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Due to a lack of staff availability for hosting this week, we will not be meeting online this morning for our

All Church Coffee Hour

If you would be willing to host a Zoom Coffee Hour for the St. Andrew Congregation in the future, please contact the church office at [email protected]

SUNDAY – APRIL 25, 2021

Creation Sunday

“Real Good”
Genesis 1:20-31
Rev. Nicole C. Trotter

Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, April 25, 2021
Many thanks for technical assistance / contributions from Ron Moser, Rev. Nicole Trotter, Amy Cox, Tracy Walthard, Kelsey Walthard, and Dawne Carver.

Opening Video

“Earth as the Original Sacrament” – There is a grand chorus that is ongoing, day after day, night after night. Birds, beasts, bubbling brooks, gusts of wind, the crackle of fire, the patter of rain. We are part of this choir. We have our part to sing.

“Earth as the Original Liturgy” – a blessing written by Christine Valters Paintner. www.theworkofthepeople.com

Opening Prayer

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

Opening Prayer from The Presbyterian Mission Agency, PCUSA


Creator God, We declare with joy and trust that our world belongs to you.

For the fierce love with which you hold us and the rest of your creation, we declare
Our world belongs to God.

For creation’s awesome beauty and its bountiful provision, we declare
Our world belongs to God.

For the manifold ways that it reveals your glory and draws us closer to you, we declare
Our world belongs to God.

Amidst its present groaning, we declare
Our world belongs to God.

To our leaders, gathering together to seek answers to the climate crisis, we declare
Our world belongs to God.

May our leaders be motivated by compassion and not by fear. May their goal be justice and equity, not political posturing.

For the sake of the people and the ministries of your church across the globe already being affected by climate disruption, may we seek consensus over controversy; action over apathy.

For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we confess our complicity in creation’s degradation, recommit ourselves to our earth keeping task, and gratefully declare,
Our world belongs to God.

As your people, participating now in your ongoing work of renewal and longing for the day when you will bring that work to completion, we declare
Our world belongs to God.

Our world belongs to you, O God.
Hallelujah! Come, Lord Jesus

Opening Hymn

“All Things Bright and Beautiful” – Arranged by John Rutter – Performed by Cambridge Singers – City of London Sinfonia

“All Things Bright and Beautiful”, Written by Cecil Frances Alexander (1818-1895)- Licensed to YouTube by NaxosofAmerica (on behalf of Collegium); UMPG Publishing, LatinAutorPerf, PEDL, CMRRA, Sony ATV Publishing, Warner Chappell, and 5 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 25th:

Preschool Bottom Line for the week of April 25th:

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 25th:

Grades K-5 Bottom Line for the week of April 25th:

Message for Youth

I love blooms! I love to see what is growing around me, whether in the fields along the highway, on my walk around the neighborhood, or in my backyard. There is something beautiful and inspiring in seeing the different shapes, colors and styles. The different fragrances lingering in the air. It’s as if nature is inviting us to come out, see what’s happening and be a part of its beauty. It’s constantly changing and growing! Just like you and me. We are constantly changing and growing too. The questions are, “Am I growing strong in His word? Am I blooming in His love? Am I inviting others to be a part of the beauty of knowing Jesus?”

When plants and flowers have proper water, light, and nutrients, we see it. We see it in the flowers, the fruit, and the leaves. You and I also need proper water, light and nutrients to grow, to bloom. We need God’s word, time in prayer, and fellowship with our faith community. Without these things, we will not grow strong, we will not bloom with color.

When I’m spending time each day with God, I can tell that God is at work in me. It’s a shift in my attitude and my thoughts. I’m producing fruits like patience for myself and others, gentleness in my interactions, self control in my speech and actions. As I bloom in His love, I feel full of color and life. I want to share His love with others. When I’m in fellowship with other believers, my faith is fed and strengthened. I’m part of something bigger than just me. It’s like being a part of a field of flowers instead of a single bloom. We are constantly changing as we grow. As our faith grows, our roots grow deeper and stronger. There are more blooms, more colors, and more fruit to share with those around us. We are inviting others to come and see what’s happening. To share God’s love through our blooms and fruit. As you take time today to look around at all the beautiful flowers, ask yourself, “Are you growing stronger and blooming in His love?” If not, take time to be still in God’s presence and ask Him to help you to bloom. Blessings, 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

Special Video

“Earth as the Original Scripture” – An invitation to begin to engage Earth as the original word of God, as the ongoing revelatory love story of God and all things. 

