Service Recording: May 10, 2020
After the service, we will have Fellowship Time in a Zoom video conference. Details for joining will be shared via email and at the end of the live stream.
The Building is Closed and the Church is Open
While we have restricted access to the building, Peace Church is very much open to ministry—working to respond to our own congregation, as well as the needs of our neighbors and community. Please consider giving either to Peace Church general fund or the Gabriel Fund – which is used to meet the needs in the community.
We recognize that in this time, people’s financial situations may have changed. We ask you to prayerfully consider what you can give. If you use electronic giving, we thank you for your constancy of support. If you would like to give through our online form, we would be grateful. For all the contributions from our members and friends—whether financial, time, or prayer—we ask God’s blessings on those gifts that Peace Church may be healing balm in this time when we are living in our own Gilead.
May 10, 2020 ~ 10:30am
Fifth Sunday of Easter
The People of Peace Church
Jim Pospisil, Music Director
Maddie Carpenter, Frost Bowen-Bailey
Nathan Holst, Faith Formation Minister
Rev. Kathryn Nelson
Ringing of the Peace Bells
God is Revealed as We Gather
Responsive Call to Worship ~ Carol Penner
And Jesus said, “Come!”
To all mothers and all children: he said, “Come!”
To the motherless and the childless: he said, “Come!”
To all who long to be mothered: he said, “Come!”
“Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy-laden,
and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and
learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart
and you will find rest for your souls.”
Opening Hymn “Bring Many Names” (#11)
Unison Prayer of Confession
Creating God who loved us into being, we your children praise you. When we fall, you lift us up, when we fail you forgive us, when we are wounded you heal us, when we grieve you weep with us, when we celebrate you laugh with us. But too often we don’t reach out to you. Help us to reach out to you at any and all times of our lives, we pray. Amen
Assurance of Pardon
Story for All Ages “Mama, Do You Love Me?”
God is Revealed in the Word
God’s Word in the Prophets: Jeremiah 31:15 and
“God Our Mother” by Allison Woodward
Special Music “Fare Thee Well” ~ Traditional performed by Leon, Maari and Miles Rohrbaugh
God’s Word in the Gospel: Matthew 7:12 and Matthew 23:37
Sermon “Waging Peace” ~ Diana Oestreich, Preemptive Love Coalition
by Diana Oestreich
Good morning, I’m really excited to be here to share with you today. It’s a little different being up here instead of piled on the couch at home in pajamas with my family worshiping on the computer. I hope you can see me okay, my sons thought I should bring a box to stand on, just to make sure I was taller than the podium.
Today we celebrate Mothers Day. And at the same time are in the middle of a country that is Mourning deeply. So many communities on the margins are being hit with losses. Our african american community is fighting for Justice grieving the loss of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25 year old black man who was murdered in broad daylight as he jogged in his own Neighborhood. His mother, Wanda Cooper Jones is celebrating her first Mother’s day with out her son today.
Our Muslim Neighbors are fasting for the month of Ramadan, and the glue that holds them together that gives them strength, breaking the fast each night in community is cancelled.
My Ojibwa friend not only lost his Aunt to Covid, but his community lost their funeral tradition of gathering and grieving for 5 days together before burying her.
This past week our Country hit a milestone, we’ve lost more Americans to the Covid-19 in the past 90 days than we lost soldiers in the entire VietNam war.
If you feel like you need to take a breath, I do. But this is exactly where Mothering begins. Mothers run towards the pain. Mothers refuse to ignore our hurt even when the grief is too loud or too much for others to accept. The act of mothering is self-sacrifice, it’s taking the weight of the loss, the pain onto our own shoulders.
In Jeremiah we see God described as not only a woman, but as a Mother.
Jeremiah 31:15 says:
“A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.
This is to what we see as God’s act of Mothering. Loud Grief. deep Mourning and fully facing the truth of the loss. God doesn’t hide from our pain or ask us to get over it and look on the bright side. God steps into our pain, and takes on our grief.
I don’t think there’s a Mother in this room who doesn’t ache to feel mothered right now.To feel cared for. I don’t think there’s a human being on the planet who isn’t desperate to have their pain Seen, and be comforted. THis is Mothering.
The positive stories I’ve seen during Covid-19 have been stories of a person reaching out and taking on another person’s needs. Mothering is Caring more for others than yourself.
Mothering is bearing witness to another’s pain. Mothering is holding hope, in the middle of the longest, darkest night.
My longest darkest night was in the middle of the Iraq war. I was 23 years old when I was called up to go to war as a combat medic. It was guerilla warfare, we never knew who the enemy was or when a soldier would get kidnapped or killed. One afternoon, I was walking through a deserted dusty village road, I heard a metallic squeak as a rusted tin door opened and a hand motioned me inside…….
