Welcome to St. Andrew

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In addition to this Virtual Worship Service, you are invited to join us on Zoom for the
All Church Coffee Hour
Sunday, April 18 – 10:00am – 11:00am
It will be a time for Check-in, Prayers, and getting better acquainted in Small Group Conversation.
We hope you’ll join us – Bring a church friend!

Use the Zoom link in our Saturday and Sunday emails.
Email the church office if you need the Zoom link: Link Request

SUNDAY – APRIL 18, 2021

The Third Sunday of Easter

“Make of it What You Will”
Luke 24:36b-48
Rev. Nicole C. Trotter

Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, April 18, 2021
Many thanks for technical assistance / contributions from Ron Moser, Rev. Nicole Trotter, Amy Cox, Tracy Walthard, Kelsey Walthard, and Dawne Carver.

Opening Song

“Open the Eyes of My Heart” – Performed by Michael W. Smith

“Open the Eyes of My Heart”, Written by Paul Baloche – Licensed to YouTube by SME (on behalf of Reunion Records); Capitol CMG Publishing, Adorando Brazil, UMPI, ASCAP, LatinAutor – UMPG, LatinAutorPerf, EMI Music Publishing, and 18 Music Rights Societies

Discovery Time & Sunday School

Click the arrow to watch Tracy Walthard 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 18th:

Preschool Bottom Line for the week of April 18th:

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 18th:

Grades K-5 Bottom Line for the week of April 18th:

Message for Youth

Last week I talked about planting different kinds of seeds. During our time together in Youth Group, we talked about what seeds we needed to plant within ourselves as we were planting seeds of flowers and vegetables. Here are the “seeds” we wrote down: patience, joy, endurance, gratitude, kindness and helpfulness. We talked about how we plant the seeds in ourselves, and leave the results to God. Yet that doesn’t mean we don’t do anything. When we plant a seed in the ground, we still need to tend to it so the seed will grow. The same is true with planting seeds of joy, patience, helpfulness, endurance kindness, gratitude, and love.

We tend to our “seeds” by connecting with God through His word, prayer and being in a faith community.

The best thing about God’s word is that it’s consistent. God’s word is the same today as it was yesterday and tomorrow. I am still able to apply what lessons were learned (or ignored) years and years ago to what I’m going through today. God is constantly revealing ways to grow – grow closer to Him and grow to be more of who He designed me to be.

I need to be in prayer. When I’m connected to God, I want to talk about my life. Talk about what’s bugging me, where I’m struggling and ask Him for guidance, for help. I also want to share the blessings. Share that I recognize the good things happening in me and around me. And in prayer, I can ask Him to grow the seeds of faith and trust, that just like a small mustard seed, my “seed” of patience or helpfulness (or any other seed I’ve planted) will grow as big as the mustard plant.

I need to be in a faith community. This allows me to grow in God’s word, to pray together and to share life- the good and the bad. God wants us to be in community to grow together. To lean on one another. To celebrate the beauty as well as sit in the ashes. I’m strengthened and renewed when I am in a small group, part of a church service and in youth group. I’m lifted up when I’m weary or I’m able to lift up someone who is weary.

As physical seeds need proper sun, water and nutrients, our spiritual seeds need God’s word, prayer and faith community. We do plant the seeds in faith and we wait and trust in God to grow those seeds into strong, wonderful plants. And in the waiting, we learn to grow together in His word and in prayer. Blessings, Dawne Carver

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.

Pastoral Prayer

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

Prayer of the Day written by Thom M. Shuman


When we are blinded by anger,
you pour out your love
for all to see;
when we wonder
what tomorrow will bring,
you call us to trust in you;
when sadness fills our hearts,
you plant gladness in our hearts.
God of Easter:
touch us with your grace.

You show us your hands,
so we may reach out
to mend the broken;
you show us your feet,
so we may walk with
those the world passes by;
you show us your face,
so we may know who our
sisters and brothers look like.
Risen Christ:
touch us with your compassion.

You open our eyes,
so we may see God’s love;
you open our minds,
so we may welcome God’s Word;
you open our lips,
so we may be God’s witnesses.
Spirit of Hope:
touch us with your peace.

