Reformation Sunday, October 25, 2020, Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost

Silverware drawer with camping utensil on top

Photo credit: Rev. Dee Ledger

Bethesda United Church of Christ Worship Service

“We welcome all without exception as we worship God together, journey in the spirit, and share our gifts with each other, our neighbors and the world.”

For your reflection

“God seems to be an unwilling participant in our efforts to pigeonhole Him.”  — Greg Boyle, clergyperson

“There were so many odd, strange things about Abraham Lincoln that I think nobody knew how to pigeonhole him.”  –Steven Spielberg, Director

Question: When were you last “pigeon-holed” or “type-cast” and what did it feel like? Did you welcome the person’s identification of you or did it seem to limit you?


God’s Light Grows

You are invited to light a candle as you worship with us.

Call to Worship (responsive)

Rev. Dee

All that was, all that is, all that ever will be dwells in the life of God.
We are inseparable from generations past and generations future.
The lives of the ones who came before us are present all around us.
The needs of those to come call upon us today.
What are we doing with all we have inherited – the wonderful and the terrible?
What will we leave behind?
May God’s blessing be upon us as we strive to live faithfully in the days we have been given.


We prepare ourselves for worship

Unison Gathering Prayer

Eternal Wisdom, in midst of all of life’s noise, we long to recognize your voice. Where we have been led astray by the loudest and most visible, the power-hungry, and the greedy, you call us back. Back to your way that nourishes. Back to the dreams of your prophets. Back to what grounds and sustains. Today and always, may we be open to your Spirit whose truth leads us home. Amen.

Passing the Peace

Leader: The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you!
People:  And also with you.

A Word with the Children

Rev. Dee

The Children may depart to the breakout room for their classes and activities.

Gathering Hymn

#25 O God, Our Help in Ages Past

Music and lyrics to O God, Our Help in Ages Past

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

The Contemporary Reading

“The Box” by Noa Udler, permission granted by author

Reader: Sophia Neufeld

Our society is enclosed in a four-sided box.
That’s all of the space we have to explore,
To create,
And to wonder.
You either make yourself fit in the suffocating spot you are assigned,
Or you become an outsider who is not accepted,
Or wanted.
As an outsider you are seen as someone who is trying to change the neat, strategic, and careful blue print of our society.

We are forced to believe that we are supposed to fit into one type of person.
An entire box of carbon copies.
But how is this possible when we have an entire country filled with people who are living symbols for its diversity?
Why do we ostracize the differences in our society?
Why do we target those who choose to challenge themselves and literally “step out of the box”?
Why have we been taught that we should hide the side of ourselves that is unique from everyone else?
All of these questions have answers that outline a robotic and four-sided box society;
A society with no depth or meaning to its people.

There is no chance for anybody to grow as a person and learn new things, because our society frowns upon originality and prefers that you keep your thoughts and ideas to yourself.
Don’t share your knowledge so that it becomes bigger than what the box allows.
Don’t think too much so you think yourself outside of the box.
Don’t do too much research so you find information that you don’t agree with.
Focus on yourself so you don’t influence others to disobey the ideals of the society.

I think I’m finally going to wear what I want, talk about what I want, and listen to what I want!
I think I’m finally going to wear what I want, talk about what I want
I think I’m finally going to wear what I want
I think I’m finally going to
I think I’m finally going
I think I’m finally
I think I’m
I think

Everytime this happens I move slowly back into the box where I feel everything “unordinary” about myself detach and remain outside of the box,
Already forgetting about me.
I move slowly, slowly into the box;
The box where I belong.

Note about author:  Noa Udler is a recent graduate of UCLA.  She wrote this poem as part of her senior high school sociology class.  She reflects: “This is a powerful statement I chose and still choose to make about the contradictions and judgments our society voices towards those who don’t fit the “mold” that society has over time constructed; a “mold” that exemplifies a somewhat restrictive way of life that its citizens should aspire to model their own lives after, as well as encouraging citizens to feel “comfortable” being themselves. The thing is, having one “mold” or one way of how a person should act and feel doesn’t and will never work! In recent years, I have fortunately seen and heard of people becoming more accepting towards this idea of there being multiple “molds” in society, as well as people becoming more open about others creating their own “mold.”

Musical Meditation

A Reading from the Gospel

Reader: Martha Knouss

Matthew 22:34-40

34 When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, 35 and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. 36 “Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?” 37  He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the greatest and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”


Love in the Particular 


#498 Jesu, Jesu, Fill Us with Your Love

Music and lyrics to Jesu, Jesu, Fill us with Your Love

Music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

Faith and Democracy Moment

We encourage you to view this message regarding D.C. Statehood from Rev. Ellen Jennings, Pastor, Cleveland Park Congregational Church UCC, Washington, D.C.


If you wish to give to support the work of Bethesda UCC, you can donate via Venmo @Bethesda-UCC or send a check via mail to Bethesda UCC c/o Treasurer; 10010 Fernwood Road; Bethesda, MD 20817

Beloveds, God’s teaching surrounds us. If we wish to know love, to understand justice, or to embody wisdom we must only pay attention. The gospel is always coming alive somewhere. For every new way God reaches to us, takes on flesh and manifests within and around, let us bring our offerings with gratitude.

We thank you for your generous support of this faith community and of our ministry together.

Unison Prayer of Dedication

Incarnate One, especially in these times of uncertainty, we hope to be companions of righteousness. We hope to divest from all that destroys. We hope to live into the Spirit of Christ that sets the captives free. With these offerings, we pray that our gratitude will manifest in acts of radical love where and when they are needed most. Amen.

Pastoral Prayer and Lord’s Prayer

Our Mother/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.

More about us

Bethesda UCC was founded in 1957 as Bethesda Congregational Church.  United Church of Christ is the union of the Congregational Christian Churches and the Evangelical and Reformed Church.

We are located at the corner of Fernwood and Democracy. Our postal address is:

Bethesda United Church of Christ
10010 Fernwood Road
Bethesda, Maryland  20817

Minister: Rev. Dee Ledger
Music Director: Kay Krekow

Today’s music is shared under Church Copyright License: One License A-726712

A ONE LICENSE Reprint License grants churches, schools, religious communities, retreat centers, and other worshiping bodies permission to reprint or project music for their congregations from any of our Member Publishers.

Permission to podcast / stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE, License #A-726712. All rights reserved.

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