“Earth as the Original Scripture” – a blessing written by Christine Valters Paintner. www.theworkofthepeople.com

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

Genesis 1:20-31

And God said, “Let the waters bring forth swarms of living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth across the dome of the sky.” So God created the great sea monsters and every living creature that moves, of every kind, with which the waters swarm, and every winged bird of every kind. And God saw that it was good. God blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the waters in the seas, and let birds multiply on the earth.” And there was evening and there was morning, the fifth day.

And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.” And it was so. God made the wild animals of the earth of every kind, and the cattle of every kind, and everything that creeps upon the ground of every kind. And God saw that it was good.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created humankind in his image,
  in the image of God he created them;
  male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” God said, “See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. God saw everything that he had made, and indeed, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.

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

Special Music

“What a Wonderful World” – Performed by Playing for Change

“What a Wonderful World”, Written by Louis Armstrong

Sermon

“Real Good”

Rev. Nicole C. Trotter

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

In the sanctuary this morning, we will be the hearing the creation story of Genesis as adapted in a children’s book titled, Big Momma Makes the World. It’s an attempt to have some fun, but we’re also doing it hoping that folks might hear an old, familiar story with a fresh set of ears. Most of us have heard or read the Genesis scripture so many times, that it’s easy to hear it without really listening.

One of the stumbling blocks in hearing our biblical creation story is that it is presented as a done deal. Something God did once, a long time ago. Past tense. Throughout the story we hear this phrase “And God saw that it was Good…” which makes it sound permanent, like an artist finishing a painting and saying, that’s good and done. The Hebrew word that gets translated is good, but it’s not the word perfect. Anyone who has ever created anything, visual art, a piece of music, a quilt, a performance on the stage, will tell you it’s never perfect, and it’s, therefore, never really finished.

God is always creating. God is the God of the new creation, of the new heaven and earth, the God of resurrection, always doing a new thing.

Another stumbling block we come across in thinking about God’s creation, is that we, human beings, are somehow separate from the rest of creation, rather than a part of it. And much of that thinking stems from the word “dominion” in verse 26 God gives humankind dominion over “the fish of the sea, …the birds of the air, …the cattle, …all the wild animals of the earth,[b] and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

But what does dominion mean? Does dominion mean exploiting creation or caring for God’s creation? Does dominion mean we have superiority over or responsibility for? I’ll give you a hint. That’s a rhetorical question.

The third stumbling block is a bit trickier. It stems from our appreciation for nature as though nature is separate from God. As though Creator created this landscape we appreciate like a fine piece of art to be observed and appreciated from a distance, rather than understanding it as a very part of God. “Landscape is the firstborn of God’s creation, writes John O Donahue. It was here long, long before we were even dreamed. It was here without us. It watched us arrive.” And yet, we abuse it, because of greed and blindness. But just as creation is never finished, human beings created in the image of God, are called to enter into our landscape of earth, as one more way to enter into communion with God. And perhaps no other Gospel than John’s does a better job of describing our oneness with God and all of creation through Christ. We are a part of, not separate from. It’s one thing to read that, and quite another to practice living that way.

Part of why I chose a children’s book as a new way to hear the creation story, is because of the way so many children relate to nature. Most of the time, when given the chance, they’re enchanted with it. They wonder with awe, and imagine and connect with nature in ways that most of us have stopped doing. As adults we can appreciate the beauty for sure, but how many of us, as children, spoke to animals and plants, made homes in the trees, walked barefooted in dirt, found whole worlds in the clouds, sang back to the birds, took naps on grass, walked in the rain, played in puddles, rode waves in the ocean and dried our bodies on the warm sand? As adults we have the opportunity to do all of that again, with the full awareness that to do so is to commune not just with nature, but with God.

