Earth Day Sunday, April 19 with Old First UCC: Old First E-pistle 04.17.20

Earth Day Sunday, April 19 with Old First UCC: Old First E-pistle 04.17.20

Earth Day Sunday, April, 19, 2020 with Old First Reformed UCC, Philadelphia

Wednesday, April 22 is the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Just weeks after the first Earth Day, the Environmental Protection Agency was created as Americans were concerned about the pollution fouling our air and water. 

In the half century since then, there have been advances and setbacks even as the environmental issue vis a vis Global Warming has become more threatening. Let us then take time this Sunday and consider our responsibilities to Creation as Christians. 

When we first planned worship for this year, today was to be our first outdoor service of the season at 4th & Race. Those of you who can connect to our OldFirstGatheringPlace with your smartphones may still want to be outdoors this morning for worship.


Prelude                 Because He Lives                                Bill & Gloria Gaither 

                                                                                         Arranged by Suzzette Ortiz

                                                                                      Suzzette Ortiz: harp, synthesizer, prayer bowl

Silence                                    Be still and breathe deeply of the Spirit 

who gathers us with our friend Jesus to worship and serve God.


Words of Gathering  adapted from Christine Longhurst / the Canadian Foodgrains Bank

One: Praise be to God, who rescues us from the power of darkness; who redeems us, and sets us free! 

Many: Praise be to Christ Jesus, the first born of all creation, through whom all things were made in heaven and on earth. 

One: Praise to the Spirit of God, whose presence sustains us, and whose breath renews all creation. 

Many: Behold! I am making all things new! 

One: Come, O God, and make your home among us. 

Many: Pour out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth. 



Faithful One, We have erred.

We have caused the extinction of species,

of cultures, of language,

and turned our backs to your Goodness and each other.


We continue to err,

ignoring those who hold wisdom about our Earth.

Pushing them to fragile places and infertile lands.

Sacrificing sustainability

for comfort and the future for today.


We assume that everything will adapt,

that nature will right itself,

that we don’t have to change.


Instead of our willful dishonesty, help us find courage

to grow in understanding of ourselves, each other,

and our blessed Earth.


In our mistakes, help us find wisdom

to change our ways and make things right.


In our guilt and fear, help us find freedom

to live simply, speak bravely, and act justly.


In the name of Christ Jesus we pray. Amen.


Silence for Personal Confession 



Hymn              Morning Has Broken 


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 world


Sweet the rain’s new fall, sunlit from heaven

Like the first dew fall 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 recreation of the new day


Passing of God’s Peace


A Time with the Children                Squigglywigglyville


Our Lesson           John 20:19-31


Homily         Environmental Doubting Thomases


Affirmation of Faith — adapted from the Canadian Foodgrains Bank


In a world that selfishly lives for the moment, without thought for the evil we may be causing for the future, God asks us to be people who see and believe. We are not to be conformed to the present short-sighted, self-serving attitudes, but, instead, we are to open our eyes and our hearts to all that is possible through Christ Jesus our Savior. We are to commit to God’s new heaven and new earth by living some of the promised future here and now: 

Giving with no thought of reward, 

Reaching out to the forsaken, 

Bandaging the wounded, 

Challenging injustices, 

Fostering seeds of faith, 

Caring for mother earth, 

Exposing pride and greed, 

Building bridges of understanding, and 

Loving our neighbors, even the neighbors of our future. 

Faith stretches our vision of the probable and strengthens our wills for the next step on God’s road. In faith, we are assured that God can do exceedingly more that we can ever ask or imagine. Glory be to God’s loving purposes, now and forever. Amen. 


Offertory         Sanctuary              Carrie Newcomer; 

                                                         Julie Steiner, guitar and vocals, 

                                                              Holly Phares, vocals 


Prayers of the People and The Prayer of our Savior

(We will be praying in small groups today; if you have prayers you want to share with the church beyond your small group or reflected in the church’s prayer list, please type them in the chat box.) 




Postlude   For the Beauty of the Earth     arr. Conrad Kocher