(November 13, 2016) Poet, singer, and songwriter Leonard Cohen reminds us: “there is a crack in everything; that’s how the light comes in.” We see in our community, our nation, and our world many places of brokenness, many cracks and many places in need of love and light. May we as the people of God be those who bear the light, who carry God’s love, to all the broken places of the world. (Luke 21:5-19; Isaiah 58:5-12)
At our Bible Study last week, I was challenged to write a prayer for after the election. This is what I came up with. What would you pray?
Prayer for November 9
Hope of every tomorrow,
Healer of shattered dreams and fragmented peoples,
boundless Lover of all the unknowns,
the too-close-for-comfort and too-close-to-call,
the contested and exhausted,
those who lose no matter who wins,
the poll workers, pundits, and politicians too:
Today we begin to build ourselves into a people again.
Today we decide if Love knows a party,
if Grace can spring up where yard signs were planted.
Today, we need you. Maybe more than we did yesterday.
Maybe more than we know.
For what we have done: forgive us.
In what we have said: help us forgive one another.
With your grace and lovingkindness, heal the rifts and wounds, the anger spilled like bloodshed, the distrust sown like weeds.
Beyond any grudges, and broken hopes, and fears for the future that we harbor, help us glimpse a wider vision.
Encourage us to cling not to ideologies, but to one another,
in common peace,
in shared humanity.
Grounded in your Love which knows no end, may our hearts beat together in your song,
the rhythm of another new beginning.
The world “out there” can be daunting, and it often feels easier to stay within the safety of our own perspectives and safe havens. But unless we open ourselves up, shift our perspectives, and take a good, reflective look, we risk living lives that are unexamined, unchallenged, and closed off to one another and to God. That’s the last thing we want!
This worship series will encourage us to open up and let others in—other people, other perspectives, the Holy Other. Beyond the stifling safety of “our own little worlds,” there is God’s far-flung, abundant, beloved, messy creation! There, we are called to live deeply in relationship with one another, to make a difference in our lives and in the world, and to be transformed into the image of Christ by God’s grace.
The title and theme of this worship series come from a song by Matthew West. You can view the official music video to catch a piece of this vision. But of course, we hope you’ll come join us for worship, as we together break beyond our safe little worlds!
Sermons in this series:
October 9 – I Try to Stay Awake
October 16 – What if There’s a Greater Purpose (Laity Sunday)
October 23 – Give me Open Hands and Open Doors
October 30 – Break My Heart for What Breaks Yours
November 6 – Look Me in the Eye
November 13 – I Wanna Be Reaching Out
November 20 – Start Living Right Now
(September 25, 2016) The energy of Hang is an unusual one in our contemporary society– that energy of seeking peace and rest, being calm in one’s self. Although perhaps hard to find, when we sink into our quiet center, sometimes we find a depth and a peace that is holy. (Mark 6:30-32; Psalm 139:7-10, 13-18)
(September 18, 2016) The energy of thrust inspires and pushes us to action, as we come together in worship and are built up, jazzed up, and sent out into the world to live our faith in ways large and small. How will you use whatever sphere of influence you have to make one small change for justice and compassion in the world? (Luke 10:25-37, Exodus 1:8-20)
(September 11, 2016) The movement of swing is a comfortable one for me, an easy, going-with-the-flow energy that is focused on how we are in relationship with God and one another. Swing is a theological and spiritual claim, too: that God is the one who is concerned with relationships, who loves each one of us, and will not rest until each precious sheep is brought into the fold. (Luke 15:1-10)
Life is full of rhythm and motion, the energy that moves in and around and through us. But of course, we don’t all dance to the beat of the same drummer, and the way energy moves through us differs from person to person. Is it possible that the way we move and where we feel at rest inform our worship and even our understanding of God?
Josephine Rathbone, Valerie Hunt, Sally Fitt and Betsy Wetzig were kinesiologists (those who study the mechanics of body movement), and through their research of muscular and brain activity, they analyzed different classifications of movement, noticing basic patterns and preferences. Worship design teacher Dr. Marcia McFee built on this research and applied it to how people worship, identifying four main ways energy—or the Spirit—move through our lives and our bodies. She suggests that the way we move and respond to different styles and aspects of worship not only informs our appreciation of that worship, but also forms, reinforces, or challenges our conceptions of God.
Our worship series this month will focus on the ways the Spirit moves in us. Are you most at home in relationship with others or in quiet contemplation? Is your faith affirmed by the tradition and ritual of the church, or by the call to go and do? Let’s explore together, as the Spirit moves us!
Sermons in this Series:
September 11 – Gather Each One (the energy of Swing)
September 18 – Go and Do Likewise (the energy of Thrust)
September 25 – A Song in Every Silence (the energy of Hang)
October 2 – For the World and Forever (the energy of Shape)
Of course, a sermon will only convey part of the full worship exploration, especially in this case! If you are able, please join us for worship at Lebanon UMC, 18 School Street, Lebanon NH, 10:30 a.m. each Sunday.