Gathering Resources for Worship Planners by housework


									Celebrating 25 years                         1984–2009
                                        The United Church of Canada
                                             L’Église Unie du Canada

            resources for worship planners

In The Potter’s House
a prayer resource for GC40
Celebrating 25 years of Gathering
Vision statement (2007)
Gathering is a periodical by and for worship planners and leaders.
It is a gathering of gifts from the church for the church; gifts that come out of lived experience.
Gathering is the pulse of United Church of Canada worship practice and theology.
It is grass roots, a variety of voices, a connection with colleagues, a reflection of the changes and evolution
in worship, and an opportunity for sharing wisdom and teaching about worship practice.

                          Each issue of Gathering includes:
                           •	a variety of calls to worship, prayers, blessings, and other ready-to-use material
                           •	Sunday by Sunday lectionary reflections and children’s moments
                           •	non-lectionary theme outlines and resources
                           •	seasonal worship ideas and resources
                           •	informative articles, e.g., insights on copyright, youth and worship, intercultural
                           •	a section devoted to the church musician, including new hymns

                          Each selection is offered for the encouragement, enrichment, and enlivening of
                          weekly worship in our smallest to our largest congregations.
                          The most effective worship is that which is home grown, i.e. emerges naturally out
                          of a congregation or small group.
                                                           John Ambrose, Special Assistant – Worship, 1974

                          Gathering has a nice double meaning. In the first place, it suggests what the old
                          name [Getting It All Together] did: a gathering of worship resources. But more
                          important, it suggests the event the resources are intended to serve: the gathering
                          of the faithful to worship. We hope Gathering will live up to its name.
                                                               Fred McNally, Special Assistant – Worship, 1983

                          Gathering gathers. We receive (joyfully) news of your activities and ideas for weekly
                          worship, the more diverse the better.
                                                                 Fred Graham, Staff Support – Worship, 2002

                          Each worshipping community seeks to speak in a relevant and challenging voice to
                          its own context while sharing the salvation history for all… . Our worship styles and
                          forms are…the local expressions of a rich and full tradition of faithful worship.
                                                               Mark MacLean, Staff Support – Worship, 2003
                                   Welcome to General Council                                August 8, 2009

Genesis 12:1–2                                         A Self-Affirmation to Hold in Your
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your              Heart through the Day
country and your kindred and your father’s house       I bring skills, talents, experience, and a strong
to the land that I will show you. I will make of       faith to General Council. I do not know where the
you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make     journey will lead, but I know you, my God, are my
your name great, so that you will be a blessing.”      companion. So I set out unafraid.

Psalm 139:1–3, 7, 9–10                                 Hymns for Reflection
O Lord, you have searched me and known me.             “You call us out” (VU 569)
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;           “You, Creator God, have searched me” (MV 131)
you discern my thoughts from far away. You
search out my path and my lying down, and are          Prayer for Ending the Day
acquainted with all my ways. …Where can I go           Thank you, Loving God, thank you for being
from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your        with me today, in all the finding out, in all
presence? …If I take the wings of the morning and      the newness, in all the wondering.
settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there   Thank you for those who have helped me in
your hand shall lead me, and your right hand           different ways….
shall hold me fast.                                    Thank you for loved ones and friends back home
                                                       who are thinking about me even as I am holding
Prayer for Beginning the Day                           them in prayer….
Loving God, you welcome me as I come to this           I know there will be much that is new and
meeting of General Council and you will be             unexpected.
with me each day. When I feel out of place, or         I know I will be challenged in ways I cannot
confused, you will encourage me. When I feel at a      yet tell.
loss you will enable me to share my uncertainty.       I know you, God, will give me the strength I need.
When I greet an old friend or find a new friend        Bless Moderator David and those who lead our
you will rejoice with me; as I join a group, your      General Council tomorrow and bless me with a
smile will bond us together. In the inspiration        good sleep tonight. Amen.
of worship you will be there; in moments of
reflection you will be beside me. There is nowhere
I can go and nothing any of us can do to separate      David Sparks, Gathering Advisory Board chair
us from your presence, or your love. Amen.

Reflection on the GC40 Theme

Jeremiah 18:3–4
So I went down to the potter’s house, and there
he was working at his wheel. The vessel he was
making of clay was spoiled in the potter’s hand,
and he reworked it into another vessel, as seemed
good to him.

                                                    Prayer for Ending the Day
Prayer for the Beginning of the Day
                                                    It is not we who shape God;
Today, O God, your vessel—the church—
                                                          it is God who shapes us.
brings to you, in humility,
                                                    If then we are the work of God,
the clay of its life and mission:
                                                          let us await the hand of the Artist
     its love for you,
                                                          who does all things in due season.
     its people,
                                                    We offer the Potter our hearts,
     its projects,
                                                          soft and tractable,
     its aspirations, and vision.
                                                          and keep the form in which the Artist
We ask that you accept these gifts, O God,
                                                          fashioned us.
and rework them as you will—
                                                    May our clay remain moist,
fashioning a new creation which
                                                          lest we grow hard and lose
seems good to you,
                                                          the imprint of the Potter’s fingers.
     to your further glory
                                                    (Attributed to Irenaeus, 2 CE, and adapted.)
     and the love of humankind.

