Communion focusing on Justice for Women, Minorities and LGBTQ

Jesus, Lord of Love, we hear your invitation.

All are Loved by God and welcomed.

This Love changes how we see one another.

This Love embraces broken hearts and creates peace.

 

Encountering you, Great Love, causes us

to admit where we got it wrong

to own our part actively or in apathy allowing evil to thrive

to see how we have hurt you.

 

Great Love,

                We have not loved you,

                and we have not seen the image of your Love in one another.

                We have stripped humanity from one another in language and action.

                We have put our brothers and sisters in slavery

making them things to be owned, used, sold, abused

instead of siblings to be embraced.

                We have discriminated against your diversity of being.

                We have weaponized shame and minimalized the gift of difference.

                We have violently attacked the beauty of the Creator’s creation

                                with cat calls slandering women as the weaker sex

                                and turning acts of intimacy into rape and power.

                We blamed the Gays for AIDS while we beat them bloody at Stonewall Inn.

                We have not loved you in one another.

Lord of Love, have mercy on us.

Forgive us, we pray.

Free us to see your Great Love in each child of God

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Amen.

 

Beloved, hear the good news:

Christ died for us while we were still captive to hatred and apathy.

This proves God’s Great Love toward us.

In the Name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!

In the Name of Jesus Christ, you are forgiven!

Glory to the God of Love!  Amen.

 

God’s Great Love is with you.

And also with you.

Lift up your broken hearts that God might heal them.

We lift them up to the Lord.

Give thanks to the God of Love.

It is right to give our thanks and praise.

 

Holy Love,

You are other, different, and unlike anything we will ever encounter.

And yet, you created us in your image.

We hear you in the dream of Martin Luther King.

We see you in the rainbow flag of Harvey Milk and Gilbert Baker.

We are shaped by your Words of Love

from Marjorie Matthews, Leontine Kelley, and Karen Oliveto.

You, Love, just won’t stop.

You, Love, continue as a persistent wind of prophetic change.

Our love is fickle, flagrant, and fails.

You, Love, have never failed.

 

You, Love, travel across the cosmos on the lips of your prophets,

the songs of your peoples, and all the saints of glory as they sing:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of Love and Beauty,

Heaven and Earth are full of your glory.

Hosanna in the Highest!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Hosanna in the Highest!

 

Holy Love,

You are among us as Jesus Christ, Word in Flesh.

You came welcoming the outcasts and scorning the in-crowd.

You kissed the leper, helped the lame to walk, the blind to see.

You, Jesus, broke human traditions to teach the Divine Traditions:

Compassion, Mercy, Grace, Jubilee.

By your own life, suffering, death, and resurrection

You gave us Love as community, as fellowship, as church.

You delivered us from hate and apathy.

You made with us a new promise of life in water and Spirit.

 

On the night in which Christ gave himself up for us,

he took the bread, gave thanks, broke it,

and gave it to his disciples, saying:

“Take eat, this is my body given for you.

Do this in remembrance of me.”

When the meal was over

he took the cup, gave thanks, gave it to all of his disciples,

and said:

“Drink from this all of you;

This is my blood of the new covenant,

Poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

 

Love makes us remember.

Love causes our hearts to change.

Love awakens in us a spirit of giving.

So we offer ourselves to you, to be a part of your selfless giving,

as we proclaim the mystery of faith:

 

Christ has died; Christ is risen; Christ will come again.

 

Holy Love,

Come among us as the Holy Spirit.

Come as the great Comforter.

Come as the great Sustainer.

Come, make this bread and this cup be for us the body and blood of Christ.

Come, make us be the body of Christ, diverse in grain and united in love.

Come, redeem us by the blood of Christ, crushed in suffering and poured out in love.

 

Give us the vision, the perspective, and the dream of the Kingdom of God here on earth.

Reveal your presence as we take each other’s hands and join in one voice.

Unite us all in You, Great Love,

in the name of the Creator, Redeemer, and Guide, Amen.

