Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster
November 1, 2020
All Saints Day
artwork by Annali Cooke
Gathering words and welcome—Good morning, and welcome to our service this morning.
Several years ago, Ryan and I walked a portion of the Camino de Santiago – the ancient pilgrimage route in Spain. These months of pandemic have often felt like ones of pilgrimage. The Way of the Camino is about carrying only the essentials and digging deep for the strength to go on. It is found within and by way of the other pilgrims as our community and also the many hosts along the way. Walking the Camino, I reflected on on the faith and inner desire that carried each pilgrim toward Santiago — in the present day and in centuries past.
On All Saints Day we remember those saints, ancestors and loved ones who have gone before us. We will be remembering the five CMCLers who died this year and pay tribute to them.
Lighting the Peace Lamp—
Some trust in governments and some in borders,
but we trust in God, who invites all people to live in peace.
For the earth belongs to God,
and all creation is in God’s care:
land and waters, plants and animals, sky and soil,
declare the hospitality of God.
The world belongs to God,
and all who live in it.
We belong to one another as siblings,
all of us children of God.
With gratitude for the home God has made for us on this planet, we pray:
Send your Holy Spirit
to strengthen our resolve
to strive for communities
where foreigners become neighbors
and strangers become friends.
Revive our desire for the reign of Christ,
who releases prisoners
and liberates the oppressed,
who frees the world from greed
and proclaims God’s peace.
Make justice roll down like a river
and righteousness flow like an everlasting stream. Amen.
© 2019 Isaac Villegas. Used with Permission.
Commissioned for The Voices Together Hymnal.
Later in our service during Sharing Time, we will be lifting up requests for prayer. Please give prayer requests you want shared with the congregation to Susan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gathering Song— When peace like a river, HWB #336, sung by CMCL on January 13, 2019
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 can be 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.
We long for the time
when the meek shall inherit the earth
and all who hunger and thirst after justice
shall be satisfied,
and we believe that, despite the persistence of evil,
now is always the time
when more good can be done
and we can make a difference.
May it be so, through the offering of these gifts
And the offering of our lives.
Reprinted by permission from The Worship Sourcebook, Second Edition, © 2013, FaithAlive Christian Resources.
Offering Song— Nothing is lost on the breath of God, STS #121, sung by CMCL on
Scripture Reading— Hebrews 12:1-2a
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith.”
All Saint’s Reflection — Susan Gascho-Cooke
In this time of COVID restrictions, we are, I think, getting a premature taste of the communion of the saints, that belief that there is connection, “communion,” between souls who are not in physical proximity with one another between the living and those who have gone before.
We are learning to practice what we preach when we say that love is stronger than death, and when we say that the bonds of love are not limited to physical presence.
We are learning to practice communion in our own homes, and trust that others are sharing in that meal with us, even when we’re not in the same room.
It’s painful. It’s definitely not preferable. But it’s possible. We can keep love alive across distances, and despite obstacles we never could have imagined. Perhaps we can more deeply trust that love bridges gaps of time and distance, because we’ve now tested it in new ways.
We are still in communion with those who have gone before … This is the beauty of the communion of the saints.
The passage in Hebrews 12 which gives us the phrase, “communion of saints,” comes right after the chapter that was quoted in our service last week by guest speaker David Rensberger: Hebrews 11 is often called the “Faith” Chapter, because it lists ancestors paragraph by paragraph and says: “by faith Abraham ….” “by faith, Moses …” “by faith, the people …”
Our communion of saints, our ancestors of faith, are not just those to whom we are related. This is profoundly hopeful, I think, for those who are estranged from their families of origin, or were abused or unloved by their families of origin. And hopeful for those who have been loved well, but recognize that there are significant ways they must depart from their families of origin, or even work to change or undo the legacies of their blood ancestors.
I am not related to Anne Sensenig or Beckie Meyer or Levina Huber or Luke Bomberger or Mark Halsey, but they are part of my communion of saints, and the witness of their faithfulness, in their unique ways, is a reservoir of inspiration and wisdom for me to draw on, that no barrier of time, or distance or death can hold back.
This morning we speak the names of our communion of saints: in whatever way they were our loved ones. We will read tributes to the five CMCLers we said good-bye to this year. And then we invite you to share the names of your dearly beloveds — whatever names you would like to remember today.
Usually, you are invited to come forward and light a candle, and speak a name if you would like to. This morning, we will light candles for the 25 CMCLers who have gone before — whose names are written on our memorial garden wall. And we will light one candle to represent the many names you would like to share.
After the five tributes and the 25 names are read, I invite you to type the names of the saints you are remembering today in the Zoom chat here. If you are unable to use the chat, for whatever reason, you may send me the name by email I will read those names out loud, one by one.
I encourage you to light a candle in your home today, as a reminder of those persons throughout your day.
