In mid-March 2020 when we were all sent to our homes to shelter in place the only way I knew to serve my community — the local church I serve and the larger community of faith which holds me in a net of care — was to use my website to post weekly at-home worship materials. It was a creative spiritual challenge to re-frame worship from an in-person site-specific event to one that would be “in the cloud” and used whenever and however needed.
Since then, the congregation I serve has found our way back to a new normal, weekly worshipping in our building. During the pandemic, as we cut staff and new needs arose, my role shifted, including taking on a lot of work I’d never done before — true for so many, right?
Honestly, my ministry workload has been “too much for too long” — a condition I know many of my fellow servant-workers feel. And, honestly, it has been tough to know what to release. This week, with the help of my church’s lay leadership, we decided to step back to pre-online presence ministry. I will continue to prepare in-person worship services for my community, but we will not be publishing weekly content. This will free up a lot of my time, as well as other tasks I’m setting down. I’m all in favor of these changes! We need to spend time listening, together, to what God is calling us to build now and then to decide how to support that ministry. I know we aren’t alone.
I’m also feeling sorrow, a loss. I’ve never known who has been reading these materials (though some of you have reached out to me — thank you!) It grew increasingly sweet to post on this website and forward through FB without a known audience. It has been dear to practice casting a Living Word, like a seed, broadcast without knowing what would or wouldn’t sprout.
God willing, someday, I will return to a published ministry. For now, the dear folks of Berkeley Chinese Community Church, UCC in the Bay Area (SF+) of California need me to serve in a different way and I’m happy to do so.
As I release this era of ministry, I close with a poetic, not edited, jumble of words. May your soul hear something God is saying to you:
“Would it be possible,” the young soul always asks, “To leave this land of accounted time and costs, of tabulated giving and receiving, to absolutely, freely share the most wonderful gifts God has given us?”
“Yes,” the old souls always answers, “But what about all those we would leave behind? Dear One, the job is always to love God. Love always changes form. Always. Especially Divine Love. Trust God to guide the transformations happening now, and those to come.”
May God take away what is no longer needed, and grant unto us what truly is needed. May God shift what needs transforming, and fortify what must not change. AMEN.
Blessings and Peace upon you and yours in 2023 and The Year of the Rabbit,
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal.’” – Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr
Communion Elements (ushers) take to seated congregants before the service begins.
Prelude(musician) “Panis Angelicus”by Franck
Welcome and Acknowledgements (pastor) Welcome! No matter who you are… No matter where you are on life’s journey… You are welcome here! Welcome guests.
Through Jesus Christ, we are called together as the Beloved Community. We are blessed to be here in this sacred worship space located on unceded territory of the Lisjan-Ohlone people. We honor the past and face the future in peace with hope.
Flowers Glory of God
Worship Team Musician Ian Pong, Liturgist David Louie, Pastor Rev. Kathryn Schreiber
Invocation (liturgist) Holy God, we come before You this day mindful of the multitude of gifts that You have bestowed upon us. Grant us courage to witness to the beautiful diversity of humanity which You designed. Help us to celebrate gifts different from our own, that we might appreciate each other. Help us to enter places of discomfort, expecting to find Your message there. Help us to create reconciliation, by manifesting the community of justice Jesus preached. And forgive us, for there have been times when we broke someone’s spirit through our disregard or neglect. Liberate and heal us, so that we may discard the weighty burdens of suspicion, distrust, and fear. May all Your children have life and have life abundantly! Amen. (lv)
As Pastor Kathryn lights the Christ Candle and Altar Votives, let us remember those who are not physically present, but with us in spirit or thought. Amen.
Light The Christ Candle and Altar Votives (pastor)
Votive Lighting Music (musician)
Opening Hymn: “When Morning Gilds the Skies” Chalice #100, all 4 verses (musician)
Passing the Peace (all share gestures and words of peace; pastor)
Time for Children “God’s Dream for Us” Remembering MLK’s dream (pastor)
We Rest in God’s Grace
Prayer and Silence (pastor) We shift into silence with this simple prayer 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.
Assurance of Grace (pastor) We are all, each of us, created in the image of God. This is a core Christian teaching. Throughout his earthly ministry Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr preached the gospel of universal human dignity, saying: “all people are equal in intrinsic worth.” (mlk, AD)
Inspired by the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the ongoing illumination of the Holy Spirit, Brother Martin continues to remind us that we are “injected with God” – we’ve all been given blessed uniqueness, worth, and dignity, even though society or personal sentiment may have clouded our perception of this foundational reality.
