Shelton Chapel—Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary
22 November 2016
(This liturgy was used in response to the proclamation from the pulpit of Psalm 137, the lament that begins “By the waters of Babylon….”)
Invitation to the Table
This is the joyful feast of the people of God. People shall come here from exile, from the four points of the compass, and be seated at this table. This table is not a table we have earned or deserved, but one to which we are invited by the Lord Jesus Christ, who makes this feast. All who trust in him, however far away or deep in darkness, are welcome here.
The Great Prayer
The Lord be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them to the LORD.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give our thanks and praise.
Holy God, Holy One, Holy Three: You
our comfort and our covenant;
guiding hand along the paths of wandering;
haven, hope, and healer:
Lord, to whom shall we go?
In the dark before creation’s dawn, You
drew breath to speak the first command
that made a path between the day and night
and brought to being all that moves and breathes;
In the darkness east of Eden, You
drew the flaming sword to bar the way
even as you showed us yet another,
a promised path of labor and labor’s love;
In the moonless midnight, beneath Egyptian stars, You
drew the boundary between life and death,
and marked the line on lintel and on doorpost,
and promised us a way to freedom, through the sea;
In the dark night of Babylon, when all we could smell
was the stench of our burned-out dreams, You
drew for us a new vision in the dirt of exile,
and promised us a return across the sands;
In the long night of tyranny, with Herod’s hobnailed bootprint on our necks, You
drew diviners bearing gifts across the desert
by the light of the single eastern star
and promised us a kingdom we are waiting yet to see:
There is no other; in the darkness we draw near to You:
Can you hear our song of hope and yearning,
as though the promises are true even when we don’t believe them,
as though we could see the trailings of your glory
with hooded eyes still accustomed to the dark?
Can you hear the song of angels, prophets, martyrs
the song of forebears and of fellow travelers,
the song we sing in foreign lands, even as we hold our breath?
Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!
Blessed are you, O God, and blessed is Jesus Christ,
the One we wait to see, even though we shut our eyes;
the One who bears our hope at the instant we stop hoping;
the One who heals us when we knew not we were ill;
the One who is God with us, though we think we are alone.
In him Love decides to be unloved, so we
who are unlovely might learn to love.
In him Life decides to die, so we
who know only how to die can learn to live.
You are in him, Lord, in the darkness on the cross.
You are with him, Lord, at this table where he gathers us
and makes of us his fellowship born of bread and wine.
Words of Institution
For it is as the Scriptures say,
That on the night of his betrayal, he took bread,
and after giving thanks, he broke and gave it
to those who followed him and said,
“This is my body, broken for you;
do this remembering me,”
and after supper, took the cup, and said,
“This cup is covenant poured anew for many,
forgiving sin; all of you, drink from it.”
So it is that, when we eat this bread and drink this cup,
we show forth his death until he comes again.
What has been and what will be
are bound together with what is
in this moment, in these people, in this place.
Great is the mystery of faith:
Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.
So then, Spirit, come and breathe:
Breathe the eternal “Let there be,”
so the world is filled with light.
Breathe into the mortal dust,
so lungs are filled with breath and life.
Breathe in valleys full of bones
with a wind from the corners of creation.
Breathe into silent, fearful rooms,
so timid followers might find their voice.
Breathe into us, and on the earth,
until the boughs of streamside willows
vibrate with the music of the lyres,
and the songs of Zion burst forth again
from lips too long silenced
and hearts too long afraid.
Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ
in the unity of the Spirit,
all glory and honor are yours, O God,
now and forever. Amen.
Now with the confidence of the children of God, let us make bold to pray as Jesus taught:
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our sin,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours,
now and forever. Amen.
Breaking the Bread and Pouring the Cup
The gifts of God for the people of God.
Come, for all things are ready.
Communion of the People
Prayer after Communion
Let there be no more weeping, let there be no more fear.
Let there be only keeping of the love that draws us here.
Teach us to hear the music in the branches of the trees
and sing again the songs of Zion wafting in the breeze.
Send us forth to tell the news who at this board are fed:
That Christ the Lord is present in the breaking of the bread.