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A Place in God's Heart... A Place at Christ's Table

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Liturgies & Occasional Services

Published by the Institute for Welcoming Resources, a program of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and home of the Shower of Stoles Project www.WelcomingResources.org. Unless otherwise noted, permission is granted to reprint individual selections for congregational use.

LITURGY

A Passion Sunday Liturgy

By Maggie Shannon George
Shared to honor Rev. Ann B. Day and Donna Enberg
for their powerful ministry as leaders of the
Open and Affirming Program of the
UCC Coalition for LBGT Concerns

CAST OF CHARACTERS

  • Narrator
  • Simon
  • Chief Priest
  • Disciple One
  • Peter
  • Judas
  • Pilate
  • Candle Lighter
  • Extra One
  • Extra Two
  • Crucifixion Observer
  • Cross Bearer/Jesus

MUSIC FOR MEDITATION

Narrator: (from the back of the sanctuary) As we enter the story of the Passion of Jesus, it is just before the Passover feast. The chief priests and scribes are looking for a way to arrest Jesus before the feast begins. They are afraid of a riot breaking out if they wait any longer. Listen to the story as it is told from various parts of the community gathered at that time and place.

FIRST READING

Simon tells the story of the woman who comes to his house and anoints Jesus

Simon: (entering from the side) There's something about this place that reminds me of the night Jesus was at my house. Maybe it's the variety of people... I can't quite put my finger on it. Let me tell you a little bit about that evening and maybe you'll know what I mean. Quite frankly it is still amazing to me that Jesus and his friends were actually at my house. They even sat at my table. This might not sound so unusual or like a big deal to you but what you do not know is that I am a leper. My name is Simon. Being a leper in that community made me an outcast much as someone with AIDS or a mental illness or some other disease might be an outcast today. So, for me in that time, sharing a meal with anyone was a rare deal. I was overwhelmed and honored when Jesus and his friends showed up at my house.

But, I really want to tell you about what happened next. That's even more powerful, I think. We were all lounging around my table when this woman came to my house. It was clear she knew that Jesus was there or she would never have come to the door. She walked past everyone in the room and went right over to where Jesus was sitting. She opened a jar of ointment she had brought with her and poured it over Jesus' head. The room fell silent as we stared with astonishment. I will never forget the look in her eye. She looked at him like she knew him. It was as though she were honoring Jesus with her ointment. Everyone gathered there stared in amazement and confusion. We couldn't figure out why she would do this. Who was Jesus to get such treatment? That question would have to wait because the silence of the group changed to outrage. (Do you ever notice how sometimes people move right to outrage when they are really confused?) Anyway, they began yelling at her saying how dare she be so wasteful with such expensive oil. They even told her that instead of pouring the oil over Jesus head that she should have sold it and given the money to the poor... I think they were trying to justify their anger in a way that would please Jesus.

But before anyone could say another word, Jesus came to her defense. He told us to leave her alone. What he said next still has me thinking. He said that the woman had performed a great service to him. He then looked at the woman and said, "I will never forget what you have done." He looked back at each one of us and said, "You will always have the poor with you, and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. This woman has done what she could. She has anointed my body in preparation for its burial." While I did not fully understand what had taken place, I could not help but feel that it had been a profound moment in Jesus' life and the life of our whole community.

(Simon exits during the following.)

COMMUNITY RESPONSE

Narrator: We have the opportunity to withdraw from our busy lives, to journey to the desert to the margins of our culture.
All: We commit to supporting each other as we journey to strange places and grapple with difficult questions.

SECOND READING

The chief priest describes the plan they have worked out with Judas

Chief Priest: I can hardly believe that Judas came to see us today. Finally, information that can help us get Jesus once and for all. He is ours! Although I must say that I am skeptical. Judas was one of Jesus' closest friends. Why would he betray him to us? He has followed this guy for several years. Maybe they are not as close as we thought. Or maybe our offer to pay him for his trouble is more important then his friendship with Jesus. Or could it be that he finally saw what a fraud and a danger this Jesus really is. Judas actually told us where we could find Jesus so that we could arrest him. His story was pretty convincing. He agreed to hand Jesus over to us in a secluded spot. I guess we will soon find out if this Judas is true to his word. If he is, we will have Jesus before the Passover feast, and Judas will have his money. Good trade if you ask me.

