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Weekly Sermons

10/13/2019: Abraham, Sara, Hagar

Posted by on Dec 5, 2019 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on 10/13/2019: Abraham, Sara, Hagar

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, our common love and care for neighbor, and our
common faith in the one true God.
Now, I would like to invite Tim Hess forward to introduce Imam
Islam Hassan.

Intro to worship 9.29.19

Posted by on Oct 19, 2019 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Intro to worship 9.29.19

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 9.29.19

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 see.

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. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that do not work.”

We could have expected Thomas to feel defeated, to quit trying.

 

Looking back at all of these examples,    we see a rich impact where it would have been easy ~in the moment~ to see failure.  In our lives and in the lives of those to whom we are most closely connected it is so hard to look forward..    We can’t see into the future, but we can live knowing – believing – that  all persons   are valuable.

When we stop judging our missteps and what we perceive to be the missteps of others –  we will have moments of learning and learning itself means there’s newness.

Learning acknowledges that there is something we didn’t already know.

Learning it the ultimate “falling upward”

God helps us learn from our failure as well as our success.

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

 

 

 

 

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”.

 

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.

 

When you give up some of your precious time to serve along side someone else, You form a small group, a ministry of its own, and it blesses everyone it touches.

 

Last week 40 people set off 114 sparks–

which Pastor Kristabeth blessed,

so we are expecting flames. !!!

 

A very wise woman once said “I’ll be calling you!” And we will be in touch – But don’t wait!  If you are ready,      eager for ignition,

Make a date to chat with Tricia or Liz or a ministry team leader to talk about the things that sparked your interest.

~ and please, remember to touch base again after you’ve taken on the new ministry to tell us about how you are pleasantly surprised at how the new spark has enriched your life.

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!”

 

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 Love!

Liturgy 11-15-15

Posted by on Nov 23, 2015 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Liturgy 11-15-15

“Our lips are dry. Our stomachs growl.”

John 4:6-14, John 6:48-51

Theme: Filling the Hunger! Quenching the thirst!!

 

We have an entire life style of repeatedly getting our needs met.  Even something basic like having milk to drink, has a repeatable routine that helps us ensure that we satisfy our need for a beverage the kids will drink, that wets our cereal, and that provides for some of the nutrition that our bodies need.    When we run out, we might put it on our shopping list, then search it out in the store, buy it, bring it home and consume it.    Here’s the interesting thing— that no matter what beverage or how much of it we consume, at some point we will become thirsty again!

 

This is why we need to recognize when…”Our lips are dry. Our stomachs growl.”

 

Have you seen the commercial that depicts a lifestyle where people only need to have one of something to meet our lifetime need of it?  It makes quite a statement, except for the fact that I can’t remember (or don’t care to remember) what they are advertising.  But it does a lovely job of capturing our imagination about what life would be like to only need one apple to benefit from its nutrients and feel satisfied. Or one spear of asparagus — our daughter Sofia would love that, since asparagus is on her list of least favorite foods.  The one I like the best is when the woman goes to an exercise class and does one sit up and then gets up and walks out of class with the core strength she needs to support her upper body well into her 90’s.

 

Yet we know this is not our human plight—we will always need to repeat the process of eating when we get hungry again, repeatedly doing the things that help us stay healthy.

 

This is why we need to recognize when… “Our lips are dry. Our Stomachs growl.”

 

Go a bit deep than our physical needs and consider our need for meaning.

Tabloids, news reels,  & Facebook, can feed our minds with proverbial junk food.  But even resources of substance have a shelf life.  This past week, when scientist found the new planet Kepler-452b, I doubt that their curiosity was completely satisfied.  In fact, it likely spurred on an entire new level of desire to KNOW MORE!  Think of how many scientists will have sleepless nights thinking about their unfinished work instead of feeling complete in their discovery.  But on a more serious note, we know that we live in a world where meaning is missing from our daily diet for purpose.  We are painfully aware of how humanity is so starved for meaning that we will let ourselves be seduced into cheap versions of fulfillment that waste our time, our talent, our opportunity to know our value without question.

 

This is why we need to recognize when…”Our lips are dry. Our stomachs growl.”