The Presbyterian Church at Woodbury
June 19, 2022
SECOND SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST
O God, you come to us not in the chaos of the whirlwind, not in the roar of the earthquake, not in the crackling heat of the fire, but in the sound of sheer silence. Quiet our minds, bring peace to our hearts and stillness to our bodies that we might meet you in that silence. Help us to listen for your still, small voice. Give us the courage to go wherever you lead us, trusting that you will prepare the way. We pray this in the name of our Companion on the journey, Jesus the Christ. Amen.
CALL TO WORSHIP
I am the vine, Jesus said.
We are the branches.
Those who abide in Christ and who Christ abides in are here
We desire to bear much fruit.
Apart from me you can do nothing, Jesus said.
We want to do our part and do something
Let us worship God.
*HYMN No. 4 “Holy God, We Praise Your Name” vs.1-3
1 Holy God, we praise your name;
Lord of all, we bow before you.
All on earth your scepter claim;
all in heaven above adore you.
Infinite your vast domain,
everlasting is your reign.
2 Hark! The glad celestial hymn
angel choirs above are raising;
cherubim and seraphim,
in unceasing chorus praising,
fill the heavens with sweet accord:
“Holy, holy, holy Lord!”
3 All apostles join the strain
as your sacred name they hallow;
prophets swell the glad refrain,
and the blessed martyrs follow,
and from morn to set of sun,
through the church the song goes on.
*CALL TO RECONCILIATION
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. In humility and faith, let us confess our sin to God.
*PRAYER FOR CONFESSION
Gracious God, our sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide and too deep to undo. Forgive what our lips tremble to name, what our hearts can no longer bear and what has become for us a consuming fire of judgment. Set us free from a past that we cannot change; open to us a future where we can be changed; and grant us grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image. Help us hear you in the silence. Create in us a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within us. Do not cast us from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from us. Restore to us the joy of your salvation and sustain us with your bountiful Spirit through Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Amen
Silence is observed
*ASSURANCE OF PARDON
Hear the teaching of Christ: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love another.”
In Jesus Christ, we are all forgiven. Amen.
*RESPONSE No. 4 “Holy God, We Praise Your Name”
Holy Father, Holy Son,
Holy Spirit: three we name you,
while in essence only one;
undivided God we claim you,
and adoring, bend the knee
while we own the mystery.
*PASSING OF THE PEACE OF CHRIST
Since God has forgiven us in Christ, let us forgive one another. The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.
And also with you.
ANTHEM “The Water is Wide” Gilbert Martin
PLEASE JOIN ME IN THE UNISON PRAYER OF ILLUMINATION…
Loving Lord, open us that we may hear you. Silence any voice in us but your own so that we may clearly hear you and what you are calling us to do. In Christ’s name, we pray. Amen.
THE SCRIPTURE READING FOR TODAY IS GALATIANS 3:23-29, LET US READ AND HEAR, GOD’S WORD TOGETHER:
23 Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed. 24 Therefore the law was our disciplinarian until Christ came, so that we might be reckoned as righteous[a] by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer subject to a disciplinarian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith. 27 As many of you as were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is no longer Jew or Greek; there is no longer slave or free; there is no longer male and female, for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring,[b] heirs according to the promise.
PAUSE – COUNT TO 10
THIS IS THE WORD OF THE LORD.
THANKS BE TO GOD
SERMON “What Jersey Do You Wear?”
We asked this morning that you wear a jersey to represent one of your teams. I’m wearing my _______________________. I know there are a lot of Phillies fans and Eagles fans here today, but what else do we have represented? What other teams do you support? Go ahead and shout it out!
Being part of a team matters to us. School colors, team jerseys, mascots–they all matter in showing us where we belong. Just ask the Eagles fans about the old-school Kelly-green jerseys. From our earliest days, we pick a team and want to be included in its fan-base!
We saw some more team colors this week. In support and love for the LGBTQ community, a sea of rainbows emerged this week. Showing a rainbow became a way to say, I love you, I’m on your team. We see this flag on the light posts in downtown Woodbury and in many other places during the month of June. It is a way to cheer on a team that has been marginalized for many years.
We all need to hear that we belong, that we are loved, that we have been chosen, that we are allowed on the team, that we are part of the family. This is no different than what is happening with the Galatians.