CANDLE LIGHTING

Candle Lighter: Betrayal and intimacy is within each one of us.

INVITATION TO THE OFFERING

Presider: Let us bring our whole selves to this time and space.
All: We come together to hear and be moved by the story of Jesus and the disciples.
Presider: May we also bring our whole selves and our gifts to this community.
All: We share our gifts of heart and talent and treasure to build this community.
Presider: Let us collect our offering at this time.

OFFERTORY

(The ushers come forward up with the collection and the elements and set it all on the table. The pastor(s) are not there to receive it.)

THIRD READING

A disciple tells of their last supper together

Disciple: There we sat, having a wonderful Passover meal with Jesus. We were so consciously together in community and so intentionally acknowledging God's presence with us. We had a very intimate connection to one another and to the spirit of God in our midst. Then Jesus suddenly got this intense look on his face and said that one of us was going to betray him. Talk about a showstopper. We all looked at one another with confusion and some distrust. I'm sure everyone had the same thoughts I did. What did he mean "betray him?" Why would he think or say something like that out of the blue - we have been together for so long. We are like family. I looked around the room and tried to imagine who would even consider betraying Jesus? Did he think it would be me? I know there have been some hard moments lately, we have had heavy conversation about where all this was going, what we were all together for, what our purpose was and how we would help to change the world. I know there were some tempers and some fears in the group, but I didn't think they had gotten so bad that there was a question of betraying Jesus.

Each one of us tried to reassure him that we would not betray him. I could not imagine such a thing. How could I possibly betray someone I love so much? But he spoke with such urgency and almost as if he was seeing the future in his minds eye. He slowly looked at us one at a time and spoke words that sent chills down my spine. (Pause and look slowly around the room at each section of the community.) He said that one who betrays him would have been better off never being born. You can imagine the tension in the room and knot in my stomach, as it seemed Jesus was desperate for us to know something we were not able to understand or believe.

As the meal went on, our conversation was hushed and not as easy as before. Then Jesus stood up and held up a loaf of bread. He quietly glanced around the room and made a connection with each of us that was so filled with love that we began to feel more at ease.
Narrator: The events of that last supper are so central to our tradition that we still re-enact that Passover event. So let us gather here and be part of that event that has been carried through time to us today.

COMMUNION LITURGY

from Spirit of the Lakes UCC, click here

Presider: God is with you.
All: And also with you.
Presider: Let us share our communion prayer.
All: We remember that on the night before Jesus was killed by those who feared him, he sat at table with his friends, women and men and children, sharing in the feast of the Passover, which is the celebration of the liberation of God's people. And remembering God's power, Jesus took bread, and after he had given thanks and blessed it, he broke it saying, "This is my work and my life, for you and with you. Take it all of you, and do this remembering me.

After dinner Jesus took the Elijah Cup, the cup that was traditionally reserved for the Holy One to come. But instead of waiting, Jesus passed it to them as it is now being passed on to us, and he said, "This is the cup of the new covenant. It is the cup of justice and peace poured out for all. Drink of it all of you and do this remembering me.

Each time that we break bread together we participate in the Body of the Risen Christ, for we are the Body of the Risen Christ. And each time we share this cup we participate in the New Community for we are God's hope of the New Community. Let us consecrate these elements as we sing our table prayer together.

TABLE PRAYER

(A song such as "Eat This Bread" from the Taizé Community)

THE COMMUNION INVITATION

One: Consider your place at this feast. Gathered with friends and experiencing Jesus' intimate sharing as he begins the end of his life journey. With this in mind, we invite you to approach the servers from the center aisle in whatever configuration is comfortable for you. The servers will give you the elements and instead of spoken prayer, today we will simply share together in silence the intimate presence and connection with one another.

