August 21-27, 2022 - Home Worship

08/21-27/2022 – 11th week after Pentecost

Morning prayer: God-Who-Knows-Us, In Jeremiah, we read how You formed our souls, long before anyone knew us. You consecrated us for kingdom work long before our birth. You’ve called us to be a prophet to the nations! We know that life moves in cycles of growth and destruction, picking and pulling, building and overthrowing. Yet, we may rest in the assurance that we are known and loved by God, who creates beautiful things! Amen.  (Discipleship Resources)

Hymn: #375 There Is a Balm in Gilead

Refrain:  There is a balm in Gilead to make the wounded whole;

There is a balm in Gilead to heal the sin-sick soul.

  1. Sometimes I feel discouraged, and think my work’s in vain.

But then the Holy Spirit revives my soul again.

  1. Don’t ever feel discouraged, for Jesus is your friend,
    and if you look for knowledge He’ll ne’er refuse to lend.
  2. If you can’t preach like Peter, if you can’t pray like Paul,
    just tell the love of Jesus, and say He died for all. 

Call to Worship Jeremiah 1:4-10

Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Truly I do not know how to speak, for I am only a boy.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a boy’; for you shall go to all to whom I send you, and you shall speak whatever I command you, Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, says the Lord.” Then the Lord put out His hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, “Now I have put my words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant.”

Children’s message Scripture:  Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come?

My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

He will not let your foot be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber.

He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.

The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.

The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.

The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life.

The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.

Prayer to bless the children and staff for a new school year:

ONE: With You, every transition and new start is a reminder of Your goodness, for You are always creating fresh, amazing things in us and through us. Though we are sad about the summer ending, we are grateful for this school year. We appreciate the opportunity to learn and grow, knowing it is one of the biggest privileges we have. With thanks and love, we now offer everything we are to You, asking for Your blessing.

We pray as and for students of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. We pray for our hearts and all they hold—excitement and nervousness, disappointment and hope. We give you all our loves and fears. We pray for steady self-esteem and deepening resilience.

ALL: Loving God, hold us and our prayers.

ONE: We pray for our minds, that they will expand in wonder and celebration, learning not just from the books studied but the people beside us. Open our minds with a willingness to be changed in unexpected ways, and settle our thought loops in peaceful places.

ALL: Loving God, hold us and our prayers.

ONE: We pray for our hands, that they will reach out to help welcome and care. Bless our hands with patience and dedication as they grip pencils and type on keyboards, swish paint brushes and clap in song, grip monkey bars and lunch box handles, spin wheelchair tires and basketballs.

ALL: Loving God, hold us and our prayers.

ONE: We pray for our mouths, that they will speak words bringing life and connection. Help us use our mouths to honor the dignity and belovedness of all. Remind us to open our mouths for deep belly breaths when we’re feeling anxious or afraid.

ALL: Loving God, hold us and our prayers.

ONE: We pray for our feet, that they will move toward those different from us and help others in safe ways. Plant our feet next to those who feel alone, and bless our steps down hallways and sidewalks. We know You are with us wherever our feet go or stay.

ALL: Loving God, hold us and our prayers.

ONE: We pray for our eyes, that they may see ourselves and others with compassion. Point our eyes toward those who are forgotten or struggling. Grow us in flexibility to see from all kinds of angles. Bless what and how we see, whether we’re looking at a screen, a whiteboard, or the beauty of a person’s face. And help us see with the most important eyes—the eyes of the Spirit within us.

ALL: Loving God, hold us and our prayers.

ONE: We pray for our ears, that they will genuinely listen to all voices, especially those that haven’t been listened to much. When things get noisy, help us listen extra carefully for Your voice. Help us hear with the most important ears—the ears of the Spirit within us.

ALL: Loving God, hold us and our prayers.

ONE: We say a special prayer for parents, as the start of a new school year is always another leap of faith. Wrap them with Your reassuring love as they entrust their children and trust in You. When questions remain unanswered, and the realm of control is finite, bless them with peace and the promise You are right there with their child, whether heading to preschool or driving to college.

ALL: Loving God, hold us and our prayers.

