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

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.

 

 

Too Much of a Good thing

This is basically a status update on my Church’s Won’t You Be Our Neighbor Program:

Its official,

My church is in transition from Family Size to Pastoral Size

In short we are going from teensy-weensy to tiny sized congregation

and our farmer’s market has 100 people more a week averaging at about 350 ppl a week

holy

Let there be wild rejoicing

But….its work. We are going to have to stretch and grow with these changes. I’m going to have to pray about how better to connect spiritually to the community, I need to discern how to provide the support that my (now overworked) volunteers need.

I compared it on Sunday to the cup that God promises us to be overflowing. Have you ever tried to drink out of a cup that is filled to the tippy-top? Its tricky and messy….but important

Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit

I think we are going to do it. We are going to be a church that is an actual community center.

I just have no idea how………….yet 😉

#rejectedsermontitles: Go Home #HolySpirit, your drunk

So…the thing about drunkenness is that its abundance, right?

Its too much…

15 Be careful then how you live, not as unwise people but as wise, 16making the most of the time, because the days are evil. 17So do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18Do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery; but be filled with the Spirit, 19as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, singing and making melody to the Lord in your hearts, 20giving thanks to God the Father at all times and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.–Eph 5:18 (for a little bit about how we want to fill ourselves with other things note This Everyday Holy discussion I participated in)

Holy Spirit
Holy Spirit

My congregation had a very Holy Spirit moment one yr at a Chicken BBQ, I can’t remember what number it was, but we ordered only about 200 chickens and they were gone, in like an hr flat. And there was much panic about how few were left at the end, and how were we going to keep track and how we were going to send ppl away.

And many, many ppl who wanted to get chicken went home sad.

And we were sad for them.

And I think this is how it feels to be filled with the Holy Spirit, when the good of the situation is COMPLETELY out of control. Like, you know, in Acts when all the disciples were speaking in tongues and suddenly everyone wanted to convert. I imagine Chicken and the Bible still resulted in CRAZY GOODNESS.

I am sensing this conflict rising now, its hard not to take on “too much” in the congregation. The question has changed from “What if we fail?” to “What if we succeed”

That’s right, we are literally afraid that we will be overwelmed, that we will have too much of a good thing.

I guess that trusting in God is trusting that there will be enough room for all the people who want to come to your Farmer’s Market/exercise class/back to school celebration thing that some people crazily wants to do. (that’s me, I’m definitely in the crazy corner).

I never thought of it before but there are too reasons not to do something, bc it might succeed, or it might fail.

But we take on too much, we are overflowing, thats when we grow.

Poor Holy Spirit, no one wants to drink of you, because when we do we change, it is by far the most bombastic member of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is the one who makes you blurt out the truth in sticky situations, to cheer out loud whether its appropriate or not, to make you offer something of yourself that your weren’t planning/didn’t even know you had to offer.

But that’s what makes her so good.

Now imagine that we got drunk on that!

(Ps I recommend Mann’s Book The In-Between Church for congregations that are subconsciously  dealing with fears of growth)

#holy time

Yes,

Easter tends to be more crazy than Christmas

1st of all pastors tend to run double whatever number of services they run Christmastime during Holy Week: I’m at the bare minimum of 3 (4 if you count Palm Sunday)

Plus, usually, my kids are off that same week, so I get to gesticulate around that and the fact its a superbusy time of year.

Plus, people volunteer to do things less–Christmas is just more of a pitch in holiday. How many people really want to help out with the Good Friday Service (altho we do a service of the nails that is poignant and beautiful)

Its a crazy week for me I have two parishoners in the hospital/recovery, plus the other 4 homebound who I would like to see during this Holy Time, plus a session meeting to make certain things are in place, plus an all day Persbytery meeting (which they always schedule the week before Holy Week, which always leaves me scratching my head), plus whatever other office-y stuff I need to do.

Then there is real life. The things that happen that make you a pastor, the things that aren’t on the calendar.

My colleague Sarah Ross said “In minstry, I don’t really plan a schedule so much as I just plan to be interrupted.”

Nadia Bolz-Weber once had an intern who shadowed her. At the end he said ” it was “oh my gosh..you’re A PERSON for a living!””

