16 Pentecost: “God’s Plans” * Isaiah 55:8-13 and Ezekiel 37:1-3

Some reflections from the UCC Summit this past week (please see NOTES)

Image: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber ©2017. Original content: Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber ©2022.

Public Health Safety Note: Effective 5/29/2022, Sunday morning worship services will be outside in the Courtyard until further notice.

We Gather

“Folks found Collegiate Church in the fire – but stayed because we weren’t afraid of the fire.” – Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, Senior Minister, Middle Collegiate Church; speaking about the devastating fire that destroyed their building and ignited their ministry. (uccs)

Prelude (musician)

Welcome and Acknowledgements (pastor) Welcome! No matter who you are… No matter where you are on life’s journey… You are welcome here! Welcome guests.

Through Jesus Christ, we are called together as the Beloved Community. We honor this holy ground, unceded territory of the Lisjan-Ohlone people, standing with peace toward all beings.

Flowers For the Glory of God given by Darlene Hamady

Worship Team Musician Ian Pong, Liturgist David Louie, Pastor Rev. Kathryn Schreiber.

Call to Worship (liturgist)

Whenever our human activity strays or violates God’s vision God sends prophets to deliver divine words, saying: “My plans aren’t your plans, nor are your ways My ways.” (Isaiah 55:8 CEB)

Whenever our choices rock dignity’s boat, break anyone’s back, or knock the wind from our very lungs, elders rise up re-rooting us to soul strength, saying: “Never forget WHO you are or WHOSE you are.” (Rev. Dr. Yvonne V. Delk, uccs)

Whenever the cloth of faith is torn and recut to uniform any army of hate Jesus Christ speaks, saying: “Rescue My religion from the horrific imitations being taught.” (Rev. Dr. Jacqui Lewis, uccs, adapted)

Into this liminal space as church and society continues to shift we acknowledge our larger truth, saying: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!” Amen. (Hebrews 13:8)

As Pastor Kathryn lights the Christ Candle and Altar Votives, let us remember those who are not physically present, but with us in spirit or thought. Amen.

Light The Christ Candle and Altar Votives (pastor)

Votive Lighting Music (musician)

Opening Hymn: “In the Bulb There is a Flower” Chalice #638 (musician)

Passing the Peace (all share gestures and words of peace; pastor)

Time for Children “Change Happens” All living things grow and change. (pastor, uccs)

We Rest in God’s Grace

Prayer and Silence (pastor) Let us shift into silence in God’s presence with this simple prayer based on Psalm 46:10.

Be still and know that I am God. (Breathe slowly)

Be still and know that I am. (Breathe slowly)

Be still and know. (Breathe slowly)

Be still. (Breathe slowly)

Be. (Breathe slowly)

(Breathe in silence) Amen.

Assurance of Grace (pastor) We change – our bodies, our relationships, our nations, and Christ’s Church – these are always changing. Jesus Christ came to earth to be with humanity, fully immersed in our mortal strengths and weaknesses. There is nothing we are going through that The Beloved One does not understand, appreciate, or companion.

Whenever transitions within, among, or beyond us become “too much” we can pause and reconnect with the eternal Love of God. We can hold onto what is fundamentally, infinitely true. So tethered, newly washed with wisdom, we will know the next, best, little step forward.

Dear Ones, through Christ, we are always linked with God Almighty, an endless font of faith, hope, and love. Amen.

Special Music (musician)

We Listen

Scripture: Isaiah 55:8-13 and Ezekiel 37:1-3 (CEB; liturgist)

Isaiah 55:8-13 (CEB)

My plans aren’t your plans, nor are your ways My ways, says the Lord.

Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My plans than your plans.

Just as the rain and the snow come down from the sky and don’t return there without watering the earth, making it conceive and yield plants and providing seed to the sower and food to the eater, so is My word that comes from My mouth; it does not return to Me empty. Instead, it does what I want, and accomplishes what I intend.

Yes, you will go out with celebration, and you will be brought back in peace. Even the mountains and the hills will burst into song before you; all the trees of the field will clap their hands. In place of the thorn the cypress will grow; in place of the nettle the myrtle will grow. This will attest to the Lord’s stature, an enduring reminder that won’t be removed.

AND

Ezekiel 37:1-3 (CEB)

The Lord’s power overcame me, and while I was in the Lord’s spirit, God led me out and set me down in the middle of a certain valley. It was full of bones. God led me through them all around, and I saw that there were a great many of them on the valley floor, and they were very dry.

God asked me, “Human one, can these bones live again?”

