Excerpted by permission from "Coming Out As Sacrament."

The Communion table holds a loaf of bread, covered or tied by a strip of cloth (a rainbow flag may be used unless it is decided to tear the cloth), in turn covered and surrounded by stones (hymnals may be used as "stones"). People are called to gather around the table.

This ritual may be pluralized for several coming out at the same time or adapted for others who may wish to come or as parents, family, or friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered persons. It may also be adapted for persons living with HIV or AIDS.

Biblical quotations are adapted from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible.

"N." is the name or names of those coming out. Alternative wording is indicated by slashes (/): chose one or more of the words as appropriate. Leadership may move around the circle; or it may be read by a choir or one side of the congregation.

Leader: There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Sovereign, one faith, one baptism, one God and Creator of all, who is above all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4)

People: God inspirits every soul, regardless of sexual orientation. God welcomes every body, though we may hide or nakedness. God hopes in every love, without partiality.

Leader: According to the Gospel of John, Jesus was greatly disturbed in spirit to find his friend Lazarus dead and entombed. Christ called on faithful family members Mary and Martha as well as caring neighbors to roll the stone from the tomb and unbind the death cloths. Christ prayed to God, and called to Lazarus, "Come out!"

Leader (addresses the congregation): Are you, family and neighbors, willing to remove the stone of prejudice that separates N. from full communion with the Body of Christ and with you?

People: We are.

Leader: Are you, family and neighbors, willing to undo the bonds that inhibit N. from the full, abundant life promises each one of us?

People: We are.

Leader: Are you, N., willing to affirm death as means to life, dying to your old self to accept your resurrected self, yet renouncing artificial forms of death, especially the closet that hides your light and your life?

N.: I am.

Leader: Are you, N., willing to choose life, love, and liberation as a (lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgendered) Christian?

N.: I am

Leader: Let us pray.

People: Sacred God, bless N. and bless us all as we struggle with the stones of prejudice and the bonds of death. Lead us to choose life and enjoy love and liberate the oppressed in your name. Amen.

Leader: Take away the stones. (Participants are requested to remove stones from the Communion table, naming them if they have names, such as "prejudice" or "legalism." Every stone must be removed, revealing a loaf of bread, wrapped in a strip of cloth.)

Leader: Unbind N., and let (her/him) go.

(A preselected participant [spouse, lover, partner, family member, friend, pastor] removes the cloth from the bread and tears it in two, from top to bottom, just as the temple curtain separating the Holy of Holies was torn at Jesus' death [Mark 15:38]. Alternatively, the cloth could simply be unfolded or untied from the bread. This would be the appropriate procedure if using the rainbow flag.)

Leader: Our risen Sovereign became known to the disciples on the road to Emmaus in the breaking of bread, a sacrament of God's offering of self. In like manner, our risen friend(s) N. become(s) known to us in (her/his/their) own sacramental offering of (herself/himself/themselves), symbolized by this bread.

(Each one coming out takes a loaf or roll and everybody present receives a piece of bread from her/him. For example, if three are coming out, each recipient, including those who are coming out, should receive three pieces of bread.)

(As each of those coming out gives a piece of bread to each person, he/she says:)

N.: I offer you the gift of myself.

(The bread should be eaten as one receives. Receivers may offer an appropriate response, such as a hug, a "thank-you," or an "amen".)

(After all have eaten, the service continues:)

Leader: As Ruth pledged to Naomi, let us pledge to N.:

People: We will never abandon you! Where you go, we will be there; what is life to you will be vital for us. Your people will be our won, and your God will be our God. (Ruth 1:16, adapted)

(If more than one is coming out, pluralize the following:)

Leader: So then, N., you are no longer a stranger or an alien, but you are a citizen with the saints and also a member of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone. (Ephesians 2:19-20)

N.: Thanks be to God!

Leader: We are chosen, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, in order that we may proclaim the might acts of God who called us out of shadows into God's marvelous light:

People: Once we were not a people, but now we are God's people; once we had not received mercy, but now we have received grace. (1 Peter 2:9-10)

Hymn "Amazing Grace"

(You may choose to sing only the first verse. In any case, the following rewording is recommended for the first verse:)

Amazing Grace! How sweet the sound that saved a soul like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was bound, but now I'm free!

From "Coming out as Sacrament." Copyright 1998, Chris R. Glaser. Used by permission of Westminster John Knox Press. Orders may be placed by calling 1-800-227-2872.

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