Listen to the Service

Today's Program

Gathering Our Spirit to God's Spirit

The tall glass cylinder, now painted with words and symbols and with “roots” painted on the floor around it, is still in the center of the room and filled with branches extending out the top; branches are also hanging from the ceiling around the room. Additional limbs have been added to the existing ones giving us more space for hanging pipe cleaner things. 

  • “Bittersweet Symphony” by The Verve plays
  • A Journeyer steps up to light the lamp and another rings the bell 
  • David (E) and Leslie (L) make announcements  

Worshiping with Our Children

  • A Journeyer leads our children in talking about how making mistakes and not knowing everything about everything is part of maturing and growing up. The older we get, the more we learn and the more we realize that there is to learn.

From Our Spirit to God's Spirit

  • Joan of Arcadia video clip plays
  • David welcomes, has us breathe…
  • David explains the current series 
  • Two Journeyers come to the microphone to read 

Reader 1:  "The Hygiene Hypothesis: Are Cleanlier Lifestyles Causing More Allergies For Kids?"

Science Daily (Sep. 9, 2007) — A little dirt never hurt. But in today’s super-clean world, vaccinations, anti-bacterial soaps, and airtight doors and windows are keeping dirt and disease-causing germs at bay. While staying germ-free can prevent the spread of disease and infections, leading a cleanlier lifestyle may be responsible for an increase in allergies among children. “It’s called the hygiene hypothesis,” says Marc McMorris, M.D., a pediatric allergist at the University of Michigan Health System. “We’ve developed a cleanlier lifestyle, and our bodies no longer need to fight germs as much as they did in the past. As a result, the immune system has shifted away from fighting infection to developing more allergic tendencies.” 

Reader 2:  Matthew 8:1-4 (The Message)

Jesus came down the mountain with the cheers of the crowd still ringing in his ears. Then a leper appeared and went to his knees before Jesus, praying, "Master, if you want to, you can heal my body." 

Jesus reached out and touched him, saying, "I want to. Be clean." Then and there, all signs of the leprosy were gone. Jesus said, "Don't talk about this all over town. Just quietly present your healed body to the priest, along with the appropriate expressions of thanks to God. Your cleansed and grateful life, not your words, will bear witness to what I have done." 

  • Another Journeyer comes to the microphone for Reading 3 and leads an offertory prayer

Reader 3:  from Hope on a Tightrope by Dr. Cornel West

“You’re made in the image of God. You’re a featherless, two-legged, linguistically conscious creature born between urine and feces. That's us. One day your body will be the culinary delight of terrestrial worms. You know that. Be honest. Put on your three-piece suit if you want to, but that's not armor against death. The question is: Who are you going to be in the meantime, in this time and space? You don’t get out of time and space alive.”  

Giving -- To Help God Do God's Work in This World  

  • Dave Brown sings “If I Could” as the ushers pass the offering baskets and return them to the foot of the tree

Telling The Story and Our Story

  • A Journeyer reads “Sarah’s Story”

Reader 4:  "Sarah’s Story" by Kaye McKee

I am called Sarah. Sarai until God changed my name. Sarah. Princess. 

For much of my life—indeed, a lifetime entire for many—I thought the title a cruel joke. Princess, I asked God, of what? I felt more a slave than a princess. In the young days of our marriage, we were settled alongside our kin in Haran. I thought it would always be so. Then God came to my husband and said, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” So my husband went and, because I am his wife, I too, left what was known to me to follow Abraham’s faith. 

The years went forward. God’s promise of children seemed as dry to me as my empty womb. Each month, when the bleeding came on me, I wept as with a death. God was speaking promises to Abraham, but my husband told me nothing. Perhaps he could not bear to make me suffer again the ravages of hope. In time nature took from me all hope of bearing the child God promised my husband. I did not bleed, but not because a child was growing in my womb. Rather, because age grew there -- age and hopelessness. Death seemed nearer to me than life.

