Gathering Music - “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah” by David Paxton, organ by Jan Green
Welcome to the Mantua Center Christian Church
- We are a community seeking to have open minds, open hearts, and open arms, building community in a fragmented world.
- We want to welcome everyone who is in the house today and everyone online. We are grateful for all the many ways you can join us for worship on this Lord’s Day.
- Announcements will be on one sheet at the back of the sanctuary.
- Children’s Coloring Sheet
- I’m so thankful for Stewardship & Finance committee for their hardwork behind the scenes in running the campaign. And to Liz, Travis, and Dave for being worship leaders these 3 weeks. Thank you all for discerning and praying about your stewardship to the church and community.
- Stay after for our wonderful study with Nancy Humes…
- In worship today…
- Let’s prepare our hearts and minds for worship with our Opening Scripture Reading...
Opening Scripture - Romans 5:1-5
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
*Response - Weave
Weave, weave, weave us together,
Weave us together, in unity and love.
Weave, weave, weave us together,
weave us together, together in love.
*Call to Worship (based on Psalm 137, a Psalm of exile. ) - Dave Auble
One: By the waters of Babylon, there we wept when we remembered.
Many: By the waters of the kitchen sink, there we wept. And on the living room couch, and in the empty school room, and beside the makeshift dining room table office.
One: How could we sing God’s song in a strange land?
Many: How could we sing God’s song over Zoom?
One: By the waters of Babylon,
Many: There we wept when we remembered.
One: We remembered that ancient rhythm of separation and homecoming,
Many: Exile and return. Going out and coming in.
One: You who are by the waters of Babylon: Come!
Many: From kitchens and home offices, sidewalks and parking lots, we come!
One: You who remember and you who do not: Come!
Many: Sometimes remembering clearly, sometimes confused by nostalgia, we come! By car and by computer, we come!
One: God goes with every exile;
Many: God rejoices with every return.
One: In Babylon and Jerusalem, in strange lands and familiar rooms
Many: In sanctuaries and on screens, in pews or chairs, couches or recliners,
ALL: LET US WORSHIP GOD.
Written by The Salt Project
*Opening Hymn - Blessed Assurance #543 v.3
Blessed Assurance, all is at rest;
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
watching and waiting, looking above,
filled with his goodness, lost in his love.
This is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long;
this is my story, this is my song,
praising my Savior all the day long.
Stewardship Moment - Dave Auble
Children’s Moment - Ally Bozeka
Pastoral Prayer - Rev. Chad Delaney
God of Life and Hope,
You are the living breath that sustains us. You are the rock in whom we take refuge. You are our mother in whom we take shelter. Thank you for your loving compassion on all of your creation.
We pray for hope for those who have been displaced, by flood and fire, war and famine. For those who have experienced loss--of homes, jobs, good health, and of loved ones. For those whom their journey in life has led them to feel distant from you--who feel forsaken, forgotten, or fearful. May the Body of Christ and the Human family feed and care for the least of these. May we find and give kindness on our journeys. Lead all to a safe place, to find comfort under the shelter of your wings. May we find our home in you.
During this week in which we’ve recognized our nation’s veterans we pray for them and their families. Be with those who serve our country and home and abroad. Be with those under care in hospitals and care facilities. Be with those who wrestle with addiction and finding their place back home. Be with those hurting with PTSD and looking for relief. God surround them and those that love and support them with your presence.
Lord, together we lift the joys and concerns of our hearts to you in silent prayer…..
Living God, May we all find that you are not so far off after all. In our living and loving, help us to be good stewards, filled with gratitude, generosity, and servanthood. Fill us with your love and power so that in every season of our lives we may never cease singing. That we may never cease praying. That we may never cease serving. That we might always have hope. Trusting that all will be well...In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.
Meditation - Pam Baynes
Communion Hymn - “For the Bread Which You Have Broken” #411
For the bread, which you have broken,
for the wine, which you have poured,
for the words, which you have spoken,
now we give you thanks, O Lord.
Prayer & Lord’s Prayer - Pam Baynes
Words of Institution - Rev. Chad Delaney
Distribution of Communion Elements
Scripture - Jeremiah 29:10-14
For thus says our God: Only when Babylon’s seventy years are completed will I visit you, and I will fulfill to you my promise and bring you back to this place. For surely I know the plans I have for you, says God, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says God, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
Sermon - "Seasons of Life and Hope" - Rev. Chad Delaney
Many of us have joked that the best job in Ohio is a weather forecaster because nobody has any expectation of them being right. There’s the quote, “Welcome to Ohio: Where every forecast is made up and the seasons don’t matter.” That really sums it up.
And that’s what I would try to communicate to all those Xplor Residents who came in from all over the country--California, Texas, Louisiana, Kansas--they always wanted to know what the weather was like, what they should wear, and what to expect. Usually they would just receive my awkward silence as I tried to think of a way to explain it. Someone recently sent me a meme that I think actually does a great job. You’ve probably seen it, it says, “Ohio’s 12 Seasons”
Spring of Deception
Hade’s Front Porch
If I only had this it would have helped so much.
