Worship leader: Hannah Campbell Gustafson
Call to Worship
One: We are here today because of God that calls us into community
Many: God calls us into connection and care.
One: We follow a God who is active in our world today
Many: And who calls us to be active in our world in ways that create Justice, Hope, and Love for all.
One: We know God as all-present
Many: And we are never separate from God or God’s love.
One Let us join together in worship of our God
All: We give thanks to a God of connection, activity, and presence! Amen.
Unison Prayer of Confession
God, the work of community is messy. We don’t always know what to say or do. We don’t want to hurt one another, but we know that it is inevitable. We sometimes get upset when a community isn’t what we want, but aren’t always able to articulate exactly what we need. We don’t always navigate conflicting expectations in a way that cares for everyone. We confess all of these things, and we also confess that sometimes, it just feels easier and safer to give up for a while, or to not trust and invest fully. We ask for forgiveness, and for the courage and strength to keep trying, despite the challenges and the messiness. Amen.
Weaving the Network of Community
(We gathered in a circle around the altar and shared with one another the moments of care and connection with one another that we have experienced at Wellington and as part of the Wellington Avenue UCC community. After each person shared their story of care, s/he would toss a ball of yarn to the next person, inviting another story and demonstrating the connections we have with one another)
Scripture Reading: Exodus 1:8-2:10
Preaching: Rev. Dan Dale
Shiphrah and Puah had the courage to risk challenging injustice. The resistance of the Hebrew midwives led by Shiphrah and Puah is the first civil disobedience direct action campaign recorded in our sacred stories. Shiphrah, Puah and the Hebrew midwives were empowered by the Spirit to risk resistance because they were a part of communities of care and connection.
Our strategic priority of strengthening community through deepening our care and connection is to empower us to risk resistance to injustice as participants in building God’s kin-dom of justice and peace. It is to help us be a stronger and more effective community in the larger network of the justice and peace movements and the wider church within them.
I would invite us to lift up some of the midwives in Ferguson, MO that have shown the courage to risk resistance because they are parts of communities of care and connection and to celebrate our connection with them in the struggle to embody the new world that the Divine is birthing.
Rev. Renita Lamkin, AME (African Methodist Episcopal) minster in Ferguson , Missouri, was shot by the police with a rubber coated bullet as she stood with the community protesting the murder of Michael Brown by a white police officer. Rev. Lamkin was trying to mediate with the police to stop their attacks on the community exercising their human and civil rights to assemble, free speech and to seek redress for grievances against their government.
Rev. Lamkin says that being with the people in the street is “praying with her feet.” After calling on the police not to attack, assuring the police that the people were leaving the area, she stood with her hands in the area repeating, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” and the police shot her.
Lamkin said the best way for people of peace to heal the community’s wounds is to “love the people, love the people. Listen to the people.”
“All people want is to be validated, to know their lives have value. People just want their voices to be heard,” she said. “The people are hurting, and they need to be heard. And if you don’t give people the opportunity to be heard, they’ll take the opportunity to be heard.”
In the street with the community the night after Michael Brown was murdered were two other mid-wife of God’s kin-dom, Rev. Karen Knodt the minister of Immanuel UCC in Ferguson and Rev. Felicia Scott the minister of St. Jordan’s UCC in neighboring Jeffriesburg, MO. Together with Rev. Lamkin, Rev. Knodt and Rev. Scott was praying with their feet.
These midwives called on their wider network of the church inserted in the struggle for justice and peace to stand in solidarity with the people of Ferguson.
Justice and Peace are the historic backbone of the UCC, declared Rev. Scott.
Rev. Geoffrey Black, UCC general minister and president joined lay and clergy from across the Missouri Mid-South Conference in a solidarity delegation to Ferguson. They prayed with the feet in the streets with the people. They prayed in the churches with the people in worship. They joined ecumenical and inter-faith assemblies to listen to the voices of the people and build stronger movements for justice. Rev. Black said, “The current conflict in Ferguson following the shooting of Michael Brown is the latest in a long series of similar events and the road to justice rebuilding all that is broken must begin now. This is bigger than a St. Louis issue – this is a national issue, so we are responding not only locally, but nationally.”
We are striving for a world where we deal with harm in our communities through healing, love, and kinship. This means an end to state sponsored violence, including the excessive use of force by law enforcement.
We are committed to an America that comes to terms with the trauma of its painful history and finds true reconciliation for it. Mass incarceration and the over criminalization of black and brown people must forever end, leaving in its place a culture that embraces our histories and stories. This means an end to racial bias and white supremacy in all its forms.
Our dreams are directly linked with those resisting militarism, war, and state repression around the world. We will achieve this new beloved community hand in hand, step by step, in global solidarity with all people committed to lasting peace and full justice.
UCC churches across the country have posted solidarity “Hands up-don’t shoot” photos of their congregations standing with their arms in the air.
Our offering this morning will include a solidarity offering. We will place our tithes and offerings in the bowels on the Table and then continue forward to the Chancel steps and gather for a solidarity “Hands up – Don’t Shoot” photo that we will add to the national campaign.
We are also invited by the Chicago Metropolitan Association of the UCC and our local community organization, ONE Northside, to join with people from across the city in a Vigil and solidarity action with the people of Ferguson. This will be held tomorrow, Monday at 11:00 am in front of the Federal Building at 219 South Deaborn.
Let us continue to strengthen our Wellington community through deepening our care and connection so that we are empowered to risk resistance to injustice as participants in building God’s kin-dom of justice and peace.
May we join Shiphrah, Puah, Renita, Karen and Felicia as wid-wives in the birthing of God’s kin-dom.