June 28th Worship

Linda is off this week, and several people are filling in! The time on Zoom at 10am will include reflections from Christy and Barb, as well as some time to discuss. You can join the live service by phone, too! See instructions at the the bottom of this page.

A mostly full recording of the service is posted here. You can also find audio of the prelude, readings, and reflections embedded in the text below.

Order of Service

Welcome
PreludeEternal FatherChris Johansen, piano
Opening
Prayer
Molly Tulkki
HymnMy Shepherd, You Supply My Need
vs. 1 & 3
Chris Tou, piano
Reading
Reflection
Barb Kass
Reading
Reflection
Christy Wetzig
Discussion
PrayersClaire Scriba
HymnFor the Beauty of the Earth
vs. 1, 2 & 5
Chris Tou, piano
Fellowship

Prelude

Chris Johansen


Prayer of the Day

Eternal God, companion of all who seek you, and seeker of all who turn away from you, draw near to us that we may draw near to you, and grant us the grace to love and to serve you that we may find in your will our true freedom; through Jesus Christ, the way, the truth, and the life.
Amen.


Hymn – My Shepherd, You Supply My Need

1.
My Shepherd, you supply my need; most holy is your name.
In pastures fresh you make me feed, beside the living stream.
You bring my wand’ring spirit back when I forsake your ways,
and lead me, for your mercy’s sake, in paths of truth and grace.

3.
The sure provisions of my God attend me all my days;
oh, may your house be my abode and all my work be praise.
Here would I find a settled rest, while others go and come;
no more a stranger or a guest, but like a child at home.

Text: Isaac Watts
Music: North American traditional (Tune: Resignation)


Scripture

Luke 15: 11-32

11 Then Jesus said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. 13 A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. 14 When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. 16 He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. 17 But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! 18 I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ 20 So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. 21 Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22 But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; 24 for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate.

25 “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. 27 He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ 28 Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ 31 Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

Reflection

Barb Kass

Two brothers and their father…. One wonders: where was the mom? Died in childbirth, or illness? Clearly no longer with the family.  The older brother is dutifully working for and with his father: did he have other aspirations? Did he love the land? The work? See the gift of working side by side with his father? Or was he caught up in the role of the oldest, the one who was always there, always helping, responsible, focused, undemanding, uncomplaining. Doing what needed to be done.

In contrast, the younger brother did not like the life of his father and brother, did not like the work, and unlike his older brother, complained and demanded his share of the inheritance so he could leave all behind and create a new and better life somewhere else. 

What possessed the father to comply with his youngest’ demands? Life had to be pretty unbearable for everyone on the farm to end up with the father giving him exactly what he asked. I cannot imagine the grief and fear that was felt as that boy took off down the driveway.

How much time passed? We don’t know. But enough to have the inheritance squandered, and to see the carefree boy quickly turn into a man as he scrambles to survive in a distant land, plagued with famine. Desperate, he goes back to the life he left- a farm.  Work which seemed beneath his dignity, now was the only thing that kept him alive, and just barely.  It is hitting bottom when you realize the animals you are feeding are eating better than you are, especially when they are pigs.

In a moment of clarity, the young man realizes he can go back home. Knowing the integrity of his father, and owning it was his mistakes and greed that jeopardized his status as a son, he crafts a statement to reflect both: Father, I have sinned against heaven and you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.

How is it that the father saw him while he was a long way off? This says to me he was always waiting, always watching as days became months, became years. Faith in the unlikely, in the nearly impossible.

Here’s where I think Sabbath breaks into this story. Whatever the father was doing when he spotted his son- STOPPED.  All the daily tasks of the farm – the to do lists, plans for the day, STOPPED.  Whatever occasion the fattened calf was being saved for or what weight they hoped he’d fattened to- CHANGED to NOW.

Work changed to celebration.  Lunch became a feast! Forgiveness and restoration to the family done! And gratitude for the lost who was found flowed in abundance!