(After Communion is completed, everything should be removed from the communion table/altar except for the Christ candle and the paraments.)

FOURTH READING

Peter tells of being in the garden with Jesus

Peter: My name is Peter. I have loved my time and connection with Jesus. I am sure you can imagine my feelings when Jesus brought up the idea that one of us would betray him. My heart raced with fear, we have been having pretty intense discussions lately about what we are all being called to do. I felt like something big was about to happen, otherwise why would he say something so disturbing during the Passover dinner.

It only got worse from there. As planned after dinner we walked to the Mount of Olives. Upon our arrival, Jesus turned to us and said that we would all desert him. Betray him… desert him? What was going on? I pulled him aside because I had to tell him that I loved him and that I would never desert him, no matter what. Based on the pained look in his eyes, I knew he did not believe me. I think he wanted to, but some how couldn't. His reply broke my heart and also made me mad. In fact, he said, before the rooster crows twice I would deny him not just once but three times. I told him that was crazy thinking - I would never do such a thing. But, there was no getting through to him. In his mind it seemed like a done deal. I was devastated and sick to my stomach. I couldn't figure out why he would think I would ever deny him! I love him!

(Peter picks up the Christ candle from the communion table and sets it elsewhere.)

A few minutes later Jesus asked us to go with him to Gethsemane so he could pray. Of course we went with him. I think we all wanted to keep a close eye on him. While some of the other disciples hung back at the edge of the garden, James, John and I went with him to where he wanted to pray. It was so painful to see him in such a state. I could just see the agony he was feeling. He said he was deeply grieved and asked us to stay awake with him. We stood a few feet away as Jesus threw himself on the ground and prayed out loud that "this hour might pass him by." He asked that he might be spared what was to come, but also that he might be able to accept the will of God rather then run from it. I always admired Jesus' willingness to be open to God's call in his life. But I have to say it was also that openness that was often the cause of our arguments. Some of us wanted to play it safer than it seemed Jesus was willing to play. He would push us to places we never really wanted to go. He always seemed to be right, too. That's why I was so uncomfortable that night. I was sure that Jesus knew something or was being called to something that would be a great hardship even for him to accept.

As we waited for Jesus to finish his praying, we fell asleep. Jesus had to wake us up. He was disappointed and hurt that we had not stayed awake with him like we said we would. Talk about feeling like jerks, just when he really needed friends and we couldn't come through for him. He gave us another chance and asked us to stay awake as he spent more time praying. With so much adrenalin running through our veins we agreed that we would stay awake. Honestly, we tried to stay awake. We really did, but once he was off praying again the sleepiness snuck up on us and we fell asleep. After all the wine at dinner, and the tension, we were tired. I was at a loss for words when he woke us up again. What does one say after letting down someone you love not once but twice within a matter of hours? Worst of all, we fell asleep yet a third time. What kind of friend was I? How hard is it to stay awake when asked? I have asked myself these questions thousands of times since then. The third and last time Jesus woke us up, he said it was time to face his betrayer. I did not know what to think until I saw the lights in the distance.

(Peter gathers up the altar paraments, hugs them to his chest, and exits.)

CANDLE LIGHTING

Candle Lighter: Betrayal and intimacy is within each one of us.

COMMUNITY RESPONSE

One: Jesus relived the history of his people - a people who traced their origins to freed slaves and itinerant tribes.
All: Jesus found his voice and his power in the desert. He returned to society determined to speak truth to power, to build a circle of equals in a world of oppression, and to live his life even in the face of death.

HYMN

perhaps "Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley"

FIFTH READING

Judas speaks of his reason to betray Jesus

Judas: I knew the whole evening that I was going to betray Jesus, but I don't know how Jesus knew. And why didn't he do something to stop me? I love Jesus just as much as Peter and the others do, but I could see what the others could not see. The people were beginning to believe that they could rise up and overthrow the powers in place. Certainly, that would not bring the peace. There isn't enough organizing to keep control of the masses that are beginning to listen to him. We will all be killed. If Jesus is not stopped in the uprising he is leading, we will all be killed! I am the only one who knows how bad it can be and who has a way to stop it. I have friends in the seats of power; I know their strength and determination to end this whole thing. What I am doing will minimize the lives lost. I must see my loyalty to the country before my loyalty to my friend.

