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REQUIEM EUCHARIST
and THE CELEBRATION OF LIFE

for

MATTHEW SHEPARD
(December 1, 1976 - October 12, 1998)

1:30 p.m. Friday, October 16th
Week of 19 Pentecost

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PRELUDE

HYMN      “All Things Bright and Beautiful”

POEM       “Matthew” by Megan Shepard, a Cousin . . . . October 11, 1998

                    An angel with new wings
                    In a place a world away
                    Can once again begin to sing
                    God took him in his arms today
                    He blessed his soul with loving care
                    And took away his pain
                    His life story all would share
                    His memory on their hearts a stain
                    So young a heart destroyed
                    For a cause unforgotten
                    Another's mind deployed
                    The result of a tragedy rotten

                    The tragic hero that's hard to find
                    A martyr with great courage
                    God's lamb in rare design
                    Never to be discouraged
                    Our love for him forever strong
                    His image will never fade
                    We'll meet him again before long
                    Temporary goodbyes we now must bade
                    Matty, I love you with all of my heart
                    I wish you only knew how much
                    You'll be happier with this brand new start
                    The world's hearts you have now touched

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THE LITURGY OF THE WORD

All stand while one or more of the following anthems is sung or said. A hymn, psalm, or some other suitable anthem may be sung instead.

I am Resurrection and I am Life, says the Lord.
Whoever has faith in me shall have life,
even though he die.
And everyone who has life,
and has committed himself to me in faith,
shall not die for ever.

As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives
and that at the last he will stand upon the earth.
After my awaking, he will raise me up;
and in my body I shall see God.
I myself shall see, and my eyes behold him
who is my friend and not a stranger.

For none of us has life in himself,
and none becomes his own master when he dies.
For if we have life, we are alive in the Lord,
and if we die, we die in the Lord.
So, then, whether we live or die,
we are the Lord's possession.

Happy from now on
are those who die in the Lord!
So it is, says the Spirit,
for they rest from their labors.
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The Officiant then says:

                    The Lord be with you.
People:        And also with you.

Celebrant:   Let us pray.

Silence may be kept; after which the Officiant says one of the following Collects

O God of grace and glory, we remember before you this day our brother Matthew Shepard. We thank you for giving him to us, his family and friends, to know and to love as a companion on our earthly pilgrimage. In your boundless compassion, console us who mourn. Give us faith to see in death the gate of eternal life, so that in quiet confidence we may continue our course on earth, until, by your call, we are reunited with those who have gone before; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

The Officiant may add the following prayer:

Most merciful God, whose wisdom is beyond our understand, deal graciously with Matthew’s friends and family in their grief. Surround them with your love, that they may not be overwhelmed by their loss, but have confidence in your goodness, and strength to meet the days to come; through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

The people sit.

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FROM THE OLD TESTAMENT:     Ecclesiastes 3:1-11
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. What gain have the workers from their toil? I have seen the business that God has given to everyone to be busy with. He has made everything suitable for its time; moreover he has put a sense of past and future into their minds, yet they cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.

               The Word of the Lord.
People:  Thanks be to God

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Psalm 121     Levavi oculos

1  I lift up my eyes to the hills;*
            from where is my help to come?

2  My help comes from the Lord,*
            the maker of heaven and earth.

3  He will not let your foot be moved;*
            he who watches over you will not fall asleep.

4  Behold, he who keeps watch over Israel*
            shall neither slumber nor sleep.

5  The Lord himself watches over you;*
            the Lord is your shade at your right hand.

6  So the sun shall not strike you by day,*
            nor the moon by night.

7  The Lord shall preserve you from all evil;*
            it is he who shall keep you safe.

8  The Lord shall watch over your going out and your coming in,*
            from this time forth forevermore.

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FROM THE NEW TESTAMENT: Romans 8:14-19, 34-35, 37-39
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, "Abba! Father!" it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ--if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

               The Word of the Lord.
People:  Thanks be to God

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Psalm 23     (King James Version)

1  The Lord is my shepherd;*
            I shall not want.

2  He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:*
            he leadeth me beside the still waters.

3  He restoreth my soul:*
            he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.

4  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:*
            for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

5  Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies:*
            thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

6  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life:*
            and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

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THE GOSPEL

Then, all standing, the Deacon or Minister appointed reads the Gospel, first saying:

                The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John.
People:   Glory to you, Lord Christ.

