March 22 Service


North Congregational Church
New Hartford, Connecticut
March 22, 2020


The best laid schemes of Mice and Men oft go awry, And leave us nothing but grief and pain. -“To a Mouse” (November, 1785),
― Robert Burns, Scottish national poet (1759 – 1796)

Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.
― Allen Saunders, American cartoonist (1899-1986)


Be Still My Soul    The Mormon Tabernacle Choir


We give thanks for our church and congregation and the love, support and inspiration we have received recently and throughout the years. During this time of quarantine and self-isolation, while we are not able to gather together in our beloved sanctuary, we come together from a distance. Although we are physically separated for the time being, we worship together in Spirit. So let us unite our minds and hearts through music and these printed words.


The Hebrew Bible                              Proverbs 16

The plans of the mind belong to mortals,
but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.
2 All one’s ways may be pure in one’s own eyes,
but the Lord weighs the spirit.
3 Commit your work to the Lord,
and your plans will be established.
9 The human mind plans the way,
but the Lord directs the steps.
10 Inspired decisions are on the lips of a king;
his mouth does not sin in judgment.
11 Honest balances and scales are the Lord’s;
all the weights in the bag are his work.
12 It is an abomination to kings to do evil,
for the throne is established by righteousness.
13 Righteous lips are the delight of a king,
and he loves those who speak what is right.
15 In the light of a king’s face there is life,
and his favor is like the clouds that bring the spring rain.
16 How much better to get wisdom than gold!
To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver.
20 Those who are attentive to a matter will prosper,
and happy are those who trust in the Lord.

The New Testament                   Matthew 6.34

…do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.


Letting the Day Take Care of the Day, The Rev. Marcia Lynn Cox

Here’s a quote from the book, Think and Grow Rich, ”You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.” It was written by who some call the original “self-help” author, Napoleon Hill. Published in 1937 it sold over 20 million copies within 50 years. This book is considered to be responsible for more millionaires than any other book in history. Several self-help gurus of our era including Tony Robbins, Les Brown, Brian Tracy and others swear by this book and have used it for achieving breakthroughs in their own lives.

Here are several quotes from Tony Robbins:

“Success is doing what you want to do, when you want, where you want, with whom you want, as much as you want.” and

“We can change our lives. We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish.” –

For as long I can remember the self-help movement has lead us, at least in America, to believe that we are the masters of our destinies. By setting goals and doing everything we can to achieve them, we have come to believe that our lives will unfold as we wish.

Most likely, of course, as we are dreaming these dreams, we haven’t included any misfortune in our plans. But most of us who have lived long enough have experienced disappointments, setbacks, health challenges and deaths of loved ones, events that are that are out of our control. In light of the change of plans we have been forced to face, if we are being realistic, this latest worldwide health crisis should not surprise us.

But because there is not yet a cure or treatment for prevention, along with its severity and unpredictability, we have understandably become fearful and anxious.

For one thing, our fear and anxiety come from our lack of information so it is natural for to seek some certainty. Desire for knowledge is of course important, and so we need to kept abreast of the news.

Because we want answers, our journalists and reporters ask our medical leaders and experts almost  daily, “How long with this last,” or “When will this be over?” But as we have discovered, no one can give us an immediate, a definitive answer.  So this is not a useful daily inquiry.

Our fear and anxiety also come from our loss of control. But this is not to say that we are totally impotent during this period. Interestingly, I learned several historical pieces of information these last several weeks.

Dr. James Shapiro, in his book The Year of Lear, notes that, in or around 1606, the time of the bubonic plague in London, Shakespeare likely wrote King Lear, along with Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, Timon of Athens, and Pericles in quick succession — perhaps even within the same calendar year.

During the Great Plague of London, in 1665, Isaac Newton, aged 20, along with fellow Cambridge College students, was sent home. For him it was an annus mirabilis, which in Latin is a “year of miracles.” He discovered the theory of universal gravitation, began his study of optics and formalized what would become calculus. (Gillian Brockell,  The Washington Post, March 12, 2020).

These facts about the work of Isaac Newton, which occurred during a period of social isolation, somewhat like what we are experiencing now, was also posted on Facebook recently. It was followed by the provocative question, “What will you do during this time?”

