For 1 Lent, February 21, 2021, Freedom Sunday

The following are suggested options and resources for those preparing worship, and are suitable for services of the Word that might be held in person, either socially distanced, or online. For those communities, which are able, to offer a celebration of the Holy Eucharist, suggested choices of, and adaptations to eucharistic propers are also provided.

The prayers and readings appointed for 1 Lent can lend themselves well to homiletic reflections on Freedom Sunday, as Jesus wrestles with the devil who wishes to bind him in lies of false power. Jesus chooses God’s freedom over domination, satisfaction, and riches. That radical freedom is a beacon to all, and a call to us to work to break the bonds of slavery and oppression in all their forms. Just as the devil opted examples of multiple ‘faces’ of abusive power-over (wealth, comfort, political rule), so the women and girls enslaved in trafficking suffer from multiply oppressive evil human actions embedded in systems of racism, sexism, economic abuse and poverty.

Those who plan Anglican worship are reminded that there are many sources for prayers for the day from amongst our approved and authorized liturgical texts in the Anglican Church of Canada. In addition to the Proper Prayers in the Book of Common Prayer (1962) and The Book of Alternative Services (1985) Canadian Anglicans are also free to use prayers in Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2004).

Highly recommended for Freedom Sunday 2021 are the prayers found in Alternative Collects for the Revised Common Lectionary (authorized by the General Synod 2019),

God of our salvation,
your bow in the clouds
proclaims your covenant with every living creature.
Teach us your paths and lead us in your truth,
so that by your Holy Spirit,
we may remember our baptismal vows
and be keepers of your trust with earth and its inhabitants. Amen.

Original source: Revised Common Lectionary Prayers, ©The Consultation on Common Texts(2002) altered, authorized by The General Synod 2019

God of the wilderness,
your Son battled with the powers of darkness
and grew closer to you in the desert:
help us to use these forty days
to grow in wisdom and prayer,
so that we may witness to your saving love
in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Original Source: Common Worship ©Hymns Ancient and Modern, (2000) altered. Authorized by The General Synod 2019

If a eucharistic gathering is possible, we recommend, from amongst the existing liturgical text authorized by the General Synod of the Anglican Church of Canada, we suggest the use of:

Additional Recommended Prayers

The following prayers were developed by General Synod staff and are suitable for use in a variety of contexts of prayer for missing and murdered indigenous women, such as within the prayers of the people in the Eucharist or Service of the Word, or in special prayer vigils. These are offered in the spirit of sharing gifts; we encourage you to adapt them to your context. Liturgical texts for public worship in The Anglican Church of Canada are subject to the approval by the Ordinary if being used in place of existing authorized texts. Please check with your diocesan bishop if you intend to use or to adapt any of the following.

Creator God, accept all we offer you this day:
our prayers for your vulnerable children;
our grief for you beloved Indigenous women and girls;
our hope in your healing love and cleansing justice.
Through your mercy, work the healing of our souls
That we can be strengthened in your mission,
For all your creatures to flourish in peace and joy.
We ask this in the name of Jesus. Amen.

Eternal God,
You comfort the afflicted and heal the broken.
You have fed us this day by your Word of grace, freedom, and hope.
Teach us to walk the ways of gentleness and peace in your world.
Keep your people from callous indifference
To racism, sexism, and violence,
That your children from all four directions
May flourish in the beautiful life that is your intention for creation.
Amen.

God of all compassion, we ask you to grant eternal rest to these your beloved women. May light perpetual shine on them. Give rest, O Christ, to your children with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting. Give comfort to their families and communities, to mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunties, uncles and children of those missing and murdered. Amen.

Common Praise

CP401 My life flows on
CP543 Unto the hills
CP612 Healer of our every ill
CP585 Lord, whose love in humble service
CP92 O day of God, draw nigh
CP572 Let there be light
CP634 Jesus remember me

God of the forgotten, we remember before you all who are vulnerable to human trafficking.  We remember before you all the Indigenous girls and very young women who have suffered abuse, rape, and violence. All those from the East of our land who are missing or have been confirmed to be murdered, for their communities and families and all who mourn. Come, Holy Spirit, and turn our hearts, minds, souls and bodies to care, to advocate, and to seek justice.

All: Come Holy Spirit, come.

We remember before you all the Indigenous women, who, coming into the greening and beautiful springtime of life have been violated, beaten, and cut down. All those from the South of our land who are missing or murdered, for all their families and communities and all who mourn.  Come, Holy Spirit, and lead us to seek ways to support the children and families of these women, with true nurture and care.

All: Come Holy Spirit, come.

We remember before you all the Indigenous women, who, as mothers of girls and women who have been brutalized are seared with the burning pain of grief. For all those from the West of our land who are missing or murdered, for all their families and communities and for all who mourn. Come, Holy Spirit and with fierce comfort protect that all who mourn that they may find healing, truth, and justice.

All: Come Holy Spirit, come.

