Susan A. Blain
Minister for Faith Formation: Curator for Worship and Liturgical Arts
700 Prospect Ave.
Cleveland, OH 44115
Thinking about Worship: A Bibliography
The Rev. Susan A. Blain
Minister for Worship Liturgy and Spiritual Formation
Faith Formation Ministry Team
*Indicates a UCC author or publication
Worship Ways: UCC on line RCL-based planning resource; English and Spanish:
Sermon Seeds: UCC on line RCL-based preaching preparation:
Models, Planning Primers
The Africana Worship Book, Years A, B, C - eds. Davis and Fosua
© 2006 by Discipleship Resources
Lectionary based prayers from Christians in African Diaspora - wide range of themes, forms; good models
Brim: Creative Overflow in Worship Design - Andra Moran and Suzanne Castle
Chalice Press © 2013 Andra Moran and Suzanne Castle
Step by step guide to forming and resourcing worship planning teams: fun, accessible, challenging!
The Christian Year: A Guide for Worship and Preaching*
Abingdon Press © 2011 Robin Knowles Wallace
Wonderful teaching tool and planning tool. In clear, accessible language Wallace connects the history of the church year with the possibilities of mission, offering model services and planning designs.
The Church in Her House: a Feminist Emancipatory Prayer Boo kfor Christian Communities* - Marjorie Procter-Smith
The Pilgrim Press © 2008 Marjorie Procter-Smith
Examines elements of prayer and worship: sound, words, space, scripture, music - a primer for all small group worship with a feminist perspective
Communion Services* - Robin Knowles Wallace
Primer on Communion designed for congregational teaching. From theological reflection about Communion to practical helps for planning services, an accessible resource for congregations.
50 Ways to Pray: Practices from Many Traditions and Times
Teresa A. Blythe ©2006 Abingdon Press
From praying with icons to praying with contemporary media; from traditional "examen" to intercessory prayer, models, exercises, reflections
Imaging the Word: An Arts and Lectionary Resource*
Vol 1 ed. K. Lawrence; vols 2/3 ed. S. Blain © United Church Press
Visual arts and poetry at the service of the Sunday lectionary - a different way in to understanding the scriptures
Let the Whole Church Say Amen! A Guide for Those Who Pray in Public
Laurence Hull Stookey (Abingdon Press, 2001).
A series of practical exercises for the creation of different kinds of prayers, Attention given to context, imagery, rhythm, use of scripture, praying in interfaith settings, addressing controversial topics.
A Praying Congregation: The Art of Teaching Spiritual Practice * - Jane Vennard
© 2005 the Alban Institute
What do you believe about prayer - how do you do it? Draws on Christian tradition; offers reflections and exercises to get into prayer and its richness
Praying in Color: Drawing a New Path to God - Sybil MacBeth
Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA © 2007 Sybil MacBeth
Not just for children! Accesses the right brain, and takes us beyond words - delightful!
Reinventing Worship: Prayers, Readings, Special Services and More
Ed. Brad Berglund © 2006 Judson Press
Fresh collection of prayers for Sundays and ordinary days
The Sourcebook Series from Liturgy Training Publications
(LTP) of the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Each volume looks at a season of the church year, or a theme of Christian life, and compiles quotations, poetry, song lyrics, from early church sources through modern literature. Wonderful way of sparking ideas and images!
Themes: Reconciliation, Death, Baptism, Eucharist, Music, Liturgy
Each Liturgical Season gets its own Sourcebook
The Work of the People: What We Do in Worship and Why*
© 2007 Alban - Marlea Gilbert, Christopher Grundy, Stephanie Perdew and Eric Myers
A good resource for lay worship committees - structured study program, accessible, offering history of traditions, and offering suggestions of how they may be adapted for this new day. Gives food for thought and lots of context.
Worship for the Whole People of God: Vital Worship for 21st Century
© 2013 Ruth Duck
New Seminary worship textbook which is clear, comprehensive and progressive.
Worship in the Shape of Scripture*, revised, 2010 - F. Russell Mitman
Classic, beautiful text integrating scripture, hymnody, liturgical forms; sets forth the best of the modern Protestant liturgical renewal. Excellent models for all liturgical prayer.
The Worship Workshop: Creative Ways to Design Worship Together - Marcia McFee
©2002 Abingdon Press
Geared for worship planning teams in congregations, an accessible and delightful series of exercises to get imagination going and think holistically about worship and ritual, and practice creating services
(Models of prayers as poetry across faith traditions)
All Desires Known: Inclusive Prayers for Worship and Meditation, by Janet Morley
Morehouse Publishing, 1992
Vivid prayers modeled on or paraphrasing scripture.
Book of Worship: United Church of Christ* reprint 2010
© 2012 United Church Press
New edition includes inclusive marriage rite
The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayer for Daily Life, The Sabbath, and The New Moon Festival - Marcia Falk
Harper SanFrancisco © 1996 Marcia Falk
A poet's take on traditional and new prayers - speaks to the heart, speaks of the holiness of daily life
Celebrate God's Presence: A book of services for the United Church of Canada
©2000 United Church Publishing House
Book and CD
Feasting on the Word Worship Companion - Kimberly Bracken Long
© 2013 Westminster John Knox Press
Companion to the Feasting on the Word Commentary and Curriculum series; eloquent, lectionary-based prayers for Sundays and Festivals.
