When youth go on retreats or mission/service trips, it’s important for them to end the trip with some type of closing ceremony, ritual, and/or worship service where they can come together as a group one final time in a meaningful space to be together and to say good-bye to one another. In such closing rituals/worship, I try to sum up or tie in the theme/topics/Scripture we discussed on the trip, and I find some way to “send them out” to do God’s work and to continue to live as disciples of Jesus when they return home.
The following is the closing worship service from the youth mission/service and learning trip I led this summer (which took place outside at a park right before we headed back to Chicago.) ***Click here to see the theme and discussions we had each night during our trip.
CLOSING WORSHIP SERVICE
Mission/Service and Learning Trip: “Holy Ground”
Materials Needed: guitar, music, plate, cup, grape juice, bread, Scriptures readings, rocks, markers
OPENING WORSHIP SONG: Open The Eyes of My Heart
– ASK: What are some of the things we hear in this passage or have learned about this week?
– EXPLAIN: This passage is Moses’ call story. Here in Exodus, God came to Moses and called out to him to follow God and to do the work of God. Like for Moses in this passage, God has called and continues to call each one of us to follow God and to share God’s love with others. This week, we were invited to stand on and in the midst of what? (holy ground) We entered holy ground here in Dubuque, where we have encountered God in many places. How have we experienced holy ground this week?
– ASK: In our Exodus passage, God asks Moses to do what? (take off his sandals) As a gesture of what? (respect/reverence/honor) We’ve been called to take off our shoes, as well, this week. How so? (We’ve had the opportunities to be good stewards of all of God’s creation – of God’s earth and God’s people. We’ve done this through all of our service work/projects and through all of our interactions with and relationships we’ve developed with our new friends in Dubuque and with one another.)
– EXPLAIN: When we go back to Chicago, we will still be on holy ground. Wherever we are, we are standing on holy ground and encounter God. So let us not forget when we go home to “take off our shoes” and be good stewards of all of God’s creation.
Moment of Silence/Reflection:
– Let’s take a few moments of silence to think about and reflect on how we will continue to be good stewards of God’s creation when we get home.
Holiness, Holiness Is What I Long For
– What do these passages call us to do or how do they call us to live our lives?
– (How did they speak to us this week? How will they speak to us when we return home to Chicago?)
– Let’s take a few moments of silence to reflect on and think about how we will continue to let our feet bring (and receive) good news to others and treat others equally when we get home. (Think about some people in your life who could use some good news and how you might share it. Or think of others whom you may not have given a chance before because you thought they were different. How might you go back home or to school or to your apartment building and treat them with love and respect, as your equal?)
Lord Prepare Me
Passing Peace Of Christ:
Jesus is the one who is our peace. He is peace to those who are divided, separated, broken and turned around. It’s his peace that he wants us to give away and share with our neighbors (our brothers and sisters in the body of Christ, in this family of Christ), those near to us and those far away.
Let’s share the peace of Christ right now with our brothers and sisters here in this place, who are all one in Christ.
The peace of Christ be with you all.
PEOPLE: And also with you.
(Share/Pass the Peace of Christ to one another through hugs, high fives or hand shakes.)
INVITATION TO THE TABLE: (From the Iona Community)
Jesus was always the guest. In the homes of Peter and Jairus, Martha and Mary. Joanna and Susanna, He was always the guest. At the meal tables of the wealthy where he pled the case of the poor, he was always the guest. Upsetting polite company, befriending isolated people, welcoming the stranger, he was always the guest. But here, at this table, he is the host. Those who wish to serve him must first be served by him, those who want to follow him must first be led by him, those who would wash his feet must first let him make them clean. For this is the Table where God intends us to be nourished; this is the time when Christ can make us new. Jesus Christ, who has sat at our tables, now invites us to be guests at his.
So let us respond to Jesus’ invitation to the Table.
GREAT PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING:
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
WORDS OF INSTITUTION:
On the night in which he was betrayed,
our Lord Jesus took bread, and gave thanks;
broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying:
Take and eat; this is my body, given for you.
Do this for the remembrance of me.
Again, after supper, he took the cup, gave thanks,
and gave it for all to drink, saying:
This cup is the new covenant in my blood,
shed for you and for all people for the forgiveness of sin.
Do this for the remembrance of me. For as often as we eat of this bread and drink from this cup we proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Let us pray as Jesus taught us.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. thy kingdom come. thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us.
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are your’s now and ever. Amen.
Come to the banquet, for all is now ready.
DISTRIBUTION OF ELEMENTS:
1. Bless the Lord, my soul, and bless God’s holy name. Bless the Lord, my soul, who leads me into life.
2. Jesus, Remember Me, When you come into your kingdom.
PRAYER AFTER COMMUNION and Petitions for ourselves and those in need:
Gracious and holy God, we come before you today, our hearts gathered in prayer. Listen to the thoughts of our hearts as we whisper our prayers to you.
LEADER 1: We pray for peace for all people throughout the world.
(Whisper your prayers to God.)
(please give the community time to pray between each petition)
Leader 2: We pray for those in any need or trouble.
(Whisper your prayers to God.)
Leader 3: We pray for all the people we encountered this week in Dubuque.
(Whisper your prayers to God.)
Leader 4: We pray for all other burdens, concerns, and joys we have now.
(whisper your prayers to God.)
– EXPLAIN: While we sing this song, get up as you feel led, take a rock and marker, and on one side of rock, write 1-2 words about what you want someone else to pray for. (justice, equality, my family, love, inclusion, friend, sister, healing, courage, etc.) Write your name on the other side of the rock. When you are done, place your rock on the ground in the pile. After we finish our service, each of us will take a rock that isn’t our’s home with us to pray over.
SONG: Beautiful Things
We are no longer strangers and aliens in a foreign land, but we are citizens with the saints – all those who came before us, are walking this journey with us, and those who will walk this journey in the future. And we are also members of the household of God, which joins us as one body – no matter where we are from, what neighborhood we live in, what we look like, what school we go to. We are all one in Christ.
The God of all grace bless you now and forever.
Remember you are always standing on holy ground. Take off your shoes. And may your feet always bring good news to those who need it. Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.
CLOSING SONG: AMEN, AMEN, AMEN, Amen, Amen.
*EXPLAIN: Take a stone with you and pray for the person on the stone and pray over the word they wrote on the stone. Keep this rock in your room or your backpack, and whenever you look at it, remember that you are always connected to and made one with your brothers and sisters in Christ.