Welcome to St. Andrew

Scroll Down to Experience This Virtual Worship Service

In addition to this Virtual Worship Service, you are invited to join us on Zoom for the
All Church Coffee Hour
Sunday, January 31 – 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 31, 2021

“Where Do We Go From Here?”
Rev. Nicole C. Trotter

Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, January 31, 2021

Many thanks for technical assistance / contributions from Ron Moser, Amy Cox, Rev. Nicole Trotter, Ricky Bolanos, Tracy Walthard, Kelsey Walthard, and Dawne Carver.

Opening Song

“For the Beauty of the Earth” by John Rutter, performed by Kings College Choir – Cambridge

Licensed to YouTube by NaxosofAmerica (on behalf of Collegium); LatinAutorPerf, UMPG Publishing, Warner Chappell, UMPI, and 10 Music Rights Societies – CCLI #885509

Discovery Time & Sunday School

Click the image to watch Ricky Bolanos 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 31st:

Preschool Bottom Line for the week of January 31st:

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 31st:

Grades K-5 Bottom Line for the week of January 31st:

Message for Youth

Do you ever feel as if you are pushing a boulder up a mountain? The past couple of weeks, I have been feeling like that. Struggling with disappointments and defeats. Usually, I look up, gather with people to refocus and reach deep down to find solutions. What’s happening now is a feeling of disconnect, isolation and deep frustration. I feel that the boulder is getting ready to roll over me. It’s not a good place to be in!

So how do I get out of that place? How do I turn that boulder into a pebble? Go to God, of course! I opened up the Bible to connect with what others before me have gone through. I cried out to God to restore my strength and renew my heart. And I wrote down on paper my frustrations, hurts, anger, and weariness and gave them to God.

Here’s what I’ve learned and have been reminded of. I’m not alone in this. We all go through times of emotional exhaustion and weariness. We all go through times where we feel alone and are pushing that boulder up a mountain. Yet we are not alone. God is there to lift us up and give us rest.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am generous and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Isaiah 40:31 “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”

God is so awesome that He gives us words of encouragement in our times of need. When we turn to Him and cry out, He hears us and is there to restore our peace. He gives us a place to turn to in our frustrations. And I’m so very grateful. I’m grateful that I don’t have to do this on my own.

I am also reminded that I need to take a step back. Give myself some care. Step back and go for a walk, read a fun book, dance to music in my kitchen or get my hands dirty in the garden. When I step back, God helps me relax, enjoy the blessings in my life, and gives me a chance to rest. When I step back, God gives me a chance to come back to the situation with fresh eyes and a new perspective. To give my emotions time to calm. To be guided by His Will to do the next right thing.

And I need to be in community with fellow believers. Being in Youth Worship is a great blessing. Taking God’s word and talking about how to apply it to our life helps spiritually strengthen me for the week. And I long to be together in church with all of you. Being surrounded by the energy of one another to give us strength for the days ahead. Right now it is a challenge to gather for worship. Yet we are creative and hopeful. For now, we have technology. Technology to be in a small group on line. To talk to each other on the phone. To text one another. Not ideal for me, but still a much needed connection to other believers.

As I studied God’s word, pouring out my heart to Him, I got to step back and rest in Him. I took the time to breathe in and out and give thanks for the blessings in my life. To be grateful for my life. Through Him, that boulder is not so big and I am feeling restored, strengthened and ready to face the day and the challenges in it with hope and His peace. If you are feeling as if you’re pushing a boulder uphill, remember to go to the source of amazing strength, our Heavenly Father, and turn that boulder into a pebble.
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 Rev. Nicole Trotter offer this morning’s Prayer or read the Prayer below

God of All Creation,

We too often think we’ve heard all there is to know about You. So we find ourselves turning to the latest innovator, book or cleanse that promises to change the way we feel, only to find ourselves back at the beginning, in search for something more. Forgive us as we pray instead, to set aside what we think we know of You, so that we might receive You anew.

