Sunday, April 26, 2020

3rd Sunday of Easter Earth Day Sunday

Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….

Opening Reflection

Dear Lord, you have so much to show us and to tell us—
things that no human eyes have seen,
things that no human ears have heard,
things that you have prepared for those you love.
Mighty God, your promises are like shelter in a storm—
to us and to our children,
to all those far and near,
to everyone who hears your call.
O, that we might have the mind of Christ,
that we may know and understand your truth.
We wait as empty vessels,
ready to be filled to overflowing with your living water,
as you reveal your love for us through Jesus Christ,
in whose name we pray. Amen.

Amen let us begin todays worship

Call to Worship

Call to Worship
As you walk with us, as we journey together,
Lord, your word fills our hearts!
As you speak with us, as your love is revealed,
Lord, your fire burns in our hearts!
As we proclaim what we have seen and heard,
may all people be drawn to you, the risen Lord!

Let us sing today’s opening hymn while I light the candles; For the beauty of the Earth #28

Today’s Gospel reading is  Luke 24:13-35 NSRV
Listen to the Word of God proclaimed for you!

The Walk to Emmaus

13 Now on that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem, 14 and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. 15 While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, 16 but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. 17 And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad.[b] 18 Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” 19 He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth,[c] who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, 20 and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. 21 But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel.[d] Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. 22 Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, 23 and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. 24 Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” 25 Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! 26 Was it not necessary that the Messiah[e] should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” 27 Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

28 As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. 29 But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. 30 When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. 31 Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. 32 They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us[f] while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” 33 That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. 34 They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” 35 Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

This is word of God for the people of God!


Today’s Gospel, The road to Emmaus, is a beautiful telling of a Journey, a Journey many of us would feel blessed to be engaged in. It truly is a story that illustrates the saying it’s not the destination but the journey.

Eric Borreto of Princeton theological reminds us that;

“A journey brings Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem. A road is the narrative setting for the parable of the Good Samaritan. A road leads the prodigal back home to his father. Jesus sets his eyes toward Jerusalem in Luke 9:51 and travels there until 19:28; this is known among scholars as the travel narrative wherein we find some of the most distinctively Lukan contributions to the story of Jesus.

The roads continue in the Book of Acts where, for instance, Paul encounters the risen Jesus on his way to Damascus. There is something about travel that evokes Luke’s literary and theological imagination. There is something about roads, the way roads bring us together, the way roads can pose a danger to us all, the way roads become a symbol of a faith on the move.

It is poignant then that the narrative of these two disciples on the road to Emmaus draws us to the conclusion of the Third Gospel. The story is a narrative wonder. Irony, misunderstanding, drama, a reveal: these are components of powerful story. Moreover, a number of Lukan themes are woven together in this narrative: table fellowship, hospitality, faithfulness, discipleship. The scene on this road augurs the future of Christ’s church in the Lukan imagery. This will be a church on the move, sent out by a Jesus who walks alongside us even when we don’t recognize him.”[1]

Table fellowship, hospitality, faithfulness and discipleship all of these things encountered on the road with these two disciples is what we encounter daily whether we are quarantined or not. We seek some-kind of table fellowship even it is just us and the news having breakfast together or recalling just how our food has gotten to us.  These days of isolation and quarantine is certainly bringing the table to the forefront of many of our existence.

Faithfulness…we seek to be faithful to ourselves, our God, family, and friends each in our unique way.  The community that is church is spread far and wide and yet we can come together through live feeds, through support of prayer, food, a wave. We have streamed services. We have drop-in coffee with the pastor, I have skyped for one on one meetings if you like.

In this Sunday in which we are celebrating our Earth day. I cannot wonder about those two disciples on the road that did not recognize Jesus. I cannot help to wonder what we are missing in our daily Journeys.  What is right in front of us that we do not see or take for granted.

 I know many are enjoying fresh air that their cities haven’t seen in years.
Animals are taking the opportunity to reclaim their land now that humans are no longer invading their space.

I grieve the fact that we cannot recycle right now!

Now that so many people have learned that they can work from home…will we continue to do so as much as possible in order to reduce our carbon footprint?

“Scientists write about the “Overview Effect.” It describes something special and important that can happen to astronauts when they first see Earth from outer space (when they see Earth in context of space). Many astronauts say they are awed by the beauty of the earth when they see it from space. They realize life on Earth is fragile and can be easily hurt. They think about how life on earth is connected, how people are connected, how nothing happens without impacting people and things around them.”[2]

I feel that in these strange days we, as a people are experiencing this connected moment again.  We are realizing just what our vital needs are and how we depend on so much in this world, where it comes from, and how precious our life sustaining resources are. We are dependent upon each other and upon this planet.