Iona Community Publications; Wild Goose Publications
Progressive liturgies and music from the Iona Community of Scotland
http://www.ionabooks.com/e-liturgies-prayers.html GIA, American distributor
A New Zealand Prayer Book; He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa
Collins ©1989 [Anglican] Church of the Province of New Zealand
Inclusive, expansive language; fresh presentation of orthodox prayers
Mishkan T’Filah: A Reform Siddur Elyse Frishman, ed
© 2009 Central Conference of American Rabbis
Beautiful poetry; fresh translations; daily life rendered holy
Emerging Church Worship Resources
Alternative Worship: Resources From and For the Emerging Church
© 2004 Jonny Baker
Resources from the UK
Formational Children's Ministry: Shaping Children using Story, Ritual and Relationship
© 2010 Ivy Beckwith
Emergent Church approach to children’s ministry, placing participation in community worship at the center
Toward a Hopeful Future: Why the Emergent Church is Good News for Mainline Congregations - Phil Snyder and Emily Bowen
Pilgrim Press © 2010 Phil Snyder and Emily Bowen
A clear introduction to the Emergent Church movement, and models of emerging liturgies for use in congregations
How (Not) to Speak of God - Peter Rollins
Paraclete Press, Brewster, MA © 2006 Peter Rollins
Voice from the Emerging Church movement, creating liturgies outside the box and the sanctuary
The Inclusive Bible: the First Egalitarian Translation
© 2009 Priests for Equality
Excellent, fresh translation using Inclusive Language for humanity and God. Well written, not awkward or clunky.
The People's Bible
© 2008 Fortress Press
Annotated NRSV which highlights cultural issues in the development of Scripture and its uses in diverse cultures over time. A strong justice orientation to interpretation.
The Jewish Annotated New Testament
© 2011 Oxford University Press
NRSV annotated by Jewish scholars, clarifying Jewish ritual and tradition, and offering Jewish interpretation of life of Jesus and the early church.
Liberating Rites: Understanding the Transformative Power of Ritual - Tom F. Driver
© 1998 Tom F. Driver
Excellent introduction to Ritual Studies
CALL TO WORSHIP (Genesis 2:7; 3: 19 Psalm 104: 29-30; John 1: 18)
One: Friends and neighbors, in the middle of our busy week,
we pause to observe Ash Wednesday together as a faith community.
All: We come to remember that God made us from fragile, blessed dust
And breathes through us the breath of life and love.
One: From dust we are created in God’s image
and to God’s good dust we shall return.
All: With dust and oil we claim the mark of God’s beloved creature.
One: Today we begin our 40-day Lenten journey
to discover who we are created to be as God’s beloved.
All: In daily practices of prayer and service
we will embark upon this Lenten journey.
One: We follow Jesus, God’s Beloved Child,
bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh
In whom we see God’s image most clearly.
All: So come, let us pray for strength and imagination
to follow Jesus wherever he will lead us this Lent.
SONG Let Your Spirit Come No. 17 Sing! Prayer and Praise
Have four stations set up around the sanctuary, one for each meditation. Invite the members of the congregation to make their way from station to station if they wish, in no particular order, or to choose one station and remain there. Have a leader or two assigned to each station, ready to lead, assist, make people comfortable. Schedule 7-10 minutes for each station, then 1 minute of “travel time” between stations. A simple song can signal the time to change stations.
1. MEDITATION ON THE BREATH OF LIFE (Psalm 46:10a)
Needed: a leader to welcome the people and lead the meditation.
Settle into your seat, close your eyes and imagine a place that brings you comfort and peace. Breathe in the goodness of that space. Breathe forth the goodness that is within you. (After a minute or so, when people seem to be breathing deeply together, begin the spoken meditation. Pause at the end of each phrase to let the meaning settle in. Each phrase grows shorter and shorter, until the leader reaches the last word. After that is silence.)
Be still and know that I am God
Be still and know that I am
Be still and know that I
Be still and know that
Be still and know
Be still and
2. MEDITATION ON LETTING GO
Needed: a leader to offer introduction; art materials with which to write down what we need to leave behind this Lent
Tonight begins our journey through Lent, Holy Week, and Easter.
And like any well-prepared traveler,
we confess that we want to pack our bags to make sure we are comfortable
for our 6-week journey.
But Ash Wednesday is about leaving baggage behind
and braving the unknown carrying nothing but the mark of God’s beloved.
In this vulnerable place,
we confess that we want to be surrounded by all of the things
that make us feel better about ourselves,
including things we think that God needs in order to love us.
And yet God whispers to us that we are made in the divine image
and that faithfulness to that knowledge is all we need for the journey of life.
So let us ponder what it is that we may let go of this Lent,
in order to help us hear more clearly the stories
of Jesus’ extravagant love for all, and to follow him more bravely and confidently.
