First United Methodist Church of Schenectady
Worship for the Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 17, 2020
“FUMC from the Air” by Peter Frisoni
It may help to center yourself into worship by lighting a candle, as a symbol of God’s presence with you during the time of worship. You may also want to pay attention to lighting, the position of your body, and the availability of distractions.
“In You we live and move and have our being.”
Breath prayers involve breathing in the first phrase, and breathing out the second.
You may wish to simply pray for a moment before starting, or you may wish to pray while listening to the prelude.
“I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” by Sandra Eithun
Call to Worship
If you are with another person, you may wish to read this out-loud. Otherwise, you can read it as a reminder that this is communal worship done in a large geographical area.
One: The God of everywhere, and all time, is with you.
Many: We are not alone.
One: Every breath you take, is in and with God.
Many: We are connected by the Divine.
One: So breathe with ease, dear ones.
Many: God is with us.
One: And prepare to worship.
Many: God is good, and we are ready to worship
“A Fern Growing Out of Volcanic Lava” by Jan Huston
Photo Show Theme: Stone Rolled Away
Hymn #660: God Is Here
If you wish to sing along, the words are here: God Is Here
Connecting in Prayer
God of Creation, God who is in all of creation,
Jesus’ commandment seems so simple:
“Love one another as I have loved you”
but we have spent our lives trying to live up to it,
without ever truly succeeding.
And now, love itself has been upended,
we show our love with distance and caution!
Guide us, God of Creation,
help us see all the wonders around us,
and show us how to love each other well,
so we may love the world itself well.
“A Surprise from Mother Nature” by Barbara Armstrong
2019 Photo Show Theme: Surprise
You are welcome to read this out-loud or silently.
Normally the pastoral prayer is in response to the prayers of the body, this one is written hoping to respond to the prayers of the body without hearing them first.
God of Creation, God who is in all of creation,
As Jesus-followers, we are committed to working with you to build the kindom. From this perspective, it makes sense that we take our labor seriously. We want to use our time and talents well, for the communal well-being. In this time when so much has changed, we bring you prayers about labor:
gratitude for those doing “essential work”
concern for those doing “essential work”
a yearning for justice for workers to be paid fairly for their work
gratitude for those able to go back to work
concern for those missing their work
a yearning for justice for those whose work is not meaningful or
gratitude for those whose “hobbies” are their meaningful work (especially when they keep us healthy and loved)
concern for those who aren’t sure what to do with their time
a yearning for justice for those whose capacity to share their gifts is limited by others lack of openness or creativity.
We are holding time tenderly right now, knowing how different it is for people based on their circumstances. For some, time marches painfully slowly, for others there is so little time and so much to do. We bring our prayers about time:
gratitude for games that can be played online
for ways we can connect with church family, and other loved ones
for good books, and other works of art
for the time used to bring loved ones home again
concern for those exhausted and have no time to rest
for those grieving without the moments of being held up by community
for the interminable time between when medical tests are taken, and when results come back
for the limbic time of being ill, and no one knowing when or if recovery will come
yearning for times of shared joy,
and even of shared sorrow –
when we can integrate our lives with each others, safely.
We seek, as well to hold each other tenderly, and to hear each other well. We raise together the prayers named within our community:
gratitude for Fran’s cousins who became grandmothers,
and Andrew’s friends who became parents,
for Hazel’s bendy pencil,
and (cat) Nightmare’s “amens”
concern for Anita, struggling with both cancer and with chemo
for Ann, with terrible headaches,
for kids without nurturing home environments
and for adults without safe homes
yearning for wholeness, peace, justice, and compassion.
All this we bring to you, trusting that you listen, care, and respond. Thank you for being with us through these days, and throughout our lives, and for all the ways you share your love in our world.
The 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 trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power,
and the glory, for ever. Amen.
Word and Reflection
I Will Not Leave You Comfortless – Everett Titcomb
Scripture – Acts 17:22-31
Mission Moment – Jan Huston
Part 1: Mission E-Academy
The Northeast Jurisdiction Volunteers in Mission program has a mission academy every spring. It is usually a several-day retreat with many different course offerings. This year it is being given online. You don’t have to pack a bag and travel and the only cost is a suggested donation! Many of the courses are related to the current pandemic. Some of the titles are COVID-19 Pandemic: Crisis Spiritual Care for Congregations, Online ERT recertification, Systemic Racism and Discrimination during COVID-19, UMC Social Principles in the context of mission, Foundations of Disaster Ministry, and Food Insecurity during COVID-19. Instructors come from UMCOR, Board of Church and Society, NY State Disaster Interfaith Services, New England Conference, NY Conference, and more. I strongly encourage you to go to the website and
see what interests you. It’s a good opportunity!
