Changes…

photo: Kathryn M Schreiber (c) 2023

Hello, Dear Ones!

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,

In the Big Love, Pastor Kathryn

3rd Sunday of Epiphany. Beloved Community Sunday. “MLK’s Peace Prize Speech” * Isaiah 11:1-19 * Holy Communion

Image: Gil Garcia ©2009 in the style of Shephard Fairey. Original written content: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber ©2023.

We Gather

“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

We Listen

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)

We Pray

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)

We Transition

Announcements (pastor)

  • Thank you’s
  • Community Announcements
  • Next Sunday: Chinese New Year Worship: 11am. Chinese New Year Social ZOOM: 2pm.

Closing Hymn: “We Shall Overcome” #630, 4 verses (musician)

“We shall overcome…”

“The Lord will see us through…”

“We’ll walk hand in hand…”

“We shall live in peace…”

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.

Worship Resources:

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

(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.

(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!

Copyright Note: Copyright laws changed in December 2020 when Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). Please check with your legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content online. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Protect the rights of content creators. Thank you!

Online Publishing Date: January 10, 2023.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please attribute source and observe ethical use of all resources. Follow your platforms’ publishing requirements for all created content especially if publishing online or broadcasting. Thank you!

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”

Christmas Eve: “Holy Wonder: God is Here!” * Scripture: Luke 2:1-7 and Isaiah 9:6-7 * Holy Communion

Image: Huie Family ©2022. Original written contentRev. Kathryn M. Schreiber ©2022.

Holy Wonder: Gathering in Hope

Prelude (Vicky)

Welcome (Pastor) Welcome! Welcome! On this Christmas Eve we continue opening to “Holy Wonder.”

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 by 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.

Today’s… Flowers: Jesus Christ’s Birth. Worship Team: Musician Vicky Jennings, Reader Darlene Hamady, Advent Wreath Mabel Low and Debbie Schram, and Pastor Rev. Kathryn Schreiber.

Carol “O Little Town of Bethlehem” Chalice #144, v 1 & 4/song sheet (Vicky)

Advent Candles Reading and Lighting: (Mabel Low and Debbie Schram) After Mabel’s reading: We light all the Advent Candles – expectant and eager to encounter Holy Wonder.

Light all FOUR Advent Candles. (Do NOT light Christ Candle, yet)

Holy Wonder: Christ is Born

Christian Scripture: Luke 2:1-7 (NRSV) (Darlene)

In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. 

Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. Joseph went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child.

While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Carol: “Away in a Manger” Chalice #147, v 1 & 2 /song sheet (Vicky)

Hebrew Scripture: Isaiah 9:6-7 (NRSV) (Pastor)

A child is born to us, a son is given to us, and authority will be on his shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.

There will be vast authority and endless peace for David’s throne and for his kingdom, establishing and sustaining it with justice and righteousness now and forever. The zeal of the Lord of heavenly forces will do this.

Christ Candle Reading and Lighting (Mabel Low and Debbie Schram)

Let us pray:

“Let this moment settle in my heart,

Let all that it holds rest secure in the love of God,

Let the wonder of the holy One

radiate from the center of my being,

Until the reality of Christ’s inner presence

Spills out into the world around me.” Amen. (cs)

Light the New Christ Candle

Doxology “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” Chalice #47(Vicky)

Holy Wonder: God is Here

Sermon “Holy Wonder: God is Here!” (Pastor) God chose to become extremely vulnerable to be with us. Being open to Holy Wonder is humbling ourselves to God’s incomprehensible love for us.

Special Music (Vicky)

Holy Communion (Pastor)

Invitation, Gathering Souls, Words of Institution, Prayer of Consecration, Sharing the Elements

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Pastoral Prayer (Pastor)

Carol “Silent Night, Holy Night” Chalice #145, verses 1-3/song sheet (Vicky)

Benediction (Pastor)

Postlude (Vicky)

The service is concluded.

Worship Resources:

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

(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.

(cs) Christine Sine

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!

Copyright Note: Copyright laws changed in December 2020 when Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). Please check with your legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content online. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Protect the rights of content creators. Thank you!

Online Publishing Date: December 18, 2022.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please attribute source and observe ethical use of all resources. Follow your platforms’ publishing requirements for all created content especially if publishing online or broadcasting. Thank you!

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”

4th Sunday of Advent. “Holy Wonder: Spiritual Courage” * Matthew 1:18-21

Image: Louie family ©2022. Original written content: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber ©2022.

We Gather

“God does not die on the day when we cease to believe in a personal deity, but we die on the day when our lives cease to be illuminated by the steady radiance, renewed daily, of a wonder, the source of which is beyond all reason.” — Dag Hammarskjold, Swedish Secretary-General of the United Nations

Prelude (musician)

Pastor’s Welcome and Acknowledgements (pastor) Welcome! Welcome to worship this 4th and last Sunday of Advent. Our Advent-Christmas theme this year is “Holy Wonder.”

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 by 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.

Liturgist’s Welcome and Acknowledgements (liturgist) As Pastor Kathryn lights the Altar Votives, let us remember those who are not physically present, but with us in spirit or thought.

Lighting the Votives (pastor lights votives while the musician plays) “Let There Be Peace on Earth”

(liturgist, after votive candles are lit and music concluded, please continue)

Today’s…

  • Flowers: David & Dorene Louie
  • Worship Team: Musician:  Everett Louie.  Vocalist: Jonathan Louie. Liturgist:  David Louie.  Pastor:  Rev. Kathryn Schreiber.  Advent Wreath Lighter/Readers:  the Louie family.
  • (Advent Wreath lighters/readers come up; liturgist sits down)

Advent Wreath Reading and Candles (Advent Wreath reader/s)

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, may we open to Holy Wonder, listening to Irish Christian philosopher and spiritual guide John O’Donohue:

“All thinking that is imbued with wonder is graceful and gracious thinking… Thought, if it’s not open to wonder, can be limiting, destructive and very, very dangerous.”

“If you look at a thought as a circle, and if half the arc of the circle is the infusion of wonder, then the thought will be kind, it will be gracious, and it will also be compassionate, because wonder and compassion are sisters.” (jo)

We light the First, Second, Third, and Fourth Candles of Advent – expectant and eager to encounter Holy Wonder. (Light all FOUR Advent Candles)

Opening Hymn: “O Little Town of Bethlehem” #144, all 4 verses (musician)

Passing the Peace (all share gestures and words of peace; pastor)

Time for Children “God-Given Dreams” Sometimes, God speaks while we sleep. (pastor)

We Rest in God’s Grace

Prayer and Silence (pastor) Let us shift into silence in God’s presence 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) Dear Ones, fear happens. It is our natural instinct to be anxious when the unexpected occurs. Yet, we are more than fearful beings. We are made in the image of God. We have souls that dwell in eternity awash with the wondrous presence of the Living Christ – the One-Who-Is-Always-Coming-Into-Being.

