Worship for June 21, 2020

Prelude

Indescribable (Amazing God)   arr. Sam Robson

Words and Music:  Laura Story and Jesse Reeves
Performed by Committed, arranged by Sam Robson
Posted on YouTube by One Sound Music

Greetings/Call to Worship      

     The words for this Call to worship are printed below the video,
     so you may follow, if you choose.

Come and worship God, who cares for the greatest and least among us.
Come and worship God, who raises us to new life.
Come and worship God, who hears the cries of all,
whoever they are, and wherever they may be.
Come and worship God, who knows every hair on our head.
Come, let us worship God together.

Opening Prayer

 Holy One, mold our worship with your tender hands
   so that the words of our mouths and the whispers of our heart
   find their way to you. 

So shape our celebration with your gracious touch
   that our prayers find a home with you, and our songs bring you joy. 
Form this service and our lives
    into an acceptable offering of thanksgiving and witness. 
In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Opening Hymn

Children of the Heavenly Father    #141

Words:  Caroline V. Sandell-Berg, 1855
translation by Ernst W. Olson, ©1925
Tune:  Swedish melody
sung by Mennonite Bible Institute Singers
Video by S.E. Samonte, 2013

Children’s Message

“Healing Touch” by Pastor Karla

If there are children among the worshippers today, here is a message prepared for them (and children of all ages are welcome).

Scripture:  

Read from your own Bible and/or follow as the scripture is read by Mark Fredericksen

   Genesis 21:1-21

   Genesis 22:1-14

Sermon

   “The Sacrifice”   Rev. Karla Fredericksen

Hymn:

Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying                   #2193

Youtube:  ykmusicministry
Words and Music:  Ken Medema
© 1973 Hope Publishing Co.   CCLI: #1397620

Prayers of the People

    Response:

             Leader:  Bend your ear to us, O God…
             People:  … and hear our prayer

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come; thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom, and the power and glory forever.  Amen.

(The video portion of the “Live” recording ends here. PLEASE scroll to each of the following areas to make your way through the rest of worship – and don’t forget the announcements at the end! – Friendly Caller Deadline is this week!)

Offering:

Take note of the ways to give:  Our time, our gifts and talents, our worship, our service in church and community, and our monetary gifts.  During this pandemic moment in time, please remember the church in your giving.  Take note of several venues to contribute without an offering plate being passed:

We accept:

  • checks sent to CUMC, P.O. Box 417, Chehalis, WA  98532. 
  • Cash, of course, would have to be brought to the church office during office hours (T-W-Th, 10-1:00)
  • On the DONATE page find a link to our giving site, using a debit or credit card, or your own PayPal account. 
  • Bill-payer:  Some prefer to use their own bank’s bill-payerand set an automatic monthly amount. (We like this one!)

 HERE’S Some Offertory Music:

Nearer My God to Thee    Arr. James Stevens

Sung by the BYU Men’s Chorus
Words:  Sarah F. Adams, 1841
Music:  Lowell Mason, 1856
Posted to YouTube by BYU Vocal Point, © BYU Records, 2014

 Dedicating your Offering:

God who is in the spirit of creation,
known to us in Jesus Christ,
the wind and flame of Pentecost,
   you have given us so much:
   Christ to inspire us,
         your Spirit to enable us,
                  your love to support us;
and so we bring these offerings
  that we and others may be inspired,  enabled, and supported.   Amen.

Announcements

Here are some highlights – A more full description of these items and more      follow after the Closing Response/“Postlude.”

  • Tuesday NOON – NEWSLETTER DEADLINE!! (Friendly Caller)
  • Tuesday – 1:00 “Coffee Hour” 1:00 PM – See notice below for links
  • Wednesday – 10:00 AM – UMC Dismantling Racism: A Service of Lament
    (NO Bishop’s Webinar this week.)
  • Wednesday – 6:30 PM – “Unraveled” Bible Study – this week: “Pharaoh’s hardened heart”
  • Thursday or Friday (see times) – Stress, grief and loss training for leaders
  • Next Sunday – 10:00 AM – Worship is available by this time each week, on this website.

Closing Prayer

Loving God, we thank you for hearing our prayers,
for feeding us with your word and spirit,
and encouraging us in our worship.
Take us and use us to love and serve you, and all people,
in the power of your Spirit, and in the name of Christ. Amen.