We, in our isolation, find relief in just being able to go outside, even if it is just a walk to our mailbox. One person informed me they are most likely sitting by their fire ring and joining service outside, fireside. I am jealous.

As I was reflecting on that journey to Emmaus all I could think of were these two disciples so caught up in the events of the past that they had not learned to be present to the living, the miraculous living Christ, right beside them.

Earth day, for us as church, is about recognizing God’s creation in all things and our responsibility to care for and lift them up.  We need to be acutely aware of how, just by staying at home we are healing the planet.  We need to be acutely aware of the choices we make in how our food is grown and resourced, how the packaging we use is organic, can it be recycled? Can we make better choices?

In this prayerful process of loving and caring for the garden that God has placed us in, we often feel that what we can do does not make a difference. Yet when I was a kid the Detroit river was almost a solid waste of sludge and pollution.

“A new study released by the International Association for Great Lakes Research (IAGLR) displays the success of environmental remediation in the Detroit River.
The river, which forms part of the border between the U.S. and Canada and flows into Lake Erie, has come a long way from its reputation as one of the region’s most polluted rivers in the 1960s, to its current status as a major urban attraction. According to the study decades of pollution prevention, control, and cleanup, including more than U.S. $32 million from the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Great Lakes Legacy Act, have resulted in substantial environmental improvements… As a result, bald eagles, peregrine falcons, osprey, lake sturgeon, and lake whitefish are reproducing again, common terns are back on Belle Isle, and even beavers have returned. Walleye have rebounded from a state of crisis, with the Detroit River now a key part of the Walleye Capital of the World.”[3]

What made me think of my hometown is actually funny…I saw a story about how the words of the Lorax written by Dr. Seuss had been changed because the environment changed.

“You’re glumping the pond where the humming fish hummed!
No more can they hum, for their gills are all gummed. So, I am sending them off. Oh, their future is dreary.
They’ll walk on their fins and get woefully weary
In search of some water that isn’t so smeary.
I hear things are just as bad up in Lake Erie.”[4]

The Ohio Sea Grant Education Program (OSGEP) has always cared – about the science curriculum’s relevance, about teachers’ preparation, about students’ engagement, about making a difference where we are. In the OSGEP office in 1986 (Ohio’s Year of the Lake) were two graduate students who acted to make a difference… The students asked if Dr. Seuss would consider changing that line since it was not accurate. To everyone’s delight he answered (By saying “I should no longer be saying bad things about a body of water that is now due to great civic and scientific effort, the happy home of smiling fish”) and agreed to remove the line in future editions of The Lorax. He also thanked the writers “for the great Loraxian work you have been doing.”[5]

Today as we pay attention to our Journey, we know there is still much work to be done.  The UCC has taken great pride in its part in respecting and restoring the earth.

“Take the UCC Environmental Justice Quiz!
1.    Did you know that UCC ministers coined the phrase “environmental racism” and played a leading role in giving birth to the environmental justice movement in the 1980s?
During a six-week campaign of civil disobedience in 1982, a movement was born that made national headlines and introduced the world to the issue of environmental racism. (The term was coined by Benjamin Chavis, previous executive director of the United Church of Christ (UCC) Commission for Racial Justice, addressing hazardous PCB waste in Warren County, North Carolina. Chavis defined the term as
racial discrimination in environmental policy making, the enforcement of regulations and laws, the deliberate targeting of communities of color for toxic waste facilities, the official sanctioning of the life-threatening presence of poisons and pollutants in our communities, and the history of excluding people of color from leadership of the ecology movements.)[6]
2.    Did you know that the UCC has formed a special partnership with a leading climate organization called, so that church green teams are now becoming 350 affiliates?
Members of the United Church of Christ have often worked with in the pursuit of justice and shared goals. This informal, longstanding relationship is now being deepened through a pilot endeavor that encourages and invites UCC green teams to affiliate with 350. Read about this exciting undertaking.
3.    Did you know that in places like Flint and Standing Rock the UCC has been actively involved in standing alongside those struggling for justice?
Solidarity is one form that love takes in the ministry of environmental justice. The goal is to find ways that local churches and members can actively support others who are facing environmental injustices. Read more about this important part of our work together.
4.    Did you know that the UCC is building a powerful environmental network that stays connected through a blog and e-newsletter called The Pollinator?
The Pollinator is a digital platform of the UCC for the sharing of ideas and inspiration, so that we might become more fruitful in the pursuit of environmental justice. Its focus is the building of a faith-filled and faith-rooted movement for the care of creation. Read the Pollinator blog and sign-up for its newsletter.
5.    Did you know that UCC churches are deepening and expanding their commitment to the environment by becoming Creation Justice Churches?
Whether it is taking on climate change or addressing the lead poisoning of children, environmental justice ministries could not have a higher purpose or calling than they do now. Join the movement and become a Creation Justice Church. Learn about the six steps for doing just that.[7]

