Finding Your Power: Listening for Healing
Welcome and Opening: From Pastor Paula: I know these are times of anxiety, fear, and the unknown. We gather together this Sunday morning, apart from one another physically but together in Spirit. We hold one another in prayer and in thought this day as we light a candle to remind ourselves that the spirit of Christ is with us and that we are with one another, not only as a faith community, but as a community deeply connected to our families and friends, our neighbors and fellow citizens of our nation and our world. We are reminded that we are One in the Spirit today and always.
Because she had heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his clothes. She was thinking, If I can just touch his clothes, I’ll be healed. – Mark 5: 24-34
Prayer as a spiritual practice may come easily for you and maybe it doesn’t. Even the most devout among us has doubts about prayer’s power at times. What is it? How does it work? This week we will consider that the mechanics of what happens in prayer is not as important as that we do it. Because whether or not the outcome for ourselves or others is an actual healing, the very act of being in communication with God and with others through prayer has healing and power-bestowing benefits.
Opening Music: Be Not Afraid https://youtu.be/M2JVO460NkM
Call to Worship
One: God, sometimes, the days are long, the nights are even longer, and we’re so
tired. And then You soothe us and bring us to gentle places.
Many: You are our shepherd, and we don’t need a thing.
One: Sometimes, life is moving too fast, and we can’t find a moment to breathe.
And then You surround us with stillness and bring an even rhythm to our breath.
Many: You are our shepherd, and we don’t need a thing.
One: Sometimes, we’re parched, and it seems nothing will quench our thirst,
We’re famished and we can’t find anything to eat.
And then You refresh and fill us.
Many: You are our shepherd, and we don’t need a thing.
One: Sometimes, the valley is dark and the shadows are heavy and we’re afraid.
But then we feel Your strength, and we have courage.
Many: You are our shepherd, and we don’t need a thing.
One: There are the times when it seems we’re up against the world,
Many: You show those who push the hardest that You have called us to serve.
You touch us, and we are blessed.
One: We will praise You and dwell with you forever, O God.
Many: We will worship You this day and always!
Prayer Of Gathering:
who sees all that we can see and everything that we cannot,
we gather in awe of your vision that is broad and vast.
Be with us now as we worship you.
Awaken us to your holiness,
inspire us with your creative power,
and peel back our layers of anxiety and fear.
Enliven us to trust fully in your love for us
as we struggle and strive to be who you call us to be,
in Christ’s holy name. Amen.
Music: Be Thou My Vision https://youtu.be/ihJAJA4ibEs
Prayer of Confession
O Wise and Gracious God,
we are each a small dot, a pixel,
in the picture of your amazing creation.
You have designed us to work together.
And yet, we need to separate ourselves in these days, but we must not
think only of ourselves. Some are sick; others are afraid; still others are truly struggling. We pray that you will impress upon us your definition of “one” as together, and that we will seek both the ability and the courage to move away from “one” that is each of us alone and know that we are One in Your Name. Forgive us, we pray, for the ways we may only think of ourselves and inspire us to reach out to one another and feel compassion for all who are suffering. (Time of Silent Reflection)
Prayer Of Assurance
We thank you, O God, for your steadfast love and forgiveness.
Guide us, we pray, through these days, through the life and love you show us in Jesus the Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Music: How Great Thou Art https://youtu.be/ihJAJA4ibEs
Time for Our Young People:
Readings: See Below
Meditation: Waiting on God, a reflection by Rev. Rich Warren, (see attached)
Call for An Offering
God sees all things.
God sees our comings and our goings,
our strengths and our weaknesses, our needs and our desires.
God sees in us the potential we do not yet see in ourselves.
I invite you to share your offerings and gifts in the days ahead through phone calls or cards, letters and emails, by reaching out to neighbors in need in whatever ways seem possible.
Prayers of the People: Let us pause as we pray for one another, for our friends and family, for the health care workers who are doing heroic work, for those who are sick, for those who have died, and for the following intentions:
Benediction (adapted from Ephesians 5: 9-14)
For once you were darkness,
but now in the Lord you are light.
Live as children of light!
Seek that which is good and right and true,
and try to live in a way that pleases God.
Look to the light of God’s love shown to us in Jesus.
Do not hide from it or ignore the struggles of the world
but awaken to God’s call.
Arise, O sleeper, and Christ will give you light!
Closing Music: Celtic Blessing by Celtic Thunder https://youtu.be/FVg6-hYnreE
Music Gift from Choir Director, Patricia Mulholland-In lieu of singing this beautiful Taize song in church last week, — “Within Our Darkest Night” I’m sending along a U Tube version with beautiful imagery. We look forward to singing it in person at an upcoming service when possible. It is particularly fitting at this time. https://youtu.be/J8BmvxqJH0g
23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want.
23:2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;
23:3 he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.
23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff– they comfort me.
23:5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD my whole life long.
5:8 For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light-
5:9 for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true.
5:10 Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord.
5:11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.
5:12 For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly;
5:13 but everything exposed by the light becomes visible,
5:14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”
24 So Jesus went with him.
A large crowd followed and pressed around him. 25 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. 27 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” 29 Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
30 At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
31 “You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
32 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. 33 Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
9:1 As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth.
