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, May 17 – 11:00am – 12:00pm
It will be a time for Check-in, Prayers and Small Group Conversation. We hope you’ll join us!
Use the Zoom link in our Saturday and Sunday emails. Email the church office if you need the Zoom link: Link Request
“For the Beauty of the Earth”
to our May worship series, “For the Beauty of the Earth,” where we give thanks
for God’s Creation. Particularly during this time, we are aware of God’s
many gifts in nature and the elements – and how dependent we are upon them.
Each service will feature beautiful scenic images or videos and inspiring
5/17 – Elder Eileen Haflich offers a sermon; inspiring videos of nature with poetry.
5/21 – Let’s explore Biblical nature imagery – Sermon by Rev. Jan Reynolds
5/31 – Pentecost Celebration! – Drama interpretation: arrival of the Holy Spirit with Wind, Fire, Water! Sermon by Rev. Jan Reynolds
Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, May 17, 2020
Many thanks to Ron Moser (production and artistic touches), Amy Cox (formatting and posting), Caryn Prince and Eileen Haflich (song selections), Rev. Jan Reynolds (video selections), Tracy Walthard, Kelsey Walthard and Dawne Carver (teachings for children and youth).
Call to Worship
Click the arrow below to see this beautiful video based on Psalm 148
Song of Praise
“For the Beauty of the Earth” – Words by Folliett Pierpont (1835-1917) Music by Scott Dyer and Joe Horness (2001)
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: “Nothing at all can ever separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:39
Grades K-5 Memory verse: Let us not become tired of doing good. At the right time we will gather a crop if we don’t give up. Galatians 6:9
Be sure to check our Facebook page for Sunday School videos to share with your children: St. Andrew Sonoma Facebook Page
Message for Youth
let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good
10:24 My friend is wonderful about posting on her FaceBook page encouraging
words from God! Today this resonated with me. This week I’m feeling a bit
restless. I like to plan ahead and as I thought about my plans for the summer
and how they are all changing, I could feel my frustration building at what we
are going through in our world. I’m getting testy. I realized that I need to be
“spurred towards love and good deeds”! Hebrews is stating that we need to help
each other. That love and good deeds need to be constantly stirred up or they
won’t happen. So how do we spur each other in the midst of our current
situation? Here’s my list of four things that are helping me.
First, I need to start with my heart and mind. How I start my day is very important. When I start my day with a verse, or Christian music (and a cup of coffee), my attitude is more positive. I’m lifted up and my thoughts are centered on God’s love. “We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19. When I go outside and see the beauty of God’s creation and hear the birds chirping, my mind is calmer. What do you need to do to start your day off right with God?
Second, I need to be aware of my words and my actions. “Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” Ephesians 4:29. I need to speak words of love and encouragement even when the world around me is speaking fear and hate. It’s too easy to lash out with hurtful words when I’m frustrated, cranky or angry. Then I feel horrible and shameful. I need to be aware of what I’m watching and listening to on social media, music and my conversations. We imitate what we are surrounded with. I want to imitate love and hope, not fear and bitterness, so I need to surround myself with voices and words that reflect love and hope – Not always easy!
Third, I need to reach out. Before SIP, I would go to church, to a friend’s house, etc. Now I try to call someone on the phone (and actually talk to them!), write a note and mail it, say “hi” to my neighbors as I take a walk and Zoom. What’s amazing about connecting is I never know how God will use that connection but I have faith that He will! When we are in “community”, even though it’s different today than a couple months ago, we are helping one another. It could be through encouragement, brainstorming how to serve others or to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I know that showing up is not just about me but that I’m part of a bigger story.
Last, I need to end my day with praise. I am so very blessed. Even in the trials of life, I have so much. It’s important to list my blessings and to be thankful for God’s gifts and God’s love. When I go to sleep after listing my praises (and yes that leads to prayers), I’m in a calmer state. That means I usually sleep better and will be rested and restored to start the next day.
