Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical (hermionesviolin) wrote,
Elizabeth Scripturient (the delinquent, ecumenical

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[CHPC] Mike N. preaching on the Jonah story [2008-08-24]

The bulletin has a new logo on the front: a PC(USA) logo -- which looks like a woodcut cross with flame on both sides of the base.
I live my life in widening circles that reach out across the world.  I may not complete this last one but I give myself to it.  I circle around God, around the primordial tower.  I've been circling for thousands of years and I still don't know: am I a falcon, a storm, or a great song?
-Rainer Maria Rilke


    "this is the day ... that our God has made ... Jesus rose again ... that the Spirit came"

CALL TO WORSHIP (Iona Community)
One:  We are met in the presence of God.
Many:  And we do not meet alone.
One:  With the angels in highest heaven,
Many:  we gather to worship God.
One:  With the saints of every age,
Many:  We gather to worship God.
One:  With the Church throughout the world,
Many:  We gather to worship God.
One:  In barrios and basilicas:
Many:  God's holy name is praised.
One:  And here, now, with our own hearts and voices:
Many:  God's holy name is praised.
One:  We are met in the presence of God.
Many:  And we do not meet alone.
God of grace, you have given us minds to know you, hearts to love you, and voices to sing your praise.  Fill us with your Spirit, that we may celebrate your glory and worship you in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
HYMN #459  "Come, O Fount of Every Blessing"


God of love and justice, we long for peace within and peace without.  We long for harmony in our families, for serenity in the midst of struggle, for commitment to each other's growth.  We long for the day when our homes will be a dwelling place for your love.  Yet we confess that we are often anxious; we do not trust each other, and we harbor violence.  We are not willing to take the risks and make the hard choices that love requires.  Look upon us with kindness and grace.  Rule in our homes and in all the world; show us how to walk in your paths, through the mercy of our Savior.  Amen.
-Ruth Duck



    Mike N. talked about how sometimes we'll be asked, say by our parents for example, to do something, and we'll want to brush it off all "In a minute."  He said that God asks us to do things too, like love our neighbor and be kind to our brothers and sisters and take care of the earth, and asked if those were the kinds of things they thought they should respond to with "In a minute."

    During the Passing of the Peace, Mike N. asked me if I would do the Scripture reading since Munir wasn't around.  I was, of course, happy to.  I thus didn't have a chance to read it once through beforehand as I prefer to be able to do.  The reading went fine (would probably have been a few ticks better if I had been able to do a pre-read-through, but that's my perfectionist tendency speaking -- my biggest self-criticism was probably that almost every time I looked up I looked to my left, but that was hard to resist since almost all the congregation was sitting on that side).  I hadn't actually read the text in quite some time, and I was surprised that Jonah's explanation for why he doesn't wanna go to Nineveh isn't in the opening section -- 'cause when you tell the story paraphrase from memory of course you say "God told him to go to Nineveh, and he didn't wanna, BECAUSE..."  I was also struck by the fact that the sailors don't want to throw Jonah overboard (which Mike actually mentioned in his sermon, saying that was a topic for another day).

    "Be Thou My Vision"

    Mike N. mentioned how Nineveh was an enemy of Israel (capital of Assyria), which I didn't know explicitly though of course I knew that Jonah didn't like the Ninevites and didn't want them to be saved from destruction.  And so of course why would they listen to this so-called prophet from Israel.  But then he talked about how the Assyrian king decreed sackcloth and fasting and repentance of everyone thanks to what Jonah had said -- and he pointed out that throughout the Old Testament, God's prophets are usually ignored.  He touched on the issue of: Now Jonah was gonna look like a false prophet since the damnation he had foretold didn't come to pass (since God saw that they turned from their evil ways and forgave them).  But what struck me was that: GOD'S OWN PEOPLE USUALLY IGNORED GOD'S PROPHETS, BUT HERE WERE THESE ENEMIES OF ISRAEL REPENTING BECAUSE THEY BELIEVED THE WORD OF GOD'S PROPHET.  I love the recurrent theme (in both Testaments) of overturning expectations and of reaching out beyond the usual boundaries and how God's grace is for everyone and so on.  (Mike mentioned how Jonah complained to God about the Ninevites getting spared and God said they were God's creation, too, but if I were giving this sermon I totally would have hammered that point more -- and would have emphasized that yes, even our "enemies" are beloved of God and as deserving of second chances as we are [Mike mentioned that both the Ninevites and Jonah get given a second chance by God in this story] and yadda yadda, because that's what I do.)
      Mike opened by talking about how he tends to avoid the Old Testament, and how he has various reasons for that, but near the end he said that really all those reasons are just excuses.  He said that God is loving, and also demanding and all-powerful.  In the Old Testament, lots of people have firsthand experience with God (Moses, Adam and Eve, etc.) and don't emerge unscathed.  And that's scary.  Does he really want to know what God wants from him?  He said that at best his answer is Maybe, and that he has more Jonah in him than Jesus.
    He also said that God orchestrates a grand musical masterpiece with only an elementary school band.

God is greater than our understanding.  We do not fully comprehend who God is or how God works.  God's reality far exceeds all our words can say.  The Lord's requirements are not always what we think is best.  The Lord's care for us is not always what we want.  God comes to us on God's own terms and is able to do far more than we ask or think.
-Excerpt from a Declaration of Faith, PCUS '77
HYMN #473  "Blessed Assurance"


Congregational Response
Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Christ all creatures here below
Praise Holy Spirit evermore
Praise triune God whom we adore.
O God, most merciful and gracious, of whose bounty we have all received: accept, we pray, this offering of your people.  Remember in your love those who have brought it and those for whom it is given; and so follow it with your blessing that it may promote peace and goodwill among all people and advance the realm of our Savior Jesus Christ.
-New Century Hymnal
HYMN #476  "My Life Flows on in Endless Song (How Can I Keep from Singing)"

RESPONSE  #8, v.4
Praise to the Living God, around, within, above
Beyond the grasp of human mind, but whom we know as love
In these tumultuous days, so full of hope and strife
May we bear witness to the Way, O Source and Goal of life.


At Coffee Hour I chatted with Esty and Scott, who apparently were here for their 3rd Sunday but whom I don't recall having seen before.  Oops?  They're from San Diego, both psychologists -- she's telecommuting with a job with UCSD but looking for a job here, and he's finishing his graduate program (is in the field experience year, or whatever it's called).  And SarahG is back and said Alex will be up next Sunday.
Tags: church: somerville: clarendon hill presb

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