Worship Bulletin for August 9, 2020

HYMN Let All Creation Bless the Lord

1. Let all creation bless the Lord, till heaven with praise is ringing.
Sun, moon and stars, peal out a chord, stir up the angels’ singing,
Sing, wind and rain! Sing, snow and sleet! Make music, day, night, cold and heat!

2. All living things upon the earth, green fertile hills and mountains,
sing to the God who gave you birth! Be joyful, springs and fountains,
lithe water-life, bright airborne birds, wild roving beats, tame flocks and herds!
Exalt the God who made you.

3. O men and women everywhere, lift up a hymn of glory.
Let all who know God’s steadfast care tell out salvation’s story.
No tongue be silent–sing your part, you humble souls and meek of heart!

WELCOME

BELL

ENTRY INTO THE CELEBRATION (Meister Eckhart)
Every creature is a word of God,
and all creation is a book about God.
Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

ACT OF AWARENESS (Adapt.Marianne Williamson/ep)
We are born to make manifest
the glory of the Sacred that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us;
it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other people
permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

CELTIC MONKS PRACTICED SILENCE Steve Rabey, In the House of Memory
“The Celtic monks put a premium on silence and solitude
because they were trying to carve out a space for God in their
lives. – trying to turn down the volume on all the noise and
static of life so they could prepare a place for hearing the voice
of God”

CENTERING SILENCE
Let us now take some time to sit in comfort,
to breathe deeply, to relax,
in the presentness of the sacred….
in dew-wet grasses,
in birds, in sunshine, in childish play,
in stars and mountain summits topped with snow. (Silence)

MUSIC OF REFLECTION (Followed by Silence)
May our spirits be renewed.
May our minds be open to new truth.
May we give thanks for this life we are blessed to share.

READING Matthew 14:22-33 (Inclusive Text)
Jesus made the disciples get into a boat and go on ahead to
the other side while he would send the crowds away. After
sending the crowds away, Jesus went up into the hills by
himself to pray.
When evening came, he was there alone, while the boat, by
now far out on the lake, was baffling with a heavy sea, for
there was a head-wind.
In the fourth watch of the night Jesus went toward them,
walking on the lake, and when the disciples saw
Jesus walking on the lake they were terrified. ‘It is a ghost’
they said, and cried out in fear. But at once Jesus called out
to them, saying ‘Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.’
It was Peter who answered, ‘If it is really you, tell me to come
to you across the water.’ ‘Come’ said Jesus. Then Peter got
out of the boat and started walking towards Jesus across the
water, but as soon as Peter felt the force of the wind, he took
fright and began to sink. ‘Save me!’ he cried.
Jesus put out his hand at once and held him. ‘You of little
faith,’ he said ‘why did you doubt?’ And as they got into the
boat the wind dropped. Those in the boat bowed down
before Jesus and said, ‘Truly, you are the Begotten of God.’

CONTEMPORARY EXPLORATION How do you balance silence and action?

THERE IS RARELY ENOUGH SILENCE 
There is rarely enough silence in our lives.
Perhaps we are too busy for silence.
Perhaps we are afraid of what we might discover.
Today we will again give silence its place.
(Silence)
We gather at this time to celebrate the mystery of life.
As Summer days will soon give way to early Autumn
we commit to moving beyond our previous selves
and to continue emerging into persons and into a community
dedicated to enhancing this world.
(Silence)
We celebrate the fragile signs of changing seasons,
And the bird song that beckons us to listen, to appreciate, to wonder;
to be at peace with ourselves in the harried world we often create.
(Silence)
We affirm the worth of all, and commit ourselves to honoring the sacred in all.
Thus we seek to open ourselves to be
more in tune, more involved with each other and the world.
(Silence)
We sense our greater connection to the sacred within all,
and resist old models that would place us at the egotistical center,
with the world and others revolving around us.
(Silence)
We commit ourselves to learning, changing, thinking again…
and daring again to imagine how faith and risk lead us to each other,
engaging us all to be neighbor, to love, to include, to laugh, to be free.
(Silence)
And may we be inspired to be carriers of the spirit of caring.
(Silence)
This is our prayer.
May it be so.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

ABBA PRAYER
Gracious Spirit,
Who loves us like a mother,
Whose realm is blooming among us now. And within.
We pray that your compassion guide us in every action.
Give us what we need for each day,
and help us to be satisfied with the miracle of that alone.
Forgiver, whose embrace brings us to wholeness without our asking,
May we reconcile ourselves to one another in humility.
And may we cancel the crushing debts that imprison our neighbours
So that communities of joy and health may flourish.
May we neither profit from nor ignore evil.
But ever work to thwart it with non-violence
As we co-create the realm of peace in this world.
Now and each day.
Amen.

INQUIRY

THE LORD’S PRAYER
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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us
from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

BENEDICTION
Go out in joy and be led back in peace.
The mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Go from here in the joy of God,
secure in God’s presence around you and within you.

CLOSING HYMN Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

1. Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heav’n, to earth come down!
Fix in us thy humble dwelling, All thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion, pure, unbounded love thou art;
Visit us with thy salvation, enter ev’ry trembling heart.

2. Breathe, oh, breathe thy loving Spirit into ev’ry troubled breast;
Let us all in thee inherit; Let us find thy promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning; Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its beginning, set our hearts at liberty.

3. Come, Almighty, to deliver; let us all thy life receive;
Suddenly return, and never, nevermore thy temples leave,
Thee we would be always blessing, serve thee as thy hosts above,
Pray, and praise thee without ceasing, Glory in thy perfect love.

4. Finish then thy new creation, pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation perfectly restored in thee!
Changed from glory into glory, till in heav’n we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee, lost in wonder, love and praise!

Worship Bulletin for August 2, 2020

WELCOME
BELL
HYMN When in Our Music God is Glorified

1. When in our music God is glorified,
and adoration leaves no room for pride,
It is as though the whole creation cried: Alleluia!

2. How often, making music, we have found
a new dimension in the world of sound,
As worship moved us to a more profound Alleluia!

3. So has the church, in liturgy and song,
in faith and love, through centuries of wrong,
Borne witness to the truth in every tongue: Alleluia!

4. Let every instrument be tuned for praise!
Let all rejoice who have a voice to raise!
And may God give us faith to sing always: Alleluia!

A POEM by Debra Deveno

O ‘What a Summer Night
With Love Shining from above
As time seems to stop
For this Beautiful Summer Night.
Now we sit in sight, of how showers of stars
Makes the World Shine of Love
Shine of Love
Shine of Love
O’ What a Summer Night with Love Shining from above

READINGS THAT INVITE REFLECTION

Isaiah 55:1-2
Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money
and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen
carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.

Psalm 145:8-9, 14
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and has compassion for all that
has been made. The LORD upholds all who are falling, and raises up all who are bowed down.

Matthew 14:13-21
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed
him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick. When it
was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a deserted place, and the hour is now late; send the crowds away so that they
may go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” Jesus said to them, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They
replied, “We have nothing here but five loaves and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit
down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven, and blessed and broke the loaves, and gave them to
the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And all ate and were filled; and they took up what was left over of the broken
pieces, twelve baskets full. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

PRAYER
Eternal Presence, your generosity floods the world with goodness and you shower creation
with abundance. Awaken in us a hunger for food to satisfy both body and heart, that in the
miracle of being fed we may be empowered to feed the hungry in Jesus’ name. Amen.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
ABBA PRAYER David Sorrill

O God, you love us like a good parent, and are present in every aspect of our existence.
May your nature become known and respected by all. May your joy, peace, wholeness and
justice be the reality for everyone as we live by the Jesus Way. Give us all that we really
need to live every day for you and forgive us our failures as we forgive others for their
failures. Keep us from doing those things which are not of you and cause us always to be
centered on your love, for you are the true reality in this our now, and in all our future. In
the Jesus Way we pray. Amen.

SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION
In the sacred spaces in our homes, we give thanks for
justice, love, peace and freedom.
May God be with you. And also with you.
Lift up your hearts. We lift them up to the Holy One.
Let us give thanks. It is right to give thanks and praise.
God of the summer’s day, Praise and wonder be.
God of the lingering sunset and early dawn, Praise and wonder be.
God of the hot north wind and the refreshing shower, the ripening harvest and flowing
river, Praise and wonder be.

COMMUNION HYMN As We Gather at Your Table

1. As we gather at your table, as we listen to your word,
help us know, O God, your presence; let our hearts and minds be stirred.
Nourish us with sacred story till we claim it as our own;
teach us through this holy banquet how to make Love’s victory known.

2. Turn our worship into witness in the sacrament of life;
send us forth to love an deserve you, bringing peace where there is strife.
Give us, Christ, your great compassion to forgive as you forgave;
may we still behold your image in the world you died to save.

3. Gracious Spirit, help us summon other guests to share that feast
where triumphant Love will welcome those who had been last and least.
There no more will envy bind us nor will pride our peace destroy,
as we join with saints and angels to repeat the sounding joy.

We join our praise with all your people across the generations, saying,
Holy, holy, holy, Celebrating God, heaven and earth are full of your glory.
Hosanna in the highest. Blessed is the one who comes in the name of God.
Hosanna in the highest.
On the night of his arrest, Jesus shared a meal with his disciples.
Bread taken, blessed, broken in silence Wine taken, poured out in silence
Through grain and grape, bread and wine, he spoke of his coming death and new life,
asking his disciples to remember him.

BLESSING
Be present with us now, Enfolding God, as we share this sacrament. Let your Holy Spirit
brood among us…and upon and through this Bread and Wine. Bless us with a desire to
praise in song and story and poetry. Bless us with a sharpened awareness of your
presence. Bless us with deep compassion. Bless us with the patience and daring of the
mystics.

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
May we recognize the teachings of Jesus. May we be strengthened and enabled to
capture the spirit of his words and live out the implications of those words in our own time
with our own creativity.

THE LORD’S PRAYER
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
debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from
evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

THE BLESSING
Go out in joy and be led back in peace. The mountains and the hills before you shall
burst into song, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Go from here in the
joy of God, secure in God’s presence around you and within you.

HYMN In the Midst of New Dimensions (First Three Verses)

1. In the midst of new dimensions, in the face of changing ways,
Who will lead the pilgrim peoples wandering in their separate ways?
God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar,
We your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and ever, now and ever.

2. Through the flood of starving people, warring factions and despair,
Who will lift the olive branches: Who will light the flame of care?
God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar,
We your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and ever, now and ever.

3. As we stand a world divided by our own self seeking schemes,
Grand that we, your global village, might envision wider dreams.
God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar,
We your people, our the journey now and ever, now and ever, now and ever.

4. We are man and we are woman, all persuasions, old and young.
Each a gift in your creation, each a love song to be sung.
God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar,
We your people, our the journey now and ever, now and ever, now and ever.

5. Should the threats of dire predictions cause us to withdraw in pain,
May your blazing phoenix spirit resurrect the church again.
God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar,
We your people, our the journey now and ever, now and ever, now and ever.

Worship Bulletin for July 26, 2020

WELCOME

BELL

HYMN Joy in the Morning
1. There’ll be joy in the morning on that day,
there’ll be joy in the morning on that day,
for the daylight will dawn when the darkness is gone,
There’ll be joy in the morning on that day.

2. There’ll be peace and contentment evermore,
there’ll be peace and contentment evermore,
every heart, every voice on that day will rejoice,
there’ll be peace and contentment evermore.

