Worshiping Together in Different Places–Online Worship on the fourth Sunday of Lent (Year A)


Welcome to worship for the fourth Sunday of Lent, March 22, 2020. 

For worship you may wish to have a candle to light and to have bread and a beverage for communion – whatever you have available will be sufficient.

Bold text – say aloud, if desired.


Sheep grazing, Isle of Iona, © 2007 Nancy Gowler




Acknowledgement of Land

(an act towards reconciliation)

For thousands of years, First Nations people have walked on this land; their relationship with the land is at the center of their lives and spirituality. We are gathered on the traditional territory of the Coastal Salish and Puyallup people, and we acknowledge their stewardship of this land throughout the ages.



You are invited to follow along with this worship clip using the liturgy below it.


Lighting of the Community Candle

We light this flame in honor of the work of God in our past.

We light this flame in gratitude for the grace of God in our present moment.

We light this flame in trust for God’s direction into our future.


Opening Prayer


Gathering Song         Where Could I Go but to the Lord        EmmyLou Harris


Prayer of Confession and Assurance of Pardon

Have mercy on us, O Shepherding God.

We have forsaken your ways,

leaving behind broken promises,

hurt relationships,

and disappointments.

(silence for reflection)

Bring our wandering spirits back, O Lord.

Forgive and renew us.

Restore our hearts with your abundant goodness and mercy,

so that we may find our true rest in you. Amen.



Scripture Readings:  You can find all of the lectionary readings for Sunday, March 22, 2020, at this website.  https://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/texts.php?id=27, link to the Revised Common Lectionary readings: a service of the Vanderbilt Divinity Library.


You are invited to follow along with this reading with the Scripture below the video.

Psalm 23

A reading from the book of Psalms, chapter 23, from The Iona Abbey Worship Book.


You are my shepherd, O God;

I need nothing more.


You let me lie down in green pastures;

you lead me beside still waters

where you revive my spirit.


You guide me in the right paths,

for you are true to your name.


Even if I walk through a valley as dark as death

I would fear no harm;

for you are at my side.

Your staff and crook give me courage.


You spread a table for me 

under the eyes of my enemies.

You anoint my head with oil;

my cup brims over.


Goodness and kindness unfailing 

will follow me all my days.

I shall make my home in the house of God

for as long as I shall live.


        God be in our listening.

        God be in our seeing.

        God be in our understanding. Amen.


Sermon      Pursued by Goodness and Mercy        Pastor Nancy Gowler

In her sermon today Pastor Nancy offers the example of caim or encircling prayers as a spiritual practice during these days of social distancing.  To pray this way, you may draw a circle around yourself by extending your right hand and slowly turning around, creating a circle around you.  Or, you may imagine yourself drawing a circle around yourself or the one for whom you are praying. Caim prayers can be simple, powerful ways to pray.  As you draw the circle, you may wish to pray,

Keep hope within,

keep despair without.

Keep peace within,

keep anxiety without.

We encourage you to include Caim prayer in your prayer practices.  Contact the church at info@fccpuyallup.com if you would like to request prayers for yourself or others.




Song for Reflection

Wandering Shepherd        Dan Fogelberg

As we pause together, we invite you to listen to the song, Wandering Shepherd.



We have a number of ways to participate and contribute when you are unable to attend worship in person. You can make a one-time donation, or manage ongoing giving on our web page at https://fccpuyallup.com/donate.
You may also choose to use the GivePlus Mobile App.  Simply download the GivePlus app from the App Store or Google Play, and then search for “First Christian Church” using our zip code: 98371.  Through the app you can also set up one-time or ongoing giving from your phone.


Prayers of the People

You are invited to follow this worship clip using this response and the Lord’s Prayer below it.

Healing River, Source of Life… hear our prayer.

Our Father in heaven, 

hallowed be your name,

your kingdom come, 

your will be done,

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial, and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen.


Sharing of the Peace

May the peace of Christ be with you.

We encourage you to share a sign of peace and reconciliation with those who are near you.  Take a moment to think through people you know.  Is there someone you might reach out to with a text message of peace?  or a check-in message of connection?  Take time to do that now.



You are invited to follow along with this worship clip using the liturgy below it.


Invitation to Communion

        All are welcome at Christ’s table.

        Everyone is welcome at Christ’s table.

A Celebration of Faith  

Our celebration of faith is from the Iona Abbey Worship Book © 2017 Wild Goose Publications, the publishing division of the Iona Community. 

With the whole church

we affirm we are made in God’s image,

befriended by Christ,

empowered by the Spirit.

With people everywhere

we affirm God’s goodness at the heart of humanity

planted more deeply than all that is wrong.

With all creation

we celebrate the miracle and wonder of life,

the unfolding purposes of God

forever at work in ourselves and the world.

Prayer of Thanksgiving


Holy, holy, holy, Shepherding God,

Still waters, green pastures, valleys and mountains lead all creation in praise to you.

Hosanna in the highest.

Blessed is the one who stays with us in the shadow times.

Hosanna in the highest.

Our Sacred Story at the Table        

Communion Prayer


Sharing of the Bread and Cup

You are invited to share the elements you have set aside for this worship time.  Bread, crackers, juice, wine, or water – all are signs of Christ’s abiding presence with us.


Communion Response

Shield us, God, with your crook and your staff.

We make our home in you.

Guide us, God, with your truth and goodness.

We make our home in you.

Encourage us, God, with your oil and your kindness.

We make our home in you.

Shepherd us, O God, walk with us.

Bring us safely home.



Closing Benediction        (adapted from William Sloane Coffin and H. Stephen Shoemaker.) 


May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May God’s face shine upon you and be gracious to you.

May God give you grace never to sell yourself short,

grace to risk something big for something good,

grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth,

and too small for anything but love.

So may God take your minds and think through them,

your lips and speak through them,

and your hearts and set them on fire.


Closing Song        Bridge over Troubled Water        Simon & Garfunkel


Minister: Rev. Nancy Gowler; Elder: Gretchen Mertes; Scripture: Ric Rose; Prayers of the People: Eunice Squires


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