ANNOUNCEMENTS

Good morning, everyone!
Welcome to our 27th online service.
We hope and pray that it is a blessing to you!

We are now worshiping both at home and in person.  We will continue to post Sunday services indefinitely and want you to stay safe!  Mary and Joanna are working mostly from home.  Tanae is updating our Facebook page, while Rebecca is in charge of our Instagram page and Jack has adopted our Twitter account.  Every day we add a new post right here on the website that automatically pops up on Facebook and Twitter as well.  If you missed any of this week’s posts, just scroll down to see them!

On the Sunday School page, Tammy has posted a happy celebration of Grandparents’ Day, while on the Bible Study page, Steve has written a valuable study on Change, which just so happens to match today’s message (and we didn’t compare notes!).  

Our Thrift Shop is open Saturdays only this summer; please contact Tracy to help on Saturdays or anytime during the week.  The Thrift Shop will be having an outdoor inventory clearance sale next Saturday, September 19 during normal operating hours; again, please contact Tracy if you can help with set-up the night before, sales the day of the event, and/or cleanup beginning at 2.  Wednesday morning Bible study (led by Rich) meets at 10 a.m. and Wednesday evening Bible study (led by Steve) at 7 p.m.; if the weather is nice we will meet outside.  

CALL TO WORSHIP (from Psalm 46):

God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
THEREFORE WE WILL NOT FEAR, THOUGH THE EARTH GIVE WAY
AND THE MOUNTAINS FALL INTO THE HEART OF THE SEA.
The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our strength.

UNISON PRAYER (from Psalm 121):

WE LIFT OUR EYES TO THE HILLS.
FROM WHENCE DOES OUR HELP COME?

OUR HELP COMES FROM THE LORD,
THE MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.
HE WILL NOT LET OUR FEET SLIP.
HE WILL NEITHER SLUMBER NOR SLEEP.
THE LORD WATCHES OVER OUR LIVES
BOTH NOW AND FOREVERMORE.  AMEN.

WORDS OF ASSURANCE: 2 Corinthians 1:10

From terrible dangers God saved us, and we have placed our trust in him that he will save us again.

THE LORD’S PRAYER

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 trespasses,
As we forgive those
Who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil,
For thine is the kingdom,
And the power,
And the glory forever.
Amen.

OPENING SONG:  Music Travel Love, “Stand By Me”

This song continues the sentiments of Psalm 46 (our Call to Worship).  Filmed on the beautiful shores of Lake Powell, this version of the Ben E. King classic is intensely soothing.  We dedicate it to those threatened by the northwestern wildfires.

CONGREGATIONAL PRAYER
(Note: Add your own prayers at the beginning or end)

We pray for those threatened by the wildfires in the west.  Be with those who have lost homes or lives, and those who are in danger right now.  Bless the firefighters with energy and with life-saving rain.  Help the respiration of those in the smoke zone.  Ease this situation and lead us to policies that prevent it from recurring.

Be with the thousands of families who lost loved ones this week due to the coronavirus.  Send your Spirit and your angels to be by their side.  Lend your breath to those fighting for air.  Help our world to find a cure that is safe and effective.

We ask your blessing on Jeff Parrett (missionary to Cameroon) as he deals with amnesia for the second time in the wake of an undisclosed illness.  Guide the doctors to the proper diagnosis and treatment, and keep his spirit calm.

Bless Tanae’s father Tadao with awareness and good days; be with Tanae and her mother as they care for him, and for Anthony, who is working in New York.  Continue to help Joanna as she recovers from diverticulitis.  Bless Janet H. with patience and ease her pain as she awaits shoulder surgery.

Watch over Liz S. and Barbara G. as they go through chemotherapy.  Guide this process so that it is not too much to bear.  Provide daily reminders of your love, your presence and your kindness.

We pray for others in our church family who are going through times of need:  for Amy, Pat, Jim, Sue, Janet, Joan, Stephan, Lois, Dannie, Kathleen, Ken, Bunny & Marty, Dawn, Harriet, Diane, Laurie & Steve, Paul, and Ruth; for all members of our extended family who are suffering; for this nation and for the world.

We come to you now in silent prayer …

Lord, as you know what is written in our hearts,
Attend now to our spirits, we pray in your name, Amen.

SONG: Anthem Lights, “It Is Well With My Soul”

It’s ironic to note that this video was recorded well before the pandemic, but looks a lot like our church post-pandemic: the members of Anthem Lights may be singing while practicing social distancing, but their voices join as one!

SCRIPTURE LESSON: Philippians 4:11, New International Version

I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 

SUNDAY SERMON: “Adaptation”
(The video is the short version and the printed edition is the long version ~ like a 45 version and an LP version.  Note:  The video looks sideways but once you press play it will adjust)

2020 has been the year of adaptation, defined as “an adjustment in response to changes.”  We’ve made adjustment after adjustment, in everything from clothing to behavior to habits to thoughts.  We’ve been thrown into a constant state of adaptation, never knowing what the next day will bring, staying tuned for the latest update.  To quote Marathon Man:  “Is it safe?”  “Yes, it’s very, very safe.”  “Is it safe?”  “No, it’s not safe at all!”  This has left us all frazzled and on edge.

This week Governor Cuomo declared that New York has entered a new phase, with new rules, new challenges and new adjustments.  In this phase, schools, gyms, casinos and most malls can open; movie theaters still have to wait, but that’s okay because there’s only one new movie.  Meanwhile in Great Britain, the rules are going backwards.  Tonight is the last night people can have parties of up to 30 people; tomorrow it’s back down to 6.

