6 Pentecost: “Singing Freedom” with Holy Communion • Acts 16:16-26

Photo by Joe Alper, 1960’s Freedom Singers

worship format and original contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

Format Shifts

As vaccinations spread, we are alternating between in-person and at-home worship options – staying flexible, more than meeting public health requirements. Thus, formats may change as needed for the church I serve. We continue to freely share our materials for use during the pandemic. If you’re sharing this content with a group, please see “Permission” and “Donation for Use of Content” comments at the end of this document. Thank you and God Bless!

For the BCCC Community

This Sunday’s worship service will be on ZOOM for July 4th Holy Communion. Next Sunday we’ll attend UCC National General Synod Opening Worship Service online.

We Gather

“We who believe in freedom cannot rest until it comes.” – lyrics from “Ella’s Song” by Bernice Johnson Reagon

Invocation (Psalm 150, adapted LTP)

Praise! Praise God in the temple, in the highest heavens! Praise God!

Praise! Praise God’s mighty deeds and noble majesty. Praise God!

Praise! Praise God with trumpet blasts, with lute and harp! Praise God!

Praise! Praise God with timbrel and dance, with strings and pipes! Praise God!

Praise! Praise God with crashing cymbals, with ringing cymbals! Praise God!

All that is alive, praise! Praise God! Hallelujah! Praise God! Amen.

Lighting the Christ Candle

“Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Round” Performing Arts Academy’s Elite Ensemble youth celebrate the 60th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides. SCAN-Harbor’s Executive Director, Lew Zuchman, an original Freedom Rider, also appears in the video. 2021.

We Rest in God’s Grace

Prayer for Becoming (seated; unison prayer led by liturgist)

Holy One, we continue to sing Your praises in new places during this pandemic journey. We continue to lift up divine adoration in new ways to protect the lives of our fellow mortal beings. We are learning that, sometimes, singing together in a holy, enclosed room can be dangerous.

This Independence Day Weekend, Faithful One, call us to notice that, sometimes, singing together in a holy, restricted place can be powerful. Show us that the love we lift up to You falls down upon humanity liberating bodies and souls. May we sing, however we can, wherever it is safe to do so, speaking Your language of truth and hope for the wellbeing of all. Amen.

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. (pause)

Be still and know. (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.”

Words of Assurance

Eternity rings with the sound of God’s endless love. May that holy song resonate within you, blessing you, healing you, empowering to do the same. Amen.

We Listen

Scripture: Acts 16:16-26(NRSV) “Paul and Silas in Prison”

One day, as we were going to the place of prayer, we met a slave-girl who had a spirit of divination. She brought her owners a great deal of money by fortune-telling. While she followed Paul and us, she would cry out, “These men are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.” She kept doing this for many days.

But Paul, very much annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I order you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And it came out that very hour.

But when her owners saw that their hope of making money was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the market-place before the authorities.

When they had brought Silas and Paul before the magistrates, they said, “These men are disturbing our city; they are Jews and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us as Romans to adopt or observe.

The crowd joined in attacking them, and the magistrates had them stripped of their clothing and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After they had given them a severe flogging, they threw them into prison and ordered the jailer to keep them securely. 

Following these instructions, the jailer put them in the innermost cell and fastened their feet in the stocks. 

About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them. Suddenly there was an earthquake, so violent that the foundations of the prison were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone’s chains were unfastened!

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

Sermon “Singing Freedom”

Gotta Sing

Sometimes, when you’re doing a good thing, you get arrested because somebody wants to quiet your voice. Sometimes, when you’re locked up in the innermost cell, and you get to praying and singing — somebody wants to quiet your voice because you’re poking on somebody’s conscious. Sometimes, when you’re singing in jail, your sung faith encourages someone. Even if somebody else wants to quiet your voice, your song can set someone free!