God in Community, Holy in One,
open us to your presence,
as we pray as Jesus has taught us, saying,

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

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

Luke 24:36b-48

While they were talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” They were startled and terrified, and thought that they were seeing a ghost. He said to them, “Why are you frightened, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet; see that it is I myself. Touch me and see; for a ghost does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when he had said this, he showed them his hands and his feet. While in their joy they were disbelieving and still wondering, he said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate in their presence. Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you–that everything written about me in the law of Moses, the prophets, and the psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

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

Sermon

“Make of it What You Will”

Rev. Nicole C. Trotter

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

Good morning, St. Andrew, I just want to recap for you what a beautiful Easter celebration it was with so many of you – those that were comfortable coming to indoor service, those who were at outdoor service, those who joined in the sunrise service and then those who were there virtually. It was really a beautiful, beautiful day and I am so grateful to all of the people who had their hands in the process and I just wanted to share that note of appreciation. So with that, please join me now in prayer.

And now may the words of my mouth and the meditations of all of our hearts be acceptable to you, O God, our Rock and our Redeemer. Amen.

We’re in the Season of Easter which means for seven Sundays, until the day of Pentecost, our Gospel readings describe the resurrection appearances of Jesus.

On Easter Sunday I quoted The Rev. Dr. James Noel who every year, just before Easter Sunday, would give the preachers in his classrooms this charge- “Make sure you get Jesus out of the tomb!” In other words, make sure you don’t only preach metaphors of spring and rebirth but, instead, preach a very bodily, physical resurrection of Christ. 

This is a well known debate among theologians; is the resurrection a metaphor for new life, or was Jesus resurrected with a living, breathing body that leaves the tomb literally empty?

What do you make of the resurrection? If we went around the room, I imagine we’d all have a different answer. In my 20’s I would have told you that anyone who believed in a bodily resurrection had drunk the Kool-Aid. In my 30’s, when I was still relatively new to church, I became less sure, but made a choice to understand the resurrection of Jesus as a beautiful metaphor for new life of all kinds; in the world and within our lives; discovering new identities and ways of being, over the course of a lifetime.

Into my 40’s and now 50’s, slowly over time, something began to shift, but I’ve never traded one understanding in for the other. I’ve come to understand that the literal and the metaphorical feed off one another.

The debate between metaphorical and physical resurrection is usually presented as an either/or debate. Most theological debates are presented as either/or, especially in Seminary, and I’m pretty sure I used to annoy my theology professor by asking, “Can’t it be both/and? Aren’t we capable of accepting that there are times we will experience the resurrection of Jesus as a metaphor and other times, we’ll experience Him as a living breathing reality among us? And can’t we experience God in ways that no longer separates the physical from the spiritual?”

The resurrection appearances ground the ordinary in the extraordinary appearance of Jesus. Jesus speaks a name, and someone hears it with their ears, Jesus shows his scars on flesh, leaves footprints on the road, tears bread apart with his hands, sits in the warmth of a campfire, and in today’s gospel, eats a piece of broiled fish – chews on a piece of fish. Something he must have done endless times before with his disciples, he now does again. Luke goes out of his way to bring us a very physical manifestation of the resurrection- in keeping with the very physical manifestation of his life.

As writer Debie Thomas shares in her essay, Embodied

“The Jesus of Easter is the Jesus of the Incarnation. The Jesus who grows in a womb, enters the world through a birth canal, sleeps in a feeding trough, and nurses at Mary’s breast. The Jesus who scrapes his knees, roughhouses with his playmates, loses his parents during Passover, and goes through puberty in the backwaters of Nazareth. The Jesus who soaks in the waters of baptism, hungers for bread in the Judean wilderness, weeps at his friend’s grave, flings a whip around the temple, appreciates scented oils on his feet and head, sweats blood in the garden of Gethsemane, and suffers asphyxiation on a Roman cross. “It is I myself,” Jesus tells his wonderstruck disciples as they struggle to reorder all that they know about life and death, souls and bodies, in the aftermath of his astonishing appearance. It is I myself. Me. The one you know. The one you love. The one you trust. Touch me and see.” (1)

Jesus reminds his disciples of his ultimate purpose, his life, death and resurrection and reminds those listening, that they are witnesses of these things. Witnesses of these things. When I read that, I began to think about the ways we’re witnesses of so many things, all the time. We witness love and compassion, pain and destruction. We witness justice and injustice. We witness miraculous things, and ordinary things. We witness all of these things. But what are we making of them?

