Tuesday, November 28, 2006


Here is the chapel service I wrote/arranged which will take place at 10:00 PST tomorrow. Join us in prayer if you like.

For Those Affected By AIDS....Everyone

A chapel service in preparation for Advent and World AIDS Day
November 29, 2006 ~ Fuller Theological Seminary

Opening Litany
All Stand. Readers lead as congregation responds in bold.

Reader 1: The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will
fulfill the promise.
Come, Emmanuel, come.

Reader 2: A righteous Branch shall execute justice and
righteousness in the land.
Come, Emmanuel, come.

Reader 3: My people will be saved and they will live in safety.
Come, Emmanuel, come.

Reader 4: As we enter the season of Advent,
May we find assurance
In the promised coming of Christ.
As we are enveloped by the darkness of winter,
May we find warmth in one another
And comfort in God’s presence.
As we enter a week of remembrance and petition
For those living
And those dying
May we be mindful of God’s compassion
and the Love that rescued all of
…and now…
…and soon.

All: Come, Emmanuel, come. Fulfill your promise.

Gathering Hymn

(“Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus” verse 1, verse 2) (or I also suggest Savior of the nations, come, St. Ambrose or Prepare the Way of the Lord, Taizé)

Said by a minister, with congregational responses in bold

God calls us as a people, a whole people,
None of whom is worthless,
Each of whom was worth his coming.
We are called to bear witness to the Good News,
To sing out glad tidings of great joy,
That no-one is a stranger or an outsider,
And that in Jesus Christ
All division and separation have been
broken down.
In the face of the worldwide crisis of AIDS,
We are called to be one people, And yet hardness of heart, discrimination, and
Prevent us from being the person whom
God calls us to be.
During this Advent season,
Let us examine ourselves and our motives.
As we prepare to confess our sins,
We come to God in prayer:

Lord of compassion,
We often misrepresent you as a God of wrath,
Yet you are the God of Love raising us to life,
And so we ask, Lord have mercy.
Lord have mercy.

Lord Jesus,
You banish the fear that has often paralyzed us
In responding to the needs of all who are affected by HIV and AIDS.
When we falter, encourage us, strengthen us,
And so we ask, Christ have mercy.
Christ have mercy.

Spirit of unity,
You build us up when we break down,
You unite us when we divide,
You comfort us when we condemn,
And so we ask, Lord have mercy.
Lord have mercy.

Prayer of Confession
Said by All

Gracious God,
We confess to you that we are trapped by sin and
cannot free ourselves.
Though you gave the precious gift of your Son,
We have failed to follow in his footsteps.
We have failed to abound in love for one another.
We have failed to abound in love for those living with
We have failed to keep our promises to you.
Forgive us and free us to be alert to your will.
Fill us with your Spirit,
So that our world can see that your redemption draws
Through the first – and second – comings
Of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Dance: “Rock of Ages”

Assurance of Pardon
Offered by a minister

Almighty God, have mercy on us,
Forgive us all our sins through our Lord Jesus Christ,
Strengthen us in all goodness,
And by the power of the Holy Spirit,
Keep us in eternal life. Amen.

Congregational Song

(“Offering” verse, pre-chorus, chorus, verse, pre-chorus, chorus) (for Episcopalians and those who do not know music that goes with guitars, I suggest: He Hideth My Soul, Fanny J. Crosby; There is a Balm in Gilead; or There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy, Faber with tune St. Helena by Calvin Hampton)

Scripture Readings

Reader 1: A Reading from the Psalms (22:1-2, 6-11, 14-15, 19, 23-24)

1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? 2O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night, but find no rest. 6But I am a worm, and not human; scorned by others, and despised by the people. 7All who see me mock at me; they make mouths at me, they shake their heads; 8“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver— let him rescue the one in whom he delights!” 9Yet it was you who took me from the womb; you kept me safe on my mother’s breast. 10On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me you have been my God. 11Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. 14I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; 15my mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. 19But you, O Lord, do not be far away! O my help, come quickly to my aid! 23You who fear the Lord, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him; stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! 24For he did not despise or abhor the affliction of the afflicted.

Reader 2: A Reading from the book of Lamentations (3:21-26, 31-33)
21But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: 22The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; 23they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. 24“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” 25The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him. 26It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. 31For the Lord will not reject forever. 32Although he causes grief, he will have compassion according to the abundance of his steadfast love; 33for he does not willingly afflict or grieve anyone.

Reader 3: A Reading from the Second Letter to the Corinthians (4:1, 7-9, 16a)
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. 7But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. 8We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 16So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.

All Stand

Reader 4: A Reading from the Gospel according to Matthew (19:18-25)
18He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19Honor your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20The young man said to him, “I have kept all these; what do I still lack?” 21Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” 22When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions. 23Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it will be hard for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” 25When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astounded and said, “Then who can be saved?”

