November 22nd Worship

Order of Service

Part I
PreludeChuck Parsons, organ
Welcome
Confession & Forgiveness
Christy Wetzig
HymnLift High the CrossChuck Parsons, organ
Psalm 136vs. 1-9, 23-26Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
ScriptureJeremiah 36: 1-8, 21-23, 27-28Henrik Strandskov
Reflection Part 1Jeff & Christy Wetzig
ScriptureJeremiah 31: 31-34
Luke 22: 19-20
Henrik Strandskov
Reflection Part 2Jeff & Christy Wetzig
CreedJeff Wetzig
Prayers of IntercessionChristy Wetzig
Lord’s Prayer
Closing Prayer
Benediction
Jeff Wetzig
Closing HymnJesus Shall ReignChuck Parsons, organ
PostludeChris Johansen

All Parts


Prelude

Chuck Parsons


Welcome

Confession & Forgiveness

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

C: Amen

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

Silence for reflection and self-examination.

Holy God,

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

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


Hymn – Lift High The Cross

Refrain
Lift high the cross,
the love of Christ proclaim
till all the world adore
his sacred name.

1.
Come, Christians, follow
where our captain trod,
our king victorious,
Christ, the Son of God.
Refrain

2.
All newborn servants
of the Crucified
bear on their brows the
seal of him who died.
Refrain


Psalm 136: 1-9, 23-26

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

2 Give thanks to the | God of gods,
for God’s mercy en-|dures forever.

3 Give thanks to the | Lord of lords,
for God’s mercy en-|dures forever;

4 who alone | does great wonders,
for God’s mercy en-|dures forever;

5 who by wisdom | made the heavens,
for God’s mercy en-|dures forever;

6 who spread out the earth up-|on the waters,
for God’s mercy en-|dures forever;

7 who made | the great lights—
for God’s mercy en-|dures forever;

8 the sun to gov-|ern the day,
for God’s mercy en-|dures forever;

9 the moon and the stars to gov-|ern the night,
for God’s mercy en-|dures forever;

23 who remembered us in our | low estate,
for God’s mercy en-|dures forever;

24 and rescued us | from our enemies,
for God’s mercy en-|dures forever;

25 who gives food | to all creatures,
for God’s mercy en-|dures forever;

26 Give thanks to the | God of heaven,
for God’s mercy en-|dures forever;


Scripture: Jeremiah 36: 1-8, 21-23, 27-28

36 In the fourth year of Judah’s King Jehoiakim, Josiah’s son, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord: 2 Take a scroll and write in it all the words I have spoken to you concerning Israel, Judah, and all the nations from the time of Josiah until today. 3 Perhaps when the people of Judah hear about every disaster I intend to bring upon them, they will turn from their evil ways, and I will forgive their wrongdoing and sins. 4 So Jeremiah sent for Baruch, Neriah’s son. As Jeremiah dictated all the words that the Lord had spoken to him, Baruch wrote them in the scroll. 5 Then Jeremiah told Baruch, “I’m confined here and can’t go to the Lord’s temple. 6 So you go to the temple on the next day of fasting, and read the Lord’s words from the scroll that I have dictated to you. Read them so that all the people in the temple can hear them, as well as all the Judeans who have come from their towns. 7 If they turn from their evil ways, perhaps the Lord will hear their prayers. The Lord has threatened them with fierce anger.” 8 Baruch, Neriah’s son, did everything the prophet Jeremiah instructed him: he read all the Lord’s words from the scroll in the temple.

21 The king sent Jehudi to take the scroll, and he retrieved it from the room of Elishama the scribe. Then Jehudi read it to the king and all his royal officials who were standing next to the king. 22 Now it was the ninth month, and the king was staying in the winterized part of the palace with the firepot burning near him. 23 And whenever Jehudi read three or four columns of the scroll, the king would cut them off with a scribe’s knife and throw them into the firepot until the whole scroll was burned up.

27 The Lord’s word came to Jeremiah after the king had burned the scroll containing the words written by Baruch at Jeremiah’s dictation: 28 Get another scroll and write in it all the words that were in the first scroll that Judah’s King Jehoiakim burned.


Reflection

Christy & Jeff Wetzig

Performance art. In case you’ve never heard of performance art, here’s Wikipedia’s definition:
Performance art is an artwork or art exhibition created through actions executed by the artist or other participants. It may be live, through documentation, spontaneously or written, presented to a public in a Fine Arts context, traditionally interdisciplinary.

These are those artists who sit in a room for 24 hours straight without moving while wearing a bed pan on their head. Or something like that. People love to deride performance art because it can get pretty uncomfortable and weird. You could make a painting or write an article, but to get a visceral reaction, one must use one’s own viscera; hence the preferred medium for these artists is their own bodies. It’s the physical reaction to a perhaps shocking behavior that could have the power to change society or the world. 
Here’s an example. A colleague of mine, Wayne Roosa, wrote about one performance artist using his body to call attention to a societal problem.

 Chinese artist Zhang Huan performed his Twelve Square Meters in the poor neighborhood of Beijing East Village in 1994, a protest against the deplorable sanitation conditions of public toilets there. The toilets did not work, flies swarmed, and the stench of human waste was everywhere. Complaints to the government got no notice. So Zhang brought attention to the situation by lathering his naked body with honey and fish oil and sitting on a rough-hewn latrine in the public toilets until hordes of flies and insects covered him. In this way he shamed the authorities into cleaning up. The courage required to transgress against decorum, sanitation, and law, in a generation of young Chinese artists whom the government often jailed as unpatriotic for protesting human rights violations, is quite extraordinary. But it also put the artist in bodily and legal jeopardy.

