June 26, 2022 - Home Worship Service

06/26/2022 – 3rd Sunday after Pentecost

Morning prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, You are the sun that always rises, but never sets. You are the source of all life, creating and sustaining every living thing. You are the source of all food, material, and spiritual, nourishing us in both body and soul. You are the light that dispels the clouds of doubt and error, and goes before me every hour of the day, guiding my thoughts and my actions. May I walk in Your light, be nourished by Your food, be sustained by Your mercy, and be warmed by Your love. Amen. (Eramus 1449-1536)

Hymn: Are You Washed in the Blood

  1. Have you been to Jesus for the cleaning power? 

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Are you fully trusting in His grace this hour?

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Chorus:  Are you washed in the blood, in the soul-cleansing blood of the Lamb?

Are your garments spotless?  Are they white as snow? Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

  1. Are you walking daily by the Savior’s side?

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Do you rest each moment in the Crucified?

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb? (Chorus)

  1. When the Bridegroom cometh will your robes be white?

Are you washed in the blood of the Lamb?

Will your soul be ready for the mansions bright

and be washed in the blood of the Lamb? (Chorus)

  1. Lay aside the garments that are stained with sin,

And be washed in the blood of the Lamb;

There’s a fountain flowing for the soul unclean,

O be washed in the blood of the Lamb! (Chorus)

Psalm 16

Protect me, O God, for in You I take refuge.

I say to the LORD, "You are my Lord; I have no good apart from You."

As for the holy ones in the land, they are the noble, in whom is all my delight.

Those who choose another god multiply their sorrows; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names upon my lips.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; You hold my lot.

The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; I have a goodly heritage.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me.

I keep the LORD always before me; because He is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices; my body also rests secure.

For You do not give me up to Sheol, or let Your faithful one see the Pit.

You show me the path of life. In Your presence there is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Children’s message Scripture 2 Kings 2:1-2, 6

Now when the Lord was about to take Elijah up to heaven by a whirlwind, Elijah and Elisha were on their way from Gilgal. 2Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me as far as Bethel.” But Elisha said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So they went down to Bethel. 6Then Elijah said to him, “Stay here; for the Lord has sent me to the Jordan.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you.” So the two of them went on.

Children’s time – 2 Kings 2:1-2,6

Are you a planning a summer vacation this year or even maybe a day trip? There is a saying that getting there is half the fun, but I don’t remember traveling as a kid as fun. Many of us drive to our destination, but today we are going to talk about a very long walk taken by Elijah and Elisha. It was Elijah’s last day on earth before the Lord was coming for him.

They walked from Gilgal to Bethel, which is 7 miles, then from Bethel to Jericho which is 11 miles and then finally Jericho to Jordan which is 5 miles. That is 23 miles in total – it would be like us leaving the church and walking to Ricketts Glenn State Park, Sunbury or Watsontown. That is a hike. It isn’t quite the length of a marathon, but it is really close.

At each place, Elijah would tell Elisha to stay, but Elisha wouldn’t. He wanted to go with Elijah to the very end. He wanted to be with Elijah until the Lord came for him. Elisha was loyal to Elijah up until the very end, because Elisha knew that Elijah was a man of God and that God’s favor had followed Elijah all the days of his life. Elisha wanted this favor of God for himself and for his followers. He wanted to meet the one true God.

We can meet this one true God also, when we follow Jesus. Jesus is God’s Son and He was sent to point us toward God. Jesus continues to lead us and teach us and we can find His teachings and His journeys in the stories of the New Testament, along with the stories of others who followed Jesus. I bet we can even find stories about following Jesus from our families and our church family. These stories are important because they teach us and encourage us on our long walks with God. We should all be ready to share these stories for the glory of God.

Let us pray: God of Elijah and Elisha, Father of our Savior Jesus, make us willing and ready to walk with You and share our stories of Your love and grace toward us. 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 spotlightWomen’s Center, Inc. of Columbia and Montour Counties uses our funds to help better serve the victims and children of the crime of physical and mental abuse, and give victims strength and courage to come forward and raise much needed awareness.

Offering prayer: Loving and welcoming God, we have come through a time in our lives when, for many months, we sheltered in our homes: working from home, learning from home, worshiping from home. As we bring our tithes and offering to you this morning, you open our minds to a wider definition of home and a broader definition of family. May the gifts we give today find their way to home projects: ways this world can feel like a safer, more loving home to all your children. In Christ’s holy name, we pray. Amen.

Hymn of Preparation #133 Leaning on the Everlasting Arms

  1. What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms;
    what a blessedness, what a peace is mine, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain: Leaning, leaning, safe and secure from all alarms;
leaning, leaning, leaning on the everlasting arms.

  1. O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way, leaning on the everlasting arms;
    O how bright the path grows from day to day, leaning on the everlasting arms.
  2. What have I to dread, what have I to fear, leaning on the everlasting arms?
    I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, leaning on the everlasting arms.

Message scripture- Luke 9:51-62

When the days drew near for Him to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem. And He sent messengers ahead of Him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for Him; but they did not receive Him, because His face was set toward Jerusalem. When His disciples James and John saw it, they said, “Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” But He turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village.

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, “I will follow You wherever You go.” And Jesus said to Him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” To another He said, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Another said, “I will follow You, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home.” Jesus said to him, “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”

Message:      But First… Michael Marsh

Today’s gospel (Luke 9:51-62) is a difficult one. It’s confrontational and it doesn’t leave much, if any, wiggle room. “No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.” We’re either looking toward the kingdom or we are not. We’re either responding to the call of life or we’re not. We’re either open to the coming future or we’re not.