Beloved Thomas Merton said, “The Advent mystery is the beginning of the end of all in us that is not yet Christ.” For Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father, something had to die in him that he might welcome a new role as a parent of the Christ.

We, too, are being called by God to release parts of ourselves so that we can host the Christ being born this Christmas. This is a strange and sometimes scary grace – to let go of the familiar, so that God can fill us with the new. Amen. (kms)

Special Music (musician) “Grown Up Christmas Wish” Jonathan Louie, vocal

We Listen

Scripture: Matthew 1:18-21 (version: NRSV; liturgist) Faced with a moral challenge, righteous Joseph, while sleeping, receives God’s guidance opening to a new, wonderful way forward.

Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way:

When Jesus’ mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 

Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when Joseph resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

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

Reflection: “Compassionate Courage” (pastor) In Joseph we have a role model of true faithfulness. His openness to God’s wonders – far beyond his own thoughts of what is possible or even traditionally correct – show us how to surrender to compassion and courage, welcoming Christ into our hearts, homes, world.

Reflection Hymn: “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” #628, all 3 verses (musician)

We Pray

Prayer Requests (pastor; all)

Pastoral Prayer (pastor) Dream-Giver, when our thoughts are too small for Your Big Dreams, allow us to rest and sleep. As we surrender our diligently practiced ideas, and our unhelpfully protective fears, and our real concerns about the mysterious unknown — take away what no longer serves to fill us with what does. We really hope to be open to Your joys, Your gifts, Your redemption of all that is suffering. Amen. (kms)

Prayers of the People, Private Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer (pastor)

Offering Our Praise “Doxology” (musician; all)

We Transition

Announcements (pastor)

  • Senior Center Tues December 20th – RSVP to?
  • Christmas Eve: 2pm “Holy Wonder” Service with Holy Communion
  • Next Sunday: Christmas Day. 11am. “Holy Wonder” Angel’s Pop-Up Play.
  • Donations for WDDS due 12/25

Closing Hymn: “O Come All Ye Faithful” #148, all 4 verses (musician)

Benediction (pastor) We are a week away from Christmas – and maybe we are feeling a little too much that isn’t good. I think St Joseph would tell us to “take a nap.” Sleep. Dream. Be open to God speaking in our dreams of courageous, compassionate, expansive, even radical Big Love!

May God bless us with Holy Wonder! May we go forth in peace with Big Love! Amen.

Postlude (musician) “Believe”

The service is concluded.

Worship Resources:

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

(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.

(jo) John O’Donohue, Walking in Wonder ©2015. Esp. pp 5-7; but also see 15-17 on Fear.

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!

Copyright Note: Copyright laws changed in December 2020 when Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). Please check with your legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content online. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Protect the rights of content creators. Thank you!

Online Publishing Date: December 13, 2022.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please attribute source and observe ethical use of all resources. Follow your platforms’ publishing requirements for all created content especially if publishing online or broadcasting. Thank you!

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”

Christmas Day * “Holy Wonder: Angels!” * Inspired by Luke 1:11-19; 26-38; Matthew 1:18-21; Luke 2:8-15

A Pop-Up Readers Christmas Pageant for at least three actors/readers and one narrator with “in the pew” parts for everyone! Prep/Prop info appears after the service, below.

image and original written content: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber ©2022

We Gather

”Christmas renews our youth by stirring our wonder. The capacity for wonder has been called our most pregnant human faculty, for in it are born our art, our science, our religion.” – Rev. Ralph W. Sockman, 20th-century gifted preacher

Prelude (musician)

Pastor’s Welcome and Acknowledgements (pastor) Merry Christmas! Welcome to this very special Sunday Morning Christmas Day! This Christmas morn we join the angels in telling the story of the birth of Christ and celebrating God’s most wondrous gift.

No matter who you are… No matter where you are on life’s journey… You are welcome here! Welcome guests. Mention COVID/Flu protocols.

Through Jesus Christ, we are called together as the Beloved Community. We are blessed by 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.

Today’s…

  • Flowers: available for dedication 
  • Worship Team: Musician Ian Pong; Cast: TBA; Advent Wreath: TBA; Pastor & Narrator: Rev. Kathryn Schreiber.

Carol: “Angels We Have Heard on High” #155, verses 1-3 (musician)

Advent and Christ Candle Lighting (tba) On this blessed Christmas Day morning, as we light all the Advent Candles and the newly lit  Christ Candle, may we transformed by Holy Wonder. (Light all FIVE Candles)

Passing the Peace (all share gestures and words of peace; pastor)

“The Birth of Jesus As Told by Angels”

Introduction(pastor)

This Advent and Christmas we are being led by HOLY WONDER – moments when we fully awaken to God’s now – moments that move us to awe – moments flush with Big Hope – moments when courage opens our hearts to partnering with the Christ-Still-Being-Born.

One of the great preachers of the last century, Rev. Ralph Sockman, said this about wonder at Christmas time: ”Christmas renews our youth by stirring our wonder. The capacity for wonder has been called our most pregnant human faculty, for in it are born our art, our science, our religion.”

The Bible is filled with wonderful and wondrous stories about God’s ongoing response to humanity. In our Judeo-Christian tradition angels are a special order of beings who serve as God’s messengers. Whenever an angel appears, God is delivering a critical message.

Today, on this Sunday Christmas Morning, we will re-tell the story of Jesus’ birth through sacred moments captured in scripture – episodes where angels appear at critical junctures to carry forward God’s Dream for us through Jesus Christ.

We will be telling this story together! Some folks have volunteered in advance; all will be called unto service as we recount a special, angelic version of the Christmas Story.

Now, I’m going to let you in on a secret – the more we relax and have fun with this telling, the more likely it is that we’ll encounter a Holy Wonder. I hope you’ll really enjoy your part in sharing this wonder-filled sacred story! And that God will use our collective storytelling to speak to each and every one of us.

Act One: “Gabriel”

Mary is seated on one of two center chairs on the dais. She is wearing a scarf about her shoulders. Gabriel, wearing a lit halo and carrying a bag (with unlit halos in it) is in the back of the church, not yet visible.

