Weekly Update 8/4

Sundays

 The service is at 9:30 in person, covid safe.

Childcare provided.

When does no really mean no?  There’s a story associated with Jesus that raises that issue.  Take a look at Matthew 15:21-28.  The Canaanite woman sheds light on this for Jesus and for us.

Watch the service on Facebook Live Sundays at 9:30. https://www.facebook.com/LakewoodUCC

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


Advisors Meeting Sunday

The advisors will meet at 11:15 on Sunday on Zoom.  One of the concerns to be addressed is the safety of in person worship at this time in the covid pandemic.  If you have thoughts or feelings about this, please contact an advisor:  Patti Cooksey, Lucille Ruga, Jane Diven, or Malcolm Wells.  All are welcome.   If you would like to participate in the meeting, here is the Zoom link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/2700683648


Rev. Wells on Vacation

Rev. Wells will be on vacation from August 9-21.  On Sunday Aug. 15, she will be in Burlington, MA to baptize her two grandsons, Soren and Emerson, an occasion for much joy and celebration!If pastoral care is  needed, please contact Patti Cooksey at cooksepa@eckerd.edu or the Church Office 727-867-7961 or lakewooducc@gmail.com.


Tree Mapping – Tree Planting on the Church Grounds

SAVE THE DATE:  August 29, 2021 at 10:30 a.m.

The Urban Forestry Committee of the City of St. Petersburg is sponsoring a tree mapping event on the church grounds on Sunday Aug. 29 at 10:30 following worship.  This event will involve a process for mapping the trees currently on the church property and developing a plan to add more trees to the church grounds.

 The all volunteer Urban Forestry Committee includes a landscape architect, a certified arborist, and state and county master naturalists.  

Members and friends of the church are needed to help with the tree mapping.  So, plan to stay after worship on Sunday Aug. 29 to be part of this exciting initiative to ‘green’ the church grounds.  All are welcome!  


“WHO WILL SPEAK FOR THE TREES?” A RESOLUTION ON THE RIGHTS OF NATURE

Jul 19, 2021

Resolution as Adopted by the United Church of Christ General Synod 33 UCC became the first mainline Protestant denomination to affirm and declare that nature has rights. The global movement for the rights of nature has become a significant force over the last 15 years with a number of countries and indigenous leaders enacting laws and supporting this philosophy. This resolution urges all UCC church to take “intentional actions” including becoming a Creation Justice Church, a designation that we have already attained!

For Christians, affirming the rights of nature is especially significant because it is a central part of decolonizing our faith. Too often, misguided conceptions of “dominion” over nature have gone hand-in-hand with a conquer and plunder ethos that treats nature as something to own and exploit. At its heart, the rights of nature movement supersedes such world-views with both an affirmation of our interconnectedness with nature and a recognition that the rest of nature inherently deserves to flourish and thrive. Truly caring for God’s creation requires this fundamental outlook. Let’s celebrate this critical advancement in our faith tradition.

Summary is adapted by Claire Stiles from article by Rev. Brooks Berndt,
UCC Minister for Environmental Justice
UCC Pollinator Newsletter – July 22 2021

Further articles on the passing of the resolution can be found here and here. One can also read the resolution in its entirety. We urge you to subscribe to The Pollinator.


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.


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.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending double masking.  Please consider wearing two masks to church.  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.


Immigration Action Item: THOUSANDS of Dreamers at risk of deportation! 

Severe processing delays are keeping THOUSANDS of DACA immigrants at risk of deportation and unemployment! As of March 31, USCIS had a backlog of more than 55,000 pending first-time DACA applications, in addition to over 44,000 renewal requests. United We Dream – an organization led by Dreamers – is calling on President Biden to clear the backlog NOW. 


Please sign the United We Dream’s petition calling on Biden and USCIS to clear the DACA backlog and process applications and renewals in a timely manner.
Click here:  https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/end-the-daca-backlog/


Operation Attack Update

Good Afternoon, 
I hope you are doing well, many members of Lakewood UCC are aware that I’ve graduated from high school (thank you for the card) and plan to head to college. While at college, I won’t be able to help collect any OA donations or help keep Lakewood up to date on OA needs. I’ve had this task all of high school and I am very thankful for it. For replacing me, I HIGHLY recommend my brother Owen Blair-Catala. This position has been passed down from Zach to me and now to Owen. He’s someone who is active in OA and understands the task he must complete from watching me do them. 

