As the first Sunday of the month, the traditional liturgy of the United Methodist Church invites us to gather around the Word and Table. Historically, this includes as a response to the proclamation of the Word a time of confession, assurance, and seeking reconciliation and peace with our neighbors, prior to approaching the table of grace.
This Sunday, you might focus especially on the Table and our traditional liturgy of the sacrament as a unifying ritual of the Church. Beginning with confession, you might read together the general prayer of confession, offering an extended time of silent prayer for persons to lift the confessions of their hearts prior to speaking the words of assurance.
If appropriate for your setting, during the passing of the peace you might invite your congregation to acknowledge the painful divisiveness present among us, locally and/or denominationally, and remind them ofJesus’ teaching to seek reconciliation with our siblings before approaching the altar for offering and blessing. You might encourage congregants to share the language that the members of the Commission on the Way Forward used in their concluding gathering, saying to each other, “If there is anything I have done or said, left undone or unsaid, that has caused you harm, I ask your forgiveness. I need you.” (Sunday, Feb 24, Morning Session 1:59:50 Video)
As you prepare to share in the Great Thanksgiving, you may remind your congregation that in the United Methodist tradition the table is open to all who turn to God seeking God’s grace. And that our ritual helps us to remember that Jesus welcomed outcast, sinner, Gentile, Jew, friend, and stranger to share in fellowship at his table.
Bishop Hagiya has also written the following litany that may serve as a unifying reminder of our call to witness and serve today as always as ministers of Christ’s grace to our communities and world.
Mission Litany, by Bishop Grant Hagiya
Leader: We recommit ourselves on this day to the mission of Jesus Christ.
PEOPLE: WE WILL MAKE DISCIPLES OF JESUS CHRIST
Leader: For the transformation of the world.
PEOPLE: WE WILL WORK FOR JUSTICE
Leader: We will love kindness
PEOPLE: WE WILL WALK HUMBLY WITH OUR GOD!
Leader: We will not allow the affairs of our world
PEOPLE: OR THE TRIVIALITIES OF OUR DENOMINATION
Leader: Dissuade us from our central mission.
PEOPLE: AS THE PEOPLE OF GOD
Leader: We will reach out to our neighbors
PEOPLE: TO THE LOST, LONELY AND POOR IN OUR MIDST
Leader: And we will be in ministry with them.
PEOPLE: WE WILL NOT FORGET THE IMMIGRANTS
Leader: But welcome them and care for them.
PEOPLE: WHEREVER THERE IS A NEED IN OUR WORLD
Leader: We will respond with compassion and kindness.
PEOPLE: WE ARE THE PEOPLE OF GOD
Leader: True Disciples who are sent out in mission.
PEOPLE: PRAISE BE TO GOD!
Leader: Go forth now as Missionaries…