Easter Sunday Service 4.4.2021

GATHERING MUSIC         

GREETING                                           Ray Simpson, adapted

Arise, shine, for the rays of God’s glory touch the earth,

The Sun of suns is rising;

Leaders and people shall be drawn to the light.

We welcome the light that burns in the rising sun.

We welcome the light that dawns through the Chosen One.

We welcome the light that gleams through the growing earth.

We welcome the light that is kindled in our souls!

Christ is risen!

Christ is risen indeed!

PRELUDE          What a Wonderful World        Weiss & Thiele

CALL TO WORSHIP               Jan Richardson, adapted

Unwrapping

unwinding

untangling

unbinding

unraveling

unweaving

unknotting

unwebbing

waking up

calling forth

setting free

resurrecting

May we emerge from our tombs this glorious Easter morning!

ANTHEM               We Come to Sing Our Joyful Songs    Irish trad./arr. HKJ

Lakewood UCC Choir virtual performance

MODERN READING        Countee Cullen, from The Black Christ

SCRIPTURE READING

Let us prepare ourselves for the word of God as it comes to us in the reading of Holy Scripture. Our hearts and minds are open.  

               Mark 16:1-8, 9, 9-20

For the word of God in scripture, for the word of God among us, for the word of God within us. Thanks be to God.

MUSIC                         Nocturne in Eb Major                          Chopin

SERMON                         Out of the Tomb                Rev. Kim P. Wells

Daytona, Florida of the early 20th century was a mere outpost of some 5,000 plus souls. And among them was Howard Thurman, who was to become a moral, religious, and academic pillar of 20th century America. Thurman, a black person, grew up in the Waycross section Daytona with his mother and grandmother. His father died when he was young. His grandmother was a midwife but she also did laundry for people including the owner of a local hardware store who was a white person. She had been working for the family for years. They also employed Howard. When he was a boy, he would be hired to rake the leaves in the yard in the fall. He would go to the house each afternoon, rake the leaves and then burn the pile. Thurman tells of an incident that occurred one afternoon:

“The family’s little girl, four or five years old, waited for me to come from school to do my job. She was a lonely child and was not permitted to play with other kids in the neighborhood. She enjoyed following me around in the yard as I worked. “One day, after I had made several piles for burning, she decided to play a game. Whenever she found a beautifully colored leaf, she would scatter the pile it was in to show it to me. Each time she did this, I would have to rake the leaves into a pile again. This grew tiresome, and it doubled my work. Finally, I said to her in some desperation, ‘Don’t do that anymore because I don’t have time.’ She became very angry and continued to scatter the leaves. ‘I’m going to tell your father about this when he comes home,’ I said. With that, she lost her temper completely and, taking a straight pin out of her pinafore, jabbed me in the hand. I drew back in pain. ‘Have you lost your mind?’ I asked. And she answered, ‘Oh, Howard, that didn’t hurt you! You can’t feel!’” [With Head and Heart: The Autobiography of Howard Thurman, pp. 11-12]

In just that small incident, one afternoon in the lives of two children, over a century ago, we see evidence of the constraining fetters that our culture places upon us. We see the bondage that society puts us under. That little girl had to be taught that some people were subhuman and that they were born to be abused, degraded, and debased. She had to be schooled in the lessons of superiority, entitlement, and privilege. She had to be raised to deny the full humanity of those with darker skin. She had to be indoctrinated in what James Baldwin calls “The Lie.” And Thurman had to be taught that despite the behavior of white people toward people of color, he was a full human being. He had been endowed with the sacredness of life and created in the image of a loving God. And so were the white people who abused him.

Oh these things that separate and divide us. That denies our full humanity. That mars and desecrate the holiness of our humanity! Oh what masters we can be at deceiving ourselves and devising ways to degrade and demean others and ourselves. Often masking these impulses as something noble, good, justified, even, gasp, godly.

But we don’t have to live that way. Today is Easter. Our festival of the empty tomb, of new life, of creative possibility even in the face of death. The story tells us that the stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty. Love, justice, peace, dignity, a new reality was unleashed into the world. The empty tomb means that we are freed.

Freed from all that constricts our full life, our wholeness, our deep and meaningful experience of being alive. The glories of this new life await us. We do not have to stay in the tomb. It is open. And Jesus Christ shows us the way to leave the place of death. The lies. The deceptions. The justifications. Of racism, injustice, hatred, bitterness, greed, and harm to self and others. That can all be left behind in the tomb. A new world awaits. Life, full and free! The way is open! The light beckons!

