Open and Affirming Sunday 2023
by Rev. Derek Terry, Pastor
“You have to decide who you are and force the world to deal with you, not with its idea of you.” —James Baldwin
June 25, 2023: Daniel 3:16-28
Note: The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is usually used to encourage Christians to worship God without fear. When viewing the text through a queer lens we can consider that these three humans were rejecting the safety of conformity and assimilation in order to be their authentic selves. Society often tries to force the LGBTQIA+SGL community to reject their queerness in order to “fit in.” Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego teach us that 1. there is strength in solidarity, 2. it is perfectly Godly to stand up to oppression and tyranny, and 3. standing up to unfair power structures can bring about positive change in society.
Non-traditional Media Suggestions:
- Spirit by Beyonce
- Home By Billy Porter, Mj Rodriguez & Our Lady J. Perform “Home” at TrevorLIVE LA 2018
- Bishop Carl Bean I was Born This Way
Call to Worship
Leader: King Nebuchadnezzar constructed a huge golden statue and used his power and political influence to declared that everyone in the kingdom should worship his statue. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to conform.
People: The world is constantly using power structures, money, oppression, and marginalization to encourage individuals to silence their uniqueness and conform to the status quo. It’s okay to reject pressure to conform.
Leader: Once they refused to be like everyone else haters told the king that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego should be punished for being different.
People: Sometimes people will try to pressure or bully us to be just like everyone else in order to make them feel better. It is okay to love who we are and who God made us to be.
Leader: After Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to change the king threatened them with violence and embarrassment. They still refused to change.
People: Bullies with use their power and influence and encourage everyone to meet their standards. It is okay to stand up to bullies and live your truth without the approval or acceptance of others.
Leader: After Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego did not conform they were put into a fiery furnace as punishment for not changing. Never be surprised at the lengths people go through to reject your individualism.
People: The three survived the flames and through their witness the power structures that supported their oppression were changed. Standing up for the right thing can bring positive change.
Leader: The LGBTQIA community is currently under attack all over the world. Politicians, individuals, and even some churches are using their power and influence to harm these and other underrepresented groups.
All: Let us live and walk in our truth. Let us encourage others to do the same. Let us not be ashamed or afraid to be who God created us to be. Let us resist all forms of hate. God is love and God loves all. Amen.
Prayer for Transformation and New Life (Confession)
Loving God, sometimes we have dishonored ourselves and others in our longing to fit in and to be accepted. At times we have rejected the individuality of others. Sometimes we have allowed the pressure to be popular cause us to bully ourselves and others. Occasionally we have been silent when we have witnessed people being dishonored because of their truth. Please change our hearts and help us to love our own humanity and the awesomeness of other humans. Please help us forgive ourselves for the harsh things that we have said and thought about ourselves and others. Each person is a unique and beautiful expression of God’s divine light and love. We confess that we forget this sometimes and pray that you help us too do better. Starting now.
Assurance of Pardon
Assuredly God forgives us of all of our wrongdoings— those we committed consciously and unconsciously. Thank you God for your forgiveness. Let us forgive others as God continuously forgives us. Amen
Invitation to Generosity (Call to Offering)
God has blessed us beyond measure and our own generosity is an opportunity to use a portion of our blessings to minister to others. The Holy is calling us to gather our gifts and offer them to God in worship. Let us gather our gifts and worship through our generosity.
Offering Dedication Prayer
We offer or gifts to the God of all. We joyfully give our treasure to bring hope, justice, love and healing to those who are hurting. May these gifts be blessed and multiplied and used to provide ministry for those who are too often pushed to the margins in society. Let the generosity represented here be magnified and amplified to stretch beyond our human thought and imagination.