Narrator: “Young Mary is the niece of Temple Priest Zacharias and her Auntie Elizabeth of noted Hebrew religious lineage. Young Mary’s Uncle and Auntie, long past the time of having children, had offered decades of prayers and offerings, even though they remained childless.

“One Day, while Zacharias was performing sacred rituals, the angel Gabriel appeared to him with the wondrous news that Old Elizabeth would bear a child! The child’s name would be ‘John’ and he would prepare The People for the coming of The Messiah.

“It is now six months later and God has sent that same angel to another woman to announce the news of her unexpected pregnancy.”

Gabriel starts walking up the aisle toward Young Mary.

“God sent angel Gabriel to Young Mary to a town in Galilee named Nazareth. Young Mary was engaged to a man, Old Joseph, a descendant of the Great King David. Through Gabriel, God will extend the most amazing invitation to Young Mary.”

Gabriel approaches Young Mary.

Gabriel: “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you!” 

Gabriel makes big, kind gestures.

Narrator: “Young Mary is confused and perplexed by these words. What sort of greeting is this? Angel Gabriel seeks to assure her.”

Angel Gabriel: “Don’t be afraid, Young Mary. You have found favor with God. And God has a very big honor to bestow upon you, should you agree.”

Young Mary listens carefully.

Angel Gabriel: “And now, you will conceive and give birth to a son. You will name him ‘Jesus.’

Young Mary is very confused.

Angel Gabriel: “He will be great! He will be called the Son of the Most High! God will give him the throne of his ancestor the Great King David! He will rule over the House of Jacob forever! Of his kin-dom, there will be no end!”

Narrator: Young Mary thought for a while. Then she looked, carefully, at the angel and said to Gabriel,”

Mary: “But, how can this be? I have never done what a young woman needs to do to make a baby!”

Gabriel: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you… (pause). And the power of the Most High will overshadow you… (pause). The child to be born will be holy. Young Mary, he will be called the ‘Son of God.’”

Narrator: “Gabriel went on to tell Young Mary about his visit to her Auntie Elizabeth, long barren, now six months pregnant.”

Gabriel: “Young Mary, nothing is impossible for God.”

Mary replies brightly with conviction.

Mary: “Here I am – God’s servant. Let it be as you have said.”

Gabriel pulls a halo from his bag, turns it on, and places it on her head. Gabriel turns away and walks down the aisle. Young Mary stays put for a while. As we sing, she moves to the side two chairs and sits down.

Carol: “O Come, All Ye Faithful” #148, verses 1-2 (musician)

As we sing Old Joseph, with his blanket, takes a seat in one of the chairs in the center of the dais.

Act Two: “The Angel of the Lord”

Old Joseph is seated in one of two chairs in the center of the dais. He is wrapped up in a blanket and nodding off to sleep.

The Angel of the Lord, wearing a lit halo and carrying a bag (with many unlit halos in it) is in the back of the church, not yet visible.

Narrator: “Now, this is how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. Remember that Young Mary, Jesus’ mother, was engaged to Old Joseph, but they had not ‘lived together’ yet. She was pregnant and showing.”

Old Joseph, asleep, tosses and turns.

Narrator: “Old Joseph, Young Mary’s fiancé was a righteous man. He knew he wasn’t the father of Young Mary’s child. Old Joseph also knew he could legally, publicly renounce her and break the marriage contract because of her pregnancy. However, righteous Old Joseph had no desire to humiliate Young Mary. As he fell asleep, his plan was to privately, quietly dismiss her.”

The Angel of the Lord walks up the aisle toward sleeping Old Joseph.

Narrator: “As Old Joseph slept, poorly, The Angel of the Lord appeared to him in his dreams.”

The Angel of the Lord gently lays a hand on Old Joseph’s shoulder before speaking.

The Angel of the Lord: “Old Joseph, descendent of the Great King David, don’t be afraid… (pause). Take Young Mary as your wife… (pause). The child she carries was conceived by the Holy Spirit.”

Old Joseph moves in his sleep, turning toward the angel. The angel continues speaking.

The Angel of the Lord: “Old Joseph, Young Mary will give birth to a son. You will name this child ‘Jesus’ and he will save his people from their sins.’”

The Angel of the Lord pulls a halo from his bag, turns it on, and places it on Old Joseph’s head, and then departs down the aisle. Old Joseph wakes up and goes to sit beside Young Mary sitting on the side.

Carol: “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” #150, verses 1 and 3 (musician)

We Pray

Christmas Day Prayers (pastor) Beloved Author of all Life, and Source of all that is Truly Good, on this Christmas morning we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ – not only in Bethlehem thousands of years ago, but if it is Your will, born again in our hearts on this very day.

Long we have awaited the arrival of angels bringing Good News that You have removed whatever plagues us. We forget that You are not Santa Clause to our childish wishes. You are the Great I Am who constantly calls forth from us what is needed for all to thrive.

In the way of Young Mary, we ask a blessing upon the brave young ones who are doing radical work, co-birthing with You, a kinder, sustainable, healing way forward.

In the way of Old Joseph, we ask a blessing upon the righteous old ones who are setting aside the past to apply seasoned wisdom to new situations with new tools.

In the way of the Terrified Shepherds, we ask a blessing upon all who labor long and are weary, yet hopefully, go to greet You when Good News is delivered.

On this Holy Day, in this Sanctified Place, amid the Beloved Community, enwrapped by Sacred Story we each arrive with our own private joys and concerns. Holy One, hear our silent, private prayers.

(long silence)

The Lord’s Prayer (pastor) And now, as we have physically gathered in one place, may we also spiritually gather by saying a common prayer together, the prayer Jesus Christ taught us to pray. Amen.

Special Music

Act Three: “An Angel of the Lord and Angelic Multitude”

Narrator: We need to do a bit of casting before continuing on with our story. Everyone will have a part. You have two choices: 1) to be a Shepherd which requires making sheep sounds and looking terrified, OR 2) to be part of the Angelic Multitude which requires a little speaking and singing and looking thrilled. So, Shepherds: hands up and make a “baaaaa” sound. Thank you! Angelic Multitude: hands up and say “Praise God!” Thank you!

Angels with bags of unlit halos pass out unlit halos to everyone who doesn’t have one – or at least one per household.

Narrator: “It was the evening of Jesus’s birth. In fields nearby, Shepherds were living and keeping watch over their flock by night.”

