4 Pentecost: “The Unmuted Father’s Blessing”• Luke 1:76-79 • Blessing Graduates and Fathering Ones • Worship/Devotional

Photo: Rattana Ngaseppam, Deputy SP from Imphal, Manipur (India) watching as her father proudly checks her promotion stars. Twitter/@AmitHPanchal.

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: “Blessings” Giving and receiving spiritual blessings

We Gather

Call to Worship (inspired by Luke 1:68-75)

Blessed be the God of the Hebrew ancestors –

Who raised up a mighty savior for us.

Blessed be the Still-Speaking God –

Who speaks through the ancient prophets

to save us from those who hate us.

Blessed be the Merciful One –

Who keeps the original covenant

that we might serve in holiness and righteousness

all the days of our lives. Amen.

Lighting the Christ Candle

*Song: “God of Abraham and Sarah” Words and Music: James Curtis Gertmenian, 1986. Recorded at First Congregational Church of Long Beach. Performed by Lisa Bode Heard accompanied by Curtis Heard. (TNCH #20)

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 

Cultural practices create predictable conditions. They give us social structure. For some, these structures ensure safety, for others just the opposite. In patriarchal societies wealth, power, and authority are passed from father to the eldest son. The rite that marked this transfer of status in Jesus’ culture was the paternal blessing, usually given as the father neared death. This verbal contract was like a modern legally binding will.

Prophetic voices have long challenged this practice if it was not merciful or just. Relying upon spiritual alignment with God’s will, prophets question authority roles if they do not serve God’s needs. This is the case in today’s scripture reading.

When Zechariah, a senior Temple priest, is told he and his elder wife will have a child he cannot believe God’s messenger. For his unbelief, God makes Zechariah mute. At least six months later, at the baby’s naming ceremony, Elizabeth proclaims the child’s name – a traditional task done by the baby’s father. Elizabeth acts according to God’s direction, not social custom. Zechariah, mute for half a year, doesn’t object. When he is asked, directly, if this is his will, he writes “His name is John.” The muted father, the elder Temple priest, affirms God’s wisdom in his wife. At this moment God unmutes Zechariah who sings a song of praise to God and a blessing upon his son John.

Sometimes, it takes time for God’s grace to overcome the social barriers we create and perpetuate. However, sometimes, we come around to God’s evolving ways and become a vessel of grace for others. We become prophetic blessers, just like St. Zechariah.

We Listen

Scripture: Luke 1:76-79 (NRSV)

This is the second half of Zechariah’s blessing offered at the naming ceremony of this infant son John. The entire blessing, Luke 1:68-79, is the “Song of Zechariah” or “Benedictus” the opening line of the song in Latin.

This sacred song is a canticle, one of three found in the first two chapters of the Gospel of St Luke. The other two are the “Magnificat/Mary’s Song” Mary’s blessing upon God for fulfilling promises through the gift of the Christ child in her womb, and “Nunc Dimittis/Song of Simeon” Simeon’s blessing upon God for fulfilling promises through the Christ child and the grace of living long enough to witness this wonder.

Zechariah’s canticle blesses God for fulfilling promises to deliver the Hebrew People through a Messiah, and then blesses his son, the prophet, who will proclaim the coming Christ.

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
   for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
to give knowledge of salvation to the people
   by the forgiveness of their sins.
By the tender mercy of our God,
   the dawn from on high will break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
   to guide our feet into the way of peace.

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

Sermon: “The Unmuted Father’s Blessing”A holy man listens and then speaks in blessings

Special Music: “Benedictus” From “The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace” written by Karl Jenkins (Hendon Music Inc/BMI). Performed by Stjepan Hauser, cellist, with Zagreb Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir Zvjezdice Zagreb, October 2017. Elisabeth Fuchs, conductor.

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Still Blessing God, we know we need liberating change. When we cannot believe the wondrous dreams You have for us, stop us in our tracks. When our practices of tradition prevent Your miracles from verbally flowing, mute us. When we have been called to watch and consider, may we be like St. Zechariah – open to the wisdom and hope of those around us who celebrate Your liberating dreams for humanity. And, if it be Your will, grant to us not only a return of speech, but new words of blessing to speak. Amen.

