Worship Without Walls

Trinity United Presbyterian Church                June 7, 2020

Prelude  Cry for the Desert                                                             Twila Paris

Opening Prayer[i]

Even—especially—in this time of loss and uncertainty, fear and death,

we come to worship God,

who loves us before we were yet born,

who knows us even better than we know ourselves,

whose presence never leaves us,

and whose love for us never ceases.


Call to Worship

When we are alone and afraid, O God, we come to you.

When we experience illness and death, O God, we come to you.

When we are overwhelmed and don’t know what to do, O God, we come to you.

When we mourn division and hatred, O God, we come to you

When we want to know the truth, O God, we come to you.

When we are losing hope, O God, we come to you.

*Opening Hymn How Firm a Foundation[ii]

1: How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word
What more can He say than to you He hath said
To you who for refuge to Jesus have fled

2: Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand

3: When through the deep waters I call thee to go
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress

4: When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie
My grace all sufficient shall be thy supply
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume and thy gold to refine

5: The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose
I will not, I will not desert to its foes
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake

Call to Confession:  Let us ask for God’s forgiveness for not believing God can handle whatever we are experiencing.

Prayer of Confession:
When we are ashamed of how we feel and try to hid it from you, forgive us.

When we act like all is well when things are far from well, forgive us.

When we don’t believe that you love us no matter what, forgive us.

When we don’t believe that you love others no matter what, forgive us.

When we give up instead of listening for your call, forgive us.

When we cease to believe you are at work, forgive us. (Silent confession)

Assurance of Pardon: Throughout all time, people trust in God and are delivered; they cry to God and are saved; they trust in God and are not put to shame. Our God is with us in every circumstance, loving us. Thanks be to God for the Good News:   In Jesus Christ, we are forgiven.

Gloria Patri: (Blue #579) Glory Be to the Father https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUBxpypSblw

Sharing of the Peace: The peace of Christ be with you.             And also with you.

Prayers of the People/Lord’s Prayer (traditional)                       

Celebration of Birthdays and Anniversaries                                          

Hymn  You Are Before Me, Lord [iii]                                                                 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VESwOhxYUMc (different words on video)

You are before me, Lord, You are behind.

And over me You have spread out Your hand;

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,

Too high to grasp, too great to understand.

Then from Your Spirit where, Lord, shall I go;

And from Your presence where, Lord, shall I fly?

If I ascend to heaven You are there,

and still are with me if in hell I lie.

If I should take my flight into the dawn,

If I should dwell on ocean’s farthest shore,

Your mighty hand will rest upon me still,

And Your right hand will guard me evermore

If I should say, “Let darkness cover me,

And I shall hide within the veil of night,”

Surely the darkness is not dark to You;

The night is as the day, the darkness light.

Search me, O God, search me and know my heart;

Try me, O God, my mind and spirit try;

Keep me from any path that gives You pain,

And lead me in the everlasting way.

* Doxology (Blue, #592)   Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ivaDXu27_IY

* Prayer of Dedication

May the words of our mouths, the dedication of our hearts,

and the gifts of our time, talents and money be acceptable

and pleasing in your sight, O Lord, our rock and our redeemer. Amen.

Prayer for Illumination Spirit of the Living God[iv]

Spirit of the living God, Fall afresh on me.

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

Melt me, mold me, Fill me, use me.

Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.

Scripture Reading: Psalm 22:1-11


Message Lamentation and Hope                                                     Pastor Len                                       

Confession of Faith: Psalm 139:7-12 (NIV)

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I fleefrom your presence?If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.

11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,”12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.

*Closing Hymn A Mighty Fortress Is Our God [v]

1A mighty Fortress is our God, A Bulwark never failing;
Our Helper He amid the flood Of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe Doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, And, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
2Did we in our own strength confide, Our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth His Name, From age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
3And though this world, with devils filled, Should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
The Prince of Darkness grim, We tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, For lo! his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him. (interlude)
4That word above all earthly powers, No thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours Through Him who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, This mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His Kingdom is forever.

*Charge and Benediction                                                Pastors Barb and Len

Postlude A Mighty Fortress Is Our God                                                        Gladhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yk8U58vfOoc

[i] By Christine Longhurst (slightly adapted) https://re-worship.blogspot.com/2011/05/mothers-day-call-to-worship.html

[ii] Words and Music – © OCP  

[iii] Words – ©1973 Estate of Ian Pitt-Watson, The Fuller Foundation TTEE

Music – ©1998 Hope Publishing Company

[iv] Words and Music – ©1982 Fred Bock Music Company

[v] Music – ©2016 Beckenhorst Press, Inc.

The above reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE #A-733426. All rights reserved.

Psalm 22:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)


My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer;

    and by night, but find no rest.

Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel.

In you our ancestors trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them.
To you they cried, and were saved;
    in you they trusted, and were not put to shame.

But I am a worm, and not human;

   scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
    they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
“Commit your cause to the Lord; let him deliver—
    let him rescue the one in whom he delights!”

Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
    you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
10 On you I was cast from my birth,
    and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
11 Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help.

