Today we realize a dream we've held since the beginning of the ministry in Second Life. To celebrate Christmas we will share Holy Communion for the very first time in Second Life. Many have said that communion shared in a faith community that meets in a virtual world is impossible. We respectfully disagree.
Our position is that if Jesus can transcend time and space to join us at the table along with the saints who have gone before us and all those who will ever live then surely those of us alive today on earth can join together to share communion mediated by the miracle of the Internet.
We encourage you to have something at hand to consume in your physical body as your avatar receives communion. Whether you choose to do this or not we are confident that this experience will be a meaningful time of sharing the body of Christ together.
We've provided more of the service for you here in print today. We hope you enjoy it. And we invite you to log on to www.secondlife.com, create your avatar, and search Sunshine Cathedral to join us each Sunday at 2pm PST/ 5pm EST. Contact me in world in Second Life by messaging CristoferAslan Muircastle, my name in Second Life.
Now enjoy the service!
Sunday, December 29, 2013 Christmas I
Today is a very special day in the history of Sunshine Cathedral of Second Life. On this first Sunday in Christmastide we will have our very first Holy Communion in Second Life. Today is the culmination of a 5 year dream and a lot of hard work, especially on the part of Dove, to bring this day into being.
We are so happy you have joined us today and we hope that your experience of worship and prayer will be enhanced by the addition of Holy Communion. While today is our first service with communion it will not be our last. We plan to continue our weekly services in the New Year 2014 and celebrate Holy Communion as an addition to the service on the last Sunday of each month.
The Call to Worship
O Holy One, heavenly angels spoke to earthly shepherds
All: and eternity entered time in the child of Bethlehem.
Through the telling of the Christmas story,
All: let our temporal lives be caught up in the eternal
in that same child,
May we join shepherds and all the heavenly host
All: in praising the coming of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.
Loving Parent your know our dreams even when we forget them, even when we ignore them. Ignite your flame of justice in us that we may have the courage to remember our hopes and dreams. Give us strength to follow the dreams you have placed in our hearts. And be with us on the journey.
The Wisdom of Colin Powell
“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
In these human words God’s voice is heard
All: Thanks be to God.
The Wisdom of Eleanor Roosevelt
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
In these human words God’s voice is heard
All: Thanks be to God.
A reading from the gospel of Matthew (2.13-15, 19-23, NRSV)
God is with you.
All: And also with you.
A reading from the gospel according to Matthew
All: Glory to you, Indwelling Christ!
“…an angel…appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, ‘Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.’ 14Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, 15and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by [God] through the prophet, ‘Out of Egypt I have called my [child].’ 19When Herod died, an angel…suddenly appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt and said, 20’Get up, take the child and his mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who were seeking the child’s life are dead.’ 21Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. 22But when he heard that Archelaus was ruling over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And after being warned in a dream, he went away to the district of Galilee. 23There he made his home in a town called Nazareth, so that what had been spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled, ‘He will be called a Nazorean.’”
This is the gospel the Good News.
All: Praise to you, Creator, Christ and holy Spirit!
Reflection by Rev. Dr. BK Hipsher, Virtual Chaplain, Sunshine Cathedral
Click on the audio bar below to hear the recording. Text follows.
Living the Dream
Today at Sunshine Cathedral we are living a long held dream. We will celebrate our very first Holy Communion together. I have dreamed of this day for nearly five years. There has been no shortage of people who were very willing to tell me that sharing communion in Second Life is impossible. But the dream remained.
Many have argued, sometimes harshly, that in order for communion to “work” people must be in the same physical space. I contend that we are in the same physical space here in this place, gathered together as a community of faith just as real as any other congregation.
Some have said that Holy Communion in Second Life is not valid because we don’t really “know” each other. I contend we know the most important thing of all about each other, that we care for each other, that we share our burdens in prayer, and that we seek each others company each week so that we can read, and sing, and pray, and reflect together about how to live a life that more closely mirrors that of Jesus of Nazareth.
Dreams are important. They tell us things about the desires that God has placed in our heart. Dreams warn us of peril that we may be about to face, and sometimes bring to light options for our lives that we might not consider in our waking conscious life. Dreams allow our spirits to soar and image a world that is filled with love and justice. Dreams allow all things to be possible.
Perhaps the most important thing about dreams is that we pay attention to them. In our gospel lesson today Joseph pays close attention to his dream and literally immigrates to another country because of the warning he receives. Now I’m not suggesting that we do the same. But I am suggesting that our dreams often give us clues for what is best for us, what actions we can take that might enhance our lives.
