January 30, 2022 - Home Worship Service

January 30, 2022 – 4th Sunday after the Epiphany

Morning prayer – God of Gods: We come to worship today to hear Your good news,

to hear of faith, hope and love ringing out from Your kingdom. We know that doubt, fear and hatred can shake even the strongest. Shape us into faithful hopeful people, fill us with Your love that passes all understanding. We pray this together in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #528 Nearer My God to Thee

  1. Nearer, my God, to thee, nearer to thee! E'en though it be a cross that raiseth me,
    still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee; nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
  2. Though like the wanderer, the sun gone down, darkness be over me, my rest a stone;
    yet in my dreams I'd be nearer, my God, to Thee; nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
  3. There let the way appear, steps unto heaven; all that Thou sendest me, in mercy given;
    angels to beckon me nearer, my God, to Thee; nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
  4. Then, with my waking thoughts bright with Thy praise, out of my stony griefs Bethel I'll raise;
    so by my woes to be nearer, my God, to Thee; nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!
  5. Or if, on joyful wing cleaving the sky, sun, moon, and stars forgot, upward I fly,
    still all my song shall be, nearer, my God, to Thee; nearer, my God, to Thee, nearer to Thee!

Children’s message

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.”

It isn’t a secret and should not come as a surprise, I love the prophets. They, at the risk of their very lives, spoke God’s word to God’s people. Their messages are timeless and continue to call us into God’s vision for the Kingdom on Earth and Jesus is the manifestation of the Kingdom brought near. Jesus repeated the message of the prophets because it was and is God’s word and today we get to spend some time with Jeremiah.

God called Jeremiah as a young boy. God tells Jeremiah that God knew him before he was even born and that Jeremiah was born to be a messenger of God. I bet Jeremiah was frightened, maybe even in denial that God would call him. But God was with Jeremiah. Jeremiah brought words of comfort to Israel and words of destruction and not everybody was excited to hear what Jeremiah had to say.

Jeremiah reminds us today, to listen to children. Your fresh eyes and ears are to remind us where we may have gotten off track; where we may have become more worldly thinking when it comes to our relationship with God and we need your help to be prophets to us. We need you to point us to God’s wonder. You see things differently than us, you have a sense of awe that maybe we have lost and more than anything, we need you to remind us of the beauty of God’s world and all of God’s creation. Sometimes, when we get older, we forget and God sent you to us to remind us. Be bold and speak to us, because we are listening.

Let us pray: Father God, we thank You for this Your wonderful gift of these young prophets. Protect them and guide them, soften our hearts to hear their questions, make us brave enough and courageous enough to learn from them. You knew them before they were born and You have anointed and ordained them to speak to us for You. In Jesus’ name we pray. 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:  Your Loving Choices is a local crisis pregnancy center.  YLC exists to encourage and equip women and men to make informed pregnancy decisions.  They do not charge for services. YLC gives medical information and other resources.  Without judgment, they support choices to parent, adopt or end a pregnancy.  YLC liasons are Cheryl Dent and Angie Klock. 

Offertory prayer: Loving God, we have been blessed with so much through Your goodness. As we bring our gifts in gratitude this morning, You remind us that it doesn’t matter what we have in our lives, if we do not have love, we have nothing. This love is not the love of Valentine’s Day cards, and not even the love we feel among families, which are both rich blessings. You long for us to experience agape love – the love of the world, the love for those we don’t even know. Open our eyes and our hearts. In Christ, our teacher, we pray. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn of Preparation #536 Precious Name

  1. Take the name of Jesus with you, child of sorrow and of woe;
    it will joy and comfort give you; take it then, where'er you go.
    Refrain:
    Precious name, O how sweet! Hope of earth and joy of heaven.
    Precious name, O how sweet! Hope of earth and joy of heaven.
  2. Take the name of Jesus ever, as a shield from every snare;
    if temptations round you gather, breathe that holy name in prayer.
    (Refrain)
  3. O the precious name of Jesus! How it thrills our souls with joy,
    when His loving arms receive us, and His songs our tongues employ!
    (Refrain)
  4. At the name of Jesus bowing, falling prostrate at His feet,
    King of kings in heaven we'll crown Him, when our journey is complete.
    (Refrain)

Message scripture: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

Message:  How Will We Love Thee?  Let Us Count the Ways            Pastor Becky Cuddeback

When you hear these words of Paul from 1Corinthians, where do your thoughts immediately go? Do you think about weddings, or possibly a funeral? This scripture has unfortunately become relegated to an ideal of individual love in the sense of a coupling. How two people will strive to live together, which don’t get me wrong, is beautiful, but limited and frankly unattainable for just the two. It sets up failure, because it isn’t to be boxed in and it isn’t meant to be used as a measuring stick of one person up against another. It is the goal of a community of believers.