Postlude/Response

The Trees of the Field   The Faith We Sing #2279
  (Words in Video)

Words:  Steffie Geiser Ruben; Music:  Stuart Dauermann
© 1975 Lillenas Publishing Co. adm by The Copyright Co.  CCLI: #1397620
Artist:  Jeff Hamlin, Integrity’s Hosanna! Music, in Hosanna Gold Album;
On YouTube channel: Michael Hemrich
Licensed to YouTube by  [Merlin] Absolute Label Services; Music Services, Inc. (Publishing),
LatinAutor, and 2 Music Rights Societies

Go in Peace to LOVE, and SERVE God.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

===============================

*****CHEHALIS UMC Announcements / “Soundbites”*****

  • TUESDAY NOON!! NEWSLETTER DEADLINE!! (Friendly Caller)
  • Tuesday – 1:00 “Coffee Hour” 1:00 PM – See notice below for links**
  • Wednesday – 10:00 AM – UMC Dismantling Racism: A Service of Lament
  • (NO Bishop’s Webinar this week.)**
  • Wednesday – 6:30 PM – “Unraveled” Bible Study – this week: “Pharaoh’s hardened heart”**
  • Thursday or Friday (see times) – Stress, grief and loss training for leaders**
  • Next Sunday – 10:00 AM – Worship is available by this time each week, on this website.
    **See the articles below for the links to ZOOM or Webinar.

Friendly Caller deadline

Tuesday noon is the deadline for Friendly Caller articles for the July edition. Valerie prefers email submissions, but you can also bring them in to the church office (she’s the only one around, but wear your mask when you enter the building), 10AM to 1PM.

“Coffee Hour” – Tuesdays 1:00 PM

To join the ZOOM (live) chat follow this Link!

This is an opportunity to see and hear other church people, share your joys and concerns, and pray together! This is sort of our way of replacing the coffee hour on Sundays! (Thus the name change!) To join the chatter follow this link at 1 pm each Tuesday. (Don’t be afraid…) For alternative ways to join click the next link and read! Everyone can come, EVEN BY REGULAR LANDLINE PHONE!  More info: “COFFEE HOUR” POST OH! and Hint: Bring your own coffee and snack!

Offerings and Contributions
(when no plate is being passed)

Checks mailed to CUMC at P.O. Box 417, Chehalis, Wa, 98532 are, as always, welcome!

You may now, also, make a contribution by using the DONATE page on our website, by PayPal or a credit card.  The site gives an opportunity to designate a portion of your check to a specific fund, by making a notation, if you like. And yes, there is a 2.2% fee for each transaction, but this is the easiest way, or the only way some of us have to give remotely (some people don’t use checks!) Don’t let the fee stop you from giving, if this is the best for you. (Or give a little extra to cover the fee.)

If you use your bank’s bill-payer for other organizations, why not make a monthly contribution to the church that way !?

Thank you, for remembering the work of the church goes on even when we can’t be together!

Wednesdays –
Bible Study: UNRAVELED

From “A Sanctified Art”

   Feeling a little “unraveled” by the happenings in the world?  Or unsettled and un-anchored without a spiritual support through Bible Study?  You are not alone!  “UNRAVELED” is a Bible Study that deals with these questions:  What happens when our world falls apart? How do we press onward when our tightly-knit plans unravel into loose threads? What do we become when our identity—or the path we’re on— comes undone? What if all of this is not the end we fear it will be? In our unraveling, sometimes life surprises us with unexpected joy, love, and hope—with a new beginning we couldn’t have imagined. Sometimes we need God to unravel us, for we long to be changed.

   This study explores 12 stories of unraveled shame, identity, fear, grief, dreams, and expectations.  THIS WEEK’S LESSON: “The Pharoah’s Hardened Heart” (Exodus 5:1-2: 7:8-23). Pastor Karla hopes that you will join her on ZOOM, Wednesday nights at 6:30 PM for about an hour of sharing in this study. All lessons can be received separately, without loss of continuity – So join as you can!  A study guide was emailed to all potential participants – printed copies available in church office.  The links to the ZOOM study are:

computers & internet capable phones: https://greaternw.zoom.us/j/94897642352 
One tap mobile:  +12532158782,,94897642352# US (Tacoma) or for a regular landline phone, which is like joining a conference call (audio only) dial: 1-253-215-8782 (Tacoma), tap in the Meeting ID: 948 9764 2352 when prompted.  (I hope you’ll all join me for this!!)

There will be no Wednesday Webinar with Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky on June 24. Instead, you are encouraged to join the following

Dismantling Racism: A Service of Lament

Wednesday, June 24
10 am PDT

United Methodists around the world will gather on umc.org and on the UMC Facebook page to pray and lament for the racism in our midst. We will also hear God’s call to join in the work of dismantling racism and pressing on to freedom for all. 

