First United Methodist Church of Schenectady
Worship for the Seventh Sunday of Easter
May 24, 2020
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.
“Open us O God, to life all around.”
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.
String Quartet No. 62 “Emperor”, Movement 2 by Franz Haydn
Call to Worship – Psalm 33:1-4;20-22
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: All you who are righteous, shout joyfully to the Lord!
Many: It’s right for those who do right to praise God.
One: Give thanks to the Lord with the lyre!
Many: Sing praises to him with the ten-stringed harp!
One: Sing to him a new song!
Many: Play your best with joyful shouts!
One: Because the Lord’s work is right, his every act is done in good faith.
Many: We put our hope in the Lord. He is our help and our shield.
One: Our heart rejoices in God because we trust his holy name.
Many: Lord, let your faithful love surround us because we wait for you.
Hymn #140: Great Is Thy Faithfulness
If you wish to sing along, the words are here: Great Is Thy Faithfulness
Connecting in Prayer
Eternal God, who created all things from the void, teach us to know the power of silence and prayer. Fill our emptiness with your peace and your love and fill our darkness with your light. Our world seems to have stopped turning as we face the unknown before us. Some days it feels as if it will never end, the world is too silent, the emptiness too vast. Yet, out of the void comes Spring, and new life – from the flowers and trees to the wildlife and a new baby to remind us that the world is indeed turning, and just as day follows night we have hope that we will once again be together, that You will never leave us alone. Help us to see the beauty and the life around us, help us to feel joy and hope in tomorrow and in You. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen
You are welcome to read this out-loud or silently.
Lord of the Dance, you came to bring us life in abundance, and a joy that endures forever. You have shown us hope for the future through the birth of a tiny babe, who grew up to teach his Disciples how to live as God intends. He was killed, and everyone thought it was done. His Disciples were lost, alone and afraid of retribution, hiding behind closed doors until suddenly everything changed. Walls could not keep out the love, the joy and the hope that was the risen Christ.
As we remember and celebrate the Ascension, we are reminded that Jesus is not timebound in the dusty pages of an ancient text. Instead, as the saying goes, he who was once in one place is now in all places at all times.
Sometimes we forget all of this, but today we remember, and we pray.
Lord, we come before you with sorrows and with celebrations.
In difficult times like this, we can shut ourselves off from the love and grace you shower on us and instead protect ourselves from the many hard things that confront us. Help us to remember that we don’t do anything alone, you are there to help us get through, providing us with family and friends to walk our journey with us.
We ask that you bring relief to all those affected by the virus and by the efforts taken to slow it down. Remind your children to keep others safe by following safety guidelines, while business owners try to do the same. Comfort all who are grieving from losses small and large, especially the family of the young man in the Texas Kempf’s church who was killed in an accident.
Walk with all who are undergoing treatments for cancer, COVID or other acute or chronic diseases, especially Jean and Lisa’s friend undergoing breast cancer therapy.
Keep safe all who live in areas with virus surges. Help us to reach out to those who are alone, lonely, hungry for food or attention, in a manner that is safe for us and for them.
And God, we rejoice with Pastor Sara and Kevin on the birth of their little boy, Isaiah Michael Baron. We pray for him and for Pastor Sara and Kevin, as they grow into their new responsibilities with the love and support of their community of family and friends.
We celebrate with all who are graduating this year. Even though communal graduation ceremonies can’t be held, help them to find other rituals to mark the passage of their lives from one stage to the next.
We celebrate nice weather, beautiful flowers, and that we have chosen to express our love and care for each other and our community through our social distancing efforts.
O God, remind us that in you we live, and breathe, and have our being. You are our hope, and with you by our sides we are never truly alone, even when there is no one in sight. We ask all this through your son, Jesus, who came among us and showed us the way. Amen
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
Do Not Be Afraid – Philip Stopford
Do not be afraid, do not be afraid, for I have redeemed you.
I have called you by your name; you are mine, you are mine.
When you walk through the waters, I’ll be with you;
you will never sink beneath the waves.
When the fire is burning all around you, you will never be consumed by the flames. Refrain
When the fear of loneliness is looming, then remember I am at your side.
When you dwell in the exile of a stranger, remember you are precious in my eyes. Refrain.
You are mine, O my child. I am your Father, and I love you, I love you with a perfect love. Refrain.
Scripture – Ephesians 1:15-23 (English Standard Version)
Mission Moment – Bob Long
Schenectady Clergy Against Hate
For several years now, Schenectady area clergy from differing faiths – and from various perspectives within faiths – have sought to bring their various constituencies into a larger, mutually affirming and harmonious community. The goal was, and is, to clearly honor and express each faith, while making clear how much we actually hold in common.
