4 Pentecost: “The Unmuted Father’s Blessing”• Luke 1:76-79 • Blessing Graduates and Fathering Ones • Worship/Devotional

Photo: Rattana Ngaseppam, Deputy SP from Imphal, Manipur (India) watching as her father proudly checks her promotion stars. Twitter/@AmitHPanchal.

worship format and original contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

Worship Note

As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times, as social justice reforms arise, we freely offer this worship content for you to adapt for your needs.

Spiritual Practice: “Blessings” Giving and receiving spiritual blessings

We Gather

Call to Worship (inspired by Luke 1:68-75)

Blessed be the God of the Hebrew ancestors –

Who raised up a mighty savior for us.

Blessed be the Still-Speaking God –

Who speaks through the ancient prophets

to save us from those who hate us.

Blessed be the Merciful One –

Who keeps the original covenant

that we might serve in holiness and righteousness

all the days of our lives. Amen.

Lighting the Christ Candle

*Song: “God of Abraham and Sarah” Words and Music: James Curtis Gertmenian, 1986. Recorded at First Congregational Church of Long Beach. Performed by Lisa Bode Heard accompanied by Curtis Heard. (TNCH #20)

We Rest in God’s Grace

Silent Prayer

Shift into simply being with God, silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

Cultural practices create predictable conditions. They give us social structure. For some, these structures ensure safety, for others just the opposite. In patriarchal societies wealth, power, and authority are passed from father to the eldest son. The rite that marked this transfer of status in Jesus’ culture was the paternal blessing, usually given as the father neared death. This verbal contract was like a modern legally binding will.

Prophetic voices have long challenged this practice if it was not merciful or just. Relying upon spiritual alignment with God’s will, prophets question authority roles if they do not serve God’s needs. This is the case in today’s scripture reading.

When Zechariah, a senior Temple priest, is told he and his elder wife will have a child he cannot believe God’s messenger. For his unbelief, God makes Zechariah mute. At least six months later, at the baby’s naming ceremony, Elizabeth proclaims the child’s name – a traditional task done by the baby’s father. Elizabeth acts according to God’s direction, not social custom. Zechariah, mute for half a year, doesn’t object. When he is asked, directly, if this is his will, he writes “His name is John.” The muted father, the elder Temple priest, affirms God’s wisdom in his wife. At this moment God unmutes Zechariah who sings a song of praise to God and a blessing upon his son John.

Sometimes, it takes time for God’s grace to overcome the social barriers we create and perpetuate. However, sometimes, we come around to God’s evolving ways and become a vessel of grace for others. We become prophetic blessers, just like St. Zechariah.

We Listen

Scripture: Luke 1:76-79 (NRSV)

This is the second half of Zechariah’s blessing offered at the naming ceremony of this infant son John. The entire blessing, Luke 1:68-79, is the “Song of Zechariah” or “Benedictus” the opening line of the song in Latin.

This sacred song is a canticle, one of three found in the first two chapters of the Gospel of St Luke. The other two are the “Magnificat/Mary’s Song” Mary’s blessing upon God for fulfilling promises through the gift of the Christ child in her womb, and “Nunc Dimittis/Song of Simeon” Simeon’s blessing upon God for fulfilling promises through the Christ child and the grace of living long enough to witness this wonder.

Zechariah’s canticle blesses God for fulfilling promises to deliver the Hebrew People through a Messiah, and then blesses his son, the prophet, who will proclaim the coming Christ.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
   for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to the people
   by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
   the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the way of peace.

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Sermon: “The Unmuted Father’s Blessing”A holy man listens and then speaks in blessings

Special Music: “Benedictus” From “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace” written by Karl Jenkins (Hendon Music Inc/BMI). Performed by Stjepan Hauser, cellist, with Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir Zvjezdice Zagreb, October 2017. Elisabeth Fuchs, conductor.

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Still Blessing God, we know we need liberating change. When we cannot believe the wondrous dreams You have for us, stop us in our tracks. When our practices of tradition prevent Your miracles from verbally flowing, mute us. When we have been called to watch and consider, may we be like St. Zechariah – open to the wisdom and hope of those around us who celebrate Your liberating dreams for humanity. And, if it be Your will, grant to us not only a return of speech, but new words of blessing to speak. Amen.

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Bless

Offering

Bless someone. Use the wisdom and power God has given you to say a living word over someone who needs to be lifted up. Now then, do this work from a place of humility and consideration. Do not use a blessing to promote yourself or your role. Listen, quietly, in the chapel of your heart. Who is God inviting you to affirm? Maybe, like Zechariah, God will ask you to write an affirmation of words spoken by others. Maybe, it will be to speak new affirmations upon the prophetic ones in your family?

Blessing Upon Graduates and Our Fathering Ones

Recognizing our Graduates

Please share the names and news of those completing academic programs, regardless of age. Let us speak their names… (speak their names)

Blessing Upon Graduates

If a graduate is in the room with you, and it is appropriate, lay hands on them. If not, you may

wish to hold their photo or place your hand upon your heart.

Dear beautiful Child of God,

May you pause to be grateful for each person who made this achievement possible; May you understand the great gift you’ve been given. May you find many noble uses for your education; May it be a key to open doors — for others, as well as for yourself. May you always know the difference between knowledge and wisdom; May you value and seek each. Amen.

Recognizing our Fathering Ones

Call to mind your father, or fathering ones, — men who have mentored and called you into being. Let us speak their names… (speak their names)

Blessing Upon our Fathering Ones

If your Fathering One is in the room with you, and it is appropriate, lay hands on them. If not, you may wish to hold their photo or place your hand upon your heart.