Supporting each other: Stress, grief and loss training opportunity for laity (sign up now)

In this current season, we recognize that in addition to pastors, much of the burden in many churches for pastoral care falls to the church lay leader or congregational care team.
The Greater Northwest Lay Leaders, New Circuit Riders, Connecting Neighbors and Disaster Recovery have come together to develop a 90 minute discussion-based training to provide support and education for laity who are currently doing the powerful and oftentimes emotionally draining work right now of supporting their congregation and their pastor. 

The Zoom-based training is led by:
Marshall Wattman-Turner: clergy and coordinator of the Oregon-Idaho Abundant Health initiative
Dr. Jay Hughes – Psychiatrist working with post traumatic stress issues and congregant at Redeemer UMC in Kingston, Wash.
Catherine Lundy, psychologist and congregant at Fairwood UMC in Renton, Wash.
Nancy Tam Davis, Pacific Northwest Conference Lay Leader

This training will be offered twice with a limit of 40 participants:
June 25, 7pm-8:30pm
June 26, 1pm-2:30pm Here is the direct registration link.

Worship for Apr 26, 2020

Welcome

Rev. Karla Fredericksen

Call to Worship

Dr. Mark Fredericksen

Opening Prayer

Opening Hymn: Day of Arising 

Words:  Susan Palo Cherwien © 1996; admin. Augsburg Fortress. CCLI #1397620
Music:  Gaelic melody, Bunessan (Morning Has Broken)

Sing along! Words are beneath the video.

Choir Anthem: Because He Lives (Amen)

Sung by West Coast Baptist Choir (credits on screen)

Scripture:   Luke 24:13-35

     You may open a Bible and read the scripture, or you may watch and listen to this video of the scriptures read and enacted.

Sermon

   “Why the Suffering?”  Rev. Karla Fredericksen

Pastoral Prayer

Offertory

   While you are listening to the “offertory” music on the video below, here is a moment to remember the work of the church, and to determine what you give back to God through the church.  Take note of the ways to give:  Our time, our gifts and talents, our worship, our service in church and community, and our monetary gifts. 

During this pandemic moment in time, please remember the church in your giving.  Take note of several venues to contribute without an offering plate being passed:

We accept: checks sent to CUMC, P.O. Box 417, Chehalis, WA  98532.  Or you can go to the DONATE page and find a link to our giving site, using a debit or credit card, or your own PayPal account.  Some prefer to use their own bank’s bill-payer and set a monthly amount.

Here’s the offertory music:

From the debut album 'Homeward' by Celtic Worship, Available from: http://www.celticworship.co.uk

Prayer of Dedication:

Closing Hymn

The Day of Resurrection UM Hymnal #303, (words on video)

Words:  John of Damascus, trans. John Mason Neale, 1862
Music:  Henry T. Smart, 1835  
Arr. By Shelton Love, from Beckenhorst Press

Announcements

Please note the announcements that are at the end of this service. And especially that the “Pastor Chat” time is changed!!

Closing Prayer

Postlude

Every Morning is Easter Morning

   Sung by The Augustana Chorister & Cherub Choirs

Words & Music:  Avery & Marsh   CCLI #1397620
© 1972 Hope Publishing Co. 

Go in Peace to love and serve.

Announcements / “Soundbites

Church Directory Updates

We are working on an updated church directory.  Please let us know if you have a  new address, a mobile number you would like added, a landline that you have discontinued,  an email address, etc., or a different way you would like to be contacted.

If your birthdate has not been listed in the Friendly Caller, let us know so we can celebrate you. We would also like to know if you have family members who have grown and left (or have moved back) home as well as any other significant changes.  Sometimes, the only person to tell us about these changes is you!

Contact the church office email address (preferably) or phone 360-748-7334 between 10 AM – 1 PM T-W-Th.

Box Tops for Education – a fundraiser for our church

UPDATE! You may have seen some changes to the Box Tops on General Mills products. There is a new, additional method for submitting them.  Using a smart phone, you can scan your sales receipt and earnings are instantly credited to the church’s account.  Details are available at btfe.com or boxtops4education.com or contact Erica Norquist if you need help or have questions.

We can still use the traditional box tops which have an expiration date.  As long as the company keeps printing and we have un-expired, “clippable” box tops, our collections will be submitted in February and October each year.

Pastor Chat – Tuesdays 1:00 PM

NOTE: THE TIME CHANGE!! (Pastor Karla has a stream of District Committee on Ministry meetings on zoom over the next few weeks at… guess what time they chose? 10 AM. Thus the need for a change of time. I hope you can all still make it at 1:00!

To join the ZOOM (live) chat follow the Link!