Early groups of Christians like those in Galatia were trying to figure out who was on their team and where they belonged. Jesus had preached his message in synagogues, to religious leaders. And as Jesus was a Jew, along with other church leaders like Peter and Paul, it seemed like the newly forming church could be an extension of the Jewish faith.
But there were the Gentiles, or Greeks. These people did not follow the Torah, or law. Yet they were being drawn to the message of Jesus. How could they get on this team? Did they have to become Jewish?
What Paul explains in Galatians is that this new community isn’t for just Jews or Greeks, but for everyone. Something new was forming. And Paul is clear that there was nothing wrong with following the law, with being a Jew, or being a Gentile. What was clear was that Jesus wouldn’t leave anyone out, and so these early groups of Christians had to figure out a way to be together.
Paul had met the people in Galatia before. He had been with them as they had become a community together. From what we know, it seemed like the Galatians had a great team, not in a small part because everyone was welcome. The church in Galatia had been made up of both Jews and Gentiles.
These distinctions don’t matter to us in the same way anymore. It can be difficult to read Galatians without understanding what is going on with the Jews and Gentiles. But it is easy to see that Paul is very frustrated with the people in Galatia because they have started excluding Gentiles again. The way I see it is this. Paul had been with them, and they had found a way to be together, in spite of their differences. But they had lost sight of that. They got tied up in discussions about rules that kept people in and out. It makes sense that Paul is mad.
Paul was frustrated, but he encouraged the Galatians with a message of unity. There is neither Jew nor Greek; there is neither slave nor free; nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Now if you belong to Christ, then indeed you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.
It’s not just a small group of you, Paul says. You all belong to Christ. So don’t go back to your old, divided ways. You are a team. You are team Jesus, now!
The Galatians are given what I like to think of as their team colors. Above all, they are to be clothed with Christ.
This is a fairly abstract thing to tell a person, but it’s a favorite metaphor of Paul’s. I wonder what the world would look like if Paul would have said something like, “And be sure to wear red because then everyone will know that you are part of the church.” Instead, Paul addresses an identity change.
We have something for you this morning to represent that identity that Paul is talking about. Because to be clothed with Christ doesn’t mean just putting on a new jersey. This is one size fits all. It’s about knowing who you are and whose you are. We are all still going to have our differences, but at our core, we can know that we are a child of God. What Galatians tells me is that the church is not about hard and fast boundaries but letting people know that they belong.
- You’re a Phillies fan? Child of God.
- Eagles fan? Child of God.
- 76ers fan? Child of God.
- Mets fan? Child of God
- Commander’s fan? Child of God
- Celtics fan? Child of God
You are all God’s children through faith in Christ Jesus. All the other jerseys don’t matter and often get in the way of being part of the body of Christ!
I am taking a class at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary entitled “Cultivating Christian Community,” and one of the books that we read is by Sarah Stewart Holland and Beth Silvers. Their book is “a guide to grace filled political conversations,” and early in the text they describe our current situation as putting on a team jersey for one political party or another and then never examine our chosen team’s ideas or scrutinize our team’s candidates – we put on the team jersey and it acts like a blinder. We only see tam. Nothing else matters. I wonder if our political system would be better if we could remove those party jerseys and be clothed in Christ, first? Support the work of Jesus and his team before all the other teams that we cheer for – sports or political
Team Jesus and I see it here in our Task Forces, Committees and Boards. In the church, we have bible study, prayer groups, serve meals to our neighbors and span in age from newborn to a 102-year-old. We have a width and depth of demographics and viewpoints and I believe this is how God intended the church to be! It’s a great team. And I believe that there is no other setting but the church that we would have all be brought together in the same place.
And when I want to tell people about Jesus, this is what I want to tell them about. It’s a room full of people clothed with Christ, listening patiently to one another. Each one of us bringing our own unique identity, but certain that we are children of God.
My hope for all of you is that this is your experience of church. I hope that when we gather together, you are surrounded by people who are different than you are. I hope that you get to both listen and speak. I hope that you find a team of people that love and support you for who you are.
After the last couple of weeks, where violence and prejudice threaten us, —We must be clothed with Christ and demonstrate God’s love to neighbor —that is our message– we must take this word of hope out into the world and it is so needed. Tell people they are loved. Tell people they belong. Tell people we don’t have it figured out, but we still come together as children of God. All while wearing the Jesus Jersey!
