Challenging the Church: Postcolonial Practice of Ministry
EDS hosted an international conference on the postcolonial practice of ministry on November 15, 2014. Co-convened by Dr. Kwok Pui Lan and the Rev. Dr. Stephen Burns, the conference featured panels on worship, interfaith collaboration, and pastoral leadership, led by Michael Jagessar, Jenny Te Paa Daniel, Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, Jonathan Tan, Emmanuel Lartey, Melinda McGarrah Sharp, and Mona West.
The following is the Eucharistic liturgy referenced by Dr. Michael Jagessar during the panel on worship in the conference:
[Congregation stands during the opening hymn as bread, wine and Bible are carried in. Bread and wine are placed on table, and the bible is opened.]
Welcome to the table with no corners where all are invited: old and young, new and not so new, old friends and new friends, children, women and men, strangers and natives.
Come, feast at the table of equals: sing, pray, laugh, weep, and meditate. Let the fever of gladness fill your lungs and hearts and souls.
Come to the feast of the communion of fools for Christ’s and the gospel’s sake. The symbols on this table cry out: the foolishness of God is more wisdom than all the brains in the world put together; the weakness of God is stronger than the combined will of humankind.
Welcome to the table with no corners. LOVE calls us—friend or stranger, saint or sinner. God’s table is the meeting place of generosity and abundance. Let LOVE call to you.
Hear God call your name. For Jesus knows you and loves you. The Spirit wants you to share and live and dream the dream of bread and wine.
Come, the table with no corners is ready. Listen—LOVE whispers an invitation
God be with you: And also with you Let us lift our hearts—and be lifted up: We lift them up to God Give thanks to God: Joyfully we do so. God has been good to us!
We are blessed, God of Life and Lover of all. In the beginning you windswept the waters: You created the world and all that is in it. Upon the emptiness you cast the brilliance of your thought, and all of time and space leapt forth; a universe afire, all-dancing.
Your burning holy love created all the shining swirl of suns; the light of green Earth. You have created us. You formed us from clay, breathed life into us with thought, culture speech, silence, music . . .
Singing (congregation breaks out in song—a chorus)
Under your rainbow, O Gracious One, the floods receded.
Through Abram and Sarai, who journeyed from UR, you bless all nations; Through the Egyptian princess, who acted with courage and compassion, you preserved Moses the deliverer; Through Rahab, a Canaanite woman, who showed mercy and spoke truth, you brought your people into a safe space; Through Ruth from Moab, who lived and loved with true commitment, you raised up a child to lead a people; Through Cyrus, King of Persia who governed with justice, you restored a Holy place.
When your people felt so far from you – like a valley of dry bones – you gave Ezekiel words of life to inspire. In light and shadow, in word and sign you have been our God.
We thank you
For re-calling us when we tear each other apart [in silence we recall these moments] For being able to rest in your strength and expansive love, in the midst of our arrogance and hate [in silence we recall and name these]
Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison. Kyrie eleison (sung by all)
Loving God, we praise you that you did not abandon us, though we chose to wander off your way—seeking the shadows and the way of non-life. And thus into our wintered life—from which the sun had fled—you placed a child, Jesus, in Mary’s life and a star in the eastern sky. Through Jesus you have spoken clearly to all humankind with your continuing offer of full and flourishing life for all.
As we claim the faith of your child Jesus, we remember how in Galilee of the Gentiles he
grew in wisdom and stature, healed a Roman centurion’s servant, expanded his vision of peace and forgiveness through a Samaritan woman marvelled at the faith of a Syrian mother, welcomed the Greeks who sought him, embraced children as models for stuck and unimaginative adults, attended to people pushed on the margins of life and living, brought well-ness to the sick, healing to their spirits, and offered extravagant embrace, while re-reading the holy texts with generous ears, eyes and hearts . . .
Reading from our Sacred Texts
And so we praise you, Generous God, for his life, which is bolder than death that rises undefeated in us yet, tantalising with the promise that bio-degradability is not your final word, that it does not have to stay like this. We thank you for the hope and resurrection embodied in Jesus your dancing incarnation the Lotus Lord of the Dance the dance of hope and FULL life for people everywhere.
Conversing (reflecting—table conversation)
Responding Together (at the end of the conversation)
help us to perceive so that we may understand help us to believe so that we may perceive help us to attend to your way and in so doing, may we believe!
And so, we recall that night when he was betrayed and led outside the city’s gate to be sacrificed for love
That night, before his death, our brother Jesus shared a meal with his friends. During the meal he took bread, thanked you for the bread, broke it and shared it out among his friends saying: “This is my body” – for us his word and his life which was broken so that we may find our mission as we make him real in our lives
And after the meal, he took a cup filled with wine, thanked you generous God, for wine and gave it to his friends saying: “This is the cup of blessing” – the blessing and promise that held his joy and tears that held our joy and tears so that we may find our mission as we make him real in our lives.
O Divine Creator, Sustainer and Redeemer of all creation
We offer up our work, our lives and our journeys in the symbol of bread We offer up our laughter, tears, humiliation and suffering in the cup of life
Come, Spirit of God
Through the power of love, work through bread and wine and transform elements and us into your way of love, justice, peace and life. Empower us with passion, energy and love to transform our world into your into your roundtable of love and expansive generosity. We pray, loving God, all this: through the Holy One, in the power of the Spirit. AMEN
[Fraction and Bread & Wine are shared. All remain seated while we share the bread and wine. Choir will sing during communion]
God of overflowing abundance, giver and renewer of Life, creator of love, bearer of pain, sustainer of journeys, we give you thanks that at this table, we have been reminded once again of your love for us, here and everywhere. And so, we remember the needs of and pray for… [intercessions followed by Lord’s prayer sung]
Continue to feed our hunger with life itself. Send us on our way, with your rhythm and benediction of life pulsating in us as we rejoice in you offer of full life for the whole of creation singing, dancing and clapping. Amen!
Michael N. Jagessar (2007)
This eucharistic liturgy has had many incarnations during my years of teaching at Queens Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education (QueensFETE). I have used it (along with a few others I have crafted) across the United Reformed Church and at our General Assembly.
I use “craft” deliberately, fully aware that there can be multiple meanings to this word. I merely want to highlight that there are different sources to which one will naturally draw from in the shaping of a eucharistic liturgy, besides the rich deposit of faith and our diverse eucharistic traditions. More than these, I have been encouraged by the freedom and “free spirit” of my tradition to draw on the gift of the imagination and step out beyond the traditional.
In my tradition, “crafting” points to an art that is cultivated and nurtured; that funds and releases my “crafty imagination”; and gives me permission to dwell on and work creatively/critically on the edges. I hold the view that our mischievous God is delighted with daringness that punctures the mould of all that pretends to be “normative” and homogeneous.
So in this liturgy you will find familiar words, as well as, unfamiliar and newer ones. I have tried to remain faithful to the poetry and the rhythmic flow of eucharistic praying while voicing counter, oppositional and edgy/marginal ideas.
Further, you would notice that a whole service has been “set” within the eucharistic prayer. In using this format, I have tended to with the table in the center with the community gathered around it—which gives the feel of a meal.