A Mass of Grief, After the BP Oil Spill

GATHERING

Minister:

My God – I cannot pray today. I have tried to pray but my heart fills with anger. Anger at the injustices of the world, at its poverty and hunger, war and its violence. But today My God I am angry for the oil that is spilling into the ocean. I am angry at the death and environmental damage. I am angry at the legacy of death and sickness that will be left with us for generations. I am angry at ethos that desires wealth and profit over the prophetic. I am angry with officials whom I elected who have stood by powerlessly or acted too late. I am angry that those who did act were fighting a leviathan.

And My God – I confess – I am angry with you. Angry that you could let this happen, that at a time – if ever there was a time – when divine intervention was needed you did not step in. Have you abandoned your people? Have you forgotten that when you created you named it good? Is the goodness of creation worth abandoning at this time?

My God in your mercy -

Priesthood of the Believer: (POTB):

Hear our prayer.

Minister:

My God – at all times and all places people have gathered to praise you. Today we gather to question you, to doubt you and to shake our fists in anger at you. And this we maintain – like Jesus on the cross crying out in pain – is a holy work. If doubt cannot be a part of our faith, if certainty must dictate our actions then – My God – you cannot be holy and just. If it is true or not – we cannot say, but today – at this moment – we feel lost and abandoned.

We gather – be it with friends, lovers, and classmates or in our own hearts – to praise our doubts in you. We gather My God for we know that shore line of the Eastern United States is crying out in pain and for justice. We gather with those voices, screaming in pain to articulate the tear in the soul of the earth and in our own souls. We gather to mourn the loss of life and environmental legacy that will be left with us for generations.

We gather My God to grieve our own powerlessness. We gather in the face of death’s legacy and we are made powerless for we are reminded of other disasters at other times, of wars and personal tragedies. We gather to grieve that we have killed that which you named as good.

I no longer believe you are all powerful. I did – once upon a time – but no longer. If anything you are the voice speaking in the wind, the call that nudges us and stirs our hearts. You do not stop injustice because you cannot – instead you cry out as one of the wounded – one of the crucified – and empower us to do your Holy Work in the world.

Your Holy Word my God teaches that you are among the ones that suffer. You suffer as the poor suffer. You suffer and die with victims of injustice and war. Today I have come to believe that you suffer as the earth suffers, that you feel the pain of our injustice.

My God in your mercy -

POTB:

Hear our prayer.

WORD

Hebrew Testament

Genesis 1:9-11 (New International Version)

9 And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear.” And it was so. 10 God called the dry ground “land,” and the gathered waters he called “seas.” And God saw that it was good.

11 Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds.” And it was so.

Minister:

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church –

POTB:

Thanks be to God.

Job 38

The LORD Speaks

1 Then the LORD answered Job out of the storm. He said:

2 “Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge?

3 Brace yourself like a man;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.

4 “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?
Tell me, if you understand.

5 Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!
Who stretched a measuring line across it?

6 On what were its footings set,
or who laid its cornerstone-

7 while the morning stars sang together
and all the angels [a] shouted for joy?

8 “Who shut up the sea behind doors
when it burst forth from the womb,

9 when I made the clouds its garment
and wrapped it in thick darkness,

10 when I fixed limits for it
and set its doors and bars in place,

11 when I said, ‘This far you may come and no farther;
here is where your proud waves halt’?

12 “Have you ever given orders to the morning,
or shown the dawn its place,

13 that it might take the earth by the edges
and shake the wicked out of it?

14 The earth takes shape like clay under a seal;
its features stand out like those of a garment.

15 The wicked are denied their light,
and their upraised arm is broken.

16 “Have you journeyed to the springs of the sea
or walked in the recesses of the deep?

17 Have the gates of death been shown to you?
Have you seen the gates of the shadow of death [b] ?

18 Have you comprehended the vast expanses of the earth?
Tell me, if you know all this.

19 “What is the way to the abode of light?
And where does darkness reside?

