August 22nd Worship

Today we had a Matins service led by Christy & Jeff Wetzig. Below are the scripture readings as well as their reflection.

Reading 1: Exodus 16

Bread from Heaven

16 The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day. In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.” So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.”

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud. 11 The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12 “I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14 When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15 When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16 This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’” 17 The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. 18 But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed. 19 And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.” 20 But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. And Moses was angry with them. 21 Morning by morning they gathered it, as much as each needed; but when the sun grew hot, it melted.

22 On the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, two omers apiece. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23 he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord; bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.’” 24 So they put it aside until morning, as Moses commanded them; and it did not become foul, and there were no worms in it. 25 Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26 Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is a sabbath, there will be none.”

27 On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. 28 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and instructions? 29 See! The Lord has given you the sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you food for two days; each of you stay where you are; do not leave your place on the seventh day.” 30 So the people rested on the seventh day.

31 The house of Israel called it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey. 32 Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, in order that they may see the food with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’” 33 And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord, to be kept throughout your generations.” 34 As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the covenant, for safekeeping. 35 The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a habitable land; they ate manna, until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36 An omer is a tenth of an ephah.

Reading 2: John 21: 1-14

Jesus Appears to Seven Disciples

21 After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.

Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, you have no fish, have you?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord!” When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the sea. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.

When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. 10 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.” 11 So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn. 12 Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?” because they knew it was the Lord. 13 Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. 14 This was now the third time that Jesus appeared to the disciples after he was raised from the dead.


Reflection

A lot of us sitting under this tree have gardens, and this is a time of peak harvest. You might have colanders full of produce waiting for you to deal with when you get home from church. Thanks for coming to church anyway.

Our two passages for today deal with two very different harvests. We heard first about the Israelites, who, wandering in the desert, found themselves without food. Although they usually get a bad rap for complaining a lot, I think we can all understand how they felt. They couldn’t have had gardens, there were no foodtrucks, and any food they could have brought with them from Egypt was long gone by now. Their children were crying with hunger; I think anybody would complain.

And because God is good, and like any loving parent used to hearing their children complain, God provided this stuff for them to fill their bellies, this food that seemed to condense out of the air with the dew every morning. It tasted good plain, but you could boil it into a porridge or bake it into bread; plus, poultry wandered into camp every evening, so it could have been way worse.

The free food came with conditions. The manna was a test of the people’s trust in God. God had told them they would find it outside their tents every morning. Canning, dehydrating, freezing, pickling was unnecessary, because God had promised to provide food every day. If you trusted that promise, you kept nothing for tomorrow; you ate every crumb in the cupboard every day.

It’s not what happened–people squirrelled manna away, as any prudent person would do as a caution against unforeseen events. But even if you pressure canned the stuff, or baked it and set it in the window sill, you woke the next morning to a stink, and to worms all through the stuff. And to a fresh crop of manna, covering the ground outside your door.

Strangely, mysteriously, even if you sent everybody in your family out with bushel baskets, you’d only have enough for your family for that day. But if you were only able to gather a little that day, you’d still have enough for your family. God seemed to be putting a finger on the scales. No matter what you wanted, worked for, deserved, God gave enough. 

Even on the Sabbath, when God rested from sending manna, the people had enough, because a double portion precipitated the previous day, a super generation of manna that didn’t spoil overnight. So on the Sabbath the people could eat and also rest from gathering and cooking, if they had trusted God the day before and did their double work.

They called it manna, which means, “What is it?” The whole 40 years that they ate only manna and quail, they never came up with a better name for it. No scientific name, no cookbook terminology. It remained a mystery, a miracle, and they kept a sample of the stuff for every generation to see, a physical manifestation of trust in a good God, who sends enough, to everybody–every day, enough. 

Here’s another harvest in the Bible. 

Some of Jesus’ disciples had been stewing away, spiralling on about Jesus’ resurrection, his mysterious appearances and disappearances since his death, and finally they just needed to blow off some steam. “Let’s go fishing,” they said, looking for solace in the familiar, the old days, the wide open sky, good work to do with their bodies, and hopefully good fish to fill their bellies when they were done. Although they fished all night, they got skunked.

Until this stranger calls out to them from shore to try it a different way. When they do it his way, they suddenly find themselves hauling in a boatload of fish. Something jogs their memory. Something seems familiar about this. This plenty, this magnitude, they’ve only experienced with one person: Jesus. They had seen him take bits of bread and satisfy a multitude; he had healed crowds of sick people and never run out of potency; he had preached a kind of love that never gives up, and had lived that love and acted out that grace every day of his life, even when it killed him. In their lives, this kind of plenty had always only come from Jesus, and that is what they recognize, not his face or even his voice.

When they get to shore, they find Jesus with a fire already started, and he already has fish on it; he even has bread too. He lets them contribute from their sudden abundance, but he doesn’t need their fish. (How did he get them? they wonder.) Jesus would have fed them breakfast with or without their miraculous catch. Here, maybe, is the real miracle, this food out of nowhere. The bounty that came from the sea only opened their eyes to the real miracle before them, on the shore.

Jesus breaks the bread for them, distributes the fish amongst them, and he eats some himself, just to dispel those rumors that he’s a ghost. They sit around the fire and eat together, there on the beach in the rising sun, their backs casting shadows on those nets full of fish. They have plenty. Their bellies are full and their nets are full and here, sitting beside them, is Plenty itself.

When we started our orchard 8 years ago some of the first plants we put in the ground were hazelnut bushes. We wanted fruit from our orchard, yes, but we also wanted protein, and hazelnuts seemed to be a good answer.

Most of the country’s hazelnuts are grown in the Pacific Northwest, where they grow these giant, beautiful nuts in giant monocultural groves. Maybe you’re not surprised to hear that a disease called hazelnut blight is wiping out the groves in that region.

So it turns out that a big topic of research currently in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where we have small native hazelnuts, is to breed a larger nut to replace the production of the Pacific Northwest monsters.

So we began shopping around the experimental hazelnut nurseries in the region to find the best, most blight resistant, hardy, tasty, large nuts we could buy. We ended up with seedlings grown from the nuts of the best, most blight resistant, hardiest, tastiest, largest nut bushes around. We put them in the ground and waited.

As we mowed around our six expensive little baby hazelnuts, we noticed a curious plant coming up on the edges of the orchard. A wild woody bush with very similar leaves to our little hazelnuts. You guessed it. We had mowed a whole bunch of wild hazelnuts bushes to plant our six expensive, well-bred specimens. 

For the purposes of scientific experimentation, we let the wild plants grow alongside the nursery-bought ones.

Eight years later, our expensive hazelnut bushes are six feet high and the wild ones, because we had mowed them several times by accident, are only 5 feet high, but bushy and thick. This summer, we watched our 6 precious plants with anticipation because most of them were growing those hairy, ruffley, lime green hulls that surround the hazelnuts. A nut here on this branch, a nut cluster over there on that branch. It was a pleasure to watch them grow, like a parent watching a child learn to walk, it filled us with pride. But then, when you turned around to look at the wild hazelnuts on the edge of the orchard, you saw it was covered with clusters of nuts, weighed down with them, bursting with clumps of nuts.

We gathered them all (and by we I mean the chipmunks and us), we gathered both wild and domesticated, and in the interests of science we (not the chipmunks) kept them separated to compare the harvest of each bush. 

Maybe you’ve guessed. There were two champion hazelnut bushes that we had planted, with largeish nuts, also dearly loved by the chipmunks, which means we only harvested a couple from each bush. The other four of our nurtured, cherished hazelnuts produced shrivelled nuts or barren shells or tiny, shrunken nuts with ghastly thick shells. 

The wild bushes made smallish nuts, true, but they were well formed and chubby and outweighed the domesticated varieties with their sheer number.

Sometimes we look for plenty and all we find is enough. Sometimes when we hope for enough we find plenty.

