Dear Friends, we offer this self-directed worship outline as a resource for individual, family, or small group use. It is modeled on our regular order of worship, but please adapt it freely to suit your needs and circumstances. We hope this will be a blessing to you.
Gathering in Worship
Come Thou Fount | Stonebriar Music
(Lyrics in the video.)
Announcements, Introductions, and Birthdays
We welcome all to this virtual gathering for worship, hosted by Wilmington Friends Meeting. As you know, our regularly scheduled corporate meeting for worship has been cancelled, in light of the need to slow the spread of COVID-19 by refraining from gathering together in person. However, no virus is powerful enough to stop us from being gathered by the bond of love! Whoever you are, and wherever you’re from, we’re glad that you’re joining us. Please participate as you feel led by the Spirit.
If you would like to join us on Zoom at 10:00 a.m., please message our Facebook page to receive the link!
Other ways to gather with Friends:
Emily Provance is hosting Quaker Family Devotionals on Zoom. Click here for more information and to sign up.
Barclay Press is offering daily contemplative devotionals on their website.
The Quaker Religious Education Collaborative has started a new Facebook group: Valiant Together: RE Support During COVID-19. Join to connect with religious educators and share ideas!
Powell House, a Quaker retreat center in New York, has a series of virtual workshops planned. Check them out here.
Friends United Meeting offers reflections on the spiritual journey at their Journal.
Hope Is A Tattered Flag | Carl Sandberg
Please take a moment to quietly collect your thoughts and prepare your heart(s) for worship.
May The Peoples Praise You | Keith and Kristyn Getty
(Lyrics available at the link.)
Caring in Community
Being God’s Hands | Carter Nash
Praises and Concerns
Praise for the ways we are still gathering.
Praise for the continuing joy of spiritual fellowship.
Praise for the lengthening days.
Praise for the ways sacrificial love is being shown.
Praise for finding new rhythms and new life.
Praise for the God-given wisdom and tenacity of scientists.
Praise for the hope that lies within us.
Praise for the unexpected blessing of time with family.
Pray for Friends facing the unexpected challenges of time with family.
Pray for those who are grieving the loss of loved ones without being able to gather.
Pray for Friends who are struggling with bitterness, especially about politics.
Pray for strength and wisdom for healthcare workers around the world.
Pray that those who help sustain us will find ways to feel renewed.
Pray that Friends will continue to find creative and effectual ways of gathering by card, phone, email, and through online options.
Pray for our political leaders – locally, nationally, and on a global scale – that they would prioritize the peace and health of all people. We pray especially for Governor Mike DeWine, for Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted, and for Dr. Amy Acton.
Pray for our seniors, both the senior citizens and the seniors in high school and college, for whom this is a particularly isolating experience.
Congregational Prayer Focus
Cincinnati Friends Meeting
Wider Quaker Prayer Focus
Africa Mission Office
Personal praises and concerns can be found in our congregational email. If you would like to submit a praise or a concern, email it to julie dot rudd at wilmingtonfriendsohio dot org. All submissions will, by default, be made anonymous if shared online.
Risen Christ, we thank and praise you for the honor and the privilege of sharing a life-giving message to all the world. You have set your glory in the heavens, and you commission us to point it out to people and invite them into worship.
Make us bearers of your Good News, Lord. Heal our hearts and make us agents of healing.
As we come to you in worship, we come with joy in our hearts. We are richly blessed, and we are thankful.
We also come with sorrows, with our fears and our doubts, just as we are. Give us your peace and mercy, Lord. Teach us to know you as a Comforting Friend.
You have entrusted us with this message of resurrection: not just the spiritual giants of history or the heroes of today, but all of us… ordinary folks from ordinary places… we’re to go and tell your story as it becomes our story of changed lives and generous love.
Equip us with your Spirit, put your words in our mouths, and your conviction in our hearts. Receive our gifts of time and talent and treasure, and use them to enable us to spread Good News in the places we inhabit and throughout the world, in the name of Jesus. AMEN
Offering and Offertory
Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace | Dragon School, Oxford
(Lyrics available at the link.)
