June 27, 2021

Sunday Worship, The Gift of Nature

* except where noted, the images and captions throughout the service were submitted by CMCLers for this service.
* except where noted, all prayers for worship this summer will come from our worship theme resource, 
The Gift of a Sacred Summer by freerangeworship.com.
photo by Karen Shenk Zeager

Prelude—Here Comes the Sun, by The Beatles

Here comes the sun …
And I say it’s all right
Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
Here comes the sun …
And I say it’s all right

Lighting the Peace Lamp—In honor of the recent Summer Solstice and the advent of summer, we remember this morning the greatest light in our natural world, and how it warms and illuminates and gives us light and life. So, too we remember Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, and we invite that divine light to warm and illuminate our lives, and this hour together. 

Welcome / Call to Worship— This summer we want our worship theme to be nurturing for folks who are at home here in Lancaster and those who may be traveling. We hope you find these themes and prompts help you look for and find the sacred around you wherever you are this summer! This morning we focus on the Gift of Nature, glimpsed through the eyes of fellow CMCLers. We remember today, too, those who do not feel safe, who are in fact less safe than others, out and about in nature, and those who for physical or economic reasons do not find the outdoors accessible. It is a privilege to have access to the natural world.

Creator God, we look around this space 
    and we see all the ways in which your Creation is seen. 
It is seen in the people with whom we gather. 
It is in the trees that became places where we sit. 
It is in the sand that was turned into the glass in our windows. 
It is in the metals that make up the electronics 
    that amplify sound, cool the room, and project images. 
It is in the air that we breathe and the cycles of nature 
    that turn our exhales back into oxygen to give us life. 
Thank you, Creator God, 
    for that which we can see and all that we do not, 
    for that which we understand and that which is beyond us. Amen.

Gathering Song— Called By Earth and Sky, VT #806

Sophia and Priscilla Sauder at St Thomas Episcopal labyrinth
Brenda Sauder: “The moon is a special friend, and to me, She’s a Who, not a What.”

Children’s Time Gathering Song— Come and See, VT #282, Sung by CMCL on Jan 26, 2020

Children’s Time— Darrell Yoder

Offering—Thank you for your continued support of your congregation. Our budget supports our staff, our building, our congregational care, and our outreach commitments. We are grateful that this community is a place to seek and give mutual aid and to reach out beyond our community, too. Thanks so much for being the church and giving to the work of the Church.

Creator Spirit,
you clothe the flowers of the field:
enable us to rejoice in all the gifts
with which you fill us,
and may that be enough for us. Amen.

VT #1018

photo by Carol Spicher
“Hiking in Colorado. Grateful that we needed to slow down to take photos at the higher elevations.”

Offertory—Why do We Hunger for Beauty?, by Reunion Vocal Band(feat. Jim Croegaert), shared with permission.

Scripture—Psalm 8

O God, my Beloved,
How powerful is your Name
In all the earth!
You, whose glory is sung in heaven
By the angels and saints,
Who with the innocence
And spontaneity of a child,
Confound those who are mighty and proud,
You quiet the unloving and fearful.

When I look up at the heavens,
At the work of God’s creation
At the infinite variety of your Plan;
What is woman that you rejoice in her,
And man that you do delight in him?

You have made us in your image,
You fill us with your Love
You have made us co-creators of the earth!
Guardians of the planet!
To care for all your creatures
To tend the land, the sea,
And the air we breathe;
All that you have made,
You have placed in our hands.

O God, my Beloved,
How powerful is your Name in all the earth!

Interpreted by Nan C. Merrill

“I wanna be there now”                          male cardinal                                           “aaaaaaah…”
images by Maren Morgan

Reading— excerpt from an interview of the late John O’Donohue by Krista Tippett, “The Inner Landscape of Beauty,” On Being, originally aired February 28, 2008

… it’s the question of beauty … you’re asking, essentially … that there are individuals holding out on frontlines, holding the humane tissue alive in areas of ultimate barbarity, where things are visible that the human eye should never see. And they’re able to sustain it, because there is, in them, some kind of sense of beauty that knows the horizon that we are really called to in some way. I love Pascal’s phrase, that you should always keep something beautiful in your mind. And I have often … in times when it’s been really difficult for me … if you can keep some kind of little contour that you can glimpse sideways at, now and again, you can endure great bleakness.

the creek at Boxwood Farm (home of John and Kelli Burkholder King)
photo by Torrie Martin

Reflections on the Sacred in Nature by Four CMCLERS
Click on each person’s name to watch a video of their recorded reflection with images.

