This coming Sunday we will once again have the joy of sharing in the Sacrament of Baptism. This week we will baptize both Liam and Hayden Berryman. They are the children of Darlene and Bill Berryman. This family is adding much to our life together here at South and it will be a joyful day to celebrate this Sacrament of blessing and grace. In addition Alex Roche will share with us a piano solo for our special music. Charlie Fitzhugh will be at the piano for the rest of our service and will lead the Chancel Choir as they add depth and grace to our hymns.
We will share a responsive reading of Psalm 65, a psalm of praise for all God’s works in creation. It has vivid imagery that reminds us of the beauty and wonder all around us—which has been very much in evidence this past week here in the Berkshires! We will read Joel 2:23-32, which are words of a court prophet calling the people to open their hearts in joy and expectation after a very difficult time. He is telling them that God is coming to redeem their anguish and turn their dreams and visions into abundance and fullness of life. In Luke 18:9-14 we will listen in on a parable of Jesus. This one contrasts the prayers of a self-important religious leader with those of a tax collector who knows how deeply he has hurt others. In spite of the wrongs he has committed, this man opens his heart to God asking for mercy. How often when life is going well do we forget about opening our hearts to God? Is Jesus telling us that one of the ‘gifts’ of falling on our faces in pain and anguish is that sometimes it’s only then we begin to truly rely on a ‘power greater than ourselves’? My sermon is titled, “Making Room for the Holy” and I will reflect on the idea of opening our hearts and lives to the God of transformation. I will also tell you about the piece of fabric I plan to contribute to our Communion Table covering that Jim Day and helpers will be creating from all the pieces we donate. It comes from a time in my life when pain and anguish was turned into hope and freedom as my prayers for mercy were answered in surprising ways.
Tying our service together is the grace that being baptized into Christ and living this life of faith opens us to a new world of possibility. We humans can get trapped by our ego into feeling self-sufficient and above it all. On the other hand we can get trapped by a sense of discouragement and despair. In and around all of that hovers the Spirit of God inviting and calling us into a larger, loving Reality. This is where our Scriptures are taking us this Sunday and our worship will follow that path. Come and join us as we lift up themes of hope and promise in the Spirit of Christ.
Following worship Bob Hill will be taking photos in Cooke Center for our new church directory. We would love to have everyone in the directory so that we can all connect names and faces and addresses. So, if you can, plan to stay for a few moments and say ‘cheese’.
At 1 p.m. Ann Roche, myself, and a number of our youth, children, and adults will gather at First Church on Park Square for the annual CROP walk in support of Church World Service. The pledges we make and the walk we share supports the work of this disaster relief agency that does tremendous work in the world. Right now Church World Service is ministering in Haiti after the devastation of the recent hurricane.
And at 3 p.m. the Berkshire Association will have its Fall Gathering at the First Church in Stockbridge to invite our Berkshire UCC congregations into a conversation about the health and future of our churches and how we can deepen the life of faith. All are welcome. See you in church. Peace.