Tuesday, June 9, 2020 || Praise & Prayer

Join us for a service of praise and prayer tonight at 7:30 pm ET. This is an opportunity for us to gather (virtually) together, offer our thanks to God, pray with and for one another, and check in (asking: how is it with you today?). 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 the outline (order of service) for our gathering below. You can download the bulletin (which includes the order of service) using the button below.

Statement on the Murder of George Floyd

Picture taken by Pastor Jacob at the "Kneel for Nine" demonstration on the Franklin Town Common on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

As religious leaders of diverse traditions we understand life to be the greatest and most sacred gift endowed by our Creator. Inherent in that gift is the inalienable right to live freely and without fear. The May 25, 2020 abhorrent killing of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, at the knee of a law enforcement official, sworn and entrusted to protect the public and keep the peace, is yet another stark reminder of humanity’s blindness to the sacredness of that gift of life and society’s failure, if not refusal, to act to ensure equal rights for all created beings. We lament the murder and death of George Floyd and pray for him, his family, loved ones and all in need of strength and comfort in this fragile time of grief. The overwhelming national response to George Floyd’s death, manifested in peaceful protests, not only honors his life, but powerfully expresses that we, as Americans, will no loger tolerate injustice, systematic racism and discrimination against people of color. This powerful resurgence of a long overdue civil rights movement will not be silenced until structural change is realized. We lift our voices and stand in unity and solidarity with our sisters and brothers of color in proclaiming that BLACK LIVES MATTER.


This statement has been adopted and issued by the Franklin Interfaith Council. It is adapted from a statement by the San Francisco Interfaith Council. The active congregations of the Franklin Interfaith Council signing on to this statement include: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, First Universalist Society in Franklin, Franklin Federated Church, Franklin United Methodist Church, St. John’s Episcopal Church, St. Mary’s Catholic Parish, and Temple Etz Chaim.

The picture used above was taken by Pastor Jacob at the “Kneel for Nine” demonstration on the Franklin Town Common on Tuesday, June 2, 2020.

Devotional || Psalm 8

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

Lord, our Lord, how majestic
    is your name throughout the earth!
    You made your glory higher than heaven![b]
From the mouths of nursing babies
    you have laid a strong foundation
    because of your foes,
    in order to stop vengeful enemies.
When I look up at your skies,
    at what your fingers made—
    the moon and the stars
    that you set firmly in place—
        what are human beings
            that you think about them;
        what are human beings
            that you pay attention to them?
You’ve made them only slightly less than divine,
    crowning them with glory and grandeur.
You’ve let them rule over your handiwork,
    putting everything under their feet—
        all sheep and all cattle,
        the wild animals too,
        the birds in the sky,
        the fish of the ocean,
        everything that travels the pathways of the sea.
Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth!

Psalm 8, Common English Bible

Today, we have another Psalm of praise for God’s creation. David, the Psalmist speaks of the amazing universe, the stars and the moon and the beauty of the earth itself. He wonders at the place of humans among all of God’s glory. He is amazed that God considers us at all among all that is. He is in awe of our place in creation, that we can control all of the other creatures of the land and the sea. In this Psalm, David is feeling insignificant as he studies the awesome beauty around him.

I was just reading in my National Wildlife magazine that if the humans disappeared, the earth would barely notice, though I’m sure that it would heal itself. However, if the insects and other invertebrates disappeared nothing would survive for very long. They are the basis of life, food for birds, and other creatures. They clean up the dead carcasses; they pollinate the plants; earthworms move the earth around and keep the soil aerated. As we plant our gardens and look at our lawns, we use a lot of pesticides which kill the helpful insects, while killing the annoying and harmful ones. As we plant beautiful flowers in our gardens, native plants provide food for native birds, while exotic plants look pretty, but native birds can’t eat them.

Humans are only one type of creature in God’s universe. Regardless of the color of our skin, we are all human beings, and all have the same 22 chromosomes. Our genes give us different eye color and hair color and facial features, and different color skin, but we have the same DNA. Somehow, we forget that, and see only the outside appearance. Help us to remember that the Lord, God created us all and loves us all equally.

God has created an amazing world for us to live in, but we are only caretakers for a little while in the history of the earth and in the universe. As we look at the stars and the moon, we wonder at what is out there in the rest of the universe. Has God created life on other planets? We send spaceships out to try to find out about other planets in our own galaxy- what an amazing brain that God has given us to be able to do that.

Yet, we are just a small part of the universe. We can only sit back in awe at the sunrises and sunsets. When we get out of the cities, we can see the millions of stars in the sky, and wonder, like David did, “what are human beings, that you pay attention to them.”

“Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name throughout the earth!”

Prayer from the Extended Cabinet

By Rev. Taesung-Kang, New Hampshire District Superintendent (based on Psalm 8 & Genesis 1:2-4a)

Holy Trinity, who creates, redeems, and sustains us.
You who are filled with wonder and splendor,
You who made us in your image and call us your children,
You who brought us out of the darkness into your light,
You who dwells among us and guides us to the fullness of life.

