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The Lord's Day

sunny 78 °F

Here is what we did on Sunday.large_ade39f40-21af-11e9-bacc-ef4c3139d89f.jpg

ECUMENICAL WORSHIP Aboard the Silver Whisper January 27, 2019

Hymn: God of Grace and God of Glory

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let us pray. Almighty Father, whose blessed Son prayed for his disciples that they might be one, as you and he are one: Grant that your Church, being bound together in love and obedience to you, may be united in one body by the one Spirit, that the world may believe in him whom you have sent, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Psalm 95: 1-7 (The verses in bold are said by the people.)

Come, let us sing to the LORD; let us shout for joy to the Rock of our salvation.

Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving and raise a loud shout to him with psalms.

For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods.

In his hand are the caverns of the earth, and the heights of the hills are his also.

The sea is his, for he made it, and his hands have molded the dry land.

Come, let us bow down, and bend the knee, and kneel before the LORD our Maker.

For he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.

Oh, that today you would hearken to his voice!

The Scripture Reading

A Reading from the letter to the Church at Ephesus

[Christ] is our peace; in his flesh he has made both groups into one and has broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us. He has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God. (2:14-22)

A Reflection The Reverend Hope Eakins

This is called an “ecumenical” worship service. Someone asked this week what the word ecumenical means. The answer is “worldwide,” from a Greek word, and I like the idea that what we are about in this place is worshipping God in a wide way, in a common way and in our own ways both. We could also call this a non-denominational service, but that sounds negative, saying what we are not rather than what we are. Non-denominational also reminds us that we Christians have divided ourselves up into separate groups whose identity rests on being different from each other.

How easily we get divided up that way, immigrants and native-born, old and young, male and female, black and white, rich and poor, and on and on. The differences aren’t bad; they actually enrich us. What’s bad are the separations, the distinctions that pit them against us, the partitions that hurt our world and hurt our souls. This kind of division is a besetting problem of the human race. Families, marriages, neighborhoods, towns, cities, and countries can all too easily split into bitter factions.

No wonder St. Paul was so insistent in his letter to the Ephesians, insistent that Christ has broken down dividing walls that separate us. No wonder that on the night before Jesus died, he gathered the little community of his closest followers to eat a last supper with him, and offered the earnest prayer: “Father, I pray that all who believe in me might be one, just as you and I are one.”

Two thousand years later, Jesus’ prayer for us might seem to have gone unanswered. True, in the first hundred years after Jesus, when Christians were a persecuted minority, they generally formed close, family-like communities, so much so that their pagan neighbors are reputed to have admired them, saying, “See how these Christians love one another.” But once Christianity became the established religion of the Empire, unity became much harder to maintain. Theological controversies divided Christians into opposing camps. In 1000 AD the Church split formally in two, the West centered on Rome and the East on Constantinople. Five hundred years later, the Western church fragmented further with the Protestant Reformation - the splitting of the Church, the Body of Christ into many different and sometimes competing parts.

We are all familiar with some of the consequences of this unhappy division: parents who won’t speak to their children who married outside their church, congregations torn apart by internal bickering; little islands like the one we have just left behind in Tonga with what seemed like twenty Christian churches, each claiming to be the one true faith, my own Episcopal Church rent by disagreement over questions of human sexuality and the ordination of women.

But here we are today on the Whisper, cruising in the South Pacific. We come from different parts of the world and from different faith traditions, and yet on this Lord’s Day we have come together to worship the Holy One we all call God.

We have come to acknowledge God’s presence in our lives, to give thanks for our many blessings, to ask for pardon, wisdom and strength for ourselves and to commend the people we love and the world around us into God’s care. We have come to hear once again the Good News that God who made heaven and earth and all that is in them so loves us that God became one of us in Jesus of Nazareth. This is Good News that gives healing and hope and enlists us as God’s partners in mending broken hearts and a broken world.

What we have an opportunity to do here in ecumenical non-denominational worship is to focus on what Christian people have in common wherever they come from and whatever denomination they belong to. We can focus on what is fundamental and essential.

Maybe we can learn something here that we can take back to the congregations to which we belong, something about what is basic to Christian community and what is not, something about finding unity and purpose that transcends our differences.

What if Christians everywhere focused on the Good News of Jesus rather than on denominational differences? What if the world saw Christians united in feeding the poor and healing the sick, advocating for peace and justice, taking care of our fragile planet, providing education and encouragement for young people – instead of proclaiming that we have got a better understanding of God than they do, instead of insisting that we’ve got our theology right and they’ve got it wrong? Well, God knows what might happen! And maybe it’s happening right here this morning with the members of the household of God on the Silver Whisper.

The Prayers

Almighty God, we see our world and yearn to make it whole, yet we know our vision is small and our efforts are weak. In your mercy, O Lord,
Come into our darkness, and bring light.
Enlighten your Church. Deliver us from our preoccupation with old habits and old assumptions; open our eyes to see your hand at work in the questions of the present day; fill us with fresh dreams and fresh hopes; and bring us together as one people for the work of healing a broken world
Come into our indifference and awaken expectation.
Enlighten the world. Break down the walls of hostility that divide the nations and peoples; set before us the vision of this fragile earth as our island home; and open our minds and hearts to work together for the common good.
Come into the enmities of this world and bring peace.
Enlighten us. Take away our prejudice and contempt toward those who differ from us; give us grace to reach out in love to the stranger; bless those who mourn and those who are sick in body, mind, or spirit especially those we now name in our hearts and with our voices. (pause) Use us as you will to make your Kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Come into places of suffering and bring strength and comfort.
Lord Jesus Christ, you said to your apostles, “Peace I give to you; my own peace I leave with you;” Regard not the sins but the faith of your Church, and give to us the peace and unity of that heavenly city, where with the Father and the Holy Spirit you are alive and reign, now and forever. Amen

Summing up all our petitions and all our thanksgivings, we pray in the words Jesus taught us

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 and ever. Amen.

The Blessing May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace, and may the blessing of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be among you and remain with you always. Amen.

HYMN: Christ is the World's True Light

Officiants: The Reverend Hope H. Eakins, The Reverend William J. Eakins
Music: Alex Manev
Usher: Doug Kline
Altar Guild: Jane Kline

Posted by HopeEakins 13:20

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How blessed are the members of the Silver Whisper's parish!

by HARRIET D Odlum

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