First Congregational Church of Hartland, United Church of Christ
An Open and Affirming Congregation in Hartland, Vermont
Whoever you are, wherever you are on life’s journey, you are welcome here.
Welcome! We are glad that you chose to worship with us today.
The First Sunday After Pentecost June 7th, 2020
Gathering time –
You are welcome to start gathering at 9:30 to talk and check in.
At 10:00 we will mute for worship.
Thank you for joining us, we serve a God of resurrection and we claim that promise of resurrection even now, especially now.
I have a few announcements.
*Everyone will be muted for the worship service, however I can NOT unmute you, so please un-mute yourselves for the Lord’s Prayer only!
*You will find a “chat” function on your screen –- we will use it for the time of prayer concerns.
*get the bulletin from the website and music suggestion – play the music on your own device. Try some of those links after worship!
*A few things this week: Bible study on Monday
Drive Through Office Hours on Tuesday 9 to 11
Book Discussion of “Holy Envy” starting on Thursday
*update from Dexter, chair of the search committee
Gathering Music & reflections on Beauty
(a powerpoint of images, poetry & words from the congregation)
“Blessed Assurance” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6njRO3-Kieo
Lighting our Candles
If you have a candle, let us light our candles together to remind ourselves that there is light in the darkness and that we can share that light with one another in our own times of darkness and we can share that light of love with the world. Please light your candles if you have one as we enter into our time of worship.
Let us pray: We come to this place to be fed by God’s word, to be nurtured by God’s grace, and to be strengthened by the power of God’s Spirit.
Speak to us in this time of Worship, O God, that we might recognize the abundance of your goodness, and find in your presence things that sustain us. Amen.
Call to Worship adapted, Trinity UCC, Chicago, as printed in the New Century Hymnal
Beautiful are the works of God!
Beautiful also are the skins of God’s people!
Beautiful is the mind of God!
Beautiful also are the hopes of God’s people!
Beautiful is the heart of God!
Beautiful also are the souls of God’s people!
God made the heavens and the earth!
To God be the glory for the things God has done.
Poem of Invocation “Lilac Time” Printed annually in the Rutland Herald
Now is the brief season of the lilac bush,
modest and enduring symbol of the depth and permanence of New England traditions.
It has given a name to color, perfume, poems, songs, story.
Translated into many languages, its name is upon the lips of millions in many lands.
Yet it remains unspoiled by such widespread fame.
It is still the sturdy, wholesome dooryard emblem of the New England home.
With what eager anticipation has it been planted at the threshold of new, bravely begun homes.
With what poignant grief has it been left behind for long bitter migrations from whose hardship and loneliness homesick thoughts have turned in anguished longing.
To what strange and distant homes have its roots been transplanted, there to grow blossoms and, in turn, be abandoned again.
On this very day in mountain pastures and along deserted roads, over the graves of dead homes bloom the lilac bushes planted by the founders of those pioneer households.
Many of those graves would be otherwise indistinguishable, their timbers long since buried, their cellar holes filled in and grassed over.
Were it not for the steadfast lilac bush, there would be nothing to mark that here once dwelt human souls who shared happiness, sorrow, hope and despair.
Who lived there, whither they went or what their adventures nobody knows.
No descendants make annual pilgrimages to remember and decorate these forgotten graves of the homes of ancestors.
But each year at this season, the lonely, faithful lilac bush blooms again and lavishes its sweetness in memory of the hands that planted it.
A Hymn “For the Beauty of the Earth”
Listening for and Responding to the Word
A Scripture Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 23:25-28
25 Jesus said “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.”
Here ends the reading, thanks be to God.
A Reflection “The Beautiful and the Ugly”
“How did I not know that Minneapolis has the greatest black- white income inequality in the country?” asked my dear friend who has lived and worked in Minneapolis for 30 years. “How did I not know?” I have visited Lisa who lives in a beautiful neighborhood with tree lined streets and stately houses. We went to the Minneapolis art museum and looked at beautiful pieces of art and sculpture. Lisa and her husband are both doctors who have practiced medicine in the city of Minneapolis for 30 years. Their four children all went to school in Minneapolis from pre school through high school. They have lived a happy, productive, beautiful life in Minneapolis.
