Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Anti-Violence Communion Liturgy

Invitation

One: When Jesus sat at tables and broke bread with tax collectors, lawyers, rich elites, and poor peasants, he proclaimed that God’s gracious love and abiding presence k knows no bounds. Through these occasions of sharing food, women and men experienced God, and shared in God’s Kin-dom. A Kin-dom, where:

all are welcome, worthy, and invited,

lives are transformed and empowered,

and the fruits of God’s gentle justice b bloom throughout all Creation.

All: All people, including each of us, are invited to share in this sacred meal of celebration, and be strengthened by the presence of God in this place.

Prayer of Remembrance

One: W We remember that Jesus fed 5,000 hungry people with five loaves of bread and two fish. At this miraculous meal, there was such an abundance of food that everyone ate until they were full – and there were even twelve baskets of food left over.

All: Holy God, we celebrate Your abundant care and solidarity, revealed in this meal.

One: We remember that Jesus joined a great banquet with Levi, the despised tax collector. And despite the complaints of some, Jesus welcomed Levi, and invited him to repent and enjoy a fresh beginning at life.

All: Holy God, we celebrate Your transforming presence, revealed in this meal.

One: We remember that while sharing a meal with Pharisees, Jesus welcomed a woman viewed as an outsider. As the woman anointed his feet with oil, Jesus declared her dignity before everyone at the meal.

All: Holy God, we celebrate Your gracious inclusiveness, revealed in this meal.

One: At these meals, Jesus, and the women a and men disciples resisted the divisions, injustice, and violence of society. They lived out an alternative reality – the Kin-dom of God – a place of love, justice, and mutuality. Today we celebrate these meals and ministries.

But we also recognize that not all people liked Jesus’ ministry. In fact, for some people, it was scandalous. They said, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!” As we know, Jesus’ life became endangered.

When his arrest seemed near, Jesus ate a meal in an upper room with the disciples. As he had done so many times before, he took bread and after having given thanks to You, Holy God, he broke it and gave it to the disciples, this time saying, “Do this to remember me.” After the meal he shared wine, gave thanks, and said, “I will not drink from this cup again until I drink it with you in the Kin-dom of God.”

Jesus was then unjustly killed by the systems of domination of his day.

To some of his frightened disciples it seemed that the bread symbolized his broken body, and the wine his blood. It also seemed like injustice and violence killed Jesus and his ministry. But the resurrection provided a new hope. There were more meals - and more ministries! We thank you, Holy God, that the last supper wasn’t the last meal – or the last word!

At an evening meal in Emmaus, Jesus once again ate with the disciples. His execution wasn’t the end. His presence and ministry continued in a new way. Jesus once more took bread, and having given thanks to You, Holy God, he broke it and gave it to the disciples, revealing that Your steadfast love is stronger than death – and your ministry, with us, for the sake of your Kin-dom, continues.

The Kin-dom persisted – and persists today – through the many women and men who seek to be your resurrection community. Despite the divisions, violence, and injustice in the world, God continually brings forth renewed hope f for love, justice, and mutuality to and through e each of us.

Therefore, Holy God, in the sharing of this bread and wine, we joyfully celebrate

the hope-inspiring ministry and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Lifting of the Elements

One: Gracious God, may this meal, for us, be an “Emmaus meal,”

where we encounter your presence in the sharing of this food,

as the disciples did at their meal in Emmaus.

May the sharing of this food also be a taste of your Kin-dom, Holy God, so we may be strengthened to be your joyful and hopeful disciples. And may we share in your Kin-dom of love, justice, and mutuality with those around us. Amen!

[Invite the communion stewards to join the celebrants, if stewards are needed, so they can be more explicitly part of the blessing.]

Blessing

All: Holy God, bless each of us, and the meal we will share, so we may be:

opened to your abiding presence,

nourished by your gracious love,

and strengthened by your resurrection power. Amen!

One: Come taste the Kin-dom, and know God is present with us here.

Thanksgiving

One: Amazing God, thank you for your presence in this place. We also thank you for giving us a taste of your Kin-dom in this meal. Please use this food to strengthen us to be your joyful and hopeful Resurrection Community, sharing and experiencing your Kin-dom of love, justice, and mutuality. Flow through us, healing God. Amen!

