We wanted our conversation on "The Embracing Church: A Spiritual Retreat on the Expansive Kingdom of God" to be bathed in worship. Lillian Smith made it so, beginning and ending each day with focus on God in community. The opening worship led us through Micah 6:1-8 from the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament Beatitudes from Matthew 5. Here's our prayer response from 21st Century Africana Liturgy Resources: Worship Resources for January 30, 2005 — Fourth Sunday After the Epiphany" copyright © 2005 the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church, PO Box 340003, Nashville TN 37203-0003. http://www.umcworship.org:
Give us, O Lord, an eye for injustice — for it is only when are able to recognize injustice and feel its awful sting that we will be moved to make things right.
Give us, O Lord, a tender heart — sometimes we are too hardhearted to recognize when we have been uncaring, unfeeling, or unkind.
Grant us, O Lord, the ability to view life from the dust — all our lives we have been taught to make others proud, to be proud of ourselves, to hold our heads high, all the while missing the virtues of being poor in spirit.
Teach us, dear Lord, to do justice, love kindness, and to walk humbly with you. Amen.
Based on Micah 6:8
Each of us then introduced ourselves and told why we were there. We invited participants to do the same in small groups. A few reported back. My favorite: "When I heard 'The Embracing Church,' I was intrigued because, although I'm a youth minister, I have to go outside the church to feel embraced. I'm in a recovery group and that's where I feel embrace."