Worship Resource based on RCL for Ecclesiastes 3:1-13

Call To Worship (from Psalm 8)

One: O LORD, our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.

All: When I look at the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?

One: Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor. You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet.

All: O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

Gathering Prayer

God of the universe, we sometimes feel small in the face of that which is so far beyond our understanding much less our control. Does my life matter? What does it all mean? Why bother doing anything at all when my efforts seem so insignificant? Give us wisdom to discern your creative activity in every moment of our lives. Give us the courage to meet you right here, right now, for this is the meaning of our lives. Amen.

Prayer of Dedication

God of this and every moment, God who gives everything its time and place, we thank you for meeting us in this time and place, right here, right now. We offer ourselves wholeheartedly to you. Amen.

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 2-26-21

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 2-26-21

At our February 14 discernment meeting an FCC Granby member repeated something that had been said in an earlier conversation about the consolidation/collaboration proposal: “Let’s just get to know each other first. If we do that well, the building issues will work themselves out.”

Research on successful (and failed) consolidations bears this out. Even though up to this point most of the anxiety at First Church and South Church has been around buildings, research shows that buildings and facilities are the least likely deal breakers in consolidation projects (only 4%). The most likely deal breakers are conflict over personnel (28%), trust issues/power struggles (22%), traditions (18%) and culture (10%), (Better Together, p. 108) . . . Which brings me to the concept of “below the green line.” 

“Below the green line” is a reference to a theory of organizational change that you can learn more about here and here

Put very simply, the “green line” is an imaginary division between what is concrete, rational, and public in an organization and what is relational, irrational, and subconscious in an organization.

Above the green line are the “rational” parts of the organization, such as “structure, process (operations), and pattern.” In a church organization, these are the pieces that what GUCCI is calling the “nuts and bolts” working group will be dealing with: governance and by-laws, staffing and personnel, legal work for creating new identity, finances, endowments, financial audits, insurance, and properties, including memorial gardens. 

Below the green line are the “irrational” parts of the organization, such as information, relationships, and identity. 

Information is “like oxygen in the system . . . access to information greatly minimizes the negative rumors that can occur within organizations.” GUCCI team has committed itself to regular, clear, and consistent messaging around what’s happening with our collaboration work and what we envision the next steps to be. 

Relationships: “People need to have open relationships with the people they work with, trusted relationships that lead to commitment and powerful work getting done. Relationships occur not only between people, but between programs, departments, and organizations (think connections).” 

Identity “looks like repeated opportunities for self- reflection and connecting personal beliefs and values to the mission and vision of the organization. It means being reminded of why we come to [church], what’s most important to us” about our faith, and “finding ways to stay true to ourselves” while building a new congregation that wil have a new identity. This is our “Why.”

For the reasons above, below the green line work will be critical to the success of our project.

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 6-12-20

What’s Up with Pastor Todd 6-12-20

I recently heard on a news podcast that something like 70% of Americans think our country is “out of control.” I don’t know where you’re at, but this statistic points to a feeling we’ve been noticing around us and perhaps feeling ourselves for some months now. The recent protests around the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery just add to the generalized feelings of chaos, uncertainty, and grief that we’ve all been facing.

Recently I was invited to join a cohort of clergy and lay people to receive training on hwo to coach individuals and congregations through the COVID pandemic. Training began this week and will continue (online, of course) through the first half of July. We’ve been learning to identify and contextualize the component parts of the circumstances we’re facing in order to more effectively address them and help people through this time.

There are some practices I’d like to suggest that may be helpful in dealing with feelings of grief and feelings of being “out of control.” When circumstances feel out of control, it’s helpful to find ways to “stay grounded.” Staying grounded is a big reason why I spend an hour every morning sitting still and silent, minding my breath. Literally sitting “on the ground” is an incredibly effective way for me to feel “grounded.” Circumstances can be swirling about me, but I know there is a stable place of rest that is always present–literally beneath my feet. 

How will you “stay grounded?” Another technique for when you feel out of control is to identify and describe in detail five things near you. For me, it’s the IKEA couch supporting my back, the Sisal trunk that I’m resting my feet on, the roar of a motorcycle engine on the street, the sigh of the breeze through the trees, now the sound and smell of rain. Is the world really coming apart? Yes, in some ways the world is coming apart. In others it’s coming together. And through it all like the finest of thread the rhythms of the universe continue completely unbothered by our small concerns. While some things are out of our control, other things are in our control. Sometimes it’s helpful to focus on the things we can control beginning with where we place our attention.

Many of you are probably familiar with the five stages of grief originally identified by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross some decades ago: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, acceptance. Perhaps you weren’t aware that later in her career she identified a sixth stage: meaning-making. Meaning-making is the stage of grief that produces creative new life out of death. For example, parents of the Sandy Hook shooting victims creating the organization Everytown for Gun Safety. Or Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, who was recently killed in an encounter with police, testifying before congress in support of police reform. 

In the context of our congregational life and our individual lives, I’d like to suggest a powerful question as a tool for meaning-making: “In this time, what are you discovering is ‘essential’ as opposed to merely ‘traditional’?” In other words, what things were we doing before COVID out of mere habit that we’ve found we can do without moving forward? What things have we found we can’t do without that we want to give extra time and attention to moving forward? Loss without a sense of meaning is unbearable. Loss that leads to a simpler, happier, more productive life offers each of us an invaluable opportunity.