#GoodFriday #Bulletin #Worship #liturgy

Good Friday April 14th, 2016 6:30pm

New Covenant Presbyterian Church Won’t You Be Our Neighbor?

INTRODUCTION TO THE SERVICE

The service tonight is known as the “Service of The Nails”.  It is a series of readings, responses, and silent reflection and prayer designed to help us enter more deeply into the meaning of Good Friday.   Everyone is requested to take a nail to keep it with them for use during the service. For the service, you are asked to remain seated.

 

Call to Worship  (based on Is. 52:13-15)

L  The Lord be with you.

P  And also with you

L  See, my servant shall prosper; he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.  Just as there were many who were astonished at him–so marred was his appearance, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of mortals– so he shall startle many nations;  kings shall shut their mouths because of him; for that which had not been told them they shall see, and that which they had not heard they shall contemplate.

THE NAIL OF STUMBLING                                           MATTHEW 26:36-45

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.”  He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.  Then he said to them, “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Couldn’t you men keep watch with me for one hour?” he asked Peter.  “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” He went away a second time and prayed, “My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.” When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy.  So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing. Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour has come, and the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners.  Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”

Sung Response Extinguishing the Light

      Were you there when he prayed upon the hill? 

      Were you there when he prayed in upon the hill? 

O Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;

       Were you there when he prayed upon the hill?…..(silence)

Meditation and Prayer

O God – help us consider how we waver, how we seek to avoid

responsibility and to blame others for our actions.

O God – do not let us deceive ourselves. 

       Our indecision hurts us and creates walls between us and others.

                                

THE NAIL OF BETRAYAL                                       MATTHEW 26:48-56

Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, “The one I will kiss is the man; arrest him.”  At once he came up to Jesus and said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him.  Jesus said to him, “Friend, do what you are here to do.”  Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and arrested him.  Suddenly, one of those with Jesus put his hand on his sword, drew it, and struck the slave of the high priest, cutting off his ear.  Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword.  Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at  once send me more than twelve legions of angels?  But how then would the scriptures be fulfilled, which say it must happen in this way?”  At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out with swords and clubs to arrest me as though I were a bandit?  Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not arrest me.  But all this has taken  place, so that the scriptures of the prophets may be fulfilled.”  Then all the disciples deserted him and fled.

   

Sung Response: Extinguishing the Light

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 

      Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 

O Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;

                 Were you there when they crucified my Lord?(silence)

THE NAIL OF CRUELTY                                 MATTHEW 27:27-31, 39-42

Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the governor’s headquarters, and they gathered the whole cohort around him.  They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on his head.  They put a reed in his right hand and knelt before him and mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!”  They spat on him, and took the reed and struck him on the head.  After mocking him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, “You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself!  If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.”  In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, “He saved others; he cannot save himself.  He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him.”

Sung Response Extinguishing the Light

Were you there when left him on the cross?  

      Were you there when they left him on the cross? 

O, Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;

      Were you there when they left him on the cross? (silence)

Meditation and Prayer

O God – help us consider how we are cruel to others, how we malign

and slander others and add to the evil that comes upon them.

O God – do not let us deceive ourselves.  

       Our cruelty hurts us and creates walls between us and others.

RESPONSIVE READING: THE PROMISE OF MERCY       ISAIAH 53:8-13

They made his grave with the wicked and his tomb with the rich, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth

Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him with pain. When you make his life an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, and shall prolong his days; through him the will of the Lord shall prosper.

Out of his anguish he shall see light; he shall find satisfaction through his knowledge.

The righteous one, God’s servant, shall make many righteous, 

   and he shall bear their iniquities. 

Therefore I will allot him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

THE NAIL OF HATRED                                          LUKE 6:22, 32-33, 44-46 “ Two other men, both criminals, were also led out with him to be executed. When they came to the place called the Skull, they crucified him there, along with the criminals—one on his right, the other on his left. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” And they divided up his clothes by casting lots. It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit. When he had said this, he breathed his last..”

