Worship Order for
Long Green Valley Church of the Brethren
Long Green & Kanes Rds., near Glen Arm, Md.
July 17, 2011
Worship 10:00 am
Sunday School 11:10am
resurrection life you received from God is not a timid,
grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant,
greeting God with a childlike “What's next,
(Romans 8:15 from The Message)
Beginning with Praise
*With song and motion
"Oh, for a thousand tongues to
A Bible story
a stone as my pillow"
Ladder" (vs. 1-2)
Annual Conference Moment
a joy, a concern, a word of testimony or praise
(please be brief, and aware of God's listening presence)
Ladder" (vs. 3-4)
reading of Psalm 139:1-18
Prayer for Others
A Jesus Story
Returning our Tithes
(Please sign the attendance pad
and pass it on)
a timid, grave-tending life" (mp3)
"Fresh as the morning"
*Rise in body or in spirit
#'s are from Hymnal:
A Worship Book
Worship leaders - see basic
"Teach me your way, O Lord, that I may walk in your truth; give
me an undivided heart to revere your name. I give thanks to you,
O Lord my God, with my whole heart, and I will glorify your name
forever. For great is your steadfast love toward me… You, O
Lord, are a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger and
abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness."
Psalm 86:11-13a,15 from
Revised Standard Version,
copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States
Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Lord of heaven and earth, "merciful and gracious, slow to anger
and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness"
teach us your way. We have come to this place and time to encounter
you. Open the imagination of our minds and hearts, just now, to your
glory. Fill this space with the awesome presence of your Holy
Spirit, that we may worship you with joy-filled wonder, unhindered
by our fears and doubts. For we are gathered in the name of your
Son, Jesus. Amen.
(previously used on
July 17, 2005)
a stone as my pillow"
(only prop - a stone big enough for a pillow)
I was thinking I
might just take a nap right now. Any of you sleepy? It was a
late night with the Orioles game for me. Do you mind if I rest?
I’ll just pull up my pillow and lay down my head. What’s that
you say? This isn’t a pillow, it’s a stone? Well, of course it
is. Isn’t that what you use at night, a stone under your head?
No? Now that’s interesting. You want something soft. Hmmm.
There’s a story in
the Bible about a fellow named Jacob who spent the night in a
place he later named, “Bethel.” It’s says that when he laid
himself down to sleep, he pulled out a stone for pillow and
started snoring away. And while he was sleeping, he had a dream.
Any of you ever have a dream at night? I thought so. Here, why
don’t you just lie down beside me and I’ll tell you about his
dream. I’m sorry I don’t have a pillow for all of you, but I
don’t think you like my sort of pillow anyway. Am I right?
Okay, I need you
to imagine you are asleep. In Jacob’s dream, he looked up and
saw a ladder. What’s a ladder? Describe one for me. Good. The
ladder in his dream had one end on the ground, but the other end
stretched way up into heaven. On this ladder Jacob saw angels.
What’s an angel? Those are good answers. These angels in his
dream, some were climbing up the ladder, and some were climbing
down the ladder. It must have been quite a sight.
Suddenly, in his
dream, Jacob realized that God was standing beside him, and the
Lord started a conversation with him. Imagine that, talking to
God in a dream. “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your
grandfather and the God of Isaac you father.” Imagine that! God
wasn't finished talking, though. “The ground upon which you lie
right now (God must have known Jacob was sleeping) I will give
to you and your children and your children’s children. You’ll
have lots of them, as many as the grains of dust in the wind on
a windy day, and like that dust they’ll spread far and wide. And
every other family on earth will be blessed in you and your
Hmmm, I wonder
what Jacob thought about that. You see, he didn’t have a house.
He didn’t have any land. His family wandered about from one
place to another, sleeping in tents. He also didn’t have any
children yet. He wasn’t even married. How was all this to
happen? It was a promise of something he couldn’t yet see.
That’s how God often works, with a promise. In fact, this
promise in a dream sounds an awful lot like promises God had
already made to his grandfather and father. Maybe Jacob had
heard about those promises from them.
God said to Jacob,
“I want you to know that I will be with you always. I’ll take
care of you. I will not leave you. I will bring you back to the
land, from wherever you wander. And what I promise, I will do!”
That was his dream. Imagine that – a ladder full of angels and a
promise. When Jacob woke up from his dream, he said to himself,
“Wow, God was here and I didn’t even know it. This is an awesome
place. It’s like this is the house of God! And here is a ladder
to heaven. So he named that place, “Bethel,” which means “House
of God.” And he took his pillow, I mean the stone he used for a
pillow and set it up like a monument (get up and place stone on
worship table), and poured some oil on it. They did that a lot
back then, pouring oil on people and things… Bethel … house of
God … in a dream.
Well, thank you
for joining me. I guess I didn’t take a nap after all. Being
with you, talking about this woke me right up. I hope you liked
the story. Oh, and if God should happen to talk to you in a
dream … listen!
Annual Conference Moment
Annual Conference delegate this year, my intention is to
report back to you in segments. It may be that some portions
should be discussed in a session after worship instead of during
it. Overall, this was a contentious gathering. If it was a
family reunion, like we sometimes call it, ours is a somewhat
dysfunctional family. But what else is new? The story of God’s
people in Bible and history is not one of those who are perfect,
but rather of those in need of grace.
