A Gathering in Worship Offered by the People of the Church of Christ, Union
Third Sunday of Lent 10:30 am
For even when we stumble, even when we take the easy way out, even when we forget our own self-worth, even when we lose our way–we belong to God.
— Rev. Sarah Speed
From There to Here: We Gather
Pastoral Call to Confession and Release
Singing Together We Are Listening, Lord
This time is Yours. We are Yours. We are listening, Lord. You are here. We are here. We are listening, Lord. You are love – You will speak. You are wise; We are weak. Lord, Your will is our will. We are listening, Lord.
Prayer for Illumination Bob and Jean Boyce, Readers
One: God of fig trees and foxes, of today and tomorrow, we would like to ask that you scoop us up. Pick us up like a great gust of wind. Startle us awake like a first love. Light a fire in us like tomorrow depends on today.
One: Do all of this to get our attention and then turn us toward you. We are a scattered people, God. The world is moving faster than we can keep up. So we pray—scoop us up. Catch our eye. Open our ears. Capture our attention. We are here. We long to be close to you. Amen.
Singing Together We Are Listening, Lord
Passing the Peace
Building the Community: News that Connects Us
Lighting the Justice Candle
Today we light the Justice Candle to honor Elena Kovalskaya, who did not remain silent as Russia invaded Ukraine. No. She resigned her position as the Artistic Director of a state-run theater in Moscow saying,” You can’t work for a killer and get paid by him”. A spokesperson for the theater released a statement praising Kovalskaya for her courage and stating that the events that are happening now are in “tragic contradiction” to the mission of the Meyerhold Theater: “respect for humanity and equality of people regardless of gender, national identity, age, religion, sexual orientation, or physical and mental characteristics.”
Hymn #292 Breathe on Me, Breath of God Trentham
1. Breathe on me, breath of God, fill me with life anew, that as you love, so I may love, and do what you would do.
2. Breathe on me, breath of God, until my heart is pure, until my will is one with yours to do and to endure.
3. Breathe on me, breath of God, fulfill my heart’s desire, until this earthly part of me glows with your heavenly fire.
4. Breathe on me, breath of God, so shall I never die, but live with you the perfect life of your eternity.
The Living Word Among Us
Hebrew Scripture Lesson Isaiah 55:1-9 Jean Boyce, Reader
Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you, because of the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon/ For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Children’s Moment Please join in singing as we bless children everywhere:
May God’s blessing guard, protect and guide you. God bless you, God bless you. Our savior’s loving arms be ever ’round you. God bless you, God bless you.
Sung Psalm 63:1-8
The psalms were originally musical compositions. During Lent we will pray the psalms in musical form with congregational responses. Please sing the response when invited:
I will bless God as long as I live.
Oh God, you are my God, I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live, I will lift up my hands and call on your name. R
My soul is satisfied with a rich feast, and my mouth praises you with joyful lips when I think of you on my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I sing for joy. My soul clings to you; your mighty hand upholds me. R
Gospel Lesson Luke 13:1-9
At that very time there were some present who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. He asked them, ‘Do you think that because these Galileans suffered in this way they were worse sinners than all other Galileans? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish as they did. Or those eighteen who were killed when the tower of Siloam fell on them—do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others living in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all perish just as they did. ’Then he told this parable: ‘A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, “See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?” He replied, “Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig round it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.” ’
Sermon You Are Worthy Rev. Kent Gilbert
Kyrie Ukrainian Orthodox Monondy of the XVth Century
Sometimes I wish I was the fig tree. No fruit here, just soaking up the sun, growing roots, turning green, stretching out my branches until I can hug the horizon. Sometimes I wish I was the fig tree, because she doesn’t produce, and she’s not exhausted, and she probably gets eight hours of sleep at night. And her branches, unlike my shoulders, are not heavy with work— pulled toward the ground, threatening to break. And her trunk, unlike my spine, is not fighting to stand tall while holding it all together. Sometimes I wish I was the fig tree because she knows what I forgot many years ago. You are still worthy even if you don’t produce. Rev. Sarah (Are) Speed
Call to Prayer and Offering
Ringing of the Peace Bell
The Union Church Peace Bell was created by Jeff Enge in honor of Union Church member Carl Eschbach (1904-1998). A twin bell hangs in Berea’s sister province in Japan and is also rung in the hope of peace for all nations.
A Chance for Generosity: www.easytithe.com/union Our gifts help sustain this particular community of caring by sustaining the building, pastors and staff, and all the materials that make our ministry of healing, justice, and teaching available to all in need. In addition, a portion of our contributions flows out to aid those in need via many external agencies.
Many friends give online, and you can use your smart phone or computer and go to www.easytithe.com/union. You don’t have to register to make a contribution, but if you do, it can make future generosity that much easier.
You can even give by text! Text to 859-448-3403 (Example: Text “$50.00 Offering”)
You can also use US mail! Mail to: 200 Prospect St., Berea, KY 40403
Your contribution is love made visible. Thank you!
Community Prayer Bob Boyce, Reader
Lord of the vineyard and lord of the fig, come to us in every barrenness. When we have no water to our roots, come to us. When no shoots of growth, or buds of abundance are in evidence, come to us. When the soil in which we have always grown is arid and sterile now, come to us and tend us, we pray, for the greening of our very soul. Lord of the labor and lord of the fruit, come to us in every blindness. Where we see only dry branches and wasted space, teach us to season the soil; send us to touch the roots with kindness. Where we see only the lack of profit or pride, send us with new eyes to perceive the power of communion. For all that grows in the fields of the Lord are worthy of care, and all who tend God’s garden come close to the Kin-dom of all. In the name of Jesus the tender of our souls, we ask this as we pray to you…
Our Lord’s Prayer
Our Maker, Our Mother and Our Father 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 sins as we forgive those who sin against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.