This is an opportunity to see and hear other church people, share you joys and concerns, and pray together! This is sort of our way of replacing the coffee hour on Sundays! To join the chat follow this link. (Don’t be afraid…) For alternative ways to join click the next one! Everyone can come! More info: PASTOR CHAT POST

Offerings and Contributions

You may now make a contribution by using PayPal or a credit card using the Link to our donation page: DONATIONS. There is an opportunity to designate a portion of your check to a specific fund, by making a notation, if you like.

Checks mailed to CUMC at P.O. Box 417, Chehalis, Wa, 98532 are, as always, also welcome!

Thank you, for remembering the work of the church goes on even when we can’t be together in person!

BISHOP’S WEBINAR –

Each week during the COVID-19 crisis, on Wednesdays at 9 AM, Bishop Elaine Stanovsky has a webinar for clergy and laity. This Wednesday’s Webinar is “Stewardship in the Age of COVID-19 and 5 tips for Managing Church Budget During the Crisis.” She has a different topic for church leaders each week, with a panel of experts to present and answer questions. For more information or to Register click here.

NOTICE: Extension of Bishop’s directive

  • The Bishop has again extended the suspension of in-person worship and closure of all buildings through May 30. This date may be reconsidered as circumstances change – an ongoing challenge for us all!

This Week:

  • Today! – HAPPY THIRD SUNDAY OF EASTER!!
  • Tuesday – Pastor Chat, 1:00 PM – See notice above for links to ZOOM
  • Wednesday – The Bishop’s Webinar on “Stewardship during the Age of COVID-19…”, 9 AM

Worship 3/29/2020 – Dry Bones

Welcome

Call to Worship

Wait and watch for God!

Even when you feel in the depths of death and despair,

When you are overwhelmed with what the world is experiencing.

Wait and watch for God!

Even when life seems like a night that never ends,

When you are alone and lonely,

    and when you’re going stir-crazy from being at home!

Wait and watch for God!

In God there is constant love and kindness.

In God we find our healing and our hope.

Prayer                 

O God, open our hearts to be aware of your presence.

Help us to see you in all that is around us.

Breathe new life into us.

Fill us with the power of your Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Hymn                         

It is Well With My Soul        Hymnal #377  Words: Horatio G. Spafford, 1873;  Music: Phillip P. Bliss, 1876;  with lyrics, sung by Chris Rice

Scripture:      

Ezekiel 37:1-14

John 11:1-3, 6, 17, 33-44       Read by Dr. Mark Fredericksen

Sermon         

“Hear the Word of the Lord!”          Rev. Karla Fredericksen

 Hymn                       

Awesome God   The Faith We Sing #2040 Words & Music: Rich Mullins, ©1988 BMG Songs, Inc. with lyrics sung by Michael W. Smith

Pastoral Prayer

Offertory            

 You Raise Me Up Music by Rolf Løvland, lyrics by Brendan Graham; arranged by McKay Crocket; Sung by BYU Vocal Point (Josh Groban a capella cover)

Making a contribution to the “Offering” virtually is now easier using the donation page and using PayPal or a credit card – as always you can also send in a check.

Thank you for your contributions! DONATION PAGE

Offering Response        

Holy, Holy, Holy   The Faith We Sing #2007

Prayer of Dedication for the offering

As you hold your prepared offering in your hand, hold it out for God to bless, as you pray the Following: Amazing God, your great love for us was expressed in the gift of Jesus the Christ.   Our love for You and for each other is expressed in these tangible gifts we give in response to Your love for us.

Please accept these gifts and our lives, the work of care that they represent and our hope for a fuller life for others that all may know the reality of your great love for us.  Amen.

Prayer of Confession

Loving God, forgive us the times when we have not been there for others.

For times when we have not gone to help those in need. For now in these fearful times, we long to go, and are not allowed to go, to hold a hand, to touch, to cry together.

When we have failed to be your comforting presence at the bedside of the sick, at the door of the prison, behind the counter of the soup kitchen, with casserole in hand at the passing of a friend’s loved one, in offering the hand of friendship to the new neighbor in giving the word of hope.

In these fearful times, let us resolve to change, to be there for each other. You show us the way, and you give us hope that there is redemption from our failures.  In Christ’s name we pray.  Amen.

Affirmation of Faith

We believe in the steadfast love of God, whose

willingness to hear is greater than our despair;

whose power to forgive is greater than our sin;

we trust in this God to save us.

We believe in Jesus Christ, who wept in anger and grief;

who faced life with hope and death with courage;

at Christ’s command the bonds of death are untied/unloosed/broken;

In Christ we find life and resurrection.

We believe in the Spirit of God,

who breathes new life into dead bones;

who dwells in us and brings us hope;

who forms us into the people of God,

always alive to new possibilities;

this is the Spirit who dwells in us.