3. There’ll be love and forgiveness everywhere,
there’ll be love and forgiveness everywhere,
and the way of the Lord will that day be restored,
there’ll be love and forgiveness everywhere.

AN ACT OF AWARENESS

Is it morning, really morning, or is it just another day?
A new beginning or just a continuing yesterday…?
May we greet each day as gift and blessing,
fold its promise into who we will become,
and live the fullness of its teachings:
new thoughts, new ideas, new potentials, new promises.

PRAYER by Rex A. E. Hunt (Influenced by Francis Macnab)

A sense of Creativity is among us… even in the time of pandemic. Let the sounds and sights of all living beings remind us of your magnificent creation.

Let the breeze of these summer mornings bring a vitality and hope to our lives.
(Silence)

In the silence and acceptance of our own sacred places, we look inward at ourselves: the advantages we have been given, the opportunities we have seized.

May we have a sense of gratitude for the gifts that are ours: knowledge, skills, insights.

Yet may we also be nudged to give back, to reach out, sharing our talents, our riches, and ourselves with those who are discouraged, disheartened, or simply unaware.

May we be more kind, tolerant and charitable toward one another and all with whom we share this globe of love and laughter and tears.
(Silence)

And may we be seized with the miracles of life itself, that we might be filled with new passion, new resolve, to take the next step. So be it. Amen.

BELL

INTRODUCTION THE GOSPEL OF THOMAS

READING: Gospel of Thomas, Logion 20

His students said to him, “Tell us about this kingdom of yours in the heavens. What is it
like?
Yeshua answered them,
“Let me compare it to a mustard seed, the smallest of all seeds. When it falls into prepared
ground, it grows into a great tree capable of sheltering the birds of the sky.”

REFLECTIONS

READING: Gospel of Thomas, Logion 39

Yeshua says, “Your scholars and religious leaders have taken the keys of knowledge and
locked them away. They have not used them to enter in, nor have they allowed those desiring
it to do so. You, therefore, must be as subtle as serpents and as guileless as doves.”

REFLECTIONS

READING: Gospel of Thomas, Logion 70

Yeshua says, “When you give birth to that which is within yourself; what you bring forth
will save you. If you possess nothing within, that absence will destroy you.

REFLECTIONS

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

ABBA PRAYER  Monica Furlong, Published in The St Hilda Community. (1996). The new women included. A book of services and prayers. GtB: London. SPCK.

God, who cares for us,
The wonder of whose presence fills us with awe.
Let kindness, justice and love shine in our world.
Let your secrets be known here as they are in heaven.
Give us the food and the hope we need for today.
Forgive us our wrongdoing
as we forgive the wrongs done to us.
Protect us from pride and from despair
and from the fear and hate which can swallow us up.
In you is truth, meaning, glory and power,
while worlds come and go.
Amen.

SERMON

THE LORD’S PRAYER

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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

THE BLESSING

Go out in joy and be led back in peace. The mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Go from here in the joy of God, secure in God’s presence around you and within you.

SUMMER MUSIC!

Worship Bulletin for July 19, 2020

“If you talk to the animals, they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them and what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys.” – Chief Dan George, Tsleil-Waututh Nation, British Columbia, Canada

HYMN Be Thou My Vision
1. Be now my vision, O god of my heart;
nothing surpasses the love you impart.
You my best thought, by day or my night,
waking or sleeping, your presence my light.

2. Be now my wisdom, and be my true word;
ever within me, my soul is assured;
Mother and Father, you are both to me,
now and forever your child I will be.

3. Riches I need not, nor life’s empty praise,
you, my inheritance, now and always;
You and you only are first n my heart;
great God, my treasure, may we never part.

4. Sovereign of heaven, my victory won,
may I reach heaven’s joys, O bright heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever be fall,
Still be my vision, O Ruler of all.

WELCOME

A FEW WORDS ABOUT CELTIC CHRISTIANITY

READING Genesis 28:10-11 (excerpts)

Jacob came to a certain place and stayed there for the night, because the sun had set. Taking one of the stones of the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. And he dreamed that there was a ladder set up on the earth, the top of it reaching to heaven; and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

RESPONSE John Baillie, Celtic Theologian

“For earth and sea and sky, for scudding cloud and singing bird,” we may also ask that “the remembrance of the blessed Life that once was lived out in this common earth under these ordinary skies may remain with [us] in all the tasks and duties of this day.”

READING

When Jacob woke from his sleep, he said, “Surely the LORD is in this place–and I did not know it!” And he was afraid, and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven.”

RESPONSE John Baillie

Almighty Creator, It is You Who made the land and the sea… The world cannot comprehend your glory in song bright and melodious, even though the grass and trees should sing all your wonders, O my true Lord!

LOOKING FOR WONDERS

READING Psalm 139:1-12, 23-24

O LORD, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O LORD, you know it completely. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.

Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.

EXPLORATION: On Being Known

ABBA PRAYER

Holy One, you are always speaking on life’s winding path. Open our minds with a loving passion for all you create. Shape our reluctant selves into your freedom. Remind us of the things we need most for sustenance. Settle within us a pattern of forgiving others. Expose us to the forgiveness we need ourselves. When pains shatter our days and dreams, speak to us of hope and healing. Meaning and purpose flow out of you. Your strength sustains us, now and forever. Amen.

THOUGHTS FOR THE COMING WEEK

THE LORD’S PRAYER

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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

THE BLESSING

Go out in joy and be led back in peace. The mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Go from here in the joy of God, secure in God’s presence around you and within you.

HYMN Praise to the Living God

1. Praise to the living God, he god of love and light,
Whose word brought forth the myriad suns and set the worlds in flight;
Whose infinite design, which we but dimly see,
Pervades all nature, making all a cosmic unity.

2. Praise to the living god, from whom all things derive,
Whose Spirit formed upon this sphere the first faint seeds of life;
Who caused them to evolve, unwitting, toward God’s goal,
Till humankind stood on the earth, as living, thinking souls.

3. Praise be to the living God, who knows our joy and pain,
Who shares with us our common life, the sacred and profane.
God toils where’er we toil, in home and mart and mill;
And deep within the human heart God leads us forward still.

4. Praise to the living god, around, within, above,
Beyond the grasp of human mind, but whom we know as love.
In these tumultuous days, so full of hope and strife,
May we bear witness to the Way, O Source and Goal of life.

Worship Bulletin for July 12, 2020

HYMN Morning Has Broken

1. Morning has broken like the first morning,
Blackbird has spoken, like the first bird.
Praise for the singing! Praise for the morning,
Praise for them, springing, Fresh from the word!

2. Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlight from heaven,
Like the first dewfall, on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness of the wet garden,
Spring in completeness, Where his feet pass.

3. Mine is the sunlight! Mine is the morning
born of the one light Eden saw play!
Praise with elation, Praise every morning
God’s recreation, of the new day!

WELCOME Are you looking for a place to dwell?

READING Isaiah 55:10-13

For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return there until they have watered the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and succeed in the thing for which I sent it. For you shall go out in joy, and be led back in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall be to the LORD for a memorial, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.

PSALMS AND POEMS

ABBA PRAYER by Paul Alan Laughlin

O presence and power within us,
Being and Life of all.
How we are filled, how we overflow
with infinite love and gladness!
We shall this day sow grace and peace,
and show mercy to all,
and gentle loving-kindness.
And we shall be not so self-serving,
but a constant source of giving.
For ours is the essence,
and the wholeness,
and the fullness forever.

Amen

INQUIRY Did You Ever Wonder if you were born in the wrong place?

READING PART ONE Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

“Listen! A sower went out to sow. Some seeds fell on the path, where the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly, since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!”

EXPLORATION

READING PART TWO

“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

THE LORD’S PRAYER

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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

BENEDICTION

Go out in joy and be led back in peace.
The mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Go from here in the joy of God,
secure in God’s presence around you and within you.

HYMN In the Bulb There is a Flower; in the Seed, an Apple Tree

1. In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree;
in cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free!
In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be,
unrevealed until its season, something God along can see.

2. There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody;
there’s a dawn in every darkness bringing hope to you and me.
From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery,
unrevealed until its season, something God along can see.

3. In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity;
in our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity.
In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory,
unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.

Worship Bulletin for July 5, 2020

While we celebrate our nation’s independence this weekend, we are also aware of the many
First Nations peoples who walked this land and cared for creation for centuries before the arrival of the tall ships from across the seas. We honor their lives and acknowledge the pain
that they endured in the wake of immigration from Europe and other regions.

HYMN O Beautiful for Spacious Skies
1. O beautiful for spacious skies for amber waves of grain,
for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed his grace on thee,
and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea!

2. O beautiful for heroes proved in liberating strife,
who more than self their country loved, and mercy more than life!
America! America! god mend thine every flaw;
confirm thy soul in self control, thy liberty in law!

3. O beautiful for patriot dream that sees beyond the years
thine alabaster cities gleam, undimmed by human tears!
America! America! May God thy gold refine
till all success be nobleness and every gain divine!

WELCOME
CALL TO WORSHIP
We Gather, Hoping
We gather – hoping for a glimpse of the holy:

the One who brooded over Creation
who engulfed a bush in flame
who made a path through the waters
who rolled away the tombstone

We gather – hoping for a whisper of the
truth:

the Word who first spoke in the silence
the voice who raged with prophet’s zeal
the host who sang of peace on earth
the teacher who blessed humble and poor

We gather – hoping for a touch of
compassion:

the tenderness that shaped
the human body

the caress that opened
eyes of the blind

the soothing hand
that brought healing calm

the warmth that embraced
lonely and lost

We gather – in the presence of mystery:
of One who is revealed and hidden,
known and unknown mother of Creation
human God-with-us

living Word
eternal Spirit
Three and One

Breathe into us hope, faith and joy
Breathe into us compassion,
truth and holiness
Breathe into us reconciliation,
justice and peace
Breathe newness of life
as we worship today
(Source: Craig Mitchell, 2018)

PRAYERS AND PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
READING Psalm 145:8-14
Holy One, you are gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
You are good to all, with compassion over all creation. All your works shall give you
gratitude, and all your faithful shall bless you. They shall speak of the glory of your realm
and tell of your power, to make known to all people your mighty deeds, and the glorious
splendor of your eternal realm. Your realm is everlasting, and your dominion endures
throughout all generations. You are faithful in all your words, and gracious in all your
deeds. The Holy One upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down.

ABBA PRAYER (Matthew Fox/ormw)
Father-Mother of the Cosmos, you create all that moves in light.
Hear the one Sound that created all others, in this way the Name is hallowed in silence.
Your rule springs into existence as our arms reach out to embrace all creation.
Let all wills move together in your vortex, as stars and planets swirl through the sky.
Grant what we need each day in bread and insight. Lighten our load of secret debts as
we relieve others of their need to repay. Keep us from hoarding false wealth, and from
the inner shame of help not given in time. Amen.

Matthew 11:28-30 (Inclusive Text)
‘Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest.
Shoulder my yoke and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart,
and you will find rest for your souls.
Yes, my yoke is easy, and my burden light.’

CONTEMPORARY EXPLORATION

SACRAMENT OF COMMUNION (Adapt/ Michael Morwood/pns)
Presentation
God of splendor, your goodness sustains us, and your graciousness gives us hope.
Use us and these gifts of loaf and cup to further the ways of love, hope, and justice.