From Here to There
Hymn #586 Come To Tend God’s Garden King’s Weston
1. Come to tend God’s garden, seeds of hope to sow,
Planting fields of justice, watching mercy grow!
In an arid wasteland, spread a verdant health!
In a land of tumult, cultivate God’s peace!
2. As we tend God’s garden, from its furrows rise
Stems of fresh beginnings, stretching toward the skies!
Graciousness, our meadow, joyfulness, our root,
Unity, our foliage, righteousness, our fruit!
3. May God’s garden flourish, may our toil succeed,
May God bless our actions, every word and deed!
Serving Christ each season, with God’s diagram,
Charted by the Spirit, for the task at hand!
Bulletin Cover Art by Rev. Larissa Kwong Abazia
“Wait a little longer.”
“Work hard to show what you are capable of.”
As a Person of Color, I hear these comments on a regular basis. On my best days, this commentary ignites a fire to change the systems and structures that regularly oppress marginalized people. Other times I wonder, “Am I being pacified just enough to stick around?”
The first thing I want to know is why a fig tree is in the midst of a vineyard. The tree would not be of primary focus in a field cultivating grapes, apparently planted only so that no inch of the ground is squandered.
Many of us experience the world as a fig tree in the midst of grape vines. We are placed in fields not meant for us and yet expected to thrive. People discount and doubt us, threatening to cut us down if we don’t produce in the ways that have been defined on our behalf. We are afterthoughts demanded to bear fruit or be destroyed.
The story of the fig tree reminds us that the world’s expectations do not need to be ours. The gardener puts their faith in that which they have no control. Digging a bigger hole and filling it with manure, they tend to the tree with everything it needs to grow into its purpose. Perhaps this means bearing figs. Or maybe it provides shade for the laborers during the harvest, an opportunity for the gardener to tend to the fields in a new way, or transformation of the owner’s ability to see beyond the commodification of the land.
Those of us living a fig tree existence are invited to be nourished and tended to so that, in time, we grow into our purpose. People with power are reminded to disrupt their knowledge of how the world works and their complicity in earthly systems and measurements so that everyone has an opportunity to thrive. And still others provide nurture in solidarity, trusting that intentional care will lead to new life. Together, we invest in a fruitful Creation.
Words for this service were Adapted from a prayers and poetry by Rev. Sarah (Are) Speed | A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctifiedart.org. Used by Permission.
Come to Virtual Coffee Hour!! Zoom link — Join https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87387600761
Annual Meeting today at 3, via Zoom
Topic: 169th Congregational Meeting
Time: Mar 20, 2022 03:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
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Especially in Our Prayers
¨ Each week we join millions of Christians who pray for one another through the ecumenical prayer cycle and, locally, the Berea Ministerial Association’s prayer cycle. Let us hold the people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania; and our brothers and sisters at Farristown Baptist Church in our hearts, and pray for them. Please hold these concerns in your prayers, today and throughout the week.
¨ Prayers for all the people of Ukraine for their safety and sovereignty, and especially those in the city of Nikolaev where the family of former Berea International student daughter of Kevin and Carla, Yulia live. Prayers also that the government of Russia will turn to reason and respect for their own people’s lives as well as for Ukrainian families.
¨ All those feeling the oppression of depression and isolation. May God strengthen us all and build bridges to grace.
¨ All those seeking a new and just society and those fearful that they will be supplanted, may God open their hearts and include them in grace.
¨ Our church family members in nursing homes or who are homebound: Alva Peloquin, Loyal Jones, Lois Morgan, Jan Hamilton, Laura Robie, Dorie Hubbard, Betty Wray, Sally Zimmerman
¨ Families and Friends in Crises…may God be present to every need and heal every rift and wound and those who care for them.
¨ JoAnn Russell, Reda Hutton’s aunt, facing several medical challenges.
¨ Children in detention centers, that they may be reunited with their families soon.
¨ Those affected by the Covid-19 virus, their families and friends living with fear, anxiety, and feelings of isolation, may God bring peace to all who love them; and our wider community as we cope with the new realities of living, including the now over 14,200 Kentucky residents, and 254 Madison County residents, who have died to date from Covid-19.
¨ Sharona Nelson, facing a long recovery after surgery to repair a broken shoulder.
¨ Raymond Binkley, Betty Wray’s brother, aged 94, and in ill health.
¨ David & Laura Bellnier, at the death of David’s mother, Devy. David & Laura’s address is 116 McDowell Rd. Apt. 3, Lexington, KY 40502
”Barb Taylor’s daughter & son-in-law, Heather & Glenn Chapman, currently unable to leave Moldova.
¨ Important dates—if we haven’t got yours, let us know. We’ll help you get connected in FellowshipOne Go!
Birthdays: March 22 – Carla Gilbert, Jennifer Melton; 24 – Anne Vaughn, Claire Garrett’ 26 – Cron Carpenter, Don Cardwell; 27 – Judith Singleton
Anniversaries – March 24 – Steve & Teresa Gowler