CANDLE LIGHTING

Candle Lighter: Betrayal and intimacy is within each one of us.

SIXTH READING

The chief priest tells of Jesus' trial

Chief Priest: The other chief priests and I gathered before the whole council to put a case together against this Jesus that was before us now. We were looking for testimony against Jesus to put him to death.
(Extra One and Extra Two each stand and speak from their places in the congregation.)
Extra One: Many of us would give false testimony against him but our testimony did not agree.
Extra Two: We heard him say, "I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another, not made with hands." But even on this point we did not agree.
Chief Priest: We stood and asked Jesus, "Have you no answer? What is it that they testify against you?" But he was silent and did not answer. So we asked again, "Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?" Jesus said, "I am; and you will see the Human One seated at the right hand of the Power," and "Coming with the clouds of heaven." His answer enraged us. We tore his clothes, and of the whole council we asked, "Why do we still need witnesses? You have heard his blasphemy! What is your decision?" (pause and smile menacingly) All of them condemned him as deserving death. Then the crowd that was gathered took over. They began to spit on Jesus, they blind-folded him, struck him and shouted for him to save himself. They shouted "Prophesy! Prophesy!" Then the guards beat him as the crowd watched and cheered.

CANDLE LIGHTING

Candle Lighter: Betrayal and intimacy is within each one of us.

SEVENTH READING

Peter explains his denial of Jesus

Peter: (Scared and nervous about being seen, Peter returns by way of the side aisle but doesn't come completely into the center area.) I followed at a safe distance as they took Jesus off to the High Priests. This was so much worse than I could ever have imagined, Jesus has done nothing wrong, there is no testimony that is credible, and surely he will be released. And yet, it didn't look good. The leaders were serious about getting rid of Jesus and I think they would have done whatever they needed to do in order to put an end to Him and to the movement that was growing. When someone in the crowd recognized me, I reacted out of fear, and without thinking. I just said I didn't know him. I kept watching from a safe distance and prayed that this was a bad dream, and that it couldn't really go this badly. Someone else asked if I was with Jesus. That time I just quietly said no. I was there all through the night watching this all unfold. Jesus was being beaten and the crowd was cheering. There was so much fear and hate in that crowd I couldn't believe it. The third time someone accused me of being part of his group, I feared for my own safety as I saw what was happening to Jesus. I got defensive and said I didn't know what they were talking about… Then, I heard that rooster crow and I remembered what Jesus has said to me in the garden just the night before. He was right, even though I loved him; I protected myself first and denied him. What good would it have done if I had done otherwise? But how could I let him go through this alone? Did he know what he was expecting of me? (Peter quietly moves away during the following.)

COMMUNITY RESPONSE

One: We face hard questions.
All: Questions about ourselves - who are we as individuals and what have we each done with our lives? Questions about our community - how do we relate to family and community as equals? Questions about God - what is the nature of God? What does God want of each of us and all of us together?

SILENT REFLECTION

Music: perhaps "Pilate's Dream" from Jesus Christ Superstar

(All the readers throughout the space join in and recite the following line in a cacophony. Let it crescendo and then die out prior to the candle lighting.)

All Readers: "Crucify him, crucify him, crucify him!"

CANDLE LIGHTING

Candle Lighter: Betrayal and intimacy is within each one of us.

