Receiving the SJMC Welcoming Statement in Worship
May 15, 2016 – “Living Waters: The Spirit Poured Out”
The SJMC Welcoming Statement was received into worship as part of the Pentecost Sunday, May 15, 2016 worship service. The beginning of the service introduced the theme of “Living Waters: The Spirit Poured Out.” There was also the introduction of two symbols that guided the service, as seen in the following paragraph from near the beginning of the service.
‘Two symbols of the Spirit guide our worship today. We will light this dancing oil lamp, a symbol of how the Spirit dances and moves in our midst. We have used this dancing oil lamp in many settings here at SJMC, in worship, in small groups, in retreats, and in each of our discernment and listening settings around sexuality. (Mark lights oil lamp)
We will also pour out some water into a glass cylinder – a symbol of the Spirit being poured out upon us, the church, the people of God. This vessel holds our collective life together, with all the many and varied experiences we have as a people of God. We experience God as living water as the Spirit stirs and swirls around our life. (Pour Water from bigger pitcher into the tall glass cylinder)’
The rest of worship service proceeded (children’s story, songs, reflections, etc) with the receiving of the SJMC Welcoming Statement closer to the end of the service, as follows:
Scripture Reading Acts 2:14-18; 21 (Mark)
But Peter, standing with the eleven, raised his voice and addressed them, “People of Judea and all who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and listen to what I say. 15 Indeed, these are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16 No, this is what was spoken through the prophet Joel:
17 ‘In the last days it will be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit upon every kind of people,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young people shall see visions,
and your old shall dream dreams.
18 Upon all who serve me, both men and women,
in those days I will pour out my Spirit;
and they shall prophesy.
21 Then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’
I would like to invite members of the Discernment Committee on Sexuality and Pauline Martin as Leadership Council chair, to come forward as we receive our SJMC Welcoming Statement and our journey with it, in the context of worship, and as we offer it to God.
Background: (Michael Lutzmann)
Good Morning. I am here as chair of The Discernment Committee on Sexuality, the working group that was formed by Leadership Council last spring to listen carefully to the congregation and to guide our conversations and discernment in relation to people who are LGBTQ.
This morning we are taking time in worship to receive the Final Report and SJMC Welcoming Statement that was approved by Leadership Council and distributed to mailboxes two weeks ago.
We want to thank the congregation for your prayers and for your deep engagement in this process. So many people participated in the various settings and opportunities for dialogue. This welcoming statement comes out of what we heard from the many conversations, our Sunday school and Sunday evening times of listening and learning together, the congregational survey with its many thoughtful comments, and the ongoing feedback from the congregation as we tested our way forward. Throughout this process, we heard a strong call and mandate to move as a congregation in an affirming direction, while respecting that some may be at different places on this journey.
I trust that you have had a chance to read through the background, Timeline and the Welcoming Statement and what it means for us to live into this welcoming statement. As we offer this to God, let me simply read out loud the Welcoming Statement.
“Grounded in God’s universal love, we are a community of faith growing into our calling to be the body of Christ. We welcome people who are LGBTQ to participate in the life and ministry of our congregation.”
As a way of receiving this as a congregation, hear the words of this litany as we offer our document and welcoming statement and our whole congregational process to God:
Litany: (standing in order from stage left to right: Mark, Janet, Michael, Pauline. Sue and Linda behind table)
Pauline: St Jacobs Mennonite Church seeks to celebrate and listen to the living God;
Michael: Empowered by the Holy Spirit to be a welcoming, caring community of faith centred in Jesus Christ;
Janet: And to demonstrate God’s love in our neighbourhoods and in the world. (SJMC Vision Statement)
Mark: And so – we listen
Pauline: And learn
Janet: And discern
Michael: And celebrate
Pauline: And follow the stirrings of the Spirit.
Mark: As a congregation, we have been on a journey. We have walked together in our conversations on sexuality.
Janet: Sometimes we have walked at different paces, or in different directions.
Michael: Sometimes we have not heard each other or listened well.
Pauline: Sometimes we have been surprised by new discoveries and insights.
Mark: Sometimes we have been amazed that we could trust each enough to share deeply out of our own personal stories, convictions and walk with God.
Janet: Sometimes we have been full of delight as we imagined what hospitality and inclusion might look like.
Michael: Our desire has been to be a faithful church, to celebrate and listen to the living God, to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Mark: We give thanks that we can discern together in love, even when we do not all agree.
Janet: It is Christ who unites us in one body.
(after each or the next 6 paragraphs, Linda and Sue (alternate) pour water from various glass vessels into the tall cylinder)
Pauline: Today, as we receive our Welcoming Statement in a spirit of trust, respect and love, we pour out and hold all that we have done together into the living waters of our congregation, and invite the Spirit to swirl and move within us.
Michael: We pour out all that has been a part of this process: our many discussions and conversations, our suppers and fellowship together, our reading and engagement with the Bible, our struggles and searching, our sharing of both convictions and vulnerabilities, our learning, discovery and new insights.
Mark: We pour out our shortcomings - where we have failed to listen to each other, where we have hurt each other by our words or actions or by our silence – both now and in our past, where our process has not been all that it could be, where we have struggled to trust in God.
Pauline: We pour out our many emotions: our joy and delight, our laughter and tears, our doubts and fear, our wonder and surprise, our excitement and anticipation, and our sense of trust and hope for the future.
Janet: We pour out our dreams for SJMC: for new forms of hospitality and inclusion, for the celebration of gifts that will be shared and received - enriching our body, for the Spirit to empower us more and more to be a welcoming, caring community of faith centred in Jesus Christ.
Mark: We pour out each of our lives – the stories and personal experiences we carry, the depth of our being, our love for this body – our church, and the knowledge that each of us in created in the image of God – chosen and beloved.
Pauline: All these things we pour into the waters of this body, the people of God.
Michael: These waters hold our collective life together, in all its variety and richness.
Janet: May God’s Spirit swirl and stir in these waters.
Pauline: May we hold all that we are with gentleness, grace and love.
Michael: May we live into our callings as a living dynamic body of Christ.
Janet: And may we demonstrate God’s love in our neighbourhoods and in the world.
Let us pray,
Come Holy Spirit, Come,
Breathe upon your congregation.
Give us vigor, life anew.
Give us gladness from above.
Inspire us with your word.
Dance and move within our midst
Pour out your Spirit, that we may experience living waters.
Come Holy Spirit, Come. Amen.
Song: HWB#298 – Come Holy Spirit
To close this time, we are invited to sing HWB#298 – Veni Sancte Spiritus. This song has a simple repeated Latin phrase, meaning “Come, Holy Spirit.” As we sing this invitation for the Spirit to be with and guide us, Pam will sing the solo words of comfort.