This Sunday we begin a four week sermon series that will take us through a variety of questions that begin with the phrase “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask You.” This has been a long and difficult season of profound disconnection. We’ve experienced that sense of disconnection not only as a result of COVID-19 but also in light of the deep, persistent wounds and divisions within our country and world related to systemic oppression and all of the “isms” that hurt, exclude, exploit or diminish another. This series invites us to turn back toward one another, child of God to child of God, leaning in with courageous and heartfelt questions. There is a video that companions each week and is included in our weekly email. Please watch and enjoy the first video by Dr. Raj Nadella, the Samuel A. Cartledge Associate Professor of New Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, GA. He invites us into our first question…Where are you from?
This Sunday, July 4th, we are holding OUTSIDE CHURCH at 10:00. (Please note the new time! Worship will be at 10:00 this week and going forward!) We will be recognizing the 4th of July holiday with special music and prayers. No reservations are required. We will check everyone in at a welcome table and provide a small packet, including Communion elements. No masks are required for outside worship but we ask that you have a mask on hand in case you need to go inside. Feel free to bring your own blanket or chairs. We’ll have some additional chairs set up outside. We will be dedicating our new Little Library during the service. So feel free to pick up a book on Sunday or drop off books to share with others. There will be a livestream option for those who wish to worship from home.
I’m looking forward to being with you on Sunday as we worship God – together and outside – hallelujah!
Genesis 2:4b-15 (NRSV)
These are the generations of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
In the day that the Lord God made the earth and the heavens, when no plant of the field was yet in the earth and no herb of the field had yet sprung up—for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was no one to till the ground; but a stream would rise from the earth, and water the whole face of the ground— then the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and the man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east; and there he put the man whom he had formed. Out of the ground the Lord God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
A river flows out of Eden to water the garden, and from there it divides and becomes four branches. The name of the first is Pishon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold; and the gold of that land is good; bdellium and onyx stone are there. The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that flows around the whole land of Cush. The name of the third river is Tigris, which flows east of Assyria. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.
The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.
John 1:35-51 (NRSV)
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).
The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.” Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” When Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him, he said of him, “Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!” Nathanael asked him, “Where did you get to know me?” Jesus answered, “I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.” Nathanael replied, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered, “Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.” And he said to him, “Very truly, I tell you, you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.”
Questions to consider:
- How many places have you lived? What place(s) have you loved? What place feels most like home?
- Is there a story behind your given name or your surname? If you have a nickname or a chosen name, how is this name meaningful to you?
- Bring to mind/heart a family member or close friend who has shaped who you are. How has this person impacted your life?
- Reflect on what you know about your ancestry or ethnicity. What stories have been passed down to you? What stories or information are missing? In what ways does your story of origin hold pain, and in what ways does it hold promise?
Questions modified from Sanctified Art’s series “I’ve Been Meaning to Ask You…” | sanctifiedart.org