Thank you for this worship experience, oh Lord. Please dismiss us in your light and in your love. Let us leave this worship experience with a renewed sense of hope and healing. Let us leave this space walking and serving in authenticity understanding that our greatest witness is our truth. Let us prayerfully work to find the strength to resist the pressure from others to change from who God created us to be. Thank you God, for loving us for who we are, as we are. Amen
God, we gather at this table representing all people in all places in our world. We bless and pass the bread and cup as Christ passed it to his friends. Please allow these elements to remind us of the good that you have done and inspire us to do the good that Christ calls us to do. May we leave this table revived and refreshed having sipped from the cup of bold courage so that we may challenge all forms of injustice and pain. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen
Rev. Derek Terry is the current pastor of St. Peter’s United Church of Christ in Cincinnati, OH and is on the current Program Director of the Open and Affirming Coalition of the United Church of Christ.
Open and Affirming Sunday 2021
You’re welcome to use following video in its entirety, or clips in your own services.
The Flames of Love
by Kimi Floyd Reisch, 2021
We light the flame of commitment,
To stand with and work to create change,
Until all know they are beloved.
We light the flame of survival,
Grateful for our lives,
Remembering in love those lost along the road.
We light the flame of change,
Committing to recenter toward love,
In hearts, in minds, in our world.
We light the flame of hope,
Loving each other, building community,
even when it is uncomfortable.
We light the flame of knowledge,
Following the path of justice,
Justice that is love embodied.
We light this flame of radical love.
To speak out for those who have been silenced.
Those who have been rejected for who they love.
Those who have been persecuted for who they are.
Those who have been bullied for daring to be bold.
Those who have been othered and forced into the margins.
Those who have been lonely.
Those who have been hurt.
Those who are still hurting.
We light this flame as
a people committed,
we are survivors.
we will change the world,
until no one lives without hope,
until no one lives without justice.
We light this flame and pledge that
In love, with love, and through love,
All things are possible.
- Colorful Creator by Ruth Duck (1992), New Century Hymnal #30.
- Spirit of Love by Shirley Erena Murray (1992), New Century Hymnal #58.
Help, I Need Somebody (based on Psalm 130)
by Kimi Floyd Reisch, 2021
ALL: It has been a hard year. The losses from Covid, from gun violence, from racial injustice have all piled on, pulling us down in the depths of despair. Many of us have hit rock bottom.
ONE: Listen! The voice of comfort and love is calling! Listen and hear the voice of the Divine Comforter.
ALL: It has been a hard year. Anger, grief, despair. I watch people suffering and being oppressed. I feel the chains of oppression. Until we are all free, none of us can be free.
ONE: God never said that forgiveness was easy, but that it must become a habit we nurture. Forgive the world children, but also forgive yourself for feeling vulnerable and human.
ALL: I pray, and I pray, my life a prayer to God.
ONE: Wait for it – listen to God – and follow the wisdom found in prayer.
ALL: There are lives on the line here while we are waiting and watching.
ONE: Just as Israel watched and waited for freedom, for the return of hope.
ALL: With God’s arrival comes love. With God’s arrival comes generous redemption of hope.
ONE: Just as God redeemed Israel, from captivity to freedom, you too are free. You too are chosen. You ARE enough for God.
ALL: For God is love and we are God’s Beloved, just as we are – lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, queer, asexual, intersex, ally, cisgender, heterosexual. We are a family.
- Diverse in Culture, Nation, Race by Ruth Duck (1991).
- Healer of Our Every Ill by Marty Haugen (2002). We recommend changing the line “every sister, every brother” to “every sibling, every other” to make it fully inclusive.
- Help! by The Beatles, arranged by Gitika Partington. Music found here.
- Help Us Accept Each Other by Fred Kaan, New Century Hymnal #388. We recommend changing the line “as sister, brother” to “as sibling, other” to make it fully inclusive.
- Psalm 130 chant by A. Gregory Murray (1963), Hymns for a Pilgrim People #130.
