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 24 – 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”

Welcome 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 music.

5/24 – The entire Bible is chock full of nature images! Let’s enjoy some of these imaginative metaphors that speak to how God works in the world – 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 24, 2020

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

Call to Worship

Click the arrow below for a Memorial Day Video Tribute – 13 Folds:

Song of Praise

“America the Beautiful” – Ward/Bates, arr. by Frank LaRocca – performed by the Hillsdale College Choir

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

How do you honor people in your life? How do you honor God? How do we honor Jesus? These questions are swirling around in my thoughts, as tomorrow is Memorial Day – a day to honor and remember those who died in the line of duty for our country and our freedom. My dad was a Marine and was in Korea and Vietnam. He lost friends and comrades during battles. I grew up learning that Memorial Day was a day to honor their memory by remembering who they were and the sacrifice they gave.

Memorial Day reminds me of Jesus and His sacrifice for you and me. He gave His life so that we would have eternal life. He followed the will of His Father, God.

The definition of honor is: to regard or treat someone with respect and admiration; to treat with significance. How am I showing respect to God? How am I treating people around me? Am I honoring my parents in my day to day life? (That’s in the 10 Commandments!)

We show honor to the fallen soldiers by putting out the American flag, by visiting the cemeteries and going to parades. We show honor to God with our lives. “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20) To me, that means I honor God when I spend time with Him in prayer, when I take care of myself by resting, when I allow God to guide me, when I serve others, and when I practice showing grace and mercy to those around me. To me, honoring God is following the example that Jesus set in “loving God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and my neighbors as myself!”

That’s not always easy when life is challenging me in unexpected ways. So, today, I give thanks to the men and women who have given their lives for this country. I will honor them by taking time tomorrow to say a prayer of thanks for their ultimate sacrifice. I will honor God by showing up to be seen and doing the next right thing for His glory.
Blessings, Dawne

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 Prayers

A Prayer for Memorial Day, by Rabbi Dr. Laurence Milder: click the arrow below to hear Jim Morgan or read the prayer below

Our God, God of Creation, we thank you for the numerous blessings you have bestowed upon our nation. Out of the many nations of the world, our country has been blessed with a singular opportunity – to demonstrate how peoples of many faiths and heritages can live side by side, and enrich one another’s lives through friendship and the sharing of our unique traditions.

We are united this day in a solemn act of gratitude: to those who have served in our nation’s defense, to those who have risked their personal safety to save the lives of others, and above all to those who have died serving this country. Their sacrifices are forever remembered by us and by our children for generations to come. We do not forget.

Our hearts go out to those serving today in our armed forces, and to their families. Those of us who are veterans of previous wars, know best of all what they must be feeling, what their spouses and children are feeling, what they pray for. In all our many faiths, we are united in this: our prayers are with all those who serve our country today – in many vocations. We ask God that they may return in good health and safety to their loved ones.

And may God grant each of us the wisdom to uphold this nation’s virtues, that it may continue to serve as a beacon of liberty and harmony between peoples, for all the world to see. Amen.


Enjoy this beautiful sung prayer for reflection – God of the Sparrow by Craig Courtney from Beckenhorst Press

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

Scripture Readings

click the arrow below to hear Rev. Jan or read the Scripture below

Matthew 6:26-27, 33-34

Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?
 
But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

Isaiah 55:1-8, 12 

Everyone who thirsts,
  come to the waters;
and you that have no money,
  come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
  without money and without price…

For you shall go out in joy,
  and be led back in peace;
the mountains and the hills before you
  shall burst into song,
  and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

Sermon

God’s Providence:
The Birds of the Air and the Trees of the Good Land
Matthew 6:26-27, 33-34 and Isaiah 55:12
Rev. Jan Reynolds

Click the arrow to hear Jan or read the Sermon below

Of course, we humans worry about whether we’ll be safe, whether we will have enough, whether life will work out for us. The Bible, from beginning to end, works with these themes as God’s people face scarcity, upheaval, and change.

Biblical stories teach us about God providing for God’s people. At some level we humans understand: if God has provided for God’s other creatures, then certainly we will be provided for also!

Today, I thought I would focus on two of the most common nature images in the Bible, because we are ourselves are surrounded by them… the birds of the air and the trees of the good land.

Birds of the Air

There are nearly 300 verses in the Bible that mention birds! In the book Consider the Birds: A Provocative Guide to Birds of the Bible, Rev. Debbie Blue wonders about God’s doves, hawks, pelicans, quails, eagles, roosters, hens, swallows, vultures, ostriches, and ravens!

She writes: “Humans identify with birds. We watch, them, research them, tell stories about them, and in the process, we explore our humanity and inhumanity. They’re funny and dirty, noble, and shifty… much like us!”

The Luke 24 version of our scripture lessons says, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them.”

The Rev. Blue writes, “The raven is a creature of need and desire. It’s voracious. And God feeds it, takes care of its needs.” It’s one thing to believe God feeds the little pretty sparrows of the air. But God also feeds the ravenous ravens, the greedy gluttons. And how much more will God feed us? We humans need a lot of food, we need a lot of attention, love and healing. And God cares for us too.