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Bless

Offering

Bless someone. Use the wisdom and power God has given you to say a living word over someone who needs to be lifted up. Now then, do this work from a place of humility and consideration. Do not use a blessing to promote yourself or your role. Listen, quietly, in the chapel of your heart. Who is God inviting you to affirm? Maybe, like Zechariah, God will ask you to write an affirmation of words spoken by others. Maybe, it will be to speak new affirmations upon the prophetic ones in your family?

Blessing Upon Graduates and Our Fathering Ones

Recognizing our Graduates

Please share the names and news of those completing academic programs, regardless of age. Let us speak their names… (speak their names)

Blessing Upon Graduates

If a graduate is in the room with you, and it is appropriate, lay hands on them. If not, you may

wish to hold their photo or place your hand upon your heart.

Dear beautiful Child of God,

May you pause to be grateful for each person who made this achievement possible; May you understand the great gift you’ve been given. May you find many noble uses for your education; May it be a key to open doors — for others, as well as for yourself. May you always know the difference between knowledge and wisdom; May you value and seek each. Amen.

Recognizing our Fathering Ones

Call to mind your father, or fathering ones, — men who have mentored and called you into being. Let us speak their names… (speak their names)

Blessing Upon our Fathering Ones

If your Fathering One is in the room with you, and it is appropriate, lay hands on them. If not, you may wish to hold their photo or place your hand upon your heart.

Dear beautiful Fathering Ones,

May you feel our affection and support for you and in your critical role as a Fathering One, however that role came to you and however you live it out. May you never forget that you are always in the care and support of The Father, the Eternal Parent – God. May you be blessed with self-forgiveness and inner strength, wisdom and patience, a sense of humor and all other gifts of grace flowing from The Holy One. Amen.

Blessing Upon Everyone (unison, ask folks to repeat)

We bless you in the name of God the Creator!

We bless you in the name of Jesus Christ!

We bless you in the name of the Holy Spirit! Amen!

We Continue in Hope

Special Music: “The Blessing” (kids) Performed by children from the UK, USA, NZ, AUS, SA and many other nations, All Stars Kids Club. Song written by Steven Furtick, Chris Brown, Kari Jobe, Cody Carnes ©2020 Music by Elevation Worship Publishing, Capitol CMG Paragon / Writers Roof Publishing, Worship Together Music / Kari Jobe Carnes Music CCLI #: 7147007.

Benediction

May the God of Elizabeth, Zechariah, and John, bless YOU!

May the God who quiets our disbelief and who encourages the prophets, bless YOU!

May the God of dawning light who guides our feet in the way of peace, bless YOU!

Amen.

(the service is concluded)

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.

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: Rattana Ngaseppam, Deputy SP from Imphal, Manipur (India) watching as her father proudly checks her promotion stars. Twitter/@AmitHPanchal.

Online Publishing Date: June 16, 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”

3 Pentecost: “Juneteenth”• Isaiah 30:25-26 • Worship/Devotional

Online Image: “Juneteenth” by Arthouse

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

Spiritual Practice: “Broken Crayons” God always calls us forward

Worship Service

Note: please prepare a container of water and empty bowl, as well as a Christ Candle to light for opening and closing rituals.

We Gather

Invocation

Holy One, we call down Your binding waters… (pour water into a bowl)

Holy One, we call down Your healing light…      (light the Christ Candle)

Be with us, for the well-being of all beings. Amen.

Special Music: “Come This Far by Faith” Words and music by Albert A. Goodson, 1956. Gospel anthem by Manna Music III, 1963. Performed by Celebrate New Life Tabernacle, 2014. In some Black churches this song is sung as members process into the sanctuary for worship.

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 

I am a white woman who grew up in the Deep South. As a child of the 1960’s I was amazed by the faith of my neighbors who were regularly targeted by deadly hatred. “How?” I often asked my grandmother, “How can anyone have faith in God and such deep commitment to moral action in the face of such evil?”

She showed me the answer by introducing me to people of faith and courage who believed in God’s endless goodness, who worked to build God’s Dream of humanity. She also taught me the power of surrendering to God – releasing personal, ego-driven outcome in order to serve God’s bigger plan.

