Pacific Central District Assembly – worship notes

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Opening worship:

Bless this Morning

Bless this day

Bless this good company

Of faithful seeking hearts

We have come to worship

To learn and grow

To find our way in a changing world

From small fellowships

And large congregations

From cities and small towns

From the mountains and the valleys

And from across the ocean wide

We have come to worship

We have come to light our flame

Blessed is the fire that burns deep in the soul.

It is the flame of the human spirit touched into being by the mystery of life.

It is the fire of reason; the fire of compassion; the fire of community; the fire of justice; the fire of faith.

It is the fire of love burning deep in the human heart; the divine glow in every life.

Music -#1074 Turn the World Around (Cue for Chalice lighters to enter carrying candles)

Come we now out of the darkness of our unknowing

and the dusk of our dreaming;

Come we now from far places.

Come we now into the twilight of our awakening

and the reflection of our gathering.

Come we now all together.

We bring, unilluminated, our dark caves of doubting;

We seek, unbedazzled, the clear light of understanding.

May the sparks of our joining kindle our resolve,

brighten our spirits, reflect our love,

and unshadow our days.

Come we now; enter the dawning.

Homily

No, “trouble don’t last always”, but trouble always comes. We know it is true.   We have trouble in our own lives. There is a whole lot of trouble in the world. There is so much racism. So many young black men in particular die every day from violence, from police violence. There is war and poverty and environmental catastrophe. There is the transphobia and homophobia that causes the deaths of so many of our young people both through violence and through the despair of suicide.

And too often, friends, our congregations, which should be places of both refuge and renewal, which should inspire us and give us both energy and hope; our congregations they get in trouble too.

We worry about money.

We fight with each other over stupid things.

We respect the inherent worth and dignity of all, except those who disagree with us. We refine our mission statements and we search for that special minister who will lead us on our journey, but will somehow manage to do so without changing anything at all. The board members are burnt out. The building is falling down. What should we do with our children and youth? Where are the children and youth? How shall we care for our elders and where will we find enough volunteers? What can we do about raising enough money to do what we need to do? How can we fund what we want?

Tornados spin us around, flying monkeys abound. We don’t have enough courage or brains for the task and even our hearts are failing fast.

The path seems to lead nowhere at best and we really want to reach the mountaintop, our souls yearning for a glimpse of that emerald city that we know, we know, lies just beyond a rainbow that waits behind the rain.

Oh, we get so weary

The mountains are so high

Boulders come from nowhere

And roll onto our path

We push them back

More come again

Is there a way around?

Our compass has a crack

We did not see before

Supplies are getting low

Walking a faithful path is never easy, even when we know that we are called to do so. Some of us can’t walk at all; instead we have to roll. Sometimes it seems that all any of us can do is crawl.

How can we move in ways that will bring our congregations and the world to a better place?

We have all imagined the land that beyond the rainbow lies.   It is a place of justice and harmony and a place where all are fed. It is a place where the congregations we love so much are not only surviving but are thriving.

How can we get there, what can we do?

You don’t have to stand on your own two feet. You don’t have to go it alone. You can roll along in wheelchair mode and you can speak your truth with your hands.

We all have a path

But it isn’t a plan

It comes and it goes

Fading from sight

When we forget who we are

Lost in the woods

We can’t see the dream

The vision gets clouded

The body gets tired

Words can confuse

We forget we can see

We forget how to feel

The path is still there

Our feet know the way

Don’t worry so much

Stay steady and know

This journey takes time

Just when you stumble

Or after you fall

The moonlight will shine

Through densest of brush

It will make sense at last

You’ll know where to go

If we keep singing, if we keep going, if we have the faith, if we have the hope, we will find the courage to do what we must do.

Now let us sing.

 Closing worship

Homily

Does that fire burn within you?   Are you more committed now to walking a faithful path? Some of us may have felt lost and even discouraged when we came here today. But we came anyway, hoping that, just maybe, one more meeting, one more workshop; one more inspirational presentation would provide the solution to all of our problems.   We have so many complex problems that it really seems like would take a wizard to solve them all. Did you see any wizards today? What did those wizards tell you?

I find, often, when I attend events like this, that nothing presented is really completely new to me. The information and perspectives are more just reminders of what I already know. Maybe it is because I have been to a lot of workshops and conferences and I have read a literal ton of books. (I haven’t converted to kindle quite yet.) But I believe it is more than that. I believe that if we pay attention to something, some situation that appears to be problematic, if we use both our hearts and our minds, something happens. Somehow, some way, we find that we really do know what it is that we need to do. A path appears, and we just have to find the courage to take that first step.

Call it grace, call it God, call it the moral arc of the universe that is bending us toward justice, call it whatever you will, or leave it as an unnamed mystery, but something is calling us. Something is leading us on that faithful and fateful journey we are all trying to navigate.

We can be guided by the lessons of the past, those beacons bright and clear, we can listen to the lessons of our own lives and be inspired by the courageous choices of others. But the hunger and the passion, the flame is something that burns within each and every one of us.

Someone is behind the curtain, but it isn’t a wizard, or a wise old woman, or a micromanaging God that is pulling all the strings.

Lift up the curtain and look inside. All you will see is a mirror and your own face looking back at you. Look into you own eyes and listen with your own ears. Hear your own call and get going on your journey. And when you begin to move, look around and you will find others who also are called. Look around now, and look at the people in this room with you. Can we walk together? Can we be faithful? Can we help each other when we stumble and when we are afraid or tired? Can we clear the way so that it just might be a little bit easier for those that follow after us? Our spiritual ancestors did it for us, so how can we not do so for the future?

Oh, we will need all the help we can get, but the reality is that together we do have what it takes to move toward making our dreams a reality. It won’t be easy, but we have the power to bring more love and justice, more compassion, more generosity, more joy into the world. Do you feel some of that power within you and around you? Just like the tin man, we have an amazing amount of love inside of us. Just like the scarecrow, we are much smarter than we realize, and just like the lion, we have all the courage we need.

Are you ready to answer the call?

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