September 6th Worship

Order of Service

Part I
PreludeTry to RememberChris Johansen, piano
Welcome
Confession & Forgiveness
Pastor Linda
HymnGather Us In
#532
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Greeting
Prayer of the Day
Pastor Linda
Psalm 24Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Part II
Sermon & ScripturePastor Linda
HymnO God of Every Nation
#713, vs 1-3
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Statement of Faith
Prayers of Intercession
Lord’s Prayer
Pastor Linda
HymnBind Us Together
WOV #748
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Offering Prayer
Benediction
Blessing
Pastor Linda
HymnWhen Love is Found
WOV #749, vs. 1-4
Harry Johansen
Chris Johansen, piano
Postludeby JoplinChris Johansen

Part I

Part II


Prelude

Chris Johansen


Opening Prayer

Welcome

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

This is week two of the liturgical Season of Creation, an ecumenical conversation of environmental care. This year’s Season of Creation is a time to consider the integral relationship between rest for the Earth and ecological, economic, social, and political ways of living for the moral imagination that creates a common good.  The earth is suffering, people are suffering – it’s time for a radical new narrative of consumption, energy production, waste and greed. Recognizing the pain, repenting, creating new life in alternative storylines is where we will find hope. But first we feel the pain.


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, and power – 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.

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

      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, and for carelessness with 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 murdered when we could not see past privilege and certainty and the end of our nose. 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 name of the Creator, and of the + Christ, and of Holy Wisdom.
Amen.


Hymn – Gather Us In

1.
Here in this place the new light is streaming,
now is the darkness vanished away;
see in this space our fears and our dreamings
brought here to you in the light of this day.
Gather us in, the lost and forsaken,
gather us in, the blind and the lame;
call to us now, and we shall awaken,
we shall arise at the sound of our name.

2.
We are the young, our lives are a myst’ry,
we are the old who yearn for your face;
we have been sung throughout all of hist’ry,
called to be light to the whole human race.
Gather us in, the rich and the haughty,
gather us in, the proud and the strong;
give us a heart, so meek and so lowly,
give us the courage to enter the song.

3.
Here we will take the wine and the water,
here we will take the bread of new birth,
here you shall call your sons and your daughters,
call us anew to be salt for the earth.
Give us to drink the wine of compassion,
give us to eat the bread that is you;
nourish us well, and teach us to fashion
lives that are holy and hearts that are true.

4.
Not in the dark of buildings confining,
not in some heaven, light years away —
here you shall call your sons and your daughters,
call us anew to be salt for the earth.
Gather us in and hold us forever,
gather us in and make us your own;
gather us in, all peoples together,
fire… of life in our flesh and our bone.


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

 Grant, O God, that your holy and life-giving Spirit may move every human heart; that the barriers dividing us may crumble, suspicions disappear, and hatreds cease; and that with our divisions healed, we might live in justice and peace and appreciation of the diversity your presence makes holy.     Amen.


Psalm 24

1 The earth is the lord’s and all | that is in it,
the world and those who | dwell therein.

2 For the Lord has founded it up-|on the seas
and established it up-|on the rivers

3 Who may ascend the mountain | of the Lord,
and who may stand in God’s | holy place?

4 Those of innocent hands and puri-|ty of heart,
who do not swear on God’s being, nor do they pledge by | what is false.

5 They shall receive blessing | from the Lord
and righteousness from the god of | their salvation.

6 Such is the generation of those who seek | you, O Lord,
of those who seek your face, O | God of Jacob.

7 Lift up your heads, O gates; and be lifted up, O ever-|lasting doors,
that the King of glory | may come in.

8 Who is this | King of glory?
The Lord, strong and mighty, the Lord, might-|y in battle!

9 Lift up your heads, O gates; and be lifted up, O ever-|lasting doors,
that the King of glory | may come in.

10 Who is this | King of glory?
Truly, the Lord of hosts is the | King of glory.


Scripture & Sermon – God’s Sensitivity to Relationships

We entered the Season of Creation last week with the creation of humans as told in Chapter 1 of the book of Genesis. There are two different creation narratives – not mutually exclusive, but definitely different in timelines and detail. They come from different ancient oral traditions. I like that. Chapter 1 is more of a cosmic view: the spirit of God blowing, rippling the face of the deep, organizing chaos into sunlight and moon-shadows, water and dry land. First creatures of the water appear, then birds winging the air, then land animals and, lastly, humans created in the never-explained ‘likeness’ of God.

