Sunday, March 22, 2020

Practicing Christ's Compassion During Coronavirus Pandemic in Worcester, Mass. March 15-21

A Liturgy (i.e. Work of the People) for the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic Week of March 15-21 in Worcester, Massachusetts 

But now, this is what the LORD says ... “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine." + Isaiah 43:1

Below is a "liturgy for the week" (here is the link to last week of March 8-14) including a wonderful sermon manuscript, Q&As, prayer focuses, discipleship practices, articles, podcasts, songs, key Bible Project videos for novel coronavirus pandemic, a quote from Martin Luther, and "The Chosen" series. Also, here is a special sermon given the day everything shut down:

Special sermon video + liturgy notes post: Christ & the Coronavirus Lenten Special | Matt. 9:18-25: Journeying with Jesus to Welcome Unexpected Interruptions 

We can't overcome the desert on our own. We can't overcome the disease on our own. We can't overcome the distress on our own. But we can die with Christ to our fears, and by His Spirit, surrender to the Deliverer who overcomes and resurrects.

+ Isaiah 43:18-25: The Deliverer Who is the Waymaker in the Wilderness Sermon Manuscript + Liturgy (incl. Song Links) for Saturday, March 21

+ Some Q&As for This Week

Q: Where can I get more information about COVID-19? 
A: You can get more information from the CDC COVID-19 Resource Center 
Q: Has anyone with Emmaus City Church tested positive for COVID-19? 
A: As of now, there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 reported by anyone connected with Emmaus City Church. 
Q. What are some themes I could orient each day of my week around? 
A. Found in Sandy S.'s awesome Simple Practices and Activities for Building Faith at Home:
Sunday: Rest in Christ 
Monday: Immanuel, God with Us 
Tuesday: God's Love 
Wednesday: Love for Neighbor 
Thursday: Love for the World 
Friday: Forgiveness 
Saturday: Grace + Gratitude  
Q: What do I do to connect with others? 
A: We encourage each of you to establish regular (ex. same day, same time) and spontaneous rhythms to connect online. Share concerns and hopes, solaces and surprises, Scriptures and Gospel reminders. Pray for each other, and consider how to pray for and potentially care for 3 people God encourages you to reach out to and stay in consistent touch with who might not be trusting Jesus during this time. There are several free tools to help you with this: Google Hangouts for people w/ Gmail, What's App, Marco Polo, Zoom, FaceTime for iPhone users, Facebook Messenger, etc. Enjoy getting creative with the Creator and follow the Holy Spirit's lead. 
Q: How can I give remotely to Emmaus City Church to continue to practice trusting God with my resources, giving generously, and helping support those we seek to minister to now and in the future? 
A: Go to our website's ( partner tab and donate one-time or monthly.

+ Some Pandemic Prayer Focuses

Pray for God to heal those infected with the COVID-19 virus. 
Pray for vulnerable populations (i.e. the sick, elderly, those w/ autoimmune diseases and pre-existing conditions, those who suffer from mental illness, those without shelter, those without jobs or who have lost their jobs, foster children with siblings being moved apart from each other to new homes, those working through mental health issues in response to this pandemic, those in prison who can't have visitors anymore, etc.). 
Pray for the medical professionals working to stop its spread, as well as those caring for the sick in general in hospitals. 
Pray for this virus spread to be slowed or stopped sooner than expected in the next few months (i.e. either by anti-virals, vaccine, and/or miracle). 
Pray for those making decisions on local and national levels. 
Pray for God's protection over our city, communities, friends, and family, and for His power to sacrificially love others motivated by faith and not fear with wisdom, not foolishness. 
Pray for us to submit to the reign of the perfect peace and love of Christ that drives out fear so that He may graciously and powerfully rule over our hearts and minds.

Also, here is the common prayer for all parishes in Worcester to pray together in unity:

O God, whose only begotten Son bore the weight of human suffering for our salvation, hear the prayers of Your Church for our sick brothers and sisters and deliver us from this time of trial. Open our ears and our hearts to the voice of Your Son: "Be not afraid, for I am with You always." Bless all doctors and nurses, researchers and public servants; give us the wisdom to do what is right and the faith to endure this hour, that we might gather once again to praise Your name in the heart of Your Church, delivered from all distress and confident in your mercy. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.

+ Some Socially Discerning, yet Purposefully Connecting Discipleship Practices

In light of the Holy Spirit's creativity and wisdom for this moment that will be at work in all of you, we're sure lists like the one below will adapt and change based on shared growth and insight in how we see Jesus at work. We look forward to how different people and micro City Groups together develop their own practices in relation to loving God and the neighbors He has led and will lead them to love.

Worship (Up)

+ Practice participating in the peace of Christ by being still before God each day for 5+ minutes in the morning (along with developing consistent, healthy rythms of 8 hours of sleep, showering regularly, eating healthy, etc.) and/or evening so you can go with and return to the Prince of Peace in the rhythms of the day (ex. pray Benedictus in morning, Magnificat in evening). 
+ Consider joining together with people for weekly Prayer Nights.

