Series: A Future With Hope

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Summer Worship Series – A Future With Hope 

“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.” — Jeremiah 29:11

 We ease into the summer season: a time for planting, growing, and sitting back to enjoy the fruits of hard work. As flowers, vegetables, and trees flourish in their own time and season, we are reminded that growth takes time, and that God’s timing is often much longer and more far-reaching than our own.

Have you ever been frustrated or impatient with how long it takes to grow and change as God’s people? Maybe you wish your life would turn around right now, or that there could be a “quick fix” for our congregation as we live into our mission and ministry, or that the world could instantly be filled with the hope and joy God offers. But growth takes time, and we who plant the seeds of hope and change, who nurture the tender shoots of new life, are in it for the long haul.

This summer in worship, we plant, we tend, we wait with patience, and we celebrate the promise and presence of God now, and in our future filled with hope.

Sermons in this series:
June 18 – A Future With Hope
June 25 – The Opening 
July 2 – The Planting
July 9 – The Nurturing 
July 16 – The Residing 
July 30 – The Building 
August 6 – The Bearing 
August 13 – The Sustaining 
August 20 – The Remembering 
August 27 – The Releasing 
September 3 – A Future With Hope 

Series: Emerge

emerge seriesEaster Worship Series – Emerge

Sometimes, creation itself tells of God’s glory and of the Resurrection promise! Nature offers a perfect symbol for the journey through hardship and loss, sorrow, death, and new life and joy.

The butterfly has long been a symbol of the resurrection of Jesus as well as the resurrection of believers as we emerge from the power of death. Like caterpillars, it might be hard for us to imagine the new life that is in store for us, and we find safety and security in the enclosing darkness of our own cocoons.

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Butterflies and a cocoon grace the altar.

A symbol of spring, the butterfly truly reflects the beauty of nature. The butterfly emerging from its cocoon represents the resurrection of Christ from the tomb.  Just as the butterfly comes forth with a new body, those who trust in Christ come forth with new and transformed life. The butterfly also represents flight, freedom, and creative thinking.

In this Easter season, we will examine our own transformations from cocoons and tombs to the unfurled beauty of all God calls us to be.

Sermons in this series:
April 16 – Emerge: Tombs and Cocoons
April 23 – Re-Form: Leaving Comfortable Places 

April 30 – Open: Into the Light 
May 5 – Stir: Waking Up
May 14 – Unwrap & Unfold: Unbound 
May 21 – Let Go: Leaving Behind what We don’t Need 
May 28 – Fly: Daring New Heights 
June 4 – Journey: The Places We’ll Go 

Series: Gifts of the Dark Wood

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“I awoke in a Dark Wood where the true way was wholly lost.”       – Dante

The journey through the “dark wood” is an unavoidable part of life. Whether by the awareness of our own brokenness, the changing circumstances in our lives or our world, or through the losses and failures that seem to haunt us, at some point we all find ourselves in a place that feels like a dark wood. No matter the path we followed in, the pathway out seems wholly lost.

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Our worship space during “Gifts of the Dark Wood”

Rather than run from the darkness, we must begin to see that the only way out is through. And here, where ego is at last stripped away, we are perhaps open at last to God’s guidance and way. As we experience uncertainty, emptiness, and temptation, as we become lost and thunderstruck, as we disappear and find ourselves out of place, these struggles turn to gifts. The Dark Wood becomes the place where God awakens us to the fullness of life.

Our worship series for Lent, based on the book by the same name by Eric Elnes, invites us to lose ourselves in the Dark Wood, and trust in Christ to draw us out. In the midst of darkness, we might find not only our way through life, but find ourselves.

IMG_9973Sermons in this series: 
March 5 – The Gift of Uncertainty (When Broken Wings Learn to Fly) 
March 12 – The Gift of Emptiness
March 19 – The Gift of Being Thunderstruck
March 26 – The Gift of Getting Lost
April 2 – The Gift of Temptation
April 9 – The Gift of Disappearing 

Series: Spiritual Affective Disorder

lantern-3-smallDoes the winter have you down already? Feeling in the dark?

Maybe it’s time to let in a little Light!

No laughing matter, Seasonal Affective Disorder impacts anywhere from 10-25% of the adult population in the United States, in forms ranging from mild to severe. The lack of sunlight, combined with prolonged time indoors away from the cold, can impair a person’s mood, energy level, and functioning.

Similarly, the lack of spiritual engagement and activity can leave us feeling lethargic, listless, and unhappy with ourselves and the world around us. Living lives that are overcrowded and busy, or uncertain and even disturbing, causes a kind of “Spiritual Affective Disorder.”

