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, January 24 – 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 – JANUARY 24, 2021

“Walking the Adventure of Faith”
Rev. Robert Conover

Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, January 24, 2021

Many thanks for technical assistance / contributions from Ron Moser, Amy Cox, Rev. Bob Conover, Stacey Schoeningh, Tracy Walthard, Lindsey Walthard, Eliza Jane Mills, Kelsey Walthard, and Dawne Carver.

Opening Song

“Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle

Licensed to YouTube by UMG (on behalf of Centricity Music (CEY)); Essential Music Publishing, Adorando Brazil, CMRRA, LatinAutor – SonyATV, LatinAutorPerf, UNIAO BRASILEIRA DE EDITORAS DE MUSICA – UBEM, SOLAR Music Rights Management, Capitol CMG Publishing, Sony ATV Publishing, LatinAutor – UMPG, and 19 Music Rights Societies – CCLI #885509

Discovery Time & Sunday School

Click the arrow to watch Tracy Walthard, Lindsey Walthard and Eliza Jane Mills present Discovery Time:

Our Sunday School Lessons for today are as follows:

PRESCHOOL LESSON:

Preschool Memory Verse for January:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Preschool children for Sunday, January 24th:

Preschool Bottom Line for the week of January 24th:

GRADES K-5 LESSON:

Grades K-5 Memory Verse for January:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Kindergarten – 5th Grade children for Sunday, January 24th:

Grades K-5 Bottom Line for the week of January 24th:

Message for Youth

Let your light shine! I saw this slogan today and I thought of the song “This Little Light of Mine.” Of course I had to play it! I learned that there are a few variations of the song. There is the children’s version that I remember. So sweet to sing “this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine”. I bet your humming it in your head right now! There are a few others that I listened to as well. One stood out. A Christian group, Addison Road, sings a beautiful version that spoke to me. It talks about the fact that we all have a light inside us and to make the most of it. I highly recommend listening to it.

It also got me thinking about what it means to be a light in this world. So I looked at “light” in the Bible. In Genesis, God said let there be light and separated it from darkness. Jesus tells us in John 8:12, He is the light of the world and when we follow Him, we won’t have to walk in the darkness because we will have His light leading us to life. Matthew 5:15-16 tells us to shine our light for all to see, so that those around us will see our good deeds and glorify God.

Light is there to cast away the darkness. His light illuminates, reveals His word and makes clear the path to Him. His light brings comfort and safety from the darkness of this world and beyond. And that even in the darkness of night, the light of a new day is coming. The light brings hope, comfort and direction. And that is what we are to do as well. We are to reflect the light that Jesus gives to us and shine bright.
We are to help people that are in the dark by shining God’s love. We do this with our words of compassion, positive thoughts, honesty, listening to each other, showing grace and mercy to others (and ourselves) and above all, acting in love. Thankfully we have help in shining our light. We have God’s word to guide our path, we have Jesus to show us how to treat one another and we have the Holy Spirit inside us to give us the strength to be the best we can be. And like a lamp, we need to keep oil in the lamp through daily connection with God. We need to make sure the lamp stays clean by making wise decisions in our lifestyles. And we need to make sure our light is on a stand and not under a basket.

2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, ‘Let there be light in the darkness.’ has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ.”

We all have a light inside. You and I are made to shine! May the light of God shine bright through you today! 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.

Prayer

Click the arrow below to see and hear Stacey Schoeningh offer this morning’s Prayer or read the Prayer below

Our Heavenly Father,

May we always know, deep in our hearts, your everlasting love and may that love be the beacon of light that burns in each of us, the navigation on the paths we cannot see. Let that be the foundation of our faithful duty to trust you with those paths, as they twist into the stories of our lives.

The outcome is always yours, may you lead our hearts before our eyes can see, always trusting that you love us so.

May we surrender our inability to let go of our expectations, attachments and perceived outcomes to follow you and the natural flow of our lives as they unfold in your most perfect timing.

We end with The Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
As it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
If I surrender to His Will;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.
Amen

Faith Offering

Gratitude for our abiding faith in God

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

Joshua 6:1-5
Now Jericho was shut up inside and out because of the Israelites; no one came out and no one went in. The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have handed Jericho over to you, along with its king and soldiers. You shall march around the city, all the warriors circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days, with seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark. On the seventh day you shall march around the city seven times, the priests blowing the trumpets. When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout; and the wall of the city will fall down flat, and all the people shall charge straight ahead.”

