Seeds: Elijah at Mount Carmel: Power& Prophecy of Presences 1 Kings 18:17-19; 18:20-39, Mark 9:2-4, Psalm 68

Elijah at Mount Carmel: Power& Prophecy of Presences 1 Kings 18:17-19; 18:20-39Mark 9:2-4, Psalm 68

More Seeds Series Resources here

Call to Worship

Let God rise up

Let, the enemies of God be scattered, but let the righteous be joyful.

As smoke is driven away, wickedness perishes before God. God who created us and called us good.

Let us exult before God, let us be jubilant with Joy.

Call to Worship

Let God rise up. Can you hear the voice of God?

It is in the still, small voice of a prophet, the quiet crackle of the fire, the joyous shrieks of children.

When the world mutters and murmurs, calling on other things for help, let us call on you.

Because you alone are God, Let us worship you today.

Call to Worship

Do not limp with different opinions

If the Lord is your God, then call on God!

Remember the God who answers by fire is indeed God.

Light us up with the fire of the Holy Spirit we pray. 

Call to Confession: When we are out of fuel and drowned in sorrow, this is the time to share the burden with Christ, so that he can remind us of who we serve and give us the energy to do it.

Prayer of Confession:

God who whispers in our heart of hearts, I confess that I cannot hear your voice over the mutters and cries of help. The world is full of the noise of injustice, and I have forgotten to seek your still, small voice. Speak to the embers of justice in my heart, and light me on fire to be a troublemaker for you I pray

Prayer of Confession: Lord, we confess that we are divided, we don’t want to upset anyone so we don’t express our opinions. We find  we limp with two different opinions instead of seeking justice. We are too quiet in the face of injustice. Give us the spark within so that we can be inflamed with justice and goodness. Help us to act for justice for one another we pray. 

Prayer of Dedication/the Day: Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your bidding. Answer me, O Lord, answer me, so that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.

Assurance of Pardon: The fire of the Holy Spirit never goes out. It is always inspiring us, energizing us and refueling us through the power of grace. The Holy Spirit tells the truth to our hearts: in Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Amen.

 

Hymns:

Breathe on Me Breath of God

This Little Light of Mine

For All the Saints

Spirit

Eternal God Who’s Power Upholds

Lo a Rose Ever Blooming (yes more advent-ish)

Elijah

Art found https://biblewalks.com/info/Elijah.html

 

With Kids: This Little Light of Mine, Light candles and talk about fuel and the Holy Spirit (bonus if your are near all Hallow’s Eve/Halloween), Build a pretend Campfire. Play Whisper down the Lane: Talk about how hard communication is and how hard it is to listen for God, Practice Noise vs. Celebration: Talk about how we humans confuse the two, Invisible vs. Visible Church: Discuss the power of a cloud of witnesses vs a noisy here and now crowd, Practice Prayer: Discuss how Prayer is not a magic spell but feeding the fire/connection with God

More Seeds Series Resources here

Being Open to Interpretation, #faith

Faith is opening oneself up to interpretation. Laying your whole being and existence of the line in order to interpret

the who of oneself

the why of existence

the where to now of being

These interpretations are done, usually, using a text, speaking from the Presbyterian perspective that text is the Bible, followed by the Confessions of faith and the Book of Order (our rules/discipline/consistituational documents)

But opening ourselves up to interpretation means being open to the interpretations varying, and interpretations themselves to change, because GOD is not a static being.

Consistent and faithful–God can be counted on.

Generally most people think God does not change, altho this does little for the times in scripture when God changes God’s mind (go figure).

But I say, if God can change God’s mind so can we.

If God is not static, neither should our faith.

If something is not growing, its not alive, we want a lively faith, we need to be growing in our interpretation and our understanding.

I have learned so much, by listening closely to all those people whose faith is especially different than mine. To my one best friend who never was churched but has a strong sense of God and Jesus. To my other best friend who was raised more Pagan than anything else and has a strong sense of the Greek & Roman Mythos of the world.

To my siblings all of whom are millennials, none of whom attend church regularly.

To all the fellow-clergy on twitter & Facebook who are feeling our way through social justice issues and the state of the world.

To my LGBTQUIA community who can interpret scripture in ways that are beyond my ken as a hegemonic individual.

To my brown sibs and and black sibs who are empowered, loving and honest in ways that need to be heard.

Here I am, open to interpretation, and my faith informs that, and the scriptures equally are being interpreted and re-interpreted.

And I read the Bible, and that is Canon, but I read the other texts too, Langston Hughes and Madeline L’engle, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Malala Yousafzai, Elias Chacour, and so much more.

If you are asking a questions of faith, be sure to be open to interpretation, hard as it is.