Sung Response: Extinguishing the Light

Were you there when the sun refused shine?  

      Were you there when the sun refused shine? 

O, Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;

                Were you there when the sun refused to shine? (silence)

Meditation and Prayer

L   O God – help us consider how we show hate to others, how we fail to

care for others and make distinctions among them.

O God – do not let us deceive ourselves.

       Our hatred hurts us and creates walls between us and others.

THE RESPONSE

ACT OF CONFESSION                                             ISAIAH 53:4-6

You are invited to have your sins nailed to the cross

Meditation and Prayer

O God – help us consider how we betray others, how we abandon

them in their time of need, how we think of ourselves first

O God – do not let us deceive ourselves.  Our acts of betrayal hurt us and           

      create walls between us and others.

Communion

The Lord be with you

And also with you

Lift up your hearts

We life them up to the Lord

Let us give thanks to the Lord our God

It is right to give our thanks and praise….(Pastoral Prayer & Lord’s Prayer)

Jesus came into the world, not to judge it, but to save it.

We are so grateful for God’s infinite love, and we celebrate with all of creation, the saving work, of our Suffering Saviour. On the night before he was nailed to the merciless cross,

Jesus shared His last meal with His friends. He took the bread, He broke it, and He gave thanks, and then He passed it among them saying,

This is my body which is broken for you. Eat it and remember Me.

He took the wine, and He gave thanks, and then He passed it among them saying,

This is my blood which is shed for you. Drink it and remember Me.

And so, we take, we eat and drink, and we remember:

There is no greater love, than this sacrifice which You, Jesus, made for us

Sung Response: Extinguishing the Light

Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 

      Were you there when they crucified my Lord? 

O Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble;

                 Were you there when they crucified my Lord? (silence)

(Blow out remaining Candles and Leave in silence)

Invisible People

April 3
Vision
Katy Stenta
Luke 18:35-43

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“Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me.” Shush, says the crowd, big quiet, do not talk. This blind man, who couldn’t see Jesus, yet knew he was there. Jesus is on his way to certain death, making the final journey to Jerusalem. “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on ME!” Louder, this time, and Jesus hears it. (Part of me thinks of course Jesus hears him, Jesus always hears him). The ignored one, the incomplete, imperfect one, the no-doubt-annoying-one. The fussy child who can’t sit still, the family that can never get to church on time, the elder who has a lot of trouble hearing, the one in pain, the one alone, the one who for whatever reason cannot see Jesus today. The one who can’t see Jesus, because of their perspective, the one who has to climb a tree just to see Jesus.

In a time where still people are ignored, erased or shunted to the side, in an age of constant chatter, still so many need to try out to be heard.

And then, Jesus stops. He stands still, and says not only “receive sight” but also “your faith has saved you.” We are given not only the vision, but also the salvation we need. What has been granted is so much more than “Be Thou my Vision.” We are given the time and notice and love we need—those things we need to have faith and be saved. Praise God.

Pastor Katy Stenta is the Solo at a Bigger-on-the-inside & Revitalized New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Albany, NY

 

#bless and #blessing #slatespeak #reLENTless

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Genesis 12:1-4

I was able to take a pilgrimage to Israel in Seminary and meet Archbishop of Jerusalem Father Elias Chacour, who was doing work to build schools to education Jews, Muslims & Christians together to sow peace.

Father Chacour said that “blessing” has a very active meaning in his (and Jesus’s) native tongue of Aramaic.

To be blessed, means to be called to work into God. In essence every time we read that someone is “Blessed” we should probably actually translate it as Genesis 12:2 “You are blessed, now go and be a blessing” (Read the Beatitudes this way, and I guarantee it will rock your world)

I love it. Sometimes I think I want to start a new church plant and call it

Achoo ministries

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Bless and be  Blessing

Its catching

Blessings are funky, because we try to think that they are limited. Throughout the New Testament the disciples are worried about how liberal Jesus blesses and heals people. Their attitude continues to be “shouldn’t you save some of that for later/more of it for us” As if there is a LIMIT to the amount of blessings int he world. I can imagine Jesus continually chuckling at their confusing and explaining, again, that this is not how blessings work.