Dear beautiful Fathering Ones,

May you feel our affection and support for you and in your critical role as a Fathering One, however that role came to you and however you live it out. May you never forget that you are always in the care and support of The Father, the Eternal Parent – God. May you be blessed with self-forgiveness and inner strength, wisdom and patience, a sense of humor and all other gifts of grace flowing from The Holy One. Amen.

Blessing Upon Everyone (unison, ask folks to repeat)

We bless you in the name of God the Creator!

We bless you in the name of Jesus Christ!

We bless you in the name of the Holy Spirit! Amen!

We Continue in Hope

Special Music: “The Blessing” (kids) Performed by children from the UK, USA, NZ, AUS, SA and many other nations, All Stars Kids Club. Song written by Steven Furtick, Chris Brown, Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes ©2020 Music by Elevation Worship Publishing, Capitol CMG Paragon / Writers Roof Publishing, Worship Together Music / Kari Jobe Carnes Music CCLI #: 7147007.

Benediction

May the God of Elizabeth, Zechariah, and John, bless YOU!

May the God who quiets our disbelief and who encourages the prophets, bless YOU!

May the God of dawning light who guides our feet in the way of peace, bless YOU!

Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Worship Resources:

(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws changed in early 2021. Please check with your denominational legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content publicly. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Thank you.

Online Image: Rattana Ngaseppam, Deputy SP from Imphal, Manipur (India) watching as her father proudly checks her promotion stars. Twitter/@AmitHPanchal.

Online Publishing Date: June 16, 2021

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.

Donation for Use of Content: 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!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

3 Pentecost: “Juneteenth”• Isaiah 30:25-26 • Worship/Devotional

Online Image: “Juneteenth” by Arthouse

worship format and original contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

Worship Note

As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times, as social justice reforms arise, we freely offer this worship content for you to adapt for your needs.

Spiritual Practice

Spiritual Practice: “Broken Crayons” God always calls us forward

Worship Service

Note: please prepare a container of water and empty bowl, as well as a Christ Candle to light for opening and closing rituals.

We Gather

Invocation

Holy One, we call down Your binding waters… (pour water into a bowl)

Holy One, we call down Your healing light…      (light the Christ Candle)

Be with us, for the well-being of all beings. Amen.

Special Music: “Come This Far by Faith” Words and music by Albert A. Goodson, 1956. Gospel anthem by Manna Music III, 1963. Performed by Celebrate New Life Tabernacle, 2014. In some Black churches this song is sung as members process into the sanctuary for worship.

We Rest in God’s Grace

Silent Prayer

Shift into simply being with God, silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

I am a white woman who grew up in the Deep South. As a child of the 1960’s I was amazed by the faith of my neighbors who were regularly targeted by deadly hatred. “How?” I often asked my grandmother, “How can anyone have faith in God and such deep commitment to moral action in the face of such evil?”

She showed me the answer by introducing me to people of faith and courage who believed in God’s endless goodness, who worked to build God’s Dream of humanity. She also taught me the power of surrendering to God – releasing personal, ego-driven outcome in order to serve God’s bigger plan.

It is by God’s grace that any of us have come this far, much less those who have survived the Valley of the Shadow of Death. On this Juneteenth weekend, let us honor and respect our siblings of African descent and their faith in God’s redemptive powers. May all of us have the humility and courage to ask God to heal our wounds.

We Listen

Scripture: Isaiah 30:25-26 (NRSV)

On every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water—on a day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover, the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days, on the day when the Lord binds up the injuries of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Modern Quote:

“Every year we must remind successive generations that this event triggered a series of events that one by one defines the challenges and responsibilities of successive generations. That’s why we need this holiday [Juneteenth].” — Rep. Al Edwards of Houston

Sermon: “This Far by Faith” Juneteenth — an ongoing celebration of human dignity, resilience, and faith

Special Music: “Lift Every Voice and Sing” Written by James Weldon Johnson. Arrangement by Kirk Franklin. Performed by Kansas Ave. SDA Church Praise Team.

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Note: This prayer is a very slight adaptation of the last verse of James Weldon Johnson’s beloved anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, God who has brought us this far along the way; God who by Your might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, O God, where we meet You; lest our hearts drunk from the world, we forget You; shadowed beneath Your hand, may we forever stand, true to our God, true to our native land.” Amen. (jwj)

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

Let us be profoundly thankful for all who went before us who carried God’s Dream through the nightmare times. Let us honor their anonymous dignity and courage, faith and hope. Let us embody their life-giving ways by sharing dignity and courage, faith and hope with others. On Juneteenth, let us share smiles and words of affirmation, meals and commitments to just action. In it all, let us celebrate what God has done and is doing.

We Continue in Hope

Song: “Siyahamba” (We Are Marching in the Light of God) Zulu Traditional Folksong. Performed by: Angel City Chorale and the Amy Foundation Choir on Juneteenth 2019.  Conductor: Richard Sibakhulu Mbovane. (Chalice #442)

Benediction

(lift up the bowl of water)… May sacred waters flow down, filling neighborhood brooks with what is needed to bind all injuries.

(lift up the Christ Candle)… May holy light be magnified, illuminating paths toward redemptive healing within our communities.

May the Peace of Christ, that transcends all mortal understanding, bless us this day and forevermore. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Worship Resources:

(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.

(jwj) James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (Chalice #631)

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

Worship Resources for Juneteenth

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/juneteenth-day-worship-resources

https://www.diowestmo.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/3179590

stjamesaustin.org/a-juneteenth-syllabus-for-st-james/

Historical and Cultural Resources for Juneteenth

youtu.be/dIi_53jihMM

firstnamebasis.libsyn.com/218-what-is-juneteenth

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/what-is-juneteenth/

COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws changed in early 2021. Please check with your denominational legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content publicly. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Thank you.

