Worship for July 31, 2022: The Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 13, Year C

THE GATHERING

* Please stand if willing and able

Gathering Music: Hymn #19 “God of Great and God of Small”

Welcome and Announcements

Prelude: Healing Graceby Gary Sadler and John Chisum

* Call to Worship         

Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation

The Lord will speak peace to the faithful, to those who turn to God in their hearts.

Surely Salvation is at hand for those who fear the Lord, and God’s glory will dwell in our land. Therefore, let us pray:

* Prayer of the Day    

Holy One, you see us for just who we are, and yet you love us with a parent’s love. In your enduring love for us, we see both our guilt and our acquittal. Gracious God, continue to guide us and teach us to walk in your ways. In the name of Jesus we pray, Amen.

* Hymn of Praise #44 “Like a Mother Who Has Bourne Us”

* Invitation to Forgiveness

Considering God’s steadfast love, let us approach God acknowledging our brokenness, asking for forgiveness.

* Prayer of Wholeness

Nurturing God, you continue to point the way on account of your love for us; yet we do not always follow where you lead us.  Sometimes we turn away from you and go our own way; forgive us, and return us to our rightful home in you, through Jesus Christ our Savior.  Amen.

* Kyrie #437 “You are the Lord, Giver of Mercy”

* Assurance of Pardon and Passing of the Peace

Friends believe this Good News: God is One and God is Three – Love constantly flowing in, out, and through; the gift of Jesus Christ for me and for you. For this we say:

Thanks be to God!

Since God has loved us through Christ, let us love one another. Please share a sign of peace with those with whom you are worshiping.

Sung Response: #591 “Halle, Halle, Hallelujah” (Chorus 2X)

Celebrating Joys and where we have seen God at work.

Sung Response: #628 “Praise, I Will Praise You, Lord”

THE WORD

Prayer of Illumination:

These Ancient words, O God, are inspiration. Guide us today as we listen to what the Spirit is saying to the church.  Fill us with understanding, and the will to heed and do.  Amen.

Hebrew Scripture Reading: Hosea 11:1-11 p. 1113 OT

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Epistle Reading: Colossians 3:1-11 p. 271 NT

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Children’s Moment

Gospel Reading: Luke 12:13-21 p. 101 NT

“The Gospel of the Lord” “Praise to you O Christ”

Message: TL 07-31-2022 P13 YC Avoiding Soul Forgetfullness~ Pastor Scott

Please spend several moments in silent reflection

RESPONSE TO THE WORD

* Hymn: #175 “Seek Ye First”

* Affirmation: Summary of the Law according to Luke 10:27

Our Lord Jesus said: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Intercessory Prayers of the People

Call and response: “Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayers.”

Invitation to Present Our Offerings

Through Jesus Christ, God cautions us against storing up riches for ourselves.  Let us consider these things and give as our conscience and abilities direct us.

Offertory: “Minuet in F” A. Mozart     

* Doxology: #606 (with text below)

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise Christ, all creatures here below;

Praise Holy Spirit evermore;

Praise Triune God whom we adore.  Amen.

* Prayer of Dedication, Thanksgiving, and the Lord’s Prayer

Holy One, we give you thanks for the richness of our lives. Bless these tithes and offerings, that they might be used as expressions of your steadfast love for those in need near and far.  We offer these gifts – and our very lives – in the name of your son Jesus, who taught his disciples to pray, saying: “Our Father…debts…debtors…”

* The Lord’s Prayer is found on p. 35 in Hymnal (Español en p. 40)

SENDING

* Closing Hymn #694 “Great God of Every Blessing”  

* Charge:

Remember that we are like flowers of spring, destined to slowly fade through summer and fall, yet filled with the endless cycle of seed-life renewing.  Move out into the world, conscious of how your blooming brings joy and beauty to those around you.

* Blessing

* Congregational Song “Let There Be Peace on Earth”

Lyrics found on the inside front cover of the hymnal. Bathrooms and a diaper changing station are located in the Fellowship Hall.  Please join us across the way for refreshments and conversation following worship.

Questions for Reflection

Sometimes divine love includes judgment. But the judgment of God is love. What do you think might be the only way that we can be rejected or separated from that divine love? Would God be rejecting us, or would we be rejecting God’s love?

Household Prayer: Morning

Loving God, as I embark on the adventure of this new day, I will imagine you as the kind of mother or father who teaches me to walk with cords of human kindness and love.  Therefore I will not fear failure or worry that I will not have enough time or goods if I give a little to those in need.  Amen.

Household Prayer: Evening

Thank you, God, for the gift of this day.  Thank you for bringing me home to you.  As I fall asleep, I will consider your steadfast love for me and repeat with my breathing, “You are rich toward me, and I am rich toward you.” Amen

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Worship for July 24, 2022; the Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time/Proper 12: Year C

THE GATHERING

* Please stand if willing and able

Gathering Music: Hymn #664 “Morning Has Broken”

Welcome and Announcements

Prelude: Among Us and Before Usby The Iona Community

* Call to Worship         

Show us your steadfast love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation

The Lord will speak peace to the faithful, to those who turn to God in their hearts.

Surely Salvation is at hand for those who fear the Lord, and God’s glory will dwell in our land. Therefore, let us pray:

* Prayer of the Day    

Holy God, you are our faithful lover, our generous parent, our patient teacher, our constant friend.  We live by the hope of your promises, seek to follow your way, and rely on the gift of your Spirit, by whose power we breathe, and move, and pray.  Amen.

* Hymn of Praise #39 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”

* Invitation to Forgiveness

Let us come before God acknowledging our brokenness yet embracing our essential goodness.

* Prayer of Wholeness

Holy Peacemaker, hear our prayers.  Your love is constant and your grace abundant.  Forgive us of the help we have not given, the hospitality we have not offered, the prayers we have not spoken, and the faithful steps we have not taken.  Forgive us, God, and through your forgiveness embolden us to be your servants, that we might do those things – be helpful, offer hospitality, say our prayers and faithfully walk with you…  (silent personal prayer)

* Kyrie #437 “You are the Lord, Giver of Mercy”

* Assurance of Pardon and Passing of the Peace

Friends believe this Good News: God is One and God is Three – Love constantly flowing in, out, and through; the gift of Jesus Christ for me and for you. For this we say:

Thanks be to God!

Since God has loved us through Christ, let us love one another. Please share a sign of peace with those with whom you are worshiping.

Sung Response: #591 “Halle, Halle, Hallelujah” (Chorus 2X)

Celebrating Joys and where we have seen God at work.

