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Sunday, March 22nd

 

Sunday,  March 22, 2020
Online Video Posting
Original Congregational Church

 

Order of Worship

MUSIC     “It Might as Well be Spring”
Rodgers and Hammerstein from “State Fair” (1945)
Giulio Cetto, electric bass; Teddy Cetto, Fender Rhodes electric piano
https://drive.google.com/open?id=18VJHSvsqvWlZr8_2thIUSTEInOlSpJVu

 

HYMN   How Firm a Foundation
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1KCzhXEzBJT6f6MkIVTlHesoIsI2YIBSZ
*Please stand if you are able. Turn your sound up extra loud, and sing along. There is a short introduction and two verses of the hymn. Feel free to choose which verse to sing. “They that sing, pray twice”

SCRIPTURE  Reading of Psalm 23       Chancel Choir Collage
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1LYS_xVMrgpvX2Upw5JF49_6tDMl8DZsJ

SERMON “Living In The Lord’s House”
A Sermon delivered by Rev. Kenneth C. Landin
The Original Congregational Church, Wrentham Centre

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ccCqgOuZZTSx89RS40dNeT7kXJ2HzTLY/view?usp=sharing</ahttps://drive.google.com/open?id=13Z26v4Hw8X8YJvJoh5f5IjoHt1z7vmgV
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1q1w-XV3GDqcmh0zexqH9963svfk8oOxS

The written word if you prefer:

Living In The House of The Lord

Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23:6

Let us pray. Holy God, the heavens declare your glory, the sky above your handiwork. Your words enlighten our eyes, making our hearts to rejoice, and revive our souls. Let our virtual words and our video meditations be acceptable in your sight, and grant us strength, O Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

Today we are worshiping together in God’s house—that is, everyone’s house.

Because of our concerns of the corona virus and our efforts to slow transmission we are all practicing “social distancing.” For our faith life, I would like to refer to this practice as “physical distancing—spiritual connecting.” I want to praise you for doing everything you can to contribute to public health during these days.

It’s hard to be apart. I miss you all.

I do take courage in faith. Our faith in the Living God sustains us during times we experience distance from our loved ones, our dearest family, friends, and neighbors that mean so much. I also want to praise you for your strength and courage, patience and perseverance.

Many of you have said to me things like this. “We are holding up fine. We have been through difficult times like this before. We will get through this.” And, we continue to watch out for each other by telephone calls, emails, texts and the like. One thing I enjoy is seeing neighbors out walking and taking the time to talk with each other from across the street.

I encourage you to think of this time apart from our regular interactions as practicing Sabbath. Worship on Sundays involves coming together to draw near to the Lord in the Spirit as we move apart from our ordinary schedules and busy tasks of everyday life.

By sharing beautiful music and meditating on God’s Word, we give rest to our bodies, center our minds, and let our souls be restored. Worship makes us ready to accomplish all things that God’s sends us out in the world to do. We can keep on worshipping in these days apart.

So for today, Teddy and Donna and I have collaborated from a very safe distance, in fact, we never saw each other, to post these video clips online. We invite everyone to enjoy being in worship together in God’s House, which is to say, all our houses!

“The Lord is my shepherd—I shall not want.” Right now we are in want for many things. We want safety and protection. We want to be near family and friends. We want public health and a return to life as normal.

What does God do in these times? God goes beside us. The mystery of our faith is that God does not take away the difficult things we face. We have to deal with a spreading virus. We have to keep putting food on the table. We have to do the hard work of care-giving for the sick and the hard work of healing when we are sick.

In the Spirit, the Lord goes with us into each new day. In the Spirit God grants us wisdom to find the green pastures of the basic staples that sustain our strength. In the Spirit God leads us beside the still waters which restore our soul. Can we be still even in the midst of a crisis, and drink deeply from the well of faith? Our faith never stops giving to us even in thin times.

Then comes the journey through the dark valley. Seeing the news of a spreading virus is like watching a shadow come up over the horizon. We must not be afraid. We have great resources to guide us. God, the good shepherd has a rod and a staff. The rod are the words that tell us how to ward off danger. Hand washing, distancing, staying home. These are like our rod of protection.

The staff is the shepherd’s crook, like a candy cane, that pulls us back to safety. These are words that say, “Don’t be afraid. I love you. I hear you. I will never leave you.” They pull us back home to be at a place of peace and rest. A hospital staff, a public health staff, a governmental staff, a staff of first responders, these are all working hard to help us.

Have you ever had to sit down and eat a meal with an enemy? Hard to do right?

In the midst of a corona virus outbreak, everything in life is suddenly different. We still need to eat. Set your table with love. Make a place for everyone to be welcomed, refreshed, restored.

If sheltering in place means that you are alone, set an extra plate, bowl and cup for your spirit companions. Fill their cup to overflowing. There is generosity in your house. There is great love in your home. Your heart is bursting with gratitude for all you have known and loved.

Maybe your cup contains an overflow of tears. That’s okay. Let them out. Each tear for a loved one distant, hurting, sick or in pain, is sacred. They are your prayers to God for mercy, for healing, for protection, for guidance.

When we are facing an enemy we feel like we are being pursued. A bully on the playground, a thief trying to trick us out of our money, a group seeking to undo our society, a chronic disease that undermines our health, and a novel virus we don’t yet know much about how it works—these enemies all can leave us feeling unworthy, unloved, lost, alone, and in despair.

Are we left out there all by ourselves, exposed?
Then comes God the good shepherd with a rod of protection and a staff to pull us back in.
God pursues us with love, with kindness, with guidance, with confidence, with hope.

“Surely goodness and mercy shall pursue us all the days of our lives.” Psalm 23 is an ancient song of trust. We trust in a Lord who knows how we work and how viruses work, and how healing and hope work.

We place our trust in the Lord who goes with us to find food and shelter and medicine in the midst of the darkest of days. We place our trust in the source of love that never leaves our side even in hard times. We place our trust in the Lord who can restore our souls during a crisis.

God the good shepherd is pursuing us with love. Keep the virus out, but let the love of God in! Stay strong. Be well. Pray continually. And be at home in your home with the Lord of Love.

For by faith, “We all shall dwell in the House of the Lord, forever.”

Amen.

PRAYER
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Dvv_hbA35msGU4A9JACvnQFYAeJ0D3GD

The written word if you prefer:

Let us be in a Spirit of Prayer.

Dear God, protect us in our prayers today. Shelter us in your love. May our homes be blessed with the presence of your Spirit. Go with us into each new day. Grant us strength to face the challenges in these days. May there be peace in our hearts, peace in our homes, and peace in our world.

Protect those who are working hard to deal with this virus outbreak. May they find support for their work and comfort for their worries and concerns. We pray for the sick and all those impacted by this virus and all diseases. May you send healing in the wings of your angels of mercy to all in need.

Bless all the children, home from school, to find new ways of learning and connecting with friends. Bless all the grown-ups who are finding it hard to manage the household in these days and maybe out of work.

Bless our leaders to find comforting words and to take bold actions to keep us all safe. Bless all the people who may be isolated, in danger or at risk, may their prayers for help and mercy be heard.

And, O Lord, we pray that we may all remain encouraged by hope and your plans for our future. May we see the signs emerging all around us of a stronger, more peaceful, more hopeful, and beautiful world to come, according to the graceful work of your care-giving hands.

In your holy name we pray.

And we may close with the Lord’s Prayer together saying:

 

LORD’S PRAYER
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.

MUSIC “Amazing Grace”
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1Ps0xRRcppOIAt2Bdm5NSlcxH2KYhBYBq