Sunday, January 17, 2021

More Favorite Hymns & Stories of Alternate Service


fraktur art by Lynn Sommer

Prelude — My Life Flows On In Endless Song, The Chancel Choir of the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, CA

Lighting the Peace Lamp — 

Our loving God, from Thy hand have come all the days of the past. To Thee we look for whatever good the future holds. We are not satisfied with the world as we have found it. It is too little the kingdom of God as yet. Grant us the privilege of apart in its regeneration. We are looking for a new earth in which dwells righteousness. It is our prayer that we may be children of light, the kind of people for whose coming and ministry the world is waiting.—Amen.                                                   Martin Luther King, Jr. 1953
                                                      adapted for inclusive languageWelcome

Good morning and welcome to worship. Especially after the troubling events of the past week, it is so good to gather together again before God and to ground ourselves in the midst of these turbulent times. 

This morning, we continue our January series around Anabaptist stories and favorite hymns. As others before us have done in chaotic times, we can find courage in hearing the stories of those who faithfully rejected violence in the past through conscientious objection; and we can draw strength from the music that touches us most deeply and helps to undergird our faith today.

This Sunday, we are grateful to Marcy Hostetler, who will share of the history of Mennonite singing schools. Favorite hymns will be shared by Pax Ressler and Anika Krebs. Matt and Anika Krebs will lead us in song in children’s time and a coloring sheet has been made available to the children to accompany the song. During the sermon time, Roger Lentz and Ken Beam will share their alternative service stories. 

And this morning, although it is the third Sunday of the month, we will share in communion together, since the service was too full last week. 

Just a reminder to send any sharing requests to Susan by email to or you can use the chat.

Call to Worship

Source of all hope and holiness,
we gather this morning to be church.
Bless those who are absent, but not from our hearts.
Bless those who are distant, but not from your love.
Bless each of us here that we may
          choose justice by your Spirit,
          draw kindness from the well of your mercy,
          and walk humbly in your path, O God.  AMEN.    STJ 

Gathering Song & Reflections on Hymns

Pax Ressler— When The Storms of Life Are Raging, HWB #558

Marcy Hostetler on Singing Schools
Children’s Time Gathering Song Matt and Anika Krebs, This Little Light of MineLink to printable coloring sheet for childrenChildren’s Time— Malinda Clatterbuck

Offering —Thank you for your continued support of your congregation. Our budget supports our staff, our building, our congregational care, and our outreach commitments. We are grateful that this community can be a place to seek and give mutual aid and to reach out beyond our community, too. Thanks so much for being the church and giving to the work of the church.

God of grace,
we know you want justice rolling down like water.
Accept these gifts from our hands,
which we cast upon the waters of your love,
a generous ever-flowing stream 
feeding the hungry and
helping those in need.
Accept these gifts for the work of your church.  

(, accessed 1/8/21)

Scripture— Lectionary Psalm 139:1-5, 12-17

Lord, you have searched me out and known me; *
you know my sitting down and my rising up;
you discern my thoughts from afar.

You trace my journeys and my resting-places *
and are acquainted with all my ways.

Indeed, there is not a word on my lips, *
but you, O Lord, know it altogether.

You press upon me behind and before *
and lay your hand upon me.

Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; *
it is so high that I cannot attain to it.

For you yourself created my inmost parts; *
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

I will thank you because I am marvelously made; *
your works are wonderful, and I know it well.

My body was not hidden from you, *
while I was being made in secret
and woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes beheld my limbs, yet unfinished in the womb;
all of them were written in your book; *
they were fashioned day by day,
when as yet there was none of them.

How deep I find your thoughts, O God! *
how great is the sum of them!

If I were to count them, they would be more in number than the sand; *
to count them all, my life span would need to be like yours.

Reflections— by Roger Lentz and Ken Beam

Roger Lentz, Reflection on Alternate Service

Ken Beam Birmingham AL, 1969-1971

I grew up on a family farm in southeastern PA. When I was 18 yrs old in the late 60’s, having just graduated from high school, our country was in the middle of the Vietnam War. The draft board was active, all 18 yr old males were required to register for active duty with the U.S. Government. A lottery system was used, if your number was below 100, then you were required to report to your local draft board.

Like most of my Mennonite male friends, we applied for 1-W classification, conscientious objection to war. I was required to appear in front of a judge to explain why I was a CO and was granted the 1-W classification. I enrolled with Mennonite voluntary service for 2 years to fulfill my government obligation.

In September of 1969, I arrived in Birmingham, AL, which was very foreign to me, a deep south city. Most surprising to me were signs till posted at restrooms and water fountains; Whites Only and Negros Only. I soon heard about the 1963 church bombing which killed 4 small black children in a church Sunday school. Angelia Davis was actively leading protests. I could feel the racial tension in the City and observe the segregation. The summer of 1970, Gov. George Wallace came to town campaigning for President. Being very naïve, I went with a black co-worker to see a movie. While walking around a shopping center, we were attached by 4 young men. My friend was able to escape, I was knocked to the ground, while he tried to get help but no one came to our aid. Luckily I was not hurt other than bruises, but this really was a learning experience about racial hatred/injustice that was present then and continues today.

My first year I worked at the University Hospital Pharmacy Dept, then second year worked at a neighborhood service center. I assisted several social workers with food stamp enrollment, medial transportation and housing needs; learning a lot about community organization and services available for those who are disadvantaged.

I now look back at this experience as life changing. It was my first experience living in urban setting, introduced me to racial injustice and set me on a path trying to serve those in need.Song of ResponseAnika Krebs— I Am The Bread of Life, HWB #472Communion—     As we move to our month time of communion, you are invited to gather the elements you intend to eat and drink. 
     As always, we are remembering the night that Jesus gathered with his disciples in an upper room: the bread he broke for them and shared with them was a symbol of his own body, which would be broken, and the wine he poured for them and shared with them was a symbol of his blood which would be spilled and of a new covenant of love.
     He asked his disciples to remember him whenever they ate and drank. And so we, too, remember Jesus, as we share in the same symbolic meal.
     In much of Mennonite/Anabaptist history, communion was also a time during which the church asked members to think seriously about their relationships within the congregation. If you did not feel you were in right relationship with someone else who would be taking communion that day, you were asked to reflect on that, and make right that relationship, to the best of your ability. Sometimes that would involve repentance and the asking of forgiveness. Sometimes that would involve confrontation and the seeking of reparation.
     I think of the significant fractures across the Christian communion today. One of the reasons many Mennonite churches split was so that communion would be easier — after all, it’s easier to be in right relationship with a smaller, more homogenous group of people. What might it mean to pursue “right relationship” with Christians with whom we might no longer be in fellowship? Please don’t hear this as a simple call to “unity.” But at a time when civil unrest threatens to become civil war, when the faultlines of today’s conflicts often run jagged through our own extended families and through bonds of old friendship — what role might the symbol of communion play?, or the ritual of breaking bread? or the sharing of hymns in common? or what role might acts of service play in imagining and creating alternatives to war among us here, now?
     Let us ponder these things as we break bread together, praying as Jesus taught us:Loving God, in whom is heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Thy kin-dom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kin-dom, the power and the glory, forever.
I Am the Bread of Life, instrumental by Joe Gascho II

Communion Prayer of Response
Hospitable God,
     who opens a door through bread and wine,
may we see the place set for us
     so that, in turn, we may welcome others to the table.
In the name of Jesus. AMEN.             STJ #172
Sharing Time—  Email your prayer requests or reflections to They will be sent out by email by Monday morning. 


You once tore open the heavens and descended as a dove upon Jesus and a dirty river full of repentant people.

I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but now would be a good time to tear open the heaven and send down that dove again.

Send your Holy Spirit to stir up repentance in your people:

Who would rather double down than admit we were wrong

Who fill with pride at being one of the few who “know the real truth” 

Who only manage to point to others and never ourselves, (and are maybe a tiny bit grateful for the obvious, overt racism, violence and xenophobia of others since it conveniently takes the spotlight off of our own)

I pray that you send your Holy Spirit to comfort your people:

Who are grieving our dead. 

Whose rightful rage might be corroding the edges of our hearts – (because those hearts are still needed elsewhere)

Who have had to break up with abusers or draw boundaries with unstable people in the past and know in our bodies how ugly this all gets

Who have joyous news they feel they cannot share

Who are trying (and failing) to still love those who voted differently than themselves

Who literally or figuratively find themselves (yet again) sweeping up the detritus of others’ racism, violence, and ignorance

Send down that dove, Lord, but help us look to the needs of our neighbor and not to the escape hatch of heaven to find her.


by Nadia Bolz-Weber,
from “Sunday Prayers January 10th, 2020:
 Baptism of Our Lord/Insurrection in the midst of a pandemic edition”

Closing Hymn God be with you, HWB #430, sung by CMCL on July 19, 2015


“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’
Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’
Vanity asks the question, ‘Is it popular?’
But, conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’
And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but one must take it because one’s conscience tells one that it is right”
          ― Martin Luther King Jr.

 Worship coordination for Jan 10, 17 & 24: Lynn Sommer
Worship Leader: Jay Martin
Reflections: Roger Lentz, Ken Beam
Favorite Hymns: Pax Ressler, Anika Krebs
Communion: Susan Gascho-Cooke
Tech Host: Karen Davis