Sung Response: #647 “Give Thanks”

THE WORD

Prayer of Illumination:

God of Wisdom, you promise to give your Spirit to those who ask.  Overwhelm us with your Word, that we may know, love, and follow you more closely; in Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Hebrew Scripture Reading: Hosea 1:2-10 p. 1103 OT

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Epistle Reading: Colossians 2:6-19 p. 270-271 NT

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Children’s Moment

Gospel Reading: Luke 11:1-13 p. 98-99 NT

“The Gospel of the Lord” “Praise to you O Christ”

Message: “A Different Prophetic Witness” ~ Pastor Scott

Please spend several moments in silent reflection

RESPONSE TO THE WORD

* Hymn: #753 “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”

* Affirmation: A Brief Statement of Faith section 3 (pp. 37-38, Hymnal)

Intercessory Prayers of the People

Call and response: “Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayers.”

Invitation to Present Our Offerings

With our tithes and our offerings let us give thanks and praise to the Triune God: to the Son for our salvation, the Spirit for our rising, and the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth.

Offertory: “Andante” by Mozart

* Doxology: #606 (with text below)

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise Christ, all creatures here below;

Praise Holy Spirit evermore;

Praise Triune God whom we adore.  Amen.

* Prayer of Dedication, Thanksgiving, and the Lord’s Prayer

Holy One, you are the giver of every good gift. Accept these offerings we pray, that through them we may do justice, and love kindness, and walk humbly with you, our Sovereign and our God.  We pray all this in the name of your son Jesus, who taught his disciples to pray, saying: “Our Father…debts…debtors…”

* The Lord’s Prayer is found on p. 35 in Hymnal (Español en p. 40) 

SENDING 

* Closing Hymn #539 “We Will Go Out with Joy”  

* Charge:

Go out into the world proclaiming Christ in every corner, admonishing and teaching with all wisdom, so that everyone can comprehend fully the presence and witness of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

* Blessing

* Congregational Song “Let There Be Peace on Earth”

Lyrics found on the inside front cover of the hymnal. Bathrooms and a diaper changing station are located in the Fellowship Hall.  Please join us across the way for refreshments and conversation following worship.

Questions for Reflection

  1. It is difficult in our day to consider the analogy of Hosea and Gomer. The figure of Gomer as adulterous prostitute offends our feminist sensibilities, and Hosea evokes pity more than admiration. Yet, as William Willimon points out, this scandalous story directs our attention to the God who went so far as to be crucified for us.  “Only a passionate, unseemly God who is willing to risk scandal could possibly save a bunch of adulterers like us.”[1] What does it mean to place ourselves in the role of Gomer?  What does the person Hosea say about the character of God?
  1. This week’s lectionary texts say that the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah were arrogance, excess food and leisure, injustice and inhospitality, and not helping the poor and oppressed. Why do you think rich and powerful church leaders in the Middle Ages and in modern times went against the Bible and taught that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was “homosexuality” (a word not invented until the late nineteenth century)?

Household Prayer: Morning

Thank you, God, for waking me up this morning.  May I live wholly for you this day, that whatever I say and do might help make a path for your coming reign.  Open my eyes to your goodness and my heart to your children. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Household Prayer: Evening

Thank you, Lord, for the gift of this day, its challenges and its blessings, its burdens and its delights.  Forgive my failures and misdeeds and refine my heart, that I may greet the new day to live more faithfully for you.  Amen.

[1] William H. Willimon, “Pastoral Perspective, Hosea 1:2-10” in Feasting on the Word: Preaching the Revised Common Lectionary, Year C, Volume 3, (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2010), 272.

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Worship for July 17, 2022; the Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 11

THE GATHERING

* Please stand if willing and able

Gathering Music: Hymn # 32 “I Sing the Mighty Power of God”

Welcome and Announcements

Prelude: “How Can I Keep from Singing” arr. John Carter

* Call to Worship         

The psalmist declares,

I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.

I trust in the steadfast love of God forever and ever.

I will thank you, God, forever, because of what you have done.

Come, let us proclaim God’s name, for it is good.

* Prayer of the Day    

Grant us this day, O God, not to be overtaken by anxious thoughts that can make us feel that you are not near. Give us the chance, to sit at your feet, to enjoy every word and every musical note that we may feel your real presence and in turn live out that presence within our families, our communities, our jobs, and our schools.  Prepare us as we journey as your people, to worship and to serve. Through Jesus Christ our Lord, the image of the invisible God and the firstborn over all creation.  Amen.

* Hymn of Praise #49 “The God of Abram Praise”

* Invitation to Forgiveness

Christ Jesus did not call down destruction upon those who rejected him.  How much more will he show mercy to those who seek forgiveness?  Let us offer ourselves and our faults to Christ.

* Prayer of Wholeness

O God of balance, we ask for your help:  Sometimes we behave like Martha.  We get distracted in our routines, so busy with our daily chores that we forget to take the time to stop and breathe, to look up and to notice the Creation you have given and the way it speaks about your love and passion for your people.  Sometimes we behave like Mary. We devote our time to looking up, thinking that everything we are commanded to do is to love God, and we forget to serve our neighbor, and to commit our time to the concrete work of the church, forgetting to get our hands dirty.  God of balance, help and lead us to know when to be workers and when to be hearers.  In your mercy, heal our worries and our judgments, so that we can, indeed, keep the best part.  In the name of our loving Master, Amen!

* Kyrie #437 “You are the Lord, Giver of Mercy”

* Assurance of Pardon and Passing of the Peace

Friends believe this Good News: God is One and God is Three – Love constantly flowing in, out, and through; the gift of Jesus Christ for me and for you. For this we say:

Thanks be to God!

Since God has loved us through Christ, let us love one another. Please share a sign of peace with those with whom you are worshiping.

Sung Response: #591 “Halle, Halle, Hallelujah” (Chorus 2X)

Celebrating Joys and where we have seen God at work.

Sung Response: #628 “Praise, I Will Praise You, Lord”

THE WORD

Prayer of Illumination:

O Holy One, open our hearts and our minds, so that we can understand the fullness of your Word. Fill us with the light of the Holy Spirit, and bless our hearing of the Word proclaimed today. In the name of Christ, Amen.

Hebrew Scripture Reading: Amos 8:1-12 p. 1131-1132 OT

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Epistle Reading: Colossians 1:15-28 p. 269-270 NT

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Children’s Moment

Gospel Reading: Luke 10:38-42 p. 98 NT

“The Gospel of the Lord” “Praise to you O Christ”

Message: Prophetic Witness~ Pastor Scott

Please spend several moments in silent reflection

RESPONSE TO THE WORD

* Hymn: #70 “What Does the Lord Require of You?”

