worship format and original content: Rev. Kathryn M. Schreiber (c) 2021
As the Living God guides us through these pandemic-impacted times, as social justice reforms arise, we freely offer this worship content for you to adapt for your needs.
About a year ago the coronavirus converted our congregations from sanctuary-based to home-based ministries. This Lent we reflect upon our calling to be the Christian Community in new ways. May we be open to reinvention by the Holy Spirit.
Time for Children of All Ages
Spiritual Practice: Butterfly Hug Technique to sooth an anxious spirit
Call to Worship
We are blessed by God the Creator
who provides all living beings
with what we need to thrive.
We are blessed by God the Christ
who takes human form
to liberate bodies and souls.
We are blessed by God the Spirit
who animates the mortal realm
with holy wisdom.
We are the Christian community
filled with hope and promise
in this world and the next. Amen.
Light the Christ Candle
*Song: ”Be Thou My Vision” Words: Mary E Byrne; Music: Traditional Irish melody. Performed by Audrey Assad. TuneCore (on behalf of Fortunate Fall Records); Music Services, Inc. (Publishing), LatinAutorPerf, BMI – Broadcast Music Inc., Adorando Publishing, and 6 Music Rights Societies. (Chalice #595)
We Rest in God’s Grace
Releasing and Receiving
This Lent we intentionally focus upon our faith community. Today, we pause to reflect on our calling as Christians to care for bodies and souls – our own and those of others. Pay attention to your whole self. How are you today? Tell God. Maybe you’re concerned about someone? Share those thoughts and feelings. Be open, honest, and know that God is listening. When you are ready to move on, say “Amen,” with gratitude in your heart.
Shift into simply being with God, silently. A helpful way to enter sacred silence is to offer this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10:
Be still and know that I am God. (pause)
Be still and know that I am. (pause)
Be still and know. (pause)
Be still. (pause)
Rest in God’s loving presence for as long as you wish. When you’re ready to move on, take a deep breath, let it out, thank God, and say, “Amen.”
Jesus had a deep love for the souls and bodies of each person he encountered. He did not divide the person into two spheres of reality, rather he met each person as a whole being – fully physical, fully spiritual. Jesus understood each one’s material and sacred needs. The Living Christ meets us every moment of our earthly days in this way, too.
Be still and let a memory rise. Remember a time when you experienced an act of physical care that touched your spirit, too. Maybe it was a glass of water offered when you were very thirsty? Or the compassion of a skilled healer attending your medical needs? These are enfleshed moments of grace when God was tending you – body and soul. What grace!
Scripture: Matthew 6:9-13 (NRSV) St Matthew’s version of the Lord’s Prayer
Pray then in this way: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one.”
May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.
Quotes about Care of Souls and Society:
“My business is anything that comes between men and the Spirit of God.” – Richard Llewellyn, How Green Was My Valley
“When religion becomes so involved in a future good ‘over yonder’ that it forgets the present evils over here it is as dry as dust religion and needs to be condemned.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
“Any gospel which does not embrace both ‘evangelism’ and ‘social action’ is a counterfeit, offering either an escapist’s dream, which leaves power structures of the world untouched, or a mere social reform which leaves the soaring spiritual dimension of reality out of consideration, and thereby dooms itself to compromise and failure.” – N.T. Wright, Spiritual and Religious
“We are not here as a church to manipulate the State or to live in it with privilege and pomp. We are not called simply to bind up the wounds of those the system oppresses. We are surely called as the Church of Acts to be prophetic presence in its midst, the voice of the prophets in our time. Why? Because we pray daily, ‘Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,’ and so we must do something to bring it.” – Sister Joan Chittister, essay in Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century
“Members of these two camps of the Church [evangelists and social gospelers] need to heed the wisdom of Elton Trueblood, the Quaker philosopher, who taught that the most important word in the Bible is and. It is not either personal piety or social witness. It is both.” – Rev. Dr. James A. Forbes, Jr, essay in Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century
Reflection: “Piety and Justice”
A little over 100 years ago, Rev. Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), who’d begun his ministry among the poor of New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, wrote a seminal text: Christianity and the Social Crisis. It was published in 1907. Noting the growing chasm between rich and poor in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, Rauschenbusch was deeply concerned that Protestant Christianity was focused, nearly exclusively, on the salvation of souls. Did not God also care about the bodies of dedicated people who were sick and died too soon due to social injustices? Rauschenbusch, along with others in what is now called the “Social Gospel Movement,” rose up to challenge the American Church to reclaim the Hebrew Prophets and the teachings of Jesus Christ amid a rising moral demand to attend to the lives of those suffering on earth. He took to heart the words of Jesus’ teachings and actions, especially the prayer asking for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
His great-grandson, Rev. Paul Raushenbush, would begin his ministry in the poor slums of Brazil. In the “favelas.” Paul’s first religious impulse was to criticize social systems. However, his pastoral heart understood that the youth in his care had unmet spiritual needs, too. He found in his great-grandfather’s work a call to tend body and soul. To honor the 100th anniversary of his great-grandfather’s classic that changed the American Church, Paul asked contemporary Christian leaders from evangelical and social justice camps to pen essays to accompany the original text. The result is Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century. (wr/pr) (A serious text that I’m reading slowly, carefully.)