I like the conclusions of the Gospel of Mark that was read for us with the three different endings. With ending number one the women are scared. They find the tomb is open and they are bewildered and trembling. Then with ending number two, it is as if they have looked out from the tomb, and they conclude that everything will turn out ok in a general way. Then with the third ending, it is as if they have ventured out of the tomb and they have seen the signs and the assurances and it is glorious!

Having come out of the tomb, they can testify to the experience. So the endings go from being scared to coming out into the new wonderful world!

This Easter, we are invited, urged, beckoned, to come out, to live in the light. To dare to risk taking even a few, tentative, steps out of the tomb that is keeping us from the glories of abundant life and love. This Easter with its alleluias and lilies, its eggs and bunnies, beckons us to leave whatever death is entombing us; whatever attitudes, behaviors, assumptions, or ingrained messages are contributing to the abuse and degradation of life. These can be left behind. We don’t have to stay trapped.

Today is the 53rd anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. Now, Dr. King is a beautiful example of someone who chose to come out of the tomb. He would not let himself be captive to racism, hatred, and bitterness. He also would not capitulate to the lie that violence creates peace. King came out of the tomb where might makes right, the ends justify the means, and racism will slowly, quietly dismantle itself with time. No, King chose to emerge out of the tomb into the broad daylight of honesty and truth; of anti violence and the power of love.

Howard Thurman was living in San Francisco when King was assassinated. A local radio station contacted Thurman and asked him to prepare a statement about King’s death that could be played repeatedly on the radio. Thurman’s statement included this insight: “His assassination reveals the cleft deep in the psyche of the American people, the profound ambivalence and ambiguity of our way of life. Something deep within us rejects nonviolent direct action as a dependable procedure for effecting social change. And yet, against this rejection something always struggles, pushing, pushing, always pushing with another imperative, another demand. It was King’s fact that gave to this rejection flesh and blood, courage and vision, hope and enthusiasm. For indeed, in him the informed conscience of the country became articulate. And tonight what many of us are feeling is that we all of us must be that conscience wherever we are living, functioning and behaving.” [Thurman, p. 223]

King had come out of the tomb. He chose the light. He chose the way of Jesus. He couldn’t be satisfied with the dim half truths and lies about liberty and justice for all when he had seen the beauty of beloved community in the way of Jesus. He had freed himself from the assumptions and compunctions that strangle, instead choosing life, full and flourishing, for all. And Thurman, too, had come out of the tomb into the broad and glorious light of freedom and truth.

In closing, we have another story from the childhood of Howard Thurman. As a youngster, Thurman was pigeon-toed. This contributed to his being shy and very self -conscious. He tells us, “I could not run as fast as, or with the ease of, other boys. I was odd man out in all games that required being fast of foot. . .” We know how debilitating that can be for a child. But then something happened.

Thurman tells us:

“One of the truly important moments of my young life came one morning when I went on an errand to Mrs. Brinkley’s grocery store. When I looked up she was watching me as I approached the front steps. As I mounted the steps, she looked down at my feet and said: ‘Why don’t you practice turning your right foot out when you walk? Practice it all the time, even when you go to ged. Think when you walk. Your foot will do what you make it do. That is why God gave you a brain.” It was the moment of birth of a new self for me. I improved my gait.” [Thurman, p. 252]

What is keeping us in the tomb when the glories of life in the light of solidarity, justice, beloved community, and peace await us just outside the opening of the cave of death? What prevents us from taking a step out? From leaping out? From dancing out in a conga line? What holds us back? Just like we can be trained to hate and to degrade, and we can be trained to walk properly, we can chose to emerge from whatever death is holding us captive, whatever lies are keeping us bound, whatever patterns of thinking or behavior have us tangled up and enmeshed. We can be free. The tomb is empty.

This is Easter. Our celebration of new life. Our festival of hope and possibility. Love triumphs over death. Friends, we are the body of Christ. And Christ is out

of the tomb.

Amen.

UNISON READING                                                         Jan Richardson

In the vein

and in the vessel,

in the marrow

of the bone,

in the chambers

of the heart,

in the waters

of the womb;

in the teeth

and in the tongue,

in the pounding

of the blood,

you speak a new creation

in the flesh

becoming word.  

MUSIC                       Harmonious Blacksmith                 Handel

MISSION STATEMENT

The mission of Lakewood United Church of Christ, as part of the Church Universal is to:

  • Celebrate the presence and power of God in our lives & in our world.
  • Offer the hospitality and inclusive love of Christ to all people.
  • Work for God’s peace and justice throughout creation.