* Affirmation: Summary of the Law according to Luke 10:27

Our Lord Jesus said: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Intercessory Prayers of the People

Call and response: “Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayers.”

Minute for Mission

Invitation to Present Our Offerings

With our tithes and our offerings let us give thanks and praise to the Triune God: to the Son for our salvation, the Spirit for our rising, and the Creator of the Heavens and the Earth.

Offertory: “Amazing Grace” Duet: Jaqui and Ariaunna Neibauer; Janet Anderson Accompanying

* Doxology: #606 (with text below)

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;

Praise Christ, all creatures here below;

Praise Holy Spirit evermore;

Praise Triune God whom we adore.  Amen.

* Prayer of Dedication, Thanksgiving, and the Lord’s Prayer

Holy One, we give today in thankfulness and with the assurance that anything we give, even our very selves, will contribute to the continuing growth and witness of your Kin-dom in the world. In the name of Christ we pray the prayer he taught his disciples to pray, saying: “Our Father…debts…debtors…”

* The Lord’s Prayer is found on p. 35 in Hymnal (Español en p.40)

SENDING

* Closing Hymn #543 “God, Be the Love to Search and Keep Me”  

* Charge:

Go out into the world proclaiming Christ in every corner, admonishing and teaching with all wisdom, so that everyone can comprehend fully the presence and witness of Christ, by the power of the Holy Spirit.

* Blessing

* Congregational Song “Let There Be Peace on Earth”

Lyrics found on the inside front cover of the hymnal. Bathrooms and a diaper changing station are located in the Fellowship Hall.  Please join us across the way for refreshments and conversation following worship.

Questions for Reflection

How do you balance studying the stories of Scripture and fostering a relationship with God while also serving others?

Household Prayer: Morning

God, we have too many things to do today! Help us to see you in everything we do, in everything we say.  Help us to take a deep breath and to remember that the Holy Spirit is inside us, with us, around us.  Help us to work for and with our brothers and sisters, giving kindness, sharing hope, and living out the faith you have given us.  Amen.

Household Prayer: Evening

O Lord, we have sat at your feet, and listened to your words.  We have been empowered by your teachings. What should we do with all this life that you have provided? We will go out into the world, after a restful night, and serve, and smile, and love, and work, and play, and forgive, and shout out, and sing…doing everything in your name!  Amen.

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Worship for July 10, 2022: The Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time / Proper 10

Gathering

Gathering Music: Hymn #19 “God of Great and God of Small”

Welcome and Announcements    

Prelude: “It is Well With My Soul” by Philip Bliss

* Call to Worship 

Love the Lord your God,

With all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind!

Love your neighbor as yourself,

With all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind!

Do this and we will live!

Let us worship God!

And so we pray:

* Prayer of the Day    

Holy God, you call us to live out your justice and righteousness.  Help us to walk in your footsteps, so that we never lose our way.  Enable us to live and love in the way that you have taught us, so that we can act in grace, even with those who we consider our enemies.  In the name of Jesus we pray; Amen.

* Hymn of Praise #305 “Come Sing, O Church, in Joy!”

* Invitation to Forgiveness

Psalm 82 asks, “How long?” how long will we live unjustly and show partiality, instead of loving as God has loved us?  Trusting in God’s love poured out for us, let us request – and submit – to God’s healing touch.

* Prayer of Wholeness

Gracious God, Jesus tells us that our lives are enriched by loving you and loving our neighbors.  We confess that love is hard for us.  Sometimes we are too selfish or too pessimistic, too hollow or too hardened, and sometimes even too broken to give ourselves to love’s demands.  But you are Love, O God!  Cleanse our hearts that we might find the strength to do what love requires and the grace to receive what love has to give.  We pray in the name of Jesus, whose love has no boundary, as we prayerfully sing:

* Sung Response #437 “You are the Lord, Giver of Mercy”

* Assurance of Pardon and Passing of the Peace

Friends, believe this Good News: God is One and God is Three – Love constantly flowing in, out, and through. The gift of Jesus Christ for me and for you.  For this we say:

Thanks be to God!

Since God has loved us through Christ, let us also love one another. The Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

And also with you!

You are invited to share God’s Peace with your neighbors.

* Sung Response Hymn #591 “Halle, Halle, Halle” (chorus 2x)

Celebrating where we have seen God at work

Sung Response: Hymn #647 “Give Thanks”

THE WORD

Prayer of Illumination:

O Holy One in Three: Let this be a time when we quiet hearts and our minds to pay attention; to really pay attention to what you have to say to us today.  Amen.

Hebrew Scriptures: Psalm 82:1-8 p. 726, OT

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Epistle Reading: Colossians 1:1-14 p. 269, NT

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Children’s Message

Gospel Reading: Luke 10:25-37 pp. 97-98

“The Gospel of the Lord” “Praise to you O Christ”

Sermon: TL 07-10-2022 P10 YC A Gospel Heart~ Pastor Scott

RESPONSE TO THE WORD

* Song of Response:       “Micah 6:8” (Echo Song)

C

Group 1                              Group 2

God has shown you………..God has shown you*          *originally “He”

F

Belovèd…………………………..Belovèd*,                 *originally “O Man”

                            C                           F                    C

Together: What is good and what the Lord requires of you.

C                     

But to do justice……………But to do justice

                   F

And to love mercy………..And to love mercy

                                    G           F          C

Together: And to walk humbly with thy God. (Repeat all)

* Affirmation of Faith:  A Brief Statement of Faith, section 2, Hymnal p. 37

Intercessory Prayers of the People

Call and response: “Lord, in your mercy:” “Hear our prayers.”

Invitation to Present Our Offerings

Redeemed, we live for giving thanks!  Everything we do and everything we have, comes from God, whose unconditional love lifts us up each day.  In thanksgiving, let us give with grateful hearts from what God has provided.

Offertory: “Children of the Heavenly Father” arr. Kenon D. Renfrow

* Doxology  Hymn # 606 (Using text below)

Praise God from whom all blessings flow,

Praise Christ all creatures here below,

Praise Holy Spirit evermore;

Praise Triune God whom we adore!  Amen.

