God’s Vision: Risk It

Service of Worship (Friday, June 28, 2013)

http://www.ucc.org/synod/video.html

Proclamation: Habakkuk 2: 1-3  “I will stand at my watch-post, and station myself on the rampart;  I will keep watch to see what God will say to me, and what God* will answer concerning my complaint.  Then God answered me and said:  ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it.  For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie.  If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.’”

HYMN: “Standing at the Future’s Threshold” (tune: Nettleton)

WELCOME: Welcome to the 29th General Synod of the United Church of Christ.  No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey—whether young or old, rich or poor, joyful or full of sorrow—you are all welcome here.

As a denomination we celebrate the Creator’s diversity as an expression of hope for our common future!

  • I am Elivette Mendez Angulo, from  Manantial de Gracia in In New Britain, CT.  At our church we welcome the professionals and the students, the prostitute and the drug addict, those in recovery and those still undecided:“nosotros estamos abriendo nuevos surcos donde no habian caminos”
  • I am Bishop Yvette Flunder of City of Refuge UCC, In San Francisco, CA.  In our congregation  we “intentionally radically, inclusive[ly] welcome all persons regardless of race, color, ancestry, age, gender, affectional orientation, as well as those who are specially abled.”
  • I am Kahu Mike Warren from Kalapana Maunakea  First Hawaiian Congregational Church in Pahoa, HI, where we ask that you let us show you what a loving and gracious God we have; we believe in helping others, loving our neighbors and worshiping as Ohana.
  • (speaking in Lakota with Toni Buffalo translating) I am Pastor Leroy Bobtail Bear of  Green Grass Church of South Dakota, where we “seek to bridge the gaps used to devastate people’s lives, culture, spirituality and souls…we seek to be a beacon of hope and an example of God’s love through actions and not just words…a place where it is easy to sense God’s spirit and find healing for your soul; a gathering place for all people who seek such a place.”
  • I am Rev. John Edgerton from Old South Church In Boston, MA.  In our congregation we “recognize the uniqueness of every individual as God’s beloved child.  We seek to respond faithfully to God’s call for justice for all creation.”

You are welcome here! If we went through each congregation’s website we would find still more expressions of welcome, so tonight, let’s turn to our neighbors, to our sisters and brothers in Christ, that we might turn strangers into friends and friends into coworkers to build the realm of God.

Let’s welcome one another in the language of our hearts: English, Spanish, Samoan, Japanese, Hungarian, Lakota  and in sign language —whatever your language is! Tell one another: “We receive you with joy!  We are glad you came – Welcome to Long Beach!” Let us pass the peace among us!

PASSING THE PEACE: Here at the watch-post, we are excited! A new energy comes from being together.  We are stationed here at this rampart during this time and for this season…God has called us here together with intentionality and purpose.             Thank you for standing watch with us: We need all our eyes and ears and hearts and wisdom!

INVOCATION: For those who are gathered here today, and for those who are holding us in their prayers, may our individual lights shine together as one, as together we seek strength, solace, hope, and grace in God’s vision.

Let us pray: Almighty God, we pray for the gift of vision to fall upon your church. You see us as we are. What others may see as imperfections, You see as beautiful possibility.

You love us in our differences and in our uniqueness, For we image You in our diversity and in our solidarity with one another. Wherever we are, may we seek your Vision–may we live your Vision, Creator God.

Loving Lord, we call to You from our different locations asking for Shalom, Peace: that we may hear your voice, follow your call, and do your work.

We await your vision at the ramparts of our world: the inner cities, the suburbs, rural communities and border towns.

Each place holy: home to your people and to You, O Just One.   Let us hear You as we listen to one another.

All:  O Pentecost Fire, we embody many languages and cultural traditions. You speak through us all. Let us hear You as we listen to one another.

Leader:  Creator, we need your guidance.

People:  Call to us from the ramparts of our lives.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Leader:   Spirit, we are longing for answers.

People:   Speak to us in our innermost being.

Leader:   Lord, hear our prayer!

People:  Come, Holy Spirit! Come, Holy Spirit! Come, Holy Spirit!

SONG: “Vision”

SCRIPTURE: Luke 4:14-30 “Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country. He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone. When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. Jesus unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because God has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. God has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.’ And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down.  The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. Then he began to say to them, ‘Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.’  All spoke well of Jesus and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his mouth.  They said, ‘Is not this Joseph’s son?’ He said to them, ‘Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Doctor, cure yourself!’  And you will say, ‘Do here also in your home town the things that we have heard you did at Capernaum.’   And he said, ‘Truly I tell you, no prophet is accepted in the prophet’s home town. But the truth is, there were many widows in Israel in the time of Elijah when the heaven was shut up for three years and six months, and there was a severe famine over all the land; yet Elijah was sent to none of them except to a widow at Zarephath in Sidon. There were also many lepers* in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha,and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.’  When they heard this, all in the synagogue were filled with rage. They got up, drove him out of the town and led him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they might hurl him off the cliff.  But Jesus passed through the midst of them and went on his way.”

SERMON: Rev. Neichelle Guidry-Jones

DANCED RESPONSE: “My Life Is In Your Hands”

OFFERING: “Ven, Espiritu Santo / Come, Come, O Holy Spirit”

LITANY OF RESPONSE: Go to the watch post of your life and wait to hear what God will say to you; keep watch to see what vision the Holy One will show you.           

With roots as deep as the earth, and hands reaching to the heavens, we wait for the One who is speaking still.  God, call us to the edge, and show us the ways that lead to life!

Go to the watch post of your life and feel the stirring of God’s Spirit within your soul; prepare your heart with courage to receive the vision. 

With spirits free to sing and dance, unburdened by the distractions of life, we wait for the gift of emptiness.  God, call us to the edge, and renew us with your powerful glory and grace!

Go to the watch post of your life and wait to hear what God will say to you; keep watch to see what vision the Holy One will show you.

Let us pray: Call us to the edge, O God!  Amid the chaos and tumult of our lives, we have not always waited in silent contemplation; we have not always danced with expectant joy; we have not always made room in our hearts to receive a difficult word or a challenging task.

Yet our souls long for you, O God, more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.

We proclaim for all the world to hear:

Your word for the Church, and your vision for the world, is here and is coming just as surely as the coming of the dawn.

Help us be awake, Giver of Visions, when the sun begins to rise.

Help us shake off the terrors of the night and find the courage to embrace your hope for our future, through Jesus Christ, who makes us one.  Amen.

Song: “Give Us a Vision”

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