ZION UNITED CHURCH OF CHRIST
22 Gettysburg Street Box 538
Sunday of the Trinity
June 7, 2020
Before you begin to follow this service and before you view/read the sermon, please get a piece of bread and keep it close by.
Please also read the Scripture lessons for the morning.
Welcome to Zion and a special welcome to our visitors. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic we are unable to gather as a community of faith in the sanctuary, so if you have chosen to view the YouTube worship opportunity, we invite you to use this revised bulletin to pause for reflection and as an expression of your abiding faith that our God is merciful and present with us in these difficult days. It is most likely the same sermon that we will share at the outdoor worship which begins on June 7th. We hope you are keeping safe and maintaining social distance in order to slow down the spread of the virus and protect yourself. But please continue to check on your friends and neighbors via social media or the telephone. We may learn a new meaning of community and caring by the time that things return to a more regular routine. God bless!!
Light a candle before beginning your personal worship, signifying the presence of God in this time.
*CALL TO WORSHIP
Lift up your hearts, for we are sent to give witness of our God!
To tell of God’s forgiveness and mercy and power.
For we are not of the world but sent to it as Christ was sent.
Sent to bring hope and life where once was only darkness and despair.
Let us lift our praises to God for Christ’s true message of love.
Blessed be the name of our God!
* PRAYER OF INVOCATION
We rejoice in the fact that you have flooded the world with light.
With the dawning of each new day,
with the lengthening of the daylight hours, with the gradual increase in warmth,
we are reminded of your ever-continuing concern for our well-being.
As we are gathered here, we also open our lives to the light and warmth
of your Holy Spirit, for we know that our souls, too,
need to be enlightened and nurtured.
TIME OF CONFESSION
In these moments, we are invited to examine ourselves
to see how we are holding to our faith.
Do others see Jesus Christ through us? Do we build up rather than tear down?
Holy God, we have complained when we should have celebrated.
We have pursued private agendas while you summon us to community concern.
We have kept our faith to ourselves when you call us to share Good News.
Forgive our unfaithfulness, O God, and enable us to mend our ways.
Now let us silently reflect on the personal sins and fears
that keep us from being fully free.
ASSURANCE OF FORGIVENESS
Our soul waits for the Lord, who is our help and shield.
Our heart is glad in the Lord because we trust in God’s holy name.
God’s steadfast love is upon us, and we are people of hope.
Thank God for this magnificent gift of love.
THE GIVING OF OURSELVES AND OUR OFFERINGS
All things are God’s, for they are imprinted with God’s image.
And so we return to God only that which is God’s,
ours to use responsibly and only temporarily.
(At this time set aside your offering of the morning; you can either place it somewhere to put in the offering plate when we are able to meet as a community of faith or you can mail it to Zion United Church of Christ, PO Box 538, Arendtsville, Pennsylvania 17307. Your ongoing support of the church is deeply appreciated in these days.)
*PRAYER OF DEDICATION
We know, O God, that as individuals we cannot personally go everywhere
to spread the good news of the gospel and to make disciples of all nations,
but through these tithes and offerings
we can travel around the world in fulfillment of your command.
OLD TESTAMENT LESSON
Genesis 1:1 to 2:4a, p. 1 (OT)
1:1 In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth,
1:2 the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.
1:3 Then God said, “Let there be light”; and there was light.
1:4 And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
1:5 God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.
1:6 And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst of the waters, and let it separate the waters from the waters.”
1:7 So God made the dome and separated the waters that were under the dome from the waters that were above the dome. And it was so.
1:8 God called the dome Sky. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
1:9 And God said, “Let the waters under the sky be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear.” And it was so.
1:10 God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
1:11 Then God said, “Let the earth put forth vegetation: plants yielding seed, and fruit trees of every kind on earth that bear fruit with the seed in it.” And it was so.
1:12 The earth brought forth vegetation: plants yielding seed of every kind, and trees of every kind bearing fruit with the seed in it. And God saw that it was good.
1:13 And there was evening and there was morning, the third day.
