This is a worship experience originally created for the Progressive Youth Ministry Conference 2018. Rev. Ashley DeTar Birt, Pastoral Fellow for Youth and Families at Rutgers Presbyterian Church gave the sermon which you can find here. The liturgy includes original music by The Many as well as music from a couple other sources as noted. Photos from Unsplash.com and from the author.

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Singing As We Gather: Come On In From the Cold

Written by Cody Fry (https://youtu.be/NS7AM5apYDo?t=2m50s)

Come on in from the cold. Come on in from the outside. 

 

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Singing Together: Love is Here by the Many

http://themany1.bandcamp.com/album/all-belong-here

I feel empty. I am worn out

There’s so much I cannot see.

But your love, they say, has open arms

Your grace is waiting for me

Oh I want to rest in those strong arms

Yes I want to trust in my heart of hearts

That your love,  your love is here

Chorus:

So I will sing: Your love is here

And it’s greater than our doubts.

You love is greater than our fear

Yes, I will sing: Your love is here

And it sees our broken hearts

And somehow it can heal

Your love is here

2. I am scared. I am scarred.

There’s so much I can’t believe.

But your love, they say, is like a river

Mercy will just wash over me

Oh I want to rest in your strong arms

Yes I want to trust in my heart of hearts

That your love, your love is here.

Oh I want to rest in your strong arms

Yes I want to trust in my heart of hearts

That your love, your love is here.

Chorus

Bridge:

We don’t have to be strong. We don’t have to be sure.

We don’t have to be right. We don’t have to see any blinding lights.

We can just be.

Chorus:

Yes, we will sing: Your love is here

And it’s greater than our doubts.

Your love is greater than our fear

Oh, we will sing: Your love is here

And it sees our broken hearts

And somehow it can heal

Your love is here.

 

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Gathering Litany

One:    

We are here…together…here, in this place, this morning.

But we come from different places.

Different countries. Different streets. Different homes.

Different families. Different genders. Different histories.

We speak different languages, in more ways than one.

We look around and as similar as we are on so many levels,

we are not the same.

We don’t see a single face exactly like our own.

We come wondering if anyone in the whole world

can really understand us and know us, love us.

ALL: We come from having enough. And we come from scarcity.

ONE: We come from joy.

ALL: And we come from grief.

ONE: We come from hope. And we come from hurt.

ALL: We come as “all of the above.”

ONE: We come by ourselves, longing, at least in some small way, for connection. We come deeply aware of our essential aloneness and scared to let go of it.  Yet also, longing to be together. Because, look…we’re here. We’re all different. And yet…We are all here…in this place, right now, by the grace of God.

Singing Together:  Only Grace by The Many

http://themany1.bandcamp.com/track/only-grace-3

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

 

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A story about a button jar. 

When I was kid, one of my favorite “toys” was my mom’s button jar. And yes, I know that sounds kind of pathetic, but…I was fascinated by it. It seemed so beautiful to me… All the different buttons, not one of them the same. Some were really oddly shaped. Some were multicolored, some were like tortoise shells, some you could almost see through. There were flat ones, ones with ridges, 2 hole ones, 4 hole ones, there were toggles! There were ones with shapes stamped into them, ones with insignias that I imagined a navy captain had worn, there were even those ones that looked kind of like a ring with an over-sized diamond-ish stone embedded in them which I later found out were called shank buttons. Possibly because you could stab someone with them… I’m don’t know.

Some were made of plastic, others of metal or wood, some of bone…or bone-shaped substitutes. Let me tell you, I was into those buttons. And sometimes when I lost a button on a shirt or skirt or whatever my mom would send me to the button jar to find a replacement for her to sew on. I’d come back to her with my choices and they were usually …creative…and each time I did, my mom explained to me that buttons were supposed to match. They were supposed to fit in, not stand out. The buttons on my shirt were supposed to all look alike.

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And after a while, it started to dawn on me, this wasn’t really a jar of beautiful, wondrous, exotic masterpieces. This was a jar of rejects. Of misfits. Of things that were too big or too small or not the right shape, not the right color, too girly, or not girly enough, too bright or too weird or too original or too crazy-looking, too much. I learned from my mom and that button jar just how important it was to be the same. And how there wasn't any room for differences. 

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Singing Together: Room For Us All by The Many

http://themany1.bandcamp.com/track/room-for-all-of-us

 

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

 

2. Oh but it’s hard to open the door

Not lock, lock love away

We’ve been there too. Felt so afraid.

To try, try another way

 

Chorus

 

Bridge:   We are on this earth to love

 

 

A READING FROM Romans 15:1-7

1 We who are powerful need to be patient with the weakness of those who don’t have power, and not please ourselves. 2 Each of us should please our neighbors for their good in order to build them up. 3 Christ didn’t please himself, but, as it is written, The insults of those who insulted you fell on me.[a] 4 Whatever was written in the past was written for our instruction so that we could have hope through endurance and through the encouragement of the scriptures. 5 May the God of endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude toward each other, similar to Christ Jesus’ attitude. 6 That way you can glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ together with one voice. 7 So welcome each other, in the same way that Christ also welcomed you, for God’s glory.

 

Sermon

 

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Singing Response: Find our Way to Love by the Many

http://themany1.bandcamp.com/track/find-our-way-to-love-4   

1. When I hurt you, I hurt me.

When I push you, I push me.

When I curse you, I curse me.

I weep with you as you weep with me.

