Vocation or calling was the overall theme of the inspiring January 26th worship service at Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church. Several parts of that service were especially meaningful for me and will be discussed in this and subsequent posts.
The unison Prayer of Confession led by Rev. Stephen Robertson was a major focus of the first part of the service—“Preparing for the Word”— and provided the right introduction. It went as follows:
“Hear us, O God, as we blend our voices in common confession. You have taught us that there are a variety of gifts, yet we judge others because they do not fit our mold. You have called us and blessed us, but we do not trust that we are good enough. We turn our attention inward and can’t see beyond our own perceived shortcomings to know the ways you would use us to feed, clothe, shelter, and comfort. Help us to realize that you have equipped us to be your instruments of peace, justice, and reconciliation. Forgive us our fears and the barriers we place between ourselves and you, between ourselves and others and free us for the new life you call us to in Jesus Christ.”
Several sentences of this prayer jumped out at me, especially after the article earlier that day in the New York Times about the purported determinants of success, one of which was a sense of insecurity, of not feeling good enough. Here again are those words:
“You have called us and blessed us, but we do not trust that we are good enough. We turn our attention inward and can’t see beyond our own perceived shortcomings to know the ways you would use us to feed, clothe, shelter, and comfort. Help us to realize that you have equipped us to be your instruments of peace, justice, and reconciliation.”
This rang true to me. A sense of inadequacy is natural when looking out at the many problems in the world and can, and often does, prevent us from doing what we can do to help others. We need God’s help to overcome such perceived shortcomings.
 The Bulletin for the January 26th service that includes this prayer is available online along with a video recording of the service. Other blog posts have discussed Westminster’s order of worship and another prayer of confession while clicking on “Westminster Presbyterian Church” in the Tag Cloud at the top right of the blog will give you all of the posts about the church in reverse chronological order.
Minneapolis’ Westminster Presbyterian Church‘s October 7, 2012, worship service remembered the U.S.-Dakota War of 1862. This post reviews the last of the three parts of that service–Responding to the Word.
We first sang a Hymn that was new to me, “You know the Way” in the Dakota language. The words originally in German by martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer were translated into the English language in the bulletin: “God, gather and turn my thoughts to you. With you there is light. You do not forget me. With you there is help and patience. I do not understand your ways, but you know the way for me.”
For the Offertory a traditional Ojibwe song, “Gegiwabimin mino waa” or “I will see you again another day” was played on the Native American flute by Jon Romer. Emphasizing there is no word or phrase for a final goodbye in their language, the song is sung by the Ojibwe women as the men leave the village to hunt with the expectation that the men will return and everyone will sit down to feast together. For us it says that when we leave this world, there is no final goodbye. We will one day all sit and feast together once again.
For the Lord’s Table on World Communion Sunday, the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving was offered by Westminster Associate Pastor, Rev. Dr. Stephen Robertson. It included these words:
“We give you thanks, O God, For you have made us in your image, female and male, black, brown, red and white, gay and straight. You set us in the world to love and serve you and to live in peace and justice with your whole creation. Although we have failed to live according to your way, you continue to call us back to you.”
“In Jesus, you showed us love for all, and you led the way to a new community in which the last would be first, justice would be realized, and peace would abound. Jesus proclaimed the good news of the reign of God. Yet we rebelled against his message.”
“But death cannot defeat life, nor can many waters quench love. You raised Christ from death, conquering the powers of this world, not through might, but through grace.”
“We pray that Christ’s Spirit will be in us as we feast at this, his table. Sacred and living Spirit, descend upon us. Fill us with your presence.”
“Move also upon these gifts of bread and cup, that they may become the bread of life and the cup of salvation. United forever through your Spirit and this table, may our feet walk the path of justice, May our hearts tear down the walls of division, and may our tongues cry out, ‘Peace on earth.’”
Rev. Robertson then led the congregation in the unison recitation of the Lord’s Prayer:
“Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be Your name. Thy Kingdom come. They 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. Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil. For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever. Amen.”
As the church elders distributed the bread and grape juice of communion, the Choir’s Mary Monson, mezzo soprano, and J. D. Shaffer, tenor, sang “Morning Song,” which combines the melody of “Amazing Grace” with a Native American melody. It was sung in ancient Teehahnahmah and Cherokee languages, which was translated into English as follows: “I am of the great Spirit. It is so. God’s son paid for us. Then to heaven he went after paying for us. But he said, when he rose: ‘I’ll come again’ he said when he spoke. All the earth will end when he comes. All will see him all over the earth. All the good people living he will come after. Heaven always in peace they will live.” The piece was arranged by James E. Green, who has Cherokee heritage.
The Closing Hymn was “Many and Great, O God Are Thy Things” (No. 271 in the Presbyterian Hymnal). As Rev. Timothy Hart-Andersen had mentioned in his sermon, this hymn was written in the 1840’s by the Dakota congregation in Lac Qui Parle, Minnesota and was sung by the 38 Dakota men – Presbyterians, many of them –as they mounted the gallows in Mankato on December 26, 1862. The last verse is the following:
“Grant unto us communion with Thee,
Thou star abiding One;
Come unto us and dwell with us;
With Thee are found the gifts of life,
Bless us with life that has no end,
Eternal life with Thee.”
The Postlude was the Choir’s repetition of “Heleluyan,” which was the Processional Hymn at the start of the service.
 World Communion Sunday is celebrated on the first Sunday in October throughout the U.S. It is a project of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA, which has been the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in this country. The NCC’s member faith groups — from a wide spectrum of Protestant, Anglican, Orthodox, Evangelical, historic African American and Living Peace churches — include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.
 By the way, the front of the October 7th worship bulletin set forth the Lord’s Prayer in the Dakota language as translated in the 1830’s by Presbyterian brothers Gideon and Samuel Pond, who established the first Christian congregation in the Minnesota Territory on the shores of Lake Calhoun In today’s Minneapolis.