May 10, 2020
Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster

Welcome: Christy Heatwole Kauffman

Good morning! Blessings to you as you gather around your devices to connect in as CMCL. Today is Mother’s Day. We honor and remember our mothers at our side, in our thoughts, in our hearts, and our mothers among the communion of saints. We remember all who have mothered us.

Peace prayer

O God, who called all life into being,
the earth, sea and sky are yours.
Your presence is all around us;
every atom is full of your energy.
Your Spirit enlivens all who walk the earth;
with her we yearn for justice to be done,
for creation to be freed from bondage,
for the hungry to be fed,
for captives to be released,
for your peace to come on earth!

—Sing the Journey #133

Offering: We are grateful for your continued support of your congregation — 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. 

Offering Prayer:

That we may awaken,
To live to the full
The dream of the Earth
Who chose us to emerge
And incarnate its hidden night
In mind, spirit, and light.

-John O’Donohue

Song: I Shall Not Be Moved, sung by Anne Sensenig, Louise Ranck, Daryl Snider, accompanied by Dean Clemmer & Jerry Lehman

CMCL Psalm: by Sarah Fritz

A Psalm for Thena
I have a baby who wants to be
awake and asleep
at the same time.
She cries out because she is tired,
I put her to sleep.
She cries out – eyes open,
already awake.
Her name, Thena, means “wise”
and it’s clear that SHE will be the one teaching ME.
– awake and asleep-

To be honest I have no idea what makes
a Psalm a Psalm.
Except that the writers seem to also be
crying out.
In happiness and delight,
and in fear and pain.
In joy and strength.
and in weakness and agony.
-awake and asleep-
The birth of my daughter was followed by a time
of intense fear and pain.
For me, her birth was followed by a time
of immense happiness and delight.
And during this time I’m torn between
spending all day watching her in awe,
or with my head under the covers

– awake and asleep.

God of dichotomies,
give me the wisdom that my daughter seems to already have:
to know that sometimes we can be more than one thing,
strong and vulnerable, at the same time.
And in order to grow we need to be both

-awake and asleep.

Scripture: Psalm 131

A Song of Ascents. Of David.
O Lord, my heart is not lifted up,
my eyes are not raised too high;
I do not occupy myself with things
too great and too marvellous for me.
But I have calmed and quieted my soul,
like a weaned child with its mother;
my soul is like the weaned child that is with me.

O Israel, hope in the Lord
from this time on and for evermore.

Sermon: Susan Gascho-Cooke

World Collage Day

    Yesterday was World Collage Day. It’s a bit of a niche holiday, I admit. But in honor of World Collage Day, I offer you a collage of a reflection.

    I’ve got some scripture — Psalm 131.

    I’ve got a Mother’s Day greeting.

    I’ve got a really cool story re: children’s author Maurice Sendak.

    I’ve got an excerpt from the book Untamed by Glennon Doyle.

    And I’ve got a song I wrote.

    And in the spirit of collage, I’m gonna gonna cut and paste these things together for our reflection this morning.

Mother’s Day

    So, it’s Mother’s Day. We have not often focused on this holiday in worship at CMCL. It’s just a difficult day. And there’s no way to meet everyone where they are.

    Deb Cone-Halsey posted a lovely Mother’s Day greeting this morning on FB, and I’m gonna quote it and then riff on it:

    Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Moms out there … the biological, adoptive, fur baby moms, single moms, partnered moms, moms who have empty arms through loss, incarcerated moms, non-custodial moms, yet-to-be moms, women who long to be moms but haven’t been able to, moms who get called grandmas in public cuz they’re prematurely gray … oops, gettin’ a little personal, there! moms who had breakfast brought to them in bed this morning, and moms who definitely knew that wasn’t in the cards for them.

    And just all of us as women, who will be made to feel the need to explain ourselves today, whether we are mothers or not, whether we wanted to be mothers or not.

    I see you. I feel you. I love you. I am you. 

    I hope you can there is some special for you in this day.


    Today is also a day where we think of our mothers… the mothering we had, the mothering we wished for, the mothering we treasure, the mothering we miss.

    I’m thinking especially of all of you who have experienced mother-loss.

    Just this year at CMCL, thirteen of you have experienced mother-loss:

Ron Vogt
Michael Clapper
Laura Boll and Lucyann Boll-Borrero
Larry Kennel
Don Stoltzfus
Doug Burkholder
Louise Ranck
Lin Bowman
Pam Brubaker
Emily, Annie & Ellis Vogt:

    We see you, we grieve with you and for you.