Online Image: “Juneteenth” by Arthouse

Online Publishing Date: June 8, 2021

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.

Donation for Use of Content: 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!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

2 Pentecost: “Wonderfully Made”• Psalm 139:14 • Worship/Devotional

artwork by Velasquez, New York Times, 2017

worship format and original contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

Worship Note

As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times, as social justice reforms arise, we freely offer this worship content for you to adapt for your needs.

Spiritual Practice: “What’s Safe?” Listening to our inner knowing

Worship Service

We Gather

Invocation

When I look in the mirror, Source of My Being,

may I hear You saying: “You are wonderfully made.”

When I gaze upon a beloved one, Parent of All,

may I join You in saying: “You are wonderfully made.”

When I see someone who scares me, Most Merciful One,

may I find the courage to say: “You are wonderfully made.”

Amen.

Light the Christ Candle

*Song: “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” Words: H van Dyke; Music: L van Beethoven; Performer: Collin Raye (Chalice #2). Presented by Heath End Church, 2020.

We Rest in God’s Grace

Silent Prayer

Shift into simply being with God, silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

Each living being is precious to the Creator. Jesus Christ came, walked, and taught among us teaching us to love one another. He embodied this Big Love, personally and specifically, by loving each person he met regardless of their religion or political views, their gender identity or ethnic group, their age, ability, or personality. Such openness is truly radical!

We mortals struggle to live such inclusivity and respect. That’s where God’s grace comes in. We can’t build new platforms of love in our hearts ourselves. God does that. What we can do is invite God to change us. Once we open the door to God’s renovations, new mercies and graces will flow, especially in experiencing our own essential belovedness and that of others.

We Listen

Scripture: Psalm 139:14 (NRSV)

This beautiful psalm of praise for God’s cosmic, intimate concern for each person includes the beautiful statement below. You may wish to read the entire psalm and spend private time reflecting God profound love for you, for all of us.

I praise You, for I am reverently and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are Your works; that I know very well.

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Message: “A Celebration of the AA and NHPI Community: Highlighting Our Diverse Tapestry” In lieu of a sermon this week, please watch this wonderful program from the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), and PBS which aired on May 31, 2021. In honor of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, celebrity guests and other AANHPI leaders from across the US lift up messages to cherish the dignity of all persons and the diversity of our beautiful communities.

Special Music: “Calvary Ostinato” from Lamentations/Black/Folk Song Suite Written by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson. Performed by Yo-Yo Ma for “A Celebration of the AA and NHPI Community: Highlighting Our Diverse Tapestry.” (see video above, performance begins 20:58, ends 23:58)

We Celebrate Holy Communion

Invitation

One Table — one cosmic, eternal, ever-available Table! This is God’s Table! No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey — you, just as you are — are welcome here!

Gathering Souls

Let us speak the names of those persons, living or dead, who are not present with us in person, yet present in our thoughts and prayers. Let us be gathered together: (speak their names)

Consecration Invitation and Prayer

(BCCC folks, please use your Pentecost-blessed crackers and juice)

Lay hands on your bread and cup. Our prayer asks the Holy Spirit to move among us and fill our household items with sacred presence:

Sharing the Elements (elements will be consumed after words of institution)

When Jesus gathered his disciples to The Table welcoming them body and soul. He loved these people as unique persons woven together by a shared passion for God’s unfolding blessings.

Jesus lifted up the loaf,

proclaiming this physical, living food

was also his presence.

Jesus thanked God for the bread and he broke it,

and gave it to his beloved friends, saying:

“Take, eat.

This is my Body,

which is given for you.

Do this in remembrance of me.”

Jesus offered his body to his friends.

After super, Jesus lifted up the cup,

proclaiming this physical, living drink

was also his presence.

Jesus thanked God for the wine,

and gave it to his friends, saying:

“Drink this, all of you.

This is my blood of the new covenant,

which is poured out for you and for many,

for the forgiveness of sins.

Do this, as often as you drink it,

in remembrance of me.”

Jesus offered his blood to his friends.

We who are friends of Christ are called to remember Jesus Christ’s embodied sacrifice and on-going gift of forgiveness. Let us receive these symbols of divine care and healing. (eat and drink)

Prayer of Thanksgiving

We praise You, Almighty God, for we are wonderfully made. Through Jesus Christ, we are wonderfully liberated from human failings and misdeeds. We rejoice in the blessing of this Holy Communion and the many graces yet to come. Amen.

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Amazing God, Source of All Peoples, we delight that You have made humanity so carefully. We celebrate our ultimate universality as well as our specific diversities of identity. Help us to savor Your personal love for us that we might grow in our love for others. Grant unto all people a righteous pride in our ancestry and personal self-knowing. May everyone know Your healing, saving, uplifting love as it manifests in our very bodies and bloodlines. May all be well and live in dignity together. Amen.

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

This week we give thanks for the communities that help us to celebrate a healthy pride in our selves. While AANHPI (Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander) Month has officially ended, racial dangers and concerns are still with us. May we support organizations that help us feel safe and strong, protected and empowered.

We Continue in Hope

*Song: “Diverse in Culture, Nation, Race” Music by Thomas Tallis, 1561. Lyrics by Ruth Duck, 1991. Performed by RU Sanctuary Choir. (Chalice #485)

Benediction

I am wonderfully made. (repeat)

You are wonderfully made. (repeat)

We are wonderfully made. (repeat)

Let us continue repeat these three blessings often, giving mortal voice to God’s original blessings. May Sacred Peace grow within us, among us, beyond us. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Worship Resources:

(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws changed in early 2021. Please check with your denominational legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content publicly. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Thank you.

Online Image: by Velasquez for the New York Times, 2017.

Online Publishing Date: June 3, 2021

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.

