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.
School Backpack Dedication Sunday August 9th, 2020
Gathering time & Welcome and Announcements
Please note that I am on vacation Aug 10th to 24th! Therefore there are no office hours for the next two weeks. Secondly, there are few suggested worship ideas for Aug 16th listed at the end of this bulletin or emailed to you if you are on the church email list. I hope that you will explore another online worship service next Sunday and share your experiences and ideas with me!
August 23rd is a very important Sunday! It is candidating Sunday. The Search Committee has chosen Amy Davin who will preach on Aug 23rd – via zoom – and YOU, the church members in a congregational meeting immediately following worship then vote to affirm the Search Committee’s choice!! Please note that while everyone is welcome to attend the worship service and meet Amy, only those who are church members are invited to vote.
Lighting our Candles 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 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
From Lives, full or empty, from burdens or easy ways, from our daily walks
We come to find a still point, to take pause,
to remind ourselves of our hopes and dreams.
From doing too much or doing too little,
From struggling and striving, from stifling and sighing.
We come before God without delay.
From isolation and loneliness from excluding and being excluded
We come to engage in community and treasure our varied humanity.
In the Name of God the Holy One, in the name of Christ –
God made human – we welcome one another.
Thanks be to God for such a place as this, such a people as this,
such a God as this whom we now worship.
Prayer of Invocation
Gracious God, we come to you with hungry hearts waiting to be filled,
waiting to be filled with a sense of your presence,
waiting to be filled with the wisdom of Your Spirit;
Waiting to be filled with compassion and energy to do what is right.
Come to us, we pray. Be with us, move us and go out with us.
This we pray in the name of Christ, God incarnate. Amen
A Hymn “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQrNMJrgbyM
Love Divine, all loves excelling Joy of heaven to earth come down
Fix in us thy humble dwelling All thy faithful mercies crown
Jesus, thou art all compassion Pure unbounded love thou art
Visit us with thy salvation Enter every trembling heart.
Come, Almighty to deliver, Let us all thy life receive;
Suddenly return and never, Never more thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing, Serve thee as thy hosts above,
Pray and praise thee without ceasing, Glory in thy perfect love.
Finish, then, thy new creation; Pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation Perfectly restored in thee;
Changed from glory into glory, Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee, Lost in wonder, love, and praise.
Listening for and Responding to the Word
A Scripture Reading from the Gospel of Matthew 14:22-33
Interestingly, this story of Jesus walking on the water is in the gospels of Matthew, Mark & John – but only in the gospel of Matthew does Peter get out of the boat to try to walk on water.
Listen for the word as inspired by God:
Matthew 14:22-33 “ Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. And early in the morning he came walking towards them on the lake. But when the disciples saw Jesus walking on the lake, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came towards Jesus. But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. And those in the boat worshipped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Here ends the reading, thanks be to God.
A Reflection Rev. Lucia Anne Jackson
As you know, growing up, I spent a lot of time on the water. Ironically, even having grown up sailing, I get horribly seasick. Now, I know the conditions which make me seasick and so when I am on a boat, I am pretty careful about what I eat. But, every now and then, I eat something on a day that the conditions are such that . . . well, let’s just say, I am not a pretty site by the end of the day. Have any of you ever been seasick? When I get seasick, I am tempted to just jump overboard – anything to get off of this boat!
So, when I hear the story of Peter and his companions apparently having spent nearly the whole night struggling to get across the blasted lake before Jesus shows up near daybreak, I can relate. The Sea of Galilee is not a massive body of water, never more than seven miles across when traveling east-west. Yet they’ve not been able to traverse it, for the storm has “battered” their boat. And when I remember that they were fishermen and maybe had a net full of fish in the bottom on the boat – adding to the general odor and ambiance, I start to get that nasty feeling in the pit of my stomach . . . . and I think – yeah – So, I know exactly why Peter jumped over board!
