July 24, 2016

July 24, 2016

Tenth Sunday after Pentecost

Gathering Music and Lighting of Altar Candles

A question for meditation and reflection: Think of a recent appearance of the word “ALL” that you noticed (in a sign or advertisement, a statement by someone with influence, or other usage in public life). What does the word make you think about? Is it meant to include you? Are there people it might not be meant to include?

Welcomes and introduction for worship: Our story for today from Acts 11 describes how Peter, having followed the direction of the Spirit to be Open and Affirming of the “unclean” community of Cornelius (“The Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us”), must now explain and defend his actions to the church authorities. It turns out that, according to God, all really does mean all.

Opening Hymn: No. 286, Spirit, Spirit of Gentleness

Today’s Reading: Acts 11
[cf p12 in colorful folder, with another version of 1-18 below.]

Peter Explains His Actions
 
Soon the news reached the apostles and other believers in Judea that the Gentiles had received the word of God. But when Peter arrived back in Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him. “You entered the home of Gentiles and even ate with them!” they said.
 
Then Peter told them exactly what had happened, step by step. “I was in the town of Joppa,” he said, “and while I was praying, I went into a trance and saw a vision. Something like a large sheet was let down by its four corners from the sky. And it came right down to me. When I looked inside the sheet, I saw all sorts of tame and wild animals, reptiles, and birds. And I heard a voice say, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat them.’
 
“‘No, Master,’ I replied. ‘I have never eaten anything that our Jewish laws have declared impure or unclean.’
 
“But the voice from heaven spoke again: ‘Do not call something unclean if God has made it clean.’ This happened three times before the sheet and all it contained was pulled back up to heaven.
 
“Just then three Gentile men who had been sent from Caesarea arrived at the house where we were staying. The Holy Spirit told me to go with them and not to make a distinction between them and us. These six brothers here accompanied me, and we soon entered the home of the man who had sent for us. He told us how an angel had appeared to him in his home and had told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man named Simon Peter. He will tell you how you and everyone in your household can be saved!’
 
“As I began to speak,” Peter continued, “the Holy Spirit fell on them, exactly as he fell on us at the beginning. Then I thought of the Master’s words when he said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ And since God gave these Gentiles the same gift he gave us when we believed in Jesus Christ, who was I to stand in God’s way?”
 
When the others heard this, they had no further objections and began praising God. They said, “We can see that God has also given the Gentiles the gift of repentance and eternal life.”

Reflections by David Weintraub:
All means ALL (no exceptions, no excuses)

Reflective Hymn: No. 495, Called as Partners in Christ’s Service

The Offerings and Offertory Music

Prayers of Joys and Concerns

The Lord’s Prayer,
…a version by Jim Colter

Life-Giver, Pain-Bearer, Love-Maker
Source of all that is and that shall be,
Father and Mother of all.
Loving God in whom is heaven:
The hallowing of your name echo throughout the universe!
The way of your justice be followed by all peoples of the world!
Your heavenly will be done by all created beings.
Your commonwealth of peace and freedom sustain our hope
and come on earth.
With the bread we need for today, feed us.
In the hurts we give and absorb from one another, forgive us.
In times of temptation and test, strengthen us.
From the trials too great to endure, spare us.
From the grip of all that is evil, free us.
For You reign in the glory of the power that is love,
now and forever.
AMEN

Closing Hymn: No 58, Spirit of Love

A Parting Word of Blessing…

Announcements:

Sunday, July 31: As we conclude a trilogy on all that being open and affirming is about, with a special emphasis on affirming in being involved in an egalitarian movement of justice and radical inclusiveness [in all the contexts of life] we will turn to a reading from Acts 12 which reminds us in a story from the early Jesus movement that it can sometimes get us into trouble with the legal authorities and forces preoccupied with law and order… [cf Acts 12:4]… a continuing possibility if our mission reflects that of Jesus of Nazareth… something that Patti Nelson will reflect on as our worship leader…

Sunday, August 7: We turn another corner again as we get into Acts 13 and some transitional narratives describing the unique mission of Paul and Barnabas and an acceptance of the Jerusalem Community to recognize an intentional outreach to non Jews in our reading of Acts. It’s transitional in that it prepares the way for looking at the mission of Paul throughout the entire Mediterranean Region that will begin with Acts 16. It’s a fulfillment of God’s original intent that Jubilee spirituality is meant to be a ‘light’ to the ‘nations’… the ‘peoples’… ALL of them! [cf Acts 13:47]

Led by THE SPIRIT into a JESUS MOVEMENT based on the Justice & Mercy Principles of The NEW AGE OF JUBILEE…

..we continue to gather in worship as an inclusive community, an open & affirming community of faith that transcends any distinctions based on gender, sexual orientation, nationality, race, or religion…

and with a formal worship that flows into a living worship of love and support for one another as we pursue ways to reflect God’s reign of mercy, justice, and peace in our community and throughout the world…

along with a continuing search for ways to celebrate the goodness of life together…

and always reaching out to draw others, with total inclusiveness, into this communal experience . . .