“Yes, Let’s!”: A New Heaven and a New Earth Intergenerational Communion for the 26th Sunday after Pentecost

As One Body, we share profound responsibilities, like helping children encounter the Holy through participation in worship.

In this liturgy, which includes communion and anointing with oil, young people have primary leadership roles throughout, especially at the table.

The method used in this liturgy to help the biblical stories come alive is an adaptation of the

theater  practice of  “improv”. Using the liturgy as the structure, non-scripted opportunities are incorporated into this liturgy to create moments for spontaneous response; these moments may help worshippers experience new patterns, practices, symbols, and relationships. As congregants grow more adept at this, a new culture of freedom and spontaneity in worship may grow.

This liturgy creates space to experience the Holy as One Body and with our bodies as a New Heaven and a New Earth is given space to emerge.

 

Time of Gathering

 

Sing

Create a teaching moment by teaching a simple song to the congregation in order to sing without looking at a hymnal or insert. Amp it up by singing in the round.

Come Together (led by a child or young person)

As the day dawns anew,
so do our lives.
As our community gathers,
so does our spirits.
As we are awaken by newness,
we are a holy people of a new heaven and earth.
And so it is!

 

Give Thanks (continued by the same young person)

Invite the congregation to call out their thanksgivings for healing, joy, and living in the ways of God.

Share the Peace

         Song                           As-salaamu Lakum                                   Sing! Prayer and Praise #20 (Peace be with You)

Before sharing the peace, have the congregation sing this or another peace chant a couple of times then keep singing while sharing in the peace. As the congregation gathers itself, invite them to sing the verse one more time through.

 

Prepare for the Word

Activate Imagination:

Leader:           As we prepare to experience God’s Word,
call out a word or phrase that comes to mind
when you hear the phrase “a new heaven and a new earth.”

People:         Respond with images, phrases, memories, hopes        

Activate Listening (led by a young person):

Leader:          God is always speaking, but sometimes we forget how to listen.
When the chime rings, we enter the silence.
In the silence, we listen for God not only with our ears,
but with our whole bodies and with our hearts.  

                  Silence lasts one minute, framed by chime at either end.

Pray for Illumination

Holy One of All the Ages,
may we have the courage
to experience and hold truths
found within Your ancient words.
Saturate us with that unending truth
that our whole selves may be open
to what is new.

Scripture

Psalm 98                                                        The New Century Hymnal   p.686

Congregation is invited to chant this Psalm with a cantor leading.
The cantor will introduce the refrain and invite the congregation to sing along.
Then the cantor chants verses of the Psalm,
and prompts the congregation to sing the refrain, repeating the pattern until the end. 

Isaiah 65:17-25

Sermon

Hymn

Share our Gifts
In the stillness and beauty of heaven,\
we give thanks for wonder and awe.
In the justice and exquisiteness of the earth,
we dream of healing and hope.
With this Spirit, let us share what we have with the Church. 

Dedicate our Gifts to God
In our sharing, may we be ever mindful
of the present-ness of God connecting us,
and to see the new possibilities of the now. 

Sacrament of Communion

Prepare for Communion:  A Walking Meditation Our whole selves are essential for a new heaven and earth to be born. As we prepare for communion, to help us be more present, we will walk, mindfully, around the sanctuary. Listen for the questions to ponder as you walk. Listen to God speaking to you in the silence, in the words and in your body.

Walking Meditation questions:

1) Image a new heaven and a new earth. Picture it. (pause for 30 seconds or so)

2) As the wolf and lamb came together, what opposites have come together in the new heaven, new earth? (pause)

3) Imagine the “delight” of the new heaven and earth. What does delight look like?

Come to the Table

invite people into stillness as walking comes to a close, share the invitation to the table

Leader:           Behold!  A new heaven and new earth is on the horizon,
so close we can touch it.
Let us draw near to the table that proclaims a new day!
This is an open table, no exceptions.
All are welcome.
Come, draw close to the communion table,
find your place around the table,
allowing children to be the closest to the table,
while singing Come Bring your Burdens to God. 

