God, we pray for the suffering of the Tigray region, from ethnic cleansing that calls some of your children – despised and rejected, stricken, afflicted, bruised, by a perversion of justice cut off from the land of the living.
We pray for those grieving murder in the streets, and prevention of burying their dead. We pray for those raped whose lives are forever changed, and for villages destroyed, homes looted, atrocities beyond the limits of ongoing warfare.
We pray for those who flee massacre to refugee camps in the Sudan.
We pray for intervention with the strength of the United Nations, for support of the ongoing witness by Amnesty International of the human rights abuses, the departure of Amharans and Eritrians and, as people die from starvation for the opening of blocked access for humanitarian aid.
We pray through all the holy names of God, who does not quench a dimly burning wick. amen
(with allusions to Isaiah’s suffering servant songs)
God, I celebrate with Romania on this Mărțișor – first day of spring, glad for my friend who shares her tradition of the red and white string worn from this March 1 until the day when trees bloom, and then hung on the trees.
I confess, Holy One, that I know so little about my friend’s home – joys, sorrows, traditions, crises – because I wrap myself in my own country as if it were all the world.
I had never seen the sculpture of Constantin Brâncuși, read the poetry of Andrei Codrescu, nor did I know the tragedy of two covid hospital fires in the last few months.
Hear my prayer for Romania, and for my own knowing, small as a ladybug, other symbol of Mărțișor,
on this first day of March, first day of spring,
until I hang my small red and white symbol of hope on all the blooming trees of all the world. amen
This is my twelfth month sharing a service of Holy Communion designed for communities of faith in which all or many are sharing worship in their own homes with a few others or alone.
I am grateful to LL Kroouze DuBreuill for the photograph from her at home February Communion, offering the insight that we make something of the Communion we share that will feed ourselves or others, even when it is called “foolishness” by those who claim wisdom. “Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?” 1 Corinthians 1:20b)
This month I do touch on the scriptures of the Revised Common Lectionary, lightly, and in ways that do not require their use by those who follow the Narrative Lectionary or another way of choosing Sunday morning texts.
This communion liturgy is shared freely with churches. Please use or adapt pieces of this service helpful to the worship you plan. You may abridge or add freely language, music, gestures, and practices familiar to your faith community.
Announcement … for Sunday, February 28, or Monday, March 1
Next Sunday, March 7, we will share Holy Communion in morning worship. Those who bless and receive the sacrament at home, please prepare food for yourself and those with you as traveling rations on the Lenten journey. It may be a slice or roll of bread, a corn tortilla, Naan, or rice cake and a cup of juice — perhaps grape or cranberry — or wine, with or without alcohol. (For those who will be receiving the sacrament in a physically distanced gathering, the elements will be prepared for you / or please bring the elements you have prepared for yourselves from home.)
Celebration of Holy Communion
Invitation to Holy Communion, reflecting on the Ten Words of the Exodus (May be in one voice, responsive, or eight voices)
God brought us to this table, a place safe from human slaveries. We shall not treat our traditions like gods, or make idols of a particular Bread and Cup.
We will not imply that a sacrament shared at a kitchen table is less real than any other, for that is to misuse God’s name.
We remember that this virtual experience is worship, and keep it holy. Just because we can turn off our video to retrieve laundry to fold, and then fold it, we don’t. Working twenty-four-seven is too like a parable of morning-after the bigger barn project, and there is no beatitude ‘Blessed are the multitaskers.’
This virtual time is a sabbath to God. This sacrament’s consecration is in the story that stretches back to beyond the light years of light years.
We honor the communion of saints and name the ones precious to each of us personally, and then acknowledge those we do not know who have passed into grace, especially those who do not look like us, speak our language, love as we love, worship as we do – for their heritage is our heritage and the future of their children is our future.
We set down this sacred offering, confessing our complicity in things that kill, that betray, that steal (even if it legal) and committing to a reconciliation as real as this Bread and Cup.
We will not bear false news of our neighbors, or share, re-post, re-tweet it, nor will we doom scroll God’s Spirit within us.
We will not covet last year’s service or next year’s service. We will not covet sung kyries and glorias or the simplicity of “Let Us Break Bread Together,” in a time when we do not sing. We will not covet another community’s sophisticated technical platform or the homeyness of a pastor’s dog barking. We will not covet any other experience of the Body of Christ or the Cup of Blessing than the one we are sharing now.
Words of Remembering
In Lent we come to remember that there is a time not to eat the stones even when it seems useful, and there is a time for a meal scented with the uneconomical joy of a broken alabaster jar.
We remember that Jesus suggested in Bethany that one bowl with one selection is a good meal, but served a hillside picnic with so many leftovers, their gathered abundance could be shared with others.
We remember that Jesus turned over tables in the Temple and we confess that our church tables practices, plans and programs, should be overturned,
until our house be one of prayer and our table serve compassion to those most vulnerable.
And we remember that Jesus Christ sitting among those whose feet he had washed at the Passover table of precious and ancient tradition, anticipated betrayal and desertion, pain and even death,
but made a new Covenant of blessed bread and poured wine on a global table, inviting us always to share from our brokenness and grace.
