1 Pentecost: “Unbelievable”• Genesis 18:1-15 • Trinity Sunday, Memorial Day Weekend Worship or Devotional

“The Holy Trinity” icon by Andrei Rublev

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.

Spiritual Practice: “3xs Savoring” Shifting from fear to savoring what is life-giving

Worship Service

We Gather

Invocation

Holy One,

please come and surprise us.

Appear as You wish to appear.

Speak as You wish to speak.

Promise as You wish to promise.

Open our new chapter of hope.

Amen.

Light the Christ Candle

*Song: “Abide with Me” Words: HF Lyte, 1847; Music: WH Monk, 1861. Performed by Catholic and Christian Choral Music, Choral Version (SATB) with Lyrics. Video: 2020. (Chalice #636)

We Rest in God’s Grace

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 

We are wonderfully made, but we are limited. Especially our minds. Our brains love to quickly sort all kinds of input and information. Our ideas about God are limited or distorted. “Through a glass dimly,” as St Paul writes (1 Corinthians 13:12), is the nature of human beings’ ability to discern divine reality.

On this Memorial Day weekend as we tenderly recall our dearly departed Loved Ones, we proclaim a faith in the eternal life of the soul. Yet, we can’t really understand such infinite grace – endless being in God’s Big Love. May we lean into the mystery of life after death with faith and hope.  

We Listen

Scripture: Genesis 18:1-15 (The Message)

God appeared to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre while Abraham was sitting at the entrance of his tent. It was the hottest part of the day. He looked up and saw three men standing. Abraham ran from his tent to greet them and bowed before them.

Abraham said, “Master, if it please you, stop for a while with your servant. I’ll get some water so you can wash your feet. Rest under this tree. I’ll get some food to refresh you on your way, since your travels have brought you across my path.”

They said, “Certainly. Go ahead.”

Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah. He said, “Hurry. Get three cups of our best flour; knead it and make bread.”

Then Abraham ran to the cattle pen and picked out a nice plump calf and gave it to the servant who lost no time getting it ready. Then he got curds and milk, brought them with the calf that had been roasted, set the meal before the men, and stood there under the tree while they ate.

The men said to Abraham, “Where is Sarah your wife?”

He said, “In the tent.”

One of them said, “I’m coming back about this time next year. When I arrive, your wife Sarah will have a son.” Sarah was listening at the tent opening, just behind the man.

Abraham and Sarah were old by this time, very old. Sarah was far past the age for having babies. Sarah laughed within herself, “An old woman like me? Get pregnant? With this old man of a husband?”

God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh saying, ‘Me? Have a baby? An old woman like me?’ Is anything too hard for God? I’ll be back about this time next year and Sarah will have a baby.”

Sarah lied. She said, “I didn’t laugh,” because she was afraid.

But he said, “Yes you did; you laughed.”

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

Scripture Reflection Questions:

What parts of the story do you find most surprising?

God arriving as three men?

Abraham’s hospitality?

God proclaiming elder Sarah’s upcoming pregnancy?

Sarah laughing at God?

Sarah lying to God?

God calling her out?

Does this story change the way you think about God?

Sermon: “Unbelievable” God’s unbelievable, fabulous, faithful, ongoing commitment to humanity and a response to Wednesday’s mass shooting in San Jose.

Special Music: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” Written by George Harrison, inspired by the I Ching. Arrangement for ukulele and performance by Jake Shimabukuro.

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Triune God, we praise You in all Your expressions – as the Source of All Life; as the Incarnate Savior; as the Ever-Inspiring Spirit – we turn to You with our questions and convictions about life after death and the holy mystery called “heaven.” We long for a sweet, loving eternal presence with You and those whom we have most deeply loved. Speak to our souls of Your truth. Comfort us. And, help us to open, again, to Your wondrous, unbelievable promises. Amen.

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

On this Memorial Day weekend honor a deceased Love One with a special gift or action made in their memory. Was her favorite color yellow? Plant flowers with yellow blossoms. Were they dedicated to ending hunger? Donate to the local food bank. Was he a servant of peace? Engage in an act of non-violent solidarity. When we embody the best of our deceased loved ones we carry forward their light creating a brighter future for those who will follow us.

We Continue in Hope

*Song: “Holy, Holy, Holy! Lord God Almighty!” Reginald Heber 1826; John B. Dykes 1861 Recording: Concordia Publishing House© 2004. Concordia Publishing House Used by Permission CCLI #521478. Video Created for the Presbyterian Church of Marion, Marion Center PA. (Chalice #4)

Benediction

Excerpt from The Lorica (Latin for “Breastplate”) – a prayer of protection attributed to St Patrick in the 4th century. Patrick noticed the Celtic Irish belief in three as the holiest number. Thus, he often spoke about God as the Trinity – Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit.

May we arise today

Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.

May we rise today

Through a mighty strength, the invocation of the Trinity,
Through a belief in the Threeness,
Through a confession of the Oneness
Of the Creator of creation. (l)

(the service is concluded)

Worship Resources:

(The Message) Copyright © 1993, 2002, 2018 by Eugene H. Peterson. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.

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

(l) The Lorica, attributed to St Patrick of Ireland. For entire prayer: https://www.ewtn.com/catholicism/devotions/lorica-of-saint-patrick-349

COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws changed in early 2021. 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: “The Holy Trinity” icon by Andrei Rublev

Online Publishing Date: May 26, 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”; You

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