Invite the people to take the art supplies and create images of what they want to let go of this Lent.
3. MEDITATION ON FRAILTY AND FORGIVENESS Traditionally Ash Wednesday is a time to consider the reality of sin in our lives, our failures to live up to the promise of the image of God. Psalm 51 is known as the classic “Penitential Psalm” used to give voice to our sorrow for sin and to our hope for forgiveness.
Needed: a leader to lead the Psalm; a bowl of clean water and a small evergreen branch with which to sprinkle the people as a symbol of forgiveness. (This may be an appropriate station for the pastor to staff, to offer comfort and assurance where needed.)
Leader: Have mercy, tender God, forget that I defied you.
Wash away my sin, cleanse me from my guilt.
People I know my evil well, it stares me in the face,
Evil done to you alone before your very eyes.
How right your condemnation! Your verdict is clearly just.
You see me for what I am: frail, a sinner.
You love those centered in truth; teach me your hidden wisdom.
Wash me with fresh water, wash me bright and clean.
Fill me with happy songs! Let the bones you bruised now dance,
Shut your eyes to my sin, make my guilt disappear.
Creator, reshape my heart, God, steady my spirit.
Do not cast me aside stripped of your holy spirit.
Save me, bring back my joy, support me, strengthen my will,
Then I will teach your way and sinners will turn to you.
Help me, stop my tears, and I will sing your goodness.
Lord, give me words and I will shout your praise.
Adapted from The Psalter, translated by the International Committee on English in the Liturgy©1995 Archdiocese of Chicago
Words of Assurance of Blessing:
Know that God loves you,
welcomes you and
rejoices in you.
Let the coolness of this water refresh remind and reassure you of God’s transforming love.
(Sprinkle water on the people.)
4. MEDITATION ON THE POSSIBILITIES OF DUST
Needed: a few leaders to welcome and guide people in this exercise; a table set up with work stations: modeling clay out of which to create small containers for ashes; a heavy metal bowl in which to burn dry palms from last year’s Palm Sunday service; potting soil and oil to mix with the burnt palms to create the ashes. (It will take a bit of experimentation to get the proportions right). Some people can work on fashioning small containers for ashes; some can work on burning the palms, some can work on mixing the ashes. There should be a spirit of gentle “happy chaos” as the dust of the earth is used to create these sacred symbols—lots of imagination and variety at work here. It could be that everyone makes their own container and then spoons the ashes into it. They could then bring the container forward to the leaders at the time of the imposition of ashes and receive the ashes from their own creative effort.
HYMN Traditional Lenten Hymn from TNCH
MARKING WITH ASHES
All are invited to come forward to receive ashes on their foreheads or hands; the leaders say to each:
Remember that you are God’s beloved dust,
and to God’s beloved dust you shall return.
May we give of ourselves as a symbol of our appreciation
for receiving the mark of God’s love in such beautiful and meaningful ways.
As you have been given the mark of God’s love, may you give in return.
Creator God, may the gifts we offer today
be used to share your love with all –
in our church, our community, and your world. Amen.
Blessings, like God’s love, are not one-way experiences.
As you have been blessed with the mark of God’s love
you are now called to go out from this place and bless others.
May the God who created you create opportunities of serving others.
May the Christ who teaches you teach you during Lent how to love all.
And may the Spirit of Gentleness be your companion along this Lenten journey. Amen.
MUSIC FOR ASH WEDNESDAY WORSHIP SERVICE:
#505 “Sweet Hour of Prayer” New Century Hymnal
#488 “Be Still My Soul” New Century Hymnal
#509 “How Deep the Silence of the Soul” New Century Hymnal
Beloved Dust to Dust: Service Prayers for Ash Wednesday was written by the Rev. Dr. Ginny Brown Daniel, pastor of Plymouth United Church, UCC, in Spring, Texas.
Copyright 2012 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.
Beloved Dust to Dust - Ash Wednesday - February 22, 2012
Frequently Asked Questions:
The questions and answers presented here are for informational purposes. It is always a good idea to contact the copyright holder directly or a copyright attorney if the answers provided here are not adequate for your situation.
“What is copyright?”
“Copyright” is the legal protection of a creative work. Using a work without permission that is under copyright is against the law and penalties can be financially severe. There is no exemption from copyright law for churches. Creative works are protected for 95 years (if published before 1978), or the life of the creator of the work plus 70 years if published after January 1, 1978. Remember, the work is the property of the person who created it. To use it without permission is stealing.
“Where do I find copyright information?”
A good way to see who holds the copyright is to look for the notice at the bottom of the first page or in an index in the front or back of a collection. Sometimes the copyright holder will assign an agent to manage the copyrighted work. If no copyright is present, do not assume that the work is in the public domain until you do further research to locate a copyright owner.
“When is it necessary to seek permission to use a copyrighted work?”
The simple answer is: always. Whenever a copyrighted work is reproduced in any form, permission must be obtained. This applies to print, projection, recording, web-based uses (live streaming or services such as YouTube or Vimeo), and any other form, even those yet to be developed. This applies to bulletins, song books, handouts, projections, recordings for shut-ins, an “extra” copy for the accompanist, videos of worship services and “special” services (such as musicals, children’s Christmas programs, etc.)—anytime you reproduce a copyrighted work you need to ask permission.
