Sunday Worship Service: Even in These Days…

For Reflection: “The special courage it takes to experience true belonging is not just about braving the wilderness, it’s about becoming the wilderness. It’s about breaking down the walls, abandoning our ideological bunkers and living from our wild heart rather than our weary hurt.” – Brene Brown, Braving the Wilderness

SomeHumor for the Day from Southminster’s Session Meeting on Thursday:

  • One of the bright spots of our current “social distancing” reality – people won’t have to grudgingly participate in Grubby Sundays!
  • March 29 was scheduled to be “alternative transportation Sunday.” We finally found a way to make that successful – just cancel church!
  • And wow, who knew that so many churches, collaborating together, could make such a difference in lowering energy costs and caring for the Earth.

Opening Hymn: Christ be our Light  [YouTube]

A Family Prayer and Passing of the Peace:
Lord, be beside us, every day, guiding and leading us gently always.
Lord be above us, help us to see the hope of the future, of all we could be.
Lord be beneath us, carry us when we’re too shattered or tired to really have strength.
Lord be ahead of us, smoothing our paths protecting and blessing the places we pass.
Lord be behind us, healing our wounds. Forgiving our mistakes and making us new.
Jesus, be within us, this family is yours. Now and always.
Pastor Don: May the Peace of Christ be with you. Congregation at Home: 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. 
Theme Reading: This past week Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of Los Angeles wrote about the concept of social distancing: “Every hand that we don’t shake must become a phone call that we place. Every embrace that we avoid must become a verbal expression of warmth and concern. Every inch and every foot that we physically place between ourselves and another must become a thought as to how we might be of help to others.”

Theme Reading: Maya Angelou speaking her poem, “And Still I Rise.” [YouTube]

Christian Reading:  Matthew 4:1-11 
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said, “If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.”

Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”

Then the devil took him to the holy city and had him stand on the highest point of the temple. “If you are the Son of God,” he said, “throw yourself down. For it is written:

“‘He will command his angels concerning you,
    and they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.’”

Jesus answered him, “It is also written: ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor. “All this I will give you,” he said, “if you will bow down and worship me.”

Jesus said to him, “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.’” Then the devil left him, and angels came and attended him.

“Even In These Days…” 
Rev. Don Ludwig

Responsive Hymn: “Be Not Afraid” [YouTube]
Take a moment to listen to the music, perhaps close your eyes, breathe deeply, and/or sing along 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).

God of comfort and counsel, 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 pause for this moment in our lives to be still and know that you are God. Teach us to fear not. We pray for a world that is in chaos and pain, for compassion to befriend the lonely, for courage in the midst of despair.

We pray for family and friends and those who are dear to us. We remember Allen Hawkins and Dave and Michael. We remember Peg Tyo and Rodger and Donna Bekooy, we remember little Alexander Moreno and Kristin and Alfredo…and others who are on our hearts – we lift them up to you now…..take a moment to pray and remember others…..  Grant each of them the compassion and courage to face their challenges with grace and purpose.

Even though we are physically apart, bind us together by your ever-present grace – help us to serve, and love, and grow together in hope – this day and forevermore. A-men.

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: A Lenten Blessing for you and your family:
In this season of Lent, as we remember all those times we have been in the wilderness. As we remember what challenges we have faced and what sustained us, we will do well to have our true name echoing in our ears. We will do well to claim our true identity that we, too, are the beloved of God. And so, I offer you a blessing as we close our service today. It is a poem I discovered this week by poet, Jan Richardson. It’s called Beloved Is Where We Begin.

If you would enter into the wilderness,
do not begin without a blessing

Do not leave without hearing who you are: Beloved,
named by the One who has traveled this path before you.

Do not go without letting it echo in your ears,
and if you find it is hard to let it into your heart
do not despair that is what this journey is for.

I cannot promise this blessing will free you from danger,
from fear, from hunger or thirst, from the scorching of sun
or the fall of the night.

But I can tell you that on this path there will be help.
I can tell you that on this way there will be rest.
I can tell you that you will know the strange graces that come to our aid
only on a road such as this,
that fly to meet us bearing comfort and strength,
that come alongside us for no other cause than to lean themselves
toward our ear and with their curious insistence whisper our name:

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.

After Worship Sunday Starter – “Focus on Climate Change”

Watch this video: Bill Moyers interviews Katharine Hayhoe (24 minutes)

Brief Overview of Interview: “The latest in a string of dire reports on climate change came this week from the United Nations’ meteorological advisory body, which said that the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere reached a new record high in 2013, due to a “surge” in carbon dioxide, prompting fears of an accelerated warming of the planet.

A majority of Americans think global warming is real and that human activity’s a factor, believing in the science behind reports on climate change. But some two-thirds of white evangelical Christians aren’t convinced.

In the face of those who use religion to deny the worldwide crisis of climate change, climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, an evangelical Christian, believes that her faith is compatible with science. This week she speaks to Bill about ending the gridlock between politics, science, and faith in order to find solutions to the widespread threats associated with global warming.”

“…The New Testament talks about how faith is the evidence of things not seen,” says Hayhoe, who was recently named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People. “By definition, science is the evidence of things that are seen, that can be observed, that are quantifiable. And so that’s why I see faith and science as two sides of the same coin.”

For Reflection: Question Prompts to Consider:

  1. Does this interview add to a more positive or negative understanding of those who use religion to deny climate change?
  2. How does traditional Christian scripture and tradition give us ideas on how we shape the dialogue about the climate crisis, e.g. with the Oregon Republican senators and representatives who are not appearing at state hearings? 
  3. How could Southminster stimulate discussion about the climate crisis with our community’s evangelical church members?