Laity Weblog

Weekly Sermons

Liturgy July 26, 2015

Posted by on Aug 1, 2015 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Liturgy July 26, 2015

“There is plenty for all”

Theme: The Bread of Life: Breaking

John 6:1-26


In our culture, we have a habit of paying attention to things that we worry about …

We pay attention to our money, our food, our work, transportation, and our health–things that could expire, run out or cease to exist if we don’t pay attention. And when does the worry end? Well, it ends when we have enough…. Or does it?


We are blessed with so many gifts in life that do not run out, that we don’t need to worry about loosing, that when we pay attention to them, enriches our lives.


For instance…


There is always an opportunity to be more aware…

In any situation, under any condition, each of us has the ability to raise our awareness and create a richer appreciation for what is.


Try it now…. In this moment pay attention to what IS (not what was, or what might be, but what IS right now). Breath, stillness…. Feel that you are alive, in this place, here together, assured of God’s love.


Praise God for endlessly abundant awareness of what IS

And say together, “There is plenty for all”!



There is always an opportunity to be in relationship…

In any situation, under any condition, each of us has the ability to engage in some sort of relationship. Just by paying attention, we can engage in relationship with ourselves, with an idea, with nature, with people we know and with people we don’t know, and we can be in relationship with God.


Praise God for the endlessly abundant gift of relationship,

And say together, “There is plenty for all”!



In any situation, under any condition, each of us has the ability to make a meaningful contribution. A loving thought, a loving word, and a loving action all instantly contributes to the wellbeing of humanity. Paying attention to choose loving actions creates meaningful living. And that sense of making a contribution is a blessing.


Praise God for the endlessly abundant gift of loving contributions and meaningful living, and say together, “There is plenty for all”!


-Liz Dallas

Liturgy July 12

Posted by on Jul 20, 2015 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Liturgy July 12

There is an often-asked question among theologians: Does the Bible tell of humanity’s response to God or of God’s response to humanity? The obvious answer is: both. Yet theologians enjoy debating this kind quandary, right up there with how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

Although I went to seminary, and have a Master’s Degree in Divinity, I am not a theologian. I appreciate what theologians do, but I am a pastor through and through. To me, this means that I don’t spend too much time evaluating the nuances of theological specificities. What I love is the story.

We come to tell the story.

I love your story. I love hearing about how God has worked in your life. I love listening to your stories of faith. Were you born into a Christian family? Did you come to faith at a later age? What drew you to God? To the church? Or what drew you back after a time away? What is your favorite book, or chapter, or verse in the Bible? Where have you met Jesus in your life? What God moments did you experience today? This week? This month?

All of these stories, all of your stories, are part of The Story that we share together as a community of faith.

We come to tell the story.

We are a people of The Story. We learn from the story of Abraham to trust when all seems lost. We learn from the story of David that sometimes the little guy wins. We learn from the story of Nicodemus that it is okay to question Jesus in the dark of night. We learn from the story of Paul that no matter how bad or how plentiful our sins, God can use us.

And, most of all, we learn from the story of Jesus that this life is not the end of The Story. There is more to look forward to, that we can’t even begin to imagine.

We come to tell the story.

Some people look at the pastor, in robe and stole, and imagine that she or he has everything figured out, is the perfect spiritual person, can quote the Bible chapter and verse, and prays twenty four hours a day.

Now I know you know that’s not true. We’ve been together long enough for you to see my cracks and foibles.   Just as I hope your faith is sustained by some of the things I share on Sunday mornings, my faith is sustained by your stories.   The Bible is not a book of history. It is a book of living stories of which we get to be apart. Among you I’ve witnessed amazing acts of generosity, gentle acts of kindness, moments of deep despair, feats of courage, seasons of terrible grief, and surprising moments of grace. Among you I know the story lives on.

We are people of the story. We are the story.

We come to tell the story.

Liturgy – June 28

Posted by on Jul 1, 2015 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Liturgy – June 28

Flaws and all, God continues to bless us…

In spite of humanity, we can name blessings of relationships, blessings of safety and care, and blessings of joy that warm the heart.  Knowing that these blessings are a sign of God’s love for us, how can we contain our gratitude?


How is it possible to keep quiet?

Turn up the volume of our gratitude, as we say together,

“We share what God has done for us”!



Against the odds and sometimes against logic, God makes us successful…

When there is no money; when time has run out; when hope has left us, too often we expect the worse.  And still, we have story after story that demonstrates God’s love for us in the darkest hours.  We have witness to the help of the Holy Spirit.  We have redemption by the grace of Christ.


How is it possible to take these moments for granted?

Respond with awe and wonder, as we say together,

“We share what God has done for us”!



This is our Faith experience….


That the sick are made well; the homeless have homes; the hungry are fed; the lonely have connection; grieving are comforted; and real needs are met in ways that only God knows exits!


How is it possible to sit back and wither on the vine?

Let the love of Christ propel us to serve and love each other, as we say together,

“We share what God has done for us”!


written by Liz Dallas

Pentecost liturgy 2015

Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Pentecost liturgy 2015

“The Spirit has come!”

Theme: Pentecost-Spirit for All

Acts 2:1-8, 12-21


It is written that we are made in God’s image; each of us is uniquely gifted, each of us is beautifully created to manifest the glory of God in our very being.


On this Pentecost Sunday, let us recognized that in the coming of the Holy Spirit each one of us is well equipped for service — to heal, to teach, to witness, to lift up, to encourage, to know, to speak, to hear, to welcome in, to make music, to rejoice!


Praise God that we are alive in these gifts acting in the world because…

“The Spirit has come!”



It is the Spirit flowing through us that makes us alive.  Like Ezekiel’s Old Testament vision, what starts out as trickles of water flowing from the temple entrances, our Christian ministry becomes rushing rivers of life for the world.


And like Acts’ New Testament account of rushing winds and the tongues of fire, each of us is a vessel through which the Holy Spirit makes the world whole for the Glory of God.


So let us…


Praise God that the sick are made well because…

“The Spirit has come!”


Praise God that ignorance is replaced by knowledge because…

“The Spirit has come!”


Praise God that the downtrodden are lifted up because…

“The Spirit has come!”


Praise God that broken relationships are reconciled because…

“The Spirit has come!”


Praise God that despair turns to hope because…

“The Spirit has come!”





By Liz Dallas

Liturgy for April 19

Posted by on Apr 25, 2015 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Liturgy for April 19

Good morning! Your response to day is Our hearts are full of gladness! And your cue is “with Vitamin D…” Don’t worry if you never heard of vitamin D, it won’t be on the final exam. I thought I made it up. It turns out that it is used for several meanings. G for glamour, because every girl needs a little glamour in her life. G for grease because deep fat fried food tastes so good. Etc. We’re going to mean G for gladness, then transition to G for God…the source of gladness. SO when I say “with Vitamin G” you say Our hearts are full of gladness!

Our hearts are full of gladness!

It was spring this week. A saw on Facebook that Paul Houchens rode is his bicycle to work for the first time this season on Monday. I finally got my bike ready and rode on Thursday. I hope you had a chance to get outside this week and soak up some sunshine. We all need sunshine. Your skin makes vitamin D when you get out in the sunshine. More importantly, on a warm spring day, heart makes vitamin G. “G” for gladness. The vitamin G is not in the sunshine. It is produced in your heart in response to the warm of spring , the beauty of spring and your anticipation that trees will soon be green and flowers will soon pop out of the ground. With Vitamin D …

Our hearts are full of gladness!

I spend 4 or 5 nights a week in an apartment in Malta. Every night I call Donna on the phone. Not because I always have some practical need to discuss something. Because I need to be connected to her. I need a dose of vitamin G that my heart can make from being reminded that she loves me. And isn’t that one reason we are all here today? To restore our vitamin G levels by being with people who care about us and are full of the spirit of God. With Vitamin D …

Our hearts are full of gladness!