The Invitation
Jesus invited all to the feast of peace and new life. Jesus risked everything in
compassion. Jesus promised to make himself known in the breaking of the bread.

Thanksgiving
We give thanks for the wonderful gift of reflective awareness that allows us to
recognize and name the presence of a Creative Spirit beyond all imagining, in our
universe. We give thanks.

Everything we have, everything we see, everything we do, everyone we love and
everyone who loves us reveals this sustaining Presence and our total dependence on
it. We marvel and wonder at the size and complexity of our universe. We marvel
and wonder at the development of life on this planet. We give thanks for the
creative Presence that ‘energizes’ this life and all that exists. We recognize that
human life gives this Presence a way of coming to expression, and that in us the
Presence can sing and dance, speak and write, love and create.

In Jesus of Nazareth, we see the presentness of God urging all of us to make
creativity on earth more visible.

We also remember the meal tradition of Jesus and his early followers.
So in that tradition, we take this bread and this wine mindful of the Presence at
work in our lives, in the ordinary, in the everyday,

and in our desire to love as generously as Jesus loved.

Bread and Wine

Bread is broken.
We break this bread in celebration of the great truth that on this tiny planet,
hurling through cold, empty space, death is made the servant of life, and out of
death life is forever resurrected.

Wine poured out
This cup with its fruit of the vine, is a celebration that things are not always as they
seem: that out of faithfulness and steadfastness, out of suffering and sorrow, may
come unsought blessings.

Loaf; the very stuff of life. Blessed, Broken, Given, Taken.

Cup; fruit of the vine. Blessed, poured, received, taken.

After Communion (Adapted by David Galston/q)
May we recognize the teachings of Jesus. May we be strengthened and enabled to
capture the spirit of his words and live out the implications of those words in our
own time with our own creativity.

THE LORD’S PRAYER
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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us
from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

WORDS OF BLESSING
With wisdom and understanding,
with justice and compassion,
with courage and hope,
may we be blessed this day and every day,
by God, our Creator, source of our life and all life.
Amen. May it be so.

CLOSING HYMN Flowers Will Bloom in the Desert
1. Flowers will bloom in the desert, and enemies learn to be friends.
God’s world will be filled with God’s being,
will welcome the One that God sends.

Refrain: Flowers will bloom in the desert, captives walk free.
These promises, God, you have given, your people have nurtured this dream.

2. The hungry will feed at the banquet,
the blinded be able to see.
All the captives will walk out of prisons,
surprised at their call to be free.

Refrain: Flowers will bloom in the desert, captives walk free.
These promises, God, you have given, your people have nurtured this dream.

3. The poor will know good news is spoken, their value affirmed by their God.
The crippled will dance with God’s praises
and lilies shall burst from dead sod.

Refrain: Flowers will bloom in the desert, captives walk free.
These promises, God, you have given, your people have nurtured this dream.

Worship Bulletin for Sunday, June 28, 2020

We are not the first humans to walk this land. Let us live so we will not be the last.

HYMN For This Great Ancient Land (tune: “Nun Danket”)
For this great ancient land
We join in celebration,
With all its native life,
The joy of God’s creation:
Fresh lakes and flowing streams
Whose waters from on high,
bright clouds that sweep with grace
Across the morning sky.

Now thank we, God, this day
For prophets and their visions,
Who recognized this earth,
A gift from God’s deep passion,
O god of this wide land,
Grant us the faith to see,
You filled its soul with song,
A sacred mystery.

WELCOME

OPENING SENTENCES

Empowering God, when the road ahead looms endless,
empower us to be companions for one another along the road.

Inspiring God, when the road forward is blocked,
inspire in us creative responses that move us beyond the barriers.

Enabling God, when the road before us divides,
enable us to feel your presence luring us on.

ACT OF AWARENESS
We pray:
As we listen to the life of our city, may we sense
a Sacred Presence in its murmuring rhythms,
its working and walking and talking,
its colors and faces and longings.
May it be so.

A CELEBRATION OF FAITH
     We give thanks for the shared life we experience in each other
and that the way we live and celebrate together
will encourage that life.

We affirm that we see and experience this life in our midst.
It invites other life in us.
It gives life to people beyond us.

We affirm that in each of our sacred places life can be sustained,
that is us new life can emerge and grow,
and that home for life is to be cherished every day.

And as we gather in this our sacred place
during this season of Summer, we hold ourselves open
to all the new possibilities before us.

We commit ourselves to go on trying to care for each other,
giving and receiving in a sharing of gifts and graces,
that we may continue to be part of the transforming life of God.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
ABBA PRAYER Fred F. Keip
Indwelling god, infused throughout all existence, we honor you with many names.
Your realm is within the human heart. We accept life for all that it can be, on earth
as throughout all creation. May we continue to draw sustenance from this earth,
and may we receive forgiveness equal to our own. May we ever move from
separation toward union, to live in grace, with love in our hearts, forever and ever.
Amen.

READING Matthew 10:40-42 (inclusive text)
Jesus instructed the Twelve as follows: “Those who welcome you welcome me;
and those who welcome me welcome the One who sent me. those who welcome a
prophet because that person is a prophet will have a prophet’s reward; and those
who welcome the righteous because they are righteous will have the reward of the
righteous. Those who give so much as a cup of cold water to one of these little ones
because they are my disciples, then I tell you solemnly, they will most certainly not lose
their reward.”

CONTEMPORARY EXPLORATION

LORD’S PRAYER
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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us
from evil. For this is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

WORDS OF BLESSING
The peace of this ancient earth to you…of the high blue heavens which embrace it, and
the winds which blow freely over it. The peace of splintered light sparkling on pine trees, and gentle rain falling on parched earth. The peace of star-jewelled skies and full-
orbed moons, of breathless dawns and splendid dying suns. And the peace of the God of
Peace to you. Amen. May it be so.

HYMN Roll the Stone Away!
1. Where God enlightens, bless the light,
roll the stone away. Whom God has called, let
no one slight, roll the stone away.
Stand up, Mary! You are a Priest and Prophet!
Tell us the good news: the stone must roll away.

2. Where Church tradition gags and binds,
roll the stone away. Where words exclude and
bias binds, roll the stone away.
Stand up, Mary, daughter of ancient wisdom!
Tell of your suff’ring to roll the stone away.

3. Where men entomb the truth of Christ,
roll the stone away; where women’s worth is
under-priced, roll the stone away.
Stand up, Mary! Yours is the power also!
Cry out in justice and roll the stone away.

4. The myth and spices that you brought,
(roll the stone away) may now anoint new
life, new thought, roll the stone away.
Stand up, Mary! come, bring your sisters, brothers:
sing resurrection the stone is rolled away!

Worship Bulletin for Sunday, June 21, 2020

SUMMER BEGINS NOW!

HYMN Colorful Creator

1. Colorful Creator, God of mystery,
thank you for the artist teaching us to see
glimpses of the meaning of the commonplace,
visions of the holy in each human face.

2. Harmony of ages, God of listening ear,
thank you for composers tuning us to hear
echoes of the Gospel in the songs we sing,
sounds of love and longing from the deepest spring.

3. Author of our journey, God of near and far,
praise for the tale and drama telling who we are,
stripping to he essence struggles of our day,
times of change and conflict when we choose our way.

4. God of truth and beauty, Poet of the Word,
may we be creators by the Spirit stirred,
open to your presence in our joy and strife,
vessels of the holy coursing through our life.

WELCOME
OPENING PRAYER

Ever-present Spirit,

May sacred dreams and visions fill our souls and broaden our horizons.

May we hear the call of your prophets and teachers so that our communities bend toward justice and wisdom. May your daily blessing pry open our minds and hearts, increasing our understanding of your universe.

Be present with us now as we center ourselves and our communities on You. Amen.

READING Psalm 72

Give to your leaders good judgement, O God,
and a sense of what is right.

May they govern your people with Justice
and do right for those who are powerless.

May the mountains bring peace for the people,
and the hills bring forth justice.

May they defend the poor among the people,
save the children of those who are needy
and crush the oppressor.

May they endure as long as the sun,
like the moon through all generations;
like the rains that fall on the early crops,
like the showers that water the earth.

May justice flower in their days,
and peace till the moon is no more.

May they rule from sea to sea,
And from the river to the ends of the earth.

May they rescue the needy when they cry out,
And also the poor who have no one to help them.

May they have pity on the weak and the powerless;
may they save the lives of the poor.

May they redeem them from oppression and violence,
and regard their blood as precious.

To them, long life and continuous prayers as, day by day, they are blessed.

Let grain be abundant throughout the land,
and wave on the tops of the mountains.

Let the crops blossom like Lebanon
and the people flourish in the cities like the grass of the fields.

Blessed be their name forever;
may their names last as long as the sun.

In them let all the nations be blessed; and proclaim their happiness.

Blessed be God, the God of the faithful people
who alone does wonderous deeds.

Blessed forever be the glorious name of God.

May the whole earth be filled with God’s Glory!

Amen! Amen!

NEW MEMBERS RECOGNIZED

In ordinary times we welcome new members with a joyful celebration during worship followed by a warm reception in the parlors. During the time of the Covid-19 pandemic, however, and until we gather once again in person, we want to proclaim that Joy, Lisa, and Sharon have been granted full, voting membership in our United Congregational Church of Holyoke. They have each spoken of the importance of this community in their lives and are eager for the in-person celebration that will bring them forward for recognition. We are blessed to welcome them and give thanks for their spark and spirit. (Last names are omitted since this service will be available on the internet.)

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

ABBA PRAYER

Gracious Spirit,

Who loves us like a mother, whose realm is blooming among and within us now, we pray that compassion will guide us in every action. Give us what we need for each day and help us to be satisfied with the miracle of that alone. Forgiver, whose embrace brings us to wholeness without our asking, may we reconcile ourselves to one another in humility. And may we cancel the crushing debts that imprison our neighbors so that communities of joy and health may flourish. May we neither profit from nor ignore evil. But ever work to thwart it with non-violence as we co-create the realm of peace in this world, now and each day. Amen.

READING Matthew 10: 31-33

Don’t think that I’ve come to bring peace to the earth; I haven’t come to bring peace, but a sword. I’ve come to set a son against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household!

EXPLORATION Peace and a Mystery

THE LORD’S PRAYER

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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

BENEDICTION

May the light of Summer glow in our homes.
May the fire of blessing glow on our hearts.
May creativity ignite our imaginations.
May love drive out the pain of hunger and poverty.
May passion kindle in all a great enthusiasm for life.
May healing soothe and comfort all.
May we be encircled in light and love. Amen.

Worship for Sunday, June 14, 2020

HYMN Bring Many Names
1. Bring many names, beautiful and good, celebrate in
parable and story, holiness in glory, living, loving God.
Hail and Hosanna! Bring many names! Great, living God!

2. Strong mother God, working night and day, planning all the
wonders of creation, setting each equation, genius at play:
Hail and Hosanna, strong mother God!

3. Warm father God, hugging every child, feeling all the
strains of human living, caring and forgiving till we’re reconciled:
Hail and Hosanna, warm father God!

4. Old, aching God, grey with endless care, calmly piercing
evil’s new disguises, glad of good surprises, wiser than despair:
Hail and Hosanna, old, aching God!

5. Young, growing God, eager, on the move,
saying no to falsehood and unkindness,
crying out for justice, giving all you have:
Hail and Hosanna, young, growing God!