Besides this OA is still doing very well. There are the same drive thru dates as before (September 11th). In addition, OA also still needs Donations of cereal, peanut butter, canned meat, fruit, vegetables and soup, dried beans, and mac/cheese. I came by this past week and was able to get some donations. Remember we still aren’t accepting clothing donations at the moment. If you have any questions please contact me. 

Thanks,Ian Blair-Catala

iblaircatala@gmail.com


Spiritual Direction Offered by LUCC Clergy Member.

In these troubled times, it is important to find ways to tend to our spiritual lives. In the Christian tradition, Spiritual Direction is one of the ways of paying attention to the spirit in our lives. A Spiritual Director is someone to talk with about what is going on in our spiritual life and in our relationship with God however we may conceive of God.

Rev. Sally Purvis, Ph.D., a member of LUCC, is a retired clergy person with training and experience in Spiritual Direction. She is offering her services as a Spiritual Director to the community. The sessions would be held on Zoom and there is no fee to be paid. Church leaders are pleased to have the ministry of the church expand in this way.

Spiritual Direction with Sally is open to anyone, not just the congregation. And it is offered to everyone whatever their spiritual or religious background or affiliation or lack thereof. Sessions are generally held once every three weeks. Spiritual Direction is not a mode of therapy. It is a process for understanding and deepening your relationship with God/Spirit in ways that are authentic and life-giving.

Sally was trained by Henri Nouwen, a noted spiritual guide of the 20th century, and did Spiritual Direction as part of her professional ministry before retiring in 2015.

If you would like to explore Spiritual Direction with Sally, please contact her at
sallybpurvis@icloud.com or contact the church (867-7961 or lakewooducc@gmail.com ).

The church is very grateful to Sally for offering this avenue of support to the congregation and the community.


USEFUL LAKEWOOD LINKS:

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


August Birthdays: Barbara Donohue 8/4, Mardie Chapman 8/7, Claire Stiles 8/11, Kay Rencken 8/13, Vita Uth 8/14, Dana Cosper 8/22, James Waterman 8/23, and Joanne Reid 8/28. Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: 

Bill Parsons

Earl Waters

Dave Radens

Richard Wiggins and family

Sherry Santana

William Owen-Cowan

Jen Degroot

Carolyn Moore

Ann Quinn

Maggie Brizendine

Janet Hall

All those suffering from COVID-19.


Church Office Hours:  Tuesday-Friday 9:30-noon. 


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.

Sunday Service 8.1.2021

GATHERING MUSIC

WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS

LIGHTING THE PEACE CANDLE                 Claire Stiles, liturgist

When we step back and recapture what around us is truly awe-inspiring – like babies and sunsets and storms and rivers and life and art and bird music – then we will feel enough love for our world not to want it violated, by non-peace, by violence. There is a way to truly love our world, that is to rediscover its wonder.

Source unknown

PRELUDE                   

CALL TO WORSHIP    Soren Kierkegaard, 1813-1855, Denmark

God in heaven, when the thought of you wakes in our hearts,

Let it not wake like a frightened bird that

Flies about in dismay, but like a child waking

From its sleep with a heavenly smile.

MUSICAL REFLECTION

SCRIPTURE READING

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.

Matthew 13:45-46

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.

MODERN READING             Nathaniel Hawthorne, 1804-1864

SERMON                       Treasured                 Rev. Kim P. Wells

The Olympics are taking place. Did you know? Do you see it in your newsfeed? Do you hear about it on the radio? Are you watching the events on TV? Have you seen Suni Lee and her gold medal winning routines? Did you watch as Florida wonder Caeleb Dressel took the gold? Again and again and again! And how about Florida’s Bobby Finke winning the gold in the 800 meter AND the 1500 meter freestyle events? Pulling ahead in the last of 30 lengths of the pool? Did you see Danusia Francis from Jamaica and her 11 second routine  living her Olympic dream?

We can certainly count on the Olympics for moments of compelling competition and glory! We appreciate the hard work, the countless hours training, the sacrifices made. The effort and commitment. Every athlete at the Olympics has worked incredibly hard to get there.