 Chapter 2 provides a more incarnate vision, revealing a God deeply involved in the details of the handiwork…

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

I like so many things about this story – it is part of my foundational image of God, kneeling by a stream forming figures from clay. I would think God would have started with snakes – they’re the easiest, then fish, birds – working up to humans in order of complexity. But no. God began with Adam. Then set the little man aside and planted a garden. Now, while the garden was growing, I imagine God observing this new thing, this little man figuring out how to move its limbs and fingers; how to walk, how to make sounds; poking around in the river clay himself, trying to eat it, perhaps, or rolling snakes and coiling snails. Finally, the garden was ready and Adam was placed carefully inside the hedged walls of his oasis. God continued to observe the man’s (likely awkward) efforts of discovery. After all, everything was new, and nothing had schematics for use. Despite beauty and prolific growth and pleasing green, Adam – no doubt overwhelmed – eventually sat down on a rock and watched ants. Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.

This is where I was headed, in case you’ve been wondering: God’s discovery that one is not enough. This realization was followed by a long stretch of research and development. 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. But, as the Zebra whinnied away in search of greener grass, Adam sighed. There was not a helper found to be his partner. Animal husbandry and genetics was next on God’s learning curve, but, when you start with a prototype, special considerations must be made. A rib will do.  And the man said, ‘This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.

“When love is found and hope comes home, sing and be glad…praise God and share our maker’s joy.” This (and other verses) come as a preview from our final song. It’s often used as a wedding song, but I am expanding/extending its love to friendships and community.

We are created for community. It is not good for the man or woman to be alone. Companions are needed. Helpers and partners make more things more possible. We are learning that in COVID-time. Even a helpmate or spouse is barely enough. We long for our gatherings of old. We see a masked friend and want to rush in for a handshake or hug. We miss the ease of family gatherings and community events prior to wondering how to keep ourselves and others virus free. This longing for touch and camaraderie is built in. Think of apostle Paul’s metaphor:

Just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. Indeed, the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot were to say,‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong’, that would not make it any less a part of the body… If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be?

~ from 1 Corinthians 12

We are communal creatures from the drawing board, requiring the skills and knowledge and personalities of others. Together we provide safety, strength, harmony, creative imagination and problem solving, food and cooking and art.  There is a sense of personal wholeness when we are together with others in a family or close community. There is accountability and nurture, mutual respect to work through issues that arise, someone to listen, someone to advise, someone to teach, others to love and be loved by. This mutual indwelling love seems to be God’s plan and purpose.

“When love has flowered in trust and care, build each day that love may dare to reach to beyond home’s warmth and light, to serve and strive for truth and right.”

But, the Eden story continues, and we know in life that intelligence and guile and hissed half-truths sneak in to poison trust and relationships, and things fall apart, badly. And God became sorry that he had created the human creatures, and it grieved him to his heart.

There is evil in the world. I believe that there are backstories and explanations for the evil in human hearts, and I trust that God works redemption for them, too, somehow, but the actions of betrayal and torture and slander and death cry out for justice. As we know from racism, sexism, bigotry – it is deep and insidious and inbred and becomes systemic, the norm, the expected way. Violence is the usual outcome of evil and greater violence has become the expected way of countering it. The deep human need for a sense of belonging  – and often the isolation of being, or perceiving to be, kept out of community – can turn to tribalism, threatening and being threatened by, lashing out. Our warring world history and local, current confrontations of protesting groups play this dynamic out before our eyes. Violence and murder are the first story out of Eden for a reason. Where there is love, and where two or three are gathered, there is jealousy, and hurt, and hate.