What if we could trust that we will be fed? If we knew this in our bones, maybe a lot more people would get fed and many fewer people would be left hopeless in the wake of our fearful hoarding.

More people of all ages enjoy communing with birds, and recent studies show that hearing and watching birds is good for us. Jesus asks us to consider the birds, which could help us feel less anxious. Maybe we can just slow down, pay attention, and watch the birds.

When we start paying attention, we see birds everywhere. In beautiful wild places, and our busy cities. And so it is with the grace of God. When we start paying attention, we discover God’s Spirit in places we’ve not noticed before. May we deeply pay attention to what flits by us on any given day.

Trees of the Good Land

Trees are mentioned in the Bible more than any living thing other than God and humans. Trees can live as long as 5000 years, while humans get blinded by short-term issues and often lose sight of the long view. God wants us to see the forest and the trees.

The prophet Isaiah addresses people experiencing the trauma of the Babylonian Exile. After seeing their beloved city destroyed, their families torn apart, and houses demolished, they were losing their faith in God!  So Isaiah assures them of God’s grace and generosity, and gives them a longer view of a new abundant life when mountains and hills will break out in song and the trees of the fields will clap their hands in joy. (Theology Professor Juliana Claasans).

The Olive Tree is most frequently mentioned in Scripture and is one of the great blessings of the land that God has pronounced good.

The olive tree thrives throughout Israel’s rocky hills. Olive trees and the abundance of oil they produce were important to the people of the Bible. And just like today, olive trees provided a staple of the Mediterranean diet, and were a source of fuel and medicine. Even the oldest olive trees continue to thrive and are a symbol of rebirth.

Prophesies in the Bible describe the Messiah as a branch or a shoot, probably drawing on the image of the olive tree. Apostle Paul continued with this analogy when he describes God as grafting the new Christian Gentiles onto the tree of Israel, affirming God’s inclusive love of them and God’s continued love for the Jews.

John Calvin wrote that God wants us to remember each time we eat the fruit of a tree, or sit beneath in its shade and protection, to remember God, the source of all life. I have had unforgettable experiences of God’s grace under particular Mulberry and Oak Trees, and our children still tell tales of playing under our beautiful fig tree. Do you have a memorable story of a special tree in your life?

I know some of you are reading the novel The Overstory by Richard Powers. It tells stories of the resilience and vulnerability of trees and human beings – and how our histories are intimately linked. In a recent non-fiction book, The Secret Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, we learn that trees are communal – they communicate through their roots and help one another survive!

Can we see ourselves in these images of particularly resilient trees?

God has given us what we need to root and grow. We come to know that we are indeed showered with God’s love, grown from the nutrients of God’s good land, and in turn, our love and care overflow onto others. We learn that our strength is not diminished, but only grows as we share our abundance.

In this time when we are sheltered in, God provides for us. God gives us sustenance to share with others. As this church moves forward during this time of sheltering in place and great transition as you seek and await your new pastor, may you know your belovedness as individuals and as a congregation. May you have confidence and trust that a pastor who is meant for you will be provided to you. He or she will come to meet you through the movement of God’s Spirit in your seeking.

And remember, God has already provided you with servant leaders.

I think very often about your Pastoral Nominating Committee and I invite you again to pray for them. They have stepped into this responsibility as an act of trust, knowing that the lengthy process will yield fruit. Through them, your many gifts as a congregation will be lifted and shared with candidates seeking a call. May your open hearts hold them and may God guide them in their time of discernment.

I am grateful for the staff of this church, who show up day in and day out for this congregation – albeit virtually these days. They serve with their inspired ideas, steadfast faithfulness, loving-kindness, and deep personal commitment to the work of St. Andrew.

I am grateful for your elected Elders who serve on Session (your Board), who meet weekly to wisely guide the business of this church, always with you on their hearts. Your trust in God, your love and prayer, will sustain them.

Your loving and engaged Board of Deacons provide ongoing spiritual care and friendship throughout the year. Their deep care is felt by many in our congregation.

In closing, another word about Olive trees and their oil. Olive oil was, and is, a symbol of divine blessing, and is linked symbolically to the coming of God’s Spirit. You have been anointed with abundance even during this desert time, while you wait in your abodes for whatever will come next for your families and this congregation.

As you live day by day in this beautiful land, with thousands upon thousands of birds and trees to inspire you, may we all be reminded of our belovedness, and that God will never leave us lacking.

May you live in this time with full confidence that God provides for you.

May we move forward with trust and faithfulness, and with the expectation that with God’s help, abundant life arises like birds on the wing and grows resiliently like the trees.

May we have a deep trust that we will be sustained in body and Spirit through the love of God and God’s Good Land under our feet.

May it be so.

Closing Song

“Go Out with Joy / I Will Sing” – Words and music by Stuart Dauermann, Performed by Maranatha Singers

Blessing

May you realize that holiness is
mindful, gazing, feeling, hearing, and touching.
May your senses gather you and bring you home.
May your senses always enable you to
celebrate the universe and the mystery
and possibilities in your presence here.
 – John O’Donohue, “Anam Cara”


May you be blessed by God’s Temple 


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