January 16, 2022 - Home Worship Service

January 16, 2022 – 2nd Sunday after the Epiphany

Morning prayer Lord, open our hearts to the surprising ways in which You offer to us Your love and Your presence. Help us to truly believe in the wondrous ways that You work in our lives. Give us hearts and spirits for service to You. In Jesus' Name, we pray. Amen.  (Ministry Matters)

Call to Worship Psalm 36:5-10

Leader:  Your steadfast love, O Lord, extends to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the clouds.

People: Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, Your judgments are like the great deep; You save humans and animals alike, O Lord.

L: How precious is Your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.

P: They feast on the abundance of Your house, and You give them drink from the river of Your delights.

L: For with You is the fountain of life; in Your light we see light.

P: O continue Your steadfast love to those who know You, and Your salvation to the upright of heart!

Hymn #400 Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

  1. Come, Thou Fount of every blessing, tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
    streams of mercy, never ceasing, call for songs of loudest praise.
    Teach me some melodious sonnet, sung by flaming tongues above.
    Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it, mount of Thy redeeming love.
  2. Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by Thy help I'm come;
    and I hope, by Thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
    Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God;
    He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.
  3. O to grace how great a debtor daily I'm constrained to be!
    Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
    Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
    here's my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

Children’s message

2 Corinthians 12:4-11

4There are different kinds of gifts. But they are all given to believers by the same Spirit. 5There are different ways to serve. But they all come from the same Lord. 6There are different ways the Spirit works. But the same God is working in all these ways and in all people.

7The Holy Spirit is given to each of us in a special way. That is for the good of all. 8To some people the Spirit gives a message of wisdom. To others the same Spirit gives a message of knowledge. 9To others the same Spirit gives faith. To others that one Spirit gives gifts of healing. 10To others he gives the power to do miracles. To others he gives the ability to prophesy. To others he gives the ability to tell the spirits apart. To others he gives the ability to speak in different kinds of languages they had not known before. And to still others he gives the ability to explain what was said in those languages. 11All the gifts are produced by one and the same Spirit. He gives gifts to each person, just as he decides.

Candy Heart Words: “U R Kind”

Each one of us has been blessed to have special gifts we can share with others. Think of your own talents and the talents of those around you. There are so many ways to serve others. Can you tell me one of the ways you can serve others?

Why does God give us gifts? Today’s scripture verse teaches us that some people have the gift of wisdom and others have the gift of knowledge. These gifts have to do with doing well in school and being able to make wise choices.

Others have the gift of faith – a strong belief in the power and love of God.

Still others have the gift of healing. Add to this, that some have gifts of music, art, and strong sports skills. I wonder what gifts you possess that were given to you by the Holy Spirit.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul says, “There are different kinds of gifts. But they are all given to believers by the same Spirit.” (12:4). We are each given different gifts, but all the gifts come from the same source. That source is God.

Can you think of a way that you can use the gifts that God gave you to show others about God’s love? Maybe you are good at playing the piano. You could play worship music to sing for God. Maybe you are good at art. You could create artwork that honors God.

We need to recognize that all our special talents and gifts come from God. We should all work together for the same purpose – to honor God. Giving God the glory and praise is recognition that God is the source of our talents and gifts.

When we work together to honor God, we can share God’s love with others in our world. Look around at the people here in this church. I wonder what gifts you see in this church, your friends, and in others.

Our candy heart this week says, “U R Kind.” I wonder what you can do to share your special talents and gifts to serve others. I wonder how you can honor God as the source of those gifts. I wonder how you can find opportunities to share God’s love with others.

Prayer: God, the source of our gifts and special talents, we thank You for giving each of us such unique abilities. Help guide us to use those gifts to share Your love to the world. Remind us to honor You always as we use our gifts and abilities. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession:  Thank You most gracious and forgiving Father for hearing the cries of 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 trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass 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 spotlight:  Human Relations Day is one of six United Methodist offering Sundays.  United Methodists recognize the right of all God’s children to realize their potential as human beings.  You will find an offering envelope with your bulletin.  The offering supports neighborhood ministries through these groups:  United Methodist Voluntary Services, Community Developers and Youth Offender Rehabilitation Programs. 