* Prayer of Dedication and Thanksgiving:

Thank you God: you are our soil, our food, our water, our sun; everything we need to grow.  We offer these gifts to you, asking for your direction, as we work each day so that your kin-dom of light becomes more and more of a reality in this world. We offer this thanksgiving in the name of Christ, who taught his disciples to pray, saying:

* The Lord’s Prayer “…debts…. debtors…”

SENDING

* Closing Hymn #743 “O God, You Are My God”

* Charge:

Go and bear fruit!  Go and do as you are able!  Live a life that is worthy of the Lord; but above all: Give joyful thanks to God through loving your neighbors, through doing justice, through speaking out, and through defending those who are weak and oppressed, lift up those who are discouraged.

* Blessing

* Congregational Song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” 

                  Lyrics found on the inside front cover of the hymnal.

Bathrooms and a diaper changing station are located in the Fellowship Hall.  Please join us following worship outside for the tree dedication ceremony and remembrance of friends and members of our church who passed away in the past few years.

Question for Reflection:

How can we bear God’s fruit in the world?  How can we live out the commandment to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves?

Morning Prayer:

Prepare my mind to listen to you today.  Prepare my heart to be filled with your love today.  Prepare my lips, that they can shout your praise today.  Prepare my soul, that I can be attuned to your will today.  Prepare me to feel your presence in the world today!  Amen.

Evening Prayer:

We come together, and this we pray: let us love the Lord our God, with all our hearts, with all our souls, with all our strength, with all our minds, and let us love our neighbor as ourselves. By doing this, O God, we will truly live, because we will live under the guidance of your words, and the rest that your love provides. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

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Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, July 3, 2022

Gathering Music        

Welcome and Announcements    

Prelude: “Songs of Faith” arr. Martha Mier

* Call to Worship 

Call upon the Lord!  I asked for help and I was healed!

We asked for freedom, and we were given liberty beyond measure! Praise God!

Sing to the Lord, all you faithful; give thanks to God’s holy name.

God turns our mourning into dancing! Let our hearts sing without ceasing!

O Lord our God we will always give you thanks!

Let us pray:

* Prayer of the Day    

We watch this morning for the light that the darkness has not overcome. We watch for the fire that was in the beginning and that burns still in the brilliance of the rising sun.  We watch for the glow of life that gleams in the growing earth and glistens in sea and sky, forest and mountain. We watch for your light, O God, in the eyes of every living creature and in the ever-living flame of our own souls. You send us out into the world as your disciples.  Allow us, and this church, to be a healing presence, a place and a people that live out your heavenly reign, here and now; through the mystery of your Holy One in Three, Amen.

* Hymn of Praise #645 “Sing Praise to God Who Reigns Above”

* Invitation to Receive Forgiveness

When we walk from darkness into the light, we can see ourselves as we really are. We know we are in need of God’s healing; come and wade into the river of the Healer’s mercy.

* Prayer of Wholeness

Source of all that gives us life, we have turned away from your all-encompassing vision to our own small concerns.  Forgive us for our failures to bear one another’s burdens, for turning inwards on ourselves and thinking we are enough.  Lead us to your river of life that is life for so much and so many more.  In Christ’s name we pray, singing:

* Sung Response #437 “You are the Lord, Giver of Mercy”

* Assurance of Pardon and Passing of the Peace

Friends, believe this Good News: God is One and God is Three – Love constantly flowing in, out, and through. This gift is also the gift Jesus Christ gave to us.

Thanks be to God!

Since God has loved us through Christ, let us also love one another. The Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

And also with you!

You are invited to share God’s Peace with your neighbors.

* Sung Response Hymn #591 “Halle, Halle, Halle(chorus 2x)

Celebrating where we have seen God at work

  Sung Response: Hymn #647 “Give Thanks”

THE WORD

Prayer of Illumination:

Bring us to the bosom of your Word, O God, and fee us on your truth, that we may have the strength you have promised your children.  Amen.

Hebrew Scriptures: 2 Kings 5:1-14 p. 461

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Epistle Reading: Galatians 6:1-6 p.

256“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Children’s Message

Gospel Reading: Luke 10:1-11, 16-20 p. 96-97

“The Gospel of the Lord” “Praise to you O Christ”

Sermon: After COVID-19?~ Pastor Scott

RESPONSE TO THE WORD

* Hymn of Response: #738 “O Master Let Me Walk with Thee”

* Affirmation of Faith:  A Brief Statement of Faith, section 1, Hymnal p. 37

Prayers of the People/Intercession

Call and response: “Lord, in your mercy:” “Hear our prayers.”

Celebrating the Lord’s Supper

Invitation to Present Our Offerings

God has given us so much in healing, word, forgiveness.  Let us now take the time to respond in gratitude, by giving of what has been given to us.

Offertory: “A Graceful Minuet” arr. Mozart c. 7 years old

* Doxology  Hymn # 606 with text from #607. (Sub. “all creatures” for “all people.”)

* Prayer of Dedication and Thanksgiving:

God of mercy, we give you thanks for all that your bounty creates. The gifts we bring today acknowledge our debt to you and our intent to relieve others of their burdens. Bless what we offer and bless those who will be shown deeds of power through them; in the name of Jesus, who taught his disciples to pray, saying:

* The Lord’s Prayer “…debts…. debtors…”

Invitation to the Lord’s Table

This is the joyful feast of the people of God!

People will come from north and south and from east and west to sit at table in the Kin-dom of God.

According to Luke, when our risen Lord was at table with his disciples, he took bread, blessed and broke, and gave it to them.

Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.

This is the Lord’s table.  Our Savior invites those who trust him to share the feast that he has prepared.

Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.  And also with you.  Lift up your hearts.  We lift them up to the Lord.

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.  It is right to give our thanks and praise.

As we remember: let us, with saints, with angels, and with the whole of creation, join the ancient and eternal hymn:

Hymn #552 “Holy, Holy, Holy”

We give you thanks, Holy God, for Jesus, who came to be your living Word, to baptize us with Spirit and fire, to feed the hungry, to humble the mighty, and to announce the good news of your coming realm.  With thanksgiving, we remember how, when the hour had come, Jesus took his place at the table with the apostles.

Then Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, this is my body, which is given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.  After supper he took the cup, saying:
This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins. Whenever you drink it,
do this in remembrance of me.

Hymn #553 “Christ Has Died; Christ Is Risen”

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us, this bread, this cup, these people Christ’s body and blood, given in love for the world.

Make us one in the Spirit, one in the church, and one with Christ our Lord. Make us gentle, joyful, thankful people, serving our neighbors, worshiping you alone.  Keep us in the peace of Christ until you gather us at your table in glory.

Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor are yours, almighty God, now and forever.

