Dare to Prepare – Past Services

Dare to Prepare November 27, 2022

This week’s theme is “The Promise of Peace”.

The scripture comes from Isaiah. The Old Testament reading from Isaiah focuses our attention on the promise of God’s reign. The reading helps us prepare for Christmas and encourages us to enter the new year with hope—rededicated to the peace of Christ. Isaiah 2:1-5 can be found here.

Central Ideas and Questions to Consider adapted from the CofChrist World Church Resources:

Central Ideas

  1. God is in control of the future. It is God who will teach, judge, and eventually bring peace, justice, and reconciliation.
  2. That does not mean we should be idle. We must take the steps needed to begin trans- forming this world into the future reign of God.
  3. Try to rekindle your hope for God’s peace and justice and be part of the solution, not the problem.

Questions for the Speaker

  1. Have you ever turned harmless tools of life (money, words, beliefs, knowledge, etc.) into weapons of conflict?
  2. Have you ever found yourself judging others? What steps can you take to avoid such judgments?
  3. As Christmas approaches, think about how you can be an ambassador for peace and justice?

Please pray for presider of your service, your speaker and all others who will participate this week.

The song this week was written by Rick Lindgren and sung by Sherry Lindgren.  It is audio only this week, so close your eyes and meditation on the “Promise of Peace”.

“Peace in Bethlehem” by Richard Lindgren

Dare to Prepare November 20, 2022

This week’s theme is “Christ the King: Witness the Suffering Servant”.

The scripture comes from Luke and tells the part of the gospel story where Jesus is hung on the cross between two thieves and taunted to “save himself.  Luke 23:33-43 can be read here.

Central Ideas and Questions to Consider adapted from the CofChrist World Church Resources:

Central Ideas

  1.  Forgiveness is central to God’s reconciling love for humankind.
  2.  Jesus’ death occurred among the oppressed and marginalized, just like his birth and his     earthly life.
  3.  Christ’s mission, through compassion extended to all, transforms lives.

Questions to Consider

  1.  When have you felt forgiven? How does this scripture expand your understanding of   forgiveness?
  2.  Who is worthy of Christ’s compassion? Has there ever been a time when you did not feel   worthy?
  3.  What possibilities do you see for the compassion of Christ to be transformational in today’s   world?
  4.  How did Jesus’ display of love and forgiveness on the cross reshape the prevailing view of   God? How did it impact you?

In reference to guilty one who hung on the cross next to Jesus, who actually committed the crime for which he was being punished and who received no condemnation from Jesus, hymn 214 in Community of Christ Sings addresses this nicely:

“The weight of past and fruitless guilt God lifts from us with loving grace. Deep prayer, persistent faith unite, God’s great compassion to embrace.

A buoyant freedom from despair through love renews our eyes to see those desperate, hopeless friends in need who seek the grace that makes us free.

The gift of pardon gives us strength to grow from seed to fruit and flower. We pledge our hearts to channel love into God’s stream of healing power.”

Please pray for presider of your service, your speaker and all others who will participate this week.

The song this goes way back to the 1970’s. But when I started my preparations for this week it was the song that immediately came to mind as fitting into the story perfectly. There is no actual video this week so just meditate on the words of forgiveness:

“Forgiveness from Jesus”, by Children of the Light.

Dare to Prepare November 13, 2022

This week’s World Church theme is “Prepare for a New Creation”.

The scripture comes from Isaiah 65:17-25 and can be found here:

From CofChrist World Church Resources:

Today’s text presents creation’s restoration in a powerful poetic summary of transformation in an age to come. Verse 17 begins with a vision of “new heavens and a new earth.” All the old things are forgotten. The people should not mourn the passing of the old but rejoice and be glad.

God will celebrate with them, and there will be no mourning or weeping. Infant mortality will end, and people will live long and productive lives. They will live in the houses they build. They will plant and harvest for themselves, not for unjust kings or overlords. They will eat their own fruit and “enjoy the work of their hands” (v. 22). To a people who have experienced centuries of conquest, exile, and oppression, this was comfort indeed! They and their offspring will be blessed; and they will know God and be known. Even before they call on God, God will answer!

The vision shifts in verse 25 to the whole created order. The wolf and lamb will eat together, and the lion will have a vegetarian diet. All will be at peace, and violence will end. God’s promise is for “my holy mountain,” but since God’s holy mountain was considered the center of the created world, the implication is an extension of that peace and non-violence to all the earth.

From Ministry Matters:

“Have you heard?
Something new is coming,
a different world than the one we know.
And we’re the ones to help make it happen!
Let us gather together,
to support and encourage one another
and to praise God—
for new visions, for hope,
for new beginnings, and for new possibilities.”

Please pray for presider of your service, your speaker and all others who will participate this week.

