Come to the Table of Grace

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We used this communion liturgy I wrote in worship this morning, playing off of the words and music of the lovely communion song by Barbara Hamm titled “Come to the Table of Grace,” found in the songbook Worship & Song. Please feel free to use in your worship context if you find it meaningful.

Liturgy for Holy Communion
(Singing #3168 “Come to the Table of Grace”)

This is God’s table.
Here we are invited to taste grace,
the grace that lightens the human heart
and widens the human soul
by creating an opening for God to enter –
the God who brings healing to bodies, minds, and spirits,
the God who meets us in the deep center of life itself
where we discover truth that sets us free.
This is a feast of grace
for the saint and sinner in each one of us.
Let us come to the table of grace.

Sing verse 1: “Come to the table of grace.”

When we gather at the table of our Lord
it is an invitation to live in peace with our neighbors.
The Prince of peace comes among us
and extends a word of peace –
peace for our troubled hearts,
peace for our troubled relationships,
peace for our troubled neighborhoods,
peace for our troubled environment,
peace for our troubled global community.
In Christ we are empowered to lay down our swords,
whether they be cutting words or violent actions,
whether they be divisive symbols or self-justifications,
and yield ourselves to the Savior
who comes with peace on his lips,
peace in his very presence.
Let us come to the table of peace.

Sing verse 2: “Come to the table of peace.”

When Jesus met with his friends
on the night he was betrayed and arrested,
he took the bread that sustains life,
and he blessed and broke it before them.
He took the common cup filled with wine
and he claimed that these ordinary parts of their meal
were in truth sacred reminders of the gifts of God.
The bread reminded them of the manna
their ancestors received to ease their hunger in the wilderness.
The cup reminded them of the miracle of new wine
at a Cana wedding and at the heavenly feast to come.
Together these ordinary signs tell the story of God’s love
being expressed to all generations.
They show how Jesus himself modeled divine love
as he welcomed the outcast, forgave the sinner,
healed the sick, showed compassion for the hungry,
and called a child to come sit on his lap and be blessed.
Now it is for us to live the way of love of Jesus,
to love outside of our comfort zones, our arbitrary walls,
to love extravagantly as though it can’t run out.
Let us come to the table of love.

Sing verse 3: “Come to the table of love.”

God who sets this bountiful table before us,
a table of grace and peace,
a table of love and joy,
pour out your Holy Spirit upon us
and upon these gifts of bread and wine,
that through Christ’s presence here
we may become a people of grace,
a source of joy, a witness to love,
and instruments of your peace.
By your Holy Spirit,
make us one with Christ,
one with each other,
one with all who walk in your light,
and one in ministry to the whole world, no exceptions,
until we feast at the heavenly banquet.
Let us come to the table of joy.

Sing verse 4: “Come to the table of joy.”

Words (c) 2018 Mark Lloyd Richardson

Be

I’m missing the posts of my blogging friend, Sharon, which I haven’t seen in awhile! This post from a couple of years ago reflects her Bahai faith, and has an optimistic tone of lovingkindness to it.

A Leaf in Springtime

Nature Series Day 6.

Never before has the word Be carried so much light. Sharing with you one of my dearest and most sacred instructions for living.

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Be generous in prosperity, and thankful in adversity.

Be worthy of the trust of thy neighbor, and look upon him with a bright and friendly face.

Be a treasure to the poor, an admonisher to the rich, an answerer of the cry of the needy, a preserver of the sanctity of thy pledge.

Be fair in thy judgment, and guarded in thy speech.

Be unjust to no man, and show all meekness to all men.

Be as a lamp unto them that walk in darkness, a joy to the sorrowful, a sea for the thirsty, a haven for the distressed, an upholder and defender of the victim of oppression.

Let integrity and uprightness distinguish all thine acts.

Be a home for the stranger…

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An Ash Wednesday Prayer

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God of all creation,
you are gracious and merciful, slow to anger,
and you abound in steadfast love.

Today as I enter the closet of my heart,
I discover a lifetime of memories stored there –
some I would prefer to forget and leave behind,
others that remind me how truly blessed I am.

Today I hear again your invitation to renewal –
I hear it with every fiber of my being,
having been created in your image,
formed of the dust of your earth,
enlivened by the breath of your spirit,
established in the strength of your grace!

