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  • Rev. Sandra Larson

April 26 At-Home Worship & Activities

Updated: Aug 3, 2020

Pick what works for you!


Union Church, Newburgh NY

April 26, 2020

THOUGHT for REFLECTION “Be helpless, dumbfounded, unable to say yes or no. Then a stretcher will come from grace to gather us up.” — Jelaluddin Rumi

MUSIC suggestions:

Here I Am Lord Click here Sung by the writer/composer. Inspiring!

You Are Mine Click here

Lyrics: I will come to you in the silence, I will lift you from all your fear. You will hear my voice, I claim you as my choice, be still and know I am here. I am hope for all who are hopeless, I am eyes for all who long to see. In the shadows of the night I will be your light, come and rest in me. Refrain: Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come and follow me, I will bring you home; I love you and you are mine. I am strength for all the despairing, healing for the ones who dwell in shame. All the blind will see, the lame will all run free, and all will know my name. Repeat Refrain. I am the Word that leads all to freedom, I am the peace the world cannot give. I will call your name, embracing all your pain. Stand up, now and walk, and live! Repeat Refrain.

I’ve Got Peace Like A River Click here

Come Down, Lord Click here

Softly and Tenderly Click here Red hymnal 441

*See footnotes at END of worship order Lyrics: 1. Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide;

The darkness deepens; Lord with me abide.

When other helpers fail and comforts flee,

Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!

4. Come not in terror, as the King of kings,

But kind and good, with healing in Thy wings;

Tears for all woes, a heart for every plea.

Come, Friend of sinners, thus abide with me

CALL TO WORSHIP (solo or two voices)

We come to worship today needing inspiration in different ways.

Some of us need strength—to be energized, or inspired or because we face a big challenge. Some of us need hope, because we feel like giving up. Some of us need love because we are feeling alone. May God provide for us, whether through words or music, or quiet reflection. Thanks be to God who is among us, and whose Spirit is within us.


Lord Jesus, after your death and resurrection, you sent your followers into the world to proclaim your Gospel to the entire world. Give us initiative to ask deep faith questions. And send us into the world to bear witness to all you have done and will do in our lives and in the world.

We particularly pray for the countless people whose lives are being drastically affected be the pandemic; and for the U.S. President, all leaders of governments, business, medicine, and help organizations—that they find the wisdom, dedication, and courage to what is BEST for the most people.

And we pray for ourselves; and for those dear to our hearts—family and friends in this challenging time—give us fortitude and grace. And for those whose health is vulnerable, help them (and us) to more fully tap into your strength—for Richard, Gloria, Judith, and all whose health is compromised by age or other causes. Lord fill the world with your grace and hope. We pray, too for Union Church and churches throughout the world… We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

ANTHEM Come Down, Lord Click here Union Chancel Choir

Lyrics: Refrain: Come down, Lord; dwell among us today. Come down, Lord. Send your Spirit, O Lord, we pray. We are gathered in your name, Lord, we are here to life you up; We are praising who you are, Lord, you’re the Life that fills our cup. We’re believing all you’ve taught us; as we live from day to day; we are asking for your blessing, and as one we come to say: Won’t you Come down, Lord; Dwell among us today. Come down, Lord; Send your Spirit, O Lord, today. We are in your loving family, we are one in heart and soul; We rejoice in your salvation, for your Word has made us while. Bless the infants, bless the children, bless the young and bless the old; Be our Master be our Shepherd; as we gather in your fold. Repeat Refrain.

GOSPEL LESSON Luke 24:13-35 (highlights added by Sandy)

Two of Jesus' disciples were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing, Jesus himself came near and went with them, but their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What are you discussing with each other while you walk along?” They stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only stranger in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have taken place there in these days?” He asked them, “What things?” They replied, “The things about Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and leaders handed him over to be condemned to death and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things took place. Moreover, some women of our group astounded us. They were at the tomb early this morning, and when they did not find his body there, they came back and told us that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said; but they did not see him.” Then he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared! Was it not necessary that the Messiah should suffer these things and then enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them the things about himself in all the scriptures.

