First Congregational Church
(United Church of Christ)
Greg Briggs,
Interim Pastor

101 State Street
Charlevoix, MI 49720

Digital Worship Bulletin – March 29, 2020

Sunday March 29, 2020

cross stitched framed art in church kitchen

Fifth Sunday In Lent

Welcome to First Congregational, United Church of Christ in Charlevoix’s online worship experience. Though we are separated physically for one another’s physical health, we still join together to worship God, be inspired, and care for our mental, emotional, and spiritual health.

You are invited to find a comfortable place in your house and set aside a time for worship and prayer. This could be your usual Sunday morning time, or at sunset. Light a candle if you wish, or get a cup of tea.

Take your time as you read, listen, watch, sing, pray, and share in this worship of God.  Whether you worshiping on Sunday morning or whenever you have time, we are glad you are a part of our community.

As always, we want your feedback on how we can worship better with you in this time of physical distancing.  Feel free to give feedback and suggestions to  Ok, let us begin!

Welcome – Rev. Greg Briggs


Call To Worship – Thom Shuman

In these days we ask, ‘can our hopes live?”
And you whisper to us,
‘look to the buds on the trees eager to burst;
notice the flowers poking their heads out of the dirt;
watch the children chalking spring on the sidewalks.’
And we see how you love us, God of steadfast love.
In these moments we wonder, ‘can our compassion live?”
And you tell us,
‘wipe the tears of a worried father over his son’s illness;
ease the weariness of a mother facing a long shift at work;
shop for the neighbor who has not family.’
And we see how you love us, our Resurrection and our Life.
In the shadows of each night, we cry out, ‘can our love live?”
And you sing to us,
‘witness the touch of a wife on her husband’s papery skin;
pay attention to the birds which rush into the sky before spiraling down;
share the words you are given to offer to the empty-hearted.’
And we see how you love us, Breath of our souls.

Opening Hymn – “Everything’s Alright” by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Prayer of the Day – Mindi Welton-Mitchell

Prince of Peace, we pray right now for peace in our hearts. We pray that we may take advantage of the world slowing down as a reminder that the sabbath was created for us, a time of rest. May we lay aside the longing of the world we created to be busy, to do all the things possible. May we lay aside the guilt that we are not doing enough for our work, for our families, for our children or for our elders in this time. May we instead embrace this new pace, and find peace. May we keep ourselves from others to reduce harm, to share our love by our actions of self-isolating to prevent the spread of disease.

Prince of Peace, our fears our real. We fear loss of income and jobs. We fear for our own health and safety, and the health and safety of loved ones. We fear what the future may bring. Help us to let go of fear as a force that holds us back, but help us to acknowledge our fear, to sit with it as with a troubled friend. Help us to give ourselves compassion and grace as You once showed Martha and Mary when their brother Lazarus died. Help us to hold on to the hope of resurrection in this life, a new life that may emerge from the circumstances we face now. Guide us into Your ways of peace, for all our hearts. Amen.

Anthem – “Breathe On Me Breath of God”


First Reading – Psalm 130

I cry out to you from the depths, Lord
my Lord, listen to my voice!
    Let your ears pay close attention to my request for mercy!
If you kept track of sins, Lord
    my Lord, who would stand a chance?
But forgiveness is with you—
    that’s why you are honored.

I hope, Lord.
My whole being hopes,
    and I wait for God’s promise.
My whole being waits for my Lord—
    more than the night watch waits for morning;
    yes, more than the night watch waits for morning!

Israel, wait for the Lord!
    Because faithful love is with the Lord;
    because great redemption is with our God!
He is the one who will redeem Israel
    from all its sin.  (CEB Translation)

Gospel Reading – John 11:1-45 


A certain man, Lazarus, was ill. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This was the Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped his feet with her hair. Her brother Lazarus was ill.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, saying, “Lord, the one whom you love is ill.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This illness isn’t fatal. It’s for the glory of God so that God’s Son can be glorified through it.” Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. When he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was. After two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s return to Judea again.”

The disciples replied, “Rabbi, the Jewish opposition wants to stone you, but you want to go back?”

