Summer 2021 Worship Series
Tending the New Creation
What does it mean to be a “new creation?” We all yearn for renewal—as individuals and as a congregation—but are we willing to pursue it? How is our own personal renewal connected to “new creation” in others, in our communities and in the world itself? In coming out of our pandemic cocoons, how will we resist the urge to run back to all of our old ways of living? “Tending” means to lean in the direction of something: to “attend” to something is to nurture it, grow it, build it, pay “attention!” So this is what we will do on the eight-week journey toward the new creation Christ in-tends for us!
This series is adapted from material © Worship Design Studio. Scripture selections are based on Revised Common Lectionary Readings, Year B (with a few adaptations) starting the Sunday after Pentecost.
May 30: Re-Creating the Sabbath
As we begin the summer, we will look to what Jesus taught about keeping the Sabbath. In order to tend a new creation within us, we focus less on rules, and more about what gives us life and light as a way of “Sabbath- making!” This, then is the way we are refreshed and renewed so that the light of Christ can be reignited and shine within us. We have spent a lot of time isolated over the past year. How can we interact with others in ways that are life-giving and not life-draining? What practices of Sabbath will we engage in this summer that will refresh our spirits?
Scripture: Mark 2:23-38
One Sabbath day Jesus took a walk through the grain fields, and the disciples began to pick ears of grain as they went along. The Pharisees said to Jesus, “Look, why are they doing something on the Sabbath day that is forbidden?”
And Jesus replied, “Did you never read what David did in his time of need when he and his followers were hungry—how David went into the house of God when Abiathar was high priest and ate the loaves of offering, which only the priests are allowed to eat, and how he also gave some to those with him?”
Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. That is why the Chosen One is ruler even of the Sabbath.”
June 6: Expanding Kinship
Tending a new creation may involve the creation or expansion of our concepts of “family.” In the scripture, Jesus confirms that kinship in God’s commonwealth can go beyond bloodlines. We can re-create family in so many ways, whether we grew up with a family of origin that offered us support or did not. Who are our kin? All those who seek to live together in love!
Scripture: Mark 3:31-35
Jesus’s mother and brothers arrived and sent in a message asking for him. A crowd was sitting around Jesus, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you.” Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who is my family?” And looking around at everyone there, Jesus said, “This is my family! Anyone who does what is pleasing to God, that person is my sister, my brother, my mother.”
June 13: Living in the Open
The poet Mary Oliver asks in one of her works, “what are you going to do with your one wild, precious life?” The apostle Paul is trying to spread the good news of new life in Christ but new Christian communities like the one at Corinth frustrate him with their petty feuds and small thinking. “Open yourselves!” is the message here. What do you tend and nurture? Fear or hope? One leaves us small, the other offers us expansive possibilities!
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:1-13
As Christ’s coworkers we beg you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For God says through Isaiah, “At the acceptable time I heard you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Now is the acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!
We take pains to avoid giving offense to anyone, for we don’t want our ministry to be blamed. Instead, in all that we do we try to present ourselves as ministers of God, acting with patient endurance amid trials, difficulties, distresses, beatings, imprisonments, and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights, and hunger. We conduct ourselves with innocence, knowledge, patience, and kindness in the Holy Spirit, in sincere love, with the message of truth and the power of God, wielding the weapons of justice with both right hand and left—regardless of whether we are honored or dishonored, spoken of favorably or unfavorably.
We are called deceivers yet we speak the truth; we are called unknowns, yet people know who we are; we are said to be dying, yet we are alive; punished, but not put to death; sorrowful, though we are always rejoicing; poor, yet we enrich many. We seem to have nothing, yet we possess everything!
We have spoken to you frankly, Corinthians; we’ve opened our hearts wide to you. We’re not holding anything back; you, on the other hand, are holding back your affection from us. It would be a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—if you’d open your hearts as widely to us as we do to you.
June 20: Planting with Care
Every little thing we do with compassion is a small seed that can sprout into good things beyond our imagining. Like “paying it forward” or “random acts of kindness,” we can tend a new creation with a small droplet that ripples out in ever-larger circles of caring relationships. With intention, we can make “random” acts of kindness not so random! Can you think of small acts of compassion that changed your life? God is working through others and through you!
Scripture: Mark 4:26-34
Jesus said further, “The commonwealth of God is like this: a sower scatters seed on the ground, then goes to bed at night and gets up day after day. Through it all the seed sprouts and grows without the sower knowing how it happens. The soil produces a crop by itself—first the blade, then the ear, and finally the ripe wheat in the ear. When the crop is ready, the sower wields the sickle, for the time is ripe for harvest.”
Jesus went on to say, “What comparison can we use for the commonwealth of God? What image will help to present it? It is like a mustard seed which people plant in the soil: it is the smallest of all the earth’s seeds, yet once it is sown, it springs up to become the largest of shrubs, with branches big enough for the birds of the sky to build nests in its shade.”
Using many parables like these, Jesus spoke the message to them, as much as they could understand. Everything was spoken in parables, but Jesus explained everything to the disciples later when they were alone.
June 27: Healing Old Wounds
When we tend to our relationship with God, we connect with the power of new life and healing. Sometimes there are wounds that have remained with us over the years and we continue to “bleed” even though we think ignoring them will make them go away. Jesus says to the woman in our scripture story for this week that her faith has healed her. Are willing to move confidently toward Jesus, knowing his very presence in our lives can end the pain that we’ve carried around for a long time?