In these forty days of Lent, it is my heart’s desire
to surrender old harmful habits that yield nothing,
and to take up new holy habits that lead to life.

May this Lenten journey return me to a place of trust,
where my fear is conquered by your holy unshakable love,
where I am healed and made whole in the aliveness of life,
where doing justice,
and loving mercy,
and walking humbly with you,
are the ways of being that matter most.

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Copyright (c) 2012 Mark Lloyd Richardson

Prayer to Begin the Day

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Blistery blustery beautiful day

Photograph “Blistery blustery beautiful day” by Dallis Day Richardson

God,
I want to see you
in each person I meet today
in each conversation I have with another
in each joy discovered
in each suffering shared.

I want to know
in my inmost being
the humanity of Jesus
whose constant prayer was
to be intimately connected with you
in the doing of justice
the enactment of peace
the power of sacrificial love.

I want to seek
friendship with the divine
more than right beliefs
dutiful virtues
or accepted behaviors
so that the movement of my soul
might be toward life in its fullness
life in touch with the Center
life contributing to newness
life in communion with others
life as holy gift
life as sheer wonder.

May I embody
what to me is true
what to me is beautiful
what to me is eternal –
a life whose wholeness is found in God,
a song that can only be sung
in concert with all of creation!

© Mark Lloyd Richardson, 2017

The Audacity of Divine Love

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FullSizeRender-2God who watches over our world,
who companions us along life’s way,
who breathes life into our lives,
we come to lift our praise-filled voices,
to utter our heart’s trembling cries,
to be still, and to know,
to be struck again by the audacity of divine love.

Jesus, Lamb of God,
the one in whom we see love most freely given,
the one who is Rabbi, healer, and friend,
this Jesus invites us to open our eyes
and look with compassion on the needs of the world –
needs for basic necessities of food and shelter,
adequate health care and clean water,
needs for spiritual nourishment and hope,
a cup of life-restoring water,
needs for community and solidarity,
bridging differences with other children of God.

Jesus, the Christ of love’s kingdom,
in whom broken places are mended
and neighbors find common cause healing the world,
this Jesus invites us to open our ears
and hear the summons to follow –
following the Master’s voice,
becoming people brimming with holy grace,
following to places where our comforts are put aside
by the one who disturbs the status quo,
following the call to reshape the world around us
by going where Christ’s love and footsteps show.

Spirit of love, holy wind, breath of life,
replenish our spirits and claim us anew.
Grant us the strength we need
to break down walls of injustice,
to speak up for those on the margins,
to stand with all who are suffering,
to follow all the way to the cross, no turning back.

Spirit of truth, holy word of life,
charge us with a mission of mercy,
a partnership of peace,
that we might more fully live
into your vision of wholeness & shalom.

May your Church,
Creator, Christ, and holy wind,
be faithful in service,
courageous in witness,
steady in fighting injustice,
loyal in our allegiance to the gospel,
savvy in confronting evil,
persistent in walking the path of peace,
and above all,
loving in our actions toward friend and foe.

Bless this earthly home with protection and care.
Bless your people with resurrection power.
Bless decision-makers with a compassionate wisdom,
journalists with the boldness of truth,
and citizens with boundless energy
in the pursuit of the common good.

We pray all of this in the name of Jesus,
who pronounces blessings upon anyone seeking
to align their lives with your kingdom of love. Amen.

Words (c) Mark Lloyd Richardson, 2017

Like a River Flowing

This coming Sunday we celebrate Peace Sunday at First United Methodist Church of Santa Barbara, CA. (http://www.fumcsb.org) We will sing this hymn as our opening hymn.

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WyomingWe sang this song at the close of worship this past Sunday using the familiar tune FINLANDIA. If you wish to use these lyrics in worship sometime, please let me know.

The peace of Christ is like a river flowing
from God’s own heart in healing streams of grace.
In all our comings and in all our goings,
God’s mercies lead us to a holy place.
Peace like a river flowing through our lives
reminds us what it means to be baptized.

This earthly home we share with one another
cannot withstand our hatreds and our fears.
So when we look and see a sister, brother,
we know Christ’s peace is also coming near.
May we now live into this hopeful dream,
a day made new in shared humanity.