Prayer of Consecration (from Psalm 19)
O God, the sky speaks your glory and deep space your creation. Daybreak announces hope and starlight sings rest in a language that needs no translation but joy. Nothing is hidden from you, and you make no barriers for human understanding. We are revived, enlivened, warned and comforted. Beyond even the bright and sweet parables of our lives, you free us from definitions of relationship based in dominion and being dominated and you lead us to words of reconciliation and grace. So reconciled, we pray –
Let the Bread of our mouths and the Cup upon which our hearts meditate, be acceptable to you, O God, at this ordinary table and in our lives of redeeming. Amen
(As is community’s tradition in silence or with music playing – break, touch or lift the bread, pour, touch or lift the cup)
Sharing of the Elements
Leader: Let us at many tables receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven. Unison: We come to Christ in the Bread we share. Leader: Let us in many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing. Unison: We come to Christ in the Cup we share.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Leader: In thanksgiving for this sustenance on our Lenten journey and the grace of holy dispersion in virtual worship, [and cautious re-gathering in familiar pews] we claim the story of Jesus Christ as our own, a path of healing and service, the cross and the ever-present truth of the resurrection. Let us pray ..
O Holy One, we come to you with our weariness and hope. We thank you for the rest and strength of this Communion so that we may re-turn our tables to service in the world and hear your words of guidance every day and every night through Christ who has taught us to pray, saying … Prayer of Our Savior
Where can I go from God’s spirit? Or where can I flee from God’s presence? If I ascend to heaven, God is there; if I make my bed in Sheol, God is there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there God’s hand shall lead me, and God’s right hand shall hold me fast,
but my global neighbors do not hold me fast, do not open the hand that holds vaccine, if I live in one hundred thirty countries that have received none, and many others who have received such limited doses.
For any rise of generosity in rich countries and manufacturers to fight vaccine nationalism, we give thanks.
For a new task force in the UN and COVAX attempts, we give thanks.
For anyone receiving an injection with gratitude, who cries out that health-justice should travel on the wings of everybody’s morning,
May the memory of Mya Thweh Thweh Khine, shot before her twentieth birthday and of those who died this weekend in protests against the coup live on in the courage of others.
May the ‘hunger games’ salute give hope to those young, and the messages and actions of other countries in the world feel like deep support.
In the face of bans and curfews, barbed wire, tear gas, rubber bullets, lethal weapons, threats of ‘loss of life,’ may we offer whatever is our prayer practice – mantra, salah, tefillah, intercession a simple breathing in and out –
for Yangon, Mandalay, Naypyidaw, for Dawei, Taunggyi, Myitkyina, and for Chin state, place of many friends.
Holy One, who blesses those that mourn and do not hurry into being comforted, we sit down into the loss of those we know, and those that now we’ll never have a chance to know.
We grieve the stories they will not live, the songs they will not sing, the children they will not have, the hope they will not offer to those around them, the inventions they will not patent,
the art, poetry, ink, music, shingling a house, legal argument, good tune-up and tire rotation, diagnosis, surgical procedure, gentle placement of a ventilator, dental cleaning, quilt, strawberry picking, produce counter stocking, life-guard undertow rescue, lullaby, recipe and vote that will never be made.
We grieve the birthday candles on cakes they will never taste.
We grieve for their parents and their children, their families, their colleagues and their friends.
We grieve memories slipping away waiting for memorial services.
We grieve that the very sadness ebbs away from weariness or the new whisper of good news.
O God, our masks are wet with tears and our fingers shake holding balloons at nursing home windows.
God is in the flowers, but God was not in the earthquake.
God was in the prayers of the world, the tears of those who grieve, the courage of rescuers, and these ten years of re-builders.
God is never in hurricane winds, or tsunami, tornado, blizzard, never in wild fires or war fires.
God walks today where earthquake has been. a still small voice, and flowers in the water, in Christchurch, Ōtautahi.
The commemoration this year in the summer of Aotearoa is to place flowers on the water in memory and celebration of February 22. I am posting this in my US Eastern time zone on the 21st because it is ow the 22nd there.
I acknowledge that there is still controversy about the Te Reo Māori name of this town, because Ōtautahi refers to a person and that may be considered an incorrect name for a place. I decided to follow the direction of the Māori Dictionary.
God, they are boiling water and it is simply to drink, except in places where there is no power for boiling.
They are lighting candles when the lights have gone out, and there are fires.
They face frozen pipelines and frost-bitten fingers, icy highways, desperate nursing homes, hospitals, and dialysis centers, waiting lines for propane, blankets, shelter and food, new guidelines for using melted snow.
Mostly, there is this new fear among the hurricane-wise, drought-savvy, tornado-ready, even, thanks to Harvey, flood-trained, who are so blizzard-innocent.
As winds, snow, deep cold endanger lives across all the country, and we grieve losses, encourage those who restore power, enable vaccine lines, support those who offer shelter with as much pandemic-protection as possible,
we pray especially for those across southern states, who learn quickly, but find themselves saying, like folks in an old church hall – “we’ve never done it this way.”