If you wish to financially support the work of Wilmington Friends Meeting, please mail your donation to us at 66 N Mulberry St, Wilmington, OH 45177, use this link to donate online, or download the EasyTithe app and find us there. Or, as a way of embodying generosity, please make a donation to the religious organization or charity of your choice. Thank you for supporting holy work in the world through your hands and prayers and financial gifts.
Hearing the Scriptures
Quaker Queries for All Seasons | Charity Kemper Sandstrom
Matthew 13:8: Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop — a hundred, sixty, or thirty times what was sown.
Query: Do I trust the maker of both soil and seed to work through my act of planting to bring a harvest?
Scripture Reading: Matthew 28:16-20
Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Jesus’ Great Commission | Rene Pfitzner
The Service of The Sod | Michael Card
(Lyrics available at the link.)
Reflection: Therefore Go
Go and make disciples of all nations.
This is one of my favorite passages for the Easter season. I know it’s a common passage for talking about missions, but this isn’t a commission for people serving as set-aside missionaries. It’s a commissioning passage for all of us.
Go. Make disciples.
This is on a list of verses, in my mind, that are giving public health workers heartburn. Because no, you shouldn’t go. You should stay home. Maybe go out for essential things. Mostly, though, we don’t go.
It’s up there with Paul’s advice that we should be greeting other believers with a holy kiss, or the time Jesus healed a blind guy by spitting in the dust and rubbing the resulting mud in the guy’s eyes.
What we’re looking at right now, as a way of loving our neighbors, is more like the Levitical laws about cleanliness. If something gross gets on a clay pot, then you have to break it so it won’t be used anymore. If someone is leaking, don’t touch it… and if you do, then no one else can touch you for a certain period of time. That’s not bad, as far as health policy goes.
So this commissioning reads as a different kind of challenge, in 2020’s Easter season. Having new rules to follow regarding masks, and congregating in groups, and disinfecting work stations, and staying home… this doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility to go and make disciples.
Quite the opposite: when the world around us seems full of people making selfish choices or caving to fear, it becomes all the more important for us to be actively modeling Gospel-shaped living, from an inner place of hope and trust and mutual concern.
All authority belongs to Christ. We’re to go and make disciples: to gather them into the community of Christ-followers, and to teach them to live lives that align with Christ’s commandments. How do we do that, now?
If you’re hoping that question will get a tidy answer, then let me quickly let you down. I’m not sure I know. The only time I felt like I really hit the nail on the head was in passing out postcards for the children to send out, because it was such a concrete way of showing them how we take care of each other and then equipping them to go and do it.
That’s all discipleship is, really. I’m a disciple on a website called Ravelry, where I look up new crochet patterns and learn to follow them. I’m a disciple on Duolingo, too, although not a particularly good one; I’ve been working through a course in German, but haven’t hidden much of the grammar in my heart.
I’m also a disciple in an online class that Wess Daniels of Guilford College is teaching on Revelation, based out of a new book that he wrote. Maybe you’re pursuing similar discipleship opportunities by watching webinars or practicing an instrument, or by pulling out cookbooks and trying new recipes. A recipe is just a kind of pattern, after all.
George Fox wrote to people who aren’t us, but in a way that feels relevant to us:
This is the word of the Lord God to you all, a charge to you all in the presence of the living God; be patterns, be examples in all countries, places, islands, nations, wherever you come; that your life and conduct may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one; whereby in them ye may be a blessing, and make the witness of God in them to bless you: then to the Lord God you shall be a sweet savour, and a blessing.
I want you to sit with that quote, for a moment, so I’m going to have Paulette Meier from Community Friends Meeting in Cincinnati sing it for you:
Be patterns. Be examples. That’s George’s reframing of the commission to go and make disciples — let your life and conduct preach.
We’d really like to stretch that, sometimes, so that it means that if we live good lives, then we don’t have to do the awkward work of actually talking about faith. That would be convenient, right? It would also be great if all the photos in the newspaper were so clearly and cleverly framed that their message could be communicated through the image alone, but there are captions on the photos for a reason.
And you too, Friends, are going to have to use your words.
