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, August 30 – 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 – AUGUST 30, 2020

Sunday, August 30, 2020

How to Train Your Dragon
“We Aren’t Normal” 
Matthew 5:14-16

Tracy Walthard

Welcome to this “virtual” worship service 
for Sunday, August 30, 2020

Many thanks to Ron Moser (production), Amy Cox (production, formatting and posting), Jan Reynolds (song and prayer selection and artistic touches), Tracy Walthard (production and sermon), Leanna Tommasi, Ty Schoeningh, Kelsey Walthard and Dawne Carver (teachings for children and youth).

Opening Song

“Christ Be Our Light”, by Bernadette Farrell © 1993, 2000, Published by OCP

Discovery Time & Sunday School

Click the arrow below to watch Leanna Tommasi and Ty Schoeningh present Discovery Time:

Our Sunday School Lessons for today are as follows:

PRESCHOOL LESSON:

Preschool Memory Verse for August: “I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psalm 139:14

Preschool Main Point for the week of August 30:

GRADES K-5 LESSON:

Grades K-5 Memory Verse for August: : “Lord, You are great. You are really worthy of Praise. No one can completely understand how great You are.” Psalm 145:3

Grades K-5 Key Question for the week of August 30:

Grades K-5 Bottom Line for the week of August 30:

Be sure to check our Facebook page for Sunday School videos to share with your children: St. Andrew Sonoma Facebook Page

Message for Youth

I miss going to church. I miss the energy that being together creates. I miss being strengthened each week by being together in worship. I miss the fellowship. And I can’t wait until we get to gather again. And we will gather again.

Last week, the main topic beside the fire, was that you miss going to school. You miss the conversations, connecting with each other and learning in a classroom. You can’t wait to go back to school. And you will go back to school.

I find myself balancing the frustration of not being able to gather for church and the hope of when we will get together again. I’m sure I’m not alone. I am very thankful that we are able to connect with each other online and that we have a virtual service each week. I’m thankful that I have a church family. You have said you are glad to see your classmates online. Not ideal, but better than not seeing them.

So where do I turn to for hope when the frustration of not getting to be together wants to take me down a dark and exhausting path? I turn to God. God is there all the time and He provides me with a song, a verse and/or a message of hope. God knows what I need. I just need to turn to Him and away from the world. I need to put my trust in Him and not the things in this world. I do need to be aware of what is happening in the world but I need to turn to God first- not the news.

I start my day with prayer (Sometimes the prayers start before my eyes are open and I’m not quite awake). I start with thanking Him for all the blessings in my life. I ask for healing in this world. I ask for safety for my family and friends. I ask for clarity and wisdom for those in charge and I ask for His will in my life.

When God is in the center of my life, I’m centered in His peace. That means I’m able to show up and be used by God for His glory. I’m free of the ugly emotions that distract me from God’s love and His direction in my life. I’m able to look ahead in hope.

There was a caption that I read a few weeks ago. It talked about what one gains in consistent prayer. It was interesting that the man talked about what he loses first. He replied that he loses anger, ego, greed, depression, insecurity and fear of death. I hadn’t thought about gaining through losing the things that are bringing me down and away from hope and trust. Yet that is exactly what happens when I’m connected to my Heavenly Father. And that gives me hope. Hope that we will be together in church one day worshipping our awesome God. Faith that you will be in school with your peers. Faith that God’s plans are bigger than my plans. Trusting that in the chaos of today, I’m in God’s hands. God meets us in our prayers. Remember to turn to Him first each day. 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. Jan share this morning’s Prayer

or read the Prayer below

Gracious God,

St. Andrew has had a year of tremendous change. But we know change is constant in this world. We ask that you prepare us for our church’s purpose in today’s world. Not for a world that has already passed by, but for the world as it comes, each day fresh and with new possibility as well as challenge. May we wake up to and fully embody our unique mission as a congregation. Enlighten our minds, strengthen our hearts, and empower us in our work on your behalf.

May we continue to abide in appreciation of the diversity among us. For as scripture says, we each have unique gifts to lend to this unique Body of Christ. May transparent, meaningful relationships be normal here. Free us to lament hardship together, but also to live in praise and gratitude, and to give one another courage in our various ministries. 

May we study your Word and abide in prayer so that we know your deepest desire for us as the Church. May our prayers be infused with aspiration, honesty, and humility.

May we build a culture of discipleship, taking Jesus’ love into the world. May we take your mission of love everywhere we go… into our families, workplaces, and various communities. We acknowledge that our love represents your love, often powerful beyond words. 

You are our Sanctuary. In gratitude for your continuing presence, guidance, and love through thick and thin, we dedicate ourselves to being your healing hands in this world.

Amen.

Faith Offering

Gratitude for partnership in service.

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

Scripture

Matthew 5: 14-16

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Sermon

Popcorn Parable
How to Train Your Dragon
“We Aren’t Normal” 
Matthew 5:14-16

Tracy Walthard

Click the arrow below to see and hear Tracy’s Sermon

or read the Sermon below

It’s popcorn parables again, and I’m excited to share How to Train Your Dragon with you all. Years ago when we started this sermon series, Rich always asked me to pick a family friendly, kid’s movie. As a mom of young children at the time, I was happy to take on the family role. And this week, I again represent the families and the young at heart with our animated feature film, How to Train Your Dragon.

