April 5, 2020: “Show Us How to Balance Celebration and Grief”

Ideally, we would gather together in worship, catching up on each other’s lives, being encouraged by each other’s smiles, weeping with each other in our tears, joining our voices in songs of faith and hope and praise, lifting up our prayers to God, hearing God’s voice to us through Scripture and story and thoughtful reflection. However, since we cannot gather in person at this time, let us join together in spirit in this service of worship.

Preparing for Worship

We continue our Lenten journey with Jesus on this Sixth Sunday of Lent, Palm Sunday. The theme for this Sunday is “Show Us How to Balance Celebration and Grief.” It reflects the experience of Jesus and his disciples at the beginning of his final week: celebration mixed with grief, celebration turning to grief and then to celebration again. It also reflects our own experience right now. We are all grieving losses these days, some bigger, some smaller. Yet we all have reasons to celebrate along the way, both big and small. This is the reality of life. This is the reality of Lent.

If you are able, consider lighting one candle to begin this service. This represents our Lenten journey with Christ toward the darkness of the cross. At the end of the service you will extinguish this candle. We began Lent with six candles lit, and we have extinguished five of them so far.

Palm Procession

Sing along as Joel, Erin, Milo, and Jude K. lead us in STS 73 “Jesus is Coming.” You can follow in your song book, or see the lyrics below. You may want to dance around your house or room waving a handmade palm branch while the song plays (don’t worry, no one can see you!).

Jesus is coming, pave the way with branches!
Jesus is coming, Hosanna!

Jesus is coming, pave the way with branches!
Jesus is coming, Hosanna!

Hosanna, Jesus is coming! Hosanna to the Prince of Peace!
Hosanna, Jesus is coming! Hosanna to the Prince of Peace!

We invite you to take a picture of yourself or your family waving your palm branches and send it to Michael by text or email by Tuesday morning. He will make a “Palm Procession” video of all our pictures and send around the link for the church to see (or at least those who were brave enough to send in a picture will see it!).

Call to Worship and Song of Praise

Here is the Call to Worship led by Kristy L. H. Please read along below as you listen. At the appropriate places, sing along with Joel, Erin, Milo, and Jude K. as they lead us in the verses of HWB 71 “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (words by Henry van Dyke; music adapted from L. van Beethoven). You can use the blue hymnal or follow the lyrics below.

Leader: The Lord is my strength and my song and has given me victory.
Songs of joy and victory are sung in the camp of the godly.
The strong right arm of the Lord has done glorious things!
I will live to tell what the Lord has done!

ALL: “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (HWB 71 v. 1)

Joyful, joyful, we adore thee, God of glory, Lord of love.
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before thee, praising thee their sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness; drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness, fill us with the light of day!

Leader: Open for me the gates where the righteous enter,
and I will go in and thank the Lord.
These gates lead to the presence of the Lord,
and the godly enter there.
I thank you for answering my prayer!

All: “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (HWB 71 v. 2)

All thy works with joy surround thee, earth and heav’n reflect thy rays,
stars and angels sing around thee, center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain, blooming meadow, flashing sea,
chanting bird and flowing fountain, call us to rejoice in thee.

Leader: “This is the day the Lord has made.
We will rejoice and be glad in it.
Bless the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
You are my God, and I will praise you!”

All: “Give thanks to the Lord, whose faithful love endures forever!”

All: “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” (HWB 71 vv. 3, 4)

Thou art giving and forgiving, ever blessing, ever bless’d,
well-spring of the joy of living, ocean-depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our brother, all who live in love are thine.
Teach us how to love each other, lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the mighty chorus which the morning stars began.
Love divine is reigning o’er us, leading us with mercy’s hand.
Ever singing, march we onward, victors in the midst of strife.
Joyful music lifts us sunward in the triumph song of life!

Offering

We cannot collect the offering as we normally do, but you can continue this act of worship in support of the church’s ongoing ministries. You can mail a cheque to the church office. You can contact the church office or Randy S. and he will come pick it up. Also, you can give online if you have an Access Credit Union account—please see the information here.

Confession & Assurance

Here is a liturgy of Confession & Assurance led by Kristy L. H. Please read along below as you listen. At the appropriate places, sing along with the Michael P. as he leads us in the first verse of STJ 47 “Oh, Lord Have Mercy.” You can use the song book or follow the lyrics below.

Leader: The Lenten season calls us to reflection and repentance. Let us confess together.

O God, we come to you as the people who greeted Jesus on the road to Jerusalem,
full of joy and praise and thanksgiving.
Forgive us for the times we forget to show you our gratitude.
Lord, have mercy.

All: (singing) “Oh, Lord have mercy” (STJ 47 v. 1)

Oh, Lord have mercy. Oh, Lord have mercy.
Oh, Lord have mercy, have mercy on us.

Leader: We come as the people who were baffled
when they realized how quickly their joy was turned to sorrow for you.
Lord, have mercy.

All: (singing) “Oh, Lord have mercy”

Oh, Lord have mercy. Oh, Lord have mercy.
Oh, Lord have mercy, have mercy on us.

Leader: We come, wanting to be with you
as you enter the time and place of your death,
knowing we cannot face this week alone.
Lord, have mercy.

All: (singing) “Oh, Lord have mercy”

Oh, Lord have mercy. Oh, Lord have mercy.
Oh, Lord have mercy, have mercy on us.

Leader: Know that Jesus does offer mercy and understands that hard road between joy and devastation, between belief and disbelief. Know that Jesus will never leave you and will love you on whatever part of the road you find yourself on.

All: Thanks be to God!

Community Life & Prayer

For announcements related to our church community, please see the eBulletin emailed to those on the church email list.

This week in our prayers we especially remember:

  • Those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Pray for the sick and most vulnerable to receive the care and protection they need. Pray for those who are caring for them, often at risk to themselves. Pray for those experiencing secondary effects such as economic hardship, disappointment at canceled plans, lack of child care, loneliness, mental ill health, and more. Pray for wisdom for governments and health authorities as they respond to this outbreak. Pray for our church and community. May God have mercy upon us.
  • Our Mission & Service Committee: Michael P. (interim chair), Susie F., John H., John S. Pray for them as they pay attention to what God is doing around the world and in our community, seeking to discern how Morden Mennonite Church can participate in this mission of God. God is doing new things among us and in the world—may we have eyes to see and ears to hear what the Spirit is doing!
  • Those facing significant personal challenges, both concerns share publicly and burdens borne privately. We think of Kathy and Gerhard F. as Kathy has broken her foot and must stay off it for three weeks. May each one experience God’s sufficient grace, and our compassionate care, over the coming days.
  • Those with special reasons to rejoice, even in the midst of difficult times. We rejoice especially with Carrie & Lawrence S. in the celebration of their 50th anniversary! May they know God’s delight in them. May we all experience bright moments of joy, guilt-free, in these difficult times.
  • Us as a church during Lent, that during these days we would learn in new ways how to both “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep,” as we seek to “love one another with mutual affection” (Rom 12:9-21).

Spend some time in prayer. Lift up these joys and sorrows to God, and others you have on your heart. Know that even when “we do not know how to pray as we ought, [the] Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom 8:26-27).

Prayer Song

For our prayer song you’ll need to channel your “inner blues” (you’ve all got it, somewhere deep down). Listen to “Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley,” played for us by Dianne H.

Scripture Reading

Here is the Scripture Reading from Matthew 21:1-11, adapted from The Voice translation. The Scripture is read by Ken K. (narrator), Greg L. (Jesus), and Andrea T. (the crowds).

Children’s Focus

Megan K. has shared the following re-telling of the Palm Sunday story for kids. If you have children, watch this with them.

You can also print this colouring page of Jesus riding the donkey into Jerusalem as a humble king. If your child colours it, we’d like to see it! Take a picture of your child’s coloured page and send it by text or email to Pastor Michael. See the church Facebook page for last week’s contributions from some of our MMC kids.

This colouring page was downloaded from SuperColoring.com.

Meditation

Here is Michael’s meditation on our Scripture texts: “Show Us How to Balance Celebration and Grief.”

Moment of Reflection

The Lenten season calls us to reflection and repentance. Spend a few moments in silence, considering these questions:

  • Life is a mixture of sadness and joy, mourning and celebration. Are you experiencing more sadness, or more joy, in your life right now?
  • Scripture calls us to “weep with those who weep, and rejoice with those who rejoice.” Who in your life needs you to weep with them this week? Who needs you to rejoice with them?
  • What might you do this week to connect with God and affirm God’s presence in your life?

