Posts by juliew

Spark Sunday Jan 24, 2016

Posted by on Jan 31, 2016 in Sunday Message | Comments Off on Spark Sunday Jan 24, 2016

Nehemiah 8:1-3, 5-6, 8-10 8:1 all the people gathered together into the square before the Water Gate. They told the scribe Ezra to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the LORD had given to Israel. 8:2 Accordingly, the priest Ezra brought the law before the assembly, both men and women and all who could hear with understanding. This was on the first day of the seventh month. 8:3 He read from it facing the square before the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the law. 8:5 And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. 8:6 Then Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and all the people answered, “Amen, Amen,” lifting up their hands. Then they bowed their heads and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. 8:8 So they read from the book, from the law of God, with interpretation. They gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading. 8:9 And Nehemiah, who was the governor, and Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the LORD your God; do not mourn or weep.” For all the people wept when they heard the words of the law. 8:10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat and drink sweet wine and send portions of them to those for whom nothing is prepared, for this day is holy to our LORD; and do not be grieved, for the joy of the LORD is your strength.” Can you imagine the scene from Nehemiah –? Let me break it down – First, they asked for the holy reading – and the women were included ! They were expecting the usual typical reading / hearing experience – Ezra opened the book in front of them –which only becomes significant when they get something unexpected.  The scripture says that the words were read “with interpretation” And that the people were overwhelmed.  Ezra, their priest and scribe, blessed the Great God and the people responded – “Amen, amen,” lifting up their hands! And then they bowed their heads and worshipped.   Apparently that was and unusual reaction !  It also says that the governor, priest/scribe and teachers all agreed.  Now, in my experience,  that’s something special as well.  Did I mention the people were all overwhelmed? Soooo   the governor proclaimed this to be a holy day – the day of the Lord! Proclaimed — right then and there –       On-the-spot! No asking permission, no time for second-guessing, No waiting to see if the majority would be in favor of the proclamation   – After all of this, the people were told to go back to their usual lives – Eat, drink and be merry –AND    wait for it     to  SHARE the wealth with “those for whom nothing is prepared.”  They were told to “Go with joy in their hearts –this day is holy to our LORD “ Wowee-Wow!  I’m getting a picture  that something significant happened there. ~ ~ Maybe not quite Pentecost, but pretty important nonetheless.~~  Be joyful!   Share ! I would have pegged this as a New Testament lesson –  It’s Jesus-worthy! Let’s look again – Break it down even further — All people were included, those who might usually differ— agreed ...

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January 31, 2016 Theme: Called Out of Comfort

Posted by on Jan 31, 2016 in Sunday Message | Comments Off on January 31, 2016 Theme: Called Out of Comfort

http://faithsbvt.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/01/Hard-Choices-January-31-2016.mp3

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January 31, 2016 Theme: Called Out of Comfort

Posted by on Jan 31, 2016 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on January 31, 2016 Theme: Called Out of Comfort

Today’s Response:   ”God’s love is a comfort. God’s love is a challenge.”   Imagine God came to you and gave you some words. Wouldn’t your first response be “I can’t, I ummmm, I don’t do the public-speaking thing!” ? Yep, that’s what I did. And l that’s just what you will hear in the Old Testament scripture today. I have had a Jeremiah moment, Several in fact. Now that I know the feeling, The discomfort of realizing that stepping out in faith is challenging, I don’t argue with it, well, not as much! I certainly did (and do) argue sometimes with the things I know I should ~ even MUST ~ do. Sometimes I wish I could stay in the comfort zone Skipping the challenge altogether – But I know that we need both… So today we respond: God’s love is a comfort. God’s love is a challenge.   One of our hymns today talks of God “Knowing our past defeats.” It’s pretty amazing to me that God keeps giving me more chances. “Hope for the hopeless” … yeah, A million times over. We’ll certainly have all kinds of experiences in our human lives. When I am uncomfortable, stumbling around, defeated, or hopeless, I need the God of comfort – I need to know there are BIG arms wrapped around me… When God asks me for something I think I can’t do and I realize its “of God” – A God-request – I yearn for a rapture blanket – right out of the warming oven – The God of challenge usually comes with some measure of comfort. In fact, when I let God lead I get both comfort and challenge. There’s comfort in knowing God is leading and there’s a challenge to keep up! In order to do God’s work in the world, We’ll certainly have both comfort and challenge. I dare say, we require both to fully understand  our individual response to God’s nudging. Together we respond: God’s love is a comfort. God’s love is a challenge.   When I think about God’s love, I know that I’ve won the lottery – It’s a never-ending source of love coming at me all the time – What I think I’ve learned is that feeling good about my life And my ministries Isn’t about comfort and not really about challenge either – The most important thing ~~~The critical thing ~~~ is the LOVE… Which gives us both!  The challenge and the comfort. We are here to love, which gives us everything we need – Today we respond: God’s love is a comfort. God’s love is a challenge.   Spark Moment:  On behalf of the Lay Leadership Team I had the honor to be the first to review the sparks Found on our blessing tree after last Sunday’s worship service. The first ornament I looked at had 9 numbers on it. I stopped right there and gave thanks to God for leading us to the huge team effort which became Spark Sunday 2016. It is an exciting thing –  For the ministry team leaders to feel the love – To have your support, to know you care enough about what they care about to take action! There’s still time to spark – no smoldering allowed ! The list from last week is back in the bulletin – and we have some more ornaments – Perhaps it just took your spark a while to ignite? — Some people wrote in a new spark! — go ahead, be fearless!!! If you want to talk about a new possibility… We’re here to listen.  ...

