January 24, 2021 - Home Worship Service

January 24th worship:

 

Welcome & Announcements: Good morning church! We continue to offer on-line worship through ZOOM and Facebook Live at 9am on Sundays.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85441468430?pwd=aEJmcnJ3SGdkbWphMnlRV3JwQ3dXQT09

  Meeting ID: 854 4146 8430        Password: 279040

One tap mobile:  +19294362866,,85441468430#,,,,0#,,279040# US (New York)

For audio only using a landline or non-smart phone:  1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

 

A New Way to Receive our Worship Services: Sermon by Phone.

Each week, following the live worship service, Pastor Jenn will upload the service to an account that when you call a local number, you will hear the service.

The number is:1-570-215-3814

You don't have to type in the 1 if you are in the 570 area code. There is no code or password. It takes you directly to the service. And that number never changes.  So, check it out, and enjoy a new service each week.

 

You Are Never Alone by Max Lucado Bible Study with Pastor Ron beginning February 16th.

When life feels depleted, does God care? I'm facing an onslaught of challenges; will God help? When life grows dark and stormy, does God notice? I'm facing the fear of death; will God help me? The answer in the life-giving miracles in the Gospel of John is a resounding yes. (See promo at: https://youtu.be/LuCR8n-J0rw )

10am Tuesday mornings in person at the Lighthouse. (Please register with Pastor Ron, there is a limit of 10.) 6:30pm Tuesday evenings with ZOOM and Facebook Live.

Join Zoom Meeting

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84464947805?pwd=ejRHZ3h3NlVKSGd3MFRoU2NwUTVSZz09

Meeting ID: 844 6494 7805               Passcode: 261088

One tap mobile:  +19294362866,,84464947805#,,,,*261088# US (New York)

For audio only using a landline or non-smart phone:  1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

            You can purchase the book through the church for $10 if you contact the church secretary by January 24 or you can find online with various prices.

 

Worship Service:

I invite you to prepare your hearts for worship by lighting a candle and welcoming the presence of the Divine at your home.

 

Call to Worship:

The God of all creation calls us.
We come, knowing that our deliverance and honor rest in God.
Power and steadfast love belong to God.
We come to sing and pray, celebrating the presence of this mighty, loving God.

 

Opening Song: Open My Eyes by Donna Farver

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/open-my-eyes-repeat

1.Open my eyes, that I may see Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see. Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

2.Open my ears, that I may hear Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
And while the wavenotes fall on my ear, everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see. Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

3.Open my mouth and let me bear Gladly the warm truth everywhere;
Open my heart and let me prepare Love with Thy children thus
to share.
Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready, my God, Thy will to see. Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!

 

Opening Prayer

Holy One, God of all Creation, You call us to be Your people, to carry Your vision in this time and place, to go where You send us to help welcome Your amazing, good news. As we gather in the presence of the risen Christ to spread the news that Your realm is near, fill us with Your glorious Spirit, that we may share Your good news with a world in need. Amen.

 

Children’s Time: It's our children's time and I want to start with a question I ask you each and every week: Who are you? Children Respond: Special Gifts of God!

 

PJ: That's right, you are special gifts of God each and every day and I'm so lucky to spend time with you!

 

This morning I want to share one of my favorite ways to explain how important it is to put God first. Some of you may recall this; to some of you it will be new.

            We start with a jar, a golf ball, and rice.

            Let’s say this jar is your life. And this golf ball is God. And the pieces of rice are all the things you do in life. So, you go to church, you play outside, you go to school, you read, you eat, you clean up your room. Maybe you participate in events like dancing or sports. So, your life is full. (Fill an empty jar with rice.) Now where does God come in? The golf ball won’t fit.

 

If we go through our lives, living each day with its activities and business, and try to add God to the life, it’s a little challenging. But let me show you another way to do this.

            If you begin with God first (The golf ball goes in the empty jar.), that means you start your day maybe with a prayer, or before you go to school or your events you pray to God thanking God for those events, or asking God to bless your time there, what happens when we make God first and add all the activities of our lives? (Pour the rice over the golf ball in the jar.)

            It all fits together.

            Today I will be sharing a message that reminds us how important it is to make God first in our lives. And I hope this example will help us all remember that.

 

Let’s pray: Thank You God, for everything. Help us make You first in our lives. Amen.  