From where people are standing, they come to gather around the table while singing. Use a drum beat only to accompany the congregation in this singing. Three people are officiating at the table—two children and one adult. Have the young people on either side of the adult with all three taking turns leading the following prayer. When the congregation finishes gathering around the table, continue with this improvisational communion liturgy that creates space for the congregation to build the Prayer of Great Thanksgiving and Words of Institution together.

The leaders’ lines may be set to a simple chant if desired.

Leader (adult chanting or speaking the lead lines)
         Let us tell the story of God
In the planet God made, we give thanks for…..

congregation calls out thanksgivings for the planet. After thanksgivings are shared, the leader continues with the chant three times of “remember.”

Leader chanting or speaking  Remember, Remember, Remember

Leader
         Let us give thanks to God
for the prophets that God sent in ancient times and in our time….

congregation calls out prophets of long ago and now

Remember, Remember, Remember

Leader
         And let us give thanks for the radical one, Jesus, who…
congregation calls out deeds and acts of Jesus

Remember, Remember, Remember 

Leader
         And let us give thanks for the power of the Holy Spirit
congregation calls out gifts of the Holy Spirit

Remember, Remember, Remember

Leader: (child, chanting or speaking the lead line)
         And on that night before Jesus died he…

have the congregation finish the story and the words of institution for the bread with the child doing the actions including breaking the bread

Remember, Remember, Remember

Leader: (second child, chanting or speaking the lead line)
         And in the same way after supper, Jesus took a cup…

have the congregation finish the words for the cup with the child doing the actions including pouring the cup

Remember, Remember, Remember

Adult leader finishes by leading the congregation in a Hosanna with a drum the only accompanying instrument:

Holy, Holy, Holy

God of power and might
Heav’n and earth are full of your glory
Hosanna in the highest. 

Blessed is the one who comes
In the name of our God
Hosanna in the highest. 

The Lord’s Prayer

 Sharing of the Bread and the Cup

Communion is done by intinction, with four sets of servers (one adult and one child paired up as servers) working their way through the crowd. Another pair of servers (one child, one adult) follows each pair of communion servers with anointing oil.

After each one receives the bread and the cup, their palms are marked gently with oil. The child anoints the hand and says, “[Name]: The new heaven and earth is within you.” The adult is there to provide guidance if needed.

Benediction

This benediction is a play on an improv game called “Yes, Let’s!”

Still gathered around the table, invite people to reflect on a word that names how they want to “be” this week that reflects a new heaven and a new earth.

Such as: Courageous!  …Brave!  …Gentle!

After each word is called out, the entire congregation responds each time with “Yes, Let’s!”

The leader offers the last words with

May we witness a new heaven and a new earth!

Yes, Let’s!

Opportunity to reflect on worship experience:

Reflecting as a community on worship is crucial to the ongoing creativity of a community’s liturgical life. Reflection teaches us how to worship as a community and strengthens a congregation’s critical analysis of its liturgical experiences. Since this liturgy had ample space for “non-scripted” moments, it would be a valuable experience for the leaders to gather for 15 minutes after worship to reflect on the experience.

Gather the leaders, especially the children, and have one person be the scribe. Another person asks two questions: what did you notice in the liturgy? Now that it’s over, what do you wonder about? The scribe takes down the responses. This isn’t a problem solving time, just getting down what the leaders noticed and wonder about the liturgical experience. 

“Yes, Let’s”!: An Intergenerational Service of Communion for Pentecost 26, was written by the Rev. Ashley Goff, an ordained UCC minister serving at Church of the Pilgrims (PCUSA), Washington, DC.

Copyright 2013 Local Church Ministries, Faith Formation Ministry Team, United Church of Christ, 700 Prospect Avenue, Cleveland, OH  44115-1100.  Permission granted to reproduce or adapt this material for use in services of worship or church education.  All publishing rights reserved.

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