HIRING: Director of Music

HIRING: Director of Music
T
he Franklin United Methodist Church (Franklin, MA) is seeking a part-time Director of Music. The Director will work with the pastor to evaluate, plan, and execute meaningful music programs and worship that engages people of all ages. The Director will lead the choir and secure accompaniment for worship from our list of musicians. The church maintains a piano and century old tracker organ in the sanctuary. The Franklin United Methodist Church is three blocks from the Franklin/Dean Commuter rail station. Interested persons can contact Pastor Jacob Juncker (jacob@franklinumc.org) for more information.
 

Holy Week Shadows || Thursday, April 9, 2020

Use this video to guide you through tonight’s devotion and/or use the liturgy below. To do this liturgy on your own, you will need an unadorned candle. Light the candle, then begin the liturgy. If you do not have a candle, you can simple follow along with the video or read the liturgy to yourself. The music at the end of this post is not included in the devotional video so as to abide by proper copyright usage.


Liturgy for Home Devotions

As we continue through Holy Week, shadows lengthen. As we count down the days till the breaking dawn of resurrection morning, we pause to remember Christ’s passion and bear witness to the growing darkness around us.

As the shadows grow around us, may we have courage to never lose hope and to not be afraid of the dark.

May we with the Psalmist declare:

The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Should I fear anyone?
The Lord is a fortress protecting my life.
Should I be frightened of anything?
(Psalm 27:1, Common English Bible)

Tonight we face the shadow of despair.

Reading: Mark 15:33-34

33 From noon until three in the afternoon the whole earth was dark.34 At three, Jesus cried out with a loud shout, “Eloi, eloi, lama sabachthani,”which means, “My God, my God, why have you left me?”

Prayer

Lord Jesus Christ, 
you know what it is to feel that God is far away. You know what it is to call out for God’s presence. Come alongside us in the darkness, and help us call out for God.

Silence
Extinguish Candle
Amen
Hymn: “Why Stand So Far Way, My God”

Devotional || Psalm 116:1-2, 12-19

By Beth Ferguson, Lay Leader and Member to the Annual Conference.

The Psalmist begins with an expression of love for God. God has heard his prayers, “he inclined his ear to me”- he listened carefully. Sometimes we can’t express our prayers well because we are too emotional. God listens carefully and hears our needs even when we can’t explain them.

In response, the Psalmist then wants to give something back to God in an expression of thanks.

 He says, “I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the Lord’s name.“ This Psalm was part of the Passover celebration and likely used during Christ’s last meal with his disciples. It brings us to our celebration of Holy Communion and the cup representing the blood of Christ.  As we meet together in community and celebrate Holy Communion, we are entering into a closer relationship with God through Christ. 

He also says he will keep the promises he has made to the Lord. When we were baptized, our parents made vows to nurture us in the Christian faith and the congregation promises to nurture one another including the person being baptized.  When we joined the church, we made our own vows to be part of the community and to faithfully participate in its’ ministries by our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.

He says, “I will be your servant”.  Servanthood is an important part of being Christian. Jesus was a servant leader and as he washed the disciples‘ feet, he spoke to them about servant leadership. We speak of being the hands and feet of Jesus. We join in the work that God has appointed to us, whether it is our job or volunteer work; in the church or in the community. We want to work for the kingdom of God.

In this time, we are celebrating the work of healthcare workers- medical and nursing staff, therapists, and first responders as they care for patients and put their own health at risk. We celebrate the grocery store workers and employees of companies that are still at work, to help us with our essential needs. For some of us, the most important thing we are doing is staying home, calling others who are alone, sending messages of love and care to others.

We are separated physically, but we are still a community of faith, held together by our love for God and one another. We join in the worship of Christ tonight, through his last meal with the disciples, through his prayers in the garden and his arrest by the Roman soldiers. We will remember his trial and crucifixion tomorrow and wait on Saturday in a time of mourning.

In thanks to God, we will offer our thanksgiving and keep the promises that we have made to God.  Praise the Lord!


A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet

By Rev. Dr. Andrew L. Foster, III, Rhode Island/Souteastern Massachusetts District Superintendent (based on John 13:1-17 and Psalm 116:15)

Abba Father, Daddy God, it’s me, it’s me, it’s me O Lord, standing in the need of prayer. As this new day unfolds, a day filled with new mercies, I bring your people to your throne of grace, those whose heads are bent down with pain and despair. Those whose lives seem isolated and unbearable. I bring those who miss and even crave the physical fellowship of the sanctuary.

As the song writers, John Thompson and Randy Scruggs, wrote, “Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true, with thanksgiving, I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.” Give them the strength to see beyond the natural, temporary world we live in and increase their faith to sing to the rafters, that You are Lord.

