L: In the midst of the congregation I will praise you.
P: Rejoice in the Lord, O you righteous,
and give thanks to God’s holy name!
L: I will extol you, my God and King,
and bless your name for ever and ever.
P: Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and God’s greatness is unsearchable.
(THE BOOK OF WORSHIP 1965, ALT.)
ANNOUNCEMENTS + CELEBRATIONS
Bringing in the Light of Christ
CALL TO WORSHIP
Psalm 45:10-17 10
L: 10Listen, daughter; pay attention, and listen closely!
Forget your people and your father’s house.
P: 11 Let the king desire your beauty.
Because he is your master, bow down to him now.
L: 12 The city of Tyre, the wealthiest of all, will seek your favor with gifts,
P: 13 with riches of every sort for the royal princess,
dressed in pearls, her robe embroidered with gold.
L: 14 In robes of many colors, she is led to the king.
Her attendants, the young women servants following her,
are presented to you as well.
P: 15 As they enter the king’s palace,
they are led in with celebration and joy.
L: 16 Your sons, great king, will succeed your fathers;
you will appoint them as princes throughout the land.
P: 17 I will perpetuate your name from one
generation to the next so the peoples will
praise you forever and always.
“Just a Closer Walk With Thee” TFWS#2158
I am weak, but thou art strong; Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long as I walk, let me walk close to thee.
Just a closer walk with thee, grant it, Jesus ‘tis my plea,
Daily walking close to thee; Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.
Through this world of toil and snares, If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares? None but thee, dear Lord, none but thee.
When my feeble life is o’er, time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o’er to thy shore, dear Lord, to thy shore.
OPENING PRAYER (in unison):
Almighty and everlasting God, in whom we live and
move and have our being,
you created us for yourself, so that our hearts are
restless until they find rest in you.
Grant to us such piety of heart and strength of purpose
that no selfish passion may hinder us from knowing your will,
and no weakness from doing it.
In your light may we see life clearly and in your service
find perfect freedom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
(THE BOOK OF WORSHIP 1965, ALT.)
We continue to give thanks to all of you who are
making your regular contributions to our churches
while we are having “virtual” worship, as we
have the same expenses whether we are open or not,
with the exception of lower electricity and fuel bills!
If you need assistance in how to get your offering
to the appropriate person, please be in touch with Pastor Mike.]
“Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow” UMH#95
Praise God from whom all blessings flow,
Praise Him all creatures here below.
Praise Him above ye heavenly host.
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
God of wisdom and all good gifts:
We bring our tithes and offerings to your altar,
remembering that, like Abraham,
you have blessed us to be a blessing to others.
Remind us this morning that the gift of freedom
that comes to Christ is also a gift not to be kept
but to be shared. Even as the world asserts
that freedom is a ticket to “go our own way,”
you made us free to be part of Christ’s
body in the world, connected and interdependent.
May the way we live and the way we give
reflect that kind of freedom.
In Christ’s blessed name, we pray. Amen.
(Galatians 5:1, 13-26)
15I don’t know what I’m doing, because I don’t do what I want to do.
Instead, I do the thing that I hate.
16 But if I’m doing the thing that I don’t want to do,
I’m agreeing that the Law is right.
17 But now I’m not the one doing it anymore.
Instead, it’s sin that lives in me.
18 I know that good doesn’t live in me—that is, in my body.
The desire to do good is inside of me, but I can’t do it.
19 I don’t do the good that I want to do,
but I do the evil that I don’t want to do.
20 But if I do the very thing that I don’t want to do,
then I’m not the one doing it anymore.
Instead, it is sin that lives in me that is doing it.
21 So I find that, as a rule, when I want to do what is good,
evil is right there with me.
22 I gladly agree with the Law on the inside,
23 but I see a different law at work in my body.
It wages a war against the law of my mind and takes me
prisoner with the law of sin that is in my body.
24 I’m a miserable human being.
Who will deliver me from this dead corpse?
25Thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord!
So then I’m a slave to God’s Law in my mind,
but I’m a slave to sin’s law in my body.
Matthew 11:16-19,25-30 This generation
16 “To what will I compare this generation? It is like a child
sitting in the marketplaces calling out to others,
17 ‘We played the flute for you and you didn’t dance.
We sang a funeral song and you didn’t mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’
19 Yet the Human One came eating and drinking, and they say,
‘Look, a glutton and a drunk, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’
But wisdom is proved to be right by her works.”