“A recent column in the New York Times passed along the advice that one should “patronize the business that you want to see survive in the future.” As we mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, one could also say that when it comes to charities and causes, we should give and dig deep for the kind of world we want to see survive in the future. Do we want a world in which we have a safe and stable climate? Do we want a world in which the air is clean and healthy for our lungs? Do we want a world full of trees that grow and blossom in the spring? If your answer is yes to any of these questions, then today is the day to make a donation that enables the planting of trees in fire ravaged National Parks or abroad in places like Palestine, Kenya, and Zambia.

As people of faith, our first calling in the Bible is to care for God’s creation. We can do that through the planting of trees. Make use of online resources for our congregation to participate in the 3 Great Loves campaign to plant trees to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day.”[8]

So we do have 50 maple saplings coming as our active part of the 50th anniversary of Earth day in honor of the Garden that God has placed us in in honor of the Journey we are on that we may just pause and like the Disciples who finally recognized Christ in the breaking of the bread may we see Christ when we plant our trees and return some love to gods planet earth.

I am not sure when they will arrive as the supplier is on shut down for now but when they do become available we let you know and it doesn’t matter that it is not on earth day the care and the time it takes will still make a difference to those around us. Our world has changed, it is hard, but let us retain the good lessons learned as the earth continues to heal let us continue to be healers Amen.

Please write your joys and concerns in the comment section and
I will lift them up after this hymn

All Things Bright and Beautiful #31
Lifting of prayers, joys, and concerns.

Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us

Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom 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 kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Invitation to the Offering (1 Peter 1)
Let us keep our promises to God, as we offer our Love to God’s world through our gifts today

If you would care to, you may mail in your offerings or go to the top of the Church’s  webpage and click the donate now button.  This is a PayPal donation and once you are in pay pal there is a message box where you can earmark the donation to the church, kidz cupboard, the Food Pantry, and/or all three.

Blessings for the gifts offered
Living Christ, bless the gifts we bring, in the many different ways we bring them, Bless them with the power of resurrection and hope! Amen!

The office is open for regular hours
We have bible study via zoom Mondays at noon via zoom
And we have virtual office drop in on Tuesdays via Zoom from 10:30-12:30

Please Join in singing our final hymn of Blessing; In the Bulb there is a flower #433

Rev. Dr. Joseph Shore-Goss is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

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[4] Seuss. The Lorax. Random House, NYNY, 1971.
[6]  Mohai, Paul; Pellow, David; Roberts, J. Timmons (2009). "Environmental Justice". Annual Review of Environment and Resources. 34: 405–430. doi:10.1146/annurev-environ-082508-094348.
[8] United Church of Christ, 22 Apr. 2020.,

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Step into Mystical Hope

Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….

Opening Reflection

Jesus, Savior, Resurrected Messiah,
we come before you from different paths:
some of us certain
of your joyful presence in our lives,
some of us not so certain
of the hope of being touched by your joy.
Yet we are all here, gathered virtually,
spiritually, reaching out to you:
for understanding,
for hope,
for joy,
for all that is imperishable.
Meet us here, today,
in all your power and consolation. 

Amen let us begin todays worship

Call to Worship

Leader:          We come as we are

People:        doubting Thomases, fearful disciples, sorrowing exiles,
 rejoicing psalmists!

Leader:          You come as you are

People:        Risen Christ, Christ of Peace,
Holy Spirit, Spirit of Forgiveness, God of Life,
God of new birth!!

Leader:          Show us the fullness of your joy!

People:          Show us the path of life and living hope!

Leader:          We join our hearts in song and sing
“Alleluia! Gracious Jesus!”
for Christ is living and so are we!

Let us sing today’s opening hymn; This Joyful Eastertide #244 (Glory to God Hymnal)

Today’s Gospel reading is John 20:19-31 NSRV

19 When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 20 After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” 22 When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”

24 But Thomas (who was called the Twin[a]), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”
26 A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe.” 28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29 Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe.”

30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah,[c] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

This is word of God for the people of God!


Today’s Gospel reading has two scenes… it opens on the disciples huddled together locked in a room for they fear those in power might come after them just as they did come for Jesus. It also seems to point that the disciples do not believe in the resurrection yet no matter what Mary has told them.

