June 14, 2020 - Home Worship service

June 14 Worship:

 

Welcome & Announcements: Good morning church! We have a big announcement: Sunday June 28thwe will gather for our first worship service at 9am in the Lighthouse. The guidelines are sent separately so you understand how we are moving forward. Most importantly remember for all church activities for now, please bring your own chair and wear a mask. (this includes Bible study, crafters, meetings, and worship)

 

But we will still continue to email and mail the services too.

 

For now remember we can have communal worship on line:

Sunday 9:00 am Zoom Worship & Prayer there is no more 8am or 6pm Zoom gatherings.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/757496754?pwd=ZUwyam5pYlI5L0tGSVJqRnNFWmlndz09

Or dial 1 929 436 2866 (toll free)

Meeting ID: 757 496 754

Password: 522345

 

Worship:

I invite you to light a candle to welcome the Light of the World in your presence and prepare your heart for worship this day:

 

Call to Worship

L: Raise your voices in response to God’s goodness.
P: We praise you, O Lord, for all the blessings you have given us.

L: Lift your hearts in sweet surrender to God’s mercy.
P: We thank you, O Lord, for hearing the prayers of our hearts.

L: God is good; Praise be to God!
P: The love and mercy of God never fails. AMEN.

 

Opening Song: Open My Eyes That I May See by Donna Farver

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/open-my-eyes-repeat/s-VXkQ2TlFN2L

 

  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.
  • Refrain 1:
    Silently now I wait for Thee,
    Ready my God, Thy will to see,
    Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!
  • Open my ears, that I may hear
    Voices of truth Thou sendest clear;
    And while the wave notes fall on my ear,
    Everything false will disappear.
  • Refrain 2:
    Silently now I wait for Thee,
    Ready my God, Thy will to see,
    Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!
  • 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.
  • Refrain 3:
    Silently now I wait for Thee,
    Ready my God, Thy will to see,
    Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!

 

Opening Prayer:

Lord, open our hearts this day to receive your word for us. Give us courage and hope. 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!

 

Have you ever played the game, One of These Things is Not Like the Other?

The goal is to connect items that are similar to each other.

But, sometimes we judge things based on looks.

 

Yet with God, we need to learn to be open to how God can work in amazing ways, like:

Older couples have a child.

A shepherd becomes a king.

A carpenter’s son, is the Savior of the world.
Today we learn of a king who was not of our faith, but helped our faith.

 

We never know how God may work, which is why we need to careful in how we view items as similar or not.

 

Prayer: Thank you God, for the amazing ways your work in our lives. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Prayer & Lord’s Prayer:

Life swirls around us, O Lord. So many things are happening in our lives, in our neighborhoods, in our country, in Your world. We can be so easily distracted and overwhelmed by the needs and difficulties. Here today, remind us again that You are with us, offering compassion, strength, courage, and hope. Help us to place total trust in You as we offer our prayers for healing, comfort, and hope this day. Place Your healing hand on our hearts and spirits and encourage us to rise and be strong in hope for the needs of others. You have heard our concerns. Some so close and yet some far away, we pray for their peace and Your strength in their lives. We pray for victims of darkness all over the world. Enable us to be partners in ministries of peace and justice in this world to bring Your light through Jesus Christ, who taught us 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:

In gratitude for the light of Christ, we offer our tithes, gifts, and offerings to make our communities brighter and blessed.

 

Special Music: Time Will Tell by Andira Dodge

https://soundcloud.com/word-rummager/time-will-tell

 

Offering Prayer: Lord, we know that there is much work to be done; far more than we ever imagined. We ask that You bless these gifts that they be used for the work You have set before us, for we place our lives and trust in You. AMEN.

 

Scripture Lesson: Ezra 1-2:1

 

End of the Babylonian Captivity

1In the first year of King Cyrus of Persia, in order that the word of the Lord by the mouth of Jeremiah might be accomplished, the Lord stirred up the spirit of King Cyrus of Persia so that he sent a herald throughout all his kingdom, and also in a written edict declared:

2 ‘Thus says King Cyrus of Persia: The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. 3Any of those among you who are of his people—may their God be with them!—are now permitted to go up to Jerusalem in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem; 4and let all survivors, in whatever place they reside, be assisted by the people of their place with silver and gold, with goods and with animals, besides freewill-offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.’

