Oct 17th: God Calls Samuel

Living Into this God Given World: Judgement

Samuel 3:1-21

John 20:21-23

Psalm 46

Call to Worship:

God we come to here your voice

Let us hear the call of the Lord

God we come to answer your call

Let us gather together in the name of God!

Prayer of Confession: God we confess that it is hard to hear your voice of calling, sometime we confuse it with other callings. Sometimes we think we are only dreaming. Help us to hear your voice clearly we pray. Amen.

Assurance of Pardon: Hear the good news, God never gives up on us, God calls us and forgives us every time. Let us tell one another the truth: In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. Amen.

Prayer of the Day/Dedication: God, you call to us. Let us sit quietly and hear your still small voice we pray in your most Holy Name. Amen.

Hymns: There’s a Sweet Sweet Spirit in This Place, Here I am Lord, Called as Partners in Christ’s Service

Children: Explain the Concept of Priesthood of All Believers–that everyone is called by God, not necessarily to be pastors but to be helpers in the world, brainstorm all the things that people might be called to help. Point out that Samuel is a child.

More Year 4 Narrative Lectionary Resources

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Never Forget, a Prayer of Mourning

I remember staying up all night,

And waking up to the phone in my dorm

(landline, yes)

It was the 2nd week of Freshman Year.

And God, all I can remember

Is that everyone was so angry.

Because no one seemed to know

How to be sad.

Never Forget–

How to be angry I wondered?

As we marched off to war?

As I viewed the Holocaust museum in embattled Israel?*

As we became more embittered against Brown people.

And now,

After Iraq, and Afghanistan,

and a million Covid deaths later,

God, I think that maybe,

we are way more apt to get angry–

because we as a nation are not good at getting sad.

How often do I see our leaders cry?

How often do we encourage mourning?

So Today I’m glad that you are the God who weeps with those are weeping.

Today I’m glad that you affirmed

that

Jesus wept.

A tear for every life.

God does not need to get even for justice to be done.

And today, I am so thankful, for a God that weeps.

As I remember the first day,

that I realize that justice is so separate from anger–

and mourning is too.

So today, God, I think I’m going to concentrate on mourning,

and nothing else.

Please sit with me, again,

while I cry

whatever more tears

need to be cried.

Amen.

Feel free to share/adapt/use with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

If you enjoy my work, please consider giving to my Doctorate in Ministry in Creative Writing 

Pandemic Prayers & Resources

*The Nationally Funded motto of all the museums in Israel is also Never Forget, which I discovered upon a pilgrimage there in 2010.

God we need your justice: a prayer

[Blue Green water reflecting the abstract of a mountain, tree and sky with the words “Let Justice Flow Down like Waters and Righteousness like an overflowing stream.] Image found here: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/560064903645243301/

I cannot wait until acts of justice are no longer a surprise, for you know God, and you told us through Amos and Isaiah and Luke that justice that is surprising is no justice at all. It is at worst painted as sacrifice and mercy and is at best the drops of accountability.

I am so thirsty for justice, Lord. And I confess my spirit is dry and brittle, breaking apart in its absence.

Human justice is not even a meager copy of your justice Lord. racism and bigotry poisons any system we might try.

God I cannot wait for your justice to flow like water. So that we taste it on our tongue, so that it rains on us daily from the sky.

I can’t wait until the taste and feel of justice is so familiar that it begins to feel like home.

I can’t wait until the moment that every cry for mercy, every cry for help, every cry for mama is answered–with the swiftness of the Holy Spirit on the wing.

God, I cannot wait, until not one street never ever sees a droplet of blood again. Instead they sparkle with the cleansing waters of justice, instead they are filled so much with justice, that it becomes puddles for the children to splash in, soaking themselves with the liquid.

I cannot wait until justice becomes a child’s plaything—Known so much, that it becomes a part of our very breath and body. I cannot wait until the 60% of water that flows through our bodies is blessed, in the completion of our baptism, into the holy waters of justice imbuing our very selves.

I can’t wait until I can spit justice out on the street with clear truths and gracious words that free my siblings of all colors, creeds, ages, sexualities and genders.

I cannot wait for justice to flood our world. Not like the flood of Noah killing off the bad, but like the rains of the desert, giving the much needed food to the flora and fauna to bloom.

I cannot wait for justice, so I’m going to gather the drops and the dribbles and the driplets I have experienced, and I’m going to share them out to those I meet. Showing them how it cools violence, and refreshes spirits, and is miraculously freer than any other action.

