Season of Creation 4, Sept. 24, 2017

Title:Season of Creation 4, Sept. 24, 2017

 Sunday, Sept. 24, 2017, Season of Creation 4 (full size gallery)

Wow! The church sent off a check this week to Episcopal Relief and Development for $3,145 for flood relief for  Harvey and Irma. Thanks to all for helping provide substantial relief for those in need.

The Village Harvest this week on Sept. 20 served over 160 people for the third straight month. After 9 months in 2017 we are a 33% higher last year in people served and 25% higher in food.

We saw only 7 at 9am and 28 at 11am. Godly Play for Adults between those services was on the 10 commandments. Particularly interesting is how #4 about the Sabbath is the bridge between the first 3 God and the others which deal with personal behavior. 

The focus of the service continued to be about the earth with the season of creation. The hymns reflected that – the last one "For the Beauty of the Earth", the closing hymn, contained the following- " For the Beauty of the Earth, for the beauty of the skies, for the love which from our birth over and around us lies. "All creatures of our God and King", the opening hymn, hfs texts written by St. Francis – "Dear Mother Earth you day by day unfold your blessings on our way."

The 11am service was altered. The Prayers of the People was a silent meditation, fitting in with the rest theme. A "Prayer of Confession" reacted directly to the sermon. 

 The Eucharistic Prayer (Celtic) for the Season of Creation leading to the sermon. substituted for those in the Prayer Book and derived from the Community on Iona in Scotland supplemented by a preface from St. Francis Episcopal, Emerald Isla, NC.  It was adapted with St. Peter’s references about the saints. The section "It is right to give God thanks and Praiser" had this section relating back to St. Peter’s:

 "We thank you, Holy Creator, that you allow us to live surrounded by the evidence of your divinity at St Peter’s: Your sun pours in through the tall clear windows, light and shadows playing across these holy walls and holy words like the joys and sorrows that come and go in our lives. We thank you for the ever-shifting beauty of the Rappahannock River, for the shade of the sycamores, for the flowers that bloom in their season, for the smell of newly cut grass, for the crunch of autumn leaves. We thank you for the laughter and the tears that we have shared together.

The sermon and the confession focused on sleep and rest, both physical and spiritual. The confession laments – "our lives are too busy, we worry and are anxious…we forget to rest…May we cease to be enslaved by our labors, May we dwell in Sabbath rest."

The readings for Season of Creation 4 are here. A discussion of the lectionary is here

These scriptures focus on both the commandment and the need for Christians to observe a sabbath for the Lord. This requirement is also part of our “dominion” over the earth. In Leviticus, God has Moses tell the Israelites that every seventh year should be a sabbath of complete rest for the land. In the letter to the Hebrews, the writer encourages the listeners to rest in God, another way of talking about salvation. Fred Craddock points out that “rest” transcends place and history but it is also experienced here and now. Rest is grounded in the ultimate purpose of God, and is a reality that has existed since the foundation of the world. The Sabbath reminds us of a central truth: God rested and invites others into that rest with all the blessings attendant to the presence of God.” In the gospel reading, five thousand people rest on the grass and Jesus feeds and blesses them all, another sign that Jesus is truly the Son of God.

The sermon was on rest.

"The act of resting is an essential part of the deep and wise working of creation itself. On the seventh day of creation, after God had spent six days being supremely creative, God rested and enjoyed all that God had created. Out of all the days of creating and saying, “It is good,” God blessed only one of those days. And that day was the seventh day. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creation.”

"So in order for the earth to do her work richly and fully, God gave the earth blessed times of rest, the earth’s own sabbaths, that are part of the great creative cycle of life."

"God also gave the earth the rhythm of creativity and rest in the cycle of seasons. Autumn has arrived. The earth has spent the spring and summer being creative. Now the farmers are harvesting crops, and small towns all over America are having harvest festivals. "

"…Throughout time, human beings have had trouble making space for rest-which is why rest is a central theme throughout scripture. Because at its heart, rest is about trust. Trust that I can let go and the world will go on, trust that I can let go and still have all that I need provided, trust that I can let go, and as they say in AA meetings, let God take care of me and everything that I usually take care of while I rest."

In Old Testament times, the weekly and yearly, and seven-yearly and the forty-nineth yearly cycles of rest described in Leviticus, and in other places in scripture as well, serve two functions, according to the theologians writing for the Theology of Work project. The first reason for these cycles of rest is to give the people and the earth a physical rest from the hardship and frustration of work. The second reason for “these rhythmic rests” is to invite people into the creative space of Sabbath rest in their lives so that they can rest in God in worship.

".. in addition to physical rest, we people need spiritual rest. We need spiritual rest from things like anxiety and insecurity, and worry. In the big plan of creation, God sets aside times for us to rest and to worship, to remember that God loves us, that God is in a covenant relationship with us, and that God is full of mercy and compassion for each one of us. "

"So Jesus reminds us that trusting in him is the way to go. Trusting in Jesus and spending time with Jesus, and resting in Jesus, and letting Jesus refresh us makes every day, not just Sunday, an ongoing time of sabbath in our lives"

"Jesus invites us to rest, and Jesus comes into our midst and we give thanks, and Jesus feeds us, just as he fed the thousands so long ago. Through the bread and wine, Jesus feeds us, and hopefully, we find that we feel rested and satisfied when we leave this place."

"But don’t wait until next Sunday to experience Sabbath rest. Sabbath rest is available to us constantly through creation itself. Because of God’s partnership with the earth from the beginning of creation, and because God welcomes us into that partnership, we can also find rest when we rest in creation…

"So rest this week in the deep wisdom of God’s partner, the earth-and give thanks. Let God take care of what you feel you need to be busy about and take a rest instead. Rest in the grass, or under a tree, or take a walk through the nature preserve, or rest by the river, or enjoy a picnic in a park, or lie on a blanket some dark night and look up at the stars. Or if you can’t do any of that right away, start simply by honoring your circadian rhythms and go to bed on time for a change. As the writer of Hebrews says, “So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did on the seventh day. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest.”

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