Wolcott United Methodist Church

All are welcome to join us on Sunday mornings at 9:00 am and to "come as you are."

4023 VT Route 15 , Wolcott , VT 05680
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802.888.0395

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The United Methodist Church

Worship Outline and Pastor Mike's Sermon for Sunday, March 29, 2020

posted on March 29

Fifth Sunday of Lent, March 22, 2020
Worship Leader:  Pastor Michael Thorpe
   

*Please rise in body or in spirit 

God, we are confident you are coming, bringing a world where all will be made right. Calm our anxiety, strengthen our patience, and keep our hope aflame, as we work towards, and wait for, your new day. Amen.
 
CALL TO WORSHIP:             
L:  Listen to the word of God, for God’s word is life.
P:  But death runs swift.
L:  Believe in the promise of the resurrection.
P:  We want to believe, help our unbelief.
L:  Those who live and believe in Christ will never die.
P:  We will find faith in the lord of life.
 
*OPENING HYMN:             “Breathe on Me, Breath of God”                            UMH#420
 
OPENING PRAYER:
Hope of the world, Hope of all hearts, our hope remains in you especially when hope seems hard. Speak to us through your word. Come to us at your table. And sustain us in the hope of the covenant you have written on our hearts. Amen.
 
Psalm:                                                               Psalm 130
 
OFFERTORY                                       “Spirit of the Living God”                        UMH#393
 
[Thank you to those who have already mailed your offerings to Vernon.
 
Our expenses will continue whether we hold formal worship services or not.  If you would like to keep up with your regular giving so that your offering can be deposited on a regular basis, you can snail mail it to Vernon Thompson, PO Box 538, Morrisville, VT 05661].
 
Offering Prayer (in unison):
Consoling God of comfort and love, we cried out to you out of the depths of our despair, embraced in worry and fear, so that we failed to hear your answers of compassion and hope. Later, we saw that you were there with us, willing to help us with strength and support. We bring more than our gifts and tithes today; we bring ourselves as an offering – ready to use our arms, hands, and feet to be your comforting and strengthening presence to others. We make this offering joyfully and faithfully in the name of Jesus, our rock and redeemer. Amen. (Psalm 130)
 
WORD AND RESPONSE:
 
 Scripture:                                                Ezekiel 37: 1-14
                                                                     Romans 8: 6-11
                                                                     John 11: 1-45
                                                              
L: May God’s Word give light to our path and strength to our living.
P: THANKS BE TO GOD.                     
 
Song for Illumination:     “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”               TFWS#2171     
 
THE MESSAGE:  
The email arrived, seemingly, before I got home from skiing that afternoon: “Do not come to the mountain.” I wasn't terribly surprised. It wasn't a message sent to me, personally, as though I had been the only one being told not to come back to work. No, it had been sent out to thousands of employees just like me.
 
I wasn't the least surprised. In fact, I wondered why it had taken so long for the decision to be made. In an industry whose customer base is rife with world travelers, COVID-19 was long overdue to arrive in this country. I wondered if I had already been exposed to someone and just didn't know it yet.
 
This Lenten season, the lectionary notes ask us to pause, to reflect, to observe the “Selahs” in our life. To quote:
 
“During the season of Lent, we are encouraged to engage in a Season of Selahs. Throughout the Book of Psalms, we encounter this Hebrew term at least seventy-one times. It even appears three times in Habakkuk. While the word has not been definitively defined in scripture, the placement of the word suggests a shift, pause, break, or interruption; it suggests exhaling or resting from routine activities. It is thought that the “Selah” functions much like a musical rest. This describes how we should understand our posture throughout the forty days of Lent. Christians are urged to refrain from business as usual in order to attend to the body, spirit, mind, soul, and heart. It is a time set aside for worshipers to connect their faith walk with the ways in which they live, move, and have their being throughout daily life. Thus, the trajectory for the Lenten journey is a renewed spirit and a genuine desire to become an incarnational presence in the world.”
 
So, I take this time to pause, to reflect, to explore my personal relationship with God. In my training as a musician, I learned to appreciate the purpose of the 'rest'. Though it often served merely to indicate one instrument taking over for another, composers more importantly used the rest to give the music's audience the opportunity to reflect on the passage they have just heard and to wonder what would follow.
 
So important is this concept that the composer John Cage wrote a piece of music titled 4'33”. The entire piece is a rest, for four minutes and thirty-three seconds. His entire purpose is to allow the audience and opportunity to be quiet and just listen for that amount of time.
 
This Lent, we not only have the opportunity to observe this concept, it is now forced on us thanks to a microscopic virus that no one has any immunity to other than to stay away from other people who might be sick.
 
Ezekiel's account of the valley of the dead, those bones, those dry bones, reminds us that God can restore flesh to those bones any time he wishes, and He chose Ezekiel to bear witness to this fact. Even after restoring sinew, muscle and flesh to those bones, God pauses before restoring breath to the bodies he had just restored to flesh. He pauses so Ezekiel can likewise pause and reflect on what God has just done and wonder what He will do next.
 
Jesus tells his disciples to wait after receiving word that his friend, Lazarus, has fallen ill. He knows His friend will die from this illness but insists that His disciples rest, pause before returning to Lazarus' home to witness the true nature of God's power. Then, after a time that Jesus knows has brought Lazarus to his final resting place, He brings them to Lazarus tomb to restore breath to he who had passed from life into death. This isn't a mere parlor trick; Lazarus died and the stench from his tomb reminded everyone present of that fact. Jesus merely commanded Lazarus to “come out!” and Lazarus, four days dead, was now restored to life and walked out of the tomb on his own.
 
