There is always the temptation in life to diddle around making itsy-bitsy friends and meals and journeys for itsy-bitsy years on end. It is all so self-conscious, so apparently moral to simply step aside from the gaps where the creeks and winds pour down, saying, I never merited this grace, quite rightly, and then to sulk along the rest of your days on the edge of rage. I won’t have it. The world is wilder than that in all directions, more dangerous and bitter, more extravagant and bright. We are making hay when we should be making whoopee; raising tomatoes when we should be raising Cain, or Lazarus.
Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, p 274
CALL TO WORSHIP
Leader: Wild Source of bright, extravagant life,
we come to celebrate our relationship with you.
Voice 1: We gather close enough
to recognize the presence of your Holy Spirit
flowing in us, around us, and through us
like a penetrating wind.
Voice 2: We bring our whole selves to this circle of promise,
ready to be tempted by the love you offer
through the transforming life of Jesus.
All: Fill us to overflowing, O wild Source of life,
until we feel your loving, daring Spirit in each other,
as we gather in the name of Jesus, the Messiah.
WORD FOR THE CHILDREN
Leader: We long to step into the gaps
where the creeks and winds pour down.
People: But usually the trips we take are bland travels,
neither extravagant nor bright.
Leader: We long to claim the grace you offer as our own,
to raise both Cain and Lazarus.
People: But most of the time
we are more concerned about our own comfort.
Leader: So we fool around our self-indulgent lives,
playing it safe for years on end.
All: Forgive us, Holy One,
for we are people of partial vision and limited courage.
Leader: The Holy One knows each of us
in our failures and limitations
as well as in our joys and accomplishments.
All of us are held and loved and forgiven,
our vision broadened, our courage deepened.
PRAYERS OF THANKSGIVING AND INTERCESSION
PRAYER OF COMMITMENT
All: O Holy One, we come today
to claim our relationship with you.
We pray for the commitment to grow together,
sharing the gifts you give us with others
here and in the wider world.
Forgive us for the hurt we have inflicted,
and help us forgive those who have hurt us.
Give us strength and discipline
to nurture our relationship with you;
to care for every part of your creation;
to foster justice and be in solidarity with those in need;
to work to end all war, and violence, and discord;
and to respond joyfully when you call,
freely giving our selves as you have shown the way.
We open our hearts to you and your creation
in the name of Jesus, who is the Christ. Amen.
Leader 1: This is the table of the Heavenly Feast,
the joyful celebration of the people of God.
Leader 2: We gather now as one body, joined around the table.
Here we celebrate God’s presence among us
united in Christ’s spirit, broken and whole all at once;
All: Nourished and hungry, loved and loving,
sinner and forgiven; we make one circle of knowing,
believing, rejoicing, being,
as God lights and rests among us.
Leader 1: Holy Maker of creeks and winds and grace,
we give you thanks for your promise
to stand with us in every temptation,
to give us strength to live in the wildness of your love,.
People: We give you thanks for your Holy Spirit,
who gives us the power to fast and to pray,
who fills us with courage
to withstand every temptation.
Leader 2: We give you thanks for your Holy Child, Jesus,
who raised Lazarus from the dead
and taught us how to resist the temptation
to step aside from the wildness of your creation.
People: We give you thanks for your Holy Church,
in which we learn to live in deep communion
with one another, with the world around us,
and with you.
BLESSING THE ELEMENTS
Leader 1: Christ invites everyone to eat the bread of life,
to drink the cup of the new covenant.
Leader 2: Jesus said, I am the bread of life.
You who come to me shall never hunger,
You who believe in me shall never thirst.
Leader 1: On the night of his arrest, Jesus took bread,
and after giving thanks to God, broke it and said,
This is my body,
broken for the healing of the world.
Whenever you eat it, do so remembering me.
Leader 2: After supper, Jesus took the cup and said,
This is the cup of the new covenant,
poured out for you and for all.
Whenever you drink it, do so remembering me.
All: O Holy One, send down your Spirit
that these gifts of bread and cup
may be for us the body and blood of Christ.
Unite us with Christ forever
and bring us with the whole creation
to your eternal realm.
SHARE THE ELEMENTS
[If you do not wish to receive the elements today you are welcome to join the circle and allow them to pass, or remain in your seat. We serve grape juice in our cups.]
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING AND DEDICATION
All: God of abundance and mercy,
we give joyful thanks
for your eternal love and healing presence
in our celebration of bread and cup.
Bless this body of Christ
that we may attend faithfully
to our call to be your servants,
with each other and throughout the world.
Leader: Let us go out into the wild world, into the gaps
where creeks and winds pour down.
Let us go feeding the hungry, healing the broken,
and raising the dead,
for the Holy One goes with us,
strengthening and blessing us always.