On the night before you were led to a cruel death on a cross for our sins, you not only shared your body and your blood, but you modeled true servant leadership. Just as you washed the dirty smelly and tired feet of all your disciples including Judas, the one who betrayed you with a kiss and 30 pieces of silver. I ask that you provide a healing touch to the souls of all of your creation who are worshiping you virtually.

As we fast approach Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, I also ask that you grant those who have lost loved ones (first responders, family members, colleagues) during this pandemic season your overwhelming peace and presence as you remind them that “precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his Saints” (Psalm 116:15). Give them solace to know that nothing will separate them from your great love in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).

Please don’t let their faith be weakened during the season of waiting rather increase their ability and desire to seek you even more. Give them strength to run on and see what the end will be.

I seal this prayer in the name of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen (So Be It).

Thursday, April 9, 2020 || Praise & Prayer

Join us for a service of praise and prayer: an opportunity for us to gather together, offer our thanks to God, and pray with and for one another. You can join this service virtually through Google Meet by clicking this link (https://meet.google.com/txp-ndfa-ivu) or by calling 1-440-467-1448, the PIN is 220 679 745#.

All are welcome. To add this event to your Google calendar, click here.

You can view and download the bulletin and devotional below.

Holy Week Shadows || Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Use this video to guide you through tonight’s devotion and/or use the liturgy below. To do this liturgy on your own, you will need an unadorned candle. Light the candle, then begin the liturgy. If you do not have a candle, you can simple follow along with the video or read the liturgy to yourself. The music at the end of this post is not included in the devotional video so as to abide by proper copyright usage.


Liturgy for Home Devotions

As we enter Holy Week, shadows lengthen. As we count down the days till the breaking dawn of resurrection morning, we pause to bear witness to the growing darkness around us as we read of Jesus’ persecution, execution, and death.

Tonight we face the shadows, some of us alone. May we have courage, never lose hope, and not be afraid of the dark.

May we with the Psalmist declare:

The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Should I fear anyone?
The Lord is a fortress protecting my life.
Should I be frightened of anything?
(Psalm 27:1, Common English Bible)

Tonight we face the shadow of sorrow.

Reading: John 19:25-27

25 Jesus’ mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood near the cross.26 When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother,“Woman, here is your son.” 27 Then he said to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” And from that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Prayer

Loving Jesus, 
we carry the weight of the people we love, concern for their sorrows and suffering. Our care for them is deep, and sometimes there is not much we can do. Come alongside us in the darkness, and cradle the ones we love in your strong hands.

Silence
Extinguish Candle
Amen
Hymn: “What Wondrous Love is This”
Dan Cunningham, Guitar

Devotional || Psalm 71:1-14

By Beth Ferguson, Lay Leader and Member to the Annual Conference.

Psalm 71 is a prayer for lifelong protection and help. The Psalmist acknowledges that in our lives we will experience adversity, but we can trust that God is with us throughout our difficulties. God is with us at our birth before we can even know God. John Wesley calls this prevenient grace and it is available to each of us whether we find God in childhood through our parents or later in life through others.

God is also with us as our refuge, God lives within us when we accept Him as our savior. We can depend on God in every phase of our lives even to our old age, when we seem weak and frail, God gives us strength to go on and is with us when we leave this life to our heavenly home.

In this time the enemy is Coronavirus, but the enemy is also loneliness and fear. We can’t physically touch one another, but God can hold us close without fear. We may be lacking in personal protective equipment, but God is our refuge and strength and our protector.

In this Holy Week, we think of Jesus time on the earth, his instructions to strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all things will be given to you. (Matt 6:33). In Jesus time of trial he went to the garden to pray, he asked that the cup might be taken from him, but God’s will be done. His persecution was extreme, yet he depended on God’s strength throughout his ordeal.

We can trust in God in these times and we will praise the Lord for the comfort , protection and love God brings.


A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet

By Rev. Erica Robinson-Johnson, Director of Connectional Ministries/Assistant to the Bishop

Holy One, 

It is Tuesday of the holiest of weeks. And yet our thoughts are far from holy.  

We are grateful for the psalmists who give us permission to cry out to you from the depths of our souls, with honesty, no holding back. 

Take #71 … she speaks my truth so well this day: from belief, to fear, to hope … and back again 

In you, O Lord, I take refuge
         Deliver me 
                     Rescue me 
                               Listen to me 
                                              Save me 
You are my hope, my fortress 
                     Do not cast me off in old age 
                                Do not forsake me when my
strength is spent 
                                                Do not leave me 
I will not give up hope … I will praise you even more. 

Thank you God, for psalmists, poets, preachers, prophets, and for your Spirit which intercedes for us when we just don’t have our own words to express the prayers in our hearts. 

In you we take refuge … our strength and redeemer.  

May it be so. 