“Can I make a new arrangement of a copyrighted song?”
Copyright owners are generally eager for their work to be used. If you want to make a new arrangement, contact the copyright owner for permission. If you will be selling the arrangement, you will need to work with the copyright owner for proper licensing and the payment of royalties.
“I don’t have time to contact the copyright owner.”
For your own good, make time. In the internet age it is relatively easy to locate contact information for anyone. Major music publishers generally have a dedicated phone number or email for permissions. If time is important, call. Most publishers are so happy that you are seeking permission that they will gladly work with you. If the copyright owner is not managed by a major publisher, try searching Facebook for contact information. Often a composer will have a Facebook page and will respond to an email.
“We have lots of photocopies of choir music. What should I do with them?”
Unless permission has been obtained, photocopied music is usually illegal. One exception would be if a title was listed as “out of print” on a publisher’s website. In that case, the publisher might grant permission to reproduce a song for a reduced fee and permission should be indicated on the reprints. But, you must ask! And, guess what, even if you didn’t photocopy the music yourself, if your church is in possession of illegal copies you could be charged with copyright infringement.
“What does it hurt to use copyrighted works illegally?”
Well, composers rely on royalties for their income. Photocopying music or otherwise reproducing the music denies the royalty and is, again, stealing. Publishers rely on sales. They cannot produce future resources without the money generated by the sale of their resources. This is especially true of more modest publishers like The Pilgrim Press.
“Do I need permission to ‘perform’ music in a worship service?”
No. You don’t need permission to perform music in worship. This is specifically allowed in copyright law. But, if you are performing music in a concert setting you would need permission. (For church musicals and anthems, check the copyright page of the work. Often permission is granted for performance with the appropriate copyright notice printed or displayed.)
“My church makes audio/video recordings of worship for shut-ins. Must I obtain permission?”
Unfortunately the answer is yes. Many churches violate copyright law when they record their worship services and provide copies to members, visitors, shut-ins, etc. If you do not have permission, you are in violation of copyright law and you are exposing your church to potentially large fines.
“My church produces instant DVDs of worship. We need permission, right?”
Yes, churches producing “instant DVDs” of their worship services and handing them out within a few moments of the end of worship need to obtain permission for each copyrighted work included. This not only applies to songs, but copyrighted readings, film clips, etc. It does not matter if you sell them or give them away.
“What is a mechanical license?”
You will need to obtain a mechanical license if you wish to record a copyrighted work. A fee, set by law, is charged for each recording that is made. The current mechanical license fee is 9.1 cents per song or 1.75 cents per minute, whichever is greater. This rate applies to “records” and “downloads.”
“What license do I need to web-stream our worship service?”
You will need to contact each copyright owner to secure permission. Each copyright owner and publisher deals with it a little differently. (Web-streaming licenses are available. See licensing companies listed below.)
“I see songs, worship services, and stuff posted on YouTube all the time. I’m sure that they didn’t ask for permission. Why can’t I do the same?”
There is nothing preventing you for breaking the law. Still, any copyright owner is free to seek damages if he/she finds his/her work being used illegally.
“I think the song that I want to use is Public Domain. How can I be sure?”
While the lack of a copyright notice can indicate that a song is in the public domain, it is a good idea to check. Generally music published in the United States before 1922 is in the public domain. (But, be careful, someone can make a new arrangement of it and claim a copyright to it!)
“My friend said that as long as I claim ‘fair use’ I will be protected by copyright law.”
Nice try! “Fair use” does not generally apply to churches. It is intended more for those who wish to reprint a single copy of a copyrighted work or portion of it for comment, scholarship, teaching, etc. You cannot claim “fair use” for the performance, duplication, or recording of a copyrighted work.
“I want to help my choir learn their part in the music, so I’m making recordings of each part. Do I need permission?”
Yes. Many choral anthems are now being published with optional rehearsal recordings available. You can purchase these and pay the appropriate fee based on the number of recordings made.
“What music licensing companies are available to churches and which one should I use?”
Most music copyrighted by The Pilgrim Press is handled by www.OneLicense.net. From their website: “Using OneLicense gives you access to the congregational hymns, songs and service music of today’s top church music publishers—all for one yearly fee! Our list of publisher members is growing and as new publishers become OneLicense.net members, you will immediately have access to their catalogs so long as your license is in force.
The cost of a OneLicense is equitably and fairly based upon the average weekly attendance of your congregation. The yearly cost ranges from $50.00 per year for average weekly attendance of 25 members to $800.00 annually for average weekly attendance of 20,000 members or more. Single use licenses range from $25 to $60, and event licenses begin at $35 and extend up to $275 for a really large convention.”
OneLicense also provides for Podcast licensing which will solve the problem of seeking individual permissions for each song used in a worship service. You will need to check each song to make sure that it is covered by the Podcast license, however.
Remember, the only way that the copyright holder gets paid when you use a license is for you to report the usage of the song to the licensing company. Please report your song usage as required by your license.
