Liturgical Drama, Revised Songbird Version

WHO IS THIS?!?!! – a participatory reading of Mark 4:35-41

He, Qi. Peace Be Still, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved June 16, 2015]. Original source: heqigallery.com.
He, Qi. Peace Be Still, from Art in the Christian Tradition, a project of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library, Nashville, TN. [retrieved June 16, 2015]. Original source: heqigallery.com.
Voice 1: On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them,

Voice 2: “Let us go across to the other side.”

Voice 1: And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was.

Voice 2: Other boats were with them.

Voice 1: A great windstorm arose!

Congregation: Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!

Voice 1: And the waves beat into the boat!

Voices 1 and 2: We’re swamped! We’re swamped!

Congregation: We’ll drown! We’ll drown!

Voice 2: But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.

Voice 1: They woke him up and said to him, “Teacher!”

Voice 2: Teacher!

Congregation: “Teacher! Do you not care that we are perishing?”

Voice 1: He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”

Voice 2: Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.

Voice 1: He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Voice 2: And they were filled with great awe.

Voice 1: They said to one another, “Who is this?”

Congregation: WHO IS THIS?!?!!

Voice 2: “Even the wind and the sea obey him.”

Voice 1: Even the wind and the sea.

*****

This participatory scripture reading is adapted from an earlier version using four voices and congregation, which may be found here: Even the Wind and the Sea.

 

Easter 2C, Revised Songbird Version

Risking Thomas

They locked the doors.

We’ve locked the doors and sat around our own tables, fearful, haven’t we?

  • Will our neighborhood ever feel safe again?
  • Will the storm knock out the power?
  • Will the Soviets attack and invade and change our way of life?

I’m old enough to remember the 1980s, “Red Dawn” version of that last fear, the one that had people in my house reading books about living off the grid, my excuse for buying copies of all my favorite children’s books so my children (some merely speculative at that time) could read the classics when the libraries were turned into God-knows-what.

Anxiety gets us worked up enough; when there’s a good reason to be afraid, for real, our brain chemistry can rearrange our judgment.

It had to be that way in the house where the disciples locked the doors. According to John’s gospel, Jesus drew attention and trouble from the beginning of his ministry. Their Jesus waltzed into the Temple in Chapter Two and laid it down. When he returned later, he vanished his way to safety, inspiring murderous rage in the religious leaders.

The disciples knew it. They felt it. Jesus was dead, but things were no better.

They locked the doors.

But someone went out to get news and supplies. Someone had to do it, like my wife making the last trip to the Giant in the freezing rain a few weeks ago. Better get it done.

Since someone particular missed the visit from Reappearing Jesus, no more restrained by locked doors than by death, we may deduce the one who went out for whatever they needed was Thomas.

So when you go to preach this Sunday, or you sit in the pew and listen to this passage being read, remember he did more than doubt.

He risked.

  • He offered himself up to die with Jesus. (John 11:16)
  • He asked the direct, even obvious, question. (John 14:5)
  • He left the safe house. (John 20:24)

He even risked when he expressed his doubts. Imagine how hard that must have been, in the midst of his rejoicing comrades!

Listen and read carefully. Does he ever touch the wounds? He risks one more time, declaring “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)

You Won’t See Me Jesus gives him one more push; he gives it to all of us. “Believe in me,” he says, “whether I appear in body or not. That’s faith.” (John 20:29, Revised Songbird Version)

Good-News-300x248But they kept looking, and John tells us they had breakfast with him on the beach, and maybe other places, too.

In this liminal time of the Fifty Days of Easter, I’ll be looking for Him. You never know what might happen when you go out to get the paper.

 

Hebrews 12:1-2, Revised Songbird Version

Let’s Run the Race

Let’s run the race that is laid out in front of us,

since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us.

Let’s throw off all the things that hold us back.

Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus,

the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.

He gave everything for us, for the joy that lay ahead of him.

~Hebrews 12:1-2, paraphrased

This has been our theme text for Stewardship, admittedly the Revised Songbird Version.

Liturgical Drama, Revised Songbird Version

Even the wind and the sea

(Mark 4:35-41 — Participatory reading, based on NRSV)

Voice 1: On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them,
Voice 2: “Let us go across to the other side.”
Voice 3: And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat,
All voices: just as he was.