A Self-Affirmation to                               Fred Graham, former Worship Desk officer
Hold in Your Heart
As I tend the wheel that shapes church life,
I will be open to possibility,
as the Holy Spirit re-shapes my heart and my
understandings today.

Hymns for Reflection
“Spirit of the Living God” (VU 376)
“Creator God you gave us life” (MV 27)

                                                                                            Day 1
                                                                                             August 9, 2009

40th General Council/40e Conseil général
The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

Colossians 3:16                                        Prayer for Ending the Day
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach      God, Composer of the Universe,
and admonish one another in all wisdom; and            the day draws to a close, and we are weary.
with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns,      Writing our song did not come as easily as we
and spiritual songs to God.                            would have liked;
                                                            there are sections not completed,
Prayer for Beginning the Day                                awkward passages that need revision,
Holy One,                                                   rubbings and blots all over the page.
In this morning hour we thank you for the gift         But we have done our best,
of a new day, lying before us like a fresh piece of    and we felt your loving presence
manuscript paper, inviting our creative powers.        hovering over our efforts.
Let your Word inspire us to write this day’s song      So we say thanks, aloud or in our hearts’ silence,
– with eyes aware of each other’s parts in the score        – for those who befriended, encouraged,
– with ears open to new rhythms and melodies                inspired or challenged us…
– with minds attuned to your laws of harmony                – for new ideas that nudged us down roads
– with lips gentle in critique and generous in              less travelled…
     praise                                                 – for moments of unexpected grace…
– with hearts that sing ever in the key of Love.            – for the joy of tasks achieved…
     Amen.                                                  – for the warmth of our fellowship and the
                                                            unity of our purpose…
A Self-Affirmation                                     Bless the good that was done this day,
to Hold in Your Heart                                  and sing us to rest,
Today I will let the Word sing in me and through       that we may sleep in peace
me in all things.                                      and rise again in strength. Amen.

Hymns for Reflection
                                                       Lydia Pederson, former Music Editor of Gathering
“When morning gilds the skies” (VU 339)
“I am the dream” (MV 106)
“Grateful” (MV182)

Day 2
August 10, 2009

                                                                                40th General Council/40e Conseil général
                                                                                The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

Matthew 7:7                                           Prayer for Ending the Day
Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will   Creator God, thank you for your children,
find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.     who have spoken the words on my heart,
                                                      and for those whose words prodded or
Prayer for Beginning the Day                          shocked me.
I open my eyes, O God,                                Bless and keep all who seek the good
to find you have blessed us with a new day,           of your church.
before we thought to ask.                             Let my spirit rest tonight in the glory
Thank you, Holy One, for your                         of the enduring mountains,
generous provision.                                   created by your hands.
Help me, and all of us gathered here in Kelowna,      Jesus Christ, thank you for leading
to discover your less obvious blessings.              and accompanying me along gritty paths of faith.
Give us:                                              Let my spirit rest tonight in the promise of
the courage to ask that our church and its            abundant life and hope of resurrection.
mission be vital and life-giving;                     Holy Spirit, thank you for stamina and
the stamina to search for Christ-like pathways;       grace beyond my own.
the boldness to knock and confess our need            Let my spirit rest tonight in the comforting
of the Holy Spirit’s power;                           space you open to me.
and the grace to walk through doors                   God, three yet one, I rest in you. Amen.
you open for us.
I give thanks, O God, that through Christ
I know you both listen and respond. Amen.             Marilyn Leuty, former Editor of Gathering

A Self-Affirmation
to Hold in Your Heart
I belong to Jesus Christ, who has been raised from
the dead, in order that I, with others, may bear
fruit for God. (based on Romans 7:4)

Hymns for Reflection
“Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (VU 356)
“Love knocks and waits” (MV 94)

                                                                                            Day 3
                                                                                            August 11, 2009

40th General Council/40e Conseil général
The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

Philippians 4:8                                       Prayer for Ending the Day
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is       Life-giving God, thank you for this day—
honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure,             for its surprises and challenges
whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable,              and the wonder of being in community,
if there is any excellence and if there is anything         alive to your Word and your world.
worthy of praise, think about these things.           I am grateful for…
                                                      (name things in this day for which you give thanks).
Prayer for Beginning the Day                          Warm and tender Spirit,
Each day is a gift, O God,                            Thank you for surrounding us with
    to be opened with care,                           compassion and care
    treasured,                                              in our times
    and framed with gratitude.                              of brokenness and confusion.
Thank you for your generosity.                        I place in your hands the moments
This day—give to us                                         when I failed to walk in your way,
    wit and wisdom                                          and I give them to you in this time of silence.
    and an openness                                   (silence)
    to the dance of your Spirit.                      Grant to me healing and a quiet night, O God,
This day—illumine our path                                  that I might know your peace.
    that we might discern your way                    I pray through Jesus Christ. Amen.
    through Jesus Christ. Amen.

