GRACE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
5th Sunday of Easter—Mother’s Day
May 10, 2020 Pastor Ami Sawtelle
Greeting and Announcements
Lighting of our Light of Peace and our Prayer for Peace
Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love: so mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all people and nations may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one God, to whom be dominion and glory, now and forever. Amen.
*Opening Hymn: “The Church’s One Foundation” #545 UMH
*Call to Worship:
In the Lord we seek refuge. In times of fear or danger we trust in the one who is our rock and our refuge. The Lord removes us from the traps into which we stumble and sets us back on right pathways, the Lord delivers us from our enemies and persecutors. Let us worship the Lord our God.
Prayer of the Day (in unison):
To you our rock and our Redeemer, we lift our hearts and voices in thanksgiving and praise. In this time of separation and distancing, we must worship from our homes, but our hearts remain true. We trust your love for us is greater than any challenge we may face. Guide us and keep us in all that we say and do. In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, Amen.
Celebrating God Sightings and Sharing Concerns
Pastoral Prayer (ending with the Lord's Prayer)
Eternal Spirit, Mother and Father of us all, to you we lift hearts open to your love. We stumble and forget to love as you have loved us, but you call us back, forgive us when we confess our wrongs, and set us once again on right pathways. Heavenly One, to you we give thanks and praise, to you we lift our prayers and our hopes. On this Mother’s Day, when we cannot gather for celebration, we lift to you our mothers; those who have birthed us, yet fallen short in nurturing and protecting us. We lift to you mothers who have loved us too much, protecting us and now allowing us to grow in independence. We lift to you mothers who are all too human and fallible, yet do their best to raise us to be strong and independent. We lift to you those who may not be our biological mother, but who have adopted us, selected us and loved us to the best of their ability. And we lift to you the “other mothers”, the ones who have been mother figures in our lives, guiding and loving us the best they could.
Today we lift to you the nurses in our communities, women and men who care for our loved ones when we cannot; the people in the labs seeking treatments and cures not only for the virus ravaging the world today, but for cancers and infections and all diseases affecting minds and bodies. We lift the doctors, PA’s and nurse practitioners working endless hours in hospitals and clinics, the respiratory, radiation and other therapists and technicians that help to care for and rehabilitate us. And we lift to you all others who clean and run our medical facilities. Keep them safe, give them wisdom, compassion and endurance that they may continue to care for our sick and dying, knowing you are with them.
We lift those on our prayer list and those who we have named, either aloud or in our hearts, this day. May your blessings be upon them, upholding them and keeping them.
You sent your son, Jesus, as teacher and healer. We give you thanks for the love he poured out each day and as he taught us disciples, we are bold to pray:
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 trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation;
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
the power and the glory,
for ever and ever.
Special Music: Bob Benjamin
Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16
1 Peter 2:2-10
During Lent we sing, “What wondrous love is this O my soul, O my soul? What wondrous love is this, O my soul?” . . . We sing of the love that Jesus had that gave him strength to give his life on the cross. Even knowing the Resurrection was on the other side, that was a powerful statement of God’s love for humanity and God’s willingness to suffer for our sake.
Stephen, one of the earlier followers of the teachings of the Apostles riled up some people who paid others to report that he blasphemed and turned him over to the courts. If you read Acts 6-7, you will see the background that led up to today’s pericope (scripture portion). Stephen’s love for God and belief in Jesus gave him the strength of character and the words to speak when he appeared before the court. The final straw, his vision of God’s glory and Jesus at God’s right hand, is also testimony to his deep and abiding faith and his trust.
Following Stephen’s death, persecution of Christ followers increased and as a result, believers sometimes fled to what they hoped were safer areas, but in moving, they took their faith with them, spreading the stories of Jesus, spreading the love of Jesus to new areas. Even today, it sometimes looks like the church, the Body of Christ, grows better in areas where it is persecuted than in areas where it is not only legal, but mainstream.
A resurgence of faith sometimes occurs in the face of a crisis such as the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. Perhaps our current crisis would also fuel some of the increases in attendance, were that possible, but sustained growth in the Body of Christ is not as much about people in pews as it is about people knowing God loves them and will sustain them no matter the crisis.
As we continue our journey through the current health crisis, where have we seen God’s love demonstrated? How have we experienced God’s love? Are we sharing God’s love with others? If so, how?
As “social distancing” restrictions are gradually loosened, what are ways we can help our community to recover? The recovery phase is likely to be long and difficult for many but it will also be a time we can team with others, invite them to join us and in so doing, show others the love God has for them.
*Hymn: “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above” #126 UMH
Bringing our Gifts Before God
The Lord walks with us through days of thick and thin, let us offer to God gifts of thanksgiving.
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Amen.
*Offering Prayer (in unison):
To you who love us and sustain us, we offer our gifts of thanksgiving. Multiply them that your love may spread to others through their use. Amen.
*Hymn: “Christ Is Made the Sure Foundation” #559 UMH
*Blessing, Sending Forth and Postlude
Unless otherwise noted, liturgy today by Ami R. Sawtelle.