The song this week is a little long, but trust me, it is worth every visual and audio and spiritual second. It will comfort you and bring you peace and prepare you to come into the sanctuary and listen to the words about hope for a new creation. (Once you start the video, you’re going to want to click on the little box in the lower right corner to get a full-screen video)

Song of the Wanderer by Dan Forrest and Johanna Anderson

Dare to Prepare November 6, 2022
This week at the Bradenton/Sarasota congregation we are using the theme “Action Brings Blessings”. The World Church theme is, “Have Courage” and is based on Haggai 1:15b-2:9. At a high-level the two themes can be perceived as somewhat similar, in that many times, we must muster up the courage to take action, and we develop strength through the faith that God is with us and will bless us.This week rather than focus on the Haggai scripture, here is a selection of scriptures that tie together both themes:

  • 1 John 3:18 Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
  • 1 Peter 1:13 Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
  • 2 Timothy 1:7 For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
  • 1 Timothy 6:18-19 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.
  • Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Here is a question to consider, keeping in mind that Sunday is communion in most congregations as well.

What action do you need to take today that will lead to blessing tomorrow?

Please pray for presider of your service, your speaker and all others who will participate this week.

The song selection this week is again from Kathy Troccoli and is called “I Will Choose Christ”. It fits both themes quite nicely:

Dare to Prepare October 30, 2022This week at the Bradenton/Sarasota congregation we are using the theme “Let Your Light Shine”. What we are doing is so different from the World Church resources for the wider theme of “Write the Vision” that I am only going to focus on the light theme and hope that those of you who are worshipping in other congregations this week will find it meaningful in your preparations.In Bradenton/Sarasota we have had almost no children attending regularly since we came out of the pandemic lockdown and there are several reasons for that. There are special Sundays when we’ve been able to attract a few to come out and join us and we’re coming up to one of those Sundays.On the last Sunday in October, we have ”Trunk or Treat” after church in the parking lot. We have pizza and activities and decorate cookies while some in the congregation decorates the trunks of their cars and put out baskets of candy or other treats for the children to come by and share with them. All of the children dress up and many of the adults do as well.Those planning the service, including Carolyn Deering, Jim Deering and Nancy Skene want  the service to be fun, uplifting, and joyful. And they want a welcoming light to emanate from the congregation to the children so that they feel the love of Christ through us.“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NIV)Please pray for presider, Carolyn Deering and all who will participate including several children, so that the love of Christ will shine through.The song selection this week is from Kathy Troccoli and is called “Go Light Your World”. I hope it has value for your preparation no matter what congregation you worship in this Sunday. It can be found here:

Dare to Prepare October 23, 2022Theme this week is “Rain Down” based on Joel 2:23-32. A version of the scripture reference can be found here.Thoughts Adapted from the World Church Resources for October 23rd:References and evidence within the Book of Joel suggest the prophet probably lived during the time after the return of the Jewish exiles to Jerusalem from Babylon. Joel may have been a “cultic prophet,” who worked with the priests in the temple after it was completed. He appears to be involved in the worship life of Jerusalem, and his voice rings with authority when he encourages the people to repent, fast, and worship.In Chapter 1 and the start of Chapter 2, we learn a plague of locusts devoured the crops in Judah, causing hunger for both people and animals. Joel refers to the locusts as an army, destroying the land, in punishment for the sins of the Jews. He begs the people to gather to worship God, pray for relief from the plague of locusts, and repent of their sins.Today’s scripture passage begins with a word of hope. The people listened to Joel’s instructions, and repented. God heard their prayers and saw the devastation caused by the locusts.In response, God sent the rainfall early, to restore the land so crops will grow once again. People will enjoy plenty of grain, wine, and oil. They will eat in plenty. Because of God’s blessings and bounty, the people will worship and praise God. They will know that God is with them. The covenant, which was broken by the people, will be re-established and God will be in their midst. Furthermore, the restoration of their fortunes will be proof there is no god but the Lord.Ideas to ConsiderThe questions to consider this week seemed a little simplistic and a little obvious, such as “What is the modern-day equivalent of a plague of locusts?” It kind of felt like well, duh!?!? after everything we’ve all been through in the last 2-plus years. A more positive consideration would be to remind ourselves that no matter what we are going through individually, collectively as a congregation, collectively as a community a country or a world, God’s children have throughout history suffered similarly or worse. Moving closer in relationship with each other and the Lord makes all things easier to endure and brings blessings in abundance.

This week’s song is “Without Music” by Carolyn Arends. The song reminds us what a great gift from God music is. It has the ability to give us feelings of hope, heal our soul and bring us peace and joy in the worst of circumstances.

Dare to Prepare October 16, 2022Theme this week is “Written On Our Hearts” based on Jeremiah 31:27-34. A version of the scripture reference can be found here.In the Bradenton/Sarasota congregation, we’ll be having the annual business meeting with election of officers and budget approval for 2023, so we decided our 11:00am worship service would be recommitment service with the theme “Recommit to our Discipleship”.  As you prepare for this Sunday, please prepare for and pray for the business meeting as well as the worship service.The adapted Central Ideas and Questions to Consider are appropriate for either theme:Central Ideas

  1. Jeremiah’s theology centered around the Mosaic covenant and his attempt to call the people to accountability for breaking their promises to God.
  2. God promised to write a new covenant on their hearts, which would cause them to consistently yearn to be faithful.
  3. The people would know God intimately in a relationship that arises naturally from deep inside. God will forgive and forget their sins.

Questions to Consider

  1. We often refer to Jesus Christ as the bringer of the new covenant. Is this the covenant that is “written on our hearts”? Does it cause us to yearn to be faithful?
  2. How intimately do you feel you know God?

Generosity Cycle

Starting on the 16th of October for six Sundays, the World Church would like us to focus additional attention on The Disciples Generous response through what they are calling the Generosity Cycle. Click here to view an introductory video to watch since no matter which congregation you attend, they may be using it.

To Summarize, the traditional covenant language affirms the relationship between humans and God: “I will be their God and they shall be my people” (v. 33). There will be no need to teach one another about God, for they will know God directly, in an intimate, cherished relationship that arises naturally from deep inside. God will forgive their sins and forget their past misdeeds. What a powerful message of hope, forgiveness, and Divine love!

The song this week is a medley by Amy Grant that pulls in ideas from both themes and includes “Jesus Loves Me/They’ll Know We Are Christians/Helping Hand”

Dare to Prepare October 9, 2022

Theme this week is “Seek the Welfare of the City”

The scripture reference is Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7, and is based on a letter that the prophet Jeremiah sent from Jerusalem to the remaining elders among the exiles and to the priests, the prophets, and all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had taken into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon. The scripture can be found here:

Adapted from the World Church Worship Resources are the following Central Ideas and Questions to Consider:

Central Ideas

  1. Jeremiah’s letter was sent to counter false predictions of a quick return to Judah.
  2. He told the exiles to build new lives, marry, and have children, to ensure the continuity of God’s people.
  3. Seeking the welfare of Babylon and praying for their captors is consistent with Christ’s teachings: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.”
  4. Jeremiah saw the Babylonians as God’s instruments in punishing the Jews. By submitting to their captors, the exiles were submitting to the will of God.

Questions to Consider

  1. How does the advice to “seek the welfare of the city” (v. 7) suggest the idea of Christians as sojourners (temporary residents, journeying towards God’s kingdom)?
  2. Read Jeremiah 29:7 about “seeking the welfare of the city,” and then read Doctrine and Covenants 163:4a. What similarities are there between these two sacred texts?
    D&C 163:4a. God, the Eternal Creator, weeps for the poor, displaced, mistreated, and diseased of the world because of their unnecessary suffering.
  3. Compare Jeremiah’s counsel to build communities in Babylon with the moment in Community of Christ history when Joseph Smith III advised the scattered church members to create lives as disciples where they already were settled. (See pages 122–124 in The Journey of a People: The Era of Reorganization, 1844 to 1946, by Mark Scherer, published by Community of Christ Seminary Press.)

The song this week helps pull all of the thoughts together, because we should be realizing that God knows where we are and can always find us no matter what our location and circumstances.

Casting Crowns “God of All My Days”

Dare to Prepare for October 2, 2022

The Theme this week is ”Si tuvieras fe/If You Only Had Faith”

The focal Scripture is from Luke 17:5-10 and a version of the scripture can be found here:

Central Ideas from the World Church Worship Resources

  1. The demands of discipleship can be difficult.
  2. As disciples, we already have faith. Let’s use it!
  3. With faith it is possible to live into a new way of being in relationship with one another in the peaceable kingdom of God.
  4. As disciples we belong to God—all of our time, energy, and possessions.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are some discipleship expectations that are hard to live up to?
  2. In what ways can you exercise the faith you already have?
  3. What ideas seem impossible and improbable that would further Christ’s mission?
  4. What “prophetic imagination” is God creating in you?
  5. How can the reign of God become a reality in your community?
  6. If we belong to God, what does it mean to live a life of generosity?

The song this week is Kathy Troccoli’s “My Life Is In Your Hands” and it talks about how life can be hard, but we always have hope as long as we are willing to have the faith to put our lives in God’s hands.

Dare to Prepare September 25, 2022

The theme this week is “A Word of Hope”

Scripture Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15 and can be found here.

Central Ideas from the World Church Resources

  1. With the final siege of Jerusalem, Jeremiah’s message changes from judgment to hope.
  2. Jeremiah arranged to buy his cousin’s land legally, despite the imminent fall of Jerusalem.
  3. Every detail of the transaction was meticulously recorded and preserved for posterity, according to the law.
  4. The symbolic action was a promise that even though Jerusalem and Judah would fall, there would come a time when the Jews would return and once more buy and sell land. They had a future to look forward to.

Questions to Ponder

  1. If your world were threatened by complete destruction, what would you do as a symbolic action of hope?
  2. How can you live radical hope in your daily life amid the brokenness of the world?
  3. How is God truly the God of history? Where do you see the promise of God’s grace and forgiveness taking shape in unfolding historical events in the world today?

