May 10, 2020


Bradenton-Sarasota Community of Christ
Online Service – May 10, 2020
God Is Our Refuge (Mother’s Day)

Call to Worship (Adapted from Psalm 71)

God alone is our refuge and hope,
our shelter and protection.
From our very first breath to our last,
God’s love and compassion never fails.

So lift your hearts in praise to God.
Bear witness to God’s acts of mercy and love.
Proclaim God’s glory to all who will listen.

Today is Mother’s Day and we wanted to include a special tribute to all those who have loved or helped to rear a child. We all know that the experiences of our very early years strongly influence our entire adult lives. As we experience the blessings of this love, we become better equipped to deal with the obstacles in life and to set our lives on the path which Christ would have us follow. On this special day, we take the opportunity to honor those who are most often responsible for guiding our young feet upon that path ….. our Mothers.

The Gift of a Mother’s Love by Jim Brickman

Prayer for Peace

When we are plagued by doubts, the gospel of John reassures us with these words: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me.” The gospel writer affirms that “the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.” When we feel hopeless in the face of current world conditions, these words can soothe us but also challenge us because they call us to be engaged in the work of justice and peace, as was Jesus.

Prayer: “Holy One, we acknowledge that the conflicts we see around us trouble our minds and hearts and often lead us to feel doubt and fear that your ultimate vision for creation will not be realized. But deep in our hearts we know that with you all things are possible. We pray that true peace, where all care for the other, will be visible in our lives and those of others who seek to be engaged in the work and mission of Jesus. We pray this in the name of the one we call the Prince of Peace. Amen.”

You Are My Refuge by Maranatha! Praise Band

Morning Message – Elder Jim Brougher

Today is Mother’s Day and, first, to our Mothers: May Jesus Christ bestow his blessings upon all of our mothers. Whether young or old, “You are the best of the best”. For you are the original REFUGE for all of us. When life became scary, for example, monsters under the bed, tummy aches, bully encounters, and head on encounters with our growing up Life 101 difficulties. You were our refuge.

For me, my mother was also the gateway to Jesus Christ. For it was Sunday school, Methodist Youth Fellowship “MYF”, Rev. Rice, and all my other mentors who enabled me to rise above life in Appalachia. To enter the mainstream of life with awareness and acceptance of Jesus Christ. He has often been my Refuge in times of peril and/or struggle. Refuge and shelter from the storm is a good thing.

Mary was the mother of Jesus Christ and they lived in rough surroundings. Mary was Jesus’ refuge while growing up until he entered young adulthood and became a fully blessed Deity with a powerful ministry. Call him YAHWEH life’s awesome refuge from the storm!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The scripture today is Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16. This Psalm moves from words of despair and danger to expressions of trust in God’s steadfast Love. There is a sense of connection between desperation and faithfulness in Psalm 31:15. The psalmist writes and asserts, “My times are in your hand,” meaning every moment, day, and year are turned over to God with confidence, even the bad ones. God’s love will eventually prevail.

The Psalmist, in these writings, makes three requests of God: (1) Deliver me. (2) Let your face shine. (3) Save me. These statements are powerful in that they are statements of trust in God who moves heaven, earth, and all creation toward SHALOM!

Every generation has seen its share of doomsday terror, the theorists call for us to run and hide. News media also shouts: “Chicken Little the End is Near.” There are also many examples in the Bible of people “fleeing to the mountains”: Adam and Eve, Saul, Jonah, Israel and Judah, also Peter.

But how should the Church today respond to threatening circumstances? Threats like the current Covid-19 Pandemic world-wide threat. Well, the Bible gives us two basic choices: we can either flee to the hill, or we can take refuge in GOD And, of course, we do well to follow David’s example in Psalm 11:1: “In the Lord I take Refuge; how can you say to my soul, Flee like a bird to your mountain’?” David ultimately figured this out, for our Lord is always faithful, truthful, and our rock of refuge. The Rock we need to hold fast to, Amen

Let our day of worship be a day of choosing the right way forward in whatever difficulty and danger we face. Let it always be a day of taking refuge in God.

Today we are dealing with a pandemic where the death toll continues to rise. The World Health Organization “WHO” is heavily involved. From a global perspective, Covid-19 is a virus that is spread through human contact. Massive events, crowds, ballparks, theme parks, Mardi Gras, and large church revivals are examples of “Hot Spots” where the virus can rampantly be spread. Our world for the most part is in lock-down or stay-at-home mode. Hyper news media, personal fear, the death of our family and friends can bring on a feeling of hopelessness and desperation.

Now more than ever, today’s theme, “God is our Refuge,” is so important. Quiet time today –  PLEASE: meditate, pray, call loved ones, call out to your Lord, and most of all take Refuge in God your almighty rock for the ages. He remains unshaken and eternally in power, which provides us with confidence in days of trouble. We come together and celebrate him as King, no matter what happens on earth. We are his children and are justified for his boundless love. Romans 3 points out that we are “Justified by his Grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Jesus Christ, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by Faith.”

No greater love hath any man for mankind than to lay down his life for mankind’s sins. Amen.

In closing, “When surrounded by danger- both mortal and immortal, trust in God for he will never let your down. He will wrap you in his loving arms and welcome you in. Thank you, God for Being our Refuge. Amen and Amen.”

Christ is risen! Earth and heaven
nevermore shall be the same.
Break the Bread of New creation.
Where the world is still in pain,
Go tell its grim demonic chorus
“Christ is Risen, Now get out of Here..
God the First and Last is Within Us.
Sing Hosanna in the Highest Everyone!
(Adapted from – Glory to God Hymn, Westminster / Louisville, Kentucky)

Disciples’ Generous Response

As it is written in the Enduring Principle, Sacredness of Creation, “In the beginning, God created and called it all good. Creation’s power to create or destroy reminds us of our vulnerability in this life.” We heard a plea in Psalm 31 for God to be a refuge, a strong fortress, a guide, in other words a protector when we are vulnerable. God is that and much more to each of us. How can we thank God? We can offer our time, talents, testimonies, and treasures as an offering.

Click here to use eTithing, send your offering to Dick Kramer, or put your offering aside and bring it with you when we meet again. Remember that the needs of the church and its work worldwide continue even when we cannot meet.

Closing Prayer – God Is My Refuge by Charlie & Jill LeBlanc

This service was prepared by Carolyn Deering and Jim Brougher.