Sounds of Home – Drift

Tuesdays at 2pm
Welcome to the October 20th edition of Sounds of Home!

Now Peace Descends
vs. 1-4

Now peace descends on wings of night. On countryside and town,
The stars unveil, the moon grows bright with silv’ry clouds around.

On yonder stream so smooth and slow a boatman drifts along;
With stars above and stars below he sings his evensong:

“Deep stillness reigns from East to West, from shore to distant hill;
Thou pilgrim spirit in my breast, be still, my soul, be still!

“May peace on all the hearts descend that struggle hopelessly!
Peace be with him who is my friend and with my enemy!”

Text: B.S. Ingemann; trans. by S.D. Rodholm
Music: R. Bay


Like to lend your voice?
Our upcoming theme is “shell”

If you have a response to this theme – whether a story or memory, original piece of writing or poetry, music, radio drama, or one-liner – the sky’s the limit – between 5 seconds and 5 minutes in length – or if you would like to guest host or lead a song to sing together — we’re eager to hear from you!

To submit a response, please make an audio recording and email it to Molly,
or send in a written response to be read aloud on the program.

Contact Molly at tulkmo01@luther.edu for information and submissions.
Submission deadline is Monday, October 26th.

October 18th Worship

Order of Service

Part I
Preludeby BachChris Johansen, piano
Welcome
Confession & Forgiveness
Jeff Wetzig
Gathering SongCome Down, O Love Divine
#804
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Greeting
Prayer of the Day
Pastor Linda
Psalm 75vs. 1-12Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Part II
Scripture1 Samuel 1: 9-11, 19-20, 2: 1-10Jeff Wetzig
ReflectionChristy Wetzig
HymnMagnificat from Holden Evening PrayerHarry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ReflectionClaire Scriba
Prayers of IntercessionNikki Strandskov
Lord’s PrayerJeff Wetzig
BenedictionJeff Wetzig
Closing HymnGuide Me Ever, Great Redeemer
#618
Pastor Linda
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
PostludePrecious LordChris Johansen

Part I

Part II


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Welcome

Confession & Forgiveness

Blessed be the holy Trinity, one God who forgives all our sin, whose mercy endures forever. Amen

Most Merciful God,

We confess that we are captive to sin and cannot free ourselves. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved you with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. For the sake of your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in your will and walk in your ways, to the glory of your holy name.

Amen

God, who is rich in mercy, loved us even when we were dead in sin,

and made us alive together with Christ. By grace you have been saved. Almighty God strengthen you with power through the Holy Spirit, that Christ may live in your hearts through faith.

Amen      


Hymn – Come Down, O Love Divine

1.
Come down, O Love divine; seek thou this soul of mine
and visit it with thine own ardor glowing;
O Comforter, draw near; within my heart appear
and kindle it, thy holy flame bestowing.

2.
Oh, let it freely burn, till worldly passions turn
to dust and ashes in its heat consuming;
and let thy glorious light shine ever on my sight,
and clothe me round, the while my path illuming.

3.
Let holy charity mine outward vesture be,
and lowliness become mine inner clothing—
true lowliness of heart, which takes the humbler part,
and o’er its own shortcomings weeps with loathing.

4.
And so the yearning strong, with which the soul will long,
shall far outpass the pow’r of human telling;
no soul can guess Love’s grace till it become the place
wherein the Holy Spirit makes a dwelling.


Prayer of the Day

O Lord God, tireless guardian of your people, you are always ready to hear our cries. Teach us to rely day and night on your care. Inspire us to seek your enduring justice for all this suffering world, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Amen


Psalm 75

1 We give you thanks, O God, we | give you thanks,
calling upon your name and declaring all your won-|derful deeds.

2 “I will appoint a | time,” says God;
“I will | judge with equity.

3 Though the earth and all its inhab-|itants crumble,
I will make its | pillars fast.

4 I will say to the boasters, | ‘Boast no more,’
and to the wicked, ‘Do not | lift your horns;

5 do not lift your | horns so high,
nor speak with | a proud neck.’ “

6 For exaltation comes neither from the east nor | from the west,
nor does it come | from the wilderness.

7 It is | God who judges,
who puts down one and lifts | up another.

8 For in the Lord’s hand there is a cup full of spiced and | foaming wine;
the Lord will pour it out, and all the wicked of the earth shall drink and | drain the dregs.

9 But I will re-|joice forever;
I will sing praises to the | God of Jacob.

10 “I will break off all the horns | of the wicked;
but the horns of the righteous shall | be exalted.”


Scripture: 1 Samuel 1: 9-11, 19-20, 2: 1-10

After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10 She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. 11 She made this vow: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.”

19 They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20 In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.”

2
1Hannah prayed and said,

“My heart exults in the Lord;
    my strength is exalted in my God.
My mouth derides my enemies,
    because I rejoice in my victory.

“There is no Holy One like the Lord,
    no one besides you;
    there is no Rock like our God.
Talk no more so very proudly,
    let not arrogance come from your mouth;
for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
    and by him actions are weighed.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
    but the feeble gird on strength.
Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
    but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.
The barren has borne seven,
    but she who has many children is forlorn.
The Lord kills and brings to life;
    he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
    he brings low, he also exalts.
He raises up the poor from the dust;
    he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
    and inherit a seat of honor.
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
    and on them he has set the world.

“He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
    but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
    for not by might does one prevail.
10 The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered;
    the Most High will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
    he will give strength to his king,
    and exalt the power of his anointed.”


Reflection

Christy Wetzig

Hannah was married to Elkanah. She wasn’t able to have children, and in this culture having an heir was so important that, in order to provide himself with a child, Elkanah was entitled to take another wife. This wife, Peninnah, bore lots of children, and she liked to rub it in. It was a lowly thing in that culture, to be a barren wife. Even though Hannah had the love of Elkanah, she had no standing in the culture–when he died, all she owned would go to Peninnah’s children, and there would be no one to take care of her. She was a step away from being a beggar on the street.

When Hannah goes to the temple, pleads for a child, and God grants her desire, she sings this song. She sings of the way God comes to the aid of the downtrodden and reverses the fortunes of the powerful. She sings of a God who delights in subverting the values of our world–not just rocking the boat, but overturning it.

We see this theme again and again in the Bible. Gideon, in the book of Judges, appears in a nightmare to one of his enemies, not as a powerful soldier but as a loaf of barley bread bouncing down the mountain, squashing the army. Samson, that strong man, after his strength is shaved from him, leans against a wall and prays for God’s strength. The house falls down around him, killing more Philistines than he ever had as a strong man. Samson was the son of another barren woman who, like Hannah, prayed to God for a baby. Hannah, singing as her sister Mary would in a thousand years, that old song about God saving the weak and laughing at the strength of the powerful.

The old song is continued with the Beatitudes, Jesus’ great words subverting the values of our culture once and for all. Jesus was, after all, the earth-shattering incarnation of this–Jesus intervening on behalf of the poor, Jesus preaching against the oppression of the religious elite, Jesus ducking a revolution–instead giving his life quietly, humbly, in a declaration of God’s love for humanity.

But why does God favor the poor and weak? Surely poverty and powerlessness doesn’t make one righteous?

The classic, ​A Light in the Forest​ by Conrad Richter, tells about how surprised the Native Americans were when European settlers erected barns and storehouses almost before they built houses. The bigger these buildings were, the richer the farmers were–the more invulnerable to severe winters and the hunger that plagued the native tribes. But instead of chucking their hunting and gathering traditions in favor of the more enlightened “Get Big or Get Out” ethic, the natives clung to their ways, much to the surprise of the white invaders. According to an elder in ​A Light in the Forest​,

Some Indians think [the Great Spirit] favors the white people. They say the white people have their flocks of cattle to kill from when they are hungry…The Indian has none of these…Some think this is bad, but of truth it is good. It shows the Indian he is not supported by storehouses but by the Ruler of Heaven…I have often been in want. It taught me that the Great Spirit suffers us Indians to be so for a purpose. It’s to show us our dependence on him who is the Father of us all and to let us know that if we do our part he will always supply us at just the right time.

Although we risk romanticizing poverty here, we see that the vulnerability that scarcity reveals can bring a person closer to one’s Creator, reminding us that we rely on God for every need. Come winter, a man with hungry children at home would be more likely to pray on his knees for a deer to cross his path, and gratitude would make fragrant the pot of stew that it provided. A strong man made weak would pray to God for strength. Barley bread rolling down the hill would find its fierceness only in God, not the deadliness of its crumb. A woman sobbing for a child looks to God for succor and provision.

But we sitting here in front of our computers are not hungry hunters or barren women, and frankly Hannah, singing her song, holding her firstborn in her arms, was no longer downtrodden either. Like us, she had standing in society. Hers was born of being the mother to a son. Ours comes from white privilege, education, land ownership, bank accounts…

Shouldn’t Hannah, like us, be prepared to be overthrown, to be knocked overboard so that others more favored by God can climb into the boat?
I’d say, wear your life jackets. Welcome a plunge into cold water.

But looking at Hannah’s song again, and Mary’s song, and Jesus’ beatitudes, I see another undercurrent. It’s humility, that memory of our substance–dirt clasped in the hand of God, the soil into which our bodies will return again, our breath only the briefly borrowed spirit of God, animating for a time our lungs of clay.

“Talk no more so very proudly,” Hannah sings.

It doesn’t sound like much–humility–but it might be enough to overturn the boat of privilege. Observing our shared carbon composition with not just other

human beings but with our neighbors the squirrels and our neighbors the oak trees, might just make our privileged duds feel a little shabby. Might make us want to tear down our storehouses of dust. Might make us jump out of the boat of our own accord, to make room for others.

I’m not sure how to “become humble.” It sounds like a self-help book read upside down. For me, humility seems to begin out of the discipline of eating weeds from the garden, and being nourished by them. The discipline of getting on my knees in the woods and harvesting mushrooms. Being thankful for these gifts of the humus, for which I neither toil nor reap. The discipline of any work that brings me closer to the ground. I hope this helps me understand more fully my humanity, which I hold in common with my enemy, that other person over there.

