DATE: 11 January 2015
TO: Congregational Church of Weston

Call to Worship: Zelda – Everyone Has a Name
Translated and Adapted from Hebrew by Marcia Falk

Leader: Everyone has a name, given to her by God
Congregation: And given to her by her parents
Leader: Everyone has a name, given to him by his stature
Congregation: and the way he smiles and given to him by his clothing
Leader: Everyone has a name given to her by His feasts
Congregation: and given to her by her work
Leader: Everyone has a name given to him by the seasons
Congregation: and given to him by his blindness
Leader: Everyone has a name given to her by the sea
Congregation: and given to her by her death
Leader: Everyone has a name [to whom we can cry out in our discomfort
Congregation: Emmanuel, God is with us. Messiah, the anointed one… JESUS!

Leader: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh, but the most precious gift
Congregation: We Praise and Worship you today, and always]

Unison Prayer of Invocation: Seeking Higher Ground
Rev. Rosemary McCombs Maxey (Worship Ways 1/11/15)

Creating, Calling, and Faithful God,
we come to this time and place to be with you,
to worship you, and to learn from you.
May our time together
be like your creation of light in the darkness
that you called good.
May it be that you would call us good
while we respond to your call and as we listen to you. Amen.

Suggested Hymns
Hymn #357 “You are Called to Tell the Story” (The New Century Hymnal)
Hymn #175 “O Christ, the Healer, We Have Come” (The New Century Hymnal)
Hymn #177 “God of Change and Glory” (The New Century Hymnal)

Scripture Background for Psalm 29
The 29th Psalm unlike some other Psalms, does not have give a clue as to the occasion of it’s writing. But there is one thing that is clear; this is a hymn of praise unto God.

If we read this Psalm like a letter, it is addressed to everything that is not God. Some would say it is addressed to lower beings in God’s court. But the main body of the text echoes with the voice of God.

In this case the sometimes-uncomfortable use of Lord makes sense when viewed in the context of a Royal Court. Repeated seven times is the refrain: “The voice of the Lord” as he thunders against (rather than over) the primeval waters, breaks the cedars, makes the mountains quake, flashes flames of fire, shakes the wilderness, and strips the forest bare.

In the final verse we hear of God’s enthronement as king over the flood, and as protector of his people. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!”

Scripture Reading: Psalm 29
1 Ascribe to the Lord, you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength.
2 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his[a] holiness.
3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters.
4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic.
5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon.
6 He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion[b] like a young wild ox.
7 The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning.
8 The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh.
9 The voice of the Lord twists the oaks[c] and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” 10 The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever.
11 The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.

The Story of Reyes Magos
Mary and Elizabeth (John and Jesus meet)
The Donkey
The Manger and animals
The Shepherds and Angels (December 24)
Jesus (December 25)
The Magi (January 6)

Even then, there was SINGING

Happy Sunday!! I have missed you all. Thank you for giving me the chance to go home for a bit and worship with my local church with my family. I needed that!

According to the liturgical calendar, we have entered the Season of Epiphany. This season started on January 6th which is actually Epiphany Day (in my cultural tradition it is also known as Dia de los Reyes-Day of the Kings). The word EPIPHANY means
a manifestation of a divine or supernatural being
to experience a sudden and/or striking realization

In other words, Epiphany is the day that we (humanity) experience the manifestation of the divine (in the form of Christ).

Today’s sermon starts us off in the book of Psalms, verse 29, we heard it read in the New International Version, and I now invite you to hear it in a translation we do not traditional hear in our denominational context (Catholic Public Domain Version):

1 A Canticle Psalm. In dedication to the house of David.
2 I will extol you, Lord, for you have sustained me, and you have not allowed my enemies to delight over me.
3 O Lord my God, I have cried out to you, and you have healed me.
4Lord, you led my soul away from Hell. You have saved me from those who descend into the pit.
5 Sing a psalm to the Lord, you his saints, and confess with remembrance of his holiness.
6 For wrath is in his indignation, and life is in his will. Toward evening, weeping will linger, and toward morning, gladness.
7 But I have said in my abundance: “I will never be disturbed.”
8 O Lord, in your will, you made virtue preferable to beauty for me. You turned your face away from me, and I became disturbed.
9 To you, Lord, I will cry out. And I will make supplication to my God.
10What use would there be in my blood, if I descend into corruption? Will dust confess to you or announce your truth?
11 The Lord has heard, and he has been merciful to me. The Lord has become my helper.
12 You have turned my mourning into gladness for me. You have cut off my sackcloth, and you have surrounded me with joy.
13 So then, may my glory sing to you, and may I not regret it. O Lord, my God, I will confess to you for eternity.