For you know, that’s the kind of faith that will change you.

#reLentless #truth

c5nwu43uoaagif5

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

#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?

 

 

 

#God is at #Starbucks

In my life, I am too busy…

I have always been a Martha, I don’t even want to be Mary.

But in the midst of the children screaming, the messiness of the house and the juggling of the schedules, God is there.

Just like Goodnight Moon, where each and every object is remembered and names, God keeps track of us, and loves us.

God is there in the mounds of paperwork, the long to do list and the phone that is ringing–in every worry that is a part of the church.

I know God is in these things, in the sunny walks to buy milk, where everything goes smoothly, in the car rides where everyone is yelling at each other for no reason. God is there.

But although God is there, the time I get to spend with God, is often not at worship where I’m trying to remember everyone in my prayers, or at home where we say our Amens or at the office where its a game of finish the most things. The moment I get to to spend with God is in the coffee shop–at the Barnes and Noble or the Starbucks, its when I go grocery shopping late at night, its when I get time to exercise.

And so I treasure the time I get to spend with God, taking comfort that God is always spending time with me.

#mothersday Litany (which means list #prayer)

For all Kinds of Mothering People

I’ve heard the original words this plays off of are by Amy Young.

Mothers come in many different forms, and today we celebrate them all!
We confess ourselves as the children of God: each of us is a son or a daughter.
Bless those who are mothering in strange ways and times, for we know that God is with them.
 We remember Elizabeth who had a child in old age, we remember Mary who had a child as a teenager
For all those mothering people who are not here, for whatever reason and help us to take some time today to give thanks for their lives, and to grieve their absence.
We remember Esther who grew to be a mother of faith, without having a mother of her own.  
We give thanks to all those who have acted in love, mothering those who need it in their lives: the single fathers, the aunts, the grandmothers, those not tied to us by blood all of whom provide the care we need.
We remember the Pharaoh’s daughter, who took in Moses in his time of need and became mother to him.
For all those parents who have lost a child, we pray and honor their parenthood
We remember Naomi who grieved the death of both of her sons.
For those who feel their family is not normal, who feel motherless or childless, we pray forgiveness for forgetting or ignoring those for whom mother is a complicated word, for whatever reason.
We remember Sarah who was taunted by her own mother and sisters for her infertility.
For those for whom the church is their family, and see God as the mother they need, we give thanks.
We remember Ruth who committed herself to her mother-in-law’s family, fortune and faith.
We give thanks for all the mothering people who practice waiting, waiting for a phone call or a visit, who are far away from the children of their heart for whatever reason.
We remember other unnamed mothers, like the mother who had to wait for the prodigal son.
Help us to celebrate the full meaning of mother today.
Lord let us celebrate all motherhood in all its forms, today and everyday in honor of you God: who birthed all creation into being. Amen.

Reclaiming #mysticism, #prophets & #christianity in Grounded

You probably haven’t noticed this, but prophets are often outside the fold of the norm in scripture.

Whether its Elisha, Elijah or Jesus himself it is difficult for those who stand outside of religion and claim a relationship with God to fit.

This is, no doubt, because humans long for “normatives” we long for a checklist by which to live our lives, some way to say this is the right (and only) way to be in relationship with God and each other.

Of course if we were created to be that way we wouldn’t be the multi-faceted, every learning, gender-fluid beings we are. Our spirituality and sexuality would not exist in complex relationship to each other, and our experience of the world would be all the same.

Its amazing that Christianity has plateaued into a “normative” state for so long.

In Diana Butler Bass’s book she reclaims the ordinary-earth, water, fire and air. She claims them as ways to experience God in mystical and tactile & experiential ways.

Because these days, when people of all ages have been burned by institutions (whether they be courts or government, schools or churches, scouts or libraries) and are highly suspicious of institutional wisdom.

Experience, instead, informs.

Diana Butler Bass talks about our experiences in the following ways…”Adam and Eve are made from hums, placed in Go’ds garden, and directed to care for the soil from which they came….” Land “is the source, the material basis, of the food supply (no dirt, no food, no us); or it may be viewed through the eyes of spiritual awareness, as part of a divine ecosystem….disregarding the ground is sinful and evil” p. 43

Humans are made of dirt ”

And Diana Butler Bass puts poetic narrative to her experience, allowing life to be mystical and mysterious in its particularity and beautiful & beloved in its multiplicity and shared interactions.

She dignifies the spiritual awareness that so many has, with a well reasoned personal narrative, grounded in scripture touching on the ideas of God as home, neighborhood as a state of being and the hospitality of creating a commons to dwell in.