As they came near the village to which they were going, he walked ahead as if he were going on. But they urged him strongly, saying, “Stay with us, because it is almost evening and the day is now nearly over.” So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened, and they recognized him; and he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?” That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven and their companions gathered together. They were saying, “The Lord has risen indeed, and he has appeared to Simon!” Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

SERMON MEDITATION Faith Now Rev. Sandy Larson Click here for video Txt (see end)

HYMN Emmaus-Bound Carolyn Winfrey Gillette Click here Tune: Though I May Speak

Lyrics: Emmaus-bound on Easter Day, Two travelers walked along the way. They'd once had hope, but hope had died When you, O Lord, were crucified.

When you appeared beside the two, They could not see that it was you; But as they talked and shared their pain, You gave them hope and joy again.

For as you spoke to them God's word, Explaining all they'd seen and heard, They understood what God had done And that a new day had begun.

They shared their home; you broke the bread. They saw you, risen from the dead! That moment's grace helped them to see The gift of God's eternity.

In scripture and at table, too, O Risen Lord, may we know you. And may your presence give us grace To share God's love in every place.

BENEDICTION based on 1 Cor 16:13, 14; and 2 Cor 13:13. Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous and strong. Let all that you do be done in love. And the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you.

Gracious Savior, abide with us, and through the power of your Spirit, enable us to voice our witness to your saving grace in our world today. Amen


*Abide With Me background

"Abide with me," could easily have been the words spoken by the two men on their way to Emmaus. Jesus had walked with them, opening the Scriptures and as evening drew near, they asked him, "stay with us..."

Henry Lyte, the hymn's author, wrote it as a prayer in his dying hours. He had just preached his last sermon and he recalled how a friend who died earlier had quoted the words of the two men, "Stay with us, for it is towards evening..."

As we observe the dark struggles of our broken world today, we may also feel it is growing towards "eventide." But remember, for these men, a new day dawned when they discovered it was the risen Jesus who accompanied them. Lyte also proclaimed it in his last words, "Where is death's sting; where grave thy victory? I triumph still, if thou abide with me."

ACTIVITIES – Pick those that interest you!

FOR CHILDREN Jesus is with me wheel (see attachment)


Jesus’ detractors thought death would silence him.

They nailed him to a tree.

But I am sure he rose again—because he walks with me.

I never envy those who heard him preach in Galilee.

For since my heart has turned to him, He daily walks with me.

I never wish that I had walked with him beside the sea;

For here and now on every street, He often walks with me.

They thought death could conquer him. They nailed him to a tree.

Yet I know he conquered death, because he walks with me!

POEM: Presbyterian pastor-poet, Thomas John Carlisle explained in a poem entitled, No Accident [excerpts Celebration p.36]

We, too, are inspectors of the resurrection. The relevance of revelation waits on our manner of handling what evidence is available to us, our style of seeing, our way of feeling and perceiving, until we see with spiritual vision.

Uncertainty is a fertile area to nurture meaning and enthusiasm. By acknowledging uncertainty, we come face to face with our freedom, not an illusory freedom, but authentic freedom to act, and to make a difference in the world. Confronting uncertainty affords new possibilities yet it also creates anxiety, since it opens possibilities for evil as well as good—depending on how we respond. We dread uncertainty, yet without it, nothing would be renewed. Even in order to walk, we must cross over a brief moment of imbalance.

  • What uncertainties have you experienced in the past? In what way(s) did they diminish you? In what way(s) has not having answers precipitated renewed life?

  • Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the replenishing rest we take between two deep breaths, or the turning inwards in prayer for five short minutes.

— Etty Hillesum

ACTION MEDITATION: Enter into the Gospel Story today and throughout the coming month: On the road to Emmaus: Luke 24.13-3

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you “show up”, to be aware of yourself and of God. Listen to Jesus’ own invitation!

Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God.

Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage.

The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace.

The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant.

They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense.

