Zig and zag with God (Worship on Zoom led by Darlene Eerkes)

Worship on the Lord’s Day
10:00 am July 11, 2021
led by Darlene Eerkes

 We gather to worship God

Music prelude

Greeting

L: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you

P: and also with you

Lighting of the Christ candle

Welcome and announcements

Silent preparation for worship

Opening words

L: Our hope is in our God who is Lord of all things.

P: We put our trust in God!

L: Lift up your hearts,

P: We lift them up to the Lord!

Opening praise: Holy is the Lord

We stand and lift up our hands

For the joy of the Lord is our strength

We bow down and worship Him now

How great, how awesome is He

And together we sing

 Holy is the Lord God Almighty

The earth is filled with His glory

Holy is the Lord God Almighty

The earth is filled with His glory

The earth is filled with His glory

 Holy is the Lord God Almighty

The earth is filled with His glory

Holy is the Lord God Almighty

The earth is filled with His glory

The earth is filled with His glory

 Songwriter: Chris Tomlin © Universal Music Publishing Group. Reprinted with permission under CCLI, License #3095377​. All rights reserved. Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from CCLI

Call to worship

L: Be still and know that God is with you in all circumstances

P: We come to know God

L: God knows you – the joys and challenges of your life

P: We come to rest in God

Prayers of approach and confession

Please join me as we approach God with our confession:

You are a God of Love.  Our paths are known by you. You draw straight with crooked lines.

You know our suffering and misery which we have brought into your world.

Have pity, we implore you, on the work of your hands that cause suffering.

Forgive our neglect of the poor, the oppressed and the lonely

Forgive us when we hear of the pain of others and we turn away from their distress.

Forgive us when we are so burdened with our cares that we do not see you at work in our midst.

Forgive our short sightedness and our inability to trust in your gentle Spirit that constantly invites us into a closer relationship with YOU.

You are a God of reconciliation – building grace and forgiveness into the centre of your Creation

Help us to be still and know that you are God – God of all things.

In this moment, hear our personal prayers of confession to you

Response: I will trust in the Lord

Assurance of God’s forgiveness

Friends –

We are forgiven for our selfish focus on ourselves and we are invited to find our rest in God.

We can place our hurts and our burdens on the One who loves us beyond our comprehension.
Through God’s Spirit we are challenged and empowered to be God’s people of peace. Amen.

Response: Be still and know

Prayers for God’s help and guidance

Before we pray the prayer for God’s help and guidance, I want to note that I will be praying for God’s help for our Presbyterian Church, as a denomination, as we consider the issues around Residential schools in Canada.  For more information I would encourage you to visit our Dayspring website to see the joint statement of the current and former Moderators of our Presbyterian Church in Canada – The Rev. Amanda Currie and Rev Daniel Scott.  In this statement there are several commitments to action.  I will be referring to these in this prayer.

Please join me in prayer for God’s help and guidance –

God of all the kingdoms in this world, we pray for your help and guidance to be your people that seek faith, bringing justice, hope, light and joy to the world around us.   

We pray for the troubled situations around our world and in our country – for those in grief and conflict.

We think specifically about the pain of injustices for Indigenous families and communities. Help us to ensure the search is completed for unmarked graves in the schools operated by our Presbyterian Church denomination.  Give us courage to advocate for the rights of all Indigenous Children today. Open our eyes and ears to the pain and help us confront and address colonialism and racism especially in accessing healthcare, access to clean drinking water, equity in education and equitable treatment in our court systems. Give us determination and wisdom to end the crisis of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as we continue to support the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and the Calls to Action.

O God, we also ask that you remove the barriers that hinder our three refugee families from access to our country.  Protect them and sustain them while we wait for their deliverance from the threats of danger and even death.  

Renew our will and our strength to trust your ways that are bigger and far better than we can ever dream or imagine.  Help us to live in your Spirit, engaging in actions that reflect your love, in spite of our circumstances.

Receive these prayers, O God.  Help us to dream dreams and see visions of your Kingdom at work.

Help us to place our deep hope in you – and not in our efforts, our plans, our lists. 

We desire to be your faithful people; we depend on your gentle Spirit to complete this work in us.  Amen.

We listen for the voice of God

Gradual: Jesus loves me (#373)

Children’s time: Story, Prayer, and Lord’s Prayer

Song: Lord, make us servants of your peace (#739)                         

Lord, make us servants of your peace:
where there is hate, may we sow love;
where there is hurt, may we forgive;
where there is strife, may we make one.

Where all is doubt, may we sow faith;
where all is gloom, may we sow hope;
where all is night, may we sow light;
where all is tears, may we sow joy.

Jesus, our Lord, may we not seek
to be consoled, but to console,
nor look to understanding hearts,
but look for hearts to understand.

May we not look for love’s return,
but seek to love unselfishly,
for in our giving we receive,
and in forgiving are forgiven.

Dying, we live, and are reborn
through death’s dark night to endless day:
Lord, make us servants of your peace,
to wake at last in heaven’s light.

 Words: Francis of Assisi; translation, James Quinn © Geoffrey Chapman 1969. Used by permission of Selah Publishing Co. Inc. Music: Ron Klusmeier © WorshipArts 1990. Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE.

Scripture Readings

Introduction:  Our scripture readings today are short excerpts taken from two New Testament letters written to early Christians.  The first letter is by the Apostle Paul to the church at Philippi as he expresses how to live in any circumstance.  The second letter is by the Apostle James reminding people that they cannot know the future and they must rely on the Lord.  These encouragements are just as true for us today as they were for the early Christ followers.

Philippians 4:10-13, “Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.”

James 4: 13 – 15 Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” 14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. 15 Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.

Response: I will trust in the Lord       

Message: “Zig and zag with God”

I believe that the two scripture texts just read by Gina compliment each other.

  • The passage in James speaks of how we plan our lives, believing we are in control. But in reality, God is the one who directs our paths.
  • In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Philippians we are challenged to be content in whatever circumstance we might find ourself.

In considering these ideas I will share two quotes that have impacted the way I think about the ideas in these Scriptures.

God draws straight with crooked lines is a phrase I first saw in a novel by Andrew Greeley, who was an Irish Catholic priest.  This line is a significant quote that stood out to me – and if you ever get an email from me you likely have seen this quote in my email signature.

I like to make plans. Anyone who knows me well knows I make lists – “To do” lists and I focus on checking items off my list.  I make plans and set goals for myself and others… if they will let me.  I think many of us do this to some degree.

If you remember your geometry in school, you will note that “The shortest distance between two points is a straight line”. So, I often try to apply this geometric principle to my life. Many of us make plans and off we go, perhaps even praying for God’s assistance in getting us there. But the truth is, we do not live in some two-dimensional, theoretical plain. The pathway to finding our place in God’s story is often a very crooked one, filled with unexpected zigs and zags.

Life is messy. We live in a world of all kinds of forces. Relationships, finances, health issues, fears, desires, sin, injustice, and all kinds of things pull us in different directions.  Like driving a car throughout unknown territory – We do not know what is at the top of a steep hill.  You cannot see around a sharp bend in a road.  It might look like the road continues straight ahead, but you do not know until you get there.

If we are waiting until real life begins at some other point in time, we may be expecting to stay on the straight road that is ahead of us, little realizing that we are coming up to a bend that will change the plans we have made and call into question the ideas we have about our own futures.

So, what happens when our plans zig and zag AND are acted upon by other forces… these unexpected events and circumstances? Our lines get crooked, and we do not usually like crooked lines. When our lines get crooked we might get anxious, disappointed, mad, even frustrated.  We play the “what if” or “if only” game. We have regrets, we give up, or we get depressed.  We feel out of control.

In scripture there are many stories where people of God found themselves in places where they never planned nor expected.  A young Jewish girl found herself Queen in a foreign land.  I cannot imagine that Esther desired to be separated from her family and people, but in the familiar story of Queen Esther we realize that God used this circumstance. Esther’s faithfulness to her God saved the Jewish people from destruction.