So, interruptions and being a person are my goals for the next two weeks…God sanctifies them and makes them holy

Good NEWS and extroverting

Nextchurch2015

We are listening to the immeasurable Diana Butler Bass who is greatly illustrating her theories on church and culture, when the news breaks on twitter a little before 7:30 (she started at 7).

Its a amazing, its wonderful.

I text the news to my parents.

I can’t believe it.

Twitter is going crazy.

The real question is Can we interrupt Diana Butler Bass?

7:28 pm @miheekimkort suggests “@revJohnRussell at 7:30 lets stand up and scream”

I tweet @bookkats “Feel the pcusa urge to stand up and proclaim the good news even tho its rude to interrupt awesome DBB” at about the same time

I wait for 7:30, sure someone will do it…

THREE agonizing Holy Spirit Bubbling minutes later (7:31) I realize no one has….

Then she talked about the fourth awakening, and its true realization (as in any realization) is when social justice comes into play, so I’m like “Ok, and now she’s talking social justice. Holy Spirit help my extrovert.”

I am totally bursting with the news. This is good news! This is my job to tell good news, and I have REALLY GOOD NEWS, and texting my parents isn’t going to do it!

@jledmiston says Can someone ask Q@dianabutlerbass for a brief space to acknowledg the PCUSA’s big news?

We were awaiting authority, in Nextchurch, which I love to define as the organic and hands on ideas of what is next for the church …irony….

So I’m like, maybe a quiet way is better (I guess I’m getting better at practicing some restraint) I Tweet “Stand up and hold up your phone maybe?”

This is the time, I realize, Diana Butler Bass is talking about the no going back change, the revival at the point ofsocial justice: what a moment to tell the news!

Meanwhile I hear rustle, rustle, rustle, everyone is looking at their phones

@mollyfid nails it on the head “Y’all, I”m about to Burst! UNfreeze yourselves presbys! Surely DBB will pause for a cheer”

Then I realize…I’m in the balcony, I’m in the first row. This is totally not awkward (I mean heck I’d love to do it from the most awkward and silliest position ever)….I’m the extrovert.

Oh my God….its me…I’m the one who is called into this place at this time to do this….its me, and I’m going to LOVE it

I stand up and (rather timidly) raise my hand. “Excuse me Diana….Sorry to interrupt, but we are just bursting here. We just passed 14F, all people can marry”

And I see it……from the balcony, everyone stands up and hugs and cheers in an almost disordered fashion….

It was beautiful, it was holy

my sister is trans…

I burst into tears

Diana Butler Bass asked my name and then said “The Episcopalians welcome you” 🙂

The amazing moment when God uses my no-hold-barred extroverted self who happened to sit in the front of the balcony at that moment…on the day when Brian preached about acceptance in the morning in the evening where the Presbyterian Light people were already planning their reception.

What do you call that but holy?

Holy

And then, we listened as best we can to Diana, hearing all the better her critiques because we were in a better place as church (claim the entire denom has failed, no problem : )

And then, we went and did church! The planned 80 people who went to the Presby Light reception were way…way…more….

Too many Presbyterians, after a long day, did church that night at a bar.

We have become a fuller church, how can we include people next, is Belhar Confession around the corner?

We did church, then and there with loud music and too many Presbyterians and drinks and food…

And we told each other the good news.

Amen. Alleluia

.

Small Church, New Church, Old Church, Blue Church: Credo Reflections

“Trust the Process”

Credo is a great program started by Episcopalians and picked up by the Presbyterians to help with clergy health and welfare (emotional, spiritual, physical, mental, financial). Its a process to work, worship and create so that a rule of life can be developed.

This year the Presbyterians are running the first ever early ministry model. (Previously it was only available to mid-career). I was lucky enough to be pulled randomly from the hat to attend. Its a support network to help what is now the overworked life of the clergy today.

I would say, for me, the process was a success. We shall see how the rule of life plays out and whether I can use the accountability tools helpfully.

Here are some interesting things that emerged for me….

1. Many of the pastors there were wishing to start a new church somewhere…

Which makes me wonder, what is that about? Are we prophets of the future? Are we wishing for a system with more pull? Is this what revolutions look like? Or is this how we manufacture hope? What is at the root of this and how does it effect the church in general as we go forward.