Paul is writing to a church, an assembly of people. Now, these folks are in strife with one another and with the community around them. The church in Corinth is being battered by the culture around them, the new ins and outs, the influx of different populations and each of those populations is bringing with it different traditions and beliefs, different norms and values and yet, there are still the old norms and values, traditions and beliefs. Really these Christians are the new kids on the block and they are trying to figure out life together and life in community. Does any of that sound familiar, like maybe it could be the church of now that Paul is writing to? When I say the word is timeless – here is one of the prime examples. Paul is writing to them to focus them on what love of God looks like in community. Paul is lifting up to them that only in loving others and loving them well can they love God and loving God is the measure. Jesus tells us the greatest command is to love God and the second is like it, to love your neighbor. Jesus goes so far as to say that the law and the prophets hinge upon it. Now Paul is telling them what that love is to look like and it has to be in community for community. None of us can live up to this definition of love by ourselves, we need a community to act upon and a community to keep us on track. Let’s break this down into the community we love and the love we receive in the community.

The community we love

The community we are called to love are our neighbors. Jesus gives us a beautiful definition of who is our neighbor, which is simply any one in need of our love. Now, what might help us here is a quick word swap. The King James uses charity instead of the word love which is a better word for what it is we are to be: charitable. It changes the positioning of our heart and our mind and reminds us this acting is to go out from us and only by going out from us can it reach our neighbor and God. Remember, this charity is a component of our worship and our love of and for God. It cannot be tied to our feelings and our feelings get affected when we aren’t surrounded by a community that is also focused on charity.

The community that loves us

The community that loves us is our fellowship and part of love is to keep us on track. It is in the community we are held accountable. If we go back to the text and look deeply and intently at verses 4-7 we see what love is and what it isn’t – what it does and what it doesn’t do. Only a community that loves us will support us and correct us. Left to our own devices, or maybe I should narrow that a bit – if I am left to my own devices – I will keep score, I will be boastful, I will be impatient – only through discipleship and reproof, can I be kept on the path of love/charity. In the moment, I will forget that my loving, my charity is to reflect God and worship God. Only in community, will I be able to stay in love with the ordinances of God, the messages of the prophets, the commands of Christ. We hold each other accountable so love as defined by Paul is what our fellowship looks like. Now will we be perfect?  Not always, but together, there should be at least one of us that can keep the rudder straight, keep the train on the track, give best witness – not for personal gain – but for the good of the community. We have forgotten we are not alone. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit so we would not be orphaned, and the Holy Spirit is what binds us together, more than friendship, more than family.

The consequences of how we love

What Paul was trying to get the church in Corinth to understand and what we need to understand as well is this: our love, our charity isn’t an earning of salvation, but a direct reflection of our love of God. It is part of our worship and maybe the most important part of our worship. We can sing all the songs, read all the scriptures and offer all that we have, but without loving God’s world, we are no different than the world around us. We are to be reflecting God as a community and it is in how we love.

Let us pray:

Gracious God, we are able to love because You loved us first. Convict us to reflect Your love. The love we desire for ourselves, let it flow from us out into our world. We cannot claim what we are unwilling to share. Show us where we fall short, encourage us to hold each other accountable for the love we share and the love we withhold, all for the glory of Your kingdom. In and through Jesus’ victorious name. Amen.

Closing Hymn Go Now in Peace

Go now in peace...never be afraid. God will go with you each hour of every day.

Go now in faith, steadfast, strong and true.  Know He will guide you in all you do.

Go now in love, and show you believe.  Reach out to others so all the world can see.  

God will be there, watching from above.  Go now in peace, in faith, and in love.

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

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