ONE: We also pray now for teachers, staff and administrators. Bless these faithful servants with courage and confidence, knowing You are in their classroom with a steady hand on their shoulder. Give them peace, patience, and balance in the pressures they face, and bravery to build structures and systems which justly serve all Your children. Give them delight in the young ones before them, and recognition of the sweet ways children are also teachers.

ALL: Loving God, hold us and our prayers.

ONE: We pray for health and wholeness, fun and growth, surprise and amazement, for this school year ahead, knowing You will hold us all the way through.

ALL: We thank You, God, and love You. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You, Lord, for hearing our prayers for those dear to our hearts.  We now pray as You have taught us: Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us. Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.  For Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.  Amen.  

Offering spotlightMissions funds support the Salvation Army in Bloomsburg. Its ministry is motivated by the love of God.  Its mission is to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human needs in His name without discrimination.

Offering prayer: Mighty God, bringing our tithes and offerings to You today, we pray over them and sing Your praises. Then we slink back into our day-to-day lives, hoping those gifts meet the expectations of our discipleship. You have called us to more – to speak for You, to make our testimony part of our offering, which terrifies us. Then scripture reminds us that You will provide us with the words. Give us the faith and courage to speak of Your love, mercy, and compassion. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen. (Discipleship Resources)

Hymn of Preparation: #261 Lord of the Dance

  1. I danced in the morning when the world was begun,

And I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun,

And I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth. At Bethlehem I had my birth.

Refrain:  Dance, then, wherever you may be; I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.

And I’ll lead you all wherever you may be, and I’ll lead you all in the dance, said He.

  1. I danced for the scribe and the Pharisee,

but they would not dance and they would not follow me;

I danced for the fishermen, for James and John; they came to Me and the dance went on.

  1. I danced on the Sabbath when I cured the lame, the holy people said it was a shame;

They whipped and they stripped and they hung me high;

and they left Me there on a cross to die.

  1. I danced on a Friday and the sky turned black; it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back;

They buried My body and they thought I’d gone, but I am the dance and I still go on.

  1. They cut Me down and I leapt up high, I am the life that’ll never, never die;

I’ll live in you if you’ll live in Me; I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.

Gospel Lesson Luke 13:10-17

Now He (Jesus) was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, He called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When He laid His hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When He said this, all His opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that He was doing.

Message: Proper Use of the Sabbath              Rev. Ron French

A man tells the story of leaving a grocery store when he was approached by two small boys selling candy bars for their baseball team.

The man told the boys he would buy two chocolate bars on one condition. “You eat them for me.” The boys quickly agreed. The man bought the chocolate bars and promptly handed them back to the boys. One of the boys shook his head and said, “I can’t.” “Why not?” asked the man. The boy looked at him straight in the eye and said, “I’m not supposed to take candy from strangers.” Now there’s a little boy who knows how to follow the rules. He may not understand why he’s not supposed to take candy from strangers, but he understands obedience to his parents who taught him that.

So, no matter the circumstances he finds himself in, he keeps the rules. As a consequence, at least on this occasion, he missed out on a free chocolate bar.

It’s not a popular subject in our world today, but let’s talk for a few moments about obedience. Obedience, especially when it requires sacrifice, is an admirable quality. Sisters and brothers you have to believe in a cause greater than yourself to obey a rule or a principle that cause you to sacrifice your own pleasure or comfort. Our Scripture lesson from Luke is partly about the Sabbath, and what it means to keep the Sabbath holy. Why did God create the Sabbath, and how does God expect us to keep it holy? What is expected out of us with regard to obedience to God’s law?

In her junior year in high school, Pastor Barbara Brown Taylor dated a standout basketball player named David. David could have been the star of his high school team. But because he was Jewish, he abstained from playing on Friday nights. Why? You may ask. Because the Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday. He felt that playing basketball was a violation of the Sabbath law. Since so many high school basketball games are on Friday nights, this was a real sacrifice. After the Friday night basketball games, Barbara and her friends would go to David’s house to give him all the details of the game he missed. They sat and talked in the glow of candlelight, since David’s family also did not use electricity on the Sabbath. One Friday night, a teammate asked David how he handled missing the Friday night games, especially when his team usually lost without him. Barbara writes that David answered, “No one makes me do this. I am a Jew, and Jews observe the Sabbath.” Six days a week, he said, he loved nothing more than playing basketball and he gladly gave all he had to the game. On the seventh day, he loved being a Jew more than he loved playing basketball, and he just as gladly gave all he had to the Sabbath. There’s a young man who understands the meaning of obedience. We may not agree with his interpretation of keeping the Sabbath, but I believe all of us should admire his commitment to his faith. For centuries, Orthodox Jews have kept a strict observance of the Sabbath as the Lord’s Day of rest. And this young man was one.