Voice 4: Other boats were with them.
Voice 1: A great windstorm arose!
Congregation: Whoosh! Whoosh! Whoosh!
Voice 3: And the waves beat into the boat!
Voices 1, 3 and 4: We’re swamped! We’re swamped!
Congregation: We’ll drown! We’ll drown!

Voice 2: But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion.
Voice 1: They woke him up and said to him, “Teacher!”
Voice 3: Teacher!
Voice 4: Teacher!

Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey

Congregation: “Do you not care that we are perishing?”
Voice 2: He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!”

Voice 4: Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm.
Voice 2: He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?”
Voice 1: And they were filled with great awe.
Voice 3: They said to one another, “Who is this?”
Congregation: WHO IS THIS?!?!!
Voice 4: “Even the wind and the sea obey him.”
All 4 voices: Even the wind and the sea.

Advent, Advent Wreath, Revised Songbird Version, Study Leave

Advent Wreath Lighting for Year B

The same pic I use every year.

At the end of Day 2 of Study Leave, I offer up these Advent Wreath Litanies for Year B (all texts Revised Songbird Version*, except Christmas Eve, which is NRSV). You are welcome to use them! Just let me know in the comments. If you are using the Narrative Lectionary, you will find Advent wreath liturgies for Year 1 here.

Advent 1B (based on Isaiah 64:1-4)

Reader One: Isaiah the Prophet cried out to God, I wish you would open the heavens that separate us and come down, making the mountains quake because you are here. Make your name known to all who are against you. Make the nations tremble because of your presence.
Reader Two: You came before and did awesome deeds that we did not expect; you made our world shake at the sight of you. In all the history of the world, no ears have heard and no eyes have seen any God other than you.
Reader One: You work for those who wait for you.
Reader Two: We wait and hope, as we light this candle.
(Please pause as we light one candle, then respond.)
All: Loving God, come and shine your light in the world!

Advent 2B (based on Isaiah 40:1-2, 9-11)

Reader One: Isaiah the Prophet reassured the people, God is sending words of comfort to you, speaking tenderly to you. God promises that your hard labor is over, your sentence has been served and your penalty has been paid. You are forgiven not once but double all that is needed.
Reader Two: Go up to a high mountain, and call out the good news! Lift your voices up with strength and call out the good news! Do not be afraid! Your God is coming.
Reader One: Our God is mighty, but our God is also gentle. God loves the flock and will feed it just the way a shepherd would, holding us close like lambs and guiding us, old and young.
Reader Two: We wait for God’s peace and live in God’s hope as we light these candles.
(Please pause as we light two candles, then respond.)
All: Loving God, come and shine your light in the world!

Advent 3B (based on Isaiah 61:1-4)

Reader One: Isaiah the Prophet announced it. The Spirit of God is with me, because I have been chosen to bring good news to the abused, to bandage the wounds of the heartbroken, and to release those who are in prisons of all kinds. I am here to proclaim a good year in God’s sight, a time when things will be set right.
Reader Two: I am here to comfort the grieving and to dress them for happy times instead of sad ones.
Reader One: The people who are healed and comforted will be like strong trees, upright and loyal to God. They will be like a forest planted to show God’s glory. They will rebuild the world and show everyone God’s power.
Reader Two: We wait for the day of God’s joy, and live in God’s peace and hope, as we light these candles.
(Please pause as we light three candles, then respond.)
All: Loving God, come and shine your light in the world!

Advent 4B (based on Psalm 89:19-23)

Reader One: The Psalmist received a vision from God, who said, I have put a crown on the head of a new king, a mighty one chosen and anointed with oil.
Reader Two: My hand will always be with him; my arm will strengthen him.
Reader One: My faithfulness and steadfast love will be with the one I’ve chosen.
Reader Two: We wait for God’s love coming to us. The day of God’s joy is soon coming. We live in God’s peace and hope as we light these candles.
(Please pause as we light four candles, then respond.)
All: Loving God, come and shine your light in the world!

Christmas Eve Year B (based on Isaiah 9:2, 6-7)

Reader One: Hear the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined…For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Reader Two: “His authority shall grow continually, and there shall be endless peace for the throne of David and his kingdom. He will establish and uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time onward and forevermore. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”
Reader One: We stand on the brink of God’s time and light again the candles of Hope, Peace, Joy and Love.
Reader Two: We light the Christ Candle to celebrate the birth of our Savior, Jesus, the light coming into the world.
(Please pause as we light the candles, then respond.)
All: Loving God, come and shine your light in the world!

