Good morning; and welcome to each of you. My name is Rev. Ian Kellogg; Bryan LeGrow, our Music Director, is behind the piano; and behind the iPhone is Brian Sampson, who is once again streaming this service through Facebook.
We are glad that you have joined us this Palm Sunday for an online gathering. Today is the first day of Holy Week 2020, and it promises to be one unlike any other. Despite not being together physically, we hope that spending time in this virtual space will bind us together in Spirit.
We carry this hope in our hearts today, Palm Sunday, when we remember the story of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem. It is a hope that will carry us through Monday when the story is about Jesus overturning the tables of money-changers at the Temple; through Tuesday with its focus on the teachings of Jesus in the City; into Wednesday when hear a story of Jesus anointed with oil as for burial; to Thursday when we remember a Last Supper in an Upper Room; through Friday, when we relive the trial and execution of Jesus; and finally to Holy Saturday when we wait in fear and trembling, and in hope and joy, for Easter.
Then, one week from today, Easter will come with a celebration of new life amid stories of resurrection. I hope you will gather online again in seven days to express joy despite of — and perhaps even because of — our current situation with its fears, with its unknowns, and with its surprising revelations.
Dear friends, welcome to Holy Week 2020!
Mill Woods United is a spiritual community where you can explore your purpose and place. Thank you to everyone for making this vision a reality in changed circumstances.
We welcome everyone regardless of belief, sexual orientation, gender identity, or cultural background. As an Affirming congregation we work to make this a place where all of us feel safe.
We also acknowledge the land on which we gather. The church building where the three of us have gathered is located on the traditional land of Treaty Six First Nations. We are all Treaty people, for which we give thanks.
Today, the whole of the service is a celebration of communion. Through the communion prayers, we will touch upon many of the stories of Holy Week.
I hope some of you have come to this livestream with a glass of juice and a morsel of bread. But even if you don’t have the physical elements for communion, I pray that everyone will feel embraced by the sacrament. Communion is a symbol of our unity. We are members and friends of Mill Woods United Church; we are part of the Body of Christ; and each of us is one precious drop in the great ocean of humanity, each one a child of the God who is Love.
Dear friends, may this brief time of song, story, and sacrament fill our hearts and minds with an awareness of how Love binds us into a beautiful tapestry — diverse, rich, and united.
Lighting the Christ Candle
And now as we usually do, we light a candle to start. If you happen to have a candle close to hand, please consider lighting it at this time as well.
Livestreaming worship can remind us that the entire world is holy. We call this room at Mill Woods United a sanctuary because it is a place of collective grief and joy, of prayer and song, and of the remembrance of what we hold most sacred.
But our homes contain all these same things. So, perhaps we can extend that awareness to wherever we are this morning. The entire earth is holy ground.
Brothers and sisters, may the flame of our Candle remind us of the light within us, which will guide us through Holy Week to the blinding light of Easter
God of Grace and Love,
In this delayed springtime, we turn our hearts and minds to questions of life and death, of hope and despair, and of painful journeys that lead to rebirth.
This week as we imagine that we are with Jesus in Jerusalem, may we be open to the spiritual highs of Holy Week and to its deep shadows.
And as we sing our way through the prayers of communion, may we be reminded that in the all the journeys of life, a thread of love exists that leads us to healing, to joy, and to new life.
May it be so. Amen.
Holy Communion — Invitation to the Table
Everyone is welcome at this Table — members and non-members, young and old, those who feel sure of their faith, and those filled with doubts. We are confident there is nothing we must do or believe to receive God’s Grace. All of us have come from Love, and to Love we all return; and so, I pray that you feel welcome.
We share this meal in a time of great need and with a Spirit of Love. We share it as a symbol of our own healing. We share it for the good of the world. We share it to nurture us for journeys that lead to justice, peace, and healing for all. We share it this Holy Week with others who are struggling around the world: with the sick and those who care for them; with the homeless and the refugee; with prisoners and the wrongly persecuted. We share it because it symbolizes the unshakeable bond that unites us as members of Mill Woods United and with all of struggling humanity. We share it because every week is a holy week and every place is holy ground. We share it to remind us that, although we are physically separate, we are one in the Spirit. We are One in Love.
Brothers and sisters, Holy Week has begun.
May we continue to walk through each day of the week with confidence; knowing that God’s Love is with us every step of the way; that the Grace of Jesus Christ is revealed in painful sacrifices and in joyous outbursts of enlightenment; and that the Holy Spirit is here both now and always to bring peace to every heart. May it be so. Amen.