For this relaxed gathering meant to be a symbolic "sigh of relief," chairs can be spaced in one large circle to lend airiness to the room. In the center a round table holds fruit, breads, and cheese arranged to be easily reached from any side.
Call to Worship
Leader: God is my constant companion.
People: There is no need that God cannot fulfill.
Leader: When my pain is severe,
When my burden is heavy,
When my depression darkens my soul,
When I feel empty and alone,
People: God fills the aching vacuum.
I trust in God's promises.
God will not let me go.
— Rosemary C. Mitchell
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Let songs rise up from earth below,
Let stars and galaxies enthrone.
Creator, Christ, and Spirit, One. Amen.
— words: David W. Romig
tune: Old Hundredth
Receiving the Blessings of Christ: Matthew 5
Leader: Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the household of heaven.
All: How blessed are we who are needy in spirit or in flesh, whose lives are empty of all that really matters;
and a special blessing on those of us who seek to find our spirit, not by emptying ourselves, but by being filled up.
Leader: Blessed are all who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
All: How blessed are we who weep, who suffer unrecognized losses, who are not allowed to grieve, but are told to get on with our lives;
and a special blessing on those of us who begin to find joy where it never was before.
Leader: Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
All: How blessed are we who live and teach gentleness, who quietly draw out the gifts in those we encounter;
and a special blessing on those who struggle to develop self-respect, who no longer allow ourselves to be abused in the name of womanhood.
Leader: Blessed are all who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
All: How blessed are we who have been wronged, who long for a new age of justice to dawn;
and a special blessing on those of us who learn to act on our own behalf, rather than waiting to be taken care of.
Leader: Blessed are the merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.
All: How blessed are we who are ready to offer healing and forgiveness to those who are broken by their sins;
and a special blessing on those of us who are learning not to offer cheap grace by forgiving too easily.
Leader: Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
All: How blessed are we who see things as they really are and call them by their right names with simplicity and grace;
and a special blessing on those of us who struggle to be wise as serpents without losing the innocence of our souls.
Leader: Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God.
All: How blessed are we who affirm the power of love, who choose life in a world of death, that our children might live;
and a special blessing on those of us who refuse to heal others' wounds lightly, who resist declaring peace when there is no peace.
Leader: Blessed are all who are persecuted for my sake, for their reward is great in heaven.
All: How blessed are we who endure suffering to bring God's world into new being;
and a special blessing on those of us who remember that Jesus did not call us to be victims as our way of life.
— Ann Evinger
"Lady of Birth"; tune: "Lord of the Dance";
words: Ruth Duck, Because We Are One People
Becoming a Blessing
We suggest that participants simply repeat the unison parts after the leader to free their hands from holding a printed order of service.
Leader: We have received the blessing of Christ. We now take time to bless ourselves and one another. To embody our prayer, we use an old tradition, the laying on of hands.
Touch your eyes with your hands saying:
All: Bless my eyes that I may see clearly.
Leader: Touch your mouth saying:
All: Bless my mouth that I may break the silence of centuries and speak my truth.
Leader: Touch your ears saying:
All: Bless my ears that I may listen to the words, thoughts, and feelings of myself and each one.
Leader: Touch your heart saying:
All: Bless my heart that I may be open to friendship and love.
Leader: Touch your womb saying:
All: Bless my womb that I may be in touch with my creative energies of the universe.
Leader: Touch your feet saying:
All: Bless my feet that I may walk gently and go with courage on my journey.
Leader: Touch the person next to you saying:
All: Bless you, my friend.
Leader: Tonight we share blessings. We know that food alone is never enough for life. We need the nurture, nutrition, and sustenance that come from food that is shared, the enjoyment of one another's company, and the physical strength we derive from the food. We invite you to eat and to share the blessing of food and the blessing of company with friends.
— Diann Neu
Sharing the Blessing with Friends
At this time, all are invited to partake of the food and enjoy each other's company.
"We Plow the Fields"; tune: Dresden, The Hymnbook
Leader: "You will be given power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses even to the ends of the earth." Come, Spirit, now, we pray.
All: May the power of the Holy Spirit come upon us.
May the wisdom of godly women encourage us.
May the cloud of witnesses accompany us,
and may we witness to the ends of the earth. Amen.
— Miriam Therese Winter, WomanPrayer, WomanSong