 

Sharing of Joys & Concerns:

Prayer & Lord’s Prayer:

Lord, we come in this time of worship to be opened to You and Your ways for our lives because we know Your ways are the better ways, the ways that lead to comfort and blessings.

            So today we pray that You will open us, and those we have named before You, to Your courage for our fears. We pray that You will open us to Your light for our darkness; Your peace for our turmoil; Your hope for our despairs. We pray that You will open us to Your joys for our sorrows, Your strength for our weaknesses, Your wisdom for our confusion, and forgiveness of our sins.

            Finally, Lord, we pray that You will open us to Your love for our hate so that our praise for You may relieve our doubt, and we may gain Your insight for our troubles, as You lead us to Your cross for our lives.

            Lord, open us to the life You call us to through the power of Your Son Jesus Christ our Savior who is the way, the truth, and life, and who taught us how to pray saying… 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. 

 

Invitation to the Offering:

As we open ourselves to God, we open our hearts to the needs of others. Let us reach out and share what we’ve been given.

 

Offering Prayer:

Holy God, Steadfast Rock of all Salvation, we marvel at the strength of Your compassion and Your ability to offer forgiveness. We come to You, hungry to be part of the good news You are bringing forth, for we would be part of the realm You are revealing. Amen.

 

Sermon: The Beatitudes: Blessed are the Poor in Spirit

It’s Jesus’ teaching of the revelation of God’s will. They are instructions for us to shape our ways of life and our identity. More than that they offer a vision of an alternate community that contains justice, transformed relationships, shared resources, and of course faithfulness. I’m talking about the Beatitudes. You know, those sayings Jesus begins His Sermon on the Mount with.

Let me remind you with our lesson today:

Scripture Lesson: Matthew 5:1-3 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, He went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to Him, 2 and He began to teach them. He said:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Each week, for the next nine weeks, we will be looking at these teachings of Jesus. Yes, you will learn what the word beatitudes means, and while Webster defines the word as “a state of utmost bliss” (and no, I don’t mean the Bliss family that joins us from Long Island – so glad you join us!)

Jesus has another meaning for it.

But before we get to that, what we need to know to from the start of this study is the context and reasoning for these statements that Jesus shares.

First off, recognize that this is fairly early in Jesus ministry. If we follow Matthew’s timeline; in chapter 3, Jesus is baptized, then at the beginning of chapter 4 Jesus experiences temptation and calls His first disciples.

At the end of chapter 4 we are told, 23 Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and sickness among the people. 24 News about Him spread all over Syria, and people brought to Him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and He healed them. 25 Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed Him.

Jesus has established a following because He is healing their diseases. But He wants people to understand that God not only wants to heal us physically, God wants to also heal us emotionally and socially. God, unlike the Roman rule of the time, wants to help people, not just look at them as subjects they can profit from. Rather God wants people to know a kingdom where things will be made right. Jesus introduces this kingdom with His actions and words and ultimately will reveal this kingdom with His ministry.

However, these aren’t just words of what Jesus will do, they are a call to action as well. Anyone who seeks to live in such a divine kingdom, must be willing to trust and believe these teachings, even live them out and prove the kingdom of God is among us. And not just as individuals, but also as the church, the community of faith.

So, to start, the word beatitude does mean blessed, and we discover the blessed are the ones who experience a self-awareness with God, as well as a trust in God’s vindication for them. The blessed are those in the kingdom who are privileged, are fortunate, not based on finances or status, rather based on those who understand and welcome the reign of God in their lives. They are the blessed because God has acted for and in their lives.

If we look at today’s first teaching, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” we should know that to be poor in spirit meant to recognize that your life is not your own. Your identity is not in what you know and your experiences, but in having a certain spirit and understanding that there is more beyond yourself. To be poor in spirit is to be dependent upon God, recognizing that your only identity and security is with God.

As the New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary puts it, “there must be emptiness before there can be fullness, and so poverty of spirit precedes grace in the kingdom of God”.

Therefore, to be poor in spirit is to admit that we are powerless, we are unable to fully control our lives on our own, and so we seek God and God’s reign for us, because we know that welcoming God’s reign will bring God’s compassion, God’s wisdom, to help us live better.