Jesus answered, “Aren’t there twelve hours in the day? Whoever walks in the day doesn’t stumble because they see the light of the world. But whoever walks in the night does stumble because the light isn’t in them.”

He continued, “Our friend Lazarus is sleeping, but I am going in order to wake him up.”

The disciples said, “Lord, if he’s sleeping, he will get well.” They thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was in a deep sleep, but Jesus had spoken about Lazarus’ death.

Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died. For your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there so that you can believe. Let’s go to him.”

Then Thomas (the one called Didymus) said to the other disciples, “Let us go too so that we may die with Jesus.”

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was a little less than two miles from Jerusalem. Many Jews had come to comfort Martha and Mary after their brother’s death. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary remained in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now I know that whatever you ask God, God will give you.”

Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha replied, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, God’s Son, the one who is coming into the world.”

After she said this, she went and spoke privately to her sister Mary, “The teacher is here and he’s calling for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Jesus. He hadn’t entered the village but was still in the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who were comforting Mary in the house saw her get up quickly and leave, they followed her. They assumed she was going to mourn at the tomb.

When Mary arrived where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”

When Jesus saw her crying and the Jews who had come with her crying also, he was deeply disturbed and troubled. He asked, “Where have you laid him?”

They replied, “Lord, come and see.”

Jesus began to cry. The Jews said, “See how much he loved him!” But some of them said, “He healed the eyes of the man born blind. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

Jesus was deeply disturbed again when he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone covered the entrance. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.”

Martha, the sister of the dead man, said, “Lord, the smell will be awful! He’s been dead four days.”

Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory?” So they removed the stone. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me. I say this for the benefit of the crowd standing here so that they will believe that you sent me.” Having said this, Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his feet bound and his hands tied, and his face covered with a cloth. Jesus said to them,  oj”>“Untie him and let him go.”

Therefore, many of the Jews who came with Mary and saw what Jesus did believed in him. (CEB Translation)


The Seven Stages of Grief – referenced in today’s sermon (link will open in a new window)


Hymn – “1000 Grandmothers” by Holly Near


Children of God,

In this time of change and uncertainty, we all are realizing what is truly important and vital in our lives.  We are also recognizing how many blessings we have that we have previously taken for granted. These things are both to be treasured and to be offered up to God.

We hope and pray that your faith community is one of those things that is truly vital and necessary in your lives. Though we may not be physically together, the ministry of the church goes on and needs your support. Please remember to keep current with your pledges and offerings. Also remember that we are currently participating in the One Great Hour of Sharing, which provides disaster relief across our country and around the globe.

You can mail your donations into the church, and you can also give online by clicking here: Donate to the church


Lenten Prayer


Prayers of the People: come to us – Katherine Kussmaul

Word of God, come to us as you came to Lazarus.

Come to the caves of our lives –
caves we have created,
and caves we have sought;
Caves to which we have been sent,
caves in which we now reside.

Come to the caves of our world –
caves of containment,
and caves of protection;
Caves of solace and anxiety,
caves that quickly become tombs.

Word of God, come to us as you came to Lazarus.

Call us back to life –
life created by you,
and life sustained by you;
Life in relationship with you,
life in service to others.

Call us back to life –
life that is hope in despair,
and peace in unsettled times.
Life that is joy in sorrow,
love beyond understanding.

Word of God, come to us as you came to Lazarus.

Unbind us and set us free –
liberate shackles of sadness,
and burdens too heavy to bear.
Release us from fear that inhibits
deliver us in your grace.

Unbind us and set us free –
call us to community,
and fuel us for connection.
Show us your way,
inspire us to walk with you.

Through the renewing power of your Spirit,
and grounded in the words you teach us to pray….

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come.
Thy will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors,
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil
For thine is the kingdom,
and the power, and the glory,
for ever and ever.

Join us on the church’s Zoom channel on Sundays at 11 am for prayers of the people and virtual coffee hour. Check your email for instructions for zoom, or email We are not posting the link publicly to discourage zoom crashers. Yes, that is now a thing. 


Go from this time of worship, knowing God has always loved you, loves you now, and will always love you. No matter what.