Donation for Use of Content: 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!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

1 Pentecost: “Unbelievable”• Genesis 18:1-15 • Trinity Sunday, Memorial Day Weekend Worship or Devotional

“The Holy Trinity” icon by Andrei Rublev

Worship format and original contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021.

Worship Note

As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times, as social justice reforms arise, we freely offer this worship content for you to adapt for your needs.

Spiritual Practice: “3xs Savoring” Shifting from fear to savoring what is life-giving

Worship Service

We Gather

Invocation

Holy One,

please come and surprise us.

Appear as You wish to appear.

Speak as You wish to speak.

Promise as You wish to promise.

Open our new chapter of hope.

Amen.

Light the Christ Candle

*Song: “Abide with Me” Words: HF Lyte, 1847; Music: WH Monk, 1861. Performed by Catholic and Christian Choral Music, Choral Version (SATB) with Lyrics. Video: 2020. (Chalice #636)

We Rest in God’s Grace

Silent Prayer

Shift into simply being with God, silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

We are wonderfully made, but we are limited. Especially our minds. Our brains love to quickly sort all kinds of input and information. Our ideas about God are limited or distorted. “Through a glass dimly,” as St Paul writes (1 Corinthians 13:12), is the nature of human beings’ ability to discern divine reality.

On this Memorial Day weekend as we tenderly recall our dearly departed Loved Ones, we proclaim a faith in the eternal life of the soul. Yet, we can’t really understand such infinite grace – endless being in God’s Big Love. May we lean into the mystery of life after death with faith and hope.  

We Listen

Scripture: Genesis 18:1-15 (The Message)

God appeared to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre while Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent. It was the hottest part of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing. Abraham ran from his tent to greet them and bowed before them.

Abraham said, “Master, if it please you, stop for a while with your servant. I’ll get some water so you can wash your feet. Rest under this tree. I’ll get some food to refresh you on your way, since your travels have brought you across my path.”

They said, “Certainly. Go ahead.”

Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. He said, “Hurry. Get three cups of our best flour; knead it and make bread.”

Then Abraham ran to the cattle pen and picked out a nice plump calf and gave it to the servant who lost no time getting it ready. Then he got curds and milk, brought them with the calf that had been roasted, set the meal before the men, and stood there under the tree while they ate.

The men said to Abraham, “Where is Sarah your wife?”

He said, “In the tent.”

One of them said, “I’m coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man.

Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies. Sarah laughed within herself, “An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?”

God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me?’ Is anything too hard for God? I’ll be back about this time next year and Sarah will have a baby.”

Sarah lied. She said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was afraid.

But he said, “Yes you did; you laughed.”

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Scripture Reflection Questions:

What parts of the story do you find most surprising?

God arriving as three men?

Abraham’s hospitality?

God proclaiming elder Sarah’s upcoming pregnancy?

Sarah laughing at God?

Sarah lying to God?

God calling her out?

Does this story change the way you think about God?

Sermon: “Unbelievable” God’s unbelievable, fabulous, faithful, ongoing commitment to humanity and a response to Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Jose.

Special Music: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Written by George Harrison, inspired by the I Ching. Arrangement for ukulele and performance by Jake Shimabukuro.

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Triune God, we praise You in all Your expressions – as the Source of All Life; as the Incarnate Savior; as the Ever-Inspiring Spirit – we turn to You with our questions and convictions about life after death and the holy mystery called “heaven.” We long for a sweet, loving eternal presence with You and those whom we have most deeply loved. Speak to our souls of Your truth. Comfort us. And, help us to open, again, to Your wondrous, unbelievable promises. Amen.

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

On this Memorial Day weekend honor a deceased Love One with a special gift or action made in their memory. Was her favorite color yellow? Plant flowers with yellow blossoms. Were they dedicated to ending hunger? Donate to the local food bank. Was he a servant of peace? Engage in an act of non-violent solidarity. When we embody the best of our deceased loved ones we carry forward their light creating a brighter future for those who will follow us.

We Continue in Hope

*Song: “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!” Reginald Heber 1826; John B. Dykes 1861 Recording: Concordia Publishing House© 2004. Concordia Publishing House Used by Permission CCLI #521478. Video Created for the Presbyterian Church of Marion, Marion Center PA. (Chalice #4)

Benediction

Excerpt from The Lorica (Latin for “Breastplate”) – a prayer of protection attributed to St Patrick in the 4th century. Patrick noticed the Celtic Irish belief in three as the holiest number. Thus, he often spoke about God as the Trinity – Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit.

May we arise today

Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

May we rise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation. (l)

(the service is concluded)

Worship Resources:

(The Message) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

(l) The Lorica, attributed to St Patrick of Ireland. For entire prayer: https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/lorica-of-saint-patrick-349

COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws changed in early 2021. Please check with your denominational legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content publicly. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Thank you.

Online Image: “The Holy Trinity” icon by Andrei Rublev

Online Publishing Date: May 26, 2021

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.

Donation for Use of Content: 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!Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; You

Pentecost: “Surrendering to Holy Fire” • Acts 2:1-8, 11b-18

“Untitled, 1968” Mark Rothko

worship format and original contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

Public Use

Our format is shifting again as we move into hybrid worship during this global pandemic. We continue to freely share our materials for use during the pandemic. If you’re sharing this content with a group, please see “Permission” and “Donation for Use of Content” comments at the end of this document. Thank you and God Bless!

For the BCCC Community

This Sunday’s worship service will be in-person! We’ll return to 2pm ZOOM Gathering for the next few weeks as we discern next steps. Please participate as you feel most comfortable (see 5/18 email for safety protocols).

Please watch the Spiritual Practice: “Letter of God” video below before Sunday. Song: “This is a Day of New Beginnings” may inspire your letter writing.

