“Restore Us to Abundance” • Psalm 126 • 3 Advent with Advent Wreath Reading • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

photo: David Lazar

content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber

Worship Note

This service is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise.

Preparations

  • Read through this service beforehand to assemble items needed.
  • During Advent only Advent Candles are lit, not the Christ Candle.
  • An Advent Wreath can be any configuration of four candles with an additional Christ Candle that will remain unlit until Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. Or, a single candle can be lit each week of Advent. (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvelGQTEt6M)
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any candle or object which represents Christ’s presence.
  • Choose songs (our suggestions or your favorites). Assemble what you’ll need to sing.
  • Ensure an uninterrupted place to worship.
  • Decorate your space to welcome God’s presence. Purple is the traditional color of the season of Advent.

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Remembering God’s Abundance”

3nd Sunday of Advent: Remembering the Good Times

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Call to Worship

Once upon a time we were free to sing and dance – together! Remember when our arms and bellies were so very full and we didn’t even realize how blessed we were?

Once upon a time we were free to work side by side! Remember when we planted the seeds of service and prayer sweating together in good labor and singing together in the pews?

God will bring us back and bring us back better. Our tears will dry up. We will laugh and rejoice!

As we light the Third Candle of Advent, we join those who went before, saying: “Lord, bring us back as water to a thirsty land. Those sowing in tears reap, singing, and laughing.” Amen.

Light the Third Candle of Advent

(Note: If you’re using four Advent Candles, please relight the two you lit last week plus a third one this week. If you’re only using one candle, this week the candle is the “Third Candle” of Advent. Remember, during the four Sundays of Advent we do not light a Christ Candle – we are waiting for the rebirth of the Eternal Christ. We’ll light a new Christ Candle on Christmas Eve/Day – whenever your household celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ.)

Candle Lighting Song

“People, Look East” https://youtu.be/F8GNlRcBdvs

Lyrics: E Farjeon, Music: traditional French carol BESANCON (Chalice #142); unknown performer

We Unburden and Gather Hope

Naming Our Reality

This is your time to check in with God. Speak as candidly as you can. Tell God about your week. Share the easy moments, the times of challenge, and the situations that confound. If words don’t flow, speak to God with a smile or tear, heartache or swelling of gratitude. God is with you however you are.

Acts of Unburdening and Affirming

It can be helpful to physically acknowledge the burdens and weights we carry. Place small items around the Advent Wreath to symbolize your prayers or write them on pieces of paper and leave them in a “prayer bowl.” Don’t worry how you release your concerns to God. If you do not have words, do not be concerned. The soul knows what to give to God and God knows what to receive. Whatever you give, however you give it, Christ will receive your prayerful offerings.

Silent Prayer

We shift from speaking to God to sitting 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)

Try to sit quietly in a state of calm devotion. Thoughts and feelings will occur; this is natural. Return focus by chanting a name for God or Christ – such as “Friend, Friend, Friend Jesus” or paying attention to your breath. Rest in the ultimate reality of God’s lovingkindness. When you’re ready to release this practice, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

It is the human condition to know times of ease and times of challenge as individuals and as a nation. Even nature tells us life unfolds in cycles. At this time of year the darkness far exceeds light every 24-hours. This condition, however, doesn’t remain, does it? So it is with cycles in our shared human communities.

God’s grace is like the sun – always shining the same – day in and day out. We may experience God’s differently moment by moment, emotional season by emotional season, but it never changes. Let us take assurance in God’s eternal faithfulness however we experience God’s grace today. Amen.

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Psalm 126 (LTP)

A dream come true: Home to Zion after years of bitter captivity. Laughter, dance and song. A song of ascents.

The Lord brings us back to Zion, we are like dancers, laughing, dancing, with songs on our lips. Other nations say, “A new world of wonders! The Lord is with them.” Yes, God works wonders. Rejoice! Be glad!

Lord, bring us back as water to a thirsty land. Those sowing in tears reap, singing, and laughing. They left weeping, weeping, casting the seed. They come back singing, singing, holding high the harvest.

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

Reflection

See this week’s “Out of the Bag” recording at the beginning of this document. Also, consider using Christmas ornaments to remember the good times that followed the bad times. This Sunday of Advent we remember God’s faithfulness.

Special Music

Please select a Christmas song with a message of comfort – honoring what has been while being excited about what is to come, grateful for God’s faithfulness.

We Pray

Prayers of Petition

Though distant, whenever we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we are connected one to another in the Holy Spirit. We never pray alone. Lift up your prayers with words, sounds, movement, tears, or silence. God is listening.

The Lord’s Prayer

Imagine a place where you feel close to God, maybe a sanctuary where you’ve worshipped. Welcome the memory of your Beloved Community filling your soul with companionship as we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We Give Thanks

Offering

During these longer nights, during these times of limited human interaction and general physical mobility, we have more time to think. Most of us have a natural default somewhere along the spectrum of optimist and pessimist. But all of us need hope – especially during unique times like this.

May we remember God is the source of our hope. God is calling us to hang on and keep taking this journey one day at time. God is taking us where we need to go. Let us thank God who is with us, God who guides us, God who will rejoice with us when we are on the other side of this pandemic. (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope

Please select a favorite Christmas carol to sing joyfully.

Benediction

Seed-casting dancers – a new harvest is coming.

Weeping planters – God has yet more wonders to bestow.

Rejoice! Be glad! Christ really will be reborn among us! Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(LTP) The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering from the Hebrew into contemporary English poetry, intended primarily for communal song and recitation. Liturgical Training Press ©1994

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Publishing Date: November 29, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting a local foodbank at this time of extreme need. 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”

“Restore Us to Goodness” • Psalm 85:9-14 • 2 Advent with Advent Wreath Reading • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

photo: unknown source, example of kintsukuroi

content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber

Worship Note

This service is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise.

Preparations

  • Read through this service beforehand to assemble items needed.
  • During Advent only Advent Candles are lit, not the Christ Candle.
  • An Advent Wreath can be any configuration of four candles with an additional Christ Candle that will remain unlit until Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. Or, a single candle can be lit each week of Advent. (see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvelGQTEt6M)
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any candle or object which represents Christ’s presence.
  • Choose songs (our suggestions or your favorites). Assemble what you’ll need to sing.
  • Ensure an uninterrupted place to worship.
  • Decorate your space to welcome God’s presence. Purple is the traditional color of the season of Advent.

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Help us be Good”

2nd Sunday of Advent: Repairing what’s been broken

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Advent Candle Reading/Call to Worship

On this Second Sunday of Advent the God of Liberation assures us the intangible will become real taking on flesh and blood, dwelling among us.

God says, “Look for love and fidelity embracing; witness peace and justice sharing a tender kiss. What is truly good will sprout up from the earth and lean down from heaven to restore humanity.”

May we pivot our hearts toward God’s peace expecting divine glory to spread across the land where uncivil wars now divide us.

As we light the Second Candle of Advent, we join those who went before, saying: “The Lord pours out riches, our land springs to life. Justice clears God’s path, justice points the way.” Amen.

Light the Second Candle of Advent

(Note: If you’re using four Advent Candles, please relight the one you lit last week plus a second one this week. If you’re only using one candle, this week the candle is the “Second Candle” of Advent. Remember, during the four Sundays of Advent we do not light a Christ Candle – we are waiting for the rebirth of the Eternal Christ. We’ll light a new Christ Candle on Christmas Eve/Day – whenever your household celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ.)

Candle Lighting Song 

“Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” https://youtu.be/vRAFQCOkjgE

Lyrics: C Wesley; Music: RH Prichard HYFRYDOL (Chalice #125); Performed by Red Mountain Music

We Unburden and Gather Hope

Naming Our Reality

This is your time to check in with God. Speak as candidly as you can. Tell God about your week. Share the easy moments, the times of challenge, and the situations that confound. If words don’t flow, speak to God with a smile or tear, heartache or swelling of gratitude. God is with you however you are.

Acts of Unburdening and Affirming

It can be helpful to physically acknowledge the burdens and weights we carry. Place small items around the Advent Wreath to symbolize your prayers or write them on pieces of paper and leave them in a “prayer bowl.” Don’t worry how you release your concerns to God. If you do not have words, do not be concerned. The soul knows what to give to God and God knows what to receive. Whatever you give, however you give it, Christ will receive your prayerful offerings.

Silent Prayer

We shift from speaking to God to sitting 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)

Try to sit quietly in a state of calm devotion. Thoughts and feelings will occur; this is natural. Return focus by chanting a name for God or Christ – such as “Friend, Friend, Friend Jesus” or paying attention to your breath. Rest in the ultimate reality of God’s lovingkindness. When you’re ready to release this practice, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

God is still speaking, still calling humanity to salvation as a species. God wants all of us to survive and thrive. This second week of Advent may we hear God’s liberating voice speak louder than any messages that diminish our dignity or cause us to disregard others. God is still speaking Big Love and Big Peace to all of us. What a grace!

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Psalm 85: 9-14 (LTP)

I listen to God speaking: “I, the Lord, speak peace, peace to My faithful people who turn their hearts to Me.”

Salvation is coming near, glory is filling our land. Love and fidelity embrace, peace and justice kiss. Fidelity sprouts from the earth, justice leans down from heaven.

The Lord pours out riches, Our land springs to life. Justice clears God’s path, Justice points the way.

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

Reflection

See this week’s “Out of the Bag” recording at the beginning of this document.

Special Music

Please select a Christmas song with a message of hope for the uplift of all humanity, such as “Grown Up Christmas List” lyrics: L Thompson-Jenner, music: David Foster.

We Pray

Prayers of Petition

Though distant, whenever we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we are connected one to another in the Holy Spirit. We never pray alone. Lift up your prayers with words, sounds, movement, tears, or silence. God is listening.

The Lord’s Prayer

Imagine a place where you feel close to God, maybe a sanctuary where you’ve worshipped. Welcome the memory of your Beloved Community filling your soul with companionship as we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We Give Thanks

Offering

Take a moment to pause and honor an example of the best of humanity rising up in a challenging situation. Where is God’s Big Love performing acts of healing and restoration? When has God brought unexpected repair among your household? With genuine thanksgiving, offer praise to God. (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope

Please select a favorite Christmas carol to sing hopefully.

Benediction

May we hear God speak peace. May we believe in the good things coming. May we witness integrity rising up from earth and leaning down from heaven. May we travel the path of justice. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(LTP) The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering from the Hebrew into contemporary English poetry, intended primarily for communal song and recitation. Liturgical Training Press ©1994

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Publishing Date: November 30, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting a local foodbank at this time of extreme need. 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”

“Restore Us – Rejoice!” * Advent – Birth of Christ * Psalms, Magnificat, and Isaiah * Advent Wreath Readings and Songs

photo: Maridav

content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber

Advent-Christmas Overview

During Advent-Christmas 2020 season we join the ancient Hebrews calling out to God for the restoration of our nation. We also join in rejoicing as we recognize God’s triumphant response. Content aligns with Year B Advent-Christmas lections. (Please see “Restore Us – Rejoice! Advent-1 Christmas – Advent Wreath and Worship Themes” for content themes and scriptures 12/29/2020.)


Advent 1: Restore Us – Shine Upon Us

National restoration begins with relationship with God; Psalm 80:2-4; 18-20 (LTP)

Advent Candle Reading/Call to Worship

We begin the Advent journey differently this year – each of us in our own homes, separated from one another, keeping distance to save lives.

We begin the Advent journey differently this year – feeling the wound and weight of old and new divisions hoping for a better tomorrow.

We begin the Advent journey differently this year – as one, global community battling a common pandemic awakening to emerging forms of cooperation.

We begin the Advent journey differently this year – joining Jesus’ people calling out to God for the salvation of our nation trusting God’s light will shine.

As we light the First Candle of Advent, we join those who went before, saying: “Restore to us, O God, the light of Your presence, and we shall be saved.” Amen.

Light the First Candle of Advent

(Note: During the four Sundays of Advent we do not light a Christ Candle – we are waiting for the rebirth of the Eternal Christ. We’ll light a new Christ Candle on Christmas Eve/Day – whenever your household celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ.)

Candle Lighting Song “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” https://youtu.be/Ley1aOPDHCE

Lyrics: JM Neale, Music: French VENTI EMMANUEL (Chalice# ; performed by St. Francis de Sales Church in Ajax, Ontario, Canada. (Used by permission)

Advent 2: Restore Us to Goodness

Aligning to God’s Dream, examining our character and values; Psalm 85:9-14 (LTP)

Advent Candle Reading/Call to Worship

On this Second Sunday of Advent the God of Liberation assures us the intangible will become real taking on flesh and blood, dwelling among us.

God says, “Look for love and fidelity embracing; witness peace and justice sharing a tender kiss. What is truly good will sprout up from the earth and lean down from heaven to restore humanity.”

May we pivot our hearts toward God’s peace expecting divine glory to spread across the land where uncivil wars now divide us.

As we light the Second Candle of Advent, we join those who went before, saying: “The Lord pours out riches, our land springs to life. Justice clears God’s path, justice points the way.” Amen.