We remember before you all the Indigenous women Elders who bring the wisdom of their lives to guide the younger generations. We give thanks for their strength and courage, for those who have shared their healing journeys. We pray for continued healing and relief for them for the grief they carry for their grandchildren, Indigenous girls and women missing or murdered, as they near the end of their days. Come, Holy Spirit, and help us to honour these Elders that their stories of survival and healing from violence may guide us and teach us deeply.

All: Come, Holy Spirit, come.

This we pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus, our Saviour and Friend. Amen.

A word on Prayers for The Four Directions

There are many versions of prayers for the Four Directions. When used and when possible, local Indigenous people should be consulted to ensure appropriateness. The first prayer shared in this resource is taken from a liturgy developed by Indigenous people in the Episcopal Church and then modified by a group of Indigenous women at the 8th Sacred Circle of Indigenous Anglican people. The shorter prayer is written from a Lakota Sioux perspective. We consider these to be authentic because they were written by Indigenous people. We give permission to modify the first prayer to make it relevant to the local community. However, the Lakota version can be used but should not be modified. If you have questions please contact The Rev. Canon Virginia “Ginny” Doctor, Indigenous Ministries Coordinator.

Four Direction Prayers for the Gathering of the Community or Prayers of the People

Come Great Spirit, as we gather in your name. We face East (all turn and face east): To your symbol colour – Yellow for the morning star. To your animal sign – the Eagle which can soar ever upward in praise of God and calls us to do the same. To your lessons calling us to balance of Mind in the Spirit of Humility. To treasure the newborn and children and young people in our communities. Help us love you and one another with our whole heart, our whole mind, and our whole soul, we pray.

Come Holy Spirit, come.

We remember before you all the Indigenous girls and very young women who have suffered abuse, rape, and violence. All those from the East of our land who are missing or have been confirmed to be murdered, for their communities and families and all who mourn. May we turn our hearts, minds, souls and bodies to care, to advocate, and to seek justice.

We turn to face South (turn) To your symbol colour –Red, the hue of revelation. To your animal symbol – the Buffalo, strong and nurturing. To your lessons calling us to the balance of our Spirit in Harmony with brothers and sisters. To the young bursting into adulthood with vigour. To invoke your wisdom and grace and the goodness of the ages, we pray:

Come Holy Spirit, come.

We remember before you all the Indigenous women, who, coming into the greening and beautiful springtime of life have been violated, beaten, and cut down. All those from the South of our land who are missing or murdered, for all their families and communities and all who mourn. May we seek ways to support the children and families of these women, with true nurture and care.

We turn to face West (turn): To your symbol colour – black, still and quiet. To your animal symbol – the Bear. To your symbol, the Thunder mighty and purposeful. To your lessons calling us to balance our Emotions in the Spirit of Gentleness and Honesty. To those in the strength of the middle of life. To invoke your Spirit of Introspection – seeing within. Give us your strength and the courage to endure, we pray:

Come Holy Spirit, come.

We remember before you all the Indigenous women, who, as mothers of girls and women who have been brutalized are seared with the burning pain of grief. For all those from the West of our land who are missing or murdered, for all their families and communities and for all who mourn. May their fathers and mothers find healing in memory, and the hope for justice into which are called into partnership. 

We turn to face North (turn): To your symbol colour – White of clarity and brightness. To your animal symbol – the Quetzal which brings us in touch with earthiness and growing things. To your lessons calling us to balance of our Body in the Spirit of a good sense of humour. We turn to the elders in our midst and in our memories, to invoke your Spirit of Wisdom, Trust, and Love. Help us to open our eyes to the sacredness of every living thing, we pray: 

Come Holy Spirit, come.  

We remember before you all the Indigenous women Elders who bring the wisdom of their lives to guide the younger generations. We give thanks for their strength and courage, for those who have shared their healing journeys. We pray for continued healing and relief for them for the grief they carry for their grandchildren, Indigenous girls and women missing or murdered, as they near the end of their days.

May we so honour these Elders that their stories of survival and healing from violence may guide us and teach us deeply. 

We come back to the centre, which is our place of prayer today. 

May all who inhabit this sacred space today, in body, soul, mind and heart, be drawn even more deeply through compassion into love for our Indigenous sisters and all their relations; may they be renewed in your hope; and may they be strengthened to serve along the pathways to which they are called.

This we pray in the power of the Holy Spirit, through Jesus, our brother.

Amen.

A Prayer for The Four Directions

Written by The Ven. Paul Sneve, Lakota
Diocese of South Dakota

Let us turn our hearts to the West
From there the Thunders bring us cleansing rain
Grandfather God, heal us and our relatives

Let us turn our hearts to the North
Winter comes to us from there and calls us to rest
Grandfather God, restore our strength

Let us turn our hearts to the East
The morning Sun begins each day there
Grandfather God awaken us and help us to walk with a renewed life

Let us turn our hearts to the South
Where the warm winds come from to give us comfort and joy
Grandfather God soothe our aching souls

Let us turn our hearts to the Sky
From there our Creator sees all around us
Grandfather God help us to trust you to lead us

Let us turn our hearts to the Earth
From there quiet wisdom comes to teach us
Grandmother God hear us as we pray

The following is a paraphrase of Psalm 22. It is meant to be recited by either one female voice or, preferably, several diverse women’s voices representative of oppressed communities and populations.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me and are so far from my cry for help? O my God, I cry by day and by night, but you don’t hear me. I can’t sleep. But you are the Holy Creator.

