A digital version of this week’s worship bulletin and sermon.

Gathering

PRELUDE

CONGREGATIONAL WELCOME

Gathering Song             “O God, This Day We Grieve”

THANKSGIVING FOR BAPTISM

GREETING

KYRIE                      red book page 184 (set 8)

PRAYER of the DAY

Word

JEREMIAH 31:31-34

PSALM 46

ROMANS 3:13-28

JOHN 8:31-36

SERMON                                 Pastor Chris Halverson

Be Still and Know That I Am God

 

A mighty fortress is our God,

A true help in times of terror.

So do not be afraid

—in the face of human violence

—in a world going nowhere fast

Do not be afraid, for the Lord says:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

 

Let us pray

 

In the face of human violence

Do not be afraid, for the Lord says:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

It’s incomprehensible
—this week there were attempted assassinations of two former presidents, a former secretary of state and a former vice president, and three members of congress (including two who may run for president)—along with some activists and national security officials. We were a hairs breath away from 2018 becoming 1968—the assassination of modern day MLKs and RFKs close at hand.

If that wasn’t enough, on Wednesday there was the man in Kentucky who tried to do a repeat of the shooting at Emmanuel AME—but when he couldn’t get into the church, he settled on shooting two grandparents to death in a supermarket, because they were black.

And if that still wasn’t enough, yesterday, out in Pittsburg, a man attacked Tree of Life synagogue and killed 10 worshipers…
11 worshipers…
it just keeps going up as I write this sermon…
11 worshipers and wounded a bunch more, including the police who eventually stopped him. According to the man’s last social media posts before he attacked, he did so because Tree of Life would partner with the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society(the sister organization to Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services)—he deemed their aid of refugees as abetting an invasion of America.

 

In a world going nowhere fast

Do not be afraid, for the Lord says:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

Can you believe it was just over a year ago that a man tried to gun down the entire Republican Congressional Baseball Team—it was the biggest attempted political assassination in the history of the country (until this week)—yet it probably took you a second to remember what I was even talking about
—these days, a year ago is so very long ago…
and here’s the thing that troubles me, by next year this time we’ll have forgotten about the horrors of this week
—attempted partisan bombings, a racist and an anti-Semitic shooting.

It seems like we’re moving at such a pace these days
—pushing ourselves faster and faster
—but with no clear goal,
at least not one that I can see…
I think maybe we’re just rushing on…
because we’re afraid if we stop for a second
we’ll fall over and get stuck under our scooter…
or maybe ‘cause we’d be forced to stop and look at ourselves
—and we might not like what we see very much.

So we collectively and individually just keep going, just keep doing, doing, doing
—filling a void with, to quote the Bard, “sound and fury signifying nothing!”

I know a family who start each month with a single day free to be together, and inevitably it gets gobbled up before they reach it.

I know a man who wanted to teach his child about giving and being a good person, and told his kiddo they’d take a day that week to go to a local soup kitchen and serve
—three months later the child asked him why they never did it
He didn’t have an answer
—they just didn’t have time…
there were too many other things to do…

 

Hey Church!

Do not be afraid, for the Lord says:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

It’s easy to say, “What do Jesus’ followers mean in John when they say, ‘we were never slaves to anyone’ when their founding story was the Exodus—escape from slavery in Egypt.”

But we Church folk do the same thing
—the church so often mirrors the world
—we follow its frantic pace, acting without reflecting,
–sometimes we even ignore hateful viewpoints that undergird violence…
we do so in the name of being nice

… What I’m saying is the best way to catch someone is for them to never see the cage
—we often we do ministry by the world’s rules and we don’t even notice…
And we can’t win that game.

Two ELCA congregations, one in Dunellen and one in Edison, are voting on whether to close today… and we have to be clear it’s not for lack of trying on their part
—these days, the world as it is, doing things that used to be automatic for a congregation, now take real effort
—just doing the day to day stuff of ministry, is hard,
and doing something special and well…
Well, it takes saving throws and sacrifice.

Often times as a pastor, it feels like the world looks at me like I’m a buggy whip salesman in an automobile world (not a good feeling I assure you). And so often I respond by working myself sick, with nothing to show for it…
I’m playing the worlds game,
we’re playing the world’s game,
instead of trusting God.

 

Do not be afraid, for the Lord says:

“Be STILL, and know that I am God.”

Be still… the root of this word is used 46 times in Hebrew Scriptures, it references everything from laziness, to going slack, to the day drawing to a close, to an angel resting its tired wings.

 

Walk with me on this:

Let your jaws unclench,

Drop your shoulders,

Open your hands up a little bit if they’re closed.

Be still…

 

Be still church

Be still—we can’t work our way out of this—and that’s a relief.

Be still—let there be space for God to act.

Be still—don’t listen to the thrum of the world, but the calling of God.

Be still—hear the Spirit speak still.

Be still—it is not our church, but Christ’s Church

 

Be still world

Be still—take the time to untangle your disordered values.

Be still—so you can be aware of the things that matter.

Be still—the things that matter are rarely things.

Be still—you are human beingsnot human doings.

Be still—look where we’ve gone, even when it is ugly.

Be still—the whole world isn’t on your shoulders.

Be still—honor and be aware of the past and present, before you rush on to the future.

 

Be still O’ Violent Ones

Be still—please, be still.

Be still—let your hands go slack, so you can let go of your weapons.

Be still—weapons of the spirit alone avail at all.

Be still—for one little word subdues Evil.

Be still—start a journey out of hate.

 

A mighty fortress is our God,

A true help in times of terror.

So do not be afraid

—in the face of human violence

—in a world going nowhere fast,

Do not be afraid, for the Lord says:

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

HYMN of the DAY           “Lord, Keep Us Steadfast in Your Word”         red book # 517

APOSTLES CREED

PRAYERS of INTERCESSION

PEACE

Meal

OFFERING

OFFERTORY  ANTHEM            “Let The Church Rejoice”

GREAT THANKSGIVING

A MOMENT OF THANKFUL REFLECTION

LORD’S PRAYER

COMMUNION SONGS

Communion Song          “Praised Be the Rock”         This Far by Faith # 290

Also, red book # 595

Sending

Blessing

ANNOUNCEMENTS

SENDING SONG            “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”          red book # 504

DISMISSAL

POSTLUDE

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