July 25th Worship

Greetings! For today’s service we’ll be using the Matins liturgy from the hymnal. The service is led by Shawn Mai with Barb Kass offering a reflection. The readings for today, along with a recording, are posted below. Check back later for the text of Barb’s reflection.

Audio Recording

Genesis 2: 15-17; 3: 1-13

15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; 17 but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.”

The First Sin and Its Punishment

3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God,[a] knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” 12 The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” 13 Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”

Mark 11: 12-25

Jesus Curses the Fig Tree

12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it.

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; 16 and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written,

‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
    But you have made it a den of robbers.”

18 And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. 19 And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

The Lesson from the Withered Fig Tree

20 In the morning as they passed by, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 Then Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly I tell you, if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and if you do not doubt in your heart, but believe that what you say will come to pass, it will be done for you. 24 So I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone; so that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.”

Reflection

In reading the 2 texts for today, I was hard pressed to connect the two. The Matin’s committee had decided to look at Jesus’ encounters with nature this summer, and then a correlating Old Testament story. The encounter described by Mark is a harsh one. Why should the fig tree become collateral damage for not producing fruit during the off season! After reading a few commentaries on the passage, I realize it was a symbolic action about the temple which then Jesus went on to clear in dramatic fashion. Others said that even in the off season, fig trees would have had something edible on them, and the fact that this one had just foliage, meant that it looked good on the outside, but was not a healthy tree. Again, like the temple it needed to be cleared.  Finally, there is the discussion about the power of prayer. Where was the prayer for the fig tree?

Obviously the Genesis story is familiar and fig trees figure into it: Adam and Eve sewed leaves of fig leaves to cover their nakedness.  If you are looking in a garden for fabric and not fruit, this is your tree. The deeply-lobed leaves can be four to eight inches wide and as long as 10 inches. It’s an interesting fact to know and tell, but not very inspirational.

Again I read both texts, and several commentaries and finally found a thread: Walking! It’s one that Kristin Martin would be the expert to talk about! Walking is simple and profound at the same time!  Maybe I was drawn to this because of a devotional I read the week my mom was dying called May I walk you home. In our neighborhood, we always walked each other home from school, church or the playground. That simple custom offered protection and guidance as well as the opportunity to reflect on our day, our life experience. Extending the same personal companionship to those are on their final journey gives both the caregiver and the person dying comfort, courage and hope.

 In the Genesis story we hear how God is walking in the garden “at the time of the evening breeze”. The beauty of this image of a God who is present with us, walking with us, from the beginning is breath taking! The Old Testament is full of images of this accompanying God in times of great faith and also great faithlessness.

Barbara Brown Taylor has a chapter called ‘The practice of walking on the earth’ in her book: An Altar in the World. The following is the section that talks about Jesus and walking…

[text not included here]

I hope you will find time to walk this week with gratitude and the mindfulness that all around us is holy ground.   

June 20th Worship

Greetings! For today’s service we’ll be using the Matins liturgy from the hymnal. The service is led by Shawn Mai, along with music from Chris & Harry Johansen. The readings for today, along with Shawn’s sermon and a recording, are posted below.


Audio Recording


John 11: 17-27

Jesus Comforts the Sisters of Lazarus

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[a] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”


Sermon – Shawn Mai

Several weeks ago Linda preached about women in the Bible.  She started the sermon by reminding all of us of how race and racism have gained more awareness this past year after the murder of George Floyd. 

Linda did a nice job making connections with how patricarchal systems have had an impact on how we perceive power, gender, sexuality, and female identity.   This past year has given me a new understanding of how life limiting my experience of being white is in a white supremacist culture.  I’ve come to understand the impact of how much my own power and privelage have benefited me at the expense of other people.

Being more grounded in a faith that sees God as love, literally love, has implications about how I walk through this world.  If I believe in the core of Jesus teaching “love your neighbor as yourself”, my life demands I become more conscious about how I love others AND myself….ALL parts of myself.  Those I accept, those I don’t yet know, those I judge and try to cut off, and those I value as the best parts of myself.

 I chose the raising of Lazarus Gospel story for this morning because of the power of its metaphor.    We are born and baptized into our being and we enter into the world in our own unique belovedness.  This unique inner self encounters a world that includes violence, disconnection, and fear.  But our inner self is resilient and has ways of protecting itself.  Our inner self protects itself by developing  personas to defend it from annilation. 

We experience the trauma of being out of control so we become controlling.  We experience the trauma of being shamed for not doing it right so we become perfectionistic.   We experience the abusive hurt of others’ woundedness so we learn to be defended to keep us safe.

Eventually, these become our tombs.  Today as Jesus invites Lazarus out of the tomb, I invite you to hear those words yourself. 

I have come to bring you life.   

The death of Lazarus causes suffering.  Jesus own tears point to the poignancy.   However the story doesn’t end with Lazarus’ death, the story goes beyond just pausing and grieving.  It acknowledges a greater truth and meaning.

Jesus pointed us to this truth when after four days of Lazarus being dead in the tomb, Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb to life.

The story of Jesus raising Lazarus is a compelling metaphor about our life’s work.  God is “for us” to find freedom and spaciousness, not fear and isolation.  The story seemed fitting for a time when we are seeking greater freedom and acceptance through important race and inclusion work. 

Jesus said: I am the resurrection and the life!  He who dies, yet shall he live. 

I like the Greek which translates “yet shall he live as”:  will have a life active and vigorous, the absolute fulness of life.

Paradoxically we have this absolute fullness AND we have life patterns that become tombs that we have little awareness of. 

Growing up I always had a sense of being different.  Somewhere along the way I internalized something that told me I needed to keep something hidden.  Before I even put words around sexuality or difference I had a low level shame that kept me on guard for how I acted.

I think I knew for as long as I can remember that I was gay. I worked REALLY hard and intentionally to live a different truth.  I didn’t utter a word to anyone about my sexuality until I was 24 years old.  That is a goodly amount of time to build a tomb of reinforced brick, mortar, and to shore it up with some steel re-bar.

The external sources of tomb building were a belief system counter to God’s will for my freedom.  When I was in junior high, I perused the pastoral care books in my father’s library where it was clear that homosexuality was a sin.  The words of the church authors deepened feelings of shame that flooded my heart and mind. 

Paradoxically,  I loved church.   I found community, comfort, and joy in the church while also knowing that certain words in church books rendered me a fundamentally flawed person.   Somehow my naïve self was able to hold that paradox.    Eventually that paradox would evolve into a complicated call to word and sacrament ministry and a call to an authentic relationship that was gifted into my life.

1992 was a very weird and confusing year.  It was the year I was ordained and it was the year that my life-long partnered relationship began.  I had to just trust that both calls in my life were truth for me.    I didn’t know what else to do but to live into both of those calls.  I remember a book by Bruce Bauer called “A Place At the Table” published in 1992 where he said “live your life as though things have changed.”

And that’s what I did, I lived as though things had changed.  I took a call to congregational ministry in the city and I drove out evenings to our home in the western suburbs of Minneapolis to be a partner to Chuck and father to Anne and Blake.   

Living this paradox took its toll in shame and hiddenness.  Finally in the mid-90’s I began my process of coming out with friends and family.  It was a step in the right direction but it challenged the tomb I had built for myself around don’t be who you are, be who you perceive what others want you to be.

Fast forward to 2004 I began a journey of certification as a Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor.  Along with coming out, my certification process as a CPE supervisor was the hardest and most life-giving journey I have ever embarked on.   The process is challenging because it required me to address issues of shame, authority, conflict, and integration. 

Integration is demonstrated in  hour and a half long committee appearances where the committee looks for a level of theoretical, relational, integrated  authenticity.  If you haven’t done the work, it doesn’t take long for the shame and hiddenness to show itself. 

In my first committee I decompensated.  It was horrifying.  The committee granted me entrance into the program with one of the committee members framing my having done good enough in this way: “You didn’t run away from the room!” The only reason I didn’t do that was I didn’t think of it as an option.

