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 6 – 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 6, 2021

“Against Our Better Judgement”
1 Samuel 8:4-20
Rev. Nicole C. Trotter

Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, June 6, 2021
Many thanks for technical assistance / contributions from Ron Moser, Amy Cox, Rev. Nicole Trotter, Tracy Walthard, Kelsey Walthard, and Dawne Carver.

Opening Hymn

“Simplicity” – by Rend Collective

A contemporary worship song. For those who prefer the traditional, please see the closing hymn.

Licensed to YouTube by [Merlin] Absolute Label Services (on behalf of Integrity Music); LatinAutor – UMPG, Adorando Brazil, LatinAutorPerf, ASCAP, EMI Music Publishing, Capitol CMG Publishing, and 7 Music Rights Societies

Opening Prayer for Wholeness and Healing

Click the arrow below to hear Rev. Nicole Trotter offer this morning’s Prayer, written by Thomas Merton, or read the Prayer below

Opening Prayer for Wholeness and Healing by Thomas Merton

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Discovery Time & 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 June:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Preschool children for Sunday, June 6th:

Preschool Bottom Line for the week of June 6th:

GRADES K-5 LESSON:

Grades K-5 Memory Verse for June:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Kindergarten – 5th Grade children for Sunday, June 6th:

Grades K-5 Bottom Line for the week of June 6th:

Message for Youth

Congratulations to the Class of 2021!

You did it! It was strange circumstances to start your Senior year of High School. So many adjustments and missed events. Yet you persevered and you grew in ways that you haven’t even had a chance to process. We are proud of you! We look forward to hearing about your next adventure. So stay in touch! Remember to stay true to yourself, keep God first in all you do, and practice grace and mercy. You will stumble and you will fall but you will also get back up stronger for what you have gone through. You are loved! 

This is my message to our graduates. This is my prayer. And this is for all of us, as well. Today I’m feeling reflective in what we have all gone through in the last year. So today, my message is for us all. 

In many ways, we have all had a milestone in our lives this past year. We have pushed through isolation, losing a loved one, missed celebrations and a change in how we live life. We have learned to be more creative. To think outside the box. To embrace and celebrate the small moments as well as the big ones. To celebrate the small victories and to appreciate the ones we love. We have learned that we are better in community. We are stronger and healthier. That being apart creates division and has us guessing at what the other is thinking/feeling. We have learned that a sunrise is to be celebrated. We have learned who our neighbors are. We have learned not to take simple freedoms for granted. Things like going to church, going to school and going out for coffee with a friend. We have learned to celebrate visiting with family and friends. For some of us, that visit has been restricted to FaceTime or Zoom. We learned to celebrate technology. For some us, that meant learning how to navigate through technology. We have had the time to complete projects around the house. To create new spaces to relax, work and to play. We have become adventurous in the kitchen, both in good and not so good ways. We have started that garden, or book or hobby we have wanted to do for awhile. We have started to read the Bible, to journal and to walk each day. For some, work just got crazier. Home became a place to work, teach and live. No matter what our experiences, we all have learned to adapt.
 
My prayer is that we do not forget what we have experienced. My prayer is that we grow from what we experienced. That we hold on to the blessings of this past year and let go of the resentments. To grow in love for each other and to forgive the hurts and struggles we have endured. That we learn to come together and listen to one another. That we keep looking for the beauty surrounding us. That we practice grace and mercy in our interactions with each other. And to realize that God is in control and that He can and that He will bring goodness out of what we have all lived through in the past year. Blessings, Dawne Carver

Our 2021 High School Graduates:

MASON is headed to San Diego State University this Fall!

BELLA is headed to University of Hawaii Manoa this Fall!

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

1 Samuel 8:4-20

Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.”

But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the LORD, and the LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. Now then, listen to their voice; only–you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” So Samuel reported all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the LORD will not answer you in that day.” But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said “No! but we are determined to have a king over us, so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

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

Sermon

“Against Our Better Judgement”

Rev. Nicole Trotter

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

Today’s Hebrew Bible reading comes from the Book of Samuel. Samuel, a judge, prophet and priest, is approaching retirement and has given over the family business to his sons. But his sons are perverting justice, they can’t be trusted and the Israelites have what they think is a better idea. They want a king instead of a judge. They want a king “like other nations”. It’s not entirely clear why they want a king, but this phrase “like other nations” is perhaps our best clue. This “the little strip of territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea had been dominated by its larger, more powerful neighbors…Egypt to the south, Babylon and Assyria to the east, Aram/Syria to the north…”

The Israelites are living in a time of relative peace, but they’re comparing themselves, nonetheless, to other nations, and insecurity creeps in, thinking, “If other nations have kings and an organized military, so should we.” As they imagine the potential danger, their identity begins to feels threatened. People tend to do one of two things when their identity is threatened. They can become fearful and double down on their place in history as unending and unchanging or they can choose to embrace change, begin to ask questions, and learn with curiosity what this moment in history is teaching them. 

The Israelites’ identity is built upon the foundation of YHWH, (God) whom no one can see, and God no longer seems culturally relevant when they compare themselves to those being led by kings. They want to be “like other nations”. That phrase would have been like nails on a chalk board to Samuel. Israel was not “like other nations” in the eyes of God. Israel was the chosen nation “You will be a blessing among nations.” (Gen 12) God didn’t intend for them follow, but to lead by example. Samuel knows this and knows better. 

