September 20th Worship

Order of Service

Preludeby ScarlattiChris Johansen, piano
Liz Dodge
HymnListen to Your Children Praying
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Prayer of the Day
Liz Dodge
Dramatized Scripture &
Genesis 1: 26-28
Genesis 2: 7-8, 15, 19
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
Liz Dodge
HymnO God Beyond All Praising
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
PostludeCon Spirito
Chris Johansen

Full Audio

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


Chris Johansen


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.


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.

~ Adapted from Liturgy of Creation (  Posted on Third Space 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!


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 :

Hymn – All Things Bright and Beautiful

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

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

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

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

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

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.


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

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

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.

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.


Chris Johansen