If you’re curious about what worship will be like, or won’t be attending, see the service below. We will try to post some of the service online. If you’ll be present and would like to be surprised, watch the “Before Worship Videos” and skip the rest.

Before Worship Videos

Spiritual Practice: Letter to God Pastor Kathryn teaches a practice to release to God what no longer serves. Please bring or mail your Letter to God to be burnt in the Pentecost fire on 5/23/2021.

Song: This is a Day of New Beginnings Words: Brian Wren, 1978. Music: Carlton R Young, 1984. Hope Publishing Co. Chalice # 518.

Pentecost Worship Service 5/23/2021

(inside in reconfigured sanctuary)

We Gather

Gathering Music (live instrumental; no singing)

Welcome

Words of Welcome. Land Acknowledgment: We are gathering on Lisjan (Ohlone) Territory, Village of Huchiun. We are very blessed to be near the West Berkeley Shell Mound Sacred Site beside Strawberry Creek, a sacred place for over 5,800 years. (stlt)

Calling Down the Spirit

Holy Spirit, Third Person of the Triune God,

Promised Help from the Risen Christ,

as the Beloved Community gathers in person

as we reassemble in this Holy Place

we ask You to descend upon us

and all who gather in the name of Hope.

Pour out Your Spirit upon all flesh!

Fill our youth and our elders, all people;

Fill us no matter what has happened to us,

no matter what we have done to others;

Fill persons of all gender identities;

Fill the diversity of cultures, ethnicities, and races;

Fill each and every one of us!

Ignite us with Your Dream, O God!

Lighting the Christ Candle

Welcoming Beloved Souls

Since we have been together many dear ones have passed into heaven. Because of the pandemic we have not been able to gather for traditional rituals and events. As we assemble in this Sacred Space may we be aware of the Beloved Souls we are missing. Let our hearts and minds fill with their Blessed Memory as we call them to gather with us:

“Join us, Beloved Souls.” (light a number of votive candles)

Passing the Peace (standing or sitting in place; we will not move about)

Reunited with friends and family in Heaven, let us now safely greet each other. Please remain in your safety circle, masks on, no touching, no walking about. Use gestures and soft-spoken words to greet each other and share the Peace of Christ:

“Peace be with You” (exchanged distanced greetings)

Prayer of Rededication (please be seated)

We who have been anointed by the Holy Spirit, gathered with Beloved Souls, and blessed by sharing the Peace of Christ, let us now pray:

Just as on the first Day of Pentecost,

we gather needing You, Most Holy God.

Like our ancient siblings

we long for the promise made by Jesus Christ –

Your presence with us as the Holy Spirit.

Today, as a congregation, we humble ourselves unto You.

We ask not only to be rededicated to this local ministry,

we ask to be transformed in the fire of Your Holy Spirit.

We offer ourselves unto You, Divine Potter,

to be shaped as You desire.

Holy Spirit, Refining Fire, make of us what is needed

to manifest Your Dream in this place at this time. Amen.

Praise Song

The BCCC Chinese Fellowship will play a pre-recorded Cantonese praise song. We will not sing along.

We Listen

Scripture Acts 2:1-8, 11b-18 (NRSV) (read in English and Cantonese)

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? … We hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.”

All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others sneered and said, “They are filled with new wine.”

But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them: “Judeans  and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:

‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh,
   and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
   and your old men shall dream dreams.
Even upon my slaves, both men and women,
   in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
     and they shall prophesy.’”

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Sermon (live)

Special Music (live instrumental; no singing)

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Uniting God, reassembled here

on consecrated and rededicated ground –

we are thankful.

We give thanks to You for all You have done

to call us into life and into life more abundantly.

You lead us through

this Valley of the Shadow of Death.

We are grateful for surviving

as we grieve those who didn’t.

You accompany us with righteous dignity

when words and fists strike out

with racist harm and hatred.

You keep on inviting us to hold onto hope and strength

whenever we are downhearted and tired.

You fill our hearts and minds

with ways to serve each other

for You have made us rightly interdependent.

It is Your Spirit that prays

“with sighs too deep for words”

when we do not know how to pray.

It is Your Spirit that ignites hope

when our patience wears thin.

It is Your Spirit that enflames a world vision

of merciful recalibrations

and transforming, healing justice.

It is Your Spirit which held us together

all the days we were apart,

and it will be Your Spirit

which will guide us forward.

From the depths of our souls we praise You,

O Wondrous God.

From the width of our souls we praise You,

O Generous God.

From the unfathomable mystery of divine reality

we praise You, O Mighty God.

Amen.

Prayers of the People

(please email your prayer requests to Pastor Kathryn by 8pm Saturday night as we will not be passing the mike or talking loudly in the sanctuary)

The Lord’s Prayer

We Go Forward in Hope

Blessing Household Elements

Because we will be celebrating Holy Communion online until it is safe to do so in-person, today we bless crackers and juice for use in your households. After the service, please take home a package for your household’s use and to deliver to members not present.

Prayer of Consecration (spontaneous – in the Spirit)

Announcements

Next Sunday, Thank You’s, Instructions for the rest of the service

Recessional Exit to Pentecost Fire

Blessed Communion Elements exit first. Ushers invite us to exit keeping a safe distance.

Pentecost Worship Service 5/23/2021

(outside near Pentecost Fire)

Blessed Communion Elements are placed on table for pick up after the service. Spaced seating available for those who prefer to sit; others stand.

Ritual of Release

Invitation to offer our Letters to God to the Pentecost Fire; Individuals, spaced apart, may come forward with letters (their own and others) to place on the fire. Blank paper available for symbolic offerings, too.

Prayer of Surrender and Hope

We believe in You, Holy God,

and Your Dream for us.

We have released to You

what we no longer wish to carry forward.

May this blessed Pentecost Day

be a day of new beginnings

for us and all who surrender to Your Holy Spirit.

May the faith, hope, and joy

of those who gathered in Jerusalem

after Jesus Christ’s Ascension into Heaven

ignite such blessed passions in us, too.

We surrender ourselves to Your Holy Spirit –

that we might better embody God’s Big Love

for the well-being of all beings. Amen.

Doxology (all sing, softly, acapella)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise God all creatures here below.

Praise God above ye heavenly hosts.

Creator, Christ, and Holy Ghost.

Amen.

Benediction (spontaneous – in the Spirit)

(the service is concluded)

Worship Resources:

(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

(stlt) https://sogoreate-landtrust.org/lisjan-history-and-territory/

2/11/2021 UPDATED COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws changed earlier this year. Please check with your denominational legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content publicly. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Thank you.

Online Image: “Untitled, 1968” Mark Rothko. Published in Mark Rothko: Pictures as Drama ©2013 TASCHEN GmbH, original edition 2003.

Online Publishing Date: May 19, 2021.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.

Donation for Use of Content: 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!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

7 Easter: “Christ-Opened Minds” • Luke 24:44-53 • Ascension Day (observed) Worship/Devotional

Ascension” detail from an illuminated manuscript; source unknown

worship format and original contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

Worship Note

As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times, as social justice reforms arise, we freely offer this worship content for you to adapt for your needs.

Time with Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Taught to Hate?” Jesus offers a way forward when we have enemies

Worship Service

We Gather

Invocation

Beloved Community, let us look to the Resurrected Christ for comfort and assurance of things holy and eternal.

May we find our minds opened to understand scripture and the Holy Spirit’s on-going wisdom.

May our worship of the Resurrected Christ generate many blessings and much joy. Amen.

Light the Christ Candle

*Song: “Open the Eyes of My Heart” Written by Paul Baloche ©1997 Integrity’s Hosanna! Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing (IMI)) All Rights Reserved International Copyright Secured. Used by Permission. CCLI# 2298355 Video Footage Provided by: Zach Fields, Josh Ross & Chris Pitoyo

We Rest in God’s Grace

Silent Prayer

Shift into simply being with God, silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

Sometimes we take on more than is ours to do. We forget that God is waiting for us to stop and ask for holy help. What burdens weigh upon your shoulders? What feels like “too much” to do or be, accept or adapt? Maybe, this is not your’s to do? Maybe, Christ is eager to open your mind to new ways forward if you but ask? If these questions resonate, gentle yourself into a state of openness. God’s grace may be right around the corner.

We Listen

Scripture: Luke 24:44-53 (NRSV)

Luke’s gospel ends with this passage – the last encounter the Resurrected Jesus has with his disciples. Jesus’ departure by ascention into heaven is not unique within the Hebrew tradition. The prophet Elijah, while preparing his successor Elisha, is separated by a chariot of fire and then ascends into heaven by divine whirlwind. (This ancient story from 2 Kings 9-12 is the basis for the beloved spiritual “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”)

Then Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.”

Then Jesus opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Then Jesus led them out as far as Bethany, and, lifting up his hands, he blessed them. While he was blessing them, he withdrew from them and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy; and they were continually in the temple blessing God.

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Sermon: “Christ Opened Minds” Speaking to his young followers who had just witnessed the powerful violence of conflict, Jesus assures them God offers what they need to go forward.

Special Music: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” African-American Spiritual. Sung by Robert Robinson. First Covenant Church, Minneapolis. Published July 5, 2013. (Chalice #643)

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Eternal God, we apologize for thinking too highly of ourselves. We ask forgiveness for the times when we turned away from You to take on tasks much too large for any person or group of human beings. We ask, today, that we might be drawn to look to Christ. We offer our hearts and minds for holy illumination. Grant to Your humbled people the blessing of insight and guidance. May our turning to You bring You glory, bless our neighbors, and uplift our own souls. Amen.

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

Please support our Global Ministry partners responding to the Covid-19 crisis in India. Offer prayers of support for all responding with medical and spiritual care. Thank you. https://donate.globalministries.org/onlinegiving?donateTarget=Medical%20work%20of%20partners%20in%20India%20responding%20to%20COVID-19

We Continue in Hope

*Song: “Open My Eyes, That I May See” Written by Clara H. Scott, 1895. Public Domain. Performed by CFC Songs & Hymns, an Indian Christian community. Jan 18, 2021. (Chalice #586)

Benediction

May Jesus Christ, the fulfillment of the Law of Moses, the Prophets, the Psalms, continue to open our minds to righteous understanding.

May we prepare ourselves for Pentecost next Sunday, open to the Holy Spirit’s renewal, clothing us with sacred power from on high.

May we stay put in this span of hopeful mystery, blessed by the rising Jesus Christ, that we might be lead forward with wondrous joy. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Worship Resources:

(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

2/11/2021 UPDATED COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws changed earlier this year. Please check with your denominational legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content publicly. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Thank you.

Online Image: “Ascension” detail from an illuminated manuscript; source unknown.

Online Publishing Date: May 12, 2021.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.

Donation for Use of Content: 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!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

Pentecost 2021 — in person!

artwork: portion of “The Melt” by Tsherin Sherpa, 2017.

The church I serve will reopen for outside, in-person worship on May 23rd. We will be celebrating with FIRE, surrendering to God’s Holy Spirit guiding us forward. I’ll be posting a special LL service at the end of this week.

6 Easter: “Holy Mama Love”• Luke 13:31-35 • Mother’s Day Worship/Devotional with Holy Communion

“Woodcock and Chicks” by Archibald Thorburn (c) 1933

Worship format and original contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

Worship Note

As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times, as social justice reforms arise, we freely offer this worship content for you to adapt for your needs.

