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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, November 8 – 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 – NOVEMBER 8, 2020

Chayei Sarah, the Life of Sarah – Genesis 23:1 – 25:18

Rabbi Steve Finley

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Welcome to this “virtual” worship service for Sunday, November 8, 2020

Many thanks for technical assistance / contributions from Ron Moser, Amy Cox, Rev. Jan Reynolds, Rabbi Steve Finley, Yaffa Finley, Tracy Walthard, Kelsey Walthard, and Dawne Carver.

Opening Hymn

“Tzadik Katamar – Righteously Straight Like the Palm Tree”, Words from Psalm 92:13-16, Music by Amitai Ne’eman – performed by Yaffa Finley and Rabbi Steve Finley

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Tzadik Katamar – Righteously Straight Like the Palm Tree

Psalm 92:13-16

Tzadik katamar yifrach Ke’erez bal’vanon yisgeh
She-tulim be-veit Adonai B’chatsrot Eloheinu yafri-chu
Od yenuvun b’seyvah d’sheinim v’ra-ananim yih-yu
L’ha-gid ki yashar Adonai, Tsuri, tsuri, v’lo av-latah bo.

The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree
They shall thrive like a cedar in Lebanon.
Rooted in the house of the Lord
In the courtyards of our God they shall blossom
(This next stanza makes me think of Abraham and Sarah)
They shall bring forth fruit in old age
They’ll be ever fresh and vibrant,
Proclaiming that the Lord is just,
My Rock, in whom there is no wrong.

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 November:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Preschool children for Sunday, November 8th:

Preschool Bottom Line for the week of November 8th:

GRADES K-5 LESSON:

Grades K-5 Memory Verse for November:

Click the arrow below to watch the Sunday School video for our Kindergarten – 5th Grade children for Sunday, November 8th:

Grades K-5 Bottom Line for the week of November 8th:

Message for Youth

When I think of November, I think of being thankful. I think of gratitude and ponder the blessings in my life. God has blessed me in so many ways. My marriage and family are a blessing. My faith is a blessing. Having the gift of hospitality is a blessing. I could go on and on. In fact, we actually started a list on Sunday, in youth group, to get us to think of the blessings in our lives.


God blesses us so that we may bless others. God doesn’t want us to hold onto our blessings. He wants them to overflow from us to others. Scripture states this again and again.


“You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” 2 Corinthians 9:11


“One man gives freely, yet gains more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty. A generous man will prosper; he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed.” Proverbs 11:24-25


“And do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” Hebrews 13:16


Think about it. Many of the blessings you and I receive have come from others. The blessing of a listening ear, time set aside to celebrate or commiserate life, a meal, or a helping hand. We are meant to pass along the blessings that we have received. To use the gifts that God has given each of us to help others. Our lives are richer when we give, when we bless others. It’s a ripple effect, like throwing a pebble in the pond and seeing one ripple then another and another. If no one throws the “pebble” into the pond, think of the blessings you and I would miss out on!


So where are you being blessed? Make a list. Add to it everyday. Ask yourself, “where are you able to bless others?” Is it through volunteering, writing to those who could use a message? Maybe you could make a meal for someone who is struggling? Or bake cookies to add cheer to a neighbor’s day. If we put our minds to it, think of all the ways you and I can be a blessing! Then go out and be a blessing to someone… whether they are aware of it or not. Think of the difference in our world, if each of us took the time to use our time, our money, and/or energy to be a blessing everyday! I can imagine God saying “Well done, my child, well done!” 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

Click the arrow below to see and hear Rev. Jan Reynolds offer this morning’s Prayer or read the Prayer below

A Prayer of Gratitude for Ancestors throughout the Generations

Adapted from Hsing Yun by Rev. Jan Reynolds

Oh great, compassionate God!

We would like to express to you
Our gratitude for our relatives and
Ask blessings for them throughout the generations:
We attribute much of our ability to live  
To the diligence and efforts of our 
relatives and other Wise Ones
Throughout the generations.

