Len: "We have to leave in a half an hour, so get with it."
Pastor Hamilton: "I hear that was said to you a lot."
God could not be everywhere and therefore made mothers.
I get the joke, but as a big believer in an Omniscient Omnipotent Omni-etc. God this always bugs me.
Responsive Call to Worship:
Why have you come to this place of worship?
To release our fears, and find the peace of God.
What do you pray in this place of worship?
Because here, the Spirit moves among us.
Why do you sing in this place of worship?
To praise the Giver of Life, the Maker of All Things.
Why do you hope in this place of worship?
Because God is generous, God is mighty, God is compassionate!
Processional: Praise to the Lord, the Almighty
Pastor Hamilton said the day's prayer of confession dealt with "something people have difficulty with" [my paraphrased from memory] and I was totally expecting that sentence to end like "images of God as mother" but no, it was "God's unconditional love." Um, I for one have no difficulty with that. It seems to me how it should be, and I don't have any real difficulty conceptualizing it. Yes God's love goes far beyond any human love, but surely we have conceptions of unconditional love as well.
Unison Prayer of Confession
God of tenderness and compassion, we are your children. But each and every one of us is also daughter or son, arriving in this world through our mother's womb. It is through our mothers that we have learned of your complete and unconditional love, and your desire to bring all good things to us. When our mothers have not lived up to our expectations, let us be quick to forgive their humanness. And when we have neglected to honor their amazing role as co-creators with you, remind us that they, too, have given us life.
Assurance of Pardon:
Pastor Hamilton said that it is in abiding, in God and each other, that we are forgiven.
Scripture: John 15.1-8
1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[The Greek for prunes also means cleans.] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.Oh, John. So very committed to the idea that Jesus=God and there is no other Way. Which of course makes for troubling reading.
5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Message: "Hollywood and Vine"
That's the street intersection where the big deal names on the Hollywood Star walk (or whatever it's called) are. Apparently there are 2300 Stars, including Bob Barker, Big Bird, PeeWee Herman, and Van Halen but no Valerie Bertinelli. He talked about Andy Warhol's prediction that we would each have 15 minutes of fame. He asked if any of us have had any of our fifteen minutes, and I pondered raising my hand. I'm not sure any of the adults did, but a couple of the young kids did, to laughter of course. Pastor Hamilton talked about the loneliness that Warhol predicted would accompany that fame and how anomie doesn't just mean loneliness but means "without root" and talked about how our culture so prizes individualism (witness the Stars he began with talking about) but Christianity requires community (which always makes me a bit uncomfortable). "Jesus is a sap," he said, and I grinned, getting the pun. "I say that with reverence," he said. He had us hold hands with the person sitting next to us, and I was sitting next to Kerry whom I quite like and it was lovely.
Preparation for Prayer: Precious Lord, Take My Hand
It's not a hymn I think of that often, but I actually don't have any problems with it, and everyone was singing softly -- like a half a notch from entreating.
Offertory: All Things Bright and Beautiful
Recessional: I've Got Peace Like a River
The order we sang was slightly different than the one in that link.
- peace like a river
- joy like a fountain
- love like an ocean
I was thinking about how they're all water imagery and how each is so appropriate and how I especially love [er, no pun intended] that love is the vast one.
I didn't see the Warners at Coffee Hour, but when I went to leave I saw they were still standing by the receiving line area talking with people. (I was unsurprised.) I chatted with Len for a bit -- he asked what I was up to, etc. He said he has always seen me as a teacher, and I forget the specifics of what he said but it was just very lovely and meant a lot to me. And I didn't get a Shelby hug, but I'll live.