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The Parish Gathering – March 29, 2020

Series: Community Amidst the Coronavirus

Please participate in the following liturgy, reading aloud all the parts in bold italics.


Invitation

To all who are weary and need rest,
To all who mourn and long for comfort,
To all who feel worthless and wonder if God cares,
To all who fail and desire strength,
To all who sin and need a Savior,
The Church opens wide her doors
With a welcome from Jesus Christ,
The Ally of his enemies,
The Defender of the guilty,
The Justifier of the inexcusable,
The Friend of sinners.
Welcome!


Call to Worship

Are any among us suffering?
We will pray.
Are any cheerful?
We will sing songs of praise.
Are any sick?
We will call on the name of the Lord.
Have any walked in the way of sin?
We confess our sins to each other.

Father God, Creator & Sustainer of all things,
we turn our hearts to You.
Lord Jesus, Author & Finisher of our faith,
we fix our eyes on You.
Holy Spirit, Comforter & Counselor within,
we open our hearts to You.
Amen.


Stillness

(A moment to breathe, still our hearts, and loosen the tightness in our chests)

Lord, open our lips.
And our mouth will proclaim Your praise.
O God, make speed to save us.
O Lord, make haste to help us.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit:
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen.


The Good News (Part 1)

from John 11:1-16

A certain man, Lazarus, was ill. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. (This was the Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped his feet with her hair. Her brother Lazarus was ill.) So the sisters sent word to Jesus, saying, “Lord, the one whom you love is ill.”

When he heard this, Jesus said, “This illness isn’t fatal. It’s for the glory of God so that God’s Son can be glorified through it.”

Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. When he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed where he was. After two days, he said to his disciples, “Let’s return to Judea again… Our friend Lazarus is sleeping, but I am going in order to wake him up.”

The disciples said, “Lord, if he’s sleeping, he will get well.” They thought Jesus meant that Lazarus was in a deep sleep, but Jesus had spoken about Lazarus’ death. Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died. For your sakes, I’m glad I wasn’t there so that you can believe. Let’s go to him.”

Then Thomas said to the other disciples, “Let us go too so that we may die with Jesus.”

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to You, Lord Christ


Opening Song: His Mercy is More

What love could remember, no wrongs we have done
Omniscient, all-knowing, He counts not their sum
Thrown into a sea without bottom or shore
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more

Praise the Lord
His mercy is more
Stronger than darkness
New every morn’
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more

What patience would wait as we constantly roam
What Father so tender is calling us home
He welcomes the weakest, the vilest, the poor
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more

Praise the Lord
His mercy is more
Stronger than darkness
New every morn’
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more

What riches of kindness He lavished on us
His blood was the payment, His life was the cost
We stood ‘neath a debt we could never afford
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more

Praise the Lord
His mercy is more
Stronger than darkness
New every morn’
Our sins they are many, His mercy is more


Prayers of the People

The Lord be with you
And with your spirit.
Let us pray.

Lord, have mercy
Christ, have mercy
Lord, have mercy

O God, in view of the great love and mercy you have shown us,
We pray for our world:

Offer a spontaneous prayer for the welfare of the world (unmute your microphone and speak for all to hear)

Lord in Your mercy,
Hear our Prayer.

God, we place all your people into your care,
whether gathered or scattered around the world,
we lift up your Church, its members, and mission:

Offer a spontaneous prayer for the Church around the world (unmute your microphone and speak for all to hear)

Lord in Your mercy,
Hear our Prayer.

We lift up our prayers for the community around us,
all in Atlanta, North Fulton, Forysth, Cobb, and Gwinnett counties,
and for the community even nearer to us,
those we love and neighbor:

Offer a spontaneous prayer for all whose lives are closely linked with ours (unmute your microphone and speak for all to hear)

Lord in Your mercy,
Hear our Prayer.

We hold up in your great light those in the darkness of deep pain,
those who suffer, all who are sick,
and the many who are worn down:

Offer a spontaneous prayer for all who suffer or are in trouble (unmute your microphone and speak for all to hear)

Lord in Your mercy,
Hear our Prayer.

Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy.


The Good News (Part 2)

from John 11:17-27

When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days… Many Jews had come to comfort Martha and Mary after their brother’s death. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him, while Mary remained in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died. Even now I know that whatever you ask God, God will give you.”

Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha replied, “I know that he will rise in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me will live, even though they die. Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, God’s Son, the one who is coming into the world.”

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to You, Lord Christ


The Apostles Creed

In the passage above, Martha expresses her belief even in the midst of great grief and loss. So too we are anchored in the life of faith by what we believe in both our heads and hearts. May these beliefs shape who we are becoming:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the Virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic* Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

* In the creeds, “catholic” does not refer to the Roman Catholic church or any one particular branch of the global Church, but rather the wholeness of the whole church in all times and places.


Confession & Assurance

Let us confess our sins against God and our neighbor:

All:
Most merciful God, we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.

We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves.
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent.

For the sake of Your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;

that we may delight in Your will,
and walk in Your ways, to the glory of Your Name.
Amen.

Silent confession (space to confess our sins and wait in God’s presence).