EIGHTH READING

The gathered crowd tells of the crucifixion of Jesus

Observer: We gathered around as Jesus was stripped in the courtyard. Someone placed a purple robe on him, one man made a crown out of a grapevine and put thorns in it and placed it firmly on Jesus' head. As the blood began to drip from his forehead, we jeered, "Hail, King of the Jews." We paraded by him and knocked into him, shoved him or spat on him, always mocking him, and he remained silent through it all. Before we took him out to be crucified, we took the purple cloak back and threw his clothes back on him. We found a man passing by and made him bring the cross for Jesus.
(The cross-bearer brings the cross down the center aisle and stands there with it.)
Observer: Once we reached Golgotha, we stripped him again and nailed him to the cross. We continued to deride him as he hung there. Some joked at him that he said he would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days… save yourself, come down from the cross.
Chief Priest: (with sarcasm) He saved others and cannot save himself.
Observer: Someone offered him wine mixed with myrrh but he refused it. We rolled dice to decide who would get his clothes. Finally, he hung there.
(Cross-bearer, who is now playing Jesus, slowly drops the cross.)
Jesus: My God, My God why have you forsaken me?

COMMUNITY RESPONSE

Narrator: We find our lives joined with the story of Jesus.
All: We find our hearts attuned to the suffering of our sisters and brothers and we pray for strength to recommit to our personal well being, the health of our relationships, and the healing of an oppressive and violent world.
All Cast: Betrayal and intimacy are within each one of us.

POSTLUDE

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LITURGY

A Service of Baptism

By Rev. Rebecca Voelkel
Program Director, Institute for Welcoming Resources
Written for the baptism of Cailey Jean Hansen, June 17, 2001

INTRODUCTION

One: Friends and family of (congregation's name), the time has come to honor our new daughter/son, (child's name), with the seal and blessing of baptism. As we begin, we light a candle to symbolize the light of Christ's way of living in the world and proclaiming justice. We are also reminded of the illumination of the mysterious and powerful Holy Spirit with us this morning.
All: Bless us, Holy One, as we gather.

EXPLANATION

One: Baptism is a sacrament which acknowledges the grace and nurturing that God and this community have for this child.
All: Baptism is a covenanting between a community and a new member.
One: Just as God covenants with us in grace, so we covenant with one another.
All: Baptism is a beginning.
One: This morning is a time to honor the beginning of a lifelong spiritual journey.
All: Water has been an important part of sacramental Christian ritual for thousands of years.
One: It is also a part of sacred ritual in many other spiritual traditions.
All: Water is a fundamental part of the cells in our bodies and the oceans of our planet.
One: In a bowl, one drop is an integral part of the whole.
All: Just as we are all drops of water in a larger ocean of life.
One: Water restores and nourishes us in times of exertion and healing.
All: Water provides swimming and coolness and splashing in the summer.
One: We are also called to be a sanctuary of mystery.
All: There is mystery in the holy sacraments. The oneness we become in this ritual of baptism is mysterious and blessed. God is present fully, openly, and in ways we do not know or understand in each of our lives.
One: One important story about water and mystery in the Christian tradition is the account of Jesus' baptism. Jesus approached John to be baptized and, though John thought himself unworthy, he baptized Jesus. As Jesus came out of the water, the sky opened up and the Spirit of God came down like a dove and descended on him.
All: Then a voice from heaven said, "This is my own dear Son, with whom I am well pleased."
One: This morning, we witness a similar blessing coming from God and this community of faith. (child's name) is God's own beloved son/daughter with whom God is well pleased.
All: Today, as we baptize (child's name), we reaffirm our own baptisms and the reality that we are all children of God, full of grace.