Eventually I made it far enough in the process to meet my associate committee in Memphis TN.     The day before the committee my grandmother died.  I also got a call from my presenter that day that my video for the committee presentation didn’t work.   Needless to say things did not go well.   

I flew back to Minneapolis, drove to Kansas for my grandma’s funeral, got back home in time to go to Urgent Care to be diagnosed with pneumonia and then went to bed for a week.  Two weeks later my 16 year old Sheltie died. 

You know what’s interesting?   I look back at that month as one of the worst and one of the best months of my life. 

The universe was telling me I needed to address the confines of my tomb.  Therapy helped me to sort out my shame and hiddenness that had been so painfully outed. 

My spiritual work was trusting Jesus words:  I am the resurrection and the life!  You will  have a life active and vigorous, the absolute fulness of life. 

I needed to step out of my tomb.  That meant owning who I was, owning what I felt, and living authentically.

I decided I couldn’t live in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” environment of the church…I needed to go and tell my bishop about my life and ministry.  I needed to claim the fullness of my call to both the church and to my many years long relationship that happened to be with a man. 

That may not sound like a big deal, but I’m the guy who never challenges authority.  I pride myself on being politically astute in the workplace and I’m a master at getting people to like me.  Going to the bishop was none of those things. 

I will never forget that day.  I can still feel the space that opened up in my heart as I risked all that was comfortable to welcome more of myself into the light.

The conversation with the bishop surprised me.   My energy ended up not being around coming out, my energy became focused on the grief I felt about the impact of the church’s policies on my children.  In the 20 years of helping raise my partner’s daughter and son, they had come to experience the church as irrelevant as it didn’t connect with the truth of their lives.

That day was transformational as I grew the space within me…what others didn’t see and what I didn’t see became seen.  That brought me deeper into the Shawn that God called me to be, my belovedness.

Gratefully I experienced the inclusive welcome of my bishop.  More importantly the experience opened me up to greater self-inclusivity.  I began to honor my thoughts, my feelings, and my identity. 

The journey of slavery to freedom in the promised land took the Israelites through the wilderness. 

WILD SPACES

Part of what I love about West Denmark is the setting.  Looking out the window, we are close to wild spaces.  Writer Anne Sutherland Howard talks about exploring our own wilderness as exploring our wild space.

Wild space is that part in each one of us that doesn’t fit our culture’s definition of the good life. She explains it to work this way: Imagine a circle. Within that circle is the dominant cultural model: white, male, middle-class, heterosexual, educated, able-bodied, Western, young, successful. Now, put your own model of yourself over that circle.

Some parts of you may fit, some parts may not.

The part of us that falls outside the conventional circle is our wild space. The parts that do not fit may be obvious: race or sexual orientation or physical characteristics. Other parts that do not match up with the conventional model may not be so obvious to others: surviving the death of a loved one, a lost job, struggle with addiction or depression, the vague disappointment about not “making it.” Anything that may be a source for feeling ‘not enough’ or causes us to question the definition of success is our wild space.

Our wild space is a source for transformation for both the world and us.  Our wild space is an opportunity to see a different vision of life.   Our wild space is where we find spaciousness, creativity, and imagination.

Where are those edges for you today?  What presses your buttons?  What leaves you unsettled?  Where are you resisting?  Look in those places because there is something there that needs hospitality.  Be patient, be kind, be affirming, and hold space. 

Faith tells us that God will move us through something huge and our lives will be broken open.  In the poetic words of Charles Wesley, we will be changed from glory into glory….lost in wonder, love, and praise.  AMEN

May 30th Worship

Greetings! For today’s service we’ll be using the Matins liturgy from the hymnal. The service is led by Christy & Jeff Wetzig and Carolyn Saunders, along with music from Chris & Harry Johansen. The readings for today, along with Carolyn’s sermon, are printed below.


Audio Recording


Matthew 14:22-33

Jesus Walks on the Water

22 Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. 23 And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, 24 but by this time the boat, battered by the waves, was far from the land, for the wind was against them. 25 And early in the morning he came walking toward them on the sea. 26 But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out in fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.”

28 Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” 29 He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat, started walking on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he noticed the strong wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they got into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

2 Kings 5:1-14

The Healing of Naaman

5 Naaman, commander of the army of the king of Aram, was a great man and in high favor with his master, because by him the Lord had given victory to Aram. The man, though a mighty warrior, suffered from leprosy. Now the Arameans on one of their raids had taken a young girl captive from the land of Israel, and she served Naaman’s wife. She said to her mistress, “If only my lord were with the prophet who is in Samaria! He would cure him of his leprosy.” So Naaman went in and told his lord just what the girl from the land of Israel had said. And the king of Aram said, “Go then, and I will send along a letter to the king of Israel.”

He went, taking with him ten talents of silver, six thousand shekels of gold, and ten sets of garments. He brought the letter to the king of Israel, which read, “When this letter reaches you, know that I have sent to you my servant Naaman, that you may cure him of his leprosy.” When the king of Israel read the letter, he tore his clothes and said, “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy? Just look and see how he is trying to pick a quarrel with me.”

But when Elisha the man of God heard that the king of Israel had torn his clothes, he sent a message to the king, “Why have you torn your clothes? Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.” So Naaman came with his horses and chariots, and halted at the entrance of Elisha’s house. 10 Elisha sent a messenger to him, saying, “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.” 11 But Naaman became angry and went away, saying, “I thought that for me he would surely come out, and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, and would wave his hand over the spot, and cure the leprosy! 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them, and be clean?” He turned and went away in a rage. 13 But his servants approached and said to him, “Father, if the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” 14 So he went down and immersed himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God; his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.


Sermon

Isn’t it nice to be outside this morning?

Up here in the Northwoods, we truly appreciate nature and its beauty: green grass, spring flowers, the mesmerizing sound of a rippling stream, whistling wind in tall pines, birdsong, pollinators, gentle breezes.

As I was contemplating the lessons for today, another text came to mind: Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” In the beginning, truly a time of chaos, God was…

Both of today’s lessons tell of times of personal chaos.

In Matthew, Jesus learns that John the Baptizer has been beheaded. In an effort to find a quiet space, he gets into a boat. But thousands of people follow and soon he and the disciples are enveloped by people in need and it’s supper time. What to do? Jesus compels the disciples to get into the boat and take it over to the other side of the lake. After feeding, then dismissing the crowd, Jesus goes up a mountain still seeking a quiet place. When evening came, the boat was far from land and was being tormented by the wind and waves.

In the early morning, Jesus came walking toward them … not by land but on the water!

Can you imagine!  Being in a boat, tormented by wind, wet and cold … and now this! Truly a fear-filled moment! A ghost! … Scared to death!

And then, a voice … “Take heart, it is I. Have no fear!”

Pure, unadulterated chaos!

Naaman, the military commander of Aram — a man whom the King esteemed — had everything going for him. Except that one day, his nagging suspicion about the strange things happening to his body became a certainty. He had leprosy. As the terrible realization of his new reality began to sink in, he must have thought, “Anything but this. Please, let it be something else!” There was no known cure for leprosy; it was a slow moving, debilitating, painful and socially isolating disease. Even his wealth, his status, and his connections were not likely to be of any use.

There was a young girl (an Israelite) who had been taken captive. She was the servant of Naaman’s wife. By faith, she knew of a prophet in Samaria; he would be able to cure Naaman.

Just like any chaotic situation, the story twists and turns: Naaman talks to the King of Aram who agrees to send a letter to the King of Israel.

First twist: The letter was presented to the King whose response was less than helpful: “Am I God, to give death or life, that this man sends word to me to cure a man of his leprosy?!”

Second twist: the prophet Elisha heard that the King of Israel had torn his clothes; he sent a message to the king: “Let him come to me, that he may learn that there is a prophet in Israel.”

Naaman traveled to Elisha’s house.

Third twist: Elisha sent a messenger: “Go, wash in the Jordan seven times and your flesh shall be restored and you shall be clean.”

Fourth twist: Naaman became angry because Elisha did not greet him in person, but instead sent a messenger … and why couldn’t he just immerse himself 7 times in the rivers of Damascus, anyway?

He left in a huff … Fifth twist: his servants approached him saying, “If the prophet had commanded you to do something difficult, would you not have done it? How much more, when all he said to you was, “Wash, and be clean?”

And so Naaman went into the Jordan … and as was prophesied by Elisha, his flesh was restored like the flesh of a young boy, and he was clean.

Complete disorder and confusion … that’s CHAOS!

Friends, throughout life, you and I experience moments of complete disorder and confusion; it comes, it goes. But during these last 15 months, we have experienced a multi-faceted chaos … and it seemed like as the months passed by, the level of chaos kept rising.

No toilet paper to be purchased ~ loved ones diagnosed with Covid-19 ~ schools, libraries, restaurants, churches and other small businesses ~ all closed their doors.

No holiday gatherings with family or friends

The killing of George Floyd

The ensuing devastation to neighborhoods in the Twin Cities

Virtual workspace, family time, education, worship

The great mask controversy

Demeaning Partisan Politics

January 6 in Washington DC

To vaccinate or not

The list is endless … all adding to the chaos that had the power to kill our spirits.

In those times, we, like Peter and Naaman, were facing certain death…

Peter … as he was overwhelmed by the wind and waves and began to sink.

But he didn’t. In his moment of need, he called out to Jesus: “SAVE ME!” And Jesus immediately reached out his hand and caught him. Peter was restored to wholeness.

Naaman by letting his ego get in his way and nearly walking away from the healing that was being offered to him.

But he didn’t. His servants risked to get in his face. Even in his anger, Naaman listened … and immersed himself 7 times in the Jordan River. He was restored to wholeness.

And what about us? Can we be restored to wholeness?

The chaos of the last year is quieting down. There is a new horizon, perhaps one that didn’t exist before, one formed at the point where our vulnerability and trust in God have come together to create something new. The glimmer of light on the horizon shines a glimmer of hope in our hearts.

God asks only that we are open to the working of the Spirit. From the beginning, we have known that we could not survive this chaotic time without trusting God to lead us through. Unseen yet ever-present, God’s Spirit lifts us when we stumble, supports us when we are weak, guides us when we lose our way, gives us a nudge when we are hesitant.

We were wise enough to not let our egos get in the way. We took baby steps. Went to bed at night and got up in the morning. Day by day, in the midst of frustration and heartache, we trusted that life is worth living because God loves us AND God will love us into a new tomorrow.

When we find ourselves being tormented by the storms of life or facing an overwhelming situation, I invite you to look back on these 2 stories. They will remind us that the path to wholeness is full of obstacles and that crossing back is not necessarily a return to “normal”, the way things used to be. But if we humble ourselves before God, God will bring us, individually and corporately, to wholeness … and like Peter and Naaman, we, too, will find peace.

May 2nd Worship

Order of Service

PreludeChris Johansen, piano
Opening PrayerRaleigh Johnson
Confession & ForgivenessLiz Dodge
Gathering SongMy Faith Looks Up to Thee
#759
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Prayer of the DayRaleigh Johnson
Psalm 105vs. 1-8Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ScriptureActs 15: 1 – 18Liz Dodge
Reflection / Commentarywritten by Mary Hinkel ShoreLiz Dodge
CreedLiz Dodge
Prayers of IntercessionBarb Kass
Lord’s PrayerLiz Dodge
CommunionShawn Mai
Blessing / BenedictionLiz Dodge
Closing HymnThe Church’s One Foundation
#654
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
PostludeChris Johansen, piano

Audio Recording


Prelude

Chris Johansen

Welcome

Opening Prayer

Life-giving God, we are a blessed people.
In this moment of worship we pray that you might bless us anew.
Give us ears to hear the melodies of praise that fill the world around us.
And as we hear the songs, teach us to sing,
to dance with abandon,
to rejoice in the wonders of your grace.
Forgive us when we have passed by signs of your mercy.
From this moment forward,
open our eyes to the places where joy is springing up from parched ground.
Lead us by your Spirit in the pathways of your overflowing peace, hope, and joy.
Amen.


Confession & Forgiveness

P:  In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit.                          

C: Amen

P: We confess our entanglements with justice, hurts, and greed – and God’s difficult,            
     blessed vision of a very different way. We seek the face of God, confessing our sin.

       Silence for reflection and self-examination.

Holy God,

we have sinned against you and each other. We pray for your forgiveness and healing. The good we want to do, we often fail to do. The harmful actions and thoughts we do not want, we turn to again and again. Deliver us, Gracious God. Save us, save our neighbors, save all your creatures from our lack of imagination and courage. Gird us for the challenges of change needed, called for, overdue. Guide our way in your way.     Amen

P:  We who were once far off have been brought near to God through the cross of Christ.
     May we forgive one another as God in Christ has first forgiven us.    Amen


Gathering Song – My Faith Looks Up to Thee

1.
My faith looks up to thee,
thou Lamb of Calvary,
Savior divine!
Now hear me while I pray,
take all my guilt away,
oh, let me from this day
be wholly thine!

2.
May thy rich grace impart
strength to my fainting heart,
my zeal inspire;
as thou hast died for me,
oh, may my love to thee
pure, warm, and changeless be,
a living fire!

3.
While life’s dark maze I tread
and griefs around me spread,
be thou my guide;
bid darkness turn to day,
wipe sorrow’s tears away,
nor let me ever stray
from thee aside.

4.
When ends life’s transient dream,
when death’s cold, sullen stream
shall o’er me roll;
blest Savior, then, in love
fear and distrust remove;
oh, bear me safe above,
a ransomed soul!

Text: Ray Palmer
Music: Lowell Mason


Greeting

We gather in the triune name of sacred Love. May God’s peace be ever with you, Christ’s mercy near at hand, and may the Holy Spirit guide and encourage you in all circumstances and in every need.   Amen

Prayer of the Day

Lord of all,

In Jesus you have made us all sisters and brothers in Christ.  There is no distinction between Gentile and Jew.  There is no separation that can remove any from fellowship in Christ’s community.  Blind us to our differences so that in unity we may proclaim your truth to all, for the sake of Jesus Christ in whom there is harmony and peace.

Amen

                           

      


Psalm 105: 1-8

1 Give thanks to the Lord and call up-|on God’s name;
make known the deeds of the Lord a-|mong the peoples.

2 Sing to the | Lord, sing praises,
and speak of all God’s | marvelous works.

3 Glory in God’s | holy name;
let the hearts of those who seek the | Lord rejoice.

4 Search for the strength | of the Lord;
continually | seek God’s face.

5 Remember the marvels | God has done,
the wonders and the judgments | of God’s mouth,

6 O offspring of Abra-|ham, God’s servant,
O children of Jacob, God’s | chosen ones.

7 The Lord | is our God,
whose judgments prevail in | all the world,

8 who has always been mindful | of the covenant,
the promise made for a thousand | generations


Scripture Reading – Acts 15: 1-18

Then certain individuals came down from Judea and were teaching the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to discuss this question with the apostles and the elders. 3So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they reported the conversion of the Gentiles, and brought great joy to all the believers. 4When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5But some believers who belonged to the sect of the Pharisees stood up and said, “It is necessary for them to be circumcised and ordered to keep the law of Moses.”

6The apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. 7After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. 8And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; 9and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. 10Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 11On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” 12The whole assembly kept silence, and listened to Barnabas and Paul as they told of all the signs and wonders that God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13After they finished speaking, James replied, “My brothers, listen to me. 14Simeon has related how God first looked favorably on the Gentiles, to take from among them a people for his name. 15This agrees with the words of the prophets, as it is written, 16‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the dwelling of David, which has fallen; from its ruins I will rebuild it, and I will set it up, 17so that all other peoples may seek the Lord— even all the Gentiles over whom my name has been called. Thus says the Lord, who has been making these things 18known from long ago.


