Oct 22 – Worship Service – Halleluiah Anyway

Oct 8 – Worship Service – Thanksgiving
October 10, 2023
Oct 29 – Worship Service – Choosing Faith
November 6, 2023

Oct 22 – Worship Service – Halleluiah Anyway

Rev Lohnes

Sunday October 22, 2023

Introit                                                                                                       #39
How sacred is this place!  Its open door of grace behold, my soul and enter!    
May all who worship here, believing God is near, find God is at the center.
Words Copyright © Hope Publishing Company. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756

Acknowledging the Territory
We acknowledge that, here in Yarmouth, we live work and worship in Mi’kma’ki, the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq People. This territory is covered by the “Treaties of Peace and Friendship” first signed with in 1725.  By acknowledging this, we commit ourselves to live in Peace, Friendship and Respect.

Lighting the Christ Candle
In the flame of the Christ Candle, we see reflected the light of Christ and we commit ourselves to live in that light, sharing it with all those we meet, wherever we go.

Call to Worship
Praise God with hands that clap with excitement.
Praise God with hands that comfort a crying child.

Praise God with hearts singing with joy at the beauty of the earth.
Praise God with hearts silenced by the brokenness of the world.

Praise God with feet that hop, skip and dance in the joy of life.
Praise God with feet march for justice an stand against inequity and discrimination.

Praise God with voices raised in song and praise.
Praise God in voices speaking out to demand change.

Praise God at all times, in all places and in every circumstance.
Praise God today as we gather here in worship.

Opening Prayer
We gather today to praise you, Wondrous One, with words, with scriptures, with songs and with prayers.  We gather with organ and piano, with familiar hymns and new music, with voices raised loudly in song and with voices silent in prayer.  We gather with joy and thanksgiving and we gather with worry and longing.  We gather seeking hope in the midst of despair, strength in times of weakness, justice in situations of oppression, and courage in the face of fear.  We gather seeking new life in the midst of death.  We are your people, Divine One, and so we gather here to offer our worship and our praise.  Amen

Gift of Music              Praise to the Lord, the Almighty                        VU#220

Scripture Reading
Today we actually have two scripture readings.  This does not happen very often in the Narrative Lectionary, but the story we read about today, the story of David becoming king and bringing the Arc of the Covenant to Jerusalem, is told first from the reflections of Samuel and then, through the eyes of David as the story is reflected in the Psalm 150.

2 Samuel 5:1-5; 6:1-5; Psalm 150                             Good News Translation

Then all the tribes of Israel went to David at Hebron and said to him, “We are your own flesh and blood.  In the past, even when Saul was still our king, you led the people of Israel in battle, and the Lord promised you that you would lead his people and be their ruler.”  So all the leaders of Israel came to King David at Hebron.  He made a sacred alliance with them, they anointed him, and he became king of Israel.  David was thirty years old when he became king, and he ruled for forty years.  He ruled in Hebron over Judah for seven and a half years, and in Jerusalem over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.

Once more David called together the best soldiers in Israel, a total of thirty thousand men, and led them to Baalah in Judah, in order to bring from there God’s Covenant Box, bearing the name of the Lord Almighty, whose throne is above the winged creatures.  They took it from Abinadab’s home on the hill and placed it on a new cart.  Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the cart, with Ahio walking in front.  David and all the Israelites were dancing and singing with all their might to honor the Lord.  They were playing harps, lyres, drums, rattles, and cymbals.

Praise the Lord!  Praise God in his Temple!  Praise his strength in heaven!  Praise him for the mighty things he has done.  Praise his supreme greatness.  Praise him with trumpets.  Praise him with harps and lyres.  Praise him with drums and dancing.  Praise him with harps and flutes.  Praise him with cymbals.  Praise him with loud cymbals.  Praise the Lord, all living creatures!  Praise the Lord!

Favorite Hymn Request     I the Lord of Sea and Sky                       VU#509

Hallelujah Anyway
Today we skip from the time of the judges to the time of the kings.  This period of the history of the Israelite people begins with the selection of Saul as the first king.  But Saul, like so many others, had been corrupted by power and wealth, so God chose a new king, a young shepherd boy named David.

Now Saul is dead and David has become king of Judah.  But Saul’s son Ishbosheth has been made king of Israel.  When Ishbosheth was murdered, the tribes of Israel came to David in Hebron and swore allegiance to him, and this is where the scripture we read today begins.