We come to you this morning from all walks of life, speaking different prayers. Some ask for help, others give thanks. For those in pain we pray for healing. For those in gratitude we pray they might share their joy with those in need.

For those who are in service, on the frontlines of this pandemic and those who are working overtime behind the scenes, we pray for their resilience. For our country and the world we pray for perseverance.

Our prayer list is longer than this prayer this morning, O God, but we trust You hear our prayers without words. Help us to hear Your Love without words. It is in knowing love that we know You. It is in following Your son, we learn how to love.

We give you thanks always for Your grace, this community, and trust that where there is love, You are. 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

Scripture

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

Deuteronomy 18:15-20

The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet. This is what you requested of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said: “If I hear the voice of the Lord my God any more, or ever again see this great fire, I will die.” Then the Lord replied to me: “They are right in what they have said. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will put my words in the mouth of the prophet, who shall speak to them everything that I command. Anyone who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable. But any prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, or who presumes to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.”

Sermon

“Where Do We Go From Here?”
Rev. Nicole C. Trotter

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

In this morning’s scripture, Moses is preparing the Israelites to enter the Promised Land without him. But he assures God’s people that God will send them a prophet who will guide them.

The book of Deuteronomy has many themes, one of which is the repeated call for exclusive loyalty to God. If you recall, there are many gods running around, just as there were many prophets, all competing for the attention of God’s people. Knowing who or what to listen to was a challenge to say the least. But in the two verses that you didn’t hear this morning, Moses gives advice on how to recognize a true prophet from a false one….saying-

when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken (18:22)

In other words, you’ll have to wait to see, which is not exactly good news when you’re left with a decision to make in the moment. When you’re on a journey, as the Israelites were, unsure of which path to take, there’s a sense of urgency.

The Israelites were entering new territory, and without knowing the name of their next prophet they were left wondering how they would be guided safely. We are entering a new territory together as a congregation, but let me be clear, I am in no way comparing myself to the unnamed prophet who will lead us there. I don’t claim to speak for God, nor can I tell you what God is thinking.

There are plenty of people who make that claim in one way or another. Many prosperity preachers, self-help gurus, radio and TV preachers, but I’m not one of them.

But it does beg the question; who are the true prophets of today? And if Moses is right, that we really only know for sure over time, then perhaps all we can really do is look back in time. I believe we can call Martin Luther King Jr. one of our greatest modern prophets. And there are others, like American professor John Cobb who wrote a book in 1972 titled, Is it Too Late? A Theology of Ecology which predicts the environmental challenges we’re facing almost 50 years later.

Some have come to believe poverty activist Dorothy Day to be a prophet…and if I were to make my own list, I might add 22 year old inaugural poet Amanda Gorman who recited this….

Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished
We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one

(I’m going to repeat that first part again)
Somehow we’ve weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished

Simply unfinished…whatever side of the political aisle you sit, we can agree there is much more to do, and we are not finished and God has given us a job to do, as a nation, as a church and as individuals in every walk of life. 

Perhaps, that’s why, in this morning’s scripture, the next prophetic voice is unnamed, chosen from among God’s own people ….The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people;

Whenever a person is unnamed in the scriptures, I hear an invitation for us to imagine ourselves in that role…Not that any of us want the responsibility of being referred to as the next Moses. But what if, we accept that prophetic voices live among us in those who are speaking the hard truths that none of us really want to hear. 

As Abraham Joshua Heschel writes, most feel called to uphold the values of the ancient Hebrew prophets, who were appalled by humanity’s “abuse of freedom,” “aggressive sprawling pride” and “fierce greed.” Even though they often speak passionately, Heschel said, prophets are people of deep love and compassion. And, though they often “begin with a message of doom, they conclude with a message of hope.”

As I mentioned in my weekly email, wherever you are on this faith journey as we enter new territory together, my prayer is that you continue to desire God in your life, especially in difficult times, when the voice of God may feel elusive. The Israelites were thirsty for God as the psalmist says, “My soul thirsts for you, O God.”

