This worship service premiered on YouTube at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, May 10, 2020. A transcript of the service is provided below for those who are unable to watch the video.
CALL TO WORSHIP
Based on Psalm 139
We gather together to worship our loving, nurturing God, who, like a mother, knows us intimately, loves us unconditionally, teaches us the way we should go, and comforts us in times of need.
Praise God, the Source and Sustainer of life!
This day we gather with eager hearts, hungry for your Word, yearning for the joy you promise in love. O God, together we hold a vision of your kingdom, a people of prayer and open hearts, a loving Body of Christ eager to learn and eager to share. You bless us, O God, and shine upon us with the mercy of your salvation. And your Good Earth has yielded its increase through those who have brought us great blessing.
On this day of celebrating your love, we lift to you those who have given us life, those who have loved us, those who have blessed us, and those who have taught us, our mothers. May your blessing pour out upon the woman who gave us birth, and those beautiful, strong women of faith who have been mothers to us along our journey.
We praise you, O God, for your gift of motherly love, both gentle and fierce, both strong and humble, both kind and true. Where we have been so blessed, we give our grateful praise, for you have provided loving hands that have worked so hard in raising us, cared enough to correct us, blessed us in ways we cannot have fully known as children.
We call forth your compassion upon every mother who has unknowingly caused pain and suffering. And, so we lift to you our mothers, so imperfect, also so wounded by this world.
We bless our mothers this day, no matter what they have done or left undone. We do this because we believe in your healing, and we believe in your love and we believe that you love every mother, good or bad; and we stand together with all mothers in solidarity, for we all are in need of your grace. Where we have failed because we did not know better, help us to forgive ourselves. Where we have seen your face in any woman who has been to us a mother, in her face we have seen your light and your love and we give thanks — for where they have loved, they have kept your word and blessed us.
We lift to you the heart of every mother who has watched her child die of hunger, every mother who had been a victim of abuse, every woman who stands in protest against a world that massacres her children and renames them “collateral damage.” We lift to you the prayer of every mother who has ever loved and lost.
We lift to you our Mother Earth.
We lift to you our Mother Church.
We lift to you, O God, your mother’s heart; and although we cannot fully express our gratitude, help each one of us to be your blessing of love, a blessing straight from your heart.
We pray this in the name of Jesus, who moves us, Amen.
PRAYERS OF THE PEOPLE
When our hearts are overwhelmed, God lead us to the Rock that is Higher—
Higher than our circumstances,
Higher than our grief,
Strong enough to bear our heavy burdens,
Small enough to be touched and held in our moment of great need.
God, we assemble here in your presence to declare that even in the midst of our great sorrow, You are comforting us, loving us, holding us through this difficult time you are speaking to us.
Your Word of Hope that assures us a day is coming when death shall be no more, as we honor all those who have been taken from among us … mothers, fathers, grandparents, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters … some taken naturally, others through sickness and disease, far, far too many through violent acts of war, of bigotry, of greed …
We remember them each, Lord, and we celebrate their legacies that live in our hearts.
We pause to give you thanks.
Thank you for enabling us to experience their love.
Thank you for allowing us to know these precious souls fashioned by you.
Thank you for allowing us to further know more of your great love for us through their lives.
Pour out your Spirit even now.
Minister to your people in this hour; In every hand and heart, reign God.
Let your healing waters flow; let your mercy abound here.
Take our tears and multiply our joy.
Take our silence and magnify your Word in us.
We find rest in you, hope in you, and reason to live in you.
In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
One God, perfect in every way, we ask these things in the name of your son, and now, with the confidence of the children of God, we pray to you in the words he taught us to pray …
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 trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever.
But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
“Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”
But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout, all rushed together against him.
Then they dragged him out of the city and began to stone him, and the witnesses laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul.
While they were stoning Stephen, he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.”
Then he knelt down and cried out in a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” When he had said this, he died.
Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation – if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.
Come to him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
To you then who believe, he is precious; but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the very head of the corner,” and “A stone that makes them stumble, and a rock that makes them fall.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s … own … people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
MESSAGE – NO STONE UNTURNED
Two passages and two different perspectives on stones. In the first from Acts, stones are the instrument of the unjust death of the disciple, Stephen.
These are stones of judgment … stones of injustice … stones of oppression … stones of bigotry and hate.
These are also stones of silence that becomes complicity and of willful ignorance, of bullying and of fear-mongering.
