Posted in Children and Youth

This is Our Story…Youth Lead the Way in Worship

  • March 5, 2019

What a blessing it was to see the youth in action this past Sunday when they shared their many gifts with the congregation. It was truly a team effort and a wonderful picture of this amazingly thoughtful, talented, and generous group of young people. God’s spirit was shining bright!



Youth Reflections

On March 3rd, our Youth shared their reflections on Luke 9:28-43.

Speaker 1: Good morning. Thank you for inviting us to lead worship on this Youth Sunday and for giving us the opportunity to share with you some of our reflections on this story of Jesus’ Transfiguration.

During our exploration of this story, we wondered together about a number of things. We noticed and applauded Jesus’ desire to get away from the crowds, to spend some quiet time with God, and to bring three of his closest friends along for company. We wondered what made him do this at this time in his ministry?

We also noticed how God invites Moses and Elijah to show up too, which seems to us evidence of Jesus’ connection to the Law and the Prophets as well as God’s desire to elevate the importance of this event. We wondered what the disciples were thinking and feeling when they saw these two figures appear to be talking with Jesus?

After speculating about possible answers to these questions, our attention turned to the event itself. In the Transfiguration, Jesus is made known more fully by his changing appearance and by God’s voice affirming his identity and his mission.

“This is my child, my chosen one, listen to him!”

God’s words here powerfully declare the essence of who Jesus is and point to his purpose – his call – to live into the role that God has given to him. We imagined that this must have made Jesus feel profoundly loved and empowered to fulfill his mission in a spirit of truth and freedom.

Speaker 2: Many of us can relate to this experience of being seen and appreciated for who we are. Our friends, family, teachers and other mentors often play this role in our lives. Their ability to recognize our gifts, gives us confidence and inspires us to be our best selves.

One time I felt empowered was when I received a position as a junior coach at my figure skating rink. When I was younger, a couple of my teammates were repeatedly mean to me, most likely because I was an easy target. Ever since that experience, I worked to become a positive role model and to advocate for younger girls so no one else would be on the receiving end of such unkind behavior. Earning an official leadership role made me feel recognized for these efforts, and I felt empowered because I had a chance to use my own position to help other people.

Speaker 3: When the disciples witness Jesus’ Transfiguration, they realize the sacredness of this moment and want to build dwelling places so they can all remain on Holy Ground and continue to enjoy this mountain top experience together. But they are interrupted by God’s voice and reminded that there is important work yet to be done.

Created and known by God, we too are called to be our truest selves and to trust in God’s invitation to bravely share who we are – our passions, our life stories, our identities and our perspectives – with other people so that we might all grow in faith and love. When we do this for each other, amazing things can happen.

I spent the first half of my junior year up in Maine at a semester school: Maine Coast Semester at Chewonki. It’s in Wiscasset, about an hour north of Portland, a 400 acre peninsula shaped sort of like a hand. There were 45 of us in my semester, and those people, along with the staff, created the warmest, kindest, and most welcoming environment I have ever been a part of. I have never felt more free to be myself, and I can say wholeheartedly that everyone else felt the same way. There was no subtle judgement or assumptions made or anything that seems to happen in a regular high school setting. I was seen right away by these absolute strangers for who I was on the inside, and as a result I was able to learn and grow more profoundly than I ever would have back at home. I am now close friends with 44 other people I never would have been friends with at home, and I am much better and more open person because of them.

Speaker 4: One of the other lectionary texts assigned for Transfiguration Sunday comes from 2nd Corinthians where Paul is talking to the early Christians. In this passage he reminds the people of the power of God’s spirit and encourages them this way:

“Since we have such a hope, we act with great boldness. … Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit is, there is freedom. And all of us, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed. … Since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.”

Just as Jesus was known, revealed, and transformed on the mountaintop, so too are we recognized and affirmed by God who loves us unconditionally and offers us the privilege to be fully who we are as we come down from our mountains and share our authentic voices with the world. It is here that we find Courage. It is here that we find Hope. And it is here that we find Freedom.

Amen.

Blessed Assurance: Then and Now and Forevermore

  • March 5, 2019

On Sunday, we sang this old familiar hymn with a bit of a twist with lyrics adapted to fit the themes that the Youth so eloquently brought forth to the congregation as they led worship together.

Blessed assurance, God’s love is mine. Oh what a free gift, from the divine. Known for who I am, called to be me Born of the Spirit, loved tenderly.

This is my story, this is my song. Living in God’s love, all the day long. This is my story, this is my song. Living in God’s love, all the day long.

When I feel doubtful, alone, or afraid
Longing for comfort from friends who have stayed Close by my side and – who see the real me Blessed child of God, I – am thankful and free.

This is my story, this is my song. Living in God’s love, all the day long. This is my story, this is my song. Living in God’s love, all the day long.

Filled with God’s goodness, all is at rest
Mind, body, and soul are peaceful and blessed. Jesus walks with me, holding my hand
Called to share God’s love, throughout the land.

This is my story, this is my song. Living in God’s love, all the day long. This is my story, this is my song. Living in God’s love, all the day long.

*We also discovered an amazing history of this beloved hymn. Read on!!

Fanny Crosby: Legendary Methodist Hymn Writer (1820-1915)

“Blessed Assurance” is one of the most beloved songs in the United Methodist Hymnal. The person who composed this classic, Fanny Crosby is credited with writing 8000 hymns in her lifetime–despite losing her sight six weeks after birth in 1820. This blind, musical visionary was a lifelong Methodist who began composing hymns at age six. From the age of 15, Crosby attended the New York Institute for the Blind and later joined the faculty and met her husband there. Alexander Van Alstyne, blind himself, was supportive. He often transcribed his wife’s poems since Crosby could not write and composed the lyrics entirely in her mind.

The Rev. Alfred T. Day: “Fanny Crosby was not held back at all by her blindness. And probably the words of her poetry and hymns helped more people to see and know and experience Jesus as anybody with two working eyes and 20/20 vision.”

Crosby’s writings never brought her wealth. She was often paid just a dollar or two per poem with the rights to the songs being retained by the composer or music publishers. At one point, the songstress was destitute but Crosby wrote in her autobiography that the songs were God’s work and not for profit. Any royalties she received were often donated toward the mission work she championed with prisoners, homeless people, immigrants and the poor. Crosby was most drawn to her denomination’s work with the marginalized and her songs spoke to social issues of the day including the temperance movement and the campaign against child labor.

Middle class women in nineteenth-century United States had little voice in worship, however. One of the only ways for a woman to claim the authority to be heard was by direct personal revelation from God. Fanny Crosby readily claimed God’s personal revelation as a source for her hymns; her personal revelation then became a communal inspiration as Christians throughout the world sang her hymns and confirmed her faith experience as their own.

So it is in honor of Fanny Crosby, and in the spirit of inclusivity, that we sing this song today.

Game Faces On!

  • February 27, 2019

Seventy people of all ages and abilities came together on February 17th for the second installment of “Food and Fun” a fun new experiment Sunday Fellowship is trying this winter. After a delicious lunch of pizza and salad, it was GAME ON with Candyland, Connect 4, Giant Uno, Legos, puzzles and more! Check out the silly and serious game faces below.

And if you missed it, don’t worry, there is one more edition of Food and Fun on March 3rd when we’ll be singing and signing to music from the Greatest Showman.