Because my freedom is wrapped up in yours, my humanity is wrapped up in yours, and my justice is wrapped up in yours.

I’m ready to do this justice thing, God. Teach me how to do it I pray.

Amen.

Feel free to use/adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

With Thanks to Lilla Watson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s works and thanks also Black Twitter who let me listen as they prayed, grieved and celebrated over George Floyd and the guilty verdict of Officer Chauvin.

God’s Care for the Widow

1 Kings 17:1-16 [17-24]
Luke 4:24-26 Opt Psalm 146: 5-10

Another Bulletin by Rev Dr Barb Hedges-Goettl

Call to Worship (Psalm 146)

Praise the Lord, O my soul!

I will praise the Lord as long as I live

Do not trust in princes, there is no help 

Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,

Happy are those whose hope is in the Lord their God

God executes justice for the oppressed and gives food to the hungry

The Lord watches over the strangers; he upholds the widow

The Lord will reign forever, Praise the Lord!

Hymn: Here I am Lord

1 Kings 17:8-15 (We shall read the text together wherever we are, please read the appropriate passage when I hold up my finger)

(1 Finger) Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.’ 

(2 Fingers) So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; 

(3 Fingers) he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink.’ As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, ‘Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.’ 

(Pastor Katy) But she said, ‘As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.’

(4 Fingers) Elijah said to her, ‘Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 

(5 Fingers) For thus says the Lord the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ 

Children’s Sermon

Sermon “God Among Strangers” Pastor Katy Stenta

https://youtu.be/Vswlz65zDhk

My Shepherd Will Supply My Need

Feel free to use/adapt, if you use the prayers please credit Pastor Katy Stenta

More Narrative Lectionary Resources Here

Imprecation: Shatter Them

Lord God, how do I do this prayer thing when I’m really angry at someone?

Can I wish them ill? Do I throw curses off of my tongue?

(If I use the fancy word for curses: imprecation, does that make it better? It feels better to say Imprecation)

What did Moses do when the Pharaoh continually made a promise to free the Hebrew people, and then took it back, over and over again?

What did Jesus do when people tried to throw him off the cliff the first time he preached?

Can I just shake the dust off from those encounters, and continue on my day?

That doesn’t feel like enough!

Lord, God, I know it is my job to name evil when I see it, and that a synonym of imprecation and curses is simply denunciation.

Sibling Jesus, I am praying that you Help me to reject evil, Lord. Gift me with a better understanding than hate the sin and love the sinner (because that just isn’t good enough)

And I know the Psalms is full of really hard curses like: Give them what they deserve, and let my enemies experience what I have experienced.

Hannah says ” He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;  for not by might does one prevail. The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered;” (1 Sam 1:9)

Mother Mary, who is often portrayed as sweet and quiet prays: “God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things,  and sent the rich away empty.” (Luke 1: 51-53)

So I guess my prayer will echo theirs, in it’s own simplicity.

And trust you know the full meaning of the prayer, because I confess I do not.

And justice is yours.

Lord shatter the enemy.

Those in power Shatter them to pieces.

Shatter the hardhearted as only you can.

In Christ’s name. I submit this prayer to you, O God.

Amen

Use/Copy/Adapt with Credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

Denunciation of Evil Prayer

Mundane Prayers & Pandemic Prayers

Orange Skies

Lord, today I wonder what you think when you see our skies in California, stretched orange with smoke.

When Karachi is flooded.

When Superstorm Laura winked out the power before a heat wave.

When Beirut explodes, and Typohoon Haishen blows through Japan and South Korea.

Did you have a big messy cry when violence erupted not once but twice in Kenosha, WI?

I did.

God I cannot even grasp the news. I can feel people falling through the gaps as children go hungry and try to sign online to education.

Are there days when you feel like you can’t look at the news anymore–does God wish God could close God’s own eyes sometimes? And yet I know you never do.

You work for that justice that has been delayed and therefore denied too long! No justice, no peace.

For you have promised that one day justice and peace will make love!

I worry about the jobless, the homeless, the sick.

I worry that I haven’t upheld my promise to be anti-racist today. (I haven’t, and the work continues)

I am continually angered by the hotspots that people don’t seem to want to control.

I cringe at how in policy, protection and politics about how all lives–don’t!–matter. Cringe and taste vomit in my mouth.

Today, I think the orange skies pretty much exactly show how absurd my emotions have become.

And though I really don’t think you punish us with disasters–I highly suspect there are a million exit signs on the road that we willfully ignore–I do wonder how you process them all.