For safety, soldiers always walk in pairs, but this afternoon I didn’t have the customary battle buddy beside me
Why was she inviting a lone American soldier to go behind the walls of her home?I didn’t know what to do. I remembered the three soldiers who had been kidnapped a week before. Should I trust this woman? She could be bait, luring me into an attack, where I’d be taken by the enemy hiding behind her door and never heard from again. In a split second, I knew I could either stick to the script or leave the safety of what I knew. Was I going to trust someone I didn’t already knew I was trustworthy, or was I going to play it safe?
My heart pounded. I didn’t know whether she was a suicide bomber wrapped up in a grandmotherly smile or whether my name would be read the the following morning at roll call from the list of soldiers killed. everything in my training and survival instincts screamed at me to walk away, and fast, something undeniable drew me toward her. Something bigger was challenging my wartime survival instincts. Like a burning bush I couldn’t ignore, her eyes locked on mine, and I knew I had a choice to make: to walk away or to accept the fireworks in my chest that were screaming at me not to miss this, to pay attention even if I didn’t understand it.
Her twinkling eyes dared me to believe that I had something extravagant to give instead of something priceless to protect. I could dare to love, even in the middle of a war.
This dangerous hope propelled me into the woman’s home, and I’ve never been the same. Today, seventeen years later, I know that this woman changed my life forever. She interrupted my well-worn path of self-protection with an invitation of unearned trust. Despite my uniform ,she saw me. She saw a little girl, far away from home. No amount of military might or American superpower status could disguise my humanity.
.I walked through her doorway into the unknown. She laughed and wrapped her arms around me as she pulled me through the darkened hallway into the light of her living room, lined with bright-red rugs dotted with daughters, grandchildren, and embroidered cushions. I would drink tea on her family’s rug, surrounded by her daughters and grandchildren, throughout my deployment. She reminded me I was part of the human family, even though I was far away from mine.
Om Hassan, Mothered me. She chose to trust me before she knew if I would harm her, she chose to believe that I belonged. That my life, my well being was just as important as her own. Her act of selfless love, showed me what Mothering is. It’s believing that we Belong to each other. No matter what country, or uniform we wear.
This is why Mothering doesn’t belong to one Gender, or can be contained by blood/biology or borders. We are all called to Mother right now. In our families, in our communities and also to those who Covid 19 is hitting the hardest. Refugees are some of the most vulnerable people on the planet before the global pandemic hit. Covid 19 is cutting them off from their life lines of survival.
I’d like to tell you about my refugee friend Nitchbeer who is mothering in the middle of a syrian refugee camp. I met her when I traveled back to Iraq for my work with Preemptive Love. Walking into her 10 foot by 10 foot cinder block home, I was struck by how she lit up the dark grey walls as she got her 5 year old son dressed for school in the morning. Watching her make her son laugh and at the same time asking me to try special Syrian food made me forget that we were in the middle of a Refugee camp.It reminded me of the early morning sweetness of getting my boys off to school. Life as a Refugee was hard a year ago, finding work when you are seen as outsiders in the community was next to impossible for her. But with job coaching and help from Preemptive Love she created her own business. When Covid 19 hit, the thin thread of surviving in Syrian refugee camps became non-existent.
There are three reasons why Covid 19 hitting Refugees like my friend Nitchbeer so hard:
So how do we link arms with Mothers in Syrian Refugee camps? How is Mother a community across the ocean from us?
Here are Three ways:
-Make Room. Allow their stories to take root in your experience today, become connected instead of separated by distance. Mothering means we are brave enough to Mourn with those who Mourn. Make room for their pain at your faiths table, your families table. When the media moves on, don’t. Connect their stories to your life, and don’t ever stop.
-Make their children’s needs as important as our children’s needs.
The act of Mothering is rooted in universal Care.
It’s God’s extravagant Creative, Compassionate Care of the whole family, the whole earth and everything in it.
Nothing and no one is outside of our jurisdiction to care for, to nurture until fully flourishing. Mothering is reweaving, rerooting, reconnecting ourselves to each other. Last week during a food delivery in Iraq I learned that a community used colored ribbons as a way to care for each other. If there was a green ribbon on their door it meant their family could eat one meal a day, if they had yellow ribbon tied it meant they had nothing…and no one in their house would eat that day, if there was a red ribbon it meant they hadn’t eaten anything for days.
Why would near starving people be willing to do this?
Because they Belong to each other. They’ve connected their well being to their neighbors wellbeing. Scarcity can’t scare them into isolating and hoarding what they have.
This is what mothering looks like. This is what making others needs more important than your own looks like. Refusing to take an ounce of food, if someone else needs it more.
