Back in Action! September 10, 2017

Links of Interest/Biblography:

One Sky
The Big History Project
Godly Play Creation Story

Words of Welcome and Announcements

Lighting the Christ Candle & Acknowledgment of Place
As we gather to worship, let us pause to remember that in this region we live and work and worship on lands that are, by law, the unceded territories of the Wabanaki peoples—predominantly the lands of the Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy. May we live with respect on this land, and live in peace and friendship with its people.

Hymn Called By Earth And Sky MV 135

Call to Worship
One: In the beginning there was God, and there was nothing.
All: In the beginning, God was Love.
One: Out of Love the universe grew, from two tiny molecules into galexies and stars, solar systems and planets.
All: Out of Love grew ecosystems, with plants and animals, humans and relationships.
One: Over the millenia, we have grown evolving and strengthening.
All: Over the millenia, we have not stayed the same, so we celebrate creation as the gentle and natural movement of life.

Opening Prayer
Creating God, as we gather to worship the Spirit that flows around us, we are reminded that in the grand scheme of things, we are only a small part. May we always remain grounded in the Love that created it all. Amen.

Hymn Ka manama’o ‘I ‘O MV 103

Theme Conversation The Creation Story

Readings
John 1:1-5
From Rob Bell

Musical Response I Know Your Word MV 108

Sermon This is the Beginning

A quick review of our readings for today.  First up was Genesis and it was told in the Godly Play.  According to Judeo-Christian tradition, the earth was created over a metaphorical seven days.  Each day has it’s own place and purpose in the grand scheme of things, and God declares each and every one of them “Good”. First there was nothing.  Then came the Light and the Dark, please note that both of them were declared good.  After that came the firmament, the division of the waters above and the waters below.  I like to compare this to the separation of gases and liquids in the swirling mass that happened after the Big Bang.  The third day was the Sun and Moon, giving us day and night, again both of which are declared good.  The fourth day saw the separation of the land and the water.  The fifth day birds and fish and the sixth day those with two legs and those with many legs, all of which are also declared good.  On the seventh day, God gives us the gift of rest, which is once more declared good.

The second reading comes to us from the book of John, it is another of the many creation stories accounted for in the Bible.  This one has a bit more of a poetic and metaphorical feel to it though and is ever so slightly different from the Genesis creation story.  In John, the Word, which may or may not or maybe some combination of both be God, was the only thing that existed at first.  God and the Word were together, then God created everything, while the Word gave everything life and light.  It was a joint effort, and ever since then nothing can put out the light, or in some translations understand the light.  The darkness isn’t necessarily declared bad, but the light is declared the best, as nothing can put it out.

Our reading from “What is the Bible?” our book for the congregational book study, uses the Genesis creation story as an example of why we don’t always understand the reasons for some of the details in the Bible stories.  In a nut shell, the Bible is a collection of stories written by different, but like-minded people who had at least a similar-ish understanding of God or at least validated each other’s understanding of God.  But not all stories by all people.   There are many stories that didn’t make it into our Bible, and Rob offers a Babylonian creation story as an example.

If you haven’t heard of the Big History Project, I highly recommend it.  It’s a course that is recommended for high school students, but is quite engaging for a wider age range.  It digs into the history of the earth from scientific, historical, and even a variety of religious and cultural viewpoints.  Why is it important to view something as basic as the earths’ creation from a variety of view points? Because even people who are looking at the exact same thing, can be seeing it in a different way.

This is from Artists Wendy MacNaughton and Julia Rothman.

“On August 13, 2017, at precisely 12:00 pm Eastern Standard Time, 88 artists all over the world stopped what they were doing, looked up, and drew the sky. What each artist saw was unique to the time, the weather, and the place. The locations ranged from Tel Aviv to Brooklyn, Buenos Aires to rural Georgia. Some saw different hues of blue. Some saw black, pink, or gray. Some saw stars or clouds or fog or rain. Here it was summer. There it was night. In one place a fire left a heavy brown haze. Whatever sky the artist saw, they captured it on paper in their own unique style. They were, at that exact moment, separate skies. But when we view these drawings together, they become one far-stretching, simultaneous world view. They become a portrait of one shared sky.”