Amen!

All has been prepared and the table awaits.  These are the gifts of God for the people of God.

Thanks be to God.

Communion of the People

Please come down the center to receive the elements by intinction.  Chalice holds juice for bread, clear cup holds juice for gluten-free wafer.  Please return by the sides, then join as you are able: 

Hymn of Reflection: #507 “Come to the Table of Grace”

Prayer following Communion 

Let us pray together:

Thank you, gracious God, for giving us of yourself to us in this feast.  As we travel on through our journey of life with you, help us to share your grace with others and draw us ever closer to you: through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

SENDING

* Closing Hymn #741 “Guide My Feet”

* Charge:

The harvest truly is great, and there is need for peace in the world. God calls us to go and labor in the fields of harvest – Jesus has promised us all we need to do God’s will.

* Blessing

* Congregational Song “Let There Be Peace on Earth” 

                  Lyrics found on the inside front cover of the hymnal.

Bathrooms and a diaper changing station are located in the Fellowship Hall.  Please join us across the way for refreshments and conversation following worship.

Question for Reflection: How is your faith strengthened by knowing that we do not look for Jesus in only one place but find the Risen One everywhere, because he has ascended to the throne of God?

Morning Prayer: I wake this day mindful of the Light within all light, Soul behind all souls. Strengthen me this day to do your work. Amen.

Evening Prayer: O Lord, in the darkness of night, in the stillness that surrounds us in the unknown depths of our being, we pause to listen and take our rest. Amen.

Prayer song of the week: “Be Still and Know” Hymnbook #414 Repeat several times

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Trinity Sunday, June 12, 2022

THE GATHERING

Gathering Music: Hymn # 15 “All Creatures of Our God and King”

Welcome and Announcements

Prelude: “Prairie Blossoms” by Jack Butler

* Call to Worship         

Because from the beginning God has been faithful,

We aim to serve God with lives of faithfulness.

Because in the Trinity God patterned community,

We bring our lives together in this church.

Because God’s prophets stood up for justice,

We join our voices to witness for peace

Because God has showered us with love,

We gather to worship;

Let us pray:

* Prayer of the Day    

Holy Trinity, we honor this day the majesty and the mystery of your name. You are both infinite and intimate, known and unknowable, transcendent and transparent. In love, you have made us your own, and invite us to join in your divine dance. May we never rest until we rest in you, Blessed Three-in-One, now and ever. Amen.

* Hymn of Praise #11 “Source and Sovereign, Rock and Cloud”

* Invitation to Forgiveness

By faith in Jesus Christ, we are given access to the grace of God.  Standing in that grace, we submit to our Maker, seeking forgiveness and peace.

* Prayer of Wholeness

Triune God, within your own life there is mutuality, equality, and unity in diversity.  Though we are made in your image, we confess that we all too often distort the triune life for which you made us.  Instead of seeking mutual welfare and the common good, we seek our own gain.  Instead of living in equality, justice, and respect, we construct systems that are unjust.  We devise ways to elevate ourselves over others, and disrespectful thoughts, words, and actions still surface in us.  We allow differences to divide us and lead to brokenness.  Holy God, forgive us.  Restore in us, and in our life together, the divine image you intend.  Make us tender in mutuality.  Make us generous in equality.  Make us grateful in diversity.  We pray to be one with you and one another, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

* Kyrie #437 “You are the Lord, Giver of Mercy”

* Assurance of Pardon and Passing of the Peace

Friends, believe this Good News: God is One and God is Three – Love constantly flowing in, out, and through; the gift of Jesus Christ for me and for you. For this we say:

Thanks be to God!

Since God has loved us through Christ, let us love one another. Please share a sign of peace with those with whom you are worshiping.

Sung Response: #581 Gloria Patri

Celebrating Joys and where we have seen God at work.

Sung Response: #628 “Praise, I Will Praise You, Lord”

THE WORD

Prayer of Illumination:

Living Word, you still have many things to say to us.  Speak, and we will try to hear them. By your Word, may the Spirit guide us into all truth, that our lives may glorify you.  Amen.

Hebrew Scripture Reading: Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31 p. 785-786

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Epistle Reading: Romans 5:1-5 p. 207-208

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Children’s Moment

Gospel Reading: John 16:12-15 p. 149

“The Gospel of the Lord” “Praise to you O Christ”

Sermon: TL 06-12-2022 YC A Knot of One~ Pastor Scott Crane

Please spend several moments in silent reflection

RESPONSE TO THE WORD 

* Hymn of Response: “Trinity Dance” (See insert)

* Affirmation: The Nicene Creed (p. 34, Hymnal)

Prayers of the People/Intercession

Call and response: “Lord, in your mercy, Hear our prayers.”

Minute for Mission

Invitation to Present Our Offerings

Out of the abundance of God’s own life, we have received the abundance of God’s creation, God’s word, and God’s love.  Let us not live as if we are threatened with scarcity, but let us live with generosity, returning to God a portion of all we have been given.

Offertory: “Gavotte” by Paul Zilcher

* Doxology: #606 with text from #607. (Sub. “all creatures” for “all people.”)

* Prayer of Dedication and Thanksgiving followed by

* The Lord’s Prayer “…debts…debtors…” found on p. 35 in Hymnal

SENDING

* Closing Hymn #295 “Go to the World!”

* Blessing and Charge

* Congregational Song “Let There Be Peace on Earth”

Lyrics found on the inside front cover of the hymnal. Bathrooms and a diaper changing station are located in the Fellowship Hall.  Please join us across the way for refreshments and conversation following worship.

Questions for Reflection

Trinity Sunday is not so much a day for explanations as it is a day for reflection on the majesty and mystery of the fullness of God: God as Creator, Lawgiver, the One who performs mighty acts; God as Messiah and Lord, Savior, Liberator, known to us in Jesus Christ; God as Holy Spirit, Wind and Flame, Advocate, Comforter. How does thinking of God in this Trinitarian way inform, even increase, your understanding of God? Do you experience God, or relate more easily to God, in one of the three “Persons” of God more than the other two? What causes you to relate to God more closely in this way?

Household Prayer: Morning

Creator God, I wake this morning to the beauty of the world as though it were the first morning of creation. As the light of the sun rises on all that you have made, I pray that my spirit may rise also. Help me to be ready to greet you however and in whomever you make yourself known to me today. Help me to pause in moments of this day to glimpse the beauty you have made, offered as gift and sign of your abiding presence. I entrust myself and those I love to you this day, knowing that you promise to be with us always. In your holy, triune name I pray. Amen.

