Join us online for worship
May 3, 2020
(If interested in the "Love Feast," please gather bread/wafer and drink prior to starting the service.)
To access our worship service online, please visit our website at www.umcw.org/sermons
(The service has been pre-recorded.)
Ripples of Grace
Acts 10:1-17, 34-35
(NRSV)
Peter is a Jewish fisherman from Galilee. Cornelius is a Roman army officer in the port city of Caesarea where the Roman fleet in Palestine is based. Cornelius calls Caesar as the Lord. Peter confesses Jesus as the Lord, who was crucified as a criminal by Roman soldiers. The Holy Spirit brings Peter and Cornelius them together. Peter has never baptized a gentile. But Peter baptizes Cornelius, his enemy in the name of Jesus Christ who was executed by Roman soldiers. What an irony! What a paradox! Now Peter declares, “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality. These people have received the Holy Spirit just as we have. Surely no one can stop them from being baptized with water, can they?” With these words and with Cornelius’ baptism, Peter breaks through his lifelong shell of Jewishness. This is a dramatic and amazing shift. Peter as the First Pope, the Catholic says, laid down the groundwork for inclusion that should never, ever, ever have been challenged and changed. There is no prejudice, no partiality, no divisions, no separation in Christ. We are one. We Methodists have a wonderful slogan: “Open Doors, Open Hearts, Open Minds.” So, let us breakthrough any barrier and be inclusive! Then and only then, will God’s great love and grace be seen in our lives.
Order of Worship
Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 3, 2020

Gathering as the Body of Christ

Welcome and Sharing of Announcements

Call to Worship 
(Bev and Dave Welsh)
Liturgist: We come broken.
People: This is a story of hope.
Liturgist: We come fearful.
People: This is a story of peace.
Liturgist: We come cynical.
People: This is a story of liberation.
Liturgist: We come empty.
People: Listen for the story of life.
(Chery Lawrie from "Worship & Song Worship Resources")

Opening Prayer
( Bev and Dave Welsh )
God of life, a wilderness beckons us: a desert, a barren place, yet a place of blessing and discovery. Jesus, steady companion, accompany us, as we enter the hurtful places, the frightening places, the dangerous places deep within us. Jesus, our wise and well-traveled guide, lead us into this emptiness, where all will fall away, and we will have nothing but you. Walk with us through the valley of the shadow of death, where we shall be raised, and drink of deep springs. Amen. (Steve Garnaas-Holmes in "Worship & Song")

Opening Hymn - “Amazing Grace” - UMH #378 (vss 1,3,4)
1. Amazing grace! How sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost but now am found; was blind, but now I see.
3. Through many dangers, toils, and snares, I have already come;
‘tis grace hath brought me safe thus far, and grace will lead me home.
4. The Lord has promised good to me, his word my hope secures;
he will my shield and portion be, as long as life endures.

Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer
 
Prayer Response - “Holy, Holy, Holy” - TFWS #2007 (2 times)
Holy, holy, holy. My heart, my heart adores you! 
My heart knows how to say to you: You are holy, Lord! 

The Love Feast

Leader: How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God’s people to live together in harmony! Welcome to this meal, in the name of Christ. We come to share in God’s love.
People: We come to share our food and our lives.
Leader: We come to break bread together,
and open ourselves to each other.
People: We come to express our faith and our thanks.
Leader: May God bless this food and this fellowship.
People: As we share our food, we give thanks for this abundance, and we remember those who do not have enough.
Leader: May God give food to those who are hungry.
People: May God give us a hunger for justice, and a determination to serve those who hunger for food.
Leader: Around these tables, together in community, Christ is present among us, to remind us of his promises to us.
All: God, we welcome your presence with us. May the food and companionship we share nourish our bodies, hearts, and minds. May our spirits be refreshed as we live in the light of your presence with us now, and at all times and places. Amen.
..........
Leader: Behold, the fragments of our feast. Our meal is ended, but God’s banquet continues as we go from this place.
People: Let us take the banquet into the world and never give up until all people are fed.
Leader: May the peace of Christ be upon you, and may you be channels of peace and justice.
All: And now may you shelter not only in place, but in peace. May the peace and comfort of Christ be present with you now and forevermore. Amen.

( Adopted from A liturgy from Dr. Marcia McFee and Worship Design Studio for us in online worship in a time of social distancing and Pastoral Resources for Administering Communion during the Coronavirus Pandemic of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church )

Attention to the Word of God

Scripture Reading - Acts 10:1-17, 34-35
(Bev Welsh)
In Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of the Italian Cohort, as it was called. He was a devout man who feared God with all his household; he gave alms generously to the people and prayed constantly to God. One afternoon at about three o’clock he had a vision in which he clearly saw an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius.” He stared at him in terror and said, “What is it, Lord?” He answered, “Your prayers and your alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Now send men to Joppa for a certain Simon who is called Peter; he is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the seaside.” When the angel who spoke to him had left, he called two of his slaves and a devout soldier from the ranks of those who served him, and after telling them everything, he sent them to Joppa. About noon the next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat; and while it was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw the heaven opened and something like a large sheet coming down, being lowered to the ground by its four corners. In it were all kinds of four-footed creatures and reptiles and birds of the air. Then he heard a voice saying, “Get up, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is profane or unclean.” The voice said to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not call profane.” This happened three times, and the thing was suddenly taken up to heaven. Now while Peter was greatly puzzled about what to make of the vision that he had seen, suddenly the men sent by Cornelius appeared. They were asking for Simon’s house and were standing by the gate….
Then Peter began to speak to them: “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. (NRSV) 

Liturgist: The word of God for the people of God.
People: Thanks be to God.

Message - " Ripples of Grace" - Pastor Seok-Hwan

Message in Music
( Nancy Burns, soloist )
“Hymn of Promise” - by Natalie Sleeth

We Respond

Offertory Prayer 
Loving God, faithful and gracious forever, You love us more than we love ourselves. YOu believe in us more than we believe in ourselves. You call us to walk with Christ, and be more than we ever thought possible. Take our gifts. Receive our thanks. Accept our praise. Through Jesus Christ. (Brian Wren in Worship and Song)

Closing Hymn - " There’s a Wideness in God’s Mercy " - UMH #121
1. There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in God’s justice, which is more than liberty.
2. There’s a welcome for the sinner, and more graces for the good!
There is mercy with the Savior; there is healing in his blood.
3. For the love of God is broader than the measure of our mind;
and the heart of the Eternal is most wonderfully kind.
4. If our love were but more simple, we should rest upon God’s word;
and our lives would be illumined by the presence of our Lord.

The Blessing and Sending Forth
Invitation to Participate in Online Worship from Home
 
We are looking for people who would like to take part in our online worship services by recording yourself and/or your family members at home. There are several ways to participate. For example, you could serve as a liturgist, read a passage of scripture, read a responsive reading as a family, light a candle, sing a song, or play an instrument. Opportunities may vary each week. Please let us know how you would be willing to participate.  Click here to sign up!
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”.