“After the Red Sea parted, the Hebrews turned to watch the walls of water covering the Pharoah’s horsemen and chariots. And Moses turned to God to thank God, but saw that God was crying. ‘Why are you crying, oh Lord?’ Moses asked, and God answered, ‘Those were my children, too.’” — Anne Lamont
Holy One, we are bold today: We ask to become vessels holding Your tears. May we step down from our righteous pedestals of heroic nationalism and social justice passion to simply sit still and grieve with You, The One who collects all mortal tears. Amen.
Lighting the Christ Candle (liturgist)
Welcoming Those Not Physically Present (pastor lights votives)
Passing the Peace Wave or bow, offer joyful gestures and words of peace to one another: “Peace be with You.”
We Rest in God’s Grace
Prayer and Silence
Let us shift into silence in God’s presence. This simple prayer is based on Psalm 46:10.
Be still and know that I am God. (Breathe slowly)
Be still and know that I am. (Breathe slowly)
Be still and know. (Breathe slowly)
Be still. (Breathe slowly)
Be. (Breathe slowly)
(Breathe in silence) Amen.
Words of Assurance (pastor)
Whatever is in our hearts, whatever is true for our bodies, whatever thoughts steal our attention, whatever states of peace or non-peace rule our souls – no matter what – we are eternally held by God’s unfathomable love. Let the assurance of this grace be like water quenching whatever is thirsty in you today. May God’s unimaginable compassion and endless affection be for each of us, a holy wave nurturing us, healing us. Amen.
Scripture: Psalm 56: 1-4, 8-11; Matthew 5: 43-45 (CEB)
God, have mercy on me because I’m being trampled.
All day long the enemy oppresses me.
My attackers trample me all day long
because I have so many enemies.
Exalted one, whenever I’m afraid,
I put my trust in You—
in God, whose word I praise.
I trust in God; I won’t be afraid.
What can mere flesh do to me?
You Yourself have kept track of my misery.
Put my tears into Your bottle—
aren’t they on Your scroll already?
Then my enemies will retreat when I cry out.
I know this because God is mine.
God: whose word I praise.
The Lord: whose word I praise.
I trust in God; I won’t be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?
Jesus spoke to them, saying: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You must love your neighbor and hate your enemy,’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who harass you so that you will be acting as children of your Father who is in heaven. God makes the sun rise on both the evil and the good and sends rain on both the righteous and the unrighteous.”
May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.
Sermon “God’s Tears” Twenty years ago on September 11th 2001 commercial planes were hijacked to become weapons of destructive terror. Pastor Kathryn ponders God’s response to the US “War on Terror” that followed and how we might go forward. (live sermon)
On this significant anniversary, we name the ugly truth that hating our enemies increasingly makes us their enemies, too, perpetuating a cycle of violence.
Beloved Jesus Christ, guide us as we strive, again, to enter the way of non-violence, the way of loving those we want to hate. We pray for the grace to shed another layer of caustic dualism that keeps us at war with others around the world, those closer to home, and even in the embattled parts of our own psyches. Have mercy upon us, most gracious Christ.
Weep with us as we name the painful truth that our suffering has too often become suffering for others. Continue to blanket us under one sunrise, under one rainfall filling us with the grace of meeting each other as neighbors. May it be so. Amen.
Prayers of the People, Private Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer
Offering of Praise “Doxology” (musician)
Let us collectively offer praise to God by silently or softly singing. Please use the donation basket or mail your donations to the church or directly to Treasurer Diane Huie.
We Continue in Hope
We move outside taking our water/s with us. Assemble, spaced apart, around the table with the large, empty bowl.
Invitation to Gather the Waters (water collected or commemorating special times)
On the second day of Creation God separated the waters above and the waters below. As the Hebrews fled Egyptian slavery God parted the great Red Sea. The Prophets of old proclaimed divine justice rolling down like mighty waters. God’s Beloved Son was prepared and blessed in the sacred River Jordan. Jesus’ first miracle, at the wedding in Canna, turned water into very good wine. And when Jesus offered up his body his beloved ones wept.
We continue to trust The One who sends rain upon the good and the evil; the Eternal God who counts and wipes away each mortal tear; the Author of Life who created each human sixty percent water.
Today, we Gather the Waters – sharing our joys and hopes. Please come forward, tell us about your water or offer a word of hope. As you pour, we will say, “God, bless this water.”
Blessing the Gathered Waters
Creating this communal water is an act of community, commitment, and hope. “Our” water becomes “holy” water when we call God’s presence via the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray: Holy God, we call Your Holy Spirit into these gathered waters and into us as we stand together in shared affection and hope. Bless us and this water. May we be used to bless many. Amen.
Benediction (pastor flings blessed water)
May the God who collects each fallen tear,
May the God who sends rain upon one and all,
May the God who eternally sustains all living beings,
Grant us peace and hope, love and courage. Amen.
The service is concluded.
(CEB) Common English Bible, online. Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.
(al) Anne Lamont in All New People, p 110
(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.
Valarie Kaur, UCC Synod Keynote 2021: https://www.ucc.org/keynoter-valarie-kaur-challenges-ucc-to-chart-a-revolutionary-love/ and her interview on The Takeaway 9/10/2021
Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer”
UCC Officers 9/11 message: https://www.ucc.org/ucc-officers-pray-for-healing-understanding-unity-in-love-on-9-11-anniversary/?inf_contact_key=138913e8267eb03a1ed2089f80a259ccf651f238aa2edbb9c8b7cff03e0b16a0
Mark Twain’s “The War Prayer”
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 Publishing Date: September 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!
For Online Content: Please see Facebook pages: “Berkeley Chinese Community Church” and “Living Liturgies”; as well as my website: www.inthebiglove.com and YouTube channel: “Kathryn Schreiber”