The early public expression of this goal was the reintroduction of Schenectady Area Thanksgiving Interfaith Celebrations held each year in the sacred space of a differing faith. What joy was discovered in doing so.
When the current President began early in the 2016 presidential campaign to hurl hate-filled vindictiveness at almost everyone except white male Americans, actions of hatred began to multiply — nationally and locally.
Several clergy began to discuss what might be done to openly counteract expanding incidents of intentional hate speech and actions aimed at Muslims, Jews, Mexicans, African Americans, LGBTQ people, women.
Rabbi Matt Cutler, Rabbi at Congregation Gates of Heaven, who has guided this group since its earliest discussions said: “We’ve … been experiencing a polarizing nature of hatred, discrimination and general intonation that has torn at us rather than brought us together. We still live in the same community and have to build bridges to address social issues that have long been present, and new ones that rose to the surface.”
Agreement became unanimous among clergy who were in discussion. Now that hatred and division were being publicly given sanction, it was time to present a decisive public solidarity of commitment to the essential values which we all share in our differing faiths. There needed to be intentional gatherings to express grace, acceptance, affirmation and mutual support for those being persecuted. They needed to be well publicized and public expression of uniting values.
Thus arose Schenectady Clergy Against Hate, a non-partisan, multi-faith, and interfaith coalition working to promote harmony, respect, and fellowship in the greater Schenectady area.
Activities and events that have been sponsored by Schenectady Clergy Against Hate include:
- Raising community awareness, opening discussion and collaborating around healing values
- Volunteering at the Northeast Regional Food Bank
- “Soup Sabbath” fundraisers to support the Schenectady Inner City Ministry
- Worship using words of faith traditions to share perspectives on what it means to be American today
- Story-telling events by youth and adults of differing faiths
- Community conversation entitled “Discrimination, Bigotry, and Hatred in our Community”
- Prayer Vigils following attacks on synagogues, mosques, churches (1,100 people gathered at Gates of Heaven to affirm support following the massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh)
- Candlelight March to houses of worship
- Interfaith Healing Service
- Participation in the Martin Luther King, Jr., celebrations
- Yearly distribution of school items for children and youth
- Speaking publicly against Children Being Caged at the Mexican Border and against gun violence
- Participating in events supporting LBGTQ rights
- and many others.
Schenectady Clergy Against Hate has been honored by Congressman Paul Tonko, the Niskayuna Town Board, the Capital Area Council of Churches, and the Schenectady County Human Rights Commission.
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. This may take several breaths or moments, it is OK to wait. Sharing might work well this way: think of a dearly beloved with whom to share the peace, then think of other beloveds, then of friends, then acquaintances, then those who frustrate you, then those you don’t really know, then those you don’t know at all. In this way, God’s peace (wholistic well-being) is spread to all.
Please note you can also share the peace online through our Facebook page, or yours
Hymn #2171: Make Me a Channel of Your Peace
If you wish to sing along, the sheet music is here: Make Me a Channel of Your Peace
Scripture Reading: Luke 24:44-53 (English Standard Version)
Sermon – Michele Cole
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?
“Clap Your Hands” by Alfred V. Fedak
Clap your hands, O faithful people! Shout to God a song of praise!
From the dust of conquered nations, God a realm of grace shall raise.
In appointed courts of glory faithful to God’s name always.
May we prosper all our days.
With a shout, and blast of trumpet, God shall mount a throne on high;
Let our praise, as finest incense, rise to meet God in the sky.
Fill the world with glad rejoicing, Heav’n shall sing and earth reply.
All God’s works to glorify.
Let your hearts be filled with gladness, as the Lord your life shall bless;
Live as heirs of God’s great justice, wear the cloak of righteousness.
God will grant us earth’s dominion, all things good and nothing less.
All things good for our gift of faithfulness.
Prayer of Presentation
We bring these gifts before you as a sign of hope and expectation that we can make a difference for your children and your world. But we cannot do it alone, we need each other and we need you. Help us to take these gifts and, joining them with our talents and our time, use them to help birth the beloved community, where everyone shares in the rights and responsibilities of a civilized society. We ask through Christ the Lord, Amen
Hymn #261: Lord of the Dance
If you wish to sing along, the sheet music is here: Lord of the Dance
May the newness of a Spring morning and the giggle of a child remind you that we are all part of something larger, we are all connected, we are all loved. Amen
Trumpet Concerto, Movement 3 by Franz Haydn
Performed by Wynton Marsalis, Trumpet