In other words, a person who is poor in spirit will confess they are not God, and believe God knows a better way of living.

Let me give two examples of being poor in spirit. The first comes from King David of the Hebrew Bible.

One of the reasons why the Jewish tradition celebrates King David was his poverty in spirit in his writings.

From Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd, in Him I shall not want” to Psalm 139 where he writes, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. 24 See if there is any offensive way in me and lead me in the way everlasting.”

But there is another Psalm I want to lift up today that David wrote, Psalm 32.

Psalm 32 Of David.

1 Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
2 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.

Notice these words sound similar to what Jesus says in the beatitudes. Blessed are those who acknowledge one’s own mistakes, and the Lord who forgives.

He continues:

3 When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.

5 Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity.
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.” And you forgave the guilt of my sin.

Here David confesses that he held back from reflecting upon his actions and words, and by doing so he confesses he made mistakes, and it weighed heavily on him, to the point that his “strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” he says.

And yet he was able to come out of it by acknowledging his sins, confessing them, and God forgave.

And when that happened this is what David became aware of: 7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.

Do you hear the submission David has? The poverty of his spirit is to empty himself to be filled with God and God’s grace.

David ends by encouraging others: 10 Many are the woes of the wicked, but the Lord’s unfailing love surrounds the one who trusts in him.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” is a calling to you and to me. It is a realization that my life is not my own. And there are many different influences out there that will try to overrun me and my spirit including pride, anger, or jealousy, but if we make God first, if we put what God wills for me, for you, and what God wills for us as a church and community, our spirit will be surrounded by God’s unfailing love, as David calls it, or rather the kingdom of heaven, as Jesus says.

Let me close with my second example of being poor in spirit. There’s a prayer many of us are familiar with that leads the one saying the prayer to empty themselves and offer themselves to God. We know it as the Serenity Prayer, used daily by co-dependent people in the Alcoholic Anonymous program. The prayer was written by Reinhold Niebuhr.

However, in 2003, the daughter of the author, Elisabeth Sifton, wanted to make clear the meaning behind the prayer, so she wrote a book titled: The Serenity Prayer: Faith and Politics in Times of Peace and War. In this book, she claims the meaning behind this prayer begins in New England where her father was serving as a pastor. An on-going struggle he faced was how to relate his religion to his daily life in community and noticed his parishioners did, too. One day as he was working on a sermon, he began to write a prayer about the struggle to “accept what cannot be changed”. This was in 1933, when the U.S. was going through the Great Depression when 15 million Americans were unemployed and nearly half the country's banks had failed.

As his daughter Elisabeth stated her father wrote this prayer to “remind us of the human truth that no pain, death, or irreversible loss is easily managed. Yet acceptance must come serenely or not at all, since anger or resentment hardens the heart and makes acceptance impossible.”[1]

Niebuhr wrote this prayer to “relate their faith to their lives, the world of the spirit to the world of the here and now”.[2] And notice the original prayer asks for grace to accept with serenity.

God, give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, courage to change the things which should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace. Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will. So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.

Friends, to empty our pride and accept what we cannot change, to be poor in spirit is to admit that we are powerless, we are unable to control our lives on our own. Further to pray to accept this is to seek God and God’s reign for us, because we know that welcoming God’s reign will bring God’s compassion, God’s wisdom, so that we will be reasonably happy in this life, as Niebuhr says, or blessed, as Jesus calls it in the kingdom of heaven.

Closing Prayer

God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change; courage to change the things we can; and wisdom to know the difference. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Closing Song: Beautiful Things by LUMC Praise Band

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/beautiful-things

All this pain I wonder if I'll ever find my way. I wonder if my life could really change, at all
All this earth could all that is lost ever be found? Could a garden come out from this ground, at all?

Chorus:

You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of dust
You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us.

All around, hope is springing up from this old ground Out of chaos life is being found, in you

Chorus:  (twice)

You make me new, You are making me new. You make me new, You are making me new (Making me new)

You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of dust
You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us

Oh, you make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of dust
You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of us.

You make me new, You are making me new. You make me new, You are making me new.

You make beautiful things, You make beautiful things out of dust
 

Benediction: As we go out to meet a changing world, remember this: God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is our salvation. The realm of God is near, and we are on the way. Amen.

 

[1] P 12

[2] P. 11

 
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