The Lord has already shown you mercy.
The Lord has already had compassion on you.
The cross of Jesus has turned mourning into dancing,
And washed clean the ashes of repentance.
Jesus strengthens our weak knees
When we still have a long way to go.
Be free! We are forgiven.
Laugh out loud! We are forgiven.
Love God with everything! We are loved.

Silent assurance (space to receive God’s merciful love and say “thank you” in response)


The Good News (Part 3)

from John 11:32-37

When Mary arrived where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died.”

When Jesus saw her crying and the Jews who had come with her crying also, he was deeply disturbed and troubled. He asked, “Where have you laid him?”

They replied, “Lord, come and see.”

Jesus began to cry.

The Jews said, “See how much he loved him!” But some of them said, “He healed the eyes of the man born blind. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to You, Lord Christ


Homily

Sacrament of Desire

There are many times and places in Church history where participating in Communion was not possible (times of persecution, martyrdom, imprisonment, famine, sickness, and warfare).

While our gatherings are always intended to reach their apex at the Lord’s Table, God is not limited to the physical partaking of the elements as a means of mediating grace into our lives.

In times when communion cannot be taken physically, a Sacrament of Desire is made available instead. The Book of Common Prayer describes this sacrament, saying:

…anyone who “truly repents and steadfastly believes that Jesus Christ has suffered death upon the cross for him . . . remembers the benefits [of the cross] . . . gives thanks . . . doth eat and drink the Body and Blood of our Savior . . . even though he does not receive the Sacrament with his mouth” (1928 BCP, p. 323).

In keeping with this tradition, we’ll engage now a Liturgy of the Table culminating in a prayer which expresses desire to receive God’s grace.


The Great 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.

We praise you and we bless you,
holy and gracious God,
source of life abundant.
From before time you made ready the creation.
Your Spirit moved over the deep and brought all things into being;
sun, moon, and stars; earth, winds and waters;
and every living thing.

You made us in Your image, and taught us to walk in Your ways.
But we rebelled against you, and wandered far away;
and yet, as a mother cares for her children, you would not forget us.
Time and again you called us to live in the fullness of Your love.

And so this day with join with Saints and Angels
in the chorus of praise that rings through eternity,
lifting our voices to bless you we say:

Holy, Holy, Holy
Lord God Almighty
heaven and earth are full of Your glory,
Glory to you, O Lord most high.

Is the Father with us?
He is.
Is Christ among us?
He is.
Is the Spirit here?
He is.

This is our God.
Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
We are his people.
We are redeemed.

Therefore we proclaim the mystery of our faith:
Christ has died. Christ is risen. Christ will come again.

Now, in union, O Lord with the faithful at every altar of Your Church,
where the Great Thanksgiving is celebrated,
I desire to offer my praise and thanksgiving too.

I present to You my soul and body
with the earnest prayer that I will remain united to you.

And since I cannot now receive You sacramentally,
I pray that you would come to me spiritually.

I unite myself to you, and embrace you with my soul’s affection.
Let nothing separate me from you,
that I may live and die in Your love.

Amen.


The Good News (Part 4)

from John 11:38-45

Jesus was deeply disturbed again when he came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone covered the entrance. Jesus said, “Remove the stone.”

Martha, the sister of the dead man, said, “Lord, the smell will be awful! He’s been dead four days.”

Jesus replied, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe, you will see God’s glory?” So they removed the stone. Jesus looked up and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. I know you always hear me. I say this for the benefit of the crowd standing here so that they will believe that you sent me.” Having said this, Jesus shouted with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his feet bound and his hands tied, and his face covered with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Untie him and let him go.”

Therefore, many of the Jews who came with Mary and saw what Jesus did believed in him.

The Gospel of the Lord
Praise to You, Lord Christ


Closing Song: O To Be Found

There is no place here on the earth
Away from Your presence, Lord
You know when I rise
You know when I fall
You see my ways

Before a word is yet on my tongue
You say You know it well
With Your own hand
You’ve authored my days
Unto Your will

O to be found by You
And to be made Your own
All that I am longs to be held
Safe in Your hands

With all my heart,
I’m seeking Your face
You are my one desire
Oh how I long to find
And be found by You

The height of the morning
The dead of the night
These are the same to You
Wherever I am, Lord You are there
Before and behind

Just as the water covers the sea
Your spirit covers me
As high as the heavens
As low as the pit
You’re with me still

O to be found by You
And to be made Your own
All that I am longs to be held
Safe in Your hands

Wherever I go
Your love and mercy follow me


The Cross of Christ

All our problems,
We send to the cross of Christ.
All our difficulties,
We send to the cross of Christ.
The trials of the desert,
We send to the cross of Christ.
All the devil’s works,
We send to the cross of Christ.


Benediction & Sending

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,
wherever he may send you.
May he guide you in the wilderness,
protect you in the storm.
May he bring you home rejoicing,
at the wonders he has shown you.
May he bring you home rejoicing,
once again into our doors.

In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
Amen.

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,
and the love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit,
be with us all evermore.

Go in peace, to love and serve the Lord.
Thanks be to God


3 Good Minutes (Optional)

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