Light the Second Candle of Advent

(Note: If you’re using four Advent Candles, please relight the one you lit last week plus a second one this week. If you’re only using one candle, this week it is the “Second Candle” of Advent. Remember, during the four Sundays of Advent we do not light a Christ Candle – we are waiting for the rebirth of the Eternal Christ. We’ll light a new Christ Candle on Christmas Eve/Day – whenever your household celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ.)

Candle Lighting Song “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus” https://youtu.be/vRAFQCOkjgE

Lyrics: C Wesley; Music: RH Prichard HYFRYDOL (Chalice #125); Performed by Red Mountain Music

Advent 3: Restore Us to Abundance

A nation looks back in sorrow and looks forward with joy; Psalm 126 (LTP)

Advent Candle Reading/Call to Worship

Once upon a time we were free to sing and dance – together! Remember when our arms and bellies were so very full and we didn’t even realize how blessed we were?

Once upon a time we were free to work side by side! Remember when we planted the seeds of service and prayer sweating together in good labor and singing together in the pews?

God will bring us back and bring us back better. Our tears will dry up. We will laugh and rejoice!

As we light the Third Candle of Advent, we join those who went before, saying: “Lord, bring us back as water to a thirsty land. Those sowing in tears reap, singing, and laughing.” Amen.

Light the Third Candle of Advent

(Note: If you’re using four Advent Candles, please relight the two candles lit the last two weeks plus a third one this week. If you’re only using one candle, this week it is the “Third Candle” of Advent. Remember, during the four Sundays of Advent we do not light a Christ Candle – we are waiting for the rebirth of the Eternal Christ. We’ll light a new Christ Candle on Christmas Eve/Day – whenever your household celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ.)

Candle Lighting Song “People, Look East” https://youtu.be/F8GNlRcBdvs

Lyrics: E Farjeon, Music: traditional French carol BESANCON (Chalice #142); unknown performer

Advent 4: Restore Us to Justice

We join Mary praising God’s Dream for Humanity; Luke 1:46b-55 (NRSV, adapted)

Advent Candle Reading/Call to Worship

Reading will post later in December

Light the Fourth Candle of Advent

(Note: If you’re using four Advent Candles, please relight the three candles lit the last three weeks plus a fourth one this week. If you’re only using one candle, this week it is the “Fourth Candle” of Advent. Remember, during the four Sundays of Advent we do not light a Christ Candle – we are waiting for the rebirth of the Eternal Christ. We’ll light a new Christ Candle on Christmas Eve.)

Candle Lighting Song “Awake! Awake and Greet the New Morn” https://youtu.be/UKxm6gQEwgQ

Lyrics and Music: Marty Haugen REJOICE, REJOICE (Chalice #138); Performed by: Jason Meissner

Christmas Eve: Rejoice! Newborn Hope

The Prince of Peace Emerges from Suffering; Isaiah 9:2-7 (NRSV, adapted)

Advent Candles & Christ Candle

Reading/Call to Worship, etc will post later in December

Notes

Additional Advent-Christmas materials can be found online as blogs published at www.inthebiglove.com. See blog for free content.

Online Publishing Date: November 29, 2020.

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(LTP) The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering from the Hebrew into contemporary English poetry, intended primarily for communal song and recitation. Liturgical Training Press ©1994

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting any effort to uplift your neighbors. Here in the SF Bay Area we’re encouraging donations to the Alameda County Food Bank. 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”

“Restore Us – Shine Upon Us” • Psalm 80:2-4; 18-20 • 1 Advent with Advent Wreath Reading • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

(c) 2017, Anadolu Agency. Youth Rally in solidarity with Charlotteville.

content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber

Worship Note

This service is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise.

Preparations

  • Read through this service beforehand to assemble items needed.
  • During Advent only Advent Candles are lit, not the Christ Candle.
  • An Advent Wreath can be any configuration of four candles with an additional Christ Candle that will remain unlit until Christmas Eve/Christmas Day. (see our video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvelGQTEt6M)
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any candle or object which represents Christ’s presence.
  • Choose songs (our suggestions or your favorites). Assemble what you’ll need to sing.
  • Ensure an uninterrupted place to worship.
  • Decorate your space to welcome God’s presence. Purple is the traditional color of the season of Advent.

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Shine on us, God” 1st Sunday of Advent: Living in God’s Light

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Call to Worship

We begin the Advent journey differently this year – each of us in our own homes, separated from one another, keeping distance to save lives.

We begin the Advent journey differently this year – feeling the wound and weight of old and new divisions hoping for a better tomorrow.

We begin the Advent journey differently this year – as one, global community battling a common pandemic awakening to emerging forms of cooperation.

We begin the Advent journey differently this year – joining Jesus’ people calling out to God for the salvation of our nation trusting God’s light will shine.

As we light the First Candle of Advent we join those who went before saying: “Restore to us, O God, the light of Your presence, and we shall be saved.” Amen.

Light the First Candle of Advent

(Note: During the four Sundays of Advent we do not light a Christ Candle – we are waiting for the rebirth of the Eternal Christ. We’ll light a new Christ Candle on Christmas Eve/Day – whenever your household celebrates the Birth of Jesus Christ.)

Candle Lighting Song

“O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” https://youtu.be/Ley1aOPDHCE

Lyrics: JM Neale, Music: French VENTI EMMANUEL; performed by St. Francis de Sales Church in Ajax, Ontario, Canada. (Used by permission)

We Unburden and Gather Hope

Naming Our Reality

This is your time to check in with God. Speak as candidly as you can. Tell God about your week. Share the easy moments, the times of challenge, and the situations that confound. If words don’t flow, speak to God with a smile or tear, heartache or swelling of gratitude. God is with you however you are.

Acts of Unburdening and Affirming

It can be helpful to physically acknowledge the burdens and weights we carry. Place small items around the Advent Wreath to symbolize your prayers or write them on pieces of paper and leave them in a “prayer bowl.” Don’t worry how you release your concerns to God. If you do not have words, do not be concerned. The soul knows what to give to God and God knows what to receive. Whatever you give, however you give it, Christ will receive your prayerful offerings.

Silent Prayer

We shift from speaking to God to sitting 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)

Try to sit quietly in a state of calm devotion. Thoughts and feelings will occur; this is natural. Return focus by chanting a name for God or Christ – such as “Friend, Friend, Friend Jesus” or paying attention to your breath. Rest in the ultimate reality of God’s lovingkindness. When you’re ready to release this practice, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

Welcome to the first week of Advent, a time of new beginnings. On this first day of the Advent journey God is inviting you forward into a better future. God is calling you to come closer to Christ – the one born in the person of Jesus and the one being reborn in our hearts all the time.

Today, rest in the warm glow of God’s grace. The Holy Light of God’s Big Love is shining upon all of us, all of the time. Even when we are in the dark, God shines for us. Amen.

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Psalm 80:2-4; 18-20 (LTP)

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, leader of Joseph’s flock. From Your throne on the cherubim shine out for Ephraim, for Benjamin, and for Manasseh. Gather Your strength, come save us!

Restore to us, God, the light of Your presence, and we shall be saved.

Rest Your hand upon Your chosen one who draws strength from You. We have not turned from You. Give us life again and well will invoke Your name. Restore to us, Lord God of might, the light of Your presence, and we shall be saved.

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

Reflection “Invoking God’s Help for the Nation”

This Advent we are reading the Advent scriptures thinking about our country as did the Hebrews of Jesus’ time. Jesus’ ancestors waited a long time for a national savior — an anointed leader sent by God to shift the fate of their homeland. The Jewish people, as a people, continue to cry out to God for earthly intervention for the well-being of their community – Jews living in Israel and Palestine, as well as throughout the Jewish diaspora*.

This psalm was written hundreds of years before the birth of Joseph and Mary, hundreds of years after the great exodus from Egyptian slavery. Like all cultures, the Hebrew people cried out to their God whenever they, as a people, were in dire straits. These requests for God’s help can be found throughout the Bible.

This year, we enter this call for God to help our people joining nations around the world. We are all calling out for relief from the coronavirus, as well as other worldwide concerns like climate change and race relations. Here in the United States, as well as in other countries, polarizing politics, legacies of racial abuse, and growing discrepancies between the rich and the poor have seen an escalation in internal conflicts. We are definitely a part of the collective plea: “God save us! Send us help!”

We have different ideas about what form divine help will take. Some of us wait for a King David type of human being from the ranks of manual laborers to rise to the heights of national leadership. Some of us wait for a magical being who will remove the yokes we placed on others and set all beings free. Some of us wait for a cosmic shift of consciousness when we will see each other as truly equal, all made in the image of God. Some of us wait – not sure of what we are waiting for – but believing God has something better in store for us. All of us.

This Advent, what do you think God wants us to be? What is God’s Dream for our nation? What would you like God to save us from? What kind of help would you like God to provide us?

We begin this year’s Advent journey with our eyes open clearly looking at the social realities we have inherited and created. With God’s help, we can witness what is beautiful and what is ugly – and hold linked ambiguities together. With open hearts, we feel what is tragic and what is hopeful at the same time. With curious minds we wonder what needful shifts might be possible and what is too outrageous to ponder, while leaving room for God to inspire and correct us.

As we awaken to this moment, this very precious Advent moment, we do so asking God to shine. Asking God to light the way. Asking God to illuminate us. Asking God to be God.

May God bless us in our humility and reverence, in our earnestness and genuine desire for the better days and nights to come. Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)

Special Music

“A Stable Lamp Is Lighted” https://youtu.be/w6Z25glv5ow

Lyrics: R Wilbur, Music: D Hurd, ANDUJAR (Chalice #141); Performed by The Georgia Boy Choir (lyrics in YouTube video notes)

We Pray

Prayers of Petition

Though distant, whenever we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we are connected one to another in the Holy Spirit. We never pray alone. Lift up your prayers with words, sounds, movement, tears, or silence. God is listening.

The Lord’s Prayer

Imagine a place where you feel close to God, maybe a sanctuary where you’ve worshipped. Welcome the memory of your Beloved Community filling your soul with companionship as we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We Give Thanks

Offering

Praise God for shining! Each time you see a holiday light (in person or on media) – thank God! Each time the light of the sun or the glow of the moon allows you to feel safe – thank God!  Each time you turn on a lamp or flip a light switch – thank God! God is with us! May the presence of light be for us both a symbol of God’s faithfulness and a vessel of that Big Love. (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope

“Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise” https://youtu.be/Fff2xQETe1c

Lyrics: WC Smith, Music: Welch folk melody; Performed by Jaron and Katherine Kamin

Benediction

The One who gave us life, will give us life again.

The One who gave us Jesus, will give us Christ forever.

The One who hears our calls, will restore Holy Presence.

God will save us. God will save our nation. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Notes
*Jewish diaspora: The dispersion of Israelites or Jews from their ancestral homeland (Israel/Palestine) around the world.

Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(LTP) The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering from the Hebrew into contemporary English poetry, intended primarily for communal song and recitation. Liturgical Training Press ©1994

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Publishing Date: November 27, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting a local foodbank at this time of extreme need. 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”

“Restore Us & Rejoice!” Advent-1 Christmas * Psalms, Magnificat, and Isaiah * Advent Wreath and Worship Themes

photo: Maridav

content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber

Themes

During Advent-Christmas 2020 season we join the ancient Hebrews calling out to God for the restoration of a nation. We also join them in rejoicing as we recognize God’s triumphant response as it begins to unfold. Content aligns with Year B Advent-Christmas lections.

Shifts in Content Postings

Instead of the complete worship content I’ve been posting weekly for in-home or remote worship, this Advent-Christmas season I’ll be offering content differently. This posting contains themes and scripture for five Sundays, plus Christmas Eve and Christmas Day offerings (November 29 through December 27 in 2020). Soon, Advent Wreath Readings will post. I may provide additional content, but can’t commit at this time. Thankfully, I’ll be taking a much-delayed vacation the first two weeks of December. God bless you and those you serve!

The Psalms

This year’s Advent-Christmas journey is “psalm forward.” Currently, these are my favorite translations:

The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering from the Hebrew into contemporary English poetry, intended primarily for communal song and recitation.  Liturgical Training Press ©1994. Note: Verse selections (mine) and numberings (LTP’s) may differ from the translation you usually use.

Psalms for Young Children Marie-Hélène Delval, writer. Arno, illustrator. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2008 edition in English. © 2003. French: Les Psaumes pour les tout-petits

Note: Please support independent booksellers. In the San Francisco East Bay, we adore Sacrada in Oakland.

Advent: Restore Us!

This Advent is like no other in our lifetimes. Yet, this season of vast challenges and unrequested opportunities is not unlike other times in human history. This year we dive into the psalms and other song-scriptures of the Advent season to join the human chorus crying out to God for a Messiah who will save a people.

I’ve packed up the classic Advent and Christmas themes this year to listen for the Still Speaking God’s invitation into a new way into and through the holiday season during a global pandemic and massive civil turnings. May God’s Holy Spirit guide us, collectively, as we make our way forward in health and hope seeking true revitalization along the path of humility and companionship with our Ever-Good, Ever-Faithful, Ever-Guiding God.

