Good morning, everyone!
Welcome to our 22nd online service.
We hope and pray that it is a blessing to you!
We are now worshiping both at home and in person. We will continue to post Sunday services indefinitely and want you to stay safe! Mary and Joanna are working mostly from home. Tanae is updating our Facebook page, while Rebecca is in charge of our Instagram page and Jack has adopted our Twitter account. Every day we add a new post right here on the website that automatically pops up on Facebook and Twitter as well. If you missed any of this week’s posts, just scroll down to see them! Steve’s new Bible study can be found on our Bible Study page.
Our Thrift Shop is open Saturdays only this summer; please contact Tracy to help on Saturdays or anytime during the week. Wednesday morning Bible study (led by Rich) meets at 10 a.m. and Wednesday evening Bible study (led by Steve) at 7 p.m.; if the weather is nice we will meet outside.
CALL TO WORSHIP:
Breathe in; breathe out.
Let the Holy Spirit wash over you.
Feel a sense of calm and belonging.
For you are in this holy place,
And where you are,
The Lord is also.
LORD, WHEN THE WALLS OF ANXIETY
ARE CLOSING IN AROUND US; WHEN OUR FEARS ARE
THREATENING TO OVERWHELM US; WHEN WE CAN’T SEEM TO
FIND OUR WAY; HELP US TO BREATHE, JUST BREATHE.
REMIND US TO BE STILL
AND KNOW THAT YOU ARE GOD.
YOU ARE FIGHTING OUR BATTLES FOR US.
MAY WE REST AT YOUR FEET, AND FIND PEACE. AMEN.
WORDS OF ASSURANCE: 1 Peter 5:7, New International Version
Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
THE LORD’S PRAYER
Who art in 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 trespasses,
As we forgive those
Who trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil,
For thine is the kingdom,
And the power,
And the glory forever.
OPENING SONG: “Breathe” (Lee and Tanae)
(Note: Add your own prayers at the beginning or end)
We pray for those who are still without power following the storm. Help their power to be restored, and for them to have answers where answers are needed. We pray for those facing the end of unemployment benefits and those facing eviction. Help our politicians to stop squabbling and come up with a solution. We pray for those who are suffering from COVID-19, have lost loved ones, are concerned about returning to school, or are otherwise affected by the pandemic. We continue to pray for a cure.
We pray for strength and healing for Liz S., who is back in the hospital this week suffering from symptoms related to her treatment. We pray that you will take away these symptoms and heal her disease. We pray your continued blessing on Barbara G. and Tanae’s father Tadao as they undergo chemotherapy. Help these treatments to be effective and the side effects to be lessened. We thank you for Stephan K.’s successful surgery and pray for increased strength and stamina daily as he recovers from surgery.
We pray for others in our church family who are going through times of need: for Margaret, Amy, Pat, Jim, Sue, Janet, Joan, Lois, Dannie, Kathleen & Marilyn, Ken, Bunny & Marty, Dawn, Harriet, Diane, Laurie & Steve, Paul, and Ruth; for all members of our extended family who are suffering; for this nation and for the world.
We come to you now in silent prayer …
Lord, as you know what is written in our hearts,
Attend now to our spirits, we pray in your name, Amen.
SONG: Jonny Diaz, “Breathe”
This song is perfect for the Sunday message. “Breathe” is composed in an unexpected way. The verses are fast and the chorus is slow ~ so slow it almost stops completely. In this modern reflection of the story of Mary and Martha, Diaz reminds us to “breathe, just breathe.”
SCRIPTURE LESSONS: Luke 10:38-42, Good News Bible
As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him in her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat down at the feet of the Lord and listened to his teaching. Martha was upset over all the work she had to do, so she came and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her to come and help me!”
The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha! You are worried and troubled over so many things, but just one is needed. Mary has chosen the right thing, and it will not be taken away from her.”
SUNDAY SERMON: “Just Breathe”
Note: We did film a video, but were unable to upload due to (we suspect) some internet and wiring issues from the storm. On the brighter side, the version below is better than the one we filmed! God’s plan?
This is a sermon about breath. Breath is the thread that connects pandemic, protest, and Pentecost. One could say it is the theme of our entire year.
This year, we’ve learned more about breathing than we thought possible. Before that, we took it for granted, which is amazing considering it’s something we do 20,000 times a day. We’ve learned what sort of particles are in a breath and how far it can travel. We’ve learned that “wake up and smell the coffee” is a good test for COVID-19, because if we can smell the coffee, we’re probably okay. Friday night as I walked toward the church, I was thinking about how we’d normally be setting up for Clamfest, and imagining the smell of clams. When I opened the door I could really smell the clams, and I thought, “oh no, it’s the ghost of Clamfest!” But it was just Alan making soup.
COVID-19 has stolen our breath. As a respiratory disease, it attacks the lungs. Those who have it are often placed on oxygen or a ventilator. Those who don’t wear masks to protect themselves, and some masks make it difficult to breathe. But we still have to wear them to protect ourselves and others. As The Police say, “every breath you take, I’ll be watching you!” In a related subject, Ventilation has become an issue for malls and schools. It’s why in church, we open the windows and have the air conditioner running at the same time as the fans.
Breathing difficulties run in my family. My sister has asthma, and carries a ventilator. In the last decades of his life, my grandfather had a hard time walking because he couldn’t catch his breath. He’d say, “I’ll just sit on this bench, you go on without me.” I have a tendency to pass out, which you wouldn’t think would be related to breathing, but Lois identified the problem for me during therapy a few years ago. She was working on my hand, pressing harder than I wanted to, and suddenly the room started to spin and she said, “Rich, BREATHE!” Turns out pain makes me hold my breath, and out I go.