This dream for peace seeks out the meek and lowly,
children of God by blessing and design,
created in the image…

View original post 31 more words

Sunlit Grace

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Red Bluff Church

Church on Red Bluff Road, south of Quesnel, British Columbia, Photo credit: blog Cruising Canuckistan

Bless the people
who labor for a better life
a better neighborhood
a better country
a better world,
who love family
create community
and give of themselves
so that seeds of hope
planted in places of despair
may be watered
and grow
and emerge as new life!

Bless the artists and poets
who see what might be
with a piercing clarity
of what now is.

Bless the journalists
who ask uncomfortable questions
and expose inconvenient mistruths
in their dogged pursuit of truth.

Bless the churches and mosques and synagogues
that dot the prairies, hills and valleys
of this precious landscape,
breathing a spirit of prayer and goodness
into the shared life of their communities.

Bless truck driver, crop picker, waiter and cook.
Bless coal miner, windmill farmer, and solar installer.
Bless single mother, newly married, aging couple, and widowed.
Bless teacher, student, leader, and follower.
Bless dreamer, shaper, thinker, and friend.

Bless the fraying edges of relationships,
the absences and separations,
the losses and heartaches,
the holy disruptions,
the sacred silences of peace.

Bless it all, Creation’s Lord.

Let the sunlight of your grace
shine upon poor and rich alike
exposing the treasures nearest each beating heart –
love of neighbor,
love of God.
Bless the whole world, we pray –
no exceptions.

 
Words Copyright (c) 2017, Mark Lloyd Richardson

Christ of the Lakeshore

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Zephyr Point Presbyterian Conference Center, Lake Tahoe

Christ of the lakeshore,
come beside me this day
as my eyes soak in
the blueness spread before me
geese gliding effortlessly
inches above placid waters
slender pencils of pine
garbed in glorious green
a light blanket of snow
draped over neighboring peaks.

Christ of the lakeshore,
come beside me this day
as my ears take in
the songs of the birds
the lapping of the surf
the laughter and crying of a child
the soft whispering breeze.

Christ of the lakeshore,
come beside me this day
as my heart lets in
the pain of the world
of immigrant and refugee
the poor
the houseless
the lonely
the pushed aside
the wounded
the broken-hearted.

Christ of the lakeshore,
come beside me this day
that my praying
my dreaming
my hoping
my longing
may be in conversation
with yours.

Words (c) 2017 Mark Lloyd Richardson

In the Garden

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Through the trees large

Photo credit: Joel Olives, “Through the Trees,” Flickr.com Creative Commons, May 6, 2008.

And Jesus said, “Sit here, while I pray.”

All we must do is sit.
All we must do is recognize this as a time of prayer.
All we must do is stay awake to the present danger.
All we must do is not walk away from the suffering.
All we must do is listen in the stillness of the garden.

Some leaves rustle as a small animal stirs nearby.
A breeze disturbs the branches of an olive tree.
A fellow disciple quietly coughs in the cooling air.
Our own breathing is labored from the hasty night walk.
The fluted song of an owl floats down from the hillside.

All we must do is sit.

Words (c) 2017, Mark Lloyd Richardson

That We Might Be Healers Too

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Pali Coast

Pali Coast, Kauai

The world of your creating is beautiful, O God.

You are master sculptor of imposing mountain ranges,
rugged seascapes, luxuriant valleys, bubbling volcanoes.

You give thought to the birds of the air,
the cattle on the hill, the sea creatures and crawling things.

You orchestrate the sights and sounds of creation
to be a harmonious symphonic masterpiece
that all might know the abundance of your goodness.

There is no detail you leave unattended,
no part of this world beyond your concern.

And amazingly,
you are mindful of human beings –
made in your image,
made for relationship,
made of dust and water,
made of breath and hope,
made of dreams for becoming,
made to live at peace,
made to create,
made with a spark of divinity,
made with a twinkle in your eye,
made to hold and to heal,
made to trust,
made from a deep abiding love.

Our burdens begin
when we misplace our mindfulness of you.

Anxieties follow
when we forget who it is who holds our lives.

Troubles mount
when we boast that this is all meant for us.

Sorrows breed
when we ignore what you intend for our wholeness.

Heal us.
Shake us from our complacency.
Renew in us a vision of life’s harmony.
Restore in us a thriving hopefulness.
Stir up in us a righteous anger at injustice.
Prevent us from doing any more harm.
Call forth from us what is beautiful and true.
Lead us back to our sacredness.
Heal us, we pray, that we might be healers too.

Mark Lloyd Richardson
(c) 2017