The most modern parallel I can see to this is safety. In the modern era we act like there is only so much safety to go around, we have to grab our safeness “quick” before its all taken. Also, counterwise, if someone else is safe, that means we cannot also be safe, because that group has “taken up” the safety.

Objectively put, we can see how ridiculous the idea of limited safety and blessing is….but the church, and the United States continue to act as if blessing and safety are limited.

When in fact, when one person is more safe, the entire community is more safe.

When in fact when you are blessed, then you also are being called to go and be a blessing and share it out as much as possible.

How changed is our life is we act like blessings and safety (i.e. Peace) are actually from the never-ending bounty of God.

….Its catching….

#Rain #reLENTless #slatespeak

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Love is not exclusive. Everyone can love. Even this who do not believe in God, even those who are evil, the “bad guys” that my 5 year old likes to name. Even they can love the people who love them.

Look at the dictators of the world, many of them love. But then they also hate. They hate their enemies, they burn with the need to destroy.

God says to love our enemies. Love the neighbor, love the stranger, love the enemy.

The good news is there is NO gaps in the love of God.

The bad news is, there is NO gaps in the love of God.

When we go out in the storm that is God, we all get soaked in God’s love. The righteous and the righteousness all dripping with Goddroplets.

storm_goddess_by_thoughtsthunk-d5nra7o

Image: Storm Goddess

Its a funny thing, that God is the storm, and the love is the water.

And yet, maybe that’s why we get baptized in water.

To remind us, when you go out in the storm, everyone gets soaked.

 

 

#reLENTless #Holy

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You shall be holy.

This is God’s promise.

This is God’s Problem<–confession I typed this first above, and figure its a Freudian slip of the keyboard.

These are the rules

We humans suck at rules.

Because we think Rules are about power.

But here God puts it straight, we are holy.

The rules are about holiness. They DON’T MAKE US HOLY. They are about what the holiness of who God is. When we follow the rules, we do so ONLY by the work of God

Revering Parents, Sabbaths-making, Gleanings for the Poor

These are not rules, these are ways of life, living into the holiness of God.

And I’m not certain we are called to Holy. Because I dinna think we can really do that. I think we are called to God, God who is Holy.

We are the people of God, not the people of power or hate. We are the people of the God, not the people of greed or consumption. We are the people of God, not the people of falsehood or slander. We are the people of God, not the people of hate or injustice. We are the people of God, not the people who hate.

This is God’s problem, this is Jesus’s work, this is the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. We are the people of God.

But here’s the real deal, if you mean holy by being perfect or pretty or untouchable

I am in no way Holy

But if you mean holy by getting down and doing the work that needs to be done to keep humans thriving through food, shelter & relationships. I’m willing to do the stumbling viscereal & reality that is being a Holy human of God

 

 

 

#reLENTless Jesus in the #wilderness

c5nwu43uoaagif5Matthew 4:1-11

If you are…..

Jesus is in the wilderness and gets into a double-dog-dare fight with the tempter, the devil . The devil tries to erase, silence and ignore Jesus’ true identity. Because that is what the devil does!

The devil isolates Jesus and then systematically tells him, he lacks identity (Madeline L’engle calls this process unmaking someone)

Mocking Jesus’ identity as the Son of God, the devil does his work, telling Jesus that if he’s really the Son of Man he should be able to make bread appear.

The devil is tricky, tell us what we should be able to do. How true is that today? How often have I felt people saying to me “Are you a woman of God?” If anyone says that to me I’m silently cursing in my head, because I KNOW what follows is going to be doubt-infusing-gaslighting. The most memorable one to date was “Because a woman of God would dress appropriately and not wear a slutty skirt” I was the celebrant for a wedding at the time and had disrobed to my shirt and skirt which went down past my knees.

