Whatever You Have Will Be Sufficient: Old First E-pistle 04.03.20

Whatever You Have Will Be Sufficient: Old First E-pistle 04.03.20

The other day, one of you said, “I’d like to read in Thursday’s Tenebrae Service, but we don’t have ANY candles at home, and I’m not sure how we would get them…” 

I have heard other, similar questions:

“What if I don’t have grape juice?” 

“What if I don’t have Palms?” 

“What if I don’t have a Bible?” 

“What if I don’t have a computer?” 

“What if I don’t have internet?” 

The services of Holy Week, particularly this year when we are worshiping “diasporadically” (big church word for “at home”) invite us to have some “stuff” near by, worship aids if you will. These services are among the most experiential of the Christian year: we’re trying spiritually to re-live Jesus’ last week. 

If you have a phone, you can participate! Simply call 646.876.9923, when prompted, type in the meeting id 4571163908#. 

For folks who are calling in particularly, we will provide an order of service for Sunday services: it will be e-mailed out on Saturday evenings, and available on our website in the blog. 

(The easiest way to get to worship in our “Zoom Room” is the button you see right away on our website: www.oldfirstucc.org.)  

Below is the list of services and items you might gather for worship. 

But my message before you even look, is to relax. There are choices. And substitutions. And, really, if you don’t have any of it, you can trust that the Spirit will be with you, and you can still worship. 

In fact, all of our services are being designed for the maximum inclusion, no matter who you are or where you are or what you have at hand. We are UCC after all. 

PALM SUNDAY, April 5 @ 11 am: We tried to get Palms to everyone in the Holy Week Care Packages. But we don’t have every last person’s address. And, hopefully, there will be some folks just visiting with us for Palm Sunday. 

If you don’t have Palms, it is fine. The Gospels say that the people of Jerusalem spread branches before him, and their cloaks. So, run outside quickly, and grab a spring branch, or even just the leaf of a daffodil. And everyone has a jacket; you could just place it on the floor next to where you are sitting.  

But if none of that is possible, we all have the palms of our hands to wave. I’m going to bless all these at the beginning of the service; and we’re going to praise God with them at the end. 

Also, it’s a communion service. If you have bread and grape juice / wine, please prepare it beforehand, but leave it in your kitchen. Part of our service will involve washing your hands and then bringing communion back to where you are worshiping. 

Any kind of bread will work. Or crackers. Or anything that represents “our daily bread,” meaning an everyday staple of your diet. For some folks, potatoes or rice would work, for example. 

The same on the juice. Not many folks have grape juice at home. But more might have cranberry juice. Or pomegranate. But I am sure that God can consecrate orange juice or milk as easily as wine.  (Yes, this is the time you could have wine at communion!) 

Even if you have nothing at home, remember Fear Not # 4 when I shared the Catholic priest’s suggestion that water could be a sacrament… our Living Water? Jesus did turn water into wine as his first miracle. 

Maundy Thursday Last Supper, April 9 after dinner — We are each invited to commemorate Jesus’ Last meal with his disciples after our own dinner. We sent the words for that service with the Holy Week Care packages. Or they are also available here.

For suggestions on the Bread and the Cup, see the notes for Palm Sunday above. 

Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service, April 9 at 9 pm — As we read the story of Jesus’ betrayal, we are going to extinguish the lights. Ideally, you will have 9 candles. 

But work with what you have. They don’t need to be any certain kinds of candle. Nine scented jar candles could work. You could use also tea lights. Or birthday candles (in cupcakes!) 

Or if you have only 5 candles, or just one. Or if you don’t have any candles, that’s ok too.  We are going to ask people to turn out the lights in the room where you are worshiping. And you can be in the glow of your screen and everyone else’s candlelight. It will be fine. 

(I am looking for 2 more readers.) 

Good Friday Vigil, April 10 at 12 noon to 3 pm — We will be reading the Passion narratives from the 4 Gospels. So it would be best if you have a bible with you, whatever translation. But if you want to participate and don’t have a bible, Michael can share his screen with a portion of the Passion story for you to read. 

This service will also ask for people to share prayers and to request songs of the Passion too, if you want to be ready. 

You may “stop in” to “our Zoom room” for this service and stay as long as you wish, or just pop in and pop out as the Spirit moves you. 

Good Friday Evening Service, April 10 at 7 pm — Nothing needed beyond access to our virtual worship by phone, smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer. And a desire to hear other Old Firsters help you reflect on Jesus’ 7 Last words. 

Easter Early Service, April 12, as early as you want: We are preparing an outdoor service that you can view on Youtube on your smartphone as you take a walk early Easter morning or sit on a bench right outside your front door. It will be a combination of bidding prayers Michael will pray, of Bible stories you read, music from among the Easter classics, and time to reflect and pray. It will take about 30 minutes, unless you switch it off and on to spend more time in quiet reflection. 

Bring whatever you can to worship this Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter. It’s a wonderful thing about God: whatever we can offer, God’s grace makes sufficient. 

Oh, almost forgot, I sent the person without candles, 9 used ones from church. I have others, if people let me know right away!

See you in faith, hope and love, 

Michael