Originally created for the Convergence Music Project's national gathering in Nashville, 2017, these words and music, visuals and actions take us into the Wilderness, to examine ourselves and the gods we are tempted to worship on a daily basis, calls us to lament and confession and holy resistance. 

In the center of the space were seven rough-hewn, tree-like candlesticks and a forest of trees was projected on the screen at the front. Each person who came was given a blank tag attached to purple yarn. 

 

The Wilderness

Complete Liturgy and Song Lyrics

 

Singing Together

Amazing Grace

 

Welcome

 

Scripture Reading

Luke 4:1

Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, left the Jordan

and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness,

 

Gathering in The Wilderness

Call and Response

 One:  We’re not even sure how we got here. But…

All:  We are in the wilderness.

A wilderness

Where fear stalks us.

And answers elude us.

Where bread tastes like stone.

Where we cannot see anything clearly

And we wander wondering what the next right step could be.

We’re not even sure how we got here. But…

All: We are in the wilderness.

And we want to get out of here.

Want to find a

less rocky path.

We want to run and hide, find a safer,

softer bed to lie in.

We’re not even sure how we got here. But…

All: We are in the wilderness.

And yet you call us

Call us to be still.

To listen.

To stop, right where we are right now and

Really listen.

To sit in this wilderness

And look at our lives

Cry and scream and confess, see and name and

resist the other gods before us and around us.

The gods of suspicion & division.

fear & hate, violence & power.

You call us to let go. And return to YOU.

 We’re not even sure how we got here. But…

All: We are in the wilderness.

And you call us to believe that

here in this wilderness.

here in this place,

There is also grace.

 

Singing Together

Only Grace

1.  Things are broken here.

Things are shared

Things are carried here

Hearts bow in prayer

Chorus

It is grace, only grace

That brings us here, holds us together here.

It is grace, only grace

That brings us here, holds us all together here.

All together here.

 

2.  Things are dying here

Things are torn

Things are growing here

And burdens borne.

Chorus

Bridge

Amazing grace, hear the sound.

Here is where hope is found.

Chorus

 

Stories From the Wilderness

 Psalm 69

Save me, O God,

for the waters have come up to my neck.

I sink in deep mire,

where there is no foothold;

I have come into deep waters,

and the flood sweeps over me.

I am weary with my crying;

my throat is parched.

My eyes grow dim

with waiting for my God.

 

Story One

Selections from The Sea is Big by Zena Agha

 

I have nothing to add. It is all said

Of bodies

And shores

And salted tears in the salty sea

And memorials in dinghies

Capsized

And memories in homes

Blasted

Bombed

And ransacked

a deficit of humanity

 

Facing trouble at home

Displaced and disgraced

Facing borders not of our own

Misplaced and mistakes

No choice but to flee

Engraved with faded pigments of sanctity

 

The sea was big

The waves were bigger…

And I am helpless

And you are watching

And I am lonely

And you are watching

And I am alone

And you are scared

 

my memories are gone and the sea is big bigger than me

and the sea is blue bluer than me

and the people we paid who promised rubber in place of dignity are sitting beyond me

they want for nothing as we get washed ashore we have been gobbled then spat out…

and you share our images and you tweet our stories in 140 characters

with no protagonists

and your leaders shrug as they pass us by…

…the sea is big and I am small and the sea is blue and I am small and

I have nothing to add.

It is all said

Of bodies

And shores

And salted tears in the salty sea

That sea, so much bigger than me

 

Singing Response

Kyrie Eleison

 

Jeremiah 31:15

This is what the Lord says:

“A voice is heard in Ramah,

mourning and great weeping,

Rachel weeping for her children

and refusing to be comforted.

 

Story Two

 

You Must Not Have Known

A song by Hannah Rand, written after the attack of LGBTQ people at the Pulse nightclub in Miami.

 

Habakkuk 1:2

How long, Lord, must I call for help,

but you do not listen?

Or cry out to you, “Violence!”

but you do not save?

 

Singing Response

Christe Eleison

 

Story Three

A prayer by a young black male, anonymous.

God of the cross and the lynching tree, of the jail cell and the street corner,

of the bible study and the police car, look upon the world you have made. 

See how it is full of hatred and how violence inhabits the earth.

Gunshots ring out under the heavens that declare your glory,

singing the destruction of your children.