*And by Revised Songbird Version, I mean I’m reading the New Revised Standard Version and playing around with it to get phrases we will understand easily when we only get to read them once and in a hurry on Sunday morning.

Psalms, Revised Songbird Version, The Bible, Worship

Word work

For the past year, I’ve been trying to put the Psalms into words we can more easily say and understand, mostly to use as Calls to Worship. I like to use the week’s Psalm that way, but I recognize that some of the words typically and rightly used to translate them are not heard instantly as anything other than “churchy” sounding.

One great example is “ascribe.”

“Ascribe to the Lord,” says the Psalmist. Some people will certainly think of the word “scribe,” which is to say someone who writes things down, but even that is an old-fashioned word, not in common use. Imagine sitting in a pew and reading that word when you’re not a Bible student. (Honestly, isn’t that most of the people in our pews, UCC people? Other Protestants, Catholics, your mileage may vary.)

A-scribe. Unless you’re whipping out your smart phone to look it up quickly, which you’re most likely not, the word is going right by you, and it’s just one more pretty-sounding piece of church blah-blah-blah.

(Not that some of us don’t like church to be just that way, pretty-sounding blah-blah-blah. Pretty-sounding blah-blah-blah is SAFE.)

Ascribe to the Lord means Give God the credit for whatever the thing is. Or, you know, impute, because that would be more easily understood by the general population. It means “attribute or think of as belonging, as a quality or characteristic.”

“Ascribe to the LORD, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the LORD glory and strength.” (Psalm 96:7, New Revised Standard Version)

So give credit to God for having glory and strength.

This week I looked at the Common English Bible, which I mostly love, and I used it as a model for our Call to Worship (granted, I eliminated male pronouns, which required some other adjustments, too), but I’m not satisfied with the closing line and wish I had done something different.

One: Give to the LORD, all families of the nations—give to the LORD glory and power!
All: Give to the LORD the glory due to God’s name!


I added the “to” in the last line for clarity, even though I don’t like the meter, and as I say, I’m not satisfied. But at least that rendering of verse 8 in the response line makes the point that we’re giving God God’s due.

Anyway, next week, I hope I have time to lean less heavily on the CEB and work up a Revised Songbird Version instead, even though I mostly love it.

RevGalBlogPals, Revised Songbird Version

A Kiss

My travel started with a strange race against a snowstorm that had me sitting in an airport before dawn with a straw hat that looked comical as I went through security.

But the cruise started with a kiss.

My roommate and I were looking for a place we could sit down to eat lunch on the sunny Lido Deck, when I heard a voice like velvet say my name.

I turned, and a pair of soft hands touched me and I felt a gentle kiss on my cheek, and as the owner of those hands pulled back, she said, “I’m Crimson Rambler.”

It felt like a sacrament, a visible sign of God’s invisible grace*, a touch of heaven in the middle of earthly chaos, as an Anglican priest from the wilds of Canada met a UCC pastor from the not-so-wilds of Maine for the first time, already knowing and loving one another.

The whole week felt this way, as I sailed off into the Gulf of Mexico with 37 other women ranging in age from late twenties to middle 60s-ish and every decade in between. We worshiped and sang “Dona Nobis Pacem” — seriously, gals, LP wants to know, how is this song not familiar to everyone? — and also karaoke (but really, I left early, so I’m only surmising) and managed to celebrate communion next door to a disco and worked on our knitting and gave each other gifts, some of them things you could hold and measure, others as real though not as material.

I discovered I know a person who knows the words to “Funky Cold Medina,” which it’s probably just as well I still don’t know. (She shall remain nameless.)

I laughed and cried and went back to the place with the best guacamole on the planet, so fresh I think they picked the avocado and mashed it while we were sitting there.

I heard a lot of great ideas for RevGalBlogPals, got myself into the sort of panic a kindergarten mom feels about sending her baby to 1st grade, then cooled off about it, a little.

I contemplated an idea for a book, but I suspect I’m already doing the kind of writing that is my calling.

And I came home full of ideas for the next one, BE 5, sometime in 2012.

I once said to my friend, Mary Beth, and I included in this all of the women who have worked from the beginning to give life to a little idea called RevGalBlogPals, “We made a thing, and it’s awesome!”

I truly feel this way and give thanks for the chance to be part of this sign of God’s love for women in ministry and the people who love and support them.

(*Please note that definition is the Revised Songbird Version.)