Home Worship Service June 28

Union Church
Biddeford Pool
…a place of peace and Presence by the sea

June 28th, 2020 — 9:30 A.M.


Focus:  “Gratitude turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity…it makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie

Gathering Music:  Blessings (Laura Story)  -Michelle Currie

Welcome:   Rev. Paula Norbert

Responsive Call to Worship:
One: Come, let us worship our God with joy and thanksgiving:
Everything in us says
All:  Thank you!
One: As we gather to worship in this sacred place we say again:
All:   We are grateful.
One:  For your love, for your faithfulness;
All:   We give thanks
One: When earth’s rulers hear what you have to say, O God,
They’ll sing of what you’ve done;
All:   How great the generosity of God!
One:  Finish what you started in us, O God,
Your love is eternal—stay with us, now, that we may say
All:  Thank you!

Opening Hymn: Give Thanks

Give thanks with a grateful heart
Give thanks to the Holy One
Give thanks because we’re given Jesus Christ, the son.

And now let the week say “We are strong”
Let the poor say “We are rich”
Because of what the Lord has done for us!

Give thanks
Give thanks

Invocation :  (based on Psalm 138)
Faithful God, we come into Your presence with thanksgiving,
deeply grateful for the unfailing love and faithfulness
You have shown toward us. When we call out to You, You answer.
When we are exhausted, You give us the strength to go on.
When we find ourselves in trouble, You are there, standing beside us.
And so we come before You with gratitude and praise,
offering You the worship of our hearts and lives. May this time enrich us and enable us to
live our lives as you have taught us to do.  Amen.

Lords Prayer:

Scripture:   Psalm 138, Colossians 3:15-17

Sermon:   Gratitude In These Times?             Rev. Paula Norbert

Sermon Response: Gratitude (Nichole Nordeman)  -Michelle Currie

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 Hymn:     Now Thank We All Our God   vs 1 & 2
(vs 1)
Now thank we all our God, with heart and hands and voices,
Who wondrous things hath done, in whom this world rejoices;
Who from our Mother’s arms has blessed us on our way
With countless gifts of love, and still.is ours today.

(vs 2)
O may this bounteous God through all our life be near us,
With ever joyful hearts and blessed peace to cheer us;
And keep us in God’s grace, and guide us when perplexed,
And free us from all ills in this world and the next.

 Blessing/Benediction                                                   Rev. Paula Norbert

Lord, we come this day, having seen the miracles of everyday creation in our world. We have enjoyed both the bright sunshine and the gentle rains. We have marveled over the beauty of flowers and the complexity of your creation. Make our hearts be ready to receive your word for us, that we may joyfully serve you all of our days. Amen.

 Sending Forth: May you live in peace…

Response: Amen

Recessional: Go in Peace
Go in peace and the peace of God be with you this day.
Go in peace and the peace of God be with you always.
celebrate and share the joy. Celebrate new life.
Go in peace and the peace of God be with you always.

Our Readings for Today

Psalm 138
Thanksgiving and Praise
Of David.
1 I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise;
2 I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word
above everything.[a]
3 On the day I called, you answered me,
you increased my strength of soul.[b]

4 All the kings of the earth shall praise you, O Lord,
for they have heard the words of your mouth.
5 They shall sing of the ways of the Lord,
for great is the glory of the Lord.
6 For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly;
but the haughty he perceives from far away.

7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble,
you preserve me against the wrath of my enemies;
you stretch out your hand,
and your right hand delivers me.
8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me;
your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever.
Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Colossians 3:15-17
15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ[a] dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom; and with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.[b] 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God through him.

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On Gratitude

I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart;
before the gods I sing your praise; I bow down toward your holy temple
and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness;
for you have exalted your name and your word above everything.[a]
On the day I called, you answered me, you increased my strength of soul.
— Psalm 138, A Song of Thanksgiving and Praise of David

In recent months, in conversations with many of you and with other friends, family, and neighbors, I have heard a similar refrain, ‘We feel so grateful; we are so thankful that we are safe, that we have enough to eat, that we still have a paycheck coming in, that we are doing okay…” Even among some who have been sick, we hear how incredibly thankful they are to have come through it all. These are very difficult times, not really unprecedented, but challenging certainly, and especially painful for all of those who have been hardest hit on so many levels by this crisis. “I give you thanks, O Lord, with my whole heart,” the Psalmist says, “I give thanks for your steadfast love and faithfulness.” It’s a good time to remind ourselves of God’s steadfast love; it’s an important time to focus on gratitude and to take stock of the blessings and gifts of our lives and to continue to pray for those who are suffering among us and beyond. Let us pray, Loving Creator, be with us this day as we walk an unknown path together. Help us to be mindful of the many blessings of our days as we open our hearts to those for whom gratitude feels impossible. Amen. Rudyard Kipling was a great British poet, novelist and short story writer in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Well known for his fictional work The Jungle Book and his poem IF, Kipling received the Nobel prize in literature in 1907. The poet Laureate earned a great deal of money from his literary works which spawned criticism in British media.

