Sunday Service, March 22, 2020

Sunday Service, March 22, 2020


You will not need this order of service for worship; what you need will appear on your screen, but if it might be easier for you to follow along off a paper, please print this service.

Preparation —  Have you created your own “sacred worship space” or “home altar” near your computer or where you are worshiping with us (people are assembling things & symbols of things that are sacred to them —  as well as a candle, a bible, or a cross)? 

Last Sunday, we included a clear bowl of water — Living Water (it can be there again this week!). This week you might add “the smallest thing you can find that is precious to you.” 

Where to find us —

Or you can call in:: 646-876-9923. When prompted, type in our Meeting ID — 4571163908#

Gathering at 10:30 to 10:45 —  please get on to Zoom a few minutes early, so we can make sure everyone is ready — audio and video functioning, muted with their chats open.


A TIME WITH THE CHILDREN             We Need to See / Hear from our Kids

PRELUDE     Morning Has Broken.                                                                                 William Lowden

SILENCE  (during the silence, please light the candle, if you have one) 

Be still and breathe deeply of the Spirit 

who gathers us with our friend Jesus 

to worship and serve God. 

INVITATION                   Be Still and Know That I am God                                       Holly Phares,   Richard Kalwaic

WORDS OF GATHERING                                                                                            Deanna Salpietra,   Winston Bramwell                  (Winston will speak the part for “Many,” please feel free, on mute, to join in speaking with him.) 

One: We may not be able to wish away pandemics, or challenge presidents.

Many: We may not be able to redirect resources or uplift whole, holy communities.

One: We may not have answers that silence all the noise and disagreements, or the words and wisdom that bring about peace between our world’s warring factions.

Many: But, following you, O Christ, we are able to do something. God always gives us the power to do something.

One: Inspire us to act and make what differences we can…small as they sometimes seem.

Many: May we make peace through our small acts of gentleness, compassion, understanding and reconciliation.

One: May we bring resources, even riches through small contributions and collaborations, gestures of remembrance, mercy and care.

Many: May we create safety through small acts of recognition, consideration, acceptance and appreciation.

One: May we become wholeness and holiness, through small acts of hope and love, care and service,

Many: And in the small ways and the spaces left between us, O God, may our small differences — multiplied by the good will of a group effort and your grace — make a big contribution to your saving work in our world.

CONFESSION                                                                                                                         Tony Merlo

God of Wholeness and Holiness, we confess we are fractured and scattered. We want to believe we see in the mirror fully, but we still see through the glass darkly. We perceive others less than ourselves. We look down on those who are different, and those whom we think do not work hard enough. We compare others to ourselves as if we are some standard. We do not recognize neighbors, sisters, brothers. Forgive us. Forgive us for not seeing other people with the love with which you see us all. Call us again to the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. Call us to seek others’ well-being. And to appreciate their value, importance, preciousness. Right down to the last and the least. In the name of Christ Jesus, who forgives and restores, we pray. Amen. 

SILENCE for personal confession 


SUNG RESPONSE                                                                                                                       Holly Phares    

We are forgiven. We are forgiven. Thanks be to God. Thanks be to God.                                                                                                                                 We are forgiven. We are forgiven. Thanks be to God. Thanks be to God. 

FIRST LESSON             I Samuel 16: 1-13                                                                                  Madelyn George

A little boy out in the fields is nearly overlooked when Samuel comes round seeking God’s choice for the next leader of Israel. We might hear this as a feel-good story of God ignoring outward appearance to select a young nobody. But Israel is in the middle of a political transition. Samuel is a leader in the old system; David will be a leader in the new system; and Saul’s leadership is muddle of both old and new. These facts might help explain why Samuel is afraid of the current king, Saul; the leaders in David’s community fear Samuel; and Samuel grieves over Saul. Difficult times all round. Let us bear in mind their difficulties as we face our own. Let us trust in the care and power of a just God. Let us listen for the Spirit’s message to the church…

SECOND LESSON         Psalm 23  

This Psalm is our good word. It shall not want. It reminds us that God guides, God protects, God provides. God is a generous host who opens his home to us. We hear the Psalm today sung in the words Bobby McFerrin gave it  When dedicating it to his mother. Let us open our ears and listen for what the Spirit is saying to the church….

HOMILY        Unlikely Sheep Become Imperfect Shepherds 

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH          A New Creed (from the United Church of Canada)        Larry Waddell

We are not alone, we live in God’s world. We believe in God, who has created and is creating, who has come to us in Jesus, the Word made flesh, to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit. 

We trust in God. We are called to be the Church: to celebrate God’s presence, to love and serve others, to seek justice and resist evil, to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our judge and our hope. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone. Thanks be to God. 

HYMN                    My Shepherd Is the Living God                                                                          SHERR FAMILY

1. My Shepherd is the living God, I therefore nothing need;

In pastures fair, near pleasant streams you settle me to feed.

You bring my wandering spirit back when I forsake your ways,

and lead me for your mercies sake in paths of truth and grace.


2. When I walk through the shades of death, your presence is my stay;

A word of your supporting breath drives all my fears away.

Your hand, in sight of all my foes, does still my table spread;

My cup with blessings overflows, your oil anoints my head.


3. The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days;

Oh may your house be my abode, and all my work to be praise.

There would I find a settled rest, while others come and go.

No more a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.


PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE (if you have a prayer to lift up, please use the button in “chat” to indicate you are “raising your hand,” so Michael can recognize you. After he has recognized all those, he will ask if there are others — those who could not raise there hands and those on the phone.) 


OFFERTORY                             The God of Love My Shepherd Is                                               William Lowden

Giving back or dedicating a portion of all God has given us is a part of our gratitude and service. Old First is grateful for your generosity. If you have already given electronically, we thank you. We use your gifts wisely and faithfully. You may at this time want to write a check to mail to the church . Or you might contribute now via text message — by texting the amount to 215-703-7911.


BENEDICTION (good words for going forth)  (We are going to ask everyone to offer a word or two of hope as our blessing.)

POSTLUDE                                     Trumpet Voluntary                                                                     Jeremiah Clarke


Fellowship Hour — People may grab their coffee and stay on to catch up (but speaking one at a time as you need to talk to the whole… everyone!) as the OldFirstGatheringSpace will stay open…