A Liturgy from the Roundtable Gathering

As close readers of this blog site already know, I gather every month with about fifteen other people at a round table for a time of circle conversation, prayer, song, and recommitment to the work of reconciliation. Urged on by Robert Steiner, my friend, pastor, clown, and songwriter/singer in Cape Town, as well as a few nudges from others, I thought it might be helpful to share our liturgy with you from time to time.

In this acrimonious time, when anger replaces thought and hatred of the other corrodes the love for even our friends and family, we need the power of the circle’s Spirit even more. In face-to-face conversation within the covenant of God’s care for us, we find the narrow gate out of this living prison of our fear. So the Roundtable Gathering has become even more important to me as the oasis to which I return to feed my spirit.

Thanks to the generous spirits of the “regulars,” it also enables me to share some of my liturgical impulses, which over the years have been a major avenue for my poetic life. Maybe you might want to adopt some of this pattern in your own spiritual life. Drawing on Abbie Hoffman’s memorable words “Steal this Liturgy” in whole or part. Steal away.

If you want to look into a fuller explanation of roundtable worship, you can read and download the little piece, Roundtable Worship: A Reflective Guide, that I put together with the group’s help a few years ago. Some elements of our liturgy are fairly set, adjusted only at our annual mini-retreat. Others change each month.

Each gathering focuses on a particular question that arises out of the experiences of the regular group’s members. Sometimes the focus is an art work of some kind. In November we gathered to seek a deeper center that could guide us through the difficult years that lie ahead for us in the wake of the US elections this year. Here’s the liturgy. Let me know if you find it useful for your own journey.

 Roundtable Gathering

November 20, 2016

Call to the Table

In the darkness of our journey,

You are light upon our way.

In the ocean of our tears

You create a life anew.

When our anger clouds our vision

You send a mirror of your love.

When our hungers drive us to despair,

You spread a table of your gracious care.

ALL: We come to your table, your table of peace.

Song of Invitation                        “Walls Mark our Bound’ries”


Elijah in the desert lived because the ravens brought him bread.

Daniel caged within the claws of power held the lions of his fear at bay.

Paul and Silas bound in jail held their captors in God’s care.

Mary known as Magdalene. astonished at an empty tomb, beheld a gardener as the resurrected one.

All held in God’s mysterious care, they bore witness to God’s love.

Reflective Moment           


O God of all Compassion,

For the love that gives us life, our hearts pour forth in praise. For the hand that soothes our pain, for the eye that understands, our lips respond with songs of  thanks. For the food we harvest from the bounty of your earth, we shout our gratitude. For your table of companionship we sing unending praise:

Thank You, God, Holy One.

Thank You God Creator*, Thank You God.

*Redeemer, Great Spirit

Nurture by Bread and Drink

“The bread of compassion”

“The cup of peace”

Reading: Romans 12: 3-13

The Conversation: What does God want to do with me now?

Gathered Prayers

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

Reflective Moment

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 love…etc.

We are walking a path of hope…etc.

1 thought on “A Liturgy from the Roundtable Gathering”

  1. Very beautiful and uplifting! It makes great sense, especially in a community of people who know each other and appreciate each other. I just missed intercessions for the massacred of these times in Syria, etc. And some more bible reading, like psalms or Mark 10:42-45, one of the most important New Testament texts for worship, diaconia and politics (!) and the Lord’s Prayer which you have transformed into your Hope Prayer, which is very moving, however, the Vaterunser from the presiding Christ Spirit would be an anchor for the shaken ones. But yours is a great inspiration!
    My problem is, however, the normal worship service in our church/congregation. How to make that more participatory and responsive so that it becomes a phenomenon of resonance rather than of reception and consumption, is the issue to be solved or rather approached. How can one suggest changes and renewal without upsetting the routine for those who are full of fear? the German character is normally more reticent and prudent, not so outgoing and ready to open up like you communicative friendly Americans.
    In any case, the right mixture does it. Psalm readings, old and new hymns, the sharing of greetings and the peace, responsive sermons, Taizé songs, South African chorusses, participatory intercessions, these elements can be used to change the atmosphere of presentation and reception to exchange and response.
    What have you been able to do to renew the normal worship?
    This sharing of the roundtable liturgy has inspired me to push for renewal in our Sunday worship, what I have long wanted to do. Thank you, Bill, old inspirer of wisdom.
    May Advent lead us towards expecting the amazing!
    Love and Reconciliation,

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