Confession for Creation-Respecting Christians

One: Creator God, in the fullness of time you helped to bring forth the heavens and the earth. You filled the earth with plants, animals, insects, birds, rivers, fjords, and so much more.

All: As you looked upon your Creation you called it “very good.” It is in this “very good” Creation that you have given each of us life – and have invited us to enjoy life abundantly. But sometimes we forget to enjoy the home and life you have given us. So, Gracious One, we pray for your forgiveness.

One: Forgive us for when we haven’t taken time to enjoy listening to a bird sing.

All: Forgive us for when we haven’t appreciated our bodies, the temples of your Spirit.

One: Forgive us for when we haven’t remembered to thank you for the beauty of Creation.

All: Forgive us for when we haven’t more openly shared our emotions with you.

One: Forgive us for when we haven’t acted silly, for no reason other than to have fun.

All: Forgive us for when we have seen a moment to share a laugh, but didn’t.

One: Forgive us for when we have worked hard without taking time for recreation.

All: Forgive us for when we have walked by a purple flower and didn’t notice its beauty.

One: Forgive us for when we have looked up at a starry night sky and failed to be impressed.

All: Forgive us for when we have seen children laughing, but were “too busy” to smile.

One: Hear us, Holy God, as we name other things for which we would like forgiveness and transformation.

[Feel free to name, silently or aloud, the things that hold you back from more fully enjoying God’s gift of life and Creation.]

One: We ask for your forgiveness for these things because you deserve to have the life and world you created to be enjoyed and cherished. So, we ask for your forgiveness because we want your help in changing our lives. Like Jesus, who took the time to pray and revive his spirit during his work for justice, may we also take the time to revive ourselves. Holy God, transform us by, and open us to, your abiding presence, so we may live openly to all life around us.

All: Open us to your abiding presence.

One: Open us to each other.

All: Open us to our own selves.

One: Open us to your Creation.

All: Open us, so we may have more love, hope, joy, and laughter,

to share with you, your beloved people, and your beautiful Creation.

One: Thank you for your transforming grace and joy-inspiring love.

All: Thank you, Holy God.

One: In gratitude, may we live life abundantly with all people, and all Creation.

All: Like Jesus, help us to take time to revive our souls as we strive for justice.

One: Filled with joy and justice, may we be your hope-inspired resurrection community.

All: Creator God, may all that has breath praise and enjoy you forever. Amen!

Prayer for the Sinned Against

One: Abiding Spirit, you know us, and all of your Creation, better than we know ourselves.

All: In your loving knowledge, you care about each of us – and for all Creation.

One: In your care, you call us all to your vision of “complete joy” and “abundant life.”

All: But too often, we turn from this, and harm each other and ourselves.

One: We forget Jesus’ vision of love for God, neighbor, and self.

All: At times, we perpetuate sin against you, and your beloved people, by bringing:

pain instead of love,

isolation instead of community,

oppression instead of liberation,

and empty platitudes instead of acts of justice,

One: At times, we feel the pain of sin by being the sinned against.

All: Some of our voices have been ignored.

One: Some of us have verbally abused.

All: Some of us have remained hungry, while others ate.

One: Some of us have been held captive, while others enjoyed freedom.

All: Hear, us Holy God, as we name the experiences of being sinned against.


[Feel free to name, silently or aloud, the times when you have been hurt by sin.]


One: We confess our own sins that we know have brought pain to others and God,

and name the sins that have been to us and God,

because we want the world to be healed by your transforming Spirit.

All: Forgive, where there needs to be forgiveness.

One: Heal, where there needs to be healing.

All: Give voice, where there needs to be voice.

One: Bring humility, where there needs to be humility.

All: And help all of your Creation, including each of us,

to taste the goodness of your “complete joy” and “abundant life.”

One: Abiding Spirit, help us rest assure in your forgiving, healing, and transforming embrace.

All: Praise and thanks to you, our Solid Rock and Healing River. Amen!