Samuel goes to God feeling responsible. After all, it is Samuel’s sons who are messing everything up for the people. But God says to Samuel… it’s not you they’re rejecting “but they have rejected me from being king over them.”(Vs 7) Warn them, God says, but if they still want a king after the warnings, it’s their choice.

And then in verse after verse comes a long series of warnings. This king will take from you, not give. He will take your sons, take your daughters, take the best of your fields, take your grain, he will take– is repeated six times, intended to wake the people up out of their coveted image of a king. But they don’t listen, and God instructs Samuel, against his better judgment, to let them have what they want. You might have guessed the story doesn’t end well.

Some of you know I belong to a clergy cohort group where we pray together, share books, and we dwell in Scripture. We don’t just read Scripture, we “dwell” in it. Things Pastors say. Once a month for eight months this year we dwelled in Deuteronomy 30, including the familiar verse, I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life…..

It sounds so easy. Choose life. We make the assumption that any of us, given a choice, of course would choose life, but that’s precisely what makes this morning’s Scripture so puzzling. The people choose to go against God’s will, having been warned, they do it anyway, and we’re never told why. 

Why is that? How many of us have made decisions in our life to do something, knowing at our core, it’s not going to end well, and we do it anyway, against our better judgement? Without knowing why…we disregard what we know to be right, or good, or life affirming. If every gift has its shadow side, then the shadow side of free will is disregarding our better judgement and choosing those things that lead to a kind of death; choosing what’s hurtful, arrogant, power hungry and greedy.

And the God who loves us lets us fall, at will, as we feel the repercussions of those choices.

As I mentioned in my weekly email, by now most of us have heard the expression “helicopter parenting”. For those unfamiliar, the term is used to describe parents who hover over their children, micromanaging areas of their children’s lives excessively. Some hovering has become necessary because the world has changed. But other types of hovering disempowers our children from developing life skills, such as handling failure and adversity, allowing them to grow stronger and wiser.

There’s a parenting book titled, “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee.” I never read it, but the title spoke to me and I carried the title around in my head like a mantra. When my children were younger I knew intuitively that if I wanted my children to grow, I had to let them fall down occasionally. As they got older I knew I could hand out all the warnings in the world, remind them to make good choices while offering words of wisdom, but ultimately the choice was theirs and even more so now that they’re adults.

God, as a good parent, allows us to fall and skin a knee- essentially saying, “I do this, not because I don’t love you, but because I love you so much, I give you choices, and the ability to learn, and the ability to grow and become more of who I created you to be…and I will love you through the disappointment and the pain of your fall from grace, and together we’ll find our way back to choosing life.”

And all of us, whether parents or not, want to prevent others from suffering, just as Samuel wanted to prevent God’s children from the inevitable abuse of a king.

But ultimately, like Samuel, we let go and trust that ultimately it’s between them and God, their journey, theirs to learn, and theirs to grow from.

The Israelites, against the better judgment of God, chose to be like other nations, making the choice of king over God in a defiant act of idolatry. If the desire to be “like other nations” was the Israelites motivating force towards feeling more secure, then how different are we who enter into competition to keep up with our neighbors? We compete globally in the arms race, and cyber warfare. We compete locally for better state programs. Competition has historically been a driving force for accomplishing many great achievements and this nation has much to be proud of. Motivation to be “like others” is not always idolatry where basic individual needs like job security, or knowing where the next meal is coming from is concerned. The problem lies in our ability to make false idols of rulers who exploit the fear of those they claim to serve, with only his or her own self interest at heart.

We have been given free will which “Comes from the soul, and sometimes the darker forces win out over its nobler ones.”(1) 

Jon Meacham, in his book titled, The Soul of America, The Battle for Our Better Angels writes; “Philosophically speaking, the soul is the vital center, the core, the heart, the essence of life. In the second chapter of Genesis the soul was life itself. And in the New Testament when Jesus says, greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends, the word for life can also be translated as soul….Heroes and martyrs have such a vital center, (but) so do killers and haters.”

We’re given free will and we are given choices. Perhaps we can begin by laying aside the idea that any one leader can restore us to wholeness, no matter how bipartisan, and instead rely on the collective goodness of fallible people, not just of this country, not only of Christians, but all people who recognize choices of goodness, decency, kindness, and selflessness as foundational towards life.

Meacham writes, “In our finest hours…the soul of the country manifests itself in an inclination to open our arms rather than to clench our fists; to look out rather than to turn inward; to accept rather than to reject. …Confident that the choice of light over dark is the means by which we pursue progress.”

And in the words of God-
 See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, death and adversity…. I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Choose life

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(1) Jon Meacham, The Soul of America, The Battle for Our Better Angels

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 Hymn

“God of Grace and God of Glory” – By Harry Emerson Fosdick (1938)‎, performed by the Choir and Congregation of First Plymouth Church, Lincoln Nebraska on June 19, 2016. Jeremy Bankson, Organist.

This Hymn is for those of you who have told me you miss the traditional hymns.

Written in 1930 by Harry Emerson Fosdick for the dedication of the famous Riverside Church in New York City. It was written while the United States was in the throes of the Great Depression between the two World Wars. Fosdick was a champion of the social gospel, a movement that recognized the plight of the poor, especially in the urban Northeast during the Industrial Revolution.


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