December 10, 2017 – Advent 2

Links of Interest/Bibliography:

Advent Spiral:

Kairos

Camellia Waldorf

Dawn of A New Day

A Mountain Hearth

Ezekiel:

wikipedia

BJ Psych I

BJ Psych II

BJ Psych III

Text Week

Rev Gals Blog Pals

 

Words of Welcome

“We begin by acknowledging that we are in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people. This territory is covered by the peace and friendship treaties which Mi’kmaq and Maliseet peoples first signed with the British crown in 1725. These treaties did not deal with surrender of lands or resources, but in fact recognized Mi’kmaq title and established rules for what was to be an ongoing relationship between nations.” May we honour the friendship, support and spirit of peace which was offered to our settler ancestors.

Hymn  Come Now, O God of Peace  VU 34

Call to Worship

One: O come Great Source of Wisdom who rules over us and guides us. Teach us to move as you do.
All: Rejoice! Rejoice, God will come to be with us, to be with the oppressed.
One: O come Mighty God, who came to your people on Mt. Sinai and brought them the ten commandments in a most sacred experience.
All: Rejoice! Rejoice, God will come to be with us, to be with the oppressed.
One: O come descendant of Jesse and deliver your people from all their enemies. Your people trust that you are powerful enough to save them from a bleak future.
All: Rejoice! Rejoice, God will come to be with us, to be with the oppressed.

O Come, O Come Emmanuel  VU 1 v2-4

Opening Prayer

Today, O God, we pray that our words might inspire peace within ourselves. We pray that the peace within will grow and inspire others to seek peace.

Hymn  Imagine  John Lennon

Advent Wreath  A Story of Peace  Wendy Thompson

Response  A Candle is Burning  VU 6 v2

Theme Conversation  Fun with “Dry Bones”