6. Great, living God, never fully known,
joyful darkness far beyond our seeing,
closer yet than breathing, everlasting home:
Hail and Hosanna, great living God!

WELCOME
The community of saints and seekers who gather within the welcome of this congregation is diverse and scattered.
Many of you have accumulated experiences in this community, and recognize parts of our “in-person” worship services. Others of you frame the human quest in other languages. The aim of this church is to inspire community toward justice, peace, and creativity. Welcome!

OPENING TO GOD
God of our dreamtimes and longings, renew our vision. God of mountaintop experiences
and shoreline adventures, put a spring in our feet as we set our face towards the new
challenges in store for us. May it be so.

CENTERING
Let there now be poetry among us.
Listen for the poetry in your own hearts.
Hear the gentle sound of the rising of the Sacred within you.
Look, listen, in the poetry of your common humanness.

POETRY FOR THE STAGES AND CONDITIONS OF LIFE

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
ABBA PRAYER by Fred F. Keip
Indwelling God, infused throughout all existence, we honor you with many names. Your
realm is within the human heart. We accept life for all that it can be, on earth as
throughout all creation. May we continue to draw sustenance from this earth, and may
we receive forgiveness equal to our own. May we ever move from separation toward
union, to live in grace, with love in our hearts, forever and ever. Amen.

EXPLORING WISDOM FROM THE RELIGIOUS TRADITION G. Vosper
Into the silence of our hopes and dreams, words work upon us to break, crack, open us
to new understanding.
May we experience, in these words, a seeking after truth, that we may lift
ourselves to this same desire.

MATTHEW 9:35-10:1
Jesus went about all the cities and villages teaching and proclaiming the good news
of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness. At the sight of the
crowds Jesus’ heart was moved with pity for them because they were harassed and
dejected, like sheep without a shepherd. Then Jesus said to the disciples, ‘The
harvest is rich, but the laborers are few, so ask the One who oversees the harvest to
send laborers to the harvest.’ Jesus summoned the twelve disciples, and gave them
authority over unclean spirits with power to cast them out and to cure all kinds of
diseases and sickness.

REFLECTIONS

PARTING WORDS
The present-ness of God reaches beyond this place…
May we go forth in the certainty of faith,
in the knowledge of love,
and in the vision of hope.
And in our going, may we be blessed with all good things
on this day and forever more. Harold Babcock

THE LORD’S PRAYER
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
debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from
evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen

BENEDICTION
May the God who dances in creation,
who embraces us with human love,
who shakes our lives like thunder,
bless us and drive us out with power
to fill the world with her justice.
Amen. May it be so.
HYMN “O Source of Many Cultures”
Hymn Tune: Aurelia
Text by Andrew Pratt

HYMN O Source of Many Cultures
1. O Source of many cultures,
of lives, beliefs and faith;
you brought us all together
to share one world in space;
Now show us how to honor
each vision of your way,
to live within the tension
of difference you display.

2. The color and the culture,
that kept us both apart,
are gifts that we can offer,
a means for us to start
a journey with each other,
till hand in hand we show,
through mutual understanding,
respect and love can grow.

Reading for Trinity Sunday June 7, 2020

For many who live within the Christian tradition, God is best described by three roles: Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit

COMMUNION SUNDAY Please prepare some bread, a slice or a small loaf of any kind of bread or cracker. In some parts of the world tortilla, rice cake, or cassava are used as this element which is defined not as a wheat product but as the most common food of the people. Let it be something you alone or you with others in your house may break and share. Prepare a cup or cups of juice — perhaps grape or cranberry — or wine, with or without alcohol. Remember, in John’s gospel, Jesus’ first miracle was to turn water into wine. If all you have is a glass of water, it’s enough.

HYMN We Shall Overcome

1. We shall overcome, we shall overcome some day.
CHORUS Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe; we shall overcome some day

2. We’ll walk hand in hand…
CHORUS Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe; we shall overcome some day

3. We shall live in peace…
CHORUS Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe; we shall overcome some day

IN THE BEGINNING

We gather in the shelter of the Creator, the Christ and the Holy Spirit.

Amen.

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.
In the beginning the Spirit of God swept over the face of the waters.
In the beginning God said, “Let us make humankind in our image.”
And so we came into being, created by God who exists in community.
We are here as God’s community to worship the Source of our being.

OPENING PRAYER

Holy Mother you have birthed us into life, Holy Father you have nurtured us along our way. In you we live and move and have our being. To you we bring our offering of praise and thanksgiving. We open ourselves to your presence in this time of worship. Fill us with resolve and purpose to be your community and to expand our boundaries until all of creation is renewed and all people are welcomed and blessed. This we ask through the risen and ascended Christ who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

PRAYERS FOR COMMUNITY

ABBA PRAYER (Jim Burklo, 2010)

Dear One, closer to us than our own hearts, farther from us than the most distant star, you are beyond naming. May your powerful presence become obvious not only in the undeniable glory of the sky, but also in the seemingly base and common processes of the earth. Give us what we need, day by day, to keep body and soul together, because clever as you have made us, we still owe our existence to you. We recognize that to be reconciled with you, we must live peaceably and justly with other human beings, putting hate and bitterness behind us. We are torn between our faith in your goodness and our awareness of the evil in your creation, so deliver us from the temptation to despair. Yours alone is the universe and all its majesty and beauty. So it is. Amen.

PRAYER OF CONFESSION

Holy God, we were created in your image, an image of mutuality and respect for one another; an image of a dance ever moving, ever in tune one with others; an image of community with shared blessing and mission. You have given us dominion over the work of your hands. You have charged us to be fruitful and multiply, to make disciples of all nations. Forgive us God; we have denied our purpose.
We have abused the earth’s resources for our own selfish gain and the consequences
wreak havoc upon the fish of the sea, the birds of the air and every living thing that moves upon the earth. Forgive us God; we have defiled your image.
We have regarded some of your children as “other” and therefore, beyond the reach of your love and care because their professed faith in you, or lack thereof, is different from our own. Forgive us God; for we have wandered far from the mark.

Silence for personal reflection and confession

WORDS OF ASSURANCE

God desires to see broken relationships restored and has heard our prayer. In the name of Jesus the Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, we are forgiven. Thanks be to God.

GENESIS 1:24-31 The sixth day of Creation

And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds: the livestock, the creatures that move along the ground, and the wild animals, each according to its kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals according to their kinds, the livestock according to their kinds, and all the creatures that move along the ground according to their kinds. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make humans in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created people in God’s own image; male and female God created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.

God saw all that was made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.

REFLECTIONS ON THE READINGS

LOAF AND CUP

We remember the times when Jesus faced difficult decisions and destructive forces: the days and nights of his searching, in finding ways to free others from images and ideas that kept them captive and dependent and fearful of God. In breaking down social and religious barriers, in facing failure, in facing death may we find the courage to let go and trust in your guiding, warming light.

(Silence)

As we eat together in our separate rooms, we remember the importance and the words and the actions of all meals in the tradition of the Jesus Movements… He took a loaf, gave thanks, broke it, and gave it to his friends. He poured a cup, offered thanks for it, and gave it also to his friends.

PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING

THE LORD’S PRAYER

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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

BLESSING

Go into this week, held together by the love of God, clothed with the nature of the Christ, reinforced by the strength of the Holy Spirit.
Amen. May it be so.

CLOSING HYMN Walls that Divide

1. Tough ancient walls may still stand proud
and racial strife be fact, though boundaries may be lines of gate, proclaim God’s saving act!

REFRAIN: Walls that divide are broken down; Christ is our unity!
Chains that enslave are thrown aside: Christ is our liberty!

2. When vested pow’r stands firm entrenched
and breaks another’s back, when waste and want live side by side, it’s Gospel that we lack.

REFRAIN: Walls that divide are broken down; Christ is our unity!
Chains that enslave are thrown aside; Christ is our liberty!

3. The truth we seek in varied scheme,
the life that we pursue, unites us in a common quest for self and world made new.

REFRAIN: Walls that divide are broken down; Christ is our unity!
Chains that enslave are thrown aside; Christ is our liberty!

4. The church divided seeks that grace,
that new-ness we proclaim, a unity of serving love that lives praise to God’s name.

REFRAIN: Walls that divide are broken down; Christ is our unity!
Chains that enslave are thrown aside; Christ is our liberty!

5. This broken world seeks lasting health
and vital unity. God’s people, by God’s word renewed,
cast off all slavery.

REFRAIN: Walls that divide are broken down; Christ is our unity!
Chains that enslave are thrown aside; Christ is our liberty!

Pentecost Sunday Worship Bulletin for May 31, 2020

HYMN God Is Here As We Your People

1. God is here! As we your people meet to offer praise and prayer,
May we find in fuller measure what it is in Christ we share.
Here, as in the work around us, all our varied skills and arts
wait the coming of the Spirit into open minds and hearts.

2. Here are symbols to remind us of our lifelong need of grace;
Here are table, font, and pulpit, here the cross has central place.
Here in honesty of preaching, here in silence, as in speech,
here, in newness and renewal, God the Spirit comes to each.

3. Here our children find a welcome n the Shepherd’s flock and fold;
Here as bread and wine are taken, Christ sustains us as of old.
Here the servants of the Servant seek in worship to explore
what it means in daily living to believe and to adore.

4. Sovereign God, of earth and heaven, in an age of change and doubt
Keep us faithful to the gospel, help us work your purpose out.
Here, in this day’s dedication, all we have to give, receive;
we, who cannot live without you, we adore you! We believe!

WELCOME

READING T. Loder

O God of beginnings, as your Spirit moved over the face of the deep on the first day of creation, move with me now in my time of beginnings, when the air is rain-washed, the bloom is on the bush, and the world seems fresh and full of possibilities, and I feel ready and full.
I tremble on the edge of a maybe, a first time, a new thing, a tentative start, and the wonder of it lays its finger on my lips.
In silence, Lord, I share now my eagerness and my uneasiness about this something different I would be or do; and listen for your leading to help me separate the light from the darkness in the change I seek to shape and which is shaping me.

BELL

THE PROMISE FOR THE MORNING Ezekiel 36:26

I will lift the stone from your heart,
And a new spirit I will put within you.

AN ABBA PRAYER • By © Monica Furlong Published in The St Hilda Community. (1996).

God, who cares for us, the wonder of whose presence fills us with awe. Let kindness, justice and love shine in our world. Let your secrets be known here as they are in heaven.
Give us the food and the hope we need for today. Forgive us our wrongdoing as we forgive the wrongs done to us. Protect us from pride and from despair and from the fear and hate which can swallow us up. In you is truth, meaning, glory and power, while worlds come and go. Amen.

READING Excerpts from Acts 2:1-21 (paraphrased)

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.
And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting.
Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them.
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages.
All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?”
Peter said, “This is what was spoken through the prophet Joel: ‘I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your young shall see visions, Your old shall dream dreams. Both Men and women shall declare wisdom, and I will pour out my Spirit on all people.

REFLECTIONS ON PENTECOST AND EVERY DAY

TEACH ME YOUR WAYS by T. Loder in Guerrillas of Grace; Augsburg Books 2005

Teach me your ways, Lord, that I may be open to the same Spirit who moved over the face of the waters in the first day of creation and moves also over the chaos of this time
to fashion a day like this, a world like ours, a life like mine, a kingdom like leaven in bread, like a treasure buried in the fields that daily I plow.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

THE LORD’S PRAYER

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 debts
as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For
thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

BELL

BENEDICTION by John McQuiston II

Evneloping Spirit,

We thank you for this priceless day, which will never cme again.
Through it, you offer us
The opportunity to fill it with compassion and joy.
Help us to trust in your unfolding grace
And transcend self-concer,
So that at this very moment, and throughout this day,
We may live fearlessly and generate loving-kindness,
And thereby experience the only true wealth,
That of life in you.
Amen.

