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.
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 with Asian American, Pacific Islander Women and Girls
“Breath and Centering Prayer in the Wake of the Atlanta Hate Crimes” by Mira Sawlani-Joyner, Resurrection City DC. Posted on Mar 17, 2021 after the Atlanta deaths.
Call to Worship
This is the secret that isn’t a secret –
we all desire to be treated with great love and respect.
God sent Jesus Christ into this world
to make incarnate, in human form, divine reality:
each human being is a beloved person,
beautiful and worthy in God’s eyes.
God sent Jesus Christ into this world
to make incarnate, in human form, divine reality:
we are to love each other as God loves us,
cherishing and protecting each other. Amen.
Light the Christ Candle
*Song: ”We Are One in the Spirit / By Our Love” Words and Music: Peter Scholtes, 1966. Performed by Mark Swayze Band. (Chalice #494) Licensed to YouTube: The Orchard Music, Syntax Creative (on behalf of Central South); Music Services, Inc. (Publishing), Sony ATV Publishing, and 2 Music Rights Societies.
We Rest in God’s Grace
Releasing and Receiving
This Lent we intentionally focus upon being a Christian faith community. Today, we pause to reflect on our calling to care for each other and to share our resources within and beyond our local Christian community. How do you support your faith community? How do they support you? Talk to God and listen for the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Be open, honest. God is listening. 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 a “we”. We belong to the Christian community. To belong to, and to be held by, a community of faith is a deep blessing. Like all meaningful relationships, being “in community” is a give and take dance of mutual compassion and aid.
During this past year we lost a lot of congregational bonding experiences such as in-person worship, social events, meetings, and property tending. We were stripped down to our relationships – with God and each other – and forced to find new ways to be in contact with each other. For many, this past year has been a time of deepening connections. Being released from some routine practices has offered time and space for new ways to connect.
To live in hope of God’s mysterious grace is to always believe in God’s goodness. Where is God’s grace manifesting in your faith community relationships these days?
Scripture: Acts 2:43-47 (NRSV)
This passage continues the story of the formation of the Church after Jesus’ Resurrection. On Pentecost, the Holy Spirit appeared, the Hebrew Prophets were remembered, and the gathered followers of Jesus repented and were baptized. And then, they began a new life together.
Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.
May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.
Reflection: “Loving Action Evangelism”
Throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry, in addition to speaking to the public and offering private healings, Jesus spent a lot of time with his disciples teaching them how to be a community of faith. Jesus encouraged them to care for each other and to remain clear and strong as they engaged in ministry. Jesus was laying the foundation for the organization which we now call “The Church.”
The second chapter of the book of Acts recounts the earliest days of The Church – of that heady time when the Jewish followers of Jesus, gathered in Jerusalem for a Jewish festival, found something new happening to them. A new spirit moved, connecting them, inspiring them, enabling them to speak and listen to each other and to God. And from that baptism in the Spirit – a new awareness dawned, one tied to the ancient prophets AND to a radically new unimaginable future. Hum… that resonates, doesn’t it?
Today’s scripture tells us that as the fledgling community showered each other with support and helped those in need their actions inspired others to join them.
There is an old European Jewish story that goes like this:
One day two older gentlemen were talking and one said to the other, “So, have you heard about the new rabbi? He has studied with the best scholars. He has taught in the finest synagogues. He is a man of great importance.”
The other fellow thought for a while, stroked his beard, and then asked his friend, “But, have you ever seen him tie his shoelaces? By that — I will know what sort of rabbi he is.”
The point of the story is that actions matter. What we DO reveals our character. That resonates with the reading from Acts, too – the behavior of the Jesus followers – their acts of love for each other and for those who were vulnerable – inspired others to join them. New converts were drawn because they witnessed true love in action.
How we love shows the world just what sort of Christians we are. This is a good thing to think about as we prepare to return, or have begun, returning to our physical ministries. Instead of going “back” – maybe the Holy Spirit is calling us to go “forward”? Amen.
Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)
Sermon: “Loving Community” Filled with the Holy Spirit we can love each other well
Special Music: “Jasmine Flower” Chinese folks song arranged for piano solo by Schindler (excerpt). Performed by Lang Lang from solo album “Piano Book” 2019. Offered as an express of support for Chinese-Americans.
Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer
We Give Thanks
One Great Hour of Sharing
This fifth Sunday of Lent we express our love through the 2021 One Great Hour of Sharing Offering. This fund responds to basic needs around the world and emergency crises in the US. 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/
Read about 2020 OGHS Gifts at Work https://www.ucc.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/01/2021-OGHS-Guide-for-Website.pdf
“California church cares for newcomers” page 14 (Meals for Refugees through Eden UCC in Hayward, CA)
“Dry conditions fuels fires, devastation” page 15 (Wildfire Response in California, Oregon, and Washington)
One Great Hour of Sharing Offering Dedication
Holy Giver of all good gifts, bless now this offering that great hours of labor have made possible. Bless the drops that become mighty rivers of grace and transformation. Bless the vision of a world transformed. Let a shining river of love flow through us to Your waiting world, in Christ’s name. Amen. (OGHS 2021)
We Continue in Hope
*Song: “Won’t You Let Me Be Your Servant” Words and Music, Richard Gillard, 1977. Performed by virtual choir of First Congregational Church of Rockport, Massachusetts, 2021. (Chalice #490)
We who share a common faith,
share a common fate –
we are inextricably bonded one to another.
May God bless us with love for each other,
an ever-growing love which reaches many. 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.
(OGHS 2021) One Great Hour of Sharing, 2021 Planning and Resource Guide, United Church of Christ.
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 “Clever Bridesmaids”
Online Publishing Date: March 18, 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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