Carpe Diem 2009

"Do something every day to make a good memory." - Nadine Aydt

"Dream as if you'll live forever. Live as if you'll die today." - James Dean

"There's never enough time to do all the nothing you want." - Calvin & Hobbes

"Hope is believing in spite of the evidence, and watching the evidence change." - Jim Wallis

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, live the life you've imagined." - Henry David Thoreau

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop to look around once in a while you could miss it." - Ferris Bueller

"The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now." - Thich Nhat Hanh

"One voice can change a room, and if one voice can change a room, then it can change a city, and if it can change a city, it can change a state, and if it change a state, it can change a nation, and if it can change a nation, it can change the world." - Barack Obama

"Go, eat your bread with enjoyment, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has long ago approved what you do. Let your garments always be white; do not let oil be lacking on your head. Enjoy life with the people whom you love, all the days of your life that are given you under the sun, because that is your portion in life." - Ecclesiastes 9:7-9

"If I had my life to live over, I'd dare to make more mistakes next time. I'd relax, I would limber up. I would be sillier than I have been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual troubles, but I'd have fewer imaginary ones." - Nadine Stair

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Venetian Plaster

Early January seemed colder this year… the wind moaned softly outside the old farmhouse windows, and occasionally whipped up and screamed, rattling the frosty glass panes. It was clear that something was on its way in – she looked skyward and saw only icy onyx clouds rolling across the great expanse. It almost looked as if the blizzard was already upon the area, but those who had lived there long enough knew this was just Old Man Winter kicking up the deep dust he’d left behind a few days ago. Another howl of icy blasts (she could feel them – even in the house, even through the thick fleece sweatpants she’d donned) told her that it was time to get out the candles, brace herself, and await the coming storm.

"We Move"

She doesn’t know where she can go
Three months pregnant, now she can’t go home
Backpack loaded, staring down the road
At a choice being guarded by an angry row

She knows there must be another way
‘cause she’s still got a song to sing
If only she knew God was more than a rock
To whom she’s trying to cling

No-one can hold a stone that long
It’s a game she’s bound to lose
Not an unchanging stone, sister,
You’re not alone
God’s the river through whom you move

He doesn’t know where he can go
Gave into booze and now he can’t go home
Note’s been written and the city’s below
It’d be so easy to jump, but he just doesn’t know

But he knows there must be another way
‘cause he’s still got a song to sing
If only he knew God was more than a rock
To whom he’s trying to cling

No-one can hold a stone that long
It’s a game he’s bound to lose
Not an unchanging stone, brother,
You’re not alone
God’s the river through whom you move

No-one’s saying it’s easy; most times it’s hard
And “just one more day” can seem so very far
But whoever saw a river without any turns
So it seems like we’ve all got so much to learn
There will be twists and there will be bends
An invitation to the beach, God to us extends

They just don’t know where they can go
Bank came calling, now they can’t go home
The house sits empty ‘cause it’s been foreclosed
Now the temperature’s dropping, wind’s starting to blow

But they know tomorrow’s another day
And they’ve still got songs to sing
They know that God is so much more than a rock
To whom they used to cling

No-one can hold a stone that long
It’s a game we’re bound to lose
So let it be known
that we are not alone
And God’s the river through whom we move

God’s the river through whom we move

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Mary's Song

My soul praises the Eternal One,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for God has looked with favor on the me, a poor peasant girl,
who some consider to be the lowliest of all people.
But, God has changed that view of me by accepting me just as I am.
God has called on me to engage in a divine mission.
Surely, from now on, all generations will call me blessed;
for the Eternal One will do great things for me and through me.
I have known and experienced the transforming love of God.
I will reveal and share the incarnate love of God.
Holy is the name of the Eternal One!
God’s loving-kindness is for those who trust the Eternal One,
from generation to generation and forever and ever.

God has shown strength through acts of love.
God has shown love through acts of justice.
God has shown justice through inspiring our acts of loving-kindness.
God has scattered the pride in minds of the powerful.
God has strengthened the pride in hearts of the oppressed.
God has brought down the lofty from their thrones.
God has lifted up the lowly from their fields.
God has filled the hungry with good things.
God has encouraged the rich to share their abundance.
God has helped all the peoples and creatures of the earth.
God has acted out of the divine nature of loving-kindness.
God has been faithful to the Covenant made with our ancestors.
God has continued to act amoung us throughout the generations.