The Avant-Garde and Sacred Discontent: Contemporary Performance Artists Meet Ancient Jewish Prophets
Wayne Roosa
Image Journal: issue 83

Another performance artist, to draw attention to his cause, laid on his left side for 390 days and then rolled over onto his right side for 40 days. While lying on his side he baked bread over a fire made from cow dung and ate it.

Another performance artist bought new underwear and wore it without washing it for a certain amount of time, then buried it on the banks of a river for another stretch of time. He then dug up the composted underwear and tried to put it on.

Wait, Jeff, that was Jeremiah. 

No, that’s all performance art.

I’m pretty sure that’s Jeremiah, and the guy with the dung bread was Ezekiel. God had wanted Ezekiel to bake the bread over a fire of human dung, but Ezekiel refused and so cow dung was their compromise. God had the prophets do some pretty personal stuff. Like Hosea who was told to marry a prostitute who would be unfaithful to him. And Jeremiah never married or had children because God forbade him.

And just like the performance artists in China, or anybody who speaks truth to power, the prophets were pretty unpopular people. Jeremiah spends a lot of time in prison or on the run for the things he says and does; once he gets thrown into a cistern and sinks into the mud. In chapter 20 he curses the day he was born because everyone hates him, mocks what he says, and still the word of God burns inside him so he can do nothing to resist it. 

In the passage for today Jeremiah and his scribe Baruch record God’s message of judgement on a scroll. It’s the first time Jeremiah has been asked to write God’s words down. As the scroll is read before the king, the king participates in the drama by cutting it apart, column by column, and throwing each piece into the fire. Then he commands his henchmen to seize Jeremiah and Baruch.

“But God hides them.” So Baruch gets another scroll, and writes down all the words from Jeremiah’s mouth, and, the text says, “added to them many similar words.”

It’s another visceral performance, the word of God is no longer just soundwaves in the ear, but words scratched onto a page, and the bodies here are full of action, and there’s the violence of a slicing knife and flame that reduces the page to ash.

In the past God had spoken out the words of judgement, placed them on the tongues of the prophets, but no one listened. God had tried to embody his words with these elaborate, bizarre performances by the prophets that would make visual and physical his words for the people. The people laughed. Now God tries a new tack, to have his words written down, made physical on the page. But like the ten commandments in the hands of Moses, the first copy is destroyed and another copy has to be made, and Jeremiah goes on the run.

It wasn’t working. The covenant God was seeking with the people kept getting broken–God’s people turned the other way. There had to be another way to get through to them.


Scripture: Jeremiah 31: 31-34; Luke 22: 19-20

31 The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah. 32 It won’t be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt. They broke that covenant with me even though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 No, this is the covenant that I will make with the people of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my Instructions within them and engrave them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 They will no longer need to teach each other to say, “Know the Lord!” because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord; for I will forgive their wrongdoing and never again remember their sins.

Luke 22:
19 After taking the bread and giving thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 20 In the same way, he took the cup after the meal and said, “This cup is the new covenant by my blood, which is poured out for you.

Reflection pt 2

Christy & Jeff Wetzig

It’s God’s last ditch effort, to write out God’s covenant with the people by tattooing it on their hearts. There would be no escape, no chance for them to break it. How did God physically embody this covenant? By becoming a baby, lying in a manger, God in a baby’s body, and this body would be broken and consumed, bit by bit by a trailing host of eager, disloyal, doubting, trusting lovers.

How’s that for performance art?

As a postscript, we would like to acknowledge just how hard it is to worship in this virtual way. God made us with bodies, linked the physical with the spiritual and so God used the prophets’ bodies to teach and Jesus was God’s body, but here we are trying to do church while squinting into our screens, alone in our rooms talking to our computers. God bless Zoom and everything, but this virtual experience of worship can end up ringing pretty tinny–exactly because it lacks all connection to the visceral and corporeal. It denies our bodies’ desire to worship.

We used to take our bodies to a sacred space and participate in rituals that were an extension of the prophets’ work making spiritual ideas physical, and then we would go have coffee–sit beside one another, hug or shake hands, eat cookies together, wipe up each others’ crumbs. It was communion a second time over.

But just because we can’t sit with each other in the pew or at the table doesn’t mean that we can only “virtually” worship–your body will feel left out. Decide on a ritual of your own and then observe it. Light a candle and pray as the smoke rises. Go outside to a special spot and sing a psalm. Or pick up the phone. Make something and leave it on a doorstep. Do what you can–be creative–do something this week to bring God into the world, to make God visible just like Jeremiah did.

See, I knew we could make performance artists out of them.


Creed

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

~Julian of Norwich


Prayers of Intercession

Lord’s Prayer

Closing Prayer

God, whose fondness for humanity knows no limit,
Write your word upon our hearts, so that we need no scroll, no book, no script to know that you love us. Show us the power of your covenant, that you will be faithful to us, even when we fail to remain faithful to you. For the beauty of your word inscribed upon us, we pray, in the name of the one whose body and blood became your new covenant with us, Jesus Christ, our redeemer. Amen.

Blessing

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


Hymn – Jesus Shall Reign

1.
Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
does its successive journeys run;
his kingdom stretch from shore to shore,
till moons shall wax and wane no more.

2.
To him shall endless prayer be made,
and praises throng to crown his head;
his name like sweet perfume shall rise
with ev’ry morning sacrifice.


Postlude

Chris Johansen