For my last Sunday at St. Paul UCC, Old Blue Rock, Cincinnati, I wrote this service which includes a communion liturgy. Please feel free to use with attribution!
CALL TO WORSHIP
One: As the trees release their spring flowers and welcome summer’s deep green leaves,
Many: God’s spirit accompanies us.
One: As each season passes their baton forward and years speed by in a flash,
Many: God’s Spirit strengthens us.
One: As we welcome new faces and bid farewell to others,
Many: God’s Spirit fills us with peace.
OPENING PRAYER (unison)
All:God of questions and answers, of mystery and clarity, we grasp onto your presence today. In this time and space, we celebrate the crossing of thresholds. Here and now We express our gratitude that you abide with us in our laughter and tears. Saturate our souls with strength. Open our spirits to understand that all will be well in our seasons of change. Amen.
PRAYER OF RECONCILIATION
One:Holy one, we enter this space today knowing that the winds of change are entering this sanctuary. The doors have opened to the Spirit’s surprises. But before we look towards a new chapter, we must conclude our current one.
All: God and Neighbor, we come to you today knowing that we must move towards a new future. In this space, we acknowledge that our hopes and dreams occasionally fell short, and we let one another down. Before we close our doors, may we extend grace to one another. May we know that we will always be part of the vine and branches, and that our love for one another extends throughout eternity. Amen.
ASSURANCE OF GRACE
One: God understands our human hearts. God extends grace continuously, and God delights when we pass that grace and mercy along to one another. Let us celebrate that even in our most human moments, we hold the image of God within us. May peace abide.
INVITATION TO OFFERING
One: In both seasons of stability and change, God gives us the tools we need to serve this congregation, the Church, and the community. In recognition of our talents, time, and treasures, we give back to God in a spirit of gratitude. Let us celebrate all that has been and all that will be in this congregation by sharing our gifts.
UNISON PRAYER OF DEDICATION
Here and now, God, we express our joy for the gifts you’ve delivered to us and for the talents you’ve bestowed upon us. May each gift that we’ve been given as individuals and as a congregation be used to shine the light of Christ into the world. Amen.
SERVICE OF COMMUNION
One: Ecclesiastes tells us that there is a season for everything.
Seasons for planting and reaping
Seasons for mourning and dancing
Seasons for losing and seeking.
Today, at this table, we embrace the intersection of two seasons:
The season of welcoming and the season of bidding farewell.
We welcome new faces to the table of Christ knowing that all are
welcome to this time and space as Jesus the Christ crafted a table set
This table also represents a time of farewell- of the departure of faces
from this space. Yet as we reach for the bread and cup, even with
droplets of sadness in our hearts, we understand that the table forever
unites us for eternity.
May the Spirit of God surround these elements as the Spirit surrounds
us in our seasons of change. May the Spirit guide us in our ministries
and service. May the Spirit bless us as we mourn and dance, lose and
seek, plant and reap.
On the night before Jesus’ departure, Jesus gathered his friends one last
time for a meal like no other. As he took the bread he blessed and broke
“Remember me” he said and passed the loaf to his friends.
On the night before Jesus’ departure, as the friends gathered one last
time for this meal which extends beyond time and space, Jesus took a
cup filled with the fruit of the vine.
“Remember me” he said and passed the cup to his friends.
A first meal. A last meal. A meal like no other.
This gift from the Christ connects us for eternity.
And through our time together today we are forever part of this Table.
UNISON PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
God, your love crafted the table at which we feasted today. Your love
connects us whether we are nearby or miles apart. Through your
love, we grow closer to you and our neighbor. May the bread and cup refresh our souls and renew our relationships, and may we know that we are part of this table for eternity. Amen.
One: As we depart today, may we know that through Jesus the Christ we are eternally siblings in faith. May we go forward in love, may the memories of joy abide with us forever, and may we celebrate our shared time on life’s journey: Forever connected. Forever loved. Forever part of the Body of Christ.