WESTPORT PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH—The Phoenix is Rising!
Spiritual Drama—A Theatre & Spirituality Worship Service
(Video will be posted LIVE on the church’s FB page at 11am and then crossposted here)
August 21 2022
During this service, spirituality and theatre merge to create a holy message. Two scenes from a play reflect the Christian mysticism of Dr. Howard Thurman—the faith of opera and spirituals icon, Marian Anderson—the deep spiritual and psychological need of 1st Black movie and television superstar, Hazel Scott— and the African spirituality of two people, Zinga and Fatima, brought to America in 1860 on the last slave ship. At three sensible breaking points in the two scenes, we will sing hymns. The two scenes are from soon-to be staged and now-being-auditioned on our 2nd floor Only the Wounds and Weapons Have Changed by Jacqueline Gafford and Rev Scott.
PRELUDE: Reflection for Organ—Kerry J. Beaumont
RESPONSIVE CALL TO RETURN TO OUR SOULS— The Overflowing Cup
Pastor: The joy of loving another human being.”
People: The joy of loving and being loved by one of the earth’s four leggeds”
Pastor: When I realized I was going to recover from some illness, injury, surgery, trauma, treatment…..
People: When we won a long struggle for justice and freedom!
Pastor: When the war ended!
People: When I realized what I wanted to do, really, with my life—now!”
Pastor: When I fell, and somebody picked me up!
People: When I was lost and Jesus found me.
HYMN: Brethren, We Have Met to Worship GTG#396
CALL TO CONFESSION AND COMMITMENT
Leader: In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness,
People: Courage to fear, hope to despair.
Leader: There is something in every one of us that waits and listens for the sound of the genuine in ourselves
People: It is the only true guide we will ever have.
Leader: And if we cannot hear it,then all of our life we will spend our days on the ends of strings that somebody else pulls.
People: Listen to the long stillness: New life is stirring. New dreams are on the wing. New hopes are being readied.
Leader: God is at work.
People: This is the season of Promise.
All: Amen. —Howard Thurman
SUNG RESPONSE CELEBRATING GOD’S GRACE: Halle, Halle, Hallelujah! (sing twice) GTG#591
BIBLE READINGS: Some brief readings from the beginning of the Book of Jobwhich suggest that Job might be an ancient play, written in the form of a Hebrew poem. Scripture found in Job, Chapters 2,3,4,6
PRAYER BEFORE MESSAGE:
Pastor: May the words of my mouth
People: And the meditations of our hearts
All: Be acceptable in your sight, our Strength and our Redeemer. Amen.
A Spoken Word Spiritual Drama
1. The scene begins with a few stanzas of a recording of a traditional African transition song, “Goodbye, Africa” Then we meet Zinga and Fatima—19-21 year old West Africans, not long ago enslaved. The characters are drawn from interviews with Cudjo, who was on the last slave ship that came to the U.S., and was interviewed in the early 1900’s by Zora Neale Hurston, novelist and anthropologist, who then wrote the story in a book entitled Baracoon which was finally published in 2018.
HYMN: Come Bring your Burdens (we add 3 stanzas today, 2. Suffering, 3. Yearnings, 4. Freedom) GTG#851
2. Dr. Howard Thurman and Hazel Scott. Thurman, Dean of the Chapel at Boston University has asked Hazel Scott to come and guide him in a special devotion of Thurman’s, jazz and spirituality worship in the chapel worship services. Thus unfolds a significant conversation. Some lines are words they actually spoke, as culled from their biographies and Thurman’s autobiography.
HYMN: My Way Is Cloudy (The singers will sing as indicated, with the congregation responding)
3. Marian Anderson enters and joins in the ever deepening dialogue between Thurman and Hazel Scott
HYMN: A Prophet Woman Broke a Jar GTG#201
ANTHEM: Grant Us Your Peace—Felix Mendelssohn
PRAYER: Matthew 25 Prayer—Lord’s Prayer—
CONGREGATIONAL SUNG RESPONSE: Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying (sing twice) GTG#469
OFFERTORY: How Great Thou Art—adapted from a Swedish folk tune by Stuart K. Hine, arr. Lloyd Larson; Jennifer Weiman, mezzo soprano
UNISON PRAYER OF DEDICATION (Do not read the words in parentheses, they are there to identify the source of quotes)
May we know the honor of being a human being. (Jake Swamp, Haudenosaunee/Iroquois) May we share the honor of being a human being. Let us unite a frightened world by acts of kindness. (inspiration at start of pandemic) Hate has no home here. (a 9 year old Muslim child wrote these words on a sign for a protest at Chicago’s airport when the January 27, 2017 travel ban from Muslim countries was announced)Let hate have no home where you are.Love your enemies. (Jesus) Replace apathy with curiosity, violence with community.(Fred Culver)May our capacity for God be reborn. Always remember— What you give, you have. (Roman soldier) Amen.