“Am I My Brother’s Keeper?” • Genesis 4:9 • Epiphany Call to Social Transformation • Beloved Community Sunday • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

artwork by Paul Gauguin

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

Worship Note

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

Time for Children of All Ages

“The Story of Martin Luther King Jr. by Kid President” This MLK Day, celebrate the promise of change.

Worship Service

We Gather

Call to Worship

Beloved Community, though our hearts be weary or heavy, God uplifts our souls with hope.

Beloved Community, as we listen to each other’s honest stories, God opens our hearts to solidarity.

Beloved Community, when we love each other as we would like to be loved, God blooms among us as Christ.

Amen.

Light the Christ Candle

Gathering Song “His Eye Is on The Sparrow” Words: C D Martin; Music: C H Gabriel; Performed by Lauryn Hill and Tanya Blount

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Genesis 4:9 (NRSV)

Then the Lord said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?”

Cain said, “I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?”

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

Quote from Martin Luther King, Jr.:

“We must come to see now that integration is not merely a romantic or aesthetic something, where you merely add color to a still predominantly white power structure. Integration must be seen also in political terms, where there is shared power, and where black people and white people share power together, to build a new and a great nation. In a real sense, we’re all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.” – The Other America, 1967.

Historic Reflection “The Other America”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 1967 speech at Stanford addressing societial inequalities in the US and the legacy of racism. Text: https://www.rev.com/blog/transcripts/the-other-america-speech-transcript-martin-luther-king-jr Video: https://youtu.be/dOWDtDUKz-U (min 47:48)

Contemporary Reflection “A Single Garment of Destiny”

(will post on YouTube channel “Kathryn Schreiber” before 1/17/2021)

Special Music: “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” (Dr King’s favorite hymn) Words and Music: T A Dorsey. Performed by Dinjimeel Rye Mariquit & Larah Claire Sabroso.

Prayers of the People

The Lord’s Prayer

We Rest in God’s Grace

Releasing and Receiving

How is it with your soul? Check in with God. Turn toward God in your honesty, however is best for you today. Release what is too heavy to keep on carrying. Hand over to God what needs to be set down. Gather precious moments to cherish as ever-good, ever-blessed. Prepare your spirit to receive Holy Communion. When you are ready to move on, say “Amen” with gratitude in your heart.

Silent Prayer

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

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

Be still and know that I am. (pause)

Be still and know. (pause)

Be still. (pause)

Be. (pause)

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

God’s Grace 

St. Paul has assured us that there is nothing that can separate us from God’s love. Nothing. Not any act of hatred or system of favoritism; not any wound or trauma. No matter what we have done or not done, no matter what has been done to us or not done with us, God’s healing radiance flows to us. May the Beloved Community receive the grace of God’s everlasting love and affirmation.

We Receive

Communion Song “Who Is My Mother, Who Is My Brother?” Words: S D Murray; Music: J Schrader; Performed by: Heather Featherstone. (Chalice #486)

Invitation to Holy Communion

Though we are staying safe by staying apart, through the Holy Spirit we share this meal intentionally, emotionally, and spiritually. Speak the names of those who are not physically present, but with whom you wish to share this meal.

Consecration of Elements

Place your hands over or upon the cup and the bread and pray:

“Holy God, this is Your Table where everyone is welcome,

where every hunger for justice is welcome,

where every hunger for healing is welcome.

Fill this cup and loaf with Your Abiding Presence. Amen.”

Sharing the Elements

Jesus’ Table is open to everyone. Everyone is welcome! No matter where we are physically, in this blessed moment we are assembled with Jesus and the Beloved Community.

Jesus lifts up the loaf, thanks God, breaks the bread, and offers it, saying: “Take, eat. This is my Body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”

We who believe in freedom* receive holy nourishment. (eat) The Beloved Community has been fed.

Jesus lifts up the cup, thanks God, and offers the cup, saying: “Drink this, everyone! 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.”

We who believe in freedom* receive holy forgiveness. (drink) The Beloved Community is forgiven.

Prayer of Thanksgiving

On this Beloved Community Sunday, Most Righteous God, we receive these gifts alongside the eternal souls of Brother Martin and Civil Rights martyrs. May we inherit their hunger for justice and their courage to repair the breeches in our nation. Amen.

Special Music: “Let Justice Roll Down” Written by Aileen Vance; Performed by Lea Morris. 2021.

