We are one at Baptism and at the Communion table. All are welcome here.</ United Church Of Christ - Massachusetts Conference
We are one at Baptism and at the Communion table.
All are welcome here.

Prayers and Liturgies

Calls to Worship

Leader: Beautiful are the works of God!
People: Beautiful are the skins of God’s people!
Leader: Beautiful is the mind of God!
People: Beautiful also are the hopes of God’s people!
Leader: Beautiful is the heart of God!
People: Beautiful also are the souls of God’s people!
Leader: God made the heavens and the earth!
People: To God be the glory for the things God has done!

(from The New Century Hymnal, c. Pilgrim Press 1995, #822)

Leader: The Spirit of God is among us, and God has called us to bring good news to the poor.
People: God has called us to bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim liberty to the captives.
Leader: God seeks to be made known in this place and throughout the earth.
People: Let us proclaim the time of God’s favor. Let us comfort those who mourn. Let us anoint the world with hope that God may be glorified. Let us worship God!


(Reprinted through the courtesy of the Rev. Ned W. Edwards, Jr., First Church of Christ, Congregational, Farmington, Connecticut. Available at www.ucc.org/worship/amistad1.htm)

Gathering Prayer

One: We are here not because we have found God, but because God our Creator has called us,
All: Challenging us to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, and to be servants in the service of the whole human family.
One: But the call is also to God’s promise:
All: A promise of forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace, courage in the struggle for justice and peace, and eternal life in that realm which has no end.
One: Let us praise God!
All: Blessing and honor and glory and power be unto God! Amen!


(Bread for the Journey, Ruth C. Duck, ed. (Cleveland: United Church Press, 1981), 69. Copyright 1981 The Pilgrim Press.
Adapted by permission for this one-time use.)

Call to Confession

One: On this Amistad Sunday [day] we remember the perseverance of the 53 captive Africans in 1839 aboard the schooner known as La Amistad. We remember the significance of their historic fight for freedom. Along with the solidarity expressed by New England Congregationalists, that action resulted in the first U.S. Supreme Court decision on civil rights that contributed to the eventual dismantling of slavery. As we confess this day, may the witness of our forebears inspire us to renew our own commitment to justice—trusting in God’s friendship when we act with courage and compassion.


(Copyright 2002 Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio.
Available at www.ucc.org/worship/ways/ww-030903-amistad.pdf.)

Prayers of Confession

Holy God, the ills of this world seem to render us helpless. We are overwhelmed by the magnitude of need around us. Some of us are hungry and homeless. Some do not earn a fair wage. Others cannot find meaningful work. There are wars and rumors of wars. We fear violence in our streets and in our homes. We want peace, but it eludes us. We seek signs of hope, O God. Tell us you are near and save us from despair.

Today we remember how you were present with the faithful before us. You gave us your rainbow as a sign of your everlasting covenant. To the Amistad captives and the abolitionists, you gave the power to resist the evil of slavery. They trusted your presence, and you came to their aid.

Most merciful God, help us this day to know that you are as close to us as our own breath. Bind us together as a community to work for equality and justice. Help us to live in covenant with you, valuing and loving others as we would ourselves. Forgive us when we lose heart. Shape us as a people alive in your spirit. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.


(Copyright 2002 Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio.
Available at www.ucc.org/worship/ways/ww-030903-amistad.pdf.)

Gracious and Holy God of all peoples and all times: We come before you in humility to confess our faults individually and corporately. For interpreting our anointing as exclusivity, forgive us. For proclaiming your good news as bad news to others, forgive us. For proclaiming liberty to ourselves and keeping others captive, forgive us. For failing to glorify you, forgive us. In this hour teach us your ways and offer us again your power, that our faint spirits might be transformed into the mantle of praise. Like a mighty oak, strengthen us for the work of freedom, peace, and unity which is our calling and your joy. This we pray in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.


(Reprinted through the courtesy of the Rev. Ned W. Edwards, Jr., First Church of Christ, Congregational, Farmington, Connecticut.
Available at www.ucc.org/worship/amistad1.htm)


Assurances of Pardon or Forgiveness

Leader: God promises to all who trust in Christ forgiveness of sins and fullness of grace.
People: Courage in the struggle for justice and peace, God’s presence in trial and rejoicing.
Leader: And eternal life in the kingdom of God which has no end. In Christ Jesus you are forgiven.
People: Thanks be to God.


(Reprinted through the courtesy of the Rev. Ned W. Edwards, Jr., First Church of Christ, Congregational, Farmington, Connecticut.
Available at www.ucc.org/worship/amistad1.htm)

One: God hears our prayer.
All: This we know is true.
One: God’s forgiveness embraces us.
All: This is good news for all.


