Welcome to St. Andrew

EASTER SUNDAY – APRIL 4, 2021

Do Not Hold On To Me
Rev. Nicole C. Trotter

Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, April 4, 2021
Many thanks for technical assistance / contributions from Ron Moser, Amy Cox, Rev. Nicole Trotter, Tracy Walthard, Kelsey Walthard, and Dawne Carver.

Opening Hymn

“Christ the Lord is Risen Today” – For those who enjoy a High Church version of a most traditional Easter Hymn

Opening Song

“Awaken” For those who would prefer to dance around the living room and awaken the senses

The Work of the People – Music by The Robbie Seay Band

Opening Video

“O Radiant Light” Liturgy of music and visual beauty for Easter

The Work of the People – Acclimation written by Chris Neufeld-Erdman

Opening Prayer

Click the arrow below to hear Rev. Nicole Trotter offer this morning’s Opening Prayer or read the Prayer below

This is Easter 
For you
blue bonnets and white gloves, if only in our mind’s eye
metaphors of spring, bunnies, butterflies, white lilies
Easter parades and Judy Garland echoing years past
wreaths of colored eggs and mantels lined with pastel baskets of colorful candy

this is Easter
For you
persuaded to be here, by a spouse, a parent, a sense of obligation 
It’s Easter Sunday after all, surely I should go there, I’ll find something to wear, even if it is brown.

this is Easter
For you
reluctant and doubtful but searching, for a word, a phrase, a song, a friend, a community, anything to dull colors of gray that fade over the backdrop of hope.

this is Easter-
an empty tomb, bands of cloth now left behind, reminiscent of the cloth He was wrapped in as a baby, by Joseph and Mary, now tossed aside, blood stained by violence

this is Easter-
Jesus says, I am way ahead of you, and within you, above you and below you….you cannot escape me now, for I live in each and every one of you and there is no right Easter and there is no wrong Easter, just Easter… and if you’re here, if you’ve shown up this morning, then like the disciples that very first Easter, you are witness to the miraculous love of God, you are witness to the miracle of life itself, given eyes to see the miracle of Easter with all of its many shades of colors. 

With all thanks to God for this day, this celebration and every shade of Easter in you, in the name of the Holy Risen Christ Jesus, we say Amen.

Discovery Time & Sunday School

Click the image to watch Tracy Walthard and Eliza Jane Mills present Discovery Time:

Our Sunday School Lessons for today are as follows:

PRESCHOOL LESSON:

Preschool Memory Verse for April:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Preschool children for Sunday, April 4th:

Preschool Bottom Line for the week of April 4th:

GRADES K-5 LESSON:

Grades K-5 Memory Verse for April:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Kindergarten – 5th Grade children for Sunday, April 4th:

Grades K-5 Bottom Line for the week of April 4th:

Message for Youth

He is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! Happy Easter! I love these words. They are so beautiful and yet how many times do I say them and forget, or gloss over the miracle within the phrase “He is Risen!”?

Years ago, I had the privilege of doing a monologue where I portrayed Mary Magdalene. It was a very emotional part and I really wanted to understand what she was feeling. As I read the words in the Gospels, I started to take in the depth of her grief and horror at seeing Jesus die on the cross for reasons that made absolutely no sense. I imagined not ever getting to talk to Him, sit with Him, learn from Him. The need to do something, to properly prepare His body for burial. To say goodbye while doing it. I imagine the hushed conversations on the way to the tomb. Then to arrive at the tomb and find that Jesus’s body was gone! How can that be? Who took His body? Why would they do that and not even allow His body to be buried properly?! The fear and disbelief of being asked by angels why we were even looking for His body? It was all too much. I fall to my knees overwhelmed by the grief. And then, I hear my name. I know that voice! I look up. I see Jesus! What? How? Oh, I don’t care. All that matters is He is standing in front of me, alive! The joy! I’m floating with happiness!! As I’m running to tell the others, I’m thinking “What a miracle! He is alive! He is Risen!” I’m reenergized the wonder and hope that Jesus is alive!

As I said before, it was an emotional part. I still remember the emotions. And the feelings that I want to cling to! That sense of wonder, joy and hope! “He is Risen” takes on a deeper meaning and reminds me of the true miracle. Death does not bring an end to Jesus. Jesus overcame death. And because He took the punishment for my sins, for your sins, we have new life and new hope in Him.

That’s how I need to face each day. I need to wake up each morning remembering the miracle of Jesus’s resurrection. On this Easter morning, no matter what you are going through, what you are doing, remember this: He is Risen! Remember the beautiful promise of eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior!
Happy Easter, Dawne Carver

Faith Offering

Please continue your giving during this time, so that St. Andrew may continue to serve our local community and our membership. We recognize that some of you have been impacted financially by economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic. For those of you who can, please continue to give on a regular basis.