Shepherds make sheep sounds and look around.

An Angel of the Lord walks up the aisle to the middle of the sanctuary.

Narrator: “And then, An Angel of the Lord stood before the Shepherds and their sheep.”

An Angel of the Lord turns on many unlit halos. Move them about, turn around to look at everyone. Be a spectacle.

Narrator: “The Glory of the Lord shone brightly all around them and the Shepherds were terrified!”

Shepherds be terrified!

Narrator: “Noticing their terror, An Angel of the Lord sought to assure the Shepherds.”

An Angel of the Lord: “Don’t be afraid, Dear Ones. Behold – I am bringing you Good News of Great Joy for all people! To you is born this day, in the City of David, a Savior, the Messiah, the Lord!”

Joseph and Mary, carrying Baby Jesus (a bundle with a lit halo on it), walk to the center two chairs on the dais and sit down. They take care of Baby Jesus as the story continues.

An Angel of the Lord: “Dear Ones, this will be a sign for you: you will find a newborn baby wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.” 

Narrator: “And, suddenly, there is with the angel a Multitude of the Heavenly Hosts!”

Angelic Multitude angels turn on your halos and place them on your heads.

Narrator: “And the Angelic Multitude praises God!”

“Praise God!” (angels repeat)

and they sang (Joy to the World tune):

“Glory to God…” (angels repeat)

“in the highest heav’n…” (angels repeat)

“and peace…” (angels repeat)

“on earth…” (angels repeat)

“for all!” (angels repeat)

An Angel of the Lord walks down the aisle to the back joining “Gabriel” and “The Angel of the Lord” if they were played by different folks.

Narrator: “When the angels had left and gone into heaven, the shepherds spoke among themselves. They decided to go, immediately, to Bethlehem to behold the wondrous thing God had just made known to them. “

Shepherds turn on their halos and place them on their heads.

Carol: “Joy to the World” #143, verses 1-3 (musician)

During the last verse, some Shepherds and speaking part Angels bring up donated items for the Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center placing them around Mary, Joseph, and Baby Jesus.

Offering Prayer (pastor) Jesus Christ tells us that whatever we do for our neighbors in need, these acts are done to him, too. On this Christmas morning, we honor the Living Christ with these things needed by our homeless neighbors served by the Women’s Daytime Drop-in Center down the street from our church.

Please extend your hands in a gesture of blessing sending Big Love into these items. Thank you. Let us bless these items:

On this Christmas morn as we celebrate Jesus Christ, may we also embody the Big Love Christ came to earth to teach us. Holy God, may it be Your spirit that fills these needful things and continually calls us to care for each other as we would care for Your son, Jesus Christ. Transform all of us, everywhere, with Christmas Holy Wonder. Amen.

Offering Our Praise “Doxology” (musician; all)

We Transition

Announcements (pastor)

  • Next Sunday: New Year’s Day. Sing-a-long lay-led worship service
  • Sunday, January 8th: Guest Minister
  • Pastor Kathryn on vacation until January 10th

Carol: “It Came Upon the Midnight Clear” #153, verses 1-2 & 4 (musician)

Reading: “Advent Blessing” by Ann Weems (pastor and Esther Lee)

“It is not over, this birthing, There are always newer skies into which God can throw stars.

When we begin to think that we can predict the Advent of God, that we can box the Christ in a stable in Bethlehem that’s just the time that God will be born in a place we can’t image and won’t believe.

Those who wait for God watch with their hearts and not their eyes, listening, always listening, for angel words.” (aw)

Benediction (pastor) Peace on Earth and Goodwill toward All! Merry Christmas to you and Happy New Year!

Postlude (musician)

The service is concluded.

Worship Resources:

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

(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. Note: Scripture has been adapted and modified.

(aw) Ann Weems, Kneeling in Bethlehem. Line breaks changed.

Preparations for this Pop-Up Readers Theater Play

In Advance:

  • prepare scripts for key roles (if folks want to practice)
  • secure volunteers for key roles (OR cast everyone at the beginning of the service)
  • assemble props before Christmas week. (Order halos early! We like Feather Crown Headband Luminous with 10 LED Lights” from Amazon)

Casting

  • Scripted speaking parts: Narrator; Young Mary; Gabriel; The Angel of the Lord; An Angel of the Lord – one person could play more than one part
  • Scripted acting part: Old Joseph
  • Everyone else involved, pop-up parts – no scripts needed
  • Narrator may give verbal stage directions to cast members

Sanctuary Set-up:

  • two empty chairs, together, in the center of the dais
  • two empty chairs, together, over to one side
  • specific cast props placed where needed
  • shelter donations ready to move upfront

Props:

  • one bag with unlit halos for each speaking-part Angel, up to three
  • halos for everyone, if possible – definitely for main cast; if halos light up, be sure to pull protective strip out before attempting to turn on
  • scarf for Mary
  • blanket for Joseph
  • Baby Jesus wrapped in a bundle

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!

Copyright Note: Copyright laws changed in December 2020 when Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). Please check with your legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content online. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Protect the rights of content creators. Thank you!

Online Publishing Date: December 9, 2022.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please attribute source and observe ethical use of all resources. Follow your platforms’ publishing requirements for all created content especially if publishing online or broadcasting. Thank you!

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”

3rd Sunday of Advent. “Holy Wonder: Communal Hope” * Luke 1:50-55

Image: Young family ©2022. Original written content: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber ©2022.

We Gather

“Every human act, every Christian act, is an act of hope. But that means you must be men and women of the present, you must live this moment – really live it, not just endure it – because this very moment, for all its imperfection and frustration, because of its imperfection and frustration, is pregnant with the future, is pregnant with love, is pregnant with Christ.” – Walter J. Burghardt, 20th-century American theologian and preacher

Prelude (musician)

Pastor’s Welcome and Acknowledgements (pastor) Welcome! Welcome to worship this 3rd Sunday of Advent. Our Advent-Christmas theme this year is “Holy Wonder.”

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 by 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.

Liturgist’s Welcome and Acknowledgements (liturgist)

As Pastor Kathryn lights the Altar Votives, let us remember those who are not physically present, but with us in spirit or thought. (pastor lights votives while musician plays; liturgist, after votive candles are lit and music concluded, please continue)

Today’s…

  • Flowers: available for dedication 
  • Worship Team: Musician Vicky Jennings;Liturgist Darlene Hamady; Advent Wreath Sienna Huie, Leilee MacArthur and Brandon Huie; Pastor Rev. Kathryn Schreiber.

