by Rick Diamond

So, the yarn continues ... (oh! I just realized that's funny. Yarn, like the string we're using, and yarn like a story ...)

This week the cross up front was draped in red, and a crown of thorns hung in front of it. We're on our way to the cross. That's what the season of Lent is about. Looking within ourselves, and inviting God into that space with us. A common, centuries-old tradition is to "confess" during Lent, which means, to say to God, "I'm a sinner, here are all the things I've done wrong; please don't punish me; instead, let me torture myself as a way to be worthy of forgiveness."

I don't see that in Jesus' teachings. What I see instead is that Jesus calls his followers to see their Scriptures (what Christians call "the Old Testament" -- and I prefer to call "the Jewish Scriptures" ... another perfectly appropriate term would be "Jesus' Bible") not as a record of God-As-Punisher, but God-As-Loving-Parent.

If I say to God, "I invite you into the heart of all that I am," it's scary, because I might be uncomfortable; it might mean change, growth, pain. But... what if God is already in the heart of all I am? And what if God is already speaking into every part of my experience? And what if God is already guiding me? Maybe I feel that I'm running from God, or blocking God out. If God is loving Parent, then I can simply stop running. Because... I'm not getting anywhere; God's with me, regardless.

We made a seemingly chaotic, messy web of yarn last week in worship. We suggested that what looks to us like chaos, is often - or always? - exactly where God is at work in the world, and in us. This week, we thought about all the things that keep us from seeing that presence of God. Jesus was tested in the desert by his adversary, being offered things that might keep him from relying on -- "worshipping" -- God alone. Jesus passed the test. He knew that God was his true source, and that he didn't need to chase after fame, or power, or approval. He saw, clearly. Jesus remembered what he'd been taught: "Listen, Israel: you must worship only God."

I worship all sorts of things, in that I listen to them, take direction from them, obey what they tell me. The need for approval, for security, for safety, for assurance. The worry about how things will turn out. Fear. Whatever. So, we all sat with that, and then named those things -- on our way to Jesus' gift to us, symbolized yesterday in Communion.

Will it be alright? Absolutely. It's already alright. God is with you, and with me, and at work in the world. Our job, as Journeyers? Show up. Know that God is at work. Know that we are a part of that. If I can't see it? Just show up anyway.

Listen to the Service

Today's Program

Gathering Our Spirit to God’s Spirit  

The yarn canopy is still in place. There are also yarn strings all over the room, above our heads. The cross is now draped in red, with a crown of thorns; we’ve begun our walk to the cross. We’ll be hanging prayers on index cards on the yarn. The index cards and paper clips are in every seat before worship starts. 

  • “Higher Ground” by Stevie Wonder plays  
  • A Journeyer steps up to light the lamp and another rings the bell 
  • David welcomes folks and has us breathe… then explains the Lenten worship series as our path to the cross and Easter Sunday  

Worshiping with Our Children 

  • A Journeyer leads our children in talking about how, many times, people will tell us to look to things other than God’s Love -- friends, advice, dares, tricks. But God’s Love is the important thing that guides us, and we should be open to that.  

From Our Spirit to God’s Spirit 

Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 14

Listen, O Journey -- God is our true source, and only God. You must love God with all your heart, and soul, and strength. Listen to what I am telling you today! You must not follow the gods that other people follow! 

  • Dave Madden leads music 
  • A Journeyer reads Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 14 -- again -- from the community, not at the microphone -- so, s/he reads LOUDLY 
  • A Journeyer reads Matthew 4:1-11, 17 and then leads an offertory prayer. Make this about God leading us and speaking to us as we turn to God alone.  

Giving –- To Help God Do God’s Work in This World   

  • Dave sings as the ushers pass and collect the offertory baskets and set them at the foot of the cross 

Telling The Story and Our Story 

  • A Journeyer reads Deuteronomy 6:4-6, 14 –- yet again -– from the community, not at the microphone -- so, s/he reads LOUDLY 
  • Rick talks 
  • Rick leads us in our prayer and paper clip exercise 
  • Rick then leads us to communion stations 

We Go Out to Serve with Mercy and Grace 

  • Dave leads the community in singing 
  • David dismisses 
  • “Higher Ground” plays again as folks leave