Worship Service for March 29, 2020

Dear Friends-Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

The following is our worship for today, Sunday, the 29th. If you would like to print it out in a document, there is an attachment, or the entire written worship is laid out here. The other 3 attachments are “picture videos of music and the message. If you would like to worship with live services on line, please see the list of three churches at the end of our printed worship service. God’s peace be with you. Pastor Susan

March 29, 2020

Faxon-Kenmar UMC-online worship via email

Prelude – “Jesus, With Us Abide” — Southbridge

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Welcome and greeting-

Grace and Peace to you.

We are in a new time. An uncertain time. We welcome you to this time of worship. We are thankful you can join us and worship God together as people of faith, as the Body of Christ.

How different it is to come together online, and not directly face to face. Yet we come as followers of Jesus to proclaim our faith, to join together to praise God and center ourselves with God as we renew our faith this week.

I continue to look for ways to connect with you. These past two weeks we have entered uncharted territory in life and in our ministry together. I have talked with many of you on the phone and continue to reach out to those I haven’t talked with. I ask that you reach out to others on the phone (and online if you are able). The spreading of the virus is calling for us to continue to stay at home to stay safe, as much as possible. If you need help with groceries, medicine or anything else, we have people who are ready to help you. I ask that you call me at 717-377-9266, to let me know of your need. If you are willing to help others, please let me know. In the coming week, I will share with you ways that the United Churches of Lycoming County is assisting people in our community-unemployed people, for instance, as well as its continuing ministries like Shepherd of the Streets. Please watch for more information on how to get help if you have lost your job, or would like to assist United Churches and others in our local community in signing people up to get help.

When I say we have entered uncharted territory in life, I mean that we have never been in this place before. We have never faced the uncertainty of a pandemic like COVID-19 virus sweeping our community, our country and our world like this pandemic is. It is taking away many activities and customs we are familiar with that are guideposts for our daily lives- like a regular exercise time at the gym, or a regular card game, or lunch out with a friend, or a tv sports event. So, we are uprooted in our familiar, daily lives. Special events like weddings, birth of a baby, time of sharing with family and friends at a funeral are requiring we mark these events in different ways. Some planned events are put on hold or have to be postponed or cancelled at a much later time. It’s like we are being called on to not just make do and take shelter, we are experiencing the loss of special events. We are called on to live our lives especially for the sake of “us” as a society, as a people, not prioritizing our days for what “we” want to do. It is a different way to make choices about what to do each day.

Our faith can teach us and remind us, whose we are. We can make these daily changes, encourage one another and turn to God to guide us through the unknown. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would be with us always.

Prayer Holy God, we come to you this day longing for health and peace for all. We open our hearts to you and ask that you hear our prayers this morning for people throughout the world, for our community and for our families. LORD, HAVE MERCY.

We pray for the many health care people on the front lines at hospitals caring for people who are suffering from COVID-19 virus. Hospital staff, nurses, doctors, labs, emergency rooms. LORD, HAVE MERCY.

We pray for the many people who continue to work to keep our world operating-truck drivers, grocery store workers, and so many others. LORD, HAVE MERCY.

We pray for people who are working as researchers for drugs, people creating new tests, producing ventilators and masks, gowns. LORD, HAVE MERCY.

We pray for the many people who are suffering from COVID-19 virus and their family members. LORD, HAVE MERCY.

We pray for the many people who live from one paycheck to the next that have been left without anyway to care for their families, as they are laid off from work. LORD, HAVE MERCY.

We pray for our ministry that we may help others know God and feel that peace that comes from choosing to follow Jesus. LORD, HAVE MERCY

We pray that our community and our world that we can learn to live for others, caring for and helping people feel loved and cared for. LORD, HAVE MERCY. AMEN.

Scripture Mark:15:15b-23 (Please look this passage up in your bible or you may read the following).

After flogging Jesus, Pilate handed him over to be crucified.

Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, “hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

They compelled a passerby, who was coming in from the country, to carry his cross; it was Simon of Cyrene, the father of Alexander and Rufus. Then they brought Jesus to the place called Golgotha (which means the place of a skull). And they offered him wine mixed with myrrh; but he did not take it.


Message The 5th Sunday of Lent

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“Tortured and Humiliated” Sermon series: 24 hours that Changed the World

Did you see Mel Gibson’s The Passion of Christ movie? It is familiar to many people. The story in this movie most closely follows the John passage when Pilate sent Jesus to be flogged before passing sentence on him. Even though Jesus was flogged, and the soldiers placed a crown of thorns on his head, the crowd still wanted Jesus to be crucified. Matthew and Mark also talk about the flogging, mocking and humiliation of Jesus. Luke didn’t include information about Jesus being flogged, but definitely mocked. Flogging was the practice of striking someone with a whip or stick for punishment or torture. Jesus faced emotional torture, too. With the humiliation of it all. He didn’t beg for mercy.

The treatment of Jesus was evil. We have seen evil treatment of humans in our day today. Studies show that people like you and me -given the right set of circumstances can treat people in an evil way. You might say that it is possible for us to act like a monster. What that would like is a person taking authority and becoming desensitized-able to go about destroying another with a weapon of words or cages, or gas chambers.