This is what it looks like to love your neighbor as yourself.
– Make Peace.
When I say peace, depending on your age, some of you think of flowers, bell bottoms and protests or peace signs, for others who grew up in a strict religious background like myself, the only time I heard the word Peace was at christmas time when baby Jesus was announced as The Prince of Peace. And you had to wait a year to hear it again.
But what I mean when I say Make Peace isn’t either of those. I didn’t know what Peace was until I went to war. Until I waged war, I had no idea what Peace was. Now I know that waging peace is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It costs me more than waging war ever did. It’s when you take what you have, in the middle of being scared, and unsafe, and give it away not knowing if there will be enough for yourself.
This is exactly what my Iraqi Grandmother friend did, she took what she had, the safety of her family’s home and offered it to me, in the middle of a war. Trusting me even before she knew if I would harm her? Or help her?
Right now, Americans are tasting what Syrian Refugees daily experience….Wondering if there will be enough? Enough food for their children? Enough health care when they are sick? Enough jobs to keep their family afloat?
In the middle of scarcity, insecurity, economic disruption and a global pandemic, Making Peace means we sacrifice what we have. It means we break off a part of our meal, our paycheck, our families grocery money and we pass it to those who have even less.
In some religious traditions communion is called Passing the Peace. The act of taking a one loaf of bread, and breaking off a chunk and then sharing with the next person.
Will we break off a piece of our bread, pass it to our Syrian Refugee Mothers?
Will we lock arms with a mother in a Syrian Refugee camp, and say your kids eating is just as important as my kids eating today.
Preemptive Love’s goal is that no one dies of starvation during quarantine. We’ve planned for economic disruptions and new outbreaks of violence or war which always leaves communities hungry in its wake. But we never planned for the need to up in every single country we work in at exactly the same time. We need to double our monthly givers to keep up with the need.
I’m inviting 20 people to commit to giving 20 bucks a month. You don’t have to be an adult or a mother or extra special peacemaker to make a difference.
My kids are the ones who show me how to stop overthinking everything and say Yes to peacemaking by being exactly who I am. My kids love putting on Lemonade stands. Every summer they have a Lemonade stand, and happily take quarters and dollars from my unsuspecting neighbors. Last summer, after a long hot day, my son dumped his earnings into an envelope and asked me to send it to “you know, the kids in Iraq who need help”. He made room for refugee kids in the middle of doing what he loved. He made a difference taking what he had and passing it along.
Kids, maybe you earn 5 bucks a week by doing a chore for your parents. You can make a difference for kids in refugee camps by being exactly where you are. You are important to our world, and you are who we need to make it better right now.
My family gives monthly because it’s a way to show up and be the kind of friend to Refugees that I would want. It’s a way for us to practically pass the Peace. or Plant peace, expecting it to grow like the seeds we plant and water in our gardens. It means 6 months from now, a year from now. We will get to be part of the celebration with our Refugee friends because we linked arms and showed up to make sure their children were fed during covid-19. not once but every single month. What we plant, we will harvest.
The best part investing in each other is that you get a front row seat to the Celebrations. Remember my friend Nitchbeer? She sent me a message last week that said “I’d like you to meet the newest member of my family! Meet baby Furat!” In middle of covid 19 and a global pandemic, she has something to celebrate, and she invited me to join her in celebrating her new baby boy.
When we make room for others stories, and make others peoples needs as important as our own we can look forward to Celebrating together. Maybe it will be a new life, like NItchbeers three month old new baby Or a Refugee family that didn’t think they would get through quarantine without starving? But they did.
Maybe after Covid-19, we will be able to Celebrate too. Vulnerable folks, being connected and cared for in our city.
Maybe we will be able to say
Yes, we were brave enough to Mourn with those who Mourn. Continuing to say Black Lives matter until not a single beautiful life is taken from us.
Maybe we will be able to say Yes, we showed up and shared what we had with those Mothering on the margins in Syrian Refugee camps.
If we do this, we will become the Peace, that our world is aching to see. We will move from Mourning with god in Jeremiah, to celebrating what Isaiah describes in chapter 58
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
Amen + let it be so.
Hymn “Amazing Grace” (#547)
We Respond to God’s Presence
Sharing Our Prayer Concerns, Silent Prayer, Pastoral Prayer by Nathan Holst, the Lord’s Prayer (with debts) and Choral Amen
Sharing our Offerings
Offertory “The Mother” by Brandi Carlile sung by Maddie Carpenter
The Thanksgiving (Doxology)
Praise God from whom all blessings flow;
Praise God all creatures here below;
Praise God for all that love has done;
Creator, Christ and Spirit, One. Amen.
Prayer of Dedication
Closing Hymn “Now Thank We All Our God” (#419)