Community Mennonite Church of Lancaster
This I Believe — November 8, 2020
“Prayers,” by Pi Luna — www.pilunaart.com
Prelude— Come, Thou Fount of Ev’ry Blessing, HWB #521, played on piano by Joseph Gascho II
We light this lamp so that it may shine proudly on our lampstand.
You who have more love to give,
you have long to receive more,
and you whose love feels in danger:
this is the light in the window of Home.
Come, all you who weep and work for the wholeness of the world:
remember that even when it seems most bleak,
the light of Christ shines even where we cannot,
and darkness has not overcome it.
Come one and all,
may this flame warm you, inspire you, and remind you that
you are known and Loved by God.
So, loved ones: go love!
Gathering words and welcome— This morning we begin three weeks of services where various CMCLers will be sharing “This I Believe” statements. We look forward to being inspired and challenged by these glimpses into one another’s hearts and minds. As the second Sunday of the month, we will also share communion together. So, gather your bread and wine, your juice and crackers, your milk and Oreos, or whatever you have at hand, so that we can share this simple, symbolic meal with one another later in the service.
Call to Worship—
“My hope is not in the U.S. presidential election.
But today I can breathe differently.
Don’t let anyone suffocate your joy.
Today, cruelty loses.”
by Cole Arthur Riley (@blackliturgies), November 7, 2020
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.
Gathering Song— For Everyone Born A Place at the Table, sung by CMCL on July 21, 2019, vs. 1-3, 6
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. Amen.
© Carol Penner, leadinginworship.com
“In the beginning, God created …” Genesis 1:1
This I Believe— Doug Reesor
The Relevation of Creativity
In the beginning, God created…… for me these 5 words are the greatest support of the existence of a devine source. When anyone asks, I cannot define the source of my creative urge or instincts. I can only say that when I am in the creative zone, time stands still, outside noise disappears, chips fly and the hunk of wood on my lathe turns into a different shape in front of my eyes. Then the moment of revelation comes – I turn off the lathe and feel again the sense of profound privilege that comes with seeing the pattern within the grain that was buried inside a tree – that part of life that is ever the same but constantly different.
I awaken from the thrall of creativity and stand in awe of the work in front of me. Wow! Where did that come from? Did I actually do that or was my hand guided by a Devine presence that is always there but cannot be touched? And the story is same – time started when something was created. And all that Creator did has been revealed to us through the act of creation.
This I Believe— Beth Graybill
I believe in showing up.
One of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, has written, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up, and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.”
Times in my life when I don’t know what to say to someone in grief or loss, sometimes just being there can be enough. Julia Kasdorf, in her poem, “What I Leaned from My Mother,” writes about attending viewings for the deceased: “I learned that whatever we say means nothing, what anyone will remember is that we came.” Being present to their loss, showing up. I imagine that this kind of presence is a lot of what pastoring is about.
During the pandemic, our neighborhood group has been important to me. We have had not any particular agenda, I don’t always feel like going to the group, let alone organizing the next meeting. But I show up. And always, after we meet, I feel less alone.
I sure did not feel like going out to distribute literature for the presidential election, and I had no idea whether it would do any good, but it was good for me to feel like I was doing something. I showed up. So did dozens of others. A community of resistance, at least that what it felt like.
Working the polls at election day was also about showing up. It was hard to want to be there for that long of a day, during a pandemic. At my polling place, I was paired with a particularly talkative Republican poll-worker. And while I disagree with her politically, I found I liked her personally. Showing up. And learning not to demonize the other side.
What I am not as good at is showing up and relaxing in the present moment. Breathe in, breathe out, oh my goodness, what is going to happen next!? I have been impatient, anxious about the future, depressed about the kind of world I am leaving my son and his generation. But I do try to show up to those feelings, too. Notice them, name them, talk or cry or shake about them with a friend, and then move on.
If there is growth in my life, it has been towards showing up out of joy, not out of a grim determination (although, honestly, sometimes there is a place for that, too. It gets the job done…) Probably always, but especially during a pandemic, Lord knows we need more joy.
There was a movement online this election season, #JoyToThePolls, a non-partisan movement to make voting a celebration. I love that! Drumming and dancing as folks waited in line to vote. Doing the right thing joyfully.
Part of why I liked the Shane Claiborne quote, about showing up to the pain in the world, is to let it motivate me out of joy, and compassion, not guilt-trip me. He wrote: Vote for the people Jesus blessed. Vote for the poor. Vote for immigrants. Vote for those without health care. Vote for the victims of violence. Vote for Breonna Taylor. Vote for love.
Poet Toi Derricotte, has written “Joy is an act of resistance.” Do the right thing, resist, out of joy. Or like the chorus in the song, “A Place at the Table,” be creators of justice and joy.
The following song was posted by Raleigh Mennonite Church in their pre-election materials.
Song of Response— “This Joy” by the Resistance Revival Chorus
Communion— Make ready whatever communion elements you have at hand. By whatever words you know it, let us join together in reading the Lord’s prayer:
Our loving God, in whom is heaven,
hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
And so we remember the night that
Jesus took a loaf of bread and when he had given thanks,
he broke it
and said, “This is my body for you.
When you share bread together, remember me.”
In the same way, he took the cup also after supper, saying,
“This cup is the new covenant in my blood.”
Let us, too, share this meal and so remember Christ.
Our Loving parent spreads a meal before us
whenever we come home.
The bread broken for us is the body of Jesus Christ,
the embodied heart of God.
Here Jesus is remembered.
Here the repentant heart is received.
Here we celebrate
fullness of belly and quenching of thirst.
Here we taste and see
that our past, present and future
are held in the arms of Great Love:
May this simple meal, and the Extravagant Love
and grace and mercy of God,
nourish, strengthen and sustain us
for just and faithful living
with neighbor, stranger, and enemy.
Communion Song — Eat This Bread, HWB #471 Joseph A Gascho II on piano
Sharing Time— Email your prayer requests, or pictures or reflections to email@example.com. They will be sent out by email by Monday morning.
We close our Sharing Time today with a sort of This We Believe. It is the prayer of commitment that we prayed together as we gathered on the front steps of the CMCL building this past Monday to acknowledge the new Progress Pride and Black Lives Matter banners that are at the front of our church and in the Memorial Garden:
God who Loves the World,
We ask your blessing on our church building
and all the groups that have met here,
wherever they are meeting now.
We ask your blessing on the dreams that are made flesh here,
the planning for community organization,
the children who are tended here before school,
the important work of recovery that is housed here,
and the worship and fellowship that happens here.
And we ask your blessing on our church community.
We celebrate that we are a church made up of folks
from every stripe of the rainbow.
May we, like this flag, be moving forward,
ever-progressing in our welcome,
that we might come ever nearer to matching Your welcome.
May our welcome be as warm and bold inside our congregation,
and out in the broader community
as it appears to be on this door between them.
May we be a congregation that centers the truth
that Black lives matter
in all conversations and work for necessary change.
Give us the persistence and humility to do the hard work of
dismantling the racism that lurks within our hearts,
within our minds, within our systems,
within our society, within our wallets.
May these banners of love inspire and en-courage us
to be the Beloved Community You intend.
Oh God who loves the world, we pray these things
in Jesus’ name. Amen.
In deep gratitude for this moment,
We give ourselves to you.
Send us to live as changed people
Because we have shared
The Living Bread
And cannot remain the same.
Ask much of us,
Expect much of us,
Enable much by us,
Encourage many through us.
So, God, may we glorify you
As inhabitants of earth
And citizens of heaven.
Worship Leader: Susan Gascho-Cooke
This I Believe: Beth Graybill, Doug Reesor
Children’s Time: Malinda Clatterbuck
Tech Host: Karen Davis