Bethesda United Church of Christ Worship Service
“We welcome all without exception as we worship God together, journey in the spirit, and share our gifts with each other, our neighbors and the world.”
For your reflection: As early as the fourth century, days were set aside to commemorate all the saints at once. Today we continue this tradition using the varied practices of All Saints Day, All Souls Day and the Day of the Dead all of which are celebrated on November 1 or 2. Though in the Catholic tradition where this celebration honored unknown saints and to remedy deficiencies in people’s observance of a particular saint’s day, we do not canonize or pray to saints, but we look to these towering figures of our heritage for inspiration and encouragement in our own Christian pilgrimage. All Saints Day should challenge us by presenting us with a variety of figures from different times and places whose often contradictory styles of faithfulness enlarge our notion of what it means to be a disciple and a saint.
Question: What saints, living and dead, have you been blessed to know?
Invitation to Worship
Lyric video by The Many
Let us begin
our lament here, O God,
in an act of memory
of all that has happened
in all that we could not
believe was possible
as good people
as people who had
never known how far and wide
a virus could actually reach
as people who
who thought we
had enough faith.
what we do not want to remember
and what we cannot bear to remember
after so much has been lost
in only a few short months.
O God, let us begin here
in all full lament.
We prepare ourselves for worship
Lighting of the Christ Candle and God’s Light Grows
O Light of Christ,
bring your steadfast love
here to illuminate
all that will be gathered here.
Redeem us from trouble
in the fire of your love. Amen.
#299 For All the Saints
Passing The Peace
Leader: The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
People: And also with you.
The Children may depart to the breakout room for their classes and activities.
The Contemporary Reading
An All Saints’ Day poem, shared by Maia Twedt, posted on giftsinopenhands.wordpress.com Read by Margaret Klotz
Ye who have gone before,
Ye stillborn baby,
Ye stalwart soldier,
Ye slave who never made it off the ship,
And ye who labored long years in the field.
Ye who have gone before,
Ancestor, ship captain in Norway,
Pioneer in the prairie,
Single mother in the housing project,
Young child in the forest tribe,
All welcome ye on this feast day of the saints,
Where veil becomes thin between
Living and dead, and
Today more than ever we hear
Your voice, echo from the past
Sounding through these times
Generations forward, blood
Coursing through my veins
Just as it did the very same
Through yours. And together
We become each other’s bones and sinew
Flesh as one body, one earth, one soul
On this day that unites the living with the dead.
The author, Maia Twedt, writes this:
“This week marks the 24th anniversary of the birth of my firstborn, Gabriella Peace, who was stillborn at birth but is part of my family and ever part of my life.
Since then as a chaplain I have blessed and baptized many babies who died in the womb or at birth, and have lain my hand on their tiny heads to whisper a prayer for them to join in the dance with my own child. In Gabriella’s honor, I share this poem I wrote for All Saint’s Day…”
You can find Maia on her website maiatwedt.org
A Reading From The First Letter To The Thessalonians
Read by Mike Toman
1 Thessalonians 2:9-10, 4:13-18
9 You remember our labor and toil, brothers and sisters;[a] we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10 You are witnesses, and God also, how pure, upright, and blameless our conduct was toward you believers.
13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters,[a] about those who have died,[b] so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14 For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died.[c] 15 For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died.[d] 16 For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words
Candles Of Remembrance And Sharing Of Names
We will not be uninformed about those who have died. We grieve so many. We feel such loss even as we cling to hope. We encourage each other by remembering their names.
Today we remember friends of Bethesda United Church of Christ in Christian love:
Dennis Meehan, husband of Yolanda Meehan
Joseph K. Hichar, son-in-law of Clifford Porter
Doris Tarpley, former member
Emily Stover, niece of Mary Bahrs
Lois Krekow, mother of Kay Krekow
We invite all who wish to light a candle in remembrance of a loved one (or loved ones) to do so at this time. After you light a candle, you are invited to type the name(s) of your loved ones in the chat/text box if you are comfortable doing so.
O Light of Christ,
we have witnessed
lives well lived and lives cut too short.
We are left below this great
cloud of witnesses
to continue the struggle
for justice and love
in this world. Still, we lament
that we’ve lost these partners.
May their memories be a blessing
and a light to our labor. Amen.
“We Grieve the Many Thousands”
Words by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette,
PASSION CHORALE 22.214.171.124 D (“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”)
We grieve the many thousands — yet we can’t understand;
we cannot grasp how many have died throughout this land.
We cannot see their faces or hear the stories told
of all the ways they blessed us — the young ones and the old.
O God, we grieve the struggle of those who died alone —
so far from friends and neighbors, from all they’d ever known.
We grieve for precious people who could not say good-bye;
we weep for those, now mourning, who sit alone and cry.
O God, we grieve for millions who now are unemployed
who cannot feed their families — whose hope has been destroyed.
We grieve that needed workers must worry for their health
while some with lives of privilege stay home and build their wealth.
O God of love and mercy, we cry to you, “How long?”
In troubled times remind us: Your love is ever strong.
Now as we grieve the suffering, Lord, show us how to be
A healing, loving presence in each community.
Tune: Hans Leo Hassler, 1601; harmony by Johann Sebastian Bach, 1729 (“O Sacred Head, Now Wounded”)
Text: Copyright © 2020 by Carolyn Winfrey Gillette. Permission granted for use.
Pastoral Prayer And Lord’s Prayer
Our Mother/Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
Offering And Prayer Of Dedication
A Word from Tim Graber
If you wish to give to support the work of Bethesda UCC, you can donate via Venmo @Bethesda-UCC or send a check via mail to Bethesda UCC c/o Treasurer; 10010 Fernwood Road; Bethesda, MD 20817
Celebration Of Our Lord’s Supper
We feel the waves of grief rise
as we gather around this table
to do what we have always done:
remember, share and bless.
To remember the goodness of God
as we shake the crumbs off
familiar paraments faithfully mended
over the generations. We remember
who was once here with us.
We feel their absence.
To share in the mystery
of sacred story that reaches
across lifetimes and generations
to be broken and poured out
with new meaning again.
To bless the grief
that tastes as salty as the bread
and bitter as the wine
puckering our lips.
We gather here
with all the saints
to share and
Words of Institution
Unison Prayer of Blessing
Ancient Spirit, rise
from sacred story
to everyday truth
so that we can find you
again in these ordinary
elements on our shared table.
Even when we are not in one place,
may we find in this bread your wholeness.
May we find in this cup your joy.
Fill our humble bellies with your wonder
as you bless this bread and cup.
Bless our hearts with fullness. Amen.
Sharing of Bread and Cup
Unison Prayer after Communion
Holy Three in One, thank you for this feast.
We have remembered who’s we are and who we love.
We have blessed our grief and tasted goodness
so let us go now to be light and salt for this world. Amen.
Liturgical Resources/Credits: Except where specifically noted, our liturgy today was created by Rev. Elsa Cook, a pastor within the United Church of Christ. She blogs at https://cookingwithelsa.org/recipes-for-ministry/
More about us
Bethesda UCC was founded in 1957 as Bethesda Congregational Church. United Church of Christ is the union of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.
We are located at the corner of Fernwood and Democracy. Our postal address is:
Bethesda United Church of Christ
10010 Fernwood Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20817
Minister: Rev. Dee Ledger
Music Director: Kay Krekow
Today’s music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712
A ONE LICENSE Reprint License grants churches, schools, religious communities, retreat centers, and other worshiping bodies permission to reprint or project music for their congregations from any of our Member Publishers.
Permission to podcast / stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE, License #A-726712. All rights reserved.