"This is your Father you are dealing with and He knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply.” —Matthew 6.6-8, The Message

  • Try entering into these scenes as if you were actually there. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the gift of encountering Jesus tonight as did those described in these passages. As Ignatius of Loyola wrote, “I let myself be totally present to the scene, hearing the nuances of the questions, seeing the expression in the face and eyes, watching the gestures and movements which tell us so much about a person”

  • Carefully go over the passage. Let it come alive by engaging your sense of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Imagine the feelings of the different people in the story. Notice how our triune God works as well! Pray along the way. Discuss your own fears, hopes, and desires with God. Notice your feelings and listen to any thoughts the Holy Spirit brings to your mind.

  • You might want to put yourself in the place of each of these folks for awhile. Ask yourself questions such as: How would I feel if I were one of the Shepherds? Wise men? Mary? In what ways do I identify with them? Their fears? Excitement? Risk taking?

  • You might rewrite or paraphrase the event as if you were in their place or as if describing it from their point of view.

  • Write about any impressions, insights, challenges, or invitations God is giving to you in the process. Is there anything you discovered about yourself? About God?

FOR REFLECTION “We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there 'is' such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action.” —Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

How can you help make a positive difference today?

1940’S REVIVAL SONG Oh, I ain’t got weary yet,

No, I ain’t got weary yet,

I’ve worked for the Lord

For a long, long time, And I ain’t got weary yet!

HUMOR (with a worthwhile message) How the Virus Stole Easter by Kristi Bothur with a nod to Dr. Seuss’ Grinch story

‘Twas late in '19 when the virus began

Bringing chaos and fear to all people, each land.

People were sick, hospitals full,

Doctors overwhelmed, no one in school.

As winter gave way to the promise of spring,

The virus raged on, touching peasant and king.

People hid in their homes from the enemy unseen.

They YouTubed and Zoomed, social-distanced, and cleaned.

April approached and churches were closed.

"There won't be an Easter," the world supposed.

"There won't be church services, and egg hunts are out.

No reason for new dresses when we can't go about."

Holy Week started, as bleak as the rest.

The world was focused on masks and on tests.

"Easter can't happen this year," it proclaimed.

"Online and at home, it just won't be the same."

Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, the days came and went.

The virus pressed on; it just wouldn't relent.

The world woke on Sunday and nothing had changed. The virus still menaced, the people, estranged.

"Pooh pooh to the saints," the world, was grumbling.

"They're finding out now that no Easter is coming.

"They're just waking up! We know just what they'll do!"

Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,

And then the saints will all cry boo-hoo.

"That noise," said the world, "will be something to hear."

So it paused and the world put a hand to its ear.

And it did hear a sound coming through all the skies.

It started down low, then it started to rise.

But the sound wasn't depressed. Why, this sound was triumphant!

It couldn't be so! But it grew with abundance!

The world stared around, popping its eyes.

Then it shook! What it saw was a shocking surprise!

Every saint in every nation, the tall and the small,

Was celebrating Jesus in spite of it all!

It hadn't stopped Easter from coming! It came!

Somehow or other, it came just the same!

And the world with its life quite struck in quarantine

Stood puzzling and puzzling. Just how can it be?"

It came without bonnets. It came without bunnies,

It came without egg hunts, cantatas or money."

Then the world thought of something it hadn't before.

"Maybe Easter," it thought, "doesn't come from a store.

Maybe Easter, perhaps, means a little bit more."

And what happened then? Well... the story's not done.

What will YOU do? Will you share with that one

Or two or more people needing hope in this night?

Will you share the source of life in this fight?

The churches are empty - but so is the tomb.

And Jesus is victor over death, doom and gloom.

So this year at Easter, let this be our prayer,

As the virus still rages all around, everywhere.

May the world see hope when it looks at God's people. May the world see the church is not a building or steeple.

May the world find Faith in Jesus' death and resurrection,

May the world find Joy in a time of dejection.

May 2020 be known as the year of survival,

But not only that — Let it start a revival.


Requires 6 Players: Player 6=Jesus; Players 1 & 3 can both be played by one person; and players 2 & 4 & 5 can all be played by one person.