It is by God’s grace that any of us have come this far, much less those who have survived the Valley of the Shadow of Death. On this Juneteenth weekend, let us honor and respect our siblings of African descent and their faith in God’s redemptive powers. May all of us have the humility and courage to ask God to heal our wounds.

We Listen

Scripture: Isaiah 30:25-26 (NRSV)

On every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water—on a day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover, the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days, on the day when the Lord binds up the injuries of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

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

Modern Quote:

“Every year we must remind successive generations that this event triggered a series of events that one by one defines the challenges and responsibilities of successive generations. That’s why we need this holiday [Juneteenth].” — Rep. Al Edwards of Houston

Sermon: “This Far by Faith” Juneteenth — an ongoing celebration of human dignity, resilience, and faith

Special Music: “Lift Every Voice and Sing” Written by James Weldon Johnson. Arrangement by Kirk Franklin. Performed by Kansas Ave. SDA Church Praise Team.

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Note: This prayer is a very slight adaptation of the last verse of James Weldon Johnson’s beloved anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

“God of our weary years, God of our silent tears, God who has brought us this far along the way; God who by Your might led us into the light, keep us forever in the path, we pray. Lest our feet stray from the places, O God, where we meet You; lest our hearts drunk from the world, we forget You; shadowed beneath Your hand, may we forever stand, true to our God, true to our native land.” Amen. (jwj)

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

Let us be profoundly thankful for all who went before us who carried God’s Dream through the nightmare times. Let us honor their anonymous dignity and courage, faith and hope. Let us embody their life-giving ways by sharing dignity and courage, faith and hope with others. On Juneteenth, let us share smiles and words of affirmation, meals and commitments to just action. In it all, let us celebrate what God has done and is doing.

We Continue in Hope

Song: “Siyahamba” (We Are Marching in the Light of God) Zulu Traditional Folksong. Performed by: Angel City Chorale and the Amy Foundation Choir on Juneteenth 2019.  Conductor: Richard Sibakhulu Mbovane. (Chalice #442)

Benediction

(lift up the bowl of water)… May sacred waters flow down, filling neighborhood brooks with what is needed to bind all injuries.

(lift up the Christ Candle)… May holy light be magnified, illuminating paths toward redemptive healing within our communities.

May the Peace of Christ, that transcends all mortal understanding, bless us this day and forevermore. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

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.

(jwj) James Weldon Johnson, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (Chalice #631)

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

Worship Resources for Juneteenth

https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/juneteenth-day-worship-resources

https://www.diowestmo.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/3179590

stjamesaustin.org/a-juneteenth-syllabus-for-st-james/

Historical and Cultural Resources for Juneteenth

youtu.be/dIi_53jihMM

firstnamebasis.libsyn.com/218-what-is-juneteenth

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/african-americans-many-rivers-to-cross/history/what-is-juneteenth/

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: “Juneteenth” by Arthouse

Online Publishing Date: June 8, 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”

2 Pentecost: “Wonderfully Made”• Psalm 139:14 • Worship/Devotional

artwork by Velasquez, New York Times, 2017

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: “What’s Safe?” Listening to our inner knowing

Worship Service

We Gather

Invocation

When I look in the mirror, Source of My Being,

may I hear You saying: “You are wonderfully made.”

When I gaze upon a beloved one, Parent of All,

may I join You in saying: “You are wonderfully made.”

When I see someone who scares me, Most Merciful One,

may I find the courage to say: “You are wonderfully made.”

Amen.

Light the Christ Candle

*Song: “Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee” Words: H van Dyke; Music: L van Beethoven; Performer: Collin Raye (Chalice #2). Presented by Heath End Church, 2020.

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 

Each living being is precious to the Creator. Jesus Christ came, walked, and taught among us teaching us to love one another. He embodied this Big Love, personally and specifically, by loving each person he met regardless of their religion or political views, their gender identity or ethnic group, their age, ability, or personality. Such openness is truly radical!