As I sat down to begin writing the sermon I realized the movie had taken me in a familiar direction. First I was looking at the theme of hate and love. That when we take time to get to know the unknown and scary, we find connection and the hate and fear melts away. It sounds a lot like my “Love Your Neighbor” sermon I did earlier this summer. I needed to change directions. Then I kept thinking of Hiccup and how he was such an outcast, seeking approval of others and feeling like he wasn’t enough and didn’t fit in. Wait, that’s pretty similar to my sermon a few weeks back with the Marvel movie. Take off your cape, don’t try to be a superhero, because you are wonderfully made.

So, in an attempt to find a more original message, I returned to the movie a third time, and this time, I saw a slightly different perspective. Today I don’t want to talk to you about learning to love your neighbor or becoming who God created you to be, I want to talk about becoming the CHURCH God has called us to be!

We know people are called, but are churches called by God too? YES! And who are we called to be? Well, I’m pretty sure the answer can be found in our Mission Study Report prepared for our pastor search.

“Visiting pastors have told us that we are unique, and ‘not normal’. Why is that? Perhaps it’s our roots as fervent followers of Christ that have grown into a canopy of inclusion for all. We are willing to dig deep with self-reflection; we are used to being challenged to grow and change. So, we have not stood still over time.”

As we went out to search for a new pastor, we were clear to communicate that the new pastor should expect the unexpected, be ready for growth, challenges, and well, “not normal”. And I love that. While at the 4th of July booth after our T-Shirts were printed, I had someone come up and ask us about the tag line and challenged me to define why our church wasn’t normal. I didn’t have the wisdom of the Mission Study report at that time, and I wasn’t as eloquent, but I remember my answer.

“Well, I think it might be slightly different for each person you ask, but for me, it’s because we aren’t worried about being bound by rules or expectations around being a church. We are less interested in the rules and more interested in sharing God’s love, with everyone. We strive to be inclusive, open minded, honest with ourselves, committed to personal growth, vulnerability, transparency, and caring more about our neighbor then ourselves. We will take risks and push church boundaries if we believe God is calling us to do it.”

Each of you might have a different answer to that question, and I wish I had had more time to think it over. Looking over the Mission Study, I noticed other things that I think make us not normal, like humor being in the top 3 important elements of a sermon. Or, the number one element being “Application to everyday life”. We are interested in how our faith impacts us today, right now, real life stuff, and it shows in how we exit the church and serve the world.

So what does this have to do with How to Train Your Dragon? Well, I think this movie is a story about how the one who is “not normal” has the greatest impact on changing hearts. It’s the “not normal” that finds new ways to connect people, build relationships, tear down stereotypes, and well, CHANGE THE WORLD!

On the Viking Island of Berk, everyone is taught to kill the invading dragons, and respect and prestige is based on how many and what kinds of dragons you kill. Our hero, Hiccup (if a hero can have a name like Hiccup) is a young teen who is the exception to the rule. His father is the Chieftain and burly, strong, and courageous. Hiccup is lanky, weak, and timid. Because Hiccup can’t compete with the brawn, but he wants to be like everyone else, he looks for different ways to kill or trap the invading dragons through inventions. Only, he isn’t very good at that either.

Well, one night Hiccup ends up trapping the most feared dragon, the Night Fury! The problem is, he discovers he isn’t just not as strong as the rest, but he has a different heart. He looks into the eyes of the dragon and this happens:

Instead, Hiccup gets to know the dragon, builds trust, and they become friends. He helps heal the injured dragon, which he names Toothless, until his secret is revealed. The village turns on Hiccup and the story begins to unravel.

I think as a church we have had these moments. When we have chosen to be bold, take risks, acknowledge God is a living God who might be giving us a new message today. Not all these changes were welcomed. Being “different” means experiencing the pushback from those that are threatened and want to hold on to the past. But, Hiccup knew his own self and stayed true to his personal journey. As a church, we need to remember it is God that is calling us to action, and we should walk strong and courageous into His calling for us! Even if it’s seen as “not normal”.

Toward the end, the village, and even Hiccup’s dad begin to see the dragons through Hiccups eyes. They see dragons in an all new way:

Here is the thing… if Hiccup stayed like everyone else, the world wouldn’t have changed. They would have continued to see only one way to deal with the dragons- fighting them. Because Hiccup was able to embrace his “not normal” calling, he opened the eyes of others, brought new light to the challenge, and ended up changing the island.

That’s what the church is called to be, the Light unto the world. 

Matthew 5: 14-16
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

We, the people of St. Andrew, have been called to be the light unto the world, and we have been called in our own unique “not normal” way. Because we are different, we show the world a different perspective of church, of God’s love, we shine a new light, and for many, it shows them God in a new way. Our not normalness should be embraced as a calling- a calling that can change the world. A calling that can bring people together, break down stereotypes, and show God’s love to the world.

I love our church. I love how we do our mission of “Connecting with God, Growing in Community, and Serving the World” in our own, Not Normal, way.

I want to be a church that has Republicans and Democrats in the same pew, who can talk about social justice, world hunger, borders and immigrants, and not tear each other apart. I want to be a church that ends up in El Salvador building houses after an earthquake, or building bread ovens for the Roma in Romania, or shows up each week to make lunches for our own hungry in the valley. 

Oh, wait, I think I’m back to love thy neighbor. I can’t get away from it. 

Who wouldn’t want to be part of this church? More importantly, who would want to be normal?

Closing Song

“We are Called” – by David Haas, © 1988, GIA Publications, Inc.

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