prepared by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber
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.
- 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.
- Choose songs to sing (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 as we do at church.
Time for Children of All Ages
“Out of the Bag: Holy Water” on YouTube channel: Kathryn Schreiber
Please adapt to make this worship service your own. Your intention is what is important.
Call to Worship
Dear Ones, no matter where you are, no matter what day of the week it is, no matter what time of the day or night it is, may we be connected, one to another, woven together through our shared faith in the Living God revealed to us through Jesus Christ. Amen.
Our souls cry out, O God. We are thirsty for You! Flood our souls with sustaining hope, Living God. Fill our memories with Your eternal faithfulness. Amen.
Light the Christ Candle
Song for Welcoming the Presence of God
Suggestion: “Come and Fill Our Hearts” – Taizé, Performed by Church of the Savior, UCC Knoxville TN (used without permission)
Unburden and Gather Hope
Naming Our New Reality
Whether you are alone or with others, let this be a time of private reflection. How is it with you today? How is your heart, your mind, your body, your soul? What were the highpoints of the week, and the low points, too? What might be forgotten if you don’t hold that memory today? Through it all God was there and is here now, listening. Offer to God anything that asks to be shared – anything. God has heard it all many times before, and yet, God eager awaits hearing directly from each of us.
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)
Try to sit quietly in a state of calm devotion. It can be very hard to still the mind. Our thoughts wander, feelings arise, our bodies wiggle. It can be shocking how quickly our good intentions go astray! Do not fret, dear one. The mind is like an antsy toddler. With compassion, acknowledge what rises but try not to engage any thought or feeling. (Important matters will return later.) Practice choosing to refocus on God. Take a breath and try again. Each time we choose to return to God, gently turning away from our over-active mind, is a gift we give God. Let’s be kind to ourselves. When you’re ready to move on take a moment to thank God saying, “Amen.”
Acts of Unburdening and Affirming
Place pebbles or small items at the base of the Christ Candle thinking or speaking whatever you wish to offer to God for release or gratitude. These offerings need not be named. The soul knows what to give to God and God knows what to receive.
Ever-Present One, Ever-Faithful One, Ever-Merciful One, You wait for us. No matter how far we have wandered off; No matter how hard we were pushed away; No matter how thin our presence has become – You are always here with us. Restore our souls and make us well. May we receive the healing grace of Your Love. Amen.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 42:1-6a (NRSV)
As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and behold the face of God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
while people say to me continually, “Where is your God?”
These things I remember, as I pour out my soul:
how I went with the throng, and led them in procession to the house of God, with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival.
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise God, my help and my God.
May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.
Reflection Upon “Spiritual Thirst”
(This content is created for private reflection. If your pastor has prepared a written or recorded message you may use it instead of, material below.)
Sermon Suggestion: “As a Doe Thirsts” by Rev. Kathryn Schreiber, YouTube Video: https://youtu.be/wcb11m0TQMs, Transcript on Facebook: Berkeley Chinese Community Church
Suggestion: “As the Deer” by Martin J Nystrom, Performed by World Edition Singers (used without permission) YouTube: https://youtu.be/KnIYWKfW74E
Prayer of Consecration
Whenever we gather for Holy Communion, be it in a sanctuary or virtually in many homes, we gather spiritually. At this time, please gather your cups and bread for blessing.
Let us Pray:
We are thirsty, God! We are hungry, God! We need the spiritual nourishment only You can give. Amen.
Words of Institution
Remember the night of Jesus’ Last Supper with his Beloved Disciples? They were tired from the highs and lows of discipleship. They were parched from witnessing human suffering. They were burnt out from doing what was God’s to do. They were like deer in need of a long, deep drink of fresh water. So, Jesus called them to join him at the table.
With whom would you like to share this meal? Who is need of God’s nourishing presence? Invite them to join us. Speak their names… (say their names)
Suggestion: “All Belong Here” by The Many performed by The Many (used without permission)
Sharing the Elements
Jesus looked upon his beloved disciples, and he picked up the Passover Shabbat loaf of unleavened bread, an ancient symbol of God’s nourishing presence – the bread given to the freed Hebrew slaves as they left Egypt. Jesus took the Liberation Loaf, lifted it up (lift up or put your hand over your bread) and said: “Take, eat. This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (eat the bread)
After they had eaten, Jesus looked, again, upon his beloved disciples. Jesus picked up the Elisha’s Cup. Each Passover, a place setting is set out for the Prophet Elisha in hopes that one day he will return with the Messiah. Jesus took the Messianic Cup, lifted it up (lift up or put your hand over your cup) and Jesus said: “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.” (drink from the cup)
Prayer of Thanksgiving
From the dry places of weariness and regret, from the hungry places of fear and anger, O God, You have restored us. You fill our souls with Living Water. You revive our memories with Your faithfulness. We have been made whole again – ready to live strong, blessed by You. Thank You, Holy God. Thank You. Amen.
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 ask to be lifted up – 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. If your community shares prayer requests please include them as you continue your prayers of petition.
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
Let your spirit fill with gratitude for a memory of being restored by God – the Living Water who brings life to all beings. Maybe your soul has been lifted by song or the fragrance of a summer flower? Maybe the sharing of Holy Communion or a word of scripture uplifted your spirit today? Give thanks for the wondrous ways God tends all of us, knitting us together, fellow siblings on this life journey.(see donation footnote)
We Continue in Hope
Song of Hope
Suggestion: “Be Still My Soul” – K von Schlegel, FINLANDIA (#566 Chalice, #273 HOL)
Beloved One, Formerly Thirsty One, May the days ahead be blessed with unexpected joys. May your heart open to new gifts of hope. May you share with other living beings a moment of peace. Go forth in the Peace of Christ. Amen.
(the service is concluded)
Note: *When a verse of scripture contains many sections, each phrase or sentence is labeled “a” “b.”
Chalice: Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995
TNCH: 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.
Worship Credit: © 2020, Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber, Living Liturgies
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 making a donation to an organization which tends the souls of the thirsty. 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”