The household gathers together. If you have a candle, light a candle to signify God’s presence. Ask the Holy Spirit to join you during this time of prayer.

GATHERING
Christ is risen!
Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

HYMN – „Love Divine, All Loves Excelling“ by Charles Wesley (1747)
(sing along to the tune available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/GenHMi5B7L4)

1. Love divine, all loves excelling,
Joy of heav’n to earth come down:
fix in us thy humble dwelling,
all thy faithful mercies crown:
Jesus, thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation,
enter ev’ry trembling heart.

2. Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into ev’ry troubled breast;
let us all in thee inherit,
let us find the promised rest:
take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.

3. Come, Almighty to deliver,
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return, and never,
nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.

4. Finish, then, thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be:
let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
‚til in heav’n we take our place,
‚til we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.

OPENING PRAYER
God of grace, you have given us minds to know you, hearts to love you, and voices to sing your praise. Fill us with your Spirit, that we may celebrate your glory and worship you in spirit and in truth through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.

PSALM 145

Moment of silent reflection

MATTHEW 11:25-30

SERMON by Pastor Maria Katharina Moser

I have brought a picture with me and invite you to look at it. It is named: Two fragments of one Pieta.

It is a Mary depiction with the corps of Jesus on her lap, who has just been taken from the cross. But only a few pieces are left.

This depiction was displayed in 2015 at the Bode-Museum in Berlin in an exhibition with the title „The vanished museum“. The exhibition wanted to show the destruction, the wounds of the Second World War has left within art and culture.

There are only fragments of the Pieta left, which has been created around 1400 AC. They are left. Smithereens. Yet, although we only see two parts, we can see the whole thing. The complete depiction can be seen in the fragments – but unfinished. The fragments live in the tension to the whole, which does not exist. A “movement of unrest” comes from it.

It is an allegory for what is life, what is human: fragments. We, humans, are fragments. We are smithereens. We are only smithereens of what we have been and what we could be and what will be. In religious language it is translated to: As humans we are unfinished.

Our human life is fragmented smithereens. We cannot rule every last thing – neither our own life, nor nature, nor the tenor of events, what we call fate. And most certainly not disease and death. No matter how hard we try. We can see this especially now during the Corona crisis.

Part of human life is finiteness, which is not predictable and not plannable finiteness. Death. Part of human life is fractions: fractured hope, broken life dreams, discarded opportunities, missed chances. Injuries. Sorrow. Human life, humans, are not complete and whole and perfect. No closed wholeness with a smooth and shiny surface.

Today we are dealing with a sublime change of fragmentation and smithereens of human life – even though it is constantly shown to us through media. One does everything to hide, so the self-confidence of the meritocracy of our achievement-oriented society is not compromised. We suppress our fragmentation. We are pushing humans to the edge of society, who are living the smithereens of life and experience the fragmentation of human life.

The wounds, the fragments of human life – they are the place where the church is; where the Diakonie is. It is an important task of churches and the Diakonie, to move the fragmentation of human life from the edges to the center of society. „Deacon action starts with being aware of hardship“, it says in the standpoint of the Diakonie Austria, our guidelines. And it goes on, „Humans in hardship shall not become objects of helping actions; they are brothers and sisters, which Jesus has blessed.“ It is not about understanding Christian community as a gathering of the strong, who should integrate the weak, but rather we are all invited by Jesus Christ, who said, „Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.“

„Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.“

Those who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads – at Jesus’ time it was the hireling who were grinding away and who wear carrying the yoke of heavy work, and it was those who were given high taxes by the Roman occupation. This shows us: Whoever is in a socially difficult situation, is anything but passive – one has to do a lot, needs a lot of strength, to be able to do well.

Those who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads – in times of Corona it is those who are forced to go into strict isolation because they belong to the risk-group because of pre-existing conditions or of age; those who are forced to do nothing, because they have lost their jobs or have Kurzarbeit; those, who need to get out of the house because they are „relevant to the system“ and too need to work under aggravated conditions – in supermarkets, as deliverers, in hospitals and nursing homes; those, who need to somehow figure out how to do home-office and look after their children at the same time. Everyone has to carry their yoke in this crisis. The Corona crisis shows quite clearly: There are not only the strong and the weak. We all have to carry a yoke. We all need each other.

To get people together, because we need each other and so we can look after each other and support each other, the Diakonie has started neighborhood-helplines. Here people can call, who need help and people who want to help. Especially in the beginning – it is changing over time – we have made the experience: More people call, who want to give help, than people who need help. It is hard to say: I need help. We are used to this as it is constantly required of us to be independent. To make it on our own.