(Advent Wreath lighters/readers come up; liturgist sits down)

Advent Wreath Reading and Candles (Advent Wreath reader/s) On this Third Sunday of Advent, may we open to Holy Wonder hearing from Christian theologian Karl Rahner. Rahner, speaking to his own heart, affirms God’s abundant goodness, not unlike Jesus’s mother, Mary.

“Ask not, doubt not. You have, my heart, already chosen the joy of Advent. As a force against your own uncertainty, bravely tell yourself: It is the Advent of the great God.

Say this with faith and love, and then both the past of your life, which has become holy, and your life’s eternal, boundless future, will draw together in the now of this world.

For then into the heart comes to the one who is Advent, the boundless future, who is already in the process of coming, the Lord, who has already come into the time of flesh to redeem it.” (kr)

We light the First, Second, and Third Candles of Advent – expectant and eager to encounter Holy Wonder. (Light THREE Advent Candles)

Opening Hymn: “Awake, Awake! And Greet the New Morn!” #138, all 3 verses (musician)

Passing the Peace (all share gestures and words of peace; pastor)

Time for Children “God-Given Hope” God puts hope in our hearts. (pastor)

We Rest in God’s Grace

Prayer and Silence (pastor) Let us shift into silence in God’s presence 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) Dear Ones, just as Isaiah spoke of blooming deserts outrageously coming to life, this Advent week Jesus’s mother proclaims an extravagant faith in God’s commitment to the well-being of all humanity, trusting that what is coming has, on some level, already arrived.

Holy Wonder is a state of grace where the soul perceives God’s eternal coming to us long before we witness it. This Advent, as we await the re-birth of Christ, let us do so asking God to grant us the grace of Holy Wonder – in the way of Prophet Isaiah, in the way of Jesus’ mother Mary – faith that what is coming has already been given. Amen. (kms)

Special Music (musician)

We Listen

Scripture: Luke 1:50-55 (version: CEB; liturgist) Young Mary, speaking to her Auntie Elizabeth about the Good Things God is doing:

God shows mercy to everyone, from one generation to the next, who honors God. God has shown strength with God’s arm. God has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations. God has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. God has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed. God has come to the aid of servant Israel, remembering divine mercy, just as God promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and Sarah, and to their descendants forever.”

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

Reflection: “God’s Goodness and Our Hope” (pastor) God’s dream for a just human community is foundational. Being open to Holy Wonder opens us to hope and faith in divine justice and communal healing before it occurs.

Reflection Hymn: “Come, O Long-expected Jesus” #125, both verses (musician)

We Pray

Prayer Requests (pastor; all)

Pastoral Prayer (pastor) Beloved Source of All Life, Light, and Love, we easily bring our concerns to You asking You to act. Today, we ask not for YOUR attention, but for our own. May we witness glimpses, physically and mystically, of what You are already doing. May new sparks of hope and faith flare up inviting us to join in Your good works for the well-being of life on earth, blessed by the dreams of heaven. Amen. (kms)

Prayers of the People, Private Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer (pastor)

Offering Our Praise “Doxology” (musician; all)

We Transition

Announcements (pastor)

  • Next Sunday: “Holy Wonder” Advent continues – with Joseph!
  • Senior Center Tues December 20th
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services this year

Closing Hymn: “What Child Is This” #162, all 3 verses (musician)

Benediction (pastor) Beloved Siblings, as Advent unfolds may our souls experience Holy Wonder. May we understand, seeing with the clear vision of the Holy Spirit, that God is always up to good. Christ is on the way again! May God bless us with Holy Wonder! May we go forth in peace with hope. Amen.

Postlude (musician)

The service is concluded.

Worship Resources:

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

(CEB) Common English Bible. Copyright © 2011, Common English Bible.

(kr) Karl Rahner

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!

Copyright Note: Copyright laws changed in December 2020 when Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). Please check with your legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content online. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Protect the rights of content creators. Thank you!

Online Publishing Date: December 6, 2022.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please attribute source and observe ethical use of all resources. Follow your platforms’ publishing requirements for all created content especially if publishing online or broadcasting. Thank you!

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 S

2nd Sunday of Advent. “Holy Wonder: Natural Awe” * Isaiah 35:1-2

Image: Huie family (c)2022. Original written content: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber ©2022.

We Gather

To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower / Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand / And Eternity in an hour” – William Blake, 19th century English writer and artist

Prelude (musician) “Once to David’s Royal City”

Pastor’s Welcome and Acknowledgements (pastor) Welcome! Welcome to worship this 2nd Sunday of Advent. Our Advent-Christmas theme this year is “Holy Wonder.”

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 by 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.

Liturgist’s Welcome and Acknowledgements (liturgist)

As Pastor Kathryn lights the Altar Votives, let us remember those who are not physically present, but with us in spirit or thought. (pastor lights votives while musician plays)

(liturgist, after votive candles are lit and music concluded, please continue)

Today’s…

  • Flowers: Darlene Hamady in memory of Gail Lee. 
  • Worship Team: Musician Ian Pong, Liturgist Norman Chong, Advent Wreath TBD, and Pastor Rev. Kathryn Schreiber.

(Advent Wreath lighters/readers come up; liturgist sits down)

Advent Wreath Reading and Candles (Advent Wreath reader/s)

On this Second Sunday of Advent, may we open to Holy Wonder hearing from mid-century environmentalist Rachel Carson:

“What is the value of preserving and strengthening this sense of awe and wonder, this recognition of something beyond the boundaries of human existence?

Is the exploration of the natural world just a pleasant way to pass the golden hours of childhood or is there something deeper? I am sure there is something much deeper, something lasting and significant.

Those who dwell as scientists or laymen among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. Whatever the vexation or concerns of their personal lives, their thoughts can find paths that lead to inner contentment and to renewed excitement in living.

Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. There is symbolic as well as actual beauty in the migration of the birds, the ebb and flow of the tides, the folded bud ready for the spring.

There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after the winter.” (rc)

We light the First and Second Candles of Advent – expectant and eager to encounter Holy Wonder.

(Light TWO Advent Candles)

Opening Hymn: “People, Look East” Chalice #142, all verses (musician)

Passing the Peace (all share gestures and words of peace; pastor)

Time for Children “Wow!” Natural wonders reveal God’s magnificence. (pastor)

We Rest in God’s Grace

Prayer and Silence (pastor) Let us shift into silence in God’s presence 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 all have wilderness times. We humans always have. Such was the case of the Hebrew people when the Prophet Isaiah lived. God drew his attention to the desert, specifically, to the amazing plants that live and sometimes BLOOM in such a hostile growing environment.