John 14:1-5 (In my Father’s house are many rooms...) is read
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

At the end of the Gospel, the Reader says:

                The Gospel of the Lord.
People:   Praise to you, Lord Christ.

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HOMILY         The Rev. Anne E. Kitch
Do not let your hearts be troubled, Jesus says. How can we not let our hearts be troubled? How can we not be immersed in despair? How can we not cry out against this? This is not the way it is supposed to be. A son has died. A brother has been lost. A child has been broken, torn, abandoned. We become lost in a turbulent stream of emotions. Grief. Anger. Guilt. Fear. Shame. Outrage. Bewilderment. Loss. Our hearts are deeply troubled. They cry out, No. No. No. Not Matthew. Not now. Not this way.

We come here today to mourn Matt. We come here today to offer our broken hearts. We come here today in the name of love. Because ultimately it is love that binds us to Matt: the love of a family. Matt's family is like any family, sharing life, family meals, arguments, games, Christmas trees. We come here today, in the name of family love. We gather in this church, in the name of God's love. Because in the midst of this horror, in the midst of this hateful crime, Christ's love abounds.

Make no doubt about it. Matthew is loved: by his parents, by his brother, by his grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, family all gathered here — by God. It is that love, which has radiated out of the midst of this tragedy. Love which empowers his parents to speak compassion, rather than condemnation. Love which inspires his friends to acts of prayer and witness. Love which is more powerful than any voice of hate. That is God's love.

We are able to love one another, because God first loved us, created us out of love, lovingly breathed life into us so that we might be part if this good creation. We are able to love one another because God showed us how, sending a Son into the world to live with us, love with us, die for us. Love one another, just as I have loved you, said Jesus as he prepared to die. And Jesus died, and Jesus rose again overcoming death and fulfilling a promise, offering eternal life to all. Through the resurrection of Jesus Christ abundant life is promised for Matt.

Matt: a young man who met the world with eager expectation, who offered trust and friendship easily, lived honestly. Matt trusted in the goodness of God's world, reveled in God's creation, allowed people into his heart. When you met Matt, you met Matt. For a small person, he had great presence: one of the things that made him shine on the stage. Matt was not always a winner according to some of the world's standards. He struggled in many ways: to survive as an infant, to fit into a world that is not always kind to gentle spirits. But Matt was a light to the world according to a different set of standards. What was important to Matt, was to care: to help, to nurture, to bring joy to others in his quiet, gentle way. I think Matt would be somewhat bewildered by all this attention to his account.

Dennis and Judy have said that Matt believed if he had made one person's life better in this world, then he had succeeded. I think judging from the world's response over the past few days, Matt will have made a difference in the lives of thousands.

And I believe Matt has shown us the way out of the abyss into which his murder has plunged us. Matt has shown us the way from violence, hate, despair. We may doubt that now. Like the disciple Thomas doubted when Jesus spoke the words we heard today from John's gospel. Jesus was saying farewell to his friends. He was preparing them for his death. So he gathered them together around a family meal and he spoke: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God. Believe in me." And he promised that they would be able to follow him to eternal life in God’s loving house, that they would be able to sit around God's kitchen table. But Thomas cried out in his fear and despair, "How? How can we know the way?"

Today we may cry out, How? How can we know the way out of the abyss? How can we love? How can we live? And the answer is there. "I am the way, the truth, the light." Jesus has gone before us. Jesus, a beloved son whose body was broken, torn, abandoned, hung in bars of wood by his accusers. Jesus who stood in the face of hate and offered the door to eternal life. This Jesus is here for Matt, is here for each of us. This Jesus promises to prepare a place for each of us in God's heavenly kingdom. All we are asked to do is believe. Believe in God. Believe in Christ. Believe in a love that conquers all — even death.