While I am not a sports fan, I don’t even watch the Super Bowl, I do love the Olympics. I enjoy watching the events. I like hearing the interviews. I enjoy learning about the host country. My family knows not to expect much from mom during the Olympics. I know that the Olympics is fraught with issues among them sexism, corruptions, politicization, doping, commercialization – and it is especially contentious this year, during the pandemic, but I still love the Olympics.

As I think about all I have seen so far – the stunning opening ceremonies with the amazing drone display and Imagine, and the mimed symbols for each sport in the Olympics, and the Japanese pianist who played, the creative commercials, the incredible competitions and athletes – there is one image that has really taken hold and stayed with me. There is one salient moment. The scene in the high school gym in Seward, Alaska when Lydia Jacoby, 17 years old, won the gold in the 100 meter breaststroke. The explosion of joy. The unrestrained elation. The raucous celebration. The sheer abandon of the scene. All those teenagers overcome with happiness for their friend. I could watch that clip over and over and over again.

The sense of community, of love, of support, of these usually self conscious teen agers simply bursting with joy as their friend’s dream comes true. It’s not even their success or their accomplishment or their dream. Which is what makes the joy so pure. Their delight is for someone else. It’s selfless joy. There is no benefit to them in her win. And yet they are overcome.

It is that kind of joy. That abandon. That characterizes the Kindom of Heaven. We heard about it again this morning in the story of the pearl. Another parable. A story with many facets and meanings. A story that is told to help us see something of the realm of God. Something so compelling it eclipses everything else. Period.

In the story, there is the merchant, searching. Looking. Desiring. And finding. Yet in the story before, a worker stumbles upon a treasure in a field. So, it can be sought, it can be stumbled upon. In the pearl story, there is no drama, like in the story of the rich young man. It’s not portrayed as an agonizing sacrifice. The disciples, too, left home, family, and job, to follow Jesus. There is no protracted analysis in this story of the pros and cons. Weighing the potential consequences and outcome. All of these practical considerations just fall away. There’s no saying no.

The commonwealth of God is an all encompassing reality of social, economic, and religious values that encompass the personal good and the communal good into one glorious whole. No fragmentation. Or distraction. Or dilution. It’s a full immersion experience. Not dipping the toe in.

And to be honest, we’re not good at that, these days. We keep our lives balanced, compartmentalized, time for family, time for work, time for re-creation, time for religion, time for exercise. Like a boat with carefully stowed ballast to keep things even to avoid tipping or being swamped. And we have planners and apps and calendars and monitors on our phones to tell us how we are doing keeping everything properly aligned. FYI, there is none of that in the story of the pearl. The experience of the realm of God, of Divine Love, simply eliminates all of those calculations.

In a recent editorial in Christian Century, Peter Marty Talks about being centered. He refers to the 1943 book, On Being a Real Person, by Harry Emerson Fosdick, America’s premier pastor of the mid 20th century, that talks about what it is like to live with a “loss of centrality.” Marty tells us: “A scattered individual lacks wholeness and consistency. Multiple selves compete for attention within. Internal fragmentation makes for no serenity. ‘The fundamental sin of our being is to be chaotic and unfocused. . . The primary command of our being is to ‘get yourself together.” [See editorial by Peter W. Marty, in Christian Century, 7.28.21] Amen to that! And I fear we are far more fragmented now than we were in the 1940’s when Fosdick wrote his book.

We have so many more competing activities and relationships and commitments. With supposedly more money and more free time, there simply seems to be more to do. More options. More opportunities. More distractions. And then introduce the internet and social media and our many devices and the fragmentation just escalates exponentially. We are chaotic and unfocussed. We are falling apart, or being pulled apart, and trying to keep it together. Some of this. Some of that. Limits on this. Make sure to include that. It’s an endless battle. An every changing realignment. As we seek to keep things under control, find the optimal balance. Often without a true center.

In his editorial in Christian Century, Peter Marty goes on to discuss priorities and this I found very interesting. He tells us: “The word priority has been in the English language for at least 600 years, and for most of that time it meant simply the very first or prior thing. Only in the last 80 or so years have we pluralized it to priorities. The suggestion that we can have multiple first things may actually indicate that nothing ends up being our priority. To speak of a ‘top priority’ only serves to confuse.”

