Sunday May 24, 2020
Ascension of Our Lord Sunday
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 firstname.lastname@example.org Ok, let us begin!
Welcome – Rev. Greg Briggs
Introit “Will You Come and Follow Me?”
Call To Worship – Mindi Welton-Mitchell
(from Psalm 47:1-2, 6-7) Please read aloud. If you are worshiping with someone else, alternate readings.
Clap your hands, all you peoples!
Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
For the Lord, the Most High, is awesome,
God reigns over the whole earth.
Sing praises to God, sing praises,
For God reigns over the whole earth!
Opening Hymn – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”
by Community UCC and Trinity Reformed UCC,
Prayer of the Day – Mindi Welton-Mitchell
Anthem “And I Will Sing of Your Love, Love, Love”
First Reading – 1 Peter 4:12-14 5:6-11 CEB Translation
Dear friends, don’t be surprised about the fiery trials that have come among you to test you. These are not strange happenings. Instead, rejoice as you share Christ’s suffering. You share his suffering now so that you may also have overwhelming joy when his glory is revealed. If you are mocked because of Christ’s name, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory—indeed, the Spirit of God—rests on you.
Therefore, humble yourselves under God’s power so that he may raise you up in the last day. Throw all your anxiety onto him, because he cares about you. Be clearheaded. Keep alert. Your accuser, the devil, is on the prowl like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith. Do so in the knowledge that your fellow believers are enduring the same suffering throughout the world. After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, the one who called you into his eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will himself restore, empower, strengthen, and establish you. To him be power forever and always. Amen.
Second Reading – Acts 1:1-14 – CEB Translation
Theophilus, the first scroll I wrote concerned everything Jesus did and taught from the beginning, right up to the day when he was taken up into heaven. Before he was taken up, working in the power of the Holy Spirit, Jesus instructed the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he showed them that he was alive with many convincing proofs. He appeared to them over a period of forty days, speaking to them about God’s kingdom. While they were eating together, he ordered them not to leave Jerusalem but to wait for what the Father had promised. He said, “This is what you heard from me: John baptized with water, but in only a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”
As a result, those who had gathered together asked Jesus, “Lord, are you going to restore the kingdom to Israel now?”
Jesus replied, “It isn’t for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has set by his own authority. Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
After Jesus said these things, as they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going away and as they were staring toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood next to them. They said, “Galileans, why are you standing here, looking toward heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you saw him go into heaven.”
Then they returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, which is near Jerusalem—a sabbath day’s journey away. When they entered the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. Peter, John, James, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James, Alphaeus’ son; Simon the zealot; and Judas, James’ son— all were united in their devotion to prayer, along with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Sermon – Interim Pastor Greg Briggs
UCC Pastoral Letter referenced in sermon: Should Churches Return to Worship in Their Sanctuaries?
Sermon Notes – sermon 5 24 2020
Hymn – “Be Not Afraid”
We are witnesses to the power of the Holy Spirit and the glory of God,
and now we turn in thanksgiving to share the good news of forgiveness and grace to all the world.
Let these our gifts be a living testimony to those who most need the healing grace of Christ this morning,
cornerstones of faith and joy for the entire world.
You can mail your donations into the church, and you can also give online by clicking here: Donate to the church
Next Sunday, is our Strengthen the Church special offering. If you’re joining in on this digital worship experience, then you’ve already benefited from this Special Offering. Watch this video to better understand how we can Strengthen the Church for the present and the future.
You can mail in your special offering, or designate it using our online form: Donate to the church
Offertory “Christ Is Alive Let Christians Sing”
Jesus, God has made you both Sovereign and Christ.
Therefore we pray your blessing upon these gifts, upon us, and those whose lives will benefit from them.
May your victory over death empower all whom you call to trust in God.
In faith and hope we pray. Amen.
Beatitude Benediction by Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber
Blessed are the agnostics.
Blessed are they who doubt. Those who aren’t sure, who can still be surprised.
Blessed are they who are spiritually impoverished and therefore not so certain about everything that they no longer take in new information.
Blessed are those who have nothing to offer. Blessed are the preschoolers who cut in line at communion.
Blessed are the poor in spirit. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are they for whom death is not an abstraction.
Blessed are they who have buried their loved ones, for whom tears could fill an ocean.
Blessed are they who have loved enough to know what loss feels like.
Blessed are the mothers of the miscarried.
Blessed are they who don’t have the luxury of taking things for granted anymore.
Blessed are they who can’t fall apart because they have to keep it together for everyone else.
Blessed are those who “still aren’t over it yet.”
Blessed are those who mourn. You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are those who no one else notices. The kids who sit alone at middle-school lunch tables. The laundry guys at the hospital. The sex workers and the night-shift street sweepers.
Blessed are the forgotten. Blessed are the closeted.
Blessed are the unemployed, the unimpressive, the underrepresented.
Blessed are the teens who have to figure out ways to hide the new cuts on their arms. Blessed are the meek.
You are of heaven and Jesus blesses you.
Blessed are the wrongly accused, the ones who never catch a break, the ones for whom life is hard, for Jesus chose to surround himself with people like them.
Blessed are those without documentation. Blessed are the ones without lobbyists.
Blessed are foster kids and special-ed kids and every other kid who just wants to feel safe and loved.
Blessed are those who make terrible business decisions for the sake of people.
Blessed are the burned-out social workers and the overworked teachers and the pro bono case takers.
Blessed are the kindhearted football players and the fundraising trophy wives.
Blessed are the kids who step between the bullies and the weak. Blessed are they who hear that they are forgiven.
Blessed is everyone who has ever forgiven me when I didn’t deserve it.
Blessed are the merciful, for they totally get it.
Prayer of Our Savior
- 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.
Go forth, knowing God has always loved you, loves you now, and will always love you.
No matter what.
Postlude “Eternal Father”
Join us this Sunday at 11 am on Zoom for us to have a virtual coffee hour and share our joys and concerns.
We will also have our weekly Bible study on Tuesday at 10 and Pastor Greg’s Open Office Hours on Wednesdays from 4-5 pm, both via Zoom.
Check your email for instructions for zoom, or email email@example.com if you’d like to join our discussions. They are truly open to everyone, but we are not posting the link publicly to discourage zoom bombers.