Psalm 133

How very good and pleasant it is
When all the members of the family live together in unity

It is like a lavish, home-cooked meal
Prepared by your parents
Welcoming you home
After you’ve been away for a long time

It is like a stunningly beautiful sunset
On your favorite beech
At which you’ve arrived
Just in time to catch the sacredness of the moment

It is like seeing a baby smile
And hearing a baby giggle
And the rest of the world fades away
As you bask in the sheer joy of the child

It is like a mountain-fed stream
With water from melting snow
And water from several springs
That provides continuous water to a village below

For the Eternal wills and invites us to enjoy these blessings
For life evermore in God’s global siblinghood

Psalm 8

O Eternal One, most holy God
Let your noble name be praised throughout all the earth
Your splendor is above all splendor
The voices of children proclaim the greatness of your strength,
Even in the face of all that seeks to overcome You, God, You persist
You have made the infinite universe that makes me feel tiny
You set the moon, starts, and planets in motion
Your handiwork and presence fills the galaxies
Yet you know all of your people
And care about each person
For reasons that we can’t fathom,
You have made us care-takers with You
You share your glory and power with us
You give us the sacred responsibility to tend for your Creation
Deer, bears, wolves, and all creatures that walk in the woods
Catfish, bluegills, whales, and all things that swim in the waters
Eagles, sparrows, butterflies, and all creatures that fly in the skies
O Eternal One, most holy God
Let your noble name be praised throughout all the earth

Monday, December 8, 2008

Prayer of our Savior 2.0

Our Source of Life, you fill the Heavens and the Earth. May all that has breath praise your sacred Name. Throughout all Creation, may your Kin-dom come. Throughout all Creation, may your will be done, as it is in Heaven. Give all people the bread that we need. And may our debts be forgiven as we forgive the debts of others. Lead us away from hatred, injustice, and evil. And lead us toward your vision of love, justice, and mutuality. For the Kin-dom, power, and glory are yours forever and ever. Amen.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Psalm 46

God is a refuge and holdfast
An abiding presence and guiding voice
Calling us to prophetic action and joyous hope
Even though the natural world is used a commodity
Even though the ecosystems are in danger

The Eternal One is present
The God of all living creatures is our stronghold

The rivers provide water for the land
The very ground where God dwells
God is within, it shouldn’t be destroyed
The sacred earth is the body of God
Corporations exploit; materialism consumes
God’s voice cries out for the health of all Creation

Please, consider the works of the Eternal
The complexity of God’s wondrous Creation
Luring chaos to gather together in unity
Beckoning forth an interdependent web out of anarchy
Sustaining life in this delicate ecosystem
“Be still and know that I am God, whose body is all around you.”

The Eternal One is present
The God of all living creatures is our stronghold

Saturday, December 6, 2008

UCC Presidents

Wagner and Hoskins, two peas in a pod,
More than mere mortals and yet, not quite gods –
Leading the way for the new UCC,
As they proudly accepted the presidency.

Wagner, the product of Lancaster Sem.,
Eden students may say, "Oh, he’s one of them."
A pastor, professor, and one not conforming,
Said, “The Church is Reformed, but also reforming.”

Hoskins, the prophet in troublesome times,
Was better at preaching than I am at rhymes.
Many hours he spent on the new Constitution,
To the Church it would be a “superb contribution.”

Mr. Ben Herbster would take over next,
And the bigots and hypocrites would soon be perplexed
At the justice and freedom this man would promote
Through his words and his lifestyle, and also his vote.

From North Carolina hailed Bob Moss the Second,
Touting “hope for the world,” like Obama, I reckon.
He established the Committee on Structural Planning,
Which developed Offices of the Church, now expanding.

Joseph H. Evans would succeed Robert Moss,
And for only two years was Evans the boss.
A strong UCC leader throughout his career,
Where he went, he brought comfort, and calmed many fears.