But these are just baby steps really. What we should be doing is looking for God to act. Hannah believed fully in the benevolent intervention of God in the world. She saw God bringing justice into an unjust world. So maybe instead of looking to see what we can do we should really be getting out of the way of God’s working. Maybe that’s true humility, true poverty–realizing that we’re just a loaf of barley bread. But what wonders of grace, mercy, love, and justice God can work with a loaf of barley bread, we have but to step back and see.


Hymn – Magnificat

My soul proclaims your greatness O God,
and my spirit rejoices in you;
you have looked with love on your servant here
and blessed me all my life through.

Great and mighty are you, O holy One
Strong is your kindness, evermore,
How you favor the weak and lowly one,
Humbling the proud of heart

You have cast the mighty down from their thrones
and uplifted the humble of heart
You have filled the hungry with wondrous things
And left the wealthy no part

Great and mighty are you, O faithful one
Strong is your justice, strong your love
As you promised to Sarah and Abraham,
Kindness forevermore

My soul proclaims your greatness O God,
and my spirit rejoices in you;
you have looked with love on your servant here
and blessed me all my life through.


Reflection

Claire Scriba

I didn’t want to write on this text.  I almost turned it down.  “So Hannah got lucky, I said to myself.  I wonder if it lasted.”  It reminded me of my unanswered prayers and on bad days I fall into a pit just thinking about them.  It reminded me of times I couldn’t recognize my own face for the bitterness it wore. 

So I decided I’d write about unanswered prayers instead and I spent the week on why a benevolent God would allow bad things to happen.  It’s a very old topic, ancient really.  A lot of people have written about it, so many that there’s a special word for that kind of argument…theodicy.  I couldn’t follow the arguments I found and the old ones I knew by heart just made me angrier…..humility, faith, submission and gratitude.  Sops for fools I said to myself.  I was really angry.

So I decided I’d wait till after the Saturday discussion, like Linda does, to write this and I was still loaded for bear when I joined it yesterday.  I told them that I thought songs of praise like this were rubbish, sweet propaganda written by men to entice the not-yet-disillusioned into the fold.  I asked them where to put anger like mine, where in the Bible there are real answers for it.  And not Job, please, I was too angry for Job. 

Those kind West Denmark people listened.  They didn’t turn away, they didn’t try to mollify. They talked a bit about their own experiences, they welcomed what they called my courage in bringing up a hard subject.  I was gently reminded of the book of Psalms.  And, of course, there was my answer.  As Mike Miles says “if the answer isn’t love, you’re asking the wrong question.”  I was heard with love and my anger dissipated.  This morning it is gone though I can still feel where it burned me. 

I am mercurial by nature.  I can blow very hot and very cold, though not as often as I used to.  And I owe that improvement to West Denmark, to you.  West Denmark is a safe place to be human and that is what I’d like to ask you about.

This is what I’d really like to know:  How have you done it?  How have you made West Denmark a safe place to be fully human? Yesterday’s discussion was a perfect example of what actually does help with unanswered prayers and grief: a safe place to share them, and that’s what all of you are, a safe place to be real.  I’ve done it several times here, in tears and in puzzlement and yesterday in anger and you have never failed me.  You’ve listened and you’ve talked with me as I’ve dropped one rock after another out of my backpack.  I carry around fewer rocks these days and joy visits me much more often because of you.

I’ve never found a church like you.  I feel very close to the Kingdom of God here.  If I weren’t committed elsewhere I’d never have moved away and I’d ask to be buried in your cemetery. 

I think you should consider my question seriously, though, because you have a miraculous thing going and each of you is contributing to it all the time.  Aren’t you curious, too?  What are the seeds this all grew from?  Why do they still prosper?  Do they have to be Danish? Name the parts if you would, I want the recipe. I want you to have the recipe too so you can delight in being an ingredient. 

Then again I don’t expect you’ll spend too much time on that list.  I can almost hear Donna Mortensen saying “Well, it’s nothing special, it’s just what good humans are supposed to do.”  Thank you, each of you.  You are a wonder to me.


Prayers of Intercession

Lord’s Prayer

Benediction

The God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you to live in harmony with one another, in accordance with Christ Jesus.

Amen


Hymn – Guide Me Ever, Great Redeemer

1.
Guide me ever, great Redeemer, pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but you are mighty; hold me with your pow’rful hand.
Bread of heaven, bread of heaven,
feed me now and evermore, feed me now and evermore.

2.
Open now the crystal fountain where the healing waters flow;
let the fire and cloudy pillar lead me all my journey through.
Strong deliv’rer, strong deliv’rer,
shield me with your mighty arm, shield me with your mighty arm.

3.
When I tread the verge of Jordan, bid my anxious fears subside;
death of death and hell’s destruction, land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs and praises, songs and praises
I will raise for evermore, I will raise forevermore.


Postlude

Chris Johansen

Sounds of Home – Ring

Tuesdays at 2pm
Welcome to the October 13th edition of Sounds of Home!

The Riddle Song

I gave my love a cherry that has no stone;
I gave my love a chicken that has no bone;
I gave my love a ring that has no end;
I gave my love a baby, there’s no cry-en.

How can there be a cherry that has no stone?
How can there be a chicken that has no bone?
How can there be a ring that has no end?
How can there be a baby, there’s no cry-en?

A cherry when it’s blooming, it has no stone;
A chicken when it’s pipping, it has no bone;
A ring when it’s rolling, it has no end;
A baby when it’s sleeping, there’s no cry-en.

American folk song, Ky.
Harmonized by Edna Ritchie


Like to lend your voice?
Our upcoming theme is “drift”

If you have a response to this theme – whether a story or memory, original piece of writing or poetry, music, radio drama, or one-liner – the sky’s the limit – between 5 seconds and 5 minutes in length – or if you would like to guest host or lead a song to sing together — we’re eager to hear from you!

To submit a response, please make an audio recording and email it to Molly,
or send in a written response to be read aloud on the program.

Contact Molly at tulkmo01@luther.edu for information and submissions.
Deadline for submissions is Monday, October 19th.

Sounds for this podcast: “church bell chime” recorded by Daniel Simon obtained from SoundBible.com and “church bell tolling in the city” by Alexander permitted for non-commercial use under license ìAttribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) obtained from orangefreesounds.com

October 11th Worship

Order of Service

Part I
Preludeby BachChris Johansen, piano
Opening Prayer
Welcome
Confession & Forgiveness
Pastor Linda
Gathering SongThy Blessings Fill Our Earthly Need
S-31
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Greeting
Prayer of the Day
Pastor Linda
Psalm 103vs. 1-12Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Part II
ScriptureExodus 32: 1-14Pastor Linda
SermonPastor Linda
HymnO Christ the Healer, We Have Come
#610
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Statement of Faith
Prayers of Intercession
Pastor Linda
Offering Prayer
Thanksgiving
Lord’s Prayer
Pastor Linda
Benediction
Dismissal
Pastor Linda
Closing HymnThy Holy Wings
#613
Pastor Linda
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
PostludeThis is My Father’s WorldChris Johansen

Part I

Part II


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Welcome

Confession & Forgiveness

In heart and spirit, we are gathered together in the name of the Father, and of the +Son, and of the Holy Spirit.                          

     Amen

Recognizing our need for forgiveness, for belonging, let us confess our sin, and seek reconciliation with God and with each other.

                   Silence for reflection and self-examination.

God of justice and compassion,

we confess that we have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed. We have not been faithful stewards of your love, of your word of grace, of your creation, or of our harvest and abundance. Too many hunger in our world of plenty. Forgive our sin, increase our faith, strengthen us in service, and bring us to trust in the everlasting life that is ours through your Son.    Amen

In the mercy of God, there is forgiveness; there is life, and redemption, and peace.                

     Amen


Gathering Song – Thy Blessings Fill Our Earthly Need

1.
Thy blessings fill our earthly need,
Thy blessing is Thy people’s meed,
The blessing from Thy hands, O Lord,
Is wine upon Thy festal board.

2.
The blessing which God’s promise bore,
Was given Abraham of yore,
But not until the Savior’s birth
Its fullness was reveal’d on earth.

3.
The blessing now, like dew and rain,
Doth fall on ev’ry land and main
And to the church of Christ is sent
Through our baptismal covenant.

4.
The blessing to His church on earth
Gives at the font to man new birth
And through the bread and cup imparts
The life of Jesus to our hearts.

5.
For blessings manifold give praise,
To heaven thankful voices raise!
God’s blessing then for evermore
Shall on His church like showers pour.


Greeting

    The grace and loving-kindness of our Savior Jesus Christ be with you all.

         And also with you.

Prayer of the Day

Lord, I want to love you, yet I’m not sure.
I want to trust you, yet I’m afraid of being taken in.
I know I need you, yet I’m ashamed of the need.
I want to pray, yet I’m afraid of being a hypocrite.
I need my independence, yet I fear to be alone
I want to belong, yet I must be myself.
Take me, Lord, yet leave me alone.Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. 

~ Brother Bernard, SSF


Psalm 103: 1-12

1 Bless the Lord, | O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless God’s | holy name.

2 Bless the Lord, | O my soul,
and forget not | all God’s benefits —

3 who forgives | all your sins
and heals all | your diseases;

4 who redeems your life | from the grave
and crowns you with steadfast | love and mercy;

5 who satisfies your desires | with good things
so that your youth is renewed | like an eagle’s.

6 O Lord, you provide | vindication
and justice for all who | are oppressed,

7 You made known your | ways to Moses
and your works to the chil-|dren of Israel.

8 Lord, you are full of compas-|sion and mercy,
slow to anger and abounding in | steadfast love;

9 you will not al-|ways accuse us,
nor will you keep your an-|ger forever.