Suggested Songs

You Are Mine          The Faith We Sing #2218

Change My Heart, O God         The Faith We Sing #2152

The Prayer of Jesus

Creator of us all, Our Mother and Father in heaven,

May your name be praised,

May your reign come in all its fullness,

And may your will be done on earth, as in all realms beyond.

Give us today all that we need,

And forgive our sins, as we forgive all who sin against us.

May we feel your presence in time of temptation,

leading us in the right way, and away from evil.

For all things are from you and belong to you,

and yours is the power and honor forever.  Amen.

Announcements:

  • If you hear any of our seniors that need meals they should sign up at 1-855-581-9495 (toll free). They would get 5 frozen meals delivered. No charge, donations accepted but not expected. It’s United Way, Twin City Transit and the local senior center partnering.
  • Pastor Chat and Prayers –  Come join Pastor Karla in a Zoom “gathering” for chatting from our homes, sharing our concerns and joys, and praying together for about half and hour, or as long as it takes.  If you’ve missed the “Prayers of the People” sharing on Sundays, this can replace it.  You can join in this time together by smartphone or computer, by downloading the free app from zoom.com. and then at the time of the meeting – TUESDAY, 10 AM – follow the link at https://greaternw.zoom.us/j/864450315 – and join the meeting, or join by phone One tap mobile 1+16699006833,,864450315# US or  land line 1-(669)900-6833; Meeting ID: 864 450 315

April 9 – Maundy Thursday – VIRTUAL WORSHIP (Soup Supper is cancelled) Virtual Communion will be at 6:30 PM  FOR THIS NIGHT, WE WILL NOT GATHER FOR SOUP & COMMUNION, you ARE invited to make your own soup or simple supper at home, then at 6:30 join in a “zoom” worship (a link will be published).  You’ll need to bring a piece of bread of some sort, and grape juice or another appropriate beverage (other juices work, too).  We will bless it together and remember the meal that Jesus had with his disciples.   REMEMBER, we may be separated, but we are NOT alone!

  • Decision made on General Conference (international gathering, every 4 years) – The Commission on the General Conference has made the determination that the General Conference will not meet in 2020 as originally planned. They have decided to work toward setting a new date in 2021.  More information:  Read article at PNW NEWS DIGEST

Closing Prayer

Loving God, we thank you for hearing our prayers,
for feeding us with your word and spirit,
and encouraging us in this time together.
Take us and use us to love and serve you, and all people,
in the power of your Spirit, and in the name of Christ. Amen.

Song of Response   

May You Run and Not Be Weary  Faith We Sing #2281

     (Below is some good accompaniment for you to sing to.)

May you run and not be weary, May your heart be filled with song. And may the love of God continue to give you hope and keep you strong And may you run and not be weary, may your life be filled with joy! And may the road you travel always bring you home.

Words and Music by Paul Murakami & Handt Hanson (Isa. 40:31) (c)1991 Changing Church Forum    CCLI#1397620 

GO IN PEACE

Worship 3/22/2020 – Once was Blind

Welcome

   Welcome to the virtual worship of Chehalis United Methodist for March 22, 2020 – I pray that each of you is here to connect to God’s spirit and to a church community, despite social distancing during this pandemic. Further down there is a sermon and prayers. Please follow the whole worship experience by using the suggested parts on the way.

May God bless our time of worship.

Call to Worship/ Opening Prayer

   I invite you to begin worship with this call and prayer – starting with your hands over your eyes, listening for God’s voice. Then when you remove your hands… Read the following:

 God invites us to see the world through new eyes.

   Holy One, open our eyes, and help us to see in new ways..

   God invites us to take away the things that keep us from seeing the beauty of God’s world. 

I invite you now, to look all around you… If you are near a window, look outside, too…

   Holy One, open our eyes, and help us to see in new ways..

Now, if you are with someone else right now, look at them;  If you are alone, close your eyes for a moment, and imagine those you love with you and holding your hand.

With new eyes of your heart, “see” the love and warmth that these persons share…

   Holy One, open our eyes, and help us to see in new ways…

And now, let us worship the Holy One who calls us to see in new ways!

Hymn         

Be Thou My Vision     UM Hymnal #451 – verse 1

Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,

naught be all else to me, save that thou art.

Thou my best thought, by day or by night,

waking or sleeping, thy presence my light.

Scripture:       John 9:1-41 

Please read the scripture before continuing on to the sermon on the video.

Sermon & Prayers of the People

     “I once was blind”      Rev. Karla Fredericksen

Offering

`Suggested Offering Response

 Holy, Holy, Holy     The Faith We Sing #2007 Argentine Folk

            Holy, Holy, Holy.  My heart, my heart adores you.

            My heart knows how to say to you, “You are Holy, Lord.”