A vigorous pastor from the wintry Northeast,
Avery Post condemned racism; he stood for peace.
Women’s issues and leadership – he thought these were key,
And he also spoke out ‘gainst the dreaded I.R.D.

The scholar, Paul Sherry, served our own UCC,
Speaking out for the rights of the GLBT.
He since has retired, but sure isn’t bored,
He’s stayed active enough to win his own award.

And those are the UCC’s brightest and best,
Excluding those present, to which I must attest.
Maybe someday your name will be listed with theirs
And then more students will be asked to care.

tradition

closer

it’s coming

day

without light

it’s

night

growing thick

with the sighs

of the sick

the wounded the dying

the hungry

the crying

they’re blocking our path

snapshots

of the aftermath

we left just behind us

always there to remind us

of what we’ve

accomplished

and what we’ve

been trying

so we shove them aside

and continue

to hide

beneath white picket fences

our only defenses til

we’re slapped in the face

and come

back to our senses

and see that

these messes

are our own offenses

and maybe it’s you

who died

and maybe these walls are starting to cave

but that concrete octopus

continues to pave

whatever you’ve got

hey

buy or be bought

and

forget anyone with

original thought

just give up

you’re caught

no need to be brave

we continue to fight and

regress to the

right

see how far we’ve come

is the song that we hum

as we all

march along beating

one single drum

and our bodies

go numb

in a field of

white

Ephphatha (Be Opened)

Ephphatha (Be Opened)

To the birds outside your window
To the river floating by
To the fact you're God's beloved
Be opened, precious child.

To the ones around you, broken
To the chained, who long to fly
To those regretting words unspoken
Be opened, precious child

Be opened to the fullness
Be opened to the Word
Be opened to your story
Be opened, child, be heard

To the beauty of each moment
To this wondrous gift of life
To all creation, singing praises
Be opened, precious child

Be opened to the fullness
Be opened to the Word
Be opened to your story
Be opened, child, be heard

Because when ordinary becomes divine
Miracles come from open minds
Revealing ears and tongues and eyes
We never knew we had

Be opened to the fullness
Be opened to the Word
Be opened to your story
Be opened, child, be heard

To the song within each person
To a faith found deep inside
To a willing, trusting spirit
Be opened, precious child

Be opened to the fullness
Be opened to the Word
Be opened to your story
Be opened, child, be heard

Where Is God?

Invocation

Inviting God

Yet God is right here

God is ready and waiting

Perhaps inviting and evoking us

God doesn’t forget S/he is there

But we do

We need the invocation

We require a wake up call

To be aware of God’s abiding presence

To open ourselves to God

To listen to God’s ever-beckoning voice

Every moment is sacred

Every day is divinely inspired

Because we’re drenched in the divine

If we but open our sails

The Holy Spirit is already here

Beckoning us to bask in truth, beauty, and goodness

Sacred Waters

God is a river

Meandering through the ebbs and flows of life

Led by the structures of the shore

Yet pushing the boundaries beyond limitation

God is an ocean

Filling the deepest depths

Surrounding and supporting each creature

Providing the sacred ecosystem of life

God is a pond

Resting calmly in the distance

Inviting all to enjoy a drink

But not forcing or drowning any

God is a rapids

Bouncing and churning

Bringing us swiftly along

So we may enjoy the ride

God is a puddle

Sitting very still

A small part of the other waters

A sacramental reminder for all who pass

Forgive Us

Forgive us for when we haven’t taken time to enjoy listening to a bird sing.

Forgive us for when we haven’t appreciated our bodies, the temples of Your Spirit.

Forgive us for when we haven’t remembered to thank You for the beauty of Creation.

Forgive us for when we haven’t more openly shared our emotions with You.

Forgive us for when we haven’t acted silly, for no reason other than to have fun.

Forgive us for when we have seen a moment to share a laugh, but didn’t.

Forgive us for when we have worked hard without taking time for recreation.

Forgive us for when we have walked by a purple flower and didn’t notice its beauty.

Forgive us for when we have looked up at a starry night sky and failed to be impressed.

Forgive us for when we have seen children laughing, but were “too busy” to smile.