A Self-Affirmation to                                 Nancy Hardy, former Editor of Gathering
Hold in Your Heart
I can do all things through [the One] who
strengthens me. (Philippians 4:13)

Hymns for Reflection
“Holy Spirit, truth divine” (VU 368)
“Go now in peace, guided by the light” (MV 211)

Day 4
August 12, 2009

                                                                              40th General Council/40e Conseil général
                                                                             The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

Mark 6:30–32                                       Prayer for Ending the Day
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told       Generous God,
him all that they had done and taught. He said     For the many gifts this day,
to them, “Come away to a deserted place all        I offer the thanks of my heart.
by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were     For each moment of companionship
coming and going, and they had no leisure               (take time to reflect back on your day)
even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a        …I give thanks.
deserted place by themselves.                      For each gift of insight
                                                        (take time to reflect back on your day)
Prayer for Beginning the Day                            …I give thanks.
Gracious God,                                      For each experience of refreshment
In this day, we seek balance:                           (take time to reflect back on your day)
     balance between work and play;                     …I give thanks.
     balance between speaking and silence;         For each encounter with beauty
     balance between what we do and who we are.         (take time to reflect back on your day)
In this day, grant us the wisdom to seek                …I give thanks.
     that which nourishes our spirits,             For the many reminders of your presence
     that which brings us joy,                          (take time to reflect back on your day)
     that which stills our minds,                  I offer the thanks of my heart. Amen.
So that our hearts may rest in you. Amen.

A Self-Affirmation to                              Keri K. Wehlander, Gathering Advisory Board member
Hold in Your Heart
I will care for myself today and replenish
my spirit.

Hymns for Reflection
“Give to us laughter” (VU 624)
“In you there is a refuge” (MV 84)

                                                                                           Day 5
                                                                                           August 13, 2009

40th General Council/40e Conseil général
The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

1 Corinthians 14:12                                   Prayer for Ending the Day
So with yourselves;                                   Holy One, since it is by your mercy that we are
since you are eager for spiritual gifts,              engaged in this ministry,
strive to excel in them for building up the church.   we do not lose heart (2 Corinthians 4:1).
                                                      Through countless words, thoughts, and
Prayer for Beginning the Day                          conversations, you have been present with me and
With the certainty of the rising sun,                 to me in this day that has been my gift.
and the opportunities of another day before me,       I have tried to listen to your voice
I wake, Holy One.                                     as I have interacted with others,
More than halfway through my time at this             and in the still, quiet places of my heart.
General Council,                                      As this day comes to a close, I offer it all to you.
I am sometimes refreshed, sometimes weary,            May the work in which I have been engaged
sometimes excited, sometimes confused.                be blessed.
And you are with me.                                  May those with whom I have interacted for the
As I make my way through this day,                    building up of the church
may I remember that I am not asked to make            know peace in the work we have done,
decisions for the whole church,                       and, where uncertainty remains, may I offer it to
but only to faithfully take my part                   your Spirit as the night draws in around me.
in those decisions,                                   May the darkness of these hours offer welcome to
listening attentively for your leading, nudging,      the weariness of my body,
prodding Spirit.                                      that, resting in your care, I will awake refreshed
May your blessing be known this day in the lives      and ready for another day.
of all those whom I love,                             In your Holy Name, I ask these blessings. Amen.
here and wherever they are.
May I meet the day with joy and eagerness. Amen.
                                                      Bob Root, Gathering Advisory Board member
A Self-Affirmation to
Hold in Your Heart
All that I do is a gift to God.
The sharing of my gifts helps to
build up the church.

Hymns for Reflection
“Though ancient walls” (VU 691)
“What can I do?” (MV 191)
Day 6
August 14, 2009

                                                                                  40th General Council/40e Conseil général
                                                                                 The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

Isaiah 40:31                                           Prayer for Ending the Day
But those who wait for the Lord shall renew their      Oh Holy One, we gather now at the end
strength, they shall mount up with wings like               of this long, busy day of deliberation
eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall         and decision.
walk and not faint.                                    At times it has been difficult,
                                                            wrestling with new ideas,
Prayer for Beginning the Day                                listening to one another’s musings,
We welcome a new day in your presence, O God,               and discerning your will.
     and give thanks for our night of rest.            But we give thanks for the friends we have made,
We come together refreshed in spirit and renewed            the stories we have shared,
     in your strength,                                      the concerns that we have expressed
     ready to embrace all the surprises                     to one another,
     and challenges                                         and the insights that we have gained.
     that this new day will bring                      In all of this, we pray that we have truly heard
     to our hearts and minds.                          your voice and served with humility.
In all of our deliberations and all of our decisions   We leave, looking forward to another night of rest
     may we mount up like eagles,                      in your loving care. Amen.
     remain strong in heart,
     and be true stewards of your vision. Amen.
                                                       Paul Sales, former Music Editor of Gathering
A Self-Affirmation to
Hold in Your Heart
God’s spirit makes me strong.

Hymns for Reflection
“Arise, your light is come” (VU 79)
“May we but wait” (MV 175)

                                                                                               Day 7
                                                                                              August 15, 2009

40th General Council/40e Conseil général
The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

Job 14:7–9                                              that in its midst was a tall, straight tree severed at
For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that   its stump.
it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not
cease. Though its root grows old in the earth, and      Could the words of Job and McLeod provide
its stump dies in the ground, yet at the scent of       images of hope for the church today?
water it will bud and put forth branches like a
young plant.                                            A Self-Affirmation to
                                                        Hold in Your Heart
Prayer for Beginning the Day                            I am blessed with strength, well beyond my own
With a night’s rest to replenish me, O God,             capacity, because of a community’s faith and love.
    grant me strength to meet the events
    of this day,                                        Hymns for Reflection
    to greet with joy those with whom I work,           “I see a new heaven” (VU 713)
    and to listen for the guiding whisper of            “When a grain of wheat” (MV 125)
    your Spirit in the words I speak
    and the decisions I make.                           Prayer for Ending the Day
    Amen.                                               At the end of a full and challenging day, O God,
                                                        may I receive your stillness;
A Reflection                                            after moments of disappointment
In his novel, No Great Mischief, Alistair McLeod        and uncertainty,
recounts an incident in the rugged highlands of         may I be blessed with quiet resilience
Cape Breton. Members of the McDonald family             and persistent hope;
were looking for timber for a skidway for their         after witnessing the faith, courage,
boat. In a tightly packed grove of spruce they          and vision of others,
found the perfect tree, tall and over 30 feet high.     may I be filled with gratitude.
When they had sawed it completely through,              Grant all with whom I have gathered this day
the tree did not fall. Its upper branches were          rest, peace, and renewal of spirit.
so densely intertwined with those of the trees          I ask this through the living and transforming
around it that it remained standing. It could not       Christ. Amen.
be removed unless the whole grove was cut down.
When the wind blew, the entire grove swayed,
continuing to support the injured but unfallen          John Ambrose, former Worship Desk officer
tree. To walk by the grove, you would never know

Blessings for the Journey Home
August 16, 2009

                                                                                40th General Council/40e Conseil général
                                                                               The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

Luke 2:19                                             Prayer for Ending the Day
But Mary treasured all these words and pondered       Holy One, we have come to the end of our
them in her heart.                                         General Council journey,
                                                           yet our work has just begun.
Prayer for Beginning the Day                          We know about roads, the ones not taken,
Great Spirit, Source of our being and moving,              the ones that converge in a wood,
    thank you for the gift of sleep                        and we have chosen the road upon which we
    and another day in your creation.                      embark.
Thank you for the gifts of wisdom and vision          I confess my discomfort, Holy One, with the
    that shape our church.                                 knowledge that this road has few signposts
    I will see more deeply                                 and cannot be found on any map.
    and treasure more fully today.                    Did we make the right decisions?
Thank you for all the life and beauty                      Did we choose the correct path?
    I see around me.                                  I celebrate my companions on the journey—old
    I will love more deeply                                and new friends, guides, teachers, celebrants
    and cherish more fully today.                          on this road of life.
Thank you for the gift of water,                      Help me to ponder these past seven days
    for the ability to cleanse.                            of work and worship
    I will purify my heart,                                and gather the treasures
    leaving behind my frustrations today.                  that will inspire my sisters and brothers.
Thank you for all the souls                           Bless our new Moderator and all who will work
    that I encounter this day.                             to enact our vision and advance our work.
    I will listen more closely to their stories and   Give us direction for the journey, I pray,
    treasure their wisdom. Amen.                           and remind us always,
                                                           that we are never alone,
A Self-Affirmation to                                      for we journey with you, Holy One.
Hold in Your Heart                                         Amen.
I will look for God’s grace in action today.

                                                      Teresa Burnett-Cole, Gathering Advisory Board
Hymns for Reflection
“Mary, woman of the promise” (VU 16)
“There was a child in Galilee” (MV134)

                                                       Gifts of Prayer
                                       from the People to the People
                                                                A Selection from Gathering and Getting It All Together

To worship is                                                “Come On, Lord Jesus”
    to quicken the conscience by the                         Tune: 10 10 10 10 OLDHAM
    holiness of God,                                         (“Give to us laughter” VU 624)
    to feed the mind with the truth of God,                  1. Come on, Lord Jesus, now teach us to dance,
    to purge the imagination by the                             Blend with our spirits, your joy to enhance.
    beauty of God,                                              With all your people we join to exclaim,
    to open the heart to the love of God,                       “You are the Lord—We praise—your name.”
    to devote the will to the purpose of God.
Come, let us worship.                                        2. Come on, Lord Jesus, now teach us to swing,
                                                                Grant us the freedom our movement to bring.
Wilbur Howard, Getting It All Together, Pentecost 1974
                                                                Twisting and turning, we leap to acclaim,
                                                                “You are the Lord—We praise—your name.”
O Lord, our God, grant us the strength                       3. Come on, Lord Jesus, now teach us to dance.
to face the days ahead.                                         Fill us with courage to give you a chance.
Teach us to take them one at a time                             Stretch us and squeeze us to join the refrain,
and not to be overwhelmed by their numbers.                     “You are the Lord—We praise—your name.”
When we feel separated from all
                                                             4. Come on, Lord Jesus, now teach us your song,
and loneliness engulfs us,
                                                                Strike up the music, we’ll follow along.
help us to find the assurance of your love.
                                                                Each in his own special style to proclaim,
When our faith falters and life seems desolate,
                                                                “You are the Lord—We praise—your name.”
enable us to find the courage
to fight our way free of it.                                 (repeat first verse)
Be with us in our sorrow.
May we use the tragedies of life as opportunities            Alternate tune: “Thank You, O Lord” by Ron Klusmeier
to increase in wisdom, in maturity, in                       in Praise to the Lord
understanding of what it means to have                       Phil Johnson, Getting It All Together, Season of Creation 1974
fullness of life.
Marilyn Marai, Getting It All Together, Spring-Summer 1975

