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, July 11 – 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 – JULY 11, 2021

Popcorn Parables – “Because of Winn-Dixie
“Party Invitation
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 9-12
Rev. Nicole C. Trotter
Sunday ~ July 11, 2021


Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, July 11, 2021
Many thanks for technical assistance / contributions from Ron Moser, Amy Cox, Rev. Nicole Trotter, Tracy Walthard, Kelsey Walthard, and Dawne Carver.

As a reminder, this is the last virtual worship service that will be sent in this format. Beginning next Sunday, the sermon will be available for viewing on the St. Andrew website: www.andrewpres.org on the afternoon following the worship service.

Opening Song

“Lay Your Burdens Down” – by Willow Creek Community Church

Opening Prayer

Photo by Mor Shani on Unsplash

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

Opening Prayer

God of celebration, I confess there are days when I want to pull the covers over my head and give up at trying. At times, feeling exhausted by trying, by learning, by growing, by trying and trying again. And yet, I’m reminded by your never-ending grace, that to give up will lead me backwards. Backwards to places I’ve stumbled and fallen. Places I vowed to never visit again. Places that bring sorrow and burdens so heavy that to carry them again would be harmful to me, and to others and keep me from the grace you so freely give. I have laid my burdens at your feet, and pray that being free of them will free me to love more, to live more, to care more, for others. With celebration in my heart for all you’ve given, I accept this day, the challenges, the sorrows and the joy, and give thanks for the ability to try again, with you by my side once more. Help me to celebrate my life, and the life of all creation, in Your goodness and the goodness of Your son who taught us to pray together, 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

Discovery Time and 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 July:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Preschool children for Sunday, July 11th:

Preschool Bottom Line for the week of July 11th:

GRADES K-5 LESSON:

Grades K-5 Memory Verse for July:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Kindergarten – 5th Grade children for Sunday, July 11th:

Grades K-5 Bottom Line for the week of July 11th:

Message for Youth

I am so excited to go on our Mission trip! It was something that I truly missed last year. It is a week full of new experiences, challenges, and excitement. We have a chance to take a break and connect with God without the distractions of our life. It is a time where I sleep little, am constantly engaging with people and learning more about myself, and where God is leading me. It is a week where God shows me why I am in youth ministry. It is a week that is like no other week.

As you read this, eight youth and three adult leaders will be in North Carolina getting ready to serve in Wilmington. We will be full of excitement, anticipation and just a tad bit nervous of what the week will bring. We will be living out what it means to be in the moment and let God lead the way. We will be doing what our youth group has been doing for twenty-seven years. We will be showing up, answering God with “Here I am, Lord”. Here I am to serve where You lead. It is a time of learning and discovering more of who God designed us to be. It is a week that lets us explore new things. It is a week that teaches us that sometimes while serving, we are the ones being served. And hopefully it ignites a passion for serving in our own backyard.

The theme for the week is loving your neighbor as God intends us to love one another. We will be exploring how to be a neighbor with the people we encounter along the way. How to be a neighbor to those we are serving, to one another, to the staff of Youthworks, to the other groups on site with us, and to the people who opened the doors of their churches where we will be staying. I feel this is building on our Vacation Bible School experience of having true confidence. We will be building on the bottom line that having true confidence means we can change and that we can make a difference. We will have the opportunity to see ourselves as God sees us, learning how to see others as God sees them, and how to love them as God intends us to love our neighbors. At least that is what I think we will be learning!

The one thing that is always consistent about Caravan is that God is in the mix, ready to show us something that will stay will us and the chance to change the way we live, the way we respond and the way we love one another. This is God’s show and we are showing up and being willing to be willing. My prayer is for open minds, open hearts and open eyes to what He wants us to learn, to experience and to ponder.

So I leave with you this: Join us on Caravan Sunday, July 18th at 9am. Come see where we encountered God and what we learned and experienced. I’m always surprised, renewed and so very grateful for our Caravan week. Hopefully you will be inspired to love your neighbor! 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.

