Third Sunday – March 2018
Our latest installment of the Third Sunday Lord’s Table was held on March 18th during our worship service. The theme of this month’s celebration was, ‘…no easy task, the broken woman’ and sought to deal with the scourge of domestic violence. We celebrate our Lord’s Table every third Sunday with an eye towards sharing that the Sacrament of our Lord’s Supper is at its heart a call to action, a call to engage in some of the most pressing social issues and sources of injustice in our culture and society. In an era of increasing awareness and activism surrounding the holy call to raise up the voices of voiceless women throughout our society, this theme was chosen to highlight those concerns and to encourage those participating to reflect and take a strong position regarding what our Lord is calling for in this radical call to truly open ourselves to the truth that all people, both men and women have gifts and talents to give and to share, and that there is no way a new day of goodness and grace can dawn if women are not allowed to be full partners in the search and journey. And in particular the service sought to illustrate that there remains a critical need to root out violence towards women that can be so prevalent ‘behind closed doors’.
The morning’s altar was truly one of our Lord’s tables. It was intended to be a simple yet powerful symbol reminding us of how intensely personal domestic violence truly is. A symbol of the ways in which, and the energy with which women are kept from being all that our Lord has gifted and called them to be, namely full partners with men in the complete and total ordering of our lives and dreams along with the future goodness we all strive for.
The ‘table’ was a simple dining room table with a single chair, and set with a single place setting meant to imply that the dominant man of the house felt his partner was not equal and not worthy of doing anything other than serving him. There was also a half-filled bottle of wine and a partially filled glass representing the part alcohol often plays in exacerbating the problem. It was from this plate and half-filled glass on the table that we called upon our Lord to bless, and from which we received the sacrament. And though it felt somewhat awkward to do so, for the moment we all were immersed in the true depth of the problem…along with the redeeming power of love that needs to carry forth in all our words and our deeds as we seek to engage and defeat this wanton violence and treachery so prevalent and terribly destructive of so many women in our lives and in our communities. For more insight of the day’s thoughts and concern please refer to The Pastor’s Pen – March 18, 2018
An Order for the Lord’s Supper
…no easy task…the broken woman
(Note: ‘Leader’ in regular print, ‘All’ please respond with print that is in bold)
Friends: This is the joyful feast offered for all the children of God! And though our table itself is unconventional, we come to celebrate the goodness and blessings you shower upon us just as we accept the difficult and much needed call to truly become engaged as a people who intervene with love each time we see a brother or sister in distress due to domestic violence. Give us the grace to see and to hear them, to listen to their cry and to act with compassion and conviction, advocating for them as the brothers and sisters in Christ they truly are…
People will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God.
Lord may it be increasingly so that our ministry of love and compassion in your name reaches more and more of your people in need as our awareness of and engagement with all that would continue to divide and separate us as your family begins to break cycles of violence and injury within our homes and the homes of our neighbors. Help us to open hearts locked in fear towards your healing grace and let us never stand idly by as a sister or a brother’s soul is needlessly ravaged. Help us to be a light that shines in the darkness so that truly all may begin to feel free to come from the east and the west, and from the north and the south.
This morning’s altar truly is one of our Lord’s tables. It is a simple yet powerful symbol of the ways in which, and the energy with which domestic violence absolutely wrenches apart the soul and life of the one being abused. To a degree it is stereotyped as it speaks primarily to the abuse perpetrated by men upon women even though to a small degree it occurs the other way around as well. Our ‘table’ this morning is meant to represent a dining room table that has been carefully set by a wife for her abusive husband. You will notice there is only one place set as this husband does not acknowledge his wife as an equal or as a partner and demands that she serve him in this way. There is also a partially filled wine bottle and half-filled glass symbolizing the way in which alcohol often contributes to or exacerbates the problem of domestic abuse. And it is from this table that we will receive the bread and wine of our sacrament…a table of struggle and pain, a table of fear and hurt…a table to which our Lord desires we come, in order to let his grace make it into a table for more than just one tortured soul…
Our Lord and Savior Jesus invites all those who trust in him to come and share this meal which he has prepared for us to receive even from this table of sadness and trial. Our Lord invites all, without exception, and beckons us as well towards ever greater awareness and willingness to be vessels of love in all places of darkness and injury…for the freedom Jesus offers must be present here as well…
According to Luke, when our risen Lord was at table with his disciples, he took bread, and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. And in that moment their eyes were opened and they recognized him.
The ‘single place set’ table’ here before us this morning is holy because our Lord has made it so through our recognition of and challenge to it…and because our Lord is always present in the breaking of the bread and the sharing of the one cup.