It makes me think of my bi, asexual, trans and aromantic-sibs who are told they don’t even exist.

The devil then takes it a step further, trying to say that God made you to be hurt, therefore God doesn’t love you.

God doesn’t really love you Jesus because…..

if God loved you, you could throw yourself off a cliff and die. Telling Jesus that if God lets him die, God doesn’t love him HAS to hurt, because we all know what is going to happen to Jesus.

Jesus dies. How do we square this with our sibs of color who are systematically told they were made to be hurt? That its not our fault they were made inferior (oh my soul, its hard to confess this). How often do we rationalize lack of love? How often do we equate it to God not loving them either?

The devil is doing his work.

Then, the final temptation, is misdirection. The devil tell Jesus that he will give him everything, if Jesus but worships the devil. Ignoring Jesus’ identity as God. Jesus’ answer is the worship of God: the very thing the Devil is trying to silence in Jesus.

 

Erasing, ignoring and silencing is what the devil wants.

Jesus continues to ground his identity in God’s very being. Knowing who God is, Jesus knows who he is. Nothing more life-affirming than that. wilderness

 

#reLentless #truth

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Truth is my weapon of choice. When meeting with adversity and evil. When facing down the human machinations that we call politics, when dealing with the perniciousness of gossip, when hearing a criticism that burns my soul….I choose truth

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Its a chancy weapon, because its a double edged sword, naming who I am in the situation even as it names others. It becomes confession. When you tell the truth you admit to yourself, and all others, that you are but human.

And I am all too human, horrible at remembering the names of my 40 some congregants who I have known for 6 plus years (and I am young), bad at details, fumbling at asking for help when I need it. I am small and frail. Spending a season admitting that I was, am and will be Ash is hard.

But even as I admit who I am, I also admit who God is.

“You are my God” “To you I cry all day long”

“Be gracious to me” and “Gladden the soul of your servant” for all that I lack, God has, and all that I wish for, God knows and all that I need, God is.

Other gods, do not dirty their hands with humanity. They may bargain or scheme with humans, using them or playing with them. But they do not broker humanity choosing to enflesh themselves through their only son.

I will bow down before the Lord my God, and glorify her Holy name, for God alone does wondrous things, stepping beside us in the daily, dirty, beautiful thing called life.

Only God does it all through truth, revealing to us who we truly are

Revealing to us who God truly is

Because you Lord, “have helped me and comforted me”

Praise Be to God

http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=355488475

#Relentless #oppress #Slatespeak

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O how it hurts me that Christianity is used for a tool of oppression. In the grand pantheon of ways to be Christian, I figure you and God are working it out.

Unless you are using the Gospel to preach hate or oppress someone, because that right there people, is heresy. Heresy is using the Gospel for the opposite of its purpose.

Hate instead of love and Oppression instead of freedom are pretty much it.

But it hurts, because I benefit from oppression. I’m white and I have to deal with my whiteness. I’m cis-hetereo and I have to deal everyday with the fact that my so-called normalcy gives me an advantage.

And Jesus isn’t about the normal people. The more we normalize Christianity, the more we make it about power. In a slatespeak discussion a couple of weeks ago, my colleagues mused that Imperialism is when we are mistakenly convinced that God only talks to those in power.

Heresy, again I cry heresy.

I cry heresy to the core of my soul, but Christianity has been entrenched and tied to Power forever. Only Christ can save it. Only Christ can save us.

Because, we are the nation “trumpeting our righteousness”, even as we sin. We only fast “to quarrel and fight”

So this is the FAST that I choose

to loose the bonds of injustice–against the Trans, Muslim, Autistic, Lesbian & Gay, Deaf, Jewish, Sikh,  Genderqueer, Blind, People of Color, Mentally Ill, Asexual, the poor and the children.

To undo the thongs of the yoke of the overworked, the under appreciated, the homeless, the victims of violence, the helpless, the depressed, the lonesome

To Let the oppressed go free and to break every yoke.