Readings  Ezekiel 37:1-14

Musical Response  Your Word is A Lamp unto my Feet  VU 840

Sermon

Ezekiel is another Hebrew prophet who has been captured is living in Babylonian captivity. Ezekiel is a bit on the dramatic side, and finds his ministry acting out the dreams he has on the city streets. Because of his dramatics and their harshness, Ezekiel isn’t well liked. Most of his prophecies metaphors and are rather depressing about the destruction of Jerusalem, but he does have a few redeeming visions, today’s being one on them. So we find ourselves standing with Ezekiel in this valley of dry bones. And God says “Mortal, can these bones live?” Now and this point, I’d love to get into DNA and stemcells, and really talk about living bones, but that’s a topic for another time. The bones clickty-clack their way together and begin to grow tendons and skin. And God speaks to Ezekiel again, “Breathe into the bones”. Now the whole reason I even enjoy this story is because of this particular sentence. God used the Hebrew word Ruach. The word that means not only breath, but breathing and also wind and Spirit. Once Ezekiel gets them full of gusto, God tells Ezekiel to prophesy to the bones. Yes, these are the same bones, but they are so much more than just bones at this point.
Now, personally, I don’t feel like I’m doing Ezekiel any justice without mentioning that a number of scholars feel that Ezekiel is a classic case of Catatonic Schizophrenia. Other scholars feel that attributing Ezekiel’s visions to a mental illness, devalues God’s presence in the story. I don’t see it that way. What I see, is that Ezekiel likely would have had more visions and voices going on than just the ones we read about in his book. He would have had to figure out which ones represented the way he understood he was supposed to live his life and which ones were simply not helpful. He wouldn’t have been able to talk about the ones that weren’t helpful to him as that likely would have garnered him the label “possessed” and then he would have had even less help. It also means that God moves within people who have mental health issues or disabilities.
One summer, my last as a camp counsellor actually, I worked for the YMCA at Camp Hillies in the Valley. The camp serviced 4 groups of people: “Country” kids in the social services system, “City” kids in the social services system, Intellectually Challenged adults over 50 and Intellectually challenged adults under 50. Let me tell you, I learned a lot that summer. One camper in particular reminded me a lot of Ezekiel. This camper heard voices and had dreams that he said were from God. He also enjoyed wearing a black choir gown and carried around a wand he’d carved. Of course he loved the fact that I was studying to be a minister. At the end of his week at camp, the camper wrote me a note that had the feel of a blessing to it. I wondered a lot during my time with this camper if his faith experience or his spirituality was any less valid than my own.
What makes one person’s faith journey or spirituality more valid than another person’s? Other than the obvious of causing physical or emotional harm, I can’t see how my experience is any more valid than anyone else’s even though I’m a minister. Mine is no less valid either.
Clergy competition can be pretty intense. It didn’t take me long to figure out that there would always be someone had more scripture memorized than me, someone who was more pious than I was. Someone who constantly went on retreats, or could speed read through all of the great theologians. Someone who spoke eloquently and wrote academically. Someone who God spoke to with a physical voice, or left a sign. But just because I wasn’t the best at any of these things doesn’t mean that any part of my journey was less valid than another person’s. Growing up as an overachiever in a small community, it took me a while to learn that lesson. An over the top metaphor being part of someone’s call doesn’t feel too out of place to me.
Ezekiel was being called to bring the bones back to life, and not just to be alive, but to truly live. But the passage says nothing about them coming back together exactly as they had been. Only that they had been without hope, so they died, and after Ezekiel spoke, they had life and they lived.
Have you ever felt exhausted? Like there was nothing left to give? About this time last year we took our house in New Minas off the market. I was exhausted. We’d had 19 showings in 9 months and heading into my busy season, we didn’t feel we could handle another showing especially if we couldn’t decorate for Christmas or if we had to decorate for Christmas. So we took the house off the market. We needed to let it die. We had done everything that was financially possible for us to do. We got a lot of responses like: “nice house, but we want a garage” or “nice house, but we need fewer stairs” or “nice house, but the other had the renovated bathroom” literally, that was the only room that needed to be redone. Hopeless. No visible way forward. To make a long story short, sometimes, it doesn’t take much to offer someone who is feeling pretty exhausted a little bit of hope. Ezekiel didn’t have to do the work of putting things together. He only needed to offer hope.
Sometimes, in this particular time, it can be pretty easy for a church to start to feel hopeless. Nothing is as easy as it once was and people are tired. Sometimes it’s hard to offer hope. But what if we didn’t have to be Ezekiel? What if we just rest for a moment and listen for hope? What would we hear? Who would be speaking the words?
I’m offering you a challenge in this crazy and exhausting season. I’m challenging you to open yourself up to some unexpected hope. I’m challenging you to be inspired by stories you haven’t heard before. I’m challenging you to feeling your bones starting to rattle, I’m inviting you to be filled with passion and spirit.

Hymn  Put Peace into Each Other’s Hands  MV 173

Minute for Mission

Offering Invitation

Thank you for your generosity. Because of your gifts, we are excitedly preparing for workshops in the spring geared to educate us about mental health, how to recognize signs in ourselves and others of deteriorating mental health and how to lead in a mental health crisis situation. Because of your time, talent, and treasures, our community will be a safer, healthier and happier place.

Offertory  Ev’ry Day is a Day  MV 185

Offertory Prayer

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

Advent Spiral Prayer

At the front is a large spiral of evergreens. When indicated, you are invited as you are able, to come up the stairs (please use the ramp if mobility is a concern) and enter the spiral near the cross. As you walk think of a person, place or situation that needs the hope, peace, joy or love of advent. Choose a candle to light, and as you exit, offer a prayer, blessing or energy to that person, place or situation. Place your candle somewhere along the edge of your path that speaks to you. Exit carefully to avoid kicking candles and leave via the ramp or the steps by the front. For those of you who wish to remain seated, please indicate, and myself or Heather will place a light for you. This tradition comes to us via the Waldorf tradition of the Advent Garden or Advent Spiral and seeking together to find light in darkness.

Music Ministry

Commissioning & Benediction

Choral Blessing

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