This past year, I, not unlike many of you, found myself thirsty for God. I prayed to God for guidance in discerning my sense of where I was being called as a pastor. I was standing metaphorically at a fork in the road, asking God for direction. On the one hand, I was feeling pulled in a new direction, to serve all of you in a new place filled with unknowns. And on the other hand, I considered staying in the comfort and security of what I knew so well.

Let me say here that decision making has never been my strong suit. But understanding what direction to take when it comes to being called by God is not a decision one makes with their head, but instead hands over to God…and then listens for guidance and direction. 

And as I began that discernment process…. I thought, “this shouldn’t be hard.” (famous last words) I suppose I thought that because for some time I had experienced God as very responsive when I asked for guidance. One friend described it as having God on speed dial, which is how it felt…God and I seemed to have an understanding. I would ask God to show me what I needed to hear, and God responded in small ways. Maybe a phrase would jump off the page of something I was reading, or a podcast I was listening to, or a friend who would call, or a dream I would have, or sense in my body. This is just a small sampling of how I felt God’s presence or what we might refer to as voice….revealed in these ways….

That is, until… I had this decision to make. And then suddenly, the speed dial I thought I had God on, suddenly stopped working. It was as if God left the building….which theologically I knew in my head, made perfect sense, because we’re not really supposed to be able to hold on to God with any fixed understanding of God. God holds on to us. Our experience of God changes, and at times may even feel absent, but despite our feelings, God remains a constant presence. My perceived absence of God was God’s way of asking me to dig deeper.
 
I know that now….but only in looking back, revealed over time.

Just as Moses predicted in our passage. It’s over time, that God’s voice is revealed. It’s over time, that we begin to trust what was true and what is false….God’s guidance may arrive with a new voice, a different form of revelation, but in the words of one of our greatest prophets; God is always doing a new thing. (Isaiah 43:18-19)

Whenever we’re discerning whether what we’re hearing is coming from God, perhaps it’s good to ask whether what’s being asked of us will cause growth or change, because God is always doing a new thing. I can’t think of one instance when a prophet said, “stay exactly as you are.” Or as that bumper sticker says, “God loves you exactly as you are and loves you too much to let you stay that way.”

We are about to embark on a new thing together, and we will be listening for the prophetic voices that emerge from among us here in this congregation, as we lift one another up, encouraging one another to follow God’s creative ways. As a few have pointed out to me, I have big shoes to fill following Rich. I’m beginning to think Rich had very big feet. And I’d like to be able to fill them, but I’m not sure that’s how God works. Instead, I’d prefer to discover a new pair of shoes that- if Rich were here, (and I believe he is in all the ways our faith assures us of that) I’d like to imagine a pair of shoes we could share, some gender neutral, ageless pair of shoes that knows the roads you’ve walked and is ready to walk unexplored roads together. 

So where do we go from here?

I recently learned something called The Set Aside Prayer. There are different versions of this prayer, but the first line I learned was….God, help me set aside everything I think I know…..

That’s a useful prayer when entering new territory. Setting aside doesn’t mean forgetting, or letting go of. It means setting aside, saving it, holding onto it, but also allowing room for something new. 

As we travel together these first few months, let us listen together for the prophetic voice of God. May we look among the people…those here at St Andrew but also, and maybe especially, all those we encounter….those who call us out of complacency, those who call us into a deeper expression of love, those who call on us to serve and the prophetic voices of those we serve…..all the expressions of faith that Jesus taught us, as we listen to those who are different from us, let us listen for the creative expression of God. 

And as we walk together onto new ground, let us remember that while the presence of God changes in ways we can’t always hold on to, God always holds onto us.

Let us pray-

Take our lips and speak through them, take our minds and think through them. take our hearts and set them on fire. help us to be the master of ourselves so that we may become the servants of others. Amen

Closing Hymn

“A Celtic Prayer” – by Barry Peters – performed by the Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church Choir

CCLI #885509

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