2. I also heard that a lot of people wanted to write, really write something, either through a blog or a publication or something. Recently I read a blog (I wish I could find it again) about the fact that pastors are writers who get paid

I personally feel that is true, I write sermons like I wrote my English/History papers (which I double majored in). Writing papers every week in undergrad was a good warm up to solo preaching.

So as we look forward, and as CREDO happens next year, I wonder, what can we do with these amazing revelations.

 

Small Church, New Church, Old Church, Blue Church–the clergy seems to be moving in a similar direction

Especially considering that us Presbyterians believe the Holy Spirit works by consensus 😉

 

 

YAY! Talking, Communication, Virtua Media and Such….. #holyspirit #communication #virtualmedia #comments

Communication is difficult.

I once heard some professor say (don’t ask me who I don’t remember, it might have been Prof. Kay) that communication is a gift.

Humans have a lot of trouble understanding each other. It takes the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit in order for REAL communication to take place.

Why? Because it takes listening, empathy, sympathy and a willingness to enact the words that are being spoken.

The longer I live, the more I believe this…

Ever have a conversation where you are trying to listen carefully and you repeat back what has been said, and they repeat back too..but later it turns out you actually didn’t really have the same understanding of the conversation? Those feel like the most.

This happens to my husband and me all the time!

This problem gets slightly more complicated with virtual media….where there is no intonation (This is problematic for people like me…who primarily joke in sarcasm and ironies….a good footnote for my life is that if I’m saying something mean about you, to you, I’m joking…..really, I am)

hence e-motions 🙂 which help but aren’t the same.

Then there’s the fact that rarely do we pay REALLY close attention to what we are reading on the internets….we are usually watching tv (I have Avatar on currently) or quick peeking while we’re waiting for something, or whatever.

Then there is comments, many bloggers disable comments because so often they devolve…and most of the criticism is ridiculous…comments are about something totally unrelated or it turns into a rant. The anonymity triggers some of this, as does the distraction, but some of it is just human nature.

Communication is tough.

But when it happens, its amazing.

Its like when married people have an entire conversation without using words (as Tamora Pierce points out in Trickster’s Choice)

Or when friends REALLY get each other in a moment, its like two souls shaking hands (as Sean Stewart says in Nobody’s Son)*

Its a spiritual moment…and I believe it CAN happen online…..but just like in regular conversations, when it happens, its a gift from God–thru the direct intervention of the Holy Spirit

*These are lines inscribed on my heart, I do not have the books with me, so I do not have the page numbers….Trickster’s Choice its between the father and step-mother of the girls Aly takes care of very early on. In Nobody’s Son its between the heroine and her best friend, when the hero first meets the best friend

StoryTime!

Genesis 1:1 – 2:4 

Once Upon a Time: there was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. (John 1:1-3) Before creation, there was chaotic nothingness, an empty mess, energy without form. God Took in a deep breath, and let it all out

And Said, Light, let there be Light

And God saw that it was Good.

      Then God took the light and separated it from the Dark. Separate, the light shone within the darkness, and because they were now separate, the light could not overcome the darkness (John 1:1-5)….

      And God came up with names: the light is Day, the Darkness is Night.

Then Evening Came, followed by a new morning, and so that had to have been the 1st day…

      Then God said, “Let me separate the waters from the waters….and God did this by taking a deep breath, and then blowing a bubble, so that there was water above the bubble and water below the bubble but space inbetween,

and it is in this inbetween space that we love, how many of us our living in-between in some way? Truly, here we live between the waters, and by through and in God’s love, we love. We live in the space between the waters, knowing many waters cannot quench love, nor can floods drown it. (Sol. 8:7)

Then Evening Came, followed by a new morning, and so that had to have been the 2nd day…

And God said “hmmm, I will gather the waters together, in one place, and let dry land appear.” And it was so.

God named the dry land, earth, and he named the gathered waters seas.

 

And God saw that it was Good.

Then God said, “Earth, you can make food: shh….plants, you can each hide seeds, and Trees can make ALL KINDS OF FRUIT (and it will be delicious) ssshhhhh! And the fruit can also have fruit.