The song this week is “Thy Word” sung by Amy Grant which has always been a song about hope which says that no matter what we may be facing, God has made promises that we can count on:

Dare to Prepare for September 18, 2022

Theme: Practice Faithful Stewardship

Scripture: Luke 16:1-13

The scripture can be problematic depending on how we interpret the action of the manager and the master’s reaction to it. This could be due partly to the negative connotations we put on the word “shrewd” but a couple of synonyms to shrewd are “clever” and “discerning,” which when substituted for shrewd cast a different light on the exchange.

From the Community of Christ World Church Resources, here are some central ideas and questions to ponder prior to the message.

Central Ideas

  1. It requires resourcefulness to manage what God has entrusted to us.
  2. God’s grace is available to all who respond to the call to life as a disciple. The master in the parable was graceful and forgiving.
  3. Disciples of Jesus Christ are to be faithful in mission whether they deal with small or vast resources.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are your impressions of the actions of the manager and of the master?
  2. Why is it important to be shrewd in managing the resources placed in our trust?
  3. This text might be uncharacteristic of your impressions of a loving and generous God. How do you make sense of that in terms of the message to the wealthy?
  4. What do the wealthy and those with less have to teach each other? How might this happen in congregational life?

The song choice today is a little different. It’s a cover of the Bob Dylan hit from his Christian themed album Slow Train Coming. There are a few Christian tunes out there that allude to the message of this week but this song really brings home the message that no matter where we come from, our educational or career choices, our interests or hobbies, we all have the same choice to make. It’s very direct and to the point. This version is one of the early musical Zoom collaborations of a band and is done very well. It’s on the long side so you may not make it all the through, but it makes the point early on.

Dare to Prepare for September 11, 2022

The theme this Sunday is “Rejoice! The Lost is Found” and is based on the Parable of the Lost Sheep. The scripture reference is Luke 15:1-10 and can be found here:

Central Ideas adapted from the Community of Christ Worship Resources:

  1. Jesus teaches by deed and words that his message of God’s kingdom is for all people and all are welcome at his table.
  2. Our effort to bring those who are separated from God back into relationship with Him is part of the work to which we have been called.
  3. Seeking and finding the lost is a joyous occasion worth celebrating.

Questions to Consider

  1. What are the parallels between the two parables in today’s text?
  2. Why did the shepherd risk the entire flock to find a solitary animal? What does that mean for us today as we engage in Christ’s mission?
  3. When have you been “lost”? How did it feel to be found?

The song this week is a favorite written and sung by Brian Duncan. Our scripture for today is one of the scriptural bases for the lyrics, so it sets the mood for preparing for this week’s message.

“A Heart Like Mine” by Brian Duncan

Dare to Prepare for September 4, 2022

Theme “Have No Fear”

Wayne Talcott was scheduled to speak on Communion Sunday in August and then ended up not feeling well so we had to postpone. But he liked the scripture reference, especially the first part of it, and after we talked about it we decided – why not? We’ll just push the scripture forward and focus on that first part using the theme “Have No Fear.” It’s been a month, but you can refresh yourself in preparation by reviewing the scripture here (I used a different version this month just for a little change in flavor)

Scripture LUKE 12:32–40

Last month when we used this scripture reference, we focused on the part that refers to “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” This month, Wayne really wants to focus on the part that assures us that God doesn’t want us to be riddled with and paralyzed by fear.

For those of you who are worshiping in other congregations throughout the church this Sunday, I hope this scripture gives you focus and comfort and spiritual preparedness even though the message you receive may be from Jeremiah and based on the idea that a potter can take clay from a ruined vessel and reshape one that is new and useful.

We will all, no matter where we worship, partake in communion, and focus on “taking in remembrance.” We believe that we don’t participate in this exercise because we fear God, but because we want to have a closer relationship which can be achieved by examining our choices and our behaviors and reconciling with God. Reconciling is a healing and joyful experience, not a fearful and anxious one.

This week’s song was written by Rick Lindgren was recorded by Rick and Sherry decades ago. I happened across it a couple of weeks ago under stressful circumstances and it struck a chord with me differently than it had in the past. No matter how much of life we live or how many times we learn the same lesson we don’t seem to be able to eradicate all fear and anxiety from our lives. And each time we are reminded that we should have no fear, we’re in a new set of circumstances we have not experienced before. I think it’s called being human and I think this song really helps set a mood of peace and calm. I hope it helps you spiritually prepare to receive the message and communion on Sunday.

The title of the song comes from the German theologian Adolf Harnack, who wrote, “The assurance that God rules is to go as far as our fears go, nay as far as life itself.”

“As Far as Your Fears Go” by Rick Lindgren, sung by Sherry and Rick Lindgren.

Dare to Prepare for August 28, 2022

The theme for this Sunday is “Humble Yourself” based on Luke 14: 1, 7-14. A version of the scripture reference can be found Here.

Based on the World Church Resources, the paraphrased central ideas of the message and questions we should consider in our preparation are as follows:

Central Ideas

  1. Servanthood is expressed humbly.
  2. We should extend hospitality and ministry to all.
  3. Ministry is about the “other.”
  4. Allowing others to share their gifts is an important facet of our ministry.