Pauline Zimmerman— Pauline is a lover of nature and a watcher of birds. You will see some of her photos and paintings and then hear her words:

Nature says

Come into my world and enjoy me.
Relax and be soothed

See my beauty
Smell me

Listen to the sounds
There is a melody of birds, trees and animals moving about

Enjoy the change of seasons
See and hear different birds in migration in spring and fall

See leaves come onto the trees and flowers bud and
Then watch them change into different colors and fall to the ground

sit with the sunrise and sunset
Watch the colors change

Natures says , I am here and easy to find
Walk , run and/ or sit

Natures say God is an ever changing God ready to be with us at all times, all day long.
Just be and appreciate the welcome

Renee King Renee has been taking walkabouts in Lancaster all through the pandemic and taking photos of all that she notices and sharing them with her grateful friends on social media.

Song—God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens, VT #529, sung by CMCL on October 12, 2014

Darcy Miller“We raised painted lady butterflies this Spring and these are a few photos from when we released them in our yard. It was so special to see this dramatic transformation from caterpillar to chrysalis to butterfly up close. After the bleak monochromatic winter stuck mostly indoors, we were starved for color, beauty, and signs of renewal. Butterflies are in abundance now but, only a few months ago, they were a rare sighting and a much needed sign of hope.” 

Sarah Shirk—Sarah is a traveler, hiker and lover of nature with eyes for the beauty and symmetry and geometry in the natural world.

Song—Touch the Earth Lightly, VT #145

Sharing Time— Please email your prayer requests or reflections this morning to susan@communitymennonite.org. They will be sent out by email by Monday morning. 

God, we may not understand everything about Creation, about how it all came
to be, where it all started, what was before the beginning, and what will be after the ending, but we know you were in all of it. You spoke into chaos and your breath/spirit went out and as all was created, you pronounced it good and very good.

Help us to remember that Creation at its core was not about being tamed or dominated but cultivated and nurtured. Help us remember that we are stewards not just for our lifetimes but for the generations that will follow. We pray for leaders in government and business for a heart to care for this creation and to turn around the destruction that we have caused.

May we be able to hear you in the speaking of the trees in the breeze, in the
beauty of a rainbow after a rain, in the power of thunder booming, and in the songs of early morning birds. May we see your beautiful image in each person, each woman, each man who we encounter.

May we find ways to get our rhythms of life in sync with how you created nature to be. It is not about bending nature to our will but instead being changed in ourselves to be in sync with you. Give us the courage to make changes individually and globally.

To these prayers that we have spoken, we lift up needs here in our
congregation…   CMCL prayer concerns will be added here.


Announcements—CMCL Congregational Meeting follows immediately after worship this morning on Zoom.

Walking on Grand Manan in June
photo by Henry Biedrzycki

Closing Hymn—You Shall Go Out with Joy, VT #847 / HWB #427,sung by CMCL on April 24, 2016


When you go out today:
Look at the first branch of a tree overhead
and think of it like God’s arm reaching out to bless the world.
Look for a blooming flower that speaks of the beauty
that is always present.
Feel the breeze that reminds us of God’s breath/spirit
that is always on the move.
Pick up some dirt and remember our rootedness in God.
Be blessed by the Creation and the Creator around you. Amen.

Worship Leader: Susan Gascho-Cooke
Song Leader: Marty Kelley
Reflections: Renee King, Darcy Miller, Sarah Shirk, Pauline Zimmerman
Children’s Time:
Darrell Yoder
Scripture Reader:Barbara Gascho
Tech host: Adam Kehler