Household Prayer: Evening

O God, my Advocate and Comforter, I rest in you. The evening falls and the darkness does not overcome me, for you are my light. You are the Light of the world. I bring to you the passing cares of this day, and the deeper cares of my life and those I love. Breathe peace on all that stirs in me and whirls around me. Breathe peace into every troubled place and person this night. Shine on us, in us, and through us. I know that when I awake, I will still be with you, Holy One who is Source, Word, and Wisdom. Amen.

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Day of Pentecost June 5, 2022

THE GATHERING

Gathering Music: #292 As the Wind Song

Welcome and Announcements

Prelude: “Let Us Break Bread Together” arr. Donna Huff

* Call to Worship         

Let us stand and worship God.  How manifold are your works, O Lord!

In wisdom you have made them all; the Earth is full of your creatures.

You send forth your Spirit, and they are created;

And so you renew the face of the Earth

I will sing to the Lord as long as I live;

I will praise my God while I have my being.

Let us pray together:

 * Prayer of the Day    

Holy God, who comes to us in breath,visits us from the throne of heaven,and sets us aflame with amazement and joy,you open our paths to new visionsand guide our feet deeper into your wisdom.Give us faith to trust your presence,through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

Hymn of Praise #289 “On Pentecost They Gathered”  

Invitation to Healing

Do not let your heart be troubled, but submit to the Holy Spirit, and our Lord will give you peace.

Prayer of Wholeness

Holy and Merciful God, we do not know how to pray as we ought, and we know too well our constant failures to do as you have commanded and to hold fast to your word. Forgive us for the divisions we nurture, guide us to your way, keep us in your care, and lead us into faith. We trust your word that the Spirit of truth will show us all things and grant us courage and peace.   Please continue in silent prayer

Sung Reflection: “Waiting for Spirit, Come” using Hymn tune #92

  1. Waiting for Spirit, come; waiting for Spirit, come;

Come to us, Lord, ignite our hearts, waiting for Spirit, come.

  1. Fill us, O Lord, with grace; fill us, O Lord, with grace…
  2. Anoint our lives with love…
  3. Send us, renewed, to serve… ~ text by Pastor Scott

Assurance of Pardon and Passing of the Peace

Friends, believe this Good News: God is One and God is Three – Love constantly flowing in, out, and through; the gift of Jesus Christ for me and for you. For this we say: Thanks be to God!

Since God has loved us through Christ, let us love one another. Please share a sign of peace with those with whom you are worshiping.

* Hymn of Response #591: “Halle, Halle, Halle” Chorus

Celebrating Joys and where we have seen God at work

Hymn of Response #290: “O Day of Joy and Wonder!”

THE WORD

Prayer of Illumination:

Holy Spirit, come again.  As long ago you inspired, astonished, and confused the people, come to us now to fill our ears with the sound of your breath, fill our eyes with the brilliance of your presence in each other, and fill our hearts with your good Word.  Amen.

Hebrew Scripture: Genesis 11:1-9 pp 15-16

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Children’s Moment

Second Reading: Acts2:1-21 pp 159-160

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Gospel Reading: John 14:8-17 (25-27) p 147

“The Gospel of the Lord” “Praise to you O Christ”

Sermon: TL 06-05-2022 YC A Circle of One~ Pastor Scott

Please spend several moments in silent reflection

RESPONSE TO THE WORD

Hymn: #287 “Gracious Spirit, Heed Our Pleading”

* Affirmation of Faith: ~Adapted from and inspired by the Confession of 1967

Jesus Christ is God with humankind.  He is the eternal Son, who became human and lived among us to fulfill the work of reconciliation.  He is still present in the church by the power of the Holy Spirit.  This Trinity of Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer is the foundation of all confessional statements about God, humanity, and the world.  Therefore, the church calls all people to be reconciled to God, to one another, and the Earth.

Intercessory Prayers of the People

Call and response: “Lord, in your mercy,” “Hear our prayers.”

Celebrating the Lord’s Supper

Invitation to Present Our Offerings

The Holy Spirit was sent to increase our compassion and to make us glad to spread good news by caring for those in need. May you enter into the discipline of giving as a work of the Holy Spirit within you.

Offertory: “Landler” by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

* Doxology  Hymn # 606 with text from #607. (Sub. “all creatures” for “all people.”)

* Prayer of Dedication and Thanksgiving:

God of mercy, we give you thanks for all that your bounty creates. The gifts we bring today acknowledge our debt to you and our intent to relieve others of their burdens. Bless what we offer and bless those who will be shown deeds of power through them; in the name of Jesus, who taught his disciples to pray, saying:

* The Lord’s Prayer “…debts…. debtors…”

Invitation to the Lord’s Table

This is the joyful feast of the people of God!

People will come from north and south and from east and west to sit at table in the kingdom of God.

According to Luke, when our risen Lord was at table with his disciples, he took bread, blessed and broke, and gave it to them.

Their eyes were opened, and they recognized him.

This is the Lord’s table.  Our Savior invites those who trust him to share the feast that he has prepared.

Great Thanksgiving

The Lord be with you.  And also with you. Lift up your hearts.  We lift them up to the Lord. Let us give thanks to the Lord our God. It is right to give our thanks and praise.

O Lord our God, how great are your works. You created the world and all that is in it.  Yet we rebel against your sovereign love, seeking to storm the gates of heaven, trying to make a name for ourselves in the world.  The Earth alternately weeps and burns with pain as we forsake it.  But by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, you have given us your own name; you have made us your own people, a royal priesthood of all believers.  Send forth your life-giving Spirit to renew and re-create us once more.  In prayer, we join our voices with all Creation in singing:

Hymn #562 “Holy, Holy, Holy”

Together, we continue: Lord God, we have seen your glory in the face of Jesus Christ.  We give you thanks that you have made us one with him as he is one with you and the Holy Spirit.  We remember how, when the hour had come, Jesus took his place at the table with the apostles, and presiding over Earth’s gift of bread spoke these words:

“Take, eat.  This is my body given for you.  Do this in remembrance of me.”

We remember how Jesus also said: “I am the vine, you are the branches…Believe in me and never thirst.” After that supper he poured a cup of Earth’s gift of wine, reminding the disciples of this, and spoke these words:

“This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood, shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.  Whenever you drink it, do this in remembrance of me.”

With thanks and praise we offer ourselves to you, sharing this holy meal, remembering Christ’s dying and rising, and praying: Come Lord Jesus!  According to Christ’s commandment, we remember his death, we proclaim his resurrection, we await his coming in glory.