Commentary and Liturgy provided by Sarah Stewart Holland, Beth Silver, Heather A. Moody, Cecelia Armstrong, Scott Hoezee, Jane Lancaster Patterson, Alicia Vargas, Sarah Henrich, and Rachel McDonald.
*AFFIRMATION OF FAITH from the Iona Community in Scotland
We believe in God above us, maker and sustainer of all life.
We believe in God beside us, Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh, born of a woman, servant of the poor, tortured and nailed to a tree. A man of sorrows, he died forsaken. He descended into the earth to the place of death. On the third day he rose from the tomb. He ascended into heaven to be everywhere present, and his kingdom will come on earth.
We believe in God within us, the Holy Spirit of Pentecostal fire, life-giving breath of the church, Spirit of healing and forgiveness, source of resurrection and eternal life. Amen.
*HYMN No. 24 “God, Who Stretched the Spangled Heavens”
1 God, who stretched the spangled heavens
infinite in time and place,
flung the suns in burning radiance
through the silent fields of space,
we, your children in your likeness,
share inventive powers with you.
Great Creator, still creating,
show us what we yet may do.
2 Proudly rise our modern cities,
stately buildings row on row.
Yet their windows, blank, unfeeling,
stare on canyoned streets below,
where the lonely drift unnoticed
in the city’s ebb and flow,
lost to purpose and to meaning,
scarcely caring where they go.
3 We have ventured worlds undreamed of
since the childhood of our race;
known the ecstasy of winging
though untraveled realms of space;
probed the secrets of the atom,
yielding unimagined power,
facing us with life’s destruction
or our most triumphant hour.
4 As each far horizon beckons,
may it challenge us anew,
children of creative purpose,
serving others, honoring you.
May our dreams prove rich with promise,
each endeavor well begun.
Great Creator, give us guidance
till our goals and yours are one.
THE PASTORAL PRAYER AND LORD’S PRAYER
Gracious God, you are bigger than big, larger than large and more awesome than awesome can describe. We gather to give you thanks for your presence in our lives and for your Son, Jesus Christ, and for the movement of the Holy Spirit among us. We gather to thank you for each of our stages of life to which we can liken to that of a flower.
God, some of us are like the seed in need of automatic transformation, not knowing what we are to become but knowing and trusting you and your infinite wisdom, believing that we can be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
God, some of us are still caught up in acknowledging that we must go through a little dirt. There, in the dirt of environments and society and, even Lord, in your church, we grow and receive nutrients from the dirt.
We expand and grow developing stems, and leaves that help provide nutrients for our growth. Lord, we promise to become beautiful blooms that continue to grow while producing pollen. May our pollen be our way of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ in places that only the vast wind of the Holy Spirit can carry us. Let us spread the good news in places that will germinate new seeds for growth.
O God, let our bloom produce a scent that attracts others. Let our scent be our testimony to tell of your saving grace through the love of Jesus Christ. Lord, we know a scent will remain long after a bloom has been removed.
Gracious God, we know that flowers are picked for their beauty and placed in places that are not their natural habitat. Help us, O God, when we are picked to continue to be as beautiful as we can, for as long as we can in places that need the beauty of your presence.
O Great God, we are grateful for you, your love, your Holy Spirit and your son, Jesus Christ, who taught us to pray say, “Our Father …”.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil: For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.
Today’s flowers are given in the glory and honor of God by Jan and Jesse Edick in memory of Betty Hanson; and by Hazel Skinner in memory of Fred and Janet Bayer.
OFFERING OF TITHES
Blessed are you, God of all creation. Through your goodness, we have these gifts to share. Accept and use our offerings for your glory and for the service of your kingdom. Blessed be God forever.
Praise God, from whom all blessing flow, Praise God, all creatures here below. Alleluia, Alleluia Praise God in Jesus fully known; Creator, Word, and Spirit one. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.
* PRAYER OF DEDICATION
As we offer our treasure and hearts to you, O God, may they be used to pass on the promise of hope, of peace, of life, of community to all in need of your gifts and presence in their lives. Amen.
*HYMN No. 39 “Great Is Thy Faithfulness”
1 Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father;
there is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not; thy compassions they fail not.
As thou hast been thou forever wilt be.
Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning, new mercies I see.
All I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord unto me!
2 Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.
3 Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow:
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!
Go out into the world in peace; have courage; hold on to what is good; return no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak and help the suffering; honor all people; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.