10 You have not dealt with us according | to our sins,
nor repaid us according to | our iniquities.

11 For as the heavens are high a-|bove the earth,
so great is your steadfast love for | those who fear you.

12 As far as the east is | from the west,
so far have you removed our transgres-|sions from us.


Scripture: Exodus 32: 1-14

1When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron and said to him, ‘Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 2Aaron said to them, ‘Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.’ 3So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. 4He took the gold from them, formed it in a mould, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!’ 5When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, ‘Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.’ 6They rose early the next day, and offered burnt-offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

7The Lord said to Moses, ‘Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; 8they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” ’ 9The Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. 10Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.’

11But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, ‘O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12Why should the Egyptians say, “It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth”? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. 13Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, “I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it for ever.” ’ 14And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.


Sermon

We drop in on the narrative lectionary series of readings today in the Sinai wilderness. Moses and God have led the Israelites out of Egypt, barely ahead of the crest of the wave that destroyed the pursuing army. Moses and Miriam sang songs of thanksgiving to God on the far shore, the people shook the dust of Egypt off their sandals and followed Moses into the wilderness before them. The goal is a land of promise – a land said to be flowing with milk and honey – a land that will be theirs.  Along the way are stories of complaining and hunger, of God’s provision of water from a rock, of manna falling like morning dew, of quails flocking to their camp every evening – until finally the children of Israel arrived at the base of Mount Sinai which is covered with the presence of God, shrouded in cloud and fire and thunder.

In chapter 19:3, Moses first went up the mountain to God who called to him and said, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians,… and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and if you keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation.”

Moses came down the mountain and told the people this astounding news, giving them the terms of God’s covenant.The first and most important: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol… You shall not bow down to them or worship them.” On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, a thick cloud enveloped the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.  The people trembled.

After all this drama, God basically told him to go back down, get Aaron, and warn the people that no one was permitted to approach the cloud of smoke. Moses seemed to think this was unnecessary information, but God repeated it – at peril of their lives they must not come closer to look.

     The number of trips Moses makes up and down the mountain conveying the word of God gets bit confusing, but on three separate occasions in these chapters, the Israelites agree to be God’s faithful people, to let God be their God, and not to worship idols.

     Back up the mountain, Moses received detailed instructions for building the ark of the covenant and tabernacle, the tent in which God’s presence would reside as the Israelites travelled on to the promised land.

     So in terms of story plot lines, we would expect the next scene to be of the Israelites building this mobile home fit for God’s glorious presence. And perhaps they would have, and things would have gone differently for them, dwelling peaceably in the presence of God, perhaps ……. but things rarely go smoothly in the Bible or in our lives ….. Moses was called away again, back up the mountain to receive the 10 commandments in tablet form…

24:16    And the glory of the LORD settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it…Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain and was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.”

Forty days is a long time for the people to keep focus and faith, to live in anxiety at the base of a smoking mountain. For the first few days things were great. The manna and quail diet continued so there was plenty for God’s people to eat. There wasn’t much to do out in the desert, but after all, they deserved a few days of rest – they had spent their whole lives as slaves and it had been a long, stoney journey to this point. Time now to sort things out. Time to rest. Time to consider….. too much time to consider.

     Because sometimes, late at night, in the darkness of their tents, some of God’s people would ask; “How long do you think Moses will be gone? You don’t think he’s left us do you? You don’t think he’s been overcome by smoke or consumed by that blazing, dazzling, holy fire… do you?” And the people of God worried – or at least some of them did.

     After a few weeks, the waiting started to get old. “Where could Moses be?” the people wondered? “Do you think he really will bring a gift for us from God? What in heaven’s name is taking so long?” And now more of God’s people worried. And the fear began to spread – spread like a virus, like a wildfire, like a twitter of misinformation. And by the time forty days and forty nights had passed, God’s people were very nearly frantic. In their hysterics, they went to Aaron crying out that something had to be done. Right now!

They said to him, “Come, make gods for us, form a god who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”  And Aaron – who had been up that mountain with Moses, under the smoke, in the presence of God when the ten commandments were spoken, who surely knew the first one by heart – Aaron said, “Take off the golden rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.”  So all the people brought them. He took the gold, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!”  When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and made a proclamation, “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.”  They rose early the next day, and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel.

Perhaps it was intended for good, a way to calm and reassure the people until Moses returned…

But it did not go unnoticed.

  The Lord said, “Go down, Moses. At once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it!'”          Furious, he told Moses to stand aside, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; …. but of you I will make a great nation.”

As with Noah and then with Abraham, now with Moses, God would start over again, making a new people, a more faithful people, maybe even a smarter people who wouldn’t be fooled into thinking a golden calf was their God.

But Moses argued against this, face to face he argued with God. It seems that neither of them wanted to claim the rootless people. “These are YOUR people,” Moses maintained. “The ones YOU saved, the ones YOU brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand!  God, you have made a covenant to THESE people.”   And just to make sure all the bases were covered, Moses chided God, saying, “Will you let the Egyptians gloat by saying, ‘What kind of god rescues them from slavery only to destroy them all in freedom?’”

“You’re right” sighed God. “They are my people and I do love them.  Go down, Moses, and straighten them out.”

Actually, it doesn’t say that in the Bible, but it does say that God changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring upon his people. God shows mercy to the wayward, stiff-necked, longing-for-a-god-any-god-will-do people whom God has chosen as his own.        

“Take off those golden rings – the reminders of your slavery, the dowry of your freedom – and bring them to me.” And from the gold, Aaron cast an image of a calf; and the people said, “Here is your god, O Israel, the one who brought you up out of the land of Egypt! See how it glitters in the sun. Note how it dazzles. Let us worship this thing, this image of our god.”

I think the Israelites knew that this little cash cow, newly created from the plunder they carried out of Egypt, was not God, but the problem was that it was god enough … right? Sometimes we only need something to be god enough – comforting enough, fulfilling enough, saving enough – a credit card and a shopping spree, alcohol, comfort food, consuming work, a TV and its remote – god enough when we can’t find or feel or see the real, but hidden, invisible God. 

The symbolism of golden calf god is interesting.  The people are willing to worship the wealth of Egypt even though it was that very wealth that had enslaved them, had put them down, had controlled them.

Do we do that? Do we idolize power? Do we revere the things that control us?

Of course we do. Politics, merchandizing, 24-hr news, the systemization of greed and self-interest – these things thrive on the enslavement of our values, controlling our opinions and purchases and lifestyles, diminishing community and our calling as creatures formed in the image of God: the true God, the One God, begotten not made. Too often, we see ourselves made in the image of that other god, that golden calf … the soon-to-be bull that has power over others.

Egyptian wealth – those gold earrings – gave the Israelite’s their identity, told them who they were – yes, they were slaves, limited, finite, but sometimes knowing that you are “all that you can be” and having that be defined for us, can be comforting. We tend to prefer limits, boundaries, order – even as we proclaim Freedom and a wide horizon as our due…. we like the idea of all that space and potential, but in actual practice there’s a lot of fear in the prospect of new starts, open-ended possibilities. Some have found in the social isolation of COVID an opportunity to reboot, take a long self assessment and make new plans — many have found the lack of social structure disorienting and destructive.

The Israelites formed the reminder of their slavery into a golden calf and then offered it burnt offerings as though it could smell; they sat down in front of it, content, to eat and drink, and revel. Because now they had God – enough of a god. Right there on the lamp stand. Tangible. Solid. Semi-precious, glinting in the sun.

We hear this story and say, “Oh, there they go again, those foolish biblical people. Hardly have the words of God’s love song for them echoed away, scarcely has the promise they made of a covenantal relationship dried on their dusty lips, than the people forget the lines they have been rehearsing. ‘You shall know that I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me.’”

“How telling their failures will prove to be,” we say. “They’re done for. They’re toast.”

And by rights they should be. Done for.     By rights, so should we. 

Moses has made a bunch of trips up and down Mt. Sinai – into the presence of God and back down into the camp, up the mountain to God and down again. This time, though, he was up there for a very long time. And the people began to feel vulnerable camped at the foot of that mountain, under a cloud spitting fire and smoke. Little wonder they set a golden calf on a lamp stand and called it god enough. This one they could appease and control and keep an eye on.

What do we do when we can’t approach God, or hear God, or find God, or feel God’s presence? I suspect that is a quite common occurrence for most of us? What do we do? Do we boldly argue with God and hold God to the promise like Moses did?   Do we change our prayers to accommodate the silence? Do we decide that God isn’t invested in such small details as our needs, that we are not worthy, or haven’t found the right words? Do we look for help somewhere else, some other god – credit card and shopping spree, chocolate cake, Facebook, extra shifts at work? How can we avoid this disaster of setting up idols on the lamp stand in place of God while we wait?

I don’t know that we actually can avoid this disaster.  Old Testament professor, Rolf Jacobsen, says it isn’t so much that the Israelites made a false god, but they made a false image of the true God. Maybe it should have been a bird – a golden mother hen nestling chicks under her wings! That’s my new favorite image of divine love.  Or maybe an eagle. “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians,” God said… “and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”

Maybe Aaron should have made a bird! It was the bull calf that infuriated God. Maybe not.

I’m going to say our images are always wrong – whatever they are. We’d get along better in the world if religious people would only believe and honor that. Whatever idea or belief we have of God is incomplete, too small, too limited, perhaps flat out wrong – because none of us has an imagination big enough for the real deal, the whole being of God. We drop into idolatrous relationships with things that control us, have power over us, because God is such a puzzle and so silent outside of the Bible’s stories. It’s small wonder that we make up false images.  At least that way we worship a god we can live with.

I feel sorry for these Israelites. They do not have a good time of it. In fact, because of this episode, none of them will live to cross on into the promised land. This entire generation of people are simply caretakers, the genomes of the ones who will live on into the promises of God. It hardly seems fair.      The images the Israelites made of God are consistently too small, too limited to bear the divine, the creator of heaven and earth. That will continue to a problem for them, and for God – it’s a stalemate in their relationship.