If I asked, “What’s the best breath you ever took?”, would you have an answer? Many would say their first. The best breath I ever took was at the beach. I had gone into the big waves a day after a hurricane, overestimating my ability to handle them. Everything was great until I realized at some point I had to get out. I ducked under a particularly big wave, and came up to take a breath, not realizing that I was emerging into the second part of a double wave. Instead of taking a breath of air, I took a breath of water and went under again. At the very last second before passing out, I resurfaced. That next breath was the best breath I ever took; I was so happy just to be alive. I was grateful for breath itself.
The other big story of the year is epitomized by the words of George Floyd: “I can’t breathe.” To be deprived of breath is to be deprived of life. As Toni Braxton sings, “How can I breathe when there’s no air?” The huddled masses yearning to breathe free are not only looking for wide open spaces, but for a place where they will be treated equally regardless of race, religion, gender or any other variable.
We all want to breathe free ~ to take off our literal masks and breathe in the fresh, clean air, to relax and stop worrying so much about so many things: a Congress that continues to argue while its constituents are running out of food; a virus that refuses to go away on its own; a power grid that keeps failing.
Martha had the same problem. She was worried about so many things: preparing dinner for one, getting her sister to help her, making sure everything came out on time. But there was Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, not even six feet away, not even wearing a mask. “Jesus!” she said, “tell my sister to back off and put on a mask!” But Jesus said, “Martha, you’ve got so many things on your mind, but only one is needed.” And this is where the different translations become very interesting.
In the Good News Bible, Jesus says that Mary has chosen the right thing. The New Living Translation reads, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
What is this “one thing (New Revised Standard Version),” this “right thing” (Good News Bible), this “good portion” (Revised Standard Version), this “better part” (New Revised Standard Version)? It can’t be the activity, because people need to eat; so it has to be the attitude. In effect, Jesus is saying to Martha, “breathe; just breathe.” Jonny Diaz picks up this thread in his song of the same name. The chorus is “Breathe, just breathe / Come and rest at my feet / And be, just be / Chaos calls, but all you really need / Is to just breathe.”
Just breathe, Martha! Don’t pass out, Rich! Slow down your pace; slow down your thoughts; focus on what really matters.
Diaz isn’t the only one to sing about breath. The Hollies sing, “Sometimes all I need is the air that I breathe, and to love you.” Marie Barrett was leading worship one day when she started spontaneously singing, “This is the air I breathe; your very word spoken to me.” She recorded her own version, then others covered it, and one day she was driving around, heard her own song on the radio, started crying and then shouted, “Yay!” The All Sons & Daughters song “Great Are You Lord” includes the phrase, “You’re the breath in my lungs, so I pour out my praise to you only, God.” And perhaps most famously, our hymnal includes Edwin Hatch’s big hit from 1878, “Breathe On Me, Breath of God,” inspired by John 20:21-22: “Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even, so send I you.’ And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’”
Breathe on me, breath of God
Fill me with life anew
That I may love as you have loved
And do what you would do.
Our breath is a gift given to us at birth, literally slapped into us. In Scripture, sometimes breath is just air, but other times it represents the soul or the Holy Spirit. The valley of dry bones comes to life when God breathes air into the skeletons. Elijah and Elisha both bring children back to life, the second by what appears to be mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
So what if God is the air we breathe?
In a physical sense, everything that God ever created may be passing through our lungs with every breath. We may be breathing particles of peacock feathers, starfish, Spanish galleons, the molecules of our ancestors or even the first disciples. Matter is created, but not destroyed. Everything really is connected.
In a spiritual sense, the Holy Spirit arrives as breath and operates as air. Jesus tells his disciples to breathe in the Holy Spirit and breathe out the Holy Spirit. Breathe in love, breathe out peace. Breathe in goodness, breathe out kindness. Every breath has two sides. As Christians, we breathe in the blessings of God, but we are asked to breathe them out as well: to be vessels for the Holy Spirit. Just breathe doesn’t end with us; it’s like the airline instruction to put the mask on ourselves first, and then to help others in need.
And that’s what this whole year is about: making sacrifices so that others may have the ability to breathe. Wearing masks so that others won’t be put on ventilators. Marching and voting so that others won’t be killed. Letting the Holy Spirit fill us so we can breathe in goodness and breathe out kindness.
Breathe. Just breathe. God’s got this. According to Scripture, when Jesus returns, he will defeat the enemy with a single breath (2 Thessalonians 2:8). Knowing the ending, we can breathe easy once again. As King David writes in the last Psalm, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!”
Please use this time to make out a check to the church.
Thank you to all who have been contributing during this time, and helping the church to pay its bills!
As you write, please enjoy Tanae and Lee’s version of “Spirit of God.”
Spirit of God, bright Wind, breath that bids life begin,
glow as you always do; create us anew.
Give us the breath to sing, lifted on soaring wing,
held in your hands, born on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, Come! (2 times)
Spirit of God, bright Dove, grant us your peace and love,
healing upon your wings for all living things.
For when we live your peace, captives will find release,
held in your hands, born on your wings.
Alleluia! Come, Spirit, Come! (2 times)
Thank you for watching over us throughout the summer. Even though there is no Clamfest this year, our thoughts turn to helping those in need. Lead us to use what is given to help build a stronger church, community and world. Amen.
As we go forth, may we remember to breathe ~ to recognize your breath in our lungs and the ways in which our actions affect others. May we channel your Spirit in service to your Kingdom. Amen.
Blest Be the Tie That Binds
Thank you to Jack, Lee and Tanae for helping with today’s online service!
And thank you for worshipping with us! We wish you God’s healing and hope!