Orthodox Jewish believers in Jesus’ day did not work on the Sabbath, even if that work involved an act of healing. In our lesson from Luke’s Gospel a leader of the synagogue accused Jesus of working on the Sabbath because he had healed a woman on the Sabbath. This Jewish leader was indignant that Jesus would break Jewish law. He believed that you had six other days to ask for healing. Why do you have to be so needy on the Sabbath day? He believed that Jesus’s act of healing was interfering with the religious observances of the people.

In the Jewish synagogues of Jesus’ day, there would be separate places for the men and women to worship. Men sat up front. Women sat in the back. There was a woman present that day who had been severely crippled for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up. Imagine living for eighteen years in that condition. Jesus saw the woman and her suffering and had pity on her. Her condition would have been horribly painful, and probably interfered with simple things like enjoying a face-to-face conversation with her friends and family. Fortunately, Jesus saw her. He called her over to Him and told her that she had been set free. Then He touched her, resulting in her instant healing. Immediately the woman started praising God for her healing. It was an awesome miracle of God. EXCEPT FOR ONE THING. Jesus did this act of mercy on the Sabbath, and in this synagogue this was not kosher.

The leader of the synagogue was incensed. And we have to wonder why. Imagine witnessing a miracle like the release of this woman who had been suffering with this disabling condition for eighteen years, and not being able to praise God for it. Now sisters and brothers, it is important to note that Jesus is not minimizing the holiness of God by freeing this burdened woman on the Sabbath. In fact, I believe, that her healing is a Sabbath act. In Deuteronomy 5:15, Moses’ reminded the people of Israel of God’s commands: “Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.”

What the leader of the synagogue didn’t seem to grasp was that setting people free from slavery or from pain and suffering is honoring the Sabbath. How better to honor the Sabbath than to help someone who is in great distress? How better to honor the Sabbath than to give freedom to someone who is suffering?

In Washington DC’s Museum of the Bible, there is a so-called “Slave Bible” on display. If you have never heard of the Slave Bible, it is a reminder of how the Bible was once distorted and misused to justify slavery and keep African Americans in bondage. The Slave Bible was compiled in the early 1800s. Anthony Schmidt, Associate Curator of Bible and Religion in America, explains how the Slave Bible worked.

“The biggest thing is what it’s missing,” he says.

The typical King James Bible has 66 books. The Slave Bible, however, contained only 14 Old Testament books, and some of them were incomplete. As for the New Testament, major sections are left out. The Slave Bible starts with the creation story…then it jumps to Joseph getting sold into slavery by his brothers. Interestingly enough it portrays this as a good thing for Joseph. The Slave Bible then skips over the Israelites slavery in Egypt…In the New Testament the whole book of Revelation is left out, so there is no new heaven, no new earth, nothing to look forward to. According to Schmidt, almost every reference to freedom is removed from this Bible. Slave owners claimed that they were being good Christians by teaching their slaves God’s word. But since they were using such a distorted, misleading text, they could ensure that their slaves wouldn’t get any ideas that their lives were important to God and that freedom was God’s desire for them. Fortunately, educated slaves and traveling preachers spread the true message of God’s love among the slaves. For those who could not read or didn’t have access to a proper Bible, they often created songs and spirituals to teach them the Gospel message. Some of those songs are still sung in churches today. Do any of these sound familiar?

“Go, Tell It on the Mountain”

“Were You There”

“It’s Me, It’s Me, O Lord”  (Standing in the Need of Prayer)

“There Is a Balm in Gilead”

“Lord, I Want to Be a Christian”

“We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder”

“Kum Ba Yah”

“This Little Light of Mine”

“Let Us Break Bread Together”

“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

Can you imagine being so desperate to keep another person in slavery that you would decimate God’s word? Can you imagine being so evil that you would turn God’s word into propaganda to keep people in bondage?

