Scripture remixes

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psalm 4

This piece was originally published on the UCC Worship Ways website.

God, The Advocate –
Make thy true self known!
How long will your name be used to prop up those in power?
As they lash out in insecure anguish,
feeling their thrones
cracking,
crumbling,
decaying,
with scripture they suppress!
Through these words of kings past,
they hear their own pain,
rebuking those who protest their rule.
Individualizing struggles,
fearing collective power,
they encourage us to pray through our problems –
alone and in silence.
Too many of them say:
“Oh that things might never change!
May God protect the powers and principalities.”
Meanwhile, they call their harvests blessed,
feasting off of others’ famine;
with wine and grain they bury their shame,
and call it a peaceful night’s rest.
O God, our Advocate!
For all our sake,
make thy self known.

– Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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queering psalm 23

Queer Love is my Divine Companion.
In Their company, I unfurl with delight.
They teach me to question the assumed and the rigid.
They lure me with eros, creative and promiscuous.
They fill me with the spirit of Stonewall
and lead me in the ways of “no pride for some of us
without liberation for all of us.”*
Even as systems threaten and forces oppress,
I will forever Act Up; For Silence is Death
and in our holy provocation you are always with us.
You embrace us as chosen family – a comfort in our grief.
You celebrate all that nurtures our aliveness
in the presence of doctrines and policies that deaden.
You bless every trans body.
You declare sacred every sexuality.
Life overflows with possibilities for becoming.
Surely, the glory of the peculiar, the outcast, the righteous freaks and the weirdos
will inspire me all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell among the thresholds
where the Sacred Strange subverts every normalized terror
and the queers of all ilks fight for the right to grow old.

– Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

*This is a quote from Micah Bazant’s artpiece of Marsha P. Johnson.
https://www.micahbazant.com/marsha-p-johnson

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Psalm 37:1-11, 39-40

Do not hand over your energy to the wastelands of destruction.
The preciousness of life is only wasted in pursuit of the profits of evil.
The treasures of the wicked will soon crumble in their hands.
But the riches born of Love are eternal,
stretching across the ages, bringing hope to each generation.
Make your home in the ways of the Sacred.
Trust in what is Courageous, what is Just, what is Tender.
Even when your soul is weary,
even when your body aches with grief,
do not lose yourself to the cycles of violence.
When racism strikes,
do not return it with sexism.
When sexism strikes,
do not return it with queerphobia.
When queerphobia strikes,
do not return it with degrading words
about body types or mental capacity.
Do not respond to one form of systemic evil by weaponizing another.
Do not let others coerce you into cruelty.
seek to demolish the systems that possess,
using people like conduits to sustain power and prejudices.
Rise up to protect your neighbors and all of created life.
Rise up to disrupt what is oppressive in all its forms.
Rise up to create, to birth, to build something new.
Though the spirits of coercion and control surround us,
in God, we find a refuge:
A place to learn and unlearn,
to connect and to heal,
to enflesh our collective freedom,
and bring an end to all that destroys.

– Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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psalm 78

Originally published on the UCC Worship Ways website

Beloveds, remember this!
Though we speak in modern language,
these holy truths reach from generations past.
The sacred stories we tell are made of the stuff that lasts
when everything else fades away.
They come from sources of wisdom tried and tested
through struggle and contemplation.
When the ones before us were pressed to their spiritual limits,
bound by oppressive restraints,
made weary by loss,
these truths were a lifeline.
It reaches to us still today.
It is our healing, our strength, our memory, our future.
No matter the risks we face,
we will not sever the threads of wisdom
that weave our survival together.
We carry on
and carry out these divine teachings,
that promise hope beyond our reach.
We tell the stories of God.
We do not allow histories to become hidden –
not their ugly nor their glory.
For God has always set free through truths
proclaimed and practiced.
This lineage of liberation that
companions through the impossible and the unimaginable
dare not end with us.

– M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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Psalm 55

Hear me out, God.
Please, be my ear.
Tend gently to my weary heart.
I am in distress!
The sounds of evil all around make it hard to think clearly.
So many desire to do me and mine harm.
Instead of tending to their pain, they attack us.

My heart is anguished and I am afraid.
In this vulnerable flesh, I tremble.
I’m overwhelmed by all that would have us destroyed.
From deep within, I cry
“If only I had wings like a dove!
I would fly away and be at rest;
I’d distance myself completely
And make a home in the wild,
a shelter from the storm.”

Mix up all their words that lead others astray, O God!
Let no more be deceived.
There is violence in this place.
Day and night they walk around and look with no remorse.
They see the ruins,
the effects of oppression and fraud
all to keep their power in place.

But, even more so,
what eats at me is not my enemies.
It isn’t the ones who attack me –
I can hide from them.
It is my friends! My colleagues! My equals!
The ones whom I have dined with.
Whose family I have prayed for.
Whose well-being I have considered my own.
Have we not even worshiped together?

My own companions betray me.
With speech smoother than butter,
But with a heart set on war;
With words that were softer than oil,
But in fact were drawn swords.

In my deepest distress, I remember God.
I turn over all my anguish
and delight in that which will remain
when everything else fades away:
Integrity.
Justice.
Compassion.
Truth.
The Holy sustains me.
The Holy holds me firm.
In Love, still, I will place my trust.

– Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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1 Corinthians 12:4-26

Though we bring different gifts, it is the same Spirit who makes them alive in us. There are so many ways to serve the call of Love. None of us are without something to bring to the work of the common good.

To one, the Spirit gives discerning wisdom
and to another, the strength to weep  for all that is being lost,
to another, an unshakable belief  in the potential of transformation,
to another, a soft presence that holds space for healing,
to another, a fire that inspires and compels,
to another, the courage to name and unveil,
to another, humor that upholds us,
to another, a curiosity that bridges,
to another still, the gift for telling stories – ancient, fresh, intimate, and collective.
For just as the body is one and has many members,
and just as all the members of the body, though many, are one body,
so it is with Christ.

For in the one Spirit we were all baptized into one body – we are different in culture, social location, backgrounds, bodies, and beliefs – but we were all made to drink of one Spirit who calls us to collapse power-over among us.

Our baptism does not condone hierarchies. It calls upon us to bring about the dreams of God on earth – where all is held in rightful balance, none oppressed or confined, and all with access to what is needed to flourish.

Indeed, the body does not consist of one part but of many. If the artist would say, “because I am not a bridge-builder, I do not belong to the work of the common good,” that would not make them any less needed. And if the one who bears witness and holds stories would say, “because I am not a dynamic speaker, I do not belong to the work of the common good,” that would not make them any less needed.

If the whole body were listeners, where would the ones who tell the truth be? If the only ones who are valued in the work of Love are those with money to give, who will be the ones to practice civil disobedience for us when evil will not budge? Who will teach our children in the ways of justice and compassion? Who will nourish our bodies – feed us, offer us touch, tend to our wounds? Who will provide us with music, that our labor may be accompanied with dancing? Will we find laughter anywhere, to sustain our spirits?

Each of us are needed and each of us have offerings to bring. If we were all the same, what could we achieve? How would we survive? What a dull endeavor this would be.

The business person cannot say to the activist, I have no need of you.
Nor can the doctor say to the poet, I need you not.

On the contrary, the members of the body that society deems least significant are those most needed. We respect the disrespected. We recognize the value of the quiet ones, the strange ones, the misunderstood, misrepresented, and under-resourced ones. We lift them up and honor them, that the whole body might thrive.

If any of us suffer, we all suffer.
If any of us have cause to rejoice, we all celebrate.

– Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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1 Corinthians 15:58

My friends, my comrades, my siblings in struggle, remain strong. Let nothing move you from righteous resistance. Keep giving yourselves fully to what is Divine and know you do not labor in vain. Your showing up is not in vain. Your losses are not in vain. Your proclamations are not in vain. Your protests are not in vain. Your moral witness is not in vain. Your survival is not in vain. Your hope is not in vain. Your care for one another is not in vain. Your reaches for a better way are not in vain.
 
Those in power come and go but the Spirit of Life is eternal. She takes all our offerings shared for Love’s sake and multiplies them. Don’t look to thrones of power for the fruit of your labor. Do not evaluate y/our contributions through the lens of their cruelty. Do not handover the ground of your hope. Is a single sister encouraged by your presence? Is a single brother relieved by your companionship? Is a single sibling upheld by your solidarity? Are there threads of reciprocity being woven, stitching together a more sustainable life?
 
Draw upon the Sacred, the ultimate power-with, who reveals the cowardice and fragility of domination systems. For the way of Solidarity is the way of everlasting Life but theirs is a hollow endeavor. Thrones will decay. Empires will crumble. Destruction trembles before the sounds of collective rising. Take heart. Tend to pain. Remain honest in grief. Hold each other and take care. Seek beauty and practice joy. But do not, dear siblings, be dismayed from this Way. Every ordinary practice of resistance, every extraordinary gathering in radical commitment to Love is a portal, a promise, an opening. It is bread. It is glory. It is home. It is god, practiced among us. And if anything is trustworthy, it is this.
  • M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:47-55)

My soul is alive with thoughts of God.
What a wonder, Their liberating works.
Though the world has been harsh to me,
God has shown me kindness,
seen my worth,
and called me to courage.
Surely, those who come after me will call me blessed.
Even when my heart weighs heavy with grief,
still, so does hope abide with me.
Holy is the One who makes it so.
From generation to generation,
Love’s Mercy is freely handed out;
None are beyond the borders of
God’s transforming compassion.
The power of God is revealed
among those who labor for justice.
They humble the arrogant.
They turn unjust thrones into dust.
Their Wisdom is revealed in
the lives and truths of those on the margins.
God is a feast for the hungry.
God is the great re-distributor of wealth and resources.
God is the ceasing of excessive and destructive production
that all the earth might rest.
Through exiles and enslavement,
famines and wars,
white supremacy and climate crises,
God is a companion in loss,
a deliverer from evil,
a lover whose touch restores.
This is the promise They made
to my ancestors,
to me,
to all the creatures and creations,
now and yet coming,
and in this promise,
I find my strength.
Come, Great Healer,
and be birthed through us.

– Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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The Disciple’s Prayer

Mother of us all,
who dwells within and beyond,
Sacred is your name.
May your holy vision for collective flourishing
come to fruition among us.
May your dreams of justice, love, compassion, and connection be enfleshed on earth.
Provide us today with what we need to be nourished in body, soul, and heart.
Forgive us for the harm we cause as we seek to forgive those who have harmed us.
Lead us away from everything that destroys and liberate us from the hands of evil.
For you are the ultimate source of hope.
Your power-with exceeds all power-over.
Your presence incites eternal wonder.
All praise to you, our comfort and strength.
Amen.

– Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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Matthew 7:15-20

Beware of false prophets.
Watch for wolves draped in sheep’s clothing.
They wear religious garb and make pronouncements from their positions on high. They speak patronizingly of love, of learning to get along, of overcoming our differences while turning their eyes and minds from imbalances of power.
They throw the sheep in their care into the same pens
as the wolves of white supremacy, the wolves of heterosexism, the wolves of misogyny, the wolves of transphobia, the wolves of capitalism.
They chide from afar, “Get along now. It’s the Christian way!”
Their message sounds sweet but will turn the stomach sour.
It nourishes only for a moment, no nutrients for the roots.
You will know those who preach good news by their fruits.
By their words, have the oppressed been set free?
Have their teachings resulted in actions of justice?
Do their ways lead to a world turned on its head, the lowly lifted up and the powerful brought low?
Take heed: there are some who preach love but the love is shallow.
It keeps them secure. It keeps things comfortable. It shifts things only enough to meet the present version of “culturally acceptable.”
It keeps oppressed and oppressor in their present roles, but gives the illusion of sacred pursuit.
The love of God is just – it disrupts and transforms oppressive power for the benefit of all.
The justice of God is loving – it heals and frees and makes new for the benefit of all.
Beware of false prophets.
They will tell you of green pastures,
but lead you to barren lands.

– Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced,
that neither death, nor life,
neither the things that bring us pleasure,
nor the things that seek to make us feel ashamed,
neither threats from the state,
nor any structure of dominance,
neither the legacies of harm freshly unfolding,
nor any that are still to come,
neither the days when life feels unlivable,
nor the days when loving ourselves comes easy,
neither doctrines of hate,
nor pastors who condemn,
neither respectability politics,
nor bigots nor bullies,
neither fatigue,
nor passion,
neither regrets,
nor having zero f*cks left to give,
neither the struggles we cannot yet name,
nor the ones that always seem to stay the same,
nor anything else in all of creation,
will be able to separate us from Love.

– Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

For everything, there is a season.
Very little is as simple as “good” or “bad.”
It is more often a question
of who and of when,
a why or a how.

There are times for the birth of something new.
There are times to welcome death.
There are times to plant seeds for those to come
and times for harvesting the long labor of others.

There are times when destruction is necessary, or at least unavoidable, and there are times when healing is possible.

There are times to create art and times to tear it down.

There are days where only weeping will do; others for laughing. Some days we can only mourn, others we dance. We ebb and flow our way in community.

Sometimes we long to be in the arms of another,
other times we need the intimacy of solitude.

There are times for seeking a way through the impossible, and other times for accepting our losses.
There is a time to hold on and a time to let go.

There are times when some of us need to be silent
and times when the rest of us must speak.

Love has its time and hate has its place.
Conflict must be accepted;
and peace welcomed in due time.

May we listen our way into and out of each season,
with Wisdom as our guide,
forcing nothing outside of its time,
receiving everything for what it is,
trusting Love’s companionship,

– Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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Beatitudes

blessed are you who are raging.
blessed are you who are mourning.
blessed are you who feel numb.
blessed are you who feel sick. and tired. and sick and tired.
blessed are you who refuse to turn away.
blessed are you who need to turn away.
blessed are you who keep breathing deep.
blessed are you who are tending to your own needs.
blessed are you who are tending to the needs of another.
blessed are you who have been calling.
blessed are you who have been organizing.
blessed are you who have been testifying.
blessed are you who have been hearing.
blessed are you who have been resisting.
blessed are you who feel broken open beyond repair.
blessed are you who are raw beyond words.
blessed are you who are working hotlines and crisis care centers and bearing witness to the forces of violence and trauma unleashed and unloosed.
blessed are you who are marching.
blessed are you who are weeping.
blessed are you who preach and know that divinity resides in despised, abused, violated flesh.
blessed are you who know deep in your bones that you are good. and beautiful. and beloved. and sacred. and worthy. and believed. and held. and capable of healing beyond your wildest imagination.
blessed are you who remind others they are good. and beautiful. and beloved. and sacred. and worthy. and believed. and held. and capable of healing beyond their wildest imagination.
blessed are we when we dare to dream of a world without sexual violence, without white supremacy, without misogyny, without police brutality, without anti-trans and anti-queer violence.
blessed are we when we stay tender.
blessed are we when we stay fierce.
blessed are we when we dare to imagine repair, and transformation.
blessed are we when we labor together to make it so.

– Rev. Anna Blaedel

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eco-beatitutdes

This liturgy was originally written for greenfaith’s “sacred season for climate justice” resource

Blessed are we when we treasure the wisdom of the earth, receiving survival strategies whispered underground by bristlecone pine and sequoia, returning the praise songs of nuthatch and titmouse, flocking together with the murmuration maps of bees and bats and butterflies, and pollinating possibilities for living in these beautiful ruins.