Retired Ms. R and student Veronika are talking about this. They have gotten to know each other through the neighborhood-help-network of the Diakonie Salzburg.

Ms. R tells us, „I have read this thing about the masks in the newspaper. I thought to myself: I am 76 and belong to the risk-group, I will not run around a lot anymore at all – but I need something to do. Now I am sewing those mouth-nose-protectors. By now I can make about 20 pieces a day. Mostly I make them for friends and family and institutions, for example, the Diakonie. Veronika, who is always helping me with errands, brings them for me to others. Veronika does also my shopping, goes to the post-office and the pharmacy for me. I have made a mouth-nose-protector for her as well! Usually, I am always outside – in the mountains, in the woods. I can reach the top of the mountain. Slowly, but I’ll get there. But going out now? Shopping? I wouldn’t dream of it! Besides, I have a balcony.

You know, I can understand, why it can be hard for some people. A good friend of mine – she is the same age as me, was a dentist, a strong woman. She has always managed everything herself, had to flee in the war. Now she needs help and has learned to accept the help. Accepting help can be hard sometimes. We just talked about this yesterday, on the phone. We are phoning each other often nowadays. Generally, I am on the phone a lot. I have made a mouth-nose-protector for my friend as well and have let it be brought to her. Now it is the time of the masks!“

Veronika tells us, „Salami, milk, and stamps. This is today in the tote for Ms. R. We have met each other a few days ago – through the #TeamHoffnungsträger or the Neighborhood-helpline of the Diakonie in Salzburg. I have read about it on the Internet and thought to myself: I will join this. I have given them information about myself and a few days later my phone rang.

When we saw each other the first time, the door to the apartment was only slightly ajar. On the doormat was a package and on top of it two mouth-nose-protectors. I saw nobody. This was a bit weird. I believe, the two of us took the safety distance very seriously. Through the closed door, we talked to each other. By now I have been running errands for Ms. R a few times. It is small things, which I am doing for Ms. R. A few groceries, like today, to get something from the pharmacy – and bring a small package to the post office.

Ms. R sends now self-made mouth-nose-protectors! She has also made one for me – and I always wear it when I am out and about. I am young, I do not need to worry too much. I have a deep respect for how older people are dealing with this situation. I believe, it is not always easy to let yourself be helped. For Ms. R and me too was getting closer to a slow process. Slowly but surely we have gotten to know each other better. It takes some courage to say openly: Please, if you need only a small thing, or needs somebody to talk to: call me! Ms. R has promised to do that. And then she said, ‚But you too call when you do not feel well!‘ I believe this very beautiful: that we are looking after each other.“

There are not only strong and weak. We all have a yoke to carry – in the Corona crisis and life in general. We all need each other. We all need help sometimes. We all have Jesus’ devotion, who says to us,

„Come to me, all you who are struggling hard and carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest.“ Amen.

AFFIRMATION OF FAITH (read aloud)
We are not alone, we live in God’s world. 
We believe in God:
who has created and is creating;
who has come in Jesus, the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new;
who works in us and others by the Spirit.
We trust in God. 
We are called to be the church:
to celebrate God’s presence;
to live with respect in creation;
to love and serve others;
to seek justice and resist evil;
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope. 
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us. 
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God. Amen.

PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
Let us our prayers to the Lord. Let us pray.

Loving God, we bring you our burdens, trials, and tribulations. Give us relief from all that weighs us down and keeps us from your merciful embrace. May we find you in the unexpected and unplanned, knowing you are with us throughout all of life’s challenges. Let us take up your yoke and find comfort in your saving love.

With your children throughout time, we pray:

For Christians throughout the world who celebrate the resurrection of Jesus this Easter season, that we may know that nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, we pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.

For leaders of the nations and cities of the world, that they may be wise in their administration of government during this pandemic, and selflessly serve the common good, we pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.

For all bishops, pastors, and leaders of our congregations, that they may faithfully tend the family of God during this season of social distancing, we pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.

For doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers who tend the sick and dying, that they fulfill their vocation without undue fear of personal danger, we pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.

For all who are sick and those alone in quarantine, that they may find comfort and care in their time of need, we pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.

For the earth you have given to our care, and for all creatures who share it with us, that you may be glorified in all your works, we pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.

For other concerns, [share your personal prayers], we pray to the Lord: Lord, hear our prayer.

Loving God, we your children never pray alone, but only with all your saints in all the world. Therefore, we pray as 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 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.

BLESSING
“I am the resurrection and the life,” says the Lord. May Christ’s rising lift your spirits and gladden your hearts. Amen.