Third Sunday of Creation Time: 2010

Third Sunday of Creation Time

Service of Worship for September 26, 2010

by Sally Armour Wotton

(Prepare the worship space; see notes on visual display attached.)

Gathering

Welcome to this holy space. We gather as a community with God and each other remembering that we are of the earth and one with all life.

Announcements

Call to Worship

Let us, as a sacred community in union with the universe, centre our minds and bodies to worship our Creator.

Opening Prayer

We gather together, Gracious Provider, in your presence,
to celebrate our oneness with the earth
and to seek forgiveness for the injuries we have caused.
Help us to hear the voices of our planet
and give us the will and the compassion
to respond with healing action.
In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.

Hymn of Praise

“Each Blade of Grass” (More Voices 37)

Exchange of the Peace of Christ

Let us exchange the peace of Christ with one another.
May the peace of Christ be with you.
And also with you.
(Exchange of the peace)

Children’s Moment

(See notes for children’s moment, attached.)

Readings

Epistle: 1 Timothy 6:6–19

Leader: A reading from Paul’s first letter to Timothy…
Hear the Spirit through these words.
Congregation: Thanks be to God.

Gospel: Luke 16:19-31 (See directions for mini-gospel drama, attached.)

Leader: The Holy Gospel according to Luke…
The Gospel of Christ.
Congregation: Thanks be to God

Sermon

(See sermon suggestions, attached.)

Silence for Reflection

(Two minutes. Optional: play “Be Still and Know That I Am God” from Lynn C. Bauman’s CD Songs of Presence.)

Confession

Let us confess our human failings to the One on whose grace and mercy we depend.

We, like the rich man,
ignore the cries of the prophets of today.
We have not heard them add their voices
to Moses and the prophets of old,
imploring us to repent
and change our self-serving ways.
We have shown indifference
to the many species disappearing from our midst,
the perforation of our fragile atmosphere,
the deadly pollution of our waters.
We have not cared for the starving, sore-covered earth,
the Lazarus at our gates.
All-powerful God of the Cosmos,
forgive us
and inspire in us the imagination
to redefine ourselves
as creatures of the earth—soil of your soil.
Grant us, Creator God,
the wisdom to hear your prophets,
to know that all pain is our pain
and all joy is our joy
as we work to restore your beautiful world.
Through Christ we pray. Amen.

(Silence)

Kyrie eleison
Christe eleison
Kyrie eleison

Assurance of Pardon

Trusting in God’s great love and mercy,
know we are forgive for our sins.
Feel presence of the Holiest Hope

as we regain our place
as partners with all the earth.
Let us breathe God’s love
through all we give and receive from others.

The Offering

(While receiving offering)
“Soil of God, You and I” (More Voices 174)

(When offering is presented)
The gifts of God for the nurture of the earth.
Thanks be to God

Prayer of Thanksgiving and Supplication

O Being of Infinite Wonder, we thank you for the beauty and true riches of the earth. We delight in your image shown in the trees, waters, stars, the song of a bird, a creature’s touch, the scent of rain. We are grateful for the ebbs and tides of our lives, the flow from joy to grief and back to joy again. Like the hairs on our heads our blessings are too numerous for anyone but you to count. Though the earth is small in your shining universe and we humans are but stardust in your grand design, we live in the knowledge of your love and protection. Only with your help may we conjure back your glorious vision. (Insert other prayers of the congregation.) Amen.

Hymn of Faith and Community Blessing

Leader: You are invited to make your way to the table in the centre aisle to bless one another with earth and water as a reminder of our oneness with all life.

(See directions for community blessing attached. Children could rejoin the gathered community at this time.)

Oneness Blessing

(to the tune of “Kum Ba Yah”)

With your blessing Lord
We are one
With your blessing Lord
We are one
With your blessing Lord
We are one
O Lord we are one

In your rivers Lord …
In your orchards Lord …
In your mountains Lord …
In your oceans Lord …
In your dreaming Lord …
In your mystery Lord …
In your cosmos Lord …
In your Spirit Lord …
(and/or any other onenesses you wish)

(A moment of silence.)

Hymn of Departure

“This Is God’s Wondrous World” (Voices United 296)

Commissioning for Mission

Let us go out into the world renewed by the Holy Spirit,
and strengthened by this community.
May we love our flesh and blood selves
as God loves us
so that we are able to care for our larger body,
the earth.
Let us turn our words into action and
place our hope and trust in the Eternal Mystery.

Thanks be to God

 

 

Sally Armour Wotton is a freelance writer and teaches storytelling and drama at Trinity College, School of Divinity, University of Toronto.


Further Suggestions and Background

Preparation with Youth

Have youth view Al Gore’s DVD An Inconvenient Truth, with discussion about our human role in the universe. Then plan an overnight youth excursion to a cottage, camp, or retreat centre, taking a digital camera and someone who knows the constellations. The youth could learn about and enjoy the sky while taking photos in various directions and at different times through the night. These photos could be developed and enlarged to provide a display in the chancel or around the church for this Sunday (or throughout the Season of Creation). The youth could include a scaled-down representation of the globe as part of the display.

Visual Display

Set a small table (or two if community is large) with an attractive bowl of earth, a clear or earthenware container of water, and a candle to be lit at the beginning of the service. Place this table in the midst of the worshiping community to remind us of our connection with all living things. The elements on this table will also be used during the service. It is most effective if the table is in place as people arrive, but it the choir processes up the centre aisle the table could also be placed immediately after the procession.

Children’s Moment

Find a large map of the world and glue it to a piece of bristle board. Draw lines to create a jigsaw puzzle of the map on the back of the cardboard.

After calling the children to the front, say or paraphrase the following:

The universe is like a great big jigsaw puzzle of living pieces—sun, moon, stars, planets, water, wind. And our earth is one small piece of that puzzle. The earth itself is also a jigsaw puzzle made up of even smaller pieces (show the map, front and back). Can we name some of those pieces? (Animals, people, trees, flowers, insects, birds, fish, rocks, hills—you could burst out with “the hills are alive with the sound of music” if you feel inclined.)

When all these living pieces of the earth are in place together, they are one. And each living being is a tiny but vital piece of the whole. What happens when a piece of a jigsaw puzzle is missing? The puzzle is no longer whole. Some pieces from our larger body the earth are already missing. Can anyone name some? (dinosaurs, and…) And some are almost gone (bald eagle, and…). Each living being is connected to the whole and is equally important to all and to God.

Let us pray: Thank you Creator God for our beautiful body the earth. Teach us to care for our earth as we wish to be cared for ourselves. Feed us with hope for the future and bring healing to all our living parts. We know that your love and protection are with us always, through Jesus Christ we pray. (Children go to church school.)

In class the jigsaw pieces are cut out and children can draw a living being—animal, person, flower, etc.—on the map side of each piece. Then put the puzzle together again on another piece of bristle board with a spot of glue under each piece. Display in public area when finished. Ask the class to come up with a title for this map of the world picture.

Directions for Mini-Gospel Drama

As the gospel storyteller, first memorize the gospel. Then in your imagination, place Abraham and Lazarus to one side of yourself at a distance. Place the rich man to the other side nearby. Visualize these three characters as clearly and in as much detail as possible—their clothing, their postures, their surroundings. The more clearly the teller sees these invisible characters the more clearly they will be ”seen” by the congregation.

Use character voices for the rich man and for Abraham and your usual voice for the narrator. If the rich man is on your left, look off and to the right when speaking to Abraham and Abraham will always look to the left to speak to the rich man. On the narration lines, look straight ahead at the congregation. (A good resource for basic acting skills can be found in the first 25 pages of my book Staging the Story.)

If no one wishes to take on this bit of drama, the text should still be memorized and told as a story. The gospel is the lens through which we look at creation on September 26.

Sermon Suggestions

I see the gospel as a creation metaphor with Lazarus representing the suffering earth; the rich man as the developed world; and Moses and the Prophets as the scientists, ecologists, and artists—our prophets of today—who try to warn us of the consequences of our lifestyles and choices regarding the survival of the earth. I particularly find the “fixed chasm” interesting. Is it our inherent inability to save the soul of another or to ask another to gain our salvation for us? Any parent knows the longing to save one’s child from stepping into the chasm of making bad choices or suffering of any kind. But we can’t. Nor can we appeal to the minister to save us. Perhaps God alone can cross the chasm?

This service has been viewed through the lens of the message of this gospel’s call to repent and to take seriously the pain of the earth community. My goal is to encourage worshipers to see themselves as being of the earth not on the earth and to view all life as subjects not objects. As a review of the theme I recommend reading any books by the theologian Thomas Berry and or the physicist Bryan Swimm, and for good scientific information the very easy to read small book (also on disk) An Inconvenient Truth by Al Gore. (See Bibliography.)

Directions for Community Blessing

As the cantor leads the song of the Oneness Blessing (to the tune of “Kum Ba Yah”), a worship leader goes to the elements table. The people are invited forward; they could make their way to the table row by row, as to a station in a communion service. The leader puts a pinch (or a small spoon) of earth into the cupped or outstretched hand of the first person saying, “We are the earth, we are one.” Then dip a finger into the water and touch the finger to the person’s forehead. saying, “We are water, we are one.” (Alternatively, worshippers could be invited to pinch the earth with one hand a dip a finger in a pitcher of water with the other hand).

The receiving person then performs these actions and words to the leader, then turns to do the same to the next person, who repeats the gestures for the next and so on until all are blessed. After people receive and give the elements of earth and water, they continue down the centre aisle to a potted plant or plants and add their earth to it. They then continue to their seats, singing the Oneness Blessing.

References

Bauman, Lynn C., “Be Still and Know That I Am God,” Songs of Presence CD (PRAXIS and All Saints Episcopal Church, Corpus Christi Texas, 2001).

Berry, Thomas and Bryan Swimm, The Universe Story (San Francisco: Harper, 1992).

Gore, Al, An Inconvenient Truth, audio book (Emmaus, PA: Simon & Schuster Inc. Audioworks, 2008).

An Inconvenient Truth, dir. Davis Guggenheim, DVD (Lawrence Bender Productions, 2006).

Wotton, Sally Armour, Staging the Story: New Plays for Worship and Church Gatherings (Toronto: United Church Publishing House and Anglican Book Centre, 1998).

 

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