Advent 1: Restore Us, Shine Upon Us. National restoration begins with relationship with God. Text: Psalm 80:2-4; 18-20 (LTP)

Hear us, Shepherd of Israel,

leader of Joseph’s flock.

From Your throne on the cherubim

shine out for Ephraim,

for Benjamin, and for Manasseh.

Gather Your strength,

come save us!

Restore to us, God,

the light of Your presence,

and we shall be saved.

Rest Your hand upon Your chosen one

who draws strength from You.

We have not turned from You.

Give us life again

and well will invoke Your name.

Restore to us, Lord God of might,

the light of Your presence,

and we shall be saved.

Advent 2: Restore Us to Goodness. Aligning to God’s Dream, examining our character and values. Text: Psalm 85: 9-14 (LTP)

I listen to God speaking:

“I, the Lord, speak peace,

peace to My faithful people

who turn their hearts to Me.”

Salvation is coming near,

glory is filling our land.

Love and fidelity embrace,

peace and justice kiss.

Fidelity sprouts from the earth,

justice leans down from heaven.

The Lord pours out riches,

Our land springs to life.

Justice clears God’s path,

Justice points the way.

Advent 3: Restore Us to Abundance. Looking back in sorrow, looking forward with joy. Text: Psalm 126 (LTP)

A song of ascents.

The Lord brings us back to Zion,

we are like dancers,

laughing, dancing,

with songs on our lips.

Other nations say,

“A new world of wonders!

The Lord is with them.”

Yes, God works wonders.

Rejoice! Be glad!

Lord, bring us back

as water to a thirsty land.

Those sowing in tears

reap, singing, and laughing.

They left weeping, weeping,

casting the seed.

They come back singing, singing,

holding high the harvest.

Advent 4: Restore Us to Justice. We join Mary praising God’s Dream for Humanity. Text: Luke 1:46b-55 (NRSV, adapted)

And Mary said,

“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for God has looked with favor on the lowliness of this servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is God’s name.
God’s mercy is for those who revere God

from generation to generation.
God has shown strength of arm;
Scattering the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
Bringing down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly,

God has filled the hungry with good things,
and sending the rich away empty.
God has helped the servant nation,
in remembrance of divine mercy,

according to the promise God made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and Sarah, and their descendants forever.”

Christmas: Rejoice!

This Christmas season, also, will be like no other in our lifetimes. Thankfully, we can join the ancient Hebrews as we celebrate God’s promises to provide the human community incarnate, divine leadership. This Christmas, we celebrate God’s Dream for us through songs boldly sung, safely, in our personal households. We will rejoice from different places united as one human community, a collective of faith, united by the Holy Spirit.

As we sing favorite carols and Christmas songs, let us also invite God to put new songs in our hearts and new words in our mouths. If you have not before, consider singing the psalms – with ancient melodies or spontaneous tunes. Let us praise the God of all peoples, of all beings, of all times, and of all conditions. We rejoice with fellow human beings, with the cosmos, and with our rising hopes for humanity.

Christmas Eve: Rejoice! Newborn Hope. The Prince of Peace Emerges from Suffering. Text: Isaiah 9:2-7 (NRSV, adapted)

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;

those who lived in a land of deep darkness –

on them light has shined.

You have multiplied the nation,

You have increased its joy;

they rejoice before You as with joy at the harvest,

as people exult when dividing plunder. 

For the yoke of their burden,

and the bar across their shoulders,

the rod of their oppressor,

You have broken as on the day of Midian.

For all the boots of the tramping warriors,

and all the garments rolled in blood,

shall be burned as fuel for the fire.

For a child has been born for us,

a son given to us. 

Authority rests upon his shoulders

and he is named Wonderful Counselor,

Mighty God, Everlasting Parent, Prince of Peace.  

His authority shall grow continually,

and there shall be endless peace

for the throne of David and his kingdom.

He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness

from this time onward and forevermore.

The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.

Christmas Day: Rejoice! Singing New Songs. God Brings Order – All Creation Sings. Text: Psalm 96:1-3, 7-13 (LTP)

A new song for the Lord!

Sing it and bless God’s name,

everyone, everywhere!

Tell the whole world

God’s triumph day to day,

God’s glory, God’s wonder.

Proclaim the Lord, you nations,

praise the glory of God’s power,

praise the glory of God’s name!

Bring gifts to the temple,

bow down, all the earth,

tremble in God’s holy presence.

Tell the nations, “The Lord rules!”

As the firm earth is not swayed,

nothing can sway God’s judgement.

Let heaven and earth be glad,

the sea and the sea creatures roar,

the field and its beasts exult.

Then let the trees of the forest sing

before the coming of the Lord,

who comes to judge the nations,

to set the earth alright,

restoring the world to order.

1 Christmas: Rejoice! All Beings Praise. Cosmic Celebration of the Living Christ’s Birth. Text: Psalm 148 (LTP)

Hallelujah!

Praise the Lord!

Across the heavens,

from the heights,

all you angels, heavenly beings,

sing praises, sing praises!

Sun and moon, glittering stars,

sing praise, sing praise.

Highest heavens, rain clouds,

sing praise, sing praise.

Praise God’s name,

whose word called you forth

and fixed you in place for ever

by eternal decree.

Let there be praise:

from the depths of the earth,

from the creatures of the deep.

Fire and hail, snow and midst,

storms, winds,

mountains, hills,

fruit trees and cedars,

wild beasts and tame,

snakes and birds,

princes, judges,

rulers, subjects,

men, women,

old and young,

praise, praise, the holy name,

this name beyond all names.

God’s splendor above the earth,

above the heavens,

gives strength to the nation,

glory to the faithful,

a people close to the Lord,

Israel, let there be praise!

Notes
Online Publishing Date: November 24, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting any effort to uplift your neighbors. Here in the SF Bay Area we’re encouraging donations to the Alameda County Food Bank. 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”

“Gratitude Banquet” • Psalm 100 • Thanksgiving Sunday with Holy Communion • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

“Hear My Praise” by Rochelle Blumenfeld

content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber

Worship Note

This service is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise.

Preparations

  • You may wish to arrange to worship distantly with others at the same time.
  • Read through this service beforehand to assemble items needed.
  • Prepare Holy Communion elements – may have a Thanksgiving theme.
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any candle or object which represents Christ’s presence.
  • Choose songs (our suggestions or your favorites). Assemble what you’ll need to sing.
  • Ensure an uninterrupted place to worship.
  • Decorate your space to welcome God’s presence.
  • Use an online tool such as https://native-land.ca/ to learn whose land you are upon.

Time for Children of All Ages

Advent begins Sunday November 29th. Now is the time to prepare a household Advent Wreath.

Out of the Bag: “Making an Advent Wreath” – Creative Home Ideas

Out of the Bag: “Praying with an Advent Wreath” Praying with Candles

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Call to Worship

Praise God, for God is Good! Here on (name indigenous territory*) land we are surely blessed with life and love, finding in each day hope and sustenance, offering as we can uplift and service, entering God’s presence with profound gratitude. With great thanksgiving, we praise God for all God has done for us. Amen.

Light the Christ Candle

Song for Welcoming the Presence of God “Come Ye Thankful People Come” https://youtu.be/5FqdCskC0QE

Lyrics: H Alford, A Barbauld; Music: G J Elvey ST GEORGE’S WINDSOR (Chalice #718); Performed by The Scottish Festival Singers (Used with permission)

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Psalm 100 (LTP)

A perfect dance of thanksgiving. God’s people gather from the whole earth to enter the temple gates in procession and praise the God who is lasting love.

Shout joy to the Lord, all earth, serve the Lord with gladness, enter God’s presence with joy! Know that the Lord is God, our maker to whom we belong, our shepherd, and we the flock. Enter the temple gates, the courtyard with thanks and praise; give thanks and bless God’s name. Indeed the Lord is good! God’s love is forever, faithful from age to age.

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

Reflection “Virtual Thanksgiving”

This year when so many cannot gather around a common Thanksgiving table to share a feast with family and friends, let us use this opportunity to socially gather from a distance through media or compassionate intention sharing words and songs of thanksgiving for all God has done of us. This Thanksgiving Sunday let us feast on gratitude.

For this “potluck” of appreciation and praise, let us consider the less obvious things for which we are grateful. While it is good to be thankful for family and friends, health and housing, this year dig deeper. What has this season of civil justice consciousness raising and global pandemic reveled about God’s goodness? What has God done for you and your household that is truly amazing – completely unexpected. Gather your well-considered gratitude to share at this year’s virtual feast of thanksgiving.

Let us also note that this COVID 19 Thanksgiving some will not be gathering with other people on Thursday. May our celebrations of Holy Communion, however they are shared, be a time of physical and spiritual nourishment for all, especially for those who may be alone on Thanksgiving Day.

This Thanksgiving week let focus more clearly upon God’s goodness. As special conditions force us to set aside familiar rituals and traditions may we find new entrances into God’s presence. May our thanks and praise be truer this year, more aligned to the great blessings God has bestowed upon us. Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)

Special Music “How Can I Keep from Singing” (My Life Flows On) https://youtu.be/VLPP3XmYxXg

Lyrics and Music: Robert Lowry HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING (Chalice #619); Performed by NYC Virtual Choir and Orchestra.

We Share

Invitation to Holy Communion

This blessed meal is offered to everyone who wishes to partake – be they residents of earth or heaven. It matters not where we are or how we connect – in person, by phone or internet, or through goodwill and prayer. It matters not what form our celebration takes only that it is God’s Big Love, revealed in Jesus Christ, which gathers us at one, common, mystical table.

Let us speak the names of those who are not physically present with whom we wish to be spiritually gathered. (Say names out loud.)

Prayer of Preparation

Holy God, we come to this moment humbled. Humbled by the power of a miniscule virus to shut the whole world down. Humbled by the unfinished business of racial violence and on-going injustice which keeps erupting. Humbled by the chasm of mistrust that quakes wider each year. Seeing the weakness and failings of our human condition, we bow before You, O God. Place in our hearts a rowdy hope for the new day coming when we can freely gather together and reside in new levels of being – coming together with vulnerable compassion and common cause – sisters and brothers, fully awake to our shared humanity. Amen.

Silent Prayer

Sit with God in the silence of eternal contact. You may wish to simply “be” in holy presence or offer specific prayers. Maybe there is a wound or burden to set down, a resentment or disappointment to take off? In God’s totally accepting presence, offer what is yours to offer. Your soul will guide you. When you are ready to move on, say “Amen” with gratitude in your heart.

God’s Grace 

The One who wipes away every tear, The One who whispers every word of encouragement, The One who endlessly calls us to a Bigger Love has forgiven you. Has offered you mercy and healing for your wellbeing and for all whom you will encounter. Amen.

Communion Song “Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether” https://youtu.be/n4SaiWtXEiM

Lyrics: Percy Dearmer; Music: Harold Friedell (Chalice #392); Performed by members of Saint Clement Parish Chicago (3:35 min)

Consecration of Elements

Place your hands on the cup and the bread and pray:

Creator of Heaven and Earth, Source of Breath and Life, we call Your blessings upon the drink in this cup and the food on this plate. We honor the land from which this fruit and grain sprang. We honor the rain that fell and the sun which shone down bringing plants to maturity. We honor the farmer that planted and the laborer who harvested. We honor the ones who crafted this juice and made this bread. We honor all beings whose lives made this meal possible.

We call upon the Holy Spirit to fill us with the remembrance of the Living Christ that in the sharing of this meal we are, again, with Jesus and all the disciples who call him Beloved Brother and Savior. Amen.

Sharing the Elements

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.”

With gratitude in our hearts, let us receive Christ’s selfless gift. (eat bread)

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.”

With thanksgiving in our souls, let us receive Christ’s healing forgiveness. (drink from cup)

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Dear God, this year when so much is not the same what a comfort is it to participate in this Holy Meal connected to members of the Church Universal. Bond us in the Holy Spirit, stronger than any ill wind that blows here on earth. For all You have given us, perceived and still mysterious, we give thanks, Beloved One. We are most grateful. Amen.

We Pray

Prayers of Petition

Though distant, when we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we are connected one to another in the Holy Spirit. We never pray alone. What prayers does your soul carry – joys and concerns? Speak them. If your prayers don’t fit words today, use your body to give your prayers to God through movement or sound, dance, tears, or silence. Now is also the time to include prayer request from your community.

The Lord’s Prayer

Imagine a place where you feel close to God, maybe a sanctuary where you’ve worshipped. Welcome the memory of your Beloved Community filling your soul with companionship as we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We Give Thanks

Offering Special Music “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” (Doxology) https://youtu.be/r_shjZj81yE

Lyrics: Thomas Ken; Music: Louis Bourgeois OLD HUNDREDTH (Chalice #47); performed by the Gates family singing in a chapel in Assisi, Italy. (1:17 min)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope “Let All Things Now Living” https://youtu.be/kKz0ntLKnqs

Lyrics: Katherine David; Music: Welsch folk song ASH GROVE (Chalice #717); Posted by Middle East University Church of Seventh-Day Adventists

Benediction

There is always something to thank God for! Let our love for God who has done so much for us be a buoy to keep us afloat when our spirits sag. May we remember that we mimic our Beloved Christ when we sacrifice our comfort for the survival of others. Let us exit this holy space with praise and thanksgiving on our lips, filled with the goodness of our faithful God! Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Notes
*
Use a tool, such as https://native-land.ca/, to learn whose land you are upon.

Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(LTP) The Psalter: A faithful and inclusive rendering from the Hebrew into contemporary English poetry, intended primarily for communal song and recitation. Liturgical Training Press ©1994

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Publishing Date: November 19, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting a local indigenous community or to support our local native community by giving to https://sogoreate-landtrust.org/. 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”

“First Thanksgiving Revisited” • Deuteronomy 26:1-11 • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Groups

(c) 2020, kms

content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber

Worship Note

This service is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise.

Preparations

  • You may wish to arrange to worship distantly with others at the same time.
  • Read through this service beforehand to assemble items needed.
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any candle or object which represents Christ’s presence.
  • Choose songs (our suggestions or your favorites). Assemble what you’ll need to sing.
  • Ensure an uninterrupted place to worship.
  • Decorate your space to welcome God’s presence.
  • Use an online tool such as https://native-land.ca/ to learn whose land you are upon.

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Indigenous Neighbors” Our Neighbors’ Sacred Site

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Call to Worship

In this very place we call upon…

the ancestors of this place: (speak the name/s of the local indigenous people*)

the ancestors of our blood: (speak family names or places of origin)

the ancestors of our faith: (speak the names of Christians from whom you inherited your faith)

May we gather in hope, love, and good intention. May God bless our gathering with wisdom, reckoning, and healing. Amen

Light the Christ Candle

Song for Welcoming the Presence of God

“I Sing the Mighty Power of God” https://youtu.be/3pVdBw6shXY Lyrics: Isaac Watts; Tune: ELLACOMBE. (Chalice #64) Performed by 514); performed by Grace Community Church.

We Unburden and Gather Hope

Naming Our Reality

Take a few moments to reflect on the past week. How are you doing? What would you like to tell God right now? Tell God about the easy moments, the times of challenge, and the situations that confound. If words don’t flow, speak to God with a smile or tears, heartache or swelling of gratitude. God is with you as you are.

Acts of Unburdening and Affirming

It can be helpful to physically acknowledge the burdens and weights we carry. Place pebbles or small items at the base of the Christ Candle as you offering God released concerns. If you do not have words, do not be concerned. The soul knows what to give to God and God knows what to receive. Whatever you give, however you give it, Christ will receive your prayerful offerings.

Silent Prayer

We shift from speaking to God to sitting 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)

Try to sit quietly in a state of calm devotion. Thoughts and feelings will occur; this is natural. Return focus on Jesus Christ or an image of God that resonates. Pay attention to your breath. Rest in the ultimate reality of God’s Lovingkindness. When you’re ready to release this practice, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

God has seen it all. God knows the human condition. God knows that sometimes we edit history to make the past serve the future we desire. There is no past injustice, there is no covered up mistake, there is no former act that we confess which God cannot clear of malice and evil. God can repair anything. God can restore the soul of any person or nation.

Our merciful God continually welcomes us, in love, and calls us, in love, to keep on striving to be accountable for our actions and the impact of the misdeeds of our ancestors. God wants us to attend to the unattended matters of the past if they continue to break the ties that should bind us one to another.

Let us face into the future trusting in God’s Grace, naming the sins of the past, open to new ways of loving each other, we who have settled on this land with those who are native to this land. Amen.

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 26:1-11 (NRSV)

(Moral instruction given to the freed Hebrews before they entered the Promised Land)

When you have come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance to possess, and you possess it, and settle in it, you shall take some of the first of all the fruit of the ground, which you harvest from the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place that the Lord your God will choose as a dwelling for God’s name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time, and say to him,

‘Today I declare to the Lord your God that I have come into the land that the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.”

When the priest takes the basket from your hand and sets it down before the altar of the Lord your God, you shall make this response before the Lord your God:

“A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and God brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. So now I bring the first of the fruit of the ground that You, O Lord, have given me.”

You shall set it down before the Lord your God and bow down before the Lord your God. Then you, together with the Levites and the aliens who reside among you, shall celebrate with all the bounty that the Lord your God has given to you and to your house.

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

Sermon “First Thanksgiving Revisited”

(Delivered in 2017, this message is being re-published in 2020 to acknowledge the 400th Anniversary of The Mayflower landing on the shores of the Wampanoag nation on 11/11/1620. NCNC UCC members are encouraged to read the additional document: “Resolution: Making Amends” which passed at our 2020 Annual Gathering in October this year. A unique message, related, will post on YouTube channel “Kathryn Schreiber” 11/13/2020. The sermon was written and delivered on non-ceded Karkin-Ohlone Territory and this post was created on non-ceded Lisjan-Ohlone Territory.  A unique, related video sermon will post on YouTube channel “Kathryn Schreiber” on 11/13/2020.)

Indians and Pilgrims

Just two months ago**, Indigenous People of this land – Karkin-Ohlone and Winnemem Wintu, and other native people – gathered with Christian descendants of various international settlers to share a meal in our Pilgrim Hall.

Was that the first time such a gathering of “Indians and Pilgrims” occurred here? Maybe. I suspect that it was the very first time that a local native leader from the Karkin-Ohlone people engaged in native protocol and gift exchange with leaders of this Congregational church. We might have wondered how our event compared to the “The First Thanksgiving” – so much a part of our national memory – and joyful feast in 1621 shared by “Pilgrims and Indians.”

But did you know, actually, it was President Abraham Lincoln who ushered in the first national observance of Thanksgiving? On October 20th in 1864, he stated, in part:

“I … do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the ‘Great Disposer of Events’ for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased [God] to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.”

President Lincoln made this proclamation as our bloody Civil War was coming to an end. He was calling for an end to civil violence aggravated by racial and economic factors by reframing an event which occurred 243 years before.

So, what about that original First Thanksgiving? The one that so many of our ideas about our nation, and our faith as Congregationalists, is built upon. What about that first national Thanksgiving?

There are different accounts, some common details. Our perspectives and agendas shape the history we record. What follows is a possible storyline based upon events as recorded by various indigenous and settler communities. May God guide you in discerning what is true.

Beginnings

Our story begins on this continent and the East Coast of what we call today “New England.” 10,000 years ago the last great North American glacier carved the great bays along the ocean, including a landmass shaped like a slipper with a very curly toe. Throughout that place of rich biodiversity, the ancient deities placed natural resources and people – including the ancestors of Wampanoag, the indigenous people who still live there.

Separatists

400 years ago, on an island across the Atlantic Ocean, indigenous people who had intermarried with invaders from the north and south dwelt in a land called “England.” 87 years before, the then King of that Nation, Henry the 8th, had proclaimed himself Sole Head of a new Christian church — The Church of England. He’d withdrawn all English Christian churches from the universal, or catholic, Church of Rome. His example would inspire other Christian separations.

By the 1660’s British Christian groups, seeking a purer form of worship and practice, begin meeting secretly. This is illegal and dangerous behavior. Some of these Christian “Separatists” move to Holland where they are welcomed. Some remain in England hiding their faith. None find their arrangements satisfactory. And then a new possibility arises – to move to a new place and start from scratch. But how to pay for such an expensive relocation?

The Journey

Separatists from Holland and England choose to become indentured laborers contracted to the Virginia Company. In exchange for overseas passage and basic amenities, they sell their labor for the next seven years – gathering fish, fur, and lumber – to the English company.

With contacts signed, two ships are hired — in Holland The Speedwell; in London The Mayflower. Both depart Southampton, England, though The Speedwell soon proves unfit for ocean crossing. Both ships return to England. Then, on September 6, 1620, The Mayflower, alone, sets sail across the Atlantic leaving Plymouth, England destined for the work colony of Virginia, an English enterprise charted by the Virginia Company.

Traveling on the 90-foot, three-masted Mayflower, are 125 people — 23 crew members, 44 Separatists, and 58 Strangers (non-religious emigrants). Of the 44 Separatists or religious passengers: 14 are children, 11 are women, and 19 are men. Among the Strangers is Myles Standish hired to command the Separatists’ militia. There are also hens, goats, and two dogs on board.

The crossing is rough. The ship is overcrowded. There is absolutely no silence or solitude. And there are cultural tensions… The crew dislikes the Separatists’ daily Psalm-singing and prayers, and the Separatists, well, they are equally unappreciative of the sailor’s colorful language and behavior! And, there are actual storms at sea, one which breaks the central beam, which is repaired and amazingly holds up.

And the food… limited daily rations consist of hard salted meat or fish, hard baked biscuits, dried peas, beans, and fruits, maybe a little cheese or butter. And the only beverage, beside rain water, that is safe to drink is beer — which even the children drink. And there are lice… and folks are bored, homesick, fearful, and/or ill. A newborn boy is born and dies on the high seas.

After 66 days onboard ship the Mayflower makes landfall on Nov 11, 1620. But they do not arrive at the established settlement in Virginia. Rather, they’ve landed in a place unknown to them, the home of the Wampanoag people. This is not the first time people in boats from other lands have come to the Wampanoag’s shoreline. The native people keep watch over these new arrivals.

The English sailors are recorded as saying the place was full of wild beasts and wild people. They call the indigenous people “Indians” thinking them of the same ethnic group as people from India. Many wish to return to England because they have not been delivered to the Virginia Company’s work colony. However, some of the Separatists believe this mistake might be God’s Providence.

First Year

Soon after landing, Englishmen leave the ship to replenish dwindling supplies of wood and water. Noticing how rich the area is in natural resources, many are convinced this might be a good place to settle. The community remains on the ship in the harbor.

They are English citizens without a government. They draft The Mayflower Compact for civil rule. John Carver is established as Governor of this new colony. The Separatists and Strangers, together, pledge common cause. These are the people we call “The Pilgrims” – a term they never used about themselves.

Soon afterwards they commence work. Women wash clothes (worn for months); The colorful laundry is laid out to dry in the cool fall air – it wasn’t all black and white as we’re often led to believe. Men make repairs and build a landing for the ship’s small boat.

A second exploration team is sent to scout the land. The English discover a Wampanoag storage hut – finding large baskets of dried corn covered by mounds of earth. The English steal forty bushels of this corn which they plan to eat and seed in the Spring. They promise each other they will repay what they are taking from what they anticipate harvesting in their first crop.

That first winter is harsh. Mostly, the English remain onboard ship, though the search for a good settlement location continues. During one of the exploration excursions a scouting party hears a strange cry at night. The English believe the noise to be made by wolves. Hearing it again the next morning they overreact and begin firing their guns. The Wampanoag reply with arrows and then leave. No one is wounded. This was probably the first physical contact between the peoples.

On Friday, December 9th, nearly a month after landing, a safe harbor is selected for their settlement. The settlers name this place: “Plymouth” after the town in England from which they set sail.

With winter full on, construction goes slowly. Fire destroys the roof of the common house they built. The settlers are forced to stay on The Mayflower on the cold sea. Supplies dwindle, illness is widespread. The main cause of death is pneumonia caused by poor shelter and wading in the cold bay, the only way to cross from ship to shore.

By April, half of the original passengers are dead. Fifty settlers remain. The survivors are very anxious, as you can well imagine. And they know the Indigenous People are nearby. The settlers have seen local residents walking through the settlement. One time some tools are taken. Usually, the native people retreat whenever the settlers approach.

International Relations

The first official meeting may have been when Samoset, a Sagamore (Chief) of the Abenaki people, just to the north of the Wampanoag, visits the settlers in the middle of March 1621. Samoset probably spoke a European language as his people traded with the French. It is said by some that gifts were exchanged and the taken tools are returned at this meeting.

Samoset, an ambassador, announces that the Wampanoag’s national leader —Yellow Feather Oasmeequin (Chief Massasoit) — will be coming to make a treaty with them. Several days later, Oasmeequin arrives with a translator. Known to us as “Squanto” this native man learned English after being kidnapped by a European captain who planned to sell him into slavery. Learning his fate, the native translator escaped and returned his Pawtuxet people only to find all of them dead from European diseases. He is the sole survivor of his people, but he’s also bilingual, a great asset to other native peoples.

Oasmeequin, through this translator, crafts a treaty with the English band of settlers. Since they are British citizens under the jurisdiction of the King of England, Governor Carver suggests an agreement between nations. The 1621 Treaty between the Wampanoag tribe and the nation of England pledges a covenant of mutual protection.

Some say that Squanto remained at Plymouth Colony teaching the English how to survive until he died two years after first contact, probably from illness brought by the English.

Local tribes tell of the on-going help their people gave to the European newcomers. A few years ago Ramona Peters, the Mashpee Wampanoag’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, gave this account:

“[The colonists] were always vulnerable to the new land, new creatures, even the trees— there were no such trees in England at that time. People forget they had just landed here and this coastline looked very different from what it looks like now. And their culture—new foods, they were afraid to eat a lot of things. So they were very vulnerable and we did protect them, not just support them, we protected them. You can see throughout their journals that they were always nervous and, unfortunately, when they were nervous, they were very aggressive.”