Optional choreography: Players 1 and 2 are close friends, talking together. Players 3 and 4 are close friends, talking together. Players 1-5 proceed and say lines while 1 and 2 walk from elsewhere in the room, Player 6 remains seated, apart.

Player 1: (to player 2) I can’t believe He is gone. He was so amazing.

Player 2: (to player 1) I don’t understand why He had to leave us. I just don’t get it

Player 3: (to player 4) Do you remember how he told us that the meek will inherit the earth?

Player 4: (to player 3) Yea, and that the pure in heart will see God.

Player 1: I didn’t know He was going away so soon.

Player 3: I thought we’d have more time with him

Player 4: When he looked at me I felt like He had known me my whole life.

Player 3: Yea, ME too. I really miss Him.

Player 5: He wasn’t just an ordinary guy.

Player 1: Remember how He raised Lazarus from the dead?

Player 2: Yea, unbelievable. He did some incredible things.

Player 3: Remember when even the winds and waves obeyed him on the waters?

Player 4: Remember when he healed the paralyzed man? He just got up and walked!

Player 5 : I can’t believe all that has happened.

Player 1: I can’t believe He is not here anymore.

Player 2: I remember how he said that Heaven and earth will pass away but His words will never pass away.

Player 3: And He said how it was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle…

Player 4: Than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.

Player 5: And I know he taught us to always pray and not lose heart…(freeze with your face up to sound room side balcony, script down and hands clasped. Ignore oncoming Player 6.

Player 6: (Running to Player 5, intensely) Hey, what’s going on, Eleanor? (Then running to Players 3 and 4) What have you all been talking about?

Player 3: (Ignoring Player 6 as if invisible) He was such a wonderful prophet. (Freeze)

Player 4: (still to Player 3) He taught us so much. (Freeze)

Player 6: (to 1-4) Hey, who are you talking about?

Player 1: (ignoring Player 6, speaking to 2) He was so powerful in everything he said. (freeze)

Player 2: (to 1) Can you believe he wasn’t in the tomb? (Freeze)

Player 6: (Stepping up steps to behind communion table, while delivering lines, as if to God above) I explained to them all the scriptures. I told them everything… but they still do not understand who I am. What do I have to do to make them see? (in frustration Break the crispy, stale BAGUETTE bread that is sitting on the communion table. Break it high above the table, then lay it down and run out the sound room door)


SERMON MEDITATION (text) Faith Now Luke 24.13-35 Sandy Larson

A dad stood by his little son’s bed as he kneeled and prayed:

“God, make me like my daddy—big and strong and smart.” The dad left his son’s room deep in thought and then and prayed:

“Lord, make me like my child—obedient, faithful, and trusting.” Most of the time, we know that God is awesome. Yet as pandemic rages, we feel shaken. For almost every Christian, faith rises and falls like tides of an invisible sea. Those who ask hard faith questions and persevere to discern answers usually find joy, peace, hope and/or love. God is an awesome God!

The Gospels tell about experiences of Jesus’ disciples after his death. The disciples were grieving the loss of their leader and friend. They followed his instructions to remain together; and that solidarity helped. Yet they had different reactions and experiences of loss, so they struggled to support one another, and even squabbled. They each felt grief in their own way and in their own timing. Just as people today face the fears and isolation of pandemic in different ways. They lost not only a leader and friend. They lost the vision that had inspired them to given up their daily life to pursue. What were they to do now? Jesus was no longer there to lead them. Yet his vision and hope-infused message remained with them. That had experienced Jesus’ demonstrations that God loves the world…and then even Jesus himself reassured them. Shortly thereafter, they were filled with the Holy Spirit to guide and nurture them through whatever they faced.

