Call to Worship

10/13/2019: Abraham, Sara, Hagar

Posted by on Dec 5, 2019 in Call to Worship | 0 comments

Season    18th Sunday after Pentecost Date        10/13/2019 Scripture    Genesis 21: 9-20 Prayer      May the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be pleasing to you, our Love and our Life, our very breathe.  AMEN The story of Abraham and Sara and their perilous journey from Ur to claim the land promised to them by God, reads more like a soap opera than “Days of Our Lives.” God promises that Abraham will be the father of many nations. The story begins early in the book of Genesis, after the Creation, Babel and Noah’s Ark. We know Abraham is descendent of Noah, and first shows up in chapter 11 of Genesis. From this point, for the next 39 chapters, we hear the story of Abraham and his complicated family. However, today I hope to draw us into the story of Abraham, Sara, and Sara’s handmaiden, Hagar. It’s possible that you have never heard this particular story since it never shows up in the cycle of regularly prescribed and preached sermons we call the lectionary. According to Genesis, Sara and Abraham are growing frustrated with their inability to conceive a child in their old age. Trusting that God will make Abraham the father of many nations, Sara decides to take matters into her own hands, and “gives” her slavegirl, Hagar, to Abraham so they might obtain a child through their slave. While this is not the portrait of the matriarch and patriarch of the 3 Abrahamic religions: Judaism, Islam and Christianity, the behavior of Abraham and Sara is already questionable, and becomes worse as the story unfolds. We need to come to grips with the fact that the chosen ones of God were not paragons of virtue. They devised a scheme where an innocent slave girl was forced into giving her body to her master, who impregnated her. Then, Sara treated Hagar with bitter, resentful cruelty. Years later, when Sara has her own baby, Hagar and her child, Ishmael, are banished to the desert and left to die. However, as you heard in today’s reading, God reaches out to the mother and her child, promising to make a great nation of his offspring. That nation is Islam. Islam means surrender or submission to the will of God. Despite some of his despicable behavior, Abraham’s islam was exemplary. He followed God’s instructions in everything: sending Hagar and Ishmael out to the desert, bringing Isaac (his son with Sara) up to a mountaintop to sacrifice him. In the sacred story of Islam, revealed to Muhammed by Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of the World, the God of Abraham, Abraham and Ishmael built the Kaaba, the House of God in Mecca, which is center of Muslim Worship. Islam has two divisions, Sunni and Shi’a, and several branches and much variety within those branches. However, one of the unifying characteristics of Islam is the Five Pillars, the fundamental practices of Islam. These five practices include a ritual profession of faith, ritual prayer, the zakat (charity), fasting, and the hajj (a pilgrimage to Mecca). Many Muslims pray 5 times each day to Allah, facing Mecca. Another defining characteristic of Islam is the primacy of sacred places including Mecca, Medina, and Jerusalem. Locally, it is our great wish and hope that our new neighbors on Swift Street will feel safe, teach us about their religion, which is not so very different from our own. Perhaps such a relationship will help us rise above rhetoric that fuels fear, to learn the truth of our common roots, our common practices of prayer, fasting and pilgrimage,...

Read More

Intro to worship 9.29.19

Posted by on Oct 19, 2019 in Call to Worship | 0 comments

Invitation to Worship             Tricia Waldron Response   “May our faith enfold us so completely that we choose to live Christ-centered lives.”           Pastor Leigh and I had a conversation recently where we discussed Jesus as a role model. We were talking about how we don’t feel the need to have people profess every bit of the biblical story, what we desire is for folks to see Jesus life and stories as a guide. The first – and I might say the best step, is to see Jesus as a human, an interpreter, a wise guy – Someone with charisma. With that step, its possible someday to see Jesus as someone to emulate. that’s when we might be able to respond: “May our faith enfold us so completely that we choose to live Christ-centered lives.”  Faith definitely folds in here. We have faith in electricity,  car engines, the sun, caffeine, we believe these things will “do their job for us, over and over, as often as we need. They are reliable, dependable… Is this how we feel about our faith in Christ? The question is:  Do we have hope in Christ  or  Do we have faith that Christ will sustain us, over and over again? Living a Christ-centered life means looking to Christ first, to always be there for us.                yes, before our morning coffee! Once we have faith, we often find we want more- and more,   and more… Faith feeds us, it nourishes our souls, It keeps us going when we have tough times and celebrates with us in the good times, surrounding us with joy, Until we respond:   “May our faith enfold us so completely that we choose to live Christ-centered lives.”      Our Luke scripture today has a strong warning for us: ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced….’” It is up to us to decide who to listen to.AND the scripture implies we need to do it here and now – or we’ll be looking back, wistfully – at our choices someday. It is up to us where we place our faith, what we put first in life. We learned in recent sermons that many scriptures lose their cultural relevance over time, we talked about finding a lost sheep as an example of something we don’t need to do anymore, but holding money as a high – perhaps our #1 goal –  is still relevant today. So we’re still discovering & naming our priorities, as we look at how our faith affects our life choices.   Where will you put your faith? Let’s prayerfully respond: “May our faith enfold us so completely that we choose to live Christ-centered lives.”      Faith Intro...