COVENANTING

One: Baptism, particularly an infant baptism, is about the promise of an entire community to nurture a child in his or her spiritual faith journey. As we baptize (child's name), I ask the following questions to her parent(s): Will you covenant to raise your daughter/son in a faith community? Will you promise to teach him/her the stories, beliefs, and rituals of Christianity, while at the same time encouraging her/him to respect and learn about the religious and spiritual traditions of others? If so, answer, "I will, with God's grace".
Parent(s): I will, with God's grace.
One: As you are raising her/him, will you be mindful of his/her spiritual life and growth, encouraging questions and conversations? If so, answer, "I will, with God's grace".
Parent(s): I will, with God's grace.
One: Will you promise to work for justice in your own life and to teach (child's name) the ways of justice? If so, answer, "I will, with God's grace".
Parent(s): I will, with God's grace.
One: Will you promise to ask for help from this community when you need counselor assistance in the spiritual rearing of (child's name)? If so, answer "I will, with God's grace."
Parent(s): I will, with God's grace.
One: I now turn to (child's name)'s godparent(s). Being a godparent is a holy calling. It means being a spiritual guide, an adult companion, and a playful influence. It entails supporting (child's name) in a special kind of relationship which each of you has already begun. Will you promise to pay particular attention to (child's name) spiritual milestones, to honor and remember her/his baptism, and to answer tough questions he/she asks honestly, even if it means being vulnerable or awkward? If so, answer, "I will, with God's grace".
Godparent(s): I will, with God's grace.
One: Will you promise to take (child's name) out for ice cream, play games with her/him, and to continue to love him/her unconditionally? If so, answer, "I will, with God's grace".
Godparent(s): I will, with God's grace.
One: Finally, will you promise to work for justice in your own life and to teach (child's name) the ways of justice? If so, answer, "I will, with God's grace".
Godparent(s): I will, with God's grace.
One: There are at least two different communities that (child's name) will grow up in, the community of (congregation's name), and the community of chosen family and friends. Will you, the community of (congregation's name), and the chosen family and friends that surround her/him, promise to encourage (child's name)'s spiritual life and growth, to provide an education for (child's name) in the church, and to teach (child's name) about issues of justice? If so, answer "I will, with God's grace."
All: I will, with God's grace.
One: Do you promise to be with him/her as a community in joy, in sadness and in questions? Will you bestow on her/him the grace of a child of God? Will you laugh with him/her and play with her/him? If so, answer," I will, with God's grace".
All: I will, with God's grace.
One: I now invite all the children here today up to the front. You children are special playmates of (child's name)'s. Will you, the children in (child's name)'s life, agree to help (child's name) learn about God? Will you listen to him/her and laugh with her/him? Will you show him/her how to be an honest and playful child? If so, answer, "We will!"
Children: We will!

BAPTISM

One: Now it is time to baptize (child's name).

(Children of the congregation take containers filled with water and pour them into the baptismal bowl.)

Will you join with me as we bless this water and the covenants we made.

God of water and life, we celebrate the community that surrounds (child's name). Give each of us strength, conviction, and courage as we live into the promises we have made. Bless this water that it might be a sign and symbol of Your abundant grace. Amen.
One: By what name will this child be called?
Parent(s): (child's full name).
One: (child's full name), I baptize you in the name of the Creator who is Mother and Father of us all; in the name of the Christ who guides us in the ways of love and justice; and in the name of the Holy Spirit who comforts, inspires, and sustains us. Amen.

BAPTISMAL PRAYER

adapted from "Blessing Prayer for Infant" by Maren Tirabassi

One: Gentle God, we give thanks for (child's name), received with water, words, and the whisper of God into the church and this community of faith. We pray grace on this young life as infancy stands up into childhood and childhood reaches out for adolescence. Grant, O God, strength for the journey, insight appropriate for years, laughter in her/his home, and blessing in all places. May these parents/this parent find courage; may his/her godparent(s) share wisdom, may a friend arrive for every loneliness; and may the community of faith be alert always to the needs and hopes of all God's children. Amen.

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LITURGY

A Service of Communion

From Spirit of the Lakes United Church of Christ,
Minneapolis, MN

Offertory Hymn/Presentation of the Gifts

Great Thanksgiving

One: God is with you.
All: And also with you.
One: Let us lift up our hearts.
All: We lift them up to our God.
One: Let us give God thanks and praise.
All: This is a good and joyful thing to do.
One: It is a right and good and joyful thing, always and everywhere, to give You praise, All-loving God, creator of energy and matter, heaven and earth. Therefore we celebrate You, joining our voices with the wind and the streams, the animals and flowers, the living and the dead, the stars and the planets and all the company of Creation, who forever sing their unending hymn to proclaim the glory of Your Holy Name:

Sanctus

Words of Institution

One: We remember that on the night before Jesus was killed by those who feared him, he sat at table with his friends, women and men and children, sharing in the feast of the Passover, which is the celebration of the liberation of God's people. And remembering God's power, (take bread and break it while saying:) Jesus took bread, and after he had given thanks and blessed it, he broke it saying, "This is my work and my life, for you and with you. Take it all of you, and do this remembering me.