As we begin this day with heavy hearts for what’s happening around us,
We turn to you in a desperation and with righteous anger,
Without your presence and peace, we lose our way. 

God of mercy and grace,
Forgive us for our silence and ignorance about systematic racism and injustice,
Humble us so we may repent our sin against you and our siblings, 
Open our eyes, O God, so that we may see your own image in all of whom you have made,
Give us your prophetic words and courage to speak out against injustice, 
Strengthen us to confront unjust systems so we may dismantle racial prejudice,
Help us to embrace one another with love as we work towards equality for all races,
Impart your peace and comfort unto those who have deeply been hurt by the sin of racism,
Heal us all, your precious children, and bind us together by the power of the Holy Spirit,

So that …
In our generation, 
We may truly celebrate one another for all that we are,
We may live out more fully your kin-dom here on earth,
We ask it in your Triune Name — the name above all names, now and forevermore. Amen. 

Thursday, June 4, 2020 || Praise & Prayer

Join us for a service of praise and prayer tonight at 7:30 pm ET. This is an opportunity for us to gather (virtually) together, offer our thanks to God, pray with and for one another, and check in (asking: how is it with you today?). 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 the outline (order of service) for our gathering below. You can download the bulletin (which includes the order of service) using the button below.

Stories of the Faith (NEW SERIES)

The Christian tradition has, from the beginning, relied upon story to both share the faith and guide people in their faith.

Using a children’s story bible, The Beginner’s Bible (Zondervan, 2005), we will spend the summer reading stories of the faith.  Use the chart below for your own study and devotions.  We hope you will join us in discussion about these stories of faith on Sundays at 10 am.  All are welcome.

Devotional || Psalm 104:24-34

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

24 Lord, you have done so many things!
    You made them all so wisely!
The earth is full of your creations!
25 And then there’s the sea, wide and deep,
    with its countless creatures—
    living things both small and large.
26 There go the ships on it,
    and Leviathan, which you made, plays in it!
27 All your creations wait for you
    to give them their food on time.
28 When you give it to them, they gather it up;
    when you open your hand, they are filled completely full!
29 But when you hide your face, they are terrified;
    when you take away their breath,
    they die and return to dust.
30 When you let loose your breath, they are created,
    and you make the surface of the ground brand-new again.

31 Let the Lord’s glory last forever!
    Let the Lord rejoice in all he has made!
32 He has only to look at the earth, and it shakes.
    God just touches the mountains, and they erupt in smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;
    I will sing praises to my God while I’m still alive.
34 Let my praise be pleasing to him;
    I’m rejoicing in the Lord!

Psalm 104:24-34, Common English Bible

This is a beautiful Psalm of praise to God for all of creation. The earlier verses, not included in the reading for today, detailed the wonders of creation, and how the ecology of creation cares for itself, providing food for all God’s creatures. Verse 24 speaks to the wisdom of God’s creation.

We are to care for creation, because God gave us that instruction in Genesis 1. We are to care for creation because the Lord God made it all. We have seen the effects of what happens to the earth when we abuse it as we see the effects of climate change. We see areas with droughts as grass requiring water is planted in deserts, floods as fossil fuels raise the temperature of the earth and melt the glaciers. We have seen polluted water where fish cannot survive. We have seen decreases in pollinating insects, especially bees, which will decrease the food we have to eat. Populations of the smallest creatures are decreasing as we try to keep them out of our environment.

And yet, as the pandemic continues and we sit at home, rather than in our cars, we are watching the earth come back to life, polluted waters clear, animals come back to the streets. God had great wisdom in creating the earth, and God made it so that it could recover. As anyone who has plowed a field, then left it fallow for a year has seen, the wildness will quickly return. My parents visited Mount St. Helens 2 years after the volcano erupted. They expected a black mass of lava, but were amazed to see how much plant life had already recovered and was growing and healthy.

God is good. We need to care for God’s good earth because we love God and love all that God has created. Bless the Lord, Oh my soul! Praise the Lord!

The Phased Reopening of our Facility and In-Person Worship

Dear members and friends of Franklin United Methodist Church,

On March 13, in response to the growing concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19, I made the difficult decision to cancel in-person worship.  The following Sunday, a Church Council meeting was called, and the decision was made to follow the mandates coming from the Governor’s Office and the response of the Franklin Public Schools.  If the public schools were closed, the Council decided, we would not hold in-person worship and our facility would be closed (with limited exceptions).

For the last 12 weeks, we have participated in virtual gatherings in place of in-person worship and meetings in our facility.  The leaders and staff of the church have done their best to adapt quickly to new ways of being the church.  Meetings are being held virtually.  Our website has been updated.  We have added an online giving option.  Our Tuesday and Thursday evening services of prayer, praise, and checking-in have provided regular opportunities for us to connect briefly in an informal but structured way during the week.  Our Sunday morning services have provided opportunities for us to share our faith with one another, allowing us to reflect upon our current situation and consider what a “new normal” might look like after the pandemic.  While these services do not replace the in-person relationships we so desperately yearn for (and need), they have enabled us to continue nurturing our relationships with God and one another through this time of physical distancing and quarantine.