Thinking God must have promised a son to Abraham, but not to me, I offered my Egyptian slave, Hagar, to Abraham as a wife. Her womb was ripe and she bore Abraham a son of long waiting. But then Hagar turned her eyes on me in disgust. I was to her a worthless old woman. The sight of me filled her with loathing. She was the princess and I the slave, useful only for kicking. I asked my husband to intercede in the conflict, as was the law of our people. He was to judge between his two wives. Abraham said I might do with Hagar as I liked. So I unleashed on her the full rage of my bitterness. I did to her all my position allowed me to do and she bore all her position demanded she bear. Until her soul could bear my abuse no longer and she fled with her son into the desert. God cared for her there, just as God cared for me in Egypt. She returned to us for a season and I thought her son, Ishmael, must surely be the son God promised Abraham. I took some small solace for having arranged the match, thus setting aside my place as Abraham’s only wife. I thought I had given Abraham his nation. And I tried to be content.  

My name became “Old Sarah.” I had forgotten its meaning by then. It was too laughable—a ninety-year-old princess. And then they came: three strangers emerging from the distant dust and making their way to our tent. As our hospitality code required, Abraham set me to work baking bread from our choicest flour while our servant prepared a calf. I busied myself, preparing and serving, then, once my task was complete, I hid myself in the folds of the tent and listened. A woman in my situation, after all, has few diversions. I could not join the conversation, but I could sit at the edge of it. One of the three visitors, whose voice at once calmed my body and awakened it with curious emotion, was speaking to Abraham as if they were friends of long acquaintance: as if they simply took up a conversation left unfinished. I caught snatches… Sarah… son. For the first time in my remembering, the absurd combination moved me to merriment rather than bitterness. Laughter exploded from me before I could remember myself and repress it.

“Why did Sarah laugh and say ‘Shall I indeed bear a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too wonderful for the Lord?” the man asked my husband. “I shall return in due season, and Sarah shall have a son.”

Shamed for having been caught listening, fearful of a man who would speak so sharp and strange, I denied it. But the man would have none of my dissembling. This time he spoke directly to me: “Oh, but you did laugh.”

And I am laughing now, for the stranger made true his promise. I hold in my arms a miracle son. How God produced such hearty fruit from such an ancient womb, I know not. But neither do I care. I never knew how my heart could grow tender until this boy child nestled into my body and slept in my arms. I am a princess, bold and strong, and full of promise. I am remembered, beloved, and blessed.

  • Rick talks
  • Rick guides the community through the pipe cleaner/art activity
  • Another Journeyer reads a poem as the community takes time to look at what has been hung from the branches  

Reader 5:  [during the pipe cleaner art project; is NOT on the screen]

"...and so we must learn to live again" by Anna McKenzie

[it seems to me there are two kinds of lent: the annual pilgrimage of faith where we create a wilderness to submit ourselves into and the other, unbidden and unwelcome, when the wilderness comes to us in a lent not of faith's making...]

And so we must learn to live again, 
we of the damaged bodies
and assaulted minds.
Starting from scratch with the rubble of our lives
and picking up the dust
of dreams once dreamt.
And we start there, naked in our vulnerability,
proud of starting over, fighting back,
but full of weak humility
at the awesomeness of the task.
We, without a future,
safe, defined, delivered
now salute you God.
Knowing that nothing is safe,
secure, inviolable here.
Except you,
and even that eludes our minds at times.
And we hate you
and we love you,
and our anger is as strong
as our pain,
our grief is deep as oceans,
and our need as great as mountains.
So, as we take our first steps forward
into the abyss of the future,
we would pray for
courage to go places for the first time
and just be there.
Courage to become what we have
not been before
and accept it,
with bravery to look deep
within our souls to find
new ways.
We did not want it easy God,
but we did not contemplate
that it would be quite this hard,
this long, this lonely.
So, if we are to be turned inside out,
and upside down,
with even our pockets shaken,
just to check what is rattling
and left behind,
we pray that you will keep faith with us,
and we with you,
holding our hands as we weep,
giving us strength to continue,
and showing us beacons
along the way
to becoming new.
We are not fighting you God,
even if it feels like it,
but we need your help and company,
as we struggle on.
Fighting back
and starting over.

Go Out to Serve with Mercy and Grace

  • David leads the community in a communal prayer and then in saying Genesis 12:1-4a

Journey Communal Prayer

Dear God, we pray that you will keep faith with us, and we with you, holding our hands as we weep, giving us strength to continue, and showing us beacons along the way to becoming new. Amen

  • David dismisses
  • The recovering perfectionist's anthem, "Love the Mess" by Rachel Loy, plays as folks depart