Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster

September 27, 2020


photo from Wolf Garden, Lancaster PA 

Prelude— Foxglove, by Bruce Cockburn, performed by Daryl Snider and Dave Wert (in 1995?)

Lighting the Peace Lamp

 We light this lamp every Sunday to remind us
          that we are welcome here
          that God welcomes each and every one of us, no matter what.
We light this lamp in solidarity with all who are praying and working
          for peace and justice and transformation on this green earth.
We remember today the life and light of Breonna Taylor,
          and the family and community that grieves her too-short life.
We pray that the light of awareness and the heat of justice
          may come to this world and with it bring change,
          and freedom from oppression,
          for the oppressed and the oppressors.
Light of the World, make yourself known, we pray.

Welcome— This morning we were meant to be gathering in the basement at Camp Hebron, with bleary eyes from a weekend of too little sleep at fall retreat. Our intrepid retreat committee (Beky Weidner, Carolyn Weaver, Eric Hoover, Sallie McCann Tupper, Amanda Stoltzfus and Leslie Homer-Cattell), made a major pivot (that word the pandemic has made us both love and hate) and planned a day of small gatherings for us here in Lancaster. So, this morning, our worship is a time of celebrating togetherness. In lieu of a sermon, we’ll see a montage of photos from yesterday, set to the music of our own congregational singing over the years. And our Children’s Time will be a recap of the parent/child blessings we have celebrated over the last few weeks. We are delighted to share it with you, because those blessings are still incomplete. An essential part of the blessing is the blessing of the congregation as a whole. So, today, you can all witness those blessings, and join in speaking the congregational words of response from home.

As usual, please email any prayer concerns to . In addition, you may share any reflections from yesterday’s activities, or memories of retreats in years past. These will be shared in Sharing Time, as well.

Call to Worship— Sing the Journey #122

Source of all hope and holiness,
we gather this morning to be church.
Bless those who are absent, but not from our hearts.
Bless those who are distant, but not from your love.
Bless each of us here that we may
          choose justice by your Spirit,

          draw kindness from the well of your mercy,
          and walk humbly in your path, O God.  AMEN.

Gathering Song— There’s a hole where you oughtta be today, by Susan Gascho-Cooke
I wrote this song late last night, as I tried to find a hymn that reflected the togetherness of the retreat day, but also acknowledged the gaping holes in our community this year. I probably stole the melody from someone else’s song and threw my own words on it as a prayer, but right now I can’t identify where the melody came from. If you recognize it, let me know and I’ll credit it! It’s a simple song, so feel free to harmonize and sing along from home.

Children’s Time Invitation— Come and See, HWB #20, sung by CMCL on Feb 16, 2020

Children’s TimeParent/Child BlessingsOur children’s time this morning is a celebration of the five parent/child blessings that took place at CMCL over the last few weeks. This video is both a record of those blessings, and a chance for you as a congregation to join in the blessings of these families:

Ansel James Miller, child of Ashley and Nathan Miller
Evelyn “Evvie” Solosko, child of Alex Solosko
Graham Denlinger Bushong, child of Julie and Tyler Bushong,
          younger sibling of Jack
Lila Jane Deininger, child of Wes and Lindsey Garber Deiniger,
          younger sibling of Kellen
Thena Elizabeth Fritz Kuhns, child of Sarah Fritz and Mike Kuhns

Hymn of Blessing  Go, my children, HWB #422, sung by CMCL on April 8, 2018

Offering—Thank you for your continued support of your congregation. Many of you are giving at this time in so many creative ways. Our budget supports our staff, our building, our outreach commitments and our congregational care. We are grateful that church can be a place to seek and give mutual aid.

Thanks, so much for being the church, and giving to the work of the church.

Lord, let our community be a witness to you,
             immersed in scripture,
             constant in prayer,
             joyful in worship,
             generous in giving.
             A loving, supportive community
             reaching out to those in need.
             Accept these gifts we offer, in Jesus’ name, Amen.

                    © Carol Penner, (slightly adapted)

Scripture— Matthew 18:20 

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them. (words of Jesus)

Sermon — our “sermon” this morning is a Retreat Video Montage (thanks to Brenda and Faith Sauder!) of our congregation at play yesterday. Birdwatching (magnolia warbler, black and white warbler, gold finches, crow, bluebirds, red headed wood pecker, catbirds, blackburnian warbler, chickadee, cardinals, robins and doves), biking, kayaking, painting, playing frisbee golf, dancing, eating ice cream and fellowship around a campfire together.

CMCL Vision Prayer

Through your grace, O God, form us into a community
called to follow Jesus,
known and loved by you,
nourished throughout our lives by worship,
relationships and the biblical story,
open to new voices and new dreams,
committed to one another
in times of celebration and difficulty,
responsive to human need
with justice and compassion.
May your Spirit draw us together into your new creation.

Prayers for the World  This prayer is specifically about the border, but its words have a universality in their specificity. May these words rise to God on behalf of all the world, all who despair, and on behalf of all injustice that awaits reckoning:

I am done using the shorthand of 

“what’s happening at the border”

What I really mean, the imprisonment, murder, rape, and evil medical malpractice that is happening at the border between Mexico and the land that used to belong to them.

Our souls cannot afford to mince details. 

God of the border,

We will have to account for what we allow to happen in the name of our own security and wealth. We are those who bow to the idols of patriotism and self-preservation. Our xenophobic mantras of scarcity and fear have infected our integrity, allowing those in power to do what they will and do it in the dark. Let this be our misery, Lord. And as your spirit dwells at the border, let it comfort hose who are nearing despair. That you would meet their tragedy with the truth of their dignity. Rock the wailing children to sleep. We pray that you would rise up and do a new thing. Would you reunite families, Lord? Awaken a collective conscience in those who have seen evil. Bring justice like a fire in defense of those who have had power over their own bodies stolen in the night. Awake, God, and bend back the bars of cages. Bring a divine reckoning that reconnects to what it means to be human and to treat our neighbor as such.  @blackliturgies (Instagram)
          by Cole Arthur Riley, “a young black woman who has found
          rest and healing in written prayers.” 

Sharing Time—  Email your prayer requests, or pictures or reflections to They will be sent out by email by Monday morning.

For the exquisite gift of community, we give thanks.
For the opportunity to share from our lives, in all their joy and sorrow,
         and know that our words land in trustworthy ears, we give thanks.
May we know these gifts for what they are,
          and continue to nurture the space between us in this community.

Closing Hymn— God be with you till we meet again, HWB #430, sung by CMCL on June 23, 2013


May God bless and keep you,
May the very face of God shine on you
And be gracious to you.
May God’s presence embrace you and give you peace.


Worship Leader: Susan Gascho-Cooke
Sermon: Retreat video compiled by Brenda and Faith Sauder
Children’s Time: Malinda Clatterbuck and Susan Gascho-Cooke
Tech Host: Drew Brubaker