20 Can you take them to their places?
Do you know the paths to their dwellings?

21 Surely you know, for you were already born!
You have lived so many years!

22 “Have you entered the storehouses of the snow
or seen the storehouses of the hail,

23 which I reserve for times of trouble,
for days of war and battle?

24 What is the way to the place where the lightning is dispersed,
or the place where the east winds are scattered over the earth?

25 Who cuts a channel for the torrents of rain,
and a path for the thunderstorm,

26 to water a land where no man lives,
a desert with no one in it,

27 to satisfy a desolate wasteland
and make it sprout with grass?

28 Does the rain have a father?
Who fathers the drops of dew?

29 From whose womb comes the ice?
Who gives birth to the frost from the heavens

30 when the waters become hard as stone,
when the surface of the deep is frozen?

31 “Can you bind the beautiful [c] Pleiades?
Can you loose the cords of Orion?

32 Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons [d]
or lead out the Bear [e] with its cubs?

33 Do you know the laws of the heavens?
Can you set up God’s [f] dominion over the earth?

34 “Can you raise your voice to the clouds
and cover yourself with a flood of water?

35 Do you send the lightning bolts on their way?
Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?

36 Who endowed the heart [g] with wisdom
or gave understanding to the mind [h] ?

37 Who has the wisdom to count the clouds?
Who can tip over the water jars of the heavens

38 when the dust becomes hard
and the clods of earth stick together?

39 “Do you hunt the prey for the lioness
and satisfy the hunger of the lions

40 when they crouch in their dens
or lie in wait in a thicket?

41 Who provides food for the raven
when its young cry out to God
and wander about for lack of food?

Psalm

Psalm 24

Of David. A psalm.

1 The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it;

2 for he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the waters.

3 Who may ascend the hill of the LORD ?
Who may stand in his holy place?

4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to an idol
or swear by what is false. [a]

5 He will receive blessing from the LORD
and vindication from God his Savior.

6 Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek your face, O God of Jacob. [b]
Selah

7 Lift up your heads, O you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

8 Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty in battle.

9 Lift up your heads, O you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.

10 Who is he, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty—
he is the King of glory.
Selah

Minister:

Hear what the Spirit is saying to the church –

POTB:

Thanks be to God.

Christian Testament

John 3:16 (New International Version)

16“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

Matthew 25:34-40

34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

MEAL

Minister:

The elements of the Lord’s Supper are the elements of this world. When we declare them the real presence we are, by extension, naming the entire material world as the object of Gods love, desire and passion. We name all of the earth and the entire material world as the real presence of Christ. The truth of the elements are that they are nothing less than ordinary and as such are extraordinary.

Today when we eat bread and wine we do so not to celebrate a noble sacrifice but to mourn unjust death. The world teems with death by war, violence and injustice. Today we know that the earth is dying at our hands. Today we know that the oil flows into the gulf, chocking out the life of God’s creatures and creations.

God needs no sacrifices today. God does not need us to participate in a meal that names death and violence as salvic. The world has enough death. The world has enough sacrifices made and blood spilled.

Jesus walked into a roman occupied world and dared dream a dream that was tinted with Gods vision for humanity. The authorities arrested him, put him on a show trial and had him executed. There is no salvation in that death. God did not need that death to save us, to atone for our sins. It was not sacred violence.

My God, in your mercy-

POTB:

Hear our prayer

Minister:

For three days his friends sat with that death. The holiness of the days after the cross was the holiness of time, reflection, and contemplation. It was the holiness of dread and uncertainty. For three days the friends of Jesus had to face the consequences of a vision of God that was so big that it could only be stopped by the violence of an empire.

Or so they thought. For on the third day Jesus rose again. He stepped out of the grave and announced a truth to us all: there is no sacred violence. We throw our worst at the Holy One of God and he returns in a broken body to invite us into a new way of being, a way past death and violence.

ALL:

The Our Lover

Our Lover

who is in all the world

your name and presence are holy.

May your dream be made real

and your will of peace and justice

accomplished in all of your creation.

Give us today your holy meal

and let us see a path to forgiving

the trespasses of our brothers and sisters

just as our own trespasses against them, and you,

our creator, have been forgiven.

