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.

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May 3, 2020 ~ 10:30am

Fourth Sunday of Easter

The People of Peace Church
Jim Pospisil, Music Director
Maddie Carpenter, Mark Hakes, Frost Bowen-Bailey
Doug Bowen-Bailey, ASL Interpreter
Rev. Kathryn Nelson

Prelude       “Mercy Street” by Peter Gabriel sung by Ian Connell

Announcements and Ringing of the Peace Bells

God is Revealed as We Gather

Responsive Call to Worship

Shepherd God, you make life flourish from the inside out.
You refresh us with your spirit of living water.
You give us places of safe sanctuary, time to catch our breath,
And send us rejoicing in the right direction again.
Even when the way goes through the darkest valley,
You go before and beside us, to lead and to comfort us, and we need not be afraid, not even of death.
You prepare for us a meal of reconciliation to share with all, and our relationships overflow with blessing for being at your table.
Surely your goodness and mercy go wherever we go, and there is no place in the world where we are not with you.

Opening Hymn  “God is My Shepherd”  (#479)

Unison Prayer of Confession         by Thom Shuman

The wrong paths to foolish lives and repeated mistakes?  We know all too well where they are, Gate of our lives. Stirring up the waters with trouble comes all too easy to us, we confess. Forgive us. May our hearts overflow with hope, as you anoint us with healing oil. May we share from our abundance with all who hunger for life. May we follow Jesus Christ to the places of service and new life with you forever.

Assurance of Pardon

Story for All Ages   Sharon Dawson, Children’s Ministry Coordinator

God is Revealed in the Word

God’s Word in the Psalms:   Psalm 23

Special Music    23rd Psalm by Bobby McFerrin

God’s Word in the Gospel:   John 10:1–10

Sermon   “The Voice”




Sermon— Beyond Our Fears

Psalm 23 and John 10: 1 – 10

Every year there is one Sunday that is Good Shepherd Sunday in the lectionary . . today is that day . . time again for the 23rd Psalm . . as I thought about it it really is an appropriate Sunday for these words of poetry . . poetry often read in times of grief . . words so many know by heart, words we can say together . . .Yea, through I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me;   Or as another version – The Voice translates,   “Even in the unending shadow’s of death’s darkness I am not overcome by fear, Because You are with me in those dark moment, near with Your protection and guidance, I am comforted.

         These words of the psalms help us in these times .. . Adrienne Rich wrote, “Poetry is the liquid voice that can drill through stone.”       This psalm has such power I think because it has been there for so, so many people through so many generations as a way of drilling through the hard places, of finding a way forward together.   And we need it now, because we are in this time of grief together in a way most of us have never experienced before . . and it has touched us all . . . tears as a Vicki Westrick shared how moving it was for her daughter Lencie to see her Senior sign posted in her yard by her favorite teacher and together but far apart sang the school song;   grief as I talk to my neighbor over the fence about his uncle’s death from Covid – 19. The first in Crow Wing county;   concern over all those laid off and wondering how to pay their bills . . . together we need this psalm . . as we walk through this valley of the shadow of death . . and move beyond our fears.

         This week Rachel Martin had a wonderful piece on NPR’s morning Edition called “If the Trees Can Keep Dancing, So Can I – A community Poem to Cope in Crisis”. In this episode NPR’s poet-in-residence Kwame Alexander pointed to Nancy Cross Dunham’s poem, “What I’m Learning About Grief,” and asked that submissions begin with those same words. He then created a crowd sourced poem from what people sent in.   I share a bit of it here:

What I’m learning about grief,
is that it can come like a whisper or storm through loud as thunder
it leaves a hollow, to be filled with a new planting.
And, when you wake for another day that feels oddly the same as the last, It crawls right back into your lap.
an ocean of tears So, you vary the crawl with the butterfly, the backstroke with breaststroke. At some point, drowning is no longer an option.

What I’m learning about grief
Is that it is a language.
Suffering is its own speech
it will not go away just because you won’t look it in the eye

He rides shotgun when you go by old familiar places
Eventually, you will get closer and he will say
“See, it’s not so bad. I got your back.”

Hard times call for soft people. There is softness in stillness, in staying home, in distractions deleted, in a togetherness that stretches great distances.

What I’m learning about grief
is not found in mint leaves, floating in a glass of tears boiled thrice over.
It is an acquired taste which we never crave

It likes nachos
Staying up late
Watching Scandinavian murder shows
Sleeping in
And eating cake for breakfast.

it drips, like water, It gets in everywhere
through the small unseen fissures in the ceiling. You can ignore it like dust.
Just keep yourself too busy with laundry and living.

What I’m learning about grief
is that it can turn you into someone you don’t want to be, can help you become someone you never thought you could be
is that it transcends color, race, Religion, gender.

