Welcome to this service. This is one of the big, pivotal Sundays in the church year. It is the Last Sunday after Pentecost, the Reign of Christ Sunday and also Thanksgiving Sunday. Next Sunday the new church year begins with the First Sunday of Advent.
We celebrate this Sunday each year by allowing ourselves to envision the realm of God on earth—society as Jesus taught us it could be if humanity would abandon its selfish, exploitive, ego-driven culture and follow the Spirit’s way of compassion, justice and love.
We had help envisioning this transformation from four members of our community over the past two weeks, and today’s sermon will draw upon their reflections. You can find them by clicking on their names here:
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.
Whoever you are, wherever you are on your journey, you are welcome here and in our church community.
Pastor Tom Kinder
Today’s Order of Worship
- Prelude by Annemieke McLane, piano
- Call to Worship: A Haiku by Herbert Goertz
- Benediction and Postlude by members of the United Church of Strafford Choir and Choir Director and pianist Annemieke McLane
Prelude Partita No. 6, Allemande, J. S. Bach, performed by pianist Annemieke McLane, the United Church of Strafford Church Musician
Call to Worship “Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46 This week’s haiku by Herbert Goertz:
In the full moonlight
even the lowly pebble
shines like a gemstone.
Let us worship together.
Psalm 95:1-7a King James Version
O come, let us sing unto the Lord:
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation.
Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving,
and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms.
For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
In his hand are the deep places of the earth:
the strength of the hills is his also.
The sea is his, and he made it:
and his hands formed the dry land.
O come, let us worship and bow down:
let us kneel before the Lord our maker.
For he is our God;
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.
Ezekiel 34:11-12, 14-16, 20-22
For thus says the Lord GOD: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness… I will feed them with good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel shall be their pasture; there they shall lie down in good grazing land, and they shall feed on rich pasture on the mountains of Israel.
I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, but the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them with justice.
Therefore, thus says the Lord GOD to them: I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you pushed with flank and shoulder, and butted at all the weak animals with your horns until you scattered them far and wide, I will save my flock, and they shall no longer be ravaged; and I will judge between sheep and sheep.
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’”
Sermon I Will Save My Flock: They Shall No Longer Be Ravaged
You can find the text of the Sermon by clicking here.
Offering 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.)
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.
We are now streaming live readings and music from our sanctuary on that same Zoom link at 10:15 AM, so just sign on to the Joys and Concerns Zoom link fifteen minutes earlier.
We are also offering a Story Time for children and adults at 9:45 AM at the same Zoom link.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and we will make sure you receive all our church news with many more announcements than we print here.
You can also see more news on this website by clicking here.
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.
Benediction and Postlude “Acres Grace,” Words and Music by Peter Amidon, Sung by members of the United Church of Strafford Choir, Annemieke McLane, Choir Director and Pianist