 

2. When I starve you, I starve me.

When I bomb you, I bomb me.

When I kill you, I kill me.

I die with you as you die with me.

 

Chorus:

There is no “other.”

There’s only us, on this trembling, tender earth.

And all of heaven is here with us when we find our way to love.

When we find our way to love.

 

3. When I hate you, I hate me.

When I lose you, I lose me.

When I find you, I find me.

I live with you as you live with me.

Chorus

Bridge:

God so loves the world.

God so loves the world.

God so love s everyone of us

So we can find our way to love.

So we can find our way to love

 

 

Litany of Confession  

One: Join us now in this time of confession. 

To begin, we have to confess, we think most of the time, we’re mostly pretty good people. We feel like we’re doing a lot to help others. And to make the world better. So, quite honestly, when someone says, hey, you may not be as welcoming and inclusive as you think you are, our first reaction is…give me an effing break. Forgive us...

ALL: Forgive us when we don’t have ears to hear.

One: And most of the time, we have the best of intentions. And yeah sure, sometimes we confess, we think we have all the answers, we think we’re right. And sometimes we can’t see the truth even when it’s staring us in the face. Forgive us...

ALL: Forgive us when we don’t have eyes to see.

One: And change is just hard. It’s uncomfortable. It’s awkward. Posting on Facebook and walking in a march is one thing. But giving up our own power and privilege on a daily basis…becoming humble, vulnerable, a servant…that’s something else. Forgive us...

ALL: Forgive us when we don’t have knees that bend.

One: We confess that even though we don’t want to, we sometimes act as if we believe the voices that tell us that we should all fit neatly into the same narrow box.  We don’t embrace the differences in others, just as we don’t embrace our own differences. We confess that we struggle to truly and deeply love and accept ourselves. And each other. Forgive us...

ALL: Forgive us. This is not who we want to be.

One: Let us now continue to confess in silence.

 

Prayers of the People

One: During this song, we are all invited to come forward and light a candle for those we’ve hurt, and for our hurting world. And to take a button – as an act of prayer, as a reminder to embrace the differences, in ourselves and others, and to remember how much God loves us all.

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Singing Together: All Belong Here by The Many

 http://themany1.bandcamp.com/track/all-belong-here

1. When you’re not sure who you really are

When all you feel is the shape of your scars

And you have more wounds than you can count

Open your eyes, look all around

You aren’t alone, this is your home 

Chorus:

Come and remember who you are here

Do this to remember who I am

Come and remember you belong here

All belong here.

 

2. When you don’t know how to forgive

When locked doors seem like the only way to live

And you’ve got more questions than you can count

Open your eyes, look all around

You aren’t alone, this is your home

Chorus

Prayer 

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Singing Together: Tear Down The Walls by The Many

1. The clenched fist. The cordoned off heart

The border lines always keeping us apart.

The crossed arms. The closed up ears

The long high fence. Always keeping us in fear.

Chorus:

Tear down the walls. Tear down the walls.

Tear down the walls between us.

Tear down the walls. Tear down the walls.

Tear down the walls between us.

2. Downcast eyes. The hard grip of hate

The words we shout and the words we do not say.

The slow burn. The anger we feed.

Scarring souls with the lies that we keep

Chorus

Bridge

We bring the wood, the iron, the concrete, the fire

We build these walls every day.

We carry the hurt, the fears, the shame, and the tears.

Our beautiful barricade.

These walls - we hate them. But these walls, we make them.

But these walls, it’s time to break them.

Chorus and then:

So I can see you. So you can see me too.

 

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Passing the Peace

One: You may have noticed a little envelope on your chair when you came in. Inside it you’ll find a cord. You also now have a button you’ve picked out. We invite you now to string the cord through a couple holes in your button. And then to make this a bracelet all you have to do is tie it on your arm. However you may notice, that’s pretty hard to do by yourself. So to pass the peace today, we invite you tie a bracelet on to the wrist of the person next to you. And as you do, say, “Peace be with you.” Or “You are loved just as you are…” or some variation on that theme. 

 

Singing Together  We are on this earth to love 

https://soundcloud.com/user-23826415-955643396/we-are-on-this-earth-to-love

 

 This small envelope containing a cord and this quote from Audre Lorde was placed on everyone's chair. During the passing of the peace they created a button bracelet using the button they'd picked out and this cord. 

This small envelope containing a cord and this quote from Audre Lorde was placed on everyone's chair. During the passing of the peace they created a button bracelet using the button they'd picked out and this cord. 


"Beautifully Different" credits

This liturgy was created by Gary Rand and Lenora Rand. Lenora also wrote all the words (except where noted). All rights reserved. You are welcome to use any of this, but please give credit. 

The music is primarily from our Plural Guild house band, The Many. These songs are meant to be sung together. Look for downloadable MP3s, sheet music/lead sheets as well as downloadable liturgies on our band website.  ("Tear Down the Walls" is a brand new song, and not recorded yet. Join our mailing list to be alerted as soon as that song becomes available. To join the list just scroll down to the bottom of this page and enter your email. ) 

We appreciate your support of our work. We are not attached to a record label, which means we are free to create the kind of music which speaks to faith and doubt, peace and justice and inclusion. But it also means we depend a lot on support of folks like you. So, if you like what we're doing we hope you will both purchase our music and liturgies and  share it. And join us in our social media spaces for inspiration, new releases, etc. Share your email address to keep up to date and also receive previews of new songs and other goodies. 

 

 

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