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 – God, source of all light, by your Word you give light to the soul. Pour out on us the spirit of wisdom and understanding that our hearts and minds may be opened. Amen

Nehemiah 8: 1-3, 9-12
Translation from The Message, Eugene Peterson


By the time the seventh month arrived, the People of Israel were settled in their towns. Then all the people gathered as one person in the town square in front of the Water Gate and asked the scholar Ezra to bring the Book of The Revelation of Moses that God had commanded for Israel.
So Ezra the priest brought The Revelation to the congregation, which was made up of both men and women—everyone capable of understanding. It was the first day of the seventh month. He read it facing the town square at the Water Gate from early dawn until noon in the hearing of the men and women, all who could understand it. And all the people listened—they were all ears—to the Book of The Revelation.

Nehemiah the governor, along with Ezra the priest and scholar and the Levites who were teaching the people, said to all the people, “This day is holy to God, your God. Don’t weep and carry on.” They said this because all the people were weeping as they heard the words of The Revelation.

He continued, “Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don’t have anything: This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!”
The Levites calmed the people, “Quiet now. This is a holy day. Don’t be upset.”

So the people went off to feast, eating and drinking and including the poor in a great celebration. Now they got it; they understood the reading that had been given to them.

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

Sermon

Popcorn Parables – Because of Winn-Dixie
“Party Invitation”
Nehemiah 8:1-3, 9-12
Rev. Nicole C. Trotter

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

This week’s movie was chosen because I wanted families with young children to have an opportunity to watch a movie together, but if the truth be told, it’s one of favorite movies, which gives you new insight as to just how sentimental and sappy your pastor can be. 

Maybe it’s because it’s about a little girl who feels alone in the world. Maybe it’s because of her resilience, and her ability to keep searching for goodness in the face of fear. But I’m getting ahead of myself, and for those who didn’t watch the movie, you need some context.

Ten year old Opal moves to a small town in Florida that has seen its better days. Her father is a pastor of a small church held in a convenience store. There’s only a few kids around, none of whom seem interested in her, so she asks God for a friend, and while at the Winn Dixie supermarket her prayers are answered:

https://www.moviefone.com/movie/because-of-winn-dixie/18463/video/9dFQbW8J/

Photo by Joanna Kosinska on Unsplash

Opal goes on to make friends with some of the adults in the town. She befriends the town librarian Ms. Franny (played by Eva Marie Saint, who starred in On the Waterfront and North by Northwest). Ms. Franny shares the story of her great-grandfather Litmus, who after the war craved for the taste of sweetness, and so he invented a candy called the Litmus Lozenge, with a secret ingredient. The secret ingredient was sorrow. Not everyone can taste it. Only those who have had their fair share of sadness. Ms. Franny goes on to explain her theory as to why the town isn’t what it used to be. She says the people used to know each other’s sadness, they used to rely on each other. People lost more than their jobs after the factory closed down, they lost each other.

We’ve lost one another. And so we hunger. We witness this cycle of being lost and hungering in wilderness over and over again in countless Scriptures and we, like Ms. Franny’s great-grandfather, hunger for sweetness. We thirst for connection and belonging, like a ten year old girl named Opal, whose mother abandoned her at age three, we hunger for trust, for faith, for a love that never abandons, and we hunger for the comfort of knowing we are not alone in our hunger. 

Enter Gloria Dump, the character in the movie who is wisdom personified. Gloria can no longer see with her eyes. In her own words, “She sees the shapes of things, she sees with her heart.” Opal befriends Gloria, and comes to her one day with a problem. She’s confused about another friend she’s made by the name of Otis, who she learns has been to jail. This scares Opal, and so she asks Gloria about it. And Gloria (played by Cicely Tyson), leads her to a tree filled with what she calls ghosts. The ghosts of all the things she’s done wrong.