Questions to Consider

  1. How can each of us practice humble servanthood in our congregations and community?
  2. How can your ministry be more about the “other”?
  3. When have you allowed another to share generously his or her gifts with you?
  4. How does your life reflect God’s love and grace?

The song this week is one we all know and have heard hundreds of times. But this particular visual arrangement gives us glimpses into scenarios of everyday people doing extraordinary things, humbly. May it serve as a reminder that that simple things mean a lot to the person who receives the gift.

“Make Me A Servant” sung by the Maranatha Singers.

Dare to Prepare for August 21, 2022

“Listen for the Prophetic Call”
Scripture: Jeremiah 1:4-10

Central Ideas from the World Church resources:

  1. God introduced the call to Jeremiah when he was young and inexperienced.
  2. Jeremiah’s reluctance was proof of his openness and understanding of the challenging call he received.
  3. God promised to give Jeremiah the prophetic words to utter. God would be with him to deliver and help him.

Questions to consider:

  1. What experience or testimony convinced you that God knows you intimately and calls you personally?
  2. Do you believe only the person who refuses or objects to God’s call is qualified to carry it out? Why or why not?
  3. When have you felt the Spirit prompting you to undertake a specific task or mission? How did you respond?

The scripture reference informs us that God may call us at any time and at any age whether we feel prepared, skilled, or experienced. All he asks is that we heed that call and have faith that He will give us what we need to fulfill his request.

The song this week is on the upbeat side but if you read/listen to the lyrics they are perfect for the theme, the scripture and for preparation for this Sunday’s worship.

“Heed the Call” performed by the Common Bond.

Dare to Prepare for August 14, 2022

Theme: “Jesus Brings Holy Disruption”

In preparation for the service this Sunday, you will find the primary support scripture for the theme here: Luke 12:49-56

Central Ideas from the World Church Resources

  1. Following Jesus can be controversial and divisive. Even as we dedicate ourselves to the pursuit of peace, we are aware that pursuing such a worthy cause is often met with opposition.
  2. We are daily asked to consider “what matters most” and how our answer affects our lives.
  3. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ includes making a choice for Christ’s mission as our highest standard and governance. Disciples are asked to risk it all for the sake of the gospel, even when such choices are difficult and heartbreaking.

Questions to Consider

  1. When has your journey with Jesus been difficult?
  2. What does it mean to be willing to risk for the sake of the gospel’s joy, hope, love, and peace?
  3. When has the pursuit of peace caused upheaval in your congregation?
  4. What are ways you find helpful to focus on that which matters most? How have you nurtured these disciplines amid struggle?
  5. How has your baptism—your immersion into the mission of Christ—changed your life and your relationships?

The bottom line is, if you or I choose to serve Christ, humbly and willingly, above all else, putting Him first, it can put us at odds with others including our own family, our friends, our boss. This inspirational song by Kathy Troccoli encapsulates this summary thought in a beautiful melody and poignant lyrics. Meditate on them as you prepare for this week’s service.

I Will Choose Christ – Kathy Troccoli

Dare to Prepare for August 7, 2022

Theme “Where is Your Heart?”

Last week, in preparing for the service themed “Be Rich Toward God,” we alluded to the opening verses to this week’s scripture with the phase “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

You can explore the full scripture for this week here: LUKE 12:32–40

Taken from the World Church Resources for this week, the central ideas to keep in mind are:

  1. When our hearts and attention focus on God, we can respond generously to the needs of others for the sake of the kingdom.
  2. Being a disciple includes intentional preparation for active service.
  3. We need to be on guard, so distractions, weariness, or delays do not deter us from focusing on what matters most—advancing God’s reign on Earth.

Questions to Consider:

  1. How does living as a disciple help you focus on what matters most?
  2. What is it you struggle with that might distract you from God’s love and Christ’s mission?
  3. What spiritual disciplines help you grow your trust in God, prepare for service, and live into the reality of God’s reign?
  4. How is this passage inviting us to grow in generosity?
  5. Have you ever missed something important because you were distracted or tired? How did it feel when you found out after? How did your behavior patterns change because of this experience?

This week’s song follows on perfectly from last week’s and addresses the first part of the scripture very directly. It’s also written and sung by the same artist as last week. We have arrangements of this song that are much better quality than you’ll see here. I selected this old fuzzy clip intentionally. During this live concert Gary Chapman sang his song “Treasure” with such raw emotion and connection that you can’t help but get the message, and ask yourself, “Where is my heart?”

Dare to Prepare for July 31, 2022

The Theme this week is “Be Rich Toward God” and it can be summed up in a line familiar to most of us.

“Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

To spend time with the main scripture for the week from Luke, known as “The Parable of the Rich Fool”,  click here: Luke 12:13-21

Central Ideas of this scripture and its message:

  1. Material wealth is not negative. It is the choice to aspire to wealth and hold onto it for our own wishes that distracts us from attending to the heart of God and the fullness of life.
  2. Our values and attitudes about what matters most are revealed in the choices we make about possessions and material wealth.
  3. God cares that we value and aspire to spiritual treasure.

