The Presbyterian Church at Woodbury
May 2, 2021
Fifth Sunday of Easter
PRAYER OF PREPARATION
God, you promise never to forsake us, but to bring us to life, nurture us with your presence, and sustain us even in the hour of our death. Meet us in our deepest doubts when we feel abandoned, drowning in our fear of your absence. Visit us in the tension between our yearning and our anger, that we may know your mercy and grace in our time of need. Amen.
PRELUDE “Festival Prelude on ‘Coronation’”
CALL TO WORSHIP
God is love.
Those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them.
We love because God first loved us.
Those who abide in love, abide in God, and God abides in them.
CALL TO RECONCILIATION
Risen from the dead, Jesus Christ longs for us to know life in all of its fullness, offering us renewal and refreshment, hope and forgiveness. Let us trust in the promise of Easter as we make our confession.
PRAYER FOR FORGIVENESS
Merciful God, in Jesus, our risen Lord, we have seen your glory. Yet our sinfulness often blocks out the light of Christ. We are quick to accuse and slow to confess. We find faults easily in others, while ignoring our own shortcomings. We have squandered your gifts. We have turned from your ways We have ignored your Word. Have mercy on us, compassionate God. Pour out your Holy Spirit on our sinful lives. Wash us with your love and cleanse us with your grace, that day by day we might move closer to the people you would us be. Amen.
Silence is observed
ASSURANCE OF PARDON
The resurrection of Jesus shows us the grace of God is stronger than death and the love of God has no boundary. This is good news! In Jesus Christ we are forgiven!
PASSING OF THE PEACE OF CHRIST
In sharing the peace of Christ, we express the reconciliation, unity, and love that come only from God, and we open ourselves to the power of God’s love to heal our brokenness and make us agents of that love in the world. Since God has forgiven us in Christ, let us forgive one another. The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
And also with you.
ANTHEM “Endless Song” Douglas Wagner
(all children will remain in the sanctuary)
PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION
SCRIPTURE John 15:1-8
15 ”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
SERMON Rev. Tawyna Denise Anderson
On Sunday, May 2, 2021, we will welcome Rev. Tawnya Denise Anderson. Denise is the former Co-moderator of the 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the PCUSA and is currently Acting Director at Racial Equity & Women’s Intercultural Ministries in Louisville, KY. She was born in Oxford, England, attended Virginia Common Wealth University and Howard University. Denise is a writer/blogger at SOULa Sciptura and contributor at RevGalBlogPals. We are delighted to have her here to help celebrate our Tricentennial.
AFFIRMATION OF FAITH The Apostles’ Creed
I BELIEVE in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth,
And in Jesus Christ his only Son our Lord; who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried; he descended into hell; the third day he rose again from the dead; he ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty; from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost; the holy catholic Church; the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body; and the life everlasting. Amen.
THE SACRAMENT OF HOLY COMMUNION
As we prepare to celebrate the Lord’s Supper,
I invite you to look at the elements before you — the bread . . . the juice.
There is probably nothing all that special about them.
Maybe you have this morning’s left-over French toast, a piece of Wonder bread,
a bagel from the grocery store.
Maybe you had to scrounge at the back of the refrigerator
for juice with a questionable expiration date,
or you’re hoping no one notices you’re celebrating with cranberry.
But there is beauty in the ordinary,
because in the work of the Spirit, the ordinary becomes holy.
As we break bread from miles apart,
Christ invites our ordinary selves, with our ordinary bread.
As we break bread from miles apart,
we bear witness to something we imagine from our sanctuary
but we cannot see — the expansive, far-reaching table of God. Siblings in Christ, your table may look like your kitchen table,
your coffee table,
your very own lap,
but it is an extension of the Lord’s great banquet, and from east and west and north and south,
you are invited to bear witness to an extraordinary meal in ordinary packaging —
a feast of grace, love, and hope
at the table in the kingdom of God.
Let us share in the feast that Christ has provided.
PRAYER OF THANKSGIVING
The Lord be with you.
And also with you.
Lift up your hearts.
We lift them up to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
It is right to give our thanks and praise.
While we long to return to normal,
to just be together, tasting the same bread,
sharing the same cup,
we cannot deny that there is still and is always
reason to bring our thanks and praise to you, abiding God. Just look at us, right here in this moment.
Even apart, we are together — your people, a community of
mutual support and love.
Even separated from our church home, we are never separated from you. As you guided the Israelites through their wilderness and wandering, never forgetting or failing them, despite their fear and impatience at the long journey to “normal,”
we trust that you are with us, too, laying a pathway to a new day. Thank you for today’s visible reminder that
no building can contain the promises
of your reliable presence with us and for us.
As our world yearns for stability and longs for the easing of ache, we wait in the quiet confidence of a people who know your Son. Jesus Christ, our Savior, modeled compassion for all.
He paid attention to suffering —
the anguish of health declined, and hearts broken, and hope waning. And he extended healing.
He formed a community of disciples, a rag-tag bunch like you and me, whom he gathered in — to teach and to love; whom he sent out —
to teach and to love.
So whether we are gathered or whether we are scattered, we are entrusted to the eternal promises,
of the one who lived, and died, and lived again,
to set us free from suffering and sin.
And so, we give thanks that, in Christ, new beginnings are possible.
Remembering your constant faithfulness across the tumult of all days, we give thanks for the signs of you, O God, with us —
in these ordinary gifts of bread and juice.
Pour out your Spirit upon us, wherever we may be,
And stir amidst these gifts of bread and cup
that they may be the communion of the body and blood of Christ. By your Spirit, unite us at your table, across the miles —
with one another, with your children in every time and place,
with the living Christ.
May the taste of grace on our tongues jog our memories of your faithfulness
and energize us to live out your love for us, through whatever tomorrow brings,
until we break bread at your table in glory.
And hear us as we pray in the quiet of our homes, or our hearts, wherever we may be,
the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray saying,
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory, forever. Amen.
WORDS OF INSTITUTION
The Lord Jesus, on the night of his arrest, took bread, and after giving thanks to God, he broke it,
and gave it to his disciples, saying:
This is my body, given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.
In the same way he took the cup, saying:
This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.
Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me. Every time you eat this bread and drink this cup
you proclaim the saving death of the risen Lord,
until he comes.
BREAKING BREAD & POURING OF THE CUP
You are now invited to take a bite of your bread and to taste the mystery of God’s grace.
You are now invited to take a sip from your cup and to taste the mystery of God’s grace.
Holy God, even when all of this is over,
may we not forget how you held us together while we were apart, how you built a table across the miles,
how you call us to continue the work of table-building.
We ask this in the name of Jesus Christ.
TRICENTENNIAL MOMENT Women of the Church Jean Hills
OFFERING OF TITHES & OFFERINGS
With gratitude for God’s faithfulness and with thanksgiving for all that we have received, let us bring our gifts to God.
PRAYER OF DEDICATION
O God, with faith and hope, we offer these gifts. Use them, even as you use us, to accomplish your purposes in Jesus Christ, the Head of the church and the Lord of our lives. Amen.
Let us go from this place trusting that God is with us and for us in every place. May the grace of our Lord Jesus, the love of God and the companionship of the Holy Spirit be with you and abide with you this day and forevermore. Amen.