This is our song of Gathering. Often we sing the words of Jesus here:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened…” which comes from Matthew 11:28-29 when Jesus quotes Psalm 81 and Jeremiah 6:16
Jesus would often quote stories, lines, and images from the Hebrew scriptures (After his resurrection, he explained everything about his identity as the Messiah by walking them through the arch of the laws, psalms, and stories in scripture.)
Welcome, Announcements, and Passing the Peace of Christ
Before his Crucifixion, Jesus bestowed “Peace” on his followers, After the Resurrection, the Gospel of John reports that at each surprising appearance Jesus said to his followers, “Peace be to you.”
Jesus talked about Peace as something that we receive, and pass on.
We begin worship always by acting this out. This is more than a greeting time, it is participating anew in the receiving and passing on of the mysterious Peace of Christ.
During the week, at the end of every daily prayer time, we often say:
“May the Peace of Christ
Walk with you on your long journey home.
We are all going Home together.”
This blessing implies that we are on a journey together to the presence of God, that we are doing this journey together and with Christ, and that just by journeying, our experience of “Home” has begun.
We sing together as an act of unification, release, and most importantly Praise.
We are unified in breath and musical vibration, as well as the shared brain chemistry of reading in unison. We release tension and stress with our participation in rhythm, melody, and harmony.
And we are “Praising.” This means that we are interacting with the unending Love God gives us by accepting it and reflecting it back. “Praise” is participating in “secure, loved-based attachment” to God. In scripture, this is referred to as our spirits bearing witness to the adoption Spirit of God.
Offering and Prayer Requests
This is the time when we share financial resources to support our ministries, hospitality, and upkeep. In the Christian tradition, members share 10% of income (a “tithe”) with the Church body, which is based on instructions in the ancient Hebrew scriptures about how to live together as a people of faith after the enslavement in Egypt.
Children are invited to share in a reflection more geared toward the young in heart
We read from the Scriptures which we understand to be inspired by God through many thousands of hands and thousands of years. These ancient scriptures come from Hebrew collections that were preserved and organized by enslaved people during the Babylonian Exile, and prophecies and prayers collected by threatened and powerless people under the thumb of mighty Empires. These are also Letters and Gospels written in Greek by the early Christian Church from prison cells, threatened house gatherings, and long journeys.
The Bible includes some books and not others as a “Canon” based on the Church’s collective experience of God’s Spirit using the text to bring life, healing, and guidance. We read the Scriptures in faith and also in the company of fellow believers from thousands of years ago and into the future.
Our Worship Service
Each Sunday we gather to celebrate and praise, to listen and sing, and to meditate on the Word of God that we have received through the Scriptures.
Paster John Garland and his puppet deliver the children's service on Sunday morning.
Words for the Journey
A “Sermon” is an ancient tradition in which a person meditates on a teaching or a passage of scripture, studies its context and hermeneutics, and prayerfully seeks an edifying word of application for the rest of the Church. The Sermon is a spiritual exercise in which the preacher prayerfully offers their voice and meditation as a tool for the work of God’s Spirit.
Song of Preparation
This song is generally a time to reflect on the words of the Sermon and prepare for a time of prayer and Communion.
Communion is the remembrance of Jesus’ last supper before the Crucifixion and Resurrection, in which he offered the traditional Passover meal as a symbol of his own suffering, death, and redeeming sacrifice for all of humanity.
He offers the bread as a symbol of his own body ripped apart. In the Passover meal, there are cups of wine that are lifed, each time remembering the liberating words God said over the people as they left enslavement. Jesus offers this cup of wine as a symbol of his own blood which is offered for the spiritual liberation of all.
Communion is intended as a very nasty ritual of seeing up close the horrors of human trauma, but then participating in that trauma being transformed into unity. The ripping apart and pouring out are healed into unity with one another and unity with God as we say “yes” to God’s offering of healing love.
Prayer and Candle Lighting
The bulletin often says:
“Light a candle as a physical representation of your prayer and thanksgiving… leave your prayer request on the table”
We light candles and leave prayer requests on the table as a symbol of the fragility of our hopes and desires and yet the unity and beauty of our faith offered back to God.
This is a time of blessing and sending.
Generally, we begin with the words that the first priests of the Exodus used to bless the people.
Song of Sending
This is a song to go out to. Generally it is centering and reflective, reminding us that worship is an experience of every day, and we leave a church building to go out into the rest of creation as a living Church tasked with witnessing God’s power and beauty, and sharing what we behold.