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.
About a year ago the coronavirus converted our congregations from sanctuary-based to home-based ministries. This Lent we reflect upon our calling to be the Christian Community in new ways. May we be open to reinvention by the Holy Spirit.
Time for Children of All Ages
Out of the Bag: “Different and Blessed” Seeing the Light of Christ in each other
Call to Worship
God sees us, each of us,
radiant with original blessing.
We are the seeds of God’s Dream –
embodiments of incarnate Belovedness.
Jesus, our earthly teacher,
Christ, our eternal guide,
call us, collectively, to awaken
to our truest identity:
We are The Beloved Community.
Light the Christ Candle
*Song: “In This Very Room” Written by Ron & Carol Harris. Directed by Dr. Elizabeth Susan Vista-Suarez. Accompanied by Allen Diadem Chesed Jovita. Produced by COPVA Tech Team October 4, 2020. (Chalice #295)
We Rest in God’s Grace
Releasing and Receiving
This Lent we intentionally focus upon our faith community. Today, pause to reflect upon our spiritual group as a Beloved Community. We are a gathering of beloved persons. Beloved… how does that word resonate within you? Who makes you feel beloved? Who are your beloved ones? Have you experienced yourself as God’s beloved one? We experience belovedness differently. Check in with God about your current state of belovedness. You can tell God anything. Anything. What God most wants is for you to show up as you. 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.”
We are beloved, each and every one of us. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Every moment of our being we are held in God’s eternal care and supportive concern. This is our ultimate reality, though we can only partially perceive this fundamental, expansive grace.
Maybe you have been blessed with a glimmer of this timeless, complete, holy love. However these moments come to you, whenever these moments come to you, cherish them and know they represent a much, much, much larger reality. Know this, too: this grace is a shared grace. It is given to us. We are God’s beloved. We are the Beloved Community.
Scripture: Romans 12:9-21 (NRSV)
St Paul’s advice to groups of Jesus-followers:
Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly; do not claim to be wiser than you are. Do not repay anyone evil for evil, but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all. If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” No, “if your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.
Quote by Dr. Donald M. Chinula, Associate Professor, Religion and Philosophy, Stillman College:
“In King’s thought, the beloved community is heaven incarnate. It is an inclusive community here on earth. For the concrete American polity of which King spoke, integration was synonymous with inclusivity. The beloved community was, therefore, a society that had achieved optimal integration, not just desegregation. For King, a desegregated society was not synonymous with an integrated one. A segregated society was one where legal sanction for separateness had been removed. An integrated society was unitive. It had achieved a sense of human togetherness and solidarity and was vigilantly intentional about promoting human togetherness. The beloved community is, therefore, an integrated society. In King’s thought, such a society was akin to the biblical dominion of God, as King understood that metaphor.”
Reflection: “Origins of the Phrase: The Beloved Community”
The term “Beloved Community” became popular when it was used by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the 1960’s to describe society transformed to God’s dream for humanity. However, the term originated with a Californian, the son of British immigrants who settled in Grass Valley during the Gold Rush.
Dr. Josiah Royce (1855 – 1916) was educated in his family’s remote mining town school and then in San Francisco, Oakland, and Germany. He earned a PhD from Johns Hopkins. Royce began his teaching career at University of California at Berkeley, though the bulk of his teaching career was spent at Harvard. Among his more famous students were: TS Eliot, George Santayana, and the black philosopher, WEB DuBois.
Royce, a devote, yet critical, Christian wrote: “My life means nothing, either theoretically or practically, unless I am a member of a community.” Royce’s academic work, grounded in the history of the American West, took a critical view of triumphant individualism. He was interested in the functioning of communities.
Dr. Royce believed the key to creating community among persons was loyalty. “Natural Communities,” he wrote, exhibited vicious or predatory loyalty; they tended toward the destruction of others’ causes and possibilities fueled by strident, oppositional loyalties. Royce also perceived a nobler type of loyalty calling it “loyalty to loyalty,” an adherence to higher universal ideals. Communities who foster this kind of loyalty he called “Genuine Communities” or “Communities of Grace.”
Royce’s philosophical work took a more practical turn after a series of family sorrows. He was deeply impacted by WWI. He turned his intellectual attention to addressing the war and the Church.
About Christianity, Royce noted that doctrines and creeds come and go, but the Church as community goes on. Sometimes, a church community may become a “Natural Community” with conflict and abusive behavior because its loyalties are petty and privatized. However, a church community may become a “Community of Grace” if its loyalty is to the highest values. Royce called the perfect expression of Christian faith the “Beloved Community,” an ideal he though we could never reach, but should aim for.
55 years ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. read Royce’s ideas about community and reflected upon the conditions in the world during his lifetime: national racism, the plight of the poor, the destructiveness of war, and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Dr. King reclaimed Royce’s idea of the “Beloved Community” not as unattainable ideal of the true Church, rather as the incarnate goal of living Christians. For King, the “Beloved Community” occurs here on earth and includes all human beings. It comes into existence when people embody the teachings of Jesus Christ – respecting all persons, creating well-being for one another, including one’s enemies. Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)
Sermon: “Beloved Community” Loyalty creates community – to what are we loyal?
Special Music: “Redemption Song” Written by Bob Marley. Arrangement by Kanneh-Mason. © 2020 Universal Music Operations Limited. Performed by Kanneh-Masons.
Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer
We Give Thanks
This second Sunday of Lent reflect upon a “Community of Grace” based on higher universal ideas. When and where have you witnessed a group striving to embody the “Beloved Community?” When and how does your faith community come closest to these ideas? What is God calling you to do to support such efforts? (also see donation footnote)
We Continue in Hope
Song: “Help Us Accept Each Other” Words: Fred Kaan & John 15:12 (1974) Music: John Ness Beck (1977) Performed by Doug Smith, 2020. (Chalice #487)
God has given us the powerful force of choice. We can choose which principles are foundational to our actions. We can choose loyalty to God’s Dream for us – the Beloved Community where all are welcome, valued, and called to their best selves. May we choose well. Amen.
(the service is concluded)
All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.
(NRSV) New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.
(dmc) Donald M. Chinula, Rebuilding King’s Beloved Community: Foundations for Pastoral Care and Counseling with the Oppressed. ©1997. Paperback. Pp 60.
(jr; mlk) Josiah Royce and Martin Luther King, Jr, Stanford Philosophical On-line Encyclopedia plato.Stanford.edu and essays on the King Center’s website.
2/11/2021 UPDATED COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws have recently changed. Please check with your denominational legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content publicly. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Thank you.
Online Image: artwork: He Qui “After Resurrection”
Online Publishing Date: February 25, 2021.
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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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