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, May 16 – 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 – MAY 16, 2021

Stewardship Sunday
Recommitting Our Spirits

Philippians 4:4-9
Rev. Nicole C. Trotter

Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, May 16, 2021
Many thanks for technical assistance / contributions from Ron Moser, Rev. Nicole Trotter, Amy Cox, Ricky Bolanos, Ellen Shepherd, Parker Green, Sullivan Green, Tony Tommasi, Janine Tommasi, Tracy Walthard, Kelsey Walthard, and Dawne Carver.

Opening Call to Worship

One: Giving God- We give you our hands to do your work.

Many: We give our feet to go your way.

One: We give our eyes to see as you see.

Many: We give our tongues to speak your words.

One: We give our minds to think as you think.

Many: We give our spirit so that you use us. Let us worship God!

Opening Hymn

“Be Thou My Vision” – Words: Ancient Irish hymn, translated by Mary E. Byrne; Music: Irish Folk melody; arranged by Celtic Worship, featuring Steph Macleod

“Be Thou My Vision”, Produced/Arranged by Celtic Worship- Engineered by Gus Stirrat at Solas Sounds, Glasgow & Scott Wood at Oak Ridge Studios, Glasgow -Mixed by Scott Wood at Oak Ridge Studios, Glasgow- Mastered by Glenn A Tabor III at GAT3, Charlotte, NC

Discovery Time & Sunday School

Click the arrow to watch Ricky Bolanos present Discovery Time:

Our Sunday School Lessons for today are as follows:

PRESCHOOL LESSON:

Preschool Memory Verse for May:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Preschool children for Sunday, May 16th:

Preschool Bottom Line for the week of May 16th:

GRADES K-5 LESSON:

Grades K-5 Memory Verse for May:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Kindergarten – 5th Grade children for Sunday, May 16th:

Grades K-5 Bottom Line for the week of May 16th:

Message for Youth

I am blessed! This morning I am reflecting on the many blessings and gifts in my life. I’m not saying my life is perfect- I have my challenges. Yet I can fill pages with how God has blessed me and my family. Comforting gifts of shelter and clothing. Beautiful gifts of the scenery around me. Gifts of work and hobbies. Gifts of joy and love. Those are just a few! When I look at what has been given to me, I realize that God has given me gifts, and abilities as well. The Bible talks a lot about gifts and abilities given to us and that we are to use them to bless others.

“God has given each of you a gift from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them to serve one another.” 1 Peter 4:10

What gifts and abilities has God given to me that I am to share? When I first started this process years ago, it was hard to recognize the gifts. I kept thinking of other people’s abilities. I needed to ask people in my life what gifts and abilities they saw in me. Some of the gifts they saw were hospitality, working hard, acting and compassion.

How am I supposed to use those gifts for God? And here’s what I found out: God will give us ways to use our gifts. We just need to pray for God to reveal where and when, to look around for ways to serve others. God has used my love of cooking and baking to share meals with others. God has used my love of acting to touch people with His word. My role is to show up and share what He has given to me. To do the best I can with what God has given me. Not to hide or be afraid to use my gifts. To trust God.

So what are your gifts and abilities that God gave you? Do you sing? Do you write? Do you garden? Are you a good listener? Are you good with people? Are you a master organizer? Do you have the gift of time? Ask you family and friends to help you. Then ask God how you can share your gifts and be a blessing to others.

What I’ve learned over the years is that when I give, whether it’s money, time or my gifts, God has used them for His glory (Sometimes I don’t see how God is using them right away). I’ve also learned that God gave me everything I have. Everything. And in my thankfulness, I want to give back and be a blessing! To spread joy and love to others. And here’s the biggest thing I’ve learned: The more I give, the more blessed I truly am. 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 for the Day

Fake Dictionary, Dictionary definition of the word commitment.

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

Loving God, we come to you in thanksgiving, knowing that all we are and all that we have is a gift from you. In faith and love, help us to do your will. We are listening, Lord God. Speak your words into the depth of our souls, that we may hear you clearly. We offer to you this day all the facets of our lives, whether it be at home, at work, or at school—to be patient, to be merciful, to be generous, to be holy. Give us the wisdom and insight to understand Your will for us and the fervor to fulfill our good intentions. We offer our gifts of time, talent and possessions to You as a true act of faith, to reflect our love for You and our neighbor. Help us to reach out to others as You, our God, has reached out to us. Send the Holy Spirit to work through us, bringing Your message to those we serve. Help us make Your priorities our priorities and to put our faith into action. Help us plan to share the talents, treasures and time with which we have been blessed.Help us plan to serve our church, our community, and our world with Your gifts. May we serve You and pray with a joyful spirit of mind and heart. May our faithful stewardship bear witness to the love of Jesus Christ in our lives. We pray with grateful hearts, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Lord’s Prayer – A Visual Liturgy

“The Lord’s Prayer” – Featuring Timothy Coons

“The Lord’s Prayer” www.theworkofthepeople.com

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

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 – Lord, open our hearts and minds by the power of Your Holy Spirit, that as the Scriptures are read and Your Word is proclaimed, we may hear with joy what You say to us today. Amen

Philippians 4:4-9

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.

