Prayers and blessings for Pentecost

I created the following prayers and blessings for use during my congregation’s Pentecost Sunday service. All of these texts are adapted from portions of the prayer of dedication for Kirtland Temple, composed and read by Joseph Smith Jr. in 1836.

Call to worship:

Lord God Almighty!
Help us, by the power of your Spirit,
so that we may mingle our voices
with the angels around your throne
in acclamations of praise,
singing: “Hosanna to God and the Lamb!”

Prayer for a world in need:

[This could be used as the Prayer for Peace; but it’s also an opportunity for worshippers to voice other prayer requests, for either their own needs or the needs of others.]

Have mercy, O Lord, on all the nations of the earth.
Remember the kings, the rulers, and great ones of the earth.
Remember all people—
all the poor, the needy, and afflicted ones of the earth.

May hardened hearts be softened.
May prejudices give way before the truth.
May weapons of bloodshed be laid down.
May the oppressed be set free.

Remember all your church, O Lord—
all their families and connections,
all their sick and afflicted ones,
with all the poor and lowly of the earth.

[Open a time of meditative silence, during which worshippers are invited to reflect on their own needs, the needs of those close to them, and the needs of their fellow beings farther away.

Invite worshippers to pray either silently or, if they feel so moved, to voice their prayer requests aloud.

When the Spirit indicates to you that it is time to move on, conclude the prayer as follows:]

Hear, O hear, O hear us, O Lord!
Answer these petitions,
accept the works we do in your name,
and make your people shout for joy.

Prayer for disciples in mission:

We ask you, Holy God,
that your servants may go forth from this place
clothed in your power.

May your name be upon us;
may your glory be round about us;
may your angels watch over us.

May we carry from this place
great and glorious tidings,
so that all the world will know
that you are at work
fulfilling the promises you made through the prophets.

[Open a time of meditative silence, during which worshippers are invited to reflect on the question: What help do you need from the Spirit to carry out Christ’s mission?

Invite worshippers to pray for those needs, either silently or, if they feel so moved, voicing their needs aloud.

When the Spirit indicates to you that it is time to move on, conclude the prayer as follows:]

May your servants be graced with power from above.
May it be for us as on the day of Pentecost:
may flames of fire be poured out on your people,
and may your glory wash over us like a mighty, rushing wind.

Sending forth:

Go forth, clothed in the power of the Spirit.
Christ’s name is upon you,
God’s glory is round about you,
and the angels have charge over you.

Go and proclaim the great and glorious tidings
that God is at work.

For Easter 2020

I’m posting here some resources I created for Easter 2020. The first is a video sermon (a narrated PowerPoint slideshow) I shared today with my congregation via our Facebook group.

The images below are sized appropriately for a Facebook cover photo. There’s a version in English, in French, and in Spanish. The image of Jesus is taken from this painting by Henrik Olrik, touched up so that Jesus looks a bit more like someone from the Mediterranean rather than the Baltic.




Prayer for a pet’s burial

My dog died yesterday. We’d been together for 15 years. I composed the following prayer for her burial. I’m posting it here in case others would like to adapt it for their own pets.

The prayer is inspired by Genesis 1:31 and Joseph Smith Jr.’s teaching that animals have immortal souls.

Creator God—

You saw everything you had created,
and you saw that it was good.

Patches was good.

We thank you for the blessing and the joy
of having Patches in our lives.

We loved running in the forest with her, chasing deer.
We loved watching her on spycam as she ran to the door to greet us when she heard us coming home.
We loved watching her try to bury treats under pillows.
We loved watching her bark at cows and horses through the car windows.
We loved seeing her sigh contentedly under warm blankets.

We hope that we were faithful stewards of this creature of yours.
We hope that the fifteen years she lived with us were happy years for her.

Now we commend her body to the earth
and her spirit to your hands,
trusting that a time will come
when she will once again come running to greet us
and we will once again join her in a joyful race through sunlit forests.