The Father and the Son
25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father,
Lord of heaven and earth, because you’ve hidden
these things from the wise and intelligent
and have shown them to babies.
26 Indeed, Father, this brings you happiness.
27 “My Father has handed all things over to me.
No one knows the Son except the Father.
And nobody knows the Father except the Son
and anyone to whom the Son wants to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are struggling hard
and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.
29 Put on my yoke, and learn from me. I’m gentle and humble.
And you will find rest for yourselves.
30 My yoke is easy to bear, and my burden is light.”
L: The Word of God for the people of God.
All: Thanks be to God.
If I had to pick a favorite holiday, it would probably have to
be the Fourth of July.
First, it has all of my favorite desserts. Strawberry shortcake
always seemed to be a two week binge of buying whipping cream,
adding sugar to it and mixing it all together in a glass jar, then pumping
a piston with holes in it up and down in the jar until your arms hurt.
My favorite part was licking the piston and plunger after the cream was ready.
Second, it was close to my birthday. Did I mention the dessert thing?
I don't think I ever had the same birthday cake the first fifteen years of my life.
Third, everyone always seemed to be in a good mood. People were cooking
burgers and dogs on the grill, there were more desserts spread out than
I ever knew existed. Did I mention the dessert thing?
Fourth, there were fireworks! The only thing I didn't like about the fireworks
was the traffic jam that immediately followed. But the fireworks were
awesome! What noise, what bright, colorful flashes! All the oohs and aahs.
Sometimes I thought the oohs and aahs had been preplanned, someone
would yell oooh and everyone around would respond with aah and
laugh together. Everyone honking their horns in appreciation.
Fifth, there was always a parade somewhere. Bands, the fire department,
veterans, girl and boy scouts along with brownies and cub scouts, bicycles
adorned in crepe paper with as many playing cards as possible clothes
pinned to the frame so that the card would flap in the spokes and let
every kid in the parade think they were riding a motorcycle.
Sixth, staying up way past your bedtime.
That was truly freedom.
Or was it?
Most children of color didn't live outside the cities like where I lived.
It was news to me when the busing laws took effect, bringing children
of color out of their inner city schools to be integrated into white
schools out in the suburbs. I wondered at the time why didn't they
also bus white kids out of the 'burbs and into the city?
When I was old enough to understand the history of the thing, the
Fourth started to take on new meaning. Washington and Jefferson, who
at first seemed heros to me, lost some of their glamour when
I learned they kept slaves.
I was a young adult before I learned that Jefferson had issues with the slavery
thing himself. I had never known that he had attempted to abolish slavery
in the Constitution, only to have his hopes dashed under the guise of
compromise, the final draft being an effort to unite the colonies, removing all
language that truly supported the presumption that all men were created equal.
It seems that Paul, a recent convert to Christianity, also had some trouble
with this freedom thing. That passage in Romans is downright troubling!
What a conflict of emotions. Paul is telling us that anything we do to
comfort ourselves is the work of the devil. That what we decide to do
doesn't come from God. What we choose to do doesn't come from God.
He seems to be saying that when we inject our will into it it is no longer
a decision that has come from God.
Rats. I enjoy snuggling with my wife.
But I don't think that is really Paul's point. Snuggling with my wife is not
an evil thing. Snuggling with my wife when I should be writing my sermon?
Yeah, that would be a selfish thing and I have to admit, sometimes it has
been my preferred thing. Darn that contradiction thing between my
will and God's will.
If you have been following my morning meditations this week, you would
have met Rebekah, who would become Isaac's wife. When she was at the well
the day Abraham's servant met her, it would have been the easy thing for her
to ignore the servant, fetch her own water and be on her way. But no, she
chose instead to do the Lord's bidding and not only provide water to herself
and the stranger at the well, but the man's camels as well.
The servant asks her to be Isaac's bride, asks her patriarch to be Isaac's bride but
in the asking insists that it be Rebekah's choice, not the usual arranged marriage
of the day. This is a romance spoken of in great detail. One thing that particularly
stuck out in my mind was what Rebekah did when she met Isaac.
How many weddings have you been to in which the bride's face is
veiled until the vows? Ladies, do you remember doing that very thing?
Rebekah did that when she walked out into that field to meet Isaac.
Then, after meeting Isaac, with her face still veiled, Isaac offered her
the choice of marrying him or not.
She still had the option to say no. This wasn't a done deal! This was the
first time in organized religion where the woman was granted the power
to say whether she wanted this man or not.