If you would like to visit the Memorial Garden here, at any time, feel free to do so. You may bring a stone to drop in the bowl under the plaque in memory of one of our own, or a loved one of your own. One of the unique blessings of this time of COVID is that we have spent so much time in that garden, since so much of our staff meeting time has been needed to be outside. It’s a lovely space, and you are welcome there. I want to again thank the CMCL committee that brought the dream of that garden to life: Mary Lou Weaver Houser, Jay Martin, Linda Berger, Doug Reesor and Leslie Homer-Cattell.
CMCL’s Communion of Saints
Bonnie Gingrich Cleary
Ferd W. Doermer, Jr.
Samuel F. Reist
Mark Stanley Siemens
Glen D. Lapp
Dieter Ernst Jacobs
Gwendolyn Wenger Peachey
Philip B. Detweiler
Katherine D. Couturier
Daryl D. Garber
Paul A. Leatherman
Emma Burkholder Hess
Roland Dewitt Stock
Lois Leatherman Blough
Premnath S. Dick
Carl G. Strub
Marti Landes King
Mary Eileen Book Bomberger
Laurie Ann Vogt
Anne Rochelle Sensenig, written and recorded by her husband, Daniel Erdman.
Levina Smucker Huber, written by Lois Martin and edited (trimmed for word count) by Levina’s daughter Linda, and also Susan Gascho-Cooke: For all her life, Levina valued the community of faith. Growing up in a church that denied women pastoral leadership, she always believed in her calling. Becoming Pastor Levina later in life gave her great joy.
She will always be remembered as the person who showed up in your home after a loved one had died. She knew how to pray with you, weep with you and simply be with you when there were no words! She blessed your children, laughed with them, and welcomed new persons. She was a blessing.
Levina loved her family and friends with fierceness and loyalty.
Mark E. Halsey, edited from words by his immediate family.
Mark had a great dry sense of humor, a way of making his loved ones feel deeply cared for, and a fun, laid-back presence. A beach lover at heart, two of his favorite places to spend time were Manhattan Beach, CA, and Rehoboth Beach, DE.
Mark was deeply admired by family and friends for his constant love and loyalty, as well as his work ethic. He had a deep faith in God which grew stronger as his health declined.
Mark had a degree in fine arts and a passion for woodworking. He encouraged others to keep focused on what Jesus taught, saying, “Just love God and each other.
Luke R. Bomberger, written by his daughter, Sue Bomberger Faron: Luke Bomberger was born on September 1, 1927 to Violet and Elam Bomberger in Mt. Joy. He spent his childhood on Donegal Springs Road with 3 younger brothers, forming a “quartet of boys and an octet of noise” according to his mother. He graduated high school and joined the Merchant Marines as a seagoing cowboy taking cattle to Europe and Asia after WWII.
After marrying Mary Book, the couple raised 5 children in their home in New Holland and Luke worked his way up the corporate ladder at Victor F Weaver, Inc. He served on many corporate and non-profit boards throughout his lifetime and decided to give time to the church by working for the Mennonite Foundation.
Upon retirement Luke and Mary moved to Landis Homes where he spent many happy hours working on model airplanes and railroads. He was diagnosed with dementia and lived his final years listening and smiling during family gatherings of his 20 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren.
Rebecca H. Meyer — written by Susan Gascho-Cooke, incorporating some direct quotes from Beckie’s daughter, Jen’s memorial service tribute: Beckie was a person of passion, curiosity and creativity — a career educator who was a lifelong learner herself.
She loved her husband deeply, and lost him to cancer too early. She was a fierce and loving mother and grandmother, and a maintainer of long-term friendships.
Beckie was not just passionate about justice and peace, but passionately supported the causes, the institutions and the people she believed in with her time, talents and resources. She believed deeply that all human beings deserved the same opportunities and the same access to resources, and she actively worked to make that reality true within her spheres of influence.
Memorial Candlelighting— Wherever you are today, you are invited to light a candle to remember the loved ones in your community of saints. If you would like to have a name spoken in the Zoom service this morning, please email that name to Susan Gascho-Cooke, Susan@communitymennonite.org this morning.
“We Remember Them” from Jewish Book of Prayer
In the rising of the sun and its going down, we remember them.
In the bowing of the wind and in the chill of winter, we remember them.
In the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring, we remember them.
In the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer, we remember them.
In the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn, we remember them.
In the beginning of the year and when it ends, we remember them.
When we are weary and in need of strength, we remember them.
When we are lost and sick of heart, we remember them.
When we have joys and special celebrations we yearn to share,we remember them.
So long as we live, they too shall live, for they are part of us, we remember them.
Song of Response— “Baba Yetu”/The Lord’s Prayer
Sharing Time— Email your prayer requests, or pictures or reflections to email@example.com. They will be sent out by email by Monday morning.
May you know the work
that is yours to do.
May you give yourself
to the doing of it.
May the Spirit who has
move through you
and with grace.
– from In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan Richardson, janrichardson.com
Worship Leader: Christy Heatwole Kauffman
Reflection: Susan Gascho-Cooke
Children’s Time: Darrell Yoder
Tech Host: Ken Nissley