Matt believed. Matt believed enough to become baptized in this church as a teenager. Matt believed enough to bring his family with him to church. Matt believed enough to see the overwhelming goodness in God's creation and in each person he met. Matt believed. Matt lived. Matt loved. And we can too, because God loves us and nothing can separate us from that love. That is God's promise. This is what the apostle Paul wanted so fervently for us to understand. That we could count on this promise to change our lives. As Paul says, "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."

So I invite you to come, offer your broken hearts here. Lay down the burdens that you have been carrying for Matt's sake. Allow yourself to fall into the loving arms of God, who will hold you, keep you, comfort you while you begin to mourn Matthew as he deserves — as you deserve.

And I invite you here to come to this family table. Share in the life-giving food of Christ's body and blood. Share in the promise that Matt has already received. Morning has broken for Matt. Morning in the place where there is no pain or grief. The bright morning of everlasting life.

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The Apostles' Creed may then be said, all standing. The Officiant may introduce the Creed with these or similar words:

In the assurance of eternal life given at Baptism, let us proclaim our faith and say,

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CELEBRANT AND PEOPLE:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

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THE PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

For our brother, Matthew, let us pray to our Lord Jesus Christ who said, I am Resurrection and I am Life."

Lord, you consoled Martha and Mary in their distress; draw near to us who mourn for Matthew, and dry the tears of those who weep.
Hear us, Lord.

You wept at the grave of Lazarus, your friend; comfort us in our sorrow.
Hear us, Lord.

You raised the dead to life; give to our brother eternal life.
Hear us, Lord.

You promised paradise to the thief who repented; bring our brother to the joys of heaven.
Hear us, Lord.

Our brother was washed in Baptism and anointed with the Holy Spirit; give him fellowship with all your saints.
Hear us, Lord.

He was nourished with your Body and Blood; grant him a place at the table in your heavenly kingdom.
Hear us, Lord.

Comfort us in our sorrows at the death of our brother; let our faith be our consolation, and eternal life our hope.

Silence may be kept.  The Officiant concludes with one of the following or some other prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, we commend to you our brother, Matthew, who was reborn by water and the Spirit in Holy Baptism. Grant that his death may recall to us your victory over death, and be an occasion for us to renew our trust in your Father's love. Give us, we pray, the faith to follow where you have led the way; and where you live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, to the ages of ages.  AMEN.

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THE PEACE

                The peace of the Lord be with you always.
People:   And also with you.

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CHOIR ANTHEM       “Ready Lord”     Avery and Marsh

HYMN      “Morning Has Broken”

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THE GREAT THANKSGIVING   (Eucharistic Prayer A)

The people remain standing. The Celebrant faces them and sings

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 him thanks and praise.

Then, facing the Holy Table, the Celebrant proceeds:

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, always and everywhere to give thanks to you, Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.

Because you gave Jesus Christ, your only Son, to be born for us; who, by the mighty power of the Holy Spirit, was made perfect Man of the flesh of the Virgin Mary his mother; so that we might be delivered from the bondage of sin, and receive power to become your children.

Therefore we praise you, joining our voices with Angels and Archangels and with all the company of heaven, who for ever sing this hymn to proclaim the glory of your Name:

Celebrant and People:

Holy, Holy, Holy Lord, God of power and might, heaven and earth are full of your glory. Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna in the highest.

The people stand or kneel.  Then the Celebrant continues:

Holy and gracious Father: In your infinite love you made us for yourself, and, when we had fallen into sin and become subject to evil and death, you, in your mercy, sent Jesus Christ, your only and eternal Son, to share our human nature, to live and die as one of us, to reconcile us to you, the God and Father of all.

He stretched out his arms upon the cross, and offered himself, in obedience to your will, a perfect sacrifice for the whole world.

On the night he was handed over to suffering and death, our Lord Jesus Christ took bread; and when he had given thanks to you, he broke it, and gave it to his disciples, and said, “Take, eat: This is my Body, which is given for you. Do this for the remembrance of me.”

After supper he took the cup of wine; and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, and said, “Drink this, all of you: This is my Blood of the new Covenant, which is shed for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it, do this for the remembrance of me.”

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of faith:

Celebrant and People:

Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

The Celebrant continues:

We celebrate the memorial of our redemption, O Father, in this sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. Recalling his death, resurrection, and ascension, we offer you these gifts.

