7

April 2024

Apr

We Walk in the Light

How Shall We Live

Second Sunday of Easter, Year B

This week, we explore what God is revealing about how we should live. Our worship materials and worship settings can demonstrate the revelation of God through word, song, image, and silence.

Throughout this series, we are asking the question, “How Shall We Live?” as we explore the lectionary texts from 1 John. This short season is an opportunity to explore how our way of life is consistent with God’s invitation to us to live as part of Creation. We look for opportunities to align our lives more fully with God’s interconnected and interdependent Creation, including human and beyond-human creatures.

In the sanctuary, consider displaying images of Earth, our common home, as seen from orbit. Alternatively, offer opportunities for congregation members to see how they are connected to others. Options for seasonal displays that will bring out the theme of living in connection with others might include:

  • Creating a place in the sanctuary where congregation members could participate in weaving fabric strips together to produce a hanging over the course of several weeks. Consider providing fabric straps in the green, brown, and blue of the natural world or fabric scraps that have prints on them showing animals, plants, soil, sunlight, or stars.
  • Using live plants on the altar instead of cut flowers. Live plants will grow throughout the season, revealing more and more of their life. April in various parts of the world will bring different weather patterns, so local options will vary. However, many bulbs can be “forced” in pots if they are planted inside before the season begins. These plants would then begin to show above the top of the soil on week one. By week three, there may even be buds or blooms.

This week, we explore what God is revealing about how we should live. Our worship materials and worship settings can demonstrate the revelation of God through word, song, image, and silence.

The author of 1 John uses a metaphor about light and dark. This may be a time to challenge your congregation to consider how some understandings of dark and light can be harmful because of the racism in our society; there are other options. Instead, consider what is revealed when we live in Christ. Although images and videos for this day may include the use of light and dark to convey the message, worship leaders also may use budding flowers or trees, doorways or entryways or passageways, and other symbolic options to indicate that what is revealed by life in Christ is relevant in settings beyond light and dark.

However, if the metaphor of light and dark is helpful to illustrate God’s action in our lives, revealing how we should live, Rev. Fernando P. Sanchez suggests the concepts of lighthouse and beacon as illustrations of God’s guidance.

A lighthouse is a tower, building, or other type of physical structure designed to emit light from a system of lamps and lenses and to serve as a beacon for navigational aid, for maritime pilots at sea or on inland waterways. As Christians, we have a lighthouse called Jesus who is our beacon to navigate our personal journey of faith. The radiant light of a lighthouse shines in the darkness, as Jesus is our radiant light of faith, hope, love, and redemption. There is no darkness in our spirit. Remember, we will walk in the light of Easter, a new beginning, a new hope of life in Jesus our God. (Rev. Fernando P. Sanchez)

This idea of what is revealed may be brought into worship through visuals that change and grow and transform throughout the time together, through the children’s moment as a puppet comes out of its home and items from a bag are revealed, and through the creative use of song and story. If your congregation used a black cloth to cover the cross on Good Friday, consider using a bright yellow, white, or gold cloth draped over just one side of the cross this morning to signify the empty cross of Easter being revealed from under the fabric on this new day.

Engaging the theme from our lived experience, some of what is revealed is a need for repentance for arrogance, greed, and injustice. It is worth taking the time for confession during this season as we seek to understand more fully the systems and practices that divide rather than unite Christians and others of faith and conscience in protecting and preserving what God has created.

However, that is not all that is revealed. The text in verse 4 points readers to the fact that what is revealed in how we live in Christ is that joy will be full or complete. By living as part of Creation, interconnected with and interdependent on all of what shares this planet, in love and respect for the role of each organism and mineral, we reveal joy in our way of life. Even from the beginning of the first service, this worship series points to the joy that can be revealed when we live in harmony and peace.


Rev. Laura Baumgartner, Seattle, WA (ancestral homelands of the Duwamish and Coast Salish peoples), is an elder in the Pacific Northwest Conference, serving Haller Lake United Methodist Church. She also participates in the United Methodist Creation Justice Movement.

The quote above is from Rev. Fernando P. Sanchez, O’Donnell, Texas (ancestral homeland of the Jumanos, Comanche, and Lipan Apache peoples), an elder in the Northwest Texas Conference, serving First United Methodist Church, O’Donnell. He is also part of the Worship Team of the United Methodist Creation Justice Movement.


Bulletin Insert

“God is light and in God there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5b).

Immerse yourself in God’s sunlight. Go hiking, enjoy a park, hunt for waterfalls and wildflowers, visit a botanical garden or arboretum; get out on the water in a sailboat, kayak, or canoe. Take your children or grandchildren to natural settings. Share your love for God’s Creation. Renew your commitment to care for the nature that renews you.

Let there be light! LED (light emitting diode) bulbs are brighter, don’t produce heat, and use 90 percent less energy than incandescent ones. Costs are coming down, and the bulbs last longer. Light up your home and challenge your church to do the same.