The First Harvest

With the assistance of the native peoples the settlers successfully plant and harvest food crops. They survive because of indigenous help and protection. Come fall, a First Harvest celebration is planned. Mindful of the liberated Hebrew slaves of the Old Testament who thanked God with a First Fruits ritual after arriving in the land God promised them, the settlers decide to hold a Harvest Festival.

The new Governor, William Bradford (Governor Carver had died), records that they held a three-day festival attended by natives and settlers to thank the native people for their help, to return the seed corn they stolen the year before, and to thank God for the harvest and for their survival. Bradford, himself, records that the feast actually began a day or so before their “guests” arrived.

The settlers feasted on barley and peas grown from English seed, abundant amounts of indigenous beans, corn, and squash, pumpkin pudding, skillet cornbread, and various berries. They also enjoyed seafood and local fowl. (Though no turkeys were consumed.) They played competitive games, drank beer, and got a little rowdy, according to the neighbors.

Wampanoag people say there was no invitation to attend a Thanksgiving Festival. Instead, they went to the settlers when they began “shooting guns and canons as a celebration, which alerted us because we didn’t know who they were shooting at.” About 90 Wampanoag people were camped nearby. They were in the area to hunt and gather food including deer, ducks, geese, and fish. When the English weapons were going off Oasmeequin and his translator went to see what was going on.

While they did not sit down together at one great Thanksgiving Feast, they did exchange food. And the Separatists did thank God. It should be noted, that throughout the year, the Wampanoag hold Thanksgiving rituals and prayers to honor the different gifts of the Creator, including in the fall when hunting is plentiful.

Decolonizing History

These early histories recounted by indigenous people and those who settled on their lands do not always line up. Our Christian foremothers and fathers, as we do, too, often formed memories shaped by their beliefs, or possibly, edited to recreate a more elegant legacy.

The English settlers at Plymouth Colony truly had taken on a bold experiment trusting in God to provide. I cannot imagine the courage and faith it would have taken to make such a journey to an unknown land. But the English would not have survived without goodwill and patience of native peoples.

We who are inheritors of the pilgrim settlers’ courage have been fortified by the stories we’ve been told. Unfortunately, parts of the story where whitewashed to cover up our ancestors’ mistakes and a real legacy of fear, misunderstanding, and violence which continues. I believe greater blessings will come from telling a truer story of that First Thanksgiving.

Back in early September, after most of the Run4Salmon spiritual walkers had left to continue their sacred journey with the Salmon, I was walking through the property with one of the young Ohlone leaders. I thanked her for the great job they had done organizing the stay with us, including how well they had cleaned up. She, like others guests I’d talked with, expressed their gratitude, too for our hospitality. It was a tender moment.

And then she touched my arm and pointed to the sign over the door as we were exiting the large dining hall downstairs. The sign reads: Pilgrim Hall. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “But, you’ve got to do something about that.”

We adore being The Pilgrim People – it’s part of our Congregational DNA to celebrate our spiritual heritage as adventurous people of faith who have done bold new things with God. We are proud of our Mayflower Room where we will gather after the service for fellowship and refreshment. But to native peoples whose lives and fortunes were forever changed when Europeans arrived on their lands our spiritual ancestors are not their heroes. Just the opposite. They are a reminder of the beginning of a long era of broken promises, stolen land, and genocide.

Rev John Robinson, a Separatist pastor, spoke to the English before they sailed off on The Mayflower. The travelers believed they were headed to an English work colony with hopes that they would eventually earn their liberty. To encourage them on this new endeavor, Robinson said: “I am verily persuaded the Lord hath more truth yet to break forth out of His Holy Word.”

If Rev John Robinson were here today, if he could look back these nearly 400 years, I think he’d say something more like this: “God has more truth to break forth, not only from sacred scripture, but from the stories we tell about each other and ourselves, and about the new ways we can learn to live with and for each other.”

May a bright and glorious light shine down upon all us, guiding us, the descendants of the indigenous peoples and the descendants of the settler peoples, for the wellbeing of all, with great Thanksgiving to the Creator. AMEN. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)

Special Music

“Ohlone Song / Spirit of the Land” https://youtu.be/CpADTZDauLU Anthony Sul & W. Candelaria (RedStar) Sing Ohlone Song @ Sounds of Resistance Concert Recorded by Unedited Media

We Pray

Prayers of Petition

Be still and listen to the prayers beneath the thoughts and feelings of this moment. What rests in your soul that is calling for God’s attention? Wait for flashes of joy and gratitude, genuine concern and sorrow, uprisings of hope and inspiration. This is how our souls pray. You may also wish to offer intercessory prayers – prayers for others — especially those who have asked for your prayers.

The Lord’s Prayer

Imagine a place where you feel close to God, maybe a sanctuary where you’ve worshipped. Welcome the memory of your Beloved Community filling your soul with companionship as we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We Give Thanks

Offering

Take time today to consider what God has “put in your basket.” Recalling the scripture reading, what fruit have you harvested from a tree you did not plant? What about the land you are on? Who stewarded this place since the beginning of human presence? Gather up all you have inherited and offer this as a real praise to the Living God. (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope

“I Need You To Survive” https://youtu.be/U1fz9htzIak Written and performed by Hezekiah Walker & The Love Fellowship Choir

Benediction

It may be that the First Fruits we harvest this year are our growing awareness of common humanity amid complex and still wounding cross-cultural encounters.

May the God who called our spiritual ancestors to bold adventures call us into the future eager to craft better relationships, working together to address old wounds for the sake of all our grandchildren and their grandchildren’s grandchildren. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Notes
*
Use a tool, such as https://native-land.ca/, to learn whose land you are upon.

**Sermon originally delivered 11/2017 at First Congregational Church of Martinez, UCC in the SF Bay Area of California.

Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Sermon Resources:

Wampanoag Version of “First Thanksgiving”:

https://unsettlingamerica.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/what-really-happened-at-the-first-thanksgiving-the-wampanoag-side-of-the-tale/

http://www.wampanoagtribe.net/pages/wampanoag_webdocs/history_culture

California Indigenous reflections on settlement:

http://theconversation.com/what-the-california-dream-means-to-indigenous-peoples-79889

Native Americans on “Thanksgiving” video

A Lincoln, Presidential Proclamation of Thanksgiving

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=69998

Contemporary Essays about the first Thanksgiving (and our myths about it)

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-schiffman/the-thanksgiving-truth_b_1105181.html

https://socialistworker.org/2014/11/26/the-real-thanksgiving-story

John Robinson and Pilgrims

The Pilgrim Spirit the Timeless Words of John Robinson

English version mostly from Robert San Souci’s historically researched version in N.C. Wyeth’s Pilgrims ©1991.

Online Publishing Date: November 12, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting a local indigenous non-profit. In Northern California, please consider: https://sogoreate-landtrust.org/shuumi-land-tax/. 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”

First Thanksgiving Revisited (sermon) and Making Amends for A Colonizing Past (resolution – NCNC UCC)

photo: live oak acorns, staple food of the Karkin-Ohlone people, (c) 2020 kms

November 11, 2020, is the 400th anniversary of the landing of The Mayflower on Wamanoag Territory. This sermon and resolution are offered as tools for building relationships built on corrected history, genuine care for one another, and the holy work of making amends.

The sermon was written and delivered on non-ceded Karkin-Ohlone Territory and this post was created on non-ceded Lisjan-Ohlone Territory. This work was done prayerfully honoring all our ancestors, owning my limitations and baises.

The First Thanksgiving

This sermon was delivered on the Sunday before Thanksgiving Sunday, November 12, 2017 at First Congregational Church of Martinez, UCC in Martinez, California by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber. Text: Deuteronomy 26:1-11

Indians and Pilgrims

Just two months ago, Indigenous People of this land – Karkin-Ohlone and Winnemem Wintu, and other native people – gathered with Christian descendants of various international settlers to share a meal in our Pilgrim Hall.

Was that the first time such a gathering of “Indians and Pilgrims” occurred here? I suspect that was the very first time that a local native leader from the Karkin-Ohlone people engaged in native protocol and gift exchange with leaders of this Congregational church. We might have wondered how our event compared to the The First Thanksgiving – so much a part of our national memory – and joyful feast in 1621 shared by Pilgrims and Indians.

But did you know, it was President Abraham Lincoln who ushered in the first national observance of Thanksgiving? On October 20th in 1864, he stated, in part: “I … do hereby appoint and set apart the last Thursday in November as a day which I desire to be observed by all my fellow-citizens, wherever they may then be, as a day of thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God, the beneficent Creator and Ruler of the Universe. And I do further recommend to my fellow-citizens aforesaid that on that occasion they do reverently humble themselves in the dust and offer up penitent and fervent prayers and supplications to the ‘Great Disposer of Events’ for a return of the inestimable blessings of peace, union, and harmony throughout the land which it has pleased [God] to assign as a dwelling place for ourselves and for our posterity throughout all generations.”

President Lincoln made this proclamation as our bloody Civil War was coming to an end. He was calling for an end to civil violence, aggravated by racial and economic factors, by reframing an event which occurred 243 years before.

So, what about that First Thanksgiving? The one that so many of our ideas about our nation, and our faith as Congregationalists, is built upon? What about that original national Thanksgiving?

There are different accounts, some common details. Our perspectives and agendas shape the history we record. What follows is a possible storyline based upon events as recorded by various indigenous and settler communities. May God guide you in discerning what is true.

Beginnings

Our story begins on this continent and the East Coast of what we call today “New England.” 10,000 years ago the last great North American glacier carved the great bays along the ocean including a landmass shaped like a slipper with a very curly toe. Throughout that place of rich biodiversity the ancient deities placed natural resources and people – including the ancestors of Wampanoag, the indigenous people who still live there.

Separatists

400 years ago on an island across the Atlantic Ocean, indigenous people who had intermarried with invaders from the north and south dwelt in a land called “England.” 87 years before, the then King of that Nation, Henry the 8th, had proclaimed himself Sole Head of a new church — The Church of England. He’d withdrawn all English Christian churches from the universal, or catholic, Church of Rome. His example would inspire other Christian separations.

By the 1660’s British Christian groups seeking a purer form of worship and practice begin meeting secretly. This is illegal and dangerous behavior. Some of these Christian “Separatists” move to Holland where they are welcomed. Some remain in England hiding their faith. None find their arrangements satisfactory. And then a new possibility arises – to move to a new place and start from scratch. But how to pay for such an expensive relocation?

The Journey

Separatists from Holland and England choose to become indentured laborers contracted to the Virginia Company. In exchange for overseas passage and basic amenities, they sell their labor for the next seven years – gathering fish, fur, and lumber for the English company.

With contacts signed, two ships are hired — in Holland: The Speedwell; in London: The Mayflower. Both depart Southampton, England, though The Speedwell soon proves unfit for ocean crossing. Both ships return to England. Then, on September 6, 1620, The Mayflower, alone, sets sail across the Atlantic leaving Plymouth, England destined for the work colony of Virginia, an English enterprise charted by the Virginia Company.

Traveling on the 90-foot, three-masted Mayflower, are 125 people — 23 crew members, 44 Separatists, and 58 Strangers (non-religious emigrants). Of the 44 Separatists or religious passengers: 14 are children, 11 are women, and 19 are men. Among the Strangers is Myles Standish hired to command the Separatists’ militia. There are also hens, goats, and two dogs on board.

The crossing is rough. The ship is overcrowded. There is absolutely no silence or solitude. And there are cultural tensions. The crew dislikes the Separatists’ daily Psalm-singing and prayers, and the Separatists, well, they are equally unappreciative of the sailor’s colorful language and behavior! And, there are actual storms at sea, one which breaks the central beam, which is repaired and amazingly holds up.

And the food – limited daily rations consist of hard salted meat or fish, hard baked biscuits, dried peas, beans, and fruits, maybe a little cheese or butter. And the only beverage, beside rain water, that is safe to drink is beer – which even the children drink. And there are lice. And folks are bored, homesick, fearful, and/or ill. A newborn boy is born and dies on the high seas.

After 66 days onboard ship the Mayflower makes landfall on Nov 11, 1620. But they do not arrive at the established settlement in Virginia. Rather, they’ve landed in a place unknown to them, the home of the Wampanoag people. This is not the first time people in boats from other lands have come to their shoreline. The native people keep watch over these new arrivals.

The English sailors are recorded as saying the place was full of wild beasts and wild people. They call the indigenous people “Indians” thinking them of the same ethnic group as people from India. Many wish to return to England because they have not been delivered to the Virginia Company’s work colony. However, some of the Separatists believe this mistake might be God’s Providence.

First Year

Soon after landing Englishmen leave the ship to replenish dwindling supplies of wood and water. Noticing how rich the area is in natural resources, more become convinced this might be a good place to settle. The community remains on the ship in the harbor.

They are English citizens without a government. They draft The Mayflower Compact for civil rule. John Carver is established as Governor of this brand new colony. The Separatists and Strangers, together, pledge common cause. These are the people we call “The Pilgrims” – a term they never used about themselves.