Lighting of the Advent “Wreath”
There are four giant candles, at the four corners of the room, surrounding the congregation. Each reader lights his/her candle as they read. Reader #4 should be at the front of the room, next to the leader. The candles may be wrapped in red AIDS ribbon.

Reader 1
We remember your servant John and the prophets of Israel, who proclaimed the coming of the Lord. May we continue in their tradition, blazing a trail of truth and calling for repentance. Help us, Lord, to banish the myths that AIDS is a divine punishment or that any group or class of people deserves HIV. May we baptize our broken world in the living water of healing and forgiveness. May we look to the horizon and behold the second advent of the Lamb of God who makes all things new.

Reader 2
We remember your servant Joseph, who heeded the voice of love and did not abandon a woman in need. May we likewise aid those who are marginalized by their communities, those trapped by violence and exploitation, those who have contracted disease by deception, those who give birth to children doomed with the virus. May we hear their cries, as you heard the cries of Hagar and Ishmael in the desert. May we always approach their pain with compassionate resources, to lift them out of shame and fear, enabling them to retain their dignity and human rights.

Reader 3
We remember the magi who brought gifts to the Christ child and the shepherds who celebrated his birth. May we not hesitate to offer our gifts of time, talent, and money to the dispossessed and outcast, knowing that in their faces we see God. May we earnestly seek and contribute towards education for prevention, comprehensive health care and medications, counseling and companionship. May we joyfully proclaim the coming day when Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away.

Reader 4
We remember your servant Mary, the Mother of God. May her song echo in our hearts and radiate throughout the world. May we do our part to scatter the proud, cast down the mighty, lift up the lowly, and fill the hungry with good things. May our prayers this morning be transformed into action on behalf of the suffering. As Mary did before us, may we carry God into the world.

All Stand. The readers move toward the audience with small candles, lit from the larger ones, from which the congregation lights their hand-held candles.

The center of the advent wreath is the Christ candle. My sisters and brothers, you glow with the brilliance of Christ. You are his hands and feet – his voice and heart – on this earth. Carry his light into the world as you wait in joyful expectation for his coming again in glory.

Musical Offering

(“O Come, O Come Emmanuel” verses 1, 2, & 4) (or Comfort, Comfort ye my people, Johann G. Olearius, no 67 in hymnal, or I the Lord of Sea and Sky, or In Christ there is No East or West)

Closing Prayer
All Stand. Said by All

Loving God,
You came to our world by a lowly and humble birth,
And made your home with the poor and the weak.
You show yourself to those who are without help,
And are near to those who cry out for mercy.
Inflame our hearts with the fire of your Spirit.
Help us to accept the challenge that HIV and
AIDS presents to us.
Help us not to lose heart as we await your
coming again to heal all.

We pray for ourselves, that we may rejoice in the gift of life,
For however long it is given.
And we ask that in your strength
We may support the carers,
Protect the healthy,
Calm the frightened,
Encourage those who are in pain,
Comfort the dying,
Console the bereaved,
And commend all to your love and compassion. Amen.


Said by a Minister

Remember, my friends,
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise,
but is patient with you,
not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance.
Stand firm now, assured of the love our Lord has for you,
Knowing that you have been made whole deep within your being;
Knowing that you are called to share that healing
With those given into your care;
And may the compassion of the Father,
The tenderness of the Spirit,
And the guiding hand of the Lord Jesus
Be with you this day and always. Amen.

Reader 4: Go forth in joy and expectation, looking for the coming of Christ.
All: Thanks be to God.

Originally, the service ended with a recitation of the International AIDS Memorial and Mobilization Pledge (but Fuller asked it be removed because it was “too political”):

We subscribe to the following principle:
AIDS is not divine punishment for promiscuity, homosexuality, or drug use;

No group or class of people deserves AIDS.

People living with HIV/AIDS deserve full civil rights, including
the right to retain their jobs and homes and to travel freely;

All people should be educated and assisted in avoiding infection;
All governments must commit to assuring their HIV-infected citizens
comprehensive health care and the latest in AIDS medications.

Oddly enough, they objected not to the line about homosexuality, but to the statements that governments should take care of their citizens. Yikes.

I was told it would take us “out of a spirit of worship”. Well if worship doesn’t lead to action, IMHO, it’s worthless. Our sense of justice arises from our worship. Worship isn’t a separate activity. God help us if we want to keep our “sense of worship” in the chapel or the church, instead of taking it with us out into the world where it’s needed so badly. We gotta seriously reevaluate our tendency to compartmentalize.

I don’t think I’d have felt this way without having been around All Saints this fall. For that, I am grateful. It is a good lesson to have learned.

I acquiesced, but at least here I can say that I think they were chicken. Bawk bawk. OMG, I just had the image of Gob from Arrested. OK, I have to go b/c I’m in class and snorting is not appropriate!


zorra said...

This is powerful. I will pray with you tomorrow.

M.J. said...

How was it received?

Stasi said...

Very well, actually. Many people said it was one of the most powerful chapels they've attended, especially with an "issues" base.

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