We walk this walk of Jesus through Lent. I’d like to look at the amazing power of his sacrificial love. Our faith teaches us that Jesus suffered and died in place of us, and took on punishment for us for violating who God calls us to be. Another way of looking at Jesus’ suffering is that it was part of God’s drama -to help us understand that we fall short, need redemption and forgiveness and God will go to any length to show us forgiveness and love. Jesus was all about sacrificial love. He sacrificed his life. He loved us that much. Our sin, guilt, brokenness are all made whole, we are healed.

Jesus is all about loving. Loving you and loving me. Go tell it on the mountain-God loves you!


I invite you at this time to give your tithes and offerings to God through our ministries. You may send your envelope through the mail (or if you are going to the grocery store, you may drop it off at the church in the mailbox in the door on Clayton Ave.) Electronic giving is an avenue you may wish to explore. Watch for information about how to set this up through our church office at a specified time. (Please pray with me…) God, you have given us so much. You continue to provide us with your power through each gift you give us-our presence, our gifts, our service, our witness-all of who we are is because of you. Bless us and all that we give that others may feel your peace and your power. In Jesus name, Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer

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Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is i heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Benediction May God’s peace be with you in the name of Jesus Christ, the prince of peace.

Postlude “Toccata in F Major” – Buxtehude

Rev Susan Halverstadt, Pastor

David Koskey, Director of Music

Options for live worship online:

First United Methodist Church, Williamsport.

live.firstchurch.cc 9:30 and 11:00 am

Faith United Methodist Church, Montoursville.

see their website or Facebook page. 8:15 and 9:30 am.

Boca Raton UMC, Florida

Facebook Live 10 am.

Worship Service for March 22, 2020

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Good morning, dear friends in Christ!  Welcome to our time of worship-in print-today.  We are all facing uncertainties as a result of the COVID-19 Coronavirus disease spreading.  We are all asked to take precautions in ways that are unimaginable just weeks ago.  Adjustments and changes are happening in our school, work, play, at home and as a church.  We are hopeful to be able to bring you a visual worship experience in the coming weeks.  For today, let us worship God together through our printed word.  Let us be the Body of Christ in worship now.  Please share this by email or printed copy with those who may not be on our church office email list of regular attenders and members.  Thank you.  Pastor Susan


Call to Worship

When the world is dark and full of hate and fear,
when we cannot see God
we will turn on the light.
When we cannot find our way back to love and peace
we will turn on the light.
When our vision dims due to the darkness within
we will turn on the light.
Christ opens our eyes with the gift of sight.
The light of the world is Jesus Christ.
Come and worship the one
who brings sight to the blind.

Hallelujah! Praise God, the light of the world!


Opening Prayer

Gracious God, hear us as we pray in the middle of uncertainties,

Keep us close to you as we feel feelings and thoughts that are hard to manage,

Show us the way to be your light in the middle of isolating for safety’s sake,

Give us courage to be your messengers of hope and caring-to be the body of Christ,

Gracious God, who created us in God’s own image,
we are grateful for all that you have done for us,
for all that you are doing in us,
and for all that you will do through us.
Open our eyes to see your presence among us,
moving in powerful ways at all times
and in all places.
Open our ears to hear familiar words in new ways—
ways that will change us and challenge us
to become the people you created us to be.
Grant us the power and the courage
to come out of the darkness
and into the light of Jesus Christ,
that we may serve you by serving others.
We love you with all our heart, soul, mind,
and strength. Amen.


Prayer of Confession

Forgiving God, in a world filled with so much pain, uncertainty, and needs,
we would rather shut our eyes and be blind
than see things as they really are.
Grant us the courage to face the reality of our world,
and give us the strength to bring your light
to those who walk in darkness.
Help us see others as you see them,
and forgive us when we do not trust you enough
to open our eyes to the possibilities before us.
Heal our self-inflicted blindness, O God,
and lead us in the footsteps
of the Light of the World,
who reveals your glory in his life,
his teachings, and his love.
In his holy name, we pray. Amen.


Words of Assurance

Christ came to lead us in paths of righteousness
and to guide us through our lives.
Christ is with us in times of danger and times of peace.
The goodness and mercy of God
are given to us each and every day of our lives.
God forgives us for our failings, upholds us in love,
and leads us to the place
that Christ has prepared for us.
Believe in your heart that God loves you
and forgives you.
We believe! God help our unbelief!


Gospel reading and Message. 

Today is the Fourth Sunday of Lent.  Our Lenten journey has focused on the final 24 hours of Jesus’ life-the 24 hours that changed the world.  Each Sunday we have looked at and reflected on a segment of time in Jesus’ life from the experience of the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) through the Crucifixion.  Our Sunday focus has paralleled our Lenten study written by Adam Hamilton, 24 Hours That Changed the World.

I’m including the pictures and Gospel of Mark scripture verses connected with each of the pictures of the bulletin covers from the last three Sundays.  Before going on, please take a few minutes to look at the scripture passages in your Bible and, also, look at the picture.