1:14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the dome of the sky to separate the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years,
1:15 and let them be lights in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth.” And it was so.
1:16 God made the two great lights–the greater light to rule the day and the lesser light to rule the night–and the stars.
1:17 God set them in the dome of the sky to give light upon the earth,
1:18 to rule over the day and over the night, and to separate the light from the darkness. And God saw that it was good.
1:19 And there was evening and there was morning, the fourth day.
1:20 And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.”
1:21 So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
1:22 God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.”
1:23 And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.
1:24 And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so.
1:25 God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.
1:26 Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”
1:27 So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
1:28 God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
1:29 God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.
1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so.
1:31 God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.
2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude.
2:2 And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done.
2:3 So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
2:4a These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
St. Matthew 28: 16-20, p. 32 (NT)
28:16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them.
28:17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.
28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
28:20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
SILENT PRAYER AND PREPARATION
THE MESSAGE FOR THE MORNING – (you can also view the sermon on youtube at https://youtu.be/KtgeruSr88E
June 7, 2020
Genesis 1:1 to 2:4a
St. Matthew 28: 16-20
It seems that God had worked for some time, tinkering and experimenting and finally – God separated light from dark. One of the heavenly host saw all this and commented, “Say, God, that is really neat. What are you going to do now?” God answered: “Oh, I think I’ll call it a day.”
If you didn’t know anything about the Bible, this would not make any sense to you, but because you are familiar with Scripture, the joke is easily comprehended. There are, however, aspects to the Bible and Christian doctrine that remain difficult to understand, even to those who are most familiar. One of those most difficult parts of our Christian doctrine is the Trinity; that doctrine which tells us: “Blessed be God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer – One God, forever and ever.” Blessed be the Father, Creator, who made it all! Amen! Blessed be the Son, the Redeemer, who saved it all! Amen! And Blessed be The Spirit, our Sustainer, who gives life to it all. Amen!
The doctrine of the Trinity is one of the most important of all the teachings of the church; so important that each year the Sunday after Pentecost is set aside to teach about it; so important in fact, that at one time the whole season that stretches from now till Advent was called the season of the Trinity. And so I want to talk to you about it today, simply because so many people find it a bit confusing to talk about this concept of the Trinity. It is an important reminder to those who have heard it all before – much as the words “I love you”, even when said for the hundredth time, is important to the one who is loved. And for those who haven’t heard it all before – it may bring new understanding and appreciation for what the church has proclaimed since the day Jesus told us to “go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
The doctrine of the Trinity says that we experience God, and God is revealed to us in three different ways. One God, three ways that we experience our God, three “persons”. How that works is one of those mysteries that sometimes confounds us. It is a mystery that describes, as best that human words can describe, the nature of the relationship that God has with all of creation and with we humans.
When we read the first story of creation, our Old Testament lesson this morning, we are told that prior to creation there was chaos. And the wind of God, the life giving spirit that we call Creator or Father, moved over the chaos and brought order and balance to the universe, with all its laws of nature and all that was formed and created being in harmony, serving a purpose. The story of creation in the first chapter of Genesis is not intended to be scientific fact; that was not the intention of the story tellers and those who eventually wrote down what were at first oral stories told from one generation to the next. Their motivation and their intention was to explain the nature of God the Creator’s relationship to the universe.
Creation begins, as we read in Genesis chapter 1 when “the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters.” And then God, the life-giving spirit, spoke a word and light was separated from darkness. And as we read this chapter, we find that God is connected to what is created by a word – God speaks a word and creation happens. And God sees what has been created and declares that it is good – it is in the proper balance and order that God intends creation to be. There is a harmony to creation, with everything created in the place it is supposed to be. The authors of the first chapter of Genesis reflect that the relationship between God and what God created was healthy and whole and indeed perfect.
It is a marvelous thing, this creation of God, and yet despite the awesome nature of what God has done and whom God has made us to be, we are soon told in Scripture that all did not remain in harmony and balance. God’s perfect order in creation was overturned when humans, and Scripture refers to them as Adam and Eve, decided that it might be better to be like God without God being involved, and decided to do things their way rather than taking the way that God set before them. And the relationship between God and creation was disrupted.