I found that very insightful. We live in a time of extreme fragmentation. We are being pulled in many directions. We receive so many messages about who we are to be and what we are to do and what we should look like and where we should go on our next vacation and what we should eat and how we should spend our money and how we should behave and what should matter to us and on and on and on. All of this fragmentation. Pulling us apart. While as Fosdick reminds us, the primary command of our being it to get ourselves together.

And that is what we see in the story of the the merchant and the pearl. Only one thing. No fragmentation. And the Psalmist talks about this many times in Psalm 119: “Give me understanding, that I may keep your law and observe it with my whole heart.” [v. 34]

The kindom of God is the one thing. It is the reality of goodness and love for all of creation. It is all encompassing. Complete. All of our experiences and feelings and desires are incorporated into this one reality. And while we may be engaged in many relationships and activities everything is part of a unified reality of Love. The realm of God, the Kindom of Heaven is the antidote to fragmentation and falling apart or being pulled apart. This story gives us the image of one pearl. Priceless. Precious. Beautiful. With no contention or competition. Just sheer joy.

I’ve seen that kind of joy. Here. At church. More than once. Like the first Sunday we came back for in person worship, outside on the lawn, after 8 months of the covid shut down. It wasn’t like the exuberant, ecstatic expression of joy in the gym in Seward, Alaska after the Jacoby’s win. But the feeling, the look in people’s eyes, the glow, the charged energy in the air, as we sat outside . . . It was pure, unadulterated joy. I can’t remember what the service was about or if the mic worked or what the weather was like. And none of that matters. Really. All I can remember is the intense joy of the experience of the kindom of God. The one true thing. We have been given the treasure. The pearl.

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.

UNISON READING                          Dongxia Shi, China

In the dawn

You walk toward me

When I am confused

You shower me in Love

In the darkness

You bestow light

When I am hesitant

You show me Your Words

In my days

You grant a mission

When I am weak

You lend me Your Power

In sickness

You are by my side

When I am suffering

You offer me the Cure

In conflicts

You increase my strength

When I am in pain

You grace me with Peace

In all my life

You leave your footprints

When I am empty

You give me Your All

MUSICAL INTERLUDE               

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 and COMMUNION OFFERING

Morning offerings may be brought forward and placed in the plates on the altar.

Offertory      

Prayer of Dedication               Bruno Manser, Switzerland

You —

The power of creation

Giver of life —

Guide us on our way.

Where there is pain —

Bring comfort. You!

Where there is hunger —

Bring food. You!

Where there is quarrel —

Bring love. You!

You —

All of us together!

PREPARATION FOR COMMUNION

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.

CELEBRATION OF HOLY COMMUNION

Invitation

Communion Prayer- Savior’s Prayer

Our Creator, 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 for ever. Amen.

Blessing the Bread and Cup

Sharing the Meal

Giving Thanks

* BENEDICTION                                                                      Asian Proverb

Pearls do not lie on the seashore,

If you desire one you must dive for it.

*POSTLUDE       

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

Circle of Concern:  Earl Waters, Bill Parsons, Dave Radens, Richard Wiggins and family, Carol Shores, Sherry Santana, William Owen-Cowan, Jen Degroot, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Maggie Brizendine, Janet Hall

Sunday Service 7.25.2021

GATHERING MUSIC

WELCOME and ANNOUNCEMENTS

LIGHTING THE PEACE CANDLE                        Barbara Donohue, liturgist

There lies before us, if we choose, continued progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal, as human beings, to human beings: Remember your humanity and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death.

Albert Einstein, 1879-1955 and Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970

PRELUDE                   

CALL TO WORSHIP        

Cathedral of St. Paul the Apostle, Los Angeles

All humankind are one vast family

this world our home.

We sleep beneath one roof,

the starry sky.

We warm ourselves before one hearth,

the blazing sun.

Upon one floor of soil we stand

and breathe one air

and drink one water

and walk the night

beneath one luminescent moon.

The children of one God we are

brothers and sisters of one blood

and members in one worldwide family of God.

MUSICAL REFLECTION

SCRIPTURE READING

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.

Matthew 20:1-15

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.

CONTEMPORARY READING                      In the days, Ruth Burgess

SERMON                    Beloved                       Rev. Kim P. Wells

This story has many messages, perspectives, and meanings. Scholars throughout the centuries have noted many interpretations. And there is still little consensus today about this story. In fact, the divergence of meanings may be growing as we become more aware of economic and social biases and systems then and now.