Let us not be lead, lead ourselves or lead others

into injustice, but deliver us from injustice.

For yours is creation, the presence and the glory.

AMEN

Minister:

We confess our anger at God We confess our frustrations at a model for God as all powerful and confess we must replace it with a model of God as all suffering, all present and in solidarity with the victims of violence and injustice.

We confess today our sins and failings. We confess we did not stand for the earth and creation as much as we could have. We confess that the legacy of the oil spill will taint our families and country for generations to come.

We confess that violence and pain do not save us. We confess that we have missed the call of Christ from the cross to reject sacred violence. We confess we have done violence to the earth and to each other.

My God, in your mercy -

POTB:

Hear our prayer.

Minister:

We take a moment to confess those things done in secret that weigh on our hearts.

(silence)

Minister:

We confess, likewise, the goodness of humanity, that despite it’s failings it is still made in your image. We confess the goodness of the creation of God. We confess the goodness of each other and call on our brothers and sister to hold each other accountable to be the greatest image of God we can be in the world.

We confess the goodness of the earth under our feat, the sunlight on our face and the air in our lungs. We confess the goodness of our mountains, lakes and rivers. We confess the goodness of our cities and communities.

My God, in your mercy –

POTB:

Hear our prayer.

Minister:

We take a moment to confess our joys, celebrations and the goodness we have tasted from life.

(silence)

The table is set. Jesus celebrated a meal with his friends where all were equal. The early Christian communities took up the practice in the face of an empire that displaced bodies. They formed families of welcome where there were no class, gender or sexual orientation distinctions. At the table all share from the same bread and same wine.

At the table of Christ all are welcome. Saints and sinner. The poor and the rich. The healthy and sick. The earth, her friend and her enemies. Because we cannot be a community without each other. Neighbor love is not an option, but a command. As we take the bread and wine we remember that neighbor love extends to all who are gathered and to all of creation.

Here we believe a beautiful thing. Reconciliation is real. Resurrection happens. Life always has victory over death. And we believe we are called to that work.

Prayer Before The Elements

“‘God is substantially present everywhere, in and through all
creatures, in all their parts and places, so that the world is full
of God… . . . .  Divine majesty is [such...] that it can be

substantially present in a grain, on a grain, over a grain, through
a grain, within and without…  And yet the same Majesty is so
large that neither this world nor a thousand worlds can encompass
it…  God’s own divine essence can be in all creatures
collectively and in each one individually more profoundly, more
intimately, more present than the creature is in itself; yet it can
be encompassed nowhere and by no one.  It encompasses all things
and dwells in all’”

(Martin Luther)

(The elements are shared and consumed)

Minister:

Christ has died, Christ has risen and Christ will come again.

POTB:

Thanks be to God!

Minister:

Peace be with you and may it pass all understanding.

POTB:

And also with you.

(The sign of peace is shared)

SENDING

Minister:

The power of God is to call. God does not act as the victor for God is one of and among the victims of injustice. This includes all people and all types of people. This includes the very earth from which we take our sustenance.

The power of God is to call. So go forth from where you are to where you are meant to be, listening to the call, sigh and cry of God. For you are Priesthood, yours is the ability to perform the Eucharist of welcome and to remind all that violence done towards earth and human brings no salvation and that from death and destruction hope can come like a flower in the a crack of a city sidewalk, the majestic surprise of God.

Go forth and serve Our God.

POTB:

Thanks be to God.

(They exit).

About Jason Derr
  • http://feralchristianity.blogger.com terry heller

    jd: you are gifted at the very thing i and we all desperately need right now–liturgy for celebrating/mourning/reconnecting to each other and this living emerald earth, our fragile island home. thank you. thank you. and a thousand blessings. tlhh

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  • http://carolynshymns.com/o_god.html Bruce Gillette

    Check out this new hymn for Caring for Creation:
    “O God, the Great, Wide Seas are Yours”
    http://carolynshymns.com/o_god.html
    This hymn was written in response to the ongoing oil spill from the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig that started on April 20th.

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