This morning, 5/12/13, during our 10:30 a.m. worship, Pastor Julie Goranson, our Licensed Lay Pastor was officially “adopted” as a “Daughter of Grace!” It was a fun and festive day. Pastor Julie’s picture was placed on the wall where Grace’s pastors are displayed and a special reception was held. In addition, 55 trees were planted in Julie’s honor through Mission 4/1 Earth! All in all, a great day!
The “Adoption Liturgy” written for this occasion, recounts Julie’s journey and her presence at Grace UCC, Wausau. It is here for your reading. Pictures will follow this next week.
Julie “Adoption” Liturgy
Julie, when you came to Grace United Church of Christ, we were strangers. After your first visit with us you decided that we were worth another chance and that is when the dance began.
It started out slowly and the steps were cautious. We offered hospitality and you responded with your continued presence. Yet we knew little about you and certainly not the path you were following. Not at first. But slowly you told your story and step by step people drew you out, proved to you that this was a safe place and invited you to come and dance a little closer.
We heard your story, we learned about your call to ministry and your studies at UTS and we realized that somehow in a most Holy Coincidence the mysterious Spirit of God had led you to our door and that Grace would now become a part of your journey. The dance continued to spin its pattern.
With your willingness and the openness of this congregation, we covenanted together, received the blessing of the wider church as you were licensed, and we prepared for your leadership during Rev. Wayne’s Sabbatical. Now the dance was moving along at an exciting pace and new steps were created as both you and the church grew into your own leadership and ministry.
Today the dance takes yet another turn as you look to the next year of Clinical Pastoral Education and finishing seminary. Although you came to Grace later in your journey, this congregation has rejoiced in your presence and has taken you into its heart. Some people become sons and daughters through birth. Others become sons and daughters by love. All of us were adopted by God in our baptism. God claimed us as God’s own and God clings tenaciously to God’s own. Julie, God has claimed you as God’s own child. In the same way, we at Grace claim you as one of our beloved children.
Julie, today we celebrate and re-affirm your adoption as a daughter of Grace United Church of Christ. We want you to know that as you move into the next part of discerning your call to ministry that we are your family of faith, your full partners on this journey. You do not travel alone.
Julie, do you accept and celebrate that you have been adopted by Grace church and that you are loved here?
If so, answer, “I celebrate your love and my adoption as a Daughter of Grace.”
Do you promise that you will share worship and ministry with us as you can, and in your absence pray for Grace church, keeping in touch with the congregation so that they can share your journey?
If so, answer, “I promise that I will keep Grace church in my prayers, and I will welcome you as partners in my journey to ordained ministry.”
Congregation of Grace United Church of Christ, do you acknowledge and celebrate the adoption of Julie as a “daughter of Grace,” as she discerns her call to ministry, and do you accept the love that Julie has for Grace church?
If so, answer, “We accept Julie’s love and celebrate her adoption as a daughter of Grace!”
Do you promise that you will pray for Julie, stay in touch with her and continue to support her in every possible way?
If so, answer, “We promise to pray for Julie and to support her in any way we can.”
Let us pray.
God of the prophets and martyrs in every age and land, we thank you for those in our generation who hear and answer your call to prepare for the ordained ministry of your church. Grant your Holy Spirit to Julie that she may grow in faith, be filled with courage, and increase in love. Confirm in her the call to ministry you intend, that she may find in service to you the liberty that comes to those who give themselves for others; through Jesus Christ, who came not to be served, but to serve, and who served you even to death for our redemption and adoption as Your children.
This has been a difficult week, one that began and ended with senseless, inexplicable violence. The loss of life at the shopping mall stunned us and gave us pause about our own “Christmas shopping.” Is it safe? Can it happen here?
Then, with these questions still fresh, we witnessed the mindless, almost genocide-style slaughter of 20 innocent children and 6 caring and brave adults. That act tore open our very hearts and forced our own tears and weeping, even though our children were safe; even though we could never understand what the parents of these 20 children were going through. So we sat in our homes or at work in silence, sitting with these families, even though we were powerless to offer them any words, any acts that might comfort them.
And then the fear came and we began to worry about our own children, our own schools, our own security policies and procedures. And perhaps that is a good thing to do. The world has changed. It has become more violent. In order to keep fear at bay, we must change with it.
As a pastor, I can’t imagine what the clergy in Newtown are saying to their congregations this morning. Perhaps they are gathering in silence, literally and symbolically sitting with the families struck down by violence, death, and fear. What more can they do? What more can they say?
Are there any words to comfort them, and us, as we mourn sympathetically for these families? No. We have none; no words even approaching adequate.
Be assured, however, that, as far away as God must feel to those families today, God sits with them. And God has the WORD, and the last word. Death has no victory.
In our reading from Zephaniah 3: 14-20, in my own paraphrase, that WORD tells us, “From now on, God is your Sovereign, in charge at the center of life. There’s nothing to fear from evil ever again.” “Dear children, don’t despair. Your God is present among you.” “The sorrows that have accumulated will dissipate. You have carried those burdens long enough.”
The families and people of Newtown cannot hear these words today, let along find comfort in them. Indeed, it is difficult enough for us.
