World Communion Sunday liturgy – October 3, 2010
Prepared by Teresa Stricklen Associate for Worship, Office of Theology and Worship, PC(USA)
The following liturgy was devised with consideration of these factors: • The Revised Common Lectionary lections for the day:
Lamentations 1:1-6, 3:19-26 OR Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4 and Psalm 37:1-9 2 Timothy 1:1-14 Luke 17:5-10
• Themes around World Communion Sunday • The fact that this is the Sunday that the Peacemaking Offering
(www.pcusa.org/peacemakingoffering) is taken in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) • The call of the National Council of Churches for a day of prayer for eco-justice on the first
Sunday of October 2010 (presbyterian.typepad.com/ecojourney)
OPENING SENTENCES from Lamentations 3:22-24 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases. God’s mercies are new every morning. Great is your faithful, O God!
The Lord is my portion. Therefore will I hope in God.
Trusting in God’s steadfast mercy that never ends, let us worship God.
HYMN “Great is Thy Faithfulness” PH 276
CALL TO CONFESSION Lamentations 3:25-26 God is good to those who wait upon the Lord, to the soul that seeks the Holy One. It is good that we should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. In penitence and trust, let us confess our individual sins in silence before joining together in our corporate confession.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Creating God, you fashioned a home of beauty for us to live in. But we have spoiled it with greed. Refusing to live within your dominion of shalom, we have ignored the needs of our fellow creatures. We’d rather be lord of our own lives. But we cannot ignore what our sin has wrought—pollution, poverty, oppression, abuse, violence, and extinction. Your people are hurting. Your planet cries out for justice. Forgive us, O Lord, and help us be the creatures you created us to be. Teach us once more your good Way, that we may participate in your mending of creation, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.ASSURANCE OF PARDON Hear the good news. We shall say it again: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; God’s mercies never come to an end. They are new every morning. Great is God’s faithfulness! For while we were yet sinning, Christ died for us, Christ rose for us, Christ reigns in power for us, Christ prays for us. Therefore, anyone who is in Christ is his servant, washed by his Living Water, fed at his banquet table as a friend. Friends, believe the good news. In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven and set free to share God’s love and peace.
EXCHANGE OF PEACE The peace of the Lord be with you And also with you. Amen.
HYMN “All Creatures of Our God and King” PH 455
PRAYER FOR ILLUMINATION With your Word, O Lord, you spoke and creation sprang forth. Send forth your brooding Spirit to hover over us that your new life might emerge within, among, and through us in the world to the glory of your holy name we pray. Amen.
SCRIPTURE READINGS Lamentations 1:1-6, 3:19-26 OR Habakkuk 1:1-4, 2:1-4 and Psalm 37:1-9 2 Timothy 1:1-14 Luke 17:5-10
These lections are so incongruous with the themes of World Communion Sunday that a preacher is sorely tempted to skip the laments and head straight for the New Testament. But the tradition of lament helps us mourn that which hurts and destroys and is not within God’s good intentions for creation. Sometimes it’s good for folks to hear a lament offer a reality check to all the songs of faith we sing in sermons.
A preacher could start out by talking about the tradition of lament that mourns for all the destruction wrought by oppression and sin. It’s a good tradition that reminds us that bad things still happen to good people in this world. It also serves to remind us of the many people across the world who, yet today, eat the bread of affliction while we feast on our bread of abundance. There are folks in our congregations as well who could use a good lament for the loss of their good life when they had a loved one, a job, a clear purpose, or even hope. Sing the song of their lives for awhile.
But don’t stay there. The good news of the gospel is that God hears our cries in the midst of our afflictions and sends Christ into our midst to teach us about God’s Way of shalom (i.e. justice, peace, harmony, health, well-being) for all of creation—for all its
people and for the planet and cosmos as well. Preach the gospel! For teaching us God’s Way, which challenges the sinful use of power that hurts and destroys, Jesus was crucified, knowing only too well what it is to undergo affliction.
But with his resurrection, the affliction of his body that had been beaten until palpable as bread transformed our human bread of affliction into manna from heaven as the Lord of Life gives us the strength to journey on in the great pilgrimage of faith that spans all space and time to unite us with brothers and sisters across this planet who join our prayers for the peace and well-being of all of creation. You may then imagine different people at different tables celebrating Christ’s unity in peace despite being in the midst of suffering situations.
As part of Christ’s body throughout the world, we work for peace.
Peacemaking Offering. You may be aided by the materials found here:
As the offering is brought forth from the back of the sanctuary, have people from the front, back, left and right set the communion table for a grand feast of color from around the world. .Have those bearing different cloths from around the world arrive first to spread cloths for the table. Have others literally coming from east and west and north and south in the sanctuary bearing all different kinds of breads and perhaps different wines to represent different cultures from around the world. Some congregations may want to join with our African brothers and sisters who dance these gifts up to the table with a lively rhythm banged out on a djembe. Work with your musician to find appropriate world music offered to God in thanksgiving and praise. You may wish to consider “Let Us Offer to the Father” in Sing the Faith (#2262).