It was a surprise Sabbath for the father- a dream come true and he was ready and able to respond as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

It was a surprise Sabbath for the wayward son. He was hoping for a job, food, a place to stay. He was welcomed home with an embrace and a kiss, celebrated with a feast, and given a robe, ring and sandals as a symbol that he was recognized as a son, a member of the family.

The older son must have been on the back 40, had ear protection in, or was simply so absorbed in his work, he missed the whole homecoming scene. As he came in for lunch, something was out of the ordinary- there was sounds of joy, music and dancing coming from the house- at noon, on a Tuesday, in the middle of harvest season! He asked one of the servants what was going on and was completely incredulous at the answer: His brother had returned.

Resentment is a powerful emotion, especially when it has been a driving force in a life consumed in duty. It’s easy to hear the valid questions: Where was he when the crops needed harvesting before the rain and we had to work all night? He was off living the high life when I had to watch father be consumed with worry and grief… I have given up my whole life, my dreams, my hopes to help father run this farm. I have no life, no friends, I am too tired to do anything fun. Ever. I don’t know who is more pathetic- my brother who spent money and resources freely and recklessly with wasteful extravagance. Or my father who is celebrating his return on the same lavish scale.

A side note, both of those descriptions are definitions of the word prodigal. The story might just as well be titled The Prodigal Father!

The brother not only disagrees with what is happening, he feels it is unjust and wrong.

The father reaches out to his oldest son who would not even enter the house. It may be the most honest conversation they ever exchanged. It may have been the first time he recognized the hurt and frustration of the son, or his feeling of not being appreciated. The holding back of reasonable requests to be able to celebrate life, have fun, have friends in the face of the sadness he saw in his father probably never occurred to him.  And maybe it was the first time the father acknowledged to his son that indeed this son was always with him, and that he just assumed that the son knew that all he had was his as well.  A fact so simple and so profound that it had never been said aloud. Maybe this was the surprise Sabbath for the older brother.

Was the conversation enough to soften the resentment and replace it with new seeds of restoration of relationships and of family? The story lets us write our own conclusion.

So where are the surprise Sabbaths in our lives? Those unexpected invitations or unplanned opportunities to stop what we are doing, no matter how important it seems at the time. I think many of the opportunities are small and it’s a discipline to keep eyes and hearts open to recognizing them and welcoming their needed gifts of rest, or zest, or breath even on the most mundane day.

Bigger surprise Sabbaths might be closer to the story- the chance for a reconciling cup of tea, or an honest conversation with a neighbor or family member about racism, or CAFO’s which leads to some kind of understanding and restoration.

Yesterday James mentioned the concept of Sabbath work-  at first it seemed like an oxymoron. If Sabbath is about rest, where does work fit in? I googled rest vs restoration and found this simple reflection:

Look closely at how Jesus practiced Sabbath because therein lies a lesson. For one, almost all Jesus’ Sabbath practices, in the eyes of the religious leaders of the day, looked like Sabbath breaking. Whatever the religious minds thought Sabbath should look like, the reality, for Jesus, was quite different. 

For Jesus, Sabbath is mostly about restoration. Has a cow fallen in a well? Lift it out! Has a woman been bent over for 18 years? Straighten her up! Are people hungry? Pluck grain and feed them! Story after story carries this same point: Sabbath is for restoration. Whatever is lost, broken or sick, Sabbath is meant to make whole.

As I look again at the story of the Prodigal Son I see the father practicing Sabbath- stopping everything to thank God for great mercy. And I see that father in turn doing Sabbath work for both of his sons. Giving forgiveness, rest and unconditional love to the younger, and an invitation for restoration with the same unconditional love for the older.


Scripture

Genesis 2: 1-3

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.

Reflection

Christy Wetzig

So God finishes making the heavens and the earth–the text adds, “all the host of them” as if to say, “what a lot to do in six days.” It’s understandable that someone would want to rest after such a mammoth task, and yet the work just doesn’t seem that arduous. After all, God’s been merely speaking–”Let there be light,” like the conductor of an orchestra, not some construction worker busting his butt to raise a skyscraper in a day. The God who speaks the universe into existence can’t be tired. So why take a day of rest?