It is a time of reunification.  It is a time when both Israel and Judah, both the North and South Kingdoms came together, all recognizing David as the rightful king.   As part of this reunification, David moves his capital city from Hebron to Jerusalem.  Once Jerusalem had been conquered and David had established his reign there, he decided to bring God’s Covenant Box, the Arc of the Covenant, to Jerusalem with him. 

But the Arc of the Covenant was originally brought only as far as the city of Gath, where it was left in the house of Obed Edom.  Three months later, David returned to Gath in order to move the Arc of the Covenant to Jerusalem.  This part of the story is not included in what we read this morning, so I want to read that portion of 2 Samuel to you now. 

[David] got the Covenant Box from Obed’s house to take it to Jerusalem with a great celebration.  After the men carrying the Covenant Box had gone six steps, David had them stop while he offered the Lord a sacrifice of a bull and a fattened calf.  David, wearing only a linen cloth around his waist, danced with all his might to honor the Lord.  And so he and all the Israelites took the Covenant Box up to Jerusalem with shouts of joy and the sound of trumpets.

As the Box was being brought into the city, Michal, Saul’s daughter, looked out of the window and saw King David dancing and jumping around in the sacred dance, and she was disgusted with him.  They brought the Box and put it in its place in the Tent that David had set up for it.  Then he offered sacrifices and fellowship offerings to the Lord When he had finished offering the sacrifices, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty and distributed food to them all.

Afterward, when David went home to greet his family, Michal came out to meet him. “The king of Israel made a big name for himself today!” she said. “He exposed himself like a fool in the sight of the servant women of his officials!”

David answered, “I was dancing to honor the Lord, who chose me instead of your father and his family to make me the leader of his people Israel.  And I will go on dancing to honor the Lord, and will disgrace myself even more. 

   Now we know that David turned out to be far from the perfect king.  In many ways David was just as corrupted by power and wealth as all the other kings, living a lavish lifestyle at the expense of his people and taking what ever he wanted, whether it rightfully his or not.  But there was one distinct difference between David and most of the other kings.  No matter what he might have done, no matter how far he may have strayed for that image of the ideal king, David always remained passionately devoted to God.

And it is this passion for God, this willingness to “disgrace” himself or make a fool of him self in order to demonstrate his devotion, that made David, if not a perfect king, at least a king who always tried to keep God at the center of his life.  And when he did stray, when he did fail to do what was right, sometimes even knowing that it was wrong while he was doing it, David always returned to God and committed himself to try to do better. 

In order to do this, David had to admit to himself and to God that he was not perfect.  Given the fact that he was a king, a position that, at the time, was often considered to be equal to that of a god, the admission that he was not perfect could not have been easy for David.  But despite this, we know over and over again, when David found himself at odds with God, he repented and did all he could to return to God’s way.

How many people do you know that have a hard time admitting that they are not perfect or at least a hard time admitting when they are wrong about something?  How many of us have difficulty simply saying, “I was wrong”?  And why do we seem to think that if we only try hard enough, if we only listen closely enough and if we only do all the things we are supposed to do, we can be perfect?

None us, not even the mighty King David can ever be perfect.  We are all human and we are all susceptible to the flaws and vulnerabilities that come with being human.  And that is OK.  Because God never asks us to be perfect.  Instead, God asks us to love God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength, and to treat others with love and respect.  We may never be perfect or even do these things perfectly but we can never give up trying to do our best.

This is what David did.  And he wasn’t afraid to let other know how he felt.  When David arrived in Jerusalem he was dancing with total abandon.  He didn’t care what anyone else thought of his actions.  He didn’t care that he didn’t appear very regal.  He didn’t care that he had left behind all his lavish clothing and royal finery.  All he cared about was that what he was doing was pleasing to God.

I remember talking to someone a number of years ago who approached me after a Sunday morning service that had been particularly moving to them.  They said, “At one point I just felt like jumping up and shouting ‘Amen!’”  I responded, “I wish you had.”  The person was appalled.  “Oh No!  I could never do that.  I’d be far to embarrassed!” 

David didn’t hesitate to embarrass himself in expressing his passion for God.  He sang, he danced and he abandoned himself totally to the overwhelming joy of knowing that what he was doing was pleasing to God.  The simple joy of being in God’s presence was so overwhelming to David that he didn’t even try to contain his delight.

Can you imagine what our church might be like if we all allowed ourselves to worship God with total abandon?  What if we weren’t afraid to shout “Amen” when we felt like it?  What if we were willing to not just sway to the music when favorite hymn moves us, but instead to get up and dance in the aisles?  And what if we were as excited about coming into the presence of God as David was being in the presence of the Arc of the Covenant, the presence of God?  What if we all worshiped as David did, with total abandon, singing, dancing and playing harps, lyres, drums, rattles, and cymbals?

