Open and Affirming Sunday 2021 please also check out our resources from 2020

Open and Affirming Sunday 2021

These liturgies are yours to use and share, now or in the future. Please check out our ONA worship resources from 2020! All hymns can be researched on Hymnary to find other hymnals.


You’re welcome to use following video in its entirety, or clips in your own services.

New Liturgies

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.

Hymn Suggestions:
Colorful Creator by Ruth Duck (1992), New Century Hymnal #30 Sample here.

Spirit of Love by Shirley Erena Murray (1992), New Century Hymnal #58. Sample here.


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.

Hymn suggestions:
Diverse in Culture, Nation, Race by Ruth Duck (1991) Sample here.

Healer of Our Every Ill by Marty Haugen (2002) Sample here.
We recommend changing the line “every sister, every brother” to “every sibling, every other” to make it fully inclusive.

Give Us This Day by Edwin Hawkins (as performed by Billy Porter on Pose, 2021)

Help! by The Beatles, arranged by Gitika Partington. Music found here. Sample here.

Help Us Accept Each Other by Fred Kaan, New Century Hymnal #388. Sample here. 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.
Amen.

Hymn suggestions:
Be Still My Soul by Kathrina von Schlegal (1855), New Century Hymnal #488. Sample here.

Light Dawns on a Weary World by Mary Louise Bringle (2002). Recording available here.


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.

Hymn suggestions:
Creator of the Intertwined by Jacque B. Jones (2007), Hymns for a Pilgrim People #293. Recording available here.


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.

Hymn suggestions:
We Are One in the Spirit by Peter Scholtes (1966), Hymns for a Pilgrim People #495. Recording available here.

For Everyone Born by Shirley Erena Murray (1996) Sing Justice! Do Justice #2. Recording available here.


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:
“Family.”
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.
Amen

Hymn Suggestions:
Christ at Table There With Friends by Anabel S. Murray (1982/1994) Sample here.


Colors of Love, Wisdom of Solomon 2:23 by Kimi Floyd Reisch, 2021

Allies:
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.
 
LGBTQIA+ People:
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.

ALL:
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.
 
Allies:
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.
 
LGBTQIA+ People:
Orange and purple. Black and white. Brown and pink.
Homegenia, sameness should never be the goal.
Our diversity is holy diversity.
 
ALL:
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 belong.
We are the colors of love.

Hymn suggestions:
Weave by Rosemary Crow (1995), Chalice Hymnal #495. Video version here. (please contact the video producers for permission to use)

Let Streams of Living Justice by William Whitlia (1989). Sing Justice, Do Justice Hymnal #12. Sample version here.

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.