We Give Thanks

Offering

We are God’s children. We are siblings. Though false doctrines have separated us, though cruel actions have wounded us, we are forever one human family. Let us praise God who makes us one! Amen. (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope “We Shall Overcome” African American Spiritual. Performed by Shades of Yale. 2020.

Benediction

It is the Creator who weaves us into a single garment of destiny.

It is Christ who awakens us to our inescapable network of mutuality.

It is the Holy Spirit who guides us in the building of a great nation.

May the blessing of these eternal realities give us comfort and hope.

May we go forth with peace. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

Note:

*”We who believe in freedom” is a line from “Ella’s Song” written by Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Resources:

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

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

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.

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, suspended copyright restrictions early during the coronavirus pandemic. Permission may shift as conditions change. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements.

Online Publishing Date: January 14, 2021.

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

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  as racism and injustice are still very much with us, please offer your support through prayer, affirmation, and donation to a non-profit that teaches a nonviolence way of dismantling racism. 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”

Epiphany 2021

drawing: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, (c) 2021

Hello Dear Ones,

I’d planned to post this holiday greeting and image today on the Feast of the Epiphany with no idea of how violence would manifest in Washington, DC. I hope that you and your household are well, safe, and strong enough. And I pray that you will continue to do what you do to bring about God’s Dream for Humanity.

Today, January 6th, is the Feast of the Epiphany/Día de los Reyes/Three Kings Day. It commemorates adoration of the Christ Child by foreign magi (royal scholars). We Christians celebrate God’s love for all humanity given to all cultures, ethnicities, races. We also celebrate the diversity of Christ’s Church and the gift of awakenings – “epiphanies” when we see with God’s eyes.

Back in November I began sketching St. Mary singing “The Magnificat” seen through the lens of 2020. I envisioned a Christmas Card with a Black Mary singing for justice with great faith and hope:

“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 lifting up the lowly;

God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent 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.” (Luke 1:46b-55; NRVS adapted)

As I reflected on the text, much resonated with what I’m hearing young women saying today. Thus, “The Hashtag Skirt.” I hope you’ll add your preferences. And if you don’t know these movements, please check them out:

#CoronaHeroes #IntheBigLove #SaytheirNames #nonviolence #halfby2030 #WaterisLife #ParisAccord #AAPISolidarity #StandAgainstHated #Peace #Homefulness #Justice&Mercy #PoliceReform #BlackLivesMatter #ProScience #NoFence #Corona-1619 #GreenNewDeal #GirlPower #LandBack #doctorSusanMoore #LoveWins #NomorestolenSisters #gogreen #EveryVoteCounts #BetheChange #MeToo #Love (some capitalizations changed for visual appeal)

The radiant light/energy waves are inspired by Stevie Wonders’ fabulous album cover for “Songs in the Key of Life” (1976), a source of great spiritual care when I was a young adult.

This is a sacred illustration, a proclamation of faith. I hope there is something here that speaks in a true way for you. May this image be a statement of hope that 2021 will be filled with many epiphanies for us on all levels. God is still speaking. God is still calling us into fullness of being for the well-being of all beings.

In the Big Love,

Kathryn

Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber

Berkeley Chinese Community Church, UCC

Berkeley, CA, USA

P.S. If you’d like, you’re welcome to copy and print the image for personal use, including as a coloring project. However, I ask that you do not reproduce and share without my permission. You are welcome, however, to freely share the link to this page. God bless you and yours. Thank you!

“Blessed in a Wild Place” • Mark 1:4-11 • Epiphany Call to Personal Transformation • Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

photo: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber (c) 2010

worship format and original content: Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

Worship Note

As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times as social justice reforms arise, we offer free worship content. We’re exploring format shifts. Bear with us! Take Care!

Time for Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Epiphany 2021: God is Still Speaking” God spoke to the magi through a dream to save Jesus

Worship Service

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

We Gather

Call to Worship

Beloved, God calls us into the Wilderness of Awakening.

Beloved, God calls us into the River of Forgiveness.

Beloved, God calls us to rise Blessed and Empowered… too!

Light the Christ Candle

Gathering Song “Shall We Gather by the River” Words and Music: Robert Lowry. Performed by Buddy Greene. (Chalice #701)

We Rest in God’s Grace

Releasing and Receiving

How is it with your soul? Check in with God however your spirit and body wish. It’s okay to enter into God’s presence uncertain to what is happening, opening to what might happen. However you arrive, God will be delighted.