When I was a member of a church near Kingston Ontario, we had a small congregation and we didn’t have a regular choir.  But on special occasions, we always managed to pull a few people together and sing something.  And I’ll be perfectly honest.  We weren’t very good!  But we sang with joy and with commitment.  Our pianist told us not to worry if we couldn’t sing very well, as long as we were praising God.  She said, just go ahead and sing Hallelujah anyway.  We adopted the name and became the Hallelujah Anyway Chorus.

In Psalm 150 Daivid says, Praise the Lord!  Praise God in [the] Temple!   … Praise [God] with trumpets.  Praise [God] with harps and lyres.  Praise [God] with drums and dancing.  Praise [God] with harps and flutes.  Praise [God] with cymbals …  Praise the Lord, all living creatures!  Praise the Lord!

There is no holding back.  This is complete and absolute abandon to the wonder and joy of praising God.  It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  It doesn’t matter if it’s not dignified.  It doesn’t matter if you are graceful or awkward, musical or tone deaf, outgoing and confident, or shy and uncertain.  What matters is that your praise is sincere and comes from your heart.

Sometime we forget just how important this is.  Among all the sorrow, the fear, the injustice and the struggle of life in our world today, we forget that in the midst of everything, no matter what is happening, we are still called to Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, all living creatures!  Praise the LordAmen.

Gift of Music              When in Our Music God Is Glorified              VU#533

We Offer Our Gifts
There is much work to be done and we all have our ways of contributing.  One of those ways is through our financial support of this church.  If you chose to support the work of this church you can place your offering in the offering plates at the back of the church or you can make arrangement to give through PAR or through online donations.  And so, as we sing our offertory response, we bring forward some of those gifts.

Offertory Response                                                                                         #538
For the gift of creation, the gift of your love and the gift of the Spirit
by which we live, we thank you and give you the fruit of our hands.
May your grace be proclaimed by the gifts that we give.
© Words and Music copyright 1991 Abingdon Press. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756

Offertory Prayer
As you have blessed us in all that you have given us, we ask that you will bless the gifts that we bring that they too may become a blessing.  Amen.

We Offer Our Prayers
God is always as near as our next breath.  God always listen when we pray, whether those prayers are written down and placed in our prayer jar or whether they as said in the silence of our hearts.  So let us bring our silent, personal prayers to God with confidence, knowing that they are always heard … Amen.

Minute for Mission

Call to Prayer                                                                                          #400
Lord, Listen to your children praying, Lord, send your Spirit in this place;
Lord, Listen to your children praying, send us love, send us power, send us grace.
© Words and Music copyright Hope Publishing Company. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756

Prayers of the People
Let us never give up praising the One we gather here to worship, or one day we may forget why we gather.  Let us never forget that the deep desire of the Divine is for us to know we are loved and cherished, or one day we may not love ourselves.  Let us never hesitate to show the world that they too are loved and cherished, or one day we may become to jaded to care.  Let us never give up on praising with total joy and abandon for to give up is to deny the gift of true joy …  Let us never give up praying, praying for justice, or the oppressed in this world will one day ask us ‘Why?’  Let us never give up praying for fairness and equity, or the hungry of this world will one day ask us ‘Why?’  Let us never give up praying for healing, or the sick in this world, the sorrowful, and the suffering will one day ask us ‘Why?’  Let us never give up praying, for to give up is to deny our faith that prayer does make a difference …Let us never give up acting.  Let us never give up on putting voice to our demands for justice.  Let us never give up on doing the hard work of building fairness and equity.  Let us never give up on doing our part to heal this broken world …
Let us never give up believing.  Let us never give up on believing that all this is indeed possible through the Divine Mystery that works in us, around us and through us to bring Divine Healing, Divine Hope, Divine Justice and Divine Joy.  Amen.

Gift of Music                   Dance With the Spirit                                       MV#156

Sending Out
So let us go out from here now singing, dancing and telling all the world that the One we worship, loves us, cares for us and wants to bring us deep joy.  Let us go out from here to share that deep joy with all we meet, knowing that we do not go alone.  The One who created us is with us.  The One that lived and lives among us helps show us the way.  And the One who is a part of all things, including us will walk with us always.  So, as we go from here, let us go with God.

Choral Blessing                                                          MV#222
May the peace of God be your peace.
May the love of God be the love you show.
May the joy of God be the joy you know,
And may the world that God would see be found in you.
© Words and Music copyright Hope Publishing Company. All Rights Reserved. Used with Permission. OneLicense #A723756

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