What might your response be? I would of course love to find a cure or preventative treatment for this current, terrible, mysterious virus, but science and medicine aren’t my fields of expertise.

So, how might I…and you…spend our time?

We ourselves might not have the education or skills to find a cure for this disease or any other, but at the same time I think that there are things we can do in this time and in the midst of these current challenges. As Mother Theresa observed, “Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love.”

We all know that time is short, valuable, and none of us knows how long we will have on this earth. And so each of us needs to claim our gifts and talents and take action even as we’re being forced to slow down a bit.  We can take this opportunity to spend more time with our friends and families, read, learn something new, attend to a long-neglected house project or engage in a hobby.

But at the same time we can also be kind and gentle to ourselves. While we are quarantined, we might just give ourselves permission to be lazy, watch a movie, and get caught up on our sleep. But also and above all, and especially now, to be kind and gentle to one another.

Since, anxiety brings fear, preoccupation with things we cannot control and selfishness, and even panic, it is good to ask how we can calm those emotions during this global pandemic.

During this time, we can’t assume that magically and quickly, everything is going to be fine. Being naively optimistic and pollyanish is foolish because treatments and cures can take longer than we would like. And we know that throughout history we have experienced, great suffering and loss. At the same time, while we don’t want to be insensitive, it is good to remember that, even in light of the uncertainty brought about by this current pandemic, the world has continued on. While not making light of our losses, we have collectively recovered from plagues, depressions and wars.

We have been formed by a culture that has held up the virtues and power of planning. And in many ways such activity is important, otherwise we would be unfocused, torn in a million different directions rather than accomplishing as much as we have throughout history. So even now, as we have in the past, we might dream dreams and plan for the future, when we so hope that we will receive relief from this current dreaded disease.

But in the meantime, may we continue to ask what God wants us to do, seeking his righteousness, and with our best wisdom and energy and compassion, let each day take care of itself.  Amen.


Slow Down       Sissel Kyrkjebo with The Mormon Tabernacle Choir


Gracious and loving God, we are grateful for the many blessings we are receiving, even in this time of a worldwide health crisis and financial uncertainty.

We give thanks for family and friends and all those who are reaching out into the community and the world with generosity and dedication, especially all service workers and public servants, who attend to their jobs and selflessly labor to make our lives easier, always, and especially now.

We hold up before you:
“… all who are affected by the coronavirus, through illness or isolation or anxiety, that they may find relief and recovery:
… those who are guiding our nation at this time, and shaping national policies, that they may make wise decisions:
… doctors, nurses and medical researchers, that through their skill and insights many will be restored to health:
…the health and well-being of our nation, that all who are fearful and anxious may be at peace and free from worry:
… the isolated and housebound, that we may be alert to their needs, and care for them in their vulnerability:
For our homes and families, our schools and young people, and all in any kind of need or distress:
And ask a blessing on our local community, that our neighbourhoods may be places of trust and friendship, where all are known and cared for.”

(From the Episcopal Church in England, edited and adapted)

We are mindful of those who are suffering from diseases of the body, mind and spirit; for those seeking direction and purpose; for financially challenged and the homeless; for those who are hungry and food insecure; for victims of unjust laws and practices, especially those who have been physically displaced and are the victims of unjust laws and practices in the nations in which they are seeking refuge; for those grieving losses and the deaths of loved ones.

Some thoughts and prayers are too deep for words or too private to share and so we offer them now in the silence of our hearts.

All these things we offer with prayer that Jesus taught us,

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


Although we are not gathering in the sanctuary for worship on Sundays for the time being, the church continues to have expenses. So it would be most appreciated if pledges and offerings could be mailed to the church. Thank you for your generosity.


Let us now forth into the world in peace,
Being of good courage,
Holding fast that which is good,
Rendering to no one evil for evil,
Strengthening the fainthearted,
Supporting the weak,
Helping the afflicted,
Honoring all persons.
Loving and serving the Lord,
And rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.


Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today, so let each day take care of itself. And may the peace of Christ dwell with you now and always. Amen.


Peace Like a River       The Mormon Tabernacle Choir