Robert Alley, was excellent. I did not envy his position. He was
appropriately stern at times, and at others remarkably tender
and vulnerable. For example, he squelched campaign-like applause
the first time it erupted, because that is not how we discern
the mind of Christ. He also stuck by time limits to speeches,
even cutting off Eva Simmon’s sister. Yet, he also allowed
himself to be moved by the moment, both in times when our
brokenness as a church was painful, and during those always
surprising instances when we were interrupted by the Holy
There were parts
of this gathering that I personally found disappointing, even as
I enjoyed getting reconnected with people I had not seen in a
long time. The most disturbing thing, something that moves us
toward our time of sharing joys and concerns, was that someone
there, who I have since learned was in a leadership position in
our denomination, received
a death threat. When those who are gay, and this person was,
speak about feeling unsafe, that needs to be taken seriously, as
it should for any of us. I haven’t yet figured out what having
something like this happen at our annual meeting means for us as
a supposed “peace church.”
At the beginning
of our last business session on Wednesday night, General
Secretary Stan Noffsinger, shared the following, nearly in
tears, with the delegate body: “When we come to Annual
Conference we’re a family and we have a concern related to a
member of our family. When one person is affected, the Bible
assures us that we all are affected. A gay person here at Annual
Conference has received a credible death threat. We have
contacted security, and the Grand Rapids police are involved in
the investigation. We in the Leadership Team are grieved by
this, especially if it is someone within our gathering who is
responsible for the violence of this threat. This is not
behavior that is acceptable within the Church of the Brethren
and we want to be very clear that it will not be tolerated.” He
repeated it, then called for a time of silence, then prayer led
by the moderator.
It might be helpful to remember
that Jacob’s dream of a ladder to heaven, which we just
remembered in scripture, with our children, and in a song, took
place right after Jacob ran away from his brother, Esau. The two
had quarreled since birth, and Jacob stole his brother’s
blessing on their father’s deathbed. It says that Esau hated
Jacob and resolved to kill him. Of course, there was more to
that story, just like we pray that there will be more to this
one. Will we be able to say with Jacob, “Surely the
Lord (was) in this place—and I did not
know it!”? … We are climbing Jacob’s ladder, children of the
O Lord, you have searched me
and you know me.
You know when I sit and when I rise;
you perceive my thoughts from afar.
You discern my going out and my lying down;
you are familiar with all my ways.
Before a word is on my tongue
you know it completely, O Lord.
You hem me in - behind and before;
you have laid your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too lofty for me to attain.
Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me
and the light become night around me,"
even the darkness will not be dark to you;
for the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place.
When I was woven together in the depths of the earth,
your eyes saw my unformed body.
All the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
Were I to count them,
they would outnumber the grains of sand.
When I awake,
I am still with you.
New International Version
Prayer for Others
every word you have spoken
of hope found in the depths of life,
of healing surprising our pain,
of grace jumping rope with children,
will all come true -
even when our stubbornness
deafens us to your whispers.
every hope you have for us
of kindness never ending,
of persistent patience,
of sacrificial service,
can be found -
even when others cannot
see them in us.
every dream you have
of peace becoming our best friend,
of joy bubbling from our hearts,
of strangers welcomed as kin,
will happen -
even when we insist on
living out our fantasies.
Behind us, under us, beside us, over us,
you are ever and always with us,
God in Community, Holy in One,
and so in these moments of silence
we each choose one or two persons or concerns
that were mentioned in our sharing,
or have rested on our hearts, not yet spoken,
and we lift them up to you,
asking you to bless and keep them.
And now we pray those familiar words Jesus
joining our voices in unison, saying,
Our Father, who art in heaven….
adapted from a
prayer written by
Thom M. Shuman (Presbyterian Church)
our Tithes and Offerings
Last week we heard a Jesus about a sower who cast his seed far
and wide: along a path, on rocky ground, amid thorns, and in
good soil. We wondered, if the seed is God’s good news tossed in
our direction, what sort of soil are we? Thank heaven that in
the end, it’s God who makes it grow. Today’s parable of Jesus
immediately follows that one in Matthew’s gospel. Our Lord is
still speaking to the crowd from a boat. I’ll be reading from
the Laughing Bird Version, so pretend I’m speaking with an
Australian accent. Let’s listen to Jesus.
“Here is a good
illustration of the kingdom of heaven. A farmer planted his
fields with good quality seed. But that night, while all the
workers were asleep, some mongrel came and dumped a load of weed
seeds on the field, and then cleared off before anybody saw what
had happened. So when the crop came up and the grain began to
form, there were weeds coming up everywhere among it. The
farmer’s workers came to him and said, ‘That was clean seed you
sowed, wasn’t it, Boss? How come we’ve now got weeds all through
The farmer replied,
‘Some mongrel has tried to sabotage it!’
The workers asked, ‘Do
you want us to get stuck in and pull the weeds out?’
But the farmer replied,
‘No, it’s not worth the risk. You’ll uproot half the wheat crop
trying to get them out. Just let them both grow together until
harvest time, and then I’ll tell the harvesters to pull the
weeds out first and bundle them up for burning. The good wheat
can then be harvested and stored in my silo.’”
Chew on that story as you
return your offering.
Would you pray with me?
God of Salvation, we seek to be children of your heavenly
kingdom. Yet, our self-deceiving ways cause us to believe that
we will be more generous givers once we have satisfied our own
personal, material desires. Change our thinking. Help us to be
faithful disciples who recognize that everything we have in life
is a gift from you. Inspire us to share our resources as a
response to your unconditional love. Amen.
Prayer Copyright © 2011 David S.
Reprinted with permission from
Go now with your hope set on Christ.
As children of God, let the Spirit of God lead you
and let your righteousness shine like the sun
until darkness and light are one.
And wherever you go,
whether you scale the heavens or plunge to the depths,
may God’s presence be inescapably with you;
May Christ Jesus welcome you into his inheritance;
And may the Holy Spirit assure you that you are God’s children.
(para traducir a español, presione la bandera de España)