MORNING OFFERING   Morning offerings may be brought forward and placed in the plates on the altar.

Offertory              Jesu, Joy of Our Desiring                     J.S. Bach       

Prayer of Dedication                      based on a Mohawk prayer

Gratitude for the sun: blinding pulsing light

         through trunks of trees, through mists, through walls

         warming caves and corridors

         — the one who wakes us —

         in our minds so be it.  Amen. 

PREPARATION FOR COMMUNION    Wendeyaho       Native American/arr. HKJ

CELEBRATION OF HOLY COMMUNIOIN

Invitation

Communion Prayer

Blessing the Bread and Cup

Sharing the Meal

Musical Offering              Claire de Lune                  Debussy

Giving Thanks                                 Kathy Galloway, adapted

You set before us a great choice.

         Therefore we choose life.

         The dance of resurrection soars and surges through the whole                                   

creation,

         It sets gifts of bread and cup upon our table.

         This is grace, dying we live.

So let us live.   Amen

*BENEDICTION                               Ray Simpson, adapted 

The tomb is empty!

The God of life go with us.

The Risen Christ beside us.

The vibrant Spirit within us.

*POSTLUDE                         Hallelujah Chorus                       Handel

Thorny Desert

If you’ve ever spent time in the desert, you’ll know that despite the thorns there are times–especially in the moonlight when you stand there alone, very still, listening–the dew sparkles and glistens and there’s a refreshing, peaceful, soul warming breeze.

Weekly Update 4/7

Sundays

The Sunday after Easter is commonly called ‘Low Sunday’ because attendance significantly drops in comparison with Easter.  So, how do we keep the momentum of new life and re-creation going once the festival of the resurrection is over?  The gospels have something to say about that.  New life in Christ is not an event, it is a process.  And forgiveness is a big part of that journey.  Looking forward to Sunday!

Please plan to stay after the service for the Covid Conversation.  More information is included below. 

You are invited to be part of in-person, covid safe worship on Sunday mornings.

Childcare provided.

The bulletin and text of the Sunday sermon will be posted at the website the following week and there will be regular posts of music and music videos from Hilton Jones.

Watch the service on Facebook Live Sundays at 10:30. https://www.facebook.com/LakewoodUCC

For covid safety measures, see below


Covid Conversation

The church has been having covid safe worship in these cooler months with the windows and doors open.   In the heat of the months to come, a new plan may be needed.  Worship at an earlier time when it is cooler?  Have services outside on the covered patio in the shade?  Have virtual services only on Facebook or Zoom?   Make other arrangements or adaptations?   Church leaders would like to hear the ideas and thoughts of the congregation.  

There will be an in person conversation will be following the service on Sunday April 11. The service will end early to provide time for this discussion.

There was a virtual gathering Tuesday April 6 at 7:00 p.m.


Earth Day Music Video Planned

In honor of Earth Day, the church would like to create a music video to post on the website and social media.  The video will feature nature pictures taken by the congregation and music from Hilton Jones.  All photos are welcome!  This will be a celebration of the wondrous diversity of the land, water, flora and fauna of this amazing planet!  Please send photos by this Sunday, April 11, to hilton.kean.jones@gmail.com.


Easter Celebration

Even without the processional and the egg hunt and the choir, there was a glorious celebration of Easter at LUCC last Sunday! Music Director Hilton Jones played for the service in person.  What a gift!  There were Easter baskets for young people.  Some were delivered to children at their homes.  And there were flowers!  More than 16 plants were taken to people from the church at their homes.  The love, joy, and hope of Easter were shared well beyond the church building!  As it should be! Here’s the link to some pictures from Sunday: https://lakewooducc.org/2021/04/07/easter-sunday/


LUCC Earth Day Celebration Campfire

Friday, April 30th – 8:00 – 9:00 p.m.

April 22, 2021 is the 51st Anniversary of Earth Day and the entire month of April is dedicated to the 2021 theme of Earth Day, Restore Our Earth. To honor this occasion, LUCC Creation Justice Task Force is sponsoring a Restore Our Earth Campfire gathering on Friday, April 30th from 8:00 – 9:00 p.m. at the church.

Bring a chair or use an LUCC chair to gather around the fire where we will share poems or readings that express love and appreciation for the Earth (bring one you particularly love), and then we will write love letters to the Earth.  We will we read them to each other and perhaps toss them in the fire, sending out our love to Earth, like prayers sent up with incense.  Please plan to join in this special occasion at church to honor and celebrate our beloved Mother Earth!