Prayer of Dedication for the offering

Amazing God, your great love for us was expressed in the gift of Jesus the Christ.   Our love for You and for each other is expressed in these tangible gifts we give in response to Your love for us. Please accept

  • these gifts and our lives,
  • the work of care that they represent
  • and our hope for a fuller life for others that all may know the reality of your great love for us.  Amen.

Suggested Hymn(s)    

I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light – #206

                                       Amazing Grace  – Hymnal #378

       OR    (video below) Amazing Grace (My Chains are Gone)

   Announcements

         A NOTE FROM THE BUSCHLEN EXTENDED FAMILY:

We wish to thank the Chehalis United Methodist Church family for your incredible support during this last difficult year.
Your ongoing messages of prayer, caring, and concern lifted us up and gave us hope. The cards, calls, texts, gifts, and personal visits have been a continuous evidence of God’s grace manifest through His people in the midst of sickness and sorrow.
Please accept our appreciation for the gracious things you have done.
             – Busch, Jan, Julie, Craig, Joel, Myra

VIRTUAL WORSHIP WILL CONTINUE:

Thank you for your patience during this trying and fearsome time. Our virtual worship will have to continue to replace our in-person worship for the near future – until further notice!  We will activate the prayer chain to let you know when there is a change.  If you are not on the prayer chain, please send your preferred email address to sandycowart77@gmail.com and ask her to add you to the list.

    The prayer chain, this website, and Facebook, are venues we are using to get the word out!  There is also word of mouth – please, let your friends know in case they miss the email, are not on the list or have no email. 

UM GENERAL CONFERENCE IS POSTPONED:

The international meeting of the church which happens every 4 years, is postponed due to the pandemic COVID-19 virus which is sweeping the globe! The venue where the 1000+ person conference was to be held cancelled all events! When there is news of a new date, we will publish it.

Closing Prayer:

Loving God, we thank you for hearing our prayers,
for feeding us with your word and spirit,
and encouraging us in our worship, even when we must be apart.

We ask for safety for ourselves and our loved ones, and that you
take us and use us to love and serve you, and all people,
in the power of your Spirit, and in the name of Christ. Amen.

Closing Response                   

  May You Run and Not Be Weary        Faith We Sing #2281

                 Words & Music:  Paul Murakami and Handt Hanson; 
                 ©1991 Changing Church Forum;  CLLI #1397620               

May you run and not be weary.

May your heart be filled with song.

And may the love of God continue

  to give you hope and keep you strong.

And may run and not be weary.

May your life be filled with joy!

And may the road you travel always lead you home.

Keeping Sabbath

As with other disciplines, such as fasting, Sabbath is not just about what we don’t do but what we choose to DO in place of the thing with which we are disengaging – what will we do with our time? As with fasting, where we must choose how we will eat otherwise when we’ve given up chocolate or fried foods. Will we exercise or do something else that is healthy in place of the unhealthy habit we gave up?

“Sabbath is something that need not be limited to Sunday; it can be observed any time of the week. In breaking from the schedule of our everyday lives, we free up time to add what is truly restful, to embrace wholly our relationship with God, and to feast on God’s presence in our lives. There is a sense, then, that we can somehow reclaim that time we spend on unfocused busyness to make it holy. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Herschel, in his book The Sabbath, echoes this idea about regaining our time and making it holy when he calls Sabbath, ‘a palace in time which we build.’”

– Kyle Roberson, Soul Tending

Sabbath is not a day, but a way of living.  We “fast” from work and productivity.  The practice of Sabbath is what separated the Hebrews from other cultures.  Their lives were planned around the time that they gave way to deep rest and a time to allow God to be present to them without distraction.  Our “palace in time” was the last creation of God in Genesis.  And observing it is one of the 10 commandments given to Moses.  It was created FOR the people of God, to help them be their best selves.

Sabbath was also the great equalizer of the people.  Rich and poor alike.  Student and Rabbi, Priest and King, as well as farmers and crafters and other commoners.  Men, women and children.  Servant and master.  All were to observe Sabbath.  No exceptions.  Suspending hierarchies, and creating equality.

Productivity ended for Sabbath.  All food was prepared before.  Chores were done in advance or put off.  Animals taken care of early the day before, or waiting till late when the day was ended. (Sunset to sunset).  No money was exchanged.  No products bought or sold.  The economy was suspended for everyone and everything to have a day of peaceful rest.

How do WE observe Sabbath?  Culturally, we do not take an exact time where everyone together takes time away from all productivity.  Yet, the commandment still exists and Christians still observe (or should observe) sabbath.  Do we take a time away from productivity, personal or communal?  From physical work, intellectual pursuit, purchasing, from serving others even?  A break that is complete!   And HOW do we spend the time?  What is truly restful?

