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(You may want to read this page before the liturgy begins)
1. Emancipation Proclamation
Executive order issued by President Abraham Lincoln, September 22, 1862:
That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
2. General Order No. 3. On the morning of Monday, June 19, 1865, Union Major General Gordon Granger arrived on the island of Galveston, Texas, to take command of the more than 2,000 federal troops recently landed to enforce the emancipation of its slaves and oversee a peaceful transition of power. The Texas Historical Commission and Galveston Historical Foundation report that Granger’s men marched throughout Galveston reading General Order No. 3 first at Union Army Headquarters. Next they marched to the 1861 Customs House and Courthouse before finally marching to the Negro Church on Broadway, since renamed Reedy Chapel-AME Church.
The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.
3. The Thirteenth Amendment was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, and ratified by the required 27 of the then 36 states on December 6, 1865, and proclaimed on December 18.
Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
(Seth) Welcome to our zoom liturgy at Mary Mother of Jesus, an inclusive Catholic Community, where all are welcome. Our liturgy is participatory as members of our community share in speaking parts. Important reminder: unmute to speak, re-mute when you finish speaking. We all bless both bread and wine, so have a cup of wine or juice and a plate with bread on your table.
Theme (Michael) “What do you do when . . . you are left with the belief that white people will never change—that the country, no matter what we do, will remain basically the same? . . . Begin again!”
Let us begin our celebration in the name ✝️ of the Holy One, Jesus the Cosmic Christ, and the Spirit within us and within all creation. All: Amen
Let us offer one another a virtual sign of peace. All: Namasté. Peace to you!
Gathering 🎶 Swing low, sweet chariot.
A song about the Underground Railroad: “a band of angels…coming for to carry me home!” Sweet [c]hariot for Harriet Tubman. Jordan River is the Ohio that slaves had to cross to freedom.
Opening 🙏🏿 (Michael) When we come down to the river of Jordan, hold the river still and let your people cross over during a calm down. Holy One, we’ll be looking for that land where Job said the wicked would cease from troubling us and our weary souls would be at rest; over there where a thousand years is but a day in eternity, where we’ll meet with loved ones and where we can sing praises to you, and we can say with the saints of old, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we’re free at last.” Your people’s prayer for Christ sake. All: Amen!
A Joyful Gloria: Linda Lee Miller, graphics by Rick Miller
Reading 📗 for our Liturgy of the Word today
(Michael) Excerpts from the Introduction to Begin Again, by Eddie Glaude, Jr.,
the James McDonnell Distinguished University Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, where he is also the Chair of the Center for African American Studies and the Department of African American Studies.
He is a frequent commentator on MSNBC.
(Jim) I asked myself: What do you do when you have lost faith in the place you call home? That wasn’t quite the right way to put it: I never really had faith in the United States in the strongest sense of the word. I hoped that one day white
people here would finally leave behind the belief that they mattered more. But what do you do when this glimmer of hope fades, and you are left with the belief that white people will never change—that the country, no matter what we do, will remain basically the same?
A moral reckoning is upon us, and we have to decide, once and for all, whether or not we will truly be a multiracial democracy. We have faced two such moments before in our history: (1) the Civil War and Reconstruction, and (2) the black freedom struggle of the mid-twentieth century. One has been described by historians as our second founding; the other as a second Reconstruction. Both moments were betrayed. One was undone by the advent of Jim Crow; the other by calls for law and order and the tax revolt by the so-called silent majority. The cumulative effect of our failure, in both instances, to uproot a pernicious understanding of race weighs heavy on our current crisis. Think of it this way:
We already have two strikes.
At the core of this ugly period in our history is the idea that who “we” are as a country is changing for the worse—that “we” are becoming unrecognizable to ourselves. The willingness of so many of our fellows to toss aside any semblance of commitment to democracy—to embrace cruel and hateful policies—exposes the idea of America as an outright lie.