This Second Week of Advent we follow Isaiah’s lead looking to natural wonders to find assurance of God’s power and faithfulness. May we, too, nurture hope for what is coming. May God grant us the grace to behold Holy Wonder. Amen. (kms)

Special Music (musician) “Greensleeves”

We Listen

Scripture: Isaiah 35:1-2 (version: CEB) Isaiah speaking to his nation:

The desert and the dry land will be glad;
    the wilderness will rejoice and blossom like the crocus.
They will burst into bloom,
    and rejoice with joy and singing.
They will receive the glory of Lebanon,
    the splendor of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the Lord’s glory,
    the splendor of our God. (ceb)

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

Reflection: “Natural and Spiritual Wonders” (pastor) Finding hope in arid times – witnessing natural wonders, reconnecting with all beings, allowing Holy Wonder to move us, prepare us for God’s MORE…

We Celebrate Holy Communion

Invitation (pastor) Explain the process – all are welcome; publicly safety; elements consumed together.

Gathering All Souls (pastor) Let us gather the great, eternal communion of souls, speaking the names of those not physically present with whom we wish to share this meal… (say names internally and out loud)

Gathering All Beings (pastor) Let us also gather the great, eternal communion of all living beings, our creature siblings, asking their spirits to join us for this sacred meal… (say names internally and out loud)

Communion Hymn: “I Hunger and I Thirst” Chalice #409, all verses (musician)

Distribute Elements (Communion ushers pass out individually wrapped juice cups and crackers)

Prayer of Consecration (pastor) Magnificent, Almighty God, as we come to Your Table today, we make this request: If it pleases You, may these gifts of wheat and grape, full of Your glory, transform us and our world. Amen. (kms)

Sharing the Elements (pastor) Harvested grains and ordinary water and some natural air-born yeast create a living, nourishing thing – a loaf of bread. Harvested grapes and more of those natural air-born yeasts create a living, pleasing thing – a jug of wine.

Jesus Christ is deeply rooted to the natural wonders of this earth. He also understands that “all that is” speaks of God. The loaf, the wine – these new creations from ordinary foods – they are symbols of God’s wondrous power to transform and elevate we earthly creatures.

And so, here in this very place on earth, at this very time of the year, we join Jesus and his disciples, open to Holy Wonder, recalling…

Jesus took the loaf, (lift up bread) thanked God for it, (praise God) broke it, (break the bread) and gave it to the disciples saying:

“Take, eat. This is my body which has been given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

In the same way, after they had eaten, Jesus took the cup, (fill and lift) thanked God for it, (praise God) and gave it to them 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.”

On this Advent Sunday, we intentionally share this loaf with…

  • our fellow creatures who proclaim The Creator’s vast wonders;
  • all on the Advent journey to Christmas, open to Holy Wonder;
  • all beings who are hungry, sick, poor, or imprisoned;
  • those who will one day call this place home having found a community of faith.

Dear Ones, may we receive the magnificent grace of being released from all that diminishes life. May our joyful souls praise God!  (all eat and drink)

We Pray

Prayer Requests (pastor; all)

Pastoral Prayer (pastor) Amazing God, Parent of Jesus Christ our Friend, Savoir, and Eternal Companion, we want to live fully awake to Your wonders. Draw our attention away from what does not nurture Your Dreams for us. Grant us the curiosity, courage, and compassion to wait for Your Holy Wonders. Amen. (kms)

Prayers of the People, Private Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer (pastor)

Offering Our Praise “Doxology” (musician; all)

We Transition

Announcements (pastor)

  • Next Sunday: “Holy Wonder” Advent continues – with Mary!
  • Senior Center Tues December 20th (confirm date)
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services this year

Closing Hymn: “Lo, How a Rose er Blooming” Chalice #160, both verses (musician)

Benediction (pastor) A blessing from Brother David Steindl-Rast

May you grow still enough to hear the small noises earth makes in preparing for the long sleep of winter, so that you yourself may grow calm and grounded deep within.

May you grow still enough to hear the trickling of water seeping into the ground, so that your soul may be softened and healed, and guided in its flow.

May you grow still enough to hear the splintering of starlight in the winter sky and the roar at earth’s fiery core.

May you grow still enough to hear the stir of a single snowflake in the air, so that your inner silence may turn into hushed expectation. (dsr)

Dear Ones, open to Holy Wonder! Go forth in peace and hope. Amen.

Postlude (musician) “O Thou Joyful”

The service is concluded.

Worship Resources:

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

(CEB) Common English Bible. Copyright © 2011, Common English Bible.

(ds-r) David Steindl-Rast; line-breaks kms

(mf) Margaret Feinberg, Wonderstruck: Awaken to the Nearness of God. ©2012. (sermon)

(rc) Rachel Carson, The Sense of Wonder. © 1955. Print and 31-min audiobook; line-breaks kms

(wb) William Blake, “Auguries of Innocence.” Source: Poets of the English Language (Viking Press, 1950)

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!

Copyright Note: Copyright laws changed in December 2020 when Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). Please check with your legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content online. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Protect the rights of content creators. Thank you!

Online Publishing Date: November 29, 2022.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please attribute source and observe ethical use of all resources. Follow your platforms’ publishing requirements for all created content especially if publishing online or broadcasting. Thank you!

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”

1st Sunday of Advent. “Holy Wonder: Hopeful Vulnerability” * Mark 13:33-37

Image & Original written content: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber ©2022.

We Gather

“I’m very concerned that our society is much more interested in information than wonder, in noise rather than silence.” Rev. Fred Rogers, aka “Mister Rogers”

Prelude (musician)

Pastor’s Welcome and Acknowledgements (pastor) Welcome! Welcome to worship this 1st Sunday of Advent. Our Advent-Christmas theme this year is “Holy Wonder.”

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 by 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.

Liturgist’s Welcome and Acknowledgements (liturgist)

As Pastor Kathryn lights the Altar Votives, let us remember those who are not physically present, but with us in spirit or thought. (pastor lights votives while musician plays.)

(Liturgist, after candles are lit and music concluded, please continue)

Today’s…

  • Flowers: Jane Mah & Norman Chong in honor of their daughter Jullian.
  • Worship Team: Musician Ian Pong, Liturgist Darlene Hamady, Advent Wreath Cedric & Carlton Young, and Pastor Rev. Kathryn Schreiber.