It would help, really, to have God come a little closer, dazzle a little less and come down from the mountain, become somehow more approachable for those who are not Moses, appear in some form that is a bit easier to make sense of and talk to and follow. Is it really their fault, the Israelites, or ours, that we cling to things that are of the earth, elemental, fundamental when God is so obscured by the glory and majesty of clouds and smoke and mirrors reflecting our imaginings back onto us? God is glimpsed, but not revealed.

At the end of Deuteronomy, in summing up Moses’ life and career, we learn that “never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.”

Face to face. The face of God, facing a human face – maybe God learns something here, a new means of approach. An image, a living word, that shares our story and enters our lives?

I suspect, though, that we will make an idol even of that one, that Son of God, shoring up our own viewpoints and perspectives and language rather than looking for God as God truly is.


Hymn – O Christ, the Healer, We Have Come

1.
O Christ, the healer, we have come
to pray for health, to plead for friends.
How can we fail to be restored
when reached by love that never ends?

2.
From ev’ry ailment flesh endures
our bodies clamor to be freed;
yet in our hearts we would confess
that wholeness is our deepest need.

3.
In conflicts that destroy our health
we recognize the world’s disease;
our common life declares our ills.
Is there no cure, O Christ, for these?

4.
Grant that we all, made one in faith,
in your community may find
the wholeness that, enriching us,
shall reach the whole of humankind.


Statement of Faith

We are not alone; we live in God’s world.
We believe in God, who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.
We are called to be the Church:
     to celebrate God’s presence,
     to live with respect in Creation,
     to love and serve others,
     to seek justice and resist evil,
     to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our center and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone.  Amen

Prayers of Intercession

With all the people of God, we pray for the church, those in need, and all of God’s creation.

  • +  For the changing seasons, Creator God, and all the ways that we are reminded of your presence in the colors of the leaves, the harvested fields, the active wildlife, and the changing temperatures; we are grateful for all that you provide for us. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

  • +  We pray for all those who are experiencing exclusion, those who are marginalized or oppressed, those who are treated with disrespect or violence, those who are bullied, those who are denied opportunities for growth, for those who suffer injustice of any kind – please surround them with your strength and care, and give us the courage to be agents of change. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

  • +  God of mercy, grant your healing touch to those who are in pain, those who are grieving, lost, afraid, hungry, suffering from addiction, or in any way in mind, body or spirit. We name these known to us now……….Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

  • +  As we find creative and meaningful ways of living into our faith during this strange time, dear God, we are thankful for your church and the gift of the Holy Spirit that continues to connect us to our brothers and sisters in faith nearby and around the earth. Help us listen to what you are calling us to do. Lord in your mercy, Hear our prayer.

  • +  Other intentions may be added here….


Offering Prayer

Lover of our souls, you open wide your hands and satisfy the needs of every living creature. We thank you and bless you for your tender care. Through the time, skills, and financial resources we give to our congregation help us to serve our neighbors, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and bring justice to the oppressed in our world. Help us in these gifts to go where you send us, in all the beautiful names of God.    Amen.                 

Thanksgiving for the Word

Response: We give you thanks and praise.

Lord’s Prayer


Benediction

Dismissal

Go forth into the world to serve God with gladness; be of good courage; hold fast to that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honor all people; love and serve God, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thanks be to God.


Hymn – Thy Holy Wings

1.
Thy holy wings, O Savior, spread gently over me,
and let me rest securely through good and ill in thee.
Oh, be my strength and portion, my rock and hiding place,
and let my ev’ry moment be lived within thy grace.

2.
Oh, let me nestle near thee, within thy downy breast
where I will find sweet comfort and peace within thy nest.
Oh, close thy wings around me and keep me safely there,
for I am but a newborn and need thy tender care.

3.
Oh, wash me in the waters of Noah’s cleansing flood.
Give me a willing spirit, a heart both clean and good.
Oh, take into thy keeping thy children great and small,
and while we sweetly slumber, enfold us one and all.


Postlude

Chris Johansen

Sounds of Home – Harvest Fest

Welcome to Harvest Fest!
Haven’t seen the competition submissions? Check out the ‘Harvest Fest’ tab at the top of the page to see what folks sent in!

Harvest Song

Hi! Come and sing, for the harvest is over,
Fields are mowed, the grain is stored, and straw is in the stack.
Haymow is bursting with sweet scented clover;
Trees are shaken, apples picked, the wagon’s heading back.
We shall rejoice tonight knowing that when it’s light,
birds and beasts and poorer folk may take what is their right.

Hi! Bring the sheaves to be made into garlands,
Bring the leaves, the roses pink and daisies white and blue.
Our threshing floor, true to custom in our land
Shall be decked with all the season’s beauty, good and true.
Children already prance!  Girls are waiting for the chance!
Ends the festive evening in a joyous harvest dance!

Text: Danish Folk Song; trans. by Saralice Petersen
Music: Danish Folk Melody

We are Stewards

We are stewards, and what we are worth,
We shall prove as we plow the good earth,
And are sowing, where for others the grain will be growing.

There is stony and thorn covered soil,
There is heart-breaking, back-breaking toil;
Fellow workers, let us never be counted as shirkers.

There are struggles that try a man’s soul,
And defeats within sight of the goal,
But what treasure wins the man who lives only for pleasure?

Yes, our life shall be rich and be strong,
Be inspired like a beautiful song,
Though we never see the fruit of our honest endeavor.

Text: Kr. Ostergaard; trans. by S.D. Rodholm
Music: J.P. Harbo; arr. by H. Nutzhorn
From “Songs of the Prairie”


Like to lend your voice?
Our next program will be October 13th with the theme of “ring”

If you have a response to this theme – whether a story or memory, original piece of writing or poetry, music, radio drama, or one-liner – the sky’s the limit – between 5 seconds and 5 minutes in length – or if you would like to guest host or lead a song to sing together — we’re eager to hear from you!

To submit a response, please make an audio recording and email it to Molly,
or send in a written response to be read aloud on the program.

Contact Molly at tulkmo01@luther.edu for information and submissions.
Deadline for submissions is Monday, October 12th.


Also accepting responses for

“drift” — October 19th

October 4th Worship

Order of Service

Part I
PreludeFor the Beauty of the EarthChris Johansen, piano
Welcome
Confession & Forgiveness
Pastor Linda
HymnHow Great Thou Art
#856, vs. 1, 2, 4
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Greeting
Prayer of the Day
Pastor Linda
Psalm 8Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Part II
Sermon & ScripturePastor Linda
HymnAll Creatures Worship God Most High!
#835
Pastor Linda
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Statement of Faith
Prayers of Intercession
Pastor Linda
Peace
Great Thanksgiving
Lord’s Prayer
Communion
Pastor Linda
Offering Prayer
Benediction
Blessing
Pastor Linda
HymnWhen Long Before Time
#861
Pastor Linda
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
PostludePraise to the Lord, the AlmightyChris Johansen

Part I

Part II


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Welcome

Hello and welcome to this worship service of West Denmark Lutheran Church.

It’s good to be back after two weeks away – and it was good to be gone, so that you – and I – may benefit from the grace and planning of our members. Thank you so much to Liz and her crew, and Shawn and his cohort – they provided creative, thought-provoking, engaging worship. I don’t mean any offense, but this is not what we would get from an ordained clergy fill-in. Supply clergy have their gifts, but, by necessity, would offer something generic, unrelated to the meandering path through creation we’ve been on – and how uplifting it is to hear the children’s voices. So, thank you congregation, for providing me and one another with this great gift of lay leadership.

This is the final week of the liturgical Season of Creation. I was an environmentalist long before I     became a pastor, and the particular flora and fauna beneath my feet and surrounding me has always been of interest and importance to me. In the 70’s, I was invested in the wilderness movement – the   inherent value and right of designated areas of the earth to exist free of human interference. My ecology major changed, but my interest and worry has not left me. The earth and animals have inherent value. They have rights beyond our use and need of them. This season of creation is intended to bring that awareness and God’s love for all of the earth before us. As the earth suffers, the people suffer too – it’s time for a radical new   narrative. Our habits of consumption, energy and food production, waste and greed, all need to be rewritten. Recognizing the pain, repenting, creating new life in narratives of hope and redemption is where we will find hope. But first we feel the pain of change.


Confession & Forgiveness

P:  Blessed be the holy Trinity, + one God, who forgives all our sin, whose mercy endures forever.

C: Amen

P: We confess our entanglements with justice, race, exploitation, dominance, ignorance, and power – and recognize 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.

P: Holy God, holy and immortal and among us, have mercy. For self-centered living, and for failing to walk with humility and gentleness with our eyes wide open to beauty and suffering:

      C: Holy God, holy and immortal and among us, have mercy.

For selfishness, and for hearts that are not at rest with ourselves or with enough:

            Holy God, holy and immortal and among us, have mercy.

For misuse of human relationships, and for unwillingness to see the image of God in others:

            Holy God, holy and immortal and among us, have mercy.

For arrogance and attitudes that divide families, neighbors and nations; for racism, inherent and denied:

            Holy God, holy and immortal and among us, have mercy.

For reluctance in sharing the gifts of God, for self-serving consumption of the resources of this earth:

            Holy God, holy and immortal and among us, have mercy.

For hurtful words that condemn, and for angry deeds that harm:

            Holy God, holy and immortal and among us, have mercy.

For squandering the gifts of love and grace and growth:

            Holy God, holy and immortal and among us, have mercy.

In the unrequited love of almighty God, Jesus Christ lived our human lot, and was killed when we could not see past privilege and certainty and fear. Yet, for mercy’s sake, God forgives all of that, again and again. As a called and ordained minister of the church of Christ, and by his authority, I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins, in the love of the Creator, and of the + Christ, and of Holy One of Wisdom. Amen.


Hymn – How Great Thou Art

1.
O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
consider all the works thy hand hath made,
I see the stars, I hear the mighty thunder,
thy pow’r throughout the universe displayed;

Refrain
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee,
how great thou art! How great thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to thee,
how great thou art! How great thou art!

