This Sunday in worship, the message will be delivered in a style that looks unusual to us. It will be a time to hear God speaking in the truth of the stories we tell each other about our own families and our own experiences. The message will be followed immediately by the opportunity to gather around the table, not just for conversation, but also to receive holy communion together as one body. To make space and time for your voices, our Order of Worship will be abbreviated a little in both services. The choir will have the week off in second service. We will take a break from the prayers of the people in first service. Those elements are not gone, though. They will come back next week. For this one Sunday, the emphasis will be on what you bring and share. It doesn’t need to be prepared ahead of time. It doesn’t need to be fancy or deep. Just come and participate in whatever way you are ready to do so.
We’ll have the opportunity to enter into Covenant with each other as we hear each others’ stories. I hope you will read the Covenant ahead of time and consider whether it is something you can agree to uphold.
We gather around the table acknowledging God’s unbounded grace for all. We come from different backgrounds, cultures and ethnicities and we acknowledge our differences of opinion and perspectives on many matters. Yet we gather still, knowing that Jesus calls us to break bread and share the cup no matter what, and that each of us has a place here.
And so, as we gather around the table I commit to:
- Stay curious. I come with a willingness to learn and commit to staying at the table. When the going gets rough, I will turn to wonder, ask questions and stay engaged.
- Be kind. There will be statements shared at the table that will challenge my perspectives. I will be respectful in my responses and engagement, treating each one with grace and love.
- Listen with the same amount of passion with which I want to be heard. In the words of St. Francis, I will seek to understand more than to be understood. I also commit to share the air and not dominate.
The Covenant and the process of engaging in conversation around difficult questions that we are following in worship has been developed by the United Methodist Church as we move toward General Conference in 2019. Several from our congregation participated in a similar liturgy at the Table Talks at Edmonds UMC last spring and at Annual Conference in Puyallup in June.