(Advent Wreath lighters/readers come up; liturgist sits down)

Advent Wreath Reading and Candles (Advent Wreath reader/s)

On this First Sunday of Advent, may we open to Holy Wonder listening to this prayer by Rev. Ted Loder:

“Let Wonder Have Its Way with Me”

O God, Your gracious Spirit

moves over the mysteries of living and dying

and is strangely present to me

   in the falling leaves,

      the call of the wild geese,

         a child’s birth,

            the light in a friend’s eyes,

               the sudden lifting of the heart,

                  and the deep longing which brings me to You now.

Make me aware of Your presence

that wonder may have its way with me,

   my passion be released,

      my confidence renewed in the depths of Your holiness

until, for a moment,

my longing for You be fulfilled

and I know I am really free

   to share bread and intimacy,

      to laugh and exchange mercy,

         to be at ease in my struggles,

            bold in my loving,

               brave in facing down my terror,

                  hopeful in the rising music of Your kingdom,

                     joyful in my living,

                       and graceful in my life becoming

                          a song of praise ever sung to You. Amen. (tl)

We light the First Candle of Advent – expectant and eager to encounter Holy Wonder.

(Light ONE Advent Candle)

Opening Hymn: “Lift Up Your Heads, O Mighty Gates” Chalice #129, all verses (musician; pastor)

Passing the Peace (all share gestures and words of peace; pastor)

Time for Children “Welcoming Wonder” Seeing the holidays through a child’s eye. (pastor)

We Rest in God’s Grace

Prayer and Silence (pastor) Let us shift into silence in God’s presence 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) Beloved “Mister Rogers” – Rev. Fred Rogers – an ordained Presbyterian minister commented: “I’m very concerned that our society is much more interested in information than wonder, in noise rather than silence.” This Advent, with God’s help, we will attempt to shift from information to being open to Holy Wonder.

When we are awake and hopeful we are more likely to perceive God’s transforming presence. Jesus told his disciples to expect the unexpected – for God’s timeline and God’s plans will not be revealed to us in advance.

May God grant us the grace to trust the unknown, leaning into the goodness of God and the wideness of Holy Compassion. Amen. (kms)

Special Music (musician)

We Listen

Scripture: Mark 13:33-37 (version: CEB) Jesus is speaking to his disciples:

“Watch out! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming. It is as if someone took a trip, left the household behind, and put the servants in charge, giving each one a job to do, and told the doorkeeper to stay alert. Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows in the early morning or at daybreak. Don’t let him show up when you weren’t expecting and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: Stay alert!” (ceb)

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

Reflection: “Holy Wonder: Hopeful Vulnerability” (pastor) We always celebrate Christmas on December 25th, but no created being on earth or in heaven knows when The Living Christ will arrive. Being open to Holy Wonder is expecting to be surprised.

Reflection Hymn: “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” Chalice #119, all verses (musician, pastor)

We Pray

Prayer Requests (pastor; all)

Pastoral Prayer (pastor) Wondrous God, sometimes we are weary. Sometimes our faith wears thin and we nod in our steadfast commitment to You. On this first Sunday of Advent, may we hear the resounding voice of Christ telling us to “Wake Up!” “Stay Alert!” We really do want to believe You are about to do something amazing. Ever Good God, light a fire of hope in us when the night is long and the sky is dark. Call us toward You into Holy Wonder that we might be ready when You are. Amen. (kms)

Prayers of the People, Private Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer (pastor)

Offering Our Praise “Doxology” (musician; all)

We Transition

Announcements (pastor)

  • This Saturday: Church Retreat
  • Next Sunday: “Holy Wonder” Advent continues!
  • Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services this year

Sung Blessing: “Go in Peace” Chalice #445 (sing 2x’s) (musician)

Benediction (pastor) Remember the enchanting magic of the holiday season when wonder came easily? May God bless all of us with a second innocence that allows us to believe in Jesus Christ’s rebirth among us in ways and means and at times and places we cannot even imagine! Dear Ones, let us go forth with hope and curiosity – open to Holy Wonder. Peace be with you! Amen.

Postlude (musician)

The service is concluded.

Worship Resources:

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

(tl) Ted Loder, Guerrillas of Grace © 1984, LuraMedia. Dear Rev Loder entered Heaven in 2021. His books remain a beautiful collection of dynamic, honest Christian faith. Peace be upon him and all who carry him in their hearts.

(CEB) Common English Bible. Copyright © 2011, Common English Bible.

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!

Copyright Note: Copyright laws changed in December 2020 when Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). Please check with your legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content online. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Protect the rights of content creators. Thank you!

Online Publishing Date: November 22, 2022.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please attribute source and observe ethical use of all resources. Follow your platforms’ publishing requirements for all created content especially if publishing online or broadcasting. Thank you!

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”

Holy Wonder: Advent Candles Project

images & original written content: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber ©2022.

Jesus didn’t say a word about Advent Candles but he did have a lot to say about being open to Holy Wonder. The practice of playing with color is a lovely spiritual practice. This year, we’re making very unique Advent Candles – four — one for each Sunday before Christmas. Please scroll down for posts about Holy Wonder weekly themes.

This is a great project for folks of all ages, especially on Thanksgiving weekend. We light the First Advent Candle on Sunday, November 27, 2022. These precious candles also make wonderful Christmas gifts. Enjoy!

Supplies Needed

4 Glass Container Candles: matching tall votive wax candles OR smaller glass containers with battery or wax candles. (photo: baby food jars). Remove all labels; clean the glass.

Art supplies:

  • various colors of tissue paper, used works very well. If you’re traditional use mostly purples, blues, dark pinks.
  • white school glue
  • pourable water
  • small bowl for glue/water mixture
  • brush/es – a flat end with flexible bristles works best * rags*
  • OPTIONAL: “practice” glass jars

Preparation

  • Select a flat workspace protective surface due to potential glue-water drips.
  • Tear tissue into pieces of all sizes and shapes – tiny to bigger. Note: ragged edges look the best (IMHO).
  • Squirt glue into bowl – not a lot. Using brush, gently stir in water until glue is still thick, but easy to paint with.

Create!

If you like, practice on jars first to get a feel for the technique.

