Thursday, November 16, 2006

Communion morsels

I presided over a communion service in my worship class today. My mind and spirit are still contemplating the experience, so I'm at a loss for words. But I thought I'd share a few of the pieces of the service that I wrote myself. The service was based on the Thanksgiving lectionary and I called it a Service of Grace and Gratitude.

Welcome and Greeting

We come together this day in gratitude for friends, family, fellowship and faith, aware of God’s abundance and presence in our midst and aware of our responsibility as followers of Christ to share that abundance throughout Creation.

Prayer for Illumination

Holy Spirit, we welcome and celebrate your presence among us and in us, opening our hearts and minds and souls to the abundance of God’s word. In hearing Scripture read and proclaimed, may we thrive and grow in our faith and in the fruits of our faith. Amen.

First Scripture Lesson
Joel 2:21-27

Second Scripture Lesson
Matthew 6:25-33

(We were told to write a VERY brief sermon.)

Rejoice and be glad.
The prophet Joel tells us not only to rejoice and be glad but not to fear.
Jesus tells us not to worry but instead to strive for the kingdom of God and in so doing our needs will be satisfied.
We live in abundance not scarcity, yet we are aware of those whose poverty oppresses them.
Throughout his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus instructs us to care for the poor – both those who suffer an economic poverty that leads to hunger and despair and those who suffer a poverty of spirit that leads to hopelessness.
Sustained by the bounty of our own blessings, both in times of joy and times of challenge, let us thank God for these gifts and commit anew to share them in kin-dom with one another and all Creation.
Thanks be to the loving and eternal Spirit of God.

1st Prayer of Thanksgiving to God
(Also known as Preface A)

With boundless joy we give thanks to you, O God of our Creation.
From that first spark of life and Spirit you set the cosmos in motion, you breathed life into humanity, you brought light into the world.
Your love amazes us, for even when our love turns to doubt or fear, your love is constant and immense.
You delivered our ancestors in faith from captivity and you deliver us daily from the bonds that keep us from living into our promise as people created in your image. You freed your people and made a covenant to always be with us.
You have spoken to us through prophets and you speak truth to us through one another.

The Holy, Holy, Holy comes here.

2nd Prayer of Thanksgiving to God
(Also known as Preface B

Nurturing God, your greatest gift to us is the grace we know through Jesus Christ.
Your Spirit descended on him and was ever-apparent in his ministry.
Through his teachings and example you showed us
how to be in meaningful relationship with the poor,
how to care for those who seek release from burdens,
how to free the souls of the weary and anxious
and how to proclaim the Good News of grace and abundant love.
In an act of unimaginable love, you delivered us from hopelessness to grace through Jesus, and made a new covenant with us through water and the Spirit.
When Jesus died and rose again into eternity, he promised to abide with us always in your Word and Holy Spirit.

Sending Forth

We are blest, indeed. Go forth to share those blessings in your homes and in the world. Go in thanksgiving and go in peace.

Much about this worship was meaningful to me. To my surprise, the preparation of the service was as worshipful as the service itself and I was more moved by practicing the service alone in the chapel than during class. But, during class, it was clear that people were wearing two hats: evaluators and worshippers.

At the end, as I gave the sending forth, there was a point where I caught site of our evaluator and I could tell she was looking at me as a pastor, seeing me as a pastor. After class, as we talked more freely than in the formal evaluation, she said: When I saw you deliver the sending forth, I thought, I can't wait to see you in your robes.

Thanks be to God for communion and thanks be to the Spirit for her presence in communion and throughout the world. And glory be to Jesus whose teachings and example show us the way to the kin-dom of God.

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