Jesus is calling us into question and that’s never easy, fun, or comfortable. He is calling into question the direction of our life, the values we claim to hold, and how we are living and embodying those values. He is asking us to look at ourselves rather than the Samaritan on whom we’d like to call down fire from heaven.

By Samaritan I mean those who look, act, and believe differently from us; those who do not hold our particular religious or political beliefs; those who are not from these parts; those to whom we are opposed and in conflict with, for whatever reasons. And if you’re not sure who your Samaritans are look at your social media feed and who posts the articles and comments that push your buttons, turn on the news channel you refuse to watch, picture the face of one you crush and defeat in the arguments that go on in your head.

Today’s gospel won’t let us turn away from the people and situations that are right in front of us or the future that is coming to us. Jesus recognizes and holds before us the tension in which we live. On the one hand we say to him, “I will follow you wherever you go.” On the other hand we say to him, “But first let me go and ….” You probably know what that’s like. I know I do.

When have you experienced that tension? When has it felt like you were being pulled in two directions, the way of Jesus and some other way? In what ways have you said, “But first let me go and…?”

It’s easy and simple to follow Jesus, in principle. Love your neighbor as yourself, love your enemy, welcome the stranger, visit the sick and imprisoned, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give the thirsty something to drink, turn the other cheek, forgive not just seven times but seventy times seven. These are values Jesus holds. That’s where Jesus is going. That’s the direction in which He has set His face. That’s the road to Jerusalem and it sounds good. Most of us probably agree with those values. It’s the road we too have chosen to travel, in principle.

But it’s so much harder and messier to follow Jesus in life than in principle. I suspect we are all in favor of love, hospitality, forgiveness, and nonviolence until we meet the unloveable, the stranger who scares us, the unforgivable act, the one who throws the first punch, or the Samaritan in our life. Then it’s a different story and that story usually begins with, “But first….”

Jesus, however, puts no qualifications, limitations, or exceptions on where He is going, who is included, or what He is offering. He doesn’t seem to care who we are, where we are from, or what we have done or left undone. Republican or Democrat, citizen or foreigner, Christian or Muslim, gay or straight, black or white, good or bad, believer or nonbeliever just don’t seem to matter to Jesus. For Him there is no why, no conditions, attached to love, hospitality, forgiveness, or giving. He does not allow for a “but first” in His life or the lives of His followers.

“But first” is the way we put conditions on the unconditional.

  • Yes, I will love the other but first let me go and see who the other is, whether she or he is deserving of love, whether I like him or her, whether he or she agrees with and is agreeable to me.
  • Yes, I will open my door to and welcome the stranger but first let me go and see who’s knocking, how different he or she is from me, what she or he wants, what I am risking.
  • Yes, I will forgive another but first let me go and see if she or he has acknowledged her or his wrongdoing, is sorry for what they did, and has promised to change.
  • Yes, I will give to and care for another but first let me go and see why I should, what it will cost me, and what’s in it for me.

But first….

It’s as if we are backing our way into the kingdom while keeping an eye on the door. It’s as if we are walking backwards into our future, not wanting to see or deal with what is before us. It’s as if we have put our hand to the plow and looked back. And we already know what Jesus thinks about that.

I don’t want to back my way through this life. I don’t want to live, if you will pardon a bad pun, a butt first life. And I hope you don’t either. I want us to turn and lead with our hearts, that deep heart that loves the unlovable, forgives the unforgivable, welcomes the stranger, and gives without seeking a payback or even a thank you.

I wasn’t kidding when I said that this is a difficult gospel. I wish I could resolve this in some neat and simple way, as much for myself as for you, but I can’t. It’s not about resolving the gospel. It’s about resolving ourselves, resolving our heart. That resolution is not a simple or one time decision. It’s a way of being in this world, a way of relating to others, a direction for our life. It’s a choice we make every day. It’s the road to Jerusalem.

That means looking at the ways in which we are backing through life. It means naming the people and situations to which we have turned our backs, and acknowledging that we do sometimes live a “but first” life.

I wonder what our lives and world would be like if we were to love, give, welcome, and forgive without a “but first?”

I think it would be risky and scary and look pretty crazy. But as I look at the world, read the news, and listen to the lives and stories of others, the world is already risky, scary, and crazy. So what if we took a better risk, faced a better fear, and lived a kinder craziness? And what if we were to let that start with you and me, today, in our lives, in our particular situations, and with whoever or whatever is before us?

What if we were to lead with our hearts and not “but(t) first?”

Let us pray: Holy and loving God, your Son, our Savior has, is and will do so much on our behalf and His simple call is to follow Him. We fail more often than not. Convict our hearts to look straight into the day before us and to make our ways straight with the Kingdom of God. Amen.

Closing Hymn: I Have Decided to Follow Jesus

  1. I have decided to follow Jesus; I have decided to follow Jesus;

I have decided to follow Jesus; No turning back, no turning back.

  1. Though none go with me, I still will follow; Though none go with me, I still will follow;

Though none go with me, I still will follow; No turning back, no turning back.

  1. The world behind me, the cross before me; The world behind me, the cross before me;

The world behind me, the cross before me; No turning back, no turning back.

  1. Will you decide now to follow Jesus?  Will you decide now to follow Jesus? 

Will you decide now to follow Jesus?  No turning back, no turning back.

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

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