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Sunday, March 22
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(The service has been pre-recorded.)
I Choose Love: Communities of Forgiveness
Luke 23:32-43
Each time someone is baptized, the whole church body gathered also makes vows. One of the things we promise is to be a community of love and forgiveness. Each day we must choose between letting the difficult things about life create resentment in us or allowing the work of forgiveness to make way for love. Our song of justice this week was written as a response to a modern-day act of forgiveness that reminds us of the power of Jesus’ forgiveness, even on the cross.
Order of Worship:
Sunday March 22, 2020
Fourth Sunday in Lent
           
Welcome and Sharing of Announcements

Call to Worship (Bill Kruger)
Liturgist: Holy and Living God, to choose You is to choose love. 
People: May peace flow. Let justice roll.
Liturgist: Nudge us toward the reconciliation that ushers in right relationship.
People: May peace flow. Let justice roll.
Liturgist: Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
People: May peace flow. Let justice roll.

Opening Hymn: “What Wondrous Love is This” UMH 292 (1,2)
1 What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this that caused the Lord of bliss
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul,
to bear the dreadful curse for my soul.
 
2 What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul,
what wondrous love is this, O my soul!
What wondrous love is this, that caused the Lord of life
to lay aside his crown for my soul, for my soul,
to lay aside his crown for my soul.

Opening Prayer (Jane Beatty)
Glorious God, write your name on our hearts. Inspire us with your law of love, that we might proclaim this truth: You are our God, and we are your people. In your holy name we pray. Amen.

Pastoral Prayer

Scripture Readings: Luke 23: 32-43 (NIV) (Bill Kruger)
Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. The people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, “He saved others; let him save himself if he is God’s Messiah, the Chosen One.” The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, “If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself.” There was a written notice above him, which read: this is the king of the Jews. One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!” But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

Message (Pastor Seok-Hwan)
I Choose Love: Communities of Forgiveness

A Time for Reflection:
Prayer Poem “Rock of Ages” (Jane Beatty)

When there is no other place of refuge,
when violence awaits every move
and evil lurks in the shadowy places,
there is yet a hiding place in you.
 
As forces conspire to press in 
from the east and the west,
the north and the south,
your guiding presence leads us
to shelter in the quiet center.
The weary find rest in your being;
the distraught a source of renewed hope.
Those who are about to succumb 
gain fresh strength in your sheltering hand.
 
The storm passes.
The winds cease.
Evil flees.
Darkness vanishes.
 
And those whom you have covered
will rise with the dawn.
And those whom you have covered
will triumphantly rise. Amen.

* Offertory Prayer  
For the gift and possibility of reconciliation and forgiveness, we give thanks. For the way in which these offerings can help us choose love, we give thanks. For the gift of this community bound and working together, we give thanks. Amen.

* Closing Hymn: “Great is Thy Faithfulness” UMH 140 (1,3)
1. Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
There is no shadow of turning with Thee;
Thou changest not, Thy compassions, they fail not
As Thou hast been Thou forever wilt be.
 
3. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;
Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
 
(Refrain) Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided—
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

The Blessing and Sending Forth
Our Openness Statement
“The United Methodist Church of Westford is an open and welcoming community of Christian Faith. Without any exceptions, we welcome anyone who seeks to love and to serve God.”
Please click here for “A Statement of Our Openness”.