A pdf version of this essay is available here. Hover over the footnotes to see them.
Butler tells us that the church in France was a mess in the third century. Christianity never really did sink in with those people. You'll notice that St. Paul was on his way to Spain, not Gaul, when he was picked up on a charge of breathing while Christian. He wrote to the church in Rome explaining his missionary labors, probably as a fundraiser. He'd been all over Greece, Turkey, Syria, and Israel, but never France. Never even mentioned it. St. Paul was a realist.
Despite that, things had gotten off to a good start with the French church. Then came Decius, and out went a bunch of Christians. After the heat died down, Pope Fabian sent Denis, along with his friend Rusticus and Eleutherius, to try to build things up again in the north. They settled on the Île de la Cité in the River Seine among a Celtic tribe called the Parisii. They were horrible people. Not much has changed.
Denis, Rusticus and Eleutherius were successful in their ministry. So successful in fact that their efforts aroused the jealousy of local pagan priests. Don't you hate when that happens?
On this day, along about 275, the three were executed on the highest point around, which was probably a Druidic sacrifice site. Today it's known as Montmartre, Martyr's Hill. Or maybe it comes from the Roman god Mars. The French aren't terribly fussy when it comes to these things. Today, you can find artists, rich people, and can-can dancing still. I have no idea why. There are also two churches on Montmartre. Neither of them has anything to do with Denis. This makes no sense at all, but remember where you are.
Denis' legend says that he was beheaded. That's bad enough. Even worse, he is supposed to have picked up his head and walked with it six miles while preaching a sermon. My family thinks it's bad enough when I go on for 25 minutes. At least they have the comfort of knowing that I will shut up eventually. Come to think of it, so did Denis.
Where Denis' body dropped is where the local Christians built a small chapel and later a larger church on top of it. It's not the one with the hunchback, that's another one. To tell you the truth, while it seems like a pleasant enough place, Denis' church is neither the largest nor the most important in Paris. Nevertheless it's where the kings of France have traditionally decided to be buried. Clovis I was the first. He consolidated the Frankish tribes by force. His original name, Hlodowig, probably means "Famous Battle." He could be buried anywhere he damn well pleased. Everybody else just followed suit. After Clovis died, his kingdom was divided among his sons Theuderic, Chlodomer, Childebert, and Clotaire. Things fell to pieces after that. They would with kids like that. Clovis' kingdom wasn't the only thing that fell apart: the Basilica of St. Denis used to have two towers. After being struck by lightning and taking further damage from a storm, the larger north tower began to crumble. The church decided to take it down before it fell down. They meant to put it back up eventually, so they stored the stone behind the church. There it sits today. In 1992 somebody decided they should get around to fixing the place up. In 2013, the mayor of Paris announced they were going to get serious about the project in 2015. Well, it's 2015 now, and do you suppose anything's happened?
The basilica and the abbey next door adopted a flag called the oriflamme, which featured a sun radiating flames. It's an impressive symbol, even if it's not tattooed on Henry Rollins' back. As Denis became the patron saint of Paris, the French royalty took the flag as their battle standard. While it was raised in combat, the French army swore to take no prisoners. This was meant to intimidate their opponents. It never worked. Being the man to carry the flag into battle was a great honor. It often resulted in getting killed. That part worked. War was weird back then. Things haven't improved much since. The oriflamme was the standard of French armies until the Battle of Agincourt, when the English defeated the French and slaughtered a bunch of prisoners. I wouldn't want to be reminded of that either.
Denis seems to have left a great deal of conflict in his wake. Artists struggled to figure out where to put his halo. You know, a saint only has so many hands, and six miles is a long way to walk when you're dead. Then there's the matter of how much of his head to depict. Some artists showed just down to his jawline. Others go a little farther down his neck. This reminds me of contemporary arguments about beards for some reason. To make matters worse, there was a beef between the monks at the Abbey St. Denis, who said they had the saint's entire body, and the monks at Notre Dame (that's the one with the hunchback) who claimed to have the top of his head. It seems like a silly thing to argue about, but there it is.
Another dispute over the ages concerns the name Denis itself. It can be spelled Denis, Dennis, or Denys. I suppose you could include Denise in there. I wouldn't. We say nothing of menaces, though it seems like he was one in his afterlife. "Denis" may be a corruption of the Greek name Dionysius. But which one? There's Dionysius the Aeropagite and pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, and Dionysius the disciple of Paul. Peter Abelard, a member of the monastic community at St. Denis, joked around that it could be another Dionysius altogether. How many Dionysiuses do you need, anyway? Apparently Abelard's brothers lacked a sense of humor. They kicked him out for insulting the abbey and the kingdom. Abelard had a hard time getting along with people. Except Heloise, and we all know how that ended.
Denis is considered one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, saints whose intercession is considerably highly effective, especially against physical ailments. They're also comedy gold. There is a light rail station named after him, not far from the basilica. People pray to Denis for help with demonic possession and headaches. Personally, I think he should be the patron saint of Congress, but maybe that's a little too on the nose. Or top of the head, depending on whose side you take.
This morning's scriptures should certainly be familiar to you. They are both read fairly often at weddings, along with 1 Corinthians 13, of course. "Love is patient, love is kind…" If you pay attention to such things, they are also often used in support of what's often termed "traditional marriage," or sometimes "Biblical marriage." Male and female God made them, we are told: it's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve.
And so it goes: "For this reason, a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh," Genesis says and Jesus echoes.
Whoever divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery.
So: no same-sex marriage, and no divorce. I must say, as far as commandments go, these leave something to be desired. It'll be a while before we know how same-sex marriage plays out in our society, but how's that "until death do us part" thing working for us? Jesus isn't holding back too many people from divorce, as far as I can tell.
It won't surprise you to hear that I think these passages are misinterpreted. With no disrespect intended for the people who believe in "traditional marriage," they don't prove anything like what some folks would like them to. I want to explain why that is, not to argue against their definition of marriage, but because it is so common to read these passages with that very narrow focus, and I think there's quite a lot more to them than that.
Let's start with Genesis. In the days when it was written, it was not uncommon for people to believe that there were separate creator gods for men and women, or even for the different parts of nature: the birds are made by this god, the fish by that one, the earth a completely different one. To make things just that much more confusing, ancient people didn't always think the gods they worshiped were the same ones that created everything. One of the most popular cults of Jesus' time was veneration of the goddess Isis, who was born of the god of the earth and goddess of the sky. Against all of this the Hebrews were emphatic: there is one God, our God, who created everything: plants, animals, birds, bees, cows, earth, wind and fire, both male and female. The emphasis of today's story, in other words, isn't that God made two different sexes; it's that he made both of them. Apparently he made them pretty well, too. We don't hear of any friction between Adam and Eve before they eat the fruit. Nor do we hear of Adam lording things over Eve. They appear to be equals well-suited to one another's company, and the text implies that's as it should be.
In the same way, it would be wrong to read about a man becoming one flesh with his wife as commanding marriage only between partners of opposite sexes. Ancient people had no concept of same-sex marriage. Heck, neither did we until pretty recently. So the authors of Genesis would look at you funny if you told them that this passage was meant to say only men and women could get married. Wait, what? There's another option? That's not what it's about at all!
Look back at what comes just before it, the part Jesus skips in his quote:
This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,
for out of Man this one was taken.
We are all made of the same stuff. The Hebrew makes this abundantly clear: the word for man is 'ish, and the word for woman is 'ishshah, which is just the feminine version of the same word. God made us all, whether male or female, and God made us all good. Furthermore: God made us to be together. It is a blessing for a man to have a woman to join with "as one flesh" not because their bodies were made for one another, but because we are created as social beings. The drive to be joined with another person in mystical union is a basic human trait, shared by nearly all people, whether gay or straight. Some folks, of course, would rather be on their own. We don't shame and dehumanize them. I see no reason why we should put down the people who want to be united with someone of the same sex, instead of the opposite.
I digress. The point is that understanding the Genesis lesson helps us make sense of what Jesus says in Mark. The Pharisees are asking Jesus what we today would call a "gotcha" question. They hope that they can get him to say something offensive that will make him less popular with the crowd. Jesus sidesteps them by affirming what Moses had decided: divorce is bad, but sometimes necessary. Then he points the Pharisees back to the Genesis text, reminding them that we are made for one another. Not just made for one another: we are made to be in permanent union with one another, to give and to receive in covenant.
It's worth pointing out that when Jesus explains his lesson to the Pharisees to his own disciples, he talks about both husbands and wives divorcing one another. That's important because in Jewish law, only men could divorce their spouse. If a man was unfaithful to his wife, that was just too bad for her. But in the Greco-Roman world—that is to say, the people the gospel of Mark is addressed to—both men and women could sue for divorce. That means that Jesus is setting a higher-than-normal standard for those who want to become Christians. The heck with divorce being a sin. To follow Jesus means to be faithful to one another as God is faithful to humanity. That's tough!
Because we are created in the image of a God who wants to be in covenant with us, we are made for covenant with one another, and those bonds should not be set aside. It is not wrong to get divorced so much as it is not true to who we are and who we were meant to be. This is why Jesus swings immediately from talking about divorce to talking about welcoming children and welcoming the kingdom of God in the same way that they do. Children are open and accepting. They make and keep friends. More important, they want to reach Jesus, God himself. Why would you stop somebody who wants to be in covenant with the living God? Because it's "not the way we do things"? It's in the nature of children to want to reach out, and they should be allowed to do so.
To give and take in covenant; to be so united with another as to be almost one person; to reach out one's hand to God and to want to be touched by him; these are all part of the nature with which we were created.
They are also part and parcel of the "fullness of life" we are given in our baptisms. We live new lives in Christ, joyful and completed in our faith in, and connection to, God and one another. This is fundamentally what Jesus is trying to get the Pharisees and his disciples to see: being faithful to one another, being open to one another, is its own reward. The life we are promised takes hold in the here and now. When we treat one another with openness, dignity, mutuality, and commitment, we receive them in return. That's it! There is nothing, not a thing, in either of these texts about eternal punishment or being sent to Hell for breaking the rules. It is simply, again, that we were made for one another. For and with one another is how we ought to live, not breaking covenant out of selfishness or holding ourselves as better than others, as adults sometimes do with children.
That extends beyond the limits of husbands and wives, beyond even the family. We are meant to live united not just with one other person, but with a sheltering and life-giving community. The life of the church is where Christians find life itself. I will leave out the part of the sermon where I tell you how to live with a spouse or a family. For most of you, if you haven't figured it out already, you're probably not going to now. But I will tell you this: stay with one another. Live as one people with your friends and family in the church. They need it and so do you. And when your new pastor comes, be united with her and faithful to her. Welcome her as though you were one, and with the openness of children. Not because she will be the representative of Christ among you. Because that's what you should do with everyone. It's the right thing to do, and it will be true to the very nature you were given in birth and in baptism, and indeed in the very creation. Amen.
Last week, I spoke somewhat clumsily about seeing the face of Jesus in the world, and allowing them to see his face in us. The point I was fumbling toward has already been well-stated in the gospel of Matthew, where Jesus tells his disciples,
"I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me…Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me."
I have stayed away from this text because too often, the call to minister to those in need becomes an occasion for sorrow, rather than joy. We do not need to be reminded of what we cannot do. We need to be pointed toward what we can. This has been a constant theme of mine, and I see no reason to belabor the point.
But let's face it, folks. We are in the soup. We are about to find out exactly what we can and cannot do. We have heard the call to show hospitality to strangers and responded to it. Now we have to live up to our commitment.
As I say in the newsletter, I want to apologize a bit in regards to that commitment. When I first spoke with the folks at World Vision, she emphasized that the greatest need was to provide conversation partners for the refugees coming in so that they could unpack their experiences of war and flight from danger. I think she meant that just talking to these people, becoming their friends, was the most valuable thing churches could provide. I mistook that to mean it was all World Vision was asking from churches. That was wrong.
So we have this laundry list of needs for the A.S. family, and not much time in which to fill it. But I know you. I know that you are good and generous people and filled with compassion for people in need. If we apply ourselves, we can have that list covered by the time we leave this morning.
It may be a little harder to get to four families (or individuals) willing to work closely with the A.S.'s, or to volunteer to shuttle them from place to place as needed. But we can do that, too. I am confident.
We can talk about how we are going to get the job done, and who will do it later. I will set that subject aside as well with only this encouragement: this is not a time for you, individually, to sit back and see who else will do the work. As always, do what you can, but if you can, do. We have actually had too many volunteers at the rummage sale and the Chicken and Ribs dinner. There wasn't enough work to go around. It would be nice to see that same spirit in our ministry with the A.S. family. As with our fundraisers, the demand for your time will be limited: we have a six-month commitment, and we won't need everyone every day. And as with our fundraisers, I think that if you think about it, you will see that this ministry is needed to keep our church going.
Because the why of this job is that it is who we are as a community. It establishes our identity as a family of Christ in the the world. You are kind and generous people, as we have established. More important, however, kindness and generosity are what constitute us as a Christian community. The content of Christian faith is humility, kindness and hearts open to generosity. These things are necessary if we are to continue to be who are meant to be. They are the salt of our existence, to put it in Jesus' words.
This is why the exhortation to show hospitality to strangers in the letter to the Hebrews comes in a section devoted to sustaining the community. "Let mutual love continue," the author says. Without mutual love, no grouping of people can sustain itself, whether Christian or not. "Let marriage be held in honor by all…keep your lives free from the love of money," because those things are destructive of community. But also, "Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them," and "those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured." Or as we might say today, "Remember those who fled their country because of war and persecution as though you yourself were being forced to flee." Identifying with those in need as though they were ourselves is what Christian communities—churches—do. It makes us who we are.
The why of this ministry is that we care for the A.S. family because they are us, in another form, and they are Jesus in another form. It is as necessary for us to show them kindness as it is for us to show it to ourselves. If a member of Bethany were forced to leave her home with almost nothing, we would hold nothing back to make sure that person was taken care of. We owe this new family nothing less.
I have tried to avoid calling the A.S.'s "refugees" this morning, and I ask you to do the same. This is not some abstract group that's happened to show up on our doorstep. They are, of course, people: a mother, a father, and a daughter. They have names and faces, hopes, dreams, fears and needs that we will come to know in time. But we must know them as people, as our new neighbors, as our brother and sisters separated from us and now brought near to us again.
Pope Francis has spent the better part of the last week telling anyone who would listen that they should set aside ideology and focus instead on persons. What he meant was that so often we divide ourselves up into little groups—little tribes, really—and we put up artificial dividing lines. If you are in our tribe, you deserve our love and care. If you are not in our tribe, you are the enemy. You deserve and you get nothing. In the modern age, we fancy this up by coming up with ideas about the best way to help those in need: liberalism or conservatism or what have you. We then allow those ideas to blind us to the plain fact of the people in need standing before us. Our ideas, in other words, too often amount to nothing more than sophisticated justifications of our tribalism.
We may discover this to be the case as we work with the A.S's. Too many Americans are biased against Muslims, especially those from the Middle East. Partly that is simple racism, and partly it is the unjustified fear of "the enemy." There will be people in Oshkosh who object to resettling Syrians in our community. We must resist such efforts at division because the people who will be resettled—the A.S's and others—are after all us.
In the face of mistrust and bigotry, we can say with confidence,
The Lord is my helper;
I will not be afraid.
What can anyone do to me?
And indeed, what can they do? Prevent us from being a kind and generous community? Only we can do that to ourselves.
I hope we will not. I said just a minute ago that what makes a community Christian is humility, kindness and open hearts, and the ability to identify with Jesus in the people we minister to. That last part is particularly important. Again, as you have heard me say before, people don't want to be a part of churches that exist only for their own sake. They want to be a part of something meaningful beyond simply taking care of oneself. What I have not told you is that increasingly young people see the church as not only distracted from the work of ministry, but actually a barrier to it. The institution of the church, with its overhead costs for buildings and pews and pastors, only gets in the way of caring for people in need. There's no need for that.
seeing the face of Jesus than I could in a homily he delivered yesterday in Philadelphia:
How many young people in our parishes and schools have … high ideals, generosity of spirit, and love for Christ and the Church! Do we challenge them? Do we make space for them and help them to do their part? To find ways of sharing their enthusiasm and gifts with our communities, above all in works of mercy and concern for others? Do we share our own joy and enthusiasm in serving the Lord?
One of the great challenges facing the Church in this generation is to foster in all the faithful a sense of personal responsibility for the Church’s mission, and to enable them to fulfill that responsibility as missionary disciples, as a leaven of the Gospel in our world. This will require creativity in adapting to changed situations, carrying forward the legacy of the past not primarily by maintaining our structures and institutions, which have served us well, but above all by being open to the possibilities which the Spirit opens up to us and communicating the joy of the Gospel, daily and in every season of our life.
The only hope for the church to survive into this new age is to make clear why it exists: to "offer a sacrifice of praise to God by doing good and sharing what it has." If we or any other church are to make it, we will have to remind ourselves again and again of our purpose, which is to let the love of God that we have experienced in Christ Jesus flow through us into the world. Our identity is to be humble servants to real flesh-and-blood people like the A.S. family, because we live only in Christ, who tells us that he can be found in them.
We should not neglect to show hospitality to strangers because our identity and our survival are intimately tied up in theirs. In their flourishing, we find our own.
The other day, Lil and I were fine-tuning the paragraph we'll use essentially to sell Bethany to prospective ministers. In that paragraph, we talked about the new ministries that have begun here: the little free library, the neighborhood association, helping to resettle the al Sakkas. At the end, we said, "We see these as the beginning of our ministries, not the end." I certainly hope that is true, not as a command, but as blessing. In our baptisms, we have received the gift of new life connected to one another in love and mutuality. May we live that life offering hospitality to those angels who we now find among us. Amen.
Someone asked me the other day, in reference to the church, "How do you get people interested in serving the community?"
I assumed he wasn't looking for an actual answer, so I left my response with something like, "Yeah, it's tough." But I have theories!
The answer I should have given was, "You let them. You let them get interested." I don't mean this in the sense of reverse psychology, of persuading kids to pay to paint the fence for you. No matter how you dress it up, something you have to do is something you have to do, an unpleasant task is still an unpleasant task. Charging for the privilege of painting may have worked once for Huck and Finn, but in the long run, their friends would have caught on and come to resent the manipulation. That kind of thing simply doesn't work in an ongoing community.
But listen: when Bill was little, he was often interested in what Jen was doing in the kitchen. So she let him help her when she could. Occasionally, she'd teach him how to make something simple that he liked: scrambled eggs, mac and cheese, a grilled cheese sandwich. That, along with some natural inclination, means the kid can cook now. At age 12, he's more able in the kitchen than a lot of grown men, and more important, he wants to do it. Not all the time, mind you. But he's good at it when he does cook, and there is nothing forced or inauthentic about it when he does. He's in the kitchen because he chooses to be there. He welcomes the opportunity.
This is more or less the approach I have taken with you when it comes to ministry. I let you have fun with the food drive for the Salvation Army—you all were so pleased when you got rid of the beard—and I've given you some other opportunities along the way. Some of those you took, others not. But all along, I've tried to stay away from the language of requirement, or of urging you to do your duty. The minute you start thinking in those terms, it kills the fun and turns it into a burden. And who wants to be burdened?
In any case, the result has been something like with Bill in the kitchen. You don't always want to take up the work of ministry—you're selective about what you do—and like Bill, you're sometimes capable of more than you think you are. But when you do take it up, you do just fine, and more to the point, you want to do it. You welcome the opportunity. That, along with you natural confidence and ability, leads to good things.
(It occurs to me here that one of the things we tell Bill also applies to you. "If you can cook dinner for somebody else," we say, "You will never lack for a date." To which he always responds, "Then I'm never cooking for anyone." You get my drift.)
You do indeed get my drift, I'm sure. Like the disciples in Mark's gospel, we are meant to welcome our opportunities with the enthusiasm of children. Children are excited by the chance to flex new muscles, to do new things. Anyone who's watched a kid with his training wheels freshly removed taking the bike up and down the street for a couple of hours at a stretch knows this.
Now, obviously, I'm getting the story a bit backwards here: Jesus tells the disciples to welcome children, not welcome like children. I don't care, I'm rolling with it. But it's true that we are called upon to welcome the weak, the poor, the powerless into our lives, not the strong, the rich, the powerful. If you want to be a leader, Jesus tells his disciples, if you want to be greatest, you have to be among the least, and welcome the least. In his day, that meant children, the most marginalized of people.
The other thing I've got backwards is that Jesus of course does not say, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes a neighborhood ministry opportunity." He says, "Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me." When you welcome a child, or any person pushed to the corners of our society, you are not welcoming the image of Jesus, or a symbol of Jesus. You are taking part in the resurrected life and encountering Jesus himself, the Risen Lord and Savior, true God from true God. Notice that this lesson isn't about how the disciples are to be nice to kids. It's about who Jesus is, as the Messiah.
This is what separates the work of Christian ministry from simply doing good in our community. Ministry is more than being inspired by Jesus as a role model. That's what Unitarians and others who don't believe in the divinity of Jesus do. It's more than helping others because that's what we think we've been told to do by Jesus. It's more even than meeting someone and by welcoming or serving them have them point us in the direction of Jesus. It's a real experience, the content of what it means to live and to be in the presence of Jesus himself.
That, in turn, is why I've mostly suggested welcoming refugees as a ministry, or practicing hospitality with people who are different than ourselves. Jen didn't bother teaching Bill how to cook fish; he doesn't like it, he won't do it. You're not soup-kitchen or Habitat for Humanity people, partly because they exceed your reach, partly because they're just not your style. But when we—we, you and I—welcome people, we experience Christ, and through him God the Father. There is no magic to this, no hocus-pocus: you meet a child, you actually meet Jesus. That's it, that's all. There's your salvation, there's your fullness of life.
This is understandably difficult for us to perceive. We see a child, or a refugee, or someone else we should be welcoming, and we see that person, not Jesus. How do we attune ourselves to the presence of Christ before us?
We come to the communion table.
In the same way that welcoming a child is more than just an inspired act or a symbolic act, so communion is more than just something we do because Jesus tells us to, or because it symbolizes the forgiveness of our sins and our union with Jesus and other Christians. In the bread and the wine, we actually are forgiven. We actually are joined to Jesus and the church throughout time and space. We actually are fed by Jesus and participate once again in the resurrected life. We actually do experience the bread of heaven as the fundamental food that sustains our whole lives. Or at least we should: that's what it's there for.
Think of it this way: the bread and the wine aren't vehicles of grace. They don't represent our salvation, they're not symbols of Jesus. They are Jesus, and in them, we learn what it means to be in his presence. It is to be filled, to be loved, to be cared for, to know that one's life is precious to God and so to be supported. Because we know that, we can in turn learn what it truly means to see Jesus in the little children and the other "least of these." Strange as it sounds, bread and wine teach us to recognize Jesus.
It is also true that we are best able to do this when somebody lets us, rather than makes us. As soon as the church made baptism and communion symbolic rituals that had to be done, not for themselves, but for some kind of separate salvation, people started to lose interest in them. Because once it's not something that you get to do, once it's something that you're supposed to do, you're right back to striving to be the greatest by how early or often you can be baptized, or how many times you can take communion. It's only when we can choose that we can choose to be the least, rather than the greatest, and it's only when we can choose to be the least that we can see Jesus' face in the face of the people we encounter and welcome him.
Or to put it in much simpler terms: God's in the kitchen, making up some bread, and some wine. Would you like to pull up a stool and help? You might learn a thing or two. It's up to you. Amen.
Ringing Of The Church Bells
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, are with us in truth and love.* Amen. Thanks be to God.
Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord, O my soul!
Let us praise the Lord as long as we live;
We will sing praises to our God all our life.
God will reign forever, your God, for all generations.
Praise the Lord!
Confession and Forgiveness
Happy are those who way is blameless,
who walk in the law of the Lord.
Happy are those who keep God's decrees,
who seek God with their whole heart,
who do no wrong, but walk in God's ways.
We have done wrong, O Lord.
We have been thoughtless, hurtful, and cruel.
Save us from ourselves: teach us to be last, not first.
Open our hearts. Make us faithful and good to one another.
Jesus, son of David, have mercy on us.
For we know that you have borne our sins and removed them by your sacrifice.
We are a forgiven people.
Amen. Thanks be to God.
Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be,
World without end, Amen, Amen.
Passing the Peace
Peace be with you. And also with you.
Prayers of the People
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God. Let us place our hope and trust in that God and pray for the world and ourselves.
May those of fearful heart find strength and courage in God. In faith we pray to you our God.
May the eyes of the blind be opened, the ears of the deaf unstopped, the lame walk and the speechless sing for joy. In faith we pray to you our God.
May waters break forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert; may our earth and its environment be protected from drought and heat. In faith we pray to you our God.
May the dying find peace. In faith we pray to you our God.
May those who labor find rest and fair treatment for their work. In faith we pray to you our God.
May the oppressed receive justice, the hungry food, the prisoner freedom; may the orphan and the stranger receive God's sheltering care. In faith we pray to you our God.
May all our family and friends who suffer from illness and injury, especially…, be given God's grace and tender mercy. In faith we pray to you our God.
For the healing and the acceptance we are given by Jesus, In faith and thanksgiving we pray to you our God.
We pray to you our God as Christ himself taught us, saying:
The Lord's Prayer
Our Father, who art in Heaven,
hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil,
for Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory,
forever and ever. Amen.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
Prayer of Dedication
Lord God, the God of both the rich and the poor, accept our offerings. Bless our generosity and help us to share our bread with the poor. Amen.
"You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied," says the Lord our God. Therefore, let us praise God, who has dealt wondrously with us. Amen. Thanks be to God!
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
He alone is worthy of our praise.
It is right to give you thanks and praise, God our Father. Through you and your generous creation, the fields and pastures are green; the trees bear fruit, and the vines give their full yield. Through you the barns are full and our cups overflow with the plenty you have given us.
In your Son Jesus Christ, you have made it possible for us to turn away from our sins and be saved. In him, you welcome all people, the least and the humblest first, the strong and the proud last, even us, whose hearts yearn to be created anew in his image.
In your Holy Spirit, you have given us the wisdom to see the heavens tell of your glory and of your love for us. In the Spirit you renew all things and pass into holy souls to make them your friends.
In gratitude for your work in creation and in the human heart, with the faithful in every time and age and with all the heavenly host, we praise your name and sing in adoration:
♫Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty,
All your works shall praise your name on earth and sky and sea;
Holy, holy, holy, merciful and mighty,
God in three persons, blessed Trinity.
God of earth and sky and sea, most tender God who loves us like father and mother, send your Holy Spirit on us and on these gifts of bread and wine that they may be for us the body and blood of Christ, who...
Words of Institution
On the night before he gave himself up to humility and death, took bread and gave you thanks, broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying: "Take, eat. This is my body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of me."
In the same way, he also took the cup, gave you thanks and gave it to them, saying: "Drink this, all of you; this is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."
Therefore, let us proclaim the mystery of faith:
Christ has died.
Christ is risen.
Christ will come again.
Send your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these our gifts, so that we, when we eat this bread and drink this wine, may receive our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
Distribution of the Elements
Blessed be God who feeds all people.
Blessed be God who makes new all creation.
Come, for you are invited to eat with Jesus at his table.
The body of Christ, that is given for you. Take and eat.
The blood of Christ, that is shed for you. Take and drink.
Prayer after Communion
Let us give thanks for the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world. Amen.
Christ Jesus, bread of heaven, you heal us, you accept us, you feed us in our need. Now show your love to the world through us and make it new once more. Amen.
God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. Indeed, God did not send the Son into the world to condemn it, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Go forth with the blessing of God the Father, + the Son, and the Holy Spirit, with open hearts and with the freedom to love and to serve. Amen. Thanks be to God.
*Or: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, the Father's Son, who will be with us in truth and love. Amen. Thanks be to God.