Is that tiny losses add up
The missed first party my son was to attend
The school days he yearns for with his friends I tell him it will be over soon

there is no vaccine against it — we can’t develop antibodies against it, it is something I have and something you have — but in these times it is something we have

What I’m learning about grief
Is to acknowledge its presence
Its many forms and guises
Then, to use it, while reaching out
Connected To everyone who is braving this same storm

What I’m learning about grief is that it is still learning about me
Learning that I am strong and resilient
If the trees can keep dancing,
So can I.

         As Rich said, poetry is the liquid that can drill through stone . . . it helps us move through this time we are connected to everyone who is braving this same storm . .and we are learning together to dance in the rain . . Poetry gives us hope . .     The Lord is our shepherd . .   we are in this together     We are all part of God’s flock . .        

       The psalm begins and ends with Lord– The Lord is my shepherd . . and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.   As Walter Bruggeman, an biblical scholar wrote, The name of Yahweh or Lord is uttered only twice, abruptly at the beginning and at the end, so that the poem like the trustful life is lived fully in the presence of this name which sets the parameters for both life and speech.

 At the beginning and at the end of the Psalm, God is spoken of in the third person. In the main body of the psalm God is a personal pronoun– thou or he. The god who brought life and to whom our  breath and spirit will eventually return is more of a mystery than the God we experience in our daily life. We have no memory of our lives before our birth and we have not yet heard the song of eternity. For now we know God in the day to day grace which touch our lives.   The God who hold each of our lives in this brief moment is also the Lord of all time. We live with in the boundaries of   Yahweh just as the Lord encompasses the boundaries of the 23 Psalm.

           And the Lord who is at our beginning and at our end is also with us through out our lives– the moments of rest and still water and the moments of deep valleys, anguish and fear. . . . even when we are encircled by our enemies. . . .. Even then God prepares a table for me in the presence of my enemies.        

It helps to understand if we know that this line comes from the hospitality of desert people. Here’s how it worked: “If I were being pursued by my enemies, and came to your camp, you would have to welcome me, and you would have to keep me for two nights and a day. The enemy would have to wait for me outside the circle cast by the firelight of your fire…

“An enemy would have to be patiently waiting. In the midst of waiting, perhaps anger and rage would turn to frustration. Perhaps frustration would change into tiredness. As the enemy waited outside the circle of firelight, there would be time for reflection and even a change of heart. And maybe the enemy would become a friend, and be welcomed to dinner.”      

       It is so important that we continue to set a table of hospitality,   all the while trusting the one from whom we came and will return. In this time we can’t actually gather together to eat but we can find ways to set the table of love . .   You all have been so generous.   In the last 3 weeks we have taken in over $13,000 for the Gabriel Fund.   I have used that money to set tables of hospitality . .tables of love . . We have given $3,000 to AICHO so they can buy two week food boxes for their families living there; I have given $3000 to the NAACP so they can buy Super One gift cards for families they know are in need; I have given $3,000 to Spirit Valley YWCA for their daycare families and to help with a break in their water main; I have given gift cards to Deb Holman to share with folks she works with who are homeless in this time and money to Chum; We have been able to help some of UMD’s international students who haven’t been able to go home with food cards;   I have given money to SafeHaven so that once a week they can have a special meal together – Safehaven is the women’s shelter – Victoria Nugent of our congregation is a director there and as you might imagine they are more than full – over 30 adults . . and I have been able to help many families and individuals of our congregation who have faced food shortages.       Thank you so much and continued gifts to it are very much welcomed.    Thank you . . . The Gabriel Fund continues to be a way for us to set tables with our God . . tables of love in the midst of the grief that is eating at all of us . . the enemy that lurks that is kept at bay by love.

     Love that you all have shared in so many ways . . cards sent, masks made, phone calls to others .. .   The Lord is our Shepherd . . we are part of God’s gigantic flock . . .     Jesus our Good Shepherd has taught us how to live . .loving one another . . and then showed us there is more . .   so much more . . .we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. .. .

Yes poetry is the liquid voice that can drill through stone . . . thank God for Psalm 23

What I’m learning about grief is that it is still learning about me
Learning that I am strong and resilient
If the trees can keep dancing,
So can I.

May it be so for us all . .   Amen

Hymn   “Savior, Like a Shepherd Lead Us”   (#252)

We Respond to God’s Presence

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

Sharing our Offerings

Offertory   “My Shepherd is the Living God” sung by Ian Connell

The Thanksgiving     “What Shall I Give?” by Sarah Thomsen

Prayer of Dedication

Closing Hymn     “God Be with You”   (#81)




Special Thanks to Our Tech Team:
Doug and Sylvie Bowen-Bailey, Tim Carpenter, and Alex Dean