Time with Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Mama Hen Love” God loves us like a mama hen loves her chicks

Worship Service

We Gather

Invocation

A womanist* version of the prayer that Jesus taught. Written by Rev. Yolanda Norton.

Our Mother,

who is in heaven and within us,

we call upon Your names.

Your wisdom come.

Your will be done,

in all the spaces in which You dwell.

Give us each day

sustenance and perseverance.

Remind us of our limits as

we give grace to the limits of others.

Separate us from the temptation of empire,

and deliver us into community.

For You are the dwelling place within us,

the empowerment around us,

and the celebration among us,

now and forever. Amen.

Amen.

Light the Christ Candle

*Song: “Bring Many Names” Written by Brian Wren. Performed by the First Congregational Church of Belleview, UCC. Stephen O’Bent, piano;  audio and visual editing. Published Aug 11, 2020. (Chalice #10)

We Rest in God’s Grace

Silent Prayer

Shift into simply being with God, silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

Have you ever been safely held by a person or a place when you were in need of care? Are you currently physically safe and secure? Try dropping a degree or two in consciousness. Can you perceive a holy presence laying wings about you, protecting you right now? Does your soul sense divine sanctuary? If so, please thank God. If not, pray for this grace to one day be revealed unto you.

We Listen

Scripture: Luke 13:31-35 (NRSV)

Jesus is preparing to enter Jerusalem for the last time. He is teaching, preparing his disciples and the crowds for what is to come. Jesus’s pre-Easter lament for the failings of the Beloved Nation represented by the holy city of Jerusalem contains a powerful image of divine love – a protective mama hen.

At that very hour some Pharisees came and said to Jesus, “Get away from here, for Herod wants to kill you.”

Jesus said to them, “Go and tell that fox for me:

‘Listen, I am casting out demons and performing cures today and tomorrow, and on the third day I finish my work. Yet today, tomorrow, and the next day I must be on my way, because it is impossible for a prophet to be killed away from Jerusalem.’ 

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you. And I tell you, you will not see me until the time comes when you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’”

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Sermon “Holy Mama Love”

The feminine face of God considered on Mother’s Day

Special Music: “Like A Mother Who Has Borne Us” Lyrics by Daniel Bechtel, 1986. Music by William P Rowan, “AUSTIN”, 1992. Music copyright ©1993, Selah Publishing, Co., Inc. (#583 THCH). Performed and recorded by Casas Adobes, UCC on January 21, 2021.

We Celebrate Holy Communion

Invitation

On this Mother’s Day we hold close the image of Jesus as a mother hen fiercely sheltering her beloved, vulnerable chicks. The One who removes danger, the One who heals, the One who protects us – this is The One who calls us to the Holy Table to nourish our bodies and tend our souls.

Gathering Souls

Let us speak the names of those persons, including your mothers or mothering ones, living or dead, who are not present with us in person, yet present in our thoughts and prayers. Let us be gathered together: (speak their names)

Consecration Invitation and Prayer

Lay hands on your bread and cup. Our prayer asks the Holy Spirit to move among us and fill our household items with sacred presence:

Beloved God, we lay our hands on these items as did Jesus Christ. May Your Holy Spirit move through us filling these humble elements infuse them and us with Your guiding wisdom and redemptive compassion. Amen.

Sharing the Elements (elements will be consumed after words of institution)

We remember the Passover evening when Jesus was assembled with his beloved disciples. Jesus lifted up the loaf, gave thanks to God, broke it, and said: “Take, eat. This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

After super, Jesus lifted up the cup, gave thanks to God, and offered it to them saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

Beloved Ones, we are eternally protected and nourished by the Eternal Christ. Jesus Christ is a fierce mama hen who gives of herself, her very body, to protect her brood. Let us receive this bread and wine receiving the divine presence and protection of Jesus Christ. (eat and drink)

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Holy One, for all Your efforts to bring us into life, to keep us alive, to show us the way of life, to call us into lives that matter supporting the lives of others, we give thanks. Amen.

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Holy God, for all our mothers who have walked us into life, we give thanks. For all the mothering ones, our relations and ancestors, as well as non-human beings and places that have taken good care of us, we give thanks. Bless each Mothering One, filled with Your divine compassion, who has sheltered us. We call to mind those who are in need of protective care – in our families, community, and around the world. Move us to embody Your motherly love for the vulnerable ones, including ourselves. Bless each Mother-Needing One with Your fierce love. Amen.

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

Please support mothers with families. Consider supporting our neighbors – Women’s Daytime Drop-In Center in Berkeley, California. https://www.womensdropin.org/?fbclid=IwAR0GPgFmxqxzlO5Je9nm4qcDESsaJTcSTumvFh6Q9QyOu0Hh7NL7bNuelUM Donate: https://secure.donationpay.org/womensdropin/ (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

*Song: “Blest Be the Tie That Binds” Original lyrics by John Fawcett, 1872, and original music by Johann G Nageli, 1845, revised by Hans Nagel and Darby Hughes 2020. Video published March 24, 2020. (Chalice #433)

Benediction

God is with us!

When we joyfully gather to share a meal.

God is with us!

When we hide from outside dangers.

God is with us!

When we simply need the comfort of love.

God is with us!

Happy Mother’s Day!

God is with us! Amen!

(the service is concluded)

Worship Resources:

*womanist – is a term claimed by Black female theologians and community leaders to identify female experience and empowerment within and from Black women. “Womanist” (Black women), “Mujerista” (Latinx women), and other such terms rightly correct a universal use of “Feminist” which more correctly represents White women’s experiences and aspirations.

