July 1, 2015

Worship

Join us as together we praise our Creator on Sunday mornings. [Scroll down to view older posts.]

July 2015 Worship Notes

2015-06-14 20.43.11
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2015-06-14 20.43.11July 5 | Give-a-Meal | Communion
Scripture: Psalm 48; Mark 6:1-13
Message: Shake the Dust Off
Theme: Jesus and the disciples aren’t welcome everywhere they go. Jesus encourages them not to get stuck or blocked by obstacles others place in their way. He buoys them up so they can move on and keep on!

July 12
Scripture: Psalm 24; Mark 6:14-29
Message: What Should I Ask For?
Theme: Gospel story of Herodias asking Herod for John the Baptist’s head. Herod respected John but was manipulated by Herodias. This story invites us to think about our allegiances and analyze our motives. What do we ask for others? What do they ask of us? What does God ask of us? What should I ask God for?

July 19
Scripture: Psalm 89:20-37; Mark 6:30-34, 53-56
Message: Set It All Aside
Theme Jesus and the disciples are coming and going so that there is no time for them to eat! Yikes. Busy lives. Lists and priorities. What place do sabbath and meditation and renewal have in your life?

July 26 | Guest Worship Leader–Jackie Tyler

June 2015 Worship Notes

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10476399_10153986406894478_7292010207458030510_nJune 7 | One Family Worship | Give-a-Meal | Communion
Scripture: Psalm 138; 2Corinthians 4:13-5:1
Message: Seen and Unseen
Theme: Gratitude for what we can see and what is below our awareness. Focus on the things that are beyond and you will get there. Seek ye first…

June 14
Scripture: Psalm 20; Mark 4:26-34
Message: Seeds—Gathered and Scattered
Theme: Jesus tells stories about seeds sprouting, growing, producing. Patience is needed. Mustard seeds are packed! This all feeds in to a Sunday when we will welcome new members and bid a fond farewell to the Barclay Family.

June 21 | Father’s Day
Scripture: Psalm 9:9-20; Mark 4:35-41
Message: Be Still
Theme Jesus stills the storm as he and the disciples are out in the boat. He was asleep during all of it… the storm did not worry him. Where do we find the gifts of peace? How do we share them?

June 28
Scripture: Psalm 130; Mark 5:21-43
Message: Double Healing
Theme: Jesus heals Jairus’ daughter and the hemorrhaging woman. Where does healing come from? Where does it go? How can we be a part of it? When do we block/deflect/deny it?

Summer Music

D5317B Essen, Germany, the church choir sings on the occasion of the change of concerts Hochschulchoere
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D5317B Essen, Germany, the church choir sings on the occasion of the change of concerts Hochschulchoere

Summer Music

During the summer months when the choir does not sing, we invite members, both adults and youth, to provide special instrumental or vocal music for the 9:30 service. If you would like to share your musical gifts with us over the summer, please speak with Barbara Raedeke or contact her at BRaedeke@aol.com. We are blessed with so many musically talented members here at Parkway, and we hope they will make this important contribution to our worship!

May 2015 Worship Notes

May-Flowers
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May-FlowersMay 3
Scripture: Psalm 22:25-31; 1 John 4:7-21
Message: Love Languages
Theme: Jesus talks about his core message—the reason he exists: love. Part of the challenge for us as we lead lives of love is that we are speaking different languages—even if we share a language.

May 10
Scripture: Psalm 98; John 15:9-17
Message: Blessing Assessing
Theme: Jesus is still talking about love… How can we be even more intentional about growing and maturing in the ways we love? How do we engage in appropriate meaningful touch, a spoken message, attaching high value, picturing a special future, expressing an active commitment

May 17: Ascension Sunday
Scripture: Psalm 47; Luke 24:44-53
Message: Witnesses
Theme Jesus and the disciples are together in person for the last time—as he ascends to heaven. He opens their minds to understand the scriptures. He commissions them to go far and wide to teach and preach. He reminds them that they will be given the power they need to do this!

May 24
Scripture: Joel 2:28–32; Acts 2:1-12
Message: Surprised and Bewildered
Theme: As the Holy Spirit comes and allows us to hear one another across all differences, how do we follow up and follow through to close the gaps between people? What can we experience from other times, cultures, traditions that lead us closer to God?

May 31: One Family Worship at 10:00am UNDER THE TREE
Scripture: Isaiah 6:1-8; Romans 8:14-17a
Message: 1-2-3
Theme: The early church was dealing with how to move beyond fear to live further into the presence and mission of the Holy. Today we are One Family and celebrate both sacraments. How do these experiences ground us and set us free to be Christ-like in the world?

Parkway Church Orchestra Resumes Rehearsals April 19

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Church Orchestra Rehearsal April 19

3rd Sundays (April – November)| 6:30-8:00pm | Choir Room (Please note 1 time room change.)