(Taken from the World Church Resources for July 31, 2022)

Questions to ponder after considering the scripture:

  1. Have you ever felt possessed by your possessions? What does this take away from in time and focus? How did it affect your choices?
  2. How does the culture around us define our values about material wealth?
  3. Do you ever hoard things that would keep you from seeking what is rich in the eyes of God?
  4. What needs to happen in your life to work toward what matters most to the heart of Christ and Christ’s mission?
  5. How can material wealth be “re-visioned” as blessing to be shared in harmony with the Giver of all blessings?

The song chosen this week builds upon the theme for last week “Teach Us to Pray”, while addressing spiritually, the theme for this week. Sometimes when it seems like we never have enough “things”, we’re trying to fill an emptiness, an aching, a craving for something missing – something more.

This song, “Man After My Own Heart” by Gary Chapman is a cry to the Lord to fill that emptiness with love, mercy, grace, healing and closeness in relationship rather than things.

Dare to Prepare for July 24, 2022

“Teach Us to Pray”

The scripture focus this week includes what we’ve come to call “The Lord’s Prayer” which appears to be all encompassing until we find ourselves in profound stress or distress or grief. The Lord’s Prayer is absolute perfection as an example of a regular communication with God under the normal day-to-day ins and outs of life and can be found here: Luke 1-13

But this week, as we prepare for Sunday’s service, what is on so many of our minds is not only our normal day-to-day issues, but also the crises going on in our country and the world and the most immediate crises that Len and Peggy Young and their extended family are experiencing. Not only do many of us know Len and Peggy very well, but so many of their family members touch our congregation and congregations around the world. They are on our minds, in our hearts and in our prayers. Sometimes the pain just puts us in a position where we are at a loss for words.

So, the focus this week is to assist with that — to give us the words when our hearts and minds run out. I found a prayer online that helped me, and two songs that I listen to often when I need comfort and hope in times of extreme stress and concern. I hope they speak to you and stimulate your mind to give you strength and help you find the words to keep praying those mighty prayers for healing, peace and protection for Len and his family.

A Prayer in a Time of Distress

Almighty and everlasting God, You are strength to those who suffer and comfort to those who grieve. Let the prayers of your children who are in trouble rise to you.

Hear our prayer.

We claim your promises of wholeness as we pray for those who are ill or are suffering loss and long for your healing touch.

Hear our prayer.

Make the weak strong, the sick healthy, the broken whole, and confirm those who serve them as agents of your love.

Hear our prayer.

To everyone in distress, grant mercy, grant relief, grant refreshment.

Hear our prayer.

As we begin to rebuild, we commend our neighborhoods to your care. Give us strength of purpose and concern for others, that we may create a community where your will may be done.

Hear our prayer.

God of compassion, you watch our ways, and weave out of terrible happenings wonders of goodness and grace.

Hear our prayer.

Surround those who have been shaken by tragedy with a sense of your present love, and hold them in faith. Though they are lost in grief, may they find you and be comforted;
Through Jesus Christ who was dead, but lives and rules this world with you. Amen.

The following is a song I’ve loved and used as calls to worship and invocations for over 40 years. It has really spoken to me many times.
“Part the Waters” by Charles F. Brown, sung by The Heritage Singers

This song, also a prayer, reminds us that we should be grateful, hopeful and thankful “even unto death.” — “Even Unto Death” written and sung by Audrey Assad.

Dare to Prepare for July 17, 2022

For those who are joining the Bradenton/Sarasota congregation this Sunday, the theme will be “Who Is My Neighbor?” Our speaker and presider, Stu and Nancy Skene, liked the theme and wanted to use it for the third Sunday, and we wanted to support that.

For those of you attending in other congregations or online this week, the World Church theme is “Cry for Justice.”

I’ve tried to plan this week’s preparation in such a way that no matter which theme you receive, you will have been spiritually prepared to listen and to worship.

Because of the dual themes, I’ve chosen the following Call to Worship rather than focus on the specific scripture:

Contemporary Gathering Words (Luke 10)

What must we do to inherit eternal life?
What is written in the Scriptures?
What do they tell us?
You shall love the Lord your God
with all your heart, and with all your soul,
and with all your strength, and with all your mind.
And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.
That is the right answer; it is the key to life.
But do you understand it?
We are not sure. Just who is our neighbor?
Open your eyes and see.Your neighbor is next to you.
Your neighbors surround you!
Lord, we have been so blind.
Have mercy on us!
The Lord is gracious and merciful;
show this same mercy to all.

Taken from ministrymatters.com

The following song, “Some People’s Lives”, written and sung by Janis Ian, talks about all of the sad, lonely, and marginalized that need to be reminded that they are loved and of worth. Following the commandment that Jesus laid out in Luke, we can and should be the ones to remind them. (Click on the “Watch on YouTube” link below.)

