I have to confess that I am not a huge fan of choral music. That is my problem. My taste in music runs more to folk music, which is almost as nerdy as choral music. The piece we just listened to was the Opening of Handel’s Messiah. It’s the first song of the piece. We are much more familiar with The Halleluiah Chorus. I love this piece so much because it’s part of my history. It was a Christmas tradition.
I hope you have traditions. If you don’t, build them. Traditions are slipping away in our culture, and that is very sad indeed because traditions are ways we bind to one another. But we must also be ready to alter our traditions so that they don’t become the thing we worship. Traditions help us look towards the thing we want. They are not the thing themselves. When Handel wrote the Messiah, he didn’t think it would ever become a Christmas tradition, and when he wrote it, he never imagined that a chorus of African men and women would lift their voices to the glory of God.
We read today from Isaiah. This is a Christmas tradition. What does it point to? What do Handel and Isaiah have to say to us?
Comfort ye my people
Comfort ye my people
Saith your God
Saith your God
This is not a request
This is God speaking, and he is not asking. This is a command. Comfort my people. Who are God’s people? ALL people are God’s people. The thief on the cross is God’s people. The Roman Centurion who looked up at Jesus as He gave Himself up for us is God’s people. Saul, the great persecutor of Christians is God’s people. ALL people are God’s people.
Some are closer and some are further from the love of God. You do not know where they are in their journey, nor do I.
Brianna Taylor is God’s people, George Floyd is God’s people. Kyle Rittenhouse is God’s people. Donald Trump is God’s people. Joe Biden is God’s people.
I am by brother’s keeper. I am the comforter of my sister. My Black sister, my white sister, my brown sister, my gay sister, my straight sister, my questioning sister, my conservative sister, my progressive sister, my Christian sister, my Muslim sister, my Wiccan sister, My Hindu sister, my atheist sister, ALL sisters, everywhere, for ALL time. I am to comfort them.
It’s not easy, we need help
How easy it is to comfort those we agree with. That is no task. One doesn’t need a command to be comfort those who look, think and act like us. The command is for those we don’t want to comfort.
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem (the world)
Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
Offer a word of peace the next time someone offers you a word of anger. If you see someone whose cap you don’t like, buy them a coffee. Be kind when the hand of kindness is not offered.
And cry unto her
That her warfare
Her warfare is accomplished
We can choose a different path
Lately I think this nation has gone insane. (Can I get an amen?)
We do not have to live in this madness. We do not have to go insane. We can choose a different path, a different highway. But we must be the ones who build that highway. When I was about 12 my sister and I got into a fight. It got so loud that my mom came out, grabbed us both and asked us what happened. We both pointed the finger at the other. My mom said, “I don’t care who is right, but the one of you who is right should apologize first.” I am not going to tell you who said sorry first, but I have never forgotten this piece of sudden wisdom from my mad as a hornet mother. The one who is right needs to be the first to offer the hand of fellowship. Why?
That her iniquity is pardoned
That her iniquity is pardoned
You have been pardoned. Go and do likewise. We want justice and we want the righteousness to be uplifted and the wicked punished, but we want these things on our terms. Our justice is not God’s justice. As you forgive, so you will be forgiven. That is God’s justice. We have a chance to make a new start. Right here, right now, we can stop the madness, but we won’t until we forgive.
The voice of Him
That crieth in the wilderness
Prepare ye the way of the Lord
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God
You are the voice. It is you that must prepare the way You must make straight in this crazy American desert, a highway. A highway in this America so lacking in hope, peace, joy, and love. A highway for our God.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God.
This is not a request. This is the word of God. Amen
If you would like to watch the video of this service, please click on the link below.
If you would like to support our ministry, please consider giving today. Charitable contributions may be sent to PO Box 497, Townsend, MA 01469. All donations to New Beginnings UMC are 100% tax-deductible and can be sent an end-of-year giving statement.
In this 57- minute video, I lead you and the community in worship, sharing Psalm 23 as the Call to Worship and music by the NYC Virtual Choir and Orchestra singing “How Can I Keep from Singing.” My message focuses on David’s Psalm 23, and the story of David’s rising to fame in 1 Samuel 17:1-25:7. The tale of David and Goliath is a familiar one, and yet was David the underdog? I share a perspective from Malcolm Gladwell who wrote a book by the same name and makes an argument that the fight was over before it ever began. I encourage you to have this outlook that you have already won. If we are to build the beloved community, we must act like it is already here.
Do no harm, Do good, Stay in love with God!John Wesley
We are pleased to announce that we will host an indoor church service starting on Sunday, October 4, 2020, at 10:00 AM at 265 Main Street, Townsend, MA!
We will want to hug and shake hands, but as we all know now, that won’t be possible. The conference and the state have rules we must abide by, so congregating in groups any closer than six feet from one another is not allowed. We will wear masks the entire time and we will refrain from singing.
Please bear with us as we fine-tune the program and try to make it as comfortable as possible for you and your guests. It won’t be what we are used to, but we are called to be ready for change. This is an opportunity to practice. Halleluiah and Amen
Please note: If you feel the time is not right for you, please know that we miss you but are in complete support of your decision to be with us in spirit. There will be an online message available Sunday on our website newbeginningsumcma.org.
Indoor Service Guidelines
Kindly keep in mind the following guidelines and help us maintain safety as we worship.
- If you are not feeling well, especially if you are experiencing symptoms common to Covid-19, please stay home.
- Please come with clean hands, bring a mask, and be prepared to maintain six feet of distance.
- A mask must be worn appropriately, and always for the protection of everyone.
- We will practice our waving and smiling as we greet each other six feet apart.
- A table will be set up near our entrance for masks, disinfectant, wipes, gloves, a wastebasket
- The offering plate will not be passed. If you choose to give, please place you’re offering in the collection plate as you enter or as you leave. A collection plate will be provided at the entrance and exit.
- Chairs will be set up six feet apart for proper social distancing.
- People who live in the same household may sit together.
- There will be no passing of the peace (handshakes, hugs, contact, etc.)
- All hymnals and bibles will be removed from the sanctuary.
- Please limit the use of the restrooms. Anyone who uses the bathroom is responsible for sanitizing the space before and after you use the facility. Please use the provided disinfectants on all surfaces you encounter.
- Dismissal of the congregation will be directed by the Pastor during the postlude music to maintain acceptable social distancing.
Thank you for your cooperation and we hope to see you Sunday!
Yours in His precious Name,
P.S. If you would like to prepare the way for our indoor service, please join us on Tuesday, September 29th at 7 PM to clean and arrange the sanctuary.