Scripture: Mark 5:25-34
Now there was a woman who had suffered from hemorrhages for twelve years, after long and painful treatment from various doctors, she had spent all she had without getting better—in fact, she was getting worse. She had heard about Jesus, and she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. She had told herself, “If I can even touch the hem, I will be well again.” Immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her affliction.
Immediately aware that healing power had gone out from him, Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?”
The disciples said, “You see how the crowd is pressing you and yet you say, 'Who touched me?’”
But Jesus continued to look around to see who had done it. Then the woman come forward, frightened and trembling because she knew what had happened to her, and she fell at Jesus’s feet and told him the whole truth.
“My daughter,” Jesus said, “your faith has saved you; go in peace and be free of your affliction.”
July 4: Sharing the New Creation
As disciples of Jesus, we are called to believe that living a new way is possible, and also to share that good news with others. Not all of us are called or equipped to preach, heal or cast out demons in the biblical sense! But by our very attempts to live in peace and wholeness, we can live a life of example and witness to others. We don’t have to wait until we are perfect to do this... certainly the disciples had questions and doubts until the very end of Jesus’ ministry. But he sent them anyway and lives were changed.
Scripture: Mark 6:1-13
After leaving there, Jesus came into his own town, followed by the disciples.
When the Sabbath came, he began to teach in the synagogue, and the many listeners were astonished and said, “Where did he learn all this? What is this wisdom that has been granted, and these miracles that are performed by his hands? Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James and Joses and Judah and Simon? Are not his siters here with us?” They found these things to be stumbling blocks.
Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor, except in their hometowns and among their own relatives and in their own households.” And he could work no miracles there, apart from laying his hands upon a few sick people and healing them; their lack of faith astounded him. He made the rounds of the neighboring villages instead, and spent the time teaching.
Then Jesus summoned the Twelve and began to send them out in pairs, giving them authority over unclean spirits. He instructed them that they should take nothing for their journey, except a mere staff—no bread, no bag, no money in their belts. They were to wear sandals but, he added, “Do not take a spare tunic.”
And Jesus said to them, “Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave town. Any place that does not receive you or listen to you, as you leave it, shake off the dust from the soles of your feet as a testimony against them.”
And so they set off, proclaiming repentance as they went. They cast out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
July 11: God’s Economy
Living in a time of economic insecurity can contribute to our yearning for a different way of doing things. Dishonesty breeds mistrust in a world where debts are rarely forgiven. But if we tend God’s economy, grace overflows. As the Common English Bible translation says, we have a “down payment on our inheritance” through the Holy Spirit, applied toward our transformation. What would it mean to really live in the trust that we are forgiven, that even now God is transforming us through love... and there is plenty to go around!
Scripture: Ephesians 1:11-14
In Christ we have been given a promise from God for the future. God had already planned this from the beginning, and God is the one who decides these things, after all.
We were the first to have hope in Christ. And we were chosen so that we would bring praise to God and all God’ glory. It is the same with you. You heard the true message, the Good News about God’s saving grace. When you heard that Good News and had faith in Christ, God put a special mark on you by giving you the Holy Spirit that was promised. The Spirit is the first payment on that promise from God. That payment of the Spirit is so that we can live into who we are called to be as God’s people, to the praise of God’s glory.
July 18: Creating a New World
Our final service of this series offers the vision of the New Creation—a world where we are no longer strangers or aliens because of our differences. It doesn’t matter whether you’ve been a Christian all your life or if you are unsure about your path, we are all part of the house that God is building and the reconciling love of Jesus Christ is the cornerstone, the one that anchors and structures the whole thing. Let us tend to building this house, this new creation, together!
Scripture: Ephesians 2:11-22
But don’t take any of this for granted. It was only yesterday that you outsiders to God’s ways had no idea of any of this, didn’t know the first thing about the way God works, hadn’t the faintest idea of Christ. You knew nothing of that rich history of God’s covenants and promises in Israel, hadn’t a clue about what God was doing in the world at large. Now because of Christ—dying that death, shedding that blood—you who were once out of it altogether are in on everything.
Christ has made things up between us so that we’re now together on this, both non-Jewish outsiders and Jewish insiders. Christ tore down the wall we used to keep each other at a distance. Christ repealed the law code that had become so clogged with fine print and footnotes that it hindered more than it helped. Instead of continuing with two groups of people separated by centuries of animosity and suspicion, Christ created a new kind of human being, a fresh start for everybody. . . . Christ came and preached peace to you outsiders and peace to us insiders. Christ treated us as equals, and so made us equals. And so we both share the one Spirit and one God.
That’s plain enough, isn’t it? You’re no longer wandering exiles. This commonwealth of faith is now your home country. You’re no longer strangers or outsiders. You belong here, with as much right to the name Christian as anyone. God is building a home, using us all—irrespective of how we got here—in this new building. The apostles and prophets are the foundation. Now you’re part of it too, fitting you in one by one, brick by brick, stone by stone, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone that holds all the parts together. We see it taking shape day after day—a holy temple built by God, all of us built into it, a temple in which God is quite at home.