The Parkway Church Orchestra resumes monthly rehearsals this Sunday, April 19 in the Choir Room. (We typically meet in the Heritage room but for this rehearsal only, we are using the choir room.) We are seeking more orchestra instrumentalists to join us. For more information contact Roger Fagerberg at 314-878-7646 | rrfagerberg@hotmail.com for needed information. 

PUCC Easter Journey – The Day After Easter, April 6

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And Peter

by Mary Luti, Interim Pastor, Wellesley Village UCC, Wellesley, MA

 

“Go tell his disciples and Peter that he is going ahead of you into Galilee, and you will see him there.” – Mark 16:7

 

And Peter – possibly the two most poignant words in scripture. The disciples abandoned Jesus, but only Peter swore he didn’t know him from Adam. Not even Judas did that. After that night by the courtyard fire when Jesus gazed at him sorrowfully as the cock crowed, a weeping Peter probably half-hoped he’d never see Jesus again, hoped he’d never have to face him in shame.

 

But the risen Jesus wants to see Peter. He singles him out. “And Peter…” I will meet you in Galilee. It’s where they’d first begun. It will be where they begin anew.

 

We have to turn to John’s gospel for the meeting. On the lakeshore, by the light of another fire, they put their heads together and talk. No recrimination. Not one shaming reference to the past. Only declarations of love. It happens by proximity, this restoration. Peter goes to meet his Lord and the Lord is there to meet him.

 

Jesus wants to meet you too. Even if, like Peter, you have nothing to bring to the meeting but stupidity and stubbornness, fear and self-protection, betrayals and cowardice. Even if, as Kate Layzer writes in an Easter hymn, you can’t imagine why anyone should love you, a creature made of earth. Even if every mortal fragment of you shrinks from a rebirth. Jesus wants you to go to Galilee. He will meet you there.

 

By your rising, O Christ, put away all our grieving. Free our hearts from pointless strife. No longer fearful, but believing. Now begins eternal life! Amen.

PUCC Lenten Journey – Easter, April 5

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He Is Not Raisins

by Matt Fitzgerald, St Paul’s UCC, Chicago

 

“Such knowledge is too wonderful for me.” – Psalm 139:6

 

Hurrah! There will be less elbow room in the pews today!

 

The assumption is that my job will be to make sense of scripture, to reduce the mystery, and to make God understandable. No one has ever put it to me that plainly, but for those who want a modern-minded faith the assumption is implicit. You bring your questions to an expert. I have fallen prey to this reasoning: I’ve preached dozens of sermons that aim to explain, clarify and demystify.

 

One of the reasons I love the people in the Easter crowd is that their arrival stands as a direct refutating of such nonsense.

 

If people came to church to hear reason, Easter would not be the most popular Sunday of the year because there is nothing sensible about the resurrection. Easter ought to leave preachers scratching our heads. We are not able to define or even describe the resurrection.
The first thing preachers ought to admit on Easter is that God has done the incomprehensible.

 

But not the logical. When our daughter was in kindergarten the church gave her Sunday School class purple Easter eggs to take home. The egg contained a slip of paper. She was right in the middle of learning how to read so she seized on the paper’s monosyllabic words eagerly. She read with confidence. “He is…” then she paused, carefully considering both syllables in the third word. “He is … raisins?”

 

“He is raisins” is illogical. “He is risen” is merely incomprehensible. When preachers speak about God we should distinguish between things that do not make sense and things we cannot make sense of. Easter falls into the latter category. We can’t explain it. We shouldn’t try. But we can stand in awe and joy before it.

 

O God, pardon our attempts to reduce you to something we can understand – and coax us into awestruck wonder. Amen.

PUCC Lenten Journey – Holy Saturday, April 4

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 John 19:38-42

 

“And so, because it was the Jewish day of Preparation, and the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.”

 

I’ve never forgotten the title of an Easter sermon preached by a fellow seminarian years ago: “They thought they had him, but he got away.”

 

With exquisite care and preparation, and in accordance with accepted religious practice, Jesus was laid to rest in the tomb of a wealthy supporter. The Romans had him and were done with him.

 

The hopes of those who had believed in him were buried with him, sadness upon disappointment. The conversations in this narrative were muted, whispered, laced with despair and resignation. Nothing holy about that.

 

But he got away. And the conversation continues. On this Holy Saturday of utter silence in the depths of uncertainty about what tomorrow brings, we open our hearts to the goodness of God. We trust that God understands what baffles us, sees beyond our blindness, and frees us from the paralysis of our fear.

 

The stone can be rolled away. There is reason to wait for the dawn.

 

Jesus cannot be “had” by injustice of oppression or the weight of our inertia in an uncertain time. He got away. And would have us follow him free of fear and full of hope. 