2.
When through the woods and forest glades I wander,
I hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees;
when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur
and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze;
Refrain

4.
When Christ shall come, with shout of acclamation,
and take me home, what joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow in humble adoration
and there proclaim, “My God, how great thou art!”
Refrain


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, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

~ attributed to St Francis of Assisi


Psalm 8

1 O | Lord our Lord,
how majestic is your name in | all the earth!—

2 you whose glory is chanted above the heavens out of the mouths of in-|fants and children;
you have set up a fortress against your enemies, to silence the foe | and avenger.

3 When I consider your heavens, the work | of your fingers,
the moon and the stars you have set | in their courses,

4 what are mere mortals that you should be mind-|ful of them,
human beings that you should | care for them?

5 Yet you have made them little less | than divine;
with glory and hon-|or you crown them.

6 You have made them rule over the works | of your hands;
you have put all things un-|der their feet:

7 all | flocks and cattle,
even the wild beasts | of the field,

8 the birds of the air, the fish | of the sea,
and whatever passes along the paths | of the sea.

9 O | Lord our Lord,
how majestic is your name in | all the earth!


Scripture & Sermon

In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up… the Lord God formed man (adám) from the dust of the ground (adamáh), and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east… Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it….Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man there was not found a helper as his partner. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one shall be called Woman.

lightly edited from Genesis 2

We entered the Season of Creation with the creation of humans – week one as told in Genesis, Chapter 1 where we arrive on Day 6. The next week we heard this reading from Chapter 2 as God formed the adam from the dust of the earth, then from the same dust, created every living thing – plants and animals, birds and creepy crawlers.

I began with humans – not because we are more important, but because the issue of the day compelled me to address racism and community. Aside from that context, it’s still instructive to begin with humans, as Chapter 2 does – not, as many think, because we are the grand result of God’s efforts – but because, in Chapter 2, we are there.

We are there to see the rest of creation come into view. We are there to watch and wonder as God designs and forms from earthen elements each detail of each creature, great and small. We were there, watching over God’s shoulder, admiring the beauty, smiling at the absurdities, longing to touch and examine and find a helpmate among the multitudes of creatures. If that is how we imagined creation – instead of the 7 Days of Chapter 1, I wonder what different response we might have to God’s instruction for dominion. In Chapter 2, dominion is not mentioned, we are to tend and till the garden. In Hebrew, the words also mean to serve and preserve or observe. It is fascinating and horrifying at times to realize how much difference it makes – which part of scriptures we have been conditioned or molded into taking as our primary view. Language and imagery have deep consequences in how we behave and believe. It is a short step from dominion to domination and exploitation. Maybe it’s not a wonder that vocation from chapter 1 became the rationale for commodifying creation and putting it to our human use. I wonder if our behavior would be different if we only had the story of Chapter 2, where God’s instruction is to tend, preserve, and serve – and we see ourselves there, at the beginning, of one dust with all living things, one of all God’s intricately formed creatures, one in the circle, not the center of the circle. Today was going to be animal day. Originally, I thought I might go bless Danny’s sheep and Ronnie’s cows, bringing you along on Zoom. But reality sunk in. Then I began reading and collecting resources and stories … and thinking. Maybe I had too much time to think, because once I got down to writing and brought all the resources and stories together, it turned out to be about a 2 hour sermon. So I edited and deleted. And edited and deleted. And by the time it was a decent length it really didn’t have any of the fun left. It was more disjointed than I usually am. So I kept one of the resources that I’ve wanted to read to you for a long time. Today is the day…

The Dominion of Love, by Barbara Brown Taylor
(Unfortunately, we can’t post it here!)


Hymn – All Creatures, Worship God Most High!

1.
All creatures worship God most high!
Sound ev’ry voice in earth and sky:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Sing, brother sun, in splendor bright;
sing, sister moon and stars of night:
Refrain
Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia, alleluia!

2.
Sing, brother wind; with clouds and rain
you grow the gifts of fruit and grain:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Dear sister water, useful, clear,
make music for your Lord to hear:
Refrain

3.
Sing, brother fire, so mirthful, strong;
drive far the shadows, join the throng:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Dear mother earth, so rich in care,
praise God in colors bright and rare:
Refrain

4.
All who for love of God forgive,
all who in pain or sorrow grieve:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Christ bears your burdens and your fears;
still make your song amid the tears:
Refrain

5.
And you most gentle sister death,
waiting to hush our final breath:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
Since Christ our light has pierced your gloom
fair is the night that leads us home.
Refrain

6.
O sisters, brothers, take your part,
and worship God with humble heart:
Alleluia! Alleluia!
All creatures, bless the Father, Son,
and Holy Spirit, Three in One:
Refrain


Statement of Faith

We are not alone; we live in God’s world.
We believe in God, who has created and is creating, who has come in Jesus to reconcile and make new, who works in us and others by the Spirit.

We trust in God.
We are called to be the Church:
     to celebrate God’s presence,
     to live with respect in Creation,
     to love and serve others,
     to seek justice and resist evil,
     to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen, our center and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. We are not alone.  Amen

Prayers of Intercession

Peace

Great Thanksgiving / Words of Institution

Lord’s Prayer

Communion


Offering Prayer

Lover of our souls, you open wide your hands and satisfy the needs of every living creature. We thank you and bless you for your tender care. Through the time, skills, and financial resources we give to our congregation help us to serve our neighbors, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and bring justice to the oppressed in our world. Help us in these gifts to go where you send us, in all the beautiful names of God.    Amen.                 

Benediction

Blessing

Live with the strength you have.
            Live simply
            lightly
            gently
Live in search of Love.
And know the Spirit of God is with you. You are not alone.  Amen


Hymn – When Long Before Time

1.
When long before time and the worlds were begun,
when there was no earth and no sky and no sun,
and all was deep silence and night reigned supreme,
and even our Maker had only a dream—

2.
The silence was broken when God sang the Song,
and light pierced the darkness and rhythm began,
and with its first birth-cries creation was born,
and creaturely voices sang praise to the morn.

3.
The sounds of the creatures were one with their Lord’s,
their harmonies sweet and befitting the Word;
the Singer was pleased as the earth sang the Song,
the choir of the creatures re-echoed it long.

4.
Though down through the ages the Song disappeared,
its harmonies broken and almost unheard,
the Singer comes to us to sing it again,
our God-is-with-us in the world now as then.

5.
The Light has returned as it came once before,
the Song of the Lord is our own song once more,
so let us all sing with one heart and one voice
the Song of the Singer in whom we rejoice.

6.
To you, God the Singer, our voices we raise,
to you, Song Incarnate, we give all our praise,
to you, Holy Spirit, our life and our breath,
be glory forever, through life and through death.


Postlude

Chris Johansen

Sounds of Home – Punch

Tuesdays at 2pm
Welcome to the September 29th edition of Sounds of Home!

Love Divine, All Loves Excelling

Love divine, all loves excelling, Joy of heav’n to earth come down!
Fix in us thy humble dwelling, all thy faithful mercies crown.
Jesus, thou art all compassion, pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation, enter ev’ry trembling heart.

Breathe, oh, breathe thy loving Spirit, into every troubled breast;
let us all in thee inherit; let us find thy promised rest.
Take away the love of sinning; Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning, set our hearts at liberty.

Text: Charles Wesley
Music: Rowland H. Prichard


**Harvest Fest Special coming Sunday Oct 4th**
Join the celebration!
The word of the week is harvest.

Do you have a story about one of your Harvest Fest competition submissions? Or tale of a harvest day? Thoughts on your garden? Or something else to say or sing of harvest?
We’d love to hear from you!

Please send in your audio or written submissions by Saturday Oct. 3rd
to Molly at tulkmo01@luther.edu


September 27th Worship

Order of Service

Part I
PreludeMorning Has BrokenChris Johansen, piano
Opening PrayerHenrik Strandskov
WelcomeShawn Mai
HymnWhen Morning Gilds the Skies
#853
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Prayer of the DayShawn Mai
ScriptureAmos 4:13Henrik Strandskov
ReadingOld TurtleAbel Wetzig
Mercy Wetzig
Psalm 100Chuck Parsons, organ
ScripturePhilippians 4:4-7Henrik Strandskov
Part II
ReflectionShawn Mai
HymnFor the Fruit of All Creation
#679, vs. 1 & 3
Shawn Mai
Chuck Parsons, organ
Statement of FaithShawn Mai
Prayers of IntercessionNikki Strandskov
Lord’s Prayer
Benediction
Pastor Linda
HymnThis is My Father’s World
#824
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
BlessingShawn Mai
PostludeAshokan FarewellChris Johansen

Part I

Part II


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Welcome

Presider:         We gather in the image of the Creator

Congregation:   who is a community of love.

                        We gather in the name of the Redeemer

                               who reconciles all of creation.

                        We gather in the presence of the Giver

                               who inspires new life and renews it.

Opening Prayer

Hymn – When Morning Gilds the Skies

1.
When morning gilds the skies,
my heart awaking cries:
may Jesus Christ be praised!
When evening shadows fall,
this rings my curfew call:
may Jesus Christ be praised!

2.
When mirth for music longs,
this is my song of songs:
may Jesus Christ be praised!
God’s holy house of prayer
has none that can compare
with “Jesus Christ be praised!”

3.
No lovelier antiphon
in all high heav’n is known
than “Jesus Christ be praised!”
There to the-eternal Word
the-eternal psalm is heard:
oh, Jesus Christ be praised!

4.
Let all of humankind
in this their concord find:
may Jesus Christ be praised!
Let all the earth around
ring joyous with the sound:
may Jesus Christ be praised!

5.
Sing, sun and stars of space,
sing, all who see his face,
sing, “Jesus Christ be praised!”
God’s whole creation o’er,
today and evermore
shall Jesus Christ be praised!