We’ve become disenchanted with the world around us, trading in facts for imagining, science for wonder. Today, to embrace God’s creation as a child, may leave many of us feeling foolish or egocentric. I know I feel that way often. Just as I did the day after Easter when I cried because a neighbor cut down a huge tree that I had grown very fond of. I didn’t feel foolish for crying, I cry at Hallmark cards and commercials. I felt foolish because it felt like my tree- even though it wasn’t. I had watched it every morning over coffee from the couch. I admired it’s beauty as many of us do, but over time, began feeling connected to it, as though it was there just for me, which of course it wasn’t. I began to feel we knew one another, which of course we didn’t. I said “hi” to it internally, sometimes even aloud quietly, and on very rare occasions, I whispered, “I love you” to God for the gift of this tree…and if I sat there long enough and quietly enough, it felt as though the tree and I, or God and I (I’m not sure which), were communicating. But of course we weren’t. Do you see what I mean? If the first part of those sentences live in the wonder and awe of a child, the second half is the rational adult coming in and saying, “don’t be foolish and egocentric”. And yet… I choose to return to the practice of wonder and awe…

“Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it” (Mark 10:15), Jesus says. To understand God’s creation as an never ending expression of joy and playfulness, beauty and sacrament, is to experience it through the eyes of a child once again. 

When we come to understand that there’s no separation between sanctuary and earth, then we can begin to see everything as sacred. I’m not unrealistic, and I know we will continue to need to take down trees, and that there’s a time for everything, even an occasional burger for those who choose to eat one, but to do so with the awareness of what we’re doing, the impact it has on not just my life, or your life, but the sake of God’s creation as a whole. That is a mind set we cannot afford not to hold. 

Carl Sagan called our planet a pale blue dot. He named it that after seeing the picture of the earth that Voyager 1 took in 1990 at his suggestion. 

Carl Sagan writes this….

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it, everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and every peasant, every young couple in love, every mother, and father, every child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every supreme leader, every saint and every sinner in the history of our species lived there- on a mote of dust upended in a sunbeam.

In our obscurity, in all vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

As Christians, we believe that help came already in the second person of the Trinity. Christ came to save us from ourselves. That saving lives is in every little choice we make. Sagan calls on us to cherish that pale blue dot as the only home we’ve ever known. This is also God’s call. In the smallest of ways, we are called to take care of the only home we know.

There are many ways to feel helpless about the ways we’ve abused our planet. Most of the documentaries and books are pretty depressing. And even some of the small things we can do feel useless in comparison to what goes on around us, like walking into an ATM booth with two AC’s, 4 tube-lights, working 24 hours a day, while the machine asks you not to print a receipt to help save the environment. It’s seductive to walk away feeling helpless, like it’s too late to do anything about it. 

But not if you listen to the voices of the future. Voices being led by names like Greta Thunberg, Jamie Margolin and Poet Amanda Gorman, who wrote this in her poem, Earthrise:

Earthrise

Of this, you’re certainly aware.
It’s saddening, but I cannot spare you
From knowing an inconvenient fact, because
It’s getting the facts straight that gets us to act and not to wait.

So I tell you this not to scare you,
But to prepare you, to dare you
To dream a different reality,

Where despite disparities
We all care to protect this world,
This riddled blue marble, this little true marvel
To muster the verve and the nerve
To see how we can serve
Our planet. You don’t need to be a politician
To make it your mission to conserve, to protect,
To preserve that one and only home
That is ours,
To use your unique power
To give next generations the planet they deserve.

There is no rehearsal. The time is
Now
Now
Now,
Because the reversal of harm,
And protection of a future so universal
Should be anything but controversial.

So, earth, pale blue dot
We will fail you not.

Just as we chose to go to the moon
We know it’s never too soon
To choose hope.
We choose to do more than cope
With climate change
We choose to end it—
We refuse to lose.
Together we do this and more
Not because it’s very easy or nice
But because it is necessary,
Because with every dawn we carry
the weight of the fate of this celestial body orbiting a star.
And as heavy as that weight sounded, it doesn’t hold us down,
But it keeps us grounded, steady, ready,
Because an environmental movement of this size
Is simply another form of an earthrise.

Amen

Closing Hymn

“For the Beauty of the Earth” – performed by Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School (Primary) choir.

“For the Beauty of the Earth”, by Folliott Sandford Pierpoint (1864)

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