“How did I not know that Minneapolis has the greatest black- white income inequality in the country?” It is easy not to know these things. Easy to live our own comfortable lives while ignoring what makes us uncomfortable. I am realizing more and more how much I don’t know. How much I don’t know. I am realizing how much I need to listen – even when it is uncomfortable – especially when it is uncomfortable. I need to listen and not make excuses, not get defensive, not argue. I need to listen and learn. I need to educate myself on racism – there are plenty of good books and articles and documentaries. I need to listen to the ways that the systems of racism must change and then I need to work for that change.
“How did I not know. . . .?”
Our scripture reading spoke of hypocrisy, of beauty on the outside hiding what is on the inside. Hypocrisy – of pretending to have high principles – pretending to be “just following the law” and “just living my best life” while really ignoring the ugly truth of white privilege and the violence of racism.
We are blessed to live in a beautiful place. A place which for most of us feels incredibly safe. I’m betting that very few of you even lock your doors. And we live in a very racially homogenous place it seems as well. Issues of racism and Black Lives Matter seem, somehow, so very far away. In part, that’s because just 1.4 percent of Vermont residents are black, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (census.gov), while Nationally, about 76.5 percent of the population is white, 13.4 percent black, 5.9 percent Asian and 18.1 percent Hispanic or Latino. https://www.vtcng.com/stowe_reporter/news/local_news/what-s-it-like-to-be-black-in-vermont/article_38ab42da-b45f-11e9-90c2-6352c4070e71.htm
But living in that cocoon is simply not acceptable any more. I am realizing that under the beautiful façade is the ugly reality of racism and white privilege. “Woe to you, you hypocrites!”
State Representative Kiah Morris from Bennington who when elected was the only black legislator in Vermont, resigned in 2018 and withdrew from candidacy for re-election to her third term right after winning the primary. Why? Because of racial comments and threats to her personal safety from local white supremacist groups.
“Woe to you, you hypocrites!”
According to a U.S. Department of Justice report, 35 hate crimes were reported in Vermont in 2017, and just over half were motivated by racial bias. . . . .hate symbols are popping up with “disturbing frequency” around the state. .. . https://www.vtcng.com/stowe_reporter/news/local_news/what-s-it-like-to-be-black-in-vermont/article_38ab42da-b45f-11e9-90c2-6352c4070e71.htm
. ”How did I not know?”
Recently a public recreation area had to be closed in Bennington because as reported in the Bennington Banner: “the teen girls described racist comments, along with a threat to “kneel on” one of them. They also said a man tried to make a joke out of “I can’t breathe,” https://www.benningtonbanner.com/stories/racial-incident-report-closes-lake-paran,606326
“Woe to you, you hypocrites!”
Why does it matter that we note these incidents? Because these are the ugly truths. There is racism everywhere, including, I am realizing, and it is very hard for me to say this, there is racism everywhere even when I look in the mirror.
We started this worship service with beauty – your images and words and thoughts on beauty. Your opening your eyes to the beauty of daily life and living. Seeing beauty in our everyday lives is life giving and life affirming, it is a response to God’s beautiful creation and an act of faith.
So too, there is ugliness in this world and we must face the painful truth of it. I see beauty in the protests, the beauty of solidarity and passion, the beauty of all races marching together, the beauty of silence and moments of reconciliation and I see pain in all of those things as well. We do need to find the beauty of these times. And in that, perhaps find the hope.
And we need to find the beauty in the truth, the hard truth, the painful truth, the ugly truth.
“How did I not know ?”
As the Poet John Keats said: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
Rather than hypocritically pretending that all is well because life is superficially beautiful, we need to make ourselves look beneath the surface to the truth and reality of institutional racism in our own hearts and lives, in our community, in our country and in our world.
John 8:31-32 Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
There is beauty in the truth too. Let’s find it together.
In the greatest of Hope, thanks be to God. Amen.
A Song “This Little Light of Mine” sung by the Soweto Gospel Choir
The Prayers of the People
Sharing our Joys and Concerns (please share via the “Chat” Feature on Zoom)
Pastoral Prayer & 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 power and glory forever and ever Amen.
A Celebration of Communion Communion Service Prayers written by Rev. Maren Tirabassi
(Pause to invite those who have not already prepared elements quickly to do so. They can be very simple. Communion does not need elements.)
This morning you are invited for Holy Communion
in the Body of Christ.
That Body of Christ is not the loaf of bread
you see on my plate on your screen.
The Body of Christ
is not even the bread on your table.
The Body of Christ is us
as we are strengthened by sharing together
this meal of hope and grace and presence.