Gifts of Prayer from the People to the People

Lord, this has been a “rushing” week.                              Our God, we come in thanksgiving, for you have
So many places to go. So many people to please.                    made us your people, giving us exciting news to
And hardest of all to satisfy—ourself.                             tell. We come, some of us, in pain and struggle
Sometimes it looks distinctly as though life is                    and ask to receive your gift of life anew. We come,
breaking up around us.                                             each of us strange and unique, each of us specially
Almost none of our expectations are met.                           talented and handicapped. Bless us with your
And others refuse to live the way                                  presence, for we know how you change each life
we think they should.                                              you touch. In Jesus’ name, we come.
Grant us each a clear vision of our own                            Terry Shillington, Getting It All Together, Summer–Autumn 1978
limitations and our strengths.
Caution us against trying to play you
in the lives of others.                                            Easter is God full of surprises—“My ways are not
And help us love ourselves more than we do                         your ways”: God’s child in a manger, a king riding
at the present.                                                    a donkey, a saviour crucified, a dead one rising.
Stanley Errett, Getting It All Together, Season of Creation 1975   Easter is God full of surprises: asking us to believe
                                                                   the unbelieveable, to accept the unacceptable, to
                                                                   fear no death—for life in all its fullness reigns!
There is a moment in our lives when, if we stop                    Harold Boyd, Getting It All Together, Lent–Easter–Pentecost 1980
to listen, the whole world begins to vibrate with
hints of wonder. God speaks in that moment.
To such a time, we have come.                                      Like shy wild creatures
Let us celebrate new life in our family, reflect on                we dart away from your presence.
who we are, and where we have been.                                We are afraid you will hurt us, reject us,
Let us worship our living God.                                     reveal to us some painful truth.
D. Greenough, Getting It All Together, Pentecost–Summer 1976       Will our fear protect us?
                                                                   It will certainly keep us lonely.
                                                                   Are you a reliable God?
O God, you surprised the world that first                          If so, you are different from us—
Christmas when you came as a little child.                         different and better and holy.
Surprise us with some unexpected arrival of your                   We are afraid because you are different from us,
presence today. In a day when people can orbit                     but that difference gives us hope. Amen.
the earth, orbit our hearts. In a day when satellites              Bill Hines, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 1985
surround our world, become a satellite to our
needy lives. Give us faith for fear, strength for
weakness, and victory for defeat.                                  We are Exodus, moving from slavery.
Allan Johnston, Getting It All Together, Advent–Christmas 1978     We are Advent, longing to be free.
                                                                   We are Easter, rising with Christ.
                                                                   We are Pentecost, bursting with life.
                                                                   Go! Be God’s people in the world.
                                                                   Don Daniel, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 1986

                                                             A Selection from Gathering and Getting It All Together

O God, you call us into life in your kingdom                        God who seeks us in our hiding places,
through Christ’s simplicity of living.                              calling out, “Where are you?”
But we lock ourselves out with our complexities—                    God who seeks us
our success-seeking,                                                beneath the covering of our guilt,
our security-grasping,                                              calling out, “Who are you?”
our people-pleasing,                                                God who seeks us behind our many masks,
our lottery-longing.                                                calling out, “Who made you?”
We question the wisdom of your simplified living.                   God whose call penetrates our fear,
We rebel against you,                                               find us, love us, forgive us, for Christ’s sake.
hurting others and ourselves.                                       Amen.
O God, our redeemer, hear our confession.                           Wes Ashwin, Gathering, Advent–Christmas–Epiphany 1987
Norm Edson, Gathering, Advent–Christmas–Epiphany 1985/1986

                                                                    O God,
“Storm Stiller”                                                     whose glory is sung by angels and by refugees,
Tune: 8 8 8 WALY WALY                                               in soaring anthems and in falling leaves,
(“Though I may speak” VU 372)                                       give us grace this day to hear
The storm is strong; we face the wind.                              your still small voice,
The water rises; waves crash in.                                    so that we may be moved to
Where are we now? Where will we be?                                 deepening reverence, broadening love,
There is no mercy on this sea.                                      and growing hope.
                                                                    We pray through Christ our Lord. Amen.
But you, Christ, you are with us here.
                                                                    Peter Wyatt, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 1989
We turn to you in all our fear.
The single word you say is “peace,”
and wind and waves and storm all cease.                             O God of Abraham and Sarah, of Miriam and
What can you be? What power your say                                Moses, of Mary and Joseph, and Paul, we come
that even winds and sea obey?                                       into your presence today with awe, fearful of your
Remove our fear of death and harm.                                  mercy, hopeful of your gentle laughter, looking
Give us your faith and still our storm.                             for your surprises. Grant us your Spirit that we
Sylvia Dunstan, Gathering, Summer–Autumn1988                        may behold your glory and experience anew your
                                                                    love. Amen.
                                                                    Doreen Van Camp, Gathering, Lent–Easter–Pentecost 1990

