March 22, 2020
March 22, 2020
Dear LCC Members and Friends,
Here is this week’s worship offering in lieu of in-person worship.
I hope you are doing well in whatever hardship this crisis presents for you and, when you are not doing okay, I pray you can trust that you are worthy of being immersed in love. For you are loved.
This “service” seeks to help open a door to the divine, as does all spiritual ritual. You might light a candle, put on some soft music, or take whatever other steps might help you gather a sense of holiness. May God bless you and keep you.
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
God is always with us in every moment, even when we wander.
God knows the depths of our hearts and shows us tender mercy.
God shows us Truth in our inward being, and leads us on paths of wisdom and love.
Let us sing songs of gladness in praise of God’s love.
Holy God, creator of us all, we come to you with hearts in need of your tender mercies. Help us to let go of whatever separates us from you. Open our hearts to know your presence within us and amongst us. Help us to feel your love. Amen.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.’ When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, ‘Go, wash in the pool of Siloam’ (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see.
A member of our congregation suggested this week that we put a sign outside the church reading, “We’re all in this together.”
I love this idea, and I think the church council will have the sign up soon.
More than ever in my lifetime, I feel the truth of these words.
All of us are contending with the uncertainty… the anxiety… the strangeness of it all, and we know we’re all in the same boat.
We all feel fear and sadness in this crisis. These are not merely personal feelings. They are universal. They are part of being human. Fear and sadness feel the same to you as they do to me. They can remind us we are the same. They can trigger what my first spiritual teacher called “the arc of recognition.”
A restaurant worker shared on NPR that she has been laid off and has spent the last of her money on this month’s bills. How will she pay for food?
Children or older parents are institutionalized with no understanding of what’s going on, and we can’t be with them.
We need to go shopping for food or a prescription. Was the food shelved by an infected worker? Does the pharmacy worker who hands us the prescription have coronavirus?
We are more aware of our shared humanity than anytime I can remember. The closest might be 9/11. But at this level of awareness? Perhaps World War II was the most recent time.
Humanity has always been one body, but this crisis has brought this understanding home in a new way.
We see it in new levels of caring for each other. People at low risk stay home to protect others… Neighbors run errands for higher-risk neighbors... a Leverett Board of Health task force is being organized to provide help to those at risk in the area.
In the wider world, NBA players are chipping in to support laid-off arena workers. The people of Spain now take to their balconies every night to applaud and thank the medical workers who are trying so hard to save lives, at the risk of their own. Italians continue to do the same and also to sing to each other from their balconies.
And so the arc of recognition lifts us to new levels of loving our neighbor.
It also tells us we are not alone. In our fear and our sadness, we can feel alone. It can feel like we’re trying to keep our head above water in the midst of wind-whipped waves.
And all the while, deep within us lies the ocean of our humanity… still and silent and life-giving.
It is within this ocean of universal love that we live and move and have our being. It will never be overcome by the darkness, not even in death. It is eternal… our source and our true substance.
Today’s scriptures readings remind us of this.
Psalm 23 reminds us that even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, God is with us.
John reminds us our human blindness is healed when we encounter the One who heals all. I know this to be true, even when I need my sight restored over and over again every day.
I think the coronavirus crisis shows us that no matter how deep the darkness, the light and love of God is deeper.
May we remember we are all in this together.
May this remembering spark recognition of our human unity.
May our recognition of each other lead us to the light and the love we are. Amen.
The link below will take you to YouTube and a rendition of “Amazing Grace” with lyrics displayed so you can sing along. If you decide to do this, you can return to this email after the hymn by click on the tab or window containing it.
Hymn: “Amazing Grace”
Oh God, we thank you for all the blessings of this life, and especially for the ways you make yourself known to us. As Jesus taught his disciples to heal, we pray for all those who need healing today. We pray for those on our prayer list. 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 that you help all people in the world to know that you are in them and they are in you, and to bring them your peace and comfort and strength and hope… We pray for all beings. Finally, we pray for those whose names we lift up to you now in our hearts…
Creator of all there is, we thank you for the miracle of life you have given us. God, you seek to know us and to be known by us. Help us to recognize you in all the ways you reveal yourself so that we might follow your constant calling into your heart of love and grace. Strengthen us when we are reluctant to confront our own inner lack of vision. Give us the humility to see ourselves and our actions in the light of your will. We ask these things so that we find the strength to pass on your love and strength to others. We ask all this in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray to you, 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.
As we navigate these frightening waters, may we also find moments to rest in the unchanging peace in the depths of the ocean of loving reality in which we swim.
God bless you all,