Go. Make disciples. Bring them into the community. Teach them.
It’s uncomfortable because we have to find ways to go, right in the middle of all the staying home. Most of us haven’t been doing door-to-door evangelism anyway. Many of us have jobs or health concerns that require us to be extra careful. Not all of us feel comfortable on online platforms, or even have the ability to use them. And frankly, some of us just like staying home anyway.
It’s also uncomfortable because we have to be explicit about our own experience, where we might prefer to be silent or vague… a pattern that lacks specificity isn’t much good, after all. No one wants a bread recipe that starts with “some flour,” or a plumbing project that doesn’t tell you what particular kind of pipe is needed. Providing a pattern for spiritual development isn’t much different; you have to say, out loud, what’s worked for you and what hasn’t, so that others can learn from your example.
But that’s a third source of discomfort, isn’t it? I mean, who are you to set yourself up as an example? Who am I to do that? It seems presumptuous to say that we’re patterns that everyone should follow.
And that, actually, is my very favorite thing about this passage. The eleven core disciples go up a particular mountain somewhere in Galilee, and Jesus meets them there. When they see Jesus, they worship him, but some of them doubt.
These are the guys who saw the whole story, who were hand-picked to be the inner circle of the radical rabbi who turned out to be the Messiah. They were there, in the flesh, for the Triumphal Entry. They ran off before the crucifixion, but they felt the despair. They were among the first, on the morning of the resurrection, to be brought into the joy and awe of seeing the Risen Christ.
And now here they are, on this mountain with their rabbi, and some of them are like, eeehhhhh, I don’t know about all this.
That, Friends, is who Jesus told to go out and make disciples. Not some perfect band of people who already had it together. A group of guys who ran away when the kitchen got hot, and who even now couldn’t totally get on board.
I find so much space, in that vision of commissioning, for my own doubting faith. I don’t know who was standing in the back row, that day. Was it the background guys, like Thaddeus and Bartholomew, or was it the big names, like Peter and John? Was one of them Matthew himself?
In any case, Jesus didn’t give them a faith exam and then kick the doubters out. He told them all to go make disciples.
Any educator can tell you that if you really want to learn material, you learn it to teach it. That’s why students have to do presentations… not because they’re great teachers, exactly, but because the process of preparing the presentation makes them learn the material better.
A disciple is just a learner, you know. So if we’re to make disciples, then we’re being invited to find people to mentor, to build classrooms, to tutor those who need it… and in the process, to become better learners (better disciples) ourselves.
The query we read this morning was rooted in a different part of Matthew, with the image of a seed bearing exponential fruit. We were asked to ask ourselves if we trust the maker of both soil and seed to work through our planting to bring a harvest.
That’s a key question, when it comes to being disciple-makers, because none of us are perfect planters. Not one of us.
And yet we’ve all seen, I’m sure, how God uses imperfect planters to bring forth a bountiful harvest.
As we’re moving into waiting worship, I want to reemphasize the thing that I started with: this commission is for everyone. It’s a story about eleven dudes, but it’s the conclusion of a gospel that Matthew is writing for everyone. It’s a commissioning for all of us, regardless of gender or class or even age… children can be teachers just as well as any of us adults, and we need their examples.
Who discipled you, Friends? And who are you discipling?
Sharing in Silence
During waiting worship, we listen together for God’s voice. As a virtual participant in this service, this may mean a time of waiting worship with those gathered in your family or small group. It could also be an individual experience. These breath prayers may be helpful to you, as you wait for God’s presence. If you want an online experience, you can join the Ben Lomond Quaker Center Online Meeting.
Blessing and Sending
Close of Waiting Worship
Thank you, Friends, for blessing us with your mindful and loving presence here. As we move toward the end of our time of worship, join us again in song.
Until The Whole World Hears | Casting Crowns
(Lyrics available at the link.)
Thank you for sharing this virtual space with us! Christ is commissioning you, and don’t forget the “co” in commissioning: we do this together, with Christ who is with us always, even unto the end of the age. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with us now and always. AMEN.
The Blessing | South African Virtual Choir
(Lyrics in the video.)