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, June 28 – 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 – JUNE 28, 2020

“Removing our Masks”


Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, June 28, 2020

Many thanks to Ron Moser (production and artistic touches), Amy Cox (formatting and posting), Caryn Prince and Jan Reynolds (song / video selections), Tracy Walthard, Kelsey Walthard and Dawne Carver (teachings for children and youth).

Praise Song

Open the Eyes of My Heart, by Paul Baloche – performed by Hillsong Worship

Discovery Time & Sunday School

Click the arrow to watch Tracy Walthard present Discovery Time:


Our Sunday School Lessons for today are as follows:

Preschool Memory verse: “These are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” John 20:31

Grades K-5 Memory verse: “Now Faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.”Hebrews 11:1, NIV

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

Message for Youth

Have you been struggling? Feeling anxious, angry or just not into anything? I relate! It’s a real struggle during this time in our lives. I keep hearing stories from family, friends, and people around me (social distancing) that have a common theme- incredible disbelief that it’s been 3 months or more of Shelter-in-Place. We are in the same storm yet we are all in different ships. Your “ship” might be dealing with illness, depression, not seeing family that are sick, dealing with the death of a loved one and not getting to be with others to grieve, not celebrating a big moment, financial worries, having to work, not getting to work, the worry of getting sick, or maybe you’re just over all of this. There are so many “ships”. Therefore we are all handling our situations, feelings and relationships differently. And reacting to others as if they are in the same ship we are in!

The pandemic has brought out parts of me that I really wasn’t aware of (or at least pushed down so far inside that I didn’t have to deal with them). I like to have plans and to prepare in advance. Yet I didn’t think my world would be thrown off kilter if I had to go with the flow. The inconsistencies in policies keep me from planning schedules and keep me in a state of not knowing what tomorrow, next week or month will look like. And that has not been easy for me (or those around me). I am realizing how draining it is for me.

I’m also finding out that I do like rules and boundaries. There is a sense of security and balance in my life with consistent rules. I actually thought I was a bit more of a rebel. Nope. And as we start opening up, going back to work, launching back into the life of seeing people again, I realize that we all are in different ships. Some are ready to go out and embrace life outside of the house with gusto and others are struggling. I find myself balancing in the middle, one minute celebrating the freedoms and the next being concerned and then everything in between. It’s all very exhausting!

So where do I look for strength? I look to God. Isaiah 40:31 lets me know that as I wait on the Lord, I will soar on eagles wings, that I won’t grow weary or be faint. In Luke 8:22-25 Jesus calms the storms and reminds me to be faithful. God is not shaken by the storms in our lives. He is in control.

So whether you feel the waves crashing over you or the gentle rocking of the ship, know that you are not alone. God sees us in this storm. No matter what ship you are in, He is in control.

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

Listen to Pastor Jan lead us in this morning’s prayer by clicking on the arrow below:

Dear Creator God,

We come to you to pray for your guidance as we seek to discover more about who we are and how we might trust in you. We pray to be able to see ourselves as you see us: Your Word says that we are wonderfully made. Help our eyes to see this, Lord. Give us the courage to walk in the world as our true selves. Help us to have the vulnerability to remove our masks, to be self-honest, real and authentic. Please remove the spirit of comparison in us. Remove our blind longings and the ways we seek love in unhealthy ways.

Please order our steps as we set out to discover our true selves, and the true authentic selves in others. May we dedicate ourselves to mutual understanding and appreciation without wanting to own or ensnare another for our own purpose.

May we encourage others to have the assurance of who they are, freely giving what they have to offer. Let us be Your vessels to lead Your people to more fulfilling and purposeful lives. Help us all heal where we need to heal and to grow where we need to grow.

We pray for the continuing renewal of your creation, for the freedom and thriving of all people, for many opportunities to be your light in the world.

And now, we pray the prayer your son taught us,

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

Faith Offering

“You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before the concert and the opera, and grace before the play and pantomime, and grace before I open a book, and grace before sketching, painting, swimming, fencing, boxing, walking, playing, dancing and grace before I dip the pen in the ink.”
 
— G. K. Chesterton


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 Reading

James 3:17, John 3:34-36, Matthew 5:14-16

James 3:17 (NRSV)
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.