The way to do this is to share my bread with the hungry, to bring the homeless poor into my own house and cover the naked.

water, food, shelter, medical care, clothing, treating each other as human beings

water, food, shelter, medical care, clothing, treating each other as human beings

water, food, shelter, medical care, clothing, treating each other as human beings

the most basic and essential of prayers for all peoples

To somehow empower without enabling, to be gracious in an unjust world and to magnify those voices that society tries to erase, ignore or unnamed.

For then the light shall break forth like the daw, and healing shall spring up quickly.

Heal us, break us our from our own heresies, entrench us instead in love.

 

http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Isaiah+58

 

holy-night

#Days #relentless #slatespeak #Lent

c5nwu43uoaagif5What is the length of a day? Some days pound on me, relentless, some days never let me go.

http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Deuteronomy+30

The length of days–heaven and earth are called to witness–will count. When we choose life our time counts even moreso.

Before I had children I would strive to be on time for everything. My parents were not the on time sort, and apparently I used to complain that I was the last child to be picked up from things.

Today I not only have to be late to things, but I have to miss commitments. Things I never would have done before children. But life is more complicated now I have a church, a husband, 3 children-one of whom is autistic-and myself.

WAIT! that meeting was today too? I had it in a different time stream in my mind and didn’t realize it was the same day.

Time no longer runs in straight lines for me, its seems to squiggle and intersect in weird ways. Its like running parallel world at the same time.

Thus obligations and time and everything flows differently.

We count our days, but God is the true reckoner, and God’s way of counting is not in pure math or numbers. Its in experiences and hope, its in the life-giving moments.If I have three children, then God has all children. If time flows different with different children for me, then time takes on meaning beyond seconds and minutes and days. Time has become an out of body experience. But time has also become more meaningful than trying to do all the things or trying to count up my life by counting. Because nobody has time for that. Time has to count with the goodness and fullness of days.

Because, God is timeless, its hard to conceptualize A Being beyond time…

A Being who just Is, for whom Was and Will Be are intrinsic.

 

god-in-time

Time counts differently for God

Time counts differently for God’s people.

Hold Fast to God, but how do I do that? My concept of holding on is to calculate the time I spend in prayer or measure the good deeds that are done. I’m too human, I can only love by keeping track. As evidenced in this 30sec clip  http://thirtysecondsorless.net/author/kstenta/

God loves me, without needing to keep track.

How do I let go of the relentlessness of time? How do I enter the time of Lent?

 

 

 

#ash #psalm51 #relentless #lent #slatespeak

I have been feeling the #relentless-ness of life this season. The relentlessness of the news cycle, telling me over and over how broken we are…

The Jewish Community Center daycares receiving bombthreats

The 7 Trans women who have been murdered

The queer couples who married quickly, just in case

The travelers who are being detained and kept from their families

The need for young transpeople to go to the bathroom safely

The international relationships that are in peril

The Jewish cemeteries being desecrated

The Dakota Pipeline camps being cleared out

http://bible.oremus.org/?passage=Psalm+51

Ministry, is about life, which means that there is seldom a “normal week” in the church. The best of ministry is open and adaptable, because Life is Relentless. The basement pipe leaks, then a member is ill and dies, then the governing body is borrowing your building for a meeting, then your board member steps down. This is church, its imperfect, because its alive. Its real, because it reflects real life, its about the imperfections and love in the midst of the daily-ness.

Relentless, means “unmerciful” and “heartless” and “unforgiving” Life is indeed relentless.

Lent, then is the season of the opposite.

Its the season of “have mercy on me O God” the season of God’s “steadfast love” the season of “abundant mercy.” Its the season of pause and reflection. Its the wait and see, its the celebration of the journey.

And I am aching for this season. The restoration of Joy, because only God can provide Joy in this time of weary sin. Only God can sustain a spirit of willingness.

Good thing you like broken spirits, God, cause thats what I got. Brokenness and Hope.

Lent & Relentlessness

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