We mortals struggle to live such inclusivity and respect. That’s where God’s grace comes in. We can’t build new platforms of love in our hearts ourselves. God does that. What we can do is invite God to change us. Once we open the door to God’s renovations, new mercies and graces will flow, especially in experiencing our own essential belovedness and that of others.

We Listen

Scripture: Psalm 139:14 (NRSV)

This beautiful psalm of praise for God’s cosmic, intimate concern for each person includes the beautiful statement below. You may wish to read the entire psalm and spend private time reflecting God profound love for you, for all of us.

I praise You, for I am reverently and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are Your works; that I know very well.

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

Message: “A Celebration of the AA and NHPI Community: Highlighting Our Diverse Tapestry” In lieu of a sermon this week, please watch this wonderful program from the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), and PBS which aired on May 31, 2021. In honor of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) Heritage Month, celebrity guests and other AANHPI leaders from across the US lift up messages to cherish the dignity of all persons and the diversity of our beautiful communities.

Special Music: “Calvary Ostinato” from Lamentations/Black/Folk Song Suite Written by Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson. Performed by Yo-Yo Ma for “A Celebration of the AA and NHPI Community: Highlighting Our Diverse Tapestry.” (see video above, performance begins 20:58, ends 23:58)

We Celebrate Holy Communion

Invitation

One Table — one cosmic, eternal, ever-available Table! This is God’s Table! No matter who you are, no matter where you are on life’s journey — you, just as you are — are welcome here!

Gathering Souls

Let us speak the names of those persons, living or dead, who are not present with us in person, yet present in our thoughts and prayers. Let us be gathered together: (speak their names)

Consecration Invitation and Prayer

(BCCC folks, please use your Pentecost-blessed crackers and juice)

Lay hands on your bread and cup. Our prayer asks the Holy Spirit to move among us and fill our household items with sacred presence:

Sharing the Elements (elements will be consumed after words of institution)

When Jesus gathered his disciples to The Table welcoming them body and soul. He loved these people as unique persons woven together by a shared passion for God’s unfolding blessings.

Jesus lifted up the loaf,

proclaiming this physical, living food

was also his presence.

Jesus thanked God for the bread and he broke it,

and gave it to his beloved friends, saying:

“Take, eat.

This is my Body,

which is given for you.

Do this in remembrance of me.”

Jesus offered his body to his friends.

After super, Jesus lifted up the cup,

proclaiming this physical, living drink

was also his presence.

Jesus thanked God for the wine,

and gave it to his friends, 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.”

Jesus offered his blood to his friends.

We who are friends of Christ are called to remember Jesus Christ’s embodied sacrifice and on-going gift of forgiveness. Let us receive these symbols of divine care and healing. (eat and drink)

Prayer of Thanksgiving

We praise You, Almighty God, for we are wonderfully made. Through Jesus Christ, we are wonderfully liberated from human failings and misdeeds. We rejoice in the blessing of this Holy Communion and the many graces yet to come. Amen.

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Amazing God, Source of All Peoples, we delight that You have made humanity so carefully. We celebrate our ultimate universality as well as our specific diversities of identity. Help us to savor Your personal love for us that we might grow in our love for others. Grant unto all people a righteous pride in our ancestry and personal self-knowing. May everyone know Your healing, saving, uplifting love as it manifests in our very bodies and bloodlines. May all be well and live in dignity together. Amen.

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Give Thanks

Offering

This week we give thanks for the communities that help us to celebrate a healthy pride in our selves. While AANHPI (Asian American, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander) Month has officially ended, racial dangers and concerns are still with us. May we support organizations that help us feel safe and strong, protected and empowered.

We Continue in Hope

*Song: “Diverse in Culture, Nation, Race” Music by Thomas Tallis, 1561. Lyrics by Ruth Duck, 1991. Performed by RU Sanctuary Choir. (Chalice #485)

Benediction

I am wonderfully made. (repeat)

You are wonderfully made. (repeat)

We are wonderfully made. (repeat)

Let us continue repeat these three blessings often, giving mortal voice to God’s original blessings. May Sacred Peace grow within us, among us, beyond us. Amen.

(the service is concluded)

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.

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: by Velasquez for the New York Times, 2017.

Online Publishing Date: June 3, 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”