Indeed, though she knew this marriage was God's will, she accepted the choice
and the responsibility. Furthermore, Isaac accepted her not as a subservient
maiden but as a person equal in the choosing, someone to stand beside him,
not behind or beneath him in status.
Where did some Christian denominations lose sight of this precedent and subject woman
to a subservient role? Even Methodism took more than 250 years to grant women the
role of faith leaders, able to preach and teach just as capably as men.
Which brings us back to Mr. Jefferson. I wonder if the Roman's passage messed with
his soul. I wonder if he struggled with the slavery thing as a personal convenience of
his day having come from his own free will, which of course was not from God,
or if he chose instead to confront this evil and do the Godly thing instead,
which brings us back to the Constitution and the Fourth of July.
I sometimes draw inspiration from NPR on Saturday mornings. I don't consider
myself to be any sort of fan of Country and Western music, yet here was
Willy Nelson being interviewed about a new “western” song he had written.
I sort of half listened while I continued to research today's sermon.
He started out singing about cowboys and what it was like to be a cowboy
and all of the independence that that picture presented. All set to stop
listening entirely, I heard this old C&W superstar take this particular
song to a place I never expected to hear in this genre. Suddenly, Willy
was singing about the Jew, the Mexican immigrant, the black American,
the Asian American all being a major part of what makes this country great!
I think I could start being a Willy Nelson fan.
But that was not to be the end of my radio inspiration for the morning. No, the
next program had as its guest a black female comedian. She spoke of her humor
coming from a personal place, a place that had lost respect for organized religion.
It seemed she had grasped that conflict spoken of in Romans, that she had a hard
time with religion coming off as high and mighty while not making any effort to
right the injustices that have been exacted on minorities and Native Americans.
Wow! Righteousness that is not righteousness because it suited the race in
power to maintain that attitude more than it suited the will of God.
Then, in the next program, an interviewer is asking a rapper where he goes
for inspiration. The rapper replies that he consults the Lord. The
interviewer tries to make it some sort of joke, tries to make the 'Lord'
some previous rapper, someone who might be considered a hero to
all rappers whereupon the rapper simply states “No, Jesus.”
And if that wasn't enough for me, the very next program went right back to
Thomas Jefferson, someone I thought I had researched pretty thoroughly in
college. Of course, my research focused primarily on who Jefferson hung out
with musically, who might have put their music on the so-called 'book'
stand Jefferson designed. Those whose musical minds might possibly
have influenced Jefferson's political mind.
Without going into great detail, it becomes very clear that Jefferson
struggled, personally, with what was right and what was wrong. Though
he recognized his slaves as 'men' and that they were created equal, he
also recognized them as property. His personal conflict was eventually
rectified through paying his slaves and eventually freeing most of them.
Though he could not free all the slaves through constitutional declaration,
he could reconcile this conflict between himself and God and right the wrong
in his family by granting freedom, but not until after he died.
So, Independence Day. Are we truly free? We spend our lives in conflict
with ourselves wondering if we are doing God's will or if we are denying
God and just doing what makes us feel good?
Lord, Rebekah and Isaac first taught us independence to follow Your word
and do Your will. Jesus taught us that to obey Your word was far more simple
than everything placed before us in Leviticus. He taught us that to trust in
You was both freedom and slavery. Help us to be the servants that You intended
us to be. Help us to learn that true independence only comes through loving
all of Your children, not just the white ones, not just the convenient ones.
Grant us the courage to follow Your example of love, the example that
encourages us to speak up and not keep silent when we bear witness to
injustice. In Your blessed and Holy Name we pray. Amen.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
The Lord’s Prayer
CELEBRATION OF HOLY COMMUNION
(Pause to invite those who have not already prepared elements
quickly to do so. Assure them that even an English muffin can
become a sacrament, even a cup of water or tea a remembrance
of God’s redeeming love. Communion does not need elements.
They can “taste and see that God is good,”
Psalm 34:8, even if they do not partake.)
For Holy Communion this morning, we sanctify our time
and many tables for a sacrament never confined
to sanctuaries or precious surfaces — carved with
“Do this in Remembrance of Me,” but always following
wherever one of God precious children, like a sheep astray,
is lost or needs a guiding. Christ is our shepherd.
In the loneliest lockdown, we do not want for companionship.
In crowded families — distance-learning and never catching breath,
we find an inner source of still waters. In the soul-stretching days
of health care and emergency professionals,
decision-makers for others, and essential workers with daily risk,
we meet a restorer of souls. In the paths of tight-eousness —
assisted living, correctional facility, shelter, immigration detention,
nursing home, housing for those who are simply poor —
we find a leader, a staff to lean on, a rod that points a new way.