Pause, spoken or sung Kyrie or other meditative chant

Our ancestors put their trust in you; they trusted, and you kept them safe and guided them. They cried out to you and you helped them; they trusted in you and had no reason to feel any shame. But as for me, I am a worm and barely human anymore, cast aside by the system and despised by society. Those who see me laugh at me cruelly; they move to the other side of the street and say, “You trusted in the ways of the Creator; hah! Let that God rescue you. You already get enough government help.” You’re the one who took me safely out of my mother’s womb, and kept me safe at her breast.

My grandparents entrusted me to you when I was born; you were my Creator even before I was born.

Pause… Kyrie, etc.

Stay close to me… I am in trouble and nobody – Nobody – is here to help me. Night after night, it’s like beastly monsters fencing me in, stalking me, following me at night. They sneer and they salivate and they cat call and catch me and violate me and hurt me and threaten me and leave me poured out like water; all my bones have been beaten out of joint; my heart within my breast is melting wax. My mouth is dried out like clay; my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; and it’s like you’ve put me in into a dusty grave. Gangs of men close in on me and abusers circle around me; they pierce my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones while they stare and gloat over me. They strip me of my clothes and toss them about among them, my best things going to the highest bidder.

Pause … Kyrie, etc.

Be not far away, Strong Creator; you are my strength; hasten to help me. Save me from the fist, the knife, the gun, the stranglehold, the spirits of despair and depression that rule our lives. Save my life, my body and my soul from the power of these spirits of evil. I will declare your name to all my relations; in the midst of the whole community I will praise you. Praise the Creator, you that fear God; stand in awe of God, O children from seven generations into seven generations. All peoples. Because you, Great Spirit, do not hate or abuse the poor in their poverty; you don’t turn away from them; when they cry to you, you really do hear them.

Pause… Kyrie, etc.

I will offer you my praise and gratitude before the whole community. The poor shall have a huge feast and be satisfied, and those who seek you shall give praise: “May your heart live for ever!” All four directions of the earth shall remember and turn to you, and all the relations of all the nations shall bow before their Creator who sets the teachings for all the nations. Even the dead who now sleep in the earth will bow down in worship. My soul shall live for God; my descendants shall serve God; they shall be known as the Creator’s forever. They shall come and tell the story to the next generations how God has saved us.

Pause… Kyrie, etc

Suitable as a closing rite or an Act of Commitment at another point in the service. It is appropriate to have a bell or singing bowl to ring to mark a time of special remembrance and prayer.

Creator God, Great Spirit, Brother Jesus, community of the Holy Trinity, we give you thanks and praise for the gift of prayer that presence makes rise up in us, in our grief and solidarity and yearning for justice. You are with us in spirit, love, and truth. We thank you for receiving into your heart our prayers, our grief, our confusion, our questions, our anger, our pain, and our hope for the healing of all who suffer abuse and grief. May this day humble us to the needs of the world, especially to the suffering of vulnerable Indigenous women.

(Bell rings) 

We ask you to grant eternal rest to these your beloved women. May light perpetual shine on them. Give rest, O Christ, to your children with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting. Give comfort to their families and communities, to mothers, fathers, grandparents, aunties, uncles and children of those missing and murdered.

Strengthen us as we seek to serve your mission of healing of your beloved creation. As you cradle the world and all its creatures in your love, help us to trust in the firm and gentle hold of that embrace, that we might commit ourselves with steadfast faith and persistent hard work to pursue justice, to speak truth in the light where violence hides in the dark. Sustain and guide us as we seek to heal the festering conditions that breed violence and hatred. Be our teacher in the ways of compassionate care. Make firm and longstanding our commitments.

The people may be invited to make commitments such as the following, based on the Baptismal Covenant:

When we break bread together, will you share in prayer for our Indigenous sisters?

I will, with God’ s help.

Will you resist the powers and structures of evil that create violence and abuse, racism and sexism, and, when you come face to face with your place of privilege, will you turn in repentance and keep the circle strong?

I will, with God’ s help.

Will you proclaim by word and deed the good news in Christ that you have witnessed in the stories of pain, struggle, and healing to which we are paying attention on this Freedom Sunday?

I will, with God’ s help.

As you live out this good news of salvation, will you work to recognize your own needs for healing, will you seek out and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbour as yourself?

I will, with God’ s help. 

The whole creation yearns for us, the children of God, to be revealed in our care for each other and for all of creation. Will you join the struggle against the social, racial, economic and land injustices that affect the lives of First Nations people and harm the earth?

I will, with God’s help.

Great Creator, you have given us new birth by water and the Holy Spirit, forgiven our sins, and freed us to be one in Christ to serve in the healing of the world. Walk with us from this sacred place, and keep us strong, faithful, loving and wise in our commitments. All this we ask through Christ, our brother and Lord.