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

Gracious God, as creator you inspire and work for that which is good. Your  faithfulness, kindness, goodness and grace are the constants that inspire us. Continue to inspire in us awe and wonder for all You have created. Today in this worship, we honor you and praise you for all that you have created.  Amen.


Reading: Amos 4:13

For lo, the one who forms the mountains, creates the wind,
    reveals his thoughts to mortals,
makes the morning darkness,
    and treads on the heights of the earth—
    the Lord, the God of hosts, is his name!


Reading: Old Turtle


Psalm 100

1 Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all you lands!
2 Serve the Lord with gladness; come into God’s presence with a song.

3 Know that the Lord is God, our maker to whom we belong;
we are God’s people and the sheep of God’s pasture.

4 Enter the gates of the Lord with thanksgiving and the courts with praise;
give thanks and bless God’s holy name.

5 Good indeed is the Lord, whose steadfast love is everlasting,
whose faithfulness endures from age to age.


Reading: Phillipians 4: 4-7

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.


Reflection

This past week I had a conversation with a physician at the hospital. It’s a conversation of sorts that I’ve had with lots of people over the years. The physician described the spiritual tradition of her childhood, in this case Hindu. She framed herself as not a religious person, maybe even agnostic. She then shifted to talking about the role nature plays in her life. I then noticed these beautiful nature photographs on her wall. She explained this sense of connection she feels in nature and her photography when she feels disease and disconnection in her life. Nature helps her to make sense of what goes on around her. It has helped to inspire wonder and be a bit more at peace with that which is out of her control.

These past weeks, I’ve been reflecting on the role of creation and nature in my own spirituality. I’ve been taking more seriously how the natural world around me is a source of how I interact with and understand the divine. It is not just an environment to meet God in but it has become more of a direct experience of God.

In a time filled with angst, helplessness, anger, and distress, creation doesn’t just exist to catch our imaginations with beautiful reds, yellows, and oranges but creation reveals some powerful truths. Paradox, our role as co-creators, and finding peace in the messiness of the created world are three ponderings that have been there for me lately.

First, paradox. Writer, philosopher, and modern day mystic, Parker Palmer writes a lot about paradox. As we sit in this season of autumn, I thought of his reflections on autumn and paradox. He writes:

“Autumn is a season of exhilarating beauty. It’s also a season of steady decline and, for some of us, deepening melancholy. The days become shorter and colder, the trees shed their glory, and summer’s abundance starts to decay toward winter’s death.. Today, at age 76 — as I weather the autumn of my own life — I find nature a trustworthy guide. It’s easy to fixate on everything that goes to ground as time goes by: the disintegration of a relationship, the disappearance of good work well-done, the diminishment of a sense of purpose and meaning. But, as I’ve come to understand that life “composts” and “seeds” us as autumn does the earth, I’ve seen how possibility gets planted in us even in the most difficult of times.
The hopeful notion that new life is hidden in dying is surely reinforced by the visual glories of autumn. How shall we understand nature’s testimony that dying itself — as devastating as we know it can be — contains the hope of a certain beauty?
The closest I’ve ever come to answering that question begins with these words from Thomas Merton:
“There is in all visible things… a hidden wholeness.”

In the visible world of nature, a great truth is concealed in plain sight. Diminishment and beauty, darkness and light, death and life are not opposites: they are held together in the paradox of the “hidden wholeness.” In a paradox, opposites do not negate each; they cohabit and co-create in mysterious unity at the heart of reality. Deeper still, they need each other for health, just as our well-being depends on breathing in and breathing out.

Even though the lakes and woods of the north country are where I find a sense of home now, I learned about paradox through the Kansas landscape. The wind can howl all day long, making you feel as though you’ve been beat up and yelled at, and minutes later find yourself looking at the most beautiful sunset, an expansive sky that goes on forever, and feel an incredible calm settle into your soul…as Henrik said “a peace that passes all understanding.” It is that experience in the natural world that points to a truth that is undeniable. A truth, as Parker Palmer says, where there is a hidden wholeness.

Alfred North Whitehead developed what is called process thought. There is process theology, process philosophy, process metaphysics…a way of thinking about the world and how God, you and I, and the natural world evolve. Whitehead’s classical statement is a set of antithetical statements that attempt to avoid self-contradiction by shifting them from a set of oppositions into a contrast:

  • It is as true to say that God is permanent and the World fluent, as that the World is permanent and God is fluent.
  • It is as true to say that God is one and the World many, as that the World is one and God many.
  • It is as true to say that the World is immanent in God, as that God is immanent in the World.
  • It is as true to say that God transcends the World, as that the World transcends God.
  • It is as true to say that God creates the World, as that the World creates God.

There are lots of take-aways for me with the notion of paradox. For one, it calls out my black and white thinking. It is a way to more deeply appreciate that I don’t have all the answers, I have limitations in my perspectives, and others are trying to make sense of the world’s complexities in their own way.

In a day marked by divisiveness and binary thinking, to pause and take in the nature of paradox. The moment we think we have the right answer is the moment we need to stay curious. I try to keep in mind when I’m assessing my students and what they need to learn in their educational process, that I know a lot from my training about assessment and students learning issues AND at the same time don’t know my ass from a hold in the ground. Stay open and malleable.

Another important tenant of process theology and what nature teaches us is that we are co-creators with God. Because God interacts with the changing universe, God is changeable (that is to say, God is affected by the actions that take place in the universe) over the course of time. However, the abstract elements of God (goodness, wisdom, love etc.) remain eternally solid.

We see this truth in the change of seasons. One path we travel down is green and full of abundant life. We turn the corner into autumn and we are acutely aware of change. What doesn’t change is there is beauty and goodness. The golds, reds, and oranges of fall turn into the white and stillness of winter turn into the promise of new life in heavy buds and greens of spring turn into the fullness of summer. We need them all and beauty and goodness is infused in it all. We live amidst the nature of change but the abstract elements of God (goodness, wisdom, and love) remain eternally solid.

In being co-creators, we have the responsibility to keep our end of the relationship. To behold the natural world as it is and to honor what it gives.
As one writer put it, to see the sky as not just a good place for putting smokestacks. A wetland as not a missing wheat field. The earth is not just a handy location for development and disposal. All things and beings and people in the world are not just what we can use them for.

If we take the basic principle that is present all major religious tradition to love your neighbor as yourself, it is to behold and honor each place where we step, how we impact that place, and what we leave behind. Understanding our carbon foot print is to honestly understand our integrity as a human being in relationship to God.

Mercy and Abel shared a profound sense of this in their story, “Old Turtle”. It’s related to paradox and goes a step further. The nature of God is many things…expansive like the sky, dark like the depths of a cave, quick as an antelope, and God is a sound, a sense, and a feeling very close, the ant said.” These qualities of God are in each one of us. They are in us to know the expansive experience of life. We know the beauty of autumn and we know the melancholy of darkness. We work and interact with our world and the earth as co-creators with it. Earlier in the service Henrik read from Philippians 4. That text speaks of a peace that passes all understanding. Paul’s words describe a state of being that all of us long for. A state of being at peace with that which is around us. To feel a profound sense of belonging. To behold and to be held. What Paul is talking about is a peace that can exist in all circumstances.

Life isn’t easy. This part of the world was formed by an ice age where rocks collided, water rushed, and the violence of nature profoundly reshaped. It is testament to the forces of life that are beyond our control and at the same time we have a role in their unfolding.

Again, process thought is instructive. The universe is characterized by process and change carried out by the agents of free will. Self-determination characterizes everything in the universe, not just human beings. God cannot totally control any series of events or any individual, but God influences the creaturely exercise of this universal free will by offering possibilities. To say it another way, God has a will in everything, but not everything that occurs is God’s will.

The author who wrote “Old Turtle” also wrote a book “Paddle Whispers” that chronicles a trip he took through the boundary waters. He captures the beauty and sometimes the violent conditions of his journeys.

He writes:

“There are, I believe, only three kinds of people in the world. There are the ones who have said, “Yes.” There are ones who have said , “no.” And there are the ones who haven’t noticed a question yet.
I have a canoe on my head, a rock in my shoe, mosquitos up my pants, blackflies burrowing into my neck, and beaver bog water running down my backside. And I think this must be today’s version of the question.
But if I have it figured right, there are only about two hundred and ninety steps to go on this portage trail, and at the end of it is a cold, blue lake that’s going to feel about one thousand times better than the best shower I’ve ever had.
If its true as Socrates once said that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” then its equally true that the unlived life is not worth examining.
That’s if I have it figured right.”

The ponderings of these last several weeks, on creation, have given me a new awareness and a new framework in how I’m taking in my world. It’s teaching me to be more opened up by the mystery, to be humbled by the grandeur, to fear not only God’s power but my power.

In these days of beauty and terror, in these days of sabbath and isolation, in these days of hope and despair love has found us. I can’t always understand but I can know. I may not always like it but I can love. May the peace that passes all understanding keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus our Lord. AMEN


Hymn – For the Fruit of All Creation

1.
For the fruit of all creation, thanks be to God.
For these gifts to ev’ry nation, thanks be to God.
For the plowing, sowing, reaping,
silent growth while we are sleeping,
future needs in earth’s safekeeping, thanks be to God.

3.
For the harvests of the Spirit, thanks be to God.
For the good we all inherit, thanks be to God.
For the wonders that astound us,
for the truths that still confound us,
most of all, that love has found us, thanks be to God.


Statement of Faith

Prayers of Intercession

Lord’s Prayer

Benediction


Hymn – This is My Father’s World

1.
This is my Father’s world,
and to my list’ning ears
all nature sings, and round me rings
the music of the spheres.
This is my Father’s world;
I rest me in the thought
of rocks and trees, of skies and seas;
his hand the wonders wrought.

2.
This is my Father’s world;
the birds their carols raise;
the morning light, the lily white,
declare their maker’s praise.
This is my Father’s world;
he shines in all that’s fair.
in the rustling grass I hear him pass;
he speaks to me ev’rywhere.