I said, “Lord God, only You know.”

May God add a blessing to the reading and reflecting upon God’s Holy Word. Amen.

Sermon: “Insights from the Summit” For three days UCC folks gathered online to reflect upon massive changes to church and society revealed during the pandemic and to ponder, together, how to go forward doing God’s will. (see NOTES below)

Sermon Hymn: “Ours the Journey” Chalice #638 (musician)

We Pray

Prayer Requests (pastor; all)

Pastoral Prayer (pastor) Holy One, if we could but see as You see, if we could but hope as You hope, if we could love as You love – we would not be in the messes we are in. Today, we bow to You and Your plans, naming our need for Your forgiveness. Take our shame and regret – for what we have and have not done – not to erase any critical memories or wisdom needed, but to remove unhelpful burdens that mire us to self-defensiveness and victimhood. Release us from what does not serve You. Thank You, Merciful One.

Please fill us, too, Font of Life, with Your dreams and the grand ways You desire to enable us to bloom for the benefit of all Your precious Loved Ones. Soften our hardened hearts that we might rejoice in seeing You in each other, dazzled and thrilled to be dwelling on earth with such a wondrous community! Amen.

Prayers of the People, Private Prayer, The Lord’s Prayer (pastor)

Offering of Praise “Doxology” (musician; all)

We Transition

Announcements (pastor)

  • Bravo Senior Center reopening! Next one – Oct 18th
  • This week – Antoinette Brown Society Gathering (Tues-Thurs)
  • No Care and Prayer this week
  • Next Sunday: “World Communion” praying for the World – bring elements?

Sung Benediction: “Circle Me” chant by Simon de Voil (Pastor Kathryn; recording)

Spoken Benediction (pastor) The great 12th-century Christian mystic, Hildegard of Bingen, lived through plagues and economic crises during horrible religious and political battles. Through it all, she found faith in God’s undisturbable goodness. May her faith bless Christ’s Church today: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.” Amen. 

Postlude (musician)

The service is concluded.

Worship Resources:

NOTE: About THE SUMMIT: September 19-21, 2022 was a national online gathering of UCC folks to consider how our ministries are adapting, inventing, and responding to various changes throughout church and society. The contents for this worship service are but a tiny sliver of the truth, wisdom, and faith shared at The Summit, supplemented with what God put on my heart for my community this Sunday. I would like to add, that I attended very little on Tuesday for I was gloriously busy as our Senior Center reopened after being closed for two and a half years! Content from Tuesday’s Summit is minimally reflected in this liturgy.

Recordings of the online events will be available in the coming weeks to those who were registered. If you did not register to attend, I hope there will be recordings available – especially from the keynote speakers (called various things at the event). You might also check out the UCC News – a news story was posted this past week with highlights of the first day’s events.

Credits

(kms) All content prepared and written by Rev. Kathryn M Schreiber, unless attributed to another source.

(CEB) Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible, adapted for inclusive language

(uccs) UCC Summit, quotes from notes I took during the event.

Residency Acknowledgement: This content was written in Huichin Village, unceded territory of the Lisjan- Ohlone people, where I dwell and serve as a local church pastor. Please support indigenous rematriation efforts, the #LandBack movement, and give to Sogorea Te’ Land Trust Soghttps://sogoreate-landtrust.org/ and other non-profits that reform, balance, and heal relationships with our indigenous hosts. Thank you!

Copyright Note: Copyright laws changed in December 2020 when Congress passed the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2020 (CASE Act). Please check with your legal counsel as to the appropriate use of licensed materials, especially print and recorded music when sharing content online. Please observe ethical use of resources and follow the publishing requirements of any broadcasting or publishing platforms you use. Protect the rights of content creators. Thank you!

Online Publishing Date: September 22, 2022.

Permission: Permission is not granted to share or distribute this resource beyond your community without additional permission from the author. Please attribute source and observe ethical use of all resources. Follow your platforms’ publishing requirements for all created content especially if publishing online or broadcasting. Thank you!

Donation: Due to the current coronavirus pandemic this content is free. If you’d like to support the congregation I serve as pastor – Berkeley Chinese Community Church – we’d be most grateful for your support. Please send checks to: BCCC UCC, 2117 Acton Street, Berkeley, CA 94702, Attn: Diane Huie, Treasurer. Thank you!

For Online Content: Please see Facebook pages: “Berkeley Chinese Community Church” and “Living Liturgies”; as well as my website: www.inthebiglove.com and YouTube channel: “Kathryn Schreiber”

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