The inconsistency is a pain. If not for Ohio’s weather, I could have a regular routine of switching out my summer and winter clothes. Instead, inevitably I bring them out too early or go hunting for them the day of.
If not for Ohio’s weather, I would be able to have just a few pairs of shoes and one jacket. Instead it feels like I have to have one for each of our 12 seasons.
You would think that because of Ohio’s weather I would be used to disruption, change, disappointment, confusion…I could see it as a gift, but alas.
Human beings like RHYTHMS and CONSISTENCY. When those rhythms break it can be really disruptive and challenging. Last week we talked about the many griefs and experiences we have had over the last several years that have disrupted our rhythms of what it means to be a person in the 21st century. Not only the pandemic, but the changes in technology, medicine, science, ecology. The changes in the political, social, and religious landscapes that all make us wonder what the future might hold. Every generation believes they are on the precipice of some cataclysmic change, but it may not be hyperbole to suggest it is so. What does it mean for us as people of faith? How do we move forward as a church?
Believe it or not the Bible and church tradition over many, many centuries has passed on stories and traditions that help us in this. In fact, the very way we set up the Church year seeks to prepare us for consistency and disruption, togetherness and exile, death and resurrection.
We start with Ordinary Time. A time to explore parts of the Bible we haven’t ventured into and particularly the stories and teachings of Jesus. A time of learning!
Then Advent comes and we are invited to join in a spirit of waiting and contemplate the absence of God or Christ in our lives. A time of exile and estrangement, time to practice patience and waiting.
Then comes the joy of Christmas, the coming of Christ. The incarnation. The pure elation of God being WITH us. A time to practice joy and incarnational living.
Next is Epiphany when we go on a journey with the Magi, who travel and journey great distances in pursuit of God’s dream for the world. A time to practice seeking and exploring.
Next is Lent…when we face the reality of our own shortcomings and societal sin and injustice. We encounter the disruptive force of the Crucifixion and wonder why it had to go this way. A time to practice wilderness, adversity, and resilience.
Next is Easter with the joy of the Resurrection and the Promises of God made manifest. A time to practice Grace and New Life.
Then finally comes Pentecost when gifted by the Holy Spirit we are called to carry the Gospel into the world. A time to consider our call and practice sharing the Good News.
Being a part of the church is not just a club to belong to or place to get in our good deeds. It isn’t only a place for sanctuary and praise. It isn’t just a place for pursuing justice and activism in our faith. It is also a place to practice what it means to be Human. To experience, imagine, learn, transform, and live out what it means to be faithful--come what may.
The truth is that in the human experience, life isn't always perfectly perfect and just how we want it to be. Life is way more unpredictable than Ohio’s Weather. Chances are you have had 10x more seasons in your life consisting of the ups and downs, the good stuff and the hard stuff.
Life has always been a rhythm of separateness and togetherness, sorrow and joy, exile and return, waiting and fulfillment, crucifixion and resurrection. As much as we only want Christmas and Easter…we experience Ordinary Time, Advent, and Lent too.
We are blessed with a wonderful community here and have come together in unique ways to continue God’s work in our midst in this crazy time.. We have experienced so many disruptions and changes, yet still we press on practicing what we have learned from our faith. We continue to listen to the old, old story, work hand-in-hand with each other, and to be transformed by the love of Jesus Christ. As a congregation, living in our present and into the future with hope.
Long ago, the people of God were in exile. The temple was completely destroyed and they were dragged off into slavery. The rhythm of their lives and everything they knew and loved was changed in irreversible ways that left them feeling lost and broken and uncertain. Yet God’s voice broke everything to remind them (and us) that with God all things are possible. That with God…there is always hope. Hear the Word of the Lord in this time and place! “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says God, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope. Then when you call upon me and come and pray to me, I will hear you. When you search for me, you will find me; if you seek me with all your heart, I will let you find me, says God, and I will restore you and gather you and bring you back home.” May we live and move and have our being in that hope! Amen.
Closing Hymn - My Life Flows On #619 v.1,2,&4
1 My life flows on in endless song, above earth’s lamentation.
I hear the clear, though far off hymn that hails a new creation.
No storm can shake my inmost calm while to that Rock I'm clinging.
Since love is Lord of heav'n and earth, how can I keep from singing?
2 Through all the tumult and the strife, I hear the music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul. How can I keep from singing? [Refrain]
4 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? [Refrain]
The time for sending is here, for separation, for dispersal, for exile.
It will not last forever; to return is our destiny.
We will be together again, and the question then will be:
what did you do with your time when we were apart?
May the God who is the home of the exile,
Jesus, who was and is an exile himself,
and the Spirit, who goes with us as we love and serve,
be with you until we meet again.
Postlude - “Trumpet Rondo” Jean-Francois Dandrieu, arr. by Patricia Harris, organ by Jan Green