The following is the service they youth I work with created and led this week. It began with the theme of "God is There, Listening" and I think was a very moving and powerful service worth sharing:
(iPod Plays Below My Feet, pitchers brought forward and poured into aquariums)
PSALM OF THE DAY
I put all my hope in the Lord
He leaned down to me;
he listened to my cry for help.
He lifted me out of the pit of death,
out of the mud and filth,
and set my feet on solid rock.
He steadied my legs.
He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise for our God.
Many people will learn of this and be amazed;
they will trust the Lord.
Those who put their trust in the Lord
who pay no attention to the proud
or to those who follow lies,
are truly happy!
You, Lord my God!
You’ve done so many things—
your wonderful deeds and your plans for us—
no one can compare with you!
If I were to proclaim and talk about all of them,
they would be too numerous to count!
You don’t relish sacrifices or offerings;
you don’t require entirely burned offerings or compensation offerings—
but you have given me ears!
Leader: O praise the Lord with me,
People: Let us exalt God’s name together.
Right Hand of Fellowship
As we begin our worship this morning, let us take a moment to great one another sharing the peace of Christ.
Leader: The peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
All: And also with you
Call to Worship
Leader: Eternal God, we say good morning to you.
People: Hallowed be your name
Leader: Early in the morning, before we begin our days,
People: We praise your glory.
Leader: Renew our bodies as fresh as morning flowers,
People: Open our eyes, as the sun casts new light on the darkness
Leader: Deliver us from all captivity
People: Give us wings of freedom like the birds in the sky to begin a new journey.
Leader: Restore justice and freedom, as a mighty stream running continuously as day follows day
All: We thank you for the gift of this morning, a another new day to work with you.
Songs of Praise
Days of Elijah
Prayer of Confession
Leader: When we feel we cannot go any farther, he picks us up and tells us he knows.
People: When I feel I cannot sink any lower, he pulls me out and tells me he sees.
Leader: When we feel that the pain can't get any worse, he takes it away and shows us he cares
People: When I feel that I cannot open my heart, he reaches in and and show me he can.
Leader: When we think our lives cannot get any harder
All: I turn to him. He's always there.
Prayer of Illumination
God, Give us seeing eyes, hearing ears, and understanding hearts. May your word be like fire, and a hammer that breaks the hardest rock into pieces. May we experience it's world changing power. AMEN
Genesis 21 verses 8-21
The boy grew and stopped nursing. On the day he stopped nursing, Abraham prepared a huge banquet. Sarah saw Hagar’s son laughing, the one Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham. So she said to Abraham, “Send this servant away with her son! This servant’s son won’t share the inheritance with my son Isaac.”
This upset Abraham terribly because the boy was his son. God said to Abraham, “Don’t be upset about the boy and your servant. Do everything Sarah tells you to do because your descendants will be traced through Isaac. But I will make of your servant’s son a great nation too, because he is also your descendant.” Abraham got up early in the morning, took some bread and a flask of water, and gave it to Hagar. He put the boy in her shoulder sling and sent her away.
She left and wandered through the desert near Beer-sheba. Finally the water in the flask ran out, and she put the boy down under one of the desert shrubs. She walked away from him about as far as a bow shot and sat down, telling herself, I can’t bear to see the boy die. She sat at a distance, cried out in grief, and wept.
God heard the boy’s cries, and God’s messenger called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “Hagar! What’s wrong? Don’t be afraid. God has heard the boy’s cries over there. Get up, pick up the boy, and take him by the hand because I will make of him a great nation.” Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well. She went over, filled the water flask, and gave the boy a drink. God remained with the boy; he grew up, lived in the desert, and became an expert archer. He lived in the Paran desert, and his mother found him an Egyptian wife.
Leader: The Word of The Lord
All: Thanks be to God.
"Who Am I"
Mark 4 verses 35-41
On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Leader: The Gospel of God.
All: We Praise You, Lord Jesus
Read Mark text from Spark Story Bible. Acted out. Congregation behind kids make storm sounds as led along with story.
God who knows when we're afraid,
You are always with us.
Help us to always remember
the hope we have in you.
Romans 8 verses 22-27
We know that the whole creation is groaning together and suffering labor pains up until now. And it’s not only the creation. We ourselves who have the Spirit as the first crop of the harvest also groan inside as we wait to be adopted and for our bodies to be set free. We were saved in hope. If we see what we hope for, that isn’t hope. Who hopes for what they already see? But if we hope for what we don’t see, we wait for it with patience.
In the same way, the Spirit comes to help our weakness. We don’t know what we should pray, but the Spirit himself pleads our case with unexpressed groans. The one who searches hearts knows how the Spirit thinks, because he pleads for the saints, consistent with God’s will.
Leader: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet.
All: And a light unto my path
Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
“God In Our Storms”
(There will be a progressive storm created in the aquarium on the chancel as the sermon occurs)
Everyone faces struggles in their lives. As life continues storms show up. It either comes out of nowhere or gradually builds until everything blows up. Storms are different for everyone. Whether they are illness that creep up and then affect a family or a failure that comes out of nowhere, every storm brings its problems but there is always a light at the end of the storm, something to continue your faith. Each of the scriptures talked about today, shows how the peoples faith was tested and the storms came but God and Jesus brought the light and the end of the storms.(Make clouds with shaving cream)
One can generally tell when a storm is coming. The skies start to darken and the wind starts to pick up and you know that something is coming. You can tell the storm is coming in the first scripture because Sara again is upset with Ismael and Hagar. This shows one-way a storm comes up on someone, giving you time to prepare. It allows them to prepare for the upcoming issue that may impact your life. I can relate to this because as we get closer to the end of the year, finals and the impending doom of a month full of exams are right around the corner. The storm is approaching but because I know it is coming I have time to prepare and study for them.
