FIRST CONGREGATIONAL CHURCH

 

Rev. Ed Gabrielsen

Tues. - Wed.  8 - 4

207-595-9173

edgabrielsen1114@gmail.com

Church Office Assistant: Bill Zito

Email: fccsearsport@gmail.com or text/call  at 207-323-0230

Church Office Hours

Tues/Th 11 am - 3 pm

Church Spring Picture.jpg

 

Until further notice when circumstances change:

 Worship Service - Drive In and in Sanctuary  - Turn radios to FM 103.5 - May 29 - with Drive In Service at 10:00 AM  as PDF and WORD print outs as:

  

 

 

​​​​​​AND AT HOME SERVICE IS BELOW  - which will be updated on May 31

 (& Mobile)

First Congregational Church of Searsport, Maine Sunday, May 22, 2022; 10:00 am

Sixth Sunday in Easter

 

 

Rev. Ed Gabrielsen, Pastor Barbara Bums, Deacon

 

Carolyn Maunz, Minister of Music

Dick Bums, Trustee

 

 

 

Gathering Together

Welcome                Pastor Ed Gabrielsen

Prelude:                  "It Is Well With My Soul"

Introit:                    "Let's Just Praise the Lord"

 

Prelude & Introit May 22

Presenting Ourselves to God

*Call to Worship: Psalm 67

Leader: May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.

People: That your way may be known upon earth, your saving power among all nations.

Leader: Let the people praise you, 0 God; let all the people praise you.

People: Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the people with equity and guide nations upon earth.

All: Let the people praise you,0    God; let all the people praise you. The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, has blessed us.

May God continue to bless us; let all the ends of the earth revere God.

*Unison Prayer

Loving God, guide us in the path of discipleship, so that we may be a blessing for others, bringing the promise of you love and forgiveness near by our words and deeds. Amen.

 

 

*Opening Hymn    "Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise" Anthem:                 "He Touched Me"

 

#37

 

Gaither


Children's Message

#37 & Anthem May 22

Announcements

*Hymn                   "How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds"                 (verses 1-4)                               #77

 

 

Sharing Our Joys and Concerns' Pastoral Prayer and Lord's Prayer

 

God's Word to Us

(Ushers please come forward)

Offertory:               "Peace I Leave with You" Doxology and Prayer of Dedication

 

Scripture Reading:

Acts 16:9-15

John 5:1-9

 

 

*Gloria Patri

 

Sermon                   Pastor Ed

Sitting with Mildred

 

The Book of Acts is an adventure story. It was written by Luke and is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke. Acts tells the story of the early church, and the growth of the church due to the missionary work of Peter, Paul, Silas, Timothy, and others who carried the Gospel from Jerusalem throughout the Greco-Roman world, establishing the first churches, the first Christian communities that developed around the Mediterranean Sea.

In Chapter 16, we see that in their journeys, Paul and Silas have arrived in Troas. Today, there is not much left of the ancient city: remnants of walls, an arch, remains of the ancient bath and gymnasium. But in Paul’s time, Troas was a Roman port city on the north-western coast of Asia Minor, in what is now the Republic of Turkey. When we talk about Paul and his travels, we are talking about these geographic regions-- Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Italy-- all central to the Roman Empire.

While he is in Troas, Paul has a dream about a man in Macedonia, across the Aegean Sea, who asks for help. Paul and Silas take this dream as a sign that God is calling them to Macedonia to preach the Gospel, so, the next day, they sail over to Macedonia, and after a couple of travel days, they arrive in Philippi. Philippi was a major city in the region, named after Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great. And today, there are quite a few remaining ruins of the ancient city of Philippi. I think it would make for a fascinating trip itinerary, to follow Paul’s travels, to follow in his footsteps, so to speak. And, as it turns, I’m not the only one who has ever come up with this idea. There are hundreds of guided tours and trips: Footsteps of Paul Cruises, Footsteps of Paul Experiences, Apostle Paul Travels, New Testament Tours of Anatolia, Footsteps of Paul Pilgrimages to Turkey and Greece. Paul did a lot for the travel industry.

But more than that, Paul established churches throughout the region. And in today’s reading, with the conversion of Lydia, we see the very beginning of the church in Philippi. Lydia was a businesswoman. She sold purple cloth, which was a luxury item. Purple cloth was expensive to make because the purple dye came from crushed shells, purple seashells from the region of Tyre and Phoenicia. Crushing tens of thousands of shells to make purple dye was labor intensive. Consequently, only wealthy people wore purple. Tyrian purple, or Phoenician red; royal purple, or imperial purple, as it was sometimes called, was a status symbol. Everyone knew purple cloth was expensive. And Lydia sold purple cloth. This meant that she sold to the wealthy and elite. Lydia was an important businesswoman in Philippi.