I was reminded on Monday of the ways we witness for one another the life of someone who has died. We met in the sanctuary for a celebration of life for Betsy Niles. The traditional presbyterian title for such a gathering is called A Service to the Witness of the Resurrection. 

Because that’s what we do as family and friends of the one who has died. We stand up to share our love and stories of the deceased. We witness all the ways they lived and continue to live as we continue to witness.

As I learned about Betsy, I learned that we share a love for birds. So I wasn’t at all surprised to learn that on the morning of the service, Sara and Bill Clegg were setting up flowers in the sanctuary- when a bird flew in. I shared that story with the people gathered there on Monday, and I ended with; make of that story what you will. Because I knew some would choose to understand it as a coincidence. It’s not the first time a bird has flown into the sanctuary. Bill was able to catch the bird gently in his hands and carry it outside, but I’m sure he’s not the first. But when I said, make of that what you will, I also knew there would be those who would choose to understand that story as a witness to the resurrection. Was it literally Betsy reincarnated as a bird? Was it a sign of comfort from God reminding Bill and Sara of their friend’s love for them, or was it the spirit of God taking on a physical manifestation as a metaphor for renewed life? Make of it what you will, but remember we are witnesses of these things.

Three more bird stories were told that morning, and people began to pick up on the phrase, make of that what you will.

Make of that what you will…..what you will- is what you choose….God gives us free will, we are free to make of what we witness as we choose. God chose life over death. We are witnesses of that, so when you’re left with the choice to make of it what you will, try choosing that which brings you deeper into wonder, into imagination, into new life and creativity and watch what the God of resurrection can do with that.

Towards the end of the Witness to the Resurrection Service for Betsy, it was shared that Betsy often, around a table, in sharing bread with friends, would pose a deep, thought-filled question that everyone would answer…

So let me ask you here today; What would your life look like if you choose the very real presence of Christ among you, living and breathing as you live and breathe?

Writer Debie Thomas continues-

“I need a Savior with a body like mine — a body that adores, worships, and celebrates, but also a body that fails, ages, aches, breaks, and dies. A body that carries wounds and scars, visible and invisible, fresh and faded. A body that is profoundly and often terrifyingly vulnerable to forces beyond my ability to mitigate or control… A body that might die — as Jesus himself died — too soon, out of season, away from loved ones, in random, inexplicable, cruelly traumatic circumstances too frightening to contemplate. I need a God who resurrects bodies. A God who honors and even revels in physicality, who sees the danger and damage so often enacted against human flesh, and yet declares with absolute authority and credibility that our endings here and now are not The End. For me, the physical resurrection of Jesus is God’s definitive offering of both compassion and justice: all that has been taken, broken, mistreated, wronged, and forgotten, will be restored.” (2)

Friends, we belong to a God who gave us embodied love. God gives us love made flesh in Jesus- so that we would be witnesses of these things….and choose to make of them what we will……

May it be so.

Amen.

________________________________________________

(1)  https://www.journeywithjesus.net/lectionary-essays/current-essay

(2) https://www.journeywithjesus.net/lectionary-essays/current-essay

Closing Song

“Just a Closer Walk With Thee” – performed by Ella Fitzgerald

“Just a Closer Walk With Thee”, Licensed to YouTube by: UMG (on behalf of EMI); Polaris Hub AB, Kobalt Music Publishing, Carol Vincent & Associates (Music Publishing), Hexacorp (music publishing), LatinAutorPerf, SOLAR Music Rights Management, LatinAutor – UMPG, UMPG Publishing, ABKCO Music, Inc., and 4 Music Rights Societies

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