SONG: Come, O Holy Spirit

1. Come, O Holy Spirit, set the Church on fire;
strike it as the lightning hits a posing spire.
Burn away the structures and consume the sham
of our holy systems; come, in Jesus’ name!

Refrain
Come, come, come in Jesus’ name! Take our hearts by storm.
All the world lies open; Pentecost is
now! I said a Come, come, come in Jesus’ name!
Take our hearts by storm, All the world lies open: Pentecost is now! Now!

2. Blow away the cobwebs of our stubborn past
Come, send flying from us myths unfit to last.
Wind of change, refresh us and disturb our calm;
teach us what true love is, take our hearts by storm.

Refrain

3. Free us from the babble of our Babel mind;
spark in us a language all can understand.
Lighten then our darkness, come and show us how
all the world lies open: Pentecost is now!

Refrain

 

 

Ascension Sunday and Memorial Day Worship Bulletin for May 24, 2020

OPENING MUSIC and CANDLE LIGHTING
HYMN Called as Partners in Christ’s Service

1. Called as partners in Christ’s service, called to ministries of grace,
We respond with deep commitment fresh new lines of faith to trace.
May we learn the art of sharing, side by side and friend with friend,
Equal partners in our caring to fulfill God’s chosen end.

2. Christ’s example, Christ’s inspiring, Christ’s clear call to work and worth,
Let us follow, never faltering, reconciling folk on earth.
Men and women, richer, poorer, all God’s people, young and old,
Blending human skills together gracious gifts from God unfold.

3. Thus new patterns for Christ’s mission, in a small or global sense,
Help us bear each other’s burdens, breaking down each wall or fence.
Words of comfort, words of vision, words of challenge, said with care,
Bring new power and strength for action, make us colleagues, free and fair.

4. So God grant us for tomorrow ways to order human life,
That surround each person’s sorrow with a calm that conquers strife.
Make us partners in our living, our compassion to increase,
Messengers of faith, thus giving hope and confidence and peace.

WELCOME WITNESSES!

Notes about today’s two themes: Ascension and Memorial Day.

BELL

CALL TO WORSHIP Psalm 95 excerpts

O come, let us sing unto the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
Let us come before God’s presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great Ruler above all gods.
In God’s hands are the deep places of the earth;
the heights of the mountains also.
The sea is God’s, for God made it,
and God’s hands formed the dry land.
O come, let us worship and bow down;
let us kneel before God our Maker.

REMEMBERING TO SAY GOOD-BYE

A MEMORIAL TO THE MEN AND WOMEN OF THE HOLYOKE SOLDIERS HOME

OPENING

Risen and ascended Christ, you surround us with witnesses and send us the Counselor
who opens our minds to understand your teaching. Bless us with such grace that our lives may become a blessing for the world now, and in the age to come. Amen.

PSALM 31:1-5

In you, O LORD, I have taken refuge; let me never be put to shame; deliver me in your righteousness. Turn your ear to me, come quickly to my rescue; be my rock of refuge, a strong fortress to save me. Since you are my rock and my fortress, for the sake of your name lead and guide me. Free me from the trap that is set for me, for you are my refuge. Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD, the God of truth.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

ABBA PRAYER by Sherri Wienberg
God – heart of the world:
revealed through every aspect of creation:
understood through our awareness.
May we honor the holiness of creation and act accordingly
so that your love is reflected in the way we live.
May we always be thankful for the food we eat
and the friends we have.
May we forgive those who transgress against us
and be forgiven for our own.
In the freedom of love may we live as your heartbeat
and not be compromised by hesitation.
Through our freedom, may your justice
be seen and heard and experienced
forever and ever. Amen.

READING Luke 24:44-53 The Message (MSG)

Then Jesus said, “Everything I told you while I was with you comes to this: All the things written about me in the Law of Moses, in the Prophets, and in the Psalms have to be fulfilled.”

He went on to open their understanding of the Word of God, showing them how to read their Bibles this way. He said, “You can see now how it is written that the Messiah suffers, rises from the dead on the third day, and then — a total life-change through the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed in his name to all nations—starting from here, from Jerusalem!

You’re the first to hear and see it. You are the witnesses. What comes next is very important: I am sending what God promised to you, so stay here in the city until it arrives, until you’re equipped with power from on high.” Jesus then led them out of the city over to Bethany. Raising his hands, he blessed them, and while blessing them, took his leave, being carried up to heaven.

And they were on their knees, worshiping him. They returned to Jerusalem bursting with joy. They spent all their time in the Temple praising God. Yes.

COMMENTARY AND EXPLORATION: We Are the Witnesses

THE LORD’S PRAYER

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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

BENEDICTION

HYMN This Is My Song

1. This is my song, O God of all the nations, a song of peace for lands a far and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is; here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating with hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

2. My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean, and sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine;
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover, and skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
O hear my song, O God of all the nations, a song of peace for their land and for mine.

You can watch this worship service here

Worship Bulletin for May 17, 2020

OPENING HYMN Praise to the Living God
1. Praise to the living God of love and light, Whose
word brought forth the myriad suns and set the worlds in flight;
Whose infinite design, which we but dimly see,
Pervades all nature, making all a cosmic unity.

2. Praise to the living God, from whom all things derive, Whose
Spirit formed upon this sphere the first faint seeds of life;
Who caused them to evolve, unwitting, toward God’s goal, Till
Humankind stood on earth, as living, thinking souls.

3. Praise to the living god, who knows our joy and pain, Who
shares with us our common life, the sacred and profane.
God toils where’er we toil, in home and mart and mill; And
deep within the human heart God leads us forward still.

4. Praise to the living God, around, within, above,
Beyond the grasp of human mind, but whom we know as love.
In these tumultuous days, so full of home and strife, May
we bear witness to the Way, O Source and Goal of life.

WELCOME/BELL GATHERING     L Bates/adapted
As we gather in this sacred place, let us open:
our minds to the challenge of reason,
our hearts to the healing of love,
our lives to the calling of conscience,
and our souls to the comfort of joy.

Astonished by the miracle of life,
grateful for the gift of friendship,
and confident in the power of a living faith,
we celebrate this time together.

PRAYER AS INVITATION by Earl Holt
The moment of prayer is an invitation to be
calm in the midst of the tumult of the
world and our over busy lives…
To bring together thought and feeling,
mind and spirit, and to find some center,
some still point, of perspective and peace.
Here in this sacred place which has been
home for so many secret thoughts and
hopes, fears and desires, may we feel free to
look at ourselves honestly.
May we be unafraid to face the decisions we
have been trying to avoid, the doubts and
questions it has been easy to ignore, the
things we have tried to keep hidden not only
from others but even from ourselves.
May we come to discover that there are
resources within ourselves and beyond us…
New dimensions of the spirit…
May we be emboldened by these discoveries
to reach out to others in their need and so
finally to discover that to give is not only
more blessed than to receive, but that to give
to others is to receive what we most need for
ourselves.

CENTERING SILENCE
Come apart from the busy-ness of family
and work, and dwell in the present-ness of
the sacred, source of being.
(Silence)
May the silence which we now share
quieten us, touch our need,
refresh our courage,
enlarge our wonder.
(Silence)

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
We invite you to hold in prayer all those you
know – names and specific situations will
not be spoken during the morning live
streaming.

THE ABBA PRAYER by Jim Burklo, 2010
Dear One, closer to us than our own hearts,
farther from us than the most distant star,
you are beyond naming.
May your powerful presence become
obvious not only in the undeniable glory of
the sky, but also in the seemingly base and
common processes of the earth.
Give us what we need, day by day,
to keep body and soul together, because
clever as you have made us, we still owe our
existence to you.
We recognize that to be reconciled with you,
we must live peaceably and justly with other
human beings, putting hate and bitterness
behind us.
We are torn between our faith in your
goodness and our awareness of the evil in
your creation, so deliver us from the
temptation to despair.
Yours alone is the universe and all its
majesty and beauty. So it is. Amen.

READING: Acts 17:22-28
Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus
and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely
religious you are in every way.
For as I went through the city and looked
carefully at the objects of your worship, I
found among them an altar with the
inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What
therefore you worship as unknown, this I
proclaim to you.
The God who made the world and
everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and
earth, does not live in shrines made by
human hands, nor is God served by
human hands, as if needing anything, since
God gives to all mortals life and breath and
all things.
From one ancestor God made all nations to
inhabit the whole earth, allotted the times of
their existence and the boundaries of the
places where they would live, so that they
would search, reach out, and perhaps find
God — though indeed God is not far from
each one of us.
For ‘In God we live and move and have our
being;’ as even some of your own poets
have said, ‘For we too are God’s offspring.’

EXPLORATION OF THE READING

THE LORD’S PRAYER
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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory,
forever. Amen.

BENEDICTION John O’Donohue in “Eternal Echoes: Exploring Our Hunger to Belong”
May you awaken to the mystery of being here
and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
May you have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
May you receive great encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
May you respond to the call of your gift and find the courage to follow its path.
May the flame of anger free you from falsity.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame and anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of soul.
May you take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek no attention.
May you be consoled in the secret symmetry of your soul.
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder.

CLOSING HYMN We Sing the Greatness
1. We sing the greatness of our God That made the mountains rise,
That spread the flowing seas abroad And built the lofty skies.
We sing the wisdom that ordained The sun to rule the day;
The moon shines full at God’s command, And all the stars obey.

2. We sing the goodness of the Lord That filled the earth with food;
God formed the creatures with a word And then pronounced them good.
Lord, how Thy wonders are displayed Where’er we turn our eyes;
In every season of the year, And through the changing skies.

3. There’s not a plant or flower below But makes Thy glories known;
And clouds arise and tempests blow By order from Thy throne,
While all that borrows life from Thee Is ever in Thy care,
And everywhere that one can be, Thou, God, art present there. Amen.

You can view the worship service here

Worship Bulletin for Mother's Day, May 10, 2020

WELCOME TO WORSHIP
Picture us gathered as the human family. For the moment, drop attachments to things that don’t give
life. Imagine a world in which justice and peace wrap their arms around us. Plan for a day when we
can unite as the beloved people of God.

HYMN/LIGHTING OF CANDLES
1. Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee, Opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness, Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness, Fill us with the light of day.

2. All thy works with joy surround thee, Earth and heaven reflect thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around thee, Center of the unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, Flowery meadow, flashing sea,
Chanting bird and flowing fountain, Call us to rejoice in thee.

OPENING SENTENCES
We clasp the hands of those that go before us,
And the hands of those who come after us.
We enter the little circle of each other’s arms, and the larger circles of lovers, whose
hands are joined in a dance,
And the larger circle of all creatures, Passing in and out of life,
who move also in a dance,
To a music so subtle and vast that no ear hears it, except in fragments.
Let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

BELL

WE PRAY
The Spirit of Creativity is all around us. We are grateful for the possibility of being ever
more aware, human and alive. Our world touches us in so many ways. May the joys
and the concerns of this present day move and jolt us to our greater selves and our
greater thoughts. Amen.