For the future of their descendants,
Some migrated overseas to toil and strive, and
Some devoted all their efforts to create and invent.

Oh great, compassionate God!
Although our ancestors are gone,
Their example remains before our eyes.
We are willing to take as a model our ancestors’ virtue of benefiting others;
We are willing to learn from our ancestors’ example of solidarity;
We are willing to inherit our ancestors’ model of determination;
We are willing to accept our ancestors’ teachings and admonitions.

Their bounty is higher than mountains and deeper than oceans.

Oh great, compassionate God!
We pray to you, God, to bless them,
knowing you have already forgiven their transgressions. 
 
Compassionate God!
 Please bless and support us:
We are willing to avoid evil;
We are willing to purify our intentions
And become models ourselves for future generations;
We are willing to contribute our strength
And serve your people;
We are willing to benefit all human beings
And not waste this life.
 
Amen!

Faith Offering

Gratitude for Wisdom passed down through our ancestors.

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

Genesis 23: 1-2
23:1 And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; [these were] the years of the life of Sarah.
23:2 And Sarah died in Kiriat Arba, which is Hebron, in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to honor Sarah, and in Hebrew, lispode l’Sarah v’livkotah – to mourn and cry for her. 

Genesis 24:67 
And Isaac brought her to the tent of Sarah his mother, and he took Rebecca, and she became his wife, and he loved her. And Isaac was comforted for the loss of his mother.

Genesis 25: 8-9 
And Abraham died in a good old age, old and satisfied, and he was gathered to his people. And Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in Hebron, in the Cave of Machpelah.

Sermon

Marc Chagall – Abraham and Sarah, 1956

Chayei Sarah, the Life of Sarah
Genesis 23:1 – 25:18

Rabbi Steve Finley

Click the arrow below to see and hear Rabbi Steve Finley’s Sermon or read the Sermon below

Good Morning, Happy Sunday to All – First, I want to congratulate you on finding your new pastor, and I want to praise the search committee – I’ve heard from numerous congregants around town, how hardworking, careful, meticulous and sensitive you all were, leading the St. Andrew family through this journey to find Nicole. Can’t wait to meet her. 

So you’ll understand why I’m offering teachings from a particular portion of Torah this morning, I need to give you a quick refresher – In Judaism, we read our Torah, your Old Testament, the Five Books of Moses, chronologically, with a “portion” studied each week for one full year. When we finish there’s big celebration and then we start all over again. We study the portion for a whole week, beginning on Sunday, and then on the final day of the week, the Sabbath in the synagogue we chant those same chapters and verses during our Sabbath morning worship service. So today, we begin the study of a new portion called, Chayei Sarah, the life of Sarah, Genesis 23:1–25:18. 

Your minister, my dear colleague, friend, Jan, gave me a few Sundays to choose to come before you and I chose this one. Why? I have three reasons. The first reason, because at the end of this week, Saturday morning, our Shabbat, we at Shir Shalom are hosting a Bat Mitzvah ceremony for two of our Hebrew school students, twin sisters, Scarlett and Audrey. Of course, the attendance is just the family. They’re postponing the party. So we’ve been studying the portion together, so giving my sermon to you is special knowing that this Shabbat, they too will be giving teachings, also from Torah portion, Chayei Sarah. I can’t wait to hear them. 

My second reason for choosing this week, this Torah portion is the story itself, one of my favorites, having three major events inside. Let’s begin with the name of this particular portion of Torah Chayei Sarah – it’s taken from the key words of the first verse, meaning, “The Life of Sarah”. Ironically though, the opening verses are actually announcing the death of our first matriarch and wife of Abraham. Let’s begin with major event number one:

Genesis 23, verses 1 and 2
23:1 And the life of Sarah was one hundred years and twenty years and seven years; [these were] the years of the life of Sarah.
23:2 And Sarah died in Kiriat Arba, which is Hebron, in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to honor Sarah, and in Hebrew, lispode l’Sarah v’livkotah – to mourn and cry for her. 