Song of Reflection

Join in singing HWB 580 “My Life Flows On” (by Robert Lowry), accompanied by Linda P. and Michael P. You can use the blue hymnal or follow the lyrics below.

My life flows on in endless song;
above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, though far off hymn
that hails a new creation.

No storm can shake my inmost calm
while to that Rock I’m clinging.
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
how can I keep from singing?

Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

What though my joys and comforts die?
I know my Savior liveth.
What though the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.

The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
a fountain ever springing!
All things are mine since I am his!
How can I keep from singing?

Extinguishing the Light

During Lent we are extinguishing one candle each Sunday as we follow Jesus toward the cross. Here Dianne H. leads us in this. Please read along below as you listen. If you lit a candle at the beginning of the service, you can extinguish it during the pause in Dianne’s reading.

Leader: Jesus is the Light of the World!

People: Jesus is the Light of the World!

Leader: You are the light of the world!

People: We are the light of the world!

Leader: During our Lenten journey with Jesus toward the cross, we walk with Jesus into the shadows of this world. It can often seem as if the night is winning, as if evil and injustice will prevail. Each week during Lent we will extinguish a candle to symbolize this journey with Jesus into darkness. (Pause to extinguish candle)

Leader: “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,’

All: “Even the darkness is not dark to you, O God,
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.”
(Ps 139:11-12)

Benediction

Listen to this Benediction over us, prayed by Dianne H.

Sending Song

Sing along to STJ 54 “Longing for Light” (by Bernadette Farrell) accompanied by Dianne H. and Michael P. You can use the song book or follow the lyrics below.

Longing for light, we wait in darkness.
Longing for truth, we turn to you.
Make us your own, your holy people,
light for the world to see.

Christ, be our light!
Shine in our hearts, shine through the darkness.
Christ, be our light!
Shine in your church gathered today.

Longing for peace, our world is troubled.
Longing for hope, many despair.
Your word alone has pow’r to save us.
Make us your living voice.

Longing for food, many are hungry.
Longing for water, many still thirst.
Make us your bread, broken for others,
shared until all are fed.

Longing for shelter, many are homeless.
Longing for warmth, many are cold.
Make us your building, sheltering others,
walls made of living stone.

Many the gifts, many the people,
many the hearts that yearn to belong.
Let us be servants to one another,
making your kingdom come.

In the week ahead feel free to use this prayer guide adapted from the worship material used for this morning’s service. Also, check the church website periodically for resources for staying connected and for spiritual growth during this time.
Grace and peace to you this week!

Songs: Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee (Text: Henry van Dyck, 1907, Poems of Henry van Dyke, 1911 alt. Music: adapted from Ludwig von Beethoven, 1823; based on adaptation by Edward Hodges, Trinity Collection of Church Music, 1864); Oh, Lord Have Mercy (Text: traditional; Music: traditional; arranged by Joseph Joubert; Arrangement ©2000 G.I.A. Publication, Inc.); My Life Flows On (Text: Robert Lowry’s Bright Jewels for the Sunday School, 1869, alt.; Music: Robert Lowry’s Bright Jewels for the Sunday School, 1869; arranged by The Hymnal Project; arrangement ©1989 The Hymnal Project); Jesus Walked This Lonesome Valley (Music: CCLI); My Life Flows On (Text: Robert Lowry’s Bright Jewels for the Sunday School, 1869, alt.; Music: Robert Lowry’s Bright Jewels for the Sunday School, 1869; arranged by The Hymnal Project; arrangement © 1989 The Hymnal Project); Longing For Light (Text: Bernadette Farrell; Music: Bernadette Farrell ©1993 Bernadette Farrell, OCP Publications)
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4 Responses to April 5, 2020: “Show Us How to Balance Celebration and Grief”

  1. ewbraun says:

    Thankyou for the inspiring service and congrats to Lawrence  and Carrie  on their 50th. Erna BraunSent from my Bell Samsung device over Canada’s largest network.

  2. Lois Friesen says:

    Thanks to all the participants- what an excellent job- we are really enjoying it!

  3. irene pauls says:

    I am inspired by the heartfull message of love, peace and joy, Jesus our King! It is especially meaningful to gather with the congregation where 64 years ago I was baptized. I give thanks for all that God has given. Blessings be to all! Gratefully, Irene Pauls

  4. Henry Fehr says:

    Really appreciate ur efforts preparing April 5, am church service, Thank you Henry & Anne Fehr

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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