Worship Order for Sunday

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

      This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a childlikeWhat's next, Papa?”
(Romans 8:15 from The Message)

  Beginning with Praise (9:50 am)                    "Here in this place"                       6

*With song and motion               "Awake, arise"                                            56

*With Word                           Psalm 86:11-13a,15

*We praise                 "Oh, for a thousand tongues to sing"                          110

*And Pray

  A Bible story                          Genesis 28:10-19a

  For Children               "With a stone as my pillow"

  Song                                       "Jacob's Ladder" (vs. 1-2)

  Annual Conference Moment

  Sharing a joy, a concern, a word of testimony or praise
                                 (please be brief, and aware of God's listening presence)

  Song                                       "Jacob's Ladder" (vs. 3-4)

  Prayerful responsive reading of Psalm 139:1-18                                         823

  Prayer for Others

  A Jesus Story                        Matthew 13:24-30

  Returning our Tithes and Offerings

  Offertory              (Please sign the attendance pad and pass it on)

  Scripture                                 Romans 8:12-25

  Message                "Not a timid, grave-tending life" (mp3)

*Hymn                                 "Fresh as the morning"                           (see insert)
                                                                       (lyrics, mp3)



*Rise in body or in spirit

#'s are from Hymnal: A Worship Book

Worship leaders - see basic guidelines

With Word

            "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 the New Revised Standard Version,
copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the
National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.
Used by permission. All rights reserved.

And Prayer

            Lord of heaven and earth, "merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Psalm 86:15), 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)

For Children
"With a stone as my pillow"
based upon Genesis 28:10-19a

(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 children.”

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

As your 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.

The moderator, 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 Spirit.

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 Lord.

Responsive Scripture Reading
Psalm 139:1-18

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.

Hymnal #823
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 has taught,
joining our voices in unison, saying,
Our Father, who art in heaven….

adapted from a prayer written by
Thom M. Shuman (Presbyterian Church)
from Lectionary Liturgies

Returning 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 crop?’

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.’”

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

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. Bell.
Reprinted with permission from www.DavidSBell.org


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.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

(para traducir a español, presione la bandera de España)


Interested in Sunday School?
Below is a growing list of possible sites to visit. As you discover others, please let us know.

International Lesson:
Faith and Life Resources

Mennonite Publishing House

International Lesson:
Mennonite Weekly Review

(scroll down on left to "Sunday School lessons)

International Lesson:
Christian Standard
(one week ahead)

International Lesson:
Living Web Sunday School Project

International Lesson:
Adult Bible Studies
from The United Methodist Publishing House
(click "supplemental resources" and "current events supplement" under both the "Student" and "Teacher" sections in the left hand column)

While one of our adult classes follows the International lesson above (see also), using
A Guide for Biblical Studies,
published quarterly by our denomination,
another class often uses one of the
Good Ground series.

For children and youth, we use the new
Gather Round curriculum
(developed jointly by the Church of the Brethren and the Mennonite Church)


©2010 Peter L. Haynes
(unless otherwise stated, worship resources were written by him)


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