worship format and original content: Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021
BCCC Worship Schedule
In-person worship services: 11am 1st and 2nd Sundays * ZOOM worship services: 2pm 3rd, 4th, 5th (if there is one) Sundays; 3pm check-in
Out of the Bag (for children of all ages) “Blessed by Animals” https://youtu.be/n5j3n66cucw
“Sing, Sister Cricket. Praise Your Creator with a joyful song.” – St Francis of Assisi to a sibling creature in the woodlands around Porziuncola, one of the sanctuaries he restored
Welcome and Acknowledgements (pastor)
Welcome one and all! Today we welcome every one of every species to join us in worship and the Blessing of the Animals! I am here in Huichin Village/Berkeley, not far from the 5,000-year-old sacred Shellmound created beside Strawberry Creek. And, we gather as a joyful people for the winter rains have begun!
May all living beings join in our opening praise:
Praise God for the rain! Hallelujah!
Praise God for the nourishment of heavenly waters tending all life on earth.
Praise God for the protection precipitation brings our drought-weary community.
Praise God for the grace of cleansing rain as it washes away what isn’t needed.
Together, we all praise God! Hallelujah! Amen!
Lighting the Christ Candle & Welcoming Those Not Physically Present (pastor)
Passing the Peace (all) Offer joyful gestures and words of peace to one another: “Peace be with You.”
We Rest in God’s Grace
Special Music “See the Rain” Written and performed by Rev. Will Burhans, “Weight of Grace” CD ℗ 2006 Rev. Will Burhans. (see Worship Resources below. Used with permission.)
Prayer and Silence (pastor) We shift into silence in God’s presence with this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10.
Be still and know that I am God. (Breathe slowly)
Be still and know that I am. (Breathe slowly)
Be still and know. (Breathe slowly)
Be still. (Breathe slowly)
Be. (Breathe slowly)
(Breathe in silence) Amen.
Words of Assurance (pastor)
No matter who we are – a tiny little cricket or a great ocean whale – we are a Beloved Creature adored by a good and holy God. And, we are siblings in life – the wild raptor that flies overhead and the furry companion by our side, the pollinating bees and the animals we consume – together, we are one earthly family. God created us in relationship for relationship with all manner of beings. May we deeply treasure this grace today. Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 104:1-5, 10-13, 24, 27-30, 33-34, 35b (pastor; NRSV adapted to feature a cricket’s version of praise for God’s goodness.)
Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great!
You are adorned with honor and majesty, wrapped in light as with luminous skin! You stretch out the heavens like a shade tree, You set the beams of Your shelter on the waters, You make the clouds Your nest, You soar on the wings of the wind, You make the winds Your messengers, fire and flame Your ministers. You set the earth on its foundations, so that it shall never be shaken.
You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between the hills, giving drink to every living creature; each of us quenching our thirst. In the marshes and forests, where we crickets live; we sing among the reeds and fallen leaves. From Your lofty abode You water the mountains; we are satisfied with the fruit of Your work!
O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom You have made us all; the earth is filled with Your beloved creatures! We all look to You to give us our food in due season; when You give to us, we gather it up; when You open Your hand, we are filled with good things. When You hide Your face, we are dismayed; when You take away our breath, we die and return to the soil. When You send forth Your spirit, we are created; and You renew life on earth.
May the glory of the Lord endure for ever; may the Lord rejoice in divine works— who looks on the earth and it trembles, who touches the mountains and they smoke.
I will sing to the Lord as long as I live! I will sing praise to my God while I have being! May my meditation be pleasing to God, for I rejoice in the Lord! Bless the Lord, O my soul. Praise the Lord! Amen.
May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.
Sermon “Sister Cricket” (pastor) God gave St Francis of Assisi a Christ-heart for all creatures. Many stories about St Francis include inteverventions to tame violence between species. This is one of those stories. Crickets, grasshoppers, and locusts are historic enemies of farming humans.