Christ leads us not around it, but through the valley of the shadow —
and turns to us, as Jesus did when he came through
the walls of a locked room in the afternoon of resurrection, said,
“Peace be with you,” and then asked if they had anything to give
him to eat. Give the gentle Shepherd who is the Risen Christ
your bread, your cup and your heart.
Prayer of Consecration
L: We have bread and cup and heart. Our church community
is dispersed in distance, but we are one in Christ.
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 those
who are in our prayers this morning.
All: Gentle Host, you prepare a table before us in the
threatening presence of virus. You anoint our hearts,
bless our bread and our cups overflow. Surely as we shelter
in place we find both the goodness of community and
mercy to those most vulnerable. Now and all the days
of our lives we claim that this house — these many houses
where we dwell and also, our precious church buildings, are,
indeed, the house of God. 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
L: We remember the sharing of bread in many places —
wilderness manna, tents and caves of shepherds,
Abigail’s saddle bags, the lunch of a small boy, the fish
of the disciples and the loaf of Emmaus. And we remember that
Paul the apostle wrote letters to congregations throughout
places we now call Greece, Turkey and Macedonia,
and they were the first “remote” worship resources,
including these Communion words sent to the church at Corinth:
For I received from the Lord what I also handed on to you,
that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed,
took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks,
he broke it and said, “This is my body that is for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way he took the cup also,
after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.
Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup,
you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
Sharing of the Elements
L: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Bread of Heaven.
All: We are one in Christ in the bread we share.
L: Let us in our many places receive the gift of God, the Cup of Blessing.
All: We are one in Christ in the cup we share.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
L: Let us pray 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,
and celebrating the God’s shepherding that carries us
into the unknown, to listen and follow,
to lead and be led, to feed and be fed.
All: Savior, like a shepherd lead us, much we need your
tender care. In your pleasant pastures feed us for our
use your folds prepare. Blessed Jesus, blessed Jesus,
hear your children when we pray. Blessed Jesus,
blessed Jesus, hear your children when we pray.
Iesu no ke Kahuhipa, Kahuhipa maika`i e
Eia makou ka `ohana, Ke ho`olohe a
hahai E aloha, e aloha, Alaka`i a hanai mai E aloha,
e aloha, Alaka`i a hanai mai. Amen.
One possible translation of the Hawai’ian:
Jesus for the Shepherd, Good Shepherd,
Here we are, the family, Listen and follow O Love,
lead your children to you. O Love, feed your children.
(William Bradbury, Laiana translator Lorenzo Lyons)
: “Lord I Want to be a Christian” UMH#402
Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart, in my heart;
Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be a Christian in my heart.
Lord, I want to be more loving in in my heart, in my heart;
Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be more loving in my heart.
Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart, in my heart;
Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be more holy in my heart.
Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart, in my heart;
Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart.
In my heart, in my heart, Lord, I want to be like Jesus in my heart.
L: The Spirit, who at the font has called us near, now sends us to our calling.
P: God's blessing on the work.
L: The Spirit, who at the table has served us well, now leads us forth in our serving.
P: God's blessing on the work.
L: The Spirit, who by the Word has given us life,
now guides us to our living the good news.
P: God's blessing on the work.
L: Go now in peace and let the mercy of the Lord
guide us in loving our neighbor.
: “Bind Us Together” TFWS#2226
Bind us together, Lord, bind us together
with cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord, bind us together, Lord,
bind us together, in love.
There is only one God, there is only on King;
There is only one body, that is why we sing.
Bind us together, Lord, bind us together
with cords that cannot be broken,
Bind us together, Lord,
bind us together, in love.
We are led this morning by Michael Thorpe
you may call/text Pastor Mike at 802-355-9574
"Prayer is not a substitute for action;
it is an action for which there is no substitute."
Mayerling Anderson Josh Ducharme Sabrena Ducharme Craig Lawson Cheri Craig
Nikki Ducharme Arthur Hooper Nathanial McElroy James and DeeDee Clark
Angel and Royce Dunn Janet Lanphear Lori Jones Vernon Thompson Kelly Maxfield
Charmane Raye Becky Thorpe Charles Tinker Eva Lancaster Linda Martin
Emily (a parishioner of a colleague of Rev. Pat’s in northern Maine) Gary Hazard
Paul (a friend of Sherry Anderson) Louis Thorpe (Pastor Mike’s mother)