The Sunday After

 

STG1Door-bolts--22-April-20Friday, April 25, 2014

John 20:19-31

What a great Easter Sunday! So many people! Such wonderful music! Incredible energy and great joy!

And now what...What will we find in worship this week after Resurrection Sunday?

Jesus, showing up for a small group of worn out and discouraged followers.

Jesus, bringing powerful gifts for followers who desperately need them.

Jesus, surprising us all with new life when and where we least expect it.

Click here to listen to Pastor Sarah's blog post.

Greetings

Q6-1875-webFriday, April 18, 2014

Matthew 28:1-10

I was barely out of my car, just arriving to a new community and a new congregation and my neighbor was there to greet me, to make introductions and to begin a lasting friendship. Over the years our friendship grew from that one simple greeting. There would be many more and they always seemed to come just at the right time. At times he arrived early in the morning before I left for the day to greet me with his stories from the trout stream at first light. At other times he arrived in the middle of the afternoon in my study just to check in. He was ready too for a greeting from across the street at the end of a busy day.

When the risen Jesus met the women on their way he embraced them with “Greetings!” At first it must have seemed out of place. But it was a sure sign that the darkness had given way to a whole new light. For the women who had been to the tomb it was a greeting that came just at the right time! It was a reassuring way of bringing to realty again the promise of God’s presence. It was a beautiful word that spoke to their fears and gave them courage to move forward with great joy. In the story the greeting led to worship and worship led to sharing the news with others.

In the story of the resurrection we hear the echo of the psalmist words, “By the Lord has this been done; it is marvelous in our eyes.”

Throughout Lent, our children helped with the greeting in worship: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” We were glad for their participation as it brought some renewal to what otherwise might only feel routine. It gave us a new appreciation for the part we all share in forming friendships that naturally lead to our daily witness.

It may seem like a small thing but with eyes of faith our greetings point us to the very goodness of God among us full of mercy and love.

Pastor Randy

Blessed is the One Who Comes in the Name of the Lord!

cross-3

Friday, April 11, 2014

Palm Sunday invites us into a procession of faith, into a week of worship and to the center of our witness. With palms in hand we recall the drama of the one who entered into our suffering world with undying love. The movement of the morning is led by a processional cross as we accompany one another into the mystery of the passion story – the very presence of God among us who bears our burdens and leads us through to the newness of life.

Processions happen in many and varied ways.

On one Palm Sunday, a congregation I served met with a neighboring congregation in an open field, blessing the palms and then walking a path through our community. It was a simple action bringing our witness of worship outside the walls of our sanctuary. I remember a Palm Sunday in Ohio. Our new congregation processed by cars across the country side from the high school cafeteria where we had worshipped for 8 years to our first service in our new church building. It brought us into a place of gratitude and a fresh awareness of how steadfast God’s love is for all of creation.

Much of what we do in the life of faith is procession like.

The light and hope of the crucified and risen Christ draws us into a movement of gathering, acclamation and sending every week. We proclaim that at the foot of the cross we know we are not alone and that darkness gives way to light! Processions are a sign of hope, a renewal of compassion in us for the world that God so greatly loves!

A Message of Grace from Faith's Confirmands

logoimage-transFriday, April 4, 2014

This Sunday, Faith’s 7th-9th grade confirmation students will be offering their gifts in worship at the 10:00 service. Through an aspect of the confirmation program we call FaithFusion, the students have been preparing all semester to lead the congregation in worship through various forms of music as well as drama, art, and puppeteering. At the core, our hope is to bring the message of the lectionary scripture texts to life, and to send the congregation “out” with renewed sense of the gift of grace.

Luckily for us, this week’s lectionary texts are utterly saturated with grace. From the prophet Ezekiel’s vision of a valley of dry bones transformed into flesh and blood through God’s life-giving spirit, to the apostle Paul’s reminder that the God who raised Christ from the dead also dwells within us, to the intimate story of Jesus mourning the death of and ultimately resurrecting his friend Lazarus—each text testifies, in a different way, to the good news of grace found in the heart of the promise of resurrection.

Confirmation itself is, in many ways, an exploration of and living into this promise, which is beautifully articulated in the various liturgies surrounding baptism. On May 3, the 9th grade class will be confirmed by means of a liturgical rite known as an Affirmation of Baptism. Like countless others before them, these students will be asked before the assembly whether they “intend to continue in the covenant God made with [them] in holy baptism.” Then students are reminded—we all are, really—exactly what that covenant entails: “To live among God's faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord's supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.” 

We recognize that not everyone will be at the 10:00 service on Sunday, but if you are, we hope that you are renewed by witnessing our youth live into the promise of baptism by offering their gifts as those who “live among God's faithful people.” And even more, we hope you are renewed by the very witness of the message itself, as the confirmation students “proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed.”

The Servant Musician

johnsonFriday, March 28, 2014

In my 23 years of full-time church and 26 years of overall music-making in the church I have often wondered if the congregations I have served know and understand the joys and challenges of being a servant musician. I often wonder if I have communicated a clear philosophy of my work beyond just what the community sees or maybe better put, hears on a Sunday morning. I would like to share with you a few principles that have guided my work.

Harold Best, in Music Through the Eyes of Faith, puts it this way: “What does it mean to be creative in our music-making? Above all, it means that we should not make music to prove who we are or to authenticate ourselves. God created in us the capability for understanding that we are authenticated in him, not in what we do. In the final analysis, music-making is neither a means nor an end, but an offering, therefore an act of worship.” All music-makers everywhere must understand this and proceed accordingly. Nothing but harm lies ahead if we try to authenticate ourselves through our musical works or become so attached to them—addicted might be a better word—that we have no sense of worth or being without this “proof” of existence church musician John Yarrington tells us in The Musicians Walk (p. 160,161)

Harold Best continues to guide saying: All servant musicians must be able to be in creative transit, serving this community and challenging that one, all the while showing grace, power, elegance, and imagination. (p. 33) So here is a list of what I try to do; of how I try to organize myself around my calling as a servant musician. My hope is that you find this interesting and that it might give pause to think about ways we can strengthen our community.

  1. I see myself as the church’s “song” leader
  2. I try to find opportunities to lead singing whenever and wherever I can
  3. I try to be flexible, but I don’t want to be a doormat.
  4. I try to be a friend to other staff members.
  5. I try to make sure that I am never on the receiving end of this comment, “You didn’t tell me that this was on the calendar.”
  6. I try to always remember who the hymns are for and find creative ways to involve the congregation.
  7. I always try to use appropriate (suitable) music and don’t look at the selections as “good” or “bad,” I try to program hymns and songs that you like to sing. Not all of them are the best musical examples and some are not even outstanding theologically, but we are called to sing and you love to sing, so sing the favorites we will.
  8. I don’t try to get to artsy with the Worship Music and the Arts Ministry Team. They want the facts and they want to know how they can help me in shaping the future of the arts ministry. They don’t care about when Ralph Vaughan Williams was born—they want to know how they can help me make the Vaughan Williams program a success! This, my dear friends is a very good balance as I can tend to get very “artsy.”
  9. I realize I am not superhuman. I sit lightly with myself (it has taken years for me to get to this!) I laugh often and consider it an off day if I don’t laugh at least 15 minutes, if I don’t, I consider it an “under-laughed” day!
  10. I try to always make myself available to you for a visit. Finally, I love hugs!