Stimulate the Ministry of LUCC

Many people are receiving covid stimulus money from the government.  If you are able, please consider giving some or all of your stimulus money to your beloved church.  Finances are stretched thin at the church and the ministry is needed more than ever.  Maybe you are still practicing physical isolation due to covid.  So, let your money go out into the world for you through the ministry of LUCC.  Maybe your activities are still very restricted.  But your generosity doesn’t have to be restrained!  Maybe you are glorying in things starting to open up and can open your wallet a little wider to support the ways the church is reaching out to the congregation and beyond!  Please know that every gift is gratefully received and will be used to extend the ministry of Jesus in the world!


Being Covid Safe and In Person Worship

The church has contacted the St. Petersburg Health Department for guidance.  Here are the take aways that are being implemented for everyone’s safety.

Please stay home if you are not feeling well.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending double masking.  Please consider wearing two masks to church.  Additional masks will be available at church to use as needed.

Two hand sanitizing stations will be available for use by worshippers.

Signs will be posted to encourage physical distancing.

The pulpit and altar will be moved into the chancel to provide more room for the congregation to physical distance.

Prayer request sheets will be provided so that worshippers may write their prayer requests and place them in a basket on the altar.  This eliminates the need for the worship leader to come within 6 feet of the worshippers. 

People who would like to converse after the service are encouraged to do so outside, not in the hallway or the library or other confined spaces.

The breezeway restrooms will be open and available to prevent people from congregating in the library while waiting to use the office restroom.

The chairs in the sanctuary will be cleaned with sanitizer each week.  You are welcome to bring your own chair if you prefer.

There is well-ventilated, physically distanced indoor seating as well as outdoor seating on the sidewalk adjacent to the sanctuary. Masks are worn by all. Please know that your safety is of primary consideration! Childcare provided.


Facebook Live Help Needed

The broadcast of the service is very meaningful to the people from the church family that watch.  It is a significant ministry to those who cannot be present in the church building.  

Currently there are three people from the congregation who have volunteered to do the streaming on Sunday mornings. It is not very complicated. You can use a smartphone or a tablet. There is a brief training and written instructions are provided. A few more people are needed to help so that this ministry can be continued. Are you willing to consider this? Please speak with Rev. Wells or with Barbara Donohue. Many thanks!


Adult Day Care Plans Opening

The adult day care continues to move forward.  The opening date has been postponed due to inspections.  Hopefully the center will be open by the end of April.  Many thanks to those from the church who are helping with this transition:  Claire Stiles, Patti Cooksey, Colleen Coughenour, and Earl Waters. Thank you!


Immigration Justice Update 4/7/2021:

Here is an easy way to send a letter to our US Senators to demand they vote YES on The Dream Act
(providing a path to citizenship for “Dreamers,” The SECURE (Safe Environment from Countries Under
Repression) Act, and the Farm Workforce Modernization Act! The Senate must bring it to the floor by
April 30th.

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/demand-the-senate-votes-on-a-pathway-to-citizenship/

(or use this shortened version of the link: tinyurl.com/cwejfnpe)

Once you fill in your information, the form provides direct contact info and a pre-filled letter to Senator
Rubio and Scott. You can personalize the “letters” as you wish. You may want to add this line: “Please
support this legislation to provide pathway to citizenship for TPS holders from Venezuela.” Both of our
senators are supportive of Venezuelan immigrants.

45,000 Quilt: Evoking the famous AIDS Quilt, the 45,000 Quilt Project has 45 individual quilted panels,
each with 1,000 marks, created across the continent and stitched together into five large panels call
attention to the 45,000 people who, on an average day in 2019, were imprisoned by Immigration and
Customs Enforcement (ICE). Visit this week only Weds Apr 7 and Thurs Apr 8 th 11am to 5pm at
Allendale United Methodist Church: 3803 Haines Rd. (38th Ave N and Haines Rd) Enter at the rear of
the church. Bring a friend!

For more information about the Pinellas Coalition for Immigration Justice:
https://www.facebook.com/PinellasCoalition


Operation Attack Needs

We had another successful Food Distribution Drive Thru on January 30.  We served 53 Families and 180 people.  We have another event on  April 17th. 

We want to encourage you to participate in the Drive-Thrus in the following ways: 

  • Volunteer at the preparation opportunities and/or the Drive Thru.
  • Donate cereal, peanut butter, canned meat, fruit, vegetables and soup, dried beans, and mac/cheese.
  • PLEASE NOTE: OPERATION ATTACK IS NOT ACCEPTING CLOTHING AT THIS TIME
  • Pray for the people in our community who are being challenged during this difficult time and the volunteers who are trying to ease their burdens.

