DATE: 22 February 2015
TO: Congregational Church of Weston
TITLE: Between YOU and ME…
Call to Worship (using Psalm 25)
One: O Creator, do not let me be put to shame; do not let my enemies exult over me.
Congregation: To you, O GOD, I gift my heart…open it to love others, even those who you made different than me!
One: Lead me in your truth, and teach me, for you are my salvation.
Congregation: To you, Savior, I gift my heart… guide me to be truthful to myself and others.
One: Be mindful of your mercy, O LORD, and of your steadfast love, for they have been from of old.
Congregation: To you, O LORD, I gift my heart…give me love and mercy for all of your creation, including myself.
One: Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for your goodness’ sake, O God!
Congregation: To you, Loving God, I gift my heart… remind me that you love me in spite of myself, help me love as you love.
One: Good and upright is the LORD; therefore she instructs sinners in her way.
Congregation: To you, I gift my heart… guide it to make room for others who need you.
One: You, God, lead the humble in what is right, and teach the humble your way.
Congregation: To you, O LORD, I gift my heart… teach me to be humble.
ALL: All of your paths God are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep your covenant and decrees.
Unison Prayer of Invocation (http://lectionary.library.vanderbilt.edu/prayers.php?id=71)
God of wilderness and water, your Son was baptized and tempted as we are. Guide us through this season, that we may not avoid struggle, but open ourselves to blessing, through the cleansing depths of repentance and the heaven-rending words of the Spirit. Amen
Hymn #70 “God is Here! As We Your People Meet” (The New Century Hymnal)
Hymn #208 “God Loved the World” (The New Century Hymnal)
Hymn #207 “Just as I Am” (The New Century Hymnal)
Scripture Reading: Genesis 9: 8-17
Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, “As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Between YOU and ME…
Happy Sunday Church, and that is said with only the tiniest hint of sarcasm as I think of the weather that seems to have us permanently housed inside a snow-globe. This weather leaves me feeling as though I am waking up over and over again in a recognizable environment, space that I know well, with all my things laid up in their same-same spots (usual places), but with just the slightest bit of difference… just a tinge of the cold…
Imagine that we are in a state of emergency. Some might say, that all of creation has reached that state…
We are walking together, on a journey and as we boldly step forth onto the road for the next leg one of our fellow sojourners stops and says they cannot continue. Not that they wont, but rather they cant. What can we do? Do we ask them to clarify why? Do we remind them of the plans we made?
We are in a state of emergency. All creation has reached that state. What do we do? What is our responsibility?
The world around us is crying out in pain. Humanity seems to be spiritually broken and unsure of how to get back to a healthy place. If we stand still and listen (with both our hearts and our ears) there is a HUM that is not going away. We hear the frozen branches creaking and cracking as they fall off the trees. And still I hear a HUM. The stars that use to tempt me to count them night after night seem to have disappeared behind a cloud of fog. And still I hear a HUM.
Imagine that we each are part of the lineage of Noah, and each had been offered passage onto the Ark. Through Noah’s righteousness, we also have been found worthy of being saved…in this case saved from a flood. If we return to the beginning of the Noah’s Ark story as told in the Torah, Genesis 6: 17-18, we read: “For MY part [say’s God], I am about to bring the Flood –waters upon the earth – to destroy all flesh under the sky in which there is breath of life; everything on earth shall perish. But I [says the Creator] will establish My covenant with you, and you shall enter the ark, with your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives…” And Noah did as God commanded….and the floods came. And the water rose. And the rains fell. And the world was flooded.
1 : a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement
2 : a written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the [purpose of] performance of some action.
And when the waters ceded, and the Ark released it’s weary passengers, “God then made a covenant with Noah and placed His rainbow in the sky as a sign that He would not bring another flood” (Pg 63 of the Torah by Plaut).
But I profess, that we are in a state of emergency. And when there is an emergency we usually put together a plan of attack. And in our understanding, or at least [it is] in my understanding, when there is an emergency, we call a meeting: and at that meeting we usually have organizers, people who are in the know, sometimes representatives of key constituency groups…and lawyers, I am sure that there are a few lawyers!
We are in a state of emergency. Do we have any lawyers in the room today? Is there a lawyer in the church right now?
Because, God has done his part. The storms have been brewing and the rains (though frozen) have been falling, and we are still standing (though it feels as though we stand inside a snow globe…waiting for something or someone or somebeiiing to rescue us.
But we are in a state of emergency. And we have tools at our fingertips; those practices that we [usually] forget the rest of the year, we remember during this, our Lenten season: meditation, prayer, self-reflection…and FASTING.
The covenant that God made after Noah exited the Ark, was one sided. God promised not to repeat that performance…his promise was with all creation. If we were to go to trial today we might be surprised to find that the covenant was only signed by God, and maybe because our signatures are not on it, we excuse our dismissive exclusive abuse of creation…but I am once more reminded that all of creation has paid a price and will pay a price again. God did God’s part, now I invite us to do ours.
This Lenten season, as some of us consider ways that we can reconnect to God, I invite us to consider taking part in the Carbon Fast (http://www.macucc.org/carbonfast). For after all, so far, this is the only planet that has coffee and chocolate. Let us be responsible stewards of the bounty of Creation….let us act as responsible partners to all living things. Let us each consider ways in which we can do our part.
“Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!’ ‘Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!’ [We are called to praise God…] Some Pharisees said to Jesus, ‘Teacher, rebuke your disciples!’ ‘I tell you,’ Jesus replied, ‘if they keep quiet, the stones will cry out” (Luke 19:37-40).
Let us be responsible. We [or rather you] who hear creation crying out… It is a call for justice that requires response.
Let us pray…
CARBON FAST as a Lenten Practice: http://www.macucc.org/carbonfast
Benediction: Hymn #352 “My God, Accept My Heart This Day” (The New Century Hymnal) and concludes with “An Invitation to Wholeness” by Nan Merrill
Before the cross of One who dies, we bow in deep regret
Let every sin be crucified, and every wrong offset
[Let us be] anointed with love and grace, adopted and accepted with our baggage
Let every thought and word and work be given, O God, to you
May we be stirred your purpose to pursue
May we hold fast to this sliver of mystery, this truth upon which we set the whole of who we are.
May we call ourselves back to it, until we are filled with the wonder that is life–
May our energies be given to the transformation of this world—
And may all God’s people say: Amen!
View from outside the Snow Globe:
View from inside the Snow Globe:
Views on Campus: