Shine! A Service of Prayers and Conversation

This order is adapted from the service used Sunday morning, June 26, 2007, at the Twenty-sixth Synod of the United Church of Christ in Hartford, Connecticut. Please adapt it for use in your own congregation as a time of prayer and discernment celebrating five historic UCC commitments to a church – united and uniting, multiracial and multicultural, accessible to all, open and affirming, and a peace with justice church.

Call to Prayer and Community Conversation (unison or single reader)

Amazing and Radiant God,
    your light lifts us from the night.
    Your brightness wakes us to every new day.
On this day, this glorious day,
    together, we anticipate
    what new light and truth you will reveal.
Shine, God, shine!
    Cast your light again on the United Church of Christ
    as you called us to bear your light 50 years ago.
We seek you now in praise, prayer, and conversation.
Illumine our path with your presence. 
  Guide us into your future.
  In the name of Jesus Christ our Light, Amen.

Hymn of Illumination               
"God Our Maker, Whose First Summons"   
Carl P. Daw
Tune: CWM Rhondda, "God of Grace and God of Glory."  Text ©2007 Hope Publishing Co. Carol Stream IL 60188. All rights reserved. Used by permission.  Congregations of the UCC may reprint for use in worship until February 7, 2008.

God our Maker, whose first summons formed the realms of day and night,
Still you speak amid our chaos, calling us to truth and right.
When our doubts and fears confound us,
Give us faith to bear your light; give us faith to bear your light.

God the Spirit, breathe upon us, with new life our souls excite;
Let your flame break out among us; help us claim your urgent might.
With your guarding, guiding presence,
Give us hope to bear your light; give us hope to bear your light.

God Incarnate, suffering servant, sharing in our human plight,
Teaching, healing, feeding, seeking ever ready to invite:
By your pattern of compassion,
Give us love to bear your light; give us love to bear your light.

Triune God, enfolding Mystery, greater than our creeds recite,
Join our lives in faith and service, let our words and deeds unite;
To a world that longs to know you,
Give us grace to bear your light; give us grace to bear your light.


Meditation on Five Historic Commitments of the United Church of Christ

One:  God, you called us to be your people who join others in Christ.
In our ecumenical, inter-religious, and global relationships, when have you, God, shined among us?  When has the light grown dim? (A time of silence)
God, shine again.

All:  We are a united and uniting church.

One:  God, you called us to be your people of all races, cultures, and nations.
In our relationships and actions within your mosaic of racial and cultural diversity, when have you, God, shined among us?  When has the light grown dim? (A time of silence)
God, shine again.

All:  We are a multiracial and multicultural church.

One:  God, you called us to be your people differently gifted in mind and body.
In our attention and sensitivity to various abilities and disabilities, when have you, God, shined among us?  When has the light grown dim? (A  time of silence)
God, shine again.

All:  We are a church accessible to all.

One:  God, you called us to be your people, whole and holy, loving faithfully.
In our relationships and witness with those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender, when have you, God, shined among us?  When has the light grown dim? (A time of silence)
God, shine again.

All:  We are an open and affirming church.

One:  God, you called us to be your people struggling for justice and peace.
In our global and local ministry of advocacy, service and justice, when have you, God, shined among us?  When has the light grown dim?  (A time of silence)
God, shine again.

All:  We are a peace with justice church.

One:  God, in your grace, hear our prayers.

ALL;  Unite us, form us more and more into your people of faith, love, and justice.   In the name of Jesus Christ.  Amen.

The Passing of Peace

A Reading from Scripture

Matthew 5: 14-16

This passage and its affirmation "You are the light of the world" is a portion of Jesus' teachings from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:28) and follows specifically the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-11).  Those who follow Jesus – the church as well – are blessed as they boldly live faith in the world.  The light that shines is one that comes from a life of vulnerable compassion and solidarity with those who are poor, meek, merciful, those who mourn, are pure, and peacemakers.  God's light shines in those who live for the reign of God in spite of persecution and cruel false accusation.

Possible sharing with another:
How would you describe the light, gifts or call, that God has blessed you with and also blessed your congregation?

A Time for Stories of God's Light

Possible sharing with three others:
In our local church, when have you experienced God shining through one of the five historic UCC commitments  mentioned in the meditation?  When has the light seemed dim?

A Time of Discerning Glimmers of God's Light in Our Future

Possible sharing with the total group:
After hearing our stories, what might God say to us about the future of our local congregation and of the broader United Church of Christ about these commitments?

A Time of Thanksgiving (unison)
Adapted from Martha Koenig Stone, New York Conference of the United Church of Christ, Worship Celebration "Shine, God's People," 2007.

Gracious God, we thank you for your many blessings
     and especially for our beloved United  Church of Christ.
You have created us all, unique and diverse, yet bound together in love.
Grant that we might continue to be your Body, Word made flesh,
     again for the sake of your precious world. 
Receive the prayers we have offered this day. 
Help us to leap barriers of division and strife, of injustice and exclusion!
May we never miss your presence in stranger, self, or friend.
Open our eyes to the new ministries into which you are leading us.
Help us to reach out in your name
     spreading justice, unity, compassion, and peace through out the earth.
Make us bread and light and salt for on another,
Through the power of your Holy Spirit,
     Shine, God's people! Amen.

The Sending Forth
"Siyahamb' ekukhanyen' kwenkhos (We Are Marching in the Light of God)"
South African freedom song: transl. Freedom is Coming 1984.

We are march-ing in the light of God. We are march-ing in the light of God.
We are march-ing in the light of God. We are march-ing in the light of God.
We are march-ing, we are march-ing___ We are march-ing in the light of God.
We are march-ing, we are march-ing___ We are march-ing in the light of God.

We are praying…
We are working…
We are living…

Benediction

This time of conversation and prayer was prepared by Reverend Dr. Sidney D. Fowler and drawn from Shine, God's People: Study Guide for Celebrating 50 Years of the United Church of Christ.  Available online at http://www.ucc.org/50/resources/study-guide.html.

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