Lord God Almighty. What do we do when the sky turns orange?

Please take my messy cries, my absurd emotions, my mistakes, my exhaustion, my cringing and the vomit in my mouth. And shape them into a prayer.

An embodied prayer, so that we can do that which needs to be done.

With my entire self I pray.

Amen.

Feel free to hit share or use or adapt with credit to Pastor Katy Stenta

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#Seeds of #Prayer: Narrative Lectionary #Lent and #Abundance of #Justice

Last Judgement Abundance of Justice

Call to Worship

Let the sea roar, and all that fills it.

The world and all those who live it.

Let the floods clap their hands, and the hills sing together for joy at the presence of the Lord.

Jesus is coming judge the world with righteousness and peoples with equity, let us Praise God’s Holy Name.

Call to worship

Sing to the Lord a new Song.

God has done fiercely amazing things.

Remember, God thinks on us with steadfast love and faithfulness.

Praise the Lord, for all ends of the earth will see the victory in our God. 

Call to Worship

Lord, as we approach you, as we look around the room

Help us to see your face

Lord as we feed the sick, and give relief to the thirsty and clothe the naked

Help us to see your face

Lord as we welcome the strange

Help us to see your face, today and everyday we pray

Call to Confession: The Lord hears us with steadfast love and faithfulness, so we know we can give our confession to God.

Confession: Lord we confess we cannot see your face. We are too busy look at the rich, influential and loud to see how power works. We confess that we forget that your power comes from servanthood. We forget to welcome those who are naked or lonely, we don’t do a good job of feeding and nourishing those who hunger and thirst. We confess that we would rather ignore those who are strange, than embrace them. Teach us to see your face, show us how to find you we pray. 

Confession: Lord we confess we need to see your face. Remind us of those we need to see your face in we pray (Silent Confession) …..Open our eyes we pray. Amen.

Confession: Lord, we confess that we would rather be shepherds, we forget that we are are all a part of your flock. Help us to stop sorting and instead share what we have among the rest of the flock we pray. Amen.

Confession: Lord we confess that we think Justice means equality, we obsess with who has what, and why it is they have it. We forget that God’s justice is different: full of love and grace. We do not act like a Matthew 25 people, forgive us, we pray. 

Assurance of Pardon: God has done a marvelous thing, showing the victory of Love through Jesus Christ to the ends of the earth. Therefore know the truth, In Jesus Christ we are forgiven. 

Assurance of Pardon: Remember: God will judge the world with righteousness and equity, and he sent Jesus Christ to save the world and not to condemn it. Therefore you are forgiven!

Prayer of Dedication/Prayer of the Day: Lord, commit us to one another and to you so that we can be feel, taste and be the body of Christ!

Prayer of Dedication/Prayer of the Day: Remind us that your gift to us is each other. We are here to be in relationship with each other. Let us use our gifts to help one another, we pray.

image.pngimage.pngHymns

Joy to the world

God of the Sparrow

Lord make us partners in Christ’s Service

 

Full List of Lent Abundance Resources some prayers may work for more than one text this season

#Lent Seeds of #Prayer: #Liturgy Resource Abundance of Justice April 7th

Last Judgement: Abundance of Justice

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Sacred Quilt Exhibit:“Let Justice Roll Down Like Water”  Kit Tossmann; Louisville, KY

Matthew 25:31-46

 

Call to the Worship:

Make a joyful to the Lord, all the earth.

Break forth into joyous son and sing praises.

Sing with the lyre and the sound of the melody

Let us make a joyful noise before the Kind, the Lord. 

Call to Worship: Can you hear the good news? It’s contained within the roar of the ocean, its contained within the songs of the hills, it fills the earth and and those who live in it.

Now is the time to share the good news of Jesus Christ, passing it out as bread for the hungry, now is the time to show the love of God sharing it as free medicine for the sick. Now is the time to show the warmth of the Holy Spirit, wrapping the naked up with sturdy clothing. Now is the time to be the people of Matthew 25. 

Prayer of Confession: Lord, how can we not feed the hungry, or visit the sick or clothe the naked. And yet, there are those who go without, and we fail to help them. Lord Jesus, help us to examine why we fail to live up to your standards of caring for each other and you. Help us to confess where the gaps are, and then help us to build the bridge of kindom care that is needed, we pray.