Soon after they commence work. Women wash clothes (worn for months). The colorful laundry is laid out to dry in the cool fall air; it wasn’t all black and white as we’re often led to believe. Men make repairs and build a landing for the ship’s small boat.

A second exploration team is sent to scout the land. The English discover a Wampanoag storage hut with large baskets of dried corn covered with mounds of earth. The English steal forty bushels of this corn which they plan to eat and use as seed in the Spring. They promise each other they will repay what they are taking from the harvest of their first crop.

That first winter is harsh. Mostly, the English remain on board ship though search for the right settlement location continues. During one of the exploration excursions a scouting party hears a strange cry at night. The English believe the noise to be made by wolves. Hearing it again the next morning they overreact and begin firing their guns. The Wampanoag reply with arrows and then leave. No one is wounded. This was probably the first physical contact between the peoples.

On Friday, December 9th, nearly a month after landing, a safe harbor is selected for their settlement. The settlers name this place: “Plymouth” after the town in England from which they set sail.

With winter full on, construction goes slowly. Fire destroys the roof of the common house they built. The settlers are forced to stay on the Mayflower, on the cold sea. Supplies dwindle, illness is widespread. The main cause of death is pneumonia caused by poor shelter and wading in the cold bay, the only way to cross from ship to shore.

By April, half of the original passengers are dead. Fifty settlers remain. The survivors are very anxious, as you can well imagine. And they know the Indigenous People are nearby. The settlers have seen the residents walking through the settlement. One time some tools are taken. Usually, the native people retreat, whenever the settlers approach.

International Relations

The first official meeting may have been when Samoset, a Sagamore (Chief) of the Abenaki people, just to the north of the Wampanoag, visited the settlers in the middle of March 1621. Samoset probably spoke a European language, as his people traded with the French. It is said by some that gifts were exchanged and the taken tools were returned.

Samoset, an ambassador, announces that the Wampanoag’s national leader —Yellow Feather Oasmeequin (Chief Massasoit) — will be coming to make a treaty with them. Several days later, Oasmeequin arrives with a translator. Known to us as “Squanto” – this native man learned English after being kidnapped by a European captain who planned to sell him into slavery. The translator escaped, returned to his Pawtuxet people, only to find all of them dead from European diseases. He is the sole survivor. He’s also bilingual, a great asset to native leaders.

Oasmeequin, through this translator, crafts a treaty with the English band of settlers. Since they are British citizens under the jurisdiction of the King of England Governor Carver suggests an agreement between nations. The 1621 Treaty between the Wampanoag tribe and the nation of England pledges a covenant of mutual protection.

Some say that Squanto remained at Plymouth Colony teaching the English how to survive until he died two years after first contact, probably from illness brought by the English.

Local tribes tell of the on-going help of their ancestors provided the European newcomers. A few years ago Ramona Peters, the Mashpee Wampanoag’s Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, gave this account:

“[The colonists] were always vulnerable to the new land, new creatures, even the trees— there were no such trees in England at that time. People forget they had just landed here and this coastline looked very different from what it looks like now. And their culture—new foods, they were afraid to eat a lot of things. So they were very vulnerable and we did protect them, not just support them, we protected them. You can see throughout their journals that they were always nervous and, unfortunately, when they were nervous they were very aggressive.”

The First Harvest

With the assistance of the native peoples the settlers successfully plant and harvest food crops. They survive because of indigenous help and protection. Come fall, a First Harvest celebration is planned. Mindful of the liberated Hebrew slaves of the Old Testament who thanked God with a First Fruits ritual after arriving in the land God promised them, the settlers decide to hold a Harvest Festival.

The new Governor, William Bradford (Governor Carver had died), records that they held a three-day festival attended by natives and settlers to thank the native people for their help, to return the seed corn they had stolen the year before, and to thank God for the harvest – and for their survival. Bradford, himself, records that the feast actually began a day or so before their native “guests” arrived.

The settlers feasted on barley and peas grown from English seed, abundant amounts of indigenous beans, corn, and squash, pumpkin pudding, skillet cornbread, and various berries. They also enjoyed seafood and local fowl. (Though no turkeys were eaten.) They played competitive games, drank beer, and got a little rowdy, according to the neighbors.

Wampanoag people say there was no invitation to attend a Thanksgiving Festival. Instead, they went to the settlers when they began “shooting guns and canons as a celebration, which alerted us because we didn’t know who they were shooting at.” About 90 Wampanog people were camped nearby. They were in the area to hunt and gather food – including deer, ducks, geese, and fish. When the English weapons were going off Oasmeequin and his translator went to see what was going on.

While they did not sit down together at one great Thanksgiving Feast, they did exchange food. And the Separatists did thank God. It should be noted, that throughout the year, the Wampanoag have Thanksgiving rituals and prayers to honor the different gifts of the Creator, including in the fall when the hunting is plentiful.

Decolonizing History

These early histories recounted by indigenous people and those who settled on their lands do not always line up. Our Christian foremothers and fathers, as we do, too, often formed memories shaped by their beliefs, or possibly, to recreate a more elegant legacy.

The English settlers at Plymouth Colony truly had taken on a bold experiment trusting in God to provide. I cannot imagine the courage and faith it would have taken to make such a journey. But, there would have been no English celebration that first fall after arrival without the goodwill of the native peoples.

We who are inheritors of the pilgrim settlers’ courage have been blessed by the stories we’ve been told. Unfortunately, they whitewash parts of the past, covering up our ancestors’ mistakes and a real legacy of fear, misunderstanding, and violence. I believe greater blessings will come from telling a truer story of the First Thanksgiving.

Back in early September, after most of the Run4Salmon spiritual walkers had left to continue their sacred journey with the Salmon, I was walking through the property with one of the young Ohlone leaders. I expressed our gratitude for how they had managed the event and carefully cleaned up. She, like others guests I’d talked with, expressed their gratitude to the church, too, for hosting and sharing meal and ritual. It was a tender moment.

And then she touched my arm and pointed to the sign over the door as we were exiting the large dining hall downstairs. The sign reads: Pilgrim Hall. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “But, you’ve got to do something about that.”

We adore being The Pilgrim People – it’s part of our Congregational DNA to celebrate our spiritual heritage, adventurous people of faith who have done bold new things with God. We are proud of our Mayflower Room where we will gather after the service for fellowship and refreshment. But to native peoples whose lives and fortunes were forever changed when Europeans arrived on their lands our spiritual ancestors are not their heroes. They are a reminder of the beginning of a long era of broken promises, stolen land, and geneocide.

Rev John Robinson, a Separatist pastor, spoke encouraging words before the English sailed off on the Mayflower. The people thought they were headed to an English work colony. To send them off with hope on their new endeavor, Robinson said: “I am verily persuaded the Lord hath more truth yet to break forth out of His Holy Word”

If Rev John Robinson were here today, if he could look back these nearly 400 years, I think he’d say something more like this: “God has more truth to break forth, not only from sacred scripture, but from the stories we tell about each other and ourselves, and about the new ways we can learn to live with and for each other.”

May a bright and glorious light shine down upon all us, guiding us, the descendants of the indigenous peoples and the descendants of the settler peoples, for the wellbeing of all, with great Thanksgiving to the Creator. AMEN. 

RESOURCES: Thanksgiving Indigenous and Justice Reflections & Historic Sources curated info compiled by Rev. Kathryn Schreiber (as of Sept 2019)

Wampanoag Version of “First Thanksgiving”:

https://unsettlingamerica.wordpress.com/2013/11/25/what-really-happened-at-the-first-thanksgiving-the-wampanoag-side-of-the-tale/

http://www.wampanoagtribe.net/pages/wampanoag_webdocs/history_culture

California Indigenous reflections on settlement:

http://theconversation.com/what-the-california-dream-means-to-indigenous-peoples-79889

Native Americans on “Thanksgiving” video

A Lincoln, Presidential Proclamation of Thanksgiving

http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=69998

Contemporary Essays about the first Thanksgiving (and our myths about it)

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-schiffman/the-thanksgiving-truth_b_1105181.html

https://socialistworker.org/2014/11/26/the-real-thanksgiving-story

John Robinson and Pilgrims

English version mostly from Robert San Souci’s historically researched version in N.C. Wyeth’s Pilgrims ©1991.

Online Publishing Date: November 11, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However, you may express your gratitude financially by supporting funds established by indigenous communities in your locality. (in NCNC, UCC see below)

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”

Northern California-Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ “Making Amends” Resolution 2020

On October 24, 2020 the Northern California-Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ, at our Annual Gathering (virtually), passed a resolution: Making Amends for A Colonizing Past. It is filled with resources and calls to actions and appears below in its entirety:

RESOLUTION TITLE

Making Amends for A Colonizing Past: Learning and acknowledging our inherited history, praying for repair and right relationship, and taking courageous and humble action for land protection and justice

Submitted on August 13, 2020, by the Justice and Witness Team, Northern California Nevada Conference, United Church of Christ. Amended and resubmitted October 9, 2020.

SUMMARY

We acknowledge that the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ (NCNCUCC) and member associations have significant landholdings on the unceded traditional territories of the Indigenous People of this  region, including the Amah Mutson, Me–Wuk, Miwok, Ohlone, Pomo, Washoe, Wintun, Yokuts, and many others who have belonged to and stewarded this land for time immemorial. 

We acknowledge that the very lives and faith of Indigenous People rely on relationship with land, and that our recent history is of violent and genocidal displacement of Indigenous People through devastating enslavement and treatment in the mission system, and as authorized by federal and state law. We acknowledge that despite these brutal missionary and state practices and the privatization of the land, Indigenous People live still in their traditional, unceded territories where the NCNCUCC has inherited and holds land, churches, camps, offices, and schools. 

As inheritors of this history, as settlers and new immigrants, as those who have escaped violence and persecution elsewhere and found home here, and as Indigenous People to this place, we are alive in a moment of reckoning. In 2019, the state of California issued an apology to California’s Native Americans and established a Truth and Healing Council. In September 2020, the Governor released a Statement of Administration Policy on Native American Ancestral Lands “…to support California tribes’ co-management of and access to natural lands, and to work cooperatively with California tribes that are interested in acquiring natural lands in excess of State needs.” Late September 2020, the “California Natural Resources Secretary, State Parks Director, and Department of Transportation Director announced a series of actions to identify and redress discriminatory names of features attached to the State Parks and transportation systems. The moves come in the wake of a national conversation about the names of geographic features, markers and statues affiliated with the Civil War, genocide of Native Americans and other remnants of institutionalized discrimination.” 

Among the Indigenous People of this region, current day efforts are strong and relentless to protect sacred sites; to mend Native food systems; to support Native-led efforts to protect land and traditional language and ways; to restore ecological knowledge, to insist on reparations. And in 2020, the Landback Movement, an effort to restore stolen territory to Indigenos nations, grows strong with participation of people from all walks of life. “On July 9, 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that 3 million acres of land, nearly half of Oklahoma, is Native American land. Later in July, the Esselen tribe was able to reclaim a 1,200-acre ranch near Big Sur on California’s north central coast. The land has old-growth redwoods and wildlife that is at risk, like the California condor and red-legged frog. A year before this return of land, the northern Californian city of Eureka returned stewardship of the 280-acre Duluwat Island to the Wiyot tribe. In the same year, the United Methodist Church in Upper Sandusky, Ohio returned a mission church and parts of the Old Mission cemetery to the Wyandotte Nation.” And the struggles continue. “The Indigenous story, the story of displacement and reclamation, genocide and revival, sadness, and strength is the beginning. From the first beings to our present society, Indigenous people have held the best and worst of our lands, the story of their creation, their trade, extraction, potential, and hopefully, their eventual return to purpose.” 

We, as members of the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ, have a role to play in this moment of reckoning. This resolution supports us to take proactive steps toward healing from the legacies of colonialism and genocide of Indigenous peoples by: (1) encouraging and supporting our members to learn and share the history of violence and genocide toward the Indigenous People of this region, too often untold, alongside the current day realities, ways of life, traditional knowledge protection, and struggles of this region’s Indigenous Peoples; (2) to create prayerful, informed relationships characterized by healing, trust and restorative justice with Indigenous people of this region; and (3) to take meaningful actions, guided by Indigenous-led organizations of the NCNCUCC region, toward repair of relationship and land justice. This is a resolution of humility, of kindness, of justice, of reconciliation.  As Corrina Gould, longtime Lisjan Ohlone protector of sacred sites, shares about the West Berkeley Shellmound, “People of all walks of life come there and pray together there now, in ceremony and song, and bring their own ceremonies there. It’s become a place where people understand their relationship with this land, and what their relationship should be with the First Peoples of this land. And we are giving people the opportunity not to push people outside, but to bring people inside, and to figure this out together. To find a place to re–inter our ancestors, to give dignity back to those ancestors, but also to the people living today. And not just to the Ohlone people. It gives dignity back to everybody who lives in our territory now. That is the importance of doing this work.”