“Mary the Magdalene comes announcing to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord,’ and he had said these things to her… (John 20:18)

This seems to point towards my question last week what did the beloved disciple believe?  Evidently, he has not supported Mary in her claim to have seen the Lord. Because now they were all together locked in the room shaking in their boots afraid what fate may be awaiting them.

Joy Moor the associate professor of Biblical teaching at Luther seminary in St. Paul reminds us
“Disciples have gathered. Here, the record does not specify how many, as in other places (6:66-67; 20:24), but Thomas is not present. The unconfirmed rumors of the resurrection started by Mary has brought neither understanding nor obedience. (Instead it has fed) Perplexity and amazement, cynicism and unbelief. The disciples are clueless concerning the meaning of Jesus’ death, disappointed by this presumed dashing of their hopes, and astounded by reports of the empty tomb (not much has changed).

The disciples are fearful. Good news does not erase fear. Good news, incredible news, can ignite hope, but even hope does not eliminate genuine fear. So, there they were in a familiar place desperate with unfamiliar fear. An empty tomb isn’t enough to confirm all that Jesus promised is true. What does the resurrection mean? It means God still shows up. The writer of this gospel account continues to rehearse elements of the storied witness to God as testimony to Jesus. Like God finding the first couple behind trees, the disciples are found behind closed doors, perplexed by the knowledge they have.”[1]

God still shows up. In the midst of fear God still shows up and offers Hope…

Richard Rohr this week addressed that hope in the midst of fear.

Hope is the main impulse of life. —Ilia Delio, OSF[2]
Because we are so quickly led to despair, most of us cannot endure suffering for long without some sliver of hope or meaning. However, it is worth asking ourselves about where our hope lies. My friend and colleague Cynthia Bourgeault makes a powerful distinction between what she calls ordinary hope, “tied to outcome . . .. an optimistic feeling . . . because we sense that things will get better in the future” and mystical hope “that is a complete reversal of our usual way of looking at things. Beneath the ‘upbeat’ kind of hope that parts the seas and pulls rabbits out of hats, this other hope weaves its way as a quiet, even ironic counterpoint.”[3]

If we listen to Cynthia’s words this very different hope does not seek results, it does not operate in a sensual realm of optimistic feeling, this hope lies quietly even in our despair and pain it lingers behind it.

“She writes,
We might make the following observations about this other kind of hope, which we will call mystical hope. In contrast to our usual notions of hope:
  1. Mystical hope is not tied to a good outcome, to the future. It lives a life of its own, seemingly without reference to external circumstances and conditions.”[4]
This hope lives without a physical reference point, This mystical hope exists in times of joy and despair equally.

  1. “It has something to do with presence—not a future good outcome, but the immediate experience of being met, held in communion, by something intimately at hand.”[5]
We can hear her using words that imply the physical and yet it is beyond the physical, Mystical hope depends upon our language to describe something that lies beyond it.  She Goes on to explain that Mystical hope, well;

  1. “It bears fruit within us at the psychological level in the sensations of strength, joy, and satisfaction: an “unbearable lightness of being.” But mysteriously, rather than deriving these gifts from outward expectations being met, it seems to produce them from within. . .”[6]
Mystical hope exists within us, even in the midst of the greatest pain, Mystical hope is underneath it all providing a deeper resilience beyond what we thought we could endure. It is part of who we are as Christians as we live our daily lives connect to that which is beyond our words, connected to God, spirit, the light, the blessings of the, the resurrected life.

“[It] is all too easy to understate and miss that hope is not intended to be an extraordinary infusion, but an abiding state of being. We lose sight of the invitation—and in fact, our responsibility, as stewards of creation—to develop a conscious and permanent connection to this wellspring. We miss the call to become a vessel, to become a chalice into which this divine energy can pour; a lamp through which it can shine. . ..
We ourselves are not the source of that hope; we do not manufacture it. But the source dwells deeply within us and flows to us with an unstinting abundance, so much so that in fact it might be more accurate to say we dwell within it. . . .”[7]

We dwell within it but that dwelling within and allowing it to spring forth requires nurturing.  It is not enough to go to church on Sundays, it is not enough to be a great humanitarian and love our brothers and our Sisters and even more so the stranger. It’s not enough!  It needs to be fed and nurtured even though we do not necessarily know we are doing it.  How do we do it?  Through prayer, through spiritual practices. Whatever that means for you.  Richard Rohr reminds us…

“The good news is that this deeper current does exist and you actually can find it. . .. For me the journey to the source of hope is ultimately a theological journey: up and over the mountain to the sources of hope in the headwaters of the Christian Mystery. This journey to the wellsprings of hope is not something that will change your life in the short range, in the externals. Rather, it is something that will change your innermost way of seeing. From there, inevitably, the externals will rearrange. . .. 
The journey to the wellsprings of hope is really a journey toward the center, toward the innermost ground of our being where we meet and are met by God.”[8][9]

For Richard it is a deep theological journey but for another it may be in a quiet prayer time, for another, an active prayer time.  It may be when you lovingly prepare a meal for your family in the midst of preparation you sense something beyond yourself and lift that up. You need to find that spiritual practice for you and develop it, nurture it.