Put the sun to work. God provides renewable energy for all. Assess the possibilities you have, including solar for home, garage, business, and church rooftops, as well as community-shares panels. If those are not available or feasible currently, begin planning for using solar or wind in the next few years. Know that when people see solar panels installed, they are more willing to try them too. Be an influencer.

Shine a light for change. Full of discarded clothing, landfills are a dark practice, harmful to our climate and to those who live nearby. Change begins with us. Refuse the allure of fast fashion and the pressures of consumerism. Reduce the amount of clothing you buy. Reuse your garments for many years. Repair minor problems like a missing button or a loose hem. Recycle textiles responsibly.

See the earth in a new light. Learn from Indigenous peoples ways to live in harmony with nature. Our United Methodist Social Principles affirm their witness. Learn about and use these “10 Traditional Native American Gardening Techniques.”

Light a fire under policy makers. Systems and laws need to change. To care for

Creation and demand justice, write letters and emails, make calls, urge others to do so too; organize—you can help move those with power to action. Tell them what you value and urge them to make decisions for the common good and all of Creation.

Shed light on a dark secret. Explore the claims and practices of the petroleum industry. How long have they known that fossil fuels were warming the climate? What have they done with that knowledge? What are they doing now? Dig deep. Examine it in the light of God’s love. Then talk about what you’ve learned.

“Live as children of the light—for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true” (Ephesians 5:8b-9). When an action is controversial, listen and respond with words and actions based on what is good and right and true.

Be the light that guides. What the church does to care for Creation and justice is a powerful witness to the community and to its own community of faith. Solar panels, bike racks, composting food scraps, using dinnerware that can be washed instead of trashed, recycling worship bulletins—such actions guide others to take similar steps.

Lighten your carbon footprint, the amount of greenhouse gas emissions caused directly or indirectly by an individual, organization, event, or product. The average carbon footprint for a person in the United States is sixteen tons. Globally, it’s about four tons. Consuming less meat, reducing food waste, washing clothes in cold water, driving less, or using an electric vehicle or public transit are ways you can lighten your impact on the earth.

Crys Zinkiewicz is from Nashville, TN (ancestral homeland of the Cherokee Tribe). She is on the Communications Team for the UM Creation Justice Movement. She is a United Methodist EarthKeeper, and part of the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference Creation Care Ministry Team.


Contributors

We are so thankful to have members of the United Methodist Creation Justice Movement contribute to our worship resources for this series. You can find a full list of contributors below:

Rev. Laura Baumgartner

  • Seattle, WA (ancestral homelands of the Duwamish and Coast Salish peoples)
  • United Methodist Creation Justice Movement
  • Elder in the Pacific Northwest Conference, serving Haller Lake UMC

Rev. Laurie Bayen

  • Cotati, CA (ancestral homelands of the Southern Pomo and Coast Miwok peoples)
  • United Methodist Creation Justice Movement
  • Elder in the California-Nevada Annual Conference, serving Windsor Community UMC

Rev. Richenda Fairhurst

  • Ashland, Oregon (homeland of the Shasta and Takelma peoples)
  • United Methodist Creation Justice Movement
  • Climate Chaplain

Rev. Paul Mitchell

  • Walla Walla, WA (ancestral homelands of the Cayuse, Umatilla, Palus, and Walla Walla)
  • Senior Pastor at Pioneer United Methodist Church
  • United Methodist Creation Justice Movement, UM EarthKeeper
  • Elder in Full Connection in the Pacific Northwest Annual Conference

Carolyn Nichols

  • Maryland (ancestral lands of the Susquehannock and Piscataway peoples)
  • United Methodist Creation Justice Movement
  • Layperson, Epworth Chapel UMC in the Baltimore-Washington Conference

Rev. Fernando P. Sanchez

  • O’Donnell, TX (ancestral homeland of the Jumanos, Comanche, and Lipan Apache peoples)
  • United Methodist Creation Justice Movement
  • Elder in the Northwest Texas Conference, serving First UMC, O’Donnell

Rev. Kristina Sinks

  • Evanston, IL (ancestral homelands of the Potawatomi, Odawa (Ottawa) and Ojibwe Tribes)
  • United Methodist Creation Justice Movement
  • Provisional Deacon in the California-Nevada Annual Conference

Rev. Mark Terwilliger

  • York, PA (ancestral homelands of the Susquehannock peoples)
  • United Methodist Creation Justice Movement, UM EarthKeeper
  • Elder in the Susquehanna Annual Conference, serving Asbury York UMC

Rev. Nancy Victorin-Vangerud

  • Minneapolis, MN (ancestral homeland of the Dakota peoples)
  • United Methodist Creation Justice Movement, UM EarthKeeper
  • Retired Elder in the Minnesota Annual Conference

Crys Zinkiewicz

  • Nashville, TN (ancestral homeland of the Cherokee Tribe)
  • UM Creation Justice Movement, Communications Team, UM EarthKeeper
  • Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference Creation Care Ministry Team

In This Series...


Third Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes

Colors


  • White

In This Series...


Third Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B - Lectionary Planning Notes