5 The heads of the families of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests and the Levites—everyone whose spirit God had stirred—got ready to go up and rebuild the house of the Lord in Jerusalem. 6All their neighbours aided them with silver vessels, with gold, with goods, with animals, and with valuable gifts, besides all that was freely offered. 7King Cyrus himself brought out the vessels of the house of the Lord that Nebuchadnezzar had carried away from Jerusalem and placed in the house of his gods. 8King Cyrus of Persia had them released into the charge of Mithredath the treasurer, who counted them out to Sheshbazzar the prince of Judah. 9And this was the inventory: gold basins, thirty; silver basins, one thousand; knives, twenty-nine; 10gold bowls, thirty; other silver bowls, four hundred and ten; other vessels, one thousand; 11the total of the gold and silver vessels was five thousand four hundred. All these Sheshbazzar brought up, when the exiles were brought up from Babylonia to Jerusalem.

List of the Returned Exiles

2Now these were the people of the province who came from those captive exiles whom King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon had carried captive to Babylonia; they returned to Jerusalem and Judah, all to their own towns.

 

Sermon: : What’s Next: God’s Dream of the Story of Rebuilding Jerusalem: When God Moves in Mysterious Ways

 

We started a new sermon series last week, where we look at the learning lessons of the Babylonian exile with the people of Judah. And so last week we learned the history that lead to the exile and the difficulties they faced, the hopelessness of being in exile.

 

But this week, we are looking at what comes next. And as we do, we are going to see the mysterious ways God can work, using people for certain elements and using people who are not even of our faith.

 

Here is the context: From 586 BC to 538 BC, the Jewish exiles survived in Babylon. But then in 538 BC the Persians defeated the Babylonians, led by King Cyrus, who as we read in verse 1 was stirred up by the Spirit to issue a decree commanding the Jews back to their homeland to rebuild their Temple and homeland.

 

It’s an amazing move when you think of it. King Cyrus decides the best way to win loyalty of the people he ruled was not to destroy the things they held dear and keeping them separated from them, but by reconnecting them to their land & culture.

 

Now keep in mind, Cyrus was not Jewish. He has his own faith he followed and encouraged others to follow too, yet in verse 2 we read this proclamation from King Cyrus : The Lord, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem in Judah. 3Any of those among you who are of his people—may their God be with them!—are now permitted to go up to Jerusalem in Judah, and rebuild the house of the Lord, the God of Israel—he is the God who is in Jerusalem; 4and let all survivors, in whatever place they reside, be assisted by the people of their place with silver and gold, with goods and with animals, besides freewill-offerings for the house of God in Jerusalem.’

 

God does work in mysterious ways, and a key learning point for us is how God may even work in and through those who are not of God’s faith, our faith, so long as they are open to the visit of the Spirit, to help others.

 

Have you ever known that relative or neighbor who is agnostic, meaning they don’t care if there is a God or not, or even one who claims religion is not their thing, yet they do some pretty compassionate things for others? Mowing the lawn of the elderly for free, giving money to the church for the food bank, maybe even delivering meals on wheels. They are people God’s loving spirit is working through, without them knowing it, but God is working through them to help others. They are agents of the Divine, even when they do not recognize it, and we are encouraged to see them as such, so that we give praise to the ways our God can work.

 

However there is more, because while God can work through those of an unbelief or even different belief, this text also calls us to pay attention to how God can work through the ordinary too.

 

His name was Sheshbazzar, are you familiar with that name? I didn’t say what Robin Williams’ character Mork of Mork and Mindy would say when he messed up. I said, Sheshbazzar,and the text says he was the prince of Judah, which is just another word for leader of Judah. He led the first group of the exiles home to Jerusalem. He not only lead the people, but his specific job was to bring back the temple vessels that had previously been captured by King Nebuchadnezzar.