BIBLICAL, THEOLOGICAL, HISTORICAL and ETHICAL GROUNDING

Whereas the year 2020 has particular historical significance for the churches of the United Church of Christ whose ranks include the first churches of the Pilgrims and Puritans, as the 400th anniversary of the landing of the Pilgrims on traditional territories of the Wampanoag Nation and their subsequent settling in Plymouth – one of the beginnings of the colonial genocide of Indigenous peoples in the Americas – and this anniversary demands our deeper exploration of the impacts of the Pilgrims’ vital and important search for freedom (in religious practices and ways of living) on the First Peoples of this land, alongside our learning and lament, confession and collaboration, making relationships and making amends; 

Whereas when European spiritual ancestors of the United Church of Christ bravely left conditions of injustice and suffering empowered by a Christian theological perspective of being God’s designated inheritors of the natural world and territories belonging to established human communities, they unintentionally initiated, perpetuated, and expanded the very legacies of abuse they sought to escape;

Whereas we recognize the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on native communities in the United States for whom the virus is both more prevalent and more deadly even as it contributes to re-traumatizing populations who experienced the deadliness of previous pandemics due to settler-born illnesses; and we acknowledge the inequitable economic strain among First Peoples on revenues and incomes that can be used to address this health crisis because of long-term economic disparities and limited access to land, resources, and income opportunities, as well as current–day racism in distribution of COVID relief funds; 

Whereas the political, economic, cultural and social context of 2020 for Indigenous People in the United States continues to be characterized by systemic racism, violations of treaties, land, water, mineral, and air theft, erasure, state violence, and significant disregard, including 2020 formal attempts by the federal administration and President to revoke the lands guaranteed by the Department of the Interior in 2015 to the Mashpee Wampanoag;  

Whereas the 29th General Synod of the United Church of Christ (2013) adopted the resolution Calling for the United Church of Christ to Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery which Authorized the Genocide of Native Peoples and the Theft of Native Lands, which includes the commitment to “explore ways to compensate American Indians, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiians for lands and resources that were stolen and are still being stolen and which are now the United States of America;” 

Whereas we acknowledge that our communities are profoundly shaped by the history and current structures/cultures/realities of white supremacy, Christian hegemony, and colonial mindsets and practices, and that while these systems have harmed all of our souls and cultures, the impacts have been experienced differently, resulting in enormous privileges and access to wealth accumulation for people who are white and in tremendous violence against, wealth disparities for, and resilience required by Black communities, Indigenous communities and nations, and all People of Color;

All this is from God, who reconciled us to Godself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to Godself…and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19 NRSV, adpt.

Whereas, we acknowledge that the Northern California Nevada Conference and member associations have significant landholdings on the unceded traditional territories of the Indigenous People of this  region, including the Amah Mutson, Me–Wuk, Miwok, Ohlone, Pomo, Washoe, Wintun, Yokuts, and many others who have belonged to and stewarded this land for time immemorial. 

Whereas, we acknowledge that the very lives and faith of Indigenous People rely on relationship with the land, and that our regional history includes violent and genocidal displacement of Indigenous People and takeover of land through devastating enslavement and treatment in the mission system, and as authorized and encouraged by federal and state law

Whereas, despite these brutal missionary and state practices, Indigenous People live still in their traditional territories where the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ has inherited and holds land, churches, camps, offices, and schools. 

Whereas we understand one of the primary vocations of those who seek to be Jesus-followers to be the ministry of reconciliation which requires accountability and making amends to those who have been wounded by our actions and the actions of our ancestors; 

Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.  Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but give yourself to humble tasks; do not claim to be wiser than you are…If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. – Romans 12:15-18 NRSV

Whereas as Christians we are called to practice humility in the redress of wrongs in order to create greater harmony and live fully as co-creators of the kin-dom of God made manifest in our midst; 

MOTION

Therefore we the delegates of the 2020 Annual Gathering of the Northern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ call upon the Conference to begin an intentional process of learning and prayer, relationship–building, and solidarity action toward truth, healing, and reconciliation. We acknowledge that land is at the heart of this reconciliation work, given its central importance to the survival, flourishing, faith, and traditions of Indigenous People. 

Learning and Prayerful Intention

Be it further resolved that Conference members participate in 40 days of prayer, listening, (un)learning, and action during 2020–2021 to acknowledge November 2020 as the 400th anniversary of the day of first encounter between European colonizers (laterknown as Pilgrims) and the First Peoples of this land. In a spirit of collective truth and healing, we call for 2021 to be a year of prayer, listening, and learning about the Indigenous histories of the places where we worship and our members call home.

Be it further resolved that in order to deepen our understanding of the long history of the places in which we worship and call home, and to help us understand our place within that history, we call on NCNCUCC member congregations to learn whose unceded territory your community occupies and include land acknowledgements (a formal statement that recognizes and respects Indigenous Peoples as traditional stewards of this land and the enduring relationship that exists between Indigenous Peoples and their traditional territories) in worship, annual meetings, and other church gatherings. 

Be it resolved that to acknowledge and address harm, with humility and in pursuit of truth and justice, we call on the churches, organizations, and outdoor ministries of the Conference to engage in prayerful discernment and to take action toward changing the names of buildings, groups, and churches that celebrate our colonizing past (e.g. Pilgrim, Plymouth, Pioneer, Mayflower, etc.), recognizing that, while these names seek to honor important parts of our proud history, they significantly impact our ability to be in right-relationship with our Indigenous neighbors for whom these names represent mass genocide.  

Building Authentic Relationships of Repair and Solidarity

Be it further resolved that to answer our faith’s call to live peaceably, we call on NCNCUCC member congregations to build sincere and vulnerable relationships of repair and solidarity with their local Indigenous communities and to take concrete actions toward making amends for our colonizing past in mutually-determined ways, reporting these actions and other decolonial trainings, educational events and actions to the Conference as part of the Antiracism Accountability Tracking Database. We call on the conference and members to support one another to learn, meet, build relationships well, and carry out this motion.

Supporting One Another to Take Meaningful Action

Be it further resolved that in a spirit of immediate acknowledgement of a genocidal and violent history and intention of reconciliation, all Conference members who hold lands, churches, schools, or offices on Ohlone territory will pay the Institutional Shuumi Land Tax, a voluntary annual offering that non-Indigenous people living on traditional Ohlone territory make to support the critical work of the Sogorea Te’ Land Trust to acquire and preserve land, establish a cemetery to re-inter stolen Ohlone ancestral remains, and build urban gardens, community centers, and sacred arbors so current and future generations of Indigenous people can thrive in their ancestral lands.

Be it further resolved that, because we continue to benefit from historic efforts to separate Indigenous peoples from their native lands conducted by Christians manifesting their belief that such actions represented God’s will, in God’s mercy, we are now being invited to address native land loss and to make amends by making a commitment to right relationship with our Indigeous neighbors and our faith in a God of justice. We call upon all members, congregations, associations, organizations, and outdoor ministries throughout the Conference to work together with local Indigenous communities to develop redemptive land tithing projects with the goal of returning or sharing 10% of all UCC land ownership within the Conference by the year 2030. We will help each other do this work by sharing resources, relationships, and stories and using the Antiracism Accountability Tracking Database. We choose to learn how to make these novel amends by being open to each other, open to our neighbors, and open to the Holy Spirit, eager for healing solutions we cannot now imagine, for all that is right and true emerges out of relationships of respect, reconciliation, and accountability with the Indigenous People of this place and healing relations among peoples and between our ancestors and our God.

Be it further resolved that in a spirit of stewardship and support for one another as Christians in our endeavors of reconciliation, we call on the Conference to initiate a special “Making Amends” offering to be taken by NCNCUCC churches on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend, which will be submitted to and distributed by the Conference staff in a manner similar to UCC Special Offerings and used to support initiatives that make amends with Indigenous People, as determined by the Making Amends Toward Right Relationship Indigenous Concerns Task Force (see below).

Be it further resolved that as land privatized and held by members of the Conference is sold or changes hands, that the Conference first seriously consider and work toward rematriation (return of the land to the care of Indigenous People) of the land and away from Christian imperium. See the concise explanation of this difference in Healing, Restoration, and Rematriation

Be it further resolved that we call on Justice and Witness Ministries of the NCNC-UCC to create and oversee a Making Amends Toward Right Relationship Indigenous Concerns Task Force that is tasked with facilitating conference-wide decolonizing trainings, educational events, and calls to action, hosting annual story-sharing events about conference members’ experiences living into this resolution, discerning next steps beyond this resolution and toward future resolutions, and maintaining a Making Amends Toward Right Relationship resource page on NCNC website and Facebook group.

CONTACT PERSONS

Dr. Sharon Fennema, Pacific School of Religion

Kathryn Gilje, First Congregational Church of Oakland

Judy Hawkins, Community Church of Sebastopol

Rev. K. Lacey Hunter, Justice and Witness Team Lead

Rev. Kathryn Schreiber, Berkeley Chinese Community Church

“Called to Freedom” • Galatians 5:13-15 • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

photo, artist: unknown

content prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber, (c) 2020

Worship Note

As we continue the selfless practice of restricted physical contact, as we adapt and welcome new ways of being communities of faith, our souls need special care. This service is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise.

Preparations

  • You may wish to arrange to worship distantly with others at the same time.
  • Read through this service beforehand to assemble items needed.
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any sort of candle or object which represents Christ’s presence.
  • Choose songs to sing (our suggestions or your favorites) and prepare music.
  • Ensure an uninterrupted place to worship.
  • Decorate your space to welcome God’s presence.

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag “Tied to the Mast” Odysseus shows us how to be strong when we’re tempted

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Call to Worship

In the turning that bends too quickly, too sharply, God invites us to make this wondrous journey.

In the weight of chains we’ve come to befriend, God lures us into an unimaginable freedom.

In the very moments when it seems most impossible, God calls our hearts to blossom with love.

This is the God we have gathered to worship. Amen.

Light the Christ Candle

Song for Welcoming the Presence of God

“Be Thou My Vision” https://youtu.be/rMQFzqUb5OM (Chalice #595) Traditional Irish song, lyrics: M E Bryne, SLANE; Performed by Selah (P) Curb Records; video: Epic Goblin

We Unburden and Gather Hope

Naming Our Reality

Whether you are alone or with others, let this be a time of private reflection. Take a few moments to reflect on the past week. How are you doing? What would you like to tell God? Share the easy moments, the times of challenge, and the situations that confound. If words don’t flow, speak to God with a smile or tears, heartache or swelling of gratitude. God is with you however you are.

Acts of Unburdening and Affirming

It can be helpful to physically acknowledge the burdens and weights we carry. Place pebbles or small items at the base of the Christ Candle as you offering God released concerns. If you do not have words, do not be concerned. The soul knows what to give to God and God knows what to receive. Whatever you give, however you give it, Christ will receive your prayerful offerings.

Silent Prayer

We shift from speaking to God to sitting 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)

Try to sit quietly in a state of calm devotion. Thoughts and feelings will occur; this is natural. Return focus by chanting a name for God or Christ – such as “Friend, Friend, Friend Jesus” or paying attention to your breath. Rest in the ultimate reality of God’s lovingkindness. When you’re ready to release this practice, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”

God’s Grace 

Isn’t it lovely that God’s grace is not dependent upon us? Grace is not God’s reward given to us for our better moments, it is the space God perpetually holds open for us no matter what we have or haven’t done. God’s grace is a refuge, a sanctuary.

No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey, God’s grace is offered to you with full welcome. Praise God!

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Galatians 5:13-15 (TNT&P)

For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence. But through love serve one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbors as yourself.”’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.

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

Reflection “God’s Way”

This week a politician reflecting upon the local race he just lost, said: “The election was not an engine. It was a thermometer.” (wh) Running as an agent of change, he discovered that a large percentage of voters were content with the status quo. While he and other change-makers had hoped to be an engine of change, they discovered this election was a thermometer reflecting the current values of the local community.

On election eve a commentator noted, “Moral victory and political victory are not the same.” (vj) We should keep that in mind. This awareness would have resonated with the original followers of Jesus of Nazareth. There was no such thing as democracy in ancient Israel. In Jesus’ time political victories were the work of empires and corrupt colluders. Though they hoped God’s justice would be expressed through kings and high priests, such hopes were far-fetched. Into that reality, Jesus taught individual commitment to practice the ways of God and in so doing dwell in the liberation of a spiritual freedom while actually being severely restricted legally and socially.

The earliest followers of Jesus were drawn to the Gospel proclamation of a God who works in this world amid failed human moral systems. No wonder Christ’s call to divine freedom has long drawn disenfranchised persons? A God who “makes a way out of no way” still speaks to anyone living in horrible human conditions.

Today’s scripture reading is from an early letter written by St Paul the great missioner. Traveling throughout the Roman Empire, Paul was our best church-starter. Converted on the road to Damascus, blinded by the light of the Risen Christ, he was reborn an insightful evangelist who freely offered the Gospel to all people. However, fellow Jews believed that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. To follow Jesus one had to become Jewish. And the Galatians were not Jewish.