Read More

Liturgy April 24, 2016

Posted by on Jun 12, 2016 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Liturgy April 24, 2016

Were you singing along with the wonderful hymn Shirley just played for us?  If you don’t know it,  Here’s the first verse: When morning gilds the sky, our hearts awaking cry: May Jesus Christ be praised! in all our work and prayer we ask his loving care: May Jesus Christ be praised! Which bring us right to today’s Response: Christ makes all things new! When I think about – “All things new” I think of The first night in a new house, A wedding A parallel universe! I think of seeing a new sight –   A volcano or a glacier perhaps! And I think of deep prayer or meditation – The kind that makes everything brighter when you open your eyes. I also think of things we don’t want to take for granted. Friendships Reconciliation Child-like awe The way the sun shines through our stained glass… And I am ever so aware of the creator of newness As we respond together: Christ makes all things new!   Our theme of unconditional giving has me thinking about my expectations. I realize that even as I do things like giving without consciously thinking of a return –I have subliminal benefit-analysis going on. You may have heard me say that everything we do is about priorities.  I do many things without needing a response – but which of those are really unconditional?  For me unconditional is a big word.  Like promise.  Unconditional implies without fail” —  “impossible to disappoint”   —  Unconditional giving focuses on the gift rather than the giver. It makes the whole thing about what the gift can do in the future, not about what the giver has done by giving. Unconditional giving has a “gift that keeps on giving” quality. Unconditional love is like that – Right now Faith Church is poised for    Increased ministry. Unconditional ministry,  Our gifts and our Christ-centered approach holds a promise! Let’s consider the impact our ministries can have once released from our grip.  And let us respond together:             Christ makes all things new!   Free and new Even after we stumble or fall, we can acknowledge the pain and move on – Even after a disappointment or setback, we can be blessed. Peter started over – receiving “water without cost from the spring of the water of life. “ Fresh and new.   [a song, a dawn, a flower, a mystery, a miracle.] Loved. Forgiven. Renewed. Promised. Our next hymn will tell us — Something God alone can see.   And so we respond: Christ makes all things new!   *Hymn of Praise: #707      “Hymn of Promise” Lida’s favorite           In the bulb there is a flower; in the seed, an apple tree; In cocoons, a hidden promise: butterflies will soon be free! In the cold and snow of winter there’s a spring that waits to be, Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.   There’s a song in every silence, seeking word and melody; There’s a dawn in every darkness, bringing hope to you and me. From the past will come the future; what it holds, a mystery, Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can see.   In our end is our beginning; in our time, infinity; In our doubt there is believing; in our life, eternity, In our death, a resurrection; at the last, a victory, Unrevealed until its season, something God alone can...

Read More

Liturgy Sunday June 12, 2016

Posted by on Jun 12, 2016 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Liturgy Sunday June 12, 2016