Dare to Prepare for July 10, 2022

This week’s theme is “Who is My Neighbor?” We will not meet together as a congregation, but the theme and the preparation are the same for the streaming service.

The main scripture that supports the theme is the familiar story of the Samaritan. You can read it here:  Luke 10:25-37

Central Ideas from this week’s theme (taken from the World Church Worship Helps):

  • Neighbors are found in unexpected places, among unexpected people.
  • Being a neighbor involves a willingness to minister to others outside our usual, acceptable group, as well as accepting the ministry of those same people.
  • Christ-like love is born of compassion; kindness is the true mark of a neighbor.
  • Being a neighbor is a two-way engagement. We need to be neighbors to others with whom we may not feel “safe” or acceptable. In addition, we need to be willing to receive neighborliness from others who may be outside our group of acceptable persons. How do we receive what others offer? Jesus calls us to be aware of our prejudices and divisions and be capable of ministering to and with all “neighbors.”

The key word in the paragraph above is “engagement.” As you watch the video “Do Something,” let it inspire you to be prepared, not only for Sunday’s service, but also future “engagements” with those around you.

Matthew West, ”Do Something ”


Dare to Prepare for July 3, 2022

The theme this Sunday is “Forgive Our Pride” and it is Communion Sunday. Sherry Lindgren is presiding, Al Mount is bringing the message

In putting together the service with the Worship Helps, it felt like a lot of elements to this service continue the spirit of last week’s service in Bradenton.  We talked about a lot of concerning things going on in the world and how we should be mindful of all the vulnerable who need prayers, comfort and healing. Pridefulness is something we all struggle with from time to time as the poorest among those we know and love often has so much more than those outside of our faith and our country. It’s good to be reminded to look inward and ask for healing and forgiveness as we prepare for communion.

Al Mount will be focusing his remarks on Luke 15:11-32, which is the story of the prodigal son. It goes so well with the theme. You can read a version of the scripture here.

Please keep the speaker, presider, and all participants in your prayers this week as you prepare to worship and prepare yourself for the sacrament of communion.

A favorite, yet lesser-known Amy Grant song brings to mind aspects of the prodigal son story. As you meditate on the words as they pertain to this service, you may be able to relate it to your own relationship experiences and find comfort.

Amy Grant – The Prodigal (“I’ll be Waiting”)

For Worship on June 26, 2022

This Sunday the Bradenton/Sarasota congregation is having a special service in the Fellowship Hall with the theme, “Words for Worship in a Time of War.” It is a service that contains scriptures, readings, songs, and prayers. The service was put together by John L. Bell, a Scottish liturgical writer and composer who has been recognized by the Community of Christ for his work in the area of peace. It is recommended by the World Church, and we had the opportunity to use the service and its contents copyright free before June 30th, so we jumped at the chance.

The world is currently focusing a lot of attention on the war taking place in Ukraine, so this service is timely, but it will also be used to point out and remind us that there are many wars that have been and still are taking place in many countries near and far.

The songs being used in the service will not be familiar to most in attendance. To help prepare for the service, please familiarize yourself with the following hymns. The first one is CCS 225, Ososo (“Come Now, O Prince of Peace”) It is sung in many languages which you will hear. It is sung twice in English and the congregation will join in on those verses (If you know the other languages, feel free to sing along). This was filmed in the garden at the Temple in Independence, MO.

The second hymn is the Ukrainian Kyrie. This will be sung 2/3rds of the way through the first prayer. A portion of the prayer will be read, then we will sing this three times: first Kyrie eleison (God have mercy), then Christie eleison (Christ have mercy), then repeat Kyrie eleison (God have mercy).

There will be other songs used, but for one, the first verse will be a solo to teach the melody, and the closing hymn will be new lyrics set to a familiar hymn tune.

Nanette Dizney and I (Sherry Lindgren) hope that the service we bring you Sunday will be thought provoking, minister to your spirit and bring a sense of hope, compassion, and peace to your soul.

For Worship on June 19, 2022

The theme for this Sunday is ”Discern Holy Presence.” Carolyn Deering is presiding, and Jim Deering is speaking. They are using the theme, but Carolyn will be honoring Fathers as well and Jim is focusing his message on Psalm 46:10 rather than scripture suggested by the World Church resources. Please use the following to spiritually prepare to receive the ministry provided on Sunday

Scripture – Psalm 46:10

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

This following short story is paraphrased from a page from a 2004 Daily Bread. Original is by Charlotte Jones of Sherman Oaks, California.

“A Clear Lens”

“God is our refuge and strength, a present help in trouble… Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:1, 10

It was amazing to me how much better I could see. I had cleaned the lenses of my glasses with a special cleaning liquid and wiped them with a special cloth. Things looked sharper, only because the cloudy lenses were cleaned. It occurred to me how sometimes our spiritual sight gets clouded with “things” like the rush of time and all the potential choices based on diverse factors that confuse and influence us. Sometimes our spiritual lenses need cleaning so we can see more clearly the choices God would have us make.

