3 Easter: “For God So Loved the Cosmos” • John 3:16 • Earth Day Worship Service for In-Home or Remote Group Use

painting by Clivie Loveless-Newton, ©2020

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 with Children of All Ages

Out of the Bag: “Flower Friends” We prepare for Earth Day spending time with Pastor Kathryn’s flower friends. We also think about how we can live respecting all beings on Earth.

Worship Service

We Gather

Invocation

Since the beginning of beginnings –

God so loves the cosmos.

As Creation continues to evolve –

God so loves the cosmos.

Kindred creatures as community –

God so loves the cosmos.

Beloved Ones, let all of us – of all species –

gather in praise and thanksgiving,

drawn to the Light of Christ. Amen.

Light the Christ Candle

Special Music: “I Love You Earth” Written and performed by 6-year-old singer / songwriter Aiden Adams. Lyrics and Melody by Aiden Adams. Music and Lyrics (C) 2020 Aiden Books

We Rest in God’s Grace

Releasing and Receiving

As Earth Day (April 22) approaches, let us pray with our eyes open, all senses engaged. Gentle your spirit and body. Listen, smell, look, taste, and touch the natural world. Who or what kindly gathers with you today? This is your special prayer partner who also loves God.

With your fellow creature or expression of life, praise God for the beauty of the earth, share gratitude for holy comforts, and lift up concerns for all living beings. Talk with God about your species and what you perceive might be the experience of your earthly friend/s, too. Be honest as you speak with God the Creator. Be open, too. God may be calling you to listen closely to other beings. When you are ready to move on, say “Amen,” with gratitude in your heart.

Silent Prayer

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)

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 

Children often know, quite naturally, how to pray with wild things – a grasshopper on a blade of grass, summer clouds morphing overhead, the haunting hoot of an evening owl. Consider your childhood or time with a precious child. Was there/is there, a special natural place or being, not a human-made place or human being, that was/is safe and life-giving? Remember that place or being. This place, this being, is a vessel of God’s caring love and grace. God’s eternal care always rises throughout the cosmos. It can’t help but do that.

On this 3rd Sunday of Easter, as Earth Day nears, be especially open to how God’s grace is moving through the natural world around you. Notice who or what God has placed near you to lift your spirit, to deepen sacred cross-species bonds, and to balance the flow of life in and through us all. May this grace bless you and ripple out and bless many others. too.

We Listen

Scripture: John 3:16 (NRSV)

The biblical word we translate as “the world” is “κόσμον” (kosmon) – “cosmos” in English. It suggests much more than human community or the planet earth. The cosmos is the eternal reality of living systems. This is what God loves which Christ came to liberate.

(English) For God so loved the world that God gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.

(Koine Greek) Οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ Θεὸς τὸν κόσμον, ὥστε τὸν Υἱὸν τὸν μονογενῆ ἔδωκεν, ἵνα πᾶς ὁ πιστεύων εἰς αὐτὸν μὴ ἀπόληται ἀλλ’ ἔχῃ ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

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

Sermon “Imagine” by The Most Rev. Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church (USA). Sermon for Ecumenical Advocacy Days 2021 (see Reflection) Bishop Curry’s sermon expresses God’s love for all that exists – God’s love of the cosmos – and our role in this divinely beloved reality.

Reflection: “IMAGINE! God’s Earth and People Restored”

No written reflection this week. Please consider participating in Ecumenical Advocacy Days, a virtual event April 18-21, 2021: “IMAGINE! God’s Earth and People Restored”

To register: https://attendify.co/ecumenical-advocacy-days-pbfNWPy

To view recorded sermons and prayers anytime: https://advocacydays.org/worship/

Special Music: “Morning has Broken” Music: Gaelic melody. Arrangement written by Cat Stevens. flautist Vic Norian and guitarist Charles Gregoire. Recorded at Parkdale United Church on June 14, 2010 in Ottawa Canada. (Chalice #53)

We Pray

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

For all the ways this good earth tends our bodies and souls, let us generously support those organizations which tend God’s beloved creations. It may be that your community will be participating in this year’s Church World Service’s (CWS) Crop Hunger Walk, a virtual event in 2021. You are most welcome to join the “Berkeley Chinese Community Church” team – https://events.crophungerwalk.org/2021/search. (also see donation footnote)

We Continue in Hope

*Song: “For the Beauty of the Earth” Words and Music: Folliot S Pierpoint, 1864. Performed by Audrey Assad. Video by
Bob Marshall. Video published Apr 11, 2019. (Chalice #56)

Benediction

Breathing in, imagine the universe.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine our solar system.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine our earth and moon.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine our continent surrounded seas.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine our country, a nation of nations.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine our region, all your living neighbors.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine your loved ones and their homes.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

Breathing in, imagine yourself and your current location.

Breathing out, say: “Peace be with you.”

May the Peace of Christ be with all beings. Amen.

Worship Resources:

(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.

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

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: painting by Clivie Loveless-Newton, ©2020

Online Publishing Date: April 13, 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!

Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTube: “Kathryn Schreiber”

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