Holy Week Shadows || Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Use this video to guide you through tonight’s devotion and/or use the liturgy below. To do this liturgy on your own, you will need an unadorned candle. Light the candle, then begin the liturgy. If you do not have a candle, you can simple follow along with the video or read the liturgy to yourself. The music at the end of this post is not included in the devotional video so as to abide by proper copyright usage.


Liturgy for Home Devotions

As we continue through Holy Week, shadows lengthen. As we count down the days till the breaking dawn of resurrection morning, we pause to remember Christ’s passion and bear witness to the growing darkness around us.

As the shadows grow around us, may we have courage to never lose hope and to not be afraid of the dark.

May we with the Psalmist declare:

The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Should I fear anyone?
The Lord is a fortress protecting my life.
Should I be frightened of anything?
(Psalm 27:1, Common English Bible)

Tonight we face the shadow of separation.

Reading: Luke 23:35-43

35 The people were standing around watching, but the leaders sneered at him, saying, “He saved others. Let him save himself if he really is the Christ sent from God, the chosen one.”

36 The soldiers also mocked him. They came up to him, offering him sour wine37 and saying, “If you really are the king of the Jews, save yourself.”38 Above his head was a notice of the formal charge against him. It read “This is the king of the Jews.”

39 One of the criminals hanging next to Jesus insulted him: “Aren’t you the Christ? Save yourself and us!”

40 Responding, the other criminal spoke harshly to him, “Don’t you fear God, seeing that you’ve also been sentenced to die? 41 We are rightly condemned, for we are receiving the appropriate sentence for what we did. But this man has done nothing wrong.”42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”

43 Jesus replied, “I assure you that today you will be with me in paradise.”

Prayer

Reconciling Christ, 
we are weighed down by sin and separation, a world that is not at peace, people who are not whole. You reached out to the thief, you welcomed him to God’s side. Come alongside us in the darkness, and bring grace and peace to everything that is broken.

Silence
Extinguish Candle
Amen
Hymn: “Jesus, Remember Me”
Wouter Harbers, piano

Tuesday, April 7, 2020 || Praise & Prayer

Join us for a service of praise and prayer: an opportunity for us to gather together, offer our thanks to God, and pray with and for one another. You can join this service virtually through Google Hangouts by clicking this link (https://meet.google.com/txp-ndfa-ivu) or by calling 1-440-467-1448, the PIN is 220 679 745#.

All are welcome. To add this event to your Google calendar, click here.

You can view and download the bulletin below.

Holy Week Shadows || Monday, April 6, 2020

Use this video to guide you through tonight’s devotion and/or use the liturgy below. To do this liturgy on your own, you will need an unadorned candle. Light the candle, then begin the liturgy. If you do not have a candle, you can simple follow along with the video or read the liturgy to yourself. The music at the end of this post is not included in the devotional video so as to abide by proper copyright usage.


Liturgy for Home Devotions

As we enter Holy Week, shadows lengthen. As we count down the days till the breaking dawn of resurrection morning, we pause to remember Christ’s passion and bear witness to the growing darkness around us.

As the shadows grow around us, may we have courage to never lose hope and to not be afraid of the dark.

May we with the Psalmist declare:

The Lord is my light and my salvation.
Should I fear anyone?
The Lord is a fortress protecting my life.
Should I be frightened of anything?
(Psalm 27:1, Common English Bible)

Tonight we face the shadow of condemnation.

Reading: Luke 23:32-34

32 They also led two other criminals to be executed with Jesus. 33 When they arrived at the place called The Skull, they crucified him, along with the criminals, one on his right and the other on his left. 34 Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” They drew lots as a way of dividing up his clothing.

Prayer

Forgiving Christ, 
when the world condemns us, when wrong is done to us, when we carry the weight of things that are too much to forgive, come along side us in the darkness, and give us the grace to be forgiven and forgiving.

Silence
Extinguish Candle
Amen
Hymn: “Forgive Our Sins as We Forgive”
Words: Rosamond E. Herklots, 1966 (Mt. 6:12)
Music: Supplement to Kentucky Harmony, 1820
Arranged by Koine

Discussion Starter || Matthew 21:1-17 (18-46)

Read Matthew 21:1-17 (18-46) (CEB, NRSV, MSG, KJV, Compare).


Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem to the waving of palm branches and shouts of hosanna (Save us!) is attested to in each of the four gospels.

Have you heard this story before? If so, when you think about Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem, what comes to mind?  What images do you think of?

On Palm Sunday, what traditions do you typically look forward to?

Matthew’s telling of Jesus’ “Triumphal Entry” into Jerusalem is unique in at least two ways.  These adaptations (some might even claim contradictions with the other gospels) in Matthew’s story continue to move Matthew’s argument forward: Jesus is the long awaited Messiah.  Just as Matthew’s telling of Jesus’ birth is laced with prophecy, so is his entrance into Jerusalem.

