On Line Worship Service, May 17, 2020

Welcome to this service.  You will find an “Orientation to this Service and Announcements” after the first few items.

Prelude Impromptu, Op. 90 No. 2 by Franz Schubert; Annemieke McLane, piano:

Introit “Be a Candle of Hope” by Becki Slagle Mayo, sung by the United Church of Strafford Choir

Be a candle of hope, be a candle of light,
a beacon of truth in a dark, hopeless night.
Share the light with a friend and watch the flame grow.
The more light we give, the more love we’ll know.
When you light another candle, you keep your light, but give it away.
Yet the flame grows even brighter as the darkness turns into day.
Be a candle of hope, be a candle of light,
a beacon of truth in a dark, hopeless night.
Share the light with a friend and watch the flame grow.
The more light we give, the more love we’ll know.
The more light we give, the more love we’ll know.

First Scripture Lesson, Acts 17:22-30:

Then Paul stood in front of the Areopagus and said, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way. For as I went through the city and looked carefully at the objects of your worship, I found among them an altar with the inscription, ‘To an unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you.  The God who made the world and everything in it, he who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by human hands, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mortals life and breath and all things. From one ancestor he made all nations to inhabit the whole earth…. so that they would search for God and perhaps grope for him and find him–though indeed he is not far from each one of us. For ‘In him we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.…’  While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to undergo metanoia*.

[*metanoia: a spiritual awakening and opening to expanded consciousness, inadequately translated as ‘repent’]

Call to Worship and Mel Goertz’s Haiku

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

Anthem  “Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, Hold On,” a song of the American Civil Rights Movement based on an African-American spiritual, performed by Sweet Honey in the Rock

Orientation to this Service and Announcements

Welcome to this online worship service of the United Church of Strafford, Vermont for May 17, 2020, the Sixth Sunday of Easter and Pentecost Preparation 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 Anthem above;
  • Children’s Time (for adults, too);
  • the New Lord’s Prayer;
  •  Sermon;
  • a moving South African Freedom Song;
  • a Benediction video;
  • an uplifting South African Freedom Song as our Choral Benediction;
  • a Postlude, Brahms’ Intermezzo in A major, Op. 118 No. 2, Annemieke McLane, piano audio only

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.

If you are not on our weekly email list and would like to be, please email us at unitedchurchofstrafford@gmail.com and we will make sure you receive all our church news.

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.  Here is a composite of six readers.  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.

Second Scripture Lesson, John 7:37-39b, 14:15-20, 25-26:

From John 7: On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive.

From John 14: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.  On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you…. I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.


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

Anthem  “Freedom Is Coming,” a South African Freedom Song performed by the Leipzig Gospel Choir

This video is not polished, nor is the performance, but it is electrifying because of the Spirit flowing through it, and because it is being sung in Leipzig, a city where the movement for freedom courageously rose up against East German communism, and it is being sung in the church where Johann Sebastian Bach composed and first performed some of his most stirring works.  Anti-apartheid South Africans sang this as they marched and risked their lives with very little reason to believe that freedom would ever come, and their singing in the face of all that was part of why it did come.  I hope you can you enter into this video with these things in mind, and feel the same Spirit stirring in your heart.


This congregation is a small but meaningful part of the movement to establish God’s realm of peace, justice and care for God’s creation on earth, actively engaged in serving our community and supporting the wider worldwide movement.  One of the ways we work together and increase our strength beyond our individual abilities is by pooling our resources.  This is hard to do when we are forced apart by the pandemic, so we hope you will take just a minute to use our online donation service.

To make your offering on line, please click here.  (This is a service we are providing through an extremely well established on-line donation company specializing in churches that is 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

Benediction Response “Siyahamba (We Are Marching in the Light of God” South African Freedom Song sung by the Palatine Children’s Chorus of Uganda

Postlude  Johannes Brahms, Intermezzo in A major, Op. 118 No. 2, Annemieke McLane, piano

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