Please envision with me what it might have been like for one of Jesus’ grieving yet hopeful disciples walking back to his village of Emmaus after Jesus died on the cross. Envision what one of Jesus’ grieving followers might say to us in the midst of our tragedy and loss. The man from Emmaus seems to want to talk about his experiences with Jesus and his grief and his encounter on the road to Emmaus. Envision what he might want to say to us. Perhaps something like this:

Have you experienced your own walk to Emmaus? Cleopas and I were just average folks, but we had been inspired by Jesus. But then he died. Jesus told us just to wait with one another. Wait for what, we did not know. But we knew something was yet to happen that would change our lives forever. Don’t get me wrong: Cleopas and I did not become prominent in the early Church. But our encounter with Jesus led us to tell the other disciples as soon as we could. The NT Gospel recounts our story, saying, “That same hour they got up and returned to Jerusalem. Then they told what had happened on the road, and how Jesus had been made known to them in the breaking of the bread.” I don’t know who first rerecorded that Jesus “had been known to them,” but it doesn’t matter. Anyone who learns about Jesus can have their EYES OPENED AND HEARTS ON FIRE…And anyone who met Jesus would want to tell everyone about him. We had heard reports that Jesus was alive! But we couldn’t actually believe it. We had heard Jesus say that he would come again after he died—but we thought he was talking about…well, we didn’t know what Jesus meant. And besides, like children who cannot imagine that their parent might die, we could not believe Jesus was going to die. And I confess, we didn’t pay enough attention when Jesus got preachy, if you know what I mean.

The risen Jesus had already appeared at the side of his own grave. Then, Jesus walked beside us on the road to Emmaus. He talked about God’s law and the prophets pointing to God’s love and total forgiveness. I am embarrassed to admit that we did not recognize him. Even so, his explanation opened our eyes more widely to God’s BIG story. I wonder if you also have the problem of not recognizing Jesus in your life, even though you have access to the Holy Spirit. Do you refuse to see because you’re skeptical that he can actually be with you? As we neared Emmaus, Jesus asked, “Is there anything to eat?”

We gave him food—and he ate. Jesus probably knew that we still could fathom his being present with us, so he ate to prove that he wasn’t a figment of the imagination. Surely a spirit can’t eat food, except maybe in your modern cartoons or paranormal movies—Why do you moderns watch that disturbing stuff, anyway???

When it finally became clear to us that Jesus was there with us, we were so amazed that we could barely move. We still couldn’t really believe it even though during his ministry we had seen Jesus cure people who’d been crippled for years, and even bring people back from the dead…So why couldn’t Jesus come back from the dead, too? Jesus claimed the power of God. We finally began to see: Jesus did possess the power of God!

But then, the risen Jesus told us that it was our job to spread the word of God’s power and love! He said we should start in Jerusalem and spread the word to ALL nations! We didn’t really think about what he meant by that. We were so nationalistic, that it was hard to imagine telling people in OTHER countries about God’s vision for the world. We worried that people might think we are frantic, fanciful, fanatical fruitcakes. (English is fun when you get a feel for it!)

When we began to realize what Jesus was all about, we wanted to tell everyone we met. Yet, what could we say to get people to believe it? Jesus reassured us: “You are witnesses of these things. I am sending you out. And, as my Father promised, you will receive power from on high.”

Talk about high? We were so high (spiritually) that we couldn’t see straight.

We began to spout our experience of Jesus to everyone we met, as if we were high on wine.

Yet it was real. We did a LOT of soul searching and praying. We knew that his resurrection would radically change our lives. Christ would even give us ETERNAL life—starting NOW!

It was comforting and reassuring for us to know we all had similar experiences of Jesus. I’m grateful that we stuck together, kind of like you in your modern congregations. We were on fire with enthusiasm. We supported each other in victories and through harrowing defeats.

Friends of the 21st century, because you did not meet Jesus face-to-face, you need even greater faith than ours. Yet Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet come to believe.” You are blessed with the Holy Spirit. The same Spirit that empowered us on the first Pentecost empowers. You have another advantage. You know the far-reaching importance of Jesus’ gifts to the world.

I pray that you will receive Jesus’ blessings anew, again and again, and you will know the great joy that those of us who walked with Jesus during his ministry You live in difficult challenges in the midst of a cynical, self-absorbed society, so I hope you will share your joy with others who are hurting. Jesus reassured us, over and again, “Peace be with you!” Peace be with you, fellow believers! God’s love is awesome! Christ will be with you even (especially) in the midst of difficulties and uncertainty. Amen.

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