Spurring each other in love and good deeds leads us to place our hope in God’s promises. When we love and encourage others, we bring the peaceful presence of God into that space even in the midst of chaos. So that’s my list. What is your list to help you love and encourage others?
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.
Call for Prayer
Pastoral Prayer: click the arrow to hear Eileen or read the prayer below
God of all creation, we praise you and all of your creation! May we be aware of the gifts that you have given us in the world and in each other.
As our indigenous ancestors of the land have taught us, may we learn lessons on how to live from the wisdom of Earth where you have placed us:
Creator God, help us to always be mindful of the gifts of life all around us. Help us to take care of our earthly home and our brothers and sisters all over the world.
We pray in the name of Jesus who taught us to pray in this way,
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
For those of you who can, please continue your giving during this time, so that St. Andrew may continue to serve our local community and our membership.
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 mail box: 16290 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, CA 95476
Praise God by listening to this wonderful rendition of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” – complete with animal noises! Lyrics by George David Weiss, Performed by the Boys’ Choir “Dagilelis”
For God So Loved the World
Genesis 9:12-16, Genesis 1:26 and John 3:16
Elder Eileen Haflich
Click the arrow to hear Eileen or read the Sermon below
Good morning. I am Eileen Haflich, an Elder and long time member of St Andrew. I am honored to have been asked by Jan to preach to you today as a part of her “For the Beauty of the Earth” series because she knew that I have a special place in my heart for the earth and it’s beauty.
We are all passing through one of the most harrowing periods in our lives. The daily anxiety and isolation has taken it’s toll on our spirit. During this time we all dealt with countless distressing circumstances, for many of us, including me, one was the closure of public outdoor spaces. If there’s any one thing that can restore my soul and give me a sense of hopefulness, it’s nature. Jan reminded us in her sermon on March 29th, that nature patiently moved on while we stayed put, but that perhaps this rootedness of the past many weeks is simply preparation for abundant blossoming. My message today is about blossoming, about our chance to give back a blessing to nature for what it has so patiently and consistently given us.
I grew up in a family that loved the outdoors, camping, hiking, skiing, gardening, sailing, long road trips and travel to far away landscapes. I have always felt my best self outside particularly in remote, quiet spaces surrounded by nature. I also grew up with a belief and faith in God, but it’s only recently that I definitely connected my faith and the natural world. My defining or God moment was about 10 years ago while we were visiting Yosemite , which I have always considered a spiritual space.
For some reason that I can’t remember, I was taking a walk by myself and suddenly felt compelled to sit down next to a softly burbling stream surrounded by the majesty of Yosemite. I closed my eyes and gently drifted into an absolutely indescribable moment. I felt completely and utterly at one with nature, at one with the stream, at one with the mountains, at one with the sky, at one with myself and at one with God. For me, it was heaven on earth. It is a moment I will never ever forget and it convinced me of the sacredness of all of God’s creation.
I am also convinced that God wants me to feel this way, that God speaks to me and in fact speaks to all of us through his creation. This is confirmed in many places in the Bible, but I think most explicitly in Genesis 9:12-16 “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and everything living after you. I’m putting my rainbow in the clouds, a sign of the covenant between me and the Earth. From now on, when I form a cloud over the Earth and the rainbow appears in the cloud, I’ll remember my covenant between me and you and everything living…”. Every time I see a rainbow, I am reminded of God’s promise and I think God’s promise can be found in all nature’s beauty.
But God has also given us a solemn responsibility in the Creation story where we are commanded by God to be respectful stewards of all God’s creation. Genesis 1:26 “God spoke: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, make them reflecting our nature so they can be responsible for the fish in the sea, the birds in the air, the cattle, and yes, the Earth itself, and every animal that moves on the face of the Earth.’” During my adult life I have always felt like a good steward of God’s creation. I leave the natural world in the same or better shape than I found it, I recycle, we taught our sons to experience nature with awe and respect. Sometime in the last few years, however, I looked away from my myopic view of the world and saw clearly that I was an inescapable part of a world of humans who were threatening rather than stewarding God’s creation in a very tangible way.
