worship format and original content: Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021
As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times, as social justice reforms arise, we freely offer this worship content for you to adapt for your needs.
Spiritual Practice: “Broken Crayons” God always calls us forward
Note: please prepare a container of water and empty bowl, as well as a Christ Candle to light for opening and closing rituals.
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
Shift into simply being with God, silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:
Be still and know that I am God. (pause)
Be still and know that I am. (pause)
Be still and know. (pause)
Be still. (pause)
Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”
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.
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.
“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.
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
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)
(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)
(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
Historical and Cultural Resources for 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
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Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!
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