Home Worship Service July 5

Union Church
Biddeford Pool
…a place of peace and Presence by the sea
July 5th, 2020
The Joys of Summer

 

Order of Worship

Focus: Apprehend God in all things, for God is in all things.

Every single creature is full of God, and is a book about God.

Every creature is a word of God. If I spent enough time with the tiniest creature,

even a caterpillar, I would never have to prepare a sermon.  So full of God is every creature.

+ Meister Eckhart

 

Welcome:                                          Rev. Paula Norbert

 

Responsive Call to Worship:

Leader:   Come, out of your busy lives to a quiet time and place
All:          Our souls thirst for some peace and quiet.
Leader:   Come, and rest in the Lord who will restore your souls.
All:          Our lives need moments of rest.
Leader:   Come and find the quiet center. Come, be at peace.
All:          Praise God who offers to us a shelter and resting place. AMEN.

Opening Music: Battle Hymn of the Republic (by William Steffe)  -Michelle Currie

Invocation

Creator God
who breathed this world into being,
who is discernible within the harmony of nature,
the perfection of a butterfly’s wing,
the grandeur of a mountain range,
the soaring eagle and humming bird,
thank you for this world
which you have created.
Thank you for summer sun,
which reminds us
that your creative breath is still alive and active.
Thank you for the warmth of your love,
sustaining this world,
your garden. Be with us this day
as we gather to be in the company of one another
and You this wonderful summer day.  Amen.   

Lords Prayer:

Scripture:   “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver,
A Summer Prayer by Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr Ave

Reflections:                                                          Rev. Paula Norbert

Sermon Response:  Summertime (by George Gershwin)  -Michelle Currie

Celebration of the Lord’s Supper

                             Words of Invitation       The Bread and the Cup
                                         Prayer of Thanksgiving

 

 Musical call to Prayer:  (two times)  Hush now in quiet peace, be still your mind at ease. The Spirit brings release, so wait upon the Lord.            

                                  Prayers of the People
            Silent Prayers                                Pastoral Prayer

 Closing Music: America the Beautiful (by Samuel Augustus Ward/arr. by Ray Charles) -Michelle Currie

  

Benediction                                            Rev. Paula Norbert

Our prayer is finished. Let us leave this holy place renewed in mind and refreshed in spirit. Take some time this week to enjoy the warmth of the sun, the chirping birds, the fragrance and beauty of the flowers, and the colors of nature all around us.

Sending Forth:  Go forth in peace into the loveliness of a summer day.

Response: Amen

 

Recessional:   Blest Be the Ties That Bind

Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
The fellowship of kindred minds
Is like that to that above.

 

 

Gratitude in the Time of Coronavirus, March 30, 2020

Written by Bay Path University adjunct faculty member Kathryn Hayward, MD and David L. Thomas Jr., JD. Hayward and Thomas currently live in Spain, which was one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 in Europe.

At the conclusion of their reflection on life in Spain in the early weeks of the virus, they shared this pledge…

 

     Our pledge to Los Luchadores Incansables, the Tireless Fighters

We pledge to be good citizens and honor your work and your sacrifice by quarantining well, with gratitude, humor, grace, compassion and kindness.

We pledge that, every day at 8pm, we will recognize you by collectively raising our voices in your honor.

We pledge to do everything we can to help you have everything you need to do your job well and safely. We know you currently may be hindered by not having enough supplies to keep you safe from infection and enough medical supplies to support your patients who are in grave danger. We will work together, from our quarantined place, to remedy these situations as quickly as we can.

Things that we who are home quarantining can do:

Feel and Show Gratitude and Compassion

We work with others to provide our fellow citizens with what they need. The most urgent needs we work on include increasing the supplies of ventilators, personal protective equipment and testing kits

We thank those with whom we interact when we buy our food, supplies and medications

We thank the teachers and professors who are, with very short notice, converting their curricula from in-person to on-line and helping us homeschool our children

We thank for their service those who are cleaning spaces that we use, including public spaces

We thank health professionals, therapists and clergy for helping us with our illnesses and worries

We thank scientists who are working to develop medications and vaccines

We thank leaders who are guiding actions to protect public health

We thank those who deliver packages and mail for helping us receive what we need

We thank those who transport us, whether by air, sea or ground, for being there for us and helping us get where we need to go

We thank for their service police, firefighters, EMTs and others who help keep our communities safe and respond to emergencies

We look into the eyes of those with whom we spend time, in person or in video conference. We ask people how they are, how their families are, and care enough to listen to their answers