Sermon

“Walking the Adventure of Faith”
Rev. Robert Conover

Click the arrow below to see and hear Rev. Bob Conover’s Sermon or read the Sermon below

Hello, St. Andrew – good morning! It is good to be with you.

This morning is the last Sunday before you receive a new pastor, Nicole, and I am excited for all of you. You know, I was thinking about this, you’re a wonderful congregation and Nicole is a wonderful pastor. So wonderful plus wonderful is twice as wonderful and that’s what I expect is going to happen in the coming weeks and months and years for everyone at St. Andrew, and the community of Sonoma. Congratulations, and thank you for your warmth towards me in these last months. I did some counting, it’s been about 21 months now, and more or less, I’ve been with you once a month and that has been a great privilege and an honor. I can’t say thank you enough for your kindness towards me and for your endless faithfulness. So, thank you.

I’ve been thinking for a while, what should be the theme for this morning? I’m sure all of us would have a theme that we might pick. As I thought about it for a couple of months now, I kept coming back to the passage of the Israelites, crossing the Jordan River and moving towards The Battle of Jericho. Now, I’m not implying in any way that when Nicole arrives, you all are going to have battles. I don’t mean that, but this is an adventure story and the Old Testament is filled with adventure stories. Frankly, this is one of the very best and I have to warn you in advance, parts of it are rated MA, mature audience. So don’t blame me. I didn’t write it.

Our reading this morning is going to come from the Book of Joshua, Chapter six. We’re only going to read five verses, but when we come to the sermon I’ll go through the whole story and help us get a sense of how do we live in adventure, how do we live in faith and how do we walk with God?

Here’s a part of the story that many, if not most, of you are familiar with. Joshua 6:1-5. Hear, now, the word of God: “Now Jericho was shut up inside and out because of the Israelites. No one came out and no one went in. The Lord said to Joshua, “See, I have handed Jericho over to you along with its King and soldiers. You shall march around the city, all the warriors, circling the city once. Thus you shall do for six days with the seven priests bearing seven trumpets of ram’s horns before the Ark. On the seventh day, you shall march around the city, seven times. The priests blowing the trumpets. When they make a long blast with the ram’s horn, as soon as you hear the sound of the trumpet, then all the people shall shout with a great shout and the wall of the city will fall down flat and all the people shall charge straight ahead.”May God bless us and may God bless, too, our hearing the richness of God’s Holy word. Amen.

The question before us as you all head out on an adventure, and this is a question for us individually, for each and every one of us, but it is also a question for St. Andrew as a whole. So it’s individually and collectively. The question before us is, how do we walk in faith? How do we step out in faith or, said another way, how do we walk with God or, said one other way, how do we enjoy the full adventure of this wonderful abundant life God has given us? That’s the question. It can be phrased in a variety of ways. Let’s walk our way through the story up until we get to those walls of Jericho.

The Israelites have just had a transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua. Now don’t ask me why. They weren’t very good Presbyterians. They didn’t have an interim leader. You all had a wonderful interim leader in Jan. There was the transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua and they are on the banks of the Jordan River, getting ready to cross. But before they cross, Joshua, the new leader, sends out spies. He sends two spies to check out Jericho. Those two spies make their way across the river. It must be at night, and they make their way to Jericho where they meet Rahab.

This is the mature audience part. Rahab was a member of the oldest profession. Now said in another way, Rahab was a person. She and her family, who lived on the edge, who lived on the margins and to make that living on the edge even more dramatic, Rahab literally lived in the walls of the city. The outside edge of the city.

When I was young, growing up, I would hear this story in church. What always struck me was, how does anyone live in the walls? That is until Kathy and I, a couple of years ago on one of our cycling trips, visited Prague and we went to the Prague Castle. There, right in the city walls, were places where people lived and had their shops and we entered into one. It was like a cave, made me feel claustrophobic. That’s where Rahab lived her life. Rahab helped these two spies check it out and get a sense of what was going on. What was the danger. Or let’s put it another way. They got a sense of the reality, a sense of what was really real.