Commentary

by Mary Hinkel Shore

click here to open a new tab with the Commentary text


Statement of Faith

In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.
In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving. You are our mother, brother, and Savior. 
In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvelous and plenteous grace.
         You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us.
         You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.
Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.     Amen

~ Julian of Norwich

Prayers of Intercession

God our strength:  Change us by your grace.

United in Christ who is always present and listening, let us pray to God:
For the Church, the Body of Christ,
that we might live the unity we receive
through the Holy Spirit.
God our strength:  Change us by your grace.

For the leaders of our churches
that they may be faithful to the unity
to which all Christians are called.
God our strength:  Change us by your grace.

For the nations of the world,
that they may find common ground and respect.
May that lead to peace with one another
and the reality of justice for all people.
God our strength:  Change us by your grace..

For all people,
that we may be good stewards of the earth
mindful of all creatures plants and fungi.
God our strength:  Change us by your grace..

For the people of our society,
that we may be transformed to live
as caring neighbors to each other.
God our strength:  Change us by your grace.

For the sick and suffering,
that they may be transformed
by your healing presence.
God our strength:  Change us by your grace..

For all families and households,
that their struggles and joys may find their fulfillment
in your love.
God our strength:  Change us by your grace..

For the dying,and for the grieving,
that they may be comforted by your presence.
God our strength:  Change us by your grace.

Lord, stand in our midst and grant us unity and peace.
Amen.


Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen


Communion


Benediction

As you go from here into the week ahead,

Keep your eyes open for God,
watch for His works;
be alert for signs of His presence.
For He is God—our God—
in charge of the whole earth.
And He remembers His Covenant—
for a thousand generations He’s been as good as His word.

So go with confidence and joy,
knowing that God goes with you. 
Amen


Hymn – The Church’s One Foundation

1.
The church’s one foundation is Jesus Christ, her Lord;
she is his new creation by water and the word.
From heav’n he came and sought her to be his holy bride;
with his own blood he bought her, and for her life he died.

2.
Elect from ev’ry nation, yet one o’er all the earth,
her charter of salvation one Lord, one faith, one birth:
one holy name she blesses, partakes one holy food,
and to one hope she presses with ev’ry grace endued.

3.
Though with a scornful wonder this world sees her oppressed,
by schisms rent asunder, by heresies distressed,
yet saints their watch are keeping; their cry goes up: “How long?”
and soon the night of weeping shall be the morn of song.

4.
Through toil and tribulation and tumult of her war,
she waits the consummation of peace forevermore;
till with the vision glorious her longing eyes are blest,
and the great church victorious shall be the church at rest.

5.
Yet she on earth hath union with God, the Three in One,
and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won.
Oh, blessed heav’nly chorus! Lord, save us by your grace,
that we, like saints before us, may see you face to face.

Text: Samuel J. Stone
Music: Samuel S. Wesley


Postlude

Chris Johansen

Easter Sunday Worship

Order of Service

PreludeChris Johansen, piano
WelcomeShawn Mai
Opening liturgyShawn Mai
Molly Tulkki
Chuck Parsons, piano
Opening hymnJesus Christ Is Risen Today
#365
Shawn Mai
Molly Tulkki
Chuck Parsons, organ
Greeting
Prayer of the Day
Shawn Mai
Psalm 118vs. 17, 21-24Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ScriptureLuke 24: 1-12Henrik Strandskov
SermonMarty Jones
HymnNow the Green Blade Rises
#379
Shawn Mai
Molly Tulkki
Chuck Parsons, organ
CreedShawn Mai
Prayers of IntercessionWetzigs
Lord’s PrayerShawn Mai
Closing HymnDay of Arising
#374
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Blessing / BenedictionShawn Mai
PostludeChuck Parsons

Audio Recording – Full service

Prelude

Chris Johansen

Welcome

Standing on the Threshold of Easter

We last gathered at the foot of the cross where Jesus was crucified. We have waited in grief and prayer.

It is now early dawn, day after the Sabbath. There is still darkness. We come with the women, to anoint Jesus’ body. We come in grief.

And in the midst of deep darkness and grief, life breaks through, as it always does, miraculously, surprising us by joy.

Here now, readings from the gospels of Mark and John.

Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace; and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

I see trees of green
Red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

When it was noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. At three o’clock Jesus cried out with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”

I see skies of blue
And clouds of white
The bright blessed day
The dark sacred night
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.
Mary stood weeping outside the tomb…Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” … She said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him, “Rabboni!”…Mary Magdalene went and said to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”!

The colors of the rainbow
So pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces
Of people going by
I see friends shaking hands
Saying how do you do
They’re really saying
I love you

I hear babies cry
I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more
Then I’ll ever know
And I think to myself
What a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself
What a wonderful world

Gathering Song – Jesus Christ is Risen Today

1.
Jesus Christ is ris’n today, Alleluia!
our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!

2.
Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
unto Christ, our heav’nly king, Alleluia!
who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

3.
But the pains which he endured, Alleluia!
our salvation have procured; Alleluia!
now above the sky he’s king, Alleluia!
where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

4.
Sing we to our God above, Alleluia!
praise eternal as his love; Alleluia!
praise him, all you heav’nly host, Alleluia!
Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Alleluia!


Text: Latin Carol; Charles Wesley, st. 4
Music: J. Walsh

Greeting

A. Alleluia! Christ is risen!
C. Christ is risen indeed! Alleluia!

A. This is the day that the Lord has made!
C. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Prayer of the Day

We’ve existed in the tomb of grief for so long.

On this Easter Sunday,

Let us roll away the stone

The stone that stifles the divine spark within us

That keeps us from being our true selves

Let us liberate ourselves from the tombs that we have built around us

Tombs of greed

Tombs of selfishness

Tombs of fear

Tombs of hurt and bitterness

Let us set our spirits free To live to our true potential

                           

      

Psalm 118: 17, 21-24

17 I shall not | die, but live,
and declare the works | of the Lord.

21 I give thanks to you, for you have | answered me
and you have become | my salvation.

22 The stone that the build-|ers rejected
has become the chief | cornerstone.

23 By the Lord has | this been done;
it is marvelous | in our eyes.

24 This is the day that the | Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be | glad in it.

Scripture Reading – Luke 24: 1-12

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again.” Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest. 10 Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them. 12 But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Sermon – Marty Jones

Hymn – Now the Green Blade Rises

1.
Now the green blade rises from the buried grain
Wheat that in the dark earth many years has lain
Love lives again, that with the dead has been
Love is come again like wheat arising green

2.
In the grave they laid Him, love whom we had slain
Thinking that He’d never wake to life again
Laid in the earth like grain that sleeps unseen
Love is come again like wheat arising green 

3.
Forth He came at Easter, like the risen grain
He that for three days in the grave had lain
Quick from the dead, my risen Lord is seen
Love is come again like wheat arising green

4.
When our hearts are wintry, grieving, or in pain
Thy touch can call us back to life again
Fields of our hearts, that dead and bare have been
Love is come again like wheat arising green

Text: John Macleod Campbell Crum
Music: French Carol

Creed

In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.
In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving. You are our mother, brother, and Savior. 
In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvelous and plenteous grace.
         You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us.
         You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.
Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.     Amen

~Julian of Norwich

Prayers of Intercession

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen

Hymn – Day of Arising

1.
Day of arising, Christ on the roadway,
unknown companion walks with his own.
When they invite him, as fades the first day,
and bread is broken, Christ is made known.

2.
When we are walking, doubtful and dreading,
blinded by sadness, slowness of heart,
yet Christ walks with us, ever awaiting
our invitation: Stay, do not part.

3.
Lo, I am with you, Jesus has spoken.
This is Christ’s promise, this is Christ’s sign:
when the church gathers, when bread is broken,
there Christ is with us in bread and wine.

4.
Christ, our companion, hope for the journey,
bread of compassion, open our eyes.
Grant us your vision, set all hearts burning
that all creation with you may rise.