We proceed through our day believing that everyone is trying their best. We know that everyone is dealing with fears and hardships and we show them understanding

We pay bills when we can, as promptly as possible

We bang a pot and yell and sing our gratitude at 8pm nightly

Slow Down and Relax

We make calls that we have been putting off

We read to our kids and ask them to read to us (and put away our phones for that time)

We check on neighbors, friends and family, especially if they are quarantining alone

We videoconference with friends and share laughs, play games, tell stories

We read

We watch films and YouTube videos, listen to podcasts

We learn new things

We watch the sky

We go out in nature if we are able

We engage in self-care through meditation, practicing mindfulness, Jin Shin Jyutsu

We move our bodies mindfully

We cook and bake healthful, delicious, whole plant-based foods

We laugh, dance and sing

Our Readings for Today

 

The Summer Day

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver

 

 

A Summer Prayer by Joyce Rupp and Macrina Wiederkehr:

 

May you breathe in the beauty of summer with its power of transformation. May this beauty permeate all that feels un-beautiful in you.

May the God of summer give us beauty.

May you seek and find spaces of repose during these summer months. May these moments refresh and restore the tired places within you.

May the God of summer give us rest.

May you be open to times of celebration and recreation that are so much a part of summer. May you find happiness in these times of play and leisure.

May the God of summer give us joy.

May your eyes see the wonders of summer’s colors. May these colors delight you and entice you into contemplation and joy.

May the God of summer give us inner light.

May you feel the energy of summer rains penetrating thirsty gardens, golf courses, lawns, and farmlands. May these rains remind you that your inner thirst needs quenching. May your inner self be refreshed, restored, and renewed.

May the God of summer give us what we need for healing.

May you savor the fresh produce that comes to your table and enjoy the fruits of summer’s bounty.

May the God of summer give us a sense of satisfaction in the work of our hands.

May you find shelter when the stormy skies of summer threaten your safety.

May the God of summer give us shelter when inner storms threaten our peace of mind and heart.

May you enjoy the unexpected and find surprises of beauty and happiness as you travel the roads on summer vacations.

May the God of summer lead us to amazing discoveries as we travel the inner roads of our soul as well.  Amen.

(Taken from The Circle of Life copyright 2005 by Joyce Rupp & Macrina Wiederkehr Ave Maria Press. p. 119.)

 

Communion Prayer

It is right, and a good and joyful thing,

always and everywhere to give thanks to you,

Loving God, Creator of heaven and earth,

your love so desired a response

that you formed us in your image

and breathed into us your breath of life,

filling us with your essence of goodness.

We sometimes lose sight of this connection to you,

yet still your love remains steadfast and compassionate.

You deliver us from the captivity of our forgetfulness,

reminding us of your eternal covenant of presence,

and you continue to speak to us through prophetic voices of hope.

Holy are you, and blessed is your Son Jesus Christ,

Your Spirit anointed him for love in the form of

preaching good news to the poor,

proclaiming release to the captives

recovering of sight to the blind,

setting at liberty those who are oppressed,

and announcing that the time had come

when you would save your people.

He healed the sick,

fed the hungry,

and ate with those cut off from fullness of life and love.

By the baptism of his suffering, death, and resurrection

you gave birth to a new path of faithful life,

delivered us from our death-dealing preoccupations

and made with us a new covenant by water and the Spirit.

 

When Jesus breathed Spirit upon his beloveds,

he promised to be with us always.

Each breath we take, each movement of breeze,

reminds us of this beautiful truth,

that by the power of your Word and Holy Spirit,

we are not alone.

 

On the night in which he gave himself up for us,

he took bread, gave thanks to you, broke the bread,

gave it to his disciples, and said:

“Take, eat; this is my body which is given for you.

Do this in remembrance of me.”

 

When the supper was over, he took the cup,

gave thanks to you, gave it to his disciples, and said:

 

“Drink from this, all of you;

this is my blood of the new covenant,

poured out for you and for many

for the forgiveness of sins.

Do this, as often as you drink it,

in remembrance of me.”

Pour out your Holy Spirit on us gathered here,

and on these gifts of bread and wine.

Make them be for us the beauty of life through Christ,

so that we may be for the world the body of Christ,

offering the gift of compassion.

 

By your Spirit make us one with Christ,

one with each other,

and one in ministry to all the world.

 

Through your Son Jesus Christ

with the Holy Spirit in your holy church,

all honor and glory is yours, Beloved and Beloving God,

now and forever.

