WORSHIP AT OLD FIRST REFORMED UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST, PHILADELPHIA
SUNDAY, MAY 17, 2020 AT 11 o’CLOCK
Rev. Michael Caine, pastor; Holly Phares, music director; William Lowden, organ
Prelude Chorale-Prelude on ‘Down Ampney’
All too often, the resurrection is preached as a culmination rather than an
inauguration, the ultimate believer’s reality rather than the penultimate promise.
Easter is never an end, not even a completion, but always a new beginning.
Words of Gathering (adapted from John van de Laar’s Sacredise)
First voice: You might close your eyes and listen carefully as we read slowly of a soul’s search for God:
“I read of times when the Voice of God was heard; thunderous times of tangible awe and audible law and my heart ached. I yearned to hear God speak, but somehow God remained silent
and the hazy golden-violet glory of the sun turning to rest seemed like a whisper almost recognised, but quickly stilled.”
Second voice: “Once I thought I heard the Voice, and I snapped to attention waiting on the command. I would have done anything if I’d just been told — walked a world or sailed a storm If only God had asked me. But, the sound retreated and I imagined a divine disappointment in the enclosing quiet.”
Now, if you will open your eyes, let us read together what we see on the screen,
ALL (but only hearing the two voices): “Then, like a quiet surprise on a fragile breeze I sensed an arm, light as a dandelion, resting on my shoulder and asking to stay. And as I lingered under that nourishing touch, it was as if the whole world — person and plant, creature and void — sang with the Voice and called me ‘friend’.”
Confession O God, you give us life and breath and all things, still we lay claim to these gifts as our own. From you come the boundaries of our lives, yet we do not seek your expansive love. You allot the time for our existence, and we pin our hopes for heaven on you, but we fail to truly live the present. Save us, Lord, from the sins we know in our hearts. Save us, Lord, from the sins we hide.
Silence for personal confession
Passing of the Peace Do you have a Promise – Sentence about God’s Peace to Share?
A Time with the Children Jesus In Us, So Our Hands, Feet Are His…
The Scripture Lesson John 14:15 – 21
I Will Never Leave You Orphaned (to the tune of “Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus”) alt. lyrics: Carolyn Winfrey Gillette (c. 2020 All Rights Reserved)
Vocal leaders: Richard Kalwaic, Holly Phares, Beth Walker
(Michael’s introduction before the singing: “Easter is always a beginning, never an end. Ahead of us lies Christ’s Ascension into heaven and the Descent of the Holy Spirit. Ahead of the apostles and generations of Christians lie centuries of working and waiting… faithfully building the kingdom of God, ‘til Christ calls us home. The wait has been long. It may be much longer. But it will not be lonely. Jesus tells us: I will not leave you orphaned.
“I will never leave you orphaned,” Jesus, you once told your own. When we’re overwhelmed and frightened, show us that we’re not alone.
Thank you for the Holy Spirit who is present every day, giving love that we might share it, giving us the words to say.
In affliction, we find comfort through our Friend and Help and Guide. When we’re sad and cannot bear it, you are with us— by our side.
Then, in comfort, we find challenge As you call your church to be mercy-bearers, justice-seekers in your new community.
Christ, in comfort and in challenge, May the church hear what you say: “I will never leave you orphaned.” May we trust your word today.
Sermon God In Us
Affirmation of Faith
We believe in God, creator of all, whose love is more than mind can measure or time contain.
We believe that God’s desire is fullness of life for all, and from the heights of heaven to the depths of hell, nothing and no one has fallen beyond the reach of God’s mercy.
We believe in Jesus Christ, who unveiled the divinity of human flesh and revealed to us the nature of God; who embodied God’s holy wisdom and brought forth fruits of love, joy, peace, goodness, faithfulness and humility.
We believe in the way of the cross, for when Christ embraced the outcasts and unmasked the arrogant, he stirred into deadly confrontation the power of love and the love of power.
The enemies of life had their way with him, tearing spirit from flesh, but God’s saving power raised him to life, so that we and every person on earth might follow him into the fullness of life which death cannot overcome.
We believe in the Holy Spirit God’s ceaseless and mysterious Go-between, who kindles the fires of passion and integrity. Elusive and uncontrollable, comforting and disturbing, she purges our delusions with fire and whispers grace with a lover’s breath, empowering us to refuse what is evil, and be taken up with praise.
Though sometimes fearful, in God we trust. We lay ourselves open to the Spirit’s touch that we might be the body of Christ, offering our life for the life of the world, and being drawn into the mysterious dance of the Trinity, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory and praise forever.
Offertory Three Spirituals of Hope
Traditional; Holly Phares, Mezzo Soprano
Prayers of the People
Postlude Festive Trumpet Tune