Woe to us when losses of profit are considered more costly than losses of habitat, health, or home. Holy confrontation with corporations that harm is the faithful labor of Love.

Blessed are we when our daily actions and interactions align with dreams for collective flourishing, and pattern our days with the small, the slow, and the simple, moving through the world gently, with gratitude, attentive to beauty, savoring the lifeforce that flows freely through it all.

Woe to us when we privatize natural resources, when we hoard and steal the gifts of the land, or conceal patterns of colonization. The only way to planetary healing is through return, reparations, and repair.

Blessed are we when our grief propels us toward protection, our wild love for the world motivating our every dream. No escape, no denial, but holding what is in our cupped hands and broken open hearts, our prayers poured forth like libations of lament, remembrance, and promise.

Woe to us when we cross the boundaries of the earth; when we continue to push, extract, and consume in willful refusal of glaring devastation, and need for rest. Unsustainable practices diminish and destroy the rhythms of life.

Blessed are we when we remember we’re “we,” not “me,” or “us and them,” bound to each other cellularly and socially, holding and being held in the web of relations, honoring each species extinction as a death of divinity, each oil spill opening our veins, each pipeline poisoning our precious lifeblood, each encounter, an opening for the medicine of care.

Woe to us when we do not choose solidarity, when we protect ourselves at the expense of others, or silo our struggles as if they are inseparable. For climate justice must be gender justice must be racial justice must be disability justice must be a matter of leaving all domination behind.

By Rev. Anna Blaedel and Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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10 Commandments 

  1. practice loyalty to the Sacred.
  2. remember every image of God is only a glimpse.
  3. do not use God’s name to do harm.
  4. do not allow productivity to dominate life.
  5. care for those who have cared for you and honor those who have paved your way.
  6. do not be unneccesarily destructive.
  7. be faithful to the commitments you make.
  8. do not take what does not belong to you.
  9. do not hinder justice from coming to fruition.
  10. do not use power over others to get what you want.
  • Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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On Jesus, Thomas, Trauma, and Wounds

Thomas needed to feel his way into belief. He depended on the vulnerability of Jesus to help him get back in touch with his own after so much violence was done. But when this story ends, though transformation did occur, we do not see Jesus begin a tour of such encounters.

We remember:

You do not owe anyone access to your trauma because you hope for their solidarity. Even Jesus was choosy about with whom he shared the details of his body’s memories.

Some hearts are in the process of opening, and through you, they may believe. Others are not there. Not ready. Not able to receive the gift of your vulnerability.

Your story of survival, of persisting, of remaining is precious. You can be selective about when and how and with whom you share it.

Yes, your scars can be a powerful witness. Offer them courageously to those you choose. On your terms. On your time. You get to practice wisdom and discernment about when and how you do so.

Be careful of those who only want to witness your pain in order to feel something. Be mindful of a world that markets and profits off of stories of suffering. Remember that some will listen, but they will only hear with the ears of their loyalty to the church, or the state, their comfort, or a worldview that covers over evil.

Strangers, knowingly and not, will feel entitled to see the marks on your hands, to reach for the wound in your side, because you asked them to care.

But remember that you and your people and movements for Life have nothing to prove to be deserving of love, deserving of freedom, deserving of comrades and allies. So let your story be an invitation into collective liberation, not a plea for the crumbs of others’ conviction. You can tell the truth in ways that aliven you. You can be honest without being objectified.

The power of God lives in your testimony,
and every ghost who lingers in your story,
every saint who made you strong,
every bit of holy that helps you endure,
they are deserving of dignity, as are you.
And when you discern that the right people,
the right spirit, the right moment has come,
the intimate truths of your story can be shared like a sacrament –
like bread –
blessed, broken open,
nourishment for the hungry,
a feast in remembrance of God.

– Rev. M Jade Kaiser, enfleshed

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