We all like failure-to-success stories, right? With this writing, I choose to highlight a few examples I found which we might recognize  which I think show that failure isn’t always the end of the story.   When you hear “falling upward” you’ll respond God helps us learn from our failure as well as our success.   J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter novels was waitressing and on public assistance when she was writing the first installment of what would become one of the best-selling series in history. The book was rejected by a dozen publishers. The only reason it got published at all was because the CEO’s 8 year old daughter begged him to publish it. – Rowling said  “Failure meant a stripping away of the inessential.” Failing to get angry, being willing to strip away what was not mission-critical, this author chose to persevere. She knew the value of her work. We must know – really know in our hearts – that we are valuable ~that what we do could have a lasting impact, somewhere, somehow ~ When we focus forward, rather than dwelling in the past, our failures will be a stumbling in the right direction. We’ll be “falling upward!” God helps us learn from our failure as well as our success.   It might come as a shock, but the man who became what many would call the best basketball player of all time didn’t make his high school basketball team.  – Michael Jordan says “I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I have been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” I think that we can learn to focus forward. If we stop looking at last week, yesterday or even three minutes ago,  when we said or did that dumb thing – we won’t be able to focus on our losses. They’ll still be there, in our historical database, where we can remember what not to do again, But we’ll be able to continue with our life’s mission. After all, every moment we are one step closer to God. “falling upward” God helps us learn from our failure as well as our success.   Oscar Wilde, the British play-write and satirist was gay during a time when being gay could get you prison time.       And it did.     Unlike the previous examples, Wilde started out privileged, with successful parents. He ended up being quite famous in his own life, but he died an early death as a direct result of his imprisonment. What is instructive is that he was willing to lose everything ~ and did ~ rather than pretend to be someone that he wasn’t. Failing to let the “norms” of the day determine what kind of person he would be could seem like a failure. Being in prison could be seen as a waste of time – but I admire Oscar for not hiding.   Also, Oscar Wilde never list his wit – and that’s how we remember him. A Wharton School professor, Paul Schoemaker suggests that “Failure is simply a departure from expectations.” I think that’s what is so special about Thomas Edison Thomas Edison was both hearing impaired and fidgety. He only lasted three months in school where his teachers said he was “too stupid to learn anything.” He eventually was home schooled by his mom. In talking about his invention of the light bulb, he said:  “I have not failed....

Read More

Palm Sunday intro 3.20.2016

Posted by on Mar 23, 2016 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Palm Sunday intro 3.20.2016

Did you hear? Jesus is coming! He’s someone really important! I heard he’d ride in on a donkey – but I’m hoping it’s a chariot! We’re having a parade to celebrate! Our word of the day is Hosanna! (we’re not allowed to say that other word just yet.) Want to join in ?               Its magical! The kids have lots of palms to share – You can wave them any time you hear feel the Spirit – and we can respond together: ”Sing and shout Hosanna!”   Palm Parade: OK, kids – bring on the palms.             Don’t be afraid to sing and shout – The adults just ASKED for it! ”Sing and shout Hosanna!” Adults you too – sing or shout – take a walking stick and join the parade!   Does everyone who wants a palm have them now?            Good, good. This is such an exciting day. It’s right up there in the top ten Jesus days. At this point, people waiting in the crowd knew about Jesus They knew about miracles They had heard about a new way to be – The other way – the way of compassion. They were pondering the meaning of his stories And realizing that everyone mattered to him – The sick, the sad, the outcast… And they knew Jesus brought a message of Love everywhere he went. The people in the crowd wanted a glimpse of glory – of the new way of being –        Of the master, the One, There was certainly enough to cause them to respond as we do: ”Sing and shout Hosanna!”   What if there is an “other” way? What if Jesus brings us an alternative – No more gaining respect by force or violence. No more higher class rules, lower class suffers. What if Love Wins? What if this guy Jesus really has a vision? What if what Micah says can rule the world – “Seek justice, love kindness and walk humbly with our God.” Want to be a part of it all?? Respond with me:   ”Sing and shout Hosanna      ...

Read More

Taize Worship intro March 13, 2016

Posted by on Mar 16, 2016 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Taize Worship intro March 13, 2016

“We journey forward with Christ” John 12:1-8   Theme: The Free Way (Prepared for Taize style worship)   This morning, the call to worship is an invitation to journey with Christ in a visual mediation. And our unison response is “We journey forward with Christ”.   The path is dusty, difficult, and long. With each step on the path, notice the pebbles and loose dirt beneath the soles of your sandals. Toughened for the journey, the pads of your feet cushion the impact of the terrain. Though conditioned for the journey, your feet will still ache at the end of the day.   But for now, we walk — You and I together with Jesus. In our breath we create the rhythm of our mantra, saying together “We journey forward with Christ”   See the open road, the arid landscape with low sagebrush and rocky hillsides. Feel the hot sun and the warm, dry air that blows against your face. Squinting to protect your eyes, you can see the city of Jerusalem off in the distance.   And in the foreground is Jesus, leading the way, setting the pace, steady in the rhythm of our walk as we say together, “We journey forward with Christ”.   Everything our senses perceive indicates that this is Jesus’ path. This is his journey.  But our hearts know that this is our path, our journey.   Our path is hard to navigate, to find our way and accept the challenges before us — to make whole our bodies, to make whole our relationships, to make whole our community, serving, giving, living.   The path is stressful, but the way is free. Because we walk, we breathe, we say together, “We Journey forward with Christ”....

Read More