On Line Worship Service, April 19, 2020

Prelude by Annemieke McLane, our church musician.

Call to Worship, Mel’s Haiku and the Psalm

You can read the text of this Call to Worship video by clicking here.

Hymn  Please join members of our choir in singing with jubilation, “Come, Ye Faithful, Raise the Strain.”

Welcome and Announcements

Welcome to this online worship service of the United Church of Strafford, Vermont for April 19, 2020, the Second Sunday of Easter and 50th Anniversary of the first Earth Day.

You can respond with thoughts about the service or with anything you would like to say by using the comment feature at the end of the post or by emailing us.  You can also bring others into this experience by sharing the link to this service by email or social media.

Today we have a series of videos including:

  • the Call to Worship above;
  • an Annemieke McLane Prelude;
  • joyous Easter and Earth Day hymns and an Anthem;
  • a Children’s Message;
  • the New Lord’s Prayer;
  • A Sermon;
  • a Benediction.

Please note that we are gathering as a congregation by Zoom at 10:30 AM on Sunday mornings to say hello to one another and share our Joys and Concerns and Prayer requests and offer our compassion and support and company for this wilderness journey.

Our Heartfulness Contemplative Training Circle is also meeting by Zoom on Thursdays at 6:00 PM.  This is for anyone who is interested in practicing mindfulness or meditation, or heartfulness and centering prayer.  It is a time for talking about those practices and also more generally about our spiritual life.

You can find links to instructions on how to be part of those Zoom gatherings on the Welcome Page of our website.

It is extremely important that we stay connected now.  Please reach out by phone or email to neighbors and other members of the congregation, especially those who live by themselves or are struggling or vulnerable.  Our Deacons, Becky Bailey, Kim Welsh and Maggie Hooker, are coordinating our Deacons Fund and our outreach to people in need of support, and Danette Harris, Chair of our Mission Committee, is leading our work with the Food Shelf.  Becky, Danette and Joey Hawkins are on the town committee that is coordinating outreach as well.  If you would like to donate or help please email us or use the comment feature on this page.

You can listen to this service in one sitting in under an hour or you may spread it out over the course of the day or week. Thank you!

Time with Children and Youth (and all ages…)

Alternative Lord’s Prayer

I invited children, parents and other adults to record themselves saying the prayer.  My original idea was to splice together lines from each, which I still may do, but they are each so beautiful in entirety that I plan to share a different one each week.  Please keep sending these in—it would be wonderful to have every member of the congregation lead the prayer!

Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer,
Way, Truth and Life,
Force of Love and Light
flowing within and all around us,
may your realm of compassion,
justice and peace rule our world.
Thank you for nurturing and guiding us,
forgiving us and helping us forgive,
and leading us away from harmful desires.
Please save us from all forms of evil,
for you are our source, our home, our power,
all goodness and beauty forever. Amen.

Anthem

This song was commissioned by the Missouri-Mid-South Conference of the United Church of Christ and expresses the spirit of Easter, Earth Day and the Green New Deal—a spirit that is about lifting people to resurrected life who are impoverished and oppressed, creating an equitable and just society, and at the same time lifting the earth to resurrected life by building a new resilient economy based on sustainable, renewable, “green” energy and industries.  This song shows what it means to love as God loves, to love our neighbor as our self and apply that principle to all levels of our society, from individuals to churches to corporations to nations.  The national UCC promotes the three great loves that this song expresses: love of children, love of neighbor and love of Creation.

Scripture  John 20:19-31 NRSV

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.’ 20After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. 21Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ 22When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. 23If 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), one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. 25So 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.’ 27Then 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.’ 28Thomas answered him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ 29Jesus 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. 31But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.

Sermon

You can read the text of the Sermon below by clicking here.

Sermon Hymn

You are invited to sing along or listen to this hymn.  The words are printed below the video.

We Plow the Fields and Scatter
text: Matthias Claudias 1740-1815
tune: WIR PFLÜGEN, Johann A.P. Schulz 1747-1800

We plow the fields and scatter the good seed on the land,
But it is fed and watered by God’s almighty hand,
Who sends the snow in winter, the warmth to swell the grain,
The breezes and the sunshine and soft, refreshing rain.
All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above;
We thank thee, Lord, We thank thee, Lord, for all thy love.

One only is the maker of all things near and far;
Who paints the wayside flower and lights the evening star.
The winds and waves obeying, by God the birds are fed;
Much more, to us like children, is given daily bread.
All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above;
We thank thee, Lord, We thank thee, Lord, for all thy love.

We thank thee, then, great Giver, for all things bright and good:
The seed-time and the harvest, our life, our health, our food.
Accept the gifts we offer, for all thy love imparts,
And, what thou most desirest, our humble, thankful hearts.
All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above;
We thank thee, Lord, We thank thee, Lord, for all thy love.

Offering

The earliest church tried to follow the teachings and the way that Jesus lived as closely as it could.  They were strictly nonviolent and they devoted themselves to healing the sick, caring for the vulnerable and those in need and working for equitable social justice. They pooled their resources and became so effective (their grain warehouses to feed the hungry were larger than their houses of worship) that the Roman Empire used provincial churches as their formal welfare system (when they weren’t throwing them to the lions, that is).

The best response to Easter is to be the body of Christ risen and living in the world by continuing this work.  We each do that through our individual actions, but we can do much more by pooling our resources and efforts, as our response to our current local and global crisis shows.  The offering makes that possible—it supports all that we are and all that we do.

To make your offering on line, please click here.  (This is a new service we are providing through an extremely well established church on-line donation company recommended by the national United Church of Christ and used by thousands of churches like ours.  To read more about our decision to allow on line donations, click here.)

Benediction

The Benediction

Jesus said,  “You ought always to pray and not to faint.”  Do not pray for easy lives; pray to be stronger women and men.  Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; but for powers equal to your tasks.  Then, the doing of your work will not be the miracle so much as you will be the miracle.  Every day you will wonder at the gifts and richness of life that have come to you by the grace of God.  Go—use your gifts to serve God and neighbor and this earth, and may God bless you and keep you, this day and forever more.  Amen.

Closing Hymn (see the words below to sing along)

Joy Dawned Again on Easter Day

text: Latin, 5th Century

tune: PUER NOBIS NASCITUR, adapted by Michael Praetorius, 1571-1621, harmonized by George R. Woodward, 1848-1934

Joy dawned again on Easter Day,
The sun shone out with fair array,
When to their longing eyes restored,
The Apostles saw their risen Lord.

O Jesus, King of gentleness,
Do thou thyself our hearts possess
That we may give thee all our days
The willing tribute of our praise.

O Lord of all, with us abide
In this our joyful Eastertide;
From every weapon death can wield
Thine own redeemed forever shield.

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