The streets and sidewalks of this world you love flow with blood,

pouring out the cries of your beloveds.

Do you not hear them?

The clanging of cell doors ring out,

tolling the lives stolen by systemic oppression and unspeakable violence.

Do you not hear it?

How long, O God, will you keep silent? How long will we fail to be your voice?

In these days, as in days past,

our mothers and grandmothers have become mourners; our fathers and grandfathers have become grievers;

our children have become wanderers in vacant rooms; our communities have become filled with empty chairs.

Remember the people you have redeemed, Holy One.

Remember the work of salvation brought about by your love.

 

Singing Response

Kyrie Eleison

 

Laments

Psalm 22: 1

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish?

 

Matthew 27:46

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

 

Singing Together

Forsaken

 

Why have you forsaken us?

Where have you gone?

Why have you forsaken us?

How can we go on?

 

Verse 1

There’s a woman who has lost her child

And a man who’s lost his way.

There’s a boy who’s keeping it inside

And a girl who cannot pray.

 

Chorus

Why have you forsaken us?

Where have you gone?

Why have you forsaken us?

How can we go on?

 

We search for your face

We search for your grace

We want to follow your way.

 

Why have you forsaken us?

Where have you gone?

Verse 2

There’s a man who says he cannot breathe

And another with a gun

There’s a family who’s left everything

Just exiles on the run

Chorus

Bridge

There’s a man forsaken on a cross

Body broken in two

There’s a God hanging on a cross

Who feels it all too

Crying with us; dying with us.

Praying with us. Holding us too.   (repeat)

We search for your face

We search for your grace

We want to follow your way.

We want to follow your way.

 

Lament Litany

 

One:    Lord, hear our prayer.

All:    Hear our lament.

For those who’ve been tortured, beaten, murdered

because of the color of their skin,  Lord, hear our prayer.

All:    Hear our lament.

 For those who’ve been shamed, shunned, threatened and killed

because of who they love, how they look, where they’re from,  Lord, hear our prayer.

All:    Hear our lament.

For those who’ve lost relationships, lost homes, lost hope, who don’t even know where their next meal is coming from, Lord, hear our prayer.

All:    Hear our lament.

For those who live in fear…fear of the stranger, fear of scarcity, fear of violence, Lord, hear our prayer.

All:    Hear our lament.

 

Writing our Laments

 

Leader: For the next few moments, write your own laments on one side of the tag provided. You may want to write a person’s name or the name of a group or an issue or a country. You may want to write your own name.

 

Singing Response

(while writing laments)

Why Have You Forsaken Us?  (chorus reprise)

 

Confession

One:    Lord, hear our prayer.

All:    Hear our confession.

Sometimes we’ve turned our eyes from the pain in ourselves

or in our world. Lord, hear our prayer.

All:    Hear our confession.

Sometimes we’ve blown up in rage because of all the hurt we see and can’t fix, because of the ways we’ve been hurt, because of all we can’t control.  Lord, hear our prayer.

All:    Hear our confession.

Sometimes we’ve been silent, afraid to risk, afraid to be vulnerable,

to move toward others instead of push away. Lord, hear our prayer.

All:    Hear our confession.

 

Writing our Confessions

Leader:  Now take a moment, examine yourself and write your own confession on the other side of the tag you’ve been given.

Singing Together

Lovely Needy People

Verse 1

Oh you prisoners in your cells

All you in private hells

All:  Kyrie eleison

All you hungry and ignored

Who thirst for something more

All:  Kyrie eleison

You who feel so lost but are afraid of being found

You who are in chains but are afraid to live unbound

All:  Kyrie eleison,  kyrie eleison.

Chorus

For all us lovely needy people

Living in this world that’s spinning

Round and round and round

Round and round and round

Lord have mercy, Christ have mercy

All:  Kyrie eleison, kyrie eleison

 

Verse 2

Oh you children ripped and torn

Battered, bruised and worn

All:  Kyrie eleison

 All who look hate in the face

Locked in hate’s embrace

All:  Kyrie eleison

You who’ve given up and can’t see anywhere but down

You who’ve lost all hope and think it’s nowhere to be found

 All:  Kyrie eleison,  kyrie eleison.

Chorus

Chant

All:       There is mercy enough, there is grace enough.