Paul meets Lydia outside the city gate, where she has gathered with a group of women in a place of prayer. Lydia was probably a Gentile with an interest in Judaism. I wonder what Paul said to the women gathered there, praying together? What did he say to Lydia? What words did he speak to her? How did he speak to her? What was his tone of voice? What were his expressive gestures? What captured her attention and made her want to listen? We don’t know exactly. But there must have been something Paul said, and something compelling in the way that he said it, that expressed God’s love, in telling the story of Jesus, so convincingly to Lydia, that “The Lord opened her heart to listen eagerly,” and she became a follower of Jesus. A follower of the Way. Lydia and her household were baptized into the faith, and Lydia became the first documented person in Europe to convert to Christianity. Lydia invited Paul and Silas to her home. She hosted their visit to Philipii, a significant gesture because it gave Paul and Silas credibility. Lydia is known to later generations as St. Lydia, or “The Woman of Purple.”

In our second reading, Jesus heals the man at the pool of Beth-zatha in Jerusalem, otherwise known as Bethesda. And at this pool, people with all sorts of ailments would gather, hoping to be healed. The legend was that at the pool of Bethesda, every once in a while, an angel would visit and stir up the water. Whoever could be the first person to step into the water after the angel stirred it up would be healed of whatever ailment they had. Jesus meets a paralyzed man who has been waiting beside the water for 38 years to be healed. “Do you want to be made well?” Jesus asks him. Instead of saying “Yes, I want to made well!” the man gives a long explanation about why he can never get into the water fast enough because no one will help him, there is always someone else ahead of him, someone else always gets there first. Jesus simply says to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” And at once, the man was made well.

In this story, we have an example of Jesus making a simple statement, a direct statement that quietly cuts through 38 years of confusion and frustration. There is a sense that this man has been waiting for a very long time to hear the simple, direct message that will liberate him, make him free, heal him and set him free so he can walk away from that place of confusion and chaos.

Sometimes a clear message, a simple statement, arrives when we least expect it. This week, I had the blessing and honor to sit with one of your dear friends at the end of her life, a dear friend of this church, and a longtime member. Mildred Rainey was our most elderly congregant. She lived to be 99 years old. I went to visit Mildred at the Sussman House, the palliative care facility at Pen Bay Hospital in Rockport. I sat with Mildred while she slept in her quiet room, a hand knit blue and white blanket covering her. Outside in the garden, the apple trees were in blossom, a breeze was blowing through their leaves and branches.

I thought that I had come to visit Mildred, to minister to her, the ministry of presence, as it is sometimes called. But I found that actually, Mildred was ministering to me. Sitting with her in that quiet room was a refuge for me, a return to the truth, an island of peace, a fortress of sanity, tucked away at the end of the hall, at the end of the road, in the end-of-life care facility.

Sitting with Mildred, I tried to imagine what it must be like, to be where she was. She was sleeping so peacefully. Her breathing was slow and steady. And I thought to myself, “She can stay here as long as she likes. There is nothing more for her to do. All her work is done.”

What must it be like, to give up control over everything? There was nothing left to control, nothing left to worry about, only breathing and sleeping.

We struggle, we work so hard, to achieve, to gain, to hold onto, to have control. And it may seem that for a time, for a brief period of time, maybe one year, maybe 20 years, we have some control. There is agency, power, decisions to be made, things we can influence, direct, make happen. But eventually, the wave of life overtakes us. Rising to the crest, the swell, the wall of water, lifts us up, and we think we are on top of it, on top of something solid and enduring, on top of something substantial, on top of a wave of water, we ride to the top. And then, the wave moves from under us, passes through, moves beyond, and past, and we fall into the trough. The wave rolls on beneath us. There is no more control. Nothing remains to be controlled, the power is gone. All that power, we thought belonged to us, rolls on past, the wave rolls on and out from underneath. There is no more power. No more control. There is only relinquishing. Only the giving up of an illusion.

This breath is not mine. It does not belong to me. The breathing occurs. It happens by itself, breath after breath. There is nothing I do to create it. I am not the creator of this breath.

I went back to visit Mildred several times. Mostly, she was sleeping. But at one point, she woke up and looked at me. I was reading a Psalm to her. and I probably woke her up with all my noise. Our eyes met, and I said I was from the church, and that I was the new minister, her pastor that she had never met before. I said that everybody at the church loved her and sent her prayers and love. And she tried to say something. She couldn’t really talk. But she said something that sounded like OK, Church, Good. Or maybe she was really saying, “Who are you? Get out of my room.” And then, she closed her eyes and went back to sleep.

Sitting with Mildred helped me. I don’t think I helped her much. But for the rest of the week, I felt something shift-- something changed inside of me. I felt my heart melt. There was a simple message that came through to me in sitting with Mildred, a message that cut through a lot of my confusion. There was a shift in my perspective. Everything looked a little different after I left Mildred’s room.

May it be so. Amen? Amen.     

#77 May 22
Sermon May 22
Gloria

Entering the World

 

*Closing Hymn     "Prayer of St. Francis"

 

*Benediction          Pastor Ed

*Sung Benediction "Go Now in Peace"

 

Go now in peace, never be afraid.

God will go with you each hour of everyday. Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true.

Know God will guide you in all you do. Go now in love, and show you believe.

Reach out to others so all the world can see. God will be there, around you and above.

Go now in peace, in faith and in love.

 

 

 

Postlude:                "You Raise Me Up'                               Loveland

 

*Those who are able please stand.

Postlude May 22
#406 May 22