“Spirituality is about personal experience–the deep erealization that dirt is good, water is holy, the sky holds wonder; that we are part of a great web of life, our home is in God, and our moral life is entwined with that of our neighbor.”

None of that tells us a checklist to be healthy, wealthy and wise, “it is about tracing the threads of the interconnected universe.” 238

Diana Butler Bass explores the spiritual revolution as it is unfolding today. I highly recommend reading with an open mind, to understand God, and just how accessible Xi is.

Personally as a pastor, I love to learn about how people understand God to be in their lives, and to me church is/should be the place where we share our differences to enrich our own faith. I hope that mystics are heard especially when they are not understood and help us to change into whatever church is being born today….

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do the #refugees make you feel uncomfortable?

CS-Lewis-Christianity-Happy

 

 

Do the refugees make you uncomfortable? Do they shake you from your feeling a safety and make you rethink life? Perhaps they make you hug your children tighter at night.

Today my husband and I discussed the possibility of WWIII calmly trying to assess whether that is a reasonable concern.

Friends, my faith does not solve these problems, but it assures me that the risks are worth taking.

Another name for the Holy Spirit is “the one who stirs up.” The Holy Spirit both stirs us up and comforts us at the same time (I don’t know how, but its true).

Christianity isn’t supposed to be sitting on our laurels of blessings, feeling at one with the world.

It is a call to action to serve and love one another, to be open to other human being

 

And lets be honest, that’s dangerous. Its dangerous to open yourself to being in relationship with others. But that is our call as Christian.

We are called to preach and embody Christ and the Good News Even at the risk of our own lives. Does that include refugees who might be terrorists?

As a Christian you are called to be in some kind of relationship with every other human being on the earth.

Because they too are creations of God.
Do the refugees make you uncomfortable?

That might just be God tapping you on the shoulder.

 

 

#rejectedsermontitles #Jacob admits he’s a jerk

Mark 14:32-36

32 They went to a place called Gethsemane; and he said to his disciples, ‘Sit here while I pray.’ 33He took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be distressed and agitated. 34And he said to them, ‘I am deeply grieved, even to death; remain here, and keep awake.’ 35And going a little farther, he threw himself on the ground and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass from him. 36He said, ‘Abba,* Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’

Genesis 32:22-30
22 The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children, and crossed the ford of the Jabbok. 23He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had. 24Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. 25When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. 26Then he said, ‘Let me go, for the day is breaking.’ But Jacob said, ‘I will not let you go, unless you bless me.’ 27So he said to him, ‘What is your name?’ And he said, ‘Jacob.’ 28Then the man* said, ‘You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel,* for you have striven with God and with humans,* and have prevailed.’ 29Then Jacob asked him, ‘Please tell me your name.’ But he said, ‘Why is it that you ask my name?’ And there he blessed him. 30So Jacob called the place Peniel,* saying, ‘For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.’ 31The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. 32Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.

Jacob is the ankle grabber, the loveable thief. The one who pulls himself up…by another’s bootstrap. Its Jacob, the man who got his inheritance by cheating his father and stealing his brother’s. This is Jacob, who despite that cheating, finds God. The man who, when he sees Jacob’s ladder says “I didn’t expect to see God here.”

Jacob sees God, and knows God, and wrestles with God. How this happens we don’t really know. One minute Jacob is traveling, the next he’s wrestling God.

And, Jacob is winning, when God asks Jacob’s name, and Jacob confesses. Confession is presenting your whole self, your good and bad to God. Its admitting who you are, naming yourself to God.

But the interesting thing about confession, is that you can’t confess yourself to God, without being changed by God. Its a Murphy’s Law kind of thing. God asks, Jacob’s name, and Jacob admits its cheater, not a name to be proud of. Jacob confesses himself, his name and then literally and figuratively breaks under the strain of it.

Then, it changes, God says “No, now your name is Israel: God prevails.” God prevails and Jacob is changed by his struggle with God.

What’s amazing is that this struggle happens many times in the Bible. In the time Jesus prays in the Garden it going on both with the disciples and Jesus himself.

Jesus struggles with God, asking if he could not do it. (Don’t ask me how, but Jesus is struggling with God).

The disciples too are struggling, struggling to stay awake while Jesus prays. They are struggling to be the friends and disciples that Jesus is calling them to be. Up all night, full of wine, the disciples struggle with God.

In the end, though, Jesus gives himself to full confession. Saying “your will be done.”

The gift of faith is just the beginning. Struggle and confession are a part of the practice of faith.

That is what we are doing when we confess ourselves to God. Claiming ourselves as children and belonging to God. We struggle with claiming who we are, confessing ourselves so that God’s will can be done, so we can be the people God envisions us to be.

In that way, God calls us into being, by our very names