New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Lamentation and Hope

Sermon by Len Hedges-Goettl

I’m not a complainer. I don’t mean to complain. I shouldn’t complain. I have nothing to complain about really. Stop whining and complaining!

We have all probably heard or even said one of these sayings. Complaining is often considered a weakness or personality flaw. Long-suffering without complaint is often held up as a virtue. Some Christians even believe that complaining is bad

or disrespectful and to “just suck it up and take it” is a Christ-like virtue.

Think of the Hymn: They crucified my Lord, and He never said a mumbalin’ word. They nailed Him to a tree and He never said a mumbalin’ word. They pierced Him in the side, and He never said a mumbalin’ word. The blood came trickalin’ down, and He never said a mumbalin’ word. He bowed His head and died, and He never said a mumbalin’ word. Not a word, not a word, not a word.

But then why does the opening of psalm 22 sound so familiar? “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Maybe the hymnist had it wrong after all!

Jesus is the perfect model for our behavior in this life. He prayed, He healed,

He loved, He spoke out against injustice, He praised people for their faith.

AND He cried out in complaint.

The Bible has many complaints or “laments” as they are called. You find them in the stories of the Israelites, you find them in the psalms, you hear them throughout the book of Job, there is even a whole book called Lamentations, and we hear it from the mouth of Jesus as he hung upon the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” He cried out and breathed his last, but not until after he cried out in lament.

 Rev. Lynn Miller, the author of the Presbyterian Women’s Horizons Bible Study for this year, which is titled “Into the Light: Finding Hope Through Prayers of Lament,” writes: the perceived absence of God is the heart of lament. Lament

is an emotional statement of sorrow or grief concerning an event in time – past, present, or future. “Lament is not whining” she writes. “(It) is not a pat on the head for people who are suffering or preyed on. Lament is not venting or blowing off steam.”

Instead, lament is communication with God that connects us to the world and the God who loves it and us. Lament helps us focus on actual situations. Lament is a prayer and lament is an opportunity to confess our faith in God whose promises are trustworthy. We lament IN ORDER TO HOPE.

The world is steeped in illness and economic distress. The world is suffering grief from the loss of hundreds of thousands, many who died without families saying goodbye. The world is dying from pollution and global warming. The world is shaking from racial injustice and bigotry and the suffering of the poor.

We have reason to wonder: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

We have reason to lament! WE NEED TO HOPE!

So this summer, Barb and I will be reaching for hope through some of the laments of the Bible. And the first lament is one of the bleakest. “My God, my God,

why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words

of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer; and by night,

but find no rest.”

Have you lost sleep these past weeks? Has the news in the papers, on the television, online or even over the phone from those we can’t be with unsettled your heart so much that you found no rest? It is time Church to raise our lament!

First, we need to address God, to take our complaint to the One with power

to rescue, heal, comfort and to change this world. We address God and announce the relationship between God and us, who are His people. We don’t address our complaint to God but to my God! The God we cry out to is the same God who is

in covenant relationship with us, the same God who claims us for His own, the God who loves us so much that we are called the children of God… AND SO WE ARE! God is our Father and we are calling on the head of our family in a time of distress.

Second, we describe our grievance or injustice to our God. We let God know exactly what is going on. In the psalm the one praying says “I am a worm, and not human; Scorned by others and despised by the people. All who seek to mock me; They make mouths at me, they shake their heads.” He is made to feel like a worm, like not even human. There are those even today who are treated like animals,

who feel less like “essential” and more like “disposable.”

I spoke to a Director of Nursing in a nursing home this week. She described the suffering of the past months and the heart-wrenching scenes of multiple deaths each day, the grief and exhaustion of the staff, and the ache of contacting families who could not be with the dying. So for this and for so many other reasons we pray a lament today to the God who is our Father. We cry out to our God who is family.

Finally, we include in our prayer of lament a statement of trust in God. Not a false trust or trust with no reason, but trust in God based on God’s saving actions in the past and trust in the relationship with God that still exists. Based on this trust we find HOPE that GOD WILL ACT! The God who always was and always is faithful!

The one praying the psalm says: “Yet is was you who took me from the womb;

you kept me safe on my mother’s breast. On you I was cast from my birth, and since my mother bore me YOU HAVE BEEN MY GOD. Do not be far from me for trouble is near and there is no one to help” and eventually the one prays:

“O my help, come quickly to my aid!”

We all have reason to trust in God whose Holy Spirit moved within us and

brought us to faith. We can all no doubt name times in the past when God acted

in our lives. In the eyes of the world my life, your life, our lives so far may look like the result of happenstance and chance. But when we look back in the eyes

of faith we can know times when God acted. God acted in my life, in your life,

in our lives to rescue, to comfort, to heal, to correct, TO GIVE HOPE.

God may seem absent at times but God is always with us.

His rod and his staff, they comfort us!

Or as Psalm 139 says:

Where can I go from you Spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?

If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.

If I take the wings of the mourning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,

Even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,” even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day,

for darkness is as light to you.

Take heart people of God, HAVE HOPE children of our Father.

Though all the world may seem dark,