After dinner Jesus took the Elijah Cup, the cup that was traditionally reserved for the Holy One to come. (Raise the cup.) But instead of waiting, Jesus passed it to them as it is now being passed on to us, and he said, "This is the cup of the new covenant. It is the cup of justice and peace poured out for all. Drink of it all of you and do this remembering me.

Each time that we break bread together we participate in the Body of the Risen Christ, for we are the Body of the Risen Christ. And each time we share this cup we participate in the New Community for we are God's hope of the New Community. Let us consecrate these elements as we sing our table prayer together.

Table Prayer

(A song such as "Eat This Bread" from the Taizé Community)

Prayers of the Gathered Community

The Prayer of Jesus

(The Lord's Prayer - spoken or sung)

Communion Invitation

One: These are the gifts of God for the people of God. Here in this community we share an inclusive communion, which means you do not need to be a member of this congregation or any community of faith to join us at the table, for we believe that Christ is the host, Christ sets the table, and Christ welcomes all. Let us come, for God's table is ready.

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LITURGY

Service of Communion: A Ritual with Salt

By Carol Wise
Executive Director, Brethren Mennonite Council for LGBT Interests

Scripture Reading Mark 9:50

Introduction

One: Salt - this mighty symbol of life and vitality. Salt is the only rock that we eat.

Salt preserves and protects against decay. We die from a lack of it. Interestingly, when we hunger, we crave food. When we thirst, we crave water. But even when dying from a salt deficiency, at no time will we experience a craving for it. Perhaps that is why it is so difficult for dying institutions to embrace the salty ones in their midst.

Salt - a blessing, a necessity, a holy substance, a tasty gift. No wonder Jesus spoke of it. It is only fitting.

Today we celebrate the salt that we call the welcoming community. As a people called to justice, hospitality, love and healing, we offer to our churches and to the world the possibility of life, a protection against decay, an enhanced experience of flavor, health and vitality.

I invite us to consider the blessings that the salty ones pour out upon us and to celebrate that goodness. We welcome them to this holy table…
(Individuals come forward, take a pinch of salt and sprinkle it over the communion bread as they speak:)
One: I bring the saltiness of those who have gone before us and cleared the path… the ones who have taught us the meaning of courage, who embodied integrity, who ruptured the death-dealing silence, who call us yet today to be bold, brave and bodaciously honest. Their virtue continues to be a blessing to us all.
All: Be welcome at this table!
One: I bring the saltiness of people of faith whose hunger and thirst for righteousness has called them to remain within their faith traditions, and by their presence, insist that the church be faithful to God's call to hospitality and justice. Their hopefulness is a blessing to us all.
All: Be welcome at this table!
One: I bring the saltiness of those whose hunger and thirst for righteousness has called them to leave the familiarity of their religious traditions to embrace new spiritualities, or live within the ambiguity of their exile. Their absence from our churches is a reflection of an unquenchable, life affirming spirit, and is a blessing to us all.
All: Be welcome at this table!
One: I bring the saltiness of those allies who see in the liberation of lgbt, same gender loving people, hope for the whole of humankind. Their willingness to stand in solidarity is a profound act of imagination and peace, and their generosity is a blessing to us all.
All: Be welcome at this table!
One: I bring the saltiness of the most outrageous queens and uppity women and pesky peacemakers and annoying gadflies. These saints remind us that laughter and celebration are brazen acts of resistance and expressions of a strength and a passion that the world cannot take away. Their audacity is a blessing to us all.
All: Be welcome at this table!
One: I bring the saltiness of all who refuse to be silenced and made timid by fear. Their songs of love, their prayers of hope, their sermons of outrage, their protests, letters, speeches, mailings, poems, tears, righteous defiance and shouts of indignation, are gifts of passion and a blessing to us all.
All: Be welcome at this table!
One: Let us take a moment to give thanks for those whose presence graces our table…If you would like, I invite you to name them out loud…

Prayer of Blessing

All: Holy One, With hearts full of gratitude, we give thanks for this cloud of witnesses whose spirits linger among, around and within us. May the hope, generosity, audacity, and passion and life affirming presence that is present around this table and in this meal inspire us to be bold in our speech and strong in our commitment to a just and kind world where there is room enough for all at the table. Amen.

