On Line Worship Service, May 3, 2020

Welcome to this service. 

We have wonderful contributions from many different people today.  Be sure to see the reading of the 23rd Psalm by several good shepherds of our congregation, and please be sure to watch the final two videos, two of the most beautiful sources of comfort and uplift we have to offer this week by two people with extraordinary gifts to share, the Benediction Response by Becky Bailey and Postlude by Jeremiah McLane.

We begin with an equal set of gifts in the first two videos, the Prelude by our church musician, Annemieke McLane, followed by the choir she directs singing Bobby McFerrin’s 23rd Psalm.

Let us open our hearts to receive whatever it is that the Spirit would have us receive through the words and music of this service.

Prelude “Pifa (Pastoral Symphony)” of Handel’s Messiah,  Annemieke McLane, piano:

Introit Bobby McFerrin’s 23rd Psalm, sung by the United Church of Strafford Choir:

Call to Worship and Mel Goertz’s Haiku

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

Reading of the 23rd Psalm, King James Version  Here are several good shepherds from our congregation reading the beloved Psalm.  Recite it along with them if you know it!

Orientation to this Service and Announcements

Welcome to this online worship service of the United Church of Strafford, Vermont for May 3, 2020, the Fourth Sunday of Easter and Good Shepherd Sunday.

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 Prelude, Introit, Call to Worship and reading of the 23rd Psalm above;
  • Children’s Time for all ages;
  • the New Lord’s Prayer;
  • an Anthem and sing-along hymn;
  • a Sermon;
  • a Benediction Response (“Precious Lord” sung by Becky Bailey)
  • a Postlude (“Comfort, Comfort,” Jeremiah McLane, accordion)

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 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.


This is a favorite sung version of the 23rd Psalm that was requested by a member of our choir.

Scripture  John 10:11-16 NRSV

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”


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.


Every time we lay down our life for another we release some of God’s love and light into the world.  A minister once brought clothing his church had collected to a country devastated by war.  The people said that what meant even more than the needed clothes was the thought that someone half way around the world knew about them and cared enough to help.  That act of love from complete strangers gave them the hope they needed to survive the violence of hate and fear.  Let us make our offering, praying that what we give may help others feel that kind of love and hope, especially now in a time when so many need the light that shines in the darkness that the darkness does not overcome.

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.)

The Benediction

And now may the Good Shepherd
be your guide and restore your soul
and lead you in the paths of righteousness.
Yea, though you walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
may you fear no evil,
knowing the Spirit of God we saw in Jesus
is with you and within you and in us all
who are walking this journey in loving community.
May goodness and mercy follow you
all the days of your life,
and may you dwell in this house without walls
where others are ready to lay down their lives for you,
and where you are invited to lay down your life for others,
may you dwell in the flock of the Good Shepherd forever,

Benediction Response “Precious Lord, Take My Hand” sung by Becky Bailey

Postlude “Comfort, Comfort Ye My People,” Jeremiah McLane, accordion

“Comfort those who sit in darkness,
Mourning ‘neath their sorrows’ load.
Speak ye to Jerusalem
Of the peace that waits for them;
Tell her that her wrongs I cover,
And her warfare now is over.”

2 Comments on “On Line Worship Service, May 3, 2020

  1. Pingback: Call to Worship and Mel’s Haiku, May 3, 2020 On Line Service | United Church of Strafford, Vermont

  2. Pingback: Call to Worship and Mel’s Haiku, May 10, 2020 On Line Service | United Church of Strafford, Vermont

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