As many of you know, for the past sixteen years a group of ten to twenty people has gathered monthly around a round table for a kind of worship gathering we simply call “Roundtable Worship.” I have written about it from time to time in these blogs. You can find out more about it elsewhere on these pages. (See Roundtable Worship: A Reflective Guide.)
This activity is an effort to lift up and internalize the characteristics of dialogue, communication, mutual recognition and empathy that are at the core of life’s longing for fulfilment. Through the acts of heartful speaking, attentive listening, sharing of food and drink, and openness to the wider conversation we call prayer, we seek to live into this trajectory of life’s consummation. Out of this “rehearsal” of life’s full mutuality we have stimulated specific conversations about immigration, restorative justice, and, most importantly in our own congregation and denomination, full inclusion of all people regardless of their gender identity and sexual orientation.
We work with a fairly stable format. The first part is a call to gathering, a remembrance, and a thanksgiving, which I generally compose in conversation with others in the group. The middle part contains a time of table conversation according to the circle process format. The third part is a prayer we have evolved to echo Jesus’s formula for his disciple’s use and a recitation of the commitments we seek to live by.
This year, I want to share the monthly liturgy with you, whether for your own reflection or for use in your own prayerful gatherings, should that be your practice. You can look to it for a little example of liturgical poetry or, of course, skip it and hang in there for another reflection or poem in subsequent weeks. Here is our liturgy from August 18, with the calligraphy piece by Timothy Botts that shaped our reflection.
August 18, 2019
Call to the Table
On stony roads the prophets cry,
O see the grandeur of God’s city.
On stormy seas the sailors call
O hear the waves on God’s celestial shore.
In blistered deserts of despair
We taste the living waters of God’s love.
Beneath the trees that line the city’s streets
We find the welcome of God’s arms.
We come to God’s table,
God’s table of peace.
ALL: Amen. Amin. Ameyn.
Song of Gathering: “City of God” Dan Schutte
Out of Babel came confusion and a constant war of words.
Out of Jerusalem came a blessing to renew the people of the earth.
On the peaks of Sinai came a code of life to guide the world.
In Babylon the faithful found a way to worship God beyond their land.
Out of Galilee a lonely teacher brought a life to heal the nations.
Out of pilgrim’s hearts the vision of a city filled with joy.
O Light of the World,
For the comfort of your saving love, our hearts are opened wide in thanks. For every hand outstretched in love, our voices rise in gratitude. For the table of your conversation our lips pronounce your praise. For the daily sustenance by which we live into another day, our voices rise in thankful praise.
We give our thanks to you (4x).
We give our hearts to you (3x), because you first loved us.
Sharing at Table
“The Bread of Life” ”The Cup of Hope”
Psalm 122:6-7 Matthew 23:37-39 Revelations 21:1-5
The Conversation: “Pray for Jerusalem”
The Hope Prayer
O Source of Life, You alone are holy.
Come, govern us in perfect peace.
Give us today the food that we need.
Release us from our sin as we release our enemies.
Sustain us in our times of trial.
Liberate us all from evil powers.
Guide us in your justice, wisdom, and peace. Amen, Amin, Ameyn
Words of Commitment
In God’s love, we will seek the path of reconciliation.
In God’s power, we will walk the ways of peace.
In God’s wisdom, we will struggle for God’s justice in this world.
In God’s mercy, we will seek to care for Earth, our home.
Blessing Song: “We are Walking a Path of Peace”
We are walking a path of peace (3x), Lead us home, lead us home.
We are walking a path of joy (3x), Lead us home, lead us home.
We are walking a path of hope (3x), Lead us home, lead us home.