Hilary Plowright
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Home Church 4th Sunday of Easter May 3, 2020

Rev. Karen Hollis

Preparing the Space

Here, on the 4th Sunday of Easter, I invite you to lean into this ritual of preparing the space for your worship. As we clear a space and set up a focal point, the familiar movements of our bodies remind us what we are preparing for – it helps us bring ourselves more fully to the moment and to the experience. Maybe place a tablecloth down and place a bouquet of flowers and a lit candle; perhaps place with them an object or two that help you open to God’s presence (item from nature, Bible, object with personal significance, cross). The intention you bring to your worship is the fertilizer for the richness you experience.


This morning we will be considering Acts chapter 2, the description of the first Christian community that formed after Jesus ascended and gave us the Holy Spirit. In preparation for our worship, you’re invited to sit quietly for a moment perhaps with feet on the floor, taking a couple of deep breaths and bring yourself into this moment. Open yourself to the presence of God who is with us and within us . . . as you intentionally open yourself to God, open yourself also to what you need as you turn to worship.

One:    The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God,

            and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

All:      And also with you.

One:    Alleluia! Christ is risen.

All:      The Lord is risen indeed. Alleluia!

One:    May his grace and peace be with you.

All:      May he fill our hearts with joy.

Opening Prayer  Read the prayer slowly.   

Gather us in with your familiar voice, O God, like the voice of a shepherd; the voice of comfort; the voice of guidance. When we are scattered and far from each other, gather us in as your own, gather us into a new form of community, like you did with the first Christian community. You are the one we know we can trust, who will not lead us astray. With your help we gather this morning and tune our hearts to you, to praise and worship you, our God. In the name of the risen Christ we pray, Amen

Hymn:   As the Deer

1 As the deer pants for the water, so my soul longs after you,

you alone are my heart’s desire and I long to worship you


You alone are my strength, my shield, to you alone may my spirit yield; you alone are my heart’s desire, and I long to worship you!

2 I want you more than gold or silver, only you can satisfy,

you alone are the real joy giver and the apple of my eye.       REFRAIN

3 You’re my friend and you are my brother, even through you are a king, I love you more than any other, so much more than anything!  REFRAIN

Prayer of Confession      Kathy Galloway

We long for you, O God, and we are here. In this moment, in this space, and we thank you that you are here with us.

You know us, God; we do not have to pretend with you.

In the silence of your love, we bring to you the things that trouble us, that harm us, that make us feel ashamed or afraid, that we have not been able to say aloud.

Silent prayer of confession

God have mercy on us

Christ have mercy on us

God have mercy on us


Assurance of Grace

Listen to the words of Jesus, words that we can trust: ‘Do not be afraid… I go before you.’ Jesus does not abandon us in our time of isolation and confusion; Jesus shows us the way through. Thanks be to God!

Peace of Christ

The resurrected Christ is with each of us, and so is in the space between us – let us share with each other the peace he brings today!

            N-Z: The Peace of Christ be with you!

            A-M: And also with you!

Gospel Reading

One:    God be with you.          

All:      And also with you

One:    The Good News of Jesus Christ according to John.

All:      Glory to you, Lord Jesus Christ.

John 10:1-10 ‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

One: This is the Gospel of Christ

All:   Praise be to Jesus Christ

Song: Come Worship the Lord - John Michael Talbot


CHORUS: Come, worship the Lord
For we are his people
The flock that he shepherds


1 And come, let us sing to the Lord
And shout with joy to the rock who saves us
Let us come with thanksgiving
And sing joyful songs to the Lord


2 The Lord is God, the mighty God
The great King o'er all other gods
He holds in his hands the depths of the earth
And the highest mountains as well
He made the sea, it belongs to him
The dry land too, was formed by his hand


3 Come, let us bow down and worship
Bending the knee for the Lord our maker
For we are his people
We are the flock that he shepherds

CHORUS (repeat)

Second Reading

Acts 2:41-47 So those who welcomed his message were baptized,

and that day about three thousand persons were added. They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Reflection:  Being Christian Community

Silent Reflection

Apostle’s Creed: Let us affirm our faith . . .

I believe in God, the Father almighty,

creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God's only Son, our Lord,

who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,

the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

Prayers of the People: From Angela Nutter

One:    Good of assurance

All:      Hear our prayer

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come,

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours

now and for ever. Amen.


Thank you for calling each other, for grocery shopping, caring for the church building, doing the business of the church, baking cookies, praying for those on the prayer wheel, leading things online, continuing to knit prayer shawls, contributing to Mid-Week Madness, for tech support, for continuing to gather for worship, for doing the things you would be doing anyway . . . but under more challenging circumstances. Thank you all for your commitment to being church in a new way.

Let us pray:

Bless us, O God, in our moving and serving; bless us, O God, in our standing still and waiting. Bless us O God as we care for others and care for ourselves. We offer ourselves in our devotion to you – lead us to the places most in need of our service. In Christ we pray, Amen.

Song: And The Table Will Be Wide    Jan Richardson

And the table                                And we will open our hands
will be wide.                                  to the feast
And the welcome                           without shame
will be wide.                                  And we will turn
And the arms                                toward each other
will open wide                               without fear.
to gather us in.                             And we will give up
And our hearts                              our appetite
will open wide                               for despair.
to receive.                                     And we will taste and know

And we will come                          of delight.

as children who trust
there is enough.                            And we will become bread    
And we will come                          for a hungering world.
unhindered and free.                    And we will become drink
And our aching                             for those who thirst.
will be met                                   And the blessed
with bread.                                   will become the blessing.
And our sorrow                             And everywhere
will be met                                    will  be the feast.
with wine.

Glory to God whose power, working in us, can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. Glory to God from generation to generation, in the Church and in Christ Jesus, for ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn: We Praise You O God

1 We praise you, O God, our Redeemer, Creator;

in grateful devotion our tribute we bring.

We lay it before you; we kneel and adore you;

we bless your holy name: glad praises we sing.


2 We worship you, God of our mothers and fathers;

through trial and tempest, companion and guide.

When perils o'ertake us, you will not forsake us,

but faithful to your promise, you walk by our side.


3 With voices united our praises we offer,

and gladly our songs of thanksgiving we raise.

Our sins now confessing, we pray for your blessing,

to you, our great Redeemer, forever be praise!


If you are with another person, you’re invited to bless each other, taking every other line.

One:    The Creator’s blessing be yours on your road, on your journey, guiding you, cherishing you.

First name N-Z:

            The Son’s blessing be yours, wine and water, bread and stories, feeding you, challenging you.

First name A-M:

            The Spirit’s blessing be yours, wind and fire, joy and wisdom, comforting you, disturbing you.

All:      The Angel’s blessing be yours, on your house, on your living, guarding you, encouraging you. Let us walk together, a community on a journey, sustained in God’s blessing.  Amen!

One:    Let us go now in peace to love and serve the Lord.

All:      Thanks be to God.