Bulletin 1/16/2022

WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS

LIGHTING THE PEACE CANDLE                             Barbara Donohue, liturgist

Now let’s not become panicky. If you have weapons, take them home; if you do not have them, please do not seek to get them. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence. We must meet violence with nonviolence. Remember the words of Jesus: ‘He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.’ We must love our white brothers no matter what they do to us. We must make them know that we love them. Jesus still cries out in words that echo across the centuries: ‘Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; pray for them that despitefully use you.’ This is what we must live by. We must meet hate with love. Remember, if I am stopped, this movement will not stop, because God is with the movement. Go home with this glowing faith and this radiant assurance.

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., following the bombing of his home

PRELUDE                                  

CALL TO WORSHIP                                                              based Zechariah 8

In the reality of God:
People speak truth to one another;
judgments are true and lead to peace;
people do not devise evil in their hearts against one another.
There is the sowing of peace;
the vine yields its fruit,
the ground gives its produce,
the skies give their dew.
People are a blessing to one another.
There is no fear
and hands are strong.
May we welcome the dream of God!

MUSIC

SCRIPTURE READINGS

Let us prepare ourselves for the word of God as it comes to us in the reading of Holy Scripture. Our hearts and minds are open.

John 2:1-11

For the word of God in scripture, for the word of God among us, for the word of God within us. Thanks be to God.

MUSIC

CONTEMPORARY READING                                              Cornel West from the
introduction to The Radical King

SERMON                                 Wedded to Justice              Rev. Kim P. Wells

LITANY OF RE-DEDICATION                                                   see insert

MUSIC

MISSION STATEMENT

The mission of Lakewood United Church of Christ, as part of the Church Universal is to:

  • Celebrate the presence and power of God in our lives & in our world.
  • Offer the hospitality and inclusive love of Christ to all people.
  • Work for God’s peace and justice throughout creation.

MORNING OFFERING

Morning offerings may be brought forward and placed in the plates on the altar. If you would like assistance, please turn to someone seated near you.

Offertory                            

Prayer of Dedication                                             Dr. M. L. King, Jr.

Jesus gave us a new norm of greatness . . . . he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. That’s a new definition of greatness . . . . By giving that definition of greatness, it means that everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don’t have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don’t have to know Einstein’s theory of thermodynamics in physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace; a soul generated by love. And you can be that servant. Amen.

PREPARATION FOR PRAYER    

You are invited to write your prayer requests on the sheets provided in the bulletin and bring them forward and place them in the basket on the altar.  Please observe physical distancing.

MORNING PRAYERS–SAVIOR’S PRAYER

Our Creator who is in heaven, uphold the holiness of your name. Bring in your kingdom so that your will is done on earth as it’s done in heaven. Give us the bread we need for today. Forgive us for the ways we have wronged you, just as we also forgive those who have wronged us. And don’t lead us into temptation, but rescue us from the evil one. For yours is the kingdom, the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.

* BENEDICTION  

Dr. King declared that “faith transforms the whirlwind of despair into a warm and reviving breeze of hope.”
May we leave this place refreshed as we carry the good news into our precious, damaged world. Amen!                                                                                

*POSTLUDE            

Circle of Concern: Christopher and Dana, Joel Shores, Ben Shores, Amaiya Washington, Ann Quinn who is under Hospice Care, William Owen-Cowan, Jen Degroot, Carolyn Moore, Maggie Brizendine, Janet Hall, All those suffering from COVID-19 and all healthcare workers, Schools: Students, families, teachers, and staff

Announcements

Facebook Live The 10:30 a.m. service is being streamed on Facebook Live.

Operation Attack OA needs donations of cereal, peanut butter, canned meat, fruit, vegetables and soup, dried beans, and mac/cheese. Donations may be placed on the shelf in the hallway at church.

The Gift of Music LUCC Music Director Hilton Jones has recorded 2 CDs for the LUCC family. The music is a gift to the congregation.  If you would like to make a donation to offset the production costs, you may.  See the display in the sanctuary.  Enjoy the gift of music from Hilton not just on Sundays but every day!

Hymnals LUCC has been given 60 used New Century Hymnals. If you would like a hymnal for home use, they are available on the bookshelf in the main hallway. Please help yourself! 

Guided Labyrinth Walks The guided walk is held weekly on Wednesdays at 9:00 a.m. This provides an opportunity to be aware and deepen your spiritual journey. If it is raining, the walk is held on Thursday at 9:00 a.m.

MLK Service Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2022 Virtual Interfaith Memorial Service. This annual service in honor of Dr. King will be virtual this year.  It will be live streamed on Sunday Jan. 26 at 3:30 p.m. at stjudesp.org. The theme is Reaching for Human Excellence.  The keynote speaker is Renee Flowers, County Commissioner. Rev. Wells will be doing one of the readings.  Please join in this celebration of the legacy of Dr. King.  

Book Talk Join in a lively discussion of what folks have been reading!  All kinds of books are included. This month that will be January 20th at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. All are welcome!

Anti-Racism Demonstration Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by peacefully demonstrating for racial justice. Join the weekly anti-racism demonstration on 54th Ave. S. in front of the church, on Sunday afternoon January 16th from 4:30-5:00 p.m. Bring your own sign or use one of the signs at church and be part of this witness to the community.

For the safety and comfort of all, please wear a mask. Thank you!

Lakewood United Church of Christ 2601 54th Ave. S. St. Petersburg, FL 33712
727-867-7961 lakewooducc@gmail.com Lakewooducc.org
On land originally inhabited by the Tocabaga

       

MLK Memorial Service

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2022 Virtual Interfaith Memorial Service This annual service in honor of Dr. King will be virtual this year. It will be live streamed on Sunday Jan. 26 at 3:30 p.m. at stjudesp.org. The theme is Reaching for Human Excellence. The keynote speaker is Renee Flowers, County Commissioner. Rev. Wells will be doing one of the readings. Please join in this celebration of the legacy of Dr. King.

Sermon 1/9/2022

Date: Jan. 9, 2022
Scripture Lessons: Isaiah 43:1-3a, Luke 3:15-17, 21-22
Sermon: Fire and Water
Pastor: Rev. Kim P. Wells

At one time the church hosted a day training program for mentally and physically disabled people. The people came to the church each day and worked with staff and went out and did things in the community. And what were these people who came to the program called? Guests? Clients? Community members? No. They were called ‘consumers.’ I asked about this. Why that term? It is because they consume state resources designated for their care. Consumers. Because they eat up tax dollars. Doing something taxes should do, I might add.

But we are so imbued in a market economy and a capitalist culture that our reality is defined by economics. Things are judged and labeled according to how they fit into the economic context. Economic impact influences everything. It’s all about gain and loss. Inputs and outputs. Commodities and profit. This reality is in the air we breathe. What are people? Workers. Consumers. Economic entities. We are what we do for a living. We are what we make – either a product or an income. Work hard and you are financially rewarded is a basic assumption. We expect a direct correlation between work and wealth. And the greater the wealth, the greater the value, not only of someone’s financial portfolio, but of their person. The more money you have, the more you are worth, literally. That is the bubble we are in.

So today we listened to the story of the baptism of Jesus. As the gospel of Luke opens, we have the stories that lead up to the birth of Jesus and his birth. There is one brief story about his childhood. And then, there’s John the Baptizer, in the wilderness, away from the centers of power, calling people to get ready, to repent, to prepare the way, to clean up their lives. And Jesus comes to be baptized. We haven’t heard anything about what Jesus has been doing. His ministry, his deeds of witness to the power of God, his preaching and teaching and healing and feeding, none of this has gone on yet that we are told. Jesus comes to be baptized. One of many who come to John. Then we are told of the heavens opening, and the Spirit descending, in a way that brings to mind a dove, and a voice heard by Jesus, You are my child. My beloved. On you my favor rests. With you I am well-pleased.

Jesus receives this amazing blessing at this baptism before he has started his work as messiah. Not even one day on the job and he gets a fantastic review. Complete approval. What’s that about?

Well, that’s all about God. The story is told to convey a God that loves us. Period. Not because of what we have or haven’t done. Not because we got it right. Not because we have done a great job. Not because we have worked hard. We are God’s. We are beloved. God’s favor rests on us. Because that is what God has chosen. Because God is satisfied with God’s handiwork – Jesus. You. Me. Our neighbor. Our enemy. Our annoying co-worker. A stranger. Whoever. God is pleased with God’s work. God’s imprint on every soul. We are all holy. Beloved. Blessed. Not because of anything we have done. Or haven’t done. But because of the nature of God. This is totally in conflict with the meritocracy, the consumer economy, the money mindset that surrounds us.

This past week, we have lost a cultural icon, Sydney Poitier, who used his voice in public life to convey the message that each and every person should be treated with dignity. Every person is of inestimable worth. Each and every soul has the imprint of God. His voice will be missed.

After the baptism of Jesus, we are told that Jesus undergoes a time of discernment and testing in the wilderness. Then, he gets to his preaching and teaching — because he has got to let people know what he has seen of God. He’s got to be a witness to God’s reality. Where each and every person is beloved and sacred. He’s on fire with desire to share this Divine reality with others.

So, we usually think of baptism as having to do with the forgiveness of sins. Or, with children, it’s about committing to bring them up in the Christian faith so that they join the church on their own when they are of age. But the story of Jesus’ baptism shows us that baptism is so much more. The power in baptism is not a sprinkling, it’s a torrent, a flood! We see that baptism conveys who we are in the eyes of God. Holy and beloved. God’s creative handiwork. Beautiful. Precious.

The power of Divine Love as we see it in baptism completely disentangles us from the society around us that values life according to productivity and wealth. It washes us away from being enmeshed in the market mindset that determines worth. It wipes away the punishment and reward system that dominates our culture. It frees us from being bound by social roles and cultural labels. This Divine Love manifest in baptism purifies us from judging the worth of people based on their behavior and then casting some as less than, unworthy, expendables. The image of baptism involves going under the water and dying to, washing away, all those cultural constructs that limit us. It involves being liberated by the flood of grace informing us that we are holy and beloved, we are favored and blessed because that is who God is and how God feels about what God has created.

And in the story of Jesus’ baptism we are told that baptism is not just about water but it is also about fire. Purifying. Burning away, destroying all that is holding us back and tying us down and diminishing us. All the shame and guilt. Up in ash. All the regrets. Not good enough. Haven’t made it. Didn’t get there. Messed up. Blew it. It’s all fuel for the fire of passion for life, for good news, for service, for wonder, for delight, for joy, for forgiveness and mercy and compassion. Fired up!

Baptism is about being reborn from the water into new life and recognizing the new reality of the realm of God. It doesn’t matter what we have done. Who we have been. How our patterns of behavior thwart us. Because we are holy and beloved. We have been stamped with the imprint of divinity. And so has each and every person. We are God’s handiwork and God is pleased. It doesn’t depend on us. God has done it. The reality of God is within each of us and among us. And there is a place for each of us in that reality.

This image, this reality, is powerful. So much of the hurt and harm in this life comes from people not feeling wanted, valued, or accepted. It comes from people clawing for a place. For recognition. For a sense of worth. And we go to all kinds of extreme ends to try to find this – even using violence, killing others, depriving others of basic life necessities, degrading the lives of others to elevate our own. All these awful things we do, when we have already been given what we need to thrive and flourish: the blessing of Divine Love pronouncing us beloved and good.

In Psalm 29 we heard those larger than life depictions of the power of God: the voice of God like thunder, God breaking the cedars, flashing in flames of fire, shaking the wilderness, whirling the oaks, stripping the forests bare. All of that power. That force. That impact. Associated with God. Let all in God’s temple say,“ Glory!”

Then in the verses from Isaiah, we heard about all of that incredible power being channeled into the redemption of God’s beloved. All that might and imagination applied for the good of God’s people.

And then we see all of that power and grace funneled into the baptism scene. Drifting down, ever so gently, like a dove. And a voice. All of that force and power for transformation and reconfiguration and salvation. For a new reality of love and goodness and justice and community. Gently infusing Jesus. Who hasn’t even done anything yet. But now that he experiences the power of this Divine grace and blessing, he’s freed. He’s on fire. He’s got to share this reality. He’s got to turn people on to this grace. He’s passionate about this love he has got to share. A love that frees us from worry, and guilt, and insecurity, and self-loathing, and condemnation of ourselves and others. Jesus is fired up about the love that liberates us from societal constructs, and greed, and fear.

He’s on fire. Burning it down. Turning it loose. And we’re here because we’ve been caught in the tides, drawn into the flood, gathered in by the flames.

The reading from Isaiah is to people who are dispossessed from their land, scattered, living under occupation, in a foreign culture. They are in a mess. They see no future. No hope. And what does the prophet say: Do not fear. Do not fear. God’s got this. The God of fire and wind and water, the God of the heavens and the earth, the God of the ancestors, has got this. Do not be afraid.

When you pass through the waters, do not be afraid. Don’t be afraid of the cleansing, the purifying, the new birth. When you pass through fire, burning, destroying, purifying, fertilizing, do not be afraid. When the job is gone. When mom dies. When the loneliness and grief wash over you. Do not be afraid. When another innocent black life is taken. When children go hungry. When drugs steal a loved one away from you. Do not be afraid. When you use your voice to defend justice, to shine the light on truth, to extend compassionate care. Do not be afraid. When a pandemic shuts down society, and exacerbates division, and leaves in its wake isolation, separation and loss. Do not be afraid. When death is near. When separation and loneliness break our hearts. When we long for normal. Do not be afraid. The powerful God manifest to Israel promising deliverance and descending upon Jesus at his baptism has got us covered.

At the end of the novel, The Weight of Ink, by Rachel Kadish, a main character from 17th century London, who, incidentally, lived through a plague, ventures into the river to swim for the very first time. Ester, an adult woman, is finally ready to brave the water, something she has wanted to do for a long time. She is accompanied by her husband, a gay man who has a lover, and has seen more than his share of peril and threat in life.

“A high, clear birdcall sounded from a nearby tree. . . .

“The river flowed thickly before her, and she shielded her eyes to watch it. . .

“The more Ester looked, the less tame the river appeared; calling birds unperturbed by the receding skiff; the high, ragged grasses along the banks, bristling with hidden life. The wildness of things came back to her.

“Turning to Alvaro, [her husband] she let him see she was afraid. . .

“Standing on the shore, she stared. Something was lodged in her throat, aching to come loose.

“She stepped in, ginger, the muddy rocks shifting under her tender feet. One step; a second; she stood and dipped her hand into the edge of the current. This, cold water streamed between her fingers, gently at first — then more strongly as she stepped deeper, the water now forcing her palm open and her fingers wide as the current found its way between them. . .

“Water forcing her palm open, the current kissing her fingers. And swimming to the place where she stood waist – deep, her husband: master of the great house commanding the hill. She couldn’t keep from laughing in his face. He laughed with her — then, with a soft tug, pulled her off balance. The current ripped her forward and her husband led her, and the surface of the water was velvet and foam, and her legs and feet were absurd and she had no notion what to do with them — until the water lifted her limbs and made them glad and foolish. She settled her eyes on his, brown and sun-flecked as the water.

“‘Here,’ he said, guiding her wrists to his slim, sturdy shoulders, “Rest your arms here.’” Rachel Kadish, The Weight of Ink, pp. 556-557, 560.]

Ester is in the water, in the wet and wildness, her fear washing away; she is safe. And it is wonderful.

Let the water flow. Let it stir and spin and roil. There is safety even in the midst of the current. Baptism reminds us that we are anchored. That we are held. That we are secure in the embrace of Divine Love. No matter what life holds. And there is gladness and joy in it.

Jesus was born into perilous times. God’s holy and beloved child. A joy and delight to God. God is well pleased with God’s self disclosure in Jesus before Jesus has even opened his mouth to preach. Oh, what a God! All that love manifest in Jesus to show us, each of us, who we are. God’s children. Holy and beloved. Resting in God’s blessing. Amen.

A reasonable effort has been made to appropriately cite materials referenced in this sermon. For additional information, please contact Lakewood United Church of Christ.

FREE home internet access and technology coaching for PCS families

Good morning, 

Pinellas County Schools (PCS) and the Pinellas Education Foundation are offering FREE home internet access and technology coaching for PCS families! Could you please distribute these fliers to your families and help us connect with the families that may need these services? 

Coaches can set up families with free internet hotspots and provide training on Clever, Canvas, and other PCS platforms. They can also help with completing online scholarship applications available at the Pinellas Education Foundation. This Digital Equity Project aims to bridge the digital divide and ensure that all families can navigate the PCS system and be successful. 

We are available for presentations, webinars, or other methods of connecting with PCS families directly. Please let me know if any such opportunities arise at your organization. 

Please see the attached flyers in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.  

Sincerely,
Andrea Lypka
E-Learning Program Manager
Pinellas Education Foundation
12090 Starkey Road Largo, FL 33773
727-588-4816 xt.2141 
www.pinellaseducation.org

Weekly Update 1/12

This Sunday, January 16, will be a beautiful celebration of the story of the wedding in Cana and Jesus turning water into wine.  What a wonderful way to begin a ministry and attract followers!   It’s also a time to honor the ministry of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  Come be part of this special service of remembrance and re-dedication.  

The service will be in the sanctuary with the doors and windows open.


MLK Memorial Service

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 2022 Virtual Interfaith Memorial Service This annual service in honor of Dr. King will be virtual this year.  It will be live streamed on Sunday Jan. 26 at 3:30 p.m. at stjudesp.org. The theme is Reaching for Human Excellence.  The keynote speaker is Renee Flowers, County Commissioner. Rev. Wells will be doing one of the readings.  Please join in this celebration of the legacy of Dr. King.  


Anti Racism Demonstrations

Honor Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. by peacefully demonstrating for racial justice. Join the weekly anti-racism demonstration on 54th Ave. S. in front of the church, on Sunday afternoon January 16th from 4:30-5:00 p.m. Bring your own sign or use one of the signs at church and be part of this witness to the community.

“…any religion which professes to be concerned about the souls of men [and women] and is not concerned about the social and economic conditions that scar the soul is a spiritually moribund religion only waiting for the day to be buried.”

Dr. M.L.King, Jr.


Guided Labyrinth Walks

The guided walk is held weekly on Wednesdays at 9:00 a.m. This provides an opportunity to be aware and deepen your spiritual journey. If it is raining, the walk is held on Thursday at 9:00 a.m.

Also, the readings and prayers used on Wednesdays at the guided walk are put in the mailbox by the labyrinth each week for use during the week.

The labyrinth is on the church grounds near the southwest corner of the church property. It is available for use at all times.


Book Talk

The LUCC monthly Book Talk is a chance to share with others what you have been reading.  Haven’t read much lately, hear about what others are enjoying.  It’s a very inspiring conversation.  There are many avid readers in the congregation!  This month that will be  January 20th at 6:30 p.m. on Zoom. All are welcome! Here’s the link:

Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2700683648
Meeting ID: 270 068 3648


Advisors for 2022

Many thanks to Barbara Donohue and Christy Martin for agreeing to serve as advisors for 2022.  They will join Lucille Ruga and Malcolm Wells.  The church is grateful to Patti Cooksey and Jane Diven for their ministry as advisors for the past several years.  LUCC is blessed with wonderful leadership.  Gratitude is expressed to those who will nurture the ministry of the church for the year ahead.  


Operation Attack Update

OA needs donations of cereal/oatmeal, mac and cheese, pasta sauce, peanut butter, canned meat, fruit, soup, and vegetables. Donations may be placed on the shelf in the hallway at church.


Being Covid Safe and In-Person Worship

Please stay home if you are not feeling well.

Please wear a mask while in the church building.  While most people have been vaccinated, this helps visitors to feel safe.  

Additional masks will be available at church to use as needed.

Two hand sanitizing stations are available for use by worshippers.

There is well-ventilated, physically distanced indoor seating in the sanctuary.

Please know that your safety is of primary consideration! 

Safe childcare is provided.


Sundays

Look for the bulletin posted on the church website on Friday: https://lakewooducc.org/category/bulletins/

Watch the service on Facebook Live Sundays at 10:30. https://www.facebook.com/LakewoodUCC

Or on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/LakewoodUCC/videos

Instructions for how to access Facebook Live: For additional assistance, please contact the church office.

Here are some instructions to watch our Sunday services live through Facebook:

Use the following link to visit our homepage: https://www.facebook.com/LakewoodUCC/

On Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. please use the link above to visit our homepage. There, after using the link, you will see a section labeled “Happening Now”. This is our Livestream of the Sunday Service.

To watch the live stream, locate and click the “watch video” button in the lower right corner of the screen.

If the link above is not working, there is also a link to our Facebook page on our website. Please try that link located on the Home page of our website.

PLEASE NOTE:  

With the cooler temperatures, we will resume opening the doors and windows for morning worship as we continue efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Sunday services are being held at 10:30 a.m. Masks are required. There is physical distancing. Childcare is provided.

You can also join in on Facebook Live at 10:30. Please see the instructions below. 


USEFUL LAKEWOOD LINKS:

For the above church website links, please note the “Older Posts” button near the bottom of each page.

You can stream Hilton’s music and videos for free at hiltonkeanjones.com/look-listen/ as well as purchase his CDs and digital albums there.


January Birthdays: Martha Lamar 1/2, Chip Cosper 1/7, Jackson Cosper 1/9, Hilton Kean Jones 1/23, Bob Bell 1/28. Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: 

Christopher and Dana

Carol Shores’ grandson, Ben, and son, Joel

Wally LeBlanc

Amaiya Washington

Dave Radens

William Owen-Cowan

Jen Degroot

Carolyn Moore

Ann Quinn is now under Hospice care

Maggie Brizendine

Janet Hall

All those suffering from COVID-19 and all healthcare workers

Schools: Students, families, teachers, and staff


Recent Posts:


Weekly Update: If you are involved with an activity or event that you would like to share with the LUCC family, please send the information to the Church Office by Tuesday since the Update usually is sent out on Wednesday.

On land originally inhabited by the Tocabaga