WORDS OF THANKSGIVING
For our community gathered or scattered,
For the spirit that called us together and drew us to this time:
Let us give thanks.
For the moments we have shared with others;
For those who have been as mothers to us;
For times when we have reached out across barriers of distance and fear;
For times when others have reached out to us:
Let us again give thanks.
For our weaving together out of many separate selves
These moments of celebration and reflection:
We give thanks for this day.

A TIME OF PRAYER

THE LORD’S PRAYER
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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine in the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Padre nuestro que estás en los cielos, Santificado sea tu Nombre. Venga tu reino. Hágaste tu voluntad en la tierra como en el cielo. Danos hoy el pan de este día y perdona nuestras deudas como nosotros perdonamos nuestros deudores y no nos dejes cer en al tentación sino que líbranos del malo. Amen.

READING Acts 7:55-60 The stoning of Stephen
But filled with the Holy Spirit, he (Stephen) gazed into heaven and saw the glory of
God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the
heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they
covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him. Then
they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him; and the witnesses laid
their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. While they were stoning
Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” Then he knelt down and cried
out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said
this, he died.

MOMENT OF FOCUSED REFLECTION: Wanda Cooper-Jones and Other Mothers

LOVING LETTERS FROM A DEAD HERETIC

CLOSING PRAYER
May God’s peace rest upon us;
May God’s great love reach to every heart;
May we always sense God’s care among us, so that we find the good of one another

You can watch this worship service here

Worship Bulletin for May 3, 2020

WELCOME TO A TIME OF REORIENTATION FOR THE COMING WEEK

SETTING THE TABLE

In your dwelling place: candle, bell, loaf, cup

In the church: candles, bell, loaf, cup

BELL

OPENING WORDS

We long to celebrate life’s beauty and find healing for its pain; to honor our kinship with each other and with the earth, and to be inspired to create a more compassionate world, beginning with ourselves. So, let us celebrate the richness and diversity of life.

SUNG INTROIT

APPROACH TO GOD

Creator of the universe, you made the world in beauty, and restore all things in glory through the victory of Jesus Christ. We pray that, wherever your image is still disfigured by poverty, sickness, selfishness, war and greed, the new creation in Jesus Christ may appear in justice, love, and peace, to the glory of your name. Amen.

HYMN Community of Christ

1. Community of Christ, who make the Cross your own,

Live out your creed and risk your life for God alone:

The God who wears your face, to whom all worlds belong,

Whose children are of every race and every song.

2. Community of Christ, look past the church’s door

And see the refugee, the hungry, and the poor.

Take hands with the oppressed, the jobless in your street,

Take towel and water, that you wash your neighbor’s feet.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE – CONCLUDING WITH:

Open our hearts to your power

moving around us and between us and within us, until your glory is revealed in our love of both friend and enemy, in communities transformed by justice and compassion, and in the healing of all that is broken. Amen.

RESPONSE

READING AND MESSAGE Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles.

All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need.

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home –

– and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.

And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

PREPARATION

We pray: May the Spirit of Wisdom comfort and inspire us. The symbols of life are all around us: light and noise, infants and adults, birds and animals, colors and movement, words of goodwill, songs of joy.

May we recognize and renew these symbols of life everyday; and be inspired to share them generously. May it be so.

LORD’S PRAYER

Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy nae; 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 debts as we forgive our debtors. 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.

THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION

Hungry Hearts and Thin-Stretched Souls -Morkin

Beloved Sisters and Brothers, this sacramental meal points the way from darkness to light. The Bread is food for our hungry hearts. When you are on the path of healing and hope, it will sustain you. The cup is drink for our thin-stretched souls. When you are seeking peace and your higher calling on the path, this cup will nourish you.

God of eternal light, speak to our hungry hearts and thin-stretched souls during this holy meal. Receive us as we are, and we shall open to your presence. Touch us in our dark places and lift us into your light.

The community gathered at this table stretches around the globe. Here, in this moment, we remember the night in an upper room when Jesus and his disciples came together to observe the Passover.

After he gave thanks, Jesus picked up the bread for hungry hearts and broke it. He passed it to his disciples. “This is my body. Remember me!” They were hungry, and their hearts were filled.

He held up the cup for thin-stretched souls, took a drink, and passed it around the table. “This cup signifies a new relationship with God.” They drank, and their thin-stretched souls sipped holiness.

You who are hungry, take this bread and eat. You who are thirsty, take this cup and drink. May this loaf fill our hearts. May this cup heal our souls. Christ in this bread. Christ in this cup.

GIVING THANKS

CLOSING HYMN

1. Learn from all the songs of earth that we never sing alone, that our music has its birth in what wind and wave intone, that before God spoke a word, God first blew up on the sea, and the breath of music stirred everything that came to be.

2. The creation God conceives brims with melody and beat, From the wind among the leaves to the thunderstorm’s retreat, from the whispering of snow to the waterfall that sings psalms and anthems rise and flow from the plainest, simplest things.

3. And the songs we daily hear in the creatures’ chirps and cries, from the notes that signal fear to their hymns that fill the skies, beckon us to join earth’s choir with our own distinctive parts that God’s melodies inspire as the Spirit fills our hearts.

4. When we harmonize with earth and its elemental song, we recall who gave us birth and to whom we all belong, we more deeply understand what the living Christ displays: we are fashioned by God’s hand for a life that sings God’s praise.

BENEDICTION

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Worship Bulletin for Earth Sunday, April 26, 2020

PRELUDE
WECOME
OPENING WORDS      Adapted Kenneth L Patton
Let us reverence life with our eyes, ears, and fingertips.
Let us love the world through heart and mind and body.
We feed our eyes upon the mystery in the faces of our sisters and brothers,
of mothers and fathers, and children everywhere.
Let us be open to our full and emerging humanity. 
We gather, not in bowing down, not with closed eyes and stopped ears, but with the opening of all windows of our beings,
with the full outstretching of our spirits.
Let us gather in meditation and singing, as those who have fallen in love with life.GIVING THANKS ON EARTH SUNDAY
May we give thanks for all the silences in our lives…
(Silence)
Praying by Mary OliverIt doesn’t have to be
the blue iris, it could be
weeds in a vacant lot, or a few
small stones; just
pay attention, then patch
a few words together and don’t try
to make them elaborate, this isn’t
a contest but the doorway
into thanks, and a silence in which
another voice may speak.

HYMN         For the Beauty of the Earth          It’s Earth Sunday!

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE

THE LORD’S PRAYER
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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

READING
Luke 24:13-24, 28-35.  (Inclusive Text, adapted)

Two of the disciples of Jesus were on their way to a village called Emmaus, seven miles from Jerusalem, and they were talking together about all that had happened.

Now as they talked this over, Jesus came up and walked by their side, but something prevented them from recognizing him. Jesus said to them, ‘What matters are you discussing as you walk along?’

They stopped short, their faces downcast. Then one of them, called Cleopas, answered, ‘You must be the only person staying in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have been happening there these last few days?’

‘What things?’ Jesus asked. ‘All about Jesus of Nazareth,’ they answered, ‘who proved to be a great prophet by the things he said and did in the sight of God and of the whole people.

‘And how our chief priests and our leaders handed him over to be sentenced to death, and had him crucified. Our own hope had been that this Jesus would be the one to set Israel free.

‘And this is not all; two whole days have gone by since it all happened, and some women from our group have astounded us: they went to the tomb in the early morning, and when they did not find the body there, they came to tell us they had seen a vision of angels who declared Jesus was alive. Some of our friends went to the tomb and found everything exactly as the women had reported, but of Jesus they saw nothing…’

When they drew near to the village to which they were going, Jesus made as if to go on; but they pressed him to stay with them. ‘It is nearly evening,’ they said, ‘and the day is almost over.’  So Jesus went in to stay with them. Now while Jesus was with them at the table, he took the bread and said the blessing; then broke it and handed it to them.

And their eyes were opened and they recognized Jesus; but he had vanished from their sight. They said to each other, ‘Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked to us on the road…?’ They set out that instant and returned to Jerusalem… ‘It is true. The Christ has risen and has appeared to Simon!’ Then they told their story of what had happened on the road and how they had recognized Jesus at the breaking of the bread.

REFLECTIONS
What is bread?
What kinds of bread are not eaten?
What have you learned while breaking bread   ….with a stranger?
….with a friend?
….with a family member?

HYMN        Trav-ler, Are You Passing Through?

WORDS OF BLESSING                        (Joyce Boyce-Tillman/wb)
Fall in love with living – wrestling with the chaos and the pain within ourselves and within the world. Join the celebration of life, dancing with the angels and the clowns.
And may the God of peace and joy who is continually making all things new, embrace you as a partner in the divine creating.
     Amen! May it be so.

POSTLUDE

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Worship Bulletin for Sunday, April 19, 2020

PRELUDE
WELCOME
OPENING WORDS
Let us begin with gratitude for the present moment, for the green earth which is our home, for the waters that bring life, and for all the beings that journey with us in this time of uncertainty.  Let us continue with Hope. We cannot know what’s over the horizon in this time of pandemic, but we can always see a reflection of the Divine in our encounters with creation, and the beloved beings with whom we seek the bread for the journey.  AMEN

 

HYMN     Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah(Alternate Text below)

1 Guide me, O my great Redeemer,
pilgrim through this barren land;
I am weak, but you are mighty;
hold me with your powerful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
feed me now and evermore,
feed me now and evermore.
2 Open now the crystal fountain,
where the healing waters flow.
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
ever be my strength and shield,
ever be my strength and shield.3 When I tread the verge of Jordan,
bid my anxious fears subside.
Death of death, and hell’s Destruction,
land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises
I will ever sing to you,
I will ever sing to you.

Exodus 16:1-4 (paraphrased)
Not long after Moses freed the Israelites from their captivity to the Egyptian pharaoh, the whole lot of them began to complain, “Why didn’t God let us die in comfort in Egypt where we had lamb stew and all the bread we could eat?  Moses, you’ve brought us out into this wilderness to starve us to death.”
God said to Moses, “I’m going to rain bread down from the skies for you. The people will go out and gather each day’s ration.”  I’m going to test them to see if they’ll live according to my Teaching or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they have gathered, it will turn out to be twice as much as their daily ration.” God spoke to Moses, “I’ve listened to the complaints of the Israelites. Now tell them: ‘At dusk you will eat meat and at dawn you’ll eat your fill of bread; and you’ll realize that I am God, your God.’”
That evening quail flew in and covered the camp and in the morning there was a layer of dew all over the camp. When the layer of dew had lifted, there on the wilderness ground was a fine flaky something, fine as frost on the ground. The Israelites took one look and had no idea what it was. So, Moses told them, “It’s the bread God has given you to eat.” The Israelites ate the manna for forty years until they arrived at the land where they would settle down.

ANTHEM        Rain Down       J. Cortez
Rain down; rain down; rain down your love on your people.
Rain down; rain down; rain down your love, God of life.

PRAYER AND PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
LORD’S PRAYER
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 debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

A NOTE ABOUT OFFERING
Usually, when we gather in church on a Sunday Morning, we invite an offering to support God’s mission here in the church. This morning, we’d like to affirm that those offerings are life-sustaining – not just for our church, but for many organizations who strive to do good works. So, we encourage you to make your gifts to organizations that live out the words of the Prophet Micah to “Do Justice, Love Kindness, and Walk Humbly with your God.”  If you are part of a church, synagogue, or mosque that expresses justice and compassion for all of God’s beloved, send them a gift. It will be a sign of hope in these uncertain times.