Spending some time apart to meet with God allows His spirit to touch us so that we can develop clearer vision. Things come into focus and choices become clearer with God in the equation. The frantic pace of daily living is tempered. A peace comes bringing the blessed assurance that God’s [presence] is always a ready resource.

Prayer Thought: Thank you, God, for the love you express for us by keeping your promise to be with us always in our need.

To close out this preparation, play close attention to the words of Amy Grant’s interpretation of this scripture in our every-day modern lives.

“Be Still”

For Worship June 12, 2022 — “Guide Us Into Truth” Trinity Sunday

Trinity Sunday is observed the Sunday following Pentecost. Christian tradition celebrates the doctrine of the Trinity, God experienced in three persons. God is Creator (traditionally identified as the Father), Jesus Christ is the Redeemer (the son), and the Holy Spirit is the Comforter or Sustainer. In other words, God is one and three.

Meditate on one of our favorite hymns, sung and interpreted by Audrey Assad.

From Community of Christ Basic Beliefs: We believe in one living God who meets us in the testimony of Israel, is revealed in Jesus Christ, and moves through all creation as the Holy Spirit. We affirm the Trinity—God who is a community of three persons.” (www.CofChrist.org/basic-beliefs).

One of the prayers for peace offered in the Worship Resources for this week not only speaks to the Trinity concept but also continues the thoughts that Andrea Cooper presented to us this past Communion/Pentecost Sunday about diversity, unity, expectation, and hope. It is a great way to close out our preparation for this week:

Triune God,

How majestic are all your names, used around the world, as people call upon you! Just as grasping at your greatness leads us beyond simple comprehension, so too does grasping at peace.

What are the ways people are struggling in the world today? What are the actions we can offer that would facilitate peace within those struggles? In what ways can we tangibly move towards peace?

Over and over in Scripture, you call us to be faithful to your many forms, to dig deep into a sense of understanding you. At the same time, you send us to all nations to act and be peace amongst the people who need it most.

Call us today to three acts of peace Lord, just as you are the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. Call us to walk with you as creators of peace in the broken places. Call us to point others toward you as Redeemer of a world in search of peace. Call us to generate and sustain real change to broken systems that suppress peace.  

We pray for blessing in all its many forms,


—Tiffany and Caleb Brian

For Worship June 5, 2022 — Pentecost Sunday

On Sunday, June 5, there will be several things to contemplate, prepare for and pray about. Sunday is Communion Sunday, but it is also the final Sunday of the Easter season that culminates in Pentecost Sunday.

Preparation for communion should be taken seriously but also joyfully anticipated and prepared for with gratitude and thanks. The lyrics to the first verse of Hymn 532 from Community of Christ Sings aid us in setting the mood for the upcoming sacrament:

We meet as friends at table, to listen, and be heard,
united by the Spirit, attentive to the Word.
Through prayer and conversation, we tune our varied views to Christ,
whose love has made us the bearers of good news.

To prepare our hearts and minds to receive the message of the day, read the scripture from the book of Acts and listen to the music of Patrick Mayberry, which perfectly sets the tone and the mood for the service.

Scripture Reading: Acts 2:1-21

Holy Spirit Come – Patrick Mayberry

For Worship May 29, 2022 — “Receive Blessing”

Nanette Dizney presiding, Al Mount bringing the message, based on the scripture Luke 24:44-53

This Sunday’s scripture is full joy, and hope and the promise of God’s blessing. As you prayerfully prepare for this Sunday’s service, contemplate the scripture, its promises, and its hopes.

As you listen to this week’s upbeat song, bask in the feeling of joy and hope that it brings, called “God’s Got a Blessing (With My Name on It)” as sung by Norman Hutchins.

For Worship May 22, 2022 — “Prepare a Sanctuary”

Scripture: John 14:23-29

23 Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words, and the word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me.

25 “I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Advocate,[a] the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur you may believe.

This scripture is full of promises of hope and comfort and the idea that we need never feel alone. As you prayerfully prepare for this Sunday’s service, contemplate the scripture, its promises, and its hopes.

Meditate upon the hymn “Abide With Me” as sung by Audrey Assad.

Dare to Prepare — For Worship May 15, 2022

Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Sunday, May 15th, our worship theme is “Love One Another – Can We Do It?” The service will be in the fellowship hall and will include assembling “Manna Bags” to give out to the homeless population of Sarasota and Bradenton.

The bags, which are nylon, waterproof, backpack style, will contain approximately 17 items most needed by the homeless. The final cost of the bags is a little over $9.00/bag and we are fund raising to recoup some of the cost so we can do this again as needed. If you’d like to donate to the Manna Bag project, please give Dick Kramer a check and write Manna Bags on the memo line, or write a designated amount on your envelope during your usual offering.

Please prayerfully consider the theme and the scripture above and prepare to worship and serve this Sunday.

The following video sets the mood. We want this Sunday to be worshipful and fun and bring us closer to each other and Him. (For maximum enjoyment, be sure to watch all the way to the end).

The Newsboys — Love One Another