But life does not always give you a warning before the storm pops up. This is evident in the second scripture, when the storm pops up while the disciples are in the boat and Jesus is asleep. There is no warning for the storm and their faith is tested. They are scared and have to call on Jesus to help them. This is very much like when someone suddenly gets diagnosed with an illness. It takes you by surprise and can change your life and those lives around you. Storms affect us all in one way or another but faith and hope found in God help us get through, and keep us from being defeated.
Everyone goes through a time in their life, wether it is a day, a week, a month, or even longer where it seems as though everything in your life is awful. This is when the storm hits. (Make rain with food coloring) When the rain is pouring so hard, that you cant see three feet a head of you when driving. This is when you have to pull over and let the storm pass. However, when dealing with intangible things, that you cant actually put in a box and lock away, this is not always so easy.
In Genesis, after Hagar is kicked out of her house with her child, she eventually reaches a point where she breaks down and leaves her child, knowing she cant do anything else. However, God hears her cries without her even directing them to him. He sends someone to help her and save her child, to continue her life. God understood what she needed, even when she did not know how to express her fears.
Romans also shows that even when we do not share our worries with god willingly he hears our groaning and is there for us to lean on and for him to help. When we think we are so deep down in a hole that no one can hear us, God can and will always listen for us.
Sometimes, as in Mark, when the disciples begin to even blame God and wonder if he cares that they are all about to drown, we begin to feel as if he will not be there to hear us. Maybe that he has others to take care of and who need him more. We may be in a rain storm, but somewhere else there are those who are dealing with a hurricane. But as soon as the disciples called Jesus’s name, he awoke and came to help them. He was listening the whole time, even though they didn’t realize.
There are times, when the storm that is happening all around us, that we can barley hear ourselves! Personally, my storm hit two weeks ago. Now I am playing lacrosse with games and practices everyday on a team that I am wholeheartedly committed to, I am also acting in Fort Johnson’s show Hello Dolly, as my fourteenth show, and trying to finish out my senior year at Academic Magnet strong. Two weeks ago, lacrosse and play started to come together and on top of that I had a lot of drama with the people in my life that I love and the schoolwork began to pile up. Then I got to take the SAT on saturday for the third time trying for a scholarship, because a five hour test is the simplest way to de-stress after a long week right? During this time I remember thinking I wish I could just open the bible and hear God speak to me about how to move past the pain, the hurt, and the tiredness that was surrounding me, but I didn’t know where to look. But I don’t have to just look to the bible, I can look to him and pray to him to help me through the storm. In this case it was both literal and figurative because it poured rain all that week, however when the sun finally came out on saturday, after taking the SAT it was gorgeous and I knew that I had made it through (Turn on light behind aquarium) and I had faith that everything would work out the way it was supposed.
Sometimes it is hard to find that rock to stand on, when out of no where it has been swept out from under us. God will be there though, standing with you and holding you steady through your storm, making sure you make it out and holding your faith and hope with you.
Kaos is enevitable. Pain is enevitable. Loneliness is—well I have gone to church here my entire life, ive listened to many a sermon and we all know how it is the messages start to blend together but bits and peices stick out, one piece that will always stick out to me is the day Philip said he was never lonley because god was always with him. Well , I thought, what god is he talking to because I have certianly felt lonley before. I only wish someone would have told me sooner that god is always there he is always listening and that loneliness could be a myth if we let it become one.
There is a poem by Dana Gioia that goes like this, “The world does not need words. It articulates itslef in sunlight, leaves and shadows. The sunlight needs no praise peircing the rainclouds, painting the rocks and leaves with light, then dissolving each lucent droplet back into the clouds that engendered it. The daylight needs no praise and so we praise it always greater than ourselves and all the airy words we summon.” Once adrian asked us to go around and each tell him in our own words what we thought the holy spirit was. I had never even thought about this before but managed to stammer out— The holy spirit is like a glowstick that is inside of everyone all the time and all we have to do is shake our glowstick to feel gods love a love so thick that words cannot bind it. A love we carry with us through our lives to give us hope to give us the courage to face any storm that comes our way.
God has a plan for each and everyone one of us, we may not know what that is but god stands by us leading us to figure out the path he has laid for us. Through his son Jesus Christ or a well, or maybe even the rainbow that appears after a storm God’s light is inside of our hearts beyond our sins beyond our storms and beyond our words.
Prayers of the People
We invite each of you to now take a moment and use the markers and thin translucent materials found on the ends of your pews to write down a word or two that describes a storm in your life or the life of someone you love. For our prayers of the people we ask you to bring them forward and place them in the water that was brought in to start our worship found in front of each rows of pews. The paper will melt away and the words slowly fade. This is us giving our storms to God, knowing the hope promised by our God who listens to our every prayer.
(People come forward to U2s '40' Live Version)
Lord, we bring all of this and even more things we cannot even bare to share to you. We give it all over to you, asking those things that you taught your disciples to pray saying:
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 debts, as we forgive our debtors;
and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom
and the power
and the glory, forever.
Profession of Faith
"From This Valley"
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Giver of all gifts, attender to all prayers, help us to live as we pray. Through these gifts and our rededication to your purpose, may our lives be answers to prayer to those seeking some sign of your presence in this world. Make us a blessing, that through our acts of love, generosity, courage, and service your Spirit blesses the world. Amen.
Go and know that the Lord goes with you: Let God lead you each day into the quiet place of your heart where he will speak to you. Know that God loves you and watches over you, listening to you with gentle understanding and is with you always, wherever you are and however you feel, may the blessings of God – Father, Son, and Spirit – be yours forever. Amen