Before I continue, let us pray: …

This weeks sermon is titled: “Even then, there was SINGING!”

The Real World of Jesus
A king named Herod ruled the real world Jesus was born into. If Herod had a FaceBook profile, he would have regular status updates that would read like a police report of whom he had hurt today.

Herod was an ambitious ruler, who we could describe as a madman who murdered his family as well as many rabbis. Life for those who lived under Herod was a life lived in turmoil and fear. I am sure he had some good qualities but they were hard to see…

Herod was all about keeping his ducks in a row, and that includes knowing where his people were. Jesus was born during the census. Like many power hungry rulers, Herod’s great fear was that somehow, somewhere, someone would usurp his throne.

When a convoy of Wisemen (Magi) arrived in his kingdom seeking the whereabouts of the “one who had been born king of the Jews” to say Herod was alarmed would not do it justice! See Herod, as King of the Jews, would not be happy to hear that someone else also had that title…Herod assembled his chief priests and scribes and asked them where the “Anointed One” (the Messiah) was to be born.

The scribes and high priests answered that according to Micah 5:2, the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem:
But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.

So, Herod sent the wise men to Bethlehem instructing them to report back to him after they found the child so that he also could go and pay homage (worship) him. We who remember the story know that instead of going back and giving Herod a report and account after finding the king of the Jews, the magi were warned in a dream to return home by a different route…and instead of looking for the child and worshiping him, Herod instead requested the execution of every male child under the age of two. Come Holy Spirit, come!

This was not a comfortable time. There was a bit of intrigue going on. But even then, even those who some might call mad men knew that the right response to the birth of this particular child, this one that was spoken of in the Hebrew Sacred Texts was WORSHIP. Come Holy Spirit, come!

The Real World we live in
The wise men’s story is that of worship as the response to life’s many injustices. Worship even in the midst of discomfort. Worship even when times are rough. Worship even while we are broken hearted. For it is to God that we turn.

In the lap of that living God is where we attempt to seek solace, to find healing, and definitely it is in Gods’ lap that we seek finally to have our tears wiped away and our mended hearts once more made whole.
You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise…

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops,
Weakened by my soulful cries?
Still I Rise by Maya Angelou

The answer, if you allow me to give you the Elly editorial of Maya Angelou poem, is that when we are broken, and broken a-new, it is time to worship God. When our heads are bowed down and our eyes are lowered, it is time to worship God. When our shoulders sag and our soul cries, we better worship God. When times get rough and human means are insufficient…it is time to worship God. Come Holy Spirit, come!

Worship is an action. It is adoration. It is singing. If allowed to, worship can saturate the environment with something new. With something different. When we worship, the air around us is refreshed. And we become re-energized. Come Holy Spirit, come!

Los Reyes Magos
When Jesus was born, three gifts were brought to him in a manger. They were delivered by visitors, magi who travelled quite a distance. The wise men would have been preparing for years to come and offer a gift like the one they planned to give Jesus: Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.

Gifts befitting the roles Jesus would fulfill.
Gold-fit for a King
Worth (physical), Zecharia 13:8-9
Oil (anointing), 1Samuel 16:12-13
Frankincense-fit for a Priest (smells sweet, looks like tears)
used to calm, Leviticus 2:1-2
Myrrh-destined for Human Suffering (smells sweet, tastes bitter)
used for healing (painkiller), Matthew 27:34
used for embalming, John 19:39-40

But of the gifts the Magi shared that day when they met Jesus, the most important was worship.

Matthew 2: 9-12
After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed…they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him.

Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of frankincense and of myrrh.

Why do we pray? Why do we sing? Why do we worship?
Because, how can we NOT when we are faced with the realities of life. The good, the bad, and the ugly. Because there once was a baby born that everyone was expecting and planning for. And he was born in circumstances that were not ideal. And when the Magi arrived with their gifts, the most important was neither the gold, nor the frankincense, nor the myrrh…but the bowed heads and worship.

Psalms for Praying an Invitation to Wholeness by Nan C. Merrill

The voice of Love is heard in [every room] and every storm,
And strips the ego bare;
And in the heart’s chapel, all cry [out],
“Peace and Glory forever!”

May we hold fast to this sliver of mystery, this truth upon which we set the whole of who we are.
May we call ourselves back to it, until we are filled with the wonder that is life–
May our energies be given to the transformation of this world—in the name of the FSNHS
And may all God’s people say: Amen!