Gifts of Prayer from the People to the People

Despite grain still in the fields and                           Spirit of God, Holy Wind
dinners yet to be made,                                         Fire of God, Lively Energy
slow us down, O God,                                            anoint us to be people of your Good News:
and centre us here in this place of worship.                    comforted by a healing touch
Make our praise as genuine as children running                  that we might bring comfort
up to give a hug,                                               to those who are suffering;
and our confession as honest in admitting                       loved by those who surround us
our own sin                                                     that we might bring love to an angry world;
as it would be if we were tattling on our                       challenged by your truth that we might bring
neighbour.                                                      truth when all is confusion.
Give us a child-like acceptance of                              Shower us with Good News that
your love and forgiveness,                                      our lives and your world
not questioning its reality or its limitlessness.               might be reawakened by the power of your love.
May our worship echo our heartfelt thanks for                   Linda Murray, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 1993
simply being your children.
This we pray in the name of the one who blessed
children and promised them the kingdom. Amen.                   From all things that breathe
Dawn Ballantine-Dickson, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 1991          you may learn the wonders of God’s love.
                                                                From the swallows
                                                                you may learn the ecstasy of God’s love.
Come, O God our Creator, not as the frozen                      From the dolphins
fist of winter, but remembering your love for                   you may learn the fluidity of God’s love.
your people. Come, O Spirit, not as the bitter                  From the bulldogs
blast, but with wisdom and guidance to warm                     you may learn the tenacity of God’s love.
us. Come, O Christ, not as the slippery snow                    From the squirrels
and ice, but as our sure path to lives of love,                 you may learn the playfulness of God’s love.
reconciliation, and freedom.                                    From the whales
O God—Creator, Spirit, Christ—be to us ever                     you may learn the immensity of God’s love.
green amidst the frost. Amen.                                   From the coyotes
Robin Wardlaw, Gathering, Advent–Christmas–Epiphany 1991/1992   you may learn the loneliness of God’s love.
                                                                From brothers, sisters, parents, friends
                                                                you may learn the nearness of God’s love.
O God of angel song, shepherd surprise, stable                  From all things that breathe
warmth, and birthing cry, dawn in our darkness,                 you may learn the wonders of God’s love.
sing through our silence, surprise us with wonder               Gregory Grace, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 1994
and with joy this holy night. O come, O come,
Emmanuel, we pray. Amen.
Thomas Harding, Gathering, Advent–Christmas–Epiphany

                                                     A Selection from Gathering and Getting It All Together

We ask a simple question:                                   We run and we ski, we skate and we limp,
What is your favourite song, O God,                         we crawl and we hop
      the one you hum along the halls of heaven,            into God’s presence each day of our lives.
      the one you whistle while creating things?            Now, in these moments,
Have we heard it?                                           we come to worship God together.
Is it in our repertoire?                                    Let us sing and speak, listen and pray,
Is it even in the treasury of all great religions?          enthused with the life God gives.
Is it the lament whispered by a mother                      Joanna MacQuarrie, Gathering, Advent–Christmas–Epiphany
      to her dying child                                    1996/1997
      or the delightful cooing of first love?
Give us one note of it to savour and ponder
      to begin to make chords and tunes and                 Mould your church, holy God,
      harmonies.                                            to reflect the contours of your kingdom,
Rattle it around in our heads.                              making it a foretaste of your new creation,
Send it surging through our fingertips.                     when our time and your timelessness will meet.
Give us a hint of your song.                                Hasten the dawning day when all your people,
Help us to sing it too.                                     of every language, race, class, and nation,
Malcolm Sinclair, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 1995             will rise together to turn worship into witness,
                                                            to live no longer afraid of death,
                                                            to follow our waking dream of wholeness and
If we would come to worship, come,                          home,
not because it is a duty, but because it is a delight.      and to feast at your promised festival of life.
Come, not because a preacher called on us, but              Amen.
because God called to us.                                   Brian McIntosh, Gathering, Lent–Easter–Pentecost 1998
Come, not to display to the world
our fine clothes,
but to witness to the world our faith in Christ.            Our God, as a gentle rain soaks the earth,
Come, not to smirk at others for our goodness,              may your peace and love fall upon us,
but to search together for God’s righteousness.             bringing growth and life.
Come, not to be complimented                                Soak into our innermost being.
on our proficiency,                                         Quiet all that makes us anxious.
but to hear the Word speak to our deficiencies.             Help us to linger in your presence
Come, not to listen while others are condemned,             and send us out refreshed
but to hear how we have sinned.                             to carry your peace to others.
Come, not to take away whatever God will give us,           Camillia LaRouche, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 1998
but to go away fitted for service.
We would encounter the God who searches for us.
H. Roy White, Gathering, Summer–Autumn1996

