Saturday, April 25, 2020

Practicing Christ's Compassion During Eastertide in the Midst of the Coronavirus Pandemic in Worcester, Mass. April 19-25

A Liturgy (i.e. Work of the People) for Eastertide During the Novel Coronavirus Pandemic Week of April 19-25 in Worcester, Massachusetts 

Below is a "liturgy or work of the people for the second week of Eastertide 2020" (here are links to weeks March 8-14March 15-21March 22-28March 29-April 4, Holy Week April 5-11, and April 12-18) including encouragement, connection points, prayer focuses, discipleship practices, articles, videos, quotes, and more. 

We can't overcome this desert of 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.

+ ECC Facebook Live 2nd Eastertide Weekend Message + Liturgy:
Wise and Wild with Christ and the Cross (or 'How Does the Cross Make the Change?')

Mass featured call to worship from Psalm 118:19-25a, song suggestions including In Christ Alone, Chain Breaker, The Cross Made the Change, and Cornerstone, confession and assurance prayers based on Proverbs 10:8-12 + ECC Facebook Live at 4:30 p.m. message on 1 Corinthians 1:18-25: Wise and Wild with Christ and the Cross, Passing the Peace, Eucharist, and Benediction

+ Celebrating Earth Day through the Lens of the Tree of Life in the Story of God

In preparation to celebrate Earth Day tomorrow on Wednesday, April 22, I encourage you to read this post featuring excerpts from Dr. Matthew Sleeth's work on how the Tree of Life is displayed in the work of Christ from the garden to the cross and beyond, and coming fully in the new creation when King Jesus reconciles heaven and earth. And, as a bonus, the Bible Project has produced a new video with similar themes released two months ago just in time. :)

+ Christ Over the Coronavirus on Earth Day | The Story of God in Nature During Eastertide 
+ BP Video: Tree of Life (4:51 minutes)

+ Serving and Leading through Phases of Being w/ Jesus, His Church, and Our Neighbors in a Prolonged Crisis

ECC's Servant Leadership Team shared about how helpful the article below was to many of us, and I think our micro City Group leaders, as well as anyone who is in a position to serve and lead others in their vocation, neighborhood, etc., will benefit from reading this to help process the pandemic with Christ in the midst of our grief, apathy, depression, fear, hope, and mission:

+ Leading in a Prolonged Crisis (4 Phases: Building, Breaking, Baptizing, Budding)

+ Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection Quotes + Documentary Videos and Resurrection Q&A Post

As we continue to consider the mystery, wonder, and power of the resurrection, and embrace more of the joy of Eastertide, here are some posts featuring quotes from and links to a 30+-minute story via video in 4 parts (8-10 minutes each) of a couple who went through their own death and resurrection of faith in Jesus that can help us ponder our story and witness:

+ Eastertide Story Doc Videos | Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection: Doubt & Cycle (Video Part 1: Doubt + Video Part 2: Cycle) 
+ Eastertide Story Doc Videos | Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection: Faith & Life (Video Part 3: Faith + Video Part 4: Life) 
+ Why Is Jesus Resurrecting? + Why Should It Matter to Me Today?

+ COVID-19 Response via Viking Translation

Instead of thinking, "I'm choosing to shelter-in-place for the protection of others because of the coronavirus," declare, "I've sworn an oath of solitude until the pestilence is purged from the lands." Say this with eyes to the sky and an instrument of valor (ex. the pen is mightier than the sword) in hand when possible. :) Then, on a more serious note, pray the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God would shape Emmaus City Church and bring salvation to people you love.

+ 5 Ways to Love Your Neighbors in the Spring Weeks to Come

1. Chalk art on sidewalks and driveways: Write words of encouragement, Scripture passages, prayers, and things you are thankful for. 
2. Prayer walk: Schedule coordinated prayer walks (ex. same day, same time) with people in your micro City Group (MCG) or another MCG, and conside scheduling a Zoom meeting to share what you saw, heard, prayed, etc. 
3. Set aside some or all of stimulus check to give away: Pray about and consider setting aside some of your stimulus check for neighbors in need and/or MCG communities to serve and bless.  
4. Be present in a common space 1-2x each week: For those with a front yard or a common space in an apartment complex, spend 30-45 minutes there 1-2x each week. Eat outside your residence, sit in a chair near a neighbors fence, relax in the front yard instead of the back, etc., and say hello to anyone who comes by. 
5. Set up socially responsible beer or coffee hangout: Consider a Friday night (beer) or Saturday morning (coffee) sociallly responsible hang out when the weather is good. Invite others to come. See each other, smile, and share peaks and pits from the week. Ask if anyone would like prayer, and as the Spirit leads, follow up again with people based on what they shared. 
Bonus: Write notes to essential workers and first responders (nurses, doctors, firewomen & men, grocery store empolyees, etc.) and deliver in person or through others. 
For even more possibilities and opportunities, check out Mike Frost's 35 Ways to Love Your Neighbors Right Now