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

Sermon

“Recommitting Our Spirits”

Rev. Nicole C. Trotter

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

Over 15 years ago, when our black lab puppy (Diego) first came into our lives, I decided I would keep a file for all the vet bills to see how much the dog would cost us over the course of his life. Friends who owned dogs said this was a terrible idea, but I was determined.

Then somewhere along the course of his life, I stopped doing that. It wasn’t a conscious decision to stop, but something that happened naturally. In looking back, my guess is that I stopped because it no longer mattered. The love I had for the dog and the gifts that the dog brought into our lives overshadowed any dollar amount. The return on that investment grew over the years.

That said, I’ll never forget walking on Ring Mountain one morning and striking up a conversation with another dog walker who had shared with me that her dog had cost her close to $30k in only its first three years of life. I remember thinking, that’s crazy, but money is relative, and for all I know $30k for her may have been more like $3k for me.

How do you put a dollar amount on the life of beloved pet or a beloved church? For some $30k and $3k, $300 or $30 will be the amount we settle on, and that’s decided through prayer between you and God. 

The return on that investment is harder to measure.

A few years ago I attended a party with some friends, but mostly people I didn’t know. Once the word is out at a party that I’m a Pastor, one of two things happen. Either people walk away and avoid me or they start telling me why they don’t attend church anymore or don’t believe in God and organized religion. The worst part is when they start apologizing for cursing around me.

On this particular evening, a man began sharing with me the recent death of his mother. He went on to tell me that she had, over the course of her life, donated $200k to her church. And he followed that by saying, “What did she have to show for all that money? What a waste.”

As a Pastor, I had an inkling of what she had to show. She most likely had a place she called her church home and a group of people she called her church family. She most likely had a group of people who brought her an occasional meal, who listened to her sorrows, who shared in her joy. A place that put into practice what it meant to forgive when she did the wrong thing, or welcomed her with open arms when she had been gone for a long time. It was the place she came to feel fed spiritually and the place that fed her so that she could serve others. But I also knew, in that moment, that it wasn’t my job to convince him of that, so I simply said, “She must have loved her church very much.”

There is no doubt in my mind that St. Andrew is a well-loved church filled with people who love their church and understand what it means to be the church in love and service. And like churches all across the world, this pandemic has affected the energy levels of its people. Add on top of that you’ve experienced fires, droughts and the loss of Rich, so I think it’s fair to say you’ve been through a lot….

This past year and a few months the church has changed shape and went from being in the building to your homes. Pastors have preached for the last year that we are still the church together, whether over zoom or pre recorded, we’re more than the building. And I believe that, with all my heart, we are more than the building. And, on Easter Sunday, when we came into the sanctuary together for the first time- my body remembered what my mind had forgotten. Being here in this space, together, does make a difference. Sitting bodies next to bodies, even at a distance, seeing even just the tops of your faces, hearing your laughter and seeing your tears, and witnessing in live-time your prayers, is an experience of coming home. So for those of you who have gotten used to enjoying church at home in your pajamas and coffee, come in your pajamas and bring coffee. And for those who are not ready because of the virus, or just can’t come for whatever reason, we will continue to serve you with recordings of parts of worship so you can stay feeling connected.

This is Stewardship Sunday and our theme is “Recommitting Our Spirits”. We are embarking on, as I said in my stewardship letter to you, what I believe to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. St. Andrew is a healthy, vibrant community. You are creative, self aware, open-hearted, open-minded, intelligent people filled with energy. God is doing something new with us and our time, treasures and talents are all needed in the process.

As we Recommit Our Spirits, please pray on what you can give. The church relies solely on the financial support of its members, regular attenders and visitors. Our energy and gifts of service are equally valued. We have an abundance of good things going for us as a community of faith. Recommitting Our Spirits is an investment in this new chapter of a beautiful friendship with God who leads us, Jesus Christ who teaches us, and the Holy Spirit who sustains us always.