May the original grace of being made in the image of God bless everyone today. Amen. (kms)
Special Music (musician) “Sei gegruesset, Jesu guetig” by Bach
Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-9(version: NRSV; liturgist) Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr selected this passage about the Messiah when preparing his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech.
A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of Jesse’s roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.
Sermon: “Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King’s Oslo Acceptance Speech” (pastor)On this Beloved Community Sunday, the day before MLK Day, we pause to listen with new ears to the sacred wisdom of our brother, Rev. D. Martin Luther King, Jr. (mlk, NPAS)
Sermon Hymn: “Let There Be Peace On Earth” #677(musician)
We Celebrate Holy Communion
Gathering All Souls (pastor) Let us gather the great, eternal communion of souls, including Brother Martin and all who have worked for racial justice, speaking the names of those not physically present but with whom we share this meal … (say names out loud)
Communion Hymn: “In Remembrance of Me” Chalice #403 (musician)
Distribute Elements (ushers please confirm everyone has juice and crackers)
Prayer of Consecration (pastor) Today, our first Holy Communion of 2023, let us ask God to infuse these humble elements with God’s dreams. Please hold your juice and crackers as we pray: Holy One, fill these simple items with Your Holy Dreams: No beings hurt or destroyed; all the earth full of Your knowledge; and Your peace covering us as the waters cover the seas. Amen.
Sharing the Elements (pastor) Dear Ones, let us remember that Jesus Christ never blocked anyone from God’s Table. Jesus set up no barriers of religion or culture, gender or race, age or action. Likewise, we graciously welcome everyone to this celebration.
On that night of immediate hopes and fears, Jesus embodied God’s Dream for Humanity. Taking the loaf into his hands, Jesus acknowledged our universal need for sustaining nourishment.
Jesus lifted up the loaf, (lift up bread)
thanked God for it, (praise God)
Jesus broke it, (break the bread) and gave it to his disciples saying: “Take, eat. This is my body which has been given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
During the meal, as remembered acts of God’s faithfulness were recounted, Jesus embodied God’s Dream for Humanity. Taking the cup into his hands, Jesus acknowledged our universal need for transforming salvation.
Jesus took the cup, (pour juice)
lifted up he cup (lift cup)
thanked God for it, (praise God)
and gave it to his disciples saying: “Drink this, all of you. This is my blood of the new covenant which has been poured out for you and for many, for the forgiveness of sins. Do this in remembrance of me.”
We share this meal with… (tear off pieces of loaf for each)
All humans, may we experience universal dignity;
those whom our prejudices have harmed;
all of us in need of Christ’s Big Love;
our neighbors who are hungry for bread and restoration;
those who will one day share this meal with us.
On this Beloved Community Sunday, as we receive this blessed meal, let us speak our personal and congregational commitment to God’s Dream, by saying: “We have a Dream” before consuming the elements. Amen. (all eat and drink)
Prayer of Thanksgiving (pastor; spontaneous)
Prayer Requests (pastor; all)
Pastoral Prayer (pastor) Almighty God, on this Beloved Community Sunday, we ask You to fortify us – heart, mind, body, and soul – for the good work of embodying Your Dream. May we follow the Light of Jesus Christ and all who serve Him, including Brother Martin. May we move forward bolstered with faith, hope, and love. We ask these things for the sake of Your glory, the well-being of our neighbors, and the delight of our own, precious souls, too. Amen. (kms)
Prayers of the People, Private Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer(pastor)
Offering Our Praise “Doxology”(musician; all)
Next Sunday: Chinese New Year Worship: 11am.Chinese New Year Social ZOOM: 2pm.
Benediction (pastor) The faithful words of Brother Martin continue to resonate:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all people are created equal.’”
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
“I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.” (mlk, MW)
Dear Ones, with assistance from the Living Christ, may we carry God’s Dream forward! Amen.
Postlude (musician) “Canon” by Pachelbel
The service is concluded.
(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.
(lv) Lydia Veliko, minister for ecumenical relations, UCC (adapted).
(mlk, AD) Martin Luther King, Jr: “The American Dream.”
(mlk, NPAS) Martin Luther King, Jr: “Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech.”
(mlk, MW) Martin Luther King, Jr: “March on Washington Address.”
Residency Acknowledgement: This content was written in Huichin Village, unceded territory of the Lisjan- Ohlone people, where I dwell and serve as a local church pastor. Please support indigenous rematriation efforts, the #LandBack movement, and give to Sogorea Te’ Land Trust Soghttps://sogoreate-landtrust.org/ and other non-profits that reform, balance, and heal relationships with our indigenous hosts. Thank you!
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Online Publishing Date: January 10, 2023.
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Donation: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is 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”