 

Loving God, whatever the size of the stone and darkness of the tomb, help us hear your voice and trust that there is more to come. There is always more to come. Amen.

 

– Rev. Michael Livingston

PUCC Lenten Journey – Good Friday, April 3

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Interesting that theologian John Duns Scotus (b. 1266) is about love, not judgment … even as he may be mistaken today for SCOTUS – Supreme Court of the United States. 

This is a meaningful and memorable reflection for Good Friday.

 

**

Love, Not Atonement

by Richard Rohr  

The common Christian reading of the Bible is that Jesus “died for our sins”–either to pay a debt to the devil (common in the first millennium) or to pay a debt to God the Father (proposed by Anselm of Canterbury, 1033-1109). Anselm’s infamous Cur Deus Homo has been called “the most unfortunately successful piece of theology ever written.” My hero, Franciscan philosopher and theologian John Duns Scotus (1266-1308), agreed with neither of these understandings. Scotus was not guided by the Temple language of debt, atonement, or blood sacrifice (understandably used in the Gospels and by Paul). He was inspired by the high level cosmic hymns in the first chapters of Colossians and Ephesians and the first chapter of John’s Gospel.

 

After Anselm, Christians have paid a huge price for what theologians called “substitutionary atonement theory”–the strange idea that before God could love us God needed and demanded Jesus to be a blood sacrifice to atone for our sin-drenched humanity. With that view, salvation depends upon a problem instead of a divine proclamation about the core nature of reality. As if God could need payment, and even a very violent transaction, to be able to love and accept “his” own children–a message that those with an angry, distant, absent, or abusive father were already far too programmed to believe.

 

For Scotus, the incarnation of God and the redemption of the world could never be a mere mop-up exercise in response to human sinfulness, but the proactive work of God from the very beginning. We were “chosen in Christ before the world was made,” as the hymn in Ephesians puts it (1:4). Our sin could not possibly be the motive for the divine incarnation, but only perfect love and divine self-revelation! For Scotus, God never merely reacts, but always supremely and freely acts, and always acts totally out of love. Scotus was very Trinitarian.

 

The best way I can summarize how Scotus tried to change the old notion of retributive justice is this: Jesus did not come to change the mind of God about humanity (it did not need changing)! Jesus came to change the mind of humanity about God. God in Jesus moved people beyond the counting, weighing, and punishing model, that the ego prefers, to the utterly new world that Jesus offered, where God’s abundance has made any economy of merit, sacrifice, reparation, or atonement both unhelpful and unnecessary. Jesus undid “once and for all” (Hebrews 7:27; 9:12; 10:10) all notions of human and animal sacrifice and replaced them with his new economy of grace, which is the very heart of the gospel revolution. Jesus was meant to be a game changer for the human psyche and for religion itself. When we begin negatively, or focused on the problem, we never get out of the hamster wheel. To this day we begin with and continue to focus on sin, when the crucified one was pointing us toward a primal solidarity with the very suffering of God and all of creation. This changes everything. Change the starting point, change the trajectory!

 

We all need to know that God does not love us because we are good; God loves us because God is good. Nothing humans can do will ever decrease or increase God’s eternal eagerness to love.

PUCC Lenten Journey – Maundy Thursday, April 2

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It’s Holy Thursday. Jesus will be betrayed tonight after dinner – by Judas out in the garden. I wonder about Jesus and how it feels to be betrayed by someone you not only trust, but also love.

 

I also wonder how Jesus must have felt about Peter’s denial. That may even have been more painful; after all, Jesus shared almost all the moments of his life and ministry with Peter. They walked and talked together, and, no doubt, Jesus was more vulnerable and open with him than anyone else. Judas might have misunderstood or needed the money, but Peter?

 

Peter stood in the burning light of the fire and, with a straight face, denied that he even knew Jesus. I’m confident he was able to rationalize it. I mean, what good would it do to get himself arrested? Someone had to run things in Jesus’ absence. It wouldn’t profit anyone for Peter to stand with his friend. Jesus was strong, and he didn’t need Peter’s support … did he?

 

I bet each of us has felt abandoned by someone we love. They went to the party and left you to deal with things. They didn’t defend you because you could take care of yourself. They didn’t speak up for you because there was no need in them getting in trouble, too. They didn’t betray you; they didn’t throw you under the bus. They were just silent.

 

Dr. King said, “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” To that I suspect Jesus would say, “Amen!” Dr. King also said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” What could matter more than those we love or those who love us?

 

You know the pain of friends who let you suffer alone. Do you also know the pain of those for whom you did not speak up?

 

At the cross we find the intersection of the silence of abandonment and the silence of abandoning.

 

– Rev. Michael Piazza

(For the last time this Lent!)