3.
This is my Father’s world;
oh, let me not forget
that, though the wrong seems oft so strong,
God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world;
why should my heart be sad?
The Lord is king, let heaven ring;
God reigns, let earth be glad!


Blessing

Postlude

Chris Johansen

Sounds of Home – Match

Tuesdays at 2pm
Welcome to the September 22nd edition of Sounds of Home!

The Oats

Here I stand with tinkling bells galore,
twenty on each straw, I think, or more.
But the farmer, bless his honest soul,
calls me oats and speaks of twenty fold.

I was sown while happy birds in spring
made with joyful songs the welkin ring.
Bumblebees in wild and tumbling race,
in the mellow sunshine droned the bass.

Growing up in sun and morning dew
that sweet symphony within me grew.
He who listens humbly while I ring,
hears the echo of the songs of spring.

Cold unfeeling hearts can never see
anything but cattle feed in me.
I am more than food for hungry jaws,
I am song of birds on golden straws.

I am friends with everything that grows,
friends with every gentle wind that blows,
friends with waving trees and summer skies,
friends with daisies and with butterflies.

When the sun goes down, its parting smile
lingers on my golden head awhile,
and when evening bells ring out, I, too,
tinkle, standing tip-toe in the dew.

I am ringing children to their beds,
ringing up the mist that slowly spreads.
Ringing peace, as busy day departs,
into humble homes, and pious hearts.

Text: Jeppe Aakjær, trans. by S.D. Rodholm
Music: Aksel Agerby
Words and Music copyright © 1941,
Danish American Young Peoples League


Like to lend your voice?
Our upcoming theme is “punch”

If you have a response to this theme – whether a story or memory, original piece of writing or poetry, music, radio drama, or one-liner – the sky’s the limit – between 5 seconds and 5 minutes in length – or if you would like to guest host or lead a song to sing together — we’re eager to hear from you!

To submit a response, please make an audio recording and email it to Molly,
or send in a written response to be read aloud on the program.

Contact Molly at tulkmo01@luther.edu for information and submissions.
Deadline for submissions is Monday, September 28th.

September 20th Worship

Order of Service

Preludeby ScarlattiChris Johansen, piano
Welcome
Confession
Liz Dodge
HymnListen to Your Children Praying
#752
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Greeting
Prayer of the Day
Liz Dodge
Dramatized Scripture &
Dialogue
Genesis 1: 26-28
Genesis 2: 7-8, 15, 19
Tretsvens
Scripture &
Confession with ‘The Voices of the Whale’
Mark 10: 42-45Wetzigs
ForgivenessLiz Dodge
Reflectionfrom Richard RohrLiz Dodge
HymnAll Things Bright and Beautiful
With One Voice #767
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Prayers of IntercessionGreg Marsten
Lord’s PrayerLiz Dodge
SendingAbby & Alex Ritchie
Closing Prayer
Blessing
Liz Dodge
HymnO God Beyond All Praising
#880
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
PostludeCon Spirito
Clementi
Chris Johansen

Full Audio

(Individual pieces of music are also embedded in the text below)


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Welcome

Hello and welcome to this worship service of West Denmark Lutheran Church. I’m Liz Dodge

We gather in the image of the Creator

Congregation:   who is a community of love.

We gather in the name of the Redeemer

                               who reconciles all of creation.

We gather in the presence of the Giver

                               who inspires new life and renews it.

This is week 4 of the liturgical Season of Creation, an ecumenical conversation of environmental care. The earth is suffering, people are suffering – it’s time for a radical new narrative of consumption, energy production, waste and greed. It’s time to consider community, food sourcing and nutrition, our relationship to animals, the forests, water, the earth. Recognizing the pain, repenting, creating new life in alternative storylines is where we will find hope. But first we feel the pain.


Confession & Forgiveness

We praise you God, for the Earth that sustains life. Through the cycles of days and seasons, growth, dormancy, and renewal, you open your hand to give all creatures our food in due season. In your Wisdom you called for a Sabbath for the land to rest. But our living pushes the planet beyond its limits. Our demand for growth and the endless cycle of production, consumption, and waste is exhausting our world. The forests are burning, the topsoil erodes, the fields fail, the deserts advance, the seas acidify, storms intensify. Humans and animals are forced to flee in search of security. We have not allowed the land to observe a Sabbath, and the Earth is struggling to renew. And so we confess:

God of mercy and justicewe confess these truths to be self-evident.

You tell us the land must rest, free from the burden of production. You call us to pause from sowing, pruning, and reaping in ways that destroy the soil and local ecologies, yet we confess our demand for cheap food that accepts the abuse of pesticides, modifications, fertilizers and mono-crops that push the land to be sterile.

God of mercy and justicewe confess these truths to be self-evident.

You assure us that all can be filled from the yield of the earth, that our security is found in ‘enough’, yet we lack the courage to resist the myth of endless growth. We refuse to be satisfied. You call us to fairness and justice, to share equally, to walk humbly, yet we are mostly unwilling to live in ways that are sustainable and akin to the co-creatures of our habitats.

God of mercy and justicewe confess these truths to be self-evident.      

Turn us from fear and mistrust. Free us to imagine – and to live – a life reconciled to the Earth and all it must sustain, through the Good News of Jesus Christ, in whose hopeful name we pray.  Amen.


Hymn – Listen to Your Children Praying


Lord, listen to your children praying,
Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
Lord, listen to your children praying,
send us love, send us pow’r, send us grace.


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

In the beginning God created all things,
and God saw that they were good.

At our beginning, God created us
unique and irreplaceable, loved and wanted by God,
known and treasured by God even before He created us.

In all our new beginnings, God creates something new
so we will seek God in the freshness of this morning,
in the laughter of friends,
in the colors of creation,
and in this beautiful place.

Lord God, King of Creation,
open our eyes to see your presence,
our souls to sense your presence,
and our hearts to love your presence,
ever here in your creation,
and ever beyond it in eternity.
Amen.

~ Adapted from Liturgy of Creation (http://www.wellsprings.org.uk/liturgies/creation.htm).  Posted on Third Space blog. http://third-space.org.uk/blog


Dramatized Scripture

Reading 1: Genesis 1:26-28

Reader 126 Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image and likeness. And let them rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky. Let them rule over the tame animals, over all the earth and over all the small crawling animals on the earth.”

27 So God created human beings in his image. In the image of God he created them. He created them male and female. 28 God blessed them and said, “Have many children and grow in number. Fill the earth and be its master. Rule over the fish in the sea and over the birds in the sky. Rule over every living thing that moves on the earth.”


Reading 2: Genesis 2:7-8, 15, 19

Reader 2Then the Lord God took dust from the ground and formed man from it. The Lord breathed the breath of life into the man’s nose. And the man became a living person. Then the Lord God planted a garden in the East, in a place called Eden. He put the man he had formed in that garden. 

15 The Lord God put the man in the garden of Eden to care for it and work it.

19 From the ground God formed every wild animal and every bird in the sky. He brought them to the man so the man could name them. Whatever the man called each living thing, that became its name.


Voice 1            I am the first human being, the voice of the human being in Reading One.  I am Adam and Eve.  I am humanity!

Voice 2            I am the first human being, the voice of the human being in Reading Two. I am Adam and Eve. I am humanity!

Voice 1            God made me in a special way. The word of God in Genesis One says so!

Voice 2            And God made me in a special way. The word of God in Genesis Two says so!

Voice 1            I am created in the image of God. Do you understand? The very image of God!    

Voice 2            I have been made personally by God.  Do you understand? By God’s own hands!

Voice 1            I am like God, created in God’s own likeness.

Voice 2            I am liked by God. I even live in a garden where God likes to walk and talk!

Voice 1            I have human reason. That makes me superior to all other living creatures! Superior! Get it!

Voice 2            I am flesh taken from Earth itself and breath that comes from God. So I am kin with all other creatures. We are family! Do you understand family?

Voice 1            Family?  Fiddlesticks! I am the ruler over all creatures.  I dominate! I tame! I rule all other creatures. Your family!

Voice 2            I have a partnership with all other creatures. We are friends. We are partners.

Voice 1            I am authorized by God to conquer the Earth, to harness nature, to put creation under my feet.  Yes, to control your friends!

Voice 2            I have been given the responsibility by God to serve Earth and preserve it, to care for Earth as God’s garden.

Voice 1            I can conquer creation.  I rule!  I rule!

Voice 2            I groan with creation.  When you rule, I suffer. I suffer!

Voice 1            I am the king of Earth. I bear the image of God! I am king over creation! I rule!

Voice 2            I am a servant on Earth, caring for creation.

Voice 1            I am king! God said so!  God said so!

Voice   2          I am a servant, God said so!

Voice 3            Wait just a minute!  Stop your arguing!

Voices 1 & 2   I have God’s word on my side!

Voice 3            Sure you have!  But do you have the final word?

                        Do you have Jesus’ word?  Do you?  (Silence)

Voice 3            Who is the one who reflects the true image of God on Earth?  Come on!  Who?

Voice 1& 2      Jesus Christ!

Voice 3            Who is the true servant of God?  Come on.  Who?

Voice 1& 2      Jesus Christ!

Voice 3           And how does Jesus invite us to live?  To rule like the Romans and dominate like their Caesars?!  Or to follow the way of the cross and serve as Christ came to serve? Listen to his word from the Gospel for today!


Reading 3: Mark 10:42-45 

42 Jesus called all the followers together. He said, “The non-Jewish people have men they call rulers. You know that those rulers love to show their power over the people. And their important leaders love to use all their authority. 43 But it should not be that way among you. If one of you wants to become great, then he must serve you like a servant. 44 If one of you wants to become the most important, then he must serve all of you like a slave. 45 In the same way, the Son of Man did not come to be served. He came to serve. The Son of Man came to give his life to save many people.”


Confession with ‘The Voices of the Whale’

Voice 1            I am the voice of whales long ago. Ancient whales, humpback whales and the whale that swallowed Jonah.  I am a whale. (Applause)

Voice 2            I am the voice of whales today, whales that circle your continent and dance with delight near your shores.  I am a whale.  (Applause)

People             Welcome, whales, welcome to our worship. 