As of today, it has been exactly six months since we were told to close our churches.  And it’s been three months since we reopened.  But we reopened under new rules, and then those rules were relaxed a bit, and we’ve pushed it a little bit, and every day we check to see if there are any new rules.

We’ve adapted; we’ve changed our way of life.  We worship differently, we shop differently, we exercise differently.  Much of this was imposed on us, and some of it we did voluntarily.

Some of the rules we support and others we question.  In the Old Testament, one day the Israelites woke up and learned that they had to make the same number of bricks for the Egyptians, but they couldn’t use any straw.  They couldn’t deal with this rule, and it led to the Exodus.  In the New Testament, preaching about Christ was declared illegal, but the disciples did it anyway ~ and we’re glad they did.  These were unfair rules.

But there was also a point in the Old Testament when the Israelites received the Ten Commandments, along with over 600 other rules, including “don’t eat bacon.”  (Note: in the video I twice refer to “shrimp-wrapped bacon,” and Kaitlyn has politely informed me that I meant “bacon-wrapped shrimp”.)  How do you think they felt when they had to adjust to all those new rules?  The answer is: not well.  Some saw the need for the rules – for example, protecting the public health – and others flaunted them.

In the New Testament, followers of Christ were given new rules too: no more shouting, swearing or insulting others; love your enemies; help the poor.  Their whole way of life had to change if they wanted to get to heaven.  People didn’t like all these new rules, but they had to admit they were for their own good.  The same rules still exist today.

The difficulty of the pandemic is that the rules have continued to change.  We’ve had to adjust not once, but over and over; and in some places, people have been playing Pandemic Chutes and Ladders, as restrictions have been eased and then re-imposed.  Schools have opened and closed; sports have started and shut down.

The quickest adjustment I ever had to make was in Africa, when I pretty much panicked my first night.  I had taken a vaccine for one disease and had pills for another; but I was told the pills might not be completely effective, and that one in five mosquitos carried malaria.  I laid awake all night under my mosquito net, clutching my passport.  By late morning it was hot and I realized that everyone else was going about their business and I could walk around in a net and look like a dumb American or I could try to act normal.  It took me 24 hours, but I adapted.  I adapted to washing my clothes by hand and boiling everything I ate.  I adapted to my razor breaking and having to drink instant coffee.  (“Oh, the horror!”)  Ironically I was healthy the whole time there, and only got sick when I ate the airline food on the way back.

How resilient are we?  How much can we adapt to?  The answer is, “more than we think.”  The problem is that we don’t think we can.  But according to Daniel Gilbert, we’re horrible at predicting how we’ll feel in the future should a bad event occur.  In general, after the crisis passes, we feel pretty much the same as before.

The question we keep asking ourselves is, “Can I deal with this?”  The answer we keep giving is “Yes.”

It helps to realize that life was constantly changing before the crisis and will continue to change afterwards.  For example, last week my doctor called to say that my cholesterol was a little high, but I didn’t pick up the phone because I was eating a pepperoni pizza.  So I know that one day I’m going to have to change my eating habits.  New parents have to adjust to not sleeping for 18 years.  We change jobs or homes, or learn a new technology, or join a 12-step program, or turn off the news and decide to live our faith.  Or we lose a loved one and all of life seems lessened.  On a daily basis, plans fall through, events are rained out, something in our house breaks, there’s traffic, there’s busy signals, there’s bills.  We are always adjusting.

Meanwhile, much of life remains constant.  God is still God, our friends are still our friends, the ocean is still beautiful, fall still follows summer, sunshine still follows rain, people are still having babies and writing books and cooking good food.  Every day there are new TV channels to subscribe to, but somehow the amount of good shows stays the same.  Only the surface of life has changed; the essence remains intact.

And while our external lives may have shrunk, our internal lives have grown.  People have separated wants and needs, found what really matters,  worked on their faith, helped their communities and shown remarkable resilience and creativity.  We have demonstrated amazing powers of adaptation.  I don’t even mind wearing masks, now that I’ve found some with images of coffee, football and waves.  (I did draw the line at a pumpkin spice-scented mask, but points for inventing a new thing!)

We will never be thankful for the pandemic, but we can see how God has blessed us during the pandemic.  We can see how God has never left our side and is leading us through these changes as He always has and always will.

We may wake up tomorrow and have to adjust and adapt again.  In that sense, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring; but in another sense we do.  God’s blessings will be new tomorrow morning, which means we may have a happier adjustment to make: deciding what to do with all this love that keeps getting thrown our way in ways we can never predict.  Life is change.  May we have the eyes to see whatever God has in store for us, and the courage to adapt to whatever comes our way.  Amen.

OFFERING

Please use this time to make out a check to the church.
Thank you to all who have been contributing during this time, and helping the church to pay its bills!
As you write, please enjoy Tanae’s “vintage” version of “Seek Ye First.”

OFFERTORY PRAYER

Lord Jesus, as our circumstances change, you remain the same.  You are forever faithful and true.  May we remain true to you, giving to others as you have given, that we might all help each other on the path that leads to You.  Amen.

BENEDICTION

We don’t know what will happen this week, good or bad.  But we do know that God is good.  Whatever comes your way ~ whatever betide ~ know that all is not lost.  With God, there is always hope.  He is our constant in the chaos, our port in the storm.  Amen.

Blest Be the Tie That Binds

Thank you to Kaitlyn for helping with today’s online service!
And thank you for worshiping with us!  We wish you God’s healing and hope!