GRACE UNITED METHODIST CHURCH
Date: April 19, 2020 2nd Sunday of Easter Pastor Ami Sawtelle
Greeting and Announcements
L: Christ is risen!
P: Christ is risen indeed!
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: “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” #384 UMH
*Call to Worship: (Acts 2)
The Lord is always before us. The Lord is at our right hand so that we will not be shaken. Our hearts are glad, our tongues rejoice, and we will live in hope, for we know we will not be abandoned no matter the threats, no matter the conflicts, for our Lord is the great God of all creation, having proven God’s power over death, through the resurrection of Jesus, God’s only son. Let us worship our God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Amen.
*Prayer of the Day (in unison):
Mighty God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, as we worship today, from homes or places of work, we dream of gathering in your house once more, worshiping you side by side with our fellow believers; but we know that it is better that we worship at home alone or with our families, or joined by the gifts of technology you have given us. We give you thanks for your presence in our lives, the many gifts you have given us, particularly we thank you for your Son, who died that we might know the strength of your love and your gift of forgiveness. Aw we worship you this day, receive our songs of praise and our prayers of thanksgiving. Amen.
Celebrating God Sightings and Sharing Concerns
· healthcare workers
· good health
· ability to meet by technology
· people alone and having difficult time of it
· people depressed
· Those providing services to those in need
· Students learning through technology
· Domestic violence
· Thurston Family on loss of Clarence
· Those that run errands for those at home
Pastoral Prayer (ending with the Lord's Prayer)
Merciful and loving God, you have blessed us even in times of uncertainty and fear. Your presence with us in these days of isolation bring us comfort and hope. There are so many struggling today, putting their lives on the line in the midst of this crisis, to you we offer our prayers of hope and of love.
We give you thanks for days of health and strength, for times with friends, family and co-workers. We look forward to gathering once more to share in the special celebrations of life and trust in your presence while we are apart.
God of hope and of light, to you we offer our prayers.
We give you thanks for healthcare workers, for grocery store clerks and stockers, for long haul drivers, for police and firefighters, for electricians and plumbers, for oil & gas deliverers and linemen and all who are considered essential and step up despite the challenges and dangers. Keep them safe, help them to be compassionate and caring, give them wisdom and strength.
Strong and protective God, to you we offer our prayers.
We give you thanks for those who are sick, whether at home or in the hospital, for those who are on the brink of death or have died, whether from COVID-19 or crashes or other causes. We thank you for your quiet presence with them, calming their fears, walking with them through the darkest night. Bring to them the light of your love and your mercy.
Compassionate and caring God, to you we offer our prayers.
We give you thanks for the leaders of our country, for scientists and government workers, for those the media and their attempts to help us understand what is happening. Make them wise, compassionate and strong. May their focus continue to be about the needs of the weak, the poor and the helpless and not about the desires of the rich and famous.
Wise and guiding God, to you we offer our prayers.
We give you thanks for your church, the body of Christ, its head. We give you thanks for our bishop, Bishop Sudha Devadhar, our district superintendent, Rev. Jill Colley Robinson, our pastor and the many leaders of our congregation. May their faith be unwavering, their guidance be from you and their hope contagious.
Sustaining God, to you we offer our prayers.
We acknowledge mighty one, that we sometimes lose hope of ever being with our loved ones again. We lose hope that this disease will someday be controlled and that we will be free to move about our community and the larger community around us. Forgive us when our hope fails and our trust in you dims. Reignite our faith in times of trouble and darkness that we may share your light and your love with others. We trust in your forgiveness for we know that Christ showed your power over sin and death, that we might know your mercy and forgiveness. As he taught those that sat at his feet, learning to love and share your love, so we are also 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.
Acts 2:14a, 22-32
Psalm 16 (p. 748 UMH)
1 Peter 1:3-9
The rules for social distancing are about a month old now, but for many, it probably seems to have been going on for even longer. We are a gregarious people by nature. Most of us need and want to be with people on a regular basis, talking with people, going to or participating in sporting events, going to the movies and restaurants, shopping in brick and mortar stores of various kinds, so this need to stay inside, to stay isolated can get wearing. What are some of the frustrations this current crisis is causing in your life?
Frustration is only the beginning of the story. Some of us are also living in fear. Being inside, away from contact with people, doors closed, only going out when absolutely necessary and then only with gloves and mask, coming home to sanitize everything, while not over doing it is also playing with our ability to trust and building fear in some. Loss of income because our shops and non-essential businesses are closed is also an area that can breed fear. What is causing you to be fearful?
Jesus had been crucified, died and was buried. The disciples were in fear as they gathered the evening following Jesus’ resurrection. They feared the authorities might arrest them because they followed Jesus, so they hid out with the doors locked. Unsure of who to trust, the gathering was limited. Then Jesus entered the room saying, “Peace be with you.” We so want Jesus to enter our homes, to offer us peace, protection and hope. We are desperate to see the scars on his hands and feet, the hole in his side, to know, to really know, that he is real, that he is alive, that he is with us.
I wonder how we might react were Jesus to walk into our home today. Would we take his temperature; demand he wear a mask; hand him a pair of gloves, so we feel safe? Would we run in fear that a stranger had entered our “safe space”?
The disciples didn’t believe it at first themselves. They didn’t trust that this was indeed the teacher they had followed for three (3) years, eating together, traveling together, praying together, so I think our own reactions might be forgiven. They needed proof. Thomas, who wasn’t present at the time, didn’t believe the others in the room. He had lost some of his ability to trust. When Jesus appeared among them a second time, he seemed to know of the loss of faith that Thomas was suffering and after again greeting the gathering, “Peace be with you,” he offered Thomas a look at his hands, feet and side, giving him the concrete proof he needed to fully believe.
As we continue this time of isolation, whether alone or with family members, let us trust to the witness of the disciples. Let us not demand the concrete proof of pierced hands and feet, but let us turn loose our frustrations and fears, placing them in God’s hands and trusting that we are never alone, that Jesus walks with us. Let us find hope in the locked room that didn’t keep Jesus away and let us remember that Jesus is our rock and our refuge. Should family, friends, or even we ourselves contract the virus, let us trust the great physician, who lent his wisdom to the healthcare workers of today and let us find solace in the comfort of his arms throughout this crisis.
The crisis is not over, but some of the numbers are slowing their climb. We don’t want to move together too soon, but we know if we trust Jesus and follow is instructions, we can still share his love while staying safe ourselves as we more fully utilize the technologies we have to reach out to others and share the stories of hope Jesus gave us.
*Hymn: “The Day of Resurrection” #303 UMH
Bringing our Gifts Before God
Though we may not be gathered in God’s house, though we may not be able to move about as freely as we would like, God continues to bless us and walk with us. Let us now offer God our gifts of thanksgiving and praise.
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):
As we offer you our gifts of thanksgiving and praise, O God, multiply them, that they may stretch your loving arms to encircle all that are in need or in fear in this time of distancing. May we continue to serve you with all that we are and all that we have that all may know of your love. Amen.
*Hymn: “Thine Be the Glory” #308 UMH
*Blessing, Sending Forth and Postlude
Unless otherwise noted, liturgy today by Pastor Ami Sawtelle.