I, who do not spend much of my “work” week in anything physical, may find that Sabbath means something physical and relaxing, play not work – playing with children, taking a walk.  Where someone who works with their hands, and is physically tired at the end of each work day, may find reading a book or napping more relaxing and restful.  The idea is that we suspend usual activity to live in our “palace in time,” where we treat ourselves and others royally, and not be concerned in any way about producing a work product, or being economically or intellectually fruitful!

Sabbath is about allowing ourselves the time to just be.  And at the same time allowing others the same opportunity to just be for a time, too.  To just be, is to allow God’s entry, God’s presence in ways that cannot happen when we are engaged in “productivity,” which can distract us from God’s presence.

Longing for a Bigger God

For several years, the fastest growing churches in America have been nondenominational evangelical. These churches sprang up claiming to be the “Christ-centered” and “Bible-based” alternatives to mainline denominations. In fact, the term “denomination” itself was seen as a bad word. Non-denominational churches arose as an attempt to return to a more authentic faith experience and belief. But while the style of music and worship seemed new (praise music, multimedia, PowerPoint, and auditorium seating), the theology was also new, not ancient – that is from the late 1800 Holiness movements, not 2000 years ago.  And that new theology was simply packaged within a slick presentation.

These churches may offer a worship experience that is upbeat and full of energy, but the people don’t really sing, they listen to a “worship leader” who is a soloist and try to follow along, though they may have an emotional experience listening.  I read an article recently on how many church people do not sing anymore at all.  And singing is the only part of worship that seems to be considered “worshipful” in those settings with no liturgical or historic connections to the faith.

I often think of these churches as “doorways” to the faith as many are attracted to the lively worship (mainline church has the reputation of being dull and boring!) And yet, while these churches seem to have no problem attracting new members, their retention rate is not as good as you might think. What often happens is that as people begin to grow in the faith, they begin longing for something deeper – spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. They begin longing for a bigger God.

If you wander the few bookstores that are left, or surf through religious books online, you may have noticed a new genre of books for the Contemporary, Emerging, or Post-Modern Church – the name changes almost as fast as we change our clothing. While there are numerous definitions for this movement, it all represents two significant shifts away from the “nondenominational” church. First, theology is becoming broader (this is a reaction to public perception that churches are about guilt, judgment, and hypocrisy). The second is a shift back to more ancient styles of worship. Ancient music, classic settings (like a real church!), and the more candles the better!

This is good news. Public perceptions are forcing the evangelical church to wrestle with being called “judgmental” and “mean-spirited.” The Emerging Church Movement was an example of churches seeking to find “the love they had at first”  (Rev. 2:4) and offer a gospel that is both relevant and lifechanging. It also reveals a longing for a deeper faith and a desire to step into the divine mystery. A long time ago J.B. Philips wrote a book entitled, Your God is Too Small. People are longing today for a God who is too big to fit on the PowerPoint screen!

Chehalis UMC seems well positioned as a church with a broad theology and both new and ancient styles of worship, hopefully not fitting the “dull and boring” stereotype, and yet we seek to share our faith experience on a deeper level with others, there is much still to learn about the balance of using new media and also retaining the ancient faith.

Pastor Karla

Feelin’ Small

This past month the sermon series has been about “Little People” or at least those who are “feelin’ small” due to their situation in life.   The first sermon was about faith as small as a mustard seed, and then we moved to the Samaritan leper who came back to thank Jesus, another widow who had no power, yet persisted against the powerful until she received justice, then to the man who beat his chest asking for forgiveness and in his “smallness” (humility) he went away justified with God.  Then, we came to Zaccheus, who really was a “wee little man.”  And each week, Jesus continues to love them all!  This series is finally done, but the concept goes on and on!!

There are many ways that we can “feel small” in our own eyes.  It’s easy for each of us to begin to think “Why do I seem to always be overlooked?  God doesn’t even see me.  Doors aren’t opening the way they should.  I never seem to get a break.”  Small churches sometimes begin to think that way, too.  We look around us at churches that are growing despite what seems to us as faithlessness to GOOD news, those that actually do spiritual harm to some folks, those that teach hate and their actual message is BAD news of condemnation.  Why are they growing in numbers?  At the same time, all of OUR efforts seem to be wasted, though we are bringing good news of love and grace and peace for all.  Shouldn’t we get some of the rewards for that?  Shouldn’t our numbers grow?  Shouldn’t our budgets get met?  Shouldn’t our buildings glow!?