Text: Susan Palo Cherwien
Music: Carl F. Schalk


Benediction

Go with the strength you have.
Go simply
lightly
gently
Go in search of Love.
And know the Spirit of God goes with you. Amen

Postlude

Chuck Parsons

March 28th Worship

Order of Service

Part I
PreludeBreathe on Me, Breath of GodChris Johansen, piano
Confession & Forgiveness
Palm Sunday Liturgy
Gathering SongAll Glory, Laud, and Honor
#344
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Opening Prayer
Psalm 118vs. 19-29Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ScriptureLuke 19: 29-44
SermonChristy Wetzig
Nicene Creed
Prayers of IntercessionSharyl Manwiller
Lord’s Prayer
Peace
Closing Prayer
Closing HymnSing, My Tongue
#355
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Blessing / Benediction
PostludeHosanna, Loud HosannaChris Johansen

Audio Recording – Full Service

Prelude

Chris Johansen

Confession & Forgiveness

We begin worship with recognition that we do not always live up to our highest ideals or values, and with trust that God’s love encompasses us always.

L:  In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit.                           

C: Amen

L: We confess our entanglements with justice, hurts, and greed – and God’s difficult, blessed vision of a very different way. We seek the face of God, confessing our sin.

Silence for reflection and self-examination.

Holy God,

we have sinned against you and each other. We pray for your forgiveness and healing. The good we want to do, we often fail to do. The harmful actions and thoughts we do not want, we turn to again and again. Deliver us, Gracious God. Save us, save our neighbors, save all your creatures from our lack of imagination and courage. Gird us for the challenges of change needed, called for, overdue. Guide our way in your way.     Amen

L:  We who were once far off have been brought near to God through the cross of Christ. 

     May we forgive one another as God in Christ has first forgiven us.    Amen

Palm Sunday Liturgy

M:Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice…

W: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

M: Let the sea roar, and all that fills it…

W: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

M: Let the field exult, and everything in it…

W: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

M: For he comes, for he comes to judge the earth.

W: Hosanna in the highest!

M: Let all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord…

W: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

M: Let the rivers clap their hands…

W: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

M: let the hills sing for joy together before the Lord…

W: Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

M: for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity.

W: Hosanna in the highest!

Gathering Song – All Glory, Laud, and Honor

Refrain:
All glory, laud, and honor
to you, redeemer, king,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.

1.
You are the king of Israel
and David’s royal Son,
now in the Lord’s name coming,
the King and Blessed One. [Refrain]

2.
The company of angels
is praising you on high;
creation and all mortals
in chorus make reply. [Refrain]

3.
The multitude of pilgrims
with palms before you went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before you we present. [Refrain]

4.
To you, before your passion,
they sang their hymns of praise.
To you, now high exalted,
our melody we raise. [Refrain]

5.
Their praises you accepted;
accept the prayers we bring,
great author of all goodness,
O good and gracious King. [Refrain]

Text: Theodulph of Orleans, tr. John Mason Neale
Music: Melchior Teschner

Opening Prayer

Everlasting God in your endless love for the human race you sent our Lord Jesus Christ to take on our nature and to suffer death on the cross. In your mercy enable us to share in his obedience to your will and in the glorious victory of his resurrection, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

                           

      

Psalm 118: 19-29

19 Open for me the | gates of righteousness;
I will enter them and give thanks | to the Lord.

20 “This is the gate | of the Lord;
here the righ-|teous may enter.”

21 I give thanks to you, for you have | answered me
and you have become | my salvation.

22 The stone that the build-|ers rejected
has become the chief | cornerstone.

23 By the Lord has | this been done;
it is marvelous | in our eyes.

24 This is the day that the | Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be | glad in it.

25 Hosanna! | O Lord, save us!
We pray to you, Lord, pros-|per our days!

26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name | of the Lord;
we bless you from the house | of the Lord.

27 The Lord is God and has giv-|en us light.
Form a procession with branches up to the corners | of the altar.

28 You are my God, and | I will thank you;
you are my God, and I | will exalt you.

29 Give thanks to the Lord, for the | Lord is good;
God’s mercy en-|dures forever.

Scripture Reading – Luke 19: 29-44

29 When he had come near Bethphage and Bethany, at the place called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you, and as you enter it you will find tied there a colt that has never been ridden. Untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ just say this, ‘The Lord needs it.’” 32 So those who were sent departed and found it as he had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord needs it.” 35 Then they brought it to Jesus; and after throwing their cloaks on the colt, they set Jesus on it. 36 As he rode along, people kept spreading their cloaks on the road. 37 As he was now approaching the path down from the Mount of Olives, the whole multitude of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the deeds of power that they had seen, 38 saying,

“Blessed is the king
    who comes in the name of the Lord!
Peace in heaven,
    and glory in the highest heaven!”

39 Some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, order your disciples to stop.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the stones would shout out.”

Jesus Weeps over Jerusalem

41 As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. 44 They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.”

Thanks be to God

Sermon – Christy Wetzig

I should admit at the outset that I’m a Palm Sunday scrooge. Why must we read these passages from the four Gospels every year when, Look, in the Luke version there aren’t even any palms! It smells to me like the floral industry met behind closed doors with the Lectionary Committee to find an agreement that everyone could benefit from.

Palms are so foreign to us northerners. They are traditionally a symbol of Jewish nationalism–by waving them to Jesus as he enters Jerusalem, the people show that they are welcoming a king to the Jewish nation. Similarly, they lay their cloaks down on the path Jesus would walk, another tradition to show respect for a king, like a red carpet.

According to one preacher I read, kings had been riding into Jerusalem on donkey colts ever since Zechariah had prophesied this: “Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations…”

A king riding a donkey is a lovely symbol of peace. It was actually begun by that warrior king David, rider of warhorses, who put his son Solomon on a mule to ride into Jerusalem as his successor.

So Jesus also seeks out a donkey colt, to fulfil the Messianic prophecy, but it sort of muddles the minds of the people watching that day, since naturally they assume Jesus is declaring kingship. Little did they know he had a very different plan in mind.

Jesus enters Jerusalem, following a rocky path across a valley from the nearby hill called the Mount of Olives, probably among a large group of pilgrims heading for Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover that week. Among them are a large group of his followers lauding him with the traditional cheer for pilgrims to the temple in Jerusalem: “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” While this cheer was given to any pilgrim on the Jerusalem road, it takes on special–Messianic–significance here, especially accompanied by an echo of the angels’ song from the night of Jesus’ birth.

So this pilgrim king doesn’t correct any of the missunderstandings accompanying his entrance to Jerusalem–he seems instead to feed them. However he would spend the next week, revealing exactly what sort of king they had welcomed into their city–and it would cost him his life.

What does this king do first? He weeps over the city. Jesus weeps because they don’t get it–they’re looking to him for the kind of peace that comes from war and oppression, and that focus has made it difficult for them, even his friends, to comprehend the very different peace he has to offer.

So, weeping over one’s domain–not a very kingly thing to do. But it gets stranger: a good king would probably go to the Roman garrison and scope out its weaknesses, but he goes instead to the temple. Since it’s the week before the Passover and crowded with pilgrims, this is a big week for commerce, a sort of Black Friday. But he drives all the merchants out, trying to cleanse the temple from commerce and return it to its use as a house of prayer. 

Once the last merchant slinks out, Jesus dusts off his hands and begins to teach the surprised onlookers. And every day this week, he would go to the temple and teach, and crowds would gather early in each morning to get a good spot to hear what he had to say, and every night he would go back out of the city to sleep on the Mount of Olives.