Let’s look again at today’s reading, the disciples are fearful locked in an upper room Jesus has appeared to them and says Peace be with you and then he showed them his hands and side…

Thomas wasn’t there.  So, the others say we have seen the Lord and he, Thomas, “doubts them” everyone else doubted the woman why should he believe these guys who are again in the room with the door closed.  No one chastises him for his doubt.  He has been just as traumatized by Jesus death as the rest of them.  If they dared to chastise him, they would all be labeled hypocrites.

Thomas represents that last grain of fear and sorrow, the pain that is so deep it is the last to heal.  The hope is buried so deep it dares not rise to the surface for the fear of being crushed and perhaps even destroyed.  Thomas is no more doubting than the others were.  He asks for no more verification than was given the others.  He has had 8 more days to fear, to doubt, and to live in sorrow.

Healing does not come as quickly as we like it. Pointing it out, does no good so, the others leave him be. Then The Lord appears and offers him the same thing he had offered the others.  Here touch my hands, feel my side. The wounds and the pain I endured were real and yet here I am.

Jesus is the physical representation of the mystical hope.  Thomas is the physical representation of human suffering, grief and fear.

What do we hear in today’s message, what does the world hear?

Today we bring our own world turned upside down. Many are disenfranchised not just by this new way of being in the world, but by systems promised that has now left them stranded, many are feeling alone and isolated, their connection to love and support only connected by a wave through a window, a phone call, or an email. The world is not what it was just 45 days ago.

What one would not give for Jesus to come into our room and say Peace be with you.  A chance to just touch his cloak and experience some healing. but

“The whole of this is neither about a phantom appearance nor even a doubting disciple. It is how to tell of a world when the divine shows up in disaster. It is how to tell of a world when forgiveness is forever possible. It is how to tell of a world when a woman’s witness welcomes wonder.”[10] It is how to tell the world that there is a deeper hope, a mystical hope, which lies underneath it all and it is just waiting for an invitation from each one of us. This mystical hope is waiting for us to find our connection to it and feed it and nurture it so that we may offer it to others. Amen!

Please write your joys and concerns in the comment section and
I will lift them up after this hymn

We Live by Faith and not by sight is #256 (Dunlap’s creek melody)
Lifting of prayers, joys, and concerns.

Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us

Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom 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 kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Invitation to the Offering (1 Peter 1)
May we give out of the love
that we have for Jesus Christ,
so that others may share
in our imperishable and unfading inheritance
of hope and life.

If you would care to, you may mail in your offerings or go to the top of the Church’s  webpage and click the donate now button.  This is a PayPal donation and once you are in pay pal there is a message box where you can earmark the donation to the church, kidz cupboard, the Food Pantry, and/or all three.

The office is open for regular hours
We have bible study via zoom Mondays at noon via zoom
And we have virtual office drop in on Tuesdays via Zoom from 10:30-12:30

Please Join in singing our final hymn of Blessing; Love Divine all loves excelling #43

[2] [1] Delio, Ilia, “Hope in a Time of Crisis,” The Omega Center, March 9, 2020,
[3] Adapted from Cynthia Bourgeault, Mystical Hope: Trusting in the Mercy of God (Cowley Publications: 2001), 3, 5, 9-10, 17, 20, 42.
[4] Ditto
[5] Ditto
[6] Ditto
[7] Ditto
[8] Ditto
[9] Richard Rohr’s Daily meditation © 2020 | Center for Action and Contemplation


Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Easter Sunday 2020

Set The Altar

Let’s start with three deep breaths and relax….

Opening Reflection

Good News God,
In the midst of deep sorrow and grief
your angels appeared to the faithful women of Jesus’ company,
bringing them news more awe-inspiring than they could imagine –
Christ is Risen!
Surely your angels can interrupt our lives, too,
breaking into our losses and sorrows
and offering a message of tremendous joy to change our lives.
Come this Easter morning, we pray,
and fill us with the joy of the women disciples,
the first witnesses to your resurrection,
that our lives may also be renewed in hope and glory.
Let us roll back the stone of the grave
and sing Alleluia once again!
In Christ we pray, 

Amen let us begin todays worship

Call to Worship

Leader:          We come to this moment,
seeking Jesus in the familiar story of our faith.
Do not meet us only now, O Living Christ,
but surprise us with Resurrection power

People:        in all the places of our lives!