I am certain that Esther agonized over her situation and the important decisions that would save or destroy her life… If she were to go before the King without an invitation, the King could welcome her approach, or he could have her killed.  Queen Esther was taking quite a risk in approaching the King with her request to save her people.

During her struggle for self-preservation, her Uncle Mordecai reminds her “who knows but that God has called you to this place for such a time as this.”  For Esther – this was a time for action, a time to BE God’s faithful person. There are many times when the circumstances in which we find ourselves are not part of our plan, but God is with us in these circumstances. It is not us who are in control, but God.  We need to acknowledge that God does make our paths straight and that God often does this through what seems to us like crooked lines.  I believe God draws straight with crooked lines.

The second quote I saw recently on a Christian school sign  – Live in your vision, not your circumstance

All of us have circumstances or contexts in which we live out our lives.

  • Do we let the circumstances rule our lives?
  • Can circumstances strangle our will to follow God?

We either live in our circumstances and let the situation dictate our life OR we can live our vision and let our vision dictate our life.

Throughout our lives, we can find ourselves in many kinds of circumstances.  The apostle Paul speaks of learning to be content in all circumstances, whether being put down or lifted up. Paul was content to zig and zag with God. Now this in not an easy concept for me to always feel “content.”

What does “feeling content” mean?

  • I do not believe that this means we should “settle” or accept the brokenness of our world in negative circumstances.
  • I do not think that Paul’s idea of “being content” means sitting back and doing nothing.
  • I do not think it means we should shrivel up and die but rather Paul accepted negative circumstances as opportunities to connect with people and spread the Good News of Jesus Christ.

He used the circumstances to live out his vision.  We are not just “putting in time until we get to where God really wants us.”  “To be content” does not mean we let evil triumph.  However, it does means we accept and follow where God leads, content to let God be in control, content to let God’s vision be our vision.   It means that when we experience an unexpected twist or turn (a crooked line if you will) we ask ourselves:

  • What is called for here?
  • How do I respond?

Our response is the only thing we truly have within our control.

As Martin Luther King (Jr) said in his powerful speech regarding the circumstances of African American people…. I have a dream… He was living in a vision, not in the circumstances.  He was dreaming a dream that declares the Kingdom of God coming on Earth.

  • In our Canadian context today we think of the horrific circumstances at Residential schools – and the recent discovery of bodies of children in graves in Kamloops, Brandon, Marieval and many more. Sadly, more discoveries are likely to come.  These discoveries clearly reveal that this world is NOT as God intended it to be.  In this we are witness to some of the darkest aspects of Canadian history.  And these events do not stand alone – there are other dark spots in our legacy. We live in this circumstance. As followers of Christ we need to dream a dream … and articulate our vision for the Kingdom of God.
  • In our recent circumstances, as a whole country we are reminded of the terrible hatred and evil that makes us destroy others different than ourselves. We agonize with the Muslim community… over the fear, violence and destruction of families and individuals just because they are of the Muslim faith. As people of God, we need to dream a dream… and live in our vision for a better world.
  • In these and other circumstances, we need to grieve with our families and neighbors in Canada and around the world as we work for justice, reconciliation and restoration on so many levels. Living in these circumstances, we need to dream a dream … and work for a world made new through God’s power.

We often measure whether God is with us by the world’s standards of success. But God calls us to another level of faithfulness when things seem crooked and distorted and out of control, when our lives zig and zag with God into places we do not expect.  Our task is to live in this world and to envision the Kingdom of God on Earth.  We are called to act on this vision and to be a reflection of God, in all our circumstances.  With God’s help we can articulate and live our vision that the Kingdom of God is one of peace, not violence… one of hope, not despair.  We dream… we pray… we work to eradicate the prejudice, racism, homophobia, violence and all the evils that work to defeat God’s Way of Truth, and Life. We are not going to save the world; Jesus already did that.

Neither Queen Esther, the Apostles Paul and James, or Martin Luther King Jr had any idea of the work God was going to call them to do. God prepared them in advance, without their understanding, to be ready for their time. We believe the same is true for each one of us. God has called you – in your moment – your circumstance. You may never know the result of your faithfulness… of our faithfulness, but we are living in the already-but-not-yet Kingdom of God.