Now, at the turn of the year, we will explore everyday activities that can bolster our practical and spiritual lives, infusing light, hope, faith, and activity even into the midst of the cold and dark of a New England winter. By deepening our spiritual practices, perhaps we can bring a re-ordering to this dis-order, shed a little light on the situation, and navigate both the season and the life of the Spirit in ways that generate hope and health.

Each week, we will also be invited to use a take-home spiritual practice to try throughout the week. The try-this-at-home aspect of this series seeks to deepen our spiritual lives, and gives each of us the opportunity to reflect on which spiritual practices might nourish and sustain us.

Join us for worship this January and February season, and treat yourself and your Spiritual Affective Disorder to some light and love.

Sermons & Actions in this series: 
January 8 – Flip the Switch
Try at home: find time each day to light a candle and reflect (on) the Light.
January 15 – Charms to Soothe
Try at home: listen to some music that feeds your soul (some suggestions provided).
January 22 – Lighten Up!
Try at home: do something just for fun!
January 29 – Make My Day
Try at home: make someone else’s day with a random act of kindness.
February 5 – Altars, Altars Everywhere
Try at home: create an altar or sacred space in your home.
February 12 – Leave Room for Dessert
Try at home: fast from excess so you can give more– clean out a closet or buy a little extra and donate something (non-perishable offerings received at church 2/19) Pastor Becca is away on a mission exploration trip this week. 
February 19 – Walk This Way
Try at home: move your body! Dance, walk, snowshoe, or ski. Join us after church today for a group walk!
February 26 – Get Up and Do Not Be Afraid
Try at home: make or find a motivational poster, mantra, or motto for yourself. Pastor Becca is away on family vacation this week. 

Series: Tradition!

tradition-mainThe seasons of Advent and Christmas are filled with tradition—the traditions of ancient peoples, the traditions of the Christian church, the traditions of our own families. In our worship and life together this season, we will dig deeply into those traditions, and explore the life and love they carry. How did the Hebrew people preserve and teach their traditions throughout a long history of yearning for God, of drawing close and falling away?  How was Jesus the fulfillment of the traditions of his people, and what does it mean when traditions are born into something completely new?

And then there are the traditions that we learn, or make, or keep. Maybe your family has a special practice or an honored prayer. Maybe you decorate with particular ornaments or sing specific songs. Maybe there’s a family recipe, a treasured heirloom, a part of the holiday or the celebration or the worship service that is everything Christmas to you. How do these traditions carry the weight and the importance of all our rich history? How are they little fulfillments of God’s promise and presence in the birth of Christ?

This season, let us explore together the gifts of our traditions, and let us look for the ways in which God is bringing something new to life in the midst of the old, old story. Let us be shaped by the stories we learn and teach, and by how they are made new again. Are we ready to see a tradition be re-born among us? How does the ancient truth find new life each generation through the passing down and the celebration of Tradition?

Sermons in this series: 
November 27 – Reclaiming Tradition
December 4 – The Only Constant
December 11 – Sacred Foundations
(December 18 will be the children’s pageant)
December 24 – Old Truth, Newly Born
January 1 – Start a New Tradition

Worship Series: As the Spirit Moves

series-promoLife 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.

Lent Worship Series- Poured Out

Poured Out tears 2Lent is a time when we prepare ourselves for Easter, for the tremendous revelation of God pouring out God’s own self for all the world.

Such revelation is too much to take in sometimes! Instead, we will try to experience it through the imagined words and stories of the people who surrounded Jesus in his last week: a friend who anoints him, two disciples (Peter and Judas), a soldier who witnesses his execution, and his mother, Mary. As each sees an element—oil, water, wine, blood, tears—poured out, we all wait with hope for love and light and life to be poured out on Easter. Then, we will bear witness with seekers at the tomb of Jesus, including Mary Magdalene.

Here are the sermons in this worship series:
“Poured Out” (Sand- intro to the theme) 2/14
“Glimpses of Mortality” (Oil) 2/21
“Are You (really) Going to Wash My Feet?” (Water) 2/28
“A Bitter Cup” (Wine) 3/6
“Redeeming Blood” (Blood) 3/13
“A Time for Tears” (Tears- Palm/Passion Sunday) 3/20
“Seekers at the Tomb: Mary Magdalene” (Light- Easter) 3/27

Journey with us for worship this sacred season!

“Poured Out” monologues for Lent by Dr. Marcia McFee, (www.marciamcfee.com) used with permission. “Seekers at the Tomb” Easter monologues by Pastor Becca.