(Copyright 2002 Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio.
Available at www.ucc.org/worship/ways/ww-030903-amistad.pdf.)

Dramatic Reading

Two prepared readers should be utilized for this reading. If possible, they should stand at opposite sides of the chancel— perhaps one at the pulpit and one at the lectern. They may also stand side-by-side.

Voice One: Justice, justice, you shall pursue.
Voice Two: What does God require but to do justice?
Voice One: Like many ships sailing the Caribbean 150 years ago, the one ship named La Amistad was nothing unusual. It left Havana on June 26, 1839. The ship carried Spanish slave owners and 53 black Africans toward two very different futures – profit for one, slavery for the other.
Voice Two: The Africans were chained, forced to lie in filth on a lower deck under a four-foot ceiling, fed rice and water, and disciplined with the whip.
Voice One: Three days out of port, this ordinary ship became the stage for an extraordinary event. Deciding to fight for their freedom, the Africans captured the ship and began to sail home – only to be recaptured and tried for murder and piracy in New Haven, Connecticut.
Voice Two: God’s word echoes in our hearing: What does God require of us?
Voice One: At that time in history, the slave trade was in full swing as cargoes of men, women, and children were sent to the Americas for sale.
Voice Two: Who would set a price on human life?
Voice One: For the next two years, those Africans’ quest for freedom became a cause and a commitment that swept throughout New England and inspired our Congregational forebears. Their dedicated ministry and legacy gave birth to a faith-based liberation movement that informs who we are as a church today. The struggle for justice continues still!
Voice Two: Justice, justice, you shall pursue! What does God require but to do justice?
Voice One: The Amistad event began one ordinary June day. But its story, like the struggle for love, justice, and human freedom in God’s world, is one that remains with us still. It is a continuing struggle that shapes the life and ministries of the United Church of Christ.
Voice Two: May God continue to call forth courageous and faithful people. By God’s great mercy, may we be a people who listen, speak, defend, and offer ourselves for God’s justice and love. In Christ’s name, Amen.


(Copyright 2001. Worship and Education Ministries Team, Local Church Ministries, UCC, Cleveland.
Available at www.ucc.org/worship/ways/amistad-reading.pdf.)

Litany of Faith

Compiled from sermons preached by the Rev. Noah Porter during the time the Mende lived in Farmington, CT.
Leader: As we look back along the pathway of our past, we see the presence of your faithfulness, O God.
People: Give to us the spirit of our forebears in faith, the love of one for another, and the pursuit of freedom for all humankind. We will not fear, but trust that we shall know the fullness of your love.
Leader: God has led us through years of pain and struggle and the ways of peace remain our guiding precepts; God will guide us in the ways of righteousness for one another.
People: We shall be faithful to God’s ways, known or to be made known by us. God’s will shall yet prevail in this land.
Leader: God weeps for us in our ignorance and prays for us to learn the things which bring peace to all people.
People: We will turn away from the things which are cunning and bloodthirsty. We will turn our whips into plowshares and our hearts into the pruning hooks of peace.
Leader: God has forgiven our follies so that we might know the love that is in Christ Jesus.
People: We shall eat the bread of mercy and drink the cup of grace. We seek to show forth God’s presence in all of our ways.
Leader: Go forth, then, you redeemed of the Creator. Serve God daily through the holy Covenant. God’s will shall reign forever.
People: We shall trust that God’s spirit will bless these hills and these valleys from this day forth until God’s reign comes to fulfillment. Thanks be to God. Amen.


(Reprinted through the courtesy of the Rev. Ned W. Edwards, Jr., First Church of Christ, Congregational, Farmington, Connecticut.
Available at www.ucc.org/worship/amistad1.htm)

Prayer

O God of steadfast love, we thank you for the lessons of the past. We remember all that you have done for us; make us truly thankful. We remember times of joy and times of sorrow; may these experiences make us compassionate toward others. We share the memory of your people as they have journeyed through time; it is our story as well. May the richness of our past be the ground out of which love, hope, faithfulness, justice and peace blossom. We ask this in the name of the Prince of Peace, Jesus our friend and brother. Amen.

(Bread for the Journey, Ruth C. Duck ed. (Cleveland: United Church Press, 1981), 64, Copyright 1981 The Pilgrim Press.
Permission granted for this one time use.)

Passing of the Peace


One: Please greet each other with a sign of peace such as a hand shake or embrace and say, con amistad, Spanish for “with friendship.”


(Copyright 2002 Wider Church Ministries, United Church of Christ, Cleveland, Ohio.
Available at www.ucc.org/worship/ways/ww-030903-amistad.pdf.)

Benediction

May God grant you a long life, a well body, and a cool heart (peace).


A Creole benediction from Sierra Leone



 

 

 

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