Among the many insights about the land system, labor rights, the landowner, the manager, the boss as a God figure, how the workers are manipulated, and on and on, one thing stands out and will always stand out from this story. What is most unexpected and most jarring is that the workers are paid the same for different amounts of labor.

Why an economic image? Why labor and money and not education or good looks or taking turns or something else? Jesus uses an economic example because it shows how much competition and conflict there is between the values of the gospel and the values of the economy and the society around us. This economic scenario is most likely to upset us and also most likely to drive the point home. Jesus intentionally picks a hot button issue to give the story impact. And it works.

And that is what makes this story one of the most significant stories in the New Testament. Who can forget the story where the people work for different amounts of time but are given the same pay? It is supposed to be provocative and it is.

So, we are going to try something interactive this morning. I am going to ask you to count off by 3’s. Then we are going to ask Barbara to read the story again. And all of you who are one’s, I want you to listen to the story with the ears of someone who was hired in the middle of the day. Those of you who are two’s, I want you to listen with the ears of someone who was hired at the end of the day. Those of you who are three’s, I want you to listen with the ears of someone hired first thing in the morning. Then after we listen to the story again, we’ll discuss what we notice after listening in this way –

Barbara reads the story again.
Discussion and comments from the congregation

This story with the same pay for different amounts of work is disturbing and inspiring. And it works on us. Here are some of my impressions of this story.

Then as now, money is an indicator of value. So, when everyone gets paid the same, the implication is that everyone is of equal value. Exactly. And the way it is put, it is surprising. It is scandalous. Every single person of equal value. Sacred. Holy. Beloved. Period. Regardless of station, behavior, choices, age, abilities. Regardless of work ethic. Screw ups. Grades. Income. Education. Background. Every single person equally loved in the commonwealth of God. Each life. Equally valued. Elites and expendables alike. In the realm of Divine Love. Yes, people are diverse: good, bad, ugly, saints, sinners, lazy, smart, slow, creative, annoying. But all are equally loved and valued in the economy of God. Period.

This is scandalous. And fundamental.

Carolyn Hax made this point in a recent column. Someone wrote in about having low self esteem. And in her reply, Hax says: “Throw away all measures of value, period. Your value is absolute. You exist therefore you matter. No more than anyone, and no less. That’s it. Breathe.” [Tampa Bay Times, 7/14/21, 1F]. That is a core message in this story of Jesus. Everyone of equal value as a human being.

Evidently, that message is needed as much today as it was in Jesus’ time. Maybe even more because of our continued fixation on money as a determinant of value and wealth. We still have the elites and the expendables. In our community. In our country. In our culture, and in the world.

So, we get the message that God loves everyone. Period. Ok. So what? Around the anniversary of the murder of George Floyd, there was an editorial that I saw, “George Floyd’s life mattered to God.” And the follow up, “Black lives matter to God.” Frankly, I wanted to scream. God. So what? George Floyd is dead. As are countless other black bodies. Often at the hands of Christians. What the story of the workers says to followers of Jesus is that every life is beloved by God and that
the commonwealth of God is a community where every person is treated as holy, sacred, and beloved. Every life is valued equally. Every single person is precious. And the implication is that we are to implement this basic foundation that every life is equally sacred in all of our choices, behaviors, and actions. And in all of our institutions, systems, and social and economic arrangements. Followers of Jesus are to put this commitment that every person is equally beloved and valued into play in everyday life just as Jesus did. And it got him killed. Because we love our hierarchies, and classes, and stratifications, and divisions, and pecking orders. And in this country we know all too well about privilege and class. Elites and expendables. Our culture is built on the inhuman, unChristian foundation of slavery. Where not only were people not equal, some were not even considered people, human beings. The residue of this legacy is still very much with us today.

And it is harming everyone. We are all diminished because of it. When one human life is considered of different value than another, everyone suffers.

Michelle Obama expressed this in a commencement address. She said: “In an uncertain world, time-tested values like honesty and integrity, empathy and compassion — that’s the only real currency in life. Treating people right will never, ever fail you. Now I’m not naive. I know that you can climb a long way up the ladder selling falsehoods and blaming others for your own shortcomings, shunning those with less privilege and advantage. But that is a heavy way to live. It deadens your spirit and it hardens your heart.” [Tampa Bay Times, 6/14/20, Perspective, p.4] Deadens your spirit and hardens your heart. That is not the way of the gospel. The gospel brings the spirit to life and opens the heart to flow with love.