MEDITATION AND DISCUSSION                                                                                                    Bobbie and Chuck

HYMN                         God That Madest Earth and Heaven

  1. God that madest earth and heaven darkenss and light, who the day for toil has given, for rest the night: may thine angel guards defend us, slumber sweet thy mercy send us; holy dreams and  hopes attend us, this, live-long night.
  2. When the constant sun returning unseals our eyes, may we, born anew like morning, to labor rise. Gird for us the task that calls us, let not ease and self enthrall us, strong through thee what e’re befall us, O God most wise!

BENEDICTION        J. Mauldin
The God we worship is never confined to any sacred place. Look to God who is found in ordinary and surprising places – even in these uncommon times.
Now may the love of truth guide you, the warmth of love hold you, and the spirit of peace bless you, this day and in the days to come.
At Home:  May it be so.

POSTLUDE

Worship Bulletin for Maundy Thursday April 9, 2020

THE SERVICE
We gather in the presence of God, who invites us to take our place at the table as brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ. We shall come in silence, seeking the peace that passes all understanding.
We remember that the night before he died, Jesus called his disciples to an upper room, where he offered a blessing, broke bread, and poured wine. We enter this time, attending to God with our hearts and minds.
Now we take our places at the cosmic table, recognizing the presence of Christ among us everywhere. We nourish ourselves and our community in him.BELL                      
The first day of Unleavened Bread was the day when the Passover lambs were slain. The disciples approached Jesus concerning the place for observing the feast. JOHN asked Jesus, “where would you like us to prepare the Passover?”
Jesus answered:  “Go into the city.  A man will meet you carrying a jar of water.  Follow him.  When he enters a house, give this message to the householder:  The Master says, “Where is the room reserved for me to eat the Passover with my disciples?”  He will show you a large room upstairs, set out in readiness.  Make the necessary preparations for us there.
The disciples left and went to the city where they met the man as Jesus had said.  They gave him the message. Later that evening, Jesus gathered with the Twelve for the Passover feast.  With a heavy heart, he tried to prepare them for the coming ordeal.READING   John 13
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
Jesus got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
“No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
“Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.
When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. “You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Then JESUS said:  I have something to tell you.  One of you will betray me – one who is dipping into the same bowl with me.PONDERImagine yourself in this upper room with Jesus and his friends.
With whom do you identify? How do you feel?
Peter resists Jesus’ service of footwashing. Would you?
Are you surprised that Jesus included Judas
in the footwashing?
What would it take to offer a service of love
to someone who hurt or betrayed you?
What manner of love does Jesus model and command of
us?

Tonight, as we remember the shadows surrounding the last hours of Jesus’ life, let us also remember the light which God’s love shines upon us.

HYMN:     What Wondrous Love Is This?
1 What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!2 When I was sinking down, sinking down, sinking down,
when I was sinking down, sinking down;
when I was sinking down beneath God’s righteous frown,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
Christ laid aside his crown for my soul!3 To God and to the Lamb, I will sing, I will sing,
to God and to the Lamb, I will sing;
to God and to the Lamb, who is the great I AM,
while millions join the theme, I will sing, I will sing,
while millions join the theme, I will sing!4 And when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing on;
and when from death I’m free, I’ll sing and joyful be,
and through eternity I’ll sing on, I’ll sing on,
and through eternity I’ll sing on!Jesus put away bowl and towel and reminded his friends that they were called to serve.   We come before you, O God, prepared to search out the focus and pattern of our Christian service.  Amen.SILENCEPRAYER OF CONFESSION
Giver of Life, from time immemorial you call us to yourself.
In ways too numerous to mention, we fail to respond.
Forgive us, we pray. Our limited understanding of culture
gets in the way of fellowship with those different from ourselves.
Our limited vision of community gets in the way of your call
to accept the cost and joy of discipleship, to seek justice and peace for all.
Replace our arrogance, Merciful One, with the humility and caring service Jesus modeled, for truly we are not greater than our Teacher.  Amen.WORDS OF ASSURANCE
You speak, O God, and we hear your voice. It comes through trusted friends, through the challenge of world events, through reflection on the scriptures.  It comes through study, meditation, and prayer.        As we respond to God, pardon and peace are ours. Thanks be to God!  Amen.THE LORD’S PRAYER 
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 debts, as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.  For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever.  Amen.
ANTHEM  Remember Me 
                               music by A. Adams; words by S. Andrews
At the close of the day in an upper room,
the Lord sat down with the twelve. 
It was then that He took the bread,
broke it and blessed it and said:  
“Take, eat and remember Me.
This is my body I give for you. 
Take, eat and remember Me. Remember Me.”The disciples ate with their Lord that night,
not knowing this was the last. 
It was then that he took the cup,
raised it and blessed it and said:
“Take, drink and remember Me.
This is My life-blood I give for you.
Take drink and remember Me.
Remember Me.THE SACRAMENT OF THE LAST SUPPER
This commemorative act, central to our tradition,
comes alive for us each time we gather
at the Communion Table.
In re-enacting this event,
what is it that we receive in doing so?
and pass on to future generations?
At this table, and especially on this night,
we stand remembering our past, faithful in our present
and hoping in God’s future. 

WORDS OF INSTITUTION                                 
1 Corinthians, 11:23-26
The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread,  and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
SHARING THE LOAF AND THE CUP
        If you have communion elements, we invite you to share them.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
Eternal God, we have come to your table poor and needy, and you have fed us with your own life. Grant that we may know the fullness of your blessing.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.
THE HYMN  Beneath the Cross of Jesus
Beneath the cross of Jesus
I fain would take my stand,
the shadow of a mighty Rock
within a weary land;
a home within the wilderness,
a rest upon the way,
from the burning of the noontide heat
and the burden of the day.
I take, O cross, thy shadow
for my abiding place:
I ask no other sunshine than
the sunshine of his face;
content to let the world go by,
to know no gain nor loss;
my sinful self my only shame,
my glory all the cross.


BENEDICTION
Go out into the night,
contemplating what Jesus faced on that fateful Friday.
Make note of what you experienced this evening.
May you be continually transformed into the image of Christ.
Just as Jesus honored God by placing God’s will above his own,
may God be glorified through our lives.
Be of good courage!
Trust in God in whom we have salvation and hope

AMEN

Worship Bulletin for Palm Sunday, April 5, 2020

This worship bulletin has been prepared for use during the                    
Coronavirus pandemic. May God’s light shine upon all.
BE SILENT
SIGNAL READINESS–Make a sound by tapping, ringing, humming or breathing.
CLOWN ON A DONKEY
by John Cranmer, 9 April 2017
Clown on a donkey
Stirred onwards
By an hysteric crowd
Living their Prophetic Edge
“Next Year in Jerusalem!!”

People camping outside the gates
“Today we are slaves
Next Year we will be free!”
Exiles coming Home
Again and again and again!

Here is living out a stream of life
At least 500 years deep
Remembering return from Exile
Babylon to Jerusalem
Anchored in the words of Zechariah
Prophet of National Revival
And his vision of the king
Coming with counter-cultural presence
Riding a Donkey’s foal
Not the War-Horse of overt power

And the Nazarene?
An ongoing question
For Contemporary Power 

National Savior at the Gates?
Underground Liberation Bringer?
Or something else?

Peace and Shalom
On this Day!

 

AT HOME:  Bring together photographs of the people in your life (past and present). Picture yourself with them along a parade route. Visualize hope.

HYMN             All Glory, Laud and Honor

All glory, laud and honor
To Thee Redeemer, King,
To whom the lips of all children
Made sweet hosannas ring:

Thou art the King of Israel,
Thou David’s royal Son,
Who in the Lord’s name comest,
The King and blessed one!
The company of angels
Are praising Thee on high,                                                                           
And mortal men and all things
Created make reply:
The people of the Hebrews
With palms before Thee went;
Our praise and prayer and anthems
Before Thee we present!           
To Thee, before Thy passion,
They sang their hymns of praise;
to Thee, now high exalted,
Our melody we raise:
Thou didst accept their praises –
Accept the praise we bring,
Who in all good delightest,
Thou good and gracious King! Amen.   
A REFLECTION ON THE PALM SUNDAY PARADE
by Brent McCauley
Small dust devils go spinning down the empty street.
Wind rattles the dry leaves
Of palm branches tossed in careless heaps.
Today crowds packed the street.
We cheered, we sang, we danced, waved palm branches,
A hero’s welcome for the one who comes,
The one who changes lives,
Some say the promised one, the one we have waited for.
We laid our branches down before him,
A royal carpet for his feet.
Now his friends and he are off somewhere,
The street is quiet, the crowds have all gone home.
So, what happens now?ACT OF AWARENESS  (Gretta Vosper/wab)
When, in the bursting forth of a new day’s truths, we feel the unbinding of what once stood fast, might we recognise the freedom upon which we are invited to embark and feel ourselves released into a future of goodness, truth, and beauty. We open ourselves to this possibility with love for the ground upon which we walk and the stars for which we reach.THE “ABBA” PRAYER
by Tom Hall
Eternal Spirit, Source of all that is and ever shall be, Loving Parent in whom we discern heaven, May knowledge of your holiness inspire all peoples. And may your commonwealth of peace and freedom flourish on earth,  until all of humankind heed your call to justice and compassion. 
May we find the bread that we need for today. And for the hurts we cause one another may we be forgiven in the same measure that we forgive. In times of trial and temptation, help us to be strong; When life seems overwhelming, help us to endure; And thus from the yoke of sin deliver us. May you reign in the power of human love, Now and forever.

Amen.

PSALM 51:10-2, 15-17             New Revised Standard Version
Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
    or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
 Open my lips, Lord,
    and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
    you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
    a broken and contrite heart
    you, God, will not despise.

A READING                         Matthew 21:1-11
When they neared Jerusalem, having arrived at Bethphage on Mount Olives, Jesus sent two disciples with these instructions: “Go over to the village across from you. You’ll find a donkey tethered there, her colt with her. Untie her and bring them to me. If anyone asks what you’re doing, say, ‘The Master needs them!’ He will send them with you.” This is the full story of what was sketched earlier by the prophet: Tell Zion’s daughter, “Look, your king’s on his way, poised and ready, mounted on a donkey, on a colt, foal of a pack animal.”  The disciples went and did exactly what Jesus told them to do. They led the donkey and colt out, laid some of their clothes on them, and Jesus mounted. Nearly all the people in the crowd threw their garments down on the road, giving him a royal welcome. Others cut branches from the trees and threw them down as a welcome mat. Crowds went ahead and crowds followed, all of them calling out, “Hosanna to David’s son!” “Blessed is he who comes in God’s name!” “Hosanna in highest heaven!”  As he made his entrance into Jerusalem, the whole city was shaken. Unnerved, people were asking, “What’s going on here? Who is this?”  The parade crowd answered, “This is the prophet Jesus, the one from Nazareth in Galilee.”