Collect for Colors
by Jane Richardson Jensen, Patricia Harris-Watkins in She Who Prays: A Woman’s Interfaith Prayer Book
GRACIOUS GOD, you chose a rainbow as a sign of hope for the future of humanity and life on Earth. We praise you for the way the atmosphere during or after rain works together to create something as beautiful and bright as a rainbow. Thank you for the reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, indigoes, and violets of the arcs of color across the sky. We also appreciate the other colors of nature, the browns, blacks, whites, silvers, and golds. Like the colors all around us, may we reflect some small measure of the breadth of your Grace to others.
- Be Still My Soul by Kathrina von Schlegal (1855), New Century Hymnal #488.
- Light Dawns on a Weary World by Mary Louise Bringle (2002).
A Prayer to Humankind
by Chief Medicine Story of the Wampanoag Nation, Edited by Kimi Floyd Reisch.
This has two individual readers and a group part.
Reader I: Hear O Humankind, the prayer of my heart. Are we not one? Have we not one desire, to heal our Mother Earth, to bind her wounds?
Reader II: Are we not all siblings? Are we not all grandchildren of the same mystery? Do we not all want to love and be loved? Do we not want to work and play, and sing, and dance together?
Reader I: May we live forever
All: May we live forever
Reader II: In Jesus’ name
All: In Jesus’ name
Reader I: As with one desire, together as one.
All: As siblings, may we live as one.
Reader II: But we live in fear. Fear that is hate. Fear that is mistrust, and envy and greed . . . Fear that is anger and cruelty, loneliness and bitterness.
Reader I: We live in fear that is love, twisted and turned back on itself. Love denied and love rejected.
Reader II: In Jesus’ name we pray: let us love forever. Let us live without fear. Let us live in love.
All: May we love forever in Jesus’ name.
Reader I: Hear my heart’s prayer, O Humankind! Life is a treasure. We are the custodians of earth, the nurturer of life. It is our sacred trust.
All: Life is wondrous, awesome, and holy. Life is burning glory in all the colors of the rainbow. And its price is simply this: Courage.
We must be brave enough to love ourselves and to love each other.
Radical Love is courage. (Quietly)
Radical Love is courage. (Loudly Proclaiming)
God of Love, Fiery Pillar
based on an ancient Celtic Prayer by Kimi Floyd Reisch, 2021
As we kindle the fire of change, we pray that the flames of God’s inclusive love set fire to the world. We pray that no envy and malice, no hatred or fear, may smother these flames. May the spark of God’s love light the love in our hearts, that they may burn brightly through the day. May the flames of love warm those who are lonely, those who feel rejected, those who feel cast out because of who they are or who they love. May these flames, flames of radical love, flames of the Open and Affirming movement, guide them here, guide them home into the arms of love.
- Creator of the Intertwined by Jacque B. Jones (2007), Hymns for a Pilgrim People #293.
A Litany of Faith and Hope, UCC Version
adapted by Kimi Floyd Reisch from A Litany of Faith and Hope published by the Muslim and Unitarian Universalist communities of greater Columbus, Ohio.
LEADER: We are a garden:
ALL: A community of many different colors and varieties growing together. We all need water, sun, and soil to grow. We live alongside one another, respecting one another, maintaining our identities, like an iris and a carnation, both beautiful, both distinct and different, but still connected.
LEADER: We come together:
ALL: To discover we have a common language: the language of our children. our families, our communities. The language of hope. The language of God’s incredible love for the world.
LEADER: We seek:
ALL: To know one another.
LEADER: We need:
ALL: To build on these experiences of community, to be full of care for people of all faiths.
ALL: We believe in our children being friends with other children
who may not look like them, who may hold different
beliefs, who have different backgrounds.
We believe the barriers are in our minds; justice, peace, and
understanding will ultimately prevail.
We believe we share a common origin as human beings; we
are children of the same creator.
We believe in the dignity and worth of all human beings, no matter who they are or where they are on life’s journey.
We know the world is big enough for all of us, because we believe in a world of love and love creates space for all to live and thrive.