BUT, in the disciples’ worldview the churning sea represents chaos and danger. Then they think they see a ghost. After all, Jesus himself is not exactly respecting natural boundaries. There’s something scary about that, too. Really, when I reflect on the story, I doubt that Peter expects a walk on the sea will alleviate his fears nor that he is trying to soothe his seasick stomach.
Rev Matthew L. Skinner, suggests: “Rather, Peter’s desire to join Jesus on the water expresses a desire for transcendence. He’s not trying to be Jesus, he’s trying to be with Jesus. . . Peter wants to share Jesus’ unbounded place, to put himself beyond the forces and expectations that determine our usual existence, whether for better or for worse.”
When Peter steps out of his boat, he enters the tumult of the sea and storm. His motive isn’t to escape from threat, for he goes into a situation where the threats will now look different, to mix metaphors we might call it “out of the frying pan and into the fire”. Peter is stepping into a place where Jesus is defying and reordering the assumed boundaries.
Here is the important thing – Isn’t this what history’s most faithful people have demonstrated? They knew that if God might be encountered anywhere, God will be found in places where the regular boundaries and predictable endings don’t apply as before. AND Sometimes incredibly turbulent places are also “thin places,” where God breaks through. Where the holy presence is most palpable. There is a holy presence in the chaos, God is in the storm, NOT causing the tumult, but in the midst of it. It is the nature of faith — humble, active faith — to be willing to throw oneself into a disorderly world and expect to encounter Jesus there. . . .. Because, as Peter discovered, Jesus is there where the boundaries are being redrawn, extending life-giving stability when the chaos gets the upper hand. It is the nature of faith — humble, active faith — to be willing to throw oneself into a disorderly world and expect to encounter Jesus there. . . ..Think the Civil rights movement – which was based in Christian faith and church leadership, think Heifer Project – feeding the world by shipping COWS – live pregnant cows to desperately hungry people – an act of faith. Think Habitat for Humanity – that every child of God deserves a simple, decent place to live – and then setting out to build exactly that, one house at a time.
We live in a terribly chaotic time – with political infighting and a seemingly unworkable conflict and power struggle among those in charge. We live in a time when this pandemic has highlighted terrible inequities in our society and economy — with health care tied to work and millions – millions – of Americans out of work due to the pandemic not due to laziness as we have often been told – we now have millions of families without health care. We live in a time when the spotlight of protests and video sharing and images in real time are revealing the deeply disturbing reality of systemic racism that exists in our country. We live in a terribly chaotic time and many of us are weary. Many of us are weary. We are exhausted.
Many of us keep asking, “when will life get back to normal?” but you see, life will not get “back to normal”. We are entering a new normal. And we have an opportunity to work for a new world, a world more in line with our beliefs that all of God’s children are created equal, all of God’s children are loved and beloved. We have an opportunity to work for a new normal where God’s beautiful and bountiful creation is protected and celebrated. We have an opportunity to work for a world built on compassion and justice and truth. But that means getting out of the boat – which is already leaking and not weathering the storm very well at all – that means getting out of the boat where we are clinging to the old ways and the old normal of racisim and inequality and injustice and privilege and wealth and lies – that boat where we are paralyzed by our fears and our anxiety.
Over thinking can be paralyzing. . . sometimes you just have to do something. Peter, impulsive, enthusiastic Peter, does it – in a surge of faith and love and desire to share that unbounded holy place – he steps out of the comfort and security of the boat. That is “stepping out in faith”.
Perhaps you feel paralyzed by all that is wrong with the world and yet your faith is tugging at your heart to do something. I suggest that starting anywhere. Do something, do one small thing to make the world a better place and then do one more thing and one more and as you step out in faith you will encounter Jesus. What we have to remember is that God will be found in places where the regular boundaries and predictable endings don’t apply as before. AND Sometimes incredibly turbulent places are also “thin places,” where God breaks through. Where the holy presence is most palpable. There is a holy presence in the chaos, God is in the storm, NOT causing the tumult, but in the midst of it. It is the nature of faith — humble, active faith — to be willing to throw oneself into a disorderly world and expect to encounter Jesus there.
