2023 Lent Worship:
(From Ask: A Series Introduction by Justin Kosec, copyright Barn Geese Worship, used by permission)
At some point in every Christian’s life, they discover a question.
You know the kind.
Not How are you? or What kind of toothpaste should I buy?
But What really happens when we die?
Or Why does this terrible stuff happen to people who do their best to follow God?
Or How could God forgive me after what I’ve done?
Or How do I know what God wants me to do next?
You know. That kind of question.
In my experience, people often feel isolated when they discover that type of question, as if they are the only ones asking it. For whatever reason, questions like this often feel like obstacles to our faith. They may feel forbidden, out-of-bounds. In the Bible, we read about characters like Job and Nicodemus asking questions that sound like ours, only to hear what sounds like a very touchy response from God.
But what if faith requires us to ask questions?
What if questions are an essential part of our personal faith?
What if we needquestions to survive and grow as a community of faith?
You want to go there, don’t you? You want to believe that dialogue with God, relationship with God, requires questions.
Well, guess what? You’re in good company.
When we read scripture carefully, we discover questions everywhere. Hundreds of questions. Questions are created in the Garden of Eden. In the Gospel of John, the first thing Jesus says to someone after his resurrection is a question.
Like people, these questions come in every type. Some are pesky. Some prefer to hide in the shadows and never be noticed. Some shout loudly, repeatedly, and beg attention. Some walk with us to the grave. Similarly, like people, once you start engaging questions, you quickly discover how hard they are to understand. Questions are hard to pigeonhole. They defy stereotyping. And no matter how hard we like to think they can stand alone, they almost always require some kind of relationship.
Once you start noticing questions, once you start looking for them in the lectionary, you see them everywhere. Everyone has one, even if they keep it in their back pocket or tightly trapped behind their teeth. Biblical people have plenty of questions, too.
So what can we do with that? Here’s our answer: this series called Ask.
2022 Advent Worship:
This Advent and Christmas we will use “Great Expectations,” a worship series developed by and for the Eastern Missouri Conference of the Central States Synod, ELCA. From the series:
We begin Advent with the call to “…be ready, for the Son of Humanity is coming at an unexpected hour” (Matt. 24:44). How can we expect the unexpected?
In a world that has already traversed through Easter’s promise, it is often easy to forget that every year we enter Advent as a season of expectation and promise. We spend the four weeks waiting and watching, with wonder building as we hear of God’s expected transformation of the world. From weapons transformed into plowshares, through rulers promised to bring justice and peace, over dry places made fertile with life, to God with Us—Immanuel, our expectations grow ever greater.
When Mary brings forth her first-born son, wraps him in bands of cloth, and places him in a feeding trough, we find the fullness of God in a tiny child—everything and nothing we expected from the grace of God appearing in the world. Still, we are called to be heralds of this promise that continues to reverberate through the generations—the light shining in the shadowed world that cannot be overcome.
Through this Advent and Christmas season, we are invited into a time of great expectation. We are invited to wrestle with our own expectations of God and God’s expectations for us. Where is God calling us to be willingly watchful? Where is God delighting us with unexpected peace? Where is God filling us with unexpected abundance? Where is God meeting us with the divine in our midst?
—The Rev. Dr. Jill V. Seagle, pastor, St. Thomas/Holy Spirit
Jane Brda, SAM/PMA, Family of Christ
The Rev. Melissa Woeppel, pastor, Church of the Living Christ
The Rev. Kristen Koch, pastor, Shepherd of the Hills
Join us on Sunday mornings at 10 AM, and Wednesday evenings at 7 PM to explore God’s Great Expectations.