Every single one of these pictures is different.  There are some similarities, but each is expressed very differently.  One sky, 88 different ways.  While one may not be your particular truth, it is the truth of the person who created it.

Have you ever been caught in the middle?  Like when two different children are arguing and they are telling you the same story about the beloved toy getting broken, and you can see the truth – really both are at fault, but both kids are terribly hurt and wanting you to say they were right, the other was wrong, and they both keep saying “but I’m telling the truth!”  I’m sure even some of you have been in this situation with adults instead of children.  The truth is both people are terribly hurt.  To hear only one side is to hear only a small piece of the story.

So my question at this point is this.  If this is one small part of our larger faith story, if this is the beginning of the larger story, what role does creation play in our current faith story?  It teaches us to begin again.

It’s hard to see it now, but understanding the role of creation in our own faith sets us up for the rest of the stories we will hear and process this fall.  God always was and always will be.  Creation does not belong to humans.  Humans belong to creation.  We are part of a network so much larger than we can possibly understand.  Unless we recognize and celebrate this larger network of creation regularly, it’s possible to forget that we are only a small part of it all.  Our connection with God is no more important than any other part of creation, there’s no one understanding of God that is more important or right than another.  God existed before any of those understandings, and before any of those understandings became faith traditions. What we thought was the right way, might not have been.  What we thought was the right language then, might not be now. We might need to begin creating again.

So here’s what we need to do.  We need to take a step back and assess what it is that keeps us grounded in the idea that each new day is an opportunity to begin creating again.  God didn’t sit still until day seven, and what happens after Sunday? Monday.  A whole new week.  We need to keep building and working at our understanding of what role it is that we play is this great big creation story and focus on seeing where it takes us.  If we are going to survive some of the craziness that is currently going on in our world, we need to be firmly grounded in our faith, so that we can begin again if we need to.

Have you ever noticed that when Osprey make their minds up about their nests, it’s very hard to change them?  On my way home to New Harbour, there’s a spot on a power line where an osprey nest used to be.  Each time the osprey would begin to build, stick by stick, the power company would come along and take it down.  Eventually they put up orange pylons and built a stand for the osprey beside the power pole they were trying to build on. So the osprey began again to build stick by stick.

We might be feeling discouraged, but the beauty of creation is that it cycles and begins again.  There is no one piece so crucial to creation that is stops never to start again just because something gets in its way.  Creation adapts and so will we.  The osprey have a great nest built.  It took a few tries, but it’s there.

So here we are, at the beginning of another year.  This is my third fall with you, and it’s shaping up to be a busy one.  But here’s the thing, We’ve had our fall of rest, now it’s time to get back into the season of creation.  A season of new beginnings and building on to what was already in place.

It’s time.  It’s time for us get on with the work of living into the new creation.  Of looking towards the future and keeping on working towards the Good of the Whole.  This is a new beginning, a new creation and its up to us to see it through, preparing for the next beginning and the next creation to come.

Hymn For the Beauty of the Earth VU 226

Minute for Mission

Offertory Invitation
A few years ago, you all worked really hard to raise enough money to buy this beautiful piano. Because of your generosity at that time and over the years since, each week we get to hear beautiful music that celebrates God’s presence amongst us. Because we maintain the piano, we are able to provide a quality instrument at a reasonable cost to community choirs and small music studios. This helps not only ourselves, but others to build community through music, mantain mental health through creative expression in music, celebrate our lives lived in abundance through song. Please help me to celebrate this gift and the many others we recieve because of your generosity.

Offertory For the Gift of Creation VU 538

Offering Prayer
May these gifts, those given through PAR and our commitment to give be seen as the gifts they truly are. Amen.

Prayer Music God of the Sparrow VU 229

Prayers of the People
Ending with the Prayer of Jesus.
During the Prayer of Jesus, you are invited to use the translation and language of your choice. A variety of translations and expressions of the Prayer of Jesus (also known as The Lord’s Prayer) can be found in Voices United pages 916-927.

Commissioning and Benediction

Musical Blessing May the Blessing of God Go Before You VU 962

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