CCLI offer copyright licensing, rehearsal licensing, church streaming and podcast licensing, church video licensing, ScreenVue (for using movie clips during worship), and SongSelect. See their website for more information. Before signing up, make sure you check which songs you want to use to be sure that they are covered by CCLI.
Remember, the only way that the copyright holder gets paid when you use a license is for you to report the usage of the song to the licensing company. Please report your song usage as required by your license.
LicenSingOnline offers single use, weekly use, or annual licenses. Again, before signing up make sure that the songs you use are covered. LicenSingOnline will soon begin offering a scripture and prayer resources, and image service.
Remember, the only way that the copyright holder gets paid when you use a license is for you to report the usage of the song to the licensing company. Please report your song usage as required by your license.
“My congregational uses The New Century Hymnal. Because it was published by The Pilgrim Press does that mean I’m free to reprint the hymns?”
No. But, good try! Beginning on page 888 of The New Century Hymnal are the copyright listings. These will direct you to the appropriate copyright holder. Any copyright controlled by The Pilgrim Press and other UCC entities is licensed by OneLicense.net. Many of the other copyright holders are administered by OneLicense as well. You need to check the title you wish to use in the search box at the licensing company that you wish to use.
If a hymn number is not included in the copyright listing in The New Century Hymnal you can assume that is was believed to be in the public domain when the hymnal was printed. You are free to reprint it without permission.
“We just purchased Sing! Prayer and Praise and want to reprint music and project words. Is there a blanket permission to do this?”
No. Since the songs that were selected came from many sources, and since about fifty percent never appeared in print before, permissions are a bit more complicated. You will need to search for individual songs at each of the permission websites: www.OneLicense.net, www.CCLI.com, and www.LicenSingOnline.org.
There are a significant number of songs (the ones that never appeared in print before) that will not be covered by a licensing company. We are working to get them covered through OneLicense. In the meantime, you need to contact the copyright owner directly for permissions.
“My church uses backgrounds for projections. I often find great pictures on the internet. Am I free to use them?”
It all depends on where you found them. Images, like other creative works, are protected by copyright. Just because it is posted online does not mean that it is free from copyright. If you cannot locate the copyright owner, do not use the image. (The use of background images provides a good opportunity for members of the congregation to use their photography and design skills. A “projection ministry” could be started to create images for worship use.)
“I want to use film clips to illustrate my sermon. What should I do?”
Film clips are protected by copyright as well. www.CCLI.com licenses film clips. You will need to use the clips that are available on their website, however.
Just a note: copyright permissions are a matter of justice. Copyright owners rely on their royalty income to live, and publishers rely on the income to enable them to make a profit and to produce further resources. To use a copyrighted work without permission is illegal, even if you don’t know that you’re breaking the law. No church would think of bypassing the electric meter to avoid paying electrical costs, but many do a similar illegal activity when they reproduce (without permission) CDs, DVDs, videos, choir music, music from song books and hymnals, and the like. The more you engage in obtaining permissions, the easier it will become.
In Franco Zeffirelli's film about Francis of Assisi, Brother Sun, Sister Moon, there's a scene in which the townspeople bring their gifts to the poor but lovingly rebuilt church of San Damiano, while the powerful people sit morosely in their majestic cathedral in Assisi. The people who have followed Francis beyond the edges of town bring simple gifts of flowers, vegetables and lambs, and it's clear that they represent those on the edges of society, welcomed and loved in their new church home. As the music builds from a single voice to a chorus, soaring and lovely, most viewers find it hard to resist wishing that the offering in their church might embody this same spirit of profound joy and deep gratitude.
Rescuing the Offertory from the Awkward and the Somber
Indeed, the Call to the Offering in our worship services is often an awkward moment! Perhaps it has something to do with our attitudes and feelings about money itself, or our anxiety about giving. The Call to the Offering is sometimes mistakenly perceived as a necessary "housekeeping" task inserted into the rest of worship. Leaders may see themselves "doing their duty" of asking for money. Suppose they began to see themselves extending a gracious invitation to celebrate and respond to God's goodness?
And very often churches find themselves employing very quiet, meditative (though certainly lovely) music at this time, making the Offering time so somber that it hardly expresses praise and joyful gratitude! Perhaps it has something to do with the pattern in many churches of using the time while the offering is collected as "down time" from all the words of the rest of the service, so that people may pray privately and absorb the message. Certainly our services benefit from more silence and meditative time, but could that time be found during a pastoral prayer, or in a special "meditative moment" after the sermon? The Offering time could then be freed up to become a more communal, more mission-oriented, more festive and joyful part of worship.
The Offering: A Teaching Moment
If every moment in the life of the church is a teaching moment, then the Offering is a important moment to teach about God's giving to us and our giving back to God a portion of the abundance we've received. It's a perfect moment to teach about God's goodness and our longing to respond, each in our way and to the best of our ability. It's a moment that reminds us that our gifts stand for our hope to repair the world, to preach the Good News, to be the Body of Christ together. Our gifts of money, time, and talent bring our personal and corporate commitments to life.