My response was to recycle and reuse more, to install solar panels, to drive an electric car. But the horror of what I was seeing and personally experiencing demanded something more from me, and yet I didn’t have any clarity about what that might be. That is, until…. I read these two books which have changed my perspective forever. The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr, and The Time is Now by Joan Chittister. They literally shouted to me that God is indeed in every living thing and that it is imperative that I become an Earth evangelist.
In The Universal Christ, Richard Rohr states: “When you look your dog in the face, for example, as I often looked at my black Labrador, Venus, I truly believe you are seeing another incarnation of the Divine Presence, the Christ. When you look at another person, a flower, a honeybee, a mountain – anything – you are seeing the incarnation of God’s love for you and the universe that you call home.” Mr. Rohr states emphatically that Christ is within all things that God has created. Everything, everything that God created matters deeply to God, and by extension I believe should matter deeply to us.
Joan Chittister states in The Time is Now:
“The prophet is the person who says no to everything that is not of God.
No to the abuse of women.
No to the rejection of the stranger.
No to crimes against immigrants.
No to the rape of the trees.
No to the pollution of the skies.
No to the poisoning of the oceans.
No to the despicable destruction of humankind for the sake of more wealth, more power, more control for the few.”
She goes on to say: “After we’ve said our prayers, checked the news, shaken our heads over it, and turned off the TV commentators in despair and disgust, we suddenly remember someone [or something] who needs the help we have just read about. Then we ask ourselves what we really stand for – and what we’ve done to prove it. At that moment, we either become prophets – or simply churchgoers. And that is the ultimate question, the question we must all answer: And you – what are you doing about it?”
And so what am I doing about it? First, I am standing here before you today to tell you my truth and what I believe – My truth is that I am heartbroken and my belief is that God is weeping.
I am heartbroken when one creature dies from discarded plastic and I believe God weeps.
I am heartbroken when a species becomes extinct due to loss of habitat, poisonous chemicals, and climate change and I believe God weeps.
I am heartbroken when a billion animals perish in a bush fire exacerbated by man-made climate change and I believe God weeps.
And I weep to think that any animal has been harmed by a single plastic bag I have thoughtlessly tossed away, or a species becomes extinct partially due to my indiscriminate use of a harmful herbicide, or a wildfire is even partly caused by my lifestyle choices.
BUT in spite of all that I am witnessing, in spite of my broken heart, I am hopeful. Ms. Chittister states: “We must…teach the truths of life, the why of the unjust situation, the downside of the present situation, the will of God for the world that is being violated in the present situation. Most of all, we must also describe the world that must be put in its place.”
And so, now the best part of my sermon, the uplifting conclusion! I have personally witnessed the extraordinarily powerful force we can be as a St. Andrew congregation. We are now going to harness this powerful force for the good of the Earth. As part of this effort, I am proud to introduce you to our Green Team
Together we are committed to lightening St Andrew’s carbon footprint, driving toward the goal of a zero-waste church, and leading us toward becoming an Earth Care Congregation. On this last point, I was utterly surprised to find out that the Presbyterian Church has a robust, rigorous, and thoughtful environmental ministry. By reducing waste, energy, water, and adding positively to the environment, St. Andrew can be designated an Earth Care Congregation by the Presbyterian Church organization.
Toward this lofty goal, we will be switching to more earth friendly consumables, we will be installing options for recycling and composting, and I have included in this posting facts about plastics and composting which, hopefully, will inspire you to carry these practices home and just maybe also become an Earth evangelist. Together we can give God a reason to smile.
Before I leave you today, I want to share one more scripture, the oft quoted John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son…”. John doesn’t say God so loved man, he said God so loved the world and therefore, I believe, so should we.
“How Great Thou Art” – Words and music by Stuart K. Hine, Performed by Eclipse 6