Baldwin had witnessed the promise and peril of the early days of the civil rights movement, rose to fame as a literary figure willing to risk everything on behalf of the movement, supported it financially, and even put his frail body on the line along with others in pursuit of a more just America. In an October 9, 1963, interview with Fern Marja Eckman, just two days after his participation in SNCC’s Freedom Day demonstration in Selma, Alabama, Baldwin described what he saw there. He talked about the courage of everyday people as they stood in line, hungry and terrorized by Sheriff Jim Clarke and his men, to register to vote. He talked about his rage at the injustice of it all. “The helmets were, you know, like a garden. So many colors,” he recalled of the police who bullied the men and
women waiting patiently in line to register to vote. “And with their guns and their clubs and their cattle prodders.”
Baldwin saw the brutality of Jim Crow up close and witnessed its effects on those who struggled against the brutality, as well as on those who defended it. He also felt its effect on himself. He saw friends murdered in cold blood. The deaths of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr., became symbolic of a broader and more systematic betrayal by the country.
(Cheryl) One can read these words and conclude that Baldwin had given up—that the cancer which ravaged his body had metastasized and seized his spirit. But I think that’s wrong. In the full view of the wreckage of the movement, Baldwin realized he could not save white Americans. No matter how hard he tried, no matter how often he prophesied doom, the country refused to change. America simply doubled down on its ugliness, in different ways. White Americans, he concluded, had to save themselves.
Baldwin never gave up on the possibility that all of us could be better. Baldwin never relinquished the idea of the New or Heavenly Jerusalem found in the book of Ezekiel and the book of Revelation, where, for him, the idols of race and the shackles of obsolete categories that bound us to the ground were no more. We still needed to fight for that. But we would do so without the burden of having to save white people first.
The problem, for me, was particularly acute, because of the country’s latest betrayal: The promise of the election of the first black president had been met with white fear and rage and with the election of Donald Trump. Baldwin, I believe, offers resources to respond to such dark times and to imagine an answer to the moral reckoning that confronts us all. For me, reading Baldwin throughout his career feels like this: a manic pursuit of a radically different way of being in the world, where “niggers” and the white people who need them no longer exist.
Today we confront the ugliness of who we are—our darker angels reign.
It is the image of children in cages with mucus-smeared shirts and soiled pants glaring back at us. Fourteen-year-old girls forced to take care of two-year-old children they do not even know. It is sleep-deprived babies in rooms where the lights never go off, crying for loved ones who risked everything to come here only because they believed the idea. It is Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his twenty-three-month-old daughter facedown, washed up on the banks of our border. Reality can be hard and heartless.
Revealing the lie at the heart of the American idea, however, occasions an opportunity to tell a different and better story. It affords us a chance to excavate the past and to examine the ruins to find, or at least glimpse, what made us who we are. Baldwin insisted, until he died, that we reach for a different story. We should tell the truth about ourselves, he maintained, and that would release us into a new possibility. In some ways, as I scoured the rubble and ruins of his life and works, this call for a different story was the answer I found to my own shaken faith. In his last novel, Just Above My Head, Baldwin provided the key to surviving and mustering the strength to keep fighting amid the after times:
When the dream was slaughtered and all that love and labor seemed to have come to nothing, we scattered….We knew where we had been, what we had tried to do, who had cracked, gone mad, died, or been murdered around us.
Not everything is lost. Responsibility cannot be lost, it can only be abdicated. If one refuses abdication, one begins again. The Spirit speaks to us today through Eddie Glaude, and the community responds: All: Let it be so!
Response to reading: Still I Rise by Maya Angelou (Kathryn)
Shared homily (Please unmute to share, then mute again.)
Profession of faith (Voice#1 & All)
We believe in our Creator who has not forgotten us and is ever and always present with us.
We believe in Jesus, prophet and teacher, who journeyed on the earth, blessing the sick, making whole the broken, promoting equality and inclusion for all.
We believe in the Cosmic Christ, the everlasting Presence, one with the universe.
We believe in Sacred Spirit, the breath of wisdom Sophia, the power of the winds enwrapping us in glory.
We believe in the communion of saints, our heavenly friends who walk with us in love, who are never far from us, who are separated from us by a mere veil, always near to open our minds to what is difficult to see.
