Good morning, everyone!
Welcome to this week’s 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. Tammy’s new Sunday school lesson can be found on our Sunday School page. 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!
Wednesday morning and evening Bible studies return this week at 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Inauguration Day. Our Thrift Shop remains open on Saturdays from 10-2 and is always in need of volunteers ~ simply contact Tracy S. or the church office.
Please lend your support to Uncle Paul’s House Reno, a fundraiser to help our brother Paul to stay in his home as his legs are growing weaker from ALS. Read all about it by clicking the link in this paragraph.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Let freedom ring from the shores of Long Island.
LET FREEDOM RING FROM THE PINE BARRENS OF SUFFOLK COUNTY.
Let freedom ring from the steeples of Sayville.
FROM EVERY HILL, LET FREEDOM RING.
GOD OF ALL NATIONS, RACES AND CREEDS:
MAY WE LEARN TO HONOR OUR DIFFERENCES,
CELEBRATE OUR SIMILARITIES AND CHERISH OUR DIVERSITY.
MAY FREEDOM RING IN OUR HEARTS AND MINDS,
IN OUR CHURCHES AND HOMES. AMEN.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE: Galatians 5:1, Good News Bible
Freedom is what we have—Christ has set us free!
THE LORD’S PRAYER
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.
OPENING SONG: “We Shall Overcome”
Verse 1: We shall overcome
Verse 2: We’ll walk hand in hand
Verse 3: We shall live in peace
(Note: Add your own prayers at the beginning or end)
Lord Jesus, in this time of national reflection, help us to remember the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King: teachings of freedom, equality, inclusion and peace. May this be a year of progress in human dignity and human rights.
We pray that this week’s inauguration ceremony is peaceful and uplifting. We pray for our fractured nation as it seeks a way to work together. We pray grace upon our new president and Congress, that they may be guided by your wisdom and not their own. We pray that you will bless American even more now than ever before.
We pray for all those suffering from COVID-19. We are grateful that Scott and Suzanne, as well as many in Miki’s family, have gotten over the virus. We pray for Miki’s son Jeff, who is suffering from COVID and pneumonia, and for Pastor Doug Jansen of Living Word Church as he continues to make progress under Your care.
Be with Tracy S. this Tuesday as she undergoes a lumbar procedure. Keep her spirits calm and may there be no lingering effects. Bless Steve G. as he recovers from back surgery. We ask that you ease his pain and that his pain level is soon much lower than it was before the operation. Please watch over Carol P.’s nephew Shawn as he awaits a lung transplant later this month. Keep his spirits high and his heart calm, and be with his family as they go through this process together.
We ask your blessing upon Jane Y. and her family as Jane returns from New York City and enters Hospice care at home. Be her hope and mainstay. Watch over her with your eternal love. We continue to pray for others battling cancer, especially Liz S., Laura S., and Barbara G. We pray for progress, healing and hope. Be with Rose A. and her family today as they remember her son John on his birthday; thank you for sharing his life with us and for his new life in heaven.
We pray for others in our church family who are going through times of need: for Ursula, Amy, Pat, Jim, Sue, Janet, Joan, Lois, Derek, Dannie, Kathleen, Marilyn, Lily, Ken, Bunny, 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: U2, “Pride (In the Name of Love)
Here’s something you may not know: this famous U2 song was written for Dr. Martin Luther King. It’s been a staple on rock radio for years, and this video places the song against the backdrop of his life’s work.
SCRIPTURE LESSON: Amos 5:21-24, Good News Bible
The Lord says, “I hate your religious festivals; I cannot stand them! When you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; I will not accept the animals you have fattened to bring me as offerings. Stop your noisy songs; I do not want to listen to your harps. Instead, let justice flow like a stream, and righteousness like a river that never goes dry.
SUNDAY MEDITATION (Video Version followed by modified version in print)
A number of years ago, I was visiting my friends George and Angela in Georgia. I woke up on a Monday and wished their 5-year-old twins a happy Martin Luther King Day. They said, “Who’s Martin Luther King?”, which surprised me because the family was Black.
So I called for George and Angela, and they said, “Go ahead, Rich, explain it to them!” No pressure!
I told them that when Martin was their age, he was friends with a boy who was white like me. But one day his friend’s parents said they couldn’t play together any more because they were different colors. And Martin was sad. So when he grew up he wanted to make sure black and white people and all different color people could play together, work together and do anything together that they wanted. But some people didn’t like this and one person shot him. (I wondered if I should tell them that ~ too late!)
