By: Addie Domske, member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A) delegation and student at McCormick Theological Seminary.
Today I participated in worship for the Commission on the Status of Women, along with other women here with the Presbyterian Church (USA).
I was fortunate enough to write part of the liturgy for our short worship time, found below. (It is partially inspired by a Presbyterian women's history month liturgy.) May we all name what needs to be named in the world!
CALL TO WORSHIP Leader: O God, for your Church universal, which throughout the ages has called women to serve in this world that you love, People: we thank you. Leader: For Mary of Bethany, who used her alabaster jar to teach us how to praise, People: we thank you. Leader: For Martha, who served others to model for us true hospitality, People: we thank you. Leader: For Priscilla and Lydia who showed us church leadership in the creation of the early Christian church, People: we give you praise. Leader: For the widow with oil, who taught us about renewal in the pouring out of our gifts, People: we thank you. Leader: For Rahab, who sheltered and facilitated her brothers toward safety. People: we thank you. Leader: For Hagar, who out of trauma created new life, People: we thank you. Leader: For the ministry of women in the Church universal today. who joyfully accepted their new responsibilities with diligence, People: we thank you and we celebrate their lives and their commitment to the ministry of the whole Church. All: Together, may we move forward with women and men as fully equal partners in the ministry of Christ to which you call us all. Amen.
SCRIPTURE (Genesis 16:7-15) 7 The Lord’s messenger found Hagar at a spring in the desert, the spring on the road to Shur, 8 and said, “Hagar! Sarai’s servant! Where did you come from and where are you going?” She said, “From Sarai my mistress. I’m running away.” 9 The Lord’s messenger said to her, “Go back to your mistress. Put up with her harsh treatment of you.” 10 The Lord’s messenger also said to her, “I will give you many children, so many they can’t be counted!” 11 The Lord’s messenger said to her, “You are now pregnant and will give birth to a son. You will name him Ishmael [which means, “God hears”] because the Lord has heard about your harsh treatment. 12 He will be a wild mule of a man; he will fight everyone, and they will fight him. He will live at odds with all his relatives.” 13 Hagar named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El Roi” [which means “God who sees” or “God whom I’ve seen”] because she said, “Can I still see after he saw me?” 14 Therefore, that well is called Beer-lahai-roi; [which means the Well of the Living One who sees me or whom I’ve seen] it’s the well between Kadesh and Bered. 15 Hagar gave birth to a son for Abram, and Abram named him Ishmael.
PRAYER Holy God, as women we are called to name. Like Hagar gives God a name, so too are we called to name things in the world. Whether we step back to amplify the voices of others or step forward to sing our own song, we are call to name. Hagar’s son, Ishmael, birthed out of trauma, “God hears” is a reflection that God is on our side. From trauma comes the birthed resistance of knowing that the one who hears is our God.
TRANSITION to EMBODIED PRAYER We will now enter into a time of embodied prayer. As women, our bodies have often been used as commodities, but we reject that notion in our worship. Today our group will use our bodies to name the realities of women in the world who have a lack access surrounding the goal of education. As we use our body to illustration truth, we remember the legacy of naming that we women must live into.
EMBODIED PRAYER [compiled by fellow PC(USA) seminarian, Jess Rigel of Princeton Theological Seminary]