The parables on the table this morning
include a mask and a glove,
symbols of care for the Body of Christ.
As Jesus might have said —
the Realm of God is like a mask of compassion
on the Bread of Heaven and a
gloved hand lifting the Cup of Blessing
so that all be served and safe.
We pause to honor with tender memory
the holy table in our church home
and to consecrate with love for all God’s children
these many holy tables in our home churches.
Prayer of Consecration
We Are the Body of Christ dispersed and gathered at the same time,
which is always true though we do not always see it.
Like the grains that become one whole loaf,
like the notes that are woven into song,
like droplets of water that are blended in the sea,
we, as Christians, one body shall become. *
In your many kitchens, and living rooms, rest your hands lightly upon these elements
which we set aside today to be a sacrament.
Let us ask God’s blessing upon them and upon us and
upon all those who are in our prayers this morning.
Gentle Host, rest upon us as you rested upon water and light,
earth and creatures, human beings, all in your image, and holy Sabbath.
Send your Spirit of life and love, power and blessing upon
your children who are staying at home so that
this Bread may be broken and gathered in love and
this Cup poured out to give hope to all.
Risen Christ, live in us, that we may live in you.
Breathe in us, that we may breathe in you. Amen.
Words of Remembering
We remember the Creator blessed all creatures and all human beings with plants of the ground and fruit of the trees. We remember the Sarah’s hospitality to angels, manna in the wilderness, oil that never gave out, and the Psalmist speaking down the ages, “Taste and see that God is good. We remember.
We remember a twelve year old at a Passover in Jerusalem, a meal cooked by Peter’s mother-in-law, a small boy’s lunch, Zacchaeus feast, Martha’s one-dish hospitality, a story about a fatted calf and dancing, another Jerusalem Passover, broken bread in Emmaus, and fish on the beach. We remember.
We remember communal dining inspired by the Holy Spirit, Peter’s unkosher dream that meant all God’s children are accepted, Paul’s communion on a sinking ship and a vision of the fruit of the trees in the New Jerusalem. We remember.
Our tables are a various as these and they are as truly the meal of grace blessed by Creator, Christ and Indwelling Spirit.
Sharing of Elements
Let us at our many tables receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.
We become the Body of Christ in the Bread we share.
Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.
We are one in Christ in the Cup we share.
– partake of the bread and cup together –
Prayer of Thanksgiving
In thanksgiving for this meal of grace, rejoicing that, in the holy dispersion of virtual worship, we claim the risen Christ’s love is not limited by buildings made with human hands, nor contained in human ceremonies, let us pray …
O Holy One, our tongues have tasted the good news and our lives are filled with the Spirit that hovered over creation and blew fresh hope on Pentecost.
Creator open our hearts.
Word, speak peace in our voices to all the people in all the hotspots and hurts of the world. As we journey masked through our lonely or dangerous or over-busy day, Holy Spirit, fill us with this blessing — that it is good. Amen
*words adapted from verse three of “Una Espiga” “Sheaves of Summer”
Author: Cesáreo Gabarain Translator: George Lockwood
A Song “Let There Be Peace On Earth” Lyrics by Sy Miller & Jill Jackson
“Do not be dismayed by the brokenness in the world.
All things break.
And all things can be mended.
Not with time, as they say,
but with intention.
The broken world waits in darkness for
the light that is you.”
– L.R. Knost
AMEN. Let us go forth in Joy to serve the living Lord!
To begin, just begin to understand the anguish of those who cry in the streets “say his name” and “I can’t breathe”, take time now, to sit in silent meditation for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.
8 minutes and 46 seconds is how long officer Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck. Kneeled on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Despite cries from the crowd, despite pleading from Mr. Floyd and despite the fact that for the final 3 minutes, Mr Floyd was unresponsive, Officer Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck.
Did you do it? Did you fully experience just how long 8 minutes and 46 seconds can be?
Did you take the time – all 8 minutes and 46 seconds – to pray for peace and for justice for all of God’s children – and especially for those who have been marginalized and persecuted for the color of their skin? Did you take the first step?
Pastor: The Rev. Lucia Anne Jackson Telephone: 802-436-2224 (church)
Church Facebook page: www.facebook.com/HartlandCongregationalChurch
Organist: Virginia Dow Director of Christian Education: MaryJo Ramsey
Choir Director: Rebecca Wood Church Members: Ministers to the World