Call to Worship
Beloved community, let us draw the circle wide!
And draw it wider still.
Each of us is here because something draws us to the Divine
as expressed in the Person of Jesus.
We come to explore what it is that draws us here,
in community with neighbors who can teach us
what it is that draws them here.
We come with questions, struggles, doubts.
We come with unique perspectives that enrich the whole community.
We come in vast diversity of mind, body, being,
to live into a unity that does not quell our differences, but celebrates them.
We come to abide in the love of Jesus,
and to learn to bear good fruit that lasts.
Come, let us join in worship of the God of love
Who teaches us what true love is.
O God whose love sustains us, restores us, abides in us,
Send your mischievous Spirit whirling through our midst
in the many different spaces from which we gather.
Let Her galvanize our hearts
so that our worship will empower us for the work
into which you invite us:
For you do not call us servants,
nor does your power rely on dominance;
But instead you call us friends, co-laborers whose joys and sorrows
you know as deeply as if they were your own.
Loving God, Living God,
you guide us into true love, into true life
that consists of enough for all humans, all creatures,
and that will restore all relationships
between neighbors, enemies, strangers
and with you, our Friend.
Confession and Pardon
CALL TO RECONCILIATION
Our sin, individual and collective, is almost too much to bear.
It would be easier not to face it — but to pretend it is not there is to let it fester.
So let us face it together.
PRAYER OF CONFESSION
Jesus asks only this of us:
that we love one another just as he loves us —
a love without conditions, a love that liberates!
But again and again, we choose hate, or fear, or control
not only with those we call enemies
but even with our family, our friends.
The love of God is a love that acts,
a love that bears fruit that lasts,
but we continue to think of love in terms of simple words,
saying “love” with our mouths
but acting in ways that harm,
or failing to act at all.
God’s Spirit bursts through all walls we build
to separate “us” from “them” —
but we build them back, unsure of what we’d be
without an “Other” on whom to project our insecurities,
on whom to blame our misfortunes
or the consequences of our own crimes.
Created for abundance,
we live as hostages of scarcity.
We steal from our neighbors
and hoard whatever resources, whatever power
we can get our hands on.
Siblings in the One who lived, died, and rose for us,
even when we fail to abide in God’s love,
still, still God abides in us —
chooses to call us friend,
chooses to lift us up.
Thus we are redeemed —
not through any effort of our own
but simply through love
deeper and truer than we can imagine.
Empowered by this remarkable gift of grace,
Let us share Christ’s love and peace with one another.
The peace of Christ be with you. And also with you.
Affirmation of Faith
Even while celebrating our diversity of thought
and making room for questions and new interpretations,
there are some beliefs that we who join ourselves to the church
have committed ourselves to holding in common.
As one, let us affirm that shared faith:
We believe in the God from whom all life flows,
who created all that is — seen and unseen,
physical and spiritual —
and declared all of it Good.
Her blessing comes before
and follows after
any curse —
for every instant that
our existence is sustained
attests to Her unfailing love
in which we move, and live, and have our being.
We believe in the irresistible Spirit
who pervades the world
and abides with whomever Xe choses
with no regard for the boxes and boundaries
that humankind constructs.
To the dismay of worldly powers,
this Spirit bestows special care upon the most reviled and despised,
those deemed weak and worthless in human eyes.
Among this number are the eunuchs of scripture
who hail from various cultures and faiths,
who knew both enslavement and status,
whose binary-breaking existence disturbs human norms
but delights the Spirit of Upturned Expectations —
from the eunuchs who helped Esther navigate a fearful situation
to Ashpenaz, who loved the prophet Daniel tenderly;
and from Ebed-Melech, who saved the prophet Jeremiah;
to the eunuch who encountered Philip
with graciousness and eagerness to learn.
We believe in the Word Made Flesh
whose love for those eunuchs and all whom this world Others
is so strong that, upon entering embodied life,
Jesus identified himself as a “eunuch for the Kin-dom.”
In Jesus, God knows intimately what it is
to be marginalized, misunderstood,
and subjected to bodily mistreatment.
We believe that, after his life among us
and his rising from death on a Roman cross,
Jesus restored us into right relationship
with the One who made us, sustains us,
and whose Spirit guides us still
in the work of ushering in God’s Kin-dom.
Prayers of the People / Pastoral Prayer
Sisters, siblings, and brothers in Christ,
though already God has gathered us together
to abide as one in Their unfailing love,
still, still so many of us feel cut off, outcast, unloved.
So let us pray:
For those who have been cut off from their communities
because of who they love, who they are, or what they believe,
we pray that God’s unconditional love will guide them
into chosen families who cherish them as they are.
For those who feel cut off and discarded by societies
that shove people aside when age, illness, or disability
keeps them from fulfilling impossible standards of productivity,
we pray for loved ones that honor their inherent worth,
and for more just laws to protect them from abuse and neglect
and enable their full participation in our communities.
For those who feel cut off from their cultures:
For refugees forced to flee their homelands,
immigrants who leave places and people they love behind,
Indigenous peoples and others whose traditions
are attacked and targeted for extinction,
we pray for strength and courage to resist assimilation,
for solidarity and resources that empower them
to preserve and revitalize their cultures.
For those who feel cut off from the global community
as they cry out for support —
particularly for the people of India and Brazil
as COVID19 ravages their nations;
and for the people of Colombia
who are under attack from their own government;
we pray for a global outcry, compassion, and action on their behalf.
O God who gathers the outcasts
and gives them places of honor,
hear and respond to every prayer
we lift up to you aloud or in the quiet of our hearts.
We give you thanks for your faithful love:
guide us to abide in that love
so that we may learn to love our fellow human beings
and all your good Creation
with the same love you first extended to us.
Invitation to the Offering
Only when we all come together,
only when each person is appreciated
for the different gifts and perspectives they bring
is the Body of Christ whole.
So let us offer whatever we have —
time, skills, resources —
to the God from whom we receive all things
for the furthering of Her Kin(g)dom
where all needs are met at Her expansive table.
Invitation to Christ’s Table
If you ask, “Does anything prevent me from this communion table? Would anyone tell me I am not welcome here?” this is Christ’s reply:
“Nothing and no one can keep you from God’s table, from God’s community, from God’s love. Let no one tell you otherwise.”
Friends, come to the feast! You are not only welcome; you are needed and appreciated.
Prayer after Communion
Words cannot express
the wonder of the Spirit’s gathering power,
the miracle of Christ’s life nourishing us across time and space.
May we who have been fed
enact our gratitude out in the world
by joining the Spirit in Her holy work
of breaking down the boundaries that divide
and building up communities that restore.
Charge and Benediction
Friends in Christ,
In worshipping the God who loves us,
we have been reminded of the goodness of our diversity
joining together in one Body.
Gratitude is our response:
Gratitude for the God who chose us, who abides in us,
and who goes out with us now
to bring love, justice, and peace into a hungry world.
So let us go, glorifying God with our lives!
I wrote this liturgy for an Easter season service centered around Acts 8:26-40’s story of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch, also tying in John 15:9-17’s instructions to love one another as Jesus loved us. You can view the worship service here.
You can read my sermon transcript here. In the sermon, I discuss the importance of reading scripture together and interpret Philip through an autistic lens and the eunuch through a trans lens.