Valuing human life according to productivity, or financial wealth, or education, or status, or class, or identity, or ethnicity, or race – it deadens the spirit. It hardens the heart. It diminishes life. It suffocates life.

It even has negative implications practically for people. It saps society of energy, creativity, and community. It makes things unsafe for everyone. It imposes competition, fear, and a need to protect, that impedes “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” In an editorial about hope in the midst of the pandemic, journalist Nicholas Kristof says: “Why is the United States about the only advanced country to lack universal health care and universal paid sick leave? Many scholars, in particular the late Alberto Alesina, a Harvard economist, have argued that one reason for America’s outlier status is race. Investing in safety nets and human capital became stigmatized because of a perception that African-Americans would benefit. So instead of investing in children, we invested in a personal responsibility narrative holding that Americans just need to lift themselves up by their bootstraps to get ahead.”

Kristoff continues:

“This experiment proved catastrophic for all Americans, especially the working class. Marginalized groups, including African-Americans and Native Americans, suffered the worst, but the underinvestment in health and the lack of safety nets means that American children today are 57 percent more likely to die by age 19 than European children are.”

Dr. Jonathan M. Metzl calls this “dying of whiteness.” This valuing lives differently leads to the devaluing of all lives. [New York Times, 7/19/2020]

It’s not enough that everyone is equally beloved by God in some theological, theoretical sense. Followers of Jesus need to be living that out in our individual personal lives and creating a society that is based on that foundation. The Constitution of these United States declares that, “All men are created equal.” We need to be aiming for that.

Jesus tells this story of the unfair wages not so that his followers will suffer. Not to punish. Not to condemn. He is jarring us into seeing reality in a new way. He is trying to jolt us into the commonwealth of God so that we will experience joy and abundant life. Love, fundamental worth, is not a zero sum game in the commonwealth of God. It’s not that if you get lots of love and favor and forgiveness there is less for me. Divine Love does not work like that. It’s that it is here for all of us, more than we could ever hope for.

And Jesus specifically uses money to make the point because money is one of the main ways that consciously or subconsciously we value lives differently. Financial earning ability is one of the biggest impediments to our seeing everyone equally as a child of God. So Jesus uses this burning situation of equal pay to emphasize how we let the ability to earn money influence the value we place on a life and that this is wrong. Jesus wants to take us out of that system all together. Jesus is inviting us to be part of the commonwealth of God. He is inviting us to choose the gospel – a way of solidarity and community where the commitment is to the well being of everyone. Everyone having access to what they need. A reality in which everybody can thrive and flourish.

So, can we imagine a scene at the end of the story, after everyone is paid, where the workers don’t grumble or complain, but, well, celebrate? ‘Hey, Joe, you’re going to have food tonight. Maria, you’ll be able to feed the kids. Oh Joshua, you were so discouraged and hungry, and look, you’re going to make it. Hey, let’s all have dinner together and celebrate and we’ll share with the others who weren’t hired today.’ That’s what the kindom of heaven is like. . . Amen.

UNISON READING                                           Anwar Fazal, b. 1941, Malaysia

We all drink from one water

We all breathe from one air

We rise from one ocean

And we live under one sky

Remember

We are one

The newborn baby cries the same

The laughter of children is universal

Everyone’s blood is red

And our hearts beat the same song

Remember

We are one

We are all brothers and sisters

Only one family, only one earth

Together we live

And together we die

Remember

We are one

Peace be on you

Brothers and Sisters

Peace be on you

MUSICAL INTERLUDE               

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.

Offertory      

Prayer of Dedication                        Riane Eisler, b. 1931, Austria

Together let us create a world where love is manifested through a

politics and economics of caring, where caretaking is the most

honored and rewarded work, where all children are safe

from violence in their families and in their communities.

Let us liberate our Mother Earth from those who would conquer and

despoil nature. Let us remember that we all share the DNA of one Eve

who lived in Africa millions of year ago. Let us treat one

another as who we are: sisters and brothers in the miracle

and mystery we call life. 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 PRAYER-SAVIOR’S PRAYER

Fathering and Mothering God, lover of us all, most holy one.

