Hilary Plowright
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Christ Church Gabriola
A Collaborative Anglican – United Church

Open to All

Home Church for the 5th Sunday in Lent
March 29, 2020

Rev. Karen Hollis

Welcome to week two of CCG Home Church!

This worship service can be done either self-directed at home or along
with the video worship experience on Sunday mornings at 10am. At
times it will feel familiar and at times different. It is modeled and adapted
from our Sunday morning experience, using familiar resources, and
adapted to our current circumstance. There are suggestions throughout
on ways to enter more deeply into the experience. Whoever you are,
wherever you are, you are welcome here . . . the sacred space opened
through this order of worship is available to you and holds us in a
common space whether you are self-guided or participating online.
Christ meets us where we are . . . and we are One in Christ.

Preparing the Space:
I invite you to find or clear a space in your home that is relatively free of
distraction. Maybe place a tablecloth down and light a candle; perhaps
place with the candle an object or two that help you open to God’s
presence (item from nature, Bible, object with personal significance,
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.

Today is not only the Fifth Sunday in Lent; this is also a 5th Sunday of
the month, where we stretch the norms of our worship a bit and try
some different with creative elements of worship. I think we’ve broken
the mold already. While under ordinary circumstances we would be able
to see the end of Lent coming around the corner, we currently seem to
be held by a human season . . . it feels like a whole season of Ash
Wednesday, where we remember we are not in control and are
part of the cycle of life. The only thing to “do” is nothing . . . which is
easier for some and more difficult for others. This human season, like
Lent, is inviting us to slow down, be introspective to go deeper with God,
to acknowledge our humanity . . . Here in our homes, under strict orders
not to gather in person, we gather in the ways we are able . . . to
worship . . . to lean into that spirit of slowing down and being intentional.
. . to remember who we are . . and remember that we belong to God.

Opening Prayer Lynn C. Bauman translation of Psalm 130 & UCC Worship Ways

Read the prayer slowly; if you’re with another portion you can divide up
the regular text and bolded portions:

My whole being waits for you, my God, listening for your
presence. I long to hear your voice speaking.
So like the watcher who anticipates the crack of dawn,
my heart waits for the first-light of your word.
Listen, listen, wait in silence listening for the One from whom
all mercy flows.
Compassionate God, the wind of your Spirit is the very sign
of life for all who long for you.
One breath from you and we are rescued from the arid valley of
dry bones, given muscles and sinews and joy with which to
praise you, and filled with the holy hope you grant to all your
faithful children.
Let our whole lives be filled with the life-breath of the
Spirit, that what has lain dormant may burst into bloom,
and what looks to us to be death may be revealed as but
sleep before the emergence of new life. Amen.

Song: All Who Are Thirsty

All who are thirsty
All who are weak
Come to the fountain
Dip your heart in the stream of life
Let the pain and the sorrow
Be washed away
In the waves of His mercy
As deep cries out to deep (we sing)
Holy Spirit come (repeat)

Prayer of Confession and Connection
I invite you into a breath prayer at this time. We will breathe in the first
half of a short prayer and breathe out the second half. Think back to the
need you identified as you prepared for worship and choose a short
prayer to pray out of that need that is 5-12 syllables in length.
Examples: First half of prayer/second half
God (Lord) please/heal my heart
Bless the Lord/my soul
Open my heart/to your love
Help me to/trust you O God (Lord)
Lord have mercy/Christ have mercy
Lord (God) take my anxiety (fear, anger, worry)/that I may be free
Pray slowly the first half as you inhale . . . then slowly pray the second
half as you exhale. I invite you to stick with this prayer for 2-10 min.
Ponder the words as you breathe and pray - there is no hurry or rush.
Let us turn to God and lean into our dependence on God.

Song: Lord Listen to Your Children Praying

Lord, listen to your children praying,
Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
Lord, listen to your children praying,
Send us love, send us pow'r, send us grace.

Scripture Readings
The first reading for today is from the prophet Ezekiel:
Ezekiel (37:1-14) Translation from Jewish Publication Society
The hand of the Lord came upon me. He took me out by the spirit of
the Lord and set me down in the valley. It was full of bones. He led me
all around them; there were very many of them spread over the valley,
and they were very dry. He said to me, “O mortal, can these bones live
again?” I replied, “O Lord God, only You know.” And He said to me,
“Prophesy over these bones and say to them: O dry bones, hear the
word of the Lord! Thus said the Lord God to these bones: I will cause
breath to enter you and you shall live again. I will lay sinews upon you,
and cover you with flesh, and form skin over you. And I will put breath
into you, and you shall live again. And you shall know that I am the
Lord!” I prophesied as I had been commanded.
And while I was prophesying, suddenly there was a sound of rattling,
and the bones came together, bone to matching bone. I looked, and
there were sinews on them, and flesh had grown, and skin had formed
over them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me,
“Prophesy to the breath, prophesy, O mortal! Say to the breath: Thus
said the Lord God: Come, O breath, from the four winds, and breathe
into these slain, that they may live again.” I prophesied as He
commanded me.
The breath entered them, and they came to life and stood up on their
feet, a vast multitude. And He said to me, “O mortal, these bones are
the whole House of Israel. They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope
is gone; we are doomed.’ Prophesy, therefore, and say to them: Thus
said the Lord God: I am going to open your graves and lift you out of the
graves, O My people, and bring you to the land of Israel. You shall
know, O My people, that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves
and lifted you out of your graves. I will put My breath into you and you
shall live again, and I will set you upon your own soil. Then you shall
know that I the Lord have spoken and have acted”—declares the Lord.
The gospel reading for today comes from John’s Gospel . . .
glory to you Lord Jesus Christ.
John 11:1-45 NRSV
Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary
and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with
perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill.
So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, ‘Lord, he whom you love is
ill.’ But when Jesus heard it, he said, ‘This illness does not lead to death;
rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified
through it.’ Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and
Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days
longer in the place where he was. Then after this he said to the
disciples, ‘Let us go to Judea again.’ The disciples said to him, ‘Rabbi,
the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there
again?’ Jesus answered, ‘Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those
who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of
this world. But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not
in them.’ After saying this, he told them, ‘Our friend Lazarus has fallen
asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.’ The disciples said to him,
‘Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.’ Jesus, however, had
been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring
merely to sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, ‘Lazarus is dead. For
your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us
go to him.’ Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with him.’ When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four
days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and
many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about
their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and
met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, ‘Lord, if you
had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know
that God will give you whatever you ask of him.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Your
brother will rise again.’ Martha said to him, ‘I know that he will rise again
in the resurrection on the last day.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am the
resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they
die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.
Do you believe this?’ She said to him, ‘Yes, Lord, I believe that you are
the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.’
When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and
told her privately, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you.’ And when
she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet
come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met
him. The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary
get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that
she was going to the tomb to weep there. When Mary came where
Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, ‘Lord, if
you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw
her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was
greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, ‘Where have you
laid him?’ They said to him, ‘Lord, come and see.’ Jesus began to
weep. So the Jews said, ‘See how he loved him!’ But some of them
said, ‘Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept
this man from dying?’ Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the
tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, ‘Take
away the stone.’ Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, ‘Lord,
already there is a stench because he has been dead for four days.’
Jesus said to her, ‘Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see
the glory of God?’ So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked
upwards and said, ‘Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew
that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd
standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.’ When he had
said this, he cried with a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man
came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face
wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, ‘Unbind him, and let him go.’
Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen
what Jesus did, believed in him.

This is the Gospel of Christ; praise be to Jesus Christ

Song: Wounded Healer

Image of the Invisible
In our pain, we feel You near
God of heaven in flesh and bone
By Your wounds, we shall be healed
Wounded healer
We give our hearts to You
Wounded healer
We give our hearts to You
Arms stretched out not to part the seas
But to open up the grave
Blood poured out not for war, but peace
And to show us God's own face
No fire, no fury
Just death into life
Over and over
'Til all things are right
No fire, no fury
Just death into life
Over and over
'Til all things are right.

Reflection: Rev. Karen Hollis

Ezekiel 37:1-14; John 11:1-45

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be reflections of your word to us today, in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen

So, how are you doing? I’ve been asking around. “Doing alright, reading books, gardening, washing my hands.” “It’s strange working from home; my routine is all messed up and the lines are very blurry between work and home.” “We’re worried about our business.” “I’m bored and I’m not able to do my usual routine; I don’t like this.” “I have COVID-19; I’ve been pretty sick, but I think I’m getting better.” Within us there is always more than one answer to ‘how are you.’ I wonder about the deeper answer . . . check in with yourself for a minute . . . how are you in your bones?? What is the answer that is underneath your initial response? The answer you have to wait for or breathe into?

I’m pretty exhausted . . . not just because I’ve never led worship online before and we’ve had to re-create the way we do congregational life. It’s because the world is in turmoil and it directly impacts my life . . . which is pretty unusual. I watch the news and the state of hospitals in New York and I can dip into grief and a feeling of helplessness as I watch the appeals of nurses and doctors for protective equipment. It seems impossible that the best thing I can do is nothing. It is so counter to my instinct. It’s not literally nothing, but of course the argument is that my actions effect the health of my community, so I wash my hands, limit contact and cancel everything in person. Luckily I have a garden to plant.

Given the projection of where this pandemic is supposed to go, today’s texts seem a bit early. We are still adjusting, still learning and still full of energy. Does the image of dry bones resonate? There’s never a bad time for this image, really – it is such a strong message for any of the many narratives at play in our lives. But in terms of this story currently dominating the world, I wonder how this story will resonate 3 months from now or 6 months? I wonder who we will be at the end of this. Will we feel dry in our bones? Will we find a deeper truth about what it means to be human or a gut check about living sustainably? Somewhere deep within the mystery, God seems to be doing something with this time. My intuition says the slow work of God is working on the world.

Ezekiel writes this vision of the valley with dry bones in the first 20 years of the Babylonian exile . . . he receives this vision, but it will be another 30 years before the Israelites know the fullness of this promise. The slow work of God . . .

When Mary and Martha lose their brother, Jesus takes his time to get there. The narrative is rich with “what if’s,” with grief, with images of the community gathered. Jesus also notices; he is moved by their grief. Even as a healer, who sees life and death differently, he is moved to tears along with the community. The promise of new life doesn’t wipe out the grief, rather it comes along side it . . . the promise of new life is present in the days of waiting and wailing. And when the time is right, new life indeed comes. The resurrection is admittedly an important example of this truth, but it is not the only one, and not the only one in scripture. Lazarus . . . on the 4th day, when even the pungent smell of death fills the air around the tomb, Jesus calls him to come out. Jesus gives thanks for God the Father hearing him, giving an indication that Jesus previously prayed for this healing . . . or that Jesus has been praying for a period of time . . . it indicates that God has been working on this miracle in the intervening time.

Returning again to Ezekiel, who sees a vision of dry bones, but at the word of life, those bones come together with flesh and breath, out of their graves, to the life for which they have been praying for 2 generations. Life out of death, given through a promise . . . even though the fruit of that promise takes time.

This season of waiting and longing is the most important time to remember the promise of new life, because waiting without an end in sight is really hard. It’s day by day, it’s phone call by phone call. And we don’t know how long it will last. We don’t know who we will be at the end of it. But I proclaim these two things: God is at work in the world right now. The mystery of God is beyond me, but my intuition tells me God is at work, even in the midst of the chaos and feelings of helplessness and grief. The second thing is we will be different when this is over. Surely as the Israelites were changed by exile and those who witnessed the raising of Lazarus, we will be changed . . . we should be changed by this season, as we slow down, as we reflect . . . with God at our side. Thanks be to God.

A New Creed: Let us affirm our faith . . .
We are not alone,
we live in God’s world.
We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus,
the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others
by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the Church:
to celebrate God’s presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.

Prayers of the People: from Angela Nutter

We pray for the church in the world and for people everywhere who are
experiencing this crisis.
God of love
Hear our prayer
In this time of pandemic, may those who lead us make decisions for us
with wisdom and integrity
God of love
Hear our prayer
Gracious God, let your spirit give strength to all your people We pray for
all medical workers and those who work in essential services.
God of love
Hear our prayer
Compassionate God, who raised Lazarus, give your strength and
healing to all those who are sad, lonely or ill at this time , especially
those we now name. Also bless those who care for them
God of love
Hear our prayer
We pray for the safety of our families and friends
God of love
Hear our prayer
Let this be a day of hope, let us relish each moment as a gift from you.
Let this be a day of peace, of knowing that our lives are in your hands.

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.

The Peace:
Each week in worship we offer each other a sign of Christ’s peace to
one another, acknowledging the spirit of healing and wholeness that he
gifts to us. Seeing as how we are not gathered in person and cannot at
this time greet each other in our usual way, I invite you to think about
ways you can share Christ’s peace in a safe way with people you
encounter in the coming week.
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.

Blessing: Iona Abby Worship Book
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 A-M: The Son’s blessing be yours, wine and water, bread
and stories, feeding you, challenging you.
First name N-Z: 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.

Closing Song: Bach Suite #3 Sarabande