Sign on a humanitarian aid office in southern Arizona” by Jan Huston
Photo Show Theme: Do Not Be Afraid
Part 2: Request to FUMC members and friends to offer mission moments.
During this unusual time we are going to try experimenting with Mission Moments. We are inviting you to share your thoughts and concerns. Sharing can be done either by writing a few paragraphs or by producing a video which would be part of the online worship service. The Intersectional Justice team has come up with some suggestions for topics – you probably have more! Some possibilities are:
- Where do you see God at work in the world today?
- What is your favorite non-profit (other than FUMC)?
- What helping agencies in Schenectady do you like and why?
- What gives you joy these days?
- What are you grateful for?
- Have you found a way to help others while remaining physically distant?
- Maybe the current situation is taking all of your time and energy. If so, have you found a way to provide some self-care for yourself?
- What is your “mission” and why do you do what you do?
- How is your Bridging the Distance group working?
- Can you recommend a book, TV program, movie, etc? Why?
- If you have extra time, have you found a way to make it satisfying?
There are many other suggestions – I’ll share more another time. Please consider offering your thoughts in a mission moment. Contact Jan Huston with questions or to schedule a time. We are getting to know each other in new ways through zoom. Let’s try this way, too!
(Please read to kids as appropriate)
Did you know that grownups are afraid of things too? Well, we are. Several weeks ago I was in the sanctuary at church, and noticed how lonely it looked all alone. I took a picture of it, and submitted it to the photo show under the theme “The Women Were Silent” and the title “The Pews are Silent but God and the Church Are Not.” The picture reminded me that “the church” isn’t just the name for the building we meet in, but is also the name for the people who come
together to worship God on Sunday, and who seek to live out God’s love every day.
It felt like a good reminder.
But then, as I was preparing worship, I looked through the pictures from last year’s photo show and realized I’d submitted almost the exact same picture last year under the title “I’m Afraid of This.” (I had entirely forgotten!)
It seems funny, now. I was afraid of the church being empty last year, and yet this year the empty church is a sign of hope! We aren’t at the church building because we love each other enough to take care of each other by staying apart.
So, I’m learning that the very things we can be afraid of can be OK after all. I hope that’s true for you too.
Will you pray with me? (Pinkies) God, help us face our fears, and notice when they become blessings! Amen
Passing the Peace
If you are worshiping with others, please pass the Peace of Christ.
Whether you are alone or with others, please take a moment to find God’s peace within, and then to share it with the world. You may want to reach out to speak peace to another during this week.
Hymn #88: Maker, In Whom We Live
If you wish to sing along, the sheet music is here: Maker, in Whom We Live
Scripture Reading: John 14:15-21
Sermon – Bishop Deborah Kiesey
If you wish, you are welcome to use this time to make a donation to the church online, or to put a check in the mail.
The time of offering is not only about our financial gifts to the church, it is about offering our lives to God and the building of the kindom. This is a time for reflection: What is being asked of us? What is being given to us? What are we able to offer? What do we need?
“Believe in the Beauty of Nature,
H.G. Reist Wildlife Sanctuary, Niskayuna”
by Alice Nash.
2019 Photo Show Theme: Believe
“South African Gloria” by William Bradley Roberts
Prayer of Presentation
God of Creation, God who is in all of creation,
We recommit ourselves to the building of your kindom,
to responding to the needs of your people,
and building a society and world where all can thrive.
The gifts we offer, we give towards this kindom building,
and we ask that you guide us in the use of them,
that they may be useful in your work.
Hymn #384: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
If you wish to sing along, the sheet music is here: Love Divine, All Loves Excelling
May the love of God, the peace of Christ, and the compassion of the Spirit be with you now and always. Amen
“Inception” by Jason Krug
“Wolf Creek Falls, Knox, NY” by Alice Nash
2019 Photo Show Theme: Yes