I often have anxiety dreams even when I’m not conscious of my level of anxiety. I have learned to pay attention to these dreams and try to come to terms with whatever is causing me to feel uneasy or insecure. When I am able to do that I am sometimes able to avoid behaviors and actions that might not be the best for living in right relation with others. When I can identify my anxiety and look to the source of it I can often avoid the kinds of outbursts or actions that damage my relationships with others.
Sometimes I dream of people that I love. These dreams represent longings for connection that I miss or need to renew. Dreams of others have very often prompted me to contact someone with whom I have not recently been in touch to find out they were also yearning to connect with me.
The third kind of dream I experience are dreams of possibilities. This is the kind of dream that I have held for this day. Dreaming of possibilities is like a brainstorming session for the soul. Nothing is off the table. All things are possible. And even when the dream seems impossible, if it is held firmly in mind it can often be manifest even if it takes a while.
I urge you to consider the premise that we are all present here in the same space. We are connected by voice and vision. We are sharing the same experience here. Before the close of the service I will stand behind the altar and tell again, the story of Jesus last meal with his friends. In retelling this story we bring to life once more the love that they shared with each other, a love that is a mirror of the love we have for each other in this place.
Then I will move to the kneeling rail to your right with a plate of bread ready to offer you the gift of sharing Holy Communion. I invite you to come and kneel at the rail to receive the host. You will symbolically receive the bread here in Second Life. Your response will be “Amen.” And you will rise and go back to your seat making space for another to receive.
I urge you to gather your own symbol of bread in your real life environment. And at the time your avatar receives the bread, consume yours in your physical body. I will be doing the same at my home here in Boston. In this way we will have the physical sensation of consuming the bread together in addition to viewing our avatar in the attitude of receiving. You are, as always, encouraged to do or not do whatever makes you most comfortable and whatever makes this time together most meaningful for you.
Today the dream becomes reality. Christ is born again in our hearts and the Christic presence will be shared in Holy Communion by us here. May we prepare our hearts in prayer to receive once again the gift of peace and be fed and nourished to go out and do the work of justice in the world.
Prayers of the People
Let us pray for our needs and the needs of others…
Abiding Peace, Indomitable Hope, Omnipresent Love - you are the Truth of every life, the Substance of All That is, and so it is that we now confidently affirm blessings for all who are on our hearts
We trust your goodness to support, comfort, strengthen, guide, and renew all who lovingly support your church with time, talent, and treasure, all who we remember here, and those who seek healing in mind, body or affairs.
Bless our towns and cities, our state, our nations, and the community of nations.
And may this church be filled with joy and harmony, may it be guided by wisdom, may it bless those in our community and far beyond, and may it help many find your light within them.
And with people all over the world we pray,
May peace prevail on earth!
Loving God we give thanks to you for making this day possible. We give thanks to the dream you placed in our heart. We give thanks for those who made this day possible. And most of all we give thanks for your son Jesus who modeled sharing this meal together as a sign of your unending and bountiful love for us.
On the night before he was crucified he sat at table with is friends. They shared a meal together as they often did. Jesus took the break, broke it, blessed it, and said, “Take this bread and eat it, all of you. This is my body broken and shared so that you all may know that you are one. And when you do this remember that we are never separated from each other. I am always with you.”
After supper he took the cup and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this all of you and drink from it. This is the cup of my love poured out for you and for all the world so that you may know the unconditional love that God has for all of us. Whenever you do this remember that we are never separated from each other. I am always with you.”
Joining hands and hearts together, we offer these prayers in the name of all helpers of humanity and in the spirit of Jesus who taught us to pray…
All: Creator who art in heaven; hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil; for thine is the kin-dom, the power and the glory forever and ever. Amen.
As it is in every Metropolitan Community Church across the globe this table is an open table. You do not need to come to this meal believing any particular thing or anything at all. Everyone is welcome to receive this meal that is blessed and broken for you simply because you are a beloved child of the creator. Wherever you are on your spiritual journey you are welcome here. Now come, receive the gifts of God for the People of God!
All: Thanks be to God.
Sharing Holy Communion
We give thanks to you Loving Presence that you have refreshed us at your table. Strengthen our faith, increase our love for one another, and plant your dream of justice love in our hearts. As we have been fed by the seed that became grain, and the grain that became bread, may we go out into the world to plant seeds of justice, transformation, and love. Amen.
(prayer adapted from Processandfaith.org)
And now let us bless one another with these words of benediction:
All: The Light of God surrounds us; the love of God enfolds us. The power of God protects us; the presence of God watches over us. Wherever we are, God is! And all is well.
May God bless us and keep us; may God’s face shine upon us and be gracious to us. May God look upon us kindly and grant us peace.
Friends our worship is ended, let our service begin. Go in peace.
All: Thanks be to God.