Let us reverence this meal shared together in love, may it bless our bodies just as it moves us to greater compassion and clarity of discernment in all instances of wrongful abuse directed towards our sisters and our brothers. May we find the way to invite both the one who has been broken and the one who breaks into the healing circle of your forgiving love and grace. Give us the sensitivity and the wisdom to serve as you would, to graciously care for just as you would, and to love with your love.
And, as we receive it in turn, may our eyes be opened as well to the great need for the deepest of compassion towards these wounded among us…that they might always feel loved and embraced within the blessing of fellowship that we share. Amen
A Litany of Compassion Who am I…???
(All) Who am I …
Lonely, so lonely…beaten and sore, can’t wait for night’s silence, a moment…to breathe.
Yet measured just so, so afraid he might wake, and begin once again…bruise the bruise, pain the pain. Oh, blessed daybreak brings solace, yet sunlight brings shame. Most injuries heal, but the wound still remains. I am unnamed…unknown…and unheard.
(All) Who am I …am I a woman?
(All) Who am I…
Near the end of each day it begins once again, must quick find a corner, a closet to hide.
Each curse, moan, and slap hurts as though it were mine; we share the same tears, the same confusion of fear. How long…oh how long will this hellish-life endure? Silent and broken…told never to share.
(All) Who am I …am I a child?
(All) Who am I…
I don’t know what’s wrong, why such uproar and fuss, we each have our role, we each have our place. Spare the rod, spoil the wife…I’m the head of my house, ordained that it be so Holy Scriptures do tell. I toil all the day to get what is mine, nothing new, nothing different, than many I know. A little correction, and everything’s fine, she’s mine, don’t you mess with my life!
(All) Who am I …am I a husband?
(All) Who am I…
I don’t know what’s wrong; she seems to have changed, time was when she smiled, and spoke a kind word. Now she is empty, her eyes dark and hollow, her gaze always elsewhere if I see her at all. Perhaps she’s on drugs, or maybe a drink, such a shame, a nice house and a hard-working man. I just don’t know what’s wrong, I once knew her better…
(All) Who am I …was I a friend?
(All) Who am I…
She tells me such stories…but I just don’t know, I tell her be stronger, it surely will pass.
You see, times they are hard and there’s always two sides, at least this man loves her and comes home every night. Now be a good wife and take care of him well, there must be a reason, there must be something you’ve done. Go fix his dinner and turn down the bed, Please, please listen and mind what I’ve said.
(All) Who am I …am I a mother?
(All) Who am I…
Sometimes I wonder why so many complain, I’ve known them since childhood, it surely can’t be. I’ve always said never on my watch will this be, I run a tight ship; I know each one, by name. Now you know God’s plan is ordered, His will must be done, they’ll be fine, don’t you worry, it’s nothing I’m sure. I know, for it is not in my Church!
(All) Who am I …am I a pastor?
(All) Who am I…
Every tear that you have shed, every blow you have suffered, breaks my heart with your sorrow, makes me cry out in pain. I know you are lonely and think I am gone, but I’m here by your side and will never let go. I will hold you and cherish in light and darkness, in the depths of your dying I too will be there. Aside from your child, listen not to the lost, their blindness, self-comfort, they are numb beyond life. Yes my love I will hold you, though battered and torn, I am here with you, and I call you by name.
(All) Who am I …I am your Lord… (dlf – January 31, 2009)
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God
It is right to give God our thanks and praise
It is right, it is good, it is joyful to be able to give thanks to you, Oh our God of mystery and miracle. When there was only darkness, you made light. When we cried out to you from captivity, you claimed us to be your own. When we forgot our love for you, you did not forget us, but sent your prophets to turn us around. Over and over again you renewed your promises…with a bow in the sky, the parting of the sea, bread from heaven and your own beloved Son. And so we praise you, turning our voices to the songs of the angels, joining all those who sing in heaven and on earth saying:
Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory, Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Hosanna in the highest.
(All please come forward and stand in a circle around the communion ‘table’)
The Lord Jesus, on the night of his arrest, took bread, and after giving thanks to God, broke it and said: “This is my body, which is for you; do this, remembering me.”
In the same way, he took the cup after supper, and said, “This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood. Whenever you drink it, do this, remembering me.” Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord, until he comes.
(Distribution of the bread- all wait to be served before partaking)
Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. Everyone who comes to me will never be hungry; all who believe in me will never thirst.” (Partake of the bread)
(Distribution of the cup-all wait to be served before partaking)
Jesus said: I am the vine, you are the branches. Cut off from me you can do nothing. This then is the cup of our salvation. (Partake of the cup)
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.