we too may be worthy to be called your children.
We ask your grace and benediction to aid us in all this, so that we may walk in love with each other, with the world, and with you.
So may we live to glorify and honour you, and make our world an image of your heaven.
Amen. (Tas Cooper)

Your wish is our wish
Your dreams and hopes for the world, mine also.
Nurture our soul
Release our mistakes and relinquish our greed.
Bless our living
Now and always
Amen. (Winnie Gordon)

Thematic Prayers

Let us do more than reflect.
Reflection is not enough.
We pray for the courage and vision to see beyond the mirror.
The world beyond the mirror may be different to our own but it is as real as our own.
The world beyond the mirror may be scary for us, but for others, it is home.
The world in the mirror may be true, but it is not the whole truth.
The world in the mirror may be shiny and safe, but it is narrow.
The world beyond the mirror may be uncomfortable and confusing, but it is freedom. (Alison Patrick)

Let us remember that everyone of us, not just children, responds to being treated with respect, with compassion, with thoughtfulness let us use each worship hour to inspire us and help us each day to love our neighbours as ourselves, treating all others with respect, with compassion, with thoughtfulness. (Dorothy Haughton)

Here on Passion Sunday let us try to face honestly the problem of pain and innocent suffering. Somehow we must accept even if we cannot understand.  We pray that when we encounter suffering of this kind we may react with honesty and patience, and on Passion Sunday we remember the word linked with passion, namely that of compassion.  We pray for all who suffer in mind, body or estate, that we may respond with empathy and good will, and that there may be a happy issue out of all affliction.  This we ask as those who seek to follow the lives and examples of all the great prophets of humankind.  Amen. (Gavin Lloyd)

As we come towards the close of our service, we think of Hans Swegen and the inspiring Rainforest project he strove to bring about;  how we can learn from this, how one persons determination and courage to see their ideas, concern and conviction through to the end can be an example and encouragement to us. When we feel guided to pursue a certain path may we not give up hope when the going gets tough, but look to our faith for help and support to achieve our goal. In the name of goodness, Amen. (Kathy Beckett)

When a life that was given has ended
And though the darkness has not fallen at our behest
Let us give praise for the life
That this person lived
And give thanks that it unsleeping
Continues in the world to come
Without earthly stress and strain
And let us remember that this life keeps its watch over us
That it will never pass away
That we can still be linked to it
And that we should try and live its message (Lesley Harris)

Spirit of Life and Love,
All of us have friends.
All of us are friends.
May we understand the huge importance
of these connections in our lives.
May we appreciate our friends:
Their kindness, their loyalty,
Their ongoing, unchanging love for us,
Warts and all.
And may we be such friends –
Not falling away when the going gets rough,
But always there for each other,
Steadfast in our love,
Ready to celebrate each other’s joys,
Empathise with each other’s concerns,
And treating one another
As we would like to be treated ourselves,
Knowing that the ripples of our compassion
Will flow out into the world,
Making it a happier, gentler place. Amen (Sue Woolley)

Spirit of Light and Life and Love,
We thank you for our ancestors in faith, for their many diverse heritages, for the bravery of the first Unitarians in challenging dogma and standing up for reason, freedom and tolerance even in the face of death. We thank you also for the lessons that the many rich traditions we have drawn upon since then have taught us.
We pray that we may live out the spirit of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, and our many other teachers, and cherish the things they taught – the many strands woven together in the diverse tapestry of our faith.
May we exercise freedom, reason and tolerance and keep our hearts and minds always open to the light and truth that is ever breaking forth from your word, always sewing new strands and colours into that tapestry of faith, to make it ever more colourful and beautiful. And may its richness and beauty show forth in our lives.
Amen/So may it be. (Tas Cooper)