REFLECTIONS
The language of faith includes a lot of “first person plural.” We gather. We pray. We sing. Our community. Our common vision. We all get the picture. But this morning, we are sequestered in our individual places, physically apart from one another.
I was thinking about the events of that last week of Jesus’ ministry.  The parade into Jerusalem was a “WE” event, and thus full of “WE” energy and confidence.  Toward the end of the week, that “WE” grew smaller and the tone became more somber.  While on trial, the “WE” turned against Jesus. Even the disciples faded into the background.  Hanging on the cross, the sense of community energy and confidence was gone. It must have been a first person singular event for many.
We can do some things with “WE” energy and vision that don’t work so well with “I” energy. Those of us who are introverts might see it just the opposite, but even then, those occasions when the parades of like-minded people flow around us are precious. This morning, let’s ponder the relationship between the “I” and the “WE” of our spiritual journey(s).  We’ll look for your responses by email.

READING             Creative Love

by W. DeWitt Hyde

Creative love, our thanks we give
that this our world, is incomplete,
that struggle greets our will to live,
that work awaits our hands and feet. That we are not yet fully wise,
that we are in the making still –
as friends who share one enterprise
and strive to blend with nature’s will. What though the future long delay,
and still with faults we daily cope?
It gives us that for which we pray,
a field for toil and faith and hope.Since what we choose is what we are,
and what we love we yet shall be,
the goal may ever shine afar –
the will to reach it makes us free. 


COMMUNION HYMN
Let us break bread together on our knees

  • Let us break bread together on our knees
  • Let us drink wine together on our knees
  • Let us praise God together on our knees

Refrain: When I fall on my knees, with my face to the rising sun, 
       O Lord, have mercy on me.

A JESUS BANQUET
by Rex A. E. Hunt

Welcome to the Table…At the table we give thanks for justice, love, peace and freedom. At the table we give thanks for friends and strangers together in community in a safe place. At the table we welcome old and young.

Thanksgiving…
We give thanks for the unfolding of matter, mind, intelligence, and life that has brought us to this moment in time.

We celebrate our common origin with everything that exists. We celebrate the mystery we experience and address as ‘God,’ ground and sustainer of everything that exists, in whom we live and move and have our being.

And we acknowledge this mystery embodied in every human person, aware that each one of us gives God unique and personal expression.

God is everywhere present. In grace-filled moments of sharing. In carefully created communities of loving solidarity. We are one with everything, living and nonliving, on this planet. Connected. Interrelated. Interdependent.

The Story…
We remember the stories from our tradition… How on many occasions Jesus would share a meal with friends. Bread and wine, the very basics of life, shared in community.

How the bread would be taken, a blessing offered, and then shared between them. And all of them ate.  How some wine would be poured out, a blessing offered, and then passed between them. And all of them drank.

The bread and the wine symbolized human lives interconnected with other human lives,
and the power of giving and receiving.

May the passion for life as seen in Jesus, and in the lives and struggles of many other
committed and faithful people then and now, enable us to dare and to dream and to risk…
may we re-imagine the world. Together may we work to make all things new. May we celebrate the possibilities and hope we each have and are called to share.

For everyone born, a place at the table.
We break the bread for the broken earth, ravaged and plundered for greed. May there be healing of our beautiful blue and green planet.

We break this bread for our broken humanity, for the powerful and the powerless trapped by exploitation and oppression. May there be the healing of humanity.

We break this bread for those who follow other paths: for those who follow the noble path of the Buddha, the yogic path of the Hindus; the way of the Eternal Guru of the Sikhs; and for the descendants of Abraham, the children of Hagar and Sarah.  May there be healing where there is pain and woundedness.

We break this bread for the unhealed hurts and wounds that lie within us all. May we be healed.

Wine is poured into the cup.  This is the cup of peace and of new life for all. A sign of love for the community of hope. A reminder of the call to live fully, to love wastefully, and to be all that we can be.

The Sharing…
To eat and drink together reminds us of the deeper aspects of human fellowship, for from time immemorial the sharing of bread and wine has been the most universal of all symbols of community.

After The Sharing…
We give thanks that we have gathered together in our sacred places. We rejoice in the giftedness of each person. We are grateful for who we are for each other. May we continue to be truly thankful in all we do and in all we become.

LORD’S PRAYER
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 debts as we forgive our debtors.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

BENEDICTION 
J. Philip Newell
The blessings of heaven,
The blessings of earth,
The blessings of sea and sky.
On those we love this day
and on every human family
The gifts of heaven
The gifts of earth
The gifts of sea and sky.  Amen

Worship Bulletin for March 27, 2020

This worship bulletin has been prepared for use during the Coronavirus pandemic. May God’s light shine upon all.

BE SILENT
SIGNAL READINESS –Make a sound by tapping, ringing, humming or breathing.

TO BLESS THE SPACE BETWEEN US
by John O’Donohue, from his book by this title

This is the time to be slow,
Lie low to the wall
Until the bitter weather passes.
Try, as best you can, not to let
The wire brush of doubt
Scrape from your heart
All sense of yourself
And your hesitant light.

If you remain generous,
Time will come good;
And you will find your feet
Again on fresh pastures of promise,
Where the air will be kind
And blushed with beginning.

HYMN            In the Midst of New Dimensions          
1.     In the midst of new dimensions, in the face of changing ways,
                 Who will lead the pilgrim peoples wandering in their separate                           ways?  
                 God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar,
                 We, your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and ever,
                 now and evermore.

  1. Through the flood of starving people, warring factions and despair,     
    Who will lift the olive branches?  Who will light the flame of care?    God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar,                
    We, your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and ever,     
    now and evermore.
  1.  As we stand a world divided by our own self-seeking schemes,      Grant that we, your global village, might envision wider dreams.  God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar,                We, your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and ever,    now and evermore.

4. We are man and we are woman, all persuasions, old and young,                      Each a gift in your creation, each a love song to be sung.                                   God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar,                               We, your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and ever,                       now and evermore.

           5. Should the threats of dire predictions cause us to withdraw in pain,
               May your blazing phoenix spirit resurrect the church again.
               God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar,
               We your people, ours the journey now and ever, now and ever 
               now and evermore.

THE “ABBA” PRAYER           by Tom Hall

Eternal Spirit,
Source of all that is and ever shall be,
Loving Parent in whom we discern heaven,
May knowledge of your holiness inspire all peoples.
And may your commonwealth of peace and freedom flourish on earth, until all of humankind heed your call to justice and compassion.
May we find the bread that we need for today.
And for the hurts we cause one another                                                          may we be forgiven in the same measure that we forgive.
In times of trial and temptation, help us to be strong;
When life seems overwhelming, help us to endure;
And thus from the yoke of sin deliver us.
May you reign in the power of human love,
Now and forever.  Amen

PSALM 46            New Revised Standard Version
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea;
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult.  Selah

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.
God is in the midst of the city; it shall not be moved;
God will help it when the morning dawns.
The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;
God speaks, the earth melts.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.   Selah

Come, behold the works of the Lord
who brings desolations on the earth,
who makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
who breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;
who burns the shields with fire.
“Be still, and know that I am God!
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our refuge.  Selah

(Note: I once asked a Rabbi what the word “Selah” meant in psalms.                He didn’t know how to answer.  He said it was like a verbal punctuation;      It may mean there is to be a break in the singing.)

TIME OF SILENCE AND PRAYER
There is rarely enough silence in our lives. Perhaps we are too busy for silence. Perhaps we are afraid of what we might discover. Today we will again give silence its place.
(Silence)
We gather at this time and in this place to celebrate the mystery of life. As Winter days begin to give way to early Spring we commit to moving beyond our previous selves and to continue emerging into persons and into a community dedicated to enhancing this world.
(Silence)
We celebrate the fragile signs of blossom, heralding new and fruitful growth. And bird song that beckons us to a slower pace, to listen, to appreciate, to wonder; to be at peace with ourselves in the harried world we often create.
(Silence)
We affirm the worth of all, and commit ourselves to honouring the sacred in all. Thus we seek to open ourselves to be more in tune, more involved with each other and the world.
(Silence)
We sense our greater connection to the sacred within all, and resist old models that would place us at the egotistical center, with the world and others revolving around us.
(Silence)
We commit ourselves to learning, changing, thinking again, doing our theology and daring again to imagine how faith and risk lead us to each other, engaging us all in the depths and dimensions of what it means to be human, to be neighbor, to love, to include, to laugh, to be free.
(Silence)
And may we be inspired to be carriers of the spirit of caring.
(Silence)
This is our prayer. May it be so.

A READING             John 7: 25-31
Now some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is not this the man whom they are trying to kill? And here he is, speaking openly, but they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Messiah? Yet we know where this man is from; but when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Jesus cried out as he was teaching in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true.”
(I think tone of voice is critical in reading this speech by Jesus; when he cries out, “You know me, and you know where I am from!” –I hear a very human cry of frustration – exasperation.)   
Then they tried to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him, because his hour had not yet come. Yet many in the crowd believed in him and were saying, “When the Messiah comes, will he do more signs than this man has done?”

REFLECTIONS            by Bobbie and Chuck
At least one member of our congregation is reading a volume called “The Decameron” by the 14th Century Florentine writer, Giovanni Boccaccio.
I can guess why someone might see it as a possible read for these times: it was written around the time of one of the first recorded global pandemics. The Plague, also known as the “Black Death,” had swept through much of the world, and was just beginning to wind down.
I don’t know if our Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic would put me in the mood to read something that might have come out of the plague, but it has a certain appeal.
The book follows seven young women and three young men to a small country villa away from the city of Florence, Italy. Each morning, one of the ten would set the theme for the day’s storytelling. They told ten stories a day for ten days – a hundred altogether. We might call this “binge-storytelling.”
The thing that stands out for me is that as the deadly plague ran its course, a renaissance of arts, invention, exploration and learning was born. Boccaccio, himself, brought a flowering of the Florentine language. And the human spirit began to breathe free. People began to reject old practices and beliefs that had held people down. They sought new ways of imagining humanity.
Thus, out of a great tragedy, new life blossomed.
So, we still don’t know the scope of the disease that now sweeps across this planet. It threatens to devastate communities and institutions.
Can we mentally withdraw ourselves to some remote villa and take this time to tell new stories about our lives? Can we see it as an opportunity to invite a personal renaissance?  What riches within our hearts and souls will we explore? How can we be better, stronger?
Digging deep into our own selves takes time – and it takes pondering, like exploring roads out there – in the middle of our “nowhere” territory. Some of those roads may lead to places we didn’t know were on the map.  Maybe it’s a personal rebirth that can give the opportunity for all of us.

If one needs a verse to recite, Psalm 46 has it:
God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear;
though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble with its tumult,
we will not fear.

What things might change after this Covid-19 pandemic runs its course?  What is already among and within us, waiting to be born?
A renaissance of new energy and fresh ideas may be just around the corner and over the horizon. What does it mean to say that God is our refuge and strength? How do we explore those riches within our hearts and souls? Can we find those roads in our nowhere territory?
Do we put everything back where we found it? Or is there “more truth and light” yet to break upon our active congregation.  Let’s tell ourselves a hundred new stories about life going forward.
Be of strong hope!

CLOSING HYMN            A Song of Peace

This is my song, O God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands a-far and mine;
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my holy shrine: 
But other hearts in other lands are beating
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.
My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on clover fields and pine;
But other lands have sunlight too, and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine:
O hear my song, Thou God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

LORD’S PRAYER
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 debts as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.

BENEDICTION             J. Philip Newell
The blessings of heaven,
The blessings of earth,
The blessings of sea and sky.
On those we love this day
and on every human family
The gifts of heaven
The gifts of earth
The gifts of sea and sky.  Amen