There is scholarly debate about which communities of Galatians Paul was writing to and when he wrote to them. We do know they were an established ethnic group, descendants of Celtic people who had migrated to Asia Minor and settled in what is today Turkey. We don’t know if  Paul had founded these faith communities or if he was stepping in as a spiritual advisor. What we do know from the Letter to the Galatians is that these non-Jewish followers of Jesus were in conflict about how to be true followers of the Messiah Jesus.

Paul mentions a false Gospel – one that required they observe Jewish religious practices to become part of the Jesus movement. At that point in time, Christianity wasn’t a unique religion separate from Judaism. Followers of the Messiah Jesus arose from the existing Jewish community.

St Paul’s understanding of God’s Love manifest in the Messiah Jesus was a very inclusive vision. He believed that anyone who wished to follow Jesus was welcome. Not all Jewish followers of Jesus agreed. Conflict flared. Those poor Galatians were in the middle of a messy fight.

Two thousand years later it is impossible to imagine Christianity without the conversion of peoples from diverse religions. I suspect that most people reading this are not of Jewish decadency. Most of us, and our ancestors, received Jesus of Nazareth as Christ while rooted to another religion. In hindsight, it’s easy to see that St Paul represented God’s will by freely offering Jesus Christ to everyone. However, in the earliest days of the Church, this was not so. Let us be humbled and remember this.

With this history in mind, let us turn to current religious conflicts playing out in national and global politics. Passions are high. All parties vie as authorities of true righteousness. Re-read today’s scripture, words of advice from St Paul to non-Jewish followers of Jesus. May they speak to us:

“For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence. But through love serve one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, ‘You shall love your neighbors as yourself.’ If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.”

God is still speaking. God speaks through St Paul quoting Jesus Christ. We are called to freedom to love and serve each other. To love others as we wish to be loved. This is the way of Christ’s true Living Church. This is the moral universe we truly wish to dwell within. May we strive to live into the gift of this holy freedom. Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)

Special Music

“The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow” https://youtu.be/WdQ6wNP2ZZE Written by Bishop Hezekiah Walker; performed by Al Green and the Bobby Jones Gospel Nashville Super Choir.

We Pray

Prayers of Petition

Though distant, when we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we are connected one to another in the Holy Spirit. We never pray alone. What prayers does your soul carry – joys and concerns? Speak them. If your prayers don’t fit words today, use your body to give your prayers to God through movement or sound, dance, tears, or silence. Now is also the time to include prayer request from your community.

The Lord’s Prayer

Imagine a place where you feel close to God, maybe a sanctuary where you’ve worshipped. Welcome the memory of your Beloved Community filling your soul with companionship as we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We Give Thanks

Offering

This is a very vulnerable time for our nation. Let us offer a personal commitment to try and love each other, especially with those whom we are in conflict. Let us, also, offer our gifts and abilities to God for God’s purposes. God knows we are hurting and is making a way forward, if we will offer ourselves to be servants. Thank You, generous God! (see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope

“We’ve Come This Far by Faith” https://youtu.be/HmmDJiEmltg Written by Albert Goodson; Performed by Oakwood University Church.

Benediction

We are called to Freedom! We are called to Love! We are called into a mysterious future following the God who makes a way out of no way. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Worship Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(wh) Wayne Hsuing, Facebook post, 11/4/2020.

(vj) Van Jones, CNN commentator, 11/3/2020.

(tph) The Pilgrim Hymnal, revised edition, 1935. © 1931, Sidney A Weston.

(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of

Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

(TNT&P) The New Testament and Psalms: An Inclusive Version, © 1995 Oxford University Press.

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Publishing Date: November 5, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting disaster relief giving to One Great Hour of Sharing through your church, our church, or directly: http://www.ucc.org/oghs. 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”

“Cloud of Witnesses” • Hebrews 12: 1-3 • All Saints and All Souls Observed with Holy Communion • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

artist unknown, posted on blog, Our Savior Lutheran Church in Johnson City, Tennessee

liturgy prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber

Worship Note

As we continue the selfless practice of restricted physical contact, as we adapt and welcome new ways of being communities of faith, our souls need special care. This service is one of a series designed to align us with the Living God during these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise.

Preparations

  • You may wish to arrange to worship distantly with others at the same time.
  • Read through this service beforehand to assemble items needed, including items for Holy Communion – a cup with a beverage and some bread or other finger food.
  • A “Christ Candle” can be any sort of candle or object which represents Christ’s presence.
  • For All Souls, All Saints, you may wish to provide a “Memorial Candle” to honor your deceased loved ones.
  • Choose songs to sing (our suggestions or your favorites) and prepare music.
  • Ensure an uninterrupted place to worship.
  • Decorate your space to welcome God’s presence.

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag “Ofrendas”making a home memorial

Worship Service

Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.

We Gather

Call to Worship

In the rising of the sun and in its going down – We remember them.

In the blowing of the winds and the sparking of wildfires – We remember them.

In the dance of autumnal leaves and the promise of winter rains – We remember them.

In the blueness of the sky and the gray fog rolling in – We remember them.

In this era of pandemic when all life is ever so precious – We remember them.

When we recall the former ease of gathering together – We remember them.

When we find ourselves moved by a smile or twinkling eye – We remember them.

When we hunger for community as much as for food – We remember them.

When we are bone weary and need a heroine’s strength – We remember them.

When we are broken hearted and searching for faith – We remember them.

When we have new victories to celebrate – We remember them.

When we struggle with unanswered questions – We remember them.

When we tread the solid ground they prepared – We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us,

for we truly do remember them. (sk/jr)

Light the Christ Candle and Memorial Candle

Song for Welcoming the Presence of God

“For All the Saints” https://youtu.be/9ML6WFskgYI Lyrics: William W How; Music: Ralph Vaughan Williams SINE NOMINE (Chalice #637); Performed by Fernando Ortega, 2012, Desiring God National Conference (used without permission)

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 12: 1-3 (NRSV)

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.

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

Reflection “Surrounded”

We are surrounded by the “Cloud of Witnesses.” What a beautiful reality to consider during this time when so many of us are separated from those with whom we usually worship, as well as work and socialize. How our lives have changed.

Years ago, as a student chaplain in a big urban hospital, I was struggling with how to provide pastoral care to lonely patients. They were so delighted to have someone come visit. We were supposed to keep general visits short – saving time to be with those in crisis, but I found it very hard to leave the room of someone aching for companionship.

I asked one of the seasoned chaplains how she dealt with this. She smiled and said, “Well, I tell them they aren’t alone.” She went on to share her faith in souls – that they gather to support human beings in need. I believed this, too, but hadn’t been prone to speak so freely in those days. This made my teaching chaplain smile. She said, “Yes, it’s old-fashioned to believe in things unseen. But we believe in love – don’t we? Beautiful souls are one of the many forms divine love takes.”

If this is a time when you’re feeling lonely, if you know someone who is isolated or grieving, encourage the practice of paying attention to the presence of loving souls. Like any skill, it gets easier with practice. Do use discretion though, you don’t have to welcome every soul that comes to mind. If the deceased is someone who has hurt you, or if you’re painfully grieving a difficult death, you may want to put such challenging reunions on pause. However, be open to unexpected soul-visitors. There are kind souls whom we never met in the flesh who desire to comfort us. They freely come with goodwill.  

The souls in heaven are very respectful. They wait to be invited. They enjoy a kind word or a pretty flower or song. They like to know we’d really like them to visit. The more often we invite the “Benign Ones” to come and gather, the more often they will accompany us and we will grow in our ability to experience the “Cloud of Witnesses.” As we experience the eternal witnesses our souls deepen in awareness of the eternal Christ.

God, through Jesus Christ, understands how just hard it is to be human especially when we are separated from those who strengthen us. Thankfully, we are never alone spiritually. May we grow in awareness of the loving souls who are present in compassion, goodwill, and support. May the Cloud of Witnesses become real to us. Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)

We Share

Invitation to Holy Communion

(In honor of those who went before us, many of these communion prayers are inspired by The Pilgrim Hymnal, 1935 edition.)

All are welcome here. We may be alone in our private homes though as residents of earth and heaven we can share this meal with each other through the Holy Spirit. Let us speak the names of those who are not physically present, but with whom we wish to be spiritually gathered. (Say names outloud.)

Consecration of Elements

Place your hands on the cup and the bread. Let us pray:

Lord Jesus Christ, You have consecrated us for a new and living way. Grant that in the taking of this bread and cup our hearts and lives may be truly yielded to the sway of Your spirit. May Your Holy Spirit sanctify these elements for sacred use – symbols of Jesus’ broken body and shed blood. May they beget in us penitent hearts and quickened faith. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, we pray. Amen. (tph, pp 20)

Prayer of Preparation

O God, our help in ages past, our hope today and forever: Have mercy upon our humanity in its blindness, its bitterness, and its confusion. You have granted to our age to discover the wonders of Your mind and such mysteries of Your handiwork as to give humanity such vast power for good or ill, let us not use Your beautiful power for cruel and unworthy ends. Stay our hands, and teach us to use Your power to serve Your will on earth.

Deliver our world and us, O Lord, from lust of power, from vanity of spirit, from envy, apathy, and ill will; fill our minds with wisdom from above, which is pure, peaceful, and full of mercy. Touch our minds with light, that, having a right understanding, we may have compassion and courage and patience – working with Your help for the better order of the ages. Create in us a clearer insight, a juster and wiser spirit, and by Your spirit temper our minds to forbearance.

Bring the people of humanity, bring each of us, to a sound mind and a kind heart; restore good will and mutual trust. Visit not upon our children the horror of an age whose spirit was not steadfast with You. Lead us in the ways of justice and honor, in the paths of truth and brotherly kindness, till we are delivered from the bondage of hate and fear into the light of love; in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (jfn)

Silent Prayer

Sit with God in the silence of eternal contact. You may wish to simply “be” in holy presence or offer specific prayers. Your soul will guide you. When you are ready to move on, say “Amen” with gratitude in your heart.

God’s Grace 

The same God who called the worlds into being, is the same God who called the Hebrews out of slavery, and the same God who spoke through Jesus’s words and actions, and the same God who moves through us as the Holy Spirit. Our God is a perpetual God of Grace. There is no time, no place, no condition, no person where God is not present opening the door to a better tomorrow. This is the eternal heartbeat of divine Grace. Amen.

Communion Song

“In Remembrance of Me” https://youtu.be/nV_kFlsKrQU Lyrics: Ragan Courtney; Music: Buryl Red RED (Chalice #403); Performed by Robert Kochis (used with permission)

Sharing the Elements

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.”

May the Cloud of Witnesses and all of us receive Christ’s broken body. (eat bread)

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.”

May the Cloud of Witnesses and all of us receive Christ’s New Covenant. (drink from cup)

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Almighty and most merciful God, You call us to sit together in heavenly places at the feast of Your love; we give thanks for Your great goodness entrusted to us through this sacred communion. Grant that we might partake in the very life of Christ that Christ may live again in us. May we grow in Christ’s likeness so that Christ may present us before Your eternal glory with exceeding joy. Amen. (tph, pp 20)

Special Music

“In Christ Alone” https://youtu.be/3ch6eXkQWU8 Written by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend; performed by Lauren Daigle. (used without permission)

We Pray

Prayers of Petition

Though distant, when we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, we are connected one to another in the Holy Spirit. We never pray alone. What prayers does your soul carry – joys and concerns? Speak them. If your prayers don’t fit words today, use your body to give your prayers to God through movement or sound, dance, tears, or silence. Now is also the time to include prayer request from your community.

The Lord’s Prayer

Imagine a place where you feel close to God, maybe a sanctuary where you’ve worshipped. Welcome the memory of your Beloved Community filling your soul with companionship as we pray together the prayer Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever and ever. Amen.

We Give Thanks

Offering

For those who gone before us – especially those people who nourished our faith in deed and word, may we be truly grateful. And, may we pay forward their service by serving others. (see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope

“The Church’s One Foundation” https://youtu.be/v-AzLnm1Tws Lyrics: Samuel J Stone, Music: Samuel S Wesley –  AURELIA. (Chalice #272); Performed by Grace Community Church – Sun Valley, California. (used with permission)

Benediction

Dear Ones, we truly are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses. Let us put down our burdens and mistakes to continue the race, keeping our eyes on Jesus Christ, opening our hearts to eternal peace. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Worship Resources:

Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995

Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995

HOL: Hymns of Life, bilingual hymnal. ©1986, China Alliance Press.

YouTube Music Videos: search by title AND one of the authors for best results

Worship Resources: All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber unless attributed to another source.

(jfn) Joseph Fort Newton, Altar Stairs, reprinted in The Pilgrim Hymnal, revised edition, 1935. © 1931, Sidney A Weston.

(sk/jr) rewritten by Rev Kathryn Schreiber; original a poem by Rabbi Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Riemer;

(tph) The Pilgrim Hymnal, revised edition, 1935. © 1931, Sidney A Weston.

(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version ©1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, have suspended copyright restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic.

Online Publishing Date: October 28, 2020.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author.

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude financially by supporting disaster relief giving to One Great Hour of Sharing through your church, our church, or directly: http://www.ucc.org/oghs. 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”