Great Thanksgiving – Communion Liturgy Celebrating Cultural Diversity

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Great Thanksgiving
(Authenticity)
Written by Rev. Mike Johnson, Baltimore-Washington Conference

The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.

You are true to who You are and reveal to us the glories of your presence.
You are a God of love, who speaks against oppression and injustice.
You are a God of grace, who asks us to forgive those who are blind to their privilege,
even as You invite the world to learn from You.
You are the Creator God, who weaves the beauty of diversity into something fresh and new,
the garment of understanding and wonder.

You call us to follow You out of the familiar and comfortable, and to live by faith:
Calling upon Your holy name,
and trusting in the power of Your grace.
You invite us to be like Jonah and preach Your word in Nineveh,
bringing salvation to our historical oppressors.
You move our hearts to say with Ruth;
“Wherever you live,
That is where I will now live.
You will be family.
Your God will be mine.
I will even die for you,
buried next to you.”

Because You show Your mercy to every nation and people upon the earth;
because You speak every language and delight in every culture;
we join in your praise with all the earth.
Because You have embraced people from every continent, have walked with all of our ancestors,
continuing to hear Your praise even in forgotten languages that are sung continually around Your throne;  we join in their endless praise, saying:

Holy, holy, holy Lord, God of power and might.
Heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest.
Blessed are they who come in the name of the Lord.
Hosanna in the highest.

You are holy and Jesus is Immanuel, God with us.
Leaving all that was familiar in heaven,
Jesus was born into the people and culture of Israel.
Jesus was taught the language and the traditions of his family.
Jesus worshiped in the Temple in Jerusalem.
Jesus came first to the lost sheep of Israel,
people of his race,
people of his culture.
Jesus also shared Your grace with Roman oppressors,
who lynched his people.
Jesus entered into deep theological discussions with a Samaritan woman,
breaking cultural taboos and stereotypes.
Jesus responded to the needs of a Syro-Phoenician woman,
going against the deeply ingrained prejudices that his society had taught him.
Jesus realized that You, O God, love the world so much
that You wanted everyone to believe,
even if it meant personal sacrifice.

When culture dictated that the least important was to wash feet,
Jesus broke with social convention,
left the seat of honor,
took off his robe,
and with a towel and basin in his hands,
knelt and washed the feet of the one who would betray him;
washed the feet of the one who would deny him not once but three times;
and the feet of those who would desert him to save their own lives.
Jesus invites us to do the same.

As an expression of culture,
Jesus took the bread and remembered the historical struggles of his people,
and shared it with everyone, saying:
“Take, eat, this is my body given for you.”

As an expression of culture,
Jesus took the cup and remembered the historical struggles of his people,
and shared it with everyone, saying:
“Drink with me all of you, for this is my blood poured out as a witness
to the Divine Covenant of forgiveness with you and the whole world.”

Out of specific culture Jesus works cross-culturally to bring salvation to the whole world.
Jesus came not just to save his own people but all peoples.
Jesus came not just to save his own economic class but those of any class.
Jesus came not just to save those of his own gender identity, but those of every gender identity.
We have testified that this mystery of salvation found in Jesus Christ is for all, when we say:

Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Cross-cultural Dancer, Wind of Change
use these simple gifts of bread and wine
to become for us the body and blood of Christ,
source of Your transforming power.

Cross-cultural Dancer, Wind of Change
use the simple gift of our lives, our culture, our faithfulness, and our dreams
to become for the world, the church: the authentic body and devoted bride of Christ,
source of Your transforming power.

Cross-cultural Dancer, Wind of Change
be with all those called to cross the social boundaries of race and culture
to boldly go where only Your grace could send them.
Give them the courage to accept Your challenge to pick up their cross and follow You.
Use their faithfulness to set the captives free,
to restore sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
and to share the good news of the availability of your grace to all.

Be blessed by the presence of Christ.
Be blessed by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Be blessed by the creativity of The Divine Inspiration,
who will continually receive all our glory, thanks and praise.

Amen.

Now as those called and empowered by God let us join with Christ in prayer:

Our 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 trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory, forever.  Amen.

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GCORR is building the capacity of The United Methodist Church to be contextually relevant and to reach more people, younger people, and more diverse people as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.