What Paul and Silas learned in jail – Singing Freedom – others learned in jails and other dark places during Freedom Summer in 1961 as young people – “Freedom Riders” black and white – female and male – rode buses throughout the Deep South to challenge designation laws. Today, on the 60th anniversary of that summer, we lift up their voices giving their testimonies to the power of sung faith to liberate all manner of chains of bondage.

Singing Courage

In 2019, at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, there was a reunion of Freedom Riders of the Civil Rights, including members of the Carlton Reese Memorial Choir.

“The music was the inspiration. It gave the people a lot of courage that they didn’t think they had,” said Eloise Gaffney, choir director. She quickly “found a place in the movement” saying, “When we were talking about ‘We ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around,’ it kind of just fired [us] up. And it was Martin King that was the one that said this choir can sing them out of their seats and into the streets.”

Annie B. Levison, another longtime choir member, said that people came to the church to hear the preaching and the teaching, but also the singing. “You know how when you start singing in your church, and you know how it just catches on fire, well everybody would catch on fire, and when they get on fire and the Lord is just dwelling inside of them — they’re ready… that’s what you had to do. Get them on fire. And when the fire starts burning all over, they’re going to run. So, where’ you going to run to? You’re going to run out to the people and say: ‘Let’s get free. Let’s get free!’” (Annie B. Levison)

“There were influential ministers who preached power from the pulpits, but it was the church choirs of the Civil Rights era that gave the people a soundtrack that stirred them into the streets to stand up for their rights. “The movement was filled with music, freedom songs and old gospel standbys born from the souls and spirits of black folks and [their] struggles. So many of these songs also became the life-blood of the Freedom Riders, who braved heaps of brutality along interstate highways throughout the Deep South during the Freedom Rides of 1961.” (unnamed Huffpost reporter)

Singing in Parchman

In May of 1961, as Freedom Riders crossed into Mississippi “a group of nine men entered a white only waiting room in Jackson, Mississippi and were arrested. They were sent to notorious Parchman Prison and continued their protest from inside.” (PBS)

“Music was just as important as learning about nonviolence,” said Ernest “Rip” Patton, one of the original Freedom Riders. “Music brought us together — we can’t all talk at the same time, but we can all sing at the same time. It gives you that spiritual feeling. It was like our glue.”

“Singing was a way of releasing tension, so we did a lot of singing. A lot of the songs came from old spirituals, they just changed the words to fit whatever was going on at that time.” (Ernest “Rip” Patton)

“Ain’t gonna let no body turn me around,

Turn me around, turn me around,

Ain’t gonna let no body turn me around,

I’m gonna keep on a walking, keep on a talking,

walking up the King’s Highway.” 

Recalling being in Parchman Prison Congressman John Lewis, may he rest in power, remembered: “You get to the prison and a guard comes out with this rifle drawn, and he says something like, ‘Sing your (bleep) Freedom Songs now! Sing your (bleep) Freedom Songs now!’”

Hank Thomas recalled, “Because I wouldn’t stop singing, I got put in solitary confinement three different times.”

Being separated was hard. Rip Patton, told this story: “We had a small group in our jail cell and we had a quartet, and we would sing to the ladies late at night when things were quiet… “The reason for that singing, was, to let them know that we were okay. And then they would sing back to us and let us know they were okay.” (Ernest “Rip” Patton)

One of the young women who sang back was Joan Mulholland: “You could hear each other back and forth; you felt a little bit in touch. But if they wanted to stop our singing or control our behavior, [the prison guards] would take the mattresses…”

Bernard Lafayette, Jr. tells more of the story: “And we’d sing: ‘You can take our mattress, O Yes… You can take our mattress, O Yes…’ And we’d start piling up the mattresses at the door so they wouldn’t have any problem, so, we were with the program, but we were still going to sing. And we continued to sing… Music put us in harmony with each other. And it gave us support for each other; And we relished the opportunity. Even if you didn’t have a great voice it didn’t matter – you could hum. So, everybody could sing.” (Bernard Lafayette, Jr.)