Special Music “Prayer of St Francis” (recommended recording: St Francis of Assisi’s prayer performed by Buddy Comfort. ℗ 2001 Buddy Comfort/Laughing Tree Music.)
Blessing of the Animals
Holy Water If you do not have Holy Water – water that has already been blessed – place your hand near or in a little bowl of water, newly collected rainwater would be most appropriate.
Let us pray: Almighty God, Maker of Heaven and Earth, we call Your Holy Spirit into this water that it may be a living symbol for us of Your eternal love. Amen.
Blessing All Creatures (pastor and community)
We bless the animals we know by name… (speak companion animal’s name/s) _______, may God bless you, for you are one of the Creator’s Beloved creatures. (make the sign of the cross in water on animals’ forehead or safe place to touch)
We bless our unnamed animals neighbors… (speak type/s of outdoor animal/s) _______, may God bless you, for you are, each, one of the Creator’s Beloved creatures. (sprinkle Holy Water in areas where you often see animal neighbors)
We bless the humans in our households… (speak human’s name/s) ________, may God bless you, too, for you are one of the Creator’s Beloved creatures. (make the sign of the cross in water on humans’ forehead or safe place to touch)
May God bless our relationships with each other. May we grow in love and affection for one another across species. In the name of Jesus Christ and in the way of his devoted disciple, St Francis, we pray. Amen.
Prayer Requests (all)
Pastoral Prayer (pastor)
O Lord, may we humans listen to our Sister Cricket and Brother Wolf singing; may we hear their beautiful songs of praise. May we join Creation’s chorus united in praising You, growing in respect and love for each other.
Today some of us are grieving. Comfort us in our loss and attend our friends in heaven as we remember dear humans and animals who are deceased. Hear us, as we speak their names: (pause).
Great Healer, lay Your kind hand upon any creature, of any species, in need of healing and special care today. Hear us, as we speak their names: (pause).
We also pray for refugee animals, those awaiting adoption, and wild, commercial, and domesticated animals, each with unique challenges and graces. We lift up thanks for humans who preserve, tend, and love our sibling animals. Amen.
Prayers of the People, Private Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer (pastor)
Offering of Praise “Doxology” (all; acapella) Please mail your donations to the church or directly to Treasurer Diane Huie.
We Continue in Hope
*Song: “All Creatures of Our God and King” (recording) written by Francis of Assisi, LASST UNS ERFREUEN (Chalice #22)
St Francis, through his love for the Eternal Christ, saw all creatures as God sees us – precious siblings in the great family of life. May our hearts continue to expand, welcoming more beings into our love and care. May be truly go forth with peace and hope in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
The service is concluded.
(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.
(NRSV) Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® NIV® Copyright © 1973 1978 1984 2011 by Biblica, Inc. TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
(wb) Rev. Will Burhans. The song “See the Rain” comes from Rev. Will Burhans’ Album entitled “Weight of Grace”. His music can be found on Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming platforms or CD’s purchased from www.cdbaby.com. Music used with permission. (Thank you, Will!)
Sermon Resource: Fortini’s Francis of Assisi, pp 541-542 as recorded in Stoutenberger and Bohrer’s Praying with Francis of Assisi, pp 94-95, retold by kms.
Residency Acknowledgement: This content was written in Huichin Village, unceeded territory of the Lisjan-Chochenyo Ohlone People, where I dwell and serve as a local church pastor. Please support indigenous rematriation efforts, the #LandBack movement, and give to Sogorea Te’ Land Trust Soghttps://sogoreate-landtrust.org/ and other non-profits that reform, balance, and heal relationships with our indigenous hosts. Thank you!
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Online Publishing Date: October 20, 2021.
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Donation: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!
For Online Content: Please see Facebook pages: “Berkeley Chinese Community Church” and “Living Liturgies”; as well as my website: www.inthebiglove.com and YouTube channel: “Kathryn Schreiber”