So with that I make the transition…from gladness to God. Of course God is the inventor of spring and all the gladness it brings. And it is God who puts all of the people in our lives who bring us gladness. But in really sometimes the external circumstances in our life or pretty deficient in Vitamin G. Bad things happen to all of us. But God is always with us. In fact God is within us. Just as warm weather in April cares a promise of dormant trees and flowers coming to life, God within us cares a promise of eternal life for each of us. That’s a promise our hearts can use to make vitamin D. And With Vitamin D …

Our hearts are full of gladness!


liturgy for April 19, 2015   by Joe Watts

Liturgy April 12, 2015

Posted by on Apr 18, 2015 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Liturgy April 12, 2015

Invitation to Worship                                         Tricia Waldron

Response:      ”My Lord and my God”

Have you ever been in a situation where the person in the midst of the crisis

is the one calming everyone around them?

Jesus certainly was!

The events of Holy Week were most definitely a new experience for him.

Jesus had never lived in human form, never died, or risen from death before.

And now, in some odd once-again-new-for Jesus way, he appears to Mary

to serve up yet another calming lesson of faith. “Peace Be With You

– sounds to me like one more example for us of servant leadership at its finest.

How can we not recognize it and respond:  My Lord and my God! 


Jesus says, “Receive the Spirit – and – if you forgive, I will also”

Today’s scripture is full of gifts and compassion and servanthood.

Just when Mary and the Disciples were coming to grips

with the greatest loss of all time, here comes Jesus, back from death,

with one more lesson –  one more gift of love –

one more illustration of putting others first.

Jesus didn’t need to come back for his own sake –

and be visible to Mary – or to Thomas –  or to the other disciples

Jesus knew we would need to see him more than once

before we could see beyond our human experience and respond together:

My Lord and my God! 


Our response today is all about knowing.

It’s about that moment when Mary changed from being distracted by grief

to seeing who was standing right in front of her.

It’s about the moment when Thomas moved from “I must see for myself”

to “I see it and will carry this vision with me forever.”

It’s about that moment   when we are overwhelmed,

~ taken over ~ by our faith,

In that moment whatever had our attention before, doesn’t matter anymore.

Jesus comes into our life to serve us,

to make it easier for us to believe, to walk with us always.

Jesus becomes our caregiver.

We recognize him and we depend on him.

In that transformational moment –

We don’t laugh or cry; we might not even breathe –

We just know,        —  with our whole being  —   We know!

And we repsond again: My Lord and my God! 

March 22, 2015 liturgy

Posted by on Mar 29, 2015 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on March 22, 2015 liturgy

“Transform us by your word.”
Theme: Live Faithfully Following Jesus Christ
Psalm 119: 9-16, John 12:20-33

When we read God’s Holy Word, what do we do with it? Is it information that we store along side the endless data collected in our brains? Is it sorted, categorized, and prioritized? And if so, what gives it value so that we will recall it, access it, or make use of it?

The Word of God is a treasure that is best stored in our hearts not our brains. It is rich with meaning and is the very essence of life. It enlightens us to Truth, leads us to action, and manifests God Will in the living of its lessons. So we read the scriptures, the word is proclaimed, and with open hearts and minds we say together…
“Transform us by your word.”

How might we serve if we have not known Jesus?
If Jesus had not fulfilled the Word and walked the earth, serving, healing, reconciling, and upsetting the order of society, how would we know to love by serving others? What would be our frame of reference for how to be in the world or how to be with each other?

Christ is the word and the word is with us — alive, moving, showing us the way in the world. So with open hearts and minds we say together,
“Transform us by your word.”

Without Jesus Christ, who fulfilled the word by sacrificing himself for our sake, how would we know Love? How would we come to know God’s Grace of unconditional love? In all of our humanity, how could we ever right our wrongs, do enough good deeds or deem ourselves worthy before God?

Because Christ fulfilled the Word, showed us how to live the Word, and died for our salvation, we can live. In turn, might we also let the Word live in us –with open hearts and minds we say together,
“Transform us by your word.”

