November 21, 2010: Thanksgiving

Note: There is no podcast for this week. Sorry for any inconvenience. We'll pick back up next week!

This morning at RISE worship, we did things a little differently for Thanksgiving. Instead of our normal worship structure, we wanted to embody "church." We wanted to explore what it truly meant to receive and give with thanks. We didn't want to just sit in rows and stand up and sit down and stand up again, but we wanted to explore a different way of worship. We wanted our worship to point outward into our communities and the world. We heard a quote from Michael Gungor:

"If leading worship is just about bringing a group of people into a room so we can get goosebumps and sing songs together, there's not much value in that. But if leading worship is a means to an end, that we leave this place as a different kind of people, as part of a new humanity that God wants to create - the people that are caring for the widows and orphans, that aren't bound by the systems of this world but becoming free, becoming fully engaged in our world - then that matters."

And this passage from Isaiah (1:13-18)

Quit your worship charades. 
   I can't stand your trivial religious games:
Monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings— 
   meetings, meetings, meetings—I can't stand one more!
Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! 
   You've worn me out!
I'm sick of your religion, religion, religion, 
   while you go right on sinning.
When you put on your next prayer-performance, 
   I'll be looking the other way.
No matter how long or loud or often you pray, 
   I'll not be listening.
And do you know why? Because you've been tearing 
   people to pieces, and your hands are bloody.
Go home and wash up. 
   Clean up your act.
Sweep your lives clean of your evildoings 
   so I don't have to look at them any longer.
Say no to wrong. 
   Learn to do good.
Work for justice. 
   Help the down-and-out.
Stand up for the homeless. 
   Go to bat for the defenseless.

So this morning during worship, we assembled 100 care kits for friends at Our Community Place (OCP) filled with snacks, ibuprofen, band-aids, gum, McDonald's bucks, etc. all rolled up in a handkerchief with a personal note attached. As a way of giving thanks for all we have received, we responded by giving back.

James 1:26-27 (MSG)

Anyone who sets himself up as “religious” by talking a good game is self-deceived. This kind of religion is hot air and only hot air. Real religion, the kind that passes muster before God the Father, is this: Reach out to the homeless and loveless in their plight, and guard against corruption from the godless world.

We also explored how God makes everything holy. Even the mundane, ordinary things like ibuprofen. Even the band-aids. Yes, even the McDonald's bucks. God created everything; thus, everything is holy. We asked the question: What would it mean to live our lives seeing everything as holy. How would we be changed? How would the world be changed?

1 Timothy 4:4-6 (MSG)

Everything God created is good, and to be received with thanks. Nothing is to be sneered at and thrown out. God’s Word and our prayers make every item in creation holy. You’ve been raised on the Message of the faith and have followed sound teaching.

After Communion (the ultimate example of God making the ordinary - bread and juice - holy) and before we departed, we prayed the powerful Franciscan Benediction. As you spend time with your families and friends this Thanksgiving, keep this prayer in mind. And see the holy in everything.

May God bless you with discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom, and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, and starvation, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy. 

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.

AMEN.

Setlist: (iTunes links provided or each)

The Earth is Yours

Giving It All To You