(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

2/11/2021 UPDATED COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws have recently changed. Please check with your denominational legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content publicly. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Thank you.

Online Image: “Woodcock and Chicks” by Archibald Thorburn, 1933.

Online Publishing Date: May 4, 2021.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.

Donation for Use of Content: 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!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

3 Easter: “For God So Loved the Cosmos” • John 3:16 • Earth Day Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

painting by Clivie Loveless-Newton, ©2020

worship format and original contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

Worship Note

As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times, as social justice reforms arise, we freely offer this worship content for you to adapt for your needs.

Time with Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Flower Friends” We prepare for Earth Day spending time with Pastor Kathryn’s flower friends. We also think about how we can live respecting all beings on Earth.

Worship Service

We Gather

Invocation

Since the beginning of beginnings –

God so loves the cosmos.

As Creation continues to evolve –

God so loves the cosmos.

Kindred creatures as community –

God so loves the cosmos.

Beloved Ones, let all of us – of all species –

gather in praise and thanksgiving,

drawn to the Light of Christ. Amen.

Light the Christ Candle

Special Music: “I Love You Earth” Written and performed by 6-year-old singer / songwriter Aiden Adams. Lyrics and Melody by Aiden Adams. Music and Lyrics (C) 2020 Aiden Books http://www.aidenbooks.com (C) 2021, Kooty Records. Premiered Mar 15, 2021.

We Rest in God’s Grace

Releasing and Receiving

As Earth Day (April 22) approaches, let us pray with our eyes open, all senses engaged. Gentle your spirit and body. Listen, smell, look, taste, and touch the natural world. Who or what kindly gathers with you today? This is your special prayer partner who also loves God.

With your fellow creature or expression of life, praise God for the beauty of the earth, share gratitude for holy comforts, and lift up concerns for all living beings. Talk with God about your species and what you perceive might be the experience of your earthly friend/s, too. Be honest as you speak with God the Creator. Be open, too. God may be calling you to listen closely to other beings. When you are ready to move on, say “Amen,” with gratitude in your heart.

Silent Prayer

Shift into simply being with God, silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:

Be still and know that I am God. (pause)

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

Children often know, quite naturally, how to pray with wild things – a grasshopper on a blade of grass, summer clouds morphing overhead, the haunting hoot of an evening owl. Consider your childhood or time with a precious child. Was there/is there, a special natural place or being, not a human-made place or human being, that was/is safe and life-giving? Remember that place or being. This place, this being, is a vessel of God’s caring love and grace. God’s eternal care always rises throughout the cosmos. It can’t help but do that.

On this 3rd Sunday of Easter, as Earth Day nears, be especially open to how God’s grace is moving through the natural world around you. Notice who or what God has placed near you to lift your spirit, to deepen sacred cross-species bonds, and to balance the flow of life in and through us all. May this grace bless you and ripple out and bless many others. too.

We Listen

Scripture: John 3:16 (NRSV)

The biblical word we translate as “the world” is “κόσμον” (kosmon) – “cosmos” in English. It suggests much more than human community or the planet earth. The cosmos is the eternal reality of living systems. This is what God loves which Christ came to liberate.

(English) For God so loved the world that God gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

(Koine Greek) Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν Υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ’ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Sermon “Imagine” by The Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church (USA). Sermon for Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2021 (see Reflection) Bishop Curry’s sermon expresses God’s love for all that exists – God’s love of the cosmos – and our role in this divinely beloved reality.

Reflection: “IMAGINE! God’s Earth and People Restored”

No written reflection this week. Please consider participating in Ecumenical Advocacy Days, a virtual event April 18-21, 2021: “IMAGINE! God’s Earth and People Restored”

To register: https://attendify.co/ecumenical-advocacy-days-pbfNWPy

To view recorded sermons and prayers anytime: https://advocacydays.org/worship/

Special Music: “Morning has Broken” Music: Gaelic melody. Arrangement written by Cat Stevens. Performed by Concertino, a flute and guitar duo with flautist Vic Norian and guitarist Charles Gregoire. Recorded at Parkdale United Church on June 14, 2010 in Ottawa Canada. (Chalice #53)

We Pray

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

For all the ways this good earth tends our bodies and souls, let us generously support those organizations which tend God’s beloved creations. It may be that your community will be participating in this year’s Church World Service’s (CWS) Crop Hunger Walk, a virtual event in 2021. You are most welcome to join the “Berkeley Chinese Community Church” team – https://events.crophungerwalk.org/2021/search. (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

*Song: “For the Beauty of the Earth” Words and Music: Folliot S Pierpoint, 1864. Performed by Audrey Assad. Video by
Bob Marshall. Video published Apr 11, 2019. (Chalice #56)

Benediction

Breathing in, imagine the universe.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine our solar system.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine our earth and moon.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine our continent surrounded seas.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine our country, a nation of nations.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine our region, all your living neighbors.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine your loved ones and their homes.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine yourself and your current location.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

May the Peace of Christ be with all beings. Amen.

Worship Resources:

(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

2/11/2021 UPDATED COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws have recently changed. Please check with your denominational legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content publicly. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Thank you.

Online Image: painting by Clivie Loveless-Newton, ©2020

Online Publishing Date: April 13, 2021.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.

Donation for Use of Content: 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!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

Eastertide Message

Aiden the Wonder Cat napping. (c) 2021, Kathryn M Schreiber

Hello Dear Ones! Happy Eastertide! Next week’s worship will celebrate Earth Day and then I’m off for two weeks; no new content for April 25th or May 2nd – however see the prayer poem posted for PAAM Sunday (4/25) that I posted before Easter. I will post a service for Mother’s Day (5/9) with Holy Communion. Hope there is some post-Easter downtime for you, too!