Last Sunday we dedicated new uniforms for Eliot’s African Fellowship Choir, beautiful custom-tailored pieces sewn from red, gold, and black African Wax Print fabric imported from Cameroon. It was a colorful musical affair, and this is the liturgy I wrote for the occasion.
The Psalmists writes:
Praise the LORD!
Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him with trumpet sound;
praise him with lute and harp!
Praise him with tambourine and dance; praise him with strings and pipe!
Let everything that breathes praise the LORD!
Praise the LORD!
We gather each Sunday morning to lift our voices in praise to God who made us, redeems us, and sustains us. We raise our songs, beat our drums, and move our feet and hips and hands – joining with the whole choir of creation. We are led each week by a choir: each week a different tradition, a different culture, even different languages. Today we give thanks to God for the soul-stirring and body-swaying rhythms of our brothers and sisters from Africa. From them we have learned new ways to praise, raised in the cradle of humanity. With them we have sung new songs that are as old as the earth itself.
Invite African Fellowship Choir members to stand.
Here these words from the Apostle Paul:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
We celebrate today and dedicate to God not only these new uniforms that the African Fellowship Choir will wear, but we dedicate to God the people who will wear them:
May these uniforms you wear bind you to one another not only in outward appearance but also in inward spirit. As you wear them, you reflect the unity of the church through Christ Jesus. Wear them well.
As you put on these uniforms each month, may you be clothed not only in vibrant fabric but also in compassion, kindness, humility, patience, and love. As you wear them, you should bound together in perfect harmony. Wear them well.
As you rehearse the songs that you will sing, may it be not only your voices that ring with harmony, but also your lives. Clothed in one uniform and singing one song, may you also bring harmony to your families, your workplaces, your schools, and your communities. Wear them well.
Let us pray:
we join our praises with the songs of the heavenly choirs;
with the music of birds and trees and people of every land;
with the harmonies of the universe.
We give thanks for the men and women
who lead our praise and worship each week as we gather in this sanctuary.
Especially we thank you for this African Fellowship Choir,
for their soulful songs and steady rhythms.
May their music encourage us all to praise,
and lift our prayers to your throne in times of joy and times of sorrow.
We dedicate these voices to you and to your service, O God.
We offer you these new uniforms that they wear,
praying that they will be a sign
not only of outward unity but inward harmony.
As each thread is woven into a whole cloth,
weave together men and women – basses, tenors, altos and sopranos –
into one choir of peace.
The whole earth is yours, O Lord,
and so we offer you but your own:
voices that you have given us,
uniforms that are your blessing upon us,
and a community of faith which you have entrusted to us.
May the songs we sing together
and the clothes we wear together
be a blessing to you and to the work of Christ Jesus on earth. Amen.
You are welcome to reuse all or part of this liturgy in your worship setting provided you credit me as the author. The liturgy may not be republished, sold, or used for commercial purposes.