 

Verses 9-11 we read, 9And this was the inventory: gold basins, thirty; silver basins, one thousand; knives, twenty-nine; 10gold bowls, thirty; other silver bowls, four hundred and ten; other vessels, one thousand; 11the total of the gold and silver vessels was five thousand four hundred. All these Sheshbazzar brought up, when the exiles were brought up from Babylonia to Jerusalem.

 

Can you imagine being given that task? To lead some people to a land that you have not seen in 48 years? You don’t know what is there, or who is there? And on top of that you are told this a Divine act, so you carry with you items that are to be cared for and carefully packed because they will go in the Temple.

 

That’s a heavy load to carry. Especially when you consider a number of the exiles didn’t want to go back.

Verse 5 shared that not all the exiles wanted to return, only those whose “spirit God had stirred”. More than likely a majority of the exiles stayed in Babylon because of its security rather than face the unknown.

 

But not Sheshbazzar. He was called by God to take on this task, and interestingly enough, once he leads the former exiles home, we never read his name again, so we assume, he rested with the Lord.

 

Once again, God works in mysterious ways. God calls upon one man to lead his people home,and establish their Temple in honor to their God. Sheshbazzar, is like a Moses figure isn’t he? He leads God’s people where they need to go and be, and once there, turns it over to God, because it’s not about Sheshbazzar, it’s not about a Persian King, just like it was never about Moses, it’s all about God. What is God up to with us? And do we open ourselves to be stirred by the Spirit to follow God’s mysterious ways?

 

Church Leadership Scholar, Susan Beaumont says the journey through the pandemic has involved many painful losses including subtle but still painful losses associated with plans abandoned, dreams deferred, and the loss of control over our destiny. However, she suggests reflecting on these questions. What were we on the verge of discovering or accomplishing before the onset of the pandemic? What needs to move forward in different ways now? What was possible before that may not be possible for some time, if ever? What seemed important before that feels superfluous now?

 

These are great questions to consider as an individual, a family, and a church. But more importantly I believe they help us center on what God was up to before all this, so we can gain a clearer picture of what God is up to now and for our futures.

 

Recently I was told worship has a new name, “hybrid”. That means we mix online with in person worship. It’s the safest way. Those who are susceptible to sickness are still ministered to with on-line and mailed resources, while those who can, are welcomed to worship in person. However not in the same way. We will and must take precautions for the sake of each other and our community.

 

Yet, let me tell you what God has been up to through all this. God has brought more people to worship through the online platform. People who were not comfortable attending church in person, are now getting connected to local churches. Some numbers point to a 78 % increase in online worship[1]. And here’s something else, people who did not give to churches before, are doing so, using a tithe of their stimulus, because they appreciate the spiritual uplift the local church is providing.

 

Right now, Church does not look the same to you and to me, but through all this, the Church is growing, evolving, and reaching more now than it has in sometime.

 

Our God moves in mysterious ways.

 

This week, my challenge for you is to consider what was God up to in your life before the pandemic? And look at what is God up to now? Is there an adaption? A change in course? Do you find God at work in new ways, you had not seen before?

 

And if you do, like me, you will find one more way to praise our amazing God, who as Paul writes, “works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

 

Let us pray: Silently now I wait for Thee, Ready my God, Thy will to see, Open my eyes, illumine me,
Spirit divine! Amen.

 

Closing Song Below My Feet by the LUMC Praise Band

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/below-my-feet/s-aOHEaO7jbhA

 

You were cold as the blood

Runs through your bones

And the light which led us from our chosen homes

Well I was lost

 

 

And now I sleep

Sleep the hours that I don’t weep

When all I knew was steeped in blackened holes

I was lost

 

Keep the earth below my feet

For all my sweat my blood runs weak

Let me learn from where I have been

Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

 

And I was still

I was under your spell

When I was told by Jesus all was well

So all must be well

 

Just give me time

You know your desires and mine

So wrap my flesh in ivy and in twine

For I must be well

 

Keep the earth below my feet

For all my sweat my blood runs weak

Let me learn from where I have been

Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

Keep my eyes to serve, my hands to learn

(repeat)

 

Benediction:

As we go forth today, listen to God, self, and others for the Lord speaks through them all. Amen.

 
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