The Offering also offers a teaching moment about the wider mission of the church. Once a quarter, a church leader may come forward and explain that the first gift this morning is from our local church to the wider church through Our Church's Wider Mission. The church treasurer, who may not often have a role in worship, could bring that gift forward and place it in the offering plate as the leader gives an example of just one ministry (among many) supported by this gift. It is a deep joy to experience ourselves as a giving community and part of something greater than ourselves.
The Offering: A Festive Moment
Here are a few practical suggestions that a congregation can consider to make the Offering more an expression of thanks and praise:
Invite with Warmth and Confidence
God loves a cheerful giver, so should not our invitation be cheerful and confident? Our words of invitation need to "break the ice" that seems to set in around the time of the Offering, and they ought to remind us not to be afraid to show the gratitude and joy we feel. What a difference it makes to end the invitation, for example, with the words, "Let us gather our gifts together and bring them to God as an offering of gratitude and praise!" Depending on the skill of the leader, the invitation may be spontaneous or written in advance, but it should relate to the readings of the day and to the congregation's life and commitments. Included in this edition of Worship Ways is a set of model invitations which are based on the lectionary readings for these seasons.
Embody the Giving in Different Ways:
Make Offering Time more literally the "work of the people," as liturgy truly is, by inviting the people to be less spectators or audience and more active participants.
Invite the members from time to time to leave their pews and bring their gifts forward in a lively procession.
Invite the people to stand, one row at a time, beginning at the back as the ushers bring the offering forward. This not only draws everyone's attention to what is happening, but also creates a physical sense of bringing the gifts forward together.
Involve the children in collecting and bringing the gifts.
Choose music that is spirited and lively, and lends a festival air to the moment.
In a day when more and more people are giving electronically, in addition to those who give monthly or even annually, there's the challenge of including everyone in the offering, as well as those who can not give on any given day. The United Church of Christ has a new "giving card" that churches can place in the pews so that folks can place a card in the plate that stands for the gift they have given in other ways. One pastor has suggested that we can also be invited to write on a slip of paper (again, provided in the pews) something we intend to "give up" that week, including a grudge, a worry, or a bad habit. In such creative ways, everyone is included!
A Consecration Sunday Ritual
A very special offering happens on Consecration Sunday, and if circumstances permit, more elements can be added to the celebration. Everyone is invited forward to bring their pledge, their gift for the day, or that "other gift" described above, and place it in a basket on the table, and then take a taper and line the walls of the church, again, while spirit-filled music is played. Then the pastor begins the lighting of the tapers, perhaps from the Christ candle, and everyone can sing, This Little Light of Mine. On this occasion, all the people form a circle of love and commitment, seeing and experiencing themselves as one family around a table, one community watching itself grow deeper in its oneness, deeper in its love, deeper in its shared vision. As a church grows in numbers and in faithfulness, this tradition becomes more meaningful with each passing year.
The Offering: an Invitation to Joy and Gratitude was written by Rev. Kathryn Matthews Huey, Minister for Minister for Covenantal Stewardship, Stewardship and Church Finances Ministry Team, LCM.
©2008 Local Church Ministries, Worship and Education Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Ave., 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.
First Sunday of Lent
On this Racial Justice Sunday we confess
that the sin of racial hatred and prejudice
distorts your divine plan for our human lives:
You created us in divine likeness, diverse and beautiful:
In every person, every race is your image.
But too often we fail to recognize your image in all:
You created us in divine freedom, to be free:
In every decision, every choice is your possibility of justice.
But too often we fail to choose to advocate for your justice for all:
You created us for divine abundance, to tend and share:
In every garden, every social structure is your seed of community.
But too often we fail to create that community which includes all,
and gives to all equal access to your abundant life:
Open our eyes to distinguish good from evil
Open our hearts to desire good over evil
Strengthen our wills to choose good over evil,
So that we may create among us your beloved community.
Words of Assurance
Hear the good news: God's gift of grace in Jesus Christ forgives us and sets us free to live full human lives in community. We may go forth confident of the grace to see with new eyes beyond racial prejudice; to imagine with renewed fervor justice and mercy for all, and to create with a new will a community where all are given access to God's abundant life.
Thanks be to God!
based on Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7
Prayer of Confession for Racial Justice Sunday was written by the Rev. Susan A. Blain, Minister for Worship, Liturgy and Spiritual Formation, Worship and Education Ministry Team, Local Church Ministries.
Copyright 2008 Local Church Ministries, Worship and Education 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.
A Celebration for the Festival of Pentecost
Strengthen the Church: Faithfully Building the Body of Christ
Welcome; What's up?; Maligayang Pagdating; Jambo; Malomalam; Wilkommen; Bienvenue; Welkome; Aloha; Bonjour; Selamat Datang; Vanakkam; Tuloy Po Kayo; Karibu; Hola.