Sharing of the Bread and Cup

(insert your own Words of Institution)

A Reading

"When I Use My Power" by Audre Lorde

(All three voices happen simultaneously. However, each only speaks the words printed in bold. So sometimes there is only one voice speaking at a time, sometimes two, and sometimes all three.)

VOICE ONE: VOICE TWO: VOICE THREE:
When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.
When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.
When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid.

Hymn

"You Are Salt for the Earth, O People" by Marty Haugen - New Century Hymnal 181

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LITURGY

A Service of Covenant (Mantling)

In honor of Ann B. Day and Donna Enberg
and their dedication to the welcoming movement.
Adapted by Rev. Troy Plummer, Executive Director,
Reconciling Ministries Network, and by Heather Murray Elkins
with appreciation to John Wesley's service of covenant
Experienced in part at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.
While the Ku Klux Klan intimidated outside,
justice seekers for persons of all sexual orientations
and gender identities worshipped inside.

Reading

2 Kings 2:9-14

Response to the Word

One: We have been wandering in the wilderness, forty days and forty years.
All: Forty nights and for a life time.
One: Here we will camp.
All: Here we will come to a conclusion.
One: Here we will decide if we will bind ourselves
All: To the service of Christ again
One: Or travel on alone.
All: This is the place of covenant.
One: We have not traveled to this place by ourselves. Hear the names of those whose ministries and mantles have been showers of blessing.

(pause for names)

Now, surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,
All: Let us persevere in the calling to which Christ has called us.

Reading

(optional) Acts 1:6-11

Meditation/Sermon Focus:

Elishah picking up Elijah's mantle or disciples receiving a double portion and commissioned

Procession of Yoke

(Use an actual oxen yoke or symbolic creation, with one piece of rainbow cloth or stole draped at its middle. The yoke is carried throughout the assembled by two people, ending at a spot center front, accessible to all.)

Prayer of Covenant

(See John Wesley's Covenant Service)

Alternative:

One: Will you proclaim the faith marked by baptism trusting in God's promises?
All: We will.
One: Will you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
All: We will.
One: Will you act to create community, sanctuary, and peace with justice?
All: We will.
One: Will you gather at the table remembering grace, offering hospitality to all, expecting love to prevail?
All: We will.
One: Will you accept the mantle of discipleship as one who follows Christ?
All: We will.

Receiving the Mantles

(Several stations holding rainbow fabric pieces are needed. These mantles need to be at least 3 ˝ feet long; 3-5 inches wide. The congregation is invited to come forward and touch the "yoke" in the center aisle and move to a station to receive the mantle. Attendants at the stations will place the mantle around the back of the neck draping over the front shoulders.)

Covenant Prayer and Blessing

(Example: see John Wesley Covenant Prayer)

(Invite all to place a hand on the shoulder of the brother or sister in front of them.)

Optional Service Music

  • "Here I am, Lord" by Dan Schutte (Isaiah 6:8) © Daniel L. Schutte and NALR
  • "We Are Called" by David Haas (Micah 6:8) © GIA Publications, Inc.

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Organizational Partners

Affirm United/S'affirmer Ensemble The Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists Brethren-Mennonite Council for LGBT Concerns Open and Affirming Ministries of the Gay, Lesbian & Affirming Disciples (GLAD) Integrity Reconciling Works
More Light Presbyterians Open and Affirming Program of the United Church of Christ Coalition for LGBT Concerns (ONA) Reconciling Ministries Network Room for All - Reformed Church in America Welcoming Community Network - Community of Christ