Gifts of Prayer from the People to the People

Chocolate-mouthed and daffodil-scented,                         From the beginning of creation
we hallelujahed our heads off:                                  to a future yet unborn,
Christ is risen! Christ is risen indeed!                        from the depths of the earth,
The moment fades—                                               to the far reaches of the universe,
the sweetness gone, beauty wilted,                              the truth of God is revealed to us.
easy answers hushed:                                            God’s love surrounds us,
and still we come to pray and praise and seek                   the faith of God’s people inspires us.
the Risen One.                                                  Let us worship in joy and thanksgiving.
barb janes, Gathering, Lent–Easter–Pentecost 1999               Bill Steadman, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 2002

Come, people of God!                                            Sung Benediction
Lift your hearts to the God who created us.                     Tune: 8 7 8 7 D HOLY MANNA
Sing, like Miriam did, leading the Hebrews                      (“All who hunger” VU 460)
in joyful celebration!                                          From this place of prayer and praising,
Dance, like David did                                           Cross and table, well-worn pews,
before the Ark of the Covenant!                                 God, we leave to work and witness,
Rejoice, as Mary did                                            Living every day for you.
when told she would bear a son;                                 Bless your people as we journey,
and give thanks, as the people of God have done                 Loving Parent, Holy Friend;
since they were given voice.                                    Spirit, guide your people onward
Let us worship God.                                             Till once more we meet again.
Kate Crawford, Gathering, Advent–Christmas–Epiphany 1999/2000
                                                                Heidi Koschzeck, Gathering, Lent–Easter–Pentecost 2003

We need forgiveness, God, for we are not the                    In a world that is sometimes scary and confusing,
people you would have us be,                                    we come here to find sanctuary.
and we are not the people we would like to be.                  In a world that is sometimes ahead of itself,
Time and again, the love that lives within us                   we come here to encounter what is holy.
remains unspent.                                                In a society which abuses power so readily,
Time and again, the compassion that                             we come here to weave ourselves into
stirs inside us remains restrained.                             the circle of God’s all-encompassing love.
Time and again, the life of abundance you call us
                                                                Cindy Laing, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 2004
to live and share remains only a dream.
Forgive us and set us free to be all we can be….
(silent prayer)
Curtis Tufts, Gathering, Lent–Easter–Pentecost 2001

                                                      A Selection from Gathering and Getting It All Together

Like pine seedlings                                          Qu’éclate partout la joie du ciel!
just coming out of the ground…                               Qu’éclate partout la joie du monde!
our joy begins to grow.                                      Qu’éclate dan l’Église la joie des fils et
Like a willow’s roots                                        des filles de Dieu!
stretching out under the ground…                             La lumière éclaire la terre.
our compassion reaches into the world.                       Peuple chantez!
Like roses with deadwood pruned back                         Que brille à jamais cette lumière!
forcing new growth…                                          Que brille dans nos cœurs la joie du Seigneur!
our sins are forgiven.                                       Que brille dans l’Église la joie des enfants de Dieu!
Thanks be to God                                             ô nuit si profonde de mystère!
who does such wonderful things.                              ô nuit si riche de clarté!
Richard Bott, Gathering, Lent–Easter–Pentecost 2005          ô nuit d’amour!
                                                             Ministries in French Unit (UMiF) textes liturgiques, Gathering
                                                             Advent–Christmas–Epiphany 2006/07
Hey God,
I really messed up.
I’m sorry.                                                   This is the God we worship:
I wasn’t thinking.                                           not some thundering mountain god
Help me to remember to think                                 daunting us with fearful face;
before I make another mess-up.                                 not some cosmic sin-accountant
Assurance                                                      marking every goof and grace;
God knows we make mistakes,                                    nor Big Brother in the sky
but God will always love us.                                   fixing us with pitiless eye.
Junior Youth Class St. John’s U.C., Alliston, Ont.,
                                                             This is the God we worship:
Gathering, Advent-Christmas–Epiphany 2006/07                 deliberate, unstoppable,
                                                               lighter of creation’s fire;
Go back into this beautiful and broken                       resourceful, determined,
world today.                                                   healer of the human heart;
Hold to the choice to be ready,                              subtle, adventurous,
a flame of hope that will not go out,                          shaper of lives of light.
a gentle, persistent defiance against despair.               This is the God we know in Jesus.
Follow the Light of the World.                                 With daring and joy
The Holy One will lead.                                        we name this God our Lord,
                                                               and worship.
Juanita Austin, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 2006
                                                             Rod Sykes, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 2007

Gifts of Prayer from the People to the People

Impatient God—                                                     Our sweat, our dancing, our tears,
While we are still looking for you                                 and our laughter,
in wounded hands,                                                  the money in our pocket
you are sparking an Easter sunrise in our world.                   or a cheque from our bank,
While we hang on to fear and sadness,                              we offer it all and even more besides.
you are grabbing our hands and lifting us                          Our hearts, our hands, our purpose,
into a new day!                                                    and our living,
Wake us up, that we search not only for you in an                  the faith you have given and the yearning
ancient story of wounded hands;                                    we show,
make us certain of your presence in the renewal                    we offer our selves for your blessing and promise.
of our spirit, in the laughter of peace, in the                    May the witness and the passion of those here
liberation of people.                                              before us flow through our veins
Shine your Easter through each of us. Give us                      as communion as one.
courage for Hallelujahs!* Amen.                                    Bless us as your community of faith ever
Carolyn Smith, Gathering, Lent–Easter–Pentecost 2008               changing. Amen.
* Keri Wehlander, Courage for Hallelujahs! (Toronto: UCPH 1997).   Gord Dunbar, Gathering, Advent–Christmas–Epiphany 2008/2009
Used with permission.