There are endless metaphors for what the church is. One of my favorites comes from Phillip Yancey, who says church is like God’s neighborhood bar, a place to hang out in, like the TV show Cheers, for people who know all about your lousy boss, your mother with heart trouble, and the teenager who won’t do what you ask; a place where you unwind, spill your life story, find compassion in a sympathetic look, as opposed to a self-righteous leer. 

But the best metaphor comes from the apostle Paul, who understands the church as Christ’s body, many parts forming one body. An eye, a hand, a kidney, a foot, a nose, the body works only by balancing the polar forces of unity and diversity, by bringing people together of all shapes and sizes who are nevertheless made one in Christ Jesus.

We are the church. That’s a hymn I first learned in the UMC. I am the church, You are the church, we are the church together. I find it a jarring and annoying hymn, but the lyrics, the meaning, could not be a better tool for stewardship. If I had a dime for every time someone asked me if the church has this or that- Or do “you” have this or that….and I respond with…You mean “we”….do we have this or that….we are the church together.

A few weeks ago, I held the honor of baptizing Wilson in an outdoor worship. Because Wilson was so happy, I was able to carry him around and introduce him to his new brothers and sisters in Christ, which reminded me of the story of a long time member of a church, and proud grandfather, who stood at the baptismal font with his family for the baptism of his baby granddaughter. But theirs wasn’t the only family up there that morning. Following the service, the two families intermingled at the font for pictures. At one point the mother of the other family asked this grandfather to hold her baby boy while she got something out of her bag. Other folks from the congregation were in and out of the sanctuary and in those few moments, the grandfather found himself saying, “Oh this one isn’t mine, I’m just holding him for a minute.”

But the next day, the grandfather called the pastor of this church and said he wanted to see him. The pastor, like all pastors, assumes the worst when someone says they want to see us on a Monday morning. So the pastor was thrilled when the man said he wanted to change his will to include the church. The grandfather said, “yesterday I realized something when I was holding that other baby, the one I kept telling people wasn’t mine….it dawned on me that that baby was part of my church family, and that I have a responsibility for that baby just as I do for my own granddaughter. So I want to leave part of my estate to the church as if the church were one of my children.(1) 

Paul’s letter says in part- whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy……put it into practice. That’s what we do here, and it’s what we do in our lives. We practice. We won’t do it perfectly. There will be hymns some of us don’t like, prayers out of order, the same stand up, sit down and now, a new pastor who as it turns out, may not be any more a prophet than the local checker at Safeway. 

This is church, it’s the place we put into practice here a world we’d like to have out there. At its best it’s a visible sign of God’s grace in the world. It’s the place we come to be at home, spiritually, as we love one another, side by side, with people we might never otherwise have known. 

Pastor Earl Palmer used to tell this story in defense against critics who dismissed the church for its hypocrisy, its failures, its inability to measure up to the New Testament’s high standards. Palmer, who was a Californian at the time said this-

When the Milpitas High School orchestra attempts Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, the result is appalling. I wouldn’t be surprised if the performance made old Ludwig roll over in his grave, despite his deafness. You might ask, “Why bother? Why inflict on those poor kids the terrible burden of trying to render what the immortal Beethoven had in mind? Not even the great Chicago symphony orchestra can attain this perfection.” 

My answer is this (he says), “The Milpitas High School orchestra will give some people in that audience their only encounter with Beethoven’s great Ninth Symphony. Far from perfection, it’s nevertheless the only way they will hear the message.” 

There will be those who only show up once, some who may only stay a month or a few years. But it may also be the only time in their lives they’ve witnessed what the church can be. They will see it being put into practice. They will witness the church moving outside of itself into the community, working in collaboration with neighbors, spreading the love of Christ through acts of service. 

Or, in the words of Pope Francis, The future of humanity lies in the hands of the people he calls social poets, creators of work, builders of housing, producers of food, above all for the people left behind by the world market.

Or in the words of Sandor Farkas, who wrote this as part of his statement of faith: “I believe in the church. As a result of a special relationship with Christ, His followers are characterized by gratitude to Him, which christians express through fellowship, worship, prayer, service, stewardship and discipleship.”

I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together.

May it be so, as we recommit our spirits to this place and the fellowship of its people. 

Amen.

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(1) Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, Robert Schnase

(2) Church, Why Bother, Phillip Yancy


Stewardship Video

Closing Hymn

“I Need Thee Every Hour” – performed by Fernando Ortega

I had the pleasure this week of reading Rev. Sandor Farkas’s Statement of Faith. His opening line is the inspiration for my choosing this closing hymn. Sandor wrote wrote-“God is not a matter of choice, but of necessity.”

“I Need Thee Every Hour”, words by Annie Sherwood Hawks, music by Robert Lowry

We welcome your comments / feedback about today’s worship service.

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