  • Paint some glue-water on the glass and then place a bit of torn tissue paper into the sticky surface.
  • Use the brush to smooth out the paper and attach it. Enjoy listening to what color, what shape, wants to go where. Try overlapping papers. Have fun!
  • Rotate the candle to create decoration on all sides, as you wish. The decoration may be the same or different. Follow your intuition.
  • If you REALLY don’t like what you’ve done, wet the candle exterior and scrape off decorations and begin again.
  • If you’re taking a break, leave your brush in water (short break) or completely rise out brush (long break).
  • Place Candles in a safe place to try. If your decoration comes to the bottom, be sure to place on top of a non-stick surface to dry.
  • Enjoy your beautiful candles!

Clean Up

  • Seal the glue container.
  • Transfer leftover glue-water to sealable container for reuse.
  • Clean the brush, bowl, and water container.
  • Store loose paper bits and bigger pieces of paper.

More!

Follow “Living Liturgies” page on FB for weekly posts as we build our household and sanctuary Advent Wreaths – a new candle each week! Also, on “Living Liturgies” FB page or my website www.inthebiglove look for weekly worship/devotional content about Holy Wonder. God bless you and yours as we prepare to encounter Holy Wonder and the grace of the rebirth of Christ in us, our communities, and throughout the cosmos.

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!

Online Publishing Date: November 16, 2022.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please attribute source and observe ethical use of all resources. Follow your platforms’ publishing requirements for all created content especially if publishing online or broadcasting. Thank you!

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”

Reign of Christ * Thanksgiving/Stewardship Sunday “This and That” * Philippians 4:4-9 & Psalm 100 * Cultivating Peace Practice: Gratitude

Image & Original written content: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber ©2022.

Public Health Safety Note: As of November 6, 2022, Sunday morning worship services are inside in the Sanctuary. Please follow COVID/flu-safe protocols. Thank you!

We Gather

“Only the person who gives thanks for little things receives the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts God has in store for us, because we do not give thanks for daily gifts.” — Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 20th century German Christian Theologian

Prelude (musician)

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 by 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 For the Glory of God

Worship Team Musician Ian Pong, Liturgist Darlene Hamady, Pastor Rev. Kathryn Schreiber

Call to Worship (liturgist; Psalm 100 version: LTP) “A perfect dance of Thanksgiving. God’s people gather from the whole earth to enter the temple gates in procession and praise the God who is Lasting Love.”

A Psalm of Thanksgiving:

Shout with joy to the Lord, all the earth,

serve the Lord with gladness,

enter God’s presence with joy!

Know that the Lord is God,

our maker to whom we belong,

our shepherd, and we the flock.

Enter the temple gates,

the courtyard with thanks and praise;

give thanks and bless God’s name.

Indeed the Lord is good!

God’s love is forever,

faithful from age to age. Amen. (ltp)

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.

Light The Christ Candle and Altar Votives (pastor)

Votive Lighting Music (musician)

Opening Hymn: “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” Chalice #16 (musician)

Passing the Peace (all share gestures and words of peace; pastor)

Time for Children “Holiday Candles” This is the last Sunday for this Christ Candle. Next week we begin lighting Advent Candles. When will we light the NEW Christ Candle?

We Rest in God’s Grace

Prayer and Silence (pastor) Let us shift into silence in God’s presence 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) Gratitude is both an intentional practice and a spontaneous grace – a gift freely given by God. Choosing to be grateful, to give thanks for “this and that,” changes how we engage with life and open to God.

German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writes: “Only the person who gives thanks for little things receives the big things. We prevent God from giving us the great spiritual gifts God has in store for us because we do not give thanks for daily gifts.”

Let us be thankful for little things all the time. Let us practice gratitude hoping God will give us spiritual gifts we cannot now imagine. Amen. (kms)

Special Music (musician)

We Listen

Scripture: Philippians 4:4-9 (version: NRSV) St Paul’s advice to “all the saints in Jesus Christ who are in Philippi” continues to guide us as we grow in faith.

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. (nrsv)

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

Cultivating Peace Practice: Gratitude “Thank You for This and That” (pastor) The Way of Gratitude – thoughts and practices this Sunday before Thanksgiving.

Reflection Hymn: “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” Chalice #86 (musician)

We Pray

Prayer Requests (pastor; all)

Pastoral Prayer (pastor) Royal Christ, on this day, globally, we celebrate You as our Sovereign. Next Sunday, we’ll begin waiting, again, for You to be born among us. Thank You for this annual cycle of knowing and loving You!

As we prepare for Thanksgiving festivities may we not forget all our blessings are rooted in divine generosity. Call forth from our mouths appreciation for our good fortune while opening our consciousnesses to witnessing gifts everywhere.

We who enjoy many luxuries – more than enough love, or more than enough health, or more than enough goodwill, or more than enough wealth – touch our hearts with a joyful desire to share what You have abundantly given to us. Grant us the sweet hunger to express compassion as You did while here on earth.

We praise You, Royal Christ, Font of All Blessings! Amen. (kms)

Prayers of the People, Private Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer (pastor)

Offering Our Pledges (pastor) Almighty God, You have guided us through massive challenges and change the past few years. You are still guiding us forward, though we sometimes find it hard to hear Your voice. We pledge to keep listening, and trusting Your faithfulness. Lasting Love, today we offer our pledged prayers, goodwill, talents, and financial gifts to You for Your purposes. We return to You what You first gave us. Bless these offerings and use them to strengthen Christ’s Church, especially our ministry at BCCC. Amen. (kms)

Offering Our Praise “Doxology” (musician; all)

We Transition

Announcements (pastor)

  • Next Sunday: “Holy Wonder” Advent begins; invite guests!
  • Church Retreat: Sat Dec 3, 10am to 2pm at BCCC

Sung Blessing: “Go in Peace” Chalice #445 (sing 2x’s) (musician)

Benediction (pastor) Please place your hand on your heart and ask God to call a special gratitude into awareness. (pause) This is but one of millions of blessings God offers us. Let us remember these blessings when our spirits stray, for “Indeed the Lord is good! God’s love is forever, faithful from age to age.”

Peace upon you and those you will gather with this week. In the name of our Sovereign, our Beloved Jesus Christ. Amen.

Postlude (musician)

The service is concluded.

Worship Resources:

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

(LTP) Liturgical Training Publications. Copyright ©1995, Archdioceses of Chicago.

(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.

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!

Copyright Note: Copyright laws changed in December 2020 when Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). Please check with your legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content online. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Protect the rights of content creators. Thank you!

Online Publishing Date: November 16, 2022.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please attribute source and observe ethical use of all resources. Follow your platforms’ publishing requirements for all created content especially if publishing online or broadcasting. Thank you!

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”