Except for a small matter of timing, COVID-19 has forced us into a new Lent, only slightly offset from the season leading into Passover and Holy week, culminating in Easter. It will, in all likelihood take a full forty days for this illness to pass over us (pun absolutely intended). The two weeks suggested by some pundits will be barely enough time for many who have the illness to show symptoms. Yes, we are each exploring our own journey toward Easter, just as Jesus spent His forty days in the wilderness.
 
I enjoy the exercise I get while skiing. There is a gracefulness and beauty to it. I have friends I get to pass time with in a healthy way. We all need to adjust. Laurie and I try to move around every hour. We take advantage of a closed road, one that the highway crew just does not want to waste time trying to keep open.
 
Yes, we walk in the notch.
 
Saturday was one such day. On previous walks, we heard ice snap and release their hold on the cliffs they were clinging to. With a thunderous boom, we would hear the ice break off and then descend with a loud clattering as the ice bounced off the rocks and snow below. So we decided to take a couple of chairs and my camera to the summit of the road, then sit and wait for the thunder to perform.
 
It turned out to be a quiet day. There was the occasional snap and clatter but it was mostly in crevasses not easily seen from the road. One rather oversized ice cube sat next to the road; we could look up and see the trees it had snapped off as it descended from the cliff.
 
One young couple, unfamiliar with the road, were looking around for a place to climb up and get a few turns in with their skis. We asked them if they had seen the 'Hunter and his dog', then pointed it out to them. I suggested a chute a few yards north of where we were standing for them to climb and ski. The one they had been considering just south of the summit looked a bit risky with that huge ice cube sitting there. After a few minutes, people began showing up, many of whom we recognized. By the time we had descended we had seen more than a dozen familiar faces, many of which Laurie and I hadn't seen for a dozen years or longer. We had even bumped into our daughter and granddaughter on the way there and were able to share 'air hugs'.
 
We are of Christ. We are of the light and in the light. Out of necessity, we need to observe this time apart so that we might emerge on the other side whole and healthy, hale and hearty. Hopefully we emerge smarter, with a greater awareness of the need to separate those spreading disease from coming to the workplace or to the market. Illness is not something we need to share.
 
Laurie and I served our last meal at Breakfast on us Wednesday morning. Any food that might go bad until we get the all clear was distributed to those in attendance and in need.
 
It will be another two weeks, at least, before we can be reasonably confident that we have not been infected by this virus. It is time for us to rest, to pause, to reflect. “Listen to my words and I will watch for your answer.” We have been provided an opportunity to listen and to watch.
 
In Your blessed and Holy name we pray. Amen
 
Hymn:                                “Trust and Obey”                                   UMH#467                      
                                                             
CONCERNS AND CELEBRATIONS: 
 
Concerns which were shared this week:
 
Sally Martin asked for prayers for her mother-in-law, Alice Martin.
 
Sabrena reports that Josh is doing better and they are only going to the Dr. four times a week.  One of his major problems at this point is that his taste buds have
not returned and food still doesn’t taste good.
 
Greg reports that everything is quiet at present with Nathaniel.  He is staying inside to avoid the virus. 
 
Rev. Pat asks for continued prayers for her niece, Lisa, who, though has received
a negative diagnosis for the coronavirus, is still experiencing congestion and breathing issue.  She also asks prayers for one of her good friends, Helen Burgess, who is a nurse in a nursing home and is currently quarantining at home due to exposure to the virus.
 
Please send any other prayer requests either to Pastor Mike at mrthorpeski@gmail.com or Rev. Pat at pajt8817@aol.com.
 
L:  We are still in the wilderness. We are learning the way, and getting better at following. Yet this is still the wilderness. We are not yet fully renewed. And so we pray:
P:  Joy of every longing heart, make our hearts beat with yours.
L:  With people still kept in poverty or slavery, some in fear from abusers, terrorists, and oppressors, some facing addiction, and some targeted for unjust treatment because of who they are; and we now see how our own actions or inaction leave things as they are, or make them worse.
P:  Joy of every longing heart, make our hearts beat with yours.
L:  With those among us and those around us who are leaders in religious, political, economic, and social life; with our families, friends, and neighbors; and with all who sustain and protect our lives as military, civilian workers, and first responders;
P:  Joy of every longing heart, make our hearts beat with yours.
L:  With all who need your healing power, and all who offer healing through their skill and presence;
P:  Joy of every longing heart, make our hearts beat with yours.
L:  With all creatures with whom we share this planet, those who sustain our lives, and those who threaten us, those whose lives we sustain, and those whose lives we threaten:
P:  Joy of every longing heart, make our hearts beat with yours.
L:  With Jesus and all of his disciples from generation to generation:
 
Lord's Prayer
 
L:  Receive the prayers of your people, most merciful God. In your compassion, forgive our sins, stir up our hope in your redemption, and make our hearts beat more and more with yours; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
 
Silence
 
L: In the name of Jesus, you are forgiven.
P: In the name of Jesus, you are forgiven.
All: Glory to God! Amen!
 
Closing Hymn:                           “Lord of the Dance”                                            UMH#261          
 
SENDING FORTH:
P:  We’re coming out of the wilderness. We know God’s promise. God will surely keep it. Jesus is in us. The Spirit is moving among us and driving us out of here to keep living in the hope of full salvation, all things new.
L:  Go in hope and the peace of our Triune God.
 
Closing Response:                         “Bind Us Together”                                      TFWS#2226 
 
We are led this morning by Michael Thorpe
you may call/text Pastor Mike at 802-355-9574
 
 
ANNOUNCEMENTS:         "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   
     Nikki Ducharme          Arlo Sterner      Alice Martin         Arthur Hooper                    
Nathanial McElroy             Angel and Royce Dunn          James and DeeDee Clark     
Lori Jones               Janet Lanphear               Charmane Raye            Becky Thorpe
                  
 
 

 

Wolcott United Methodist Church

802.888.0395