On the first Pentecost, recorded in today's passage from Acts, the gift of God's Spirit gave the disciples a multitude of languages to proclaim God's power. This festival service celebrates many languages in which God's name is praised and God's word proclaimed today in the United Church of Christ. One of the newest greetings in the United Church of Christ is Salaam Alaykum (Arabic), spoken at First Sudanese United Church of Christ of Sioux Falls, South Dakota. A quick count suggests that there are at least seventeen languages spoken today in worship in the United Church of Christ. This service includes Spanish, Tagalog, Samoan, Arabic, Hawaiian, and English.
We give thanks to be living into a new Pentecost age among congregations with growing energy for outreach and evangelism. Through the United Church of Christ special offering, Strengthen the Church: Faithfully Building the Body of Christ, your congregation can support the nurture and welcome of new congregations, as well as the vitality of existing congregation in the United Church of Christ.
Call to Worship
One: Hola (óh-lah, which means "hello" in Spanish)
One: Tuloy Po Kayo (too-lóy poh kay-ó, which means "come in" in Tagalog, a language of Filipino Americans)
People: Tuloy Po Kayo
One: Praise God, in all languages!
People: Praise God, among all the nations!
One: Declare God's wonderful deeds so that all might understand.
People: We gather to give praise and thanks for all God's deeds of power.
One: Talofa Lava! (tah-lo-fah lah-vah, which means "welcome" in Samoan.)
People: Talofa Lava!
Hymn of Praise "There's a Spirit in the Air" TNCH 294
(or "Come, Share the Spirit," TNCH 62)
Unison Prayer of Praise and Confession
O God of all nations and peoples, we praise your name. We rejoice in the many languages that proclaim your word and your wonderful deeds. We give thanks for the movement of your Spirit alive in your people, churches, and the world. God of wind and fire, we confess that sometimes we fear your Spirit. In those moments when the Spirit gushes, pushes, and challenges us toward the unknown, we would often rather cling to comfort and the familiar. Forgive our hesitations, God, and renew the ability in us to entrust our lives to you. Move us beyond boundaries of language and nationality into your endless and extravagant love. In this world so in need of forgiveness, peace, and healing, lead us to those who overcome fear, offer messages of hope, and practice your infinite graciousness. We pray in the name of Jesus the Christ. Amen.
Proclamation of God's Love and Power
One: People of God, let the winds of forgiveness blow through your soul. Know deep in your bones that God loves you and the world beyond all measure. Rise up, beloved, into newness of life that is ours in Christ this day. Amen.
Greetings of Peace
One: Please turn and greet one another with God's peace saying, "Salaam Alaykum" (sahláhm ah-láay-kum, "Peace be with you" in Arabic, spoken in Sudanese UCC congregations) and "Alaykum Salaam" ("with you, peace also").
Act of Praise "Santo, Santo, Santo" TNCH 793
Pentecost is a wonderful time to celebrate the movement of God's Spirit through song and liturgical dance
Reading of Scripture
Acts 2:1–21; Psalms 104:24–34, 35b; Romans 8:22–27; and John 15:26–27; 16:4b–15
Ezekiel 37:1–14; Psalms 104:24–34, 35b; Acts 2:1–21; and John 15:26–27, 16:4b–15
Print or project the scripture readings in English or in the language of your congregation, and then read the scripture in another language that is spoken in your congregation or community. The Pentecost narrative from Acts would also be particularly appropriate for a dramatic reading or active presentation.
You might include the following insights into your meditation for the Sunday: The beginning of the twenty-first century, much like the first century of the church, is an exciting, challenging, and wondrous moment full of spiritual power, mission potential, and faithful risk. The hunger and thirst of today's spiritual seekers seem so much like that of the crowds that gathered around Jesus. The multitude of languages and diversity of communities in which the gospel is proclaimed are echoes of that first Pentecost. As God called Paul to journey to Greece, we are called into the midst of a world that is increasingly not "churched" and can be very different from the places we have known. The twenty-first century seems very much like that first century and our work like that of the early disciples who were commissioned to go forth in Christ's name to teach discipleship to others. Today's message could focus on the calling, opportunities, and outreach mission to the new world that starts at the front door of your congregations.
The Offering: Sharing God's Gifts
Strengthen the Church: Faithfully Building the Body of Christ Special Offering may be received on Pentecost. Please see the resources available that describe the good work in nurturing and renewing congregations made possible by this offering. Perhaps during the offering or before the service, the New Church Celebration video, It Takes Many Hands to Build a Church, can be shown to the congregation.
Unison Prayer of Thanksgiving
O Spirit at work among us, we give thanks for the many ways to communicate our praise to you. We lift our voices to sing your praise and flex our hands to do your work. We proclaim your wonderful deeds through science, poetry, and everyday discussions. We witness through our faith and our finances. We use electronic technology and computers to share your word. These are just some of the "tongues" you give us to spread your good news to the world. Bless these gifts that we bring and multiply them in your purpose. Amen.
Celebration of God's Spirit among Us in Communion TNCH 6–10
Besides using multicultural communion resources, you might also serve the breads of the diverse cultures found in your community.
Hymn for Leaving "We Are Your People" TNCH 309
(or "O for a World" TNCH 575)
One: Now, in the name of the Living Spirit, go!
People: We are sent by God to go forth into the world.
One: Be of good cheer and courage.
