Epiphany -- Service Prayers

Creating the Beloved Community:
Service Prayers for the Second Sunday after Epiphany,
Martin Luther King, Jr., Weekend

 

Isaiah 62:1-5   Psalm 36:5-10    1 Corinthians 12:1-11    John 2:1-11

 

Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.
 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Call to Worship

 

Leader:    Our Mother-Father God

               has made us to be One Body with many members.

All:         United and uniting. This is our calling.

 

               God calls us to share our diverse gifts

               activated by the one and same Spirit .

               United and uniting. This is our redemption.

 

               God longs for us to be united in love

               and to manifest the Spirit in our different ways.

               United and uniting. This is our worship.

 

               Let us gather in this hour to offer praise and worship

               to our Holy God, who challenges us

               and calls us to create the Beloved Community.

 

Invocation

                                     

               O God, all people are your Beloved,

               across races, nationalities, religions, sexual orientations

               and all the ways we are distinctive from one another.

               We are all manifestations of your image.

               We are bound together in an inescapable network of mutuality

               and tied to a single garment of destiny.

               You call us into your unending work

               of justice, peace and love.

               Let us know your presence among us now:

                        Let us delight in our diversity

                        that offers glimpses of the mosaic of your beauty.

                        Strengthen us with your steadfast love and

                        transform our despairing fatigue into hope-filled action.

               Under the shadow of your wings in this hour

               may we find rest and strength, renewal and hope.

               We ask this, inspired by the example

               of your disciple, Martin Luther King, Jr.,

               and in Jesus’ name.                                                                Amen.

 

Prayer of Confession

                                     

               O God, we long to co-create with you the Beloved Community

               which looks to the common good; privileges all equally,

               and creates societal systems

               which celebrate the humanity and the gifts of all.

               And yet we focus on our differences, envy each other’s gifts,

               devalue manifestations of you, O God, that are not like our own.

 

               Perhaps our sin is a slow wait for justice:

                        We allow the voices of brothers and sisters

                        who do not look like us, love like us, or worship like us

                        to be silenced.

                        We have told them to wait for freedom, justice and equality.

                        We foster in them a denigrating sense of nobodiness.            

              Lord, have mercy.

              

               Or perhaps we have kept silence ourselves

                        in the face of their struggle for full human life.

                        For it is not solely hateful words and actions,

                        but also appalling silence that follows the path of oppression.    

              Christ, have mercy.

 

               Perhaps our sin is to give in to weariness, discouragement, bitterness:

                        You have called us to be drum majors for justice, peace

                        and righteousness,

                        Yet the work of peace and justice overwhelms us at times,

                To build with God the Beloved Community seems impossible,

                        and we grow weary.

                        We cry, “Peace, peace,”

                        but there is no peace within us or around us.

                        We find ourselves on the path

                        of hatred and oppression, violence and war.             

                Lord, have mercy.

 

Assurance of Pardon

 

               Sisters and brothers, God is at work in us and with us!         

               God has promised:

                        “I will not keep silent and I will not rest

                        until the vindication of my beloved people

                        shines out like the dawn and their salvation like a burning torch.

                        My people shall no more be termed ‘forsaken’

                        and their land shall no more be termed ‘desolate.’”

               We remember that you have given your Beloved people a new name:

                        “My delight is in them.”

 

               Thank you, God for delighting in us even now,

                        for forgiving us our slow action, our silence

                        and our weariness,

                        for empowering our work

                        and inviting us once again

                        to create with you the Beloved Community you long for.

 

              

               Offering Invitation

 

                        Brothers and sisters, who we are and yet becoming as individuals

                        manifests God’s presence in the world.

                        That divine presence is reflected

                        even more fully, powerfully, and transformatively

                        as we unite in Beloved Community.

                        Let us bring ourselves, our gifts, and our resources together

                        that God may be glorified.

 

Dedication

 

                        O God, we commit to use all our gifts

                         --wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing,

                        working of miracles, prophecy, discernment,

                        tongues, administration, hospitality,

                        and finances--

                        in the service of acting as co-workers

                        with you and each other

                        for peace and justice to flow like a mighty stream.

 

Benediction

                                     

                        Let us go forth to celebrate and strengthen

                        our inescapable network of mutuality,

                        and become the radiant hope needed in the world.

                        As we go forth in this mutuality,

                        may we experience our God rejoicing over us and with us.

                        Let us go forth confident that 

                        unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word. Amen!

 

 

Phrases from the speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. have been woven into the prayer texts.  They are identified by italics.  Texts of King’s work are available in A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by James M. Washington; © 1986 Coretta Scott King.  A brief essay on King’s understanding of the term “Beloved Community” is available at http://www.wilpf.org/mlksbelovedcommunity .

 

 

 


 

Creating the Beloved Community: Service Prayers for the Second Sunday after Epiphany, Martin Luther King, Jr., Weekend was written by the Rev. Dr. Cari Jackson, Senior Pastor of First Congregational Church, Stamford, CT.
Copyright 2010 Local Church Ministries, Congregational Vitality and Discipleship Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved. 

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Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, Ohio 44115
216-736-3869
blains@ucc.org