April 19, 2020

April 19, 2020

Dear LCC Members and Friends,

This service seeks to help open a door to the divine, as does all spiritual ritual.

You might light a candle or take whatever other steps help you gather a sense of holiness.

May God bless you and keep you.

 

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Welcome and Announcements

 

Centering Moment - Sally Kealy
Take a moment to let your awareness drop down inside you, into the ocean of loving awareness that is within all of us.

Call to Worship - John Kealy

One: We gather knowing that the tomb is empty.

Many: We meet as a resurrection people.

One: May the Peace of Christ illuminate our faith.

Many: May we see the light of God in unlikely places.

One: Jesus calls us to our source of hope and joy for others and ourselves.

All: Let us worship with glad hearts and spirits uplifted. Amen.

 

Invocation
O Risen Christ, we come this morning with eager anticipation. We seek to see you, to love you, to follow you. Open our hearts, that we might witness your new life in us. Open our lives, that we might be faithful participants in your resurrection. Amen.

Scripture Reading: John 20: 19-22 – Nick Grabbe

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the [authorities], Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit…”

 

Reflection

Let us imagine for a moment that we are the disciples in our story.

We are hiding inside, protecting ourselves from the contagion of mad power that just killed our brother Jesus, whose crime was to profess love over power. We are terrified that those threatened enough to kill him could come for us too, and so we have closed and locked the door.

And then, beyond our wildest imagination, there he is in our midst saying, “Peace be with you.”

Can we embrace this Peace he offers? We are only human, after all, and our hearts are filled with fear. It seems Jesus recognizes this because he repeats himself: “Peace be with you,” and then he breathes on the disciples and says, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

These are such simple instructions. They remind me of the others he has given: “Do not be afraid” (Mat 14:27)… “Love your neighbor as yourself”… “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” (Luke 6:31)

But today, he comes with an instruction that makes all the others possible: “Peace be with you.” It is no wonder that every week in worship, we re-enact the story of the resurrected Jesus crossing the threshold of our hearts, as we say to each other, “The Peace of Christ be with you.”

We say this to re-mind each other what we are made of. We are saying, “The Peace of Christ that lives in me recognizes the Peace of Christ that lives in you… may we share and live from this primal blessing.”

The Peace of Christ is not something we need to obtain. It is already ours. It is the reality of God-with-us. It is all the wonder and power of the creation itself, and through some magical mystery it is given to us… divine Peace born in us… divine Peace empowering us. It is the same original blessing celebrated in every religion of humanity, and in every human heart with eyes to see it. We call it by a million different names, but these are just different fingers pointing to the same moon… the same single reality.

Our current paradigm leads us to think we need to earn this Peace, but our job is really simply to find it and to inhabit it. Our job is to allow our hearts to open and reveal what is already there.

We can see so many examples of this happening today. It is as if the coronavirus pandemic is exerting the pressure we need to find ourselves. Perhaps we are like the person confronting death who comes to realize what was always most important.

Have you seen the poem by Kitty O’Meara that celebrates this? Listen:

“And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the people began to think differently.

“And the people healed. And, in the absence of people living in ignorant, dangerous, mindless, and heartless ways, the earth began to heal.

“And when the danger passed, and the people joined together again, they grieved their losses, and made new choices, and dreamed new images, and created new ways to live and heal the earth fully, as they had been healed.”

I saw a brief aerial video of Los Angeles the other day. The sky was perfectly clear. Not a hint of smog… only crystalline beauty. Who could have imagined a month ago that we could agree to stop driving our cars… to stop flying in planes? (1) We decided as one body that we needed to take drastic steps to protect ourselves and each other, and for now the air of Los Angeles is healed.

This is a small example of what the Peace of Christ can do when we let ourselves be led by it instead of trying to fix things with our best thinking. Isn’t our best thinking that got us to where we are?

It is not force that will heal our world. The idea that force is needed to effect change is a mistaken foundation of the story that has failed us. We need to write ourselves into a new story of cooperation and attraction. I’m reminded of that wonderful advice from Antoine de Saint-Exupery, the author of The Little Prince: “If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.”

To perform the miracles we so desperately need, our job is to open our hearts and follow the love and wisdom we find there. This is how we follow the universal Christ…  the resurrected Peace of Christ who crosses the threshold of every heart in every moment of our lives…  the One who prays in us, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”

May it be so for each and every one of us. Amen.

(1) See “The Coronation”  by Charles Eisenstein

 

Hymn: “Be Thou My Vision, O Lord of My Heart”

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light

 

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one

 

Riches I heed not, nor man's empty praise
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art

 

High King of Heaven, my victory won
May I reach Heaven's joys, O bright Heav'n's Sun
Heart of my own heart, whate'er befall
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all

 

Passing the Peace

 

Prayers

Oh Risen Christ, face of God, we welcome the empty tomb for we know that it means you are on the loose. From the depths of our current crisis, we pray that we find the resurrection of your Peace within us and amongst us. For all of us and all people in the world, help us to know that you are in us and we are in you, and bring us your peace and comfort and strength and hope. We pray for those on our prayer list and for those we have just named. We pray for those who are ill… for those in pain or loneliness or fear… for those who grieve. We pray for all who suffer from the tragedies of war and all kinds of violence against each other and our earth. We pray for all who are defenseless. We pray for all beings. Finally, we pray for those whose names we lift up to you now in our hearts. 

 

God, it is you have made us, and not we ourselves. We are dust without your breath of life. Help us to rise in your undying life. Breathe your Spirit into us that we might be faithful in the tasks you set before us. We ask in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray to you the prayer we say together now, saying,

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 debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.

Unison Response: “O Lord, Hear My Prayer”
O Lord, hear my prayer,
O Lord, hear my prayer.
When I call answer me.
O Lord, hear my prayer,
O Lord, hear my prayer.
Come and listen to me.

 

Hymn: “Peace of the Running Wave to You”


Benediction
Let us go from this place in the knowledge that life breaks through the tomb. Let your heart rise to the light as flowers rise, and know the Risen Christ is within you today and always. Amen.

 

God bless you all,

Lee

OTHER LINKS
ADDRESS

Leverett Congregational Church

4 Montague Road

PO Box 324

Leverett, MA 01054

 413-548-9199 

WORSHIP TIMES

Sundays at 10 AM

ALL are welcome

Handicap accessible

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