Sanctify them by your Holy Spirit to be for your people the Body and Blood of your Son, the holy food and drink of new and unending life in him. Sanctify us also that we may faithfully receive this holy Sacrament, and serve you in unity, constancy, and peace; and at the last day bring us with all your saints into the joy of your eternal kingdom.

All this we ask through your Son Jesus Christ: By him, and with him, and in him, in the unity of the Holy Spirit all honor and glory is yours, Almighty Father, now and for ever.  AMEN.

And now, as our Savior Christ has taught us, we are bold to say,

People and Celebrant:

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed by 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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

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THE BREAKING OF BREAD

The Celebrant breaks the consecrated bread. A period of silence is kept. Then is said:

Alleluia. Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us;
                Therefore let us keep the feast. Alleluia.

Facing the people, the Celebrant says the following Invitation:

The Gifts of God for the People of God.

The ministers receive the Sacrament in both kinds, and then immediately deliver it to the people.

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COMMUNION

(All Baptized persons are invited to receive Communion. If you are unable to come to a Communion station, notify the Usher and Communion will be brought to you.)

During Communion:     Songs of Praise #4 - Alleluia

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“The Prayer of St. Francis”

Make me a channel of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring Your love.
Where there is injury, Your pardon, Lord.
And where there’s doubt, true faith in You.

Make me a channel of Your peace.
Where there’s despair in life, let me bring hope.
Where there is darkness, only light.
And where there’s sadness, ever joy.

Oh, Master, grant that I may never seek
so much to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be Loved as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of Your Peace.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
in giving to all men that we receive,
and in dying that were born to eternal life.

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HYMN        “Amazing Grace”

HYMN        “Alleluia, Sing to Jesus”

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THE THANKSGIVING FOR COMMUNION

After Communion, the Celebrant says:

Let us pray.

Almighty God, we thank you that in your great love you have fed us with the spiritual food and drink of the Body and Blood of your Son Jesus Christ, and have given us a foretaste of your heavenly banquet. Grant that this Sacrament may be to us a comfort in affliction, and a pledge of our inheritance in that kingdom where there is no death, neither sorrow nor crying, but the fullness of joy with all your saints; through Jesus Christ our Savior.  AMEN.

The service continues with the Commendation.

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THE COMMENDATION

The Celebrant and other ministers take their places at the body.  The anthem, or some other suitable anthem, or a hymn, may be sung or said:

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints,
                where sorrow and pain are no more,
                                neither sighing, but life everlasting.

You only are immortal, the creator and maker of mankind; and we are mortal, formed of the earth, and to earth shall we return. For so did you ordain when you created me, saying, "You are dust, and to dust you shall return." All of us go down to the dust; yet even at the grave we make our song: Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.

Give rest, O Christ, to your servant with your saints, where sorrow and pain are no more, neither sighing, but life everlasting.

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The Officiant, facing the body, says:

Into your hands, O merciful Savior, we commend your servant Matthew Shepard. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech you, a sheep of your own fold, a lamb of your own flock, a sinner of your own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of your mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light.  AMEN.

The Officiant, or the Bishop if present, may then bless the people, and a Deacon or other Minister may dismiss them, saying:

                Let us go forth in the name of Christ.
People:   Thanks be to God.

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HYMN       “Lift High the Cross”

POSTLUDE

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Celebrant:   The Rt. Rev. Bruce Caldwell

Officiant:    The Rev. Royce W. Brown

Homily:    The Rev. Anne E. Kitch

Organist:    Kathy Steinbrenner

Choir Director:    Ellen Peacock

Honorary Pallbearers:    Classmates of Matthew from TASIS
(The American School in Lugano, Switzerland)

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The family wishes Memorials in lieu of flowers be sent to:

                                The Memorial Fund
                                % First National Bank, Account #1926083
                                P.O. Box 578
                                Ft. Collins, CO 80522

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Bereavement/Grief Counselors are available downstairs at the Samaritan Counseling Center for anyone who wishes it.

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Click here to see a Matthew Shepard Tribute:

mattshepard