Prayer of Confession: God almighty, we do not treat our neighbors as we wish to be treat. Instead we differentiate between us and them, we look for reasons behind these differences, and we conclude that the others must be lacking. Forgive us, we pray, correct our mouths and our arms and our legs so that what we do and say represents your love. We pray this in your son’s most holy name.

Prayer of Confession: Lord we forget that every time we help someone, it is as if the waves clap their hands in praise of you. We ignore those in need, forgetting to make a joyful noise, forgetting to tell the good news of your open table, setting a feast before all those in need. Teach us to see your face, in whomever we encounter, we pray.

 

Assurance of Pardon: God has made known, already, God’s victory of salvation, with steadfast love and faithfulness, so know you are forgiven and be at peace.

Hymns:

Joy to the world

 

They Will Know We are Christians By Our Love

The Lord’s Prayer Hymn

Live Into Hope

Full List of Lenten Resources (Of course some prayers may be appropriate for other weeks)

#PCUSA Overture for #lbgqt

I am writing in support of the overture to apologize to the lbgqt community (this is what you would say if you were at a meeting about this overture). I am in full support because I believe it to be more about safety & the lives of my lbqt family on the line.

(Also I am not representing my church or my Presbytery of Albany since I have not been authorized to make a statement on either behalf. A widely publicized opposing view is here)

Particularly I am thinking about my sister–who is trans and feels unsafe every time she uses the bathroom…or goes to church…or does a million other things. I am thinking of the fact that she lost a trans underclassman to suicide in the last couple of weeks. I will be speaking form the perspective of those who are trans because they are the least of these, within the least of these…the vulnerable in the midst of an already vulnerable community (esp. transgendered people of color, who my sister is not, but I am thinking of theirintersectionality issues of bigotry).  23 transgendered people were murdered in 2015 according to http://www.thetaskforce.org/stop-trans-murders/.

People’s lives are in danger and the church helped to perpetuate that danger. We have a responsibility.

I’m thinking of all those who are still receiving hurt, especially by way of the damaging legislation which started in North Carolina, and is being varied upon throughout the country in MS, GA, MI and TN.

Why not apologize?

  1. I have heard arguments about it being a breach of trust with those who have an conscientious objection to homosexual relationships.
  2. I have also heard it will cause turmoil on the floor; raising the hopes and dreams of our lbqt family only to crush them.

 

First is this apology a breach of trust?

 

My Presbytery proposed the following rationale to be added should we have supported the overture, clearly stating the intention to bring forth transparency not to “point the finger”

“Albany Presbytery acknowledges that the language in this overture may be perceived to single out specific groups within the denomination for criticisms. However, we believe the entire denomination, across all theological perspectives, should be invited into making amends. We would expect the General Assembly to address these perceptions as they deliberate action upon this overture.

“Furthermore, we concur with this overture as a first step in our pledge to work for an even deeper, denomination-wide, opportunity for healing and reconciliation across all theological and political lines, beyond the scope of this overture (up to and including the possibility of requesting a diverse church-wide task force on healing and reconciliation) and invite the General Assembly to join us in that pledge.

More importantly to the first point: Are we saying we did not hurt lbqt people? or Are we saying that they are not worthy of apology? Are we valuing the feelings of those who might disagree with us more than the rampant homelessness, depression, suicides & murder within the queer community? What are we afraid of, truly….

If the issue is hurt feelings of some that we work with vs. lives on the line for a marginalized people, I know where I stand. Its with justice.

As to the 2nd part, we might as well give up and go home now. You are afraid of raising the queer community’s hopes to crash them? Too late, we’ve been doing this for the last 40-50 years. I’ve got news they can take it. I’d rather speak to real hope of someday healing and reconciling than not speaking of the Dream that I have that someday all people can be counted by the content of their character rather than the orientation of their sexual and gender identities (what if Rev. Dr. King refused to raise hopes needlessly?)

A third, more quiet argument I’ve heard is that we can’t force an apology out of some of us who don’t believe it.

I agree.

But we have to start the hard work somewhere, we have to believe in healing. We have to hope. If we can’t hope, then I don’t know what God it is we are following. I hope for reconciliation between all of God’s people, I hope for a love that passes all understanding, I hope for the day when the Kingdom of God allows us to feast together.

If we don’t chose reconciliation it will because we value “being nice” over truth. I cannot help that this move is one that is made from our own privilege…we can wait on the apology because it doesn’t suit us yet…

I can’t believe that any move towards healing is a breach of trust…

And I say this as a pastor of a church that is slowly making its way towards understanding what true welcome of all people mean. I’ve done the hard work, and I know it is worth it. However, healing has to start somewhere, and I would prefer for us to discuss it at the national level, now, when so many are being hurt by US legislation.