The first thing the Israelites discovered was what is actually true about where they’re headed. They had to examine themselves to understand that, to understand their experience. But notice who they were in contact with. Not the high and mighty, but the very ones who’ve lived on the edge, the very ones who felt left out. We have a lot of polarization in our country. To a certain degree because there are those who feel left out. And let us say, those who feel left out can be of all cultures, all backgrounds, all races.

Remember, all people are God’s children and so we have to listen carefully, deeply to one another’s stories to find out the reality. Walking out in faith is about hearing from our own experience, listening carefully to it and hearing the truth, the reality, the experience of others. The spies make their way back and now it’s time for the Israelites to go across the Jordan River. It’s springtime. The waters are high, just like the Red Sea. It is a time of great anxiety.

Joshua, the leader, talks to God. Or said another way, God talked to Joshua. He told Joshua to take the Ark, the Ark of the Covenant, before the people, and into the water, and the waters were held back and the people walked across. Said another way, they were able to walk across because they were walking with God. 

I have two young granddaughters, Mila and Naomi, and I love it when we’re able to walk together. I’m pretty excited about getting a vaccination and eventually getting over COVID so we can walk together again. When we walk across the street, I take both of them by hand and they walk with me. Once we get across, I’m more than happy to walk with them, but there’s a real difference. We walk quite differently when I’m holding their hands and we’re going across the street and they’re walking with me. So this is a deep challenge for all of us. It is a challenge for the church. Are we walking with God or are we asking God to walk with us?

Again, this takes a deep, deep down checking in and one of the clues for answering this question has to do with openness, a willingness to hold the unknown, hold the uncertain. Are we willing to walk, not knowing all the answers, not having preconceived notions of how all of this is going to play out, but willing to walk, holding God’s hand, walking with God, rather than assuming God will walk with us? See when we hold it with openness, with uncertainty, we automatically allow God room to move, move in us and move among us. That is walking with God, that openness, that holding lightly, that sense of adventure.

So, we listen deeply to reality, our reality and the reality of others. And then we walk with God holding lightly as to how it may unfold and finally, we arrive at the City of Jericho. Now it becomes a real challenge. We’re called to really act out of faith and frankly, acting out of faith doesn’t always sound like the thing that makes the most sense. If there’s one thing Presbyterians like, it’s to make sense.

God gives Joshua the instructions. Get all the warriors together and get the seven priests. Get them all a ram’s horn. Oh, and the Ark of the Covenant goes along as well; and each day for six days, just walk around the city. Now you can imagine how well that went over with the warriors. You can imagine the people in Jericho, all the soldiers in Jericho kind of looking out and thinking, “Boy, what is going on with them? This is going to be easy for us. If all they’re doing is walking around in a circle once a day. This does not make sense.” Yet this is what they were willing to commit to doing. They acted in faith and then it got even worse on the seventh day. They walked around seven times with the priests blowing their ram’s horns. It almost just seems silly, nonsensical, and then the walls came tumbling down. That’s the part we like.

Stepping out in faith, acting in faith, takes a certain vulnerability. People around us may say, “Yeah, but that doesn’t make sense.” But you know who really gets in our way when acting out in faith, it’s not the people around us. It’s deep in ourselves where we say, “That just can’t be.”

What an adventure. As you, St. Andrew, as wonderful St. Andrew prepares to partner with your new wonderful pastor, Nicole, here’s the challenge: To really check out the reality among you and around you, the community of Sonoma. Listening most especially to those voices that are living on the edge and may feel left out, and then holding God’s hand, walking with God, checking out, are we open? Are we open to stepping into the unknown, without preconceived notions of how this thing is going to turn out and trying to control it? Are we walking with God in such a way that we can allow God to move in and among us and give God some breathing room? After all, God is spirit and spirit means breath. Is there room for God to breathe among us? Finally, can we act in the vulnerability of faith; and saying, we trust, we trust even if it seems like it doesn’t make sense? Will we trust in that deep abiding life-giving call of God?

St. Andrew, I am excited for you. I wish you and Nicole the very best and God’s blessing as you move into your adventure together. Amen.

Closing Song

“Surely it is God Who Saves Me” – by Jack Noble White – performed by the St. David’s Choir

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