Offertory prayer: Most gracious and loving God, source of all wholeness, forgiveness and mercy.  May Your Spirit accept these gifts of our hands and of our hearts.  You who make all things new, make us new creatures in Christ so that we can serve You in spirit and in truth.  The old things have passed away and we are new, thanks to Your loving grace.  Amen.

Preparation Hymn: #394 Something Beautiful

Something beautiful, something good; all my confusion He understood;

All I had to offer Him was brokenness and strife, but He made something beautiful of my life.

Message scripture: Isaiah 62:1-5

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until her vindication shines out like the dawn, and her salvation like a burning torch. The nations shall see your vindication, and all the kings your glory; and you shall be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will give. You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God. You shall no more be termed Forsaken, and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her, and your land Married; for the Lord delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a young woman, so shall your builder marry you, and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you.

Message:  This Too Shall Pass               Rev. Ron French

          Have you ever had a defeat so bad that you nearly gave up? Let me tell you about a pitcher for the old Brooklyn Dodgers named Harry Hartman. Hartman was a gifted young pitcher whose day of glory arrived in 1918 when he was called up from the minor leagues to pitch a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Hartman had dreamed of a great career, but his dreams started to fade when his very first pitch was hit for a single. Then the next batter tripled.

          Hartman was so shaken up that he walked the next batter on four straight pitches. When he did throw a strike to the next batter, it went for a single. At that point he had had enough. He headed for the showers, got dressed, and walked out of the stadium. He went straight to the Navy recruiting office, where he enlisted. The next day he was in a military uniform, never to be heard from in professional baseball again. Poor ole Harry. Defeated before he ever really began.

          In 1957, Henry Ford bragged about producing the car of the decade. That car turned out to be the Edsel. How bad was the Edsel? There is only one reported case of an Edsel ever being stolen. That probably sums up the car’s popularity.

          The wisest people are those who learn to handle life’s difficult moments. Setbacks. Failures. Embarrassments. Humiliation. They happen to all of us. When actress Carol Channing was on the west coast touring in ‘Hello Dolly!’ there was the inevitable time for the press to ask questions in each city. Carol was a journalist’s delight, because those writers knew they could ask her almost anything and get an entertaining reply. However, at one session, a reporter asked her, “Miss Channing, do you remember the most embarrassing moment of your life?” “Yes, I certainly do,” replied Carol. “Next question?”

          Embarrassments happen. Heartaches happen. Sorrow happens. Life throws us difficult pitches. And every once in a while a real tragedy occurs. On the wall of the museum at Dachau is a large, touching photograph of a mother and her little girl standing in the line to enter a gas chamber. The child, who is walking in front of her mother, doesn’t know where she is going or what is about to happen. The mother, walking behind her daughter, does know, but is helpless to stop the tragedy. So in her helplessness the mother performs the only act of love left to her. She puts her hands over her child’s eyes so at least she will not see the horror to come.

          This can be a cruel world. Cruel to us, cruel to those we love. Like that mother, we all would like to shield ourselves and our children from the horrors of life, but sooner or later we find ourselves face-to face with life’s harsh realities – death, loss, rejection, failure, grief.  That is why these words from God through the prophet Isaiah bring us comfort and hope.

“For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent,

and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest.

until her vindication shines out like the dawn,

and her salvation like a burning torch.

The nations shall see your vindication,

and all the kings your glory;

and you shall be called by a new name

that the mouth of the Lord shall give.

You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the Lord,

and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.

You shall no more be termed Forsaken,

and your land shall no more be termed Desolate;

but you will be called My Delight Is in Her…”

Isaiah 62:1-4a

          Isaiah was speaking to the people of Israel. This was a difficult time in their history and the people felt forsaken. They had been battered by their enemies. They were in exile. Only a remnant remained from the days of their former greatness. And yet, Isaiah assures them, God has not forsaken them. Do not lose hope he is saying to them. The final results are not in. God will not rest until his people are vindicated.