Community (In) 

+ Be proactive and set up regularly scheduled online community connections (ex. Google Video Hangout is free for all with gmail accounts; Zoom is free for 40-minute meetings or less for anyone) to listen to, pray for, mourn with, laugh with, and remember together that Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth right now when so much seems out of control. 
+ Consider joining Emmaus City Church for Facebook Live for 5-10 minute devotionals Monday & Wednesday mornings from 7:30-7:40 a.m. starting Monday, March 30. Devotions will be informed and enriched by the Moravian Daily Texts (sign up if interested in receiving these Scripture texts first thing each day and check out the beginning of this post to read a little about the Moravians 100-year prayer meeting that fueled global missions and the spread of the Gospel of Jesus in the 18th century).

Mission (Out)

+ Check in regularly with 3 people whom it seems God has led you to pray for specifically who are connected with your micro City Group communities and/or neighborhood. 
+ Consider hosting timely "socially distant" gatherings in a common area or on a front lawn with neighbors on a good weather day to touch base on how each other is doing and see how you might care for each other in the days to come. During and afterward, ask the Spirit to see whom Jesus is at work with for you to join Him. 

+ Some Articles + Podcasts + Album Songs Recommendations


+ TGC: 3 Ways to Fight Your Fears 
+ JM: We're in This Together: 2nd District of Mass. Updates + Resources 
+ SW (Soma): Coronavirus Special for Disciples, MCG Leaders, Pastors 
+ GNN: 10 Positive Updates on COVID-19 Outbreaks from Around the World 
+ CRC-WR: Community During COVID-19 
+ I: Coronavirus: How to be Productive if You Have to Work from Home 
+ TGC: A Practical Way to Love Your (Self-Isolated) Neighbor 
+ CPRN: What to Do with Kids at Home on Coronavirus Break (Without Losing It) 
+ MA: The Potential of Faithful Presence During a Pandemic


+ Emotionally Healthy Discipleship Episodes 
+ This Cultural Moment Episodes 
+ Bible Project Episodes


+ Hillsong United "Empires" Album, beginning with Here Now (Madness) and including Even When It Hurts (Praise Song) and Prince of Peace are songs in particular that have been ministering to me this past week.

+ Some Key Bible Project Videos During Novel Coronavirus Pandemic (Total: 26+ minutes)

+ Biblical Story (5:37 minutes, complementing Jesus' Church being a People Who Know the Story They Are Part Of) 
+ Tree of Life (4:51 minutes, complementing Jesus' Church being a People Who Care for Creation)  
+ Temple (4:40 minutes, complementing Jesus' Church being a People Who Are a Blessing to the Nations) 
+ Justice (6:17 minutes, complementing Jesus' Church being a People Who Walk in God's Way)  
+ The Way of the Exile (5:19 minutes, complementing Jesus' Church being a People Who Are Redeemed for Redemptive Living)

+ Martin Luther Quote

I shall ask God mercifully to protect us. Then I shall fumigate, help purify the air, administer medicine and take it. I shall avoid places and persons where my presence is not needed in order not to become contaminated and thus perchance inflict and pollute others and so cause their death as a result of my negligence. If God should wish to take me, He will surely find me and I have done what He has expected of me and I am not responsible for either my own death or the death of others. If my neighbor needs me however I shall not avoid place or person but will go freely as stated above. See this is such a God-fearing faith because it is neither brash nor foolhardy and does not tempt God. 
+ Martin Luther on facing the Black Death during 16th century

Bonus: The Chosen 8-Episode Series

Check out "The Chosen" Season 1 featuring the lives of Mary of Magdala, Simon and Andrew, Nicodemus, Matthew, and others leading up to when Jesus met them. Confession: I was especially surprised at my tears at the end of the first episode since I think "Christian movie" productions most often do not seem to be a labor of excellence and grace, and tend to diminish the glory of the Creator and Light of the world who overcomes the deepest darkness, the Artist and Author of the greatest redemptive story ever told that we actually get to live in ... and I'm glad to be proven wrong ... "The Chosen" is creative, beautiful, and genuinely good, not only in bringing to life the context and some of the content of the Gospels, but also displaying quality storytelling, screenwriting, direction, acting (with a mostly Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cast), and production in the midst of the creative license being taken to unveil what we may think we're already familiar with. Below are links to the trailer, first episode, free app for streaming the entire season, and DVD set if interested:

+ Trailer (3:39 minutes) 
+ The Chosen: Complete Episode One (53:59 minutes) 
+ The Chosen Complete Season One Free App for Streaming 
+ The Chosen Completel Season One DVD Set

Next post: Practicing Christ's Compassion During Coronavirus Pandemic in Worcester, Mass. March 22-28

Christ is all,

Rev. Mike "Sully" Sullivan

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