Such stones, when wielded by humans, become weapons … a death sentence. Used in this manner, a mother loses her unarmed son because of the color of his skin or her teenager because of who that teenager loves. A child loses her mother because her mother wears a burka or prays in a temple or even dared to say no to someone who wouldn’t acknowledge that no really does mean no.
The stone is cast. A life ends.
The stones in this passage are cold, deadly, dead … they are unturned.
In the passage from 1 Peter, the stone is suddenly alive … a living stone.
This is the stone that saves us, that breathes new life into us, that intercedes for us. This is the Christ.
In the passage, Peter calls us to also be like living stones. He calls us to this task because Peter understands both the true nature of Christ’s temple and the solid rock and foundation that is God. He understands that Christ’s temple was to be built of living stones, not of cut and polished marble … but of those who follow The Way Christ taught when he walked among us as Jesus.
Peter understands and calls us to be the living stones that are the walls and gates and doorframes of Christ’s temple built upon the solid rock that is God.
“Come to the living stone,” Peter says in that passage. “Come and let him build you into the house he’s trying to build. Be a stone, like him, a living stone, part of the foundation, part of the structure. Be a stone, a temple made of stone. Be a stone sanctuary; let worship take place in you. Make worship take place in you.’
Peter is telling us we’re both the building and the worship inside the building.
“Let yourself be built,” Peter pleads with us. “Let yourself.” It’s not for us to decide, to say, “I’m going here; I’m going to hold up this wall; I’m going to frame that window; I’m going to lie on this path.” No, it’s let yourself be built. Go where he wants you, where he can use you. You’re not in charge; you’re a stone, for heaven’s sake! You’re not the architect; you’re building material. Be built into something greater than yourself, something you may not even see right now. Who knows what you will be? He’s not done with you yet.
I would imagine if you were a stonemason, you might think Peter had lost his mind. Who wants a house built of wobbly stones?
We need to remember that Peter isn’t addressing the International Union of Bricklayers and Craftworkers in this passage. He’s trying to and he’s talking about building the church, and he knows what God wants and what God doesn’t want.
God doesn’t want any dead weight holding down pews. God wants living stones who will live and move and grow in their faith … a faith Peter has bought fully into.
God doesn’t want stones who will just hold up corners. God doesn’t want stones that sit constantly in the same place and space, immovable, unturned.
God wants stones that will look for other places to shore up the walls, will learn other methods for framing doorways and paving paths, will discover more opportunities to be a trail marker or respite giver. The uses of a stone, a living stone, are beyond counting. That’s who Peter tells us Christ is calling for; that’s who Christ was.
Peter tells us that Christ chooses to let us be a part of the plan, a part of the structure to build a better kingdom. Come and be built. Come and be alive and participate in something bigger than yourself. Come and grow into something more.
Peter’s reference to us as holy priests or go-betweens acknowledges that we have the ability to turn over other stones and lead them into a new way of living. We have the ability and we have a calling to leave no stone unturned.
Keep in mind that Peter also reminds us we’re no different than the ones stubbing their toes and knocking their knees. We aren’t better than they are; we’re just being used for a greater cause than we even knew was out there, and it is Jesus’ mercy upon us that makes us worthy of being a living stone.
We are privileged to partner with the king; that’s why we’re royal priests, not because we are special, but because he is special.So now it comes down to a choice for each of us. For me and for you. Do you choose to be the sit still as those deadly stones in the passage from Acts, unturned, immovable, deadweight holding down a pew? Or, do you choose to become a living stone like Christ?
It doesn’t sound like a hard choice to me. I’m going to choose to leave no stone unturned. How about you?
Let’s pray now, from Psalm 31.
In you, O LORD, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in your righteousness deliver me.
Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me.
You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God.
My times are in your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors. Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.
May the Lord bless and keep you. May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious unto you.
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.
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Additional Credits & Thank Yous:
Call to Worship for Mother’s Day #1, Christine Longhurst,
“Mother’s Day Prayer” Copyright 2008 Rev. Jane Sommers. All Rights Reserved.
Today’s message includes excerpts from “Preaching Notes” by Derek Weber,
Prelude and Postlude piano pieces performed by Dean McIntyre. Used with permission.
Hymns in today’s video are Public Domain. Performances are courtesy of Nathan Drake of Reawakenhymns.com and used by permission.
Rev. Ohle’s words are her own.