This is the first story in the bible of intense grief over the loss of a loved one. We learn that grief and love go hand in hand. In our intense grief, as with Abraham, we discover that the pain we feel is the measure of the love we once shared. There was something indeed special about Sarah, and Abraham’s grieving turns out to be a foreshadowing of things to come. To take care of the burial, Abraham purchases Maarat HaMachpela – the double caves, from Ephron the Hittite for four hundred shekels of silver and is buried in the Machpelah Caves in the town of Hebron. And, according to the words in Torah, he delivered a eulogy for her full of praise. 

The second major event in our portion of Torah – A while after Sarah’s death, Abraham sends his servant Eliazar to find a wife for Abraham’s son Isaac. Some of you might be familiar with the story. Abraham’s servant Eliezer travels to Charan, Abraham’s birthplace to look for the perfect match for Isaac. At the village well, Eliezer asks God for a sign and is answered: when the women come to the well, he will ask for some water to drink; the woman who will also offer to give his camels to drink shall be the one destined for his master’s son. Kindness and compassion mattered most. How profound. When we think of who will marry our children and grandchildren, do we think in these terms? This Torah portion here guides us to pause and ask ourselves, what matters most to us? Do we confuse success with happiness? Do we focus on accomplishments and achievements of others, or do we come to appreciate their virtues? 

As the story tells, Rebecca appears at the well and passes the “test”, offering water from the well to both Eliezer and his camels. He is invited to their home, where he tells the story of Abraham and his search for a bride for his son. Rebecca has an intuition and returns with Eliezer to the land of Canaan, where they encounter Isaac strolling in the field. 

They meet, and three verses later we read Genesis 24:67: And Isaac brought her to the tent of Sarah his mother, and he took Rebecca, and she became his wife, and he loved her. And Isaac was comforted for the loss of his mother.

Sarah interestingly comes back into the story. Not only does Isaac fall in love with Rebecca, but the Torah specifically mentions that he was comforted by her for the loss of his mother. This might explain his strolling in the field. Isaac was deep in mourning for his mother, Sarah. Apparently, he was inconsolable until he met his future wife, Rebecca. 

Both Abraham and now Isaac we see were deep in grief over Sarah’s death. Author Judy Tatelbaum, in her book, The Courage to Grieve, writes words we know too well – “The death of a loved one is the most profound of all sorrows. The grief that comes with such a loss is intense and multifaceted, affecting our emotions, our bodies and our lives. But to grieve”, she adds, “is also to celebrate the depth of the union. Tears are the jewels of remembrance, sad but glistening with the beauty of the past.” In their tears and sorrow, Abraham and Isaac continued to praise Sarah.

The third major event in this week’s Torah portion is the reunion of Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael, some of us might remember was the first son of Abraham, with Hagar, when it was thought that Sarah could not bear children. The last time the Torah describes Isaac and Ishmael, they were young boys out playing together at the family camp. Ishmael, being the older boy, was teasing Isaac. Sarah took notice of Ishmael, became defensive for her son, and ordered Abraham to expel Hagar and Ishmael from their dwelling place. Early the next morning Abraham sent them on their way.

There is never another mention again of the boys meeting, until big event number three, when it came time to bury their father, Abraham, back in Hebron, in the Caves of the Machpelah, next to Sarah. 
Genesis 25, verses 8 and 9 – And Abraham died in a good old age, old and satisfied, and he was gathered to his people. And Isaac and Ishmael his sons buried him in Hebron, in the Cave of Machpelah.

In this reunion of Isaac and Ishmael, I want to note that the Torah explicitly goes into detail how Ishmael too became the patriarch of a small nation himself, with many children and much wealth. “His sons” it states, “were princes to their nation.” And Isaac as well found the love of his live, prospered, and continued the patrilineal decent.

So looking back years before, at the time when Sarah insisted that Hagar and Ishmael leave the camp, this might have seemed cruel. She, in essence, determined both boys’ lives and destiny. We see now though, that in the end, everything worked out beautifully. Sarah, once more, appears in the story. Not by name, but by influence. In fact, Sarah, who passes away in the first two verses of this Torah portion, weaves her way through the entire story.

This calls us to think of our ancestors whom, to this day might bring influence to our lives, even our destiny. American poet W. S. Merwin writes about losing his father, “Your absence has gone through me like thread through a needle. Everything I do is stitched with your color.” 

We pause to reflect – What memories of our loved ones passed, do we cherish most? How do our memories help us to live a better life? From generation to generation, we pass on memories and values, but some of the qualities and characteristics of those whose blood we share, who came before us, are passed on within us. From generation to generation, in the family unit, we live and we learn the most intense joys and deepest sorrows. 

The name of the Torah portion, “Chayei Sarah” is indeed about the Life of Sarah, for Sarah continued to live throughout this story, as do our mothers and fathers, our ancestors, in our stories. But will we continue to live in the lives of our children and grandchildren long after we’ve gone? Are we leaving a good enough impression on their lives to be remembered well? Can we do better? We pray to God to help us honor our ancestors through the lives we lead, and by doing so, pass on more securely, from generation to generation, what matters most. 

And to all generations may we remember to always teach the greatness of faith and praise for holiness, and may the many names for God never depart from our lips. 

Now it’s time for a song, L’dor Vador, “To All Generations” – this is a prayer and a song in our Sabbath morning, prayer service. We have a recording of Yaffa, my wife singing this, which I’d like to play for you now. After the song, I’ll close with my third reason for enjoying this particular Torah portion so much, a very personal reason. 

Song: L’Dor VaDor – From Generation to Generation

Hebrew:
L’dor vador, l’dor vador, l’dor vador nagid gadlecha,
Ool’netzach n’tzachim, Ool’netzach n’tzachim k’dooshat’cha nakdish,

L’dor vador, l’dor vador, l’dor vador nagid gadlecha,
Ool’netzach n’tzachim, Ool’netzach n’tzachim k’dooshat’cha nakdish,

V’shivchacha, Adonai Eloheinu, mipinoo lo yamoosh, l’olam va’ed.
Ki el melach gadol, melech gadol, V’kadosh Atah

L’dor vador, l’dor vador, l’dor vador nagid gadlecha.
Ool’netzach n’tzachim, Ool’netzach n’tzachim k’dooshat’cha nakdish

English:
From one generation to another we will declare Your greatness, and forever sanctify You with words of holiness. 
Your praise will never leave our lips. 
You are God, great and holy.

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I said I have three reasons why this particular Torah portion is dear to me. I told you about Scarlett and Audrey this Saturday, the second, as I mentioned is the story itself, and we’ve gone through just some of the take-aways from this portion of Torah.

The third reason is very personal. The story begins and ends in the town of Hebron, at the double caves, Maarat HaMachpelah. As some of you may know, during my many years in Israel, I served the first few of them, in my early twenties in the Israeli Army. Now once you’ve served in a combat unit, you are called up for thirty days a year to the reserves till the age of 50, and you can be sent pretty much anywhere. At the age of 32, in the fall of 1991, I was sent for a month to Hebron. Hebron is both a mystical and magical town mentioned over 80 times in the bible. It was and still is a center for Kabbalah – Jewish Mysticism. The Hebrew word Hebron comes from the root Haver, meaning, friend. Many stories, much of our biblical history took place in and around Hebron. Most of my days in Hebron I was part of a foot patrol that went through the Kasbah, an amazing maze of shops similar to the old city in Jerusalem. Additionally though, I had the opportunity on several occasion to enter the double caves, Maarat HaMachepelah, take out my prayer book and meditate next to the tombs of Abraham and Sarah. 

Closing Song

“Do Not Be Afraid” – Based on Isiah 43:1-5. The 500 Series CD, volume 7

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