The ongoing story of Scripture is rather sad, at least from God’s perspective. The joy and crown of creation, humans chose to follow a way that was apart from God. We forgot about God and the great love and balance and order revealed in creation; we forgot that relationships were meant to build up rather than destroy; we chose our own self-interest rather than the good of all creation. And the story of the Old Testament is the story of how God seeks to bring reconciliation, to bring people back into a healing and healthy relationship with creation and with the life-giving spirit that is the Creator. Through the Old Testament, starting with Abraham and Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, continuing with Moses and Joshua, David and Solomon, through the prophets – God seeks to restore that which was lost. Without success.
God could have chosen to reject creation and allowed that which was created to wander without direction. But God, the life-giving spirit, chose another way. Remember that God spoke a word according to the first chapter of Genesis and creation was formed in order and harmony and balance. Now we are told by the Gospel writer, John, that the word which God spoke at the time of creation takes a human form in Jesus. Life and wholeness are the gifts of God presented in the life of Christ. Jesus was God present with humanity, a mediator who made the Holy God accessible in a new way. Jesus the human life through which the new reality of God could be grasped. In Jesus, those early followers felt they had experienced God, and Jesus was the full expression of what God desired from human beings. Jesus, the Son, who reflected the will and the way of the Father, the Creator. The word became flesh and lived among us. Jesus, the second “person” of the Trinity, who reveals God to us – the God who creates all living things; the God who watches over us and calls us to a closer walk with the life-giving spirit; the God who is just and loving, forgiving and tender; who seeks out all and who desires that all living things live in harmony and balance with the Creator.
And then, after Jesus, comes the third way in which we experience God in human life, the third “person” – the Holy Spirit. That life-giving spirit of creation still and ongoing source, poured out on us to strengthen and empower us, to comfort and to challenge us. The Spirit, which is given so that we might proclaim to the ends of the earth what God has done and what God is doing and what God will yet do. The Spirit who speaks in our hearts and who reveals to us the power of God and the word of God and the love of God. It is the Spirit of God who moves us and touches us and speaks to us and the creation around us. God continues to speak to us today through the power of the Holy Spirit, leading and guiding us to how we can live in such a way as to bear harmony and balance and order to creation.
Which brings us to the Gospel for the day – and to some final words about the Trinity and our understanding of what our faith is all about. The passage we read has a special name; it is called the Great Commissioning. It is called that because it speaks of the important task we have been given and the authority which we have been given to complete that task. Jesus simply tells his disciples after the resurrection and as he is about to ascend to heaven this: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Share with others the life-giving spirit of the one who has created all things, share with others the way in which to live in harmony and balance with the creator, as Jesus taught and showed by his presence on earth, immerse them in the waters of creation and pray down the continuing spirit of God in the name of the one – the only one who has created and is creating; the one, the only one, who has come in Jesus to reconcile and make new and who shows us what it means to live in wholeness and life at its fullest and most complete and fulfilling; the one, the only one, who continues to be present in our midst with the spirit of encouragement and power to follow. This insight, this truth, is a great mystery. A mystery that makes us different from all other people, all other ways. We proclaim the God who made all things has reached out to us in Jesus, the power of God made flesh, and that all who receive him are filled with the spirit and made new. The Trinity is a doctrine, and a mystery – but it points to the living reality that fills our lives with meaning and with a boundless hope. And we are called to share this meaning and boundless hope. To share it by speaking of it. To share it by living it.
This is our ultimate task, to proclaim the good news of God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The one who was, the one who is, and the one who shall ever be. God in three persons, blessed Trinity.
SERVICE OF THE BREAD OF LIFE
(please take the bread into your hands)
Holy One, as we gather together at your table, let this bread be a celebration of our thankfulness for your mercies and tender care, embodied in your Son, Jesus Christ, who walked among us, and touched us, and healed us. By partaking in this bread, we remember your providence when you fed our ancestors with manna as they wandered in the desert. We remember how Jesus fed the 5000 with only a few loaves of bread and some fish. Likewise, we remember the lilies of the field, holding onto the hope that even as you care for these that neither toil nor spin, so will you also provide amply for us.
