Progressive Christian Community of Leiden
Outline of Worship for July 1, 2018
Empathy has no script.
There is no right way or wrong way to do it.
It’s simply listening, holding space, withholding judgement, emotionally connecting, and communicating that incredibly healing message of ‘You’re not alone”. – Brene Brown
Gathering Music – Be Our Guest by Alan Menken
God of inclusion and abundance, thank you for allowing us to gather here today. Be with us, we pray and open our hearts and minds so that we may listen deeply, understand and move into action.
A Prayer for Immigrants by Jessica Vazquez Torres
One: We are called as people of faith
All: To love our creator;
To love our neighbor;
To undermine oppressive powers with life-giving actions;
To be in solidarity with all who suffer;
To act for justice;
And to teach others to act for justice
First reading – The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus
On the base of the Statue of Liberty, a visitor can read this is the poem.
Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Second Reading – Leviticus 19:33-34 and 24:22
When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”
Third Reading – Matthew 25:31-46
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ 41Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You that are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’44Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ 45Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
At at little after 9 a.m. yesterday I set out for my morning walk through lovely Plantsoen Park in Leiden. As the perfect sunlight was peeking through the gently swaying weeping willow, The 2nd or 3rd song in my randomized playlist began. It was a tender, acoustic rendition of How Great Thou Art. Normally I would skip the slower tunes as I seek to get my heart rate up just enough to burn off yesterday’s delicious Dutch cheese, but this morning I let the song play. I became keenly aware of the world around me – runners swiftly make their way across the sun dappled bridge, dogs sniffing their way around the tiger lilies, and sleepy eyed mamas and papas pushing prams and whispering of the days doings. As my mind settled on the tune and the unsung words floated through my heart, I was struck to my core with how great indeed is God’s good creation, full of all manner of people coming and going in their own lives and loves. What I felt in that moment, in a way that nearly defies words, is the grandeur of all life, and that if we, if I, attest to the greatness of God, then I must also love deeply all of creation, especially my sisters and brothers who are part of God’s awesome creation. And I wondered, how can anyone who believes in God and calls on the name of Jesus do anything other than love and care for the rare and precious lives of all of God’s children.
The Gospel – from parables about sowing and reaping, baking bread and searching for what is lost – to the Beatitudes and today’s reading from Matthew, the invitation of the Incarnation is to take up the perspective of others, especially the marginalized. Jesus’ words proclaim that God is not neutral. God is always on the side of those who are poor and oppressed.
Today around the world, in the U.S. and here in Europe, there are millions of people displaced by poverty or violence who are seeking refuge. The answer from God is to let them come, for what you do unto the least of these you do to Jesus – to God. As Christians we are called to welcome the stranger with radical hospitality. Of course, the answers are not easy, questions about shared resources are challenging to be sure. But if we begin with a theology of abundance and generosity, then we are likely pointed in the right direction
I believe that the first, tangible step is to try to get to know the stranger so you can begin to understand and empathize with their struggle.
The profound feeling of realizing that everyone, including strangers passed in the street, has a life as complex as one’s own, which they are constantly living despite one’s personal lack of awareness of it.
A Prayer for Immigration Justice
from the UCC
Source of Life who is known by many names;
Over-turner and illuminator of hearts;
we gather with gratitude for the earth and all who journey in it.
We give thanks for the interconnectedness of all creation.
Source of justice who is known by many names;
let us not swerve from the path of righteousness
that leads to just and equitable relationships.
Open our eyes that we may see the immigrant and undocumented;
whose labor enables and sustains our living;
the farm worker, the hotel worker, the line cook,
the childcare provider, the healthcare worker;
Give us the will to leave behind the safety of our sanctuaries
to become your living sanctuary;
and claim our place in the movement to transform creation; that our voice, our heart, our spirit will
join the voice, hear and spirit of all who
demand to live with respect, justice, and peace.
Words of Sending
Exerpt from an Essay on Friendship by Ralph Waldo Emerson
We weave social threads of our own, a new web of relations; and, as many thoughts in succession substantiate themselves, we shall by and by stand in a new world of our own creation, and no longer strangers and pilgrims in a traditionary globe. My friends have come to me unsought. The great God gave them to me. By oldest right, by the divine affinity of virtue with itself, I find them, or rather not I but the Deity in me and in them derides and cancels the thick walls of individual character, relation, age, sex, circumstance, at which he usually connives, and now makes many one. High thanks I owe you, excellent lovers, who carry out the world for me to new and noble depths, and enlarge the meaning of all my thoughts.