When love is torn and trust betrayed, pray strength to love till torments fade, till lovers keep no score of wrong but hear through pain love’s Easter song.

Loving our neighbors, even our enemies, is God’s difficult claim on our hearts. We are made for community, and called to hold it together; to uphold each person’s dignity and beloved status, to stand against those who would threaten it, to teach peaceful paths toward truth and reconciliation and not shy away because it is difficult work or inconvenient or will mess with our peaceful lives.

America, in particular, has a national narrative of individualism. At both a personal and national level, it is not good. Isolation leads to many ills – that’s why the phrase was changed from personal distancing to physical distancing as a means to slow the transmission rate of the virus. After a month or two of personal isolation efforts, it was obvious that community was still required – space between people and bubble groups is what is needed, not isolation from them.

COVID-time is teaching many old lessons and revealing some inconvenient truths. But there is also reason to hope. Animal shelters had a run of people looking for a pet to bring into their confined space. Freed from the coop, but without the usual places to congregate, people are rediscovering parks and nature. Gardening and home-made food has seen a resurgence as grocery store shelves emptied of convenience foods and restaurants closed. With the threatened meat shortage, people looked more seriously at vegetarian options. It’s not a return to Eden, but community gardens and communities looking at their options for local food supply is a major step forward for the earth. Domestic animals – and encounters with wild critters – provide a sense of purpose, warmth, opening up, comfort. We feel better in multi-species settings like the backyard or a woods walk. We get out of ourselves for a bit and are refreshed by the change. Many of us have taken to naming and forming relationships with the chipmunks that show up as soon as the back door is opened. (well, maybe I take that a step further than you do). But, being in nature, learning to name plants and geological features, awareness of the animals and birds and microbes that share our habitat, appreciation for the tremendous diversity (and fear of its loss) is a giant step toward love. And it is only love for the other that causes us to take up the challenge of personal change for the common good. And that is a pretty good definition of community and sacred living. Love for the other that causes us to take up the challenge of personal change for the common good.

“Lift up your hearts. Let love be fed through death and life in broken bread.”


Hymn – O God of Every Nation

1.
O God of ev’ry nation, of ev’ry race and land,
redeem your whole creation with your almighty hand;
where hate and fear divide us and bitter threats are hurled,
in love and mercy guide us and heal our strife-torn world.

2.
From search for wealth and power and scorn of truth and right,
from trust in bombs that shower destruction through the night,
from pride of race and station and blindness to your way,
deliver ev’ry nation, eternal God, we pray.

3.
Lord, strengthen all who labor that all may find release
from fear of rattling saber, from dread of war’s increase;
when hope and courage falter, Lord, let your voice be heard;
with faith that none can alter, your servants under-gird.


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

Lord’s Prayer


Hymn – Bind Us Together

Refrain
Bind us together, Lord, bind us together
with cords that cannot be broken.
Bind us together, Lord, bind us together, Lord;
bind us together in love.

1.
There is only one God.
There is only one King.
There is only one Body;
that is why we can sing.
Refrain

2.
You are the family of God.
You are the promise divine.
You are God’s chosen desire,
your are the glorious new wine.
Refrain


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

   May the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you.

    May the Lord look upon you with favor and grant you peace.   Amen      

Blessing

God, grant that we may be inquisitive,
       persistent,
       committed,
to kindness,
to loving what we do not yet understand,
to walking humbly on this earth,
to being yours.  Amen


Hymn – When Love is Found

1.
When love is found and hope comes home,
sing and be glad that two are one.
When love explodes and fills the sky,
praise God and share our maker’s joy.

2.
When love has flow’red in trust and care,
build both each day that love may dare
to reach beyond home’s warmth and light,
to serve and strive for truth and right.

3.
When love is tried as loved ones change,
hold still to hope though all seems strange,
till ease returns and love grows wise
through list’ning ears and opened eyes.

4.
When love is torn and trust betrayed,
pray strength to love till torments fade,
till lovers keep no score of wrong
but hear through pain love’s Easter song.


Postlude

Chris Johansen