Pour out your Holy Spirit upon us and upon these your gifts of bread and cup, that the bread we break and the cup we bless may be the communion of the body and blood of Christ.  Calling on the power of the Holy Spirit, we pray:

That we may be made one with the risen Christ and with all God’s creation; that we may be faithful as Christ’s body in ministry in the world, and that we may live in anticipation of the fullness of God’s realm.

Through Christ, with Christ, in Christ, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor are yours, almighty God, now and forever!  Amen?  Amen!

So be it. All has been prepared and the table awaits.  These are the gifts of God for the people of God.  Thanks be to God!

Communion of the People

Zoom participants are invited to share your own bread and cup together at home. When all have finished partaking of the sacraments, all may join:

Hymn of Reflection: #727 “The Servant Song” After all have partaken.

Prayer following Communion 

Let us pray together:

Holy and astounding God, at this table, in this meal, we have been met by Christ – the reflection of your glory, the imprint of your being.  As we go from this place may our lives be a joyful song, proclaiming the good news of your righteousness and peace for the whole world.  Amen.

SENDING

Closing Hymn #280 “Come, O Spirit, Dwell Among Us”

Charge:

Jesus did not leave us without hope but sent the Holy Spirit to nurture faith and love in this world. Live this vision in all that you do: respond to rancor with kindness, be patient where there is pain, and above all, speak love.

Blessing: “Deep peace…”

Congregational Song “Let There Be Peace on Earth”

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Post Sabbatical Ruminations

Silverfalls

One of the things I can foresee as I return to work – and travel for work when gas prices have risen almost $2 more than before I started my Sabbatical – is going to be the need to connect more regularly with the peace, serenity, and messages offered by the Earth and all her creatures.  I will need to feel the trees, the sand, the wind, the surf…whatever medium the trail of my ongoing sacred pilgrimage brings to me.  But also, moving into the summer, I will begin to feel the heat. I will feel it burn, my whole body and being will get grouchy, and as always, I am (and will be) ever conscious of the big difference I can feel stepping between sun and shade, no matter where my feet take me.

This, in turn, reminds me to also feel the need for and reverence the sacred sustenance of water.  We are fortunate up here in the PNW that we are one of the micro-regions (at least on the west side of the Cascades) that will see either increased rain, or at least close to “normal” levels of rain, even during the ever-emerging new realities within our climate crisis. Southern Oregon, Eastern Oregon, California and all of the SW will, in fact, probably continue its inexorable trend to hotter and drier. Eastern Washington may do the same. Despite record rainfall in April and May, Oregon as a state is still in a protracted drought.  It takes years to re-balance to equilibrium a falling (or in some cases failing) water table.  Wells have to be dug deeper to bring up the cool, life-sustaining waters – and the deeper they draw water up from, the older that water is – in some cases hundreds if not thousands of years older.  When that happens, even more water needs to fall and soak into the ground, trickling down to those aquifers meters and meters below our poor Earth’s surface to refresh and re-balance historical levels.  The Earth needs it, and we, as her primary consumers, need to cut back our use of it (not to mention many other harmful practices that actually kill off parts of the intricate web of life food chain).

But I write all this to lift up for your consideration “sacred water” as a sacred focusing device for our ongoing pilgrimage/journey of faith. Yes, focus must shift in our work; and  teasing out the directions in all our Presbytery’s regions of what and where new forms and practices of ministry might lead has been a much needed seed-scattering.  Along with sacred water and sacred focus, I lift up one of my Sabbatical readings: Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul by John Philip Newell. The entire concept of Sacred, I believe, has been too little emphasized in our collective spirituality of late (I am talking about not only our faith but sister faiths with which we have much in common in the need to hold our Earth in hands of careful tending).  Understanding all as sacred, I believe, can prove to be a center collection point from which all of us, regardless of our spiritual pilgrimages, can find common ground. In this, all of us – regardless of our particular stream in the Great Current of Spirit – might offer our own contributions to the deeply held common “water table” from which all spiritual sustenance is then drawn.

And, despite the fact that I drive a Prius to work and back, maybe it is time to do more than just consider additional actions to practice what I preach – maybe it is past time to simply evolve and do them!

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Worship for May 29, 2022; the Seventh Sunday of Easter

THE GATHERING         * Stand if willing and able

Gathering Music: Hymn #14 “For the Beauty of the Earth”

Welcome and Announcements    

Prelude:”Brethren We Have Met To Worship” arr.

* Call to Worship 

I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord, the God who is and who was and who is to come.

Let us give thanks for all that was, let us celebrate all that is, and let us imagine all that will be.

Let us pray together:

* Prayer of the Day    

God of Mercy, hear our prayer; your Spirit is a wind of change, but we would recast it as a quiet breeze.  Your call is to the edges of the world, but we would confine it to the comfortable places.  Your will is to free us from the chains of injustice, but we would keep them on rather than disturb the peace. Holy God of every time and place, you gather us to hear of Jesus.  Help us see your infinite life in our own community and in all of creation, we pray in your holy name.  Amen.

* Hymn of Praise #260 “Alleluia! Sing to Jesus”

* Invitation to Healing

Let us come before God with contrite hearts, acknowledging our brokenness and trusting in forgiveness.

* Prayer of Wholeness

Faithful God, you are devoted to us.  Forgive us when we are not devoted to you.  We would rather be secure than be brave.  We would rather be in control than be faithful.  We know that you call out for us to follow, but we look for you in all the wrong places.  Forgive us, God of mercy.  Heal us from our self-centeredness.  Empower us to know the depth of your grace, and lead us to share that grace with the world…

* Sung Response #471 “O Lord, Hear My Prayer” 3x Third time plural

* Assurance of Pardon and Passing of the Peace

Friends, believe this Good News: God is One and God is Three – Love constantly flowing in, out, and through; the gift of Jesus Christ for me and for you. For this we say:

Thanks be to God!

Since God has loved us through Christ, let us love one another; the peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all!

And also with you!

Please share a sign of peace with those worshiping with you.

* Sung Response #591 “Halle, Halle, …(chorus twice)

Celebrating Joys and where we have seen God at work

Sung Response #647 “Give Thanks”

THE WORD

Prayer of Illumination:

By the power of the Holy Spirit open our minds to the Word, your Son, who comes to us as one of us and ascends to the heavens to remain with us. Amen.