Help us to respond to you

To create what you want for us here on earth.

Give us today enough for our needs.

Forgive our weak and deliberate offenses,

Just as we must forgive others when they hurt us.

Help us to resist evil and to do what is good.

For we are yours, endowed with your power to make the world whole.

Amen.

* BENEDICTION (unison)                                                           Ram Dass

May we recognize the Spirit

in each of us, and the Spirit

in all of us.                                        

*POSTLUDE       

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

Circle of Concern:  Earl Waters, Bill Parsons, Mae Wiggins, Dave Radens, Richard Wiggins and family, Carol Shores, Sherry Santana, William Owen-Cowan, Jen Degroot, Carolyn Moore, Ann Quinn, Maggie Brizendine, Janet Hall

New issue of Celebrate Florida now available

Dog Days of Summer greetings, Florida UCC members:

Here is the link to the August-September issue of Celebrate Florida.

Some articles of possible interest:

General Synod 33 (pages 1-2 and 33-34)

The new Conference staffing model (page 3)

Annual Gathering of the Conference (page 4)

“Finding Refuge in Polk County” (page 8)

“Emerging from the Bubble” (pages 20-22)

3 Great Loves (pages 18-19)

and Across Florida (pages 24-27)

As always, the issue contains lots of links to helpful resources and programming ideas you may wish to consider adopting or adapting in your own congregation. Please look through this issue to read how COVID has not stopped our Florida congregations from “being church.”

If we’ve not been hearing from you, please make sure we’re on the mailing list for your newsletter and e-blasts (rickcarson1@gmail.com) — simple and much appreciated.

We especially welcome your providing the Celebrate Florida link information to church members via your newsletters, e-communications and on your website.

Blessings,

Rick Carson
Editor

Weekly Update 7/28

Sundays

 The service is at 9:30 in person, covid safe.

Childcare provided.

This Sunday is a time to consider how the gospel is a treasure in our lives.  See Matthew 13:45-46.  Wear your pearls!

Communion will also be served this Sunday. The Communion offering will be received. This offering is used to help people in the church and the community with basic needs such as rent and utility assistance, bus passes, prescriptions, etc. There has been heavy need for these funds. Please consider how you can help the community through this offering.

Watch the service on Facebook Live Sundays at 9:30. https://www.facebook.com/LakewoodUCC

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


In Memoriam

Mae Wiggins died Tuesday July 20.  Mae was the spouse of Richard Wiggins, the founding pastor of LUCC.  Given that there were no childcare centers in this part of St. Petersburg, Mae started the LUCC Childcare Center around 1970.  She wanted families to have safe, enriching daycare for their children.  Following their ministry at LUCC, the Wiggins moved to New Port Richey where Richard served the UCC church there.  That is where they have stayed in retirement.  Please keep Richard and their family and loved ones in your prayers.  

There will be memorial service in Port Richey on Saturday July 31 at 6:00 p.m. Please contact Rev. Wells if you would like to carpool to the service.  


You Can Impact the Death Penalty in Florida!
See the church website or Facebook page for a petition to sign and a video.  One step at a time, this inhuman practice can be abolished!  

https://lakewooducc.org/2021/07/20/former-florida-chief-justice-gerald-kogan-left-legacy-opposing-the-death-penalty/


United Church of Christ Holds Virtual Assembly

For highlights of the recent UCC General Synod, follow this link.

https://www.ucc.org/virtual-general-synod-able-to-connect-delegates-with-each-other-and-the-church/inf_contact_key=6c6dea068e9283bfdd6a30dac7210977b7af0999dac2af6212784c39e05d2aef

LUCC is part of an awesome denomination!  And the Rev. Karen Georgia Thompson who is Associate General Minister of the UCC and led the planning for the General Synod was a member of LUCC when she lived in St. Petersburg!


Meals on Wheels From the Church

Meals on Wheels now has a distribution center at Lakewood United Church as part of the Neighborly senior center. They need volunteers to help deliver meals to shut-in seniors in our area. Sometimes, the only person a client sees all day is a MoW volunteer. They are following COVID-safe practices (mask wearing, social distancing, dropping off food rather than entering the home). Volunteers pick up the meals at 10:30 and drive to clients in the area, and return the empty bags to LUCC when they’re done, usually within an hour. Please consider doing this; it takes just an hour once a week to make someone happy. Please contact Angela, the MoW coordinator at 727-612-1791 and she will tell you how to get trained. Or go to https://neighborly.org/volunteer-opportunities/ to find out more.