By Liz Dallas

Feb 1 2015 Call to Worship

Posted by on Feb 5, 2015 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on Feb 1 2015 Call to Worship

Priority. That’s a word that gets used a lot these days. We all have our “priorities” – often that’s our “to do” list. I hadn’t really thought about it this way before, but it’s not a bad idea to just keep “love” on our permanent “to do” list. So for starters, let’s all agree:
We will make love our priority
We’ve come to think of “priority” as being that which is most important. You can be a priority customer and get priority service, you can send things priority mail, you can go to a hotel or an airport and get priority check-in with your priority status. The other day I checked in for a flight on United Airlines. I was on the priority upgrade standby list for first class. Ha, if a couple people don’t show up I’ll be flying across the country in a big comfy leather seat with plenty of legroom. I felt important, it’s an exclusive club – only 24 seats in first class. I looked up at the board… there I was, on the priority upgrade standby list… number 58. Really? So like everyone in first class had to not show up… twice. I thought priority meant important?
The origin of the word is “prior”. Which doesn’t make you think “important”. It means before; comes first. The definition of priority is a state of being earlier in time. It’s not about importance, but about the order of things – what must we take care of first, before we move to the next thing. Because that next thing won’t be as good if we don’t. So in that sense, let’s all agree:
We will make love our priority
Every September the leaders of my company get together for 2.5 days up in Maine to discuss, devise, and debate the strategic plans of the company. There’s about 80 of us, so a big group with lots of different perspectives on business and life. And super smart people. Harvard grads, physicians, former CEOs, lots of MBAs. (I’m actually not sure how I get invited.) At the start of the meeting we discuss the ground rules for our time together, and every year the one that gets raised almost immediately is to have unconditional positive regard for each other. Unconditional positive regard. Love, you might say. Love and respect.
Because even this group of super-smart geeky know-it-alls realizes that the power of knowledge is limited when it is not founded on love and respect. Listen to understand, speak to be understood, and together we succeed. That’s what can happen when we agree that:
We will make love our priority
Every day we live we make decisions. Life decisions. Business decisions. Relationship decisions. Money decisions. Child-raising decisions. Tough decisions. We rely on the knowledge we’ve gained through our living and our learning. If we make love our priority, if we are living with care and conviction, if we know and respect and trust in God and in one another, the decisions we make will be stronger. So with that in mind, let’s agree:
We will make love our priority

January 11, 2015 Intro to Worship

Posted by on Jan 18, 2015 in Call to Worship | Comments Off on January 11, 2015 Intro to Worship

Response: ”God called it good.”
God saw John the Baptist.
Not that John was hiding like Adam or Eve –
God knew John was an odd duck.
God knew he wore camel’s hair and ate locusts.
God blessed John anyhow. And John accepted the blessings.
As strange as John was, he still got to baptize Jesus.
What an amazing honor!
Somehow John could see that Jesus was “of God.”
John knew he (himself) was unworthy –
But he stepped into the water and baptized the One
who would eventually cleanse all of us.
He did what he was called to do!
Why would a guy like John the Baptist be given such an honor?
Wouldn’t it have been even more appealing if
someone special had baptized Jesus?
Why this man? This very strange man!
Or should we ask – WHY NOT?
After all – respond together: God called it good.

Why does God seek out these strange folks?
Think about it –
The 12 disciples weren’t exactly GQ cover material.
And Mary Magdalene wasn’t the girl next door.
How about Moses? Joshua? Solomon?
David – who would be good – and bad –
and good again. He still became King.
What about all of these folks?
What does God think of them?
Respond again: God called it good.

Guess what? God sees you too.
God knows how peculiar we all are.
God sees our flaws – our faults – our frailty.
God sees that we can’t even fathom the power
we have when we allow the holy spirit to lead us.
God knows that once we accept the divine within us
we can be effective, in demand, even unstoppable.
We can be odd – unusual –
even unlovable by many of our fellow humans –
And yet we can become kings, servant leaders,
wise ones, traveling from afar to be with our savior.
Is God asking us to travel?
Is God asking us to baptize or to heal one another?
Is God asking us to lead our community into a new place?
What is it that God is asking of us?
Of you, of me, of faith Church?
We can be the ones who are called by God, and who respond to God,
And who bring light into the dark places.
And when we do that, we will respond together:
God called it good.