                                                                   Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Birthing God:                                                      Make the shuttles sound a rhythmic beat
From the fertility of your Womb...                                 as all the earth weaves a shawl.
You birth us to new hope.                                          Hear the hum of a potter’s wheel,
From the fertility of your Womb...                                 shaping goodness in our hands.
You birth us to new vision.                                        Make the sky, sun, and moon emerge from the
From the fertility of your Womb...                                 painter’s brush.
You birth us to new dreams.                                        Make a poet’s iambic metre tell the stories of life
From the fertility of your Womb...                                 and faith.
We wait to be birthed anew! Amen.                                  Worship God with gladness,
Diane Robinson, Gathering, Advent–Christmas–Epiphany               come into the holy presence singing, dancing,
2008/2009                                                          painting, sculpting, and making poetry.
                                                                   Worship God, all the earth,
                                                                   with sounds and shapes of holiness.
                                                                   Melanie Kauppila, Gathering, Summer–Autumn 2009

                                                                                          Thank You
40th General Council/40e Conseil général
The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

In 2009–2010, as we celebrate 25 years of Gathering and 35 years since it all began with Getting It All
Together, we want to say thank you to all who use Gathering to plan and inspire their weekly worship and
to all of our contributors who generously share their materials.

Gathering                                                        Gathering
    in community to hear God whisper hope                            with others to share pain and joy,
    and possibility.                                                 disappointments and dreams.
Gathering                                                        Gathering
    at font to feel the outpouring of God’s                          to be changed in the encounter with each
    well-being and love.                                             other and with God’s word.
Gathering                                                        Gathering
    at table to taste God’s assurance                                to be encouraged for seeking justice and
    and challenge.                                                   living hope day by day.
Gathering                                                        Gathering
    in prayer which is work we are called to                         the gifts of God for the people of God
    do for God’s world.                                              and beyond.
Gathering                                                        Gathering is our radical act in a scattered world.
    in song to experience the transcendent
    rhythm of the Holy.
Gathering                                                        Susan Lukey, Editor of Gathering
    in community to see the image of God
    reflected in each other’s eyes.

                          Our thanks to the Projects Fund of the United Church Women of British
                          Columbia Conference for their major donation toward the production of this
                          Gathering prayer resource for General Council 2009.

                          Our thanks to the M&S Fund of The United Church of Canada
                          for its ongoing support.

     40th General Council/40e Conseil général
     The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

40th General Council/40e Conseil général
The United Church of Canada/L’Église Unie du Canada

                  Celebrating 25 years of Gathering 1984–2009
                           Greetings from the Gathering Advisory Board to GC40 Commissioners

   Blessed are those who trust in [God]…. They shall be like   Without worship, we perish. Our souls long
   a tree planted by the water, sending out its roots by the   for that which is transcendent. In worship, we
   stream” (Jeremiah17:7, 8).                                  experience something greater than ourselves
Worship is the beating heart of the United                     and we are called to be more than we imagined
Church, and for 25 years Gathering has been a                  possible. People try to fill this need for
vibrant, sparkling stream enabling the worship of              transcendent experience with material goods,
the church to blossom and flourish. We offer this              thrilling experiences, and addictive substances.
booklet to sustain you at General Council, and as              Yet it is only in an encounter with the Holy that
a resource to strengthen your faith community                  our souls are truly filled. Thank you to all of you
when you go home.                                              who share your Holy moments and the worship
David Sparks, Chair of the Gathering Advisory Board            materials which shape them. May Gathering
                                                               continue to bless and inspire your worship
It has been said that when we sing, we pray twice,             gatherings.
and that in that singing, we are often expressing              Susan Lukey, Editor of Gathering
what is in our hearts, not just what is on our
minds. Sharing musical ideas and experiences
                                                               Words of greeting, words of reflecting,
among members of our church family continues
                                                               Heartfelt words of prayer and forgiveness,
to be a great source of joy and inspiration, and
                                                               Faith-filled silence, verses of praise,
Gathering provides a wonderful forum for that
                                                               Sighs of longing and blessing for good-bye,
sharing. Your work as commissioners to General
                                                               May these be ours now!

Council is demanding, but we hope that it too
                                                               Let us worship God!
is a source of joy and inspiration. Make a joyful
                                                               Betty Lynn Schwab, Worship Desk
Lloyd MacLean, Music Editor of Gathering

              We hope you enjoy this Gathering prayer resource
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