          While these words were spoken to a particular people at a particular point in history, sisters and brothers, they still apply to us today. If you feel forsaken because of the pandemic or the political climate or a personal issue, hear these words of comfort and assurance. God has not abandoned you. God’s hand still sustains you. God will not let you fall. You see, when we feel really down, three things often happen to us.

          First of all, we generalize. We see one thing going wrong and we generalize that our whole world is out of whack. Maybe only 10% of our life is in the pits, but we have a tendency to focus on that 10% and forget that the other 90% is still pretty good. Let’s say your business is in trouble. Sales are down. The specter of bankruptcy rears its ugly head. I don’t want to minimize how devastating that can be. Yet, you still have your health, you still have a solid marriage, and your children are still pretty good kids. We live in a land where bankruptcies are forgiven and people can start over. Don’t let the 10% that is bad overwhelm the 90% that is good. We generalize. We assume that because one area of our life is crumbling, all our life is in trouble.

          The second faulty assumption we make is that we think our problems are permanent. That’s how it feels anyway. Our lives are over. We will never know happiness again. You may remember the ancient legend that was told about King Solomon. Solomon wanted to humble his most trusted advisor. So he said to him, “There is a certain ring that I want you to bring to me. It has magical powers.” Then he continued, “If a happy person looks at it, they become sad, and if a sad person looks at it they become happy.” Solomon knew that no such ring existed in the world, but he wished to give his advisor a little taste of humility.

          Months went by and still the advisor had no idea where he could find such a ring. Then one day he decided to take a walk in one of the poorest quarters of Jerusalem. He passed by a merchant who had begun to set out the day’s wares. “Have you by any chance heard of a ring that makes the happy wearer forget their joy and the broken-hearted wearer forget their sorrow?” asked the advisor. The old man took a plain gold ring from his carpet and engraved something in it. When the advisor read the words on the ring, his face broke out in a wide smile. That night the advisor presented the ring to King Solomon. As soon as Solomon read the inscription on the ring, he knew that his advisor had bested him. The inscription consisted of these four words, “This too shall pass.”

          “This too shall pass,” says the wise person. Nothing is permanent, whether it is pain or joy. It is one of the mantras I try to live by. There are people – including all age groups – who have a setback in life and they become so distraught that they feel that they cannot go on. If they had just waited – if a friend had just gotten to them in time – they would have discovered that most problems are only temporary.

          Brothers and sisters, nothing in this world is permanent – except the love of God. Everything else disappears sooner or later. Again, I’m not minimizing the pain you might be in right now. Life can be very cruel and our emotional pain con be very intense. However, if given time, we are able to deal with our hurts and some of them, if not most of them, do heal.

          The third faulty assumption we make is that we are alone. Nothing could be more normal than to feel that God has forsaken us. Even Jesus, hanging on the cross cried out, “My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” If you have never asked that question, just wait. Most of us do sooner or later. But Jesus knew that God had not forsaken Him. His was a cry of ultimate pain. The sins of the world were on His back. His cry was that of reaching the absolute depths of pain. Perhaps for a moment He felt forsaken, but not for long. There may be a time when you feel you have plunged to the lowest depth you could possibly plunge to. You, too, may feel forsaken. But deep in your heart you know that even though you cannot feel God’s presence at that moment, you are not alone.

          Scottish preacher James Stewart once described our lives like this: “It is when you have sunk right down to rock bottom that you suddenly find you have struck the “Rock of Ages.” “You shall no more be termed Forsaken,” writes the prophet Isaiah, “and your land shall no more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her…” (4a) Sisters and brothers don’t focus on the little that is going wrong and forget the much that is right. Remember these four important words, “This Too Shall Pass.” And remember the words of the prophet, you are not forsaken.

Closing Hymn #140 Great Is Thy Faithfulness

  1.  Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father;

there is no shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changest not, Thy compassions, They fail not;

as Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Refrain:

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!  Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

  1. Summer and winter and spring-time and harvest,

sun, moon, and stars in their courses above

join with all nature in manifold witness

to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Refrain.

  1. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright home for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Refrain.

Benediction:  Go into this week with the blessings of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

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