Now-today as we continue our sermon series we focus on the event of the experience of Jesus as he comes before Pilot.  Please open your Bible and read the passage from Mark 15:1-15.


Jesus had come before the Sanhedrin at the trial (last week). Now he came before Pilate-the Roman person in charge.  Jesus was not about leading a rebellion against Rome. Pilate became aware that the Sanhedrin, the religious authorities, were threatened by Jesus.  What Pilate could not figure out was why-when Jesus came before Pilate-he didn’t speak up.

We might ask-why didn’t Jesus take that opportunity to speak up?

We don’t know the answer to that question.  What we can do is see more of the big picture.  What was Jesus fulfilling by not going into a big defense of who he was?  We can see Jesus offering himself as a sacrifice for people-and so fulfilling God’s plan.  By giving himself, he offered grace and pardon for humankind…for all of us.

The crowd wanted Barabbas saved and for Pilate to kill Jesus.  Barabbas might well have been wondering-me? How do I get out of this situation so easily. Maybe even thinking something like “Jesus is dying for me? In place of me?  When seeing the cross today we can see God’s love for us. It’s amazing to realize what a cost that was to Jesus-his life.

It’s helpful when digging into scripture to look at which person in the story do you identify with.  In this case-do you see yourself as Barabbas, or a person in the crowd? Or as Pilate?  Letting the whole picture sink in can help us see the gift God has given us, God’s grace-Jesus dying for us-so we may be made whole.

Each time I read the story of Jesus at this time of year, something new gets my attention.  This year I’ve looked a lot at Pilate’s role in the end of Jesus’ life.  How pivotal his role was.  What a struggle he had with knowing what to do.  He was pulled in different directions, not knowing what decision to make about the fate of Jesus’ life.  Adam Hamilton writes, “Each of us surely has played the part he played.  From the time we were small, we have known the pull of the crowd.  As adults, we feel it in a variety of ways-in our desire for acceptance, in our fear of ridicule and rejection.  Our inability to think for ourselves leaves us silent when we should speak, leaves us doing or supporting things we know are wrong. (pg 77, 24 Hours That Changed the World). In this passage and in your prayer time, I encourage you to consider how do you do when faced with decisions like this-going with the crowd,  or going with what you know and believe to be right.  Each of us is faced during these weeks of the pandemic of COVID-19-how do we decide what to do, how to respond to requests to stay at home, to maintain distance between people, etc?  One of the best ways to make the shift of doing “what I want” and doing “what is best for the whole world” is to choose to behave as if you have the virus, and in remaining isolated- away from others-choosing to love others, and to put the “we” before the “me”.

This is a very tough time for us today.  We can live with the assurance that Jesus always is with us…God does not leave us.  God can give us calm and peace.  It is, also, a time when we can put into practice the reality that who we are as the Body of Christ is how we show the light of Christ through us and not because of our church building.  We are always thankful for our church building, but today, this week, God calls us to be the church, the light of Christ in the world, separate from our building.

May God guide us as a church and may God be with you in the struggle.



Holy God, we ask for your mercy.  Be with us throughout the world as we face the hardships of the spreading virus.  Guide and direct the medical researchers, government decision-makers, private sector business and industry owners in working in a proactive way.  Encourage, strengthen and be with all of the frontline health care workers and their families as they work hard to care for people.  Be with all of the workers that are needed to carry out essential work-like grocery stores, truckers, custodians and many more.  May we as a people understand that you can help us learn to care for each other and to live in new ways. Guide us as a people to help those who remain anxious, depressed and deeply hurting from isolation that is required at this time.  Lord, we pray.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.



In one of the messages to you earlier in the week, I suggested one way you continue sharing your tithes and offering is to send it in the mail.  If you have a question about your offering, you may email or call the church office.  Messages are picked up regularly. Mail is picked up regularly from the church, also.


Offering Prayer

God, we give you thanks for all of the ways you love you and commit our gifts to you.  Guide us, we pray, to use the gifts of our hearts, our actions, our gifts, our witness to your glory and to your healing power.  In Jesus’ name. Amen.



Go into the world, carrying the light of Christ
into the darkness!
We go, with hearts full and eyes open!
Receive God’s love and care,
and share that love and care with others!
We go, with eyes reflecting God’s light
and hands open to share it!
May you walk in the light of Christ
all the days of your life!
We will follow Christ wherever he leads us! Amen!


Pastor Susan

Cell phone 717-377-9266
Personal email shalverstadt@nullsusumc.org
Faxon-Kenmar United Methodist Church

Free Community Dinner Schedule — Postponed

Join us at Faxon-Kenmar UMC for our Free Community Dinners every other month—

  • Monday, November 11 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM
  • Monday, January 13, 2020 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM
  • Monday, March 9, 2020 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM
  • Monday, May 11, 2020 from 4:30 to 6:30 PM — Postponed indefinitely due to COVID-19

Please invite your neighbors, family, and friends who live in the Loyalsock area to come and join us for dinner. This is a great opportunity to open our church doors and meet our community.