John 3:34-36 MSG
The One that God sent speaks God’s words. And don’t think he rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces. The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away—a lavish distribution of gifts. That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that.

Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Sermon

The Phantom of the Opera: “Removing our Masks”

James 3:17, John 3:34-36, Matthew 5:14-16
Rev. Jan Reynolds

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

Rejection, yearning, pain, and madness play out from behind a mask.

On the face of it, The Phantom of the Opera is a love story based on the 1909 novel by French writer Gaston Leroux. It is the longest running Broadway musical, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart in 1986, and became a moody film in 2004.

The scene of “The Phantom of the Opera” musical is the Paris Opera House in 1870.

We quickly become aware of hidden shadowy mysteries behind human masks, real and symbolic. “Our lives are one masked ball,” a character cries at the Opera House Masquerade Ball, where they sing: “Masquerade! Hide your face so the world will never find you.”

The plot is centered on a love triangle between Christine Daae; Eric, the Phantom; and Raoul, a Viscount who is the new patron of the Opera House.

At the Opera house, Christine is often visited by a voice that she calls her Angel of Music. This voice belongs to the Phantom of the Opera, the disfigured genius who composes all the scores at the opera house. This Angel of Music teaches Christine how to sing, and she becomes the most popular soprano at the opera house.

Although Christine is confused about the identity of this Phantom, she surrenders herself to this voice, yet instinctively shudders in his lurking, unseen presence.

And then, there’s the secret life of Erik who was abandoned by his own mother because of his disfigurement. As the masked Phantom, he is a subject of pity, rather than a personification of evil. The Phantom literally wears a mask of self-protection, and why wouldn’t he?

Both Christine and The Phantom have deep hidden longings for companionship and to be seen and accepted, and they wear masks that obscure their authentic selves. On the other hand, Raoul isn’t as compelling or as seductive as the Phantom, but as Christine’s lifelong friend, he is steadfast, kind, attentive. With Raoul, what you see is what you get.

Jesus taught about hypocrisy many times. The original meaning of the Greek word “hypokritai” means “stage actors.” Jesus offers a particular meaning of this word… many people live their life in a desperate search for human approval and acceptance. They discern their dignity and worth, not from God, but from what other human beings think of them. They are willing to adapt themselves to win acceptance.

This description applies, sadly, to both Christine and Eric, the Phantom. They cannot see themselves through God’s eyes.

Of course, these days, all of us are wearing literal masks of protection.

And we wear figurative masks to hide from others and to hide from ourselves. Think of all the ways we wear masks… for professionalism at work, to make a good impression, at the beginning of dating to put our best foot forward, to protect ourselves from being vulnerable or from showing we are scared. Sometimes our masks provide us with healthy boundaries to separate from others in a safe way. May we have compassion for our masks and the masks of others which are often worn out of a type of necessity.

I was interviewed recently for my home church’s Facebook page. I looked at that video and I was all cheery, all bright and shiny. A version of myself – not inauthentic, but not real either. Not what I felt like at the time at all. I had been feeling melancholy that day, and I made the instinctive decision not to share that side of me with the viewers. It was a good decision, I suppose. I just wish I had been a bit more thoughtful about it. I might have said to myself… “I’m feeling a little down today, but do I need to be super sunshiny in this video?” I could have been more authentic with myself and with my audience.

Erik’s devotion, on the surface, meets Christine’s need for recognition, perhaps he is a mirror of her own longing. But he doesn’t meet her in her true heart, her true self in God.

And isn’t this the way we are with others sometimes? We meet each other with our masks, not really communicating with our authentic selves at all, improvising our relationships based on what we think we see in one another.

Our masks are what psychologists call our shadows. We often can’t see them ourselves unless we take a deep look, perhaps with the help of a therapist. We can easily be deceived by our own hypocrisy.

After gala night at the opera house, the Phantom takes Christine to his underground chambers and promises to release her only if she wears a ring symbolizing her commitment to him. Christine feels dread but takes the ring and the Phantom lets her go.

Christine has succumbed to the allure of the Phantom, to his attentions and his gifts. After all, he had been her tutor, and she has great compassion for his life’s lot. But she begins to see the Phantom for who he is. His mask is figuratively and literally removed.