Leader:          We gather to sing and pray the story we know by heart,
a story of loving triumph and powerful grace.
                        This story of “Alleluia!” means great joy
for the One who lives and the ones who witness to this new life

People:        in all the places of our lives!

Leader:          We rejoice and thank you for the life of your son,
resurrected by the power of your loving, vibrant Spirit.
                        Let this same Spirit fill us,
that we may know the truth of resurrection

People:          in all the places of our lives!

Leader:          We join our hearts in song and sing
“Alleluia! Gracious Jesus!”
for Christ is living and so are we!

People:          Alleluia indeed!

Christ the Lord is risen today #233

The light which the world tried to extinguish cannot be put out. Today we light the candles again, proclaiming the transforming power of God. As the light returns, we give thanks that God’s transforming love has been, is now, and will ever be at work within us. Today we celebrate: new life, new joy, new possibilities. Christ is alive and living among us!
As we light the candles, we acknowledge that there is still pain and suffering in the world, but we place our trust in God and in the way shown by Jesus Christ. In the midst of darkness, there is light. In the pain of death, there is life. In the face of what appear to us to be overwhelming odds, God is at work in us and in the world, working for justice and peace, compassion and love, and life abundant. Christ is risen; Christ is risen in us, for wherever we gather in his name, he is there.
(All candles lit.)
All: Alleluia, Christ is risen; Christ is risen indeed!

Today’s Gospel reading is

The Resurrection of Jesus
20 Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. 10 Then the disciples returned to their homes.
Jesus Appears to Mary Magdalene
11 But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look[a] into the tomb; 12 and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. 13 They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14 When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15 Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew,[b] “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). 17 Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18 Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

The word of God for the people of God!


A Walk past an empty tomb

Frederick Buechner (pronounced BEEK-ner) is an American writer and theologian. He is the author of more than thirty published books and has been an important source of inspiration and learning for many readers. He has a perspective on Easter I find unique and I share this every Easter.

The Gospels are far from clear as to just what happened. It began in the dark. The stone had been rolled aside. Matthew alone speaks of an earthquake. In the tomb there were two white-clad figures or possibly just one. Mary Magdalen seems to have gotten there before anybody else. There was a man she thought at first was the gardener. Perhaps Mary the mother of James was with her and another woman named Joanna. One account says Peter came too with one of the other disciples. Elsewhere the suggestion is that there were only the women and that the disciples, who were somewhere else, didn't believe the women's story when they heard it. There was the sound of people running, of voices. Matthew speaks of "fear and great joy." Confusion was everywhere. There is no agreement even as to the role of Jesus himself. Did he appear at the tomb or only later? Where? To whom did he appear? What did he say? What did he do?
The symbol of Easter is the empty tomb. You can't depict or domesticate emptiness. You can't make it into pageants and string it with lights. It doesn't move people to give presents to each other or sing old songs. It ebbs and flows all around us, the Eastertide. Even the great choruses of Handel's Messiah sound a little like a handful of crickets chirping under the moon.
He rose. A few saw him briefly and talked to him. If it is true, there is nothing left to say. If it is not true, there is nothing left to say. For believers and unbelievers both, life has never been the same again. For some, neither has death. What is left now is the emptiness. There are those who, like Magdalen, will never stop searching it till they find his face.[1]

Easter Sunday Morning Starts with this emptiness.  Many of us are experiencing this empty ness.  Many people know what an empty tomb feels like. In my community I know people who survived the horrors of the AIDS Pandemic only to be lose their loved ones now. There is a helplessness among families who have lost loved ones but cannot seem to grieve properly because these times. Their hearts are broken, they cannot come together, just yet to say their proper fare wells or to celebrate the lives lived. The tombs remain empty.

 Yet because of Easter Sunday we are drawn to a new place, we are drawn to new ways of being in this world and relating to one another. 

 This is much of what the sunrise service experience is…It is dark… it is silent it is cold… Mary Magdalene approaches the tomb knowing what to expect…In extreme grief ..she knows she will attend to the body of the Lord…alone she will care for the one who the others fled from…alone…the stone is rolled back. The tomb is empty!!!!

We teach, preach and believe that Jesus came to turn the whole social order and the world upside down.  He does away with tradition left and right while he walked on this earth. So now as we walk in a world that has been turned upside down, we witness the resurrected life stepping forward from the empty tomb.

The empty Tomb, at first it is a place of fear and horror.  Tomb robbers were a frequent and common problem in those days so much so that we have recorded laws addressing just such an issue.