When John Lewis died a few weeks ago, we heard a lot about him and his lifetime of work – a lifetime of being willing to throw himself into a disorderly racist world and expect to encounter Jesus there. In June, reporter Jonathan Capehart asked Representative Lewis “what he would say to people who feel as though they have already been giving it their all but nothing seems to change.” John Lewis answered: “You must be able and prepared to give until you cannot give any more. We must use our time and our space on this little planet that we call Earth to make a lasting contribution, to leave it a little better than we found it, and now that need is greater than ever before.”
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair,” Lewis tweeted almost exactly a year before his death. “Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. We will find a way to make a way out of no way.”
It is the nature of faith — humble, active faith — to be willing to throw oneself into a disorderly world and expect to encounter Jesus there. .
God alone saves, but we need a few ridiculous people like Peter to go try and do something that nobody in the church thinks we should be doing. I think we have way too many people happy to stay in the boat right now in the safety of the status quo – because we always prefer what we know as broken and leaky as it may be, we always prefer what we know to what we don’t know, we prefer to maintain the status quo than to rock the boat and work for change. We need to take the promises of Jesus and carry them out of the boat and into the rest of the world. You people of faith, you have energy and ideas and great talent – and like Peter you have a few ridiculous ideas too – and like Peter some of you are rather impulsive – you can use all of that to step out in faith, to love God’s people and God’s world of need, to change the world for the better, and ultimately to share that Holy unbounded place where God’s love meets the chaos of the world and brings us safely home.
Remember John Lewis’ words “Do not get lost in a sea of despair,” “Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. We will find a way to make a way out of no way.”
In the Greatest of Hope, thanks be to God. Amen.
-Matthew Skinner (Associate professor of NT, Luther Seminary) (from Text Week reference)
-LAJ sermon 5/14
Special Music “Day by Day” from Godspell
The Prayers of the People
Sharing our Joys and Concerns & Pastoral Prayer
Blessing of the Back Packs
And now let us bless these backpacks and school supplies donated in love and hope.
Oh Holy Spirit, grant that these backpacks be given to children who need them, children who will be walking into a whole new school year – one that is overshadowed by the fear caused by the pandemic. Whether a child is learning remotely or in school, may these supplies give them some comfort and some confidence that they are ready for this new school year. May each child experience a year of learning and of growth, of friendship and of discovery. God bless our children – in our families, in our church, in our neighborhood. God bless our children – the ones we do not know, your beloved children everywhere. In the greatest of hope, thanks be to God.
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.
“Do not get lost in a sea of despair,” “Do not become bitter or hostile. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. We will find a way to make a way out of no way.” — John Lewis
A Franciscan Benediction:
May God bless you with discomfort
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships
So that you may live deep within your heart.
May God bless you with anger
At injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.
May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
To turn their pain into joy.
And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness
to all our children and the poor. Amen.
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
Church Calendar Lucia on vacation August 10th – 24th
Sunday, August 16th Worship at other Churches
Please Worship at another church on-line and I look forward to hearing about your experience and suggestions for our own worship service experience!
*Guilford Community Church, UCC – A Service of Lament and Healing – Rev. Lise Sparrow
Service available anytime https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UolP2M1Y3vM&feature=youtu.be
*Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, Illinios – a church worshipping in the African American tradition – Rev. Otis Moss – Live stream Sundays at 7:30am, 11:00am and 6:00pm https://www.trinitychicago.org/
*Church of Christ at Dartmouth College – Rev Mandy Lape Freeberg – service available after Saturday at 6:00pm https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFu2u2rIbAeblNp0xFo_Lew
Friday, August 21st – Lava Mueller’s Ordination Service!! (will be filmed and shared on line)
Sunday, August 23rd Candidating Sunday!!!
9:00 to gather for 9:30 Worship with Amy Davin leading worship.
Save the date and Watch your mail for details!