People: We go forth to speak God's word through many tongues in many places this week.
One: Rejoice in the power of the Holy Spirit at work within you.
People: Gracias a Dios! (grás-ee-as ah dée-os, Spanish for "Thanks to God.")
One: Aloha (ah-lów-hah, Hawaiian for "hello, farewell, peace, and love.")
TNCH refers to hymns and liturgy from The New Century Hymnal (Cleveland: The Pilgrim Press, 1995).
This liturgy was prepared by David Schoen, minister and team leader for Evangelism Ministry, Local Church Ministries: A Covenanted Ministry of the United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio. For more information about the Strengthen the Church: Faithfully Building the Body of Christ offering and support resources see www.ucc.org/stewardship or contact Doris Powell, minister for pastors and seminarians, Local Church Ministries: A Covenanted Ministry of the United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio, at firstname.lastname@example.org. The New Church Celebration video, It Takes Many Hands to Build a Church, is available through United Church of Christ Resources at 800.537.3394.
Copyright 2002 Evangelism Ministry Team, Local Church Ministries, United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio. Permission is granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education. All publishing rights reserved. Designed and printed by United Church Resources, Local Church Ministries.
A Litany for Martin Luther King Sunday
First Sunday after Epiphany
All of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s work, from the very beginning of the Civil Rights Movement, was oriented toward the creation of a community characterized by love and justice, a society completely integrated among different races, a vision he called "the Beloved Community."* Legislated desegregation was just the beginning; although laws could correct injustices of housing, education and employment, such legislation could not effect the change of hearts and minds which would foster true community. A wholehearted integration of society was King's hope and the hope of the movement he led.
Today, in the year which marks the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., society's work toward full integration continues; within communities of color the cry out for equity or a level playing field across the board still remains a constant challenge. The church's work toward the Beloved Community continues as well. The work for this whole-hearted integration in both society and church includes today not only people excluded by race, but also those excluded by gender, disabilities, and sexual orientation.
From my position, vocationally as Minister for Racial Justice and personally along the varied intersections and continuum of systemic and personal oppression, I pray for deliverance from the forces which foster the societal evils and spiritual deaths of segregation in all its contemporary guises. To that end, the following litany has been inspired by Psalm 86 and Dr. King's vision of the Beloved Community.
Let us pray:
Incline your ear, O God, and answer us,
for we are poor, hungry, naked, homeless and sick.
Preserve our lives, for we are devoted to you;
save your servants who trust in you.
Dr. King's work reminds us:
church and state must work together for the common good;
laws must establish justice for all,
but hearts must change for the Beloved Community to flourish.
We will do the work of justice for all;
we will open our hearts to an ever-expanding vision of community.
We will trust the Spirit of God to guide and move us between the present and the anticipated Realm of Justice.
You are our God; be gracious to your children, for we cry out to you all day long.
Bring joy to the soul of your servants, for to you, O God, we lift up our soul.
Dr. King's vision inspires us:
"We are tied together in a single garment of destiny caught in an inescapable network of mutuality."
We will work for a world where lives are enriched by difference;
where people of different genders, races and sexual orientations work together in Shalom for the good of the whole.
We will work for a nation where persons will be judged solely upon the content of their characters.
For you, O God, are good and forgiving, abounding in steadfast love to all who call on you.
Give ear, O God, to the prayers of the marginalized; listen to our supplications.
Dr. King's words challenge us:
"...injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere."
We will listen to the cries of the poor;
we will stand in solidarity with those who suffer oppression;
we will take as our own the hopes of all who long for full human life;
we will create in our midst the Beloved Community with room for all, justice for all, joy for all, Shalom for all.
We will listen to the voice of the Christ, who stirs about liberating all minds, hearts and spirits.
In our days of trouble we call on you, for you will answer us.
There is none like you among the gods, O God,
nor are there any works like yours to the ends of the earth.
Teach us your way, O God, that we may walk in your truth.
Dr. King's life inspires us:
"I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed and nonviolent redemptive goodwill will proclaim the rule of the land...I still believe that someday we shall overcome."
We will overcome because of our faith and trust in God.
We will reach the goal laid before us without faltering.
We will never give up our hope for equality with one another.
We will live Dr. King's dream into our reality.
Toward a Just and Beloved Community: Martin Luther King, Jr., Sunday was written by Rev. Dr. Bentley de Bardelaben, Minister for Racial Justice, Justice and Witness Ministries.
*The inspiration for this prayer is taken from Vision of the Beloved Community, in Search for the Beloved Community: The Thinking of Martin Luther King, Jr. by Kenneth L. Smith and Ira G. Zepp, Jr. © 1998, Judson Press, Valley Forge, PA. All but the final quotation is taken from King's work within this chapter. The last quotation is taken from "Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech," in A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by James M. Washington, © 1986, Harper Collins Publishers, San Francisco, CA.
Psalm 86 is adapted from the Psalms and Canticles section of The New Century Hymnal © 1995 by the Pilgrim Press. Words are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible, © 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America, adapted by The New Century Hymnal.
©2007 Local Church Ministries, Worship and Education Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Ave., 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.