“Rather than looking into the tomb, Mary runs away from it (20:2). Assuming Jesus’ body has been stolen, she seeks help from two disciples: Peter and the Beloved Disciple. Peter’s inclusion seems odd; does Mary (or anyone) know what Peter did in the courtyard? The last time he appeared, it was while denying Jesus three times (18:15–27). In contrast, the Beloved Disciple stood by Jesus even as he hung on the cross (19:25–27). These disciples’ race to the tomb, their presence together already signaling Peter’s future reinstatement and Jesus’ gracious forgiveness (21:15–19). There is room for both faithful and failing disciples in the family of God because of this forgiveness and love.”[2]
I cannot help but wonder just how many of us stand both as the beloved disciple and as peter today? How many have a trust in the process we are engaged in and we will emerge form this crisis not unscathed but all the wiser for it. Perhaps, deep in our hearts we stand as Peter does scared and unsure in all of this process? We move through our day by day but in a hopeless haze? And yet the Empty tomb unites both fear, doubt, love and faith.
Mary has called on all her resources, the disciples, her friends and chosen family, to support her in this process of discovery and yet the system has failed her.
“Mary’s desire for comfort from these two disciples, however, will leave her empty. Both men eventually look into the tomb and see that Jesus’ body is gone. Even the Beloved Disciple, who is said to “believe” in verse 8, offers no words of hope to Mary. Instead, all three disciples are scattered (see also 16:32). The men “returned to their homes,” while Mary remains outside the tomb, weeping. In fact, given the sequence of events in 20:8–10, it seems probable that the Beloved Disciple “believed” Mary’s report of Jesus’ body being stolen rather than believing in the resurrection, since verse 9 continues: “For as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead.” If the Beloved Disciple “believed” in the resurrection at this point, his silent return home is cruel, and a significant departure from his otherwise inquisitive and helpful character in John 13 and 19.”[3]

For many of us, what once brought us comfort or made us feel safe, feels lost and, for some, it feels as though we will never connect to it again. Even those of us whose faith has been strong in these extended days of times we may experience moments when faith fades and sometimes we may find ourselves in the beloved disciple who, once believed, and now walks away from an empty tomb feeling defeated, lost and alone.
Yet if we look where we are standing, look where Mary is standing, she is in a garden.  The tomb though empty is surrounded by teaming life. Even when the resurrected Lord asks her a question, she assumes he is the Gardener.  He is the Gardner! We are in the Garden.  When feeling defeated, when feeling lost remember we are a resurrection people and we stand in the garden.
Julian of Norwich saw it;
“For I saw the Lord sitting like a man. I watched, wondering what kind of labor it be that the servant was to do.  And then I understood the he was to do the greatest labor and the hardest work there is. He was to be a Gardener, digging and ditching and sweating and turning the soil over and over, and to dig deep down, and to water the plants at the proper time. And he was to persevere in his work and make sweet streams to run, and fine and plenteous fruit to grow which he was to bring before the Lord and serve him to his liking”[4]
This is a time, in our world, when we can pay particular attention to our souls, to our wellbeing, and to our spiritual practices.  How are we sustaining our spirits in this time? This may be a time of the “Greatest labor and the hardest work there is.”[5] We may feel isolated, sacred, alone, fearful, angry, sad, hopeless, disconnected. These are all legitimate feelings in the moment of the empty Tomb.  This is trauma, and just as Mary felt it in the garden so do many now.
So, what can we do to engage our feelings to move toward healing as we wait for the resurrection moment?
·      Get Moving try to exercise for at least 30 minutes
·      Don’t isolate, do what you can to connect to neighbors and family be it from your front porch or by phone or electronically stay as connected as you can
"When you feel anxious try mindful breathing, meditation “Staying grounded. To feel in the present and more grounded, sit on a chair. Feel your feet on the ground and your back against the chair. Look around you and pick six objects that have red or blue in them. Notice how your breathing gets deeper and calmer.”[6]
·      Do what you can to stay healthy. Get proper sleep, eat a well-balanced diet and avoid over indulging whether that be snacks, drinks or News!
·      Pray, take up a spiritual practice, read a book such as Showings by Julian of Norwich
These are just a few things we can do to nurture ourselves in these Empty tomb moments.  Then and then do remember that this is Easter Sunday it is not just celebrated today but every day. If we listen, even in these times, we can hear Jesus' voice call us by name just as Mary heard her name.
“Then Jesus asks; “who are you looking for?”  That is a strange question to be asking at a grave side.  I mean the question assumes you must be seeking someone living for the dead are easy to find.  But Mary, missing that it is Jesus who is speaking to her, says just tell me where he is, and I’ll get him.  So, Mary is assuming this Gardener is somehow a part of this conspiracy to steal the body of Jesus. Then he says to her, in a tone of voice that only she could recognize, and it melts her heart and opens her eyes…Mary. 
As Christ calls Mary by her name she recognizes him.  How many times in our own lives when we look back, we can see God’s hand at play but, when we were in the moment, we could not or refused to see God with us.  I wonder how often Mary looked back on that moment and wondered why she did not recognize Jesus Right away.”[7]
Jesus was right there beside her during one of the most difficult times in her life and yet she didn’t see it?  She didn’t even to think to look for Christ. I believe if we truly take time to be present to these days, we will find Christ the gardener besides us, nurturing us day in and day out.  If we listen, we will hear him call our name. Call our name as only one who knows us as their beloved can.  And if we do, Just as Mary did then, today we can proclaim. I have seen the risen Lord.