(C)2019 Nathan Decker, Worshipswake.wordpress.com

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Prayer for Dreams

Lord of Vision through night and day:
Our nights and days are filled with nightmares
where hatred divides and differences are highlighted to exclude.
Give us dreams.
Fill our minds with insights into a bright future.
Fill our hearts with love to reach out to one another.
Fill our souls with your promises and your presence.
All because of Christ who died, Christ who is risen, and Christ who comes again.  Amen.

Call to Worship Jesus Dreams

Jesus shared the dream:
The Kingdom of God come down on Earth.
Jesus saw a world where all had enough
Give us this day our daily bread
Jesus saw a place of reconnecting the broken
Forgive us as we Forgive
Jesus cast a vision where love overwhelmed hatred and delivered us to a new beginning.
Lead us.
Jesus share your dreams today.
Amen.
(C)2019, Nathan Decker

What Happens when a Church Splits

What Happens when a Church Splits

by Nathan Decker

“The history of the Church of Rome is a constant leakage of members into such breakaway cults,

which go on splitting.”  Mary Douglas

 

I’ve been here before.  I watched while I was in college as the Southern Baptist Church split and fractured into an alphabet soup of CBF, SBC, Alliance and all sorts of brands.  Dying and grief are processes.  There is a process the United Methodist Church is entering which feels all too familiar, as if someone has started music we have to dance to, even though we don’t like the steps it is making us take.

At first there is an attempt at reconciling the differing views (and yes, I get the irony of my use of that word).  When this fails, we begin making each other out to be the enemy.  Like children on a playground sorting who is on who’s side, we grieve the loss of longtime friends to the other side and question each other about our motives, faithfulness, and views.  Tragically, this has already started with the statements by people about the Wesleyan Covenant Association and the Reconciling Movement.  This is messy because there is something about being human that wants it to be a simple left or right, yet we are complex.  There is a lot of space between on the spectrum of any question.

There is only so much energy and institutional loyalty and patience.  When the side who has the votes refuses again and again to compromise for the good of unity, eventually the minority recognizes that they are not only unwelcomed but also are being systematically disenfranchised.  It starts small, a position here and there.  Then because those in power need to know who is faithful, they will create a creedal litmus test like the Baptist Faith and Message which all must take an oath to uphold and follow.  For us in the United Methodist Church, we already have this in the oath all clergy take regarding the Book of Discipline.  The General Conference created accountability with teeth and a spirit of division instead an accountability of love and grace.  There was no interest in compromise.

Unless God intervenes to stop the music we keep playing, the next step in our dance will be a split.  Try as we might to be dignified and respectful, this step is painful for all involved.  There will be a fight about who is the ‘historic United Methodists’ who represent the core values of the denomination.  Progressives/Centrists will accuse Traditionalists of stealing their church from them while Traditionalists will accuse Progressives/Centrists of watering down the Gospel to be more like the culture.

Those who stay in the denomination will find they suddenly have power to finally ‘fix’ the church, and they will shoot themselves in the foot trying to keep their coalition together once the so called enemy they named is no longer with them.  They will have the option to step aside and let new leadership rise from within the ranks, or they will try to find a new enemy to keep their shrinking gathering together.  The most difficult problem will be that infused in the DNA of the church now is a strong belief of ‘Us vs. Them.”  The church will always see the world as the enemy who must be conquered.

Those who leave to create a new denomination will have an even harder task.  There will be an old guard who want to create what they just left with only the one change to be inclusive.  But they will have to face a growling beast of differing opinions who want to create something brand new.  There will be so many suggested changes to structure and the way we do missions; it will be messy.  Some will assume because of past position and prestige they will be the leaders of this new group, but they will find others see opportunity or feel called to do so as well.  The saddest part of any church splitting is the expense of energy in division instead of the pursuit of multiplying and being fruitful.

My hope is not in the United Methodist Church.  My hope is not in institutions, interpretations, or in being right at the expense of relationships.  My hope is in the Savior who taught us that in order to experience resurrection, we first have to die.  We have to die to self.  We have let our egos, our agendas, and our belief that we know the right answers and right paths die.  We have to die so that we can experience resurrection in Jesus.  In many ways, the church that ordained me as an Elder has died.  Like all deaths, this death has brought me great grief.  But I wait, as Christ waited in the tomb three days.  I wait for Easter.  I wait for resurrection.   After all, it is what Jesus would do.

 

No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends.

– Jesus in John 15:13

Worship for First Sunday of Lent 2019 “Temptation”

Call to Worship by Nathan Decker

God, we hunger for a word of guidance from you.

The desert winds have dried up our springs of hope.

The stones look like bread, and we throw them at the needy in our disillusion.

Our leap of faith suddenly feels like a fall from grace.

We have worshiped power.

We have failed to love one another.

We have failed to hear one another.

We have failed you.

But you Christ faced these temptations.

You refuted the twisting of scriptures.

You denied trusting in false hope.

You stood firm against the easy road.

Oh, God forgive us

and lead us to the love of Christ on the Cross.

 

Morning Prayer by Nathan Decker

Christ who came as God in the flesh

and faced down the temptations:

                Lead us to the true bread of love so that all are fed.

                Lead us to leap in our love of God and Neighbor so that all are welcome.

                Lead us to fall down and worship you instead of power.

For you gave up the power of heaven,

For you were unwelcome among us on earth,

For you were hungry and left to die.

Christ who came as God in the flesh

help us face down the temptations you have conquered.  Amen.

(C)2019, Nathan Decker, http://www.worshipswake.wordpress.com

God the Baker

Great Baker,
Mix in our hearts the ingredients of your holiness.
Stir in us love, joy, peace, and mercy.
Sprinkle intentional faith that seeks to grow.
Add a dash of courage and the zest of passionate worship.
Fold into our innermost being your presence.
Help us rest so that we may rise.
Preheat the fire of Pentecost’s excitement,
and cook us with the warm grace of Christ.  Amen.

Thanksgiving Table Prayer

Thanksgiving Table Prayer
God of Abundance,
As we gather around this table,
We remember
   that this table is connected to your table,
   the one where you broke bread and gave it to your disciples.
We remember
   that all we have been given is a gift from you,
   a gift we are called to share.
We remember
   that Thanksgiving for us is not just a day
   but a way of living our lives in constant prayer to you.
We remember and give thanks today.
<Everyone around the table shares for what they are thankful>
We remember and give thanks today,
through Jesus who gave himself for each of us.  Amen.
(C)2018 Nathan Decker, worshipswake.wordpress.com

Call to Worship Psalm 100

—-Call to Worship adapted from Psalm 100—-
On your feet now, let’s give God a round of applause!
<Congregation Claps>
Bring God your joy.
Let God know you appreciate his presence.
Hear our Songs!
We love you GOD!
Know this:  God is God.
God made us, we didn’t make him.
We’re God’s people.  We the Shepherd’s sheep.
There is only one way to enter into God’s presence:
We come with a Spirit of Thanksgiving.
Thank you God!  Make your home inside our giving thanks!
Worship God.
For God is sheer beauty,
an overwhelming generosity of love,
faithful forever and ever.
(C) 2018 Nathan Decker, worshipswake.wordpress.com

Welcome Home – Call To Worship for Homecoming Sunday

Welcome Home

Home is not a building or a place we meet.

Home is not just where we came from.

Home is more than people and memories.

Home is more than sentimentality or traditions.

Home is toys on the floor.

Home is a mess in the kitchen.

Home is a welcome at the door.

Home is a hug of acceptance.

Home is the laughter around the table, bread and cup.

Home is remembering promises made in water and spirit.

Home is seeing where God is leading us

And going there together.

Welcome home to High Street UMC

where we welcome children, care for each other, and learn how to love.

Welcome Home.

Where we are better together.  Amen.

(C)2018 Nathan Decker,

Prayer for Pledge Sunday

Working, Saving, and Giving Lord,
You have called us 
   to be your disciples
   to go into the world proclaiming your good news
   and to care for lost, the least, and the left out.
Today, we are setting aside time for promises about our work, our savings, and our giving.
Whisper wisdom as we hold out our hands in hope, discern our part in your Kingdom work, and trust in you who gave all, Amen.

Reflection and Resources for Worshiping God. Please feel free to use the resources in worship. I only ask that you give credit.