Amen.

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Sermon

Reflections on the 4th of July, 2020

This year, we celebrate the 4th of July which commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence 244 years ago in Philadelphia. The founders understood that the signing of this document was only the beginning of a long process of independence and the unfolding of a new way of self-government. In the preamble to the Constitution, we hear the words, “We the people of the United States of America, in order to form a ‘more perfect union,’ and it goes on to outline a way of organizing a representative Democracy. In those words, they understood that it was not a ‘perfect Union,’ acknowledging that it would always be a work in progress.

We know that from the beginning, Jefferson, Washington and many of the signers were themselves slave holders and this was reflected in the documents they created. Despite pleading from Abigail Adams to her husband, to ‘remember the ladies,’ women were not granted the right to vote until 1920. Women and blacks were not considered full citizens. And yet, yet, we know there is much to be celebrated in the founding of this Democracy. The freedoms, individual liberty, the Bill of Rights, the construction of a balance of power has brought incredible opportunities to so many who have traveled to these shores over the centuries. We know too that there is much to be mourned as we remember the indigenous peoples who were displaced and the slaves who were brought here against their will.

Like so much in life, this nation reflects the fullness of the pain and opportunity that so many have experienced in this land. There is much to be celebrated as people have the freedom to worship as they choose, to have freedom of speech, the right to assemble, and so many other liberties that too few people around the globe possess. As we celebrate this year, our hearts are heavy with the suffering of our fellow citizens, from families who have lost loved ones to Covid to those who have lost loved ones because of racial injustice. We pray in gratitude for all that this country has given to us, for all those who came before us and As people of faith, we seek to live out the highest ideals of our nation as well as the teachings of Jesus and other great spiritual leaders over time.

On July 5, 1852, Frederick Douglass gave a keynote address at an Independence Day celebration and asked, “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” Douglass was a powerful orator, often traveling six months out of the year to give lectures on abolition. His speech was delivered at an event commemorating the signing of the Declaration of Independence, held at Corinthian Hall in Rochester, New York. It was a scathing speech in which Douglass stated, “This Fourth of July is yours, not mine, You may rejoice, I must mourn.”

In his speech, Douglass acknowledged the Founding Fathers of America, the architects of the Declaration of Independence, for their commitment to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”: “Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too, great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men. The point from which I am compelled to view them is not, certainly, the most favorable; and yet I cannot contemplate their great deeds with less than admiration. They were statesmen, patriots and heroes, and for the good they did, and the principles they contended for, I will unite with you to honor their memory….

Douglass states that the nation’s founders are great men for their ideals for freedom, but in doing so he brings awareness to the hypocrisy of their ideals with the existence of slavery on American soil. Douglass continues to interrogate the meaning of the Declaration of Independence, to enslaved African Americans experiencing grave inequality and injustice:

“…Fellow-citizens, pardon me, allow me to ask, why am I called upon to speak here to-day? What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and of natural justice, embodied in that Declaration of Independence, extended to us? …

“…Would to God, both for your sakes and ours, that an affirmative answer could be truthfully returned to these questions! Then would my task be light, and my burden easy and delightful. For who is there so cold, that a nation’s sympathy could not warm him? …

“But such is not the state of the case. I say it with a sad sense of the disparity between us. I am not included within the pale of glorious anniversary! Your high independence only reveals the immeasurable distance between us. The blessings in which you, this day, rejoice, are not enjoyed in common. The rich inheritance of justice, liberty, prosperity and independence, bequeathed by your fathers, is shared by you, not by me. The sunlight that brought light and healing to you, has brought stripes and death to me. This Fourth July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn…” —Frederick Douglass, July 5, 1852 (National Museum of African American History and Culture)

While much has improved since Douglass delivered this speech in 1852, I trust that many of us grieve that more progress has not been made in terms of racial and economic justice in our beautiful, if imperfect, nation. The Fourth of July has become a day of celebration, of picnics and barbeques, of time with families…and all of that is fitting…as Adams said, ‘there should be illuminations.’ At the heart of our faith is the idea that we should love our neighbors as ourselves and so the wellbeing of our fellow citizens; the idea that all should be treated with respect and dignity is certainly at the heart of what we want to embrace and work for as best we can. We often hear politicians end their speeches with this refrain, but I trust you will join me in sincerely asking God to bless our nation at this time. We need blessings, prayers and hope…

Happy 4th of July all!

Rev. Paula Norbert
July 4, 2020

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