Congressman John Lewis reflected, “Singing the music became a powerful nonviolent instrument. And I’ve often said, without music, without the singing, we would have lost a sense of solidarity. It gave us hope in a time of hopelessness.”

Sometimes, when you’re doing a good thing, you get arrested because somebody wants to quiet your voice. Sometimes, when you’re locked up in the innermost cell, and you get to praying and singing – somebody really wants to quiet your voice because you’re poking on somebody’s conscious. Sometimes, when you’re singing in jail, your sung faith encourages someone, even if somebody else wants to quiet your voice. Your song can set someone free!

Singing at Highlander

One of the places where the music of the Civil Rights movement was taught and written was the Highlander Folk School outside of Knoxville, Tennessee. “African American spirituals, gospel, and folk music all played an important role in the Civil Rights Movement. Singers and musicians collaborated with ethnomusicologists and song collectors to disseminate songs to activists, both at large meetings and through publications. They sang these songs for multiple purposes: to motivate them through long marches, for psychological strength against harassment and brutality, and sometimes to simply pass the time when waiting for something to happen.” (Library of Congress)

Jamila Jones attended Highlander Folk School in 1958. She was a teenager, there to learn non-violence activism. Jones recalls a frightening evening: “Highlander was raided by the police, who shut off all the lights in the building.” She found the strength to sing out into the darkness, adding a new verse to the song, “We Shall Overcome.” Jones began singing, “We are not afraid… We are not afraid…”

Jones explains, “And we got louder and louder … singing that verse, until one of the policemen came and he said to me, ‘If you have to sing,’ and he was actually shaking, ‘do you have to sing so loud?’ … I could not believe it. Here these people had all the guns, the billy-clubs, the power, we thought. And he was asking me, with a shake, if I would not sing so loud. And it was that time that I really understood the power of our music.” (Library of Congress)

Conclusion

Sometimes, when you’re doing a good thing, you get arrested or harassed because somebody wants to quiet your voice. Sometimes, when you’re locked down by imposed darkness, and you get to praying and singing — somebody really wants to quiet your voice because you’re poking on somebody’s conscious. Sometimes, when you’re singing in prison, your sung faith encourages someone, even if somebody else wants to quiet your voice. Your song can set someone free for generations to come!

May Paul and Silas, and all the freedom singers sing: “A-AMEN!”

Special Music: “Oh Freedom!” Performed by The Golden Gospel Singers. Album: A Cappella Praise. Licensed to YouTube by Instant Music Licensing (on behalf of Blue Flame LC-08593); Polaris Hub AB, LatinAutorPerf, ASCAP, Muserk Rights Management, and 8 Music Rights Societies

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Chain-breaking God, when we are imprisoned in mean, dark places may songs of faith rise up in us, granting us the strength to carry on, building us up into a stronger community. Today, we remember people who are unfairly incarcerated. May the memory of Paul and Silas empower us to seek freedom for all. Amen.

Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer

We Celebrate of Holy Communion

Invitation

Welcome, welcome, singers of songs of hope and faith!

Welcome, welcome, all who praise the Living, Liberating God!

Welcome, welcome as we lift up our hearts to be fed and forgiven!

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)

Beloved God, we lay our hands on these items as did Jesus Christ. May Your Holy Spirit move through us filling these humble elements infusing them and us with Your courageous wisdom and freeing compassion. Amen.

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

Whenever the disciples went out, they went out two by two, just as Jesus had taught them to do. Paul and Silas, together, shared the Good News of God’s never-ending Love for us, offering mercy bridges to reconnect what had been broken.

Whenever the disciples came in, they came together around a shared table, just as Jesus had taught them to do. Today, we gather with Paul and Silas, and the heavenly Freedom Riders. United, may we receive this mercy bridge – Christ’s generosity and forgiveness.

Jesus lifted up the loaf, offering his body to them. 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.”

After super, Jesus lifted up the cup, offering his forgiveness to them. 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.”