Well, the actual fact is that those “other” churches are rarely growing either.  I’m guessing that the mega-church folks across the way are choked by some of the same insecurities, just on a different scale.   But, since WE are still numerically smaller than they, we “feel small” because we are comparing ourselves to others.  We are not focusing on mission, but on our size, our “success” (however it’s measured), on Sunday worship, not on weekly ministry.  Comparing ourselves, can become self-condemning, and grows into a self-fulfilling prophecy of real ministry spiraling downward.

In another era we would say that our only measurement should be “souls saved.”  Yes, I said another era.  We don’t usually think in terms of saving souls as if it’s a once and for all type thing.  But, we might want to measure in terms of lives touched, rather than in bottoms in the pew.  The culture in which we live has changed drastically.  Our Christian lives are no longer lived inside the church buildings.  (Thank God!  That’s the way it should have always been!)  If we are involved with living out our Christian values, seeking peace and justice, striving for changing the world… well, then, we may be out there in the world instead of in the pew on some Sundays.

Don’t get me wrong! – I STILL want to see you all in the pew!!  I AM your pastor, you know.  And I still believe that it is in community that we strengthen our faith and renew our commitment.  However, I’m not going to sweat the fact that in reality, “regular” church attendance, for some, and especially for the younger generations, is not every single week.  I DO, however, want to know that you are living out your faith in other ways.  The point is, we need not “feel small” over the fact that there are fewer there many Sundays than there was a decade or more ago, IF we are living our faith, being faithful to good news, seeking justice, and living love as a congregation.  Remember the church is not a building, the church is a people.  The church gathered is Sunday morning.  The living church is out THERE in the world, being Christ to the lost, lonely, hungry, and searching.  Ministry is connecting with these, and perhaps bringing them in, but certainly making a difference.

We small churches sometimes want to substitute activity for real ministry. And we think that adding “programs” will make a difference in how we feel about ourselves as a church – the more activity the better!  But, “faster and bigger” doesn’t always mean “better and stronger.”  (Sometimes it means tired and more demeaned.)

So, I guess the point is, I don’t want to hear any more “small talk” – moaning and groaning about how things once were and wishing to live the hey-day again!  What I want to hear from you is the voice of “NOW talk” – what are we planning and implementing that is about today, about real ministry with people who need the church (as the people of God), talk that is about mission and ministry.  The numbers may or may not come, but let’s remain faithful to the call.  Jesus loves us little people and little churches, and calls us to follow.

As a deer longs for flowing streams…

As many of you realize, I’ve been sharing with you on Sundays a series of sermons, “The spirit still speaks,” based mostly on the stories of Elijah. A few Sundays ago, the “mantle” was passed to Elisha, and now the sermons will come from some stories of Elisha the prophet and others, before we move back to the regular lectionary.

As I look back over this series, I realize that there could have been some others about Elijah:  Like Elijah defeating the 500 prophets of Baal, as his sacrifice was consumed and theirs was not!  Like Elijah suddenly becoming frightened for his life, after bravely standing up to Jezebel and her foreign prophets and Gods, and him fleeing and being fed by ravens while living in a cave.

Elijah like the rest of us, of course, was a man and not just a prophet.  So, he experienced what we all experience – a full range of human emotions:  love, anger, fear, shame, insight, humility, pride…

Fawn

“As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God.  My soul thirsts for God… Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you disquieted within me?… I say to God my rock, “Why have you forgotten me? Why must I walk about mournfully… My adversaries taunt me… continually, “Where is your God?”    (excerpts from Psalm 42)

Elijah spent some time in depression when Jezebel threatened his life and he fled.  He was secluded for 40 days and nights, and then went to Mount Horeb.  There an angel told him to wait for God to pass by.  There was a great rock-splitting wind, but Elijah did not find God in the wind.  There was an earthquake, there was fire.  God was not in them.  Then there was sheer silence.  That is where Elijah heard God’s voice.  The voice told him what he was to do next.

I think that there are times when we each get depressed about where the turn of events has taken us.  We can’t seem to find God in the present.  We become direction-less.  We view the past with nostalgia, and the future with fear, and the present is filled with indecision and a feeling of exhaustion from the whirlwind-like lives we have been living.  We have sought God in all the BIG things, the stressful, stringently power-focused, mighty acts in which we think we will find God.  In the gala events of the church.  In the mighty blow-out pipe organ or in frenzied worship.  In the busy-ness of church life, as if in the doing and doing, the whirlwind, we will find ourselves faithful.

Maybe, just maybe… if we stop focusing on noise and hustle-bustle, and instead stand on the mountain in the midst of sheer silence, we will hear the voice of God telling us where to go, and what to say, and how to do what God calls us to.

Just a suggestion.  What do you think?

Faithfully,   Pastor Karla