9:2 His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”
9:3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.
9:4 We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work.
9:5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
9:6 When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes,
9:7 saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
9:8 The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?”
9:9 Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.”
9:10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?”
9:11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.”
9:12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”
9:13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind.
9:14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes.
9:15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.”
9:16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided.
9:17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”
9:18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight
9:19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?”
9:20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind;
9:21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.”
9:22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue.
9:23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
9:24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.”
9:25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.”
9:26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?”
9:27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?”
9:28 Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses.
9:29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.”
9:30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes.
9:31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will.
9:32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind.
9:33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.”
9:34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.
9:35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
9:36 He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.”
9:37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.”
9:38 He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him.
9:39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.”
9:40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?”
9:41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.
Spiritual Resources for This Time
1.)Spirituality and Practice has wonderful e-courses, postings and other resources you may find helpful, including this upcoming e-course: www.spiritualityandpractice.com
They offer a spiritual practice for the day, a spiritual reading of the day, a quote for the day and teacher of the day. Visit their website for many good ideas.
Practical Wisdom from Six Legendary Yogis By Philip Goldberg Monday, April 06 – Friday, May 01
Since 1893, a stately parade of swamis, gurus, and yoga masters have journeyed from India to grace the shores of the United States. They have irrevocably changed the spiritual landscape. Regardless of our own path or tradition, we’ve all been influenced by them to one degree or another, often in ways we’re not even aware of. Now, in this e-course, we turn to six legendary teachers to dramatically enhance our spiritual growth.
2.) Mindfulness Websites:
A)Your daily companion fora healthy and happy life.
Personalized daily videos and meditations from the world’s most trusted teachers.
B) Online Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)- This online MBSR training course is 100% free, created by a fully certified MBSR instructor, and is based on the program founded by Jon Kabat-Zinn at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
3)Center for Action and Contemplation-Many at our church receive a daily message from Rev. Richard Rohr: www.cac.org
4) Joyce Rupp’s webpage; www.joycerupp.com Poems, Prayers, Reflections
5) Starts With Me-Mental Health Resources and nice article called “Let’s Talk to Let’s Listen”
6) Daily Devotional -Daily prayer and reflection from the United Church of Christ -www.ucc.org
Spiritual Resources for Lent and Beyond….
Praying in Color: Drawing the Path To God by Sybil MacBeth
Let your Life Speak: Listen To The Voices of Vocation by Parker Palmer
(I have some guided questions for each chapter if you wanted to purchase the book, read, and reflect at home…or eventually meet online or as a group in the future)
This practice is so simple, yet a powerful way to pray with our bodies. To do this, become aware of God’s presence and as you walk, be aware of your feet connecting with the ground, be mindful of the movement and rhythm of your whole body, and be aware of your breathing. If you have a labyrinth available near you, we encourage you to explore this opportunity to walk in prayer using this ancient path. Go to https://labyrinthlocator.com to find labyrinths near you!
Lectio Divina: Divine reading — or Lectio Divina — is an ancient way of studying scripture that focuses on listening to the word of God with the “ear of the heart.” In this practice, you review a passage of scripture multiple times with a different focus each time – to read, reflect, respond, and rest in it.
Praying in Nature There are many ways to be aware of God’s presence and listen in nature. For those with specific hobbies – like running, fishing, or skiing – here is a resource for connecting those interests with spiritual practice:
Spiritual Adventures in the Snow by Dr. Marcia McPhee and Rev. Karen Foster
Waiting on God
When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions. Wait for hope to appear.” (Lamentations 3:28-29 MSG)
The concept of waiting on God is a spiritual habit. It is the single greatest antidote to anxiety and tension. It’s a spiritual discipline that you must learn to do or you will be under stress your entire life.
This is what it means to wait on God: you sit down and listen. Find a place to be quiet and sit still in silence. Don’t read anything. Don’t pray. Just take some deep breaths, sit before God and say, “God, I’m just going to wait on you.” It’s amazing what a calming ability this has on your heart and mind. “Those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. … They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31 NLT).
God wants to talk to you. If you aren’t hearing him, it’s because you aren’t making time in your schedule to listen to him. You’re too busy listening to your iPod, playing with your iPad, watching television, playing video games or talking on your cell phone. You might be overworking.
If you want to hear God, you need to sit in silence. Turn off all the electronics and remove yourself from all the distractions. Find a comfortable place and sit there. Tell God you’re waiting to hear from him and then listen. Be quiet.
This is what Jesus told the disciples to do: “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace” (Matthew 6:6-7 MSG). That’s the power of a quiet time.
So here is my challenge to you: Every day for the next seven days, I want you to spend 10 minutes in silence before God. Tell God you’re there to wait on him, and then just sit there. You can read a little bit and talk to God in prayer, but the majority of your time needs to be spent in silence before God. You’ll be amazed at the new strength you will find.
“The Lord is good to everyone who trusts in him, so it is best for us to wait in patience – to wait for him to save us” (Lamentations 3:25-26 TEV). Wait in patience and wait for God to save you. When your world falls apart, you want to put it back together instantly, but that won’t happen. It didn’t fall apart instantly, and it’s going to take time to put things back together. But wait in patience, because God’s timing is perfect.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif.