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.

Topic: Monday Bible Study
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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.,

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