When she becomes engaged to Raoul, Eric is enraged; he becomes a true monster, terrorizing the Opera House. The author Leroux describes this moment:

“The Phantom stared dully at the desolate, cold road and the pale, dead night. Nothing was colder or more dead than his heart. He had loved an angel and now he despised a woman.”
― Gaston Leroux, The Phantom of the Opera

We all go to tremendous lengths to be loved like we think we should be loved. Our life circumstances can trample on us, wound us, and cause our masks to become more indelible. Social systems can rob people of their birthright of freedom to grow into God’s gifts as designed. People who are disenfranchised understandably form masks of self-protection. I think of my own son, bullied due to his learning disabilities. And people who have been denied opportunities because of race or gender.

We are all wounded to some degree and can only heal when we bring our shadow sides out into the open, into the fresh air, and take off our masks.

Christ calls us to authenticity and to our true selves which are often buried beneath our masks.

What a contrast to the dark shadow of the underworld of the Phantom and our own buried wounds! When we internalize God’s generous and extravagant love, we are made free. The realization that God accepts us for who we are, scars and all, brings light into our hearts.

John 3:34-36 (MSG)
The One that God sent speaks God’s words. And don’t think he rations out the Spirit in bits and pieces. The Father loves the Son extravagantly. He turned everything over to him so he could give it away—a lavish distribution of gifts. That is why whoever accepts and trusts the Son gets in on everything, life complete and forever! And that is also why the person who avoids and distrusts the Son is in the dark and doesn’t see life. All he experiences of God is darkness, and an angry darkness at that.

Stephen McAlpin, a self-proclaimed Millennial pastor, speaks of his generation: “I think our cry for authenticity stems out of the reality that we’re a generation let down. Past ideals don’t work for us. We’re fed up with wearing masks and hiding the truth about ourselves in an effort to blend in because it starves our hearts and leaves us empty. We crave a place and people where we can be our true selves and be truly loved. We’re crawling out from the bushes and searching for more. We’re calling others out to do the same, too, and are creating new standards for relationships.”

He continues, “Ultimately, Jesus is the standard for authenticity. He defines what it means to be an individual, to be loved in God’s own community, and to offer real hope to the world.”

Authenticity arises in us when we allow our own light to shine through, from the inside out. A healthy transparency of sharing who we are inside to the world. The freedom to be true to yourself without being so guarded.

Christine is drawn back to Raoul. She had never failed to love him but had been distracted by Eric’s playing on her wounds. Raoul is trustworthy, centered, never fails to be present and is loving in a way that only adds to, but does not take away from, Christine.

Matthew 5:14-16 (MSG)
Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.
Raoul represents the Christ light that meets Christine’s Christ light. Generosity of spirit, transparency in his caring, never jealous, but only concerned for her well-being.

Who has been a Christ light in your world, gently coaxing you out of darkness? Think of those who have particularly brightened your life with the light of God’s love. Who do you know whose world you have an opportunity to brighten, to gently coax out from their masks?

In the end, Christine sees the damage in the Phantom, that impacts her own health. She may love him for his many gifts to her. But she also honors the beauty in her own soul and knows that her well-being matters too. So, she chooses Raoul. He never manipulates her and is always there for her. It is a mutual relationship; where you have a sense that they can become their true selves over time together.

You can see this healthy dynamic in the energy of this love song… they are speaking of their love together which mirrors the love of God, non-coercive, attractive in a healthy way, never controlling or demanding. But always there.

That was just a taste of that beautiful song… you’ll be able to sing along with it at the end of the service.

None of us is ever lost or hidden from God, and if we understand this, we are more likely to come out from behind our masks toward God’s generous love and light. Other people do this for us also, when we feel safe to be brave and vulnerable over time, removing our masks and encouraging others to remove theirs as they can.

When we stand in the power of God’s acceptance and love, we will feel free to act authentically. When we know we are deeply seen by God and other people, we can open ourselves to self-understanding and become the Christ light the world so needs.

Sing Along

All I Ask of You – by Sarah Brightman, Steve Burton and Andrew Lloyd Webber

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