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: “Soul to Soul” We are more than our physical body
Call to Worship
Let us be gathered as Jesus taught us,
welcoming everyone from everywhere.
Gathered in fond affection we call into presence
those dear ones on earth not physically present.
(speak their names)
Gathered in eternal love we call into presence
those dear ones in heaven who are spiritual present.
(speak their names)
Holy Spirit, hold us together. Amen.
Light the Christ Candle
Special Music: “Draw Us in the Spirit’s Tether”
Lyrics: Percy Dearmer, Music: Harold Friedell. Performed virtually by choir members of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Houston, Texas. 2020. Words and Music copyright and streamed under One License #A-719994. (Chalice #392)
We Rest in God’s Grace
Releasing and Receiving
This Lent we intentionally focus upon our faith community. Today, we pause to reflect on our spiritual connection to Christians beyond our local group. We are connected, as Christians, to all for whom Jesus Christ as brother, friend, teacher, healer and redeemer. We are each a grain of sand on a very long, wide, eternal beach. With whom would you most like to be with today? Ask God to allow you to connect soul to soul. Chat soul to soul. Tell God how you’re doing. God is so grateful you are here, open, honest. 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.”
In the moving German film, “Wings of Desire,” about angels, filmmaker Wenders beautifully depicts angels as messengers from God gently speaking into the ears of humans, filling their thoughts with messages of hope and guidance. (ww)
Today, let us rest into the mystery of the many ways God tends us weaving mortal and divine, temporal and eternal, together. God is still speaking to our souls, sometimes through blessed angels. This is yet another way God’s grace blesses our lives now and forever.
Scripture: 1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (NRSV)
St Paul’s teaching about Holy Communion and Holy Community
The cup of blessing that we bless,
is it not a sharing in the blood of Christ?
The bread that we break,
is it not a sharing in the body of Christ?
Because there is one bread,
we who are many are one body,
for we all partake of the one bread.
May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.
Quotes about Holy Communion and Holy Community:
Prayer from The Didache* (1st Century)
“As this broken bread was scattered upon the hills and, having been gathered together, became one, so may Your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into Your kingdom. For Yours is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever. Amen (gc)
*”the most important document we have concerning the celebration of Communion in the earliest days of church history” (hoo)
From The Apostles Creed (14th century)
“I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic** church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”
**The word “catholic” in the Apostles’ Creed refers to the universal church of Jesus Christ, not the Roman Catholic church which is but one portion of The Church.
From “The Church’s One Foundation” (17th century)
“Yet she on earth hath union with God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy! Lord, give us grace that we,
Like them, the meek and lowly, in love may dwell with Thee.” (sjj)
From the UCC’s Book of Worship (20th century)
“The invitation and the call to the supper emphasize that all people of faith are welcome at Christ’s table. The invitation and call celebrate not only the memory of a meal that is past, but an actual meal with the risen Christ that is a foretaste of the heavenly banquet at which Christ will preside at the end of history. … The visible breaking of the bread and pouring of the wine are symbolic actions.… The wheat that is gathered to make one loaf and the grapes that are pressed to make one cup remind participants that they are one in the body of Christ, The Church.” (uccbow)
Reflection: “God’s Eternal Table”
Before the pandemic Holy Communion was a ritual we performed together in each other’s presence. Usually, we’d be assembled together in a church building. Sometimes, we’d visit church members at home or in the hospital, extending the church building based event out into the world.
Holy Communion, for most of us, has meant being with each other in a consecrated place, using very special objects, performing sacred actions, led by faith leaders. Since we’ve been separated due to the pandemic this has changed. Again, this Sunday, all around the world, Christians will again celebrate Holy Communion in novel ways.
Some of us are still restricted to our homes because it is not safe to gather with other households. At home, we prepare personal-use Communion elements (bread and cup). We look at a piece of paper or gaze into a digital screen as we “gather” with others – electronically or in memory.
Some of us are able to assemble taking precautions. We gather with others wearing masks, keeping distance, probably not singing. We might bring our own Communion elements or be served pre-packaged, sanitized items. We are with other worshippers, but not as we would have been before the pandemic.
HOW we celebrate Holy Communion has changed a lot this past year. What hasn’t changed is WHAT happens to us. No matter where we are, no matter how many are physically present, no matter who prepares the Cup and Loaf, when we assemble for Holy Communion, through Jesus Christ, we are always united in a “sweet mystic communion” with the souls of all Christians of all times – past, present, and future. We are the Body of Christ – one body forever united.
The human mind cannot fully comprehend this wondrous spiritual gift, but our souls know the truth of sweet mystical union. May this re-awakened awareness of the cosmic quality of Holy Communion transform our Christian communities this Lent. Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)
Sermon: “Sweet Mystic Communion” We partake of the same bread – the many are one
*Song: “One Bread, One Body” Written by John Foley and New Dawn. © 1978. Album – Table of Plenty. (Chalice #393)
We Celebrate Holy Communion
Everyone, every soul, is welcome – right here, right now. We gather in this perfect moment wading into eternity blessed to gather with Jesus Christ and his Beloved Community.
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.”
The bread we break – the body of Christ. (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.”
The cup of blessing – the blood of Christ. (drink from cup)
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Author of Life on Earth and Life Eternal, we offer our thanksgiving for the gift of sweet, mystic communion. May these holy moments mark the beginning, again, of our endless existence in Your presence, forever united one to another. We who are many, we are one in Christ. Amen.
Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer
We Give Thanks
This third Sunday of Lent reflect upon “Sweet Mystic Communion” merging, spiritually, with all Christians of all times through the ritual of Holy Communion. Let us remember we are always part of this blessed cosmic whole – thanking God for what has been and what is to come. (also see donation footnote)
One Great Hour of Sharing Offering.
On Sunday March 21, 2021, Berkeley Chinese Community Church will bless donations made to the “One Great Hour of Sharing” ecumenical fund which provides assistance internationally. In 2020, giving to OGHS fell drastically as churches responded to immediate pandemic needs. This year, we are asked to give generously to continue support for our global partners who depend upon this fund. Thank you! BCCC folks: Please send your check donations to the church Treasurer, “OGHS” in the note area. Others may donate online to the national fund: https://www.ucc.org/giving/donate-now/general-donation/
OGHS video: “When Water Comes – Interviews” Words of gratitude for OGHS funds.
We Continue in Hope
Song: “The Church’s One Foundation” Words: Samuel K Stone, Tune: AURELIA written by Samuel S Wesley. Performed by 250-voice choir at CSI Egmore Wesley Church Chennai. Conductor: Emmanuel Ponraj. Pipe Organ: Arul Siromoney. Recorded live in 2012 (Chalice #272)
St Paul assured us: “We who are many are one body.” Let us carry forward the blessing of this mystical union – taking faith, hope, compassion, peace with us to share abundantly.
(the service is concluded)
All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.
(gc) Glen Clary, translator. From his article: “Communion Prayers in the Ancient Church” 2016. https://reformedforum.org/communion-prayers-in-the-ancient-church/
(hoo) Hughes Oliphant Old, Worship: Reformed According to Scripture, Revised and Expanded Edition (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002) pp 121.
(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.
(uccbow) UCC Book of Worship, 1986. pp 32.
(ww) Wim Wenders, “Wings of Desire” (German title: “Der Himmel über Berlin”). 1987. B/W film w/subtitles.
(sjj)Samuel John Stone, writer of lyrics for “The Church’s One Foundation”
Video sermon note: Film mentioned: “Places in the Heart” 1984 movie set in 1930’s Texas small town.
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 “Supper at Emmas”
Online Publishing Date: March 4, 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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