There are several options available:

  • Give electronically to the St. Andrew General Fund
  • Set up your donation to St. Andrew to be paid through your bill paying service at your personal bank.
  • Mail a check to St. Andrew, or drop your envelope into our locked mail box: 16290 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476

Holy Scripture

Click the arrow below to see and hear Rev. Nicole Trotter offer this morning’s Scripture Reading or read the Scripture below

Prayer for Illumination – Lord, open our hearts and minds by the power of your Holy Spirit, that as the Scriptures are read and your Word is proclaimed, we may hear with joy what you say to us today. Amen

John 20:1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went toward the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes. But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him. “When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” Jesus said to her, “Mary!” She turned and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbouni!” (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, “Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

This is the word of God, for the people of God. Thanks be to God

Joys and Concerns

Please let us know how we can support you in prayer this week. We will share requests for prayer with Deacons and staff, and with the congregation as appropriate.

Click on the image below to submit a prayer request.

Blessing for Wholeness and Healing

Click the arrow below to hear Rev. Nicole Trotter offer this morning’s Prayer or read the Prayer below

Seen for Easter Day – Written by Jan Richardson

Followed by The Lord’s Prayer

You had not imagined
that something so empty
could fill you
to overflowing,

and now you carry
the knowledge
like an awful treasure
or like a child
that curls itself
within your heart:

how the emptiness
will bear forth
a new world
you cannot fathom
but on whose edge
you stand.

So why do you linger?
You have seen,
and so you are
already blessed.
You have been seen,
and so you are
the blessing.

There is no other word
you need.
There is simply
to go
and tell.
There is simply
to begin.

—Jan Richardson from Circle of Grace: A Book of Blessings for the Seasons


And now let us pray together the prayer Jesus taught his disciples

Our Father, 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 debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Sermon

“Do Not Hold On To Me”

Rev. Nicole C. Trotter

Click the arrow below to see and hear Rev. Nicole Trotter’s Sermon or read the Sermon below

For those of us who have ever lost someone we’ve loved deeply, we know the significance that physical things take on: an old sweater, a wedding ring, a favorite chair, an urn of ashes. Mary, weeping, in darkness, wanting to touch Jesus, even if he’s wrapped in linen- this is the tangible thing she had to hold on to. And now- gone, grief strikes again, as the reality of his absence sinks in.

Until Mary hears her name, spoken by the man she now recognizes as her beloved Jesus.

John doesn’t tell us she rushed towards him, but I’m willing to bet she did, that any of us would, wanting to touch him, embracing the one we think we’ve lost forever, to hold them- just to hold on to them once more. 

And Jesus says….….do not hold on to me….

It almost feels cruel to our ears, if we really imagine being Mary in that moment. But, it’s not all he says. He gives her this reason: I’m on my way to God, there’s a much bigger purpose here, do not hold on to me. I’m on my way to God, and I’m taking the whole world with me.(1)

You can imagine her desire to hold on to him. Who doesn’t want to hold on to God? Especially when we’re experiencing God in front of us. Few of us have seen the Risen Lord the way Mary had, but many of us have had what we call God moments. And we want to hold on to them and preserve them forever. But the more we try to hold on to those moments (let alone make sense of them) the more apt we are to staying stuck. But Jesus is moving on, and asking us to let go- so we might go with him.

My father died in 2011. But long before he died, I began trying to make sense of his life… the way he transformed from the father of my childhood to the kind old man with Parkinsons.

At the end of his life he was moved into a memory care unit. He was only there for roughly 5 or 6 weeks. In that time, he went from a cane to walker to wheel chair. He went from having constant companionship to spending a lot of time alone, and I still regret not being able to provide him with a place to stay or a way to take care of him. For months following his death I could only think of him there, in that place, as I referred to it. I would lay awake wondering if I had done this or that would he still be alive, or at least died a happier death.

Then one night in a very vivid dream, my father showed up to say quite simply, “You have to stop thinking of me there.” He didn’t say where I should think of him, but I inferred he meant an earlier time, without physical limitation, the good times. So I began imagining him with my Godfather Ed Wiesner, the way they would laugh together, in plaid pants, long side burns, a cigarette in one hand and a martini in the other.