Holy God, we your people remain scattered this morning; But we trust that you are near to each of us in this day and in all days. You have promised that nothing can ever separate us from your love, And that as we are open to your Spirit, you will make yourself known to us wherever we might find ourselves. As you poured out your Spirit in abundance upon those first disciples, we pray for your Spirit to be upon us and within us in these difficult days. Empower us to be your people in the world, witnesses to your magnificent and overwhelming love at work even now.
In eating this bread may we be strengthened for the week ahead, nourished in a spiritual way to be confident and hopeful. May we be voices of reason and compassion
in the midst of the strident and often harsh rhetoric of those who are impatient and angry. We understand the frustrations but seek to find a way to provide
both safety and security in these precarious times. As we enter the time of “yellow”, keep all those vigilant and respectful as we slowly try to enter a new kind of normal.
We pray for all essential workers, for all those who continue to struggle with unemployment and overwhelming need, for all those who are feeling forgotten,
for all who deal with illness, for all those who are afraid.
Even though we cannot be together as one, we remain together in your spirit and we share in the breaking of the bread. May this bread empower us to be your people wherever we might find ourselves. May it remove all fear and all doubt, so that we might be nourished and strengthened for the days ahead, knowing that you walk with us in our journey of this life. And being fed, may we continue with a new and profound hope, always witnessing to your love by sharing that love and care and concern with others. Bless this bread and us, that we may be your people at work in the world.
(you may now eat the bread)
Let us pray.
Almighty and ever living God, we thank you for feeding us and for assuring us
that we are living members of your blessed and eternal community.
And now, Holy One, send us out to do the work that you
have given us to do, to love and to serve you as faithful witnesses of Jesus Christ.
To him, to you, and to the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.
During this virus crisis, the Office Manager will often be working from home. Please call the office before stopping by.
Coming Up Next Week:
June 7 Outdoor Worship Zion House 9:00 a.m.
Zoom Worship 11:00 a.m.
June 14 Outdoor Worship Zion House 9:00 a.m.
Zoom Worship 11:00 a.m.
June 15 Consistory Zoom Mtg 7:00 p.m.
June 18 Book Club Battersbys 6:00 p.m.
|Zion’s High School Graduates: Zion takes great delight in honoring our high school graduates who have overcome a most challenging year as they pursued graduation. We wish Ashlyn M., Katelyn M., and Nick P. well as they continue their studies.|
Our Sympathy to Barb A. whose sister-in-law Brenda A. passed away this week.
Fellowship Committee notices: The worship picnic at Oakside Community Park, scheduled for June 14th, has been cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings. The Hot Dog Roasts at Zion House will be held the last Sunday in June, July, and August at 6:00 p.m. Social distancing will be in effect; come join us for fellowship 6 feet apart.
Pastoral Care Needs: If you need to contact George, please feel free to call his home number, 717-334-0069 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zion’s College Students: If you have a student in college, please let Zion’s office know where they attend and what grade level they are. Zion’s members take great interest and pride in our young men and women and enjoy hearing of their accomplishments. Thanks.
Zoom Bible Study: Bible Study has wrapped up for the summer. Pastor George will continue Zoom Bible Study in the fall.
Worship Update: Today Zion begins outdoor worship service at 9:00 a.m. on the parking lot next to Zion House. You may stay in your car for worship or bring lawn chairs to place beside your car. Zion Consistory members will direct parking and handle logistics. Zion will also continue with Zoom Worship for those not comfortable with gathering quite yet. It will be held at 11:00 a.m. unless outdoor worship is cancelled. Bulletins and Pastor George’s sermon will continue to be sent via email, and the recorded sermon will be available on youtube. Please continue to pray for our nation, our state, our health care workers, and our service industry workers as we face the challenges of gradually re-opening the economy. We look forward to the time when we can gather again in the sanctuary to worship and praise God.
Community Aid Update: Community Aid is now doing regular pick-ups from the bin in Zion’s parking lot!