Anti-Racism Demonstrations Continue

Weekly demonstrations take place on Sunday evenings from 6-6:30p.m. Many thanks to all who are participating.  Add your presence to this weekly demonstration making a witness to your commitment to anti racism.


Weekly Labyrinth Walks Continue

Each Wednesday at 9:00 a.m. a small group gathers at the outdoor labyrinth for a time of devotion, discussion, and meditative walking of the labyrinth.  The theme for the week is taken from the Sunday before, so it is an opportunity to go deeper in the spiritual exploration of that theme for your life.  This devotional gathering is outside and physical distancing is maintained. All are welcome!

If there is rain on Wednesday morning, the gathering will be held on Thursday morning at 9:00.


Spiritual Direction Offered by LUCC Clergy Member.

In these troubled times, it is important to find ways to tend to our spiritual lives. In the Christian tradition, Spiritual Direction is one of the ways of paying attention to the spirit in our lives. A Spiritual Director is someone to talk with about what is going on in our spiritual life and in our relationship with God however we may conceive of God.

Rev. Sally Purvis, Ph.D., a member of LUCC, is a retired clergy person with training and experience in Spiritual Direction. She is offering her services as a Spiritual Director to the community. The sessions would be held on Zoom and there is no fee to be paid. Church leaders are pleased to have the ministry of the church expand in this way.

Spiritual Direction with Sally is open to anyone, not just the congregation. And it is offered to everyone whatever their spiritual or religious background or affiliation or lack thereof. Sessions are generally held once every three weeks. Spiritual Direction is not a mode of therapy. It is a process for understanding and deepening your relationship with God/Spirit in ways that are authentic and life-giving.

Sally was trained by Henri Nouwen, a noted spiritual guide of the 20th century, and did Spiritual Direction as part of her professional ministry before retiring in 2015.

If you would like to explore Spiritual Direction with Sally, please contact her at
sallybpurvis@icloud.com or contact the church (867-7961 or lakewooducc@gmail.com ).

The church is very grateful to Sally for offering this avenue of support to the congregation and the community.


Music from Hilton

You can watch 5 videos Hilton made as lead-ups to Martin Luther King, Jr. Day at https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLUn2RmCFhW2uAVwKQLfqJnzNmZhEK_TK5.

If you want to just hear they soundtracks, without the videos, you can hear those at https://soundcloud.com/hilton-kean-jones/sets/mlk-day.


USEFUL LAKEWOOD LINKS DURING THE CORONA CRISIS:

For the above church website links, please note the “Older Posts” button near the bottom of each page.


April Birthdays: Zachery Blair-Andrews 4/16, Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: 

The family and loved ones of Dick Schubert, cousin of Evelyn Kaspar, who died recently.

Marg and Dave Radens. Marg is now under the care of Suncoast Hospice.

Family and loved ones of Marsha Carson

Carol Shores and her son Joel.

Edward Jones

William Owen

Jen Degroot

Carolyn Moore

Ann Quinn

Maggie Brizendine

Janet Hall

Teachers, students, and school personnel, and all healthcare workers and essential workers. All those suffering from COVID-19.

Please keep LUCC member, Olivia Gibson, in your prayers. She is a nurse in a COVID-19 unit in a local hospital. We are grateful for her ministry!


Church Office Hours:  Tuesday-Friday 9:30-noon. 


Recent Posts:


Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the Church Office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.

Easter Sunday

Many thanks to all who were part of the Easter festivities at LUCC!  There were two services with 22 people at the 9:30 service and 23 at the 11:00 service.  While there was no procession of flowers and no Easter egg hunt, there was still a festive spirit!  Music Director Hilton Jones played in person for the first time in over a year.  The music was transcendent!  After the service Easter baskets were delivered to the children of the congregation who were not able to come to church and flowers were delivered to those on the Circle of Concern and others.  Blessings abound and are shared.  New life awaits us!  “Out of the Tomb!”

Pisgah

The title of the tune, Pisgah,” from the tune from Southern Harmony, derives from the Hebrew word for summit and was the biblical mountain from which Moses first saw the promised land. It’s also the name for a mountain in North Carolina! For the complete story of how this part of American came to have a name from the ancient book of Deuteronomy see https://www.pisgahinn.com/history-of-pisgah-inn/.