Gloria Dump knows the only way to wisdom is by facing our struggles, admitting our inability, relying on God, and the fellowship of those who share in the struggle. 

Opal, who sheds light and love with all those she befriends, goes back to visit Otis after her visit with Gloria. Otis, the pet store keeper, and a loner, is given a Litmus Lozenge candy by Opal. Otis tastes the sadness, and says it reminds him of jail.

And then comes my favorite scene, between Otis (played by Dave Matthews) and Opal, in the pet store, with a guitar:

Photo by Bankim Desai on Unsplash

If there’s one message for us in this sweet movie, it’s this: the same way this injured man sees this little girl, is the way God looks at us…..in the same words he just sang, God sings to you:

“…when I look at you, you are like a butterfly, a caterpillar’s dream to fly- you bust out of this old cocoon, dry your wings off, butterfly, go ahead and fly…”

The old cocoon Otis was called to bust out of was people’s perception of him as a bad man. For Gloria the cocoon was an addiction to liquor and beer, for the preacher it was the guilt of a failed marriage, for the sourpuss faced Amanda it was the death of her brother. We all have a cocoon we are called by God to bust out of, to dry our wings and to fly, into the resurrection of a new life. And when we do that, we are left with the joy and the celebration of Easter, resurrection day. We’re called into new life. There’s nothing left to say on that day, but, “Hallelujah”.

For Opal, it’s time for a party, it’s time to have a party. She realizes this when she says, “Ms. Franny says, “The problem is that people have forgotten how to share their sadness, but what I think is that people have forgotten how to share their joy.”

Opal talks Gloria into throwing a party, and they invite the other kids (including the ones Opal doesn’t like). They invite Otis, the preacher, Ms. Franny, and the landlord who didn’t want the dog. They throw a party to share in their joy, as a way to bring people together, to connect, to learn to rely on one another once more, and bring them out of their loneliness.

Photo by Asiya Kiev on Unsplash

In the Scripture you heard, the scholar and priest, Ezra, is reading to a people who know all about loneliness. People who have been in exile, have experienced what so many of us experience in darkness, fear. And in their fear, like so many of us, they have denied God. And now, having been returned from exile, they hear the reading of the Torah, and they weep and they mourn, because of their own revelation of their sin. Their awareness of how wrong they were, how sorry they feel, causes them shame, to which Ezra and Nehemiah say essentially, “No, this is not a cause for shame but for joy.”

Verse 10: “Go home and prepare a feast, holiday food and drink; and share it with those who don’t have anything: This day is holy to God. Don’t feel bad. The joy of God is your strength!”

This table holds many gifts, not the least of which is Joy. We come to this table which holds on it the forgiveness of a Christ who knows we are not a bad people, but a forgetful people. He calls on us to lay down our burdens and let go of our shame. To remember that our fear led us into darkness, a place where we make bad choices, not because we are bad, but because we were afraid. We’re ghosted by the sins of our past, but Jesus says, that’s all behind you now, you’ve shown up to my table. This is a feast, a table of abundant love that forgives you and invites you into joy. This is a place to lay down your burdens and rejoice. 

Share that good news with others who need to hear it, invite them to this party, encourage them to accept the invitation and hear the shouts of Hallelujah as we bust out of our cocoons, lifting up our wings, and entering into new life.

May it be so-
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

Closing Song

“Glory, Glory Hallelujah!” – The Staple Singers – Freedom Highway

Originally Released 1965 SONY BMG MUSIC ENTERTAINMENT. Provided to YouTube by Sony Music Entertainment

Final Closing Credits

As a reminder, this is the last virtual worship service that will be sent in this format. Beginning next Sunday, the sermon will be available for viewing on the St. Andrew website: www.andrewpres.org on the afternoon following the worship service.

We hope you’ve enjoyed these services and look forward to the opportunity to worship with you in person soon!

We welcome your comments / feedback

about today’s worship service.

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