Worship Service for the 7th Sunday of Easter

Hi everyone,

Welcome to worship for this 7th Sunday of Easter, landing on May 12, 2024!

The bulletin for this service can be found here. In it, you will find the order and words of worship as well as the full sermon. You can follow along with the bulletin or with the words that will appear on your screen. The sermon is also included on this page just past the worship video.

If you’d like to enhance your online worship experience, you may have a candle in your space lit at the beginning of the service and extinguished near the end after the sending hymn when the altar candles are extinguished. You are also welcome to participate in communion by having something small to eat and drink ready for the appropriate time. Further instruction will be given then.

May you always be reminded of God’s unchanging love for you and your community and relationships, now and forever!

May your Word and truth, O God, sanctify us in your unchanging love and bring us perfect joy, through Jesus our Lord.  Amen.

The lawn saga continues…  I know, you might be getting tired of hearing about my gardening woes, but some of you might not be all caught up with the going on’s at the Fong Lawn, which is what I’m going to be calling it now.   Some of you might remember from a couple weeks ago how I dug up my lawn with hopes of reseeding and starting over.  Well last week I had ordered a good 3 inches of topsoil to cover the gross stuff that was already there and fill up the space a bit, and I spread it out over the yard with the help of our kids and my brother.  And I got a bunch of grass seed and spread it nicely over the area, just in time for that torrential rain that we got last Sunday. 

My wife, the mother of my children (both the same person, by the way), has recently gotten into gardening, and I thought a fresh new lawn would be a great Mother’s Day gift.  So I had big hopes that the grass would at least start budding or whatever you call it, in time for today.

Well, of course, things are never that easy, are they.  The rain didn’t actually help as much as it did a number on the dirt, I guess in my relocating it all, I didn’t level it or pack it down well enough as now there are holes and hills all over and it’s all pretty wonky.  I was politely asked by a member of my family to maybe perhaps think about relevelling it all, to which I agreed, I mean it made sense to do so.  It’s just a lot more work than I was expecting, and I was also worried about the seed that I had already spread will probably end up being too deep in the dirt and thus unable to grow properly if at all. 

But it’s ok, I’ll keep my hopes up.  It’s not like the seeds that I used were all that expensive anyway, so I was ok with just picking up some more, which I did.  But the grass expert at the grass place where I was picking up the grass seed was telling me more stuff that a newb like me didn’t know, and how we got so little snow in our mountains this past winter that the water ban was already in effect.  Basically they were telling me that I’ll be having a really hard time growing a new lawn this season.


The first thing that came to my mind was “gosh darn it to heck”.  Perhaps a little less PG than that, but you get the idea.  My heart just kind of sunk.  I mean it’s not like I can just abandon the project, it looks like a barren wasteland in the back right now, and I’d feel bad for all the hours of work that our kids and my brother put in.  A nice new fresh lawn was just there within my grasp and I felt it slipping through my fingers.  I had such high hopes but it feels like it, much like a lot of other areas in my life, will just end up in disappointment.

Disappointed.  Deflated.  Discouraged.  All those “D” words running rampant through my mind and heart.  But the emotion that stood out most that unfortunately doesn’t start with a D but I was still feeling anyway, was regret.  Regret for biting off more than I could chew.  Regret for jumping in headfirst without doing the proper research on how to do this first before breaking up the ground.  Regret for ever even having any sort of hope in the success in, what is considered by many but just apparently not me, this simple undertaking.

Now, I share this experience with you not to have you shake your head at my inaptitude, roll your eyes at my foolishness, or even chuckle at my misfortune.  Well, maybe a bit of that last one as I actually do think it’s kind of a funny story.  But mostly I want to point out this feeling of regret.  A feeling that I’m relatively certain that all of us have felt as some point in our lives, and if not, we likely will in the future.  It’s hard not to feel regret over a number of different reasons.  Perhaps it was, like me, a project that went wrong.  Maybe it was a word or two that we shouldn’t have been said but we did anyway.  Or maybe it was a hope put into something or someone that completely let us down and left us disappointed, deflated, and discouraged.  Maybe it was a parent, a teacher, or someone who we thought was going to save us all.

This is the emotional context that the disciples would have been in as they heard Jesus’ passion predictions, when he told them how he’ll be betrayed, arrested, and killed by the hands of their enemies.  As we know, they had high hopes for this Messiah character and the promises that were supposed to come with him.  They were looking forward to political independence, religious freedom, and making Israel great again.  But in response to these hopes and expectations, Jesus basically just tells them that he won’t be doing any of those things after all, and that they should keep on keepin’ on in their community, service, and charity.

Uh, what.

So no overthrowing the government?  No revolution?  No war to hurt those that hurt us?  What kind of salvation is this?

So yeah, disappointment was had.  They were likely feeling deflated when Jesus even suggested that he was on his way to a cross instead of a throne.  It would have been discouraging to learn that their hopes of a new world as they understood it was only a pipe dream.  And above all, perhaps regret was going through their minds that they ever dropped their nets, followed this guy, and even believed in him. 

But to all of that, as we see in today’s gospel reading, a portion of the “Farewell Discourse,” Jesus prays for them.  Jesus prays for strength in all that they do, understanding of their position in community and God’s kingdom, and of course, belief and acceptance that in spite of all the disappointment and regret, that they continue to be saved and loved.

Because isn’t that the first thing that we forget when we’re feeling those disappointment feelings?  Doesn’t loneliness come and smack us upside the head when we’re regretting our actions, thoughts, and dreams?  Don’t we often think that we’re perhaps a little less loved by God and those around us when things aren’t going our way?

That’s what happens to me, at least.  In failure I feel alone.  In disappointment I feel isolated.  In regret I find myself needing to be more and more reminded that I am still loved.

And Jesus does exactly that.  Before we ever get to that point of desperation and loneliness, Jesus reminds us that we are loved.  Before we are filled with that disappointment and regret, Jesus shows us that we are loved.  Before we even need it, Jesus reassures us by walking to an undeserved death and defeating death to lift us up into community, joy, and new life, that we are dearly and wholly loved.

The fact of the matter is, we will never be free from disappointment and regret.  We will always at some point feel isolated and lonely.  We will face unrealized dreams and hopelessness.  But in those times, we can remember that God’s love remains steadfast.  Our hope in God’s promises remains true.  Jesus continues to pray that our joy be made complete.  This kind of reassurance doesn’t eliminate the regret we feel from time to time, but it does help us in remembering who we are, whose we are, and our position in God’s eternal kingdom and community.

So it’s ok that our yard might look awful for this Mother’s Day.  It’s ok that my hopes and dreams for this and other things haven’t been realised.  It’s ok that we sometimes feel disappointed and alone.  Because none of that defines us or names us.  Our salvation isn’t dependant on how successful we are in our endeavours or not.  God’s love for us doesn’t change just because sometimes our love for ourself does.  Instead, God remains always present with us, among us, abiding with us, lifting us up in love and community and constantly reminding us of our welcome, inclusion, and unchanging identity as God’s people in the world.

Let us always remember this love in our lives, that while we might make mistakes, be disappointed, and have regret, we know that not failures nor self-hate nor any negative emotions we might carry, would or could ever snatch us out of God’s hands.  Hands that bring us in, lift us up, and lead us into peace and joy.

As we reach the end of the Easter season, may our hope in the promise of resurrection remain true, that our realisation of God’s love for us and all people continue to inform us and strengthen us in our journey through this world, through relationship, and through life.  Thanks be to God.  Amen.

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