photo: Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber ©2019
worship format and original content: Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021
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
Out of the Bag: “Praising The Rain-Bringer” Celebrating the diverse ways God supports life
Call to Worship
Praise the Still Speaking God!
Let our souls sing beautifully!
Look up! See the stars? See the rain clouds?
Throughout the universe God calls each being into being.
Naming each one, putting each in its perfect place.
Every being is dressed, fed, and empowered.
Look around! See our children? See our crops?
Year after year God sends the seasons
sustaining all beings in ever-turning cycles.
Life goes on and on and on…
The Still Speaking God is Still Speaking…
to all beings, including us human ones.
Light the Christ Candle
Song: “This Joy” Composed by Shirley Caesar; Produced by Tiffany Gouché and Abena Koomson-Davis; Performed by the Resistance Revival Chorus; Album: Righteous Babe Records ©2020.
We Rest in God’s Grace
Releasing and Receiving
How is it with your soul? Check in with God. Turn toward God in honesty, however is best for you today. Release what is no longer yours to carry. Hand it over to God. Receive what God is bringing to you in this precious moment, including sweet memories and new awarenesses. When you are ready to move on, say “Amen,” with gratitude in your heart.
Shift into simply being with God, silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:
Be still and know that I am God. (pause)
Be still and know that I am. (pause)
Be still and know. (pause)
Be still. (pause)
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 is given to all beings, all beings. Pause for a moment and consider someone else, some other creature, that may be the recipient of God’s grace at this moment. The plants grateful for precipitation, the mammals cozily napping indoors. The mountain peaks donning a new white coat, the river beds flush with flow. Join your soul’s song of joy for God’s grace with theirs. We are all blessed by God.
Scripture Reading: Psalm 147 (LTP)
How good to sing God praise! How lovely the sound!
The Lord rebuild Jerusalem and gathers the exiles of Israel, healing the brokenhearted, binding their aching wounds.
God fixes the numbers of stars, calling each by name. Great is our god and powerful, wise beyond all telling. The Lord upholds the poor but lets the wicked fall.
Sing thanks to the Lord, sound the harp for our God. The Lord stretches the clouds, sending rain to the earth, clothing mountains with green.
The Lord feels the cattle and young ravens when they call. A horse’s strength, a runner’s speed – they count for nothing! The Lord favors the reverent, those who trust in God’s mercy.
Jerusalem, give glory! Praise God with song, O Zion! For the Lord strengthens your gates guarding your children within. The Lord fills your land with peace, giving you golden wheat.
God speaks to the earth, the word speeds forth. The Lord sends heavy snow and scatters frost like ashes. The Lord hurls chunks of hail. Who can stand such cold?
God speaks, the ice melts; God breathes, the streams flow. God speaks God’s word to Jacob, to Israel, holy laws and decrees. God has not done this for others, no others receive this wisdom.
May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.
Quote from Rev. Dr. Brian Wren, contemporary hymn-writer:
“Naming God truthfully is important, since to name God untruthfully is to delude ourselves and worship an idol. Naming God truthfully is especially important if language shapes and angles thinking and behavior, since untruthful God-language will then hinder our encounter with God and our knowledge of God.” (bw)
Scripture Practice: “Attribute Names of God”
What names for God do you use when you speak to God or about God? “The Almighty,” “Holy One,” “Lord Father”? There are as many names for God as there are beings who praise God. The Bible, our hymns, and our prayers are filled with many names for God.
Many of these are “attribute names” based on a characteristic or activity of God, such as “Divine Healer,” “Most Merciful,” “Beloved Friend.” The writings of the Hebrew psalmists and prophets are filled with many attribute names for God and for God’s promised messiah. Muslims have a beautiful list of such holy names “The 99 Names of God.” (see the Wikipedia link below.)
Today’s psalm – holy scripture to Jews, Christians, and Muslims — is a song of praise celebrating God doing all sorts of important things throughout Creation. Many phrases from Psalm 147 can easily be turned into attribute names.
For example: “The Lord rebuilds Jerusalem and gathers the exiles of Israel, healing the brokenhearted, binding their aching wounds.” (Psalm 147:2-3) generates at least four literal attribute names for God: “Rebuilder of the Capitol City,” “Gatherer of Exiles,” “Healer of the Brokenhearted,” and “Binder of Aching Wounds.”
Review the entire psalm above. Which lines speak to you? Come up with attribute names for God from those lines of praise. The next time you pray, use them when you speak with God.
Being open to new ways to speak to God opens up new ways for God to connect with us. The Source of Life and Love may be inviting you to enter new path of comfort, healing, alignment, or hope. God bless you! Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)
Recorded Sermon: “Ultimate Deity” A reflection upon Psalm 147 during COVID-19, orienting to a God who is the ultimate deity. Pastor Kathryn unpacks some of the symbols in the psalm and suggests potential gifts to come out of a pandemic.
Special Music: “Rain Falling from Roof” Written and Performed by Yo-Yo Ma, cello, and Wu Tong, sheng. #SongsOfComfort series © 2020. Please read the story about the music in notes below the video (in English and Chinese)
Prayers of the People
The Lord’s Prayer
We Give Thanks
Hallelujah! (Hebrew for “Praise God”) Praise God the Consoler! Praise God the Rain-Sender! Praise God The Gate Fortifier Who Protects Our Children!” Praise God who Speaks in Snow, Frost, Hail and Flowing Streams! Hallelujah! Amen. (also see donation footnote)
We Continue in Hope
Song “Bring Many Names” Words: B Wren; Music: C R Young; Performed by First Congregational Church of Huston. (Chalice #10)
May we forever sing new verses of praise to God!
Wherever we turn our attention, God is there!
God is Still Speaking to all creation!
May we go forth in gratitude with peace. Amen.
(the service is concluded)
All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.
(bw) Brian Wren, quoted in the UMC’s History of Hymns: “Bring Many Names”
(LTP) Liturgical Training Press. The Psalter A faithful and inclusive rendering from Hebrew into contemporary English. ©1995. Slightly reformed by K M Schreiber, 2021.
“99 Names of God”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_of_God_in_Islam
Online Chalice Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/CH1995
Online New Century Hymnal: https://hymnary.org/hymnal/NCH1995
Note: (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 Image: Kathryn Schreiber © 2019.
Online Publishing Date: January 27, 2021.
Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.
Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!
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