Please write your joys and concerns in the comment section and I will lift them up after this hymn

The Strife is over #242

Let us pray the prayer Jesus taught us

Our Creator, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kin-dom 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 kin-dom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Normally this would be the call to the offering if you would care to you can mail in your offerings or go to the top of the webpage and click the donate now
The office is open for regular hours
We are accepting donations for the kidz cupboard and the food pantry

Now let us prepare our hearts and our tables
For Holy Communion this morning,
I invite you to lend Christ your table.

On the first day of Holy Week long ago,
people throughout Judea arrived
at the dusty gates of Jerusalem,
primed with “Hosanna” in their hearts
and Jesus asked to borrow a donkey.

On the Thursday that followed,
Jesus rented or was given
John Mark’s mother’s Upper Room
to celebrate the Passover with the disciples.

On the afternoon of the resurrection,
Jesus was invited into a house in Emmaus
and used the bread of that hospitality
to break and bless.

Lend Christ your table, your bread, your cup and your heart,
for, as the disciples told the person who loaned the donkey,
“The Lord has need of it.”

Prayer of Consecration
Leader:          We are one bread, one body, one cup of blessing.
Though we are many throughout the earth
and this church community is scattered,
we are one in Christ.
In your many kitchens, and living rooms,
rest your hands lightly upon these elements
which we set aside today to be a sacrament.
Let us ask God’s blessing upon them.

Unison:         Gentle Redeemer, there is no lockdown on your blessing
and no quarantine on grace.
Send your Spirit of life and love,
power and blessing
upon every table where your child shelters in place,
that this Bread may be broken and gathered in love
and this Cup poured out to give hope to all.
Risen Christ, live in us, that we may live in you.
Breathe in us, that we may breathe in you.

Words of Remembering
Leader:          We remember that Paul the apostle
wrote letters to congregations throughout places
we now call Greece, Turkey and Macedonia,
and they were the first “remote” worship resources.
Our online service has a long heritage.
The Communion words sent to the church at Corinth were these:

For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed
took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks,
he broke it and said,
“This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes.

Sharing of the Elements
Leader:          Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.
Unison:         We are one in Christ in the bread we share.

Leader:          Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.
Unison:         We are one in Christ in the cup we share.

Prayer of Thanksgiving
Leader:          Let us pray in thanksgiving for this meal of grace,
rejoicing that, by the very method of our worship,
we have embodied the truth that Christ’s love
is not limited by buildings made with human hands,
nor contained in human ceremonies,
but blows as free as the Spirit in all places.

Unison:         Spirit of Christ, you have blessed our tables and our lives.
May the eating of this Bread give us courage to speak faith and act love,
not only in church sanctuaries, but in your precious world,
and may the drinking of this Cup renew our hope
even in the midst of pandemic.
Wrap your hopeful presence around all
whose bodies, spirits and hearts need healing,
and let us become your compassion and safe refuge.  Amen[8]

I am available for one on visits or phone calls if you need any prayer we will be together again soon but until then remember you are the hands and the feet of our lord in this world and in this world of no physical contact we can still smile, wave, chat , check in

Final hymn The Lord Liveth

I will call upon the lord
Who is worthy to be Praised
So shall I be saved from my enemies
I will call upon the lord

The Lord liveth and blessed be my rock
Let the God of my salvation be exalted

[1] Frederick Buechner, Easter, October 13, 2009, accessed March 14, 2016,
[3] Ditto
[4] Giuliana, et al. Julian of Norwich: Showings. Paulist Press, 1978. Pg. 273-74
[5] Ditto
[8] Online Communion for Palm Sunday was written by the Rev. Maren C. Tirabassi.
©2020 Maren Tirabassi, all publishing rights reserved.  Permission for congregations to use in worship or educational settings, including streaming.