INVITATION TO THE TABLE The Lord of the Cosmos has invited all who have pledged their allegiance to him to partake of this foretaste of the Great Feast of God’s New Age where people will come from north and south and east and west to sit in the light of God’s peace.
THE GREAT PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
It is our greatest joy to give you thanks and praise
for you looked upon all your hands wrought and called it good. You smiled upon purple mountains soaring above wildflower plains where grasses raise their backs to meet your Spirit’s caress as it blows the leaves of trees into a shimmer of light. You sent clouds scuttling across reflective waters and set stars to wink upon the earth in deep, knowing delight. You call the tune for dolphins dancing in the play of waves. giraffes deliberating across savannahs, birds singing in full-throated praise and children’s giggles as they roam free in your image. When we use our freedom for ourselves alone without regard for your goodness, you chase after us to save us from sin’s harm, freeing us from slavery to give us a new world flowing with milk and honey. When we chase after other gods, you call us back to you through the cries of prophets until at last you send your own child to be for us the goodness we refuse.
Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with the choir of creation and all the saints of all times and places who forever sing to the glory of your name:
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed are you, O Christ, for coming to us as a little child to live baptized in the muck of our fallen world. Embodying God’s desire to bless all people you spoke peace to a war-mongering empire, and were blessed to be a blessing to all people When threatened with the terror of crucifixion, you did not keep silent but stood up with resurrection new life to turn the bread of human affliction into manna from heaven
and the bitter cup of sin into the sweet joy of celebration.
So even as we lament at the entrance to your dark, empty tomb we proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
Praise be you, Holy Spirit, blowing through time to enliven your people, the church, to live as Christ’s body, in God’s ministry of redeeming and blessing the world. Come hover over us now with your bright brooding wings in the breaking of bread and celebration of this cup, that our eyes may be opened to recognize Christ among us and in all who share in this feast today that we may be knit more closely together in your ministry of peace and shalom for the world you so love. We offer ourselves, our lives, our resources, to be your hands reaching into the world with your unfathomable compassion. Fill us like breath fills flutes to be instruments of your peace. Where there is lack of regard for your creation prod us to speak, “Peace!” Where people fail to see the dignity of all persons, help us open blind eyes. Where there is silence about others being hurt, impassion us with a desire for justice. Lord, your creation groans under abuse. Renew the earth with goodness. Lord, your children are starving across this globe. *To those who hunger give bread. And to those who have bread
give hunger for justice. *1 Innocent people languish in prisons, some for standing up for your Way. Release the captives, Lord. O God, our Sovereign, leaders in all lands take bribes and oppress their peoples. Topple oppressive powers and send the rich empty away. The sick suffer forgotten in pain. Heal their hurts in body, mind, and spirit. Your church luxuriates in the comfort of faith. Send us to be your servants in service to the world. This we pray with all the saints across time and space who pray as you taught us saying,
THE LORD’S PRAYER BREAKING OF THE BREAD
If they have not been previously spoken, the Words of Institution may be used at the Breaking of the Bread.
During communion, you may wish to sing “We Come to This Table.”
“We Come to This Table” KREMSER 220.127.116.11 (“We Gather Together”)
We come to this table, O God, with thanksgiving. We lift up our hearts, we remember, we pray. We hear Jesus’ welcome— inviting, forgiving; We know your Spirit’s peace as we feast here today.
We dine at your table as sisters and brothers, Diverse in our cultures, yet nourished as one. The bread and the cup that we share here with others Are gifts uniting all who are claimed by your Son.
We grieve for your world here; we cry, “How much longer?” We pray for the cycles of violence to cease.
1 The prayer between the asterisks is from Presbyterian Peacemaking Program, W. Mark Koenig, ed., Justice and Peace Shall Kiss: Praying through the Year (Louisville: Presbyterian Church (USA), n.d.), 17.
Yet here, in Christ broken, we’re fed and made stronger To labor in his name for a world filled with peace.
We rise from this table with new dedication To feed the world’s children, to free the oppressed, To clear out the minefields, to care for creation; We pray, O God of peace, that our work will be blest.2
Other appropriate communion music may include hymns of praise from other countries.
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not God’s benefits! Help us rise in your resurrection power from this table where you have served us, O Lord, by your own hand, that we may extend your arms in peace to a world at war. This we ask through Christ, in Christ, with Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit. May all honor and glory and dominion be yours now and forevermore. Amen.
HYMN “The Church’s One Foundation” PH 442
CHARGE As the body of Christ, go be manna for those who know only the bread of affliction. Lift up the cup of salvation to those thirsty for Christ’s Living Water.
BENEDICTION May the Lord bless you and keep you; may God’s face shine with delight, as the Lord looks upon you with favor and gives you the power and peace of Holy Spirit. Amen.
2 Text: Copyright 2002 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. All rights reserved. Copied from Songs of Grace: New Hymns for God and Neighbor by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (Discipleship Resources – Upper Room Books, 2009). Email: firstname.lastname@example.org A complete list of Carolyn’s 160+ hymns can be found at www.carolynshymns.com. The words are offered here by permission of the author.