+ Brene Brown's Vision Meets Jesus' Everlasting Answer

We will not go back to normal ... Our pre-corona existence was not normal other than we normalized greed, inequity, exhaustion, depletion, extraction, disconnection, confusion, rage, hoarding, hate, and lack. We should not long to return, my friends. We are being given the opportunity to stitch a new garment. + Brene Brown 
Considering Brene's compelling thoughts, let's remember and look to the One who offers us His true and new garment that He has stiched for us to cover our guilt and shame and welcome us as friends: 
You say, "I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!" And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from Me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from Me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear My voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. + King Jesus  
from Revelation 3:17-20; cross reference Isaiah 55:1 remembering that when we "buy" from the Lord Jesus, He provides the means by the riches of His grace so that we buy without cost to ourselves, only through cost to Himself

+ Revel in Dr. Seuss' Fox in Socks via Rap

Old or young, this is for you to share with someone. Set aside 5+ minutes to enjoy this with a friend online or in the same room with a loved one. Watch. Smile. Rinse. Repeat with another Dr. Seuss' rap (ex. Green Eggs and Ham and The Lorax also available). 

+ FOX IN SOX | Dr. Seuss Raps over Dr. Dre Beats (5:44 minutes) 
After watching, you may consider this to be the new "illest" thing. 

+ Get Contemplative w/ Christ & COVID-19 via Daily Examen 

1. Be Still and Invite the Holy Spirit's Guidance (1 Sam. 3:10; Rom. 8:14) 
2. Review the Day w/ Jesus w/ Honesty & Thanksgiving, Asking 3 Questions (2 Cor. 13:4-5; Phil. 4:4-7): 
+ What am I grieving today with Christ in light of the coronavirus (i.e. what did COVID-19 take away from me)?  
+ What does Christ hold onto for me that the coronavirus can't take away (i.e. what am I appreciating right now)?  
+ What was an unexpected gift to me today (i.e. what did Christ offer me over the coronavirus)?  
3. Reflect + Notice What Surfaces (i.e. Thoughts, Feelings, Images), Observe them with Our Father, and Pray in the Spirit (1 Cor. 2:13-15; Rom. 8:14; Gal. 5:25; Phil. 1:9-10; Eph. 6:18 
4. Confess Any Sin & Receive Forgiveness (1 Jn. 1:9; Ja. 5:16) 
5. Look Forward to Tomorrow with Father, Son, and Spirit w/ Hope (Rom. 5:1-5; 15:13; 2 Cor. 13:14

+ Praying Psalm 118:19-25a for ECC During the 2nd Week of Eastertide

King Jesus, as You have opened the gates of righteousness for us, we ask that You would do so for our friends and neighbors we are praying will hear Your Good News, repent, believe in You, and enter Your Kingdom during Eastertide 2020. Thank You for opening the Way for us to follow You from a life running from You and ending in isolation and death into an abundant life with You and others now that is just the beginning of everlasting life. The hellish stone that kept us in our sin and death was rolled away from the tomb to fulfill all the Father's promises as the Spirit vindicated You! Thank You, Jesus! You are the Gate, our Death-Conquering Deliverer, Hell-Overcoming Christ, Master, Savior, Liberator, and Friend, and we want more of our loved ones in Worcester to know You and be made righteous by You for their salvation and for the life of the world. We give thanks to You because You are our salvation; You are our Rock, the cornerstone we can build our lives on in any season. For those who have ignored or belittled You thus far, may they be surprised to discover that the stone that was rejected has surprisingly become the cornerstone. Align us all with Your gracious will and Your plan of peace as living stones connected to the Church You are building that the gates of hell will not prevail against! May we not build our lives on anything less than You during this coronavirus pandemic. The Good News came from You, LORD; You are wondrous in our sight. Increase our witness, wonder, and worship in the days to come. This is the day that You have made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. LORD, save us! We pray all these things in confidence because we are praying in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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