Friday, November 02, 2007

an american liturgy

I wrote this little liturgy for a group project on Matthew and Empire, by Warren Carter. It came after two other liturgies: first a reconstructed/made up Roman liturgy, which featured readings from Virgil and the like about the greatness of Rome and its Emperors. The second was a counter-imperial liturgy drawing on language and ideas from the Gospel of Matthew (and a little of the Gospel of Luke, because I wanted to use the Canticle of the Turning.) This third liturgy was designed to underscore the ways that contemporary political theologies, implicit and explicit, mirror that of the Romans, that Jesus directly challenges in the Gospel of Matthew.

It begins with a reading from Romans, ch. 13: 1-7. The liturgy should be read alternating between one speaker and several/many speakers. All of the speakers should be straight white men. American flag backdrop is optional.

We lift our eyes up, up to your standard.

Where does our help come from?

Our help comes from you, the sweet land of liberty, to thee we sing praises.

Who will guide us through the darkness? Who will lead us through our fear?

Only you, our nation, our protector. You have the power and the might to disrupt the forces of evil, to turn our weeping into dancing.

You have bathed the world in peace; your power has assured the righteous of their safety.

You protect us from the wicked, you save us from the time of trial.

For this safety, for our homes, we remember you and turn to you. We give you offerings; not just a tithe but more than a tithe we provide back to you. You bless us so that we may bless you; you provide us with the security to earn, to start families: we return our blessings to you, to help house your children, to help fill your armies. It is our duty and our right to support you.

These are the benefits you offer the children of light, and the children of darkness you will vanquish. You will undo their evil deeds by your power and might. You will fill their lands with the light of your liberty and justice.

You were chosen by God, you are the anointed nation, to lead the world to a new era of justice and peace. And God appoints your leaders; they are the ambassadors of God to us. We do not worship you; we worship God through you.

The gathered community will repeat the words of our creed:

You, the state, will save us.

You will save your people from their sin.

You will protect us and secure us.

You fulfill our hope.

Your leader is our leader; in our land and in our hearts.

We submit to your will; in you we place our trust.

Glory to you, and to God, who protects and sustains our nation.

God bless America.

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