Scan the QR code to watch a video for more information about volunteering

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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.


Be Part of Reducing AIDS

There is an  the increase in HIV/AIDS infections in our area.  As a way of responding, Suncoast Hospice has given the church a large supply of condoms to be distributed. They will be placed in the bathrooms at the church.  They will also be available in the sanctuary.  The church advisors are encouraging the congregation to take some condoms and put them in public bathrooms and workplace bathrooms where they may get picked up by the appropriate population.  

So, the next time you are at the church, pick up a few condoms and see that they make their way out into the community!


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.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending double masking.  Please consider wearing two masks to church.  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.


Immigration Action Item: THOUSANDS of Dreamers at risk of deportation! 

Severe processing delays are keeping THOUSANDS of DACA immigrants at risk of deportation and unemployment! As of March 31, USCIS had a backlog of more than 55,000 pending first-time DACA applications, in addition to over 44,000 renewal requests. United We Dream – an organization led by Dreamers – is calling on President Biden to clear the backlog NOW. 

Please sign the United We Dream’s petition calling on Biden and USCIS to clear the DACA backlog and process applications and renewals in a timely manner.
Click here:  https://actionnetwork.org/petitions/end-the-daca-backlog/


Operation Attack Update

Good Afternoon, 
I hope you are doing well, many members of Lakewood UCC are aware that I’ve graduated from high school (thank you for the card) and plan to head to college. While at college, I won’t be able to help collect any OA donations or help keep Lakewood up to date on OA needs. I’ve had this task all of high school and I am very thankful for it. For replacing me, I HIGHLY recommend my brother Owen Blair-Catala. This position has been passed down from Zach to me and now to Owen. He’s someone who is active in OA and understands the task he must complete from watching me do them. 

Besides this OA is still doing very well. There are the same drive thru dates as before (July 31st and September 11th). In addition, OA also still needs Donations of cereal, peanut butter, canned meat, fruit, vegetables and soup, dried beans, and mac/cheese. I came by this past week and was able to get some donations. Remember we still aren’t accepting clothing donations at the moment. If you have any questions please contact me. 

Thanks,Ian Blair-Catala

iblaircatala@gmail.com


Spiritual Direction Offered by LUCC Clergy Member.

In these troubled times, it is important to find ways to tend to our spiritual lives. In the Christian tradition, Spiritual Direction is one of the ways of paying attention to the spirit in our lives. A Spiritual Director is someone to talk with about what is going on in our spiritual life and in our relationship with God however we may conceive of God.

Rev. Sally Purvis, Ph.D., a member of LUCC, is a retired clergy person with training and experience in Spiritual Direction. She is offering her services as a Spiritual Director to the community. The sessions would be held on Zoom and there is no fee to be paid. Church leaders are pleased to have the ministry of the church expand in this way.

Spiritual Direction with Sally is open to anyone, not just the congregation. And it is offered to everyone whatever their spiritual or religious background or affiliation or lack thereof. Sessions are generally held once every three weeks. Spiritual Direction is not a mode of therapy. It is a process for understanding and deepening your relationship with God/Spirit in ways that are authentic and life-giving.

Sally was trained by Henri Nouwen, a noted spiritual guide of the 20th century, and did Spiritual Direction as part of her professional ministry before retiring in 2015.

If you would like to explore Spiritual Direction with Sally, please contact her at
sallybpurvis@icloud.com or contact the church (867-7961 or lakewooducc@gmail.com ).

The church is very grateful to Sally for offering this avenue of support to the congregation and the community.


USEFUL LAKEWOOD LINKS:

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


July Birthdays: Ann Quinn 7/6. Someone missing? Contact the church office with birthday information.


Circle of Concern: 

Bill Parsons

Earl Waters

Dave Radens

Richard Wiggins and family

Carol Shores

Sherry Santana

William Owen-Cowan

Jen Degroot

Carolyn Moore

Ann Quinn

Maggie Brizendine

Janet Hall

All those suffering from COVID-19.


Church Office Hours:  Tuesday-Friday 9:30-noon. 


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.