- We Are One in the Spirit by Peter Scholtes (1966), Hymns for a Pilgrim People #495.
- For Everyone Born by Shirley Erena Murray (1996) Sing Justice! Do Justice #2.
A Prayer of Queer Thanksgiving
by Micah Bucey
I sing praises to this little boy, no more than seven or eight,
Who just pranced right up to me and interlaced his own tiny, nail-polished fingers
With my own, and cried out, “Twins!”
I sing praises to his choice of glittery green,
Which perfectly complements my shimmery purple.
I sing praises to his guts, his gumption, his presumption
That I am a friend, a familiar, a fellow fairy — family —
Even though we’ve never met.
I sing praises to the street that brings us together
And to the fabulous whomever he, she, they will become.
I sing praises to the well-coiffed mother, bubbling over and teary-eyed,
As she exclaims, “He saw you all the way across the street and just had to say, ‘Hello.’”
I sing praises to the baseball-capped father, looking on with quiet pride,
As he asks, “Do you paint yourself or do you have them professionally done?”
I sing praises to the grandma and the grandpa, holding hands and smiling wide,
As they look one another in the eye and celebrate what their love has made.
I sing praises to the dozens of witnesses to this family reunion,
The ones who hurry by and the ones who slow down,
The ones who look up from their phones to watch history being made,
The ones who set aside their cynicism for one, brief, shining moment,
So they can join in the smiles,
Join in the connection,
As I squeeze the tiny fingers of this seven-or-eight-year-old unicorn and proclaim: “Twins!”
And I sing praises to the cloud of invisible witnesses that surrounds us,
And in the singing and the praising, I feel them appear around us.
This is fantasy, but this is real.
This is fantasy, but fantasy is what painted our nails in the first place.
I see Marsha, brick in hand, ready to take no shit,
And Sylvia, microphone primed, ready to take us to task.
I see Christine, done up and glamorous, no hair out of place,
And I hear Marlene and Sylvester and David, crooning as Billy tickles the ivories.
I see Langston and Lorraine and James and Oscar, scribbling away,
As José and Eve and Michel critique and queer and complicate.
I hear Divine and Candy and Jackie and Andy and Hibiscus whispering,
“Don’t be so serious. Let this just be the silly thing it is.”
I feel the breeze as Alvin twirls by,
And I feel the squeeze as Alan computes the logic of it all.
I see Harvey and Audre and Michael and Harry,
And Gordon and Edie and Jane and Dick,
Satisfied and still nudging, content and continuing to fight.
I hear Leonard and Howard composing a hit,
As Michael choreographs a group number,
And Frida lines us all up for what will surely be a kooky portrait for the ages.
I feel the forces, see the faces of the famous and the foreign,
And the cloud opens wider to reveal our mess of martyrs.
I see Matthew and Brandon and Roxana and Joan,
I see faces I’ve never seen before,
I hear names I’ve never known,
I hear voices I’ve never heard before, shouting, “Twins! Twins! Twins!”
We are nothing alike and we are everything alike,
We are on the street together and we are more than worlds apart.
We are a rainbow and we are a cloud,
Born of color and tears, of triumph and tragedy,
Feeding the arc of a moral universe that has trampled us,
Even as we decorate the damn thing and teach it how to bend.
We are serious and sassy, glittery and grim,
Furious and filled with fear that fools itself into fabulosity.
We are everything I describe and nothing I describe.
We are everything I see and so much I do not see.
We can pick out one another on the street,
And we can be strangers in the same parade.
We are more than fits inside our ever-expanding initials,
And we are only as much as we allow ourselves to be.
We are a rainbow and we are a cloud,
Bending and bursting, beautiful and terrifying.
And I sing praises to the rainbow and I sing praises to the cloud.
I sing praises to the colorful progress,
And I sing praises to the storm that shouts, “Progress is a myth.
Stop acting so small. You are the Universe in ecstatic motion.”