As he teaches in the temple this week, he makes no friends. For a king, he has no political savvy. In fact, he seems even to purposely be offending, poking the religious leaders especially. I’ll just list–bullet point style–all the remarkably tone-deaf teachings into which he indulges this coming week, and you can make up your mind why they decide to “off” him: 

  • He begins, as I said, by driving out the money-makers;
  • Then he deliberately, openly refuses to answer the teachers’ challenge of his authority over what goes on in the temple;
  • He tells a thinly veiled parable that ends with the people in charge being destroyed;
  • When given questions by the teachers of the law, he answers them wisely and craftily, making them sound a little stupid, then stumps them with a question of his own;
  • He warns the people about the hypocrisy of the teachers of the law (while in the hearing of the teachers of the law);
  • He insults the rich people by praising a poor widow who comes to drop a penny into the offering box; 
  • He discounts the beauty and grandeur of the temple, of which the Jewish people were so proud, foretelling that it will be destroyed; 
  • And then he finishes by foretelling the end of the age in odd, scary, violent language.

I sort of sympathize with the religious leaders–the king they had heard lauded at the beginning of the week has revealed himself to be a troublemaker, a challenger of the values of society, a friend of the nobodies: children, the sick, and the abject poor. Personally, he’s not even the kind of Savior I want–I would have wanted him to like me, to point me out as a model of good behavior. But instead if I had met Jesus I’m sure he would have quickly seen my secrets and turned me face to face with my most pernicious shortcomings.

So forget “goodwill to men”–even “peace on earth” doesn’t seem really his aim. His violent outbursts in the temple, turning over tables, had only been a picture of his violent turning of the tables on society, teaching a radical new way, a topsy turvy way, where power is brought low and only the humility that comes from absolute trust in God is elevated. During his entire ministry, three years of itinerant preaching and one final, intense week of teaching in the temple, Jesus had pricked our consciences and awakened our guilt, showing us how utterly opposed his kingdom is from the one we’ve established in our countries, our churches, our hearts. Nothing we can do can measure up to the standards he set. Or, more aptly, to crouch to the level he set, to creep through the eye of a needle. Look at us: white Americans with money and education, church people–there’s no way we can possibly please a God so partial to the poor and downtrodden and marginalized. 

He made it perfectly clear that we were hopelessly lost.

Lately in church and in society we’ve been talking a lot about white America’s faults, and to tell you the truth sometimes I leave church feeling just a little beaten about the head. Because there’s nothing I can do about my whiteness, my Americanness, my middle class upbringing, my college education.  At least I’m a woman. Poor Jeff over here doesn’t even have that. Not only are we the perpetuaters of the malaise of our society, but now Jesus is telling us that only the poor and downtrodden can inherit the kingdom of God.

And what does Jesus do next? He goes willingly to the cross and dies, and some say his kingdom came, not at his kingly entry into Jerusalem, but (true to his overturning of the values of our world) at that moment when he gave up the ghost, or when the stone rolled away from his tomb. His topsy-turvy kingdom came into the world, and all our shortcomings were wiped away, our secrets were brought to light, and Jesus brought us near to himself, yes, even us, the white, the rich, the privileged. 

Maybe the poor and outcasts had always been near to Jesus–they knew that they were nothing without Christ, that in clinging to him they would find life. Maybe it was the religious leaders, the powerful, the people like you and me, who really needed Christ’s death, who needed to be brought near.

The religious leaders didn’t want to hear it. They said, “Stop with the singing, stop with the palms, stop with the cloaks and the donkey colt.” 

Jesus says to them, “If these were silent, the very stones would cry out.

I believe the stones are every day quietly going about the business of praising God. Quiet, because that’s in their nature, but steady, which is also in their nature. They are who they are, to the best of their ability: sharp, smooth, sparkly, craggy, supporting lichens and mosses, providing homes for all sorts of creatures, slowly wearing away to create sand. They do the job that God has given them to do–and that is how they cry out praise to God.

Have you heard that verse in Isaiah (55:12): “The trees of the field will clap their hands”? Have you stood under a stand of white pines on a windy day and heard the roaring of its needles in the wind? Have you watched a grove of quaking aspens shimmer as the gentlest breeze sets its leaves shivering? Have you heard oak leaves rattle in the winter breeze and thought of all the insects overwintering inside them, and the birds who are sustained by them? This is how trees clap their hands. 

At the end of the book of Job (38:4-11), God says to Job, 

Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
Who determined its measurements–surely, you know!
Or who stretched a line upon it?
On what were its bases sunk,
Or who laid its cornerstone,
When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Or who shut in the sea with doors
When it burst out from the womb,
When I made clouds its garment
And thick darkness its swaddling band,
And prescribed limits for it
And set bars and doors,
And said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, 
And here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

If this is the God we worship, I don’t think we need to worry about justice being done in the world. God does not, in fact, need us. The stones will do the work, if God calls them. It takes a mighty kind of trust to throw up our hands and let God do the work.

Still, there is work that God has called us to do, equipped us to do, but only a little. If we are the sea, we should definitely make proud waves. If we are the morning stars, we should sing together. If we’re aspens, we should shimmer. If we are Danish American Lutherans, we should do whatever it is God has put in our hearts to do, and trust that it is enough. We have been brought near to God. It is enough.

And the palms will wave, whether or not our hands are waving them.

Nicene Creed

We believe in one God,
the father, the almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light, 
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father;
through him all things were made. 
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary
and become truly human.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death  and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son,
who with the Father and the Son is worshiped and glorified,
who has spoken through the prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead, 
and the life of the world to come. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen

Passing of Peace

Closing Prayer

Into your hands, almighty God, we place ourselves: our minds to know you, our hearts to love you, our wills to serve you, for we are yours. Into your hands, incarnate Savior, we place ourselves: receive us and draw us after you, that we may follow your steps; abide in us and enliven us by the power of your indwelling. Into your hands, O hovering Spirit, we place ourselves: take us and fashion us after your image; let your comfort strengthen, your grace renew, and your fire cleanse us, soul and body, in life and in death, in this world of shadows and in your changeless world of light eternal, now and forever. Amen

Hymn – Sing, My Tongue

1.
Sing, my tongue, the glorious battle;
tell the triumph far and wide;
tell aloud the wondrous story
of the cross, the Crucified;
tell how Christ, the world’s redeemer,
vanquished death the day he died.

2.
God in mercy saw us fallen,
sunk in shame and misery,
felled to death in Eden’s garden,
where in pride we claimed the tree;
then another tree was chosen,
which the world from death would free.

3.
Tell how, when at length the fullness
of the appointed time was come,
Christ, the Word, was born of woman,
left for us the heav’nly home,
blazed the path of true obedience,
shone as light amidst the gloom.

4.
Thirty years among us dwelling,
Jesus went from Nazareth,
destined, dedicated, willing,
did his work, and met his death;
like a lamb he humbly yielded
on the cross his dying breath.

5.
Bend your boughs, O tree of glory,
your relaxing sinews bend;
for a while the ancient rigor
that your birth bestowed, suspend;
and the Lord of heav’nly beauty
gently on your arms extend.

6.
Faithful cross, true sign of triumph,
be for all the noblest tree;
none in foliage, none in blossom,
none in fruit your equal be;
symbol of the world’s redemption,
for your burden makes us free.

7.
Unto God be praise and glory;
to the Father and the Son,
to the eternal Spirit honor
now and evermore be done;
praise and glory in the highest,
while the timeless ages run.
Amen.

Text: Venantius Honorius Fortunatis; tr: John Mason Nealee


Sending

L: Go in peace. Serve the Lord.
C: Thanks be to God

Postlude

Chris Johansen

March 21st Worship

Order of Service

Part I
PreludeNow the SilenceChris Johansen, piano
Opening Prayer
Welcome
Confession & Forgiveness
Liz Dodge
Gathering SongGod, Whose Giving Knows No Ending
#678
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Greeting
Prayer of the Day
Liz Dodge
Psalm 84vs. 1-4; 10-12Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Part II
ScriptureLuke 18:31 – 19:10Liz Dodge
ReflectionLiz Dodge
Creed
Prayers of Intercession
Lord’s Prayer
Benediction
Liz Dodge
Closing HymnLet Us Ever Walk with Jesus
#802
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
PostludeImmortal, InvisibleChris Johansen

Part I

Part II

Prelude

Chris Johansen

Opening Prayer

It is good to be here in your presence Lord.
Here we are at home with each other and with you.
Here we discover the joy of life and the strength to live each day
with praise in our hearts to you. 
You alone are God!
You alone can show us the way to the life that lasts forever.
We love you, Lord,
and we lift this prayer in adoration of your holy name. Amen.