We share this freedom meal with those locked away in jails and prisons of all types; those who are far from home or lonely; those who are doing God’s work wherever they are; those who are hungry for freedom and justice, compassion and care for all beings.

(eat and drink)

Prayer of Thanksgiving

Amazing God, it is You who calls us into and through life. You call us up and over obstacles. You invite us to bend a knee and confess our wrong-doings. You anoint us with forgiveness planting seeds of Your mercy in our own hearts. Thank You. Thank You. Amen.

We Give

Offering

During these special times sacred music of all types helps us be honest, healthy, strong, and hopeful. This week, let us take time to thank and support the musicians and singers, songwriters and sound technicians who have made it possible to sing even when we have not been able to sing together. Thank you!

We Continue in Hope

Song: “We Shall Overcome” arr. Robert T. Gibson © 2019 Walton Music Corp., a Division of GIA Publications, Inc. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Performed by The Aeolians of Oakwood University. Soloist, Chad Lupoe. Premiered Apr 11, 2020. (song begins at 1:07)

Benediction

There is no time, there is no place, there is no condition which is not ripe to sing triumphantly of God and God’s dream for humanity. Let us keep on singing, inspired by the faith of The Freedom Riders. Peace, be with 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.

(ltp) Liturgical Training Press, The Psalter

Sermon Resources:

This sermon was originally delivered on the 7th Sunday of Easter, June 2, 2019, at First Congregational Church of Martinez, UCC by Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber.

https://www.pbs.org/video/freedom-riders-parchman-prison-x9xm4l/

http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahshow/freedom-riders-jail-songs-in-parchman-prison-video  

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/gospel-and-the-freedom-ri_n_868299

https://www.loc.gov/collections/civil-rights-history-project/articles-and-essays/music-in-the-civil-rights-movement/

https://www.thenation.com/article/top-ten-civil-rights-songs/

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:  Photo by Joe Alper, 1960’s Freedom Singers

Online Publishing Date: June 29, 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”

5 Pentecost: “Together”• Psalm 133 & Romans 12:9-13

Photo by John Gillespie, ©2015. United Nations visitors viewing mosaic of Norman Rockwell’s painting “Golden Rule.”

worship format and original contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021

Format Shifts

As vaccinations spread, we are alternating between in-person and at-home worship options – staying flexible, more than meeting public health requirements. Thus, formats may change as needed for the church I serve. We continue to freely share our materials for use during the pandemic. If you’re sharing this content with a group, please see “Permission” and “Donation for Use of Content” comments at the end of this document. Thank you and God Bless!

For the BCCC Community

This Sunday’s worship service will be in-person! Back on ZOOM for July 4th Holy Communion.

Prepare for Sunday Worship Service:

*Watch UCC music video “I Will Sing of Your Love Love Love” Written by Christopher Grundy. (see below)

*(maybe) Print this document or view on your device during worship

*(maybe) Bring offering for outdoor collection (no indoor offering time)

*(maybe) Make plans to share lunch with friends and family after worship

*Remember public health safety protocols: if sick, please stay home; always wear mask; follow ushers and keep distances; no indoor singing or group speaking

*Send Pastor Kathryn your prayer requests by Saturday evening 6/26 8pm

5 Pentecost Sunday Morning Worship Service 6/27/2021

(inside reconfigured sanctuary)

We Gather

Please follow ushers’ instructions upon entering the sanctuary. Please wear a mask.

Prelude (live)

Welcome

Words of Welcome; Land Acknowledgment

We are gathering on Lisjan (Ohlone) Territory, Village of Huchiun. We are very blessed to be near the West Berkeley Shell Mound Sacred Site beside Strawberry Creek, a sacred place for over 5,500 years. (wbs)

This is our second in-person service since March 2020, taking place two days after the 64th Anniversary of the formation of the United Church of Christ. Let us gather with the UCC Cloud of Witnesses as we call the presence of the Triune God:

Invocation “The United Church of Christ Statement of Faith” (doxology read by liturgist)

We believe in you, O God, Eternal Spirit, God of our Savior Jesus Christ and our God, and to Your deeds we testify:

You call the worlds into being, create persons in Your own image, and set before each one the ways of life and death. You seek in holy love to save all people from aimlessness and sin. You judge people and nations by Your righteous will declared through prophets and apostles.