I sing praises to the Universe that we are,
To the rainbow that we’ve been, to the cloud we will all become,
And I feel that word fizzing up inside me, though it often frightens more than frees:
I sing praises to this family
That claims me for who I am and gently shoves me into who I can become.
I sing praises to the saints who don’t want to be saints,
To the martyrs and the heroes who ask for none of the notoriety.
I sing praises to the bloodless ties that keep us afloat until the blood ties catch up.
I sing praises to the clouds that cry out, “Families belong together,”
And know that it means so much more than what some want it to mean.
I sing praises to this fleeting moment on the street,
A moment that begins between two nail-polished people,
And then prisms out, extending the rainbow, creating the cloud.
We are twins and we are nothing alike.
We are seeking a tribe and we are extending the tribe.
We have so much to teach and we have so much to learn.
We have eternal praises to sing and we have eternal thanks to give.
Our greatest gift is the light of our color and the salt of our tears,
As we recognize one another like children on the busy street and insist on saying,
“Hello. I see you. I feel this between us and I can’t quite explain it.”
I sing praises to our gift of family recognition,
And until all families bend to the love of difference,
Until this country bends to love of family,
I sing praises to this growing familial cloud,
Rainbow saints painting paths for their yearning children,
And I pray not with my own hands clasped together,
But with my polished fingers interlaced with any other child I can recognize.
- Christ at Table There With Friends by Anabel S. Murray (1982/1994).
Colors of Love, Wisdom of Solomon 2:23
by Kimi Floyd Reisch, 2021
We are a gathering of diverse people, woven rainbow threads
drawn together as if a single prayer shawl,
laying upon the shoulders of those who have been rejected,
or harmed, broken by the world and how the world and Christians
have treated their LGBTQIA+ children, siblings, parents, family friends.
We are a gathering of diverse people, woven rainbow threads
drawn together as if a single prayer shawl,
laying upon the shoulders of those who have stood up and who
stand with us as LGBTQIA+ people.
We do not have to speak the same languages.
We can witness different sacred truth.
We can love differently, yet recognizing that love is the same,
no matter the gender of the person who shares it.
For God created us for incorruption,
Made in the image of immortality.
We do not have to look the same, love the same,
pray the same, or even believe the same
Blue uses red to shine. Yellow reflects next to green.
Orange and purple. Black and white. Brown and pink.
Homegenia, sameness should never be the goal.
Our diversity is holy diversity.
We come together committing to deeper connection,
to listen more, to see and witness,
seeking compassion over conflict, hope over hate,
joyful in intent and dismissing the false unity of sameness, woven in the unity of love.
For God created us for incorruption,
Made in the image of love.
We are the colors of love.
- Weave by Rosemary Crow (1995), Chalice Hymnal #495 (please contact the video producers for permission to use)
- Let Streams of Living Justice by William Whitlia (1989). Sing Justice, Do Justice Hymnal #12.
- The Weaver’s Shuttle Swiftly Flies by James Gertmenian (1990), New Century Hymnal #464. Also consider using the lyrics to the tune of Canticle of the Turning by Rory Cooney
Giggling, An Inclusive Reading of 2nd Corinthians, Chapter 8
by Kimi Floyd Reisch, 2021
Giggling is one of the few human acts that is entirely spontaneous. Some people giggle when they are happy. Others only when they are uncomfortable. Finally, some only when they forget that they are too old, too proper, too adult to let go and spontaneously giggle with every emotion felt by humans. God’s love is like a giggle, flowing through us and bringing purpose and blessings to our lives. When we hear God’s giggle, it is like that of a child – so perfect and beautiful that you cannot help but smile. God’s giggle has the power to calm hearts committed to war.
God gave everything to humans through Jesus, but most of all he gave us the power to hear his giggle and to follow where it leads. Some are not there yet. The noise of the world prevents hearing the giggle of hope.
We walk together in truth, aligned with siblings around the world, companions in justice, advocates for inclusive love. We follow the considerate and the compassionate witness of Jesus. We want more friends to join us, until the entire world lives listening always for that giggle, waiting for it to call us into community like a supper whistle off of a front porch. We can’t wait until you hear it and giggle with us
Open and Affirming Sunday 2020
A recording of our virtual National 2020 Open and Affirming Service is available YouTube.
Credit abbreviations: Kimi Floyd Reisch (KFR), Mak Kneebone (MK). This service was created and edited by Kimi Floyd Reisch.
We recommend that the congregation stands (as they are able) to recite together the words of your Open and Affirming Covenant as an act of faith and recommitment following the sermon. In many of our traditions, a covenant (like the covenant of baptism) is a vow that should be renewed every year.
Call to Worship 1
One: Those who are thirsty, come to the fount that will not dry up.
ALL: We bring our thirst here to be quenched.
One: Those who are weary, Spirit is a ready refuge.
ALL: We bring our weariness that we might find rest.
One: Those who feel lost, come to the One who knows the way.
ALL: Lead us by the hand, by our hearts, and by hope. (MK, 2020)
Call to Worship 2
One: How long, O Lord?
ALL: How long must your lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people hide, afraid to come out to wholeness?
One: How long, O Lord?
ALL: How long must our Black, Latinx, and Indigenous siblings bear the scars our legacy of white supremacy and racism have left on this nation, on this world?
One: How long, O Lord?
ALL: Before the lament we carry in our souls is heard and comforted?
One: Divine Beloved, we have trusted in your steadfast love.
ALL: Our hearts have rejoiced at the promise of your mercy and compassion.
One: This Open and Affirming Sunday, let us sing to the Lord, Our God.
ALL: Let us raise the songs of our ancestors, committing to walk in justice and mercy, until all God’s people are free. (KFR, 2020, inspired by Psalm 13)
Call to Worship 3
One: From ancient times to this present day, people have gathered in sacred spaces like this one.
ALL: Moments of time fold together when we immerse ourselves in love and connection.
One: We ask for Divine Love to be revealed to us in this gathering.
ALL: We open our spirits to the depth and breadth of Divine Presence.
One: We listen for sacred whisperings and await holy joy to be written on our hearts.
ALL: Being truly ourselves, we come together in this eternal moment.
One: We bring our prayers to you as one community, one assembled body
ALL: Transgender, Nonbinary, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Intersex, Gay, Queer, Ally. Beloved people of God. We come, and we pledge our commitment to walk the path of Jesus. (MK, 2020)
Call to Worship 4
One: We come today, representing all the majesty of creation
ALL: Diverse and beautiful, blessed and beloved, all made in the image of the Creator of all things.
One: We come today, called to this time and this place by an infinite God
ALL: Who hears our cries and responds with love and mercy.
One: We come today, Transgender, Nonbinary, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Intersex, Gay, Queer, Ally
ALL: We come today, knowing you will listen and answer our needs.
One: We come today, to deliver our joined prayers of hope.
ALL: We come today, a people mourning still our losses, still recovering from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic and the pandemic of institutionalized racism that has plagued our world for too many centuries.
One: We come today, knowing you care for us
ALL: We come today, knowing that even when others reject us, your arms are open to offer comfort. We come. (KFR, 2020)
Call to Worship 5
One: I will sing of your steadfast love, O Lord, forever.
ALL: With my mouth, I will declare your faithfulness to this generation and all generations.
One: Your steadfast love is established forever.
ALL: Your faithfulness as firm as the strongest oak, as strong as the heavens themselves.
One: You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, my servant David”
ALL: Following you, we have established our own covenant with you and each other, to affirm the lives of our transgender, bisexual, lesbian, and gay siblings, to invite them into the full life and ministry of your Church, our church.