Voice 1            I am a large creature but I’m not a monster. I am sensitive to the sounds deep in the ocean below and the cries of my calf in a storm.  I am something like the soul that feels the mood of the sea.

Voice 2            I am a special species and not for sport. I have an amazing radar, a compass that guides me across thousands of miles through rough waters back to my home base to give birth.

People             Welcome, whales, welcome to our shores

Voice 1            Not so long ago, humans hunted us whales and slaughtered us by the thousands.   They came in ships and cried aloud:

Voices 1 & 2  ‘We rule the waves!  We rule the whales’

Voice 1            Humans thought they ruled everything.  They did not care. They left blood all over the ocean, along the shores and deep in our memories.  And they cried aloud:

Voices 1 & 2  ‘We rule the waves!  We rule the whales’!

People             We are sorry, whales, we are sorry!

Voice 2            In recent years something has happened.  Humans have become more sensitive, more ready to celebrate life with us along the shore, more ready to save our species.  I hear them cry:

Voices 1 & 2  ‘Whales help us wonder!  Worship and wonder!

Voice 2            In recent years the tide had turned.  But many creatures of the sea are still slaughtered senselessly. Thousands and thousands of baby harp seals are clubbed or shot to death in the Artic North. Some are even skun alive.  Blood stains the snow, the ice and the memories of their kin.  Now I hear some humans cry:

People             ‘Whales help us wonder!  Confess and wonder!

Voices 1 & 2   Will you join with us as we remember the past and promise to care for the wonders of creations.


Confession & Forgiveness

We are sorry.
As humans, we have slaughtered species without concern.
As humans, we have sought to dominate nature.
As humans, we have been cruel to our kin.
We are sorry. We are sorry.
We are sorry.                We are sorry. We are sorry.

Leader:    I speak for Christ:
I forgive your sins of destructive domination.
I forgive your lack of concern for creation.
I invite you now to celebrate your humanity
both as servants of Christ and servants of Earth.

People:           Shalom! Shalom!
                        Let the whales come home!


Reflection

Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation (CAC) in Albuquerque, New Mexico, writes about the “Universal Christ”, or as he calls it, “Another Name for Everything”. 

“Christ is more than Jesus’ last name. Jesus is a person whose example we can follow. Christ is a cosmic life principle in which all beings participate. The incarnation is an ongoing revelation of Christ, uniting matter and spirit, operating as one and everywhere. Together—Jesus and Christ—show us “the way, the truth, and the life” of death and resurrection.

I preface this reflection by acknowledging that Father Richard has his critics.  His philosophy is drawn from early Christian works and teachers, as well as Eastern religions and Jungian psychology.   However, I find his and his colleagues’ writings relevant and understandable.  Thus I share them with you on this Season of Creation Sunday.  

Christ Since the Beginning

God’s First Idea,” Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, Sunday, February 17, 2019

Have you ever wondered why creation happened in the first place? Or, like the old philosophical question, why is there anything instead of nothing? Many of the saints, mystics, and fathers and mothers of the church have said that God created because, frankly, God (who is love) needed something to love. To take that one step further, God created so that what God created could then love God back freely….

If you’re a parent, compare this with your relationship with your children. Probably your fondest desire, maybe at an unconscious level, when you first conceived or adopted a child was “I want to love this little one in every way I can!” Perhaps you thought, “I want to love this child so well that they will love me in the way that I have loved them.” Your love empowers them to love you back.  I think this is what God does in the act of creation. God creates an object of love that God can totally give Godself to that will eventually be capable of loving God back in the same way, in a free and unforced manner.

…….

**

Coherence and Belonging
Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The kind of wholeness I’m describing as the Universal Christ is a forgotten treasure of the Christian Tradition that our postmodern world no longer enjoys and even vigorously denies. I always wonder why, after the rise of rationalism in the Enlightenment, Westerners would prefer such incoherence. I thought we had agreed that coherence, pattern, and some final meaning were good. But intellectuals in the last century have denied the existence and power of such great wholeness—and in Christianity, we have made the mistake of limiting the Creator’s presence to just one human manifestation, Jesus.

The implications of our selective seeing have been massively destructive for history and humanity. Creation was deemed profane, a pretty accident, a mere backdrop for the real drama of God’s concern—which we narcissistically assumed is always and only us humans. It is impossible to make individuals feel sacred inside of a profane, empty, or accidental universe. This way of seeing makes us feel separate and competitive, striving to be superior instead of deeply connected and in search of ever-larger circles of union.

I believe God loves things by becoming themGod loves things by uniting with them, not by excluding them. Through the act of creation, God manifested the eternally out-flowing Divine Presence into the physical and material world. Ordinary matter is the hiding place for Spirit and thus the very Body of God. Honestly, what else could it be, if we believe—as orthodox Jews, Christians, and Muslims do—that “one God created all things”? Since the very beginning of time, God’s Spirit has been revealing its glory and goodness through the physical creation. So many of the Psalms assert this, speaking of “rivers clapping their hands” and “mountains singing for joy.” When Paul wrote, “There is only Christ. He is everything and he is in everything” (Colossians 3:11), was he a naïve pantheist or did he really understand the full implication of the Gospel of Incarnation?

God seems to have chosen to manifest the invisible in what we call the “visible,” so that all things visible are the revelation of God’s endlessly diffusive spiritual energy. Once a person recognizes that, it is hard to ever be lonely in this world again.

Taken from :  https://catholicclimatemovement.global/fr-richard-rohr-on-creation-and-incarnation/


Hymn – All Things Bright and Beautiful



Refrain
All things bright and beautiful,
All creatures great and small,
All things wise and wonderful,
The Lord God made them all.

1.
Each little flow’r that opens,
Each little bird that sings,
God made their glowing colors,
God made their tiny wings.
Refrain

2.
The purple-headed mountains,
The river running by,
The sunset and the morning,
That brightens up the sky.
Refrain

3.
The cold wind in the winter,
The pleasant summer sun,
The ripe fruits in the garden,
God made them every one.
Refrain

4.
He gave us eyes to see them,
And lips that we might tell
How great is God Almighty,
Who has made all things well.
Refrain


Prayers of Intercession

Lord you give life to life!
From day one, your Spirit brooding over the deep,
your wind rushing, your breath filling.
As creatures of the earth we rejoice in life
using our breath, our being
to raise this hymn of praise:
Hallelujah to the sun’s hot passion
embracing the ground’s great shoulders.
Hallelujahs for the growth from seed to plant
greening the earth; its fruit—beauty and food!
Hallelujahs for generations of life
tumbling one after another.
Life creeping, swimming, flying, running,
below, above, upon, within.
All the world sings, calls, signals, speaks
praise to God whose glory grows in all that breathes!

We pray for all we know who are sick, in mind or body,
or who suffer from chronic conditions,
and those who are in need of your comfort.

We long for reconciliation with those we have harmed
with harsh words or harsh actions,
and for peace among our warring nations.

Fill us, enliven us, to be ambassadors of life abundant,
breathing out your song in harmony,
singing to you, our Creator,
whose glory shines through all the world. Amen.

~ written by Carol Penner, and posted on her Leading in Worship blog.  http://carolpenner.typepad.com/

Prayer

God, our Creator, as we reflect on the ways that humans have sought to dominate creation help us to hear the cries of creatures such as the whale.  Fill us with your risen power. Help us to serve and preserve our planet home and to celebrate life with people from all lands and nations. In the name of Christ, the Risen Servant, who is the true image of God among us. Amen.


Lord’s Prayer

Sending Out

Voice 1            What about the whales?  Let’s not forget the whales!

Voice 2            And all the other creatures that humans have exploited.

Voice 1            We should help save the whales and other endangered species.

Voice 2            And we should celebrate the whales. They’re coming back to life–like Jesus Christ did!

Voice 1            What do you mean? What on Earth is the connection between Jesus Christ and whales or any other creatures?

Voice 2            Well, you recall Jesus saying that just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so he would be 3 days and 3 nights in the depths of Earth, in the heart of creation, and would rise again.

Voice 1            That’s right! He did rise again.  He was part of Earth, buried deep in Earth and rose to bring life to all peoples on Earth

Voice 2            And…And to bring life to all creation, including the revival of whales. Our Lord is the cosmic Christ whose risen presence fills all creation and gives life to all creatures.

Voice 1            So serving Christ also means serving creation!

Voice 2            And working with Christ to keep life alive on Earth!


Closing Prayer & Blessing

Christ calls you to be his disciples,
to serve him with love and compassion,
to serve Earth and the peoples of Earth.

Will you care for creation?

With Christ, we will care for creation!
With Christ, we will keep our planet green!
With Christ, we will celebrate life!

May the Risen Christ, who brings and restores life to all in our planet,
fill you with his living presence
to praise the Creator and help revive creation.

Go in peace!
Serving Christ and loving Earth!

We go in peace,
serving the Risen Christ
and celebrating all creatures–including whales!


Hymn – O God, Beyond All Praising



1.
O God beyond all praising, we worship you today
and sing the love amazing that songs cannot repay;
for we can only wonder at every gift you send,
at blessings without number and mercies without end:
we lift our hearts before you and wait upon your word,
we honor and adore you, our great and mighty Lord

2.
The flow’r of earthly splendor in time must surely die,
its fragile bloom surrender to you, the Lord most high;
but hidden from all nature the eternal seed is sown—
though small in mortal stature, to heaven’s garden grown:
for Christ, your gift from heaven, from death has set us free,
and we through him are given the final victory.

3.
Then hear, O gracious Savior, accept the love we bring,
that we who know your favor may serve you as our King;
and whether our tomorrows be filled with good or ill,
we’ll triumph through our sorrows and rise to bless you still:
to marvel at your beauty and glory in your ways,
and make a joyful duty our sacrifice of praise.


Postlude

Chris Johansen