For those who have felt un-mothered, or unloved by their mothers:

    I’d like to read an excerpt from Glennon Melton’s recent book, Untamed:
“This is what I know.
Parents love their children. I have met no exceptions.
Love is a river, and there are times when impediments stop the flow of love.
Mental illness, addiction, shame, narcissism, fear passed down by religious and cultural institutions—these are boulders that interrupt love’s flow.
Sometimes there is a miracle, and the boulder is removed. Some families get to experience this Removal Miracle. Many don’t. There is no rhyme or reason. No family earns it. Healing is not the reward for those who love the most or best…
I am so sorry. You deserved to have the love of your mother delivered to you. You deserved to be soaked through to the bone with her love every day and every night.
But now I need you to listen to me.
The miracle of grace is that you can give what you have never gotten.
You do not get your capacity to love from your parents. They are not your source. Your source Is God. You are your own source. Your river is strong…
Flow unimpeded.”

Psalm 131    

    What strikes me in this psalm is that it captures that dual experience of looking at mothering from the point of view of the child, and from the point of view of the mother.

    We are all mother in some way — calmer, care-giver. And we are all child — quiet-ed and calmed; held

    “I have quieted my soul like a child.” Yet these words are spoken while holding a quieted child.

    Nothing in life has helped me better comprehend and accept the love of my parents, and the love of God, more than holding my own children as infants.

    I just knew that unconditional love was true; that I could be both known and loved because I felt that same love flowing through me to my children. And it was both totally of me, and totally from beyond me.

    Here is a song that I wrote years ago, about this overlay of mothering and being mothered; that in mothering somehow the child in me, not just the child within me, was being mothered.

Warm Blanket

I have made of myself a warm blanket
I am safe here inside
I have carefully quilted the pieces
in a lovely diversion of color
I am wrapping it round and round me
sewing layer upon layer upon layer
may it hold me, enfold me
wrap you around me for now
wrap you around me for now

I have made of myself a warm blanket
you are safe here inside
I have carefully quilted the pieces
built the softest nest I could
but you will soon, too soon be coming
and you will learn, by and by, to leave me
so I hold you, enfold you
wrap me around you for now
wrap me around you for now

Looking toward Communion

    One of the prayers we regularly pray at communion at CMCL is one I wrote.

“Loving God, you spread a table before us whenever we come home.” 

    To me, it’s almost a Psalm 23 image. That in the midst of whatever life is raging around us, there are doors we can walk through, arms that will hold us, eyes that will look lovingly at us, no matter what we’ve done or become. A pantry that’s always stocked with the makings of our favorite food in it, just in case we come home.

    There is certainly some fiction or romanticization to this, I think. Yet once you leave your childhood home, the tastes and smells of that kitchen, that table, will forever symbolize safety and known-ness

    At communion we are profoundly allowing ourselves to be mothered, to be fed with the very body of the one who loves us and gives themselves for us

    And in eating, we allow that love into our very bodies. To become part of our very selves.

Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are, once shared this story:

    “Once a little boy sent me a charming card with a little drawing on it. I loved it. I answer all my children’s letters — sometimes very hastily — but this one I lingered over. I sent him a card and I drew a picture of a Wild Thing on it. I wrote, “Dear Jim: I loved your card.” Then I got a letter back from his mother and she said, “Jim loved your card so much he ate it.” 

    That to me was one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received. He didn’t care that it was an original Maurice Sendak drawing or anything. He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.”

    He saw it, he loved it, he ate it.

    I invite you to bring to hand whatever you’ve chosen to be your bread or wine or butterfly cracker this morning. If you didn’t bring anything — no worries — it’s all good.

Feel free to visualize communion, and be nourished by the words.

    As we move to this strange new virtual communion, hear these familiar words from our many celebrations of this feast together over the years:


This is the Welcome Table of our Redeemer,
and you are invited.
Make no excuses,
saying you cannot attend;
simply come,
for around this table you will find your family.
Come not because you have to,
but because you need to.

Come not to prove you are saved
but to seek the courage to follow wherever Christ leads.
Come not to speak but to listen,
not to hear what’s expected,
but to be open to the ways the Spirit moves among you.