We believe in the partnership and equality of women and men in our Church and our world. Here we live our prophetic call of Gospel equality.
Prayers of our community (Joan M)
We bring to the table our prayers for the world.
We bring to the table all those who struggle with illness, especially Sally, Mary Kay, Bridget Mary, Diane. We pray that their treatments will make them whole in body and spirit.
We bring to the table our friends and fellow citizens who suffer from systemic racism and who just celebrated the anniversary of their emancipation. May we and they have the hope to “begin again” the work for justice and equality.
We bring to the table the victims of the condo collapse in south Florida. May their families receive comfort and strength from each other and the many members of the search and rescue team.
We bring to the table victims of the severe heat wave and severe drought in many areas of our country.
And what else shall we bring to the table today?
We knock and believe the door will be open to us, we ask and believe we will receive. All: So be it.
We offer our gifts. Please lift your bread & wine when directed by the song
🎶 All Sing: Seed Scattered and Sown
Eucharistic Prayer 🎶 We Are Holy
(Voice#2 & All) We commit today to build a community of equity and opportunity for all! To support us, we count on each other and on the Spirit of Christ present among us, especially as we gather now for Eucharist.
We commit ourselves to live the Gospel ministry as we speak clearly with respect and love and as we challenge the systemic racism in our society. We are called to the inner life, our spiritual life, to be open to new beginnings in our lives. We walk with Jesus seeking wisdom and peace.
(Hold your hand over bread and wine)
(Voice#3 & All) Jesus, we celebrate the last meal you had with your followers. We call upon Sacred Spirit, ever and always with us, to bring blessing on this bread and wine as they are made sacred through our faith in the presence of Christ with us.
On the night before he faced his own death, Jesus sat at Seder supper with his companions and friends. He reminded them that he had taught them about welcoming and including all, especially the outcast. And to fix that memory clearly with them, he bent down and washed their feet.
(All lift 🥖 and pray the following)
(Seth) When Jesus returned to the table, he lifted the bread, spoke the blessing, broke the bread and offered it to them saying:
Take and eat, this is my very self.
(Pause, then all lift the 🍷 and pray the following)
(Seth) Jesus took the cup, spoke the grace, and offered it to them saying:
Take and drink. This is the cup of the new covenant.
Whenever you remember me like this,
I am among you.
(We pause for a moment of silence)
(Seth) What we have heard with our ears,
we will live with our lives.
As we share communion,
we will become communion
both love's nourishment and love's challenge.
(Voice#4 & All) Let us share this bread and cup to proclaim and live the gospel of justice, equity and inclusion, remembering that we are bearers of light and hope. We are the Christ alive today.
Everyone consumes the bread and wine at this time
Communion 🎶 Ringing them bells
(Voice#5 & All) Sacred Spirit, we rejoice that the Universal Christ remains always and ever present within and around us. We remember all those who have transitioned from life on earth to complete union with your Sacred Presence—Mary of Nazareth and all great saints, prophets and martyrs. We also remember family members and friends. We remember all those whose lives have been lost to covid, to war, to racism and other forms of exclusion and violence that exist in our world. And we remember those you wish to be remembered (we pause to remember our loved ones) All are beloved souls who have blessed our lives and who continue to inspire us. So be it!
(Seth & All) Let us pray together as Jesus taught us:
O Holy One, who is within, around and among us,
We celebrate your many names.
Your Wisdom come,
Your will be done, unfolding from the depths within us.
Each day you give us all we need.
You remind us of our limits, and we let go.
You support us in our power, and we act with courage,
For you are the dwelling place within us,
the empowerment around us,
and the celebration among us, now and forever. Amen
(Michael) Please share the gratitudes you hold in your heart.
Final Irish Blessing ✝️ (Seth) May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
And rains fall soft on your fields.
And until we meet again
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.
🎶 Final 🎶 Wade in the water
Thanks to Kathryn for the YouTube links to the songs by The Spirituals Choir.
If you want to add an intercession to our MMOJ Community Prayer book, please send an email to Joan Meehan firstname.lastname@example.org
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