*This is the liturgy from our first Welcome Table service. We will post these up here for those who might've missed it, or wanna use it, or are just curious, or are weird.
WELCOME TABLE LITURGY
2. Communion Presider
3. Scripture Reader
4. Benediction Giver
Ritual Hand Washing
We start in the manner that Jesus did with his friends, washing their feet as a sign of humility, where the leader becomes the servant, to call us into presence with and for one another.
Everyone gathers around in a circle, each holds bowl out to neighbor, neighbor dips hands, then each dries neighbors’ hands.
<singing ‘I’m Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table’>
Leader: God, we’re told you are always close. But also that ‘no one has ever seen God.’ We find your presence hidden, disguised as absence, disclosed in strange clothes.
Leader: People (everyone says the part in bold)
to Abraham: travelers in need of food and rest,
to Jacob: a strange angel he wrestled through the night,
to Moses: a burning bush
to Elijah: a still small voice
to Mary: an unplanned pregnancy, a newborn child
to fishermen from Galilee: a young man of the working class with strange ideas and a failed movement.
to us: all who hunger, thirst; to the sick, the imprisoned, and all of us strangers.
Come Spirit, Paraclete,
Come, Love Governor, our Thou,
Our somehow Inner Other.
Revoke our xenophobia, our fear of the stranger.
Rescind our indifference, equivalent danger.
Make of us xenophiles—
our original image.
Pay, Holy Spirit,
a strange holy visit
to this our outside-in-ner party.
Holy Ground Rules to be hospitable to Holy Spirit
we welcome you fully, however you identify religiously (including not at all), and we welcome you fully, however you identify with respect to gender or sexuality
we celebrate differences of race, ethnicity, age, ability, and socioeconomic status
1. Give and receive welcome
2. Be present as fully as possible
3. What is offered is by invitation, not demand
4. Speak your truth in ways that respect others’ truth
5. Learn to respond to others and yourself with wonder
6. Trust and learn from silence
7. Observe deep confidentiality
8. Leave room for the unexpected to happen
For in the night in which Jesus was betrayed, he took bread; and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, Take, eat, this is my Body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
So tonight, we eat and share bread together, saying, “This is our body.”
Pass the loaf to your neighbor and hold it for them to take a piece.
Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad.[b] 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth,[c] who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.[d] Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah[e] should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.
28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us[f] while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.
The practice of welcome, of hospitality to guests and strangers, is central to the kind of life God called the Israelites to in the Hebrew Bible, and to the way Jesus showed to his disciples in the New Testament. It operates on the “vertical” axis of human-divine relating, and on the “horizontal” one of how we relate to other people. God welcomes humans in all our strangeness, and we are also to be hosts to a God who comes to us in strange, unforeseeable ways. We are then to practice love of neighbor, who is strange to us whether they come from down the street, across the city, or the other side of the world.
Xenophobia is not just one of many forms of social exclusion, it lies at the root of all of them. Fear of what is strange, different, other. Rather than be ashamed of it or think only evil others are guilty of it, we’d do better to recognize it as a universal symptom of a buried feeling that we’re not welcome, not at home, in this universe.
But there is another way, the way of Xenophilia, of strange stranger-love. Of welcoming the strangeness of being anything at all, and finding that we are actually beloved guests here. From that truer place, we can become Xenophiles, extending hospitality to vulnerable others, who may surprise us with a revelation of the holy we will never cease to need.
Sharing of Stories (inspired by the text or reflection)
Prayers of the People (Help, Thanks, Wow, Damn, Oops)
<Sing ‘Veni Sancti Spiritus,’ Taize> <song leader leads two parts>
As we go from this table
may we take what’s been given here
away with us;
May we part with pacts to practice
this hidden Jesus stranger love
with other others;
May we commit to let our own aloneness in from the cold,
to converse with our solitude,
to learn all the dialects of silence;
Until at last a still small voice--
Our own? She, He, They Who Are?
Or is it You? who tells us: “Yes,” and “Here is peace.”
Go in Peace.
Clean Up Together