Hoping for a story, a newspaper reporter once approached him and said, “Mr. Kipling. I just read that somebody calculated that the money you made from your writings amounts to over $100 a word.” Kipling raised his eyebrows and said, “Really, I certainly wasn’t aware of that.” The reporter reached into his pocket and pulled out a $100 bill and gave it to Kipling and cynically said, “Here’s a $100 bill Mr. Kipling. Now give me one of your $100 words.” Kipling looked at the $100 bill for a moment, took it, folded it up, put it in his pocket and said, “Thanks.”

Several years ago, a man named John Kralik published a book entitled, A Simple Act of Gratitude. He wrote about a time in his life when he felt things had become a complete disaster. He was miserable, broke, overweight, and on his second divorce living in a less than desirable apartment in LA with no air conditioning. He was an attorney who could no longer afford to pay his employees their Christmas bonuses since his clients weren’t paying their bills on time — and sometimes not paying them at all. Apparently John had an epiphany while he was hiking in the hills of LA one New Year’s Day. He decided that he would plan to write one thank you note each day for the following year, a total of 365 thank you notes. He wanted to focus on reasons to be thankful every day. Soon enough, he realized that there were many things in his life for which to be thankful that he hadn’t always noticed.

He discovered that his story helped inspired others and since it was published, he’s written and received thousands of thank you notes. John said that writing the thank you notes over the course of that year taught him to value the good things and created a discipline of positive focus. “Gratitude presses outwards and that creates good feelings in the universe. A lot of that comes back to you eventually,” he said. (Forbes, September 2015)

In Scripture, there are many Greek and Hebrew words that may be translated as ‘thanks’ and ‘thanksgiving.’ The Hebrew word ydh is most commonly used for thanks in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament). The concept of thanks comes up 102 times in the Old Testament, and this word is used 72 of those times. Here’s how it is defined: Acknowledging what is right about God in praise and thanksgiving (1 Chr. 16:34). It can also mean a right acknowledgment of self before God in confessing sin (Lev. 26:40)[1]

The Greek word eucharisteo is most often used in the New Testament for thankfulness which is found at least 71 times related to this word. It can be understood as “To show oneself grateful, to be thankful, to give thanks […] used in a religious sense with or without reference to God.[2]” Many will recognize the word “Eucharist” in this definition. This term comes from Jesus’ giving thanks before eating his last supper with the apostles (1 Co 11:24). In the Hebrew definition of thanks, we understand that it is explicitly connected to who God is in our lives and in all of Creation: the more we come to learn about God, the more we should give thanks and praise.
The Psalmist repeatedly calls us to give thanks to God for two things: lovingkindness, and miracles within the lived community. (Ps 107:1, 8, 15, 21).

And, this isn’t just a polite “thanks” for when something good happens. This is an outpouring of praise to God for who the Holy One is and what our Creator has done.
Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk, talks about returning from an extended trip to Africa where his Austrian immune system couldn’t handle the water. As the miracle of clean water running from the taps in his kitchen and bathroom began to fade, he put sticky notes near the faucets to remind himself of the extraordinariness of potable, accessible water.

We know that times such as these can be a stark reminder of how much we have to be grateful for as we go about our days, but we know too that being thankful can be more than simply a response to external circumstances. We can embrace gratitude as a practice, a way of living intentionally that helps us to become better focused on the simple and grand things that are incredible gifts in our midst. And especially in these times, it may help us to broaden our view to imagine ways that we may reach out to those whose realities are very different, who are unable to focus on gratitude because they are too worried about their business or their health or paying their bills or feeding their children.

Many of you have probably heard of the research that has been undertaken in recent years on the benefits of grateful living. The intentional practice of gratitude has been linked to greater happiness, improved health, better sleep, more exercise, less depression, and a greater willingness to help others. It can improve your marriage and strengthen your relationship with your kids. As Br. David’s has said, people who practice gratitude come more alive.

Rev. Leah Lyman Waldron writes, “Gratitude also connects us to our Maker, the One from whose “abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another,” to quote the Gospel of John. (John 1:16) As people of faith we believe that “every good and perfect gift comes from above.” (James 1:17) When we recognize those gifts, we see beyond them to the Giver. Gratitude reorients our lives away from stress, worry, and the never-satisfied desire for more, pointing us instead toward the One in whose abundant love and care we can feel both security and freedom.

It’s a simple, two-step process, she adds. Recognition of what we’ve been given is the first step. What “good and perfect” things are right in front of us that we normally ignore? What do we see as our due, instead of recognizing it as a gift? How might we see past what we have earned or made or built or bought to the gift of the abilities, opportunities, privilege, and support that have made it possible for us to be where we are? The second step is that we must also express our gratitude, as the Psalmist describes, making a joyful noise and singing praise to God.”

Br. David Steindl-Rust, whom I mentioned earlier, knows a great deal about gratitude. He grew up in Austria under the Third Reich, when the evils of Nazism were far reaching. He believes that there are actually “many things for which you cannot be grateful,” for which we should not be grateful. “You can’t be grateful for war,” he says, “or violence, or domestic violence, or sickness. But, “he continues, “in every moment, you can be grateful. For example,” we can be grateful for “the opportunity to learn something from a very difficult experience, to grow by it, or even to protest, to…take a stand” against it. He continues, “That is a wonderful gift in a situation in which things are not the way they ought to be.” These are very helpful reflections for the times in which we live.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought and gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G. K. Chesterton

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