~ posted on SermonHelp.com. http://www.lectionarysermons.com/

Welcome

Confession & Forgiveness

P:  In the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit.                          

C: Amen

P: We confess our entanglements with justice, hurts, and greed – and God’s difficult, blessed vision of a very different way. We seek the face of God, confessing our sin.

       Silence for reflection and self-examination.

Holy God,

we have sinned against you and each other. We pray for your forgiveness and healing. The good we want to do, we often fail to do. The harmful actions and thoughts we do not want, we turn to again and again. Deliver us, Gracious God. Save us, save our neighbors, save all your creatures from our lack of imagination and courage. Gird us for the challenges of change needed, called for, overdue. Guide our way in your way.     Amen

P:  We who were once far off have been brought near to God through the cross of Christ.

     May we forgive one another as God in Christ has first forgiven us.    Amen

Gathering Song – God, Whose Giving Knows No Ending

1.
God, whose giving knows no ending,
from your rich and endless store:
nature’s wonder, Jesus’ wisdom,
costly cross, grave’s shattered door,
gifted by you, we turn to you,
off’ring up ourselves in praise;
thankful song shall rise forever,
gracious donor of our days.

2.
Skills and time are ours for pressing
toward the goals of Christ, your Son:
all at peace in health and freedom,
races joined, the church made one.
Now direct our daily labor,
lest we strive for self alone;
born with talents, make us servants
fit to answer at your throne.

3.
Treasure, too, you have entrusted,
gain through pow’rs your grace conferred;
ours to use for home and kindred,
and to spread the gospel word.
Open wide our hands in sharing,
as we heed Christ’s ageless call,
healing, teaching, and reclaiming,
serving you by loving all.


Greeting

We gather in the triune name of sacred Love. May God’s peace be ever with you, Christ’s mercy near at hand, and may the Holy Spirit guide and encourage you in all circumstances and in every need.   Amen

Prayer of the Day

Lord of the lost,
We are quick to judge and slow to accept those whom we consider lower than ourselves. But you show us the way of acceptance, forgiveness, and peace. We honor your name for teaching us to love, for the sake of the one who is the essence of love itself, Jesus Christ our loving Lord. Amen

                           

      

Psalm 84: 1-4; 10-12

1 How dear to me | is your dwelling,
O | Lord of hosts!

2 My soul has a desire and longing for the courts | of the Lord;
my heart and my flesh rejoice in the | living God.

3 Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest where she may | lay her young,
by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts, my king | and my God.

4 Happy are they who dwell | in your house!
They will always be | praising you.

10 For one day in your courts is better than a | thousand elsewhere.
I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God than dwell in the tents | of the wicked.

11 For the Lord God is both sun and shield, bestowing | grace and glory;
no good thing will the Lord withhold from those who walk | with integrity.

12 O | Lord of hosts,
happy are they who put their | trust in you!

Scripture Reading – Luke 18:31 – 19:10

31Then he took the twelve aside and said to them, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written about the Son of Man by the prophets will be accomplished. 32For he will be handed over to the Gentiles; and he will be mocked and insulted and spat upon. 33After they have flogged him, they will kill him, and on the third day he will rise again.” 34But they understood nothing about all these things; in fact, what he said was hidden from them, and they did not grasp what was said.

35As he approached Jericho, a blind man was sitting by the roadside begging. 36When he heard a crowd going by, he asked what was happening. 37They told him, “Jesus of Nazareth is passing by.” 38Then he shouted, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” 39Those who were in front sternly ordered him to be quiet; but he shouted even more loudly, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” 40Jesus stood still and ordered the man to be brought to him; and when he came near, he asked him, 41“What do you want me to do for you?” He said, “Lord, let me see again.” 42Jesus said to him, “Receive your sight; your faith has saved you.” 43Immediately he regained his sight and followed him, glorifying God; and all the people, when they saw it, praised God.

19 He entered Jericho and was passing through it. 2A man was there named Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was rich. 3He was trying to see who Jesus was, but on account of the crowd he could not, because he was short in stature. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore tree to see him, because he was going to pass that way. 5When Jesus came to the place, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today.” 6So he hurried down and was happy to welcome him. 7All who saw it began to grumble and said, “He has gone to be the guest of one who is a sinner.” 8Zacchaeus stood there and said to the Lord, “Look, half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much.” 9Then Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he too is a son of Abraham. 10For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

Thanks be to God

Reflection

Creed

In you, Father all-mighty, we have our preservation and our bliss.
In you, Christ, we have our restoring and our saving. You are our mother, brother, and Savior. 
In you, our Lord the Holy Spirit, is marvelous and plenteous grace.
         You are our clothing; for love you wrap us and embrace us.
         You are our maker, our lover, our keeper.
Teach us to believe that by your grace all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.     Amen

~Julian of Norwich

Prayers of Intercession

People of God, as we come to prayer
let us remember that we do not
have to twist the arm of a reluctant God
to seek good things for this world,
nor find ways to persuade a distant God
to come near and listen to us.

Let us remember that as we pray
we kneel alongside Jesus Christ,
in the presence of God,
with the help of the Spirit.

So let us bring to mind now
those people who are in need of our prayers:
those who are ill, or anxious;
those who are lonely or sad;
those who are despairing or defeated;
those who are hungry or homeless;
those whose relationships are breaking apart;
those who are bullied or abused;
those who cannot find work;
and those who are over-worked.
In silence now, let us make our own specific prayers
for those on our hearts and minds today.

(silence)

In the presence of God,
alongside Jesus Christ,
with help from the Spirit
may we go into this week
to live out our prayers through our lives.
Amen.

~ written by Ann Siddall, Stillpoint Spirituality Centre and Faith community. http://www.stillpointsa.org.au/prayer/prayers-and-liturgies/

Lord’s Prayer

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come, your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread and forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever. Amen

Closing Prayer

Lord of our richest encounters
you heard the hidden cry of Zacchaeus
to welcome you into his home.
Teach us too hear the whispers of the world,
to feel its pain, and then bravely voice
so may cries for justice, and for peace.

~ posted on Us. (the new name for USPG). http://www.weareus.org.uk/churchresources/sunday/
Inspired by Luke 19: 1-10

Benediction

Go with the strength you have.
    Go simply
    lightly
    gently
Go in search of Love.
And know the Spirit of God goes with you. Amen

Hymn – Let Us Ever Walk with Jesus

1.
Let us ever walk with Jesus, follow his example pure,
through a world that would deceive us and to sin our spirits lure
Onward in his footsteps treading, trav’lers here, our home above,
full of faith and hope and love, let us do our Savior’s bidding.
Faithful Lord, with me abide; I shall follow where you guide.

2.
Let us suffer here with Jesus, and with patience bear our cross.
Joy will follow all our sadness; where he is there is no loss.
Though today we sow no laughter, we shall reap celestial joy:
all discomforts that annoy shall give way to mirth hereafter.
Jesus, here I share your woe; help me there your joy to know.

3.
Let us gladly die with Jesus. Since by death he conquered death,
he will free us from destruction, give to us immortal breath.
Let us mortify all passion that would lead us into sin;
and the grave that shuts us in shall but prove the gate of heaven.
Jesus, here with you I die, there to live with you on high.

4.
Let us also live with Jesus. He has risen from the dead
that to life we may awaken. Jesus, you are now our head,
we are your own living members; where you live there we shall be
in your presence constantly, living there with you forever.
Jesus, let me faithful be; life eternal grant to me

Postlude

Chris Johansen