So be joyful, not somber,
for this is the feast of the reign of God,
where the broken are molded into a Beloved Community,
and where the celebration over evil’s defeat has already begun.

from Sing the Journey#170

Wherever you are, and by whatever words you know it, let us join together in reading the Lord’s prayer:

Our loving God, in whom is heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

And so we remember the night that
Jesus took a loaf of bread and when he had given thanks,
he broke it
(break bread)
and said, “This is my body for you.
When you share bread together, remember me.” 

In the same way, he took the cup also after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.”
(pour juice)
Let us, too, share this meal and so remember Christ.

Our loving parent spreads a meal before us
whenever we come home.
The cup given to us is not just water, but wine.
It is through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ
that we now receive forgiveness.
May this simple meal, and the extravagant
love and grace and mercy of God,
nourish and strengthen us
for just and faithful living with neighbor, stranger and all creation. Amen.

by Susan Gascho-Cooke

You are invited to either eat your own communion elements at this time, or remember sharing communion in the past, or visualize sharing communion with one another as we would if we were physically gathered together this morning. These are symbols of Christ’s love.

Song “Come Unto Me”, by Alisa Bair

Prayer at the end of Communion

In deep gratitude for this moment,
This meal,
These people,
We give ourselves to you.

Send us to live as changed people
Because we have shared
The Living Bread
And cannot remain the same.

Ask much of us,
Expect much of us,
Enable much by us,
Encourage many through us.

So, God, may we glorify you
As inhabitants of earth
And citizens of heaven.
Amen.          (a preview resource from the upcoming hymnal, Voices Together)

Sharing Time & Prayer If you have a prayer concern, please email it to Pastor Susan this morning, and these concerns will be shared with the congregation by Zoom this morning and by email later today.

Mothering and fathering God,
Creator-Source that is coming through us
and which is all around us and within us.
Let your vibration center my life.
Let your sound fill and focus all of the spaciousness within me.
Help us let go.
Let your vision with empowerment come through my life.
Your heart’s desire be done through us in earthiness, our everyday embodied life, all around us in community.
Grant us what we need each day in bread and insight, in wisdom and this illuminated moment.
As we forgive, we are forgiven.
As we are forgiven, we forgive.
Don’t let us enter forgetfulness,
but free us from unripeness.
From you comes the vision and the life energy to accomplish a vision,
the song that beautifies all,
the beauty that we participate in from gathering to gathering.
Truly – may they be the source from which all my actions grow.
Sealed in trust and faith.

—from “Praying at the Speed of Love” podcast with Janet Conner,
Episode 24 with Neil Douglas-Klotz

Song— “Do Not Be Afraid” by John Philip Newell, sung by Fran McKendree and Friends

Announcements— Look for the Weekly Zoom small group gathering links in the same email with the Invitation to Worship Zoom link.

Song— God Be With You Till We Meet Again    Note from Worship Committee: We plan to end all of our future worship services with this song, until such time as we can ALL gather and sing it together in person. **If your household would like to record yourselves singing this song, or if you’d like to spearhead any other tech-savvy/social-distance-respecting way of recording this song, we’d love to have different versions of this to listen to and sing-along-at-home to in the coming weeks and months.

God be with you till we meet again;
loving counsels guide, uphold you,
may the Shepherd’s care enfold you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
unseen wings, protecting, hide you,
daily manna still provide you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
when life’s perils thick confound you,
put unfailing arms around you;
God be with you till we meet again.

God be with you till we meet again;
keep love’s banner floating over you,
smite death’s threatening wave before you;
God be with you till we meet again.

Sending Blessing

May you recognize in your life the presence,
power, and light of your soul.

May you realize that you are never alone,
that your soul in ints brightness and belonging
connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.

May you have respect for your individuality and difference.

May you realize that the shape of your soul is unique,
that you have a special destiny here,
that behind the facade of your life
there is something beautiful and eternal happening.

May you learn to see your self
with the same delight,
pride, and expectation
with which God sees you in every moment.

—John O’Donohue

Go with the strength you have.
Go simply,
in search of Love.
And the Spirit go with you.

—Sing the Journey #163

Worship Leader:  Christy Heatwole Kauffman
Sermon: Susan Gascho-Cooke
Children’s Time: Malinda Clatterbuck
Prelude & Offertory coordinator for May: Dean Clemmer
Tech Host: Adam Kehler