Ten years ago last month I had the opportunity to give testimony before the senate committee of the RI state legislature in support of the SB 38 bill making same-sex marriage legal. I had no idea this existed on YouTube until my daughter, who is making a documentary film about our family’s story called it to my attention today . . . So I thought I’d share.
Worship Resource for Baptism of Christ, Year A
Call to Worship (from Isaiah 42)
One: Thus says God, the LORD, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people upon it and spirit to those who walk in it . . .
All: I am the LORD. I have called you in righteousness, I have taken you by the hand and kept you; I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations . . .
One: To open the eyes of the blind, to bring out the prisoners from their dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.
All: See, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth forth, I tell you of them.
* Gathering Prayer
God of water and spirit, God of justice and peace, God of generations past and those to come, we thank you for Jesus who shows us the way of righteousness, who humbled himself, who underwent baptism as a ritual of cleansing and community. Scripture tells us that at Jesus’ baptism the heavens opened and all that were gathered heard your voice. Open the heavens to us this morning that we may hear your words of love and encouragement today. Amen.
Prayer of Dedication
In baptism we receive the boundless blessings of your love. Teach us to follow the example of Jesus who loved without limits and gave without counting the cost. Amen.
4th Sunday of Advent, Matthew 1:18-25
Sermon by Rev. Dr. Todd Grant Yonkman at First Church of Christ in Saybrook 18 December 2022
Sermon by Rev. Dr. Todd Grant Yonkman at First Church of Christ in Saybrook 27 November 2022
Gone Fishing/Feed My Sheep
Worship Resources based on Isaiah 55:1-9
Call to Worship (Isaiah 55:1-2)
Leader: Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters.
All: You that have no money, come, buy, and eat!
Leader: Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?
All: Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves with rich food.
Gathering Prayer (Unison)
Holy God, in a place of so much wealth, why is there so much need? In a land that affords every available comfort, why do we find ourselves uncomfortable, discouraged, depressed? What is this food you spoke of through your prophets? Where is this promised land of milk and honey our ancestors sought? Open our hearts to the only true satisfaction our hearts will ever know: your boundless love.
What Christians Can Learn from Buddhists about Reaching New People
What’s Up with Pastor Todd 1-21-22
The year is 1965. The place is Newport, RI. The event is the Newport Folk Festival, which had been founded six years earlier as a response to the more established Newport Jazz Festival. The Newport Folk Festival quickly became a gathering place for the various protest movements of the time: the anti-war movement, the civil rights movement, women’s liberation, the labor movement. Famous artists like Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul & Mary, John Lee Hooker, Joan Baez sang a mix of traditional folk songs and their own compositions that told the stories and reflected the values of common, everyday people. Of all these great artists, perhaps the most famous was a young, newcomer from Minnesota named Bob Dylan.
By 1965 Dylan had released three hugely successful albums: “The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963), “The Times They Are a-Changin’” (1964), and “Bringing It All Back Home” (1965). Dylan’s song “Blowin’ in the Wind” had become the anthem of the anti-war movement. In fact, the 1964 Newport Folk Festival closed with the entire lineup of artists joining Dylan onstage to lead the crowds in singing “Blowin’ in the Wind,” a song that today is considered a classic of American songwriting–one of the many classics that earned Dylan a Nobel Prize for literature in 2016.
Already in 1965 Dylan was shifting away from the traditional folk compositions for voice and acoustic guitar that had made him famous toward music that featured electric guitars and a full band. Nevertheless, at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival he was planning on playing an acoustic set like people expected of him. The story goes that the day before his performance, Dylan overheard someone from the Folk Festival make disparaging remarks about electric guitars. In a flash of righteous anger Dylan completely changed his set list to feature him playing an electric guitar backed by the Butterfield Blues Band. When he took the stage the next night, he began his set with “Maggie’s Farm.” He played a loud, jangly Fender stratocaster and sang, “Ain’t gonna work on Maggie’s Farm no more”–a clear declaration of artistic independence. People started booing and shouting. Pete Seeger was furious. By the end of his set Dylan did return to his acoustic guitar in a gesture to the crowd’s expectations, but the message was clear: Dylan would not allow himself to be defined by any person’s or group’s expectations. His ultimate allegiance lay far beyond any particular style or movement. Dylan’s ultimate allegiance was to the artistic endeavor itself.
I was reminded of the above story during the First Church South Church Bible study this week. We were considering the gospel lectionary for this coming Sunday: Luke 4:16-29. It begins with Jesus getting a very favorable response to his preaching from his hometown crowd and ends with them attempting to throw him off a cliff. Why this sudden turnaround? Jesus had been preaching about the “Lord’s favor.” The crowd understood this to be a simple affirmation of the lives they were currently living as God’s “chosen people.” They became upset when Jesus corrected their understanding. Jesus explained that their God wasn’t theirs alone, that God chooses sides and it wasn’t necessarily theirs. Rather the God revealed in Jesus choses the unchosen. God loves the hated. And Jesus’ ministry won’t be defined by any person’s or group’s expectations. His allegiance lies far beyond any particular style or movement. Jesus’ ultimate allegiance is to the boundless love of God itself.