And it was so

The earth became full of food, the plants each multiplied themselves by twenty, thirty and a hundredfold.

And God saw it (tasted, no wait) was Good

Then Evening Came, followed by a new morning, and so that had to have been the 3rd day…

And then God knew that light must always shine, so he made lights for the daytime and lights for the night time. Ones that can turn with the seasons—for though I am the same yesterday, today and forever (Heb. 13:8) these can be signs: signs of the seasons, signs of days, and signs of the years. And then God made two shining lights, the greater to keep the day, and the lesser to keep the night, and the stars.

And God saw it was good.

Then Evening Came, followed by a new morning, and so that had to have been the 4th day…

Then God said, let there be living creatures in the waters of the sea and the waters of the sky: fill it with schools, gaggles and groups and God made multitudes of  creatures fish and flocks of birds could zoom across the sky!

So God created Sea Monsters, and creatures to move together, of every kind, teaming the waters and spreading across the very sky.

And God saw it was good.

And, they were so Good that God’s next words spilled out not as a creation, but as a blessing—Go and be fruitful! Join me in creation! Help me to fill the waters, the seas, up until the sky is overflowing with life. Blessings be on those who live, for they have the power to give life!

Then Evening Came, followed by a new morning, and so that had to have been the 5th day…

And God said, now to the earth—I want there to be countless variations of life—from those who stampede, to the creeping and crawling creatures. Let there be wild animals all over earth!

And it was so.

And God saw it was Good

And so full of life was God, that God knew what to do next, and drawing in a deep breath, God spoke words that rang with the fullness of God’s being.

      “Hmm….let us create something in our image, something that shares our likeness. They can be the keepers the fish of the sea, the keepers of the birds of the air, keepers of the tamed cattle, keepers of wild things on the earth the keepers of every creepy thing that creeps on the earth.

So God created earthcreatures/humans in God’s own image. In the image of God, God created male, and in God’s image God created female. Male and female, God created them.

Again, God’s voice rang out as a blessing over those beings he had just bespoke. Blessing them, God said “Be fruitful and multiply, Fill the earth and subdue it (with love). And have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.

Then God said… “Look! I have given you all the seeds that grow upon the face of the earth, and every tree with seeds in its fruit…You shall have them all for food! And every beast of the earth, every bird of the sky, and everything that creeps upon the earth, Everything that has my breath of life (Genesis 2:7), everything that I have blown my spirit into—for I have attached the sinews, put meats on the bones, covered them with skin, and breathed the breath of life, and all creatures have come alive and realize I am God (Ez. 37:5-7). Everything that has the breath of life, I have given, every green plant is yours for food.

And it was so

God saw everything God had created,

And God saw it was Good Indeed!

Then Evening Came, followed by a new morning, and so that had to have been the 6th day…

Heavens and earth were finished, and

And on the 7th day, when God finished his handiwork, and he rested.

So God spoke, blessing the 7th day, on which he did not work, and he hallowed it. The 7th day is a blessing for stillness, rest and creativity. The 7th day was made a day of Sabbath. On the 7th day we practice what all who has breath should know: Be still and know that I am God! (Ps. 46:10)

Because on the 7th day God rested from the work he had done in creation

These are the accounts of the heavens and the earth, when they were created, In the day that the Lord made heaven and earth!!

All things came into being through God, and without God not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in God was life, and the life was the light of all people. (John 1:3-5)

Why?

Because it through our Creation, we Learn about our end. Its through knowing God better, we learn about our true being. God is the beginning and the end, and God began life with Words of Love and through a filling of the void. Though we live inbetween–After God Breathed out the world, and after God Breathed Jesus back in to himself, but before God breathed his entire being into the world. Giving us space to be, space to live, love and breathe, space to become Co-creators with God, discovering and naming the world. We live inbetween, but we know the beginning, and we know the end….it is full of God’s breath, full of the life and light of the world, it is full of love. We are to fill and subdue the world, not with our own ordering and control, but with life! Fill the world with life, light, breath and love! Know God, know ourselves and know the Alpha and the Omega. Pray for the end of the world, pray for the fullness of time, pray for “God’s Kingdom to Come” and rejoice in what is promised to us then.