March 29th, 2020
I wait for the Lord, my soul waits and in His Word I hope!
MUSIC FOR MEDITATION “It Is Well with My Soul” arr., G. Sikes
WELCOME TO WORSHIP – Rev. Aho
CALL TO WORSHIP – Sydney and Molly Deal
When our lives become a valley of dry bones,
God clothes us with flesh and
hearts that beat with love.
When our souls seem withered away,
God breathes new life into us
once more that we might live.
Come! Let us worship.
HYMN OF PRAISE “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” FAITHFULNESS
Great is Thy faithfulness, O God, my Father, there is no shadow of turning with Thee. Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not. As Thou hast been, Thou forever will be.
(Refrain) Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see.
All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided.
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me.
Pardon, for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide. Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow, blessings are mine with ten thousand beside!
Text by W. Runyan
SCRIPTURE READINGS -PSALM 130
Optional Additional readings: EZEKIEL 37:1-14, JOHN 11:1-45
MUSIC FOR WORSHIP “Lord of the Dance” arr., D. Hart
Dance, then, wherever you may be. I am the Lord of the Dance, said he.
And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be, and I’ll lead you all in the dance, said he.
I danced in the morning when the world was begun, and I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,
and I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth.
At Bethlehem I had my birth.
I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee, but they would not dance and they wouldn’t follow me.
I danced for the fishermen, for James and John; they came to me and the dance went on.
I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame, the holy people said it was a shame.
They whipped and they stripped and they hung me high; and they left me there on a cross to die.
I danced on a Friday and the sky turned black. It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back.
They buried my body and they thought I’d gone, but I am the dance and I still go on.
They cut me down, and I leapt up high, I am the dance that’ll never, never die. I’ll live in you if you live in me.
I am the Lord of the Dance said he!
~Words by S. Carter ©1999, Stainer and Bell CCLI # 1049296
Near this part of the service each week, we take up an offering. It is important for us to remember that our offering not only
supports the ministry of the church but is an expression of our thankfulness for all God has given us. We give today because
God first gave to us.
A MORNING DEVOTIONAL – Rev. Aho
This Sunday will mark just two weeks until Easter…14 days from God’s great work: resurrection! But if we are honest, it seems far away. This year, Easter will be different. The absence of Holy Saturday may linger longer, and a resurrection celebration may feel delayed.
It is from the depths of darkness that we see Psalm 130 as a prayer for hope. Scripture is full of the stories of hope amid darkness; like Ezekiel 37:1-14 and John 11:1-45, our other scripture readings for today. Those references may not ring a bell, but Ezekiel prophesying to a valley of dry bones? Jesus calling Lazarus from the tomb? We know these stories. From a dead valley of dry bones, and from the death and darkness of a grave, God brings life, possibilities, and hope. These stories testify to why the psalmist prays for hope.
In Psalm 130, the writer longs, almost tangibly, for God’s steadfast love that brings life. The psalmist anticipates the Lord’s power through redemption. And in that way, maybe today, the psalmist’s prayer is our prayer as well.
We all want life to go back to normal. We want to get out and about. But maybe, since so much has changed so quickly, it jolts us into seeing our deep need for God’s power of love, redemption, and resurrection. There have been times when we as individuals have prayed like the psalmist does today. Yet, it has been a long time since we all, collectively, have prayed along with the psalmist as we do today. We have always needed the hope from this prayer, but maybe, because of our circumstances, we feel that need more today than before.
As we face the isolation and uneasiness caused by the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, I hope we take time to consider our faith. For such times, the Psalms are an excellent place to turn, because the Psalms are not afraid of the hard questions.
Is our faith in a magician with powers for a miraculous healing? Is our hope in the purveyor of magical cures? Do we think blessings are tied to praying just the right words in the proper order, just enough times? Is that how we see God?
Or do we, like the Psalmists, from the bottom of our hearts realize that no matter how good things seem to have been, our deepest need remains: we need God to bring us life in the face of certain death. We need hope from God because every other notion is hopeless.
Today, I urge us, from the bottom of our hearts and the depth of our being, to feel what the psalmist prays. Pray that God’s animating, life-giving prophesy in Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones, and Jesus’; ministry through Lazarus, will come to us. Because we need more than freedom from a virus that will pass; we need freedom from the other things in our lives that have trapped us and taken us to the depths.
I pray today that since we have time in isolation and distancing, that we will reconnect to our deepest needs. In doing this, I pray we might see anew God’s best work: bringing life, hope, and resurrection to our places of despair, darkness, and death.
BENEDICTION (read together in unison)
We go with the blessings of the one who forgives our failings.
We go with the blessings of the one who saves us and heals our hearts.
We go with God. Amen!