Service Recording: March 29, 2020

Fellowship Time

After the service, we will have Fellowship Time in a Zoom video conference.  Details for joining will be shared via email and at the end of the live stream.

 

The Building is Closed and the Church is Open

While we have restricted access to the building, Peace Church is very much open to ministryworking to respond to our own congregation, as well as the needs of our neighbors and community.  Please consider giving either to Peace Church general fund or the Gabriel Fund – which is used to meet the needs in the community.

We recognize that in this time, people’s financial situations may have changed. We ask you to prayerfully consider what you can give.  If you use electronic giving, we thank you for your constancy of support.  If you would like to give through our online form, we would be grateful. For all the contributions from our members and friendswhether financial, time, or prayerwe ask God’s blessings on those gifts that Peace Church may be healing balm in this time when we are living in our own Gilead.

Back to Top

March 29, 2020 ~ 10:30am

Fourth Sunday of Lent 

Liturgists
The People of Peace Church
Doug Bowen-Bailey, ASL Interpreter
Jim Pospisil, Music Director
Rev. Kathryn Nelson

Prelude  –   “Medicine” Elijah Bell

Announcements

Ringing of the Peace Bells

God is Revealed as We Gather

Responsive Call to Worship           adapted from Sheri Brown

Holy One, bend your ear to us today. Hear our cries!
We have somehow ended up in bondage again,
wrapped up in anguish,
rotting away with regret.
Yet with you it is all forgetting and forgiving.
You lift us again and again from the depths of misery.
Your kindness, O God has taught us to worship you,
and to wait for you through dark times.
For you will arrive with love,
just as the morning brings light and a new day.

*Opening Hymn – Morning Has Broken

 

Morning Has Broken

Morning Has Broken

words by Eleanor Farjeon

Morning has broken,
like the first morning.
Blackbird has spoken,
like the first bird.
Praise for the singing,
praise for the morning!
Praise for them springing
fresh from the word!

Sweet the rain’s new fall,
sunlit from heaven.
Like the first dewfall,
on the first grass.
Praise for the sweetness
of the wet garden!
Sprung in completeness
where his feet pass!

Mine is the sunlight,
mine is the morning.
Born of the one light,
Eden saw play.
Praise with elation,
praise every morning,
God’s re-creation
of the new day!

Back to Top

Unison Prayer of Confession

We are set free by your saving grace, Generous God, yet we must confess how we are still bound by prejudice
and fear. We seem unable to throw off the grave clothes of our sin and indifference. We cling to our fears, for they are so familiar.

Yet, there in every corner of our lives, in every shadow we fear, into death itself, you come, Steadfast Love. You break the bonds of sin and fear, giving us new strength and hope for our journey, and calling us to new life through the resurrecting love of Jesus, our Christ.    Amen.

Sung Response   “Wealth & Hellness”  Hannah Bell

Assurance of Pardon

Story For All Ages

God is Revealed in the Word

God’s Word in the Psalms: Psalm 130

God’s Word in the Gospel:   John 11:1–45
Maddie Carpenter – Martha; Frost Bowen-Bailey – Jesus

Song during the Gospel reading:   “When Jesus Wept”     (#192)
When Jesus wept, the falling tear in mercy flowed beyond all bound;
When Jesus groaned, a trembling fear seized all the guilty world around.

Special Music        “So Afraid”  Autumn Santovi

Sermon     “Sometimes it Stinks”

 

Sermon

“Sometimes it Stinks”   

by Kathy Nelson

Text: John 11: 1 – 45 

This Tuesday, March 31st would have been Xavier Bell’s 58th birthday. He died last October 26th and several months ago his wife Donna and I talked about his kids or his tribe as he called them doing this music this Sunday as a way of remembering him and giving thanks for his work among us in this Duluth Community.  X was the executive director of the Family Freedom Center and at the heart of so much of the justice work of our community. We are able to still have his daughter Autumn and son Erik be with us virtually and share some music  .. music so core to his family .. Autumn’s song “So Afraid” . . gives voice to the pain, the grief that she and so many of us are feeling in this time .. For we are grieving, as a community, as a nation as a world. But her song also gives a word of hope ..What are you so afraid of?  Why are you walking away . . His love is what keeps you alive now .. . a perfect song to address the chaos of emotions we are feeling now . . the emotions of grief – sadness, anger, confusion , compassion toward one another and even hope ..      

Everything is different now,  and we are not sure when or how this will end . . just like the holy week of so long ago . . And today we have a story set just before that walk into Jerusalem . a story where Jesus gets sad, mad and shows us that there is more .. Come out of the caves of fear,  unbind one another .. believe there is more . . .there is a glimpse of hope in which Jesus does for his friend what God will do for him. As Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor writes, “It is his and our assurance that there is power loose in the universe that is stronger than death, stronger even than our fear of death, which is able to call us out of our stinking tombs into the fullness and sweet mystery of life.”

Grief comes to each of us in our lifetimes. The uniqueness of this time of coronavirus is that we are in it together.     We wonder and wail with the folks in today’s Gospel lesson “If you had been here Jesus, if you had been here God . . . . this would not have happened.”    I think to be human means to have said this in one way or another . . .Why? Why did you tarry and not come immediately? Why? It is hard to be silent in the midst of this question that all so often has no answer.    

This story is not just about Lazarus and his community it is our story.   Lazarus comes from Eleazar which means God helps. He is from Bethany which means  house of affliction. We have this in the first sentence of the story . . God helps  . . . . the house of affliction. But at times there is deep grief and wondering about the presence of God,  a God who seems to tarry.