On what does Jesus ride into Jerusalem?  Unlike kings and soldiers, Jesus rides on a donkey in Jerusalem.  Or was it a colt?  Or was it both?  In Matthew, Jesus rides on both a donkey and a colt.  While the logistics of this are hard for me to wrap my head around, Matthew’s Jesus rides both a donkey and her colt (or foal) into Jerusalem in fulfillment of the scriptures (see Zechariah 9:9).

His arrival “stirred up the city” (21:10).  The people were “hootin’ and hollerin’” around him, cutting down palm branches and laying them before Jesus.  The crowds caused such a raucous that people began to ask, “Who is this?”

In what ways do you celebrate (make a raucous about) the arrival of Jesus into your life?  Does your celebrating lead people to ask what or who you are celebrating?

Upon arriving in the city, Jesus entered the temple.  And, in a fit of furry (reminiscent of the prophets of old—Isaiah and Jeremiah), Jesus overturns tables, disrupts the commerce going on, and proclaims, “It’s written, My house will be called a house of prayer.  But you’ve made it a hideout for crooks” (21:13).  This too aligns with the scriptures (see Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11).  With commerce stopped, Jesus welcomes the blind and lame into the temple (from which they were normally barred from entering) and he heals them.  So often we think of Jesus cleansing the temple as being about commerce.  It might be better understood as a removal of barriers to worship.  By cleansing the temple, Jesus makes God’s house that which it is supposed to be.  God, speaking through the prophet Isaiah, declares: “My house will be known as a house of prayer for all peoples says the Lord God, who gather’s Israel’s outcasts.  I will gather still others to those I have already gathered” (Isaiah 56:7d-8).

Is there anything we do that keeps people from participating in God’s house?  How can we help make God’s house, a house of prayer for all?

Devotional || Psalm 118:1-2, 19-29

By Beth Ferguson, Lay Leader and Member to the Annual Conference.

Today, we celebrate Palm Sunday, Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem. the people cheered and shouted Hosanna, waving palm branches and placing them in the road as Jesus entered the city. The Psalm today is the prophecy of this entrance.

In the New Revised Standard Version, the Psalmist says, ”This is the gate of the Lord, the righteous shall enter through it. I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.” And in verse 27-28, “The Lord is God, and has given us light. Bind the festal procession with branches, up to the horns of the altar. You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God and I will extol you.”

We know that the crowds will turn against Jesus very soon after His triumphant entry, and that he will be tried and convicted and crucified before the end of the week. It is Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection that brings our salvation.

Jesus the Messiah is the way to enter into God’s presence. Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith, the reason that we can rejoice in every circumstance because we know that God is present with us  every day, on our good days and bad.

During this time of the Coronavirus pandemic, we can be assured that God is with us: with those at home in isolation or quarantine; with those on the frontlines – EMS and healthcare workers; those who are still working to serve the public- in grocery stores and pharmacies; with delivery drivers; with those who are ill in the hospitals or at home and can’t have family with them; and those who are mourning the loss of life, but can’t have a funeral service. We may not be able to be physically present with each other, yet we know that God is present with each one of us. God is present with all of us, bringing hope and comfort and love.

So, give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, and his steadfast love endures forever.


A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet

By Rev. Taesung-Kang, New Hampshire District Superintendent

O God of Creation,
You are indeed in our world.
From dawn to dusk; from mountain tops to beneath the sea; and from west to east.
When we gather in the sanctuary to sing to you songs of joyful salvation,
When we scatter to our own homes to offer our cry to you for help,
You are near us and surround us.
Have mercy on us, for in you we take refuge.
Help us to “see the Sovereign Lord is on our side.”

O God of Wisdom,
You are at work in our world.
Through the leaders of our world who make life-altering, community-shifting decisions for our nations,  
Through the hands of first responders, medical professionals, caregivers, and researchers, responsible for fighting the new coronavirus,
Through the hands of grocery store workers and delivery drivers,
Grant them your guidance, wisdom, and protection.
They are how we “see the Sovereign Lord is on our side.”

O God of Peace,
Who transcends all our understanding.
May your abiding peace and comfort come upon
Those who lost their loved ones,
Those who are infected with COVID-19, 
Those in quarantine,
Those at a higher risk of contracting the disease,
Those who lost their jobs and are facing financial crisis,
Those in undocumented communities,
Those who are adjusting to their new ways of life,
Give them your peace so that they may have no fear and their hearts may be at ease.
Help them to “see the Sovereign Lord is on our side”

O God of Comfort,
Who never grows weary.
Awaken us each morning with your hope and clothe us with your mercy,
And “open our understanding to your will.”
Give us your perspective and teach us how to pray.
Fill us with your comfort
So that we may share your comfort with the weary.

“Even if we are walking in darkness without a ray of light,
May we trust in the Lord and rely on our God.”
We trust God’s help is here.
God is indeed in our world.
“See, the Sovereign Lord is on our side.”