In 2021 we still experience a false dichotomy of the calling to live the Gospel. We have been pitted against each other and taught to mistrust each other. This is not the way of Jesus Christ’s true Church. The ministry of Jesus Christ is always an integrative effort to uplift the whole person, body and soul, here on earth and in heaven.
This week we mark one year of radically changed lives due to the pandemic. The past 12-months have showed us just how deeply we are interconnected one to another. We have witnessed the power of an invisible virus. What if a similar powerful force (the Holy Spirit) is stirring within us infecting us with an integrated Gospel, one that cares for the eternal wellbeing of each soul and the dignity of all persons? God may be asking all of us to blur hard edges to better embody the Christian Community. May God’s will be done! Amen. Soli Deo Gloria. (Glory to God Alone)
Sermon: “Souls and Society” Following Jesus’ lead, sharing a broad Gospel
Special Music: “One Love / Ue O Muite Aruko” “One Love” written by Bob Marley and “Ue O Muite Aruko” (“Sukiyaki”) words by Rokusake Ei; music by Hachidai Nakamura. 1961. Blended performance by various artists for “SING OUT from JAPAN” after the March 11, 2010 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami. Offered this week, the 10-year anniversary, in solidarity with survivors and anti-nuclear efforts.
Prayers of the People, The Lord’s Prayer
We Give Thanks
This forth Sunday of Lent we reflect on “Body and Soul.” God’s call through Jesus Christ invites us to seek personal salvation and community uplift. (also see donation footnote)
One Great Hour of Sharing Offering
On Sunday March 21, 2021, Berkeley Chinese Community Church will bless donations made to the “One Great Hour of Sharing” ecumenical fund which provides assistance internationally. In 2020, giving to OGHS fell drastically as churches responded to immediate pandemic needs. This year, we are asked to give generously to continue support for our global partners who depend upon this fund. Thank you! BCCC folks: Please send your check donations to the church Treasurer, “OGHS” in the note area. Others may donate online to the national fund: https://www.ucc.org/giving/donate-now/general-donation/
OGHS video: “Let Love Flow’ OGHS funds will be used to bring water to villages
We Continue in Hope
Song: “Community of Christ” Words: Shirley Erena Murray, 1985. Music: Hebrew Melody; arr. Meyer Leoni, 1780. David Myers, Jr., Vocals Linda Lambrides, Organ. North Yarmouth Congregational Church. Permission to podcast/stream the music in this video obtained from OneLicense.com with license # A-731487. Recorded 2020. (Chalice #655)
Jesus taught us to ask God
for God’s ultimate reality to come;
for God’s will to be done –
here on earth as it is in heaven.
Jesus told us to ask for our daily food,
and to seek and offer forgiveness.
Jesus still tends us body and soul.
This is our calling, too. Amen.
(the service is concluded)
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. Text formatted, adapted by Kathryn M. Schreiber, 2021.
(wr/pr) Christianity and the Social Crisis in the 21st Century, copyright © 2007, Walter Rauschenbusch, edited by Paul Raushenbush.
2/11/2021 UPDATED COPYRIGHT NOTE: Copyright laws have recently changed. Please check with your denominational legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content publicly. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Thank you.
Online Image: artwork: He Qui “Samaritan Woman”
Online Publishing Date: March 10, 2021.
Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow your platforms publishing requirements for all created content.
Donation for Use of Content: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is offered free. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!Living Liturgies: www.inthebiglove.com; Facebook: “Living Liturgies”; YouTu