Hebrew Scripture: Psalm 97:1-12 pp. 736-737

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Epistle Reading: Acts 16:16-34 pp. 182-183

“The Word of the Lord” “Thanks be to God”

Children’s Moment

Gospel Reading: John 17:20-26 p. 151

“The Gospel of the Lord” “Praise to you O Christ”

Message:TL 5-29-2022 YC TL Liberation, Salvation, Or…?” ~ Pastor Scott

Please spend several moments in silent reflection

RESPONSE TO THE WORD

* Hymn #680 “Soft Rains of Spring Flow”

* Affirmation of Faith: ~ Summary of the Law as recorded in Luke 10:27

Our Lord Jesus said: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”

Intercessory Prayers of the People

Call and response: “Lord, have mercy,” “Hear our prayers”

Minute for Mission

Invitation to Present Our Offerings

Give now with generous hearts that all people may hear God’s Word and be helped by the work of this church.

Offertory:

* Doxology Hymn tune #606 with text from #607

* Prayer of Dedication

Eternal God, who brings joy out of sorrow, plenty out of want, life out of death: we thank you for the treasures of the earth, your creation, filled with your blessing, for it was in company with these earthly things that your Son came to dwell, showing us the enormity of your love. Because of Jesus, we, too, are brought to new life, called to pray and work for the renewal of others. Take these offerings for the sake of the one without whom our poverty of soul would be extreme; Jesus our Christ, who taught his disciples to pray, saying:

* The Lord’s Prayer (“…debts…debtors…”)

SENDING

* Closing Hymn #300 “We Are One in the Spirit”

* Charge

Live in love, abide in peace, walk softly upon the earth. Tend and serve all God’s creation and one another, for we are one in God.

* Benediction

“Deep Peace be with you…” ~ stc

* Congregational Song “Let There Be Peace on Earth”

Lyrics found on the inside front cover of the hymnal. Bathrooms and a diaper changing station are located in the Fellowship Hall.  Please join us across the way for refreshments and conversation following worship.

 

Questions for Reflection

What chains bind you, the people of your community, or your local environment at this time in your life?  Where each day do you notice the freedom of Christ working to break the chains apart?

Household Prayer: Morning

Good and gracious God, we rise with the morning light to give you thanks for rest and dreams, for warmth and safety, for the delight we have again today in a life filled with your goodness. Keep us in your care this day that we may walk in your path, glad for our friends, praying for our enemies, and eager to hear your Word; in Jesus’ name, Amen.

 Household Prayer: Evening

Merciful God, for all that we have done and failed to do this day we turn to you for respite. Forgive us for having shunned your desires; rejoice with us over moments that have filled us with joy. Bless your people, your lands, your waters, and the very air we breathe with peace. Protect us and your earth this night that we may wake again to praise your name and seek you in the dappled shadows of your land. Let the Holy Spirit abide in this house, Amen.

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Sabbatical Musings, Part the Fourth

On the eve of the NE Region of our Presbytery engaging in the “Creative Collaborations” workshop, some salient socio-cultural thoughts have come to mind…

  • The region of “Nones and Dones” will continue to expand from the PNW toward the east and south of this country – this is in reverse of the original colonial missionary model that pushed its way from the Eastern seaboard to the west and south with the founding of America.
  •  We are seeing young people flee from all institutions built by their great-grandparents – and this includes the institution of the church – hence the term “organized religion” or “institutionalized religion” becoming more like a derogatory term in some circles. Shrinking main-line protestant churches are the norm, not growing vibrant communities of faith.  Why?
  • Think service organization as opposed to propagation of the Gospel.  This is very different than American cultural assimilation of Christendom – which I believe is no longer happening in our time.  As M. Scott Peck once wrote in an illustrative story called “The Rabbi’s Gift,” “The spirit has gone out of the people.” [The Different Drum: Community Making and Peace (New York, NY: Touchstone Simon & Schuster, 1998)].
  •  One of my opinions rests in the challenge of shifting leadership models and cultures – in this case the DNA of corporate main-line Protestantism from the 1950s to something else resembling authentic communities of practice.  That means it is imperative to find ways for the church to become an intergenerational community focused on making real-life authentic, genuine differences in and for the community in which it sits.
  • If the determination and intent is to continue moving away from intergenerationality and back to “the way it was,” or to put in place age-segregated learning, absence of children in worship, and “traditional bible story curricula” as opposed to family-based passing on of our faith stories and the more messy/”noisy” intergenerationally collaborative worship models where all are welcome and have a place, I would hazard a guess that church can expect a 50% reduction in membership in the not-to distant future (possibly even two to three years from now, certainly by ten to fifteen years from now). 64% if that church is closer to the PNW than the S/SE. Community, by definition, includes all peoples regardless of age, stage, gender or persuasion.

The last two points you might take with a grain of salt, I suppose.  Here’s why:  I’m deep in the heart of the PNW, and I have a certain “GenX angst” perspective as I’ve watched all our young people flee just about every main-line protestant church in our presbytery, leaving all but the Silents and the Boomers in the pews. It doesn’t give me much hope for long-term job security, unless I can form creative collaborations and/or change myself and the church I work for to fit/serve contemporary spiritual needs.  That’s a tall order, but I might suggest it is survival for any pastor of today’s average traditional main line denominational church.

Culturally, at least here in the PNW, the metamorphosis that has been and continues to take place is this: from the point of the church being to, “Spread the Gospel” (equated with Evangelical-In-Your-Face-My-Way-Or-The-Highway Bible-Thumping Religion – Bad) to the point of, “Authentic communities of worship and practice to address real needs in the community.”

It’s almost like: “If you aren’t a community of practice doing real-life-tangible things, then it isn’t authentic.  Gospel of Salvation? Who cares, we can’t see the spiritual realm or the state of anyone’s soul, so it doesn’t matter.  We can see how people behave towards one another and if others’ compassion – no matter what faith – is reflected in real-life, showing love and justice for all people and the earth.  That’s what matters.”

It causes me to wonder if we, or at least society, are (is) in the throws of (or on the cusp of) craving a revivalist need similar to the time and perspective of Paul Tillich and Karl Barth.  They were trying to re-embed Christianity in the social justice movement (and all that would mean).  Many of the secular issues then are also found and discussed today in the “Millennial Blueprint for America,” which is very cleverly crafted but leaves out almost entirely a sense of the centrality of spiritual grounding.  (Phase 1 report from the Think 2040 data collected by the Roosevelt Institute).

Well . . .  deep thoughts.  May God guide us all into the future of faith and what it is that is required of us – as long as it is to love mercy, act justly, and to walk humbly, I’m in.

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