That is why I am in favor of the apology overture.

PS: Love is a revolution, take a listen here http://thirtysecondsorless.net/revolution/

 

#oberlin #MichelleObama #PCUSA intersecting #spiritual and #college

I attended Michelle Obama’s Convocation Speech at Oberlin College. A speech that was won by the Nine Scholars program to help Local High School Students achieve (awesome!)

Only problems were 1. Oberlin already had an awesome speaker lined up the Founder of SAVE the CHIDLREN on the 50yr anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s Grad speech 2. Security was a bear in what is normally a very informal, formal ceremony (people float in and out, wear whatever they want…I like it).

It was the 10 yr anniversary of my graduation from Oberlin and my sister, the amazing Noelle was graduating so I had dual reasons for attending.

Plus I got to stay over with my peer and fellow graduate Charlie who owns the local gaming store (back in the day I founded the now mainstream Sci-Fi and Fantasy Hall which was really just a safe place for the gamer-geeks who had yet to find popularity in the real world). Infinite Monkey, if you want to support a great small business I recommend ordering from him here or Facebook them 🙂

While there I regaled the locales with tales of my pastorhood, my supposed youth (I look really young and DEFINITE not like a pastor) my parenthood (yes, I do have 3 children) and mourned…just a little bit that I had very few Oberlin-like people in my life. Instead I spend most of my time explaining to my mostly older congregation how the modern world is and explaining to my friends (most of whom don’t go or have never gone to church) why religion is a really awesome and exciting place for me to be…at least most of the time 🙂 (I try to be really honest in these conversations).

Michelle Obama gave some nice props to Oberlin and their open-mindedness, remarking how different the world would be today if all colleges awarded degrees to African-Americans and women from way back….noting it was one of the few places that she prob. could have graduated from 100 yrs ago. I nodded to myself, finding it sad that Oberlin, college, was one of the few places where I experienced the openness and hospitality that so many organizations attempted to live into, including at times the church. (I did mope a little bit)

Then Michelle urged Oberlin graduates to not just to enter the world, but to engage with it. To be in the hard places, to find the people who don’t necessarily think and act like you, but to instead be in the real world. To know that that small incremental work that is being done is important.

She then noted that 10 years ago (God? did she really say that), 10 years ago 1 state allowed for same sex marriage, and now any minute the United States was ready to pass it for all states (and I noted to myself that the PCUSA is already there, thanks in a large part to the small incremental changes that we had done over that last 10 years). And I remembered thinking, at my graduation that the world WOULD change for the better, that our speaker at that time had noted the start of that change towards equality and being EXCITED to be a part of that.

It has been work for me to live in-between. I am a full time professional woman and a mother, both the same. I am a religious pastor and a Fantasy geek–one of which is getting less popular (the religion) and one of which has become startingly mainstream (the Sci-Fi Fantasy). But I am still both the same. (Even moreso I have a traditional worship but am very groundbreaking in my ministry to the community) I work with people who are like me and I am friends with people who are like me, very few people get all the pieces that make up who I am. And yet, here I am. Not immersing myself in one thing or one way, I am doing the hard work of the real world.

And when my session, had a progressive discussion about Gay marriage, and I shared that with those people I met at the Oberlin graduation. I talked about meeting people where they are, and sharing my experience, to love them, they said they couldn’t imagine engaging with people who believed things so differently than them.

That’s right, the people at Oberlin, who sometimes I viewed as very accepting, couldn’t accept my religious people. NOT vice versa.

But there it was…the hard work of sharing…of being in the real world. The hard work that I consider being ministry whether it is at Oberlin College with stereotypical liberal students or sitting at a meeting of the church with the elders who talk through their traditions and their desire to serve others.

I may have cried a little (hmm…a lot…) during this speech where Michelle Obama brought the word to me. When Marian Wright Edelman then, daresay I preached, sharing some of the Word of God and Liberation in the way African-American Women are able to do without offending the nontheists of crowd while reaching into the tradition of Justice bespoke by MLK. Hers were not the words I needed that day because, that’s the world I live in every day. But I am so glad she was there, giving a piece of my world to Oberlin, because Oberlin shared a piece of its world back to me in Michelle Obama that day…and I don’t live in one world or the other. But in between, testifying back and forth between the two, like these two ASTOUNDING African-American Women.