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Liturgy 12-6-2015

Posted by on Dec 7, 2015 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Liturgy 12-6-2015

Based on today’s scripture reading from Joshua, the call to worship is… “God leads us into the new day!” Joshua 23:1-3, 24: 14-30   We are most alive when we choose; it’s the way God created us.  And the very act of choosing calls us to take ownership of what happens next.   Think about the simple choices that you make in a day… what to wear, what to eat, what activities with which to engage.  Even in the simplest moments these choices give us a chance to own our experiences; to create the day.   Let us ready ourselves to own what we will choose to create in the next 50 years of our church life and say together… “God leads us into the new day!”   Here is the key to making choices— The level of awareness at the point of our choice is everything to quality of what we create.  If we choose out of a reflex, we likely choose what’s closest, easiest, or most convenient. Nothing wrong with choosing the white shirt & black pants, the cold milk & cereal, and to scan the headlines on the front page of the paper that’s conveniently lying on the counter.   But notice how our environment plays a big part in choices that come out of reflex.   Add a little more awareness and we might choose out of our habits, which are environments.  And the best habits are ones that we have created with intention. The fact that we attend church with some regularity is likely a habit that we have created out of an intentional choice to make this place, this faith community, a piece of how we are close to God.   Let us raise our awareness beyond our reflexes and be grateful for our intention to live Christ-centered lives and say together… “God leads us into the new day!”   At this point in our 50-year church history, let us pause and raise our awareness of how we will choose to create the next 50 years.  Let us reaffirm of choice to serve the Lord.  Let us intentionally listen for God’s guidance, and with open-minds and willing hearts, let us own the choice to manifest the Will of God, in this place, for the world, in Christ name and say together…. “God leads us into the new day!”...

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Advent liturgy 11-29-2015

Posted by on Nov 29, 2015 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Advent liturgy 11-29-2015

Today we prepare this place for worship – Today we prepare our hearts to worship – ~ and our souls to survive. We are only at the beginning of Advent, so we are still easily able to settle our minds and bodies. Soon it will become more difficult to sit still. Today we recognize what’s real – We can focus on the main thing  – ~but how long will that last? As we prepare the sanctuary for Advent, Happily sharing our traditions, And the stories of light and health and hope, We have choices to make — Will we blossom, bend or break this year? Let’s keep the main thing – the main thing! As we respond together:  Prepare for Love!   Today we will prepare our hearts. We look for meaning and validation that we “got it right.” We come expecting to be set free – to find hope and peace in this most holy season. Will we find the ever-elusive REST we also need? Will we shine in the dark? We crave relationship – We need each other. Let’s keep the main thing – the main thing! As we respond together:  Prepare for Love!   Today we will prepare to live in the light. Will a single candle be enough light? As we light one candle, then two, then three,  then four – We are given more and more help – Just when we need it – as the holiday season gears up and tries to distract us. We’ll come back here each week and light another candle – Hope, Love, Joy, Peace, … Guiding principles to get us through the night. We have only to say (or sing) “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” – As we light the final Christ Candle on Christmas Eve, That’s when we’ll finally fit all the pieces together! Shine in my heart, Lord Jesus!” Help us to keep the main thing – the main thing! As we respond together:  Prepare for...

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