God created us in His image, and His plan from the beginning of creation was to free us from the suffering of this world and restore us to His image. God’s promise of freedom helps us to overcome any burdens we face in life. Let me give you an example of a man who got to experience that kind of freedom. The late world-renowned physicist Stephen Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at the age of 21. At that time he was given two years to live. Miraculously he made it to the age of 76, dying in March of 2019. Nevertheless he spent most of his adult life in a wheelchair as the muscles and nerves in his body deteriorated rapidly, trapping a brilliant mind in a weak and helpless body. One of Dr. Hawking’s friends is a brilliant engineer and inventor named Peter Diamandis.

Peter is a pioneer in making space exploration accessible to people. He has a company that offers zero-gravity flights to the public. So he arranged to fly Dr. Hawking on one of his flights on a specially modified 727 aircraft so he could experience zero-gravity for himself. This was very special because it would be the first time in forty years that Dr. Hawking would be free from his wheelchair. At first, the Federal Aviation Administration blocked their plans because their rules specified that only “able-bodied” people could fly in zero-gravity. So Peter bought a malpractice insurance policy for the flight and consulted with all of Dr. Hawking’s physicians. They finally signed off on the flight. Then he had a special emergency room set up on the plane just in cast Dr. Hawking suffered any medical emergencies on the flight. After all these preparations, Dr. Hawking was finally ready for his historic flight.

The pilot had only intended to take one arc in zero-gravity that would last just a few minutes.

But Dr. Hawking enjoyed it so much that they ended up making eight arcs in zero-gravity, while Dr. Hawking floated free from his wheelchair. In an interview later, Dr. Hawking said, “For me, this was true freedom. People who know me well say that my smile was the biggest they’d ever seen. I was Superman for those few minutes.”

Can you imagine the smile on Stephen Hawking’s face that day as he experienced freedom from his wheelchair? Can you imagine the smile on the face of the woman who had been bent over for 18 years whom Jesus healed that day in the synagogue? Can you imagine standing up straight for the first time in eighteen years and feeling like a Superwoman? Setting people free is God’s work. Therefore, it is Sabbath work. Setting people free was Jesus’ mission whether it was freedom from painful disabilities, or freedom from a hurtful past or freedom from sin and anxieties. That is why He came into the world – to set people free. Helping people is what the Sabbath is all about.

And one thing more: praising God is honoring the Sabbath. After Jesus reached out and touched the woman, instantly she straightened up and began praising God. This woman knew that she had been set free. She knew that this was something only God could do for her. And so without hesitation she began praising God. This woman’s healing had freed her. But even if we are never physically healed, even if we are still hurting and burdened and looking for answers, praising God sets us free. We were made to praise God. Praising God helps us to rise up, like this woman, and thank God and worship God and remember that God is the source of our life. Praising God is the ultimate Sabbath act, for in praise we recognize who God is, who God made us to be, and how God made us to live in relationship with God.

God established the Sabbath, not to bind us up with unnecessary rules, but to remind us who God is, of who God made us to be, of how God provides for us, and of how the people of God will spend eternity sharing in God’s Sabbath—rest. And once we understand that, we can offer that same hope and truth and freedom to others in Jesus’ name so that all God’s people may rise up and live.

Closing Hymn: #382 Have Thine Own Way, Lord

  1. Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
    Thou art the potter, I am the clay. Mold me and make me after Thy will,
    while I am waiting, yielded and still.
  2. Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
    Search me and try me, Savior today!
    Wash me just now, Lord, wash me just now, as in Thy presence humbly I bow.
  3. Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
    Wounded and weary, help me I pray! Power, all power, surely is Thine!
    Touch me and heal me, Savior divine!
  4. Have Thine own way, Lord! Have Thine own way!
    Hold o'er my being absolute sway. Fill with Thy Spirit till all shall see
    Christ only, always, living in me!

Go into your week with the blessings of The Father, The Son, The Holy Spirit.

Contents © 2023 Lightstreet United Methodist Church • Church Website Builder by mychurchwebsite.netPrivacy Policy