The notes in my Bible connect this account to other ancient Near East stories in which “divine rest is associated with temple building” [ESV Study Bible, Crossway, 2008].

So in the creation story, when creating the universe, with its hosts of galaxies, and in one galaxy: a planet called Earth, with oceans and horseshoe crabs and hummingbirds and maple grass, God is building Godself a house. Somewhere to live. A God-sanctuary. The earth, then, springs up out of nothingness not as an accident or a divine whim but as a temple dedicated to the God who created it.

How would this change our view of the world if we let this idea soak thoroughly into our beings? That God made this universe so that God could move in to it; that our land is not ours after all but in fact the land where God rests–forests made holy by God’s presence, creeks along which God sits.

Besides all the creatures and plants, God peoples this planet with a certain species charged to “tend and keep” this sanctuary, to “have dominion” over it, in the sense of a parent having dominion over the children. In other words, this is a priestly species, endowed with God’s own breath and image, to do a certain job–taking care of God’s sanctuary, in the same way that a priest tends and protects a temple.

How would this change our idea of what it means to be human? It’s somehow both expanding and humbling, to be the capstone species, intended to take care of everything below it.

Sometimes it seems like no matter how hard we try to take care of the earth we still mess up–we love a place and trample it to death; or we kill snakes to keep our children safe and then get invaded by rodents; or we plant a pretty tree and watch it take over the woods. Because the world is too big for our imaginations, and sometimes we get too big for our britches. We need that sense of humility, the kind that comes from the soil, humus.

I wonder if Sabbath could be, then, a time to quit striving at our contrived human goals and chew on these ideas, that this universe is God’s temple and we have a job to do in it: to minister to God by tending and keeping God’s home.

What if one day in seven we lie on our bellies in the grass and watch the worms and bugs carry on their lives among the roots and soil? What if our time of rest was a time to look honestly at the world, so that we can take better care of it? What if one year in seven we stop earning money and plant trees and prairies instead? What if one minute in seven we stop what we’re doing and listen–and breathe with gratitude and humility the air of this amazing, sanctified world?


Prayers

Father of mercy, we pray today for all the people of this earth as we try to find our way through the pandemic.  We are confused and fearful.  Send good people to lead and inform us.

            Almighty father……………hear our prayer

We pray for all the children who are missing playtime and schooltime and a safe pattern to their days. 

            In your mercy…………hear our prayer

We pray for everyone in financial distress

            In your mercy…………..hear our prayer

We pray for peacekeepers and public servants

            In your mercy………..hear our prayer

We pray for parents and teachers

            In your mercy………..hear our prayer

We pray for the sick and those who care for them

            In your mercy………..hear our prayer

We pray for everyone who is separated from loved ones by disease, for everyone who is lonely and anxious

            In your mercy………..hear our prayer

We pray for this beautiful earth, her creatures her skies and waters.  Keep us vigilant in our care for her

            In your mercy……….hear our prayer

We pray for ourselves as a faith family and as your hands and feet in the world

            In your mercy…….hear our prayer

Bless and keep us, Father, train us up and give us courage

            In your mercy……….hear our prayer. AMEN                              


Hymn – For the Beauty of the Earth

1.
For the beauty of the earth, for the beauty of the skies,
for the love which from our birth over and around us lies:
Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise.

2.
For the wonder of each hour of the day and of the night
hill and vale and tree and flow’r, sun and moon and stars of light:
Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise.

5.
For each perfect gift of thine, peace on earth and joy in heav’n;
for thyself, best gift divine, to our world so freely giv’n:
Christ, our God, to thee we raise this our sacrifice of praise.

Text: Folliott S. Pierpoint
Music: Conrad Kocher


Instructions for listening via phone:

Call this number: (312) 626-6799
It will be long distance, if that applies (on a landline, for example).

Then, you will be asked to enter the meeting ID and password. You can find that in Linda’s email with subject, “Sunday Zoom”

We will keep you muted, but you can participate in the discussion if you’d like – press *6 to unmute – and it helps to say your name before you talk, since we won’t know otherwise!