This preaching series is on telling stories. We begin with BEGINNING Stories. On the cover of each bulletin, I inserted this drawing of St. John’s for people to color and doodle throughout worship.
The Scripture for this Sunday wove two beginning stories together: Genesis 1 and John 1. This was done in the call to worship and the scripture reading.
Call to Worship:
one: Creator God, you were the first – to look at all your creation and call it good.
all: You first created us. You first named us. You first loved us.
one: Jesus, the Life-Light, you were the first – to extend an invitation for all to know the abundance of your grace.
all: You first called us. You first healed us. You first forgave us.
one: Wisdom Spirit, you were there in the beginning when God breathed life into nothingness.
all: You were there in the end, when Jesus breathed his last breath.
one: You were there on the first day of church as a mighty gust of wind filling all people of different languages and cultures to speak and understand.
all: You are here now whether this is our first time or our forever time. We are here to worship you.
I shared how St. John’s began in March 6, 1870. Worshippers were then invited to look at pictures of St. John’s from that time as well as tell their first time stories. If you look at some of these old photos, you can see that St. John’s was one of the first buildings to be built this far west of San Francisco. There is something wonderful about firsts – first love, first child, first job, first step, first house . . . Firsts have a way of imprinting into our memories and staying with us for a long time.
Rev. Laura Cheifetz shares her firsts, “I am just old enough to have known most of the firsts. The first black lesbian divinity school dean. The first woman president of a PC(USA) seminary. The first Korean American woman ordained. The first African American woman ordained. The first out gay person ordained.” And just a couple weeks ago, the Rev. Alex McNeill was ordained as the first openly trans man ordained in the PCUSA. Then there are my children . . . that my kids witnessed the first African-American man to be elected president. Right now, St. John’s is living through a first as well . . . I am the first clergywoman and person of color to serve as pastor in 147 years history of St. John’s.
To jump start their thinking, I shared this video. Some of the pics come from boredpanda.
Some of the “My First Time . . . ” stories shared were:
- My first time I was told that God was omnipresent, that God is everywhere, that God sees everything, I was a little boy, maybe 7 years old. I looked around my classroom and saw rows of translucent Jesuses stacked in rows like dominoes til they bore down on me and filed the room. I remember thinking “God sees everything?” For the next week, I couldn’t take a shower because I was afraid God would see me naked. My parent initially caught on that I hadn’t showered and I told them why. They laughed and told me God had seen me naked before “so go take your shower.”
- My first time I drove my friends to school when I turned 16. The independence, the joy, and then the embarrassment as I stalled out while parking in the school lot.
- My first time I experienced humidity. It was 1986 and I stepped off the airplane in Iowa in the summer. I was startled at the sensation and panicked for fear I couldn’t breathe. The flight attendant saw my panic and reassured me I’d be fine. Plus, the humidity would be good for my skin.
- My first time I sat on my great-grandmother’s lap and really took note of her wrinkles up close. I felt them with my hands and told her, “Grandma, your wrinkles are so soft.”
- My first time I am at St. John’s, which just happened to be this very Sunday.
All Things Bright and Beautiful
I Love to Tell the Story