Sunday Worship Service: A Place Beyond Fear and Hope

“In difficult times it takes effort to stay grounded in the present, but it is only there, that we will find a place unclouded by hope and fear.”
– Margaret Wheatley

Welcome Humor for the Day:

  1. The Corona Virus – 19 through the eyes of a teenager:  When Pastor Don told his son Tony that we were not going to have Sunday morning worship services for a month, Tony said: “Oh, Dad….that means that we won’t be able to have donuts for four weeks”.
  2. Recently the World Health Organization (WHO) declared that the coronavirus cannot be spread by animals or pets.  So I guess that means, WHO let the dogs out!

Hebrew Reading: Psalm 109: 21-25  

21 But you, Sovereign Lord,
    help me for your name’s sake;
    out of the goodness of your love, deliver me.
22 For I am poor and needy,
    and my heart is wounded within me.
23 I fade away like an evening shadow;
    I am shaken off like a locust.
24 My knees give way from fasting;
    my body is thin and gaunt.
25 I am an object of scorn to my accusers;
    when they see me, they shake their heads.

Children’s Prayer and Passing of the Peace: May we each take a moment to think about the children and youth at Southminster and throughout our community and world.  May each of them be safe from harm, have food to eat in this time of uncertainly, and know that they are loved.  May we always strive toward peace in all ways, and at all times.  Pastor Don: May the Peace of Christ be with you.  Congregation: And also with you.  Pastor Don: Consider three ways that you can extend peace to one another this week through a phone call, text or email. 

Christian Reading: Matthew 5: 1-12 — The Beatitudes
Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them.  Jesus said:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
    for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 
12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Theme Reading: Thomas Merton, Christian mystic, counseling a despairing friend “Do not depend on the hope of results … you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect.  As you get used to this idea, you start more and more to concentrate not on the results, but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself …you gradually struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people.  … In the end, it is the reality of personal relationship that saves everything.”

“A Place Beyond Fear and Hope”
Rev. Don Ludwig

Inspirational Video (reflection from sermon, 1 minute)COVID-19 — Italy’s Emotional Lift to its Countrymen

Music and Meditation Video (3 minutes): Pavoratti’s performance of Nessun Dorma “Let No One Sleep”

  • Take a moment to listen to the music, perhaps close your eyes, breathe deeply, and simply be in this moment!

Pastoral Prayer:  “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear” (Psalms 46:1-2)

Let us pray: God of comfort and council, may we find a place that is beyond fear and hope.  May we know and experience the power of community even when we are distant from one another.  We pray particularly for those who are grieving because of this virus, reeling from the sudden loss of loved-ones. May they somehow know your fellowship in their suffering, your comfort in their loss, and your hope in their despair. We name before you those known to us who are vulnerable and scared – the frail, the sick and the elderly…….(take a moment to lift them up).  We also name those who are dear and near to us that are experiencing loss and trials and tribulations: for Matt and Val Schulze, Tamara Sale and family, Allen Hawkins and Dave and Michael, Roger Bekooy (and we lift up those on our hearts that we name now….).  ////   With all of God’s people everywhere and our community at Southminster, we pray/sing the words of the following hymn/prayer.

Hymn/Prayer of Response: Guide Us To Openness
Words by The Rev. W. Robert Martin, III; Sung to tune of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” 

Guide us to openness, Spirit of mercy,
Aid us in seeking God’s justice and grace.
Move us to show Christ’s compassion through witness,
Love first to offer and hate to erase.
Guide us to openness! Guide us to openness!
Let no one ever be shunned or denied.
Make of the Church a bold place of compassion,
That all who seek You may come and abide.

Spirit of tenderness, impart Your presence,
Fill both our hearts and our hands with Your care.
Let no one suffer or grieve unattended,
Grant us Your kindness and warmth here to share.
Guide us to openness! Guide us to openness!
Let no one ever be shunned or denied.
Make of the Church a bold place of compassion,
That all who seek You may come and abide.

Though there are those who would limit Christ’s graces,
Still we refuse to believe in such lies,
For in this time we have made a commitment
Never to limit love’s power or size.
Guide us to openness! Guide us to openness!
Let no one ever be shunned or denied.
Make of the Church a bold place of compassion,
That all who seek You may come and abide.

Time for Offering: 

As we reflect on all of our blessings, individually and as a community, may we consider how we may give of ourselves so that the work of Christ’s love and peace may continue throughout our world. (Please contact, or one of our Trustees to discover simple ways you may give electronically or via mail.  Thank you for supporting the staff and on-going ministries of Southminster Presbyterian Church).

Final Blessing: 

Friends, Ubuntu is a Zulu word that means, I am because we are. Southminster serves as a place for affirmation and inclusivity and faith and most importantly “community”.  We are a gathering space for those seeking to transform the world. We need it, we need you, we need us. We hope that everyone in our midst will continue to make connections, share their passions, and find a way to love each other in this virtual world that we are creating. There is a place beyond Fear and Hope and it’s right here…in you…in me…with us.  

May the God above, grant you hope and comfort, may the God below you, keep you grounded, and may the God beside you, walk with you today and forevermore.  A-men.