Why wait?    Jesus wasn’t just held up, he intentionally waited, delayed, dragged his feet, tarried. Why? Because he saw in Lazarus’ death the in-breaking of God’s glory and he wanted to make sure no one missed it. And so he tarried two more days so that by the time he arrived Lazarus would have been in the tomb four days, meaning his spirit – which according to Jewish tradition of the time stayed close to the body for three days – would most certainly be gone.

Whatever the holy purpose of his tarrying however, the pain it caused comes out in the half-lament, half-accusation that crosses the lips of both Mary and Martha, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Who has not felt a similar pang during times of grief or tragedy: “God, where are you?” “God, couldn’t you have done something to prevent this?”

Jesus did go to Bethany.    And found Mary and Martha and the whole community in the midst of their grief     In a warm climate where embalming is not practiced, burial takes place on the day of the death.  This means the mourning which precedes the burial in our culture, must follow the burial in other lands, so there is  a lot more time for it. According to the customs of Jesus’ time, men and women walked separately in the funeral procession and after the burial the women returned alone from the grave to begin the mourning which lasted for thirty days.  This public mourning included loud wailing and dramatic expressions of grief. Mary and Martha are expected to grieve with all its bodily expressions. 

It is into this necessary chaos that Jesus arrives and his behavior here is telling for us.  His humanity is very real and he too experiences the grief of his friends. John wrote, “When Jesus sees her weeping and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled, and he said, ‘Where have you laid him? They said to him Lord, come and see.  And Jesus wept.”

In this passage Jesus expresses two very common and normal emotions of grief– anger and sorrow.  Verse 33 reads, Jesus was moved, which translates as stirred with indignation or anger. He participates fully in Mary, Martha’s and the community’s sorrow.   He does not work his miracle around the grief but right through it.

In the miracle of the raising of Lazarus,  Jesus creates life in the midst of grief, brings forth love in the midst of loss.    This miracle continues in our time. Especially in this time . . We have seen how connected we all are.  It does take the community to move the stones away . . so that Lazarus can hear his name called out of the tomb and stench and into new life.  The community must take off the grave clothes, the mess of life and sorrow in which he is wrapped. We need one another to move forward, we unbind each other in this time of  grief.

I am grateful for all the ways this is happening now.   Pat O’Connell went and got groceries for one of our members who can’t leave his apartment and whose ARMHS worker can’t come until May, . . the stone rolled;   in the calls being made to check on one another . . the stone rolled; in the gifts to the Gabriel Fund that allow us to give super one gift cards to folks in need ..the stone rolled;  in the spread joy not germs .idea our kids decorating their windows for folks walking by .. and in so many other stories in our nation and in the world .. I don’t know about you but I cried with Hoda on the Today Show when she was interviewing Drew Brees and his incredible gift to help the people of New Orleans . 

We need one another on this stinking, beautiful journey through life into the next.   We need one another to move the stones and untie the grave clothes we wrap ourselves in.

For as Rev. Barbara Brown Taylor writes,  “‘I am the resurrection and the life.’ Jesus says to grieving Martha.  Not I will be, but I am– right here, right now– resurrection and life for anyone to believe that it might just be true.  It is not a safe story, but it is a strong one, with power to lead us through the stinking graveyard and out the other side.”    

This is a story X believed in  . .X preached at his own funeral ..  we played a video of him delivering the lines from the fellowship of the unashamed .. it’s been helpful in this time of grief ..    It ends, “ I won’t give up, shut up, let up until I’ve stayed up, stored up, prayed up, paid up, preached up for the cause of Christ.  I am a disciple of Jesus. I must go ‘til he comes, give ‘til I drop, preach ‘til all know and work ‘til he stops me. And when He comes for his own.  He’ll have no problem recognizing me. May banner will be clear.   

Amen.

Back to Top

Hymn   “Now the Green Blade Rises”     (#238)

Now the Green Blade Rises

Now the Green Blade Rises    (#238)

Now the green blade rises, from the buried grain,
Wheat that in dark earth for many days has lain;
Love lives again, that with the dead has been:
Love is come again like wheat that rises green.

In the grave they laid their Love whom hate had slain,
Thinking that their Love would never wake again,
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen:
Love is come again like wheat that rises green.

Christ came forth at Easter, like the risen grain,
Jesus, who for three days in the grave had lain;
Quick from the dead the risen One is seen:
Love is come again like wheat that rises green.

When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain,
Christ’s warm touch can call us back to life again,
Fields of our hearts that dead and bare have been:
Love is come again like wheat that rises green

Back to Top

We Respond to God’s Presence

Sharing Our Prayer Concerns, Silent Prayer, Pastoral Prayer, the Lord’s Prayer (with debts)

Sharing our Offerings

Give offering online
Please consider giving to the Gabriel Fund to support critical needs in our broader community

Offertory   “Time to get Up Now”  Autumn Santovi

Prayer of Dedication

*Closing Hymn   “Precious Lord, Take My Hand”     (#472)

*Benediction

*Postlude   “All We Are”  Jacob Aaron Bell  & “Light and Movement” Like Tribes (Erik Bell)

 

 

Precious Lord, Take My Hand

Precious Lord, Take My Hand     (#472)

Precious Lord, take my hand
Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired, I am weak, I am worn
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home

When my way grows drear, precious Lord, linger near
When my life is almost gone
Hear me cry, hear my call
Hold my hand lest I fall
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home

When the shadows appear and the night draws near
And the day is past and gone
At the river I stand,
Guide my feet, hold my hand
Take my hand, precious Lord, lead me home