But over the course of many years, I began to understand the message of the dream differently… Because from the day he died, and for years to come, I was having new experiences of him that reached beyond anything I can explain in a rational way. Those experiences were gifts, as was the dream, and they’ve taught me that to hold on too tightly to anything, even miraculous moments, can sometimes hold us back from experiencing the new thing that God is showing us. God is always becoming, always creating, and as God’s creatures, if we want to go along for the ride, we have to let go.
Jesus says, do not hold on to me….

Letting go is something we’ve learned a lot about this past year. And, now with vaccinations on the rise, many of us feel as though we’re coming out of darkness.

“…new life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb…”(2)

About 6 years ago, I had moved into San Quentin-San Quentin Village, before you enter into the prison, (I always have to add that part). Surrounded by water and birds, I found myself listening and watching birds with the excitement of a kid in a candy store. They flew at eye level, would sit on wires just a few feet away, and in trees close enough that if I took out my binoculars I could stare as though I could reach out and touch them. My daughter Charlotte would call me the bird lady and roll her eyes every time I tried to make her look up from her computer.

When our closest family friend, who’s known me for years, came to visit he asked how I was liking the place. I said, “I really like it, I love watching the birds.” To which he replied, “I’ll take things old people say for 500, please, Alex.

There I was, surrounded by hawks, heron, egret, geese, pelicans, starlings, finches, and more. But one day, during Lent, I heard a bird I had never heard before.

He had a million different calls, one after the other. That was the first time I had ever heard a bird like this. Each morning, and evening, I’d hear him again. I was in awe of its many, many songs. I began to imagine this bird as praising God with countless songs, not unlike us, with hundreds of hymns to sing to God. And then someone who knows birds told me I was hearing a mockingbird (I don’t know how I had managed to live 50 years without knowing what a mockingbird sounded like, but there it is).

And then after about a month of this, the mockingbird became the loudest bird in the neighborhood, to the point of drowning out the calls of all the other birds, and I began to laugh, thinking about the dynamics between the birds. How annoyed the other birds must be by the new guy in town, like the town drunk, who made no sense.
And then, over time, I began to feel sorry for the mockingbird. The poor guy was suffering an identity crisis, unsure of its own voice. It was taking on the voice of all the others.

Then, as the bird began singing loudly in the night, I became a little annoyed with him; didn’t he know it was dark? Which in turn, got me feeling sorry for him again. Did he have trouble distinguishing day from night?

As time went on in those days of Lent, and the mockingbird sang, I stopped what I was doing one day to write the following-

This bird has become a part of my home now. He’s there when I wake and he’s the last one to go to sleep. He sings when I make a sandwich, as I dust off baseboards, while I write a sermon, when I’m walking to the car. I don’t wonder about him as much as I used to, I’ve just come to trust his presence. I hear him even when he’s stopped singing, as my memory of his songs play on in my head..in my body. His songs have become something I count on as a part of my home.

It turns out my experience of the mockingbird became a metaphor for my experience of Christ. I had projected every kind of narrative onto the bird, from fascination and awe, to comedy, to annoyance, to feeling sorry for it. We do the same with God and Christ. We hold onto ideas and expectations, we hold on to wounds and old stories. We hold on.

But when we let go, he leads us into new ways of living.

He’s everywhere now….a part of your very being.

My father didn’t believe in God, or if he did, he kept it a secret from me. And when I entered Seminary he asked rhetorically, “You don’t really buy into that whole resurrection crap do you?”

I don’t really remember how I answered him then, but today, if you’re listening Dad, let me say, “yes, I do, with all of my heart, strength, mind and soul, and I owe a large part of that belief, ironically to you. Jesus Christ is as much a part of me, as I was once a part of you.”

God is always creating life from what is only seemingly dead. It’s perhaps the only thing we can hold on to. In every Gospel the disciples are told to go out into the world and proclaim what they’ve seen.
We can’t return to the past, can’t hold on, but we can proclaim we have seen Jesus, alive and well in the world. A world that needs our hands and feet, our compassion. What new life will look like is entirely up to God, but as Easter people, with our many shades of colors, we are called to carry acts of love into the world.

As we bring these acts of love to the world, we must not hold on to how it will be received. The world may hear our Easter proclamations as an annoying mockingbird in the middle of the night, or may hold on to old ways of hearing us. But there may be some who will hear our many songs with wonder and curiosity. They may listen with new ears, set free from the darkness…and may even hear a new song, and feel called to join us in the chorus.

_____________________________

(1)  Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark

(2) Barbara Brown Taylor, Learning to Walk in the Dark

Closing Hymn

“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” – for the Traditional

“Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee” – Just a little bit Country

A Visual Benediction

“He is Risen!” – An Easter benediction by Kelly Ann Hall

The Work of the People

“The Lord Bless You and Keep You” 

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