In Jesus Christ, the man of Nazareth, our crucified and risen Savior, You have come to us and shared our common lot, conquering sin and death and reconciling the world to Yourself.

You bestow upon us Your Holy Spirit, creating and renewing the church of Jesus Christ, binding in covenant faithful people of all ages, tongues, and races. You call us into Your church to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to be Your servants in the service of others, to proclaim the gospel to all the world and resist the powers of evil, to share in Christ’s baptism and eat at His table, to join Him in His passion and victory.

You promise to all who trust You forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, Your presence in trial and rejoicing, and eternal life in Your realm which has no end. Blessing and honor, glory and power be unto you. Amen. (ucc)

Lighting the Christ Candle

Welcoming Those Not Present

Let our hearts and minds fill with our loved ones and friends who are unable to gather today or who dwell, eternally, in heaven. All say, “Join us.” (light votive candles)

Passing the Peace

Remain in place and turn to one another with joyful gestures and soft-spoken words of peace. All say, gently, “Peace be with You” (exchanged distanced greetings)

Community Prayer “We Need One Another” by George Odell (all seated; read by Pastor)

We need one another when we mourn and would be comforted… when we are in trouble and afraid… when we despair, in temptation, and need to be recalled to our best selves again.

We need one another when we would accomplish some great purpose, and cannot do it alone… in the hour of our successes, when we look for someone to share our triumphs [and] in the hour of our defeat when with encouragement we might endure and stand again.

We need one another when we come to die, and would have gentle hands prepare us for the journey.  All our lives we are in need, and others are in need of us. (go)

*Song: “I Will Sing of Your Love Love Love” Written by Christopher Grundy. Official theme song for the UCC’s “Three Great Loves.” (c) 2018 Hand and Soil Music. CCLI #7109567 https://www.uccfiles.com/mp4/3GL-Music-Video.mp4

We Listen

Scripture: Psalm 133 and Romans 12:9-13 (NRSV)

Psalm 133

How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
life for evermore.

Romans 12:9-13

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers.

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

Sermon: “Together” Delivered live, in person on 6/27/2020. A recording will post on our Facebook page “Berkeley Chinese Community Church” shortly afterward.

Special Music (live)

We Pray

Pastoral Prayer

Author of All Life, Light, and Love, You have perfectly designed us to be connected – connected to You and all the everlasting beings, connected to our neighbors of all species living on Earth, connected to the wondrous pulse of being in our own souls. Whenever outside or inner voices suggest we are alone, only fit to be by ourselves, call us up and into connection, call us to our fullness of being, just as You designed. Amen.

Prayers of the People

No spoken prayer requests in the sanctuary. Please send prayer requests to Pastor Kathryn.

The Lord’s Prayer

Doxology (We are not passing collection plates; instead let us continue to offer praise for the God we serve. All are invited to sing silently or softly.)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise God all creatures here below.

Praise God above ye heavenly hosts.

Creator, Christ, and Holy Ghost.

Amen.

We Go Forward in Hope

Recognizing Graduates (in person)

Announcements

Benediction

Postlude (live)

Please follow ushers’ instructions upon exiting the sanctuary. Please wear a mask.

(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.

(go) George Odell

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

(wbs) https://shellmound.org/

(ucc) UCC Statement of Faith in all formats: https://www.ucc.org/what-we-believe/worship/statement-of-faith/

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: Photo by John Gillespie, ©2015. United Nations visitors viewing mosaic of Norman Rockwell’s painting “Golden Rule.”

Online Publishing Date: June 23, 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”

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”