Then I went on and said, “Because of him, we get to be friends. And your mommy and daddy and I all went to school with one of Dr. King’s daughters!” I hoped I had done all right, then we all went downstairs and I asked George, “Please don’t ask me to explain Malcolm X!”
Today I was thinking about Martin as a child, and how hurt he must have been ~ but also about the white friend and how he must have felt. And I remembered that we have to be taught how to be racist; it’s not ingrained. And even those who are not racist often develop certain assumptions that may or may not be right.
I was on a Zoom call with other pastors this week and one of the Black pastors said she was tired of people telling her they knew how she must feel about racial issues. She said, “They don’t know! I mean, what they think is probably right, but it’s not a given.” For example, not every Black person voted Democrat this year.
But we do know that Black people suffered more this past year from COVID than any other group, and suffered larger losses in unemployment. We know that the Black Lives Matter movement brought race to the forefront of our national discussion.
And we know that we’re trying really hard to prove that we’re not racist. I felt bad last year when we finally got a Black visitor and it seemed that every single person in the congregation went up to her and invited her to Coffee Hour, to join a committee, to come back the next week and so on. She never came back. : (
Today’s Scripture is a rough one. The part we’re familiar with is “let justice flow like a stream, and righteousness like a mighty river.” But it’s connected to an indictment of religion. The prophet Amos tells God’s people that God doesn’t want festivals or fatted calves or loud harp songs (can you play a harp loudly?). He wants justice and righteousness. The same idea is shared by Micah: “What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with your God,” and repeated in the New Testament, where Paul writes, “If I have no love, I am a noisy going or a clanging cymbal,” and John writes, “If you say you love God, but you hate your neighbor, you are a liar.” And we remember that the church has often been on the wrong side of race relations, most egregiously the KKK.
So what is our religion called to do?
1. Don’t be racist (obviously).
2. Admit that we probably have some underlying assumptions that are wrong, and don’t be afraid to talk about them. The book White Fragility is about how defensive white people can get around race issues.
3. Address the causes, not just the symptoms.
Dr. King’s March on Washington took place three months before I was born, and sought to address both racial and economic inequity. Just before his death, Dr. King was working on Resurrection City, a tent city set up in Washington to call attention to the plight of the poor.
This year, the pandemic exposed the continued inequity between rich and poor in this country, as large companies made record profits while smaller businesses closed and families waited hours at food banks. The poor can’t afford the best lawyers, or the best child care, or the best colleges. They are often stuck working in the worst conditions, simply to feed their families. In many cases, working 40, 50, 60 hours a week isn’t enough to make ends meet.
Over fifty years ago, Dr. King had a dream that still rings true today. Back then, he said that his faith would see him through. “With this faith,” he said, “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together … knowing that we will be free someday.”
But in order for this dream to come true, we will have to reject other dreams – for example, the white nationalist dream that has been resurfaced in recent years: “I have a dream that one day, the South will rise again, and we’ll fly the Confederate flag from the top of the Capitol building, and all the white children will be able to play together, and no more foreigners will be allowed to come in.” This is not the American dream. Although it is espoused by Christians, this is not a Christian dream.
The American dream is that anyone can make it here, if they are willing to work hard, be good neighbors and invest in our nation’s ideals. This dream is still in play.
I have a dream that everyone in our government will start to work together, recognizing that their country is bigger than they are and that God is bigger than their country. This dream may not be probable, but it is still possible.
I have a dream that one day there will be a job for everyone who wants one, and help for everyone who needs it ~ not a handout, but a supplement for every hard-working American. Congress is working on this dream right now.
I have a dream that one day people will once again dream of coming to America, because we will have faced our demons and conquered them, and with God’s help, returned to the right path. I know you share this dream.
And I have a dream that one day Dr. King’s dream will come true, and that we won’t have to wait until heaven to see it happen, and that we will be able to use Dr. King’s birthday to celebrate how far we’ve come, not how far we have to go. Amen.
Please use this time to make out a check to the church (Sayville United Methodist Church, 164 Greene Avenue, Sayville NY 11782). 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 organ version of “Here I Am, Lord.”
Lord Jesus, thank you for being our eternal leader and our means of grace. We are humbled by your love and your sacrifice. Please accept these gifts and help us to use them in the service of your kingdom. Amen.
As we go forth, may we do so prepared to be the best citizens we can be, not only in our churches but in our communities and in our nation. May we shine the light of Christ, that others might find their way to his grace. Amen.
Blest Be the Tie That Binds
Thank you to Tanae and Kaitlyn for helping with today’s online service!
And thank you for worshiping with us! We wish you God’s blessing of peace.