Easter Sunday

Theme: A people of the Temple bear witness of resurrection

Luke 24
(excerpted; fresh translation)

On the first day of the week,
the apostles and some others were gathered together.
As they were talking, suddenly Jesus was standing among them.

“Peace be with you,” he said.*
But they were terrified; they thought they were seeing a ghost.

He said to them, “What’s wrong? It’s me!
Look—touch me. I’m flesh and bones, not a ghost.”
And he showed them his hands and feet.
They gave him some broiled fish,
and as they watched, he ate it.

Then he said to them:
“It was written that the Messiah** would suffer
and would rise from the dead on the third day,
and that in his name
repentance and forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed to all peoples,
starting at Jerusalem.

Of all this, you are witnesses.
But wait here in Jerusalem
until I send you what my Father promised
and you are clothed with power from heaven.”

Then he led them out to Bethany
and was taken away from them, up into heaven.

With great joy, the disciples returned to Jerusalem.
There they all spent their time in the temple, praising God.

* Peace be with you: in Hebrew, Shalom aleichem

** the Messiah: or the Christ, the Anointed One


Lent is over; Easter has come. But here’s a final reflection to cap off the Lenten series.

Luke’s version of the Easter story ends with the disciples in Jerusalem, waiting to be clothed with power from heaven so they can go out in the name of the Christ to proclaim repentance and forgiveness of sins to all peoples. Their wait will end on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit falls on them.

And what do the disciples do while they’re waiting? They spend their time in the Temple, praising God.

Today, I will gather with my congregation to celebrate resurrection. We will sing hymns of praise, as I imagine the disciples doing in the Temple at Jerusalem in the days following that first Easter.

As I sing Easter hymns with my congregation, I’m going to imagine that we’re standing inside the sanctuary of the Temple at Independence. I’m going to imagine the sanctuary filled with members of Community of Christ from all over the world. When our Easter service is over, we will pour out of the Temple onto the World Plaza, with its world map made of bricks. We will go forth to bear witness of the risen Christ and to proclaim, in his name, repentance and forgiveness of sins in every nation where Community of Christ members live.


Photo by Emma Gray

We proclaim that people need to change the way they live.
We proclaim that people can change the way they live.
We support and participate in ministries that help people change the way they live.
We change the way we ourselves live.

We forgive people who have wronged us or hurt us.
We ask forgiveness of people whom we have wronged or hurt.
We work for reconciliation.
We work for healing.
We work to make peace.

Echoing the risen Jesus, we wish for everyone who crosses our path:
Shalom aleichem. Peace be with you.

That’s the vision, at least.

Holy Saturday

Theme: A people of the Temple follow Christ in the way of suffering love

Mark 8:34
(excerpted; fresh translation)

Jesus said:
“If any of you want to come with me—
disown yourself,
pick up your cross,
and follow me.”

Doctrine and Covenants 164:6b-c
(excerpted; fresh rendering)

As Christ’s body,
lovingly and patiently bear the weight of criticism
from those who hesitate to respond
to God’s vision of human worth and equality in Christ.
This is your burden.

At the same time, always remember:
The way of suffering love that leads to the cross
leads also to resurrection.
Trust in this promise.


“Pick up your cross,” says Jesus. In Doctrine and Covenants 164, the Spirit tells us that our cross—our burden—is to “lovingly and patiently bear the weight of criticism from those who hesitate to respond to God’s vision of human worth and equality in Christ.”

What does that mean?

What does God’s vision of human worth
call me to do
that would lead to me being criticized?

What does God’s vision of equality in Christ—
equality in the church—
call me to do
that would lead to me being criticized?

I am supposed to lovingly bear the weight of that criticism.
What does that look like?
It sounds like it may involve suffering:
“the way of suffering love that leads to the cross.”


Scott Olson/Getty Images. A memorial march for victims of gun violence in Chicago, 2016.

About this Lenten reflection