Our hope is not in our efforts, our plans, our lists.

Our hope is in being faithful and relying on God to complete this work.

Our hope is in God.

Conclusion:

My friends – God draws straight with crooked lines – GOD will zig and zag with you through the circumstances of your life. Keeping our eyes on God we follow the ONE who is the Way, the Truth and the Life. God is always with us as we dream new dreams of God’s Kingdom on Earth.  God will draw straight with crooked lines as we are content to live in God’s vision , not our circumstance.  AMEN.

Song: Spirit, Spirit of gentleness  (# 399)

Refrain: Spirit, spirit of gentleness, blow through the wilderness, calling and free, Spirit, spirit of restlessness, stir me from placidness, wind, wind on the sea.

You moved on the waters, you called to the deep, then you coaxed up the mountains from the valleys of sleep; and over the eons you called to each thing; “Awake from your slumbers and rise on your wings.”

Refrain

You swept through the desert, you stung with the sand and you goaded your people with a law and a land; and when they were blinded with idols and lies, then you spoke through your prophets to open their eyes.

Refrain

 You sang in a stable, you cried from a hill,
then you whispered in silence when the whole world was still; and down in the city you called once again, when you blew through your people on the rush of the wind.

Refrain

 

You call from tomorrow, you break ancient schemes. From the bondage of sorrow all the captives dream dreams; our women see visions, our men clear their eyes. With bold new decisions your people arise.

Refrain

Words and music: James K. Manley © James Manley Reprinted with permission under One License, License #A735555. All rights reserved, Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE.

We respond to serve God

Prayer of gratitude

God of all things –

Thank you for your presence with us, even when we cannot see you.

You have promised us life and not just life but abundant life, in all the spaces in our lives!

Give us the courage to live and act in the abundant life you offer.

Teach us to hear you in the stillness and in the noise around us.  Focus our hearts and our minds.

Thank you for making our crooked paths straight, as we zig and zag to you.

Thank you for the times we can be silent and still before you.

Thank you for the times we can sing and praise you with all our might.

Help us to dream dreams and to participate in the healing of your Creation.

Clear our eyes to see your vision for your Kingdom on Earth.  AMEN.

Response: In the Lord I’ll be ever thankful

Reflection on giving: We have been giving faithfully even though there is no offering plate being passed in the sanctuary. It may be a while before we return to the sanctuary, but we are still able to continue the ministry and mission that define Dayspring using the various ways described on the screen and in Dayspring Weekly News. Thank you all for your contribution, which comes freely from hearts full of gratitude.

Song: Let all things now living (# 338)

Let all things now living a song of thanksgiving
To God our creator triumphantly raise,.
who fashioned and made us, protected and stayed us,

by guiding us on to the end of our days.

God’s banners are o’er us, pure light goes before us,
a pillar of fire shining forth in the night,
till shadows have vanished and darkness is banished,
as forward we travel from light into Light.
By law God enforces, the stars in their courses
and sun in its orbit obediently shine.

The hills and the mountains, the rivers and fountains,
the depths of the ocean proclaim God divine.
We too should be voicing our love and rejoicing;
With glad adoration a song let us raise, till all things now living unite in thanksgiving:
To God in the highest, hosanna and praise!

Words: Katherine Davis © E.C. Shirmer Music Co.; 1966.Music: Welsh trad. Reprinted with permission under ONE LICENSE, License #A735555​. All rights reserved.Permission to stream the music in this service obtained from ONE LICENSE

Sending out with God’s blessing

And now – as we close… receive God’s blessing –

Live and ACT in your circumstances with your eyes focussed on God. Be at peace with yourself, allowing God’s spirit to renew your heart and mind. Celebrate that God makes straight your crooked lines. For all power and glory belongs to God.  Amen.

Response: God to enfold you

“God draws straight with crooked lines” (Adapted from Andrew Greeley, catholic priest)


Copyright (Prayers and Message) 2021 Darlene Eerkes

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