One: For you are the glory of their strength, of our strength
ALL: By your favor, our burdens are lifted. For your steadfast love endures all things. (KFR, 2020, inspired by Psalm 89)
Unison Prayer 1
Holy One of Blessing, eternally we co-create ourselves in your love.
All companionship orientations;
All gender identities and expressions;
All ways of having family.
We celebrate LGBTQ+ peoples everywhere
Knowing that many are still not safe to come out;
To be free;
To live life abundantly.
Heal all who are ill in body, mind, heart or spirit.
Bind up all wounds and provide adequate care.
Extinguish any stigma people are enduring.
We celebrate because everyone should be celebrated.
We are your body on earth.
May our love and hope be sent on the wings of this prayer
To all who need refreshing, affirmation, and love’s embrace.
May it be so. Amen. (MK, 2020)
Unison Prayer 2
Based on ‘We are Descendants’ by Lavon Baylor
We are descendants of your righteous ones,
Those who obeyed, you Beloved children,
Greeting your covenant with joyous praise
Through fearful nights and problem laden days.
You were our refuge through all times of change,
When the world seemed harsh and strange.
We followed your lead even when the path was obscured,
the way to grace hidden behind our own fear.
God, we witness the violence of the world,
Too often callously dispensed against the most vulnerable,
Too often targeting our Black, Latinx, and Indigenous siblings.
You deliver us from a world filled with inequities.
Forgive us, God, for breaking our covenants.
Forgive us, God, for those moments when we stayed silent and ignored your command to speak.
Forgive us, God, for those times when we witnessed harm and did not intervene.
Forgive us, O God, for those moments when we forgot to act always in love for one another.
We have been blessed with gifts so manifold!
Heaven and earth, and wonders yet untold.
Proclaim your love divine, O God of Light.
May we, your people, reaffirm our covenant in your name.
Pledging to walk as allies, as disciples, as friends committed to the Way of your child, Jesus.
(Lavon Baylor, 2014; edits by KFR, 2020)
Unison Prayer 3
God, we come before you in these mortal bodies,
Pledging that we will become instruments of peace, love and hope.
Christ called us to serve as disciples to all nations, to all people.
We commit to serving without fear, learning how to serve as Jesus served,
Seeing the beloved-ness of your people, people set free from sin through the sacrifice of the Cross.
Let us be instruments to glorify you, O God.
Let our hearts and minds hear the message of love and hope delivered on Calvary.
God of all truth and goodness, help us to set aside shame,
Shame that has no advantage.
Shame that does not reflect the good news, that we have been given eternal life.
Let us be obedient to the work Jesus entrusted to us,
Let us hear his teaching, and through it learn how we are to treat one another.
Hear this prayer of our hearts, O God. Amen. (KFR, 2020, based on Romans 6)
Unison Prayer 4
God, your child Jesus taught us to welcome each other, but welcome often seems too little in this world.
Welcome, without affirmation, becomes an empty promise,
Devoid of the lesson that to truly welcome each other means to see the face of God in each other.
We commit to affirm all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people,
Welcoming them and Affirming them as God’s beloved creations.
You taught us that whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will see a prophet’s reward;
That whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous.
We know that until we are all free, none of us can be free,
And we commit to co-creating that world of welcome and affirmation until all people can access that promise. Amen. (KFR, 2020)
Unison Prayer 5
Together we defy the darkness by being the Light. We make violence tremble by being peacemakers. When chaos and trauma cause distress, we counter by reaching for love and remembering joy. This day, when people are going hungry, give us bread to share. This day, when people are angry and hurtful, give us forgiveness to offer. When there is so much temptation to be selfish and careless, this day give us the strength to be kind and intentional. Remind us that we are all born holy and deserve love and tenderness. In the many names of Love, may it be so. (MK, 2020)
One: Each of us is created with worth, imbued with dignity.
ALL: We are the representation of God’s love in the world.
One: We are diverse in our experiences, vast in our manifestation of how love looks
ALL: Our families are all different, but each represents and honors the many ways that your people live and love.