In the middle of May, the Governor’s Office released a four-phased approach to re-opening the state of Massachusetts.  On Sunday, May 31, the leadership of the church gathered virtually to develop a plan for reopening the facility and resuming in-person ministry and worship.

Franklin United Methodist Church has a responsibility to you and our community to reopen in a way that is faithful, transparent, and mindful of evolving best practices.  Using the framework of the Governor’s plan for reopening the state and building off recommendations from the New England Annual Conference, public health officials, and gleanings from the experiences of other congregations around the country, the leadership has developed a systematic plan for reopening our facility and resuming in-person worship and ministry.  The summary plan for reopening the Franklin United Methodist Church facility and resuming in-person worship and ministry can be found below.

I hope that this plan will help guide us all into a new normal and help us understand what to expect as we move through the various stages of reopening.  If you have any questions about this plan (or just want to talk), feel free to call, text, email, or set up a time for us to meet virtually.  I look forward to seeing you (virtually) in worship on Sunday and/or at one of our praise, prayer, and checking-in services on Tuesday and Thursday.  Remember, details for how to join our virtual gatherings can be found on the church website (franklinumc.org).  You can also subscribe to the website to stay up-to-date on all that is going on and how to join our virtual gatherings.

Peace.
Pastor Jacob

jacob@franklinumc.org

508-528-1092 (o)
860-861-3141 (c)

Sunday, May 31, 2020 || Worshipful Conversation & Fellowship

Join us for a time of Worshipful Conversation and Fellowship on Sunday, May 31, at 10 am ET. You can join this service virtually through Google Meet by clicking this link (http://meet.google.com/ens-kcoq-bgg) or by calling 1-262-885-7027, the PIN is 172 874 072#.

You can view and download the bulletin for this service below. To add this event to your Google calendar, click here.

In order to best participate in this service, you will need access to a bible (bound or electronic), and some sort of food/snack and drink.  The Bible is for the discussion.  The food is for the love feast during which you will be invited to share some aspect of your hope, joy, or faith before you eat what you have with you. Prompts for our time of sharing are provided in the bulletin.

All are welcome.

Devotional || Psalm 33:12-22

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

12 The nation whose God is the Lord,
    the people whom God has chosen as his possession,
    is truly happy!
13 The Lord looks down from heaven;
    he sees every human being.
14 From his dwelling place God observes
    all who live on earth.
15 God is the one who made all their hearts,
    the one who knows everything they do.

16 Kings aren’t saved by the strength of their armies;
    warriors aren’t rescued by how much power they have.
17 A warhorse is a bad bet for victory;
    it can’t save despite its great strength.
18 But look here: the Lord’s eyes watch all who honor him,
    all who wait for his faithful love,
19     to deliver their lives[a] from death
    and keep them alive during a famine.

20 We put our hope in the Lord.
    He is our help and our shield.
21 Our heart rejoices in God
    because we trust his holy name.
22 Lord, let your faithful love surround us
    because we wait for you.

Psalm 33:12-22, Common English Bible

This Psalm reminds us that God is Lord of all. God has given each of us gifts to use, but we did not choose what gift we would receive. God has provided for each of us according to God’s plan. Our strength, our intelligence, our musical abilities, our sports prowess  are all gifts from God. Yes, we are called to use the gifts we have received, and we are to develop and improve them, but we have received our gifts from above.

Our strength comes from God, we are not in charge. All the power of world leaders comes from God. Our armies and navies have power from God. As we recognize this and look to God for strength, inspiration and creativity, we receive more bountiful gifts. We are fearful in this time of the pandemic, but God loves us and is watching over us. If we can put our trust in God, he will help us with fear and loneliness. If our leaders look to God for guidance, we will get through this.

When we think we are in charge, we ignore God and are filled with pride at our own accomplishments. We believe that because we can determine the human genome, or the genome of the Coronavirus, that science is in charge, and we forget that God created all, God gave us the intelligence to understand it scientifically.

As religion and belief in God become less important in our modern society, we lose something. We don’t see humility as a strength. Jesus’s power was most evident when the world saw him as weak, as he hung on the cross. Leave your pride behind, and open yourself to God’s power and love.

God’s steadfast love is there for us each and every day. We find our joy in trusting in God’s steadfast love.

A Prayer from the Extended Cabinet

By Rev. Nancy C. Townley (selected by Willaim V. Burnside II, Conference Treasurer)

Lord God, you know us too well. You know that we would be like the disciples following the crucifixion and even the resurrection. We would rather hide and mutter and weep, than proclaim the power of your love. 

The world is a difficult place. We fear so much. We want people to like us, and so we hold back on our proclamation of our faith. We don’t want to offend anyone. But your love and presence are not offensive. They are empowering and healing. 

Bring your holy fire upon us this day to ignite a spark of joy in our hearts and our voices. Bring the power of your rushing wind through our spirits that we may be turned in new directions for service and witness. 

We pray this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.