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)

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

God’s Grace 

Grace is freely given; we cannot make it happen. If we could, it would not be grace. However, we can improve our receptivity to God’s gifts.

This week we remember Jesus humbling himself to John’s ministrations in the River Jordan. Jesus models a pure spirit releasing and being open. While we may not witness the heavens open and God’s voice speak words of direct blessing, there may be times when a “knowing” comes over us and we swell with an inner sense of our beloved-ness. Such a moment of grace is quite holy. Let us cherish God’s grace whenever it comes upon us.

We Listen

Scripture Reading: Mark 1:4-11 (NRSV)

John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 

Now John was clothed with camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. John proclaimed, “The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals. I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.”

Quote from Mechthild of Magdeburg, 13c Germany mystic:

“And God said to the soul: I desired you before the world began. I desire you now, as you desire me.  And where the desires of two come together, there love is perfected.”

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

Reflection “Blessed in a Wild Place”

John the Baptist was called out of the Temple into the Wilderness to prepare the people for God’s Beloved Son. So, too, we have been called out of our Sanctuaries into our Households to open our hearts to God’s Beloved Ones.

Jesus of Nazareth humbled himself to the waters of the River Jordan and the reinterpreted rituals of his cousin John. So, too, we are to humble ourselves to God’s ambassadors to be spiritually prepared for our future ministries.

The River took what was not needed away. The Heavens offered a Spirit like a Dove bestowing blessing. The heavenly Voice spoke affirming identity, status, and belovedness. So, too, God is working through all Creation to bring the Living Christ into redemptive, relational presence with us.

Now that our religious patterns have been disrupted where are we, as individuals, being called to experience spiritual care? Where are you finding spiritual nourishment? When and where are you safe to be vulnerable and open to new blessings?

I believe one of the strange gifts of this “Stay at Home” time is seeing, more clearly, what truly blesses our souls, especially in times of challenge. This is a time to note the comforting habits we miss AND to acknowledge where and how we are currently being restored and blessed.

This week consider where you have found genuine spiritual uplift these past 9-10 months. Where has God blessed you? Maybe, like Jesus, it has been a “wild” place – a place unlike the holy buildings where you expected to find God’s presence in the past?

Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)

(Note: A somewhat related sermon video will be available on YouTube channel “Kathryn Schreiber” before 1/10/2021)

Special Music “Wade in the Water” Traditional African-American spiritual. Performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock. (Chalice #371)

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

This second Sunday of the year, many Christians recall the baptism of Jesus Christ. Let us also pause to remember our baptism through Jesus Christ. All who proclaim Jesus as Christ are connected, eternally. We are part of “The Body of Christ” one of an uncountable number of souls who reside in fellowship throughout all time. What a blessing!

Let us praise God for this everlasting gift. We are “us” because Jesus brought us, in word and action, God’s redeeming love. Hallelujah! Praise God! (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

Song of Hope “Down to the River to Pray” Written by Philip Lawson. Performed by Alison Krauss and Union Station. 2002. https://youtu.be/swOLCLrqBn8

We Pray

Benediction

God is here in our wilderness time.

God is still speaking –

in breaking clouds and diving doves

proclaiming “Beloved” to all who serve.

Let us journey on in this wild place

filled with a truly Holy Spirit

opening to unpredictable new wonders.

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.

(Chalice) The Chalice Hymnal and (New Century) The New Century Hymnal, among other worship publications, suspended copyright restrictions early during the coronavirus pandemic. Permission may shift as conditions change. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements.

Online Publishing Date: January 5, 2020.

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

Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. However,  you may express your gratitude by offering your support – in action or financial gift – to your church or a church you respect. We really need your support right now – volunteers and funds. 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”

“The First Prayer of 2021”

photo by Edgard Garrido/Reuters; taken in Mexico City

“The First Prayer of 2021” written by Rev Kathryn M Schreiber

birds sang the sun up

this first morning of 2021

listening to their joy

I found a new sorrow

the collective silence

of all who died last year

what songs are sung

in Heaven today?

do they grieve with us

here on Earth?

Lord, have mercy upon us.

As of 6:12am GMT 1/1/2021 the World Health Organization reported 1,808,041 confirmed deaths due to COVID-19.