One: Our lives are enriched when LGBTQIA+ people are welcomed and affirmed in our churches and communities.
ALL: Our lives are enriched when our Black, Latinx, and Indigenous neighbors are affirmed.
One: Your words, shared in Scripture, call us to be a people of justice.
ALL: We all suffer when any LGBT person is oppressed, excluded, or shamed.
One: When justice is denied to any of us, justice is denied to all of us.
ALL: Until we are all free, none of us are free.
One: May we work to build a world where all people are affirmed with love.
ALL: Our sexual and gender diversity enriches us, creates joy in our lives. Joy given by and through you. In your name, we pledge to go out to share these blessings with the world. (KFR, 2020)
Offertory Prayer 1
We are all one human family. In your love you created us. Through your grace you reach out to us. You are great enough to hold us all in your arms at the same time. Help us to open our hearts to the world that you love. Teach us to weave our lives together. We yield to Spirit, offering what we have to the greater good. In this way, each day, we begin again in love. Amen. (MK, 2020)
Offertory Prayer 2
One It is a gift to be able to give something away.
ALL: We are called to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
One: Spirit of Love, look upon us now.
ALL: Bless these gifts; those we can see and those we cannot.
One: May our hopes come true for the better world we dream of
ALL: As we work together in love. Amen. (MK, 2020)
Offertory Prayer 3
For all the great and wondrous things you have done for us, O God, we are grateful. You give us strength to go on when we are troubled and discouraged. You grant newness of life as we share in Christ’s resurrection. We want to pass on the good news through this offering and by the way we live each day. Lead us, and guide us with your steadfast love, that we might channel your gifts to all we meet. Amen. (Lavon Baylor, 2014)
Prayer after Communion
Gracious God, you love all that you have created, and you celebrate the diversity of your creation. Throughout your history with your people, you have reminded us that those whom the world sees as the least are the greatest in your eyes. We ask that you give us the grace to celebrate with our gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary family as they choose to live authentically in the world. Teach us to honor and celebrate their gifts and help us to create a world in which gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and nonbinary teenagers and adults are loved, accepted and celebrated, in every gathering and every congregation. We ask this in your many names. Amen. (Revised from Religious Institute)
Continue to serve with faith and love,
Depart from this time today committed to sharing the best of yourself,
Through generosity of time and resources,
Meeting the needs of others, both spoken and unspoken, seen and unseen, heard and unheard
As the God of healing has healed us,
Let us go now and share that compassion with the world,
Let us go and greet our beloved transgender, bisexual, lesbian, and gay siblings,
Our Black, Latinx, Indigenous, siblings,
Sharing the good news that they are seen, they are heard, they are Beloved.
Go now in hope. Amen. (KFR, 2020)
Hymn Suggestions from The New Century Hymnal
3: Wakantanka Taku Nitawa (Many and Great, O God, Are Your Works)
11: Bring Many Names
28: For the Beauty of the Earth
30. Colorful Creator
58: Spirit of Love
106: My Heart Sings Out with Joyful Praise
175: O Christ, the Healer, We Have Come
177: God of Change and Glory
207: Just as I Am
249: Peace I Leave with You, My Friends
274: Womb of Life, and Source of Being
286: Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness
351: I Was There to Hear Your Borning Cry
362: When Love is Found
388: Help Us Accept Each Other
391: In the Midst of New Dimensions
392: En Santa Hermandad (United by God’s Love)
402: De Colores (Sing of Colors)
433: In the Bulb There is a Flower
437: We Shall Not Give Up the Fight
461: Let Us Hope when Hope Seems Hopeless
467: Mothering God, You Gave Me Birth
471: What a Covenant
495: Called as Partners in Christ’s Service
502: Dear God, Embracing Humankind
511: I Love My God, Who Heard My Cry
524/525: This Little Light of Mine
576: For the Healing of the Nations
581: Lead Us From Death to Life