Call to Worship
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
– 1 Peter 1:3
We are your Easter people,
Stunned, confused, overwhelmed,
We gather at tables to pray,
To share your meal.
Easter us always,
Keep us in the uncertainty of that night,
The joy of that morning,
Bind us in community,
As we Easter one another,
The Body of Christ,
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all,
and the LORD’s compassion is over all that the LORD has made.
All your works shall give thanks to you, O LORD,
and all your faithful shall bless you.
They shall speak of the glory of your kingdom,
and tell of your power,
to make known to all people your mighty deeds,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom,
and your dominion endures throughout all generations.
Scripture– Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians 3:2-3
You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all;
and you show that you are a letter of Christ, prepared by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
This summer, in Disciples of Christ churches throughout the country, pastors and lay leaders will enter their sacristies, remove their chalices, and carefully wrap them. They will deal with airport security, bumpy roads, and shipping companies, as they and their chalices travel to Fort Worth, where they will hold their General Assembly. And after an act of communal worship, they will pack up a chalice and take it home with them. But it won’t be the chalice with which they arrived!
From this summer on, every Sunday morning as Disciples of Christ ministers raise the chalice and speak the words of institution, they will be holding the chalice from another community of Christ, and another community of Christ will be celebrating communion with their chalice, a denominational act of communion transcending geographical boundaries, theological divisions, a communion with the Body of Christ.
We don’t know exactly how long the original apostles were together. Tradition suggests a period of around three years. But some were called early, some late. The Sons of Thunder. Judas Didymus Thomas. Mary Magdalene. Simon the Rock. They came together, ate, prayed, learned. Then came Jerusalem, the tree, the empty tomb.
And then they changed the world. They took Christ and they took one another, and they went their separate ways, making disciples of all nations, as their savior had instructed them. Thomas in Syria, James in Jerusalem, Simon Peter in Antioch. They carried the good news of Christ. And in all of the places they preached, they celebrated the communal meal of remembrance, they transformed one another, and they moved on.
We all move on. We come together and move apart. Like chalice swapping, we swap bits of ourselves. We write ourselves into the hearts of others, as Christ has written himself into our hearts. As Paul tells the Corinthians, we are living letters, love letters, we are word to one another, communion and reunion. We are love.
And move we must, from our first moment of life, to that last goodbye. Are you ready to say goodbye? To say hello? To change one life? To change hundreds? Thousands?
As chaplain interns at Saint Elizabeth’s, it is our season of goodbyes. Some will pass this way again, others will find new ministries, new chances to write and to be written on, to love and to serve. We will be letters from each other to new communities. What a grand adventure! Amen.
Prayers of the People
God, you are our joy, you are our author, you are communion and goodbye. Fill us with the grace to say goodbye, with the strength to carry one another, to carry Easter with us in all that we do! Let us be love letters from one another, poems of Christ. We join your saints, your church, your people, as we pray:
Blessed are you eternal God,
Your creation is filled with blessing.
We thank you for your church universal and its ministries of love,
Fill us with your Spirit that we might love one another.
We thank you for your Son, for that miraculous morning,
May we always stand amazed before the mystery of the empty tomb.
We pray for those who are sick, who are tired, who are broken,
Help us to comfort them and to comfort one another.
We celebrate the lives of those who have departed even as we mourn our own losses,
May they join the saints in your presence.
We bring you our concerns, personal and global, spoken and in the quiet of our hearts,
(Please add your own petitions).
God, this is the day you have made for us, even in the midst of our pain and brokenness, the new day dawns, babies are born, love happens. We praise you and thank you always.
May you always walk in this certain knowledge: Nothing can separate you from the love of God, nothing you do, nothing others can do. Go in peace and love one another as God loves you. Amen.