But the WORD of God is there for us when we are ready to hear it. God is patient. God is kind. God waits as long as is necessary to offer God’s Word and God’s presence.
So pray. Pray profoundly for, and sit in silence with the families of the children of Newtown, as well those who have been lost in too many acts of needless and senseless violence.
And when you are ready, the WORD is there. The Word that casts out fear. The WORD of hope.
Rev. Wayne C. Drueck
It is with a sad heart that I share the news that last evening Rodney Wendland passed from the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant. Just a few hours before, he had moved to the Aspirus Hospice House in Wausau.
Arrangements have not been made but will be made available here on our blog at www.cometograce.net as soon as we know them.
Our prayers go out to Rod’s family and we thank God for all that he was to his family and to Grace UCC.
Rev. Wayne C. Drueck
Day of Pentecost
FIRST READING: Acts 2:1-21
On the day of Pentecost all the LORD’S followers were together in one place. 2Suddenly there was a noise from heaven like the sound of a mighty wind! It filled the house where they were meeting. 3Then they saw what looked like fiery tongues moving in all directions, and a tongue came and settled on each person there. 4The Holy Spirit took control of everyone, and they began speaking whatever languages the Spirit let them speak.
5Many religious Jews from every country in the world were living in Jerusalem. 6And when they heard this noise, a crowd gathered. But they were surprised, because they were hearing everything in their own languages. 7They were excited and amazed, and said:
Don’t all these who are speaking come from Galilee? 8Then why do we hear them speaking our very own languages? 9Some of us are from Parthia, Media, and Elam. Others are from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, 10Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, parts of Libya near Cyrene, Rome, 11Crete, and Arabia. Some of us were born Jews, and others of us have chosen to be Jews. Yet we all hear them using our own languages to tell the wonderful things God has done.
12Everyone was excited and confused. Some of them even kept asking each other, “What does all this mean?”
13Others made fun of the LORD’S followers and said, “They are drunk.”
14Peter stood with the eleven apostles and spoke in a loud and clear voice to the crowd:
Friends and everyone else living in Jerusalem, listen carefully to what I have to say! 15You are wrong to think that these people are drunk. After all, it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 16But this is what God had the prophet Joel say,
17“When the last days come,
I will give my Spirit to everyone.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your young men will see visions,
and your old men will have dreams.
18In those days I will give my Spirit to my servants,
to my servants, both men and women,
and they will prophesy.
19I will work miracles in the sky above
and wonders on the earth below.
There will be blood and fire and clouds of smoke.
20The sun will turn dark,
and the moon will be as red as blood
before the great and wonderful day
of the Lord appears.
21Then the Lord will save everyone
who asks for his help.”
PSALMODY: Psalm 104:24-34, 35b
24Our LORD, by your wisdom you made so many things;
the whole earth is covered with your living creatures.
25But what about the ocean so big and wide?
It is alive with creatures, large and small.
26And there are the ships, as well as Leviathan,
the monster you created to splash in the sea.
27All of these depend on you to provide them with food,
28and you feed each one with your own hand,
until they are full.
29But when you turn away, they are terrified;
when you end their life, they die and rot.
30You created all of them by your Spirit,
and you give new life to the earth.
31Our LORD, we pray that your glory will last forever
and that you will be pleased
with what you have done.
32You look at the earth, and it trembles.
You touch the mountains, and smoke goes up.
33As long as I live,
I will sing and praise you, the LORD God.
34I hope my thoughts will please you,
because you are the one who makes me glad.
With all my heart I praise you, LORD! I praise you!
SECOND READING: Romans 8:22-27
22We know that all creation is still groaning and is in pain, like a woman about to give birth.
23The Spirit makes us sure about what we will be in the future. But now we groan silently, while we wait for God to show that we are his children. This means that our bodies will also be set free. 24And this hope is what saves us. But if we already have what we hope for, there is no need to keep on hoping. 25However, we hope for something we have not yet seen, and we patiently wait for it.
26In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. 27All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit, as the Spirit prays for God’s people.
GOSPEL: John 15:26-27, 16:4b-15
26I will send you the Spirit who comes from the Father and shows what is true. The Spirit will help you and will tell you about me. 27Then you will also tell others about me, because you have been with me from the beginning.
I was with you at the first, and so I didn’t tell you these things. 5But now I am going back to the Father who sent me, and none of you asks me where I am going. 6You are very sad from hearing all of this. 7But I tell you that I am going to do what is best for you. That is why I am going away. The Holy Spirit cannot come to helpa you until I leave. But after I am gone, I will send the Spirit to you.
8The Spirit will come and show the people of this world the truth about sin and God’s justice and the judgment. 9The Spirit will show them that they are wrong about sin, because they didn’t have faith in me. 10They are wrong about God’s justice, because I am going to the Father, and you won’t see me again. 11And they are wrong about the judgment, because God has already judged the ruler of this world.
12I have much more to say to you, but right now it would be more than you could understand. 13The Spirit shows what is true and will come and guide you into the full truth. The Spirit doesn’t speak on his own. He will tell you only what he has heard from me, and he will let you know what is going to happen. 14The Spirit will bring glory to me by taking my message and telling it to you. 15Everything that the Father has is mine. That is why I have said that the Spirit takes my message and tells it to you.