There is love enough for all of us.

 

Assurance

 

Liturgist:  Hear these words of assurance: When we cry out to God, God says “How can I forget you? See I have written your names on the palms of my hands.”

(Moment of silence)

Liturgist:  Hear these words of assurance: When we confess our sins, Jesus says “God forgive them,” even from the cross, and stands beside us with the love that will not let us go.

 

Singing Together

Lamb of God

 Lamb of God

With love poured out, you suffer with the world.

Have mercy, have mercy.

Lamb of God

who suffers with the world.

Grant us peace.  Grant us peace.

 

Sharing of Laments, Confessions and Candles of Hope

 Leader: How do we find our way out of this wilderness? We resist the temptation to run and hide. Resist denial and easy comfort and cheap grace. We ask the hard questions. We cry the bitter tears. We examine ourselves, confess our sin and call out to God for forgiveness.

But we don’t have to do it alone. So in a moment, we invite you to come forward and hang your tags of lament and confession on one of these candlesticks, these trees of our wilderness.

And then if you wish we also invite you to light a candle, as a sign of your commitment.

How will you be a force for good in the world? What’s one thing you will commit to do? It could be something as simple as “Be more kind.” Or “protest.” Or “Give money.” It could be “Love my neighbor as myself.”

Let that intention be your prayer as you light a candle.

 

Singing Together

Lamb of God

 

The Lord’s Prayer

One:    Let us pray together the prayer that Jesus taught us.

We will be using a new paraphrase.

Perhaps we can pray it with a new understanding and renewed commitment.

God of Love...

All: Who we experience as mother, father, friend, our deepest longing,

our best thought, our greatest hope.

Your love covers the entire earth.

Holding us all in your embrace,

All: You hold everything together.

We want to know what your vision for the world is -

help us.

We want to live in that vision –

guide us.

Everything we eat and drink,

Everything that gives us life and joy, it all comes from you.

All: We thank you for your mercy.

You hold nothing back.

All: Help us be that open and generous

with others and with ourselves.

You forgive us constantly.

All: Help us forgive each other.

Deep in our hearts we believe that this is your world and that you love us all.

Help us stand with you and with each other in that powerful love.

All: And together we will sing

of your mercy and grace and power.

Forever and ever.

 

 

Singing Together

Room for All of Us

 Verse 1:

They said no room

They said move on

They turned, turned you away.

We’ve been there too

Felt that alone

been hurt been hurt that way.

 

Chorus

Your light comes shining

Into this crying night,

Bringing hope, bringing healing,

Your love revealing.

Your light comes shining

into this crying night

To say it's ok,

there's room for all of us here.

 

Verse 2:

Oh but it’s hard

To open the door

Not lock, lock love away

We’ve been there too

Felt too afraid

To see, to try another way

 

Chant:   We are on this earth to love

 

Benediction

 

Singing Together

We Are On This Earth To Love(reprise)

 

 

Listen to recordings of the music and download the full liturgy here. 

 

Below is a live stream of The Wilderness from CMP 2017.

(Note: the music mix on the live stream isn't great. We recommend listening to the studio recordings at the link above to get a better sense of the music.)

 

Acknowledgements

 

Prayer by anonymous black man from Community Renewal Society.

https://www.communityrenewalsociety.org/sites/default/files/Lament.pdf

 

"The Sea is Big" Poem by Zena Agha from

https://www.pri.org/stories/2015-11-19/her-syrian-cousin-died-migrant-ship-poem-she-wrote-him-and-other-refugees

 

 

 

 

Song Information

 

Forsaken.  Music by Gary Rand and Hannah Rand.  Lyrics by Lenora Rand.

© 2017 Plural Guild Music.

 

Lamb of God.  Music by Gary Rand.  © 2004.  Helical Music.

 

Lovely, Needy People (Kyrie Eleison). Lyrics by Lenora Rand.  Music by Gary Rand.

© 2016 Helical Music.

 

Only Grace.  Lyrics by Lenora Rand.  Music by Hannah Rand.  © 2016 Mirasion Music.

 

Room For All Of Us.  Words by Lenora Rand.  Music by Hannah Rand.  © 2015 Mirasion Music.

 

You Must Not Have Known.  Music and Lyrics by Hannah Rand.  © 2016 Mirasion Music.

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