Call to Worship
We come to worship
the God of Justice,
who lifts the oppressed up
and pulls the oppressor down
till justice and equity come to all.
Come, let us graft ourselves to one another
and to this binary-breaking God.
It is good to grow together
amid all that keeps us apart!
It is good to grow in gratitude
for the God who gathers us!
O God the Nurturer, God the Transplanter,
God who brings flourishing to those
whom the world would see wither,
we wonder and delight in your great upturning
of human norms and expectations.
Let us sing your praises loud and strong!
Prayer of Confession
God calls us to gather as one grove,
to spread our roots deep in a foundation of justice and love,
to bear fruit that lasts.
But our roots are often disconnected,
shallow, easily uprooted.
Often the soil we settle into
is poisonous, toxic to ourselves and the whole community.
The world is full of conflicting messages
and claims that what is poisonous is nourishing;
what is nourishing, poisonous.
We label God’s children our enemies
to be removed and eradicated,
while enabling cruelty and greed to thrive.
God our Gardener, Spirit of Life,
Uproot what is rotten in us.
Enter our deadness and blossom it into life.
Transplant us from any soil that does not nourish.
Graft us to one another
so that together we may root ourselves in you.
Only in you.
Responding to God’s Word (Affirmation of Faith)
As one, let us affirm the faith that grafts us together
while lifting up the wisdom of some of our fellow witnesses.
We believe in God the Conceiver of the Cosmos,
who with a Word and a Breath
burst the universe into expansion
from one small seed.
We believe that God pervades and sustains
all that She created
with Her all-embracing love.
As Julian of Norwich wrote in the twelfth century,
“[God] showed me a little thing, the size of a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed. And it was as round as any ball. I…thought, ‘What may this be?’
And it was answered generally thus, ‘It is all that is made.’
I marveled how it might last, for I thought it might suddenly have fallen to nothing for littleness.
And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and ever shall, for God loves it. And so have all things their beginning by the love of God.”
We believe that this God of love is the God
of David the overlooked son
and of Ezekiel the exile;
the God of the mustard seed
and of the cedar tree.
In deep love for us, God grafted Themself to us,
joined us in the beautiful frailness of our flesh
in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.
Catherine of Siena wrote in the fourteenth century:
And you, high eternal Trinity,
acted as if you were drunk with love,
infatuated with your creature.
When you saw that this tree could bear no fruit
but the fruit of death
because it was cut off from you who are life,
you came to its rescue
with the same love
with which you had created it:
you engrafted your divinity
into the dead tree of our humanity.
O sweet tender engrafting!
You, sweetness itself,
stooped to join yourself
with our bitterness.
In joining with our bitterness,
God transformed it into sweetness!
Jesus proclaimed good news
for the despised and discarded of the world.
Having been lifted up himself,
Jesus drew all peoples to him;
And we remain engrafted to Divinity
through the Holy Spirit who dwells among us still,
breathing life and wisdom into us
so that we might do God’s will
as many branches reaching from one tree,
many members enriching one Body.
I wrote this liturgy for a service centered around Ezekiel 17:22-24, a parallel text offered for Mark 4:26-34 (the parable of the mustard seed). In the Ezekiel text, God proclaims that Xe makes low the high tree, and makes the dry tree flourish — an upturning of expectations, indeed!