March 15, 2020 - Worship and Devotions

(Due to the health concerns of the nation, stay home today, no corporate worship, but I invite you to receive this as part of your own worship. No decisions have been made regarding next week’s services yet. I will keep you posted. No Sunday school, no Book Club, and no Bible Study this week either).

Good morning friends. My devotional had these words this morning: “Learn to take minibreaks from the world, finding a place to be still in My Presence and listen to My voice.” that’s from the March 15th devotion from Jesus Calling by Sarah Young. I invite you to take a minibreak from the world and have a Sabbath today. Where you rest with God and lean into His grace. I offer these prayers and this message to possibly assist with that. If you have it, maybe turn on the candle I gave you last week. Maybe gather as a couple or a family and share these words together. Or maybe read these words, take a walk, and let God speak to you.
Stay healthy, be safe, trust God. – Pastor Jenn

Opening Prayer : Loving and caring God, we come this morning in hope that will sustain us in our trying times, our lonely times, our doubting times. Refresh us this morning with your presence and love. Open us to the possibilities of encountering you in unexpected ways, the possibilities of seeing the miraculous in everyday life. Amen.

Opening Hymn: Fairest Lord Jesus
https://youtu.be/wdNASJDwvAU

Scripture Lesson : Matthew 18: 1-5, 12-14vTrue Greatness
18 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” 2 He called a child, whom he put among them, 3 and said, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
The Parable of the Lost Sheep
12 What do you think? If a shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he rejoices over it more than over the ninety-nine that never went astray. 14 So it is not the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should be lost.

Sermon: What Jesus Believes: Co-Working Ministry
We’ve started a sermon series on What Jesus Believes. The thinking is to be effective witnesses of the kingdom of God, we not only need to believe in Jesus but share in his beliefs.

Last week we learned how he believes in partnering with God as given in the text where he heals a boy with seizures that the disciples could not heal. Jesus’ point was they weren’t partnering with God. The lesson is: when we are willing to give ourselves to God, to work with what God can do, miracles can happen, and the kingdom can be made known.

This week we will be looking at how Jesus chooses to co-work with ordinary people to bring about new realities.
And so, as we heard the text, the disciples are questioning who is the greatest in the kingdom. Mind you, they are not asking about which one of them, that will come later, but they want to know who is the greatest. Could be a king from a faraway land. Or the angel that watches over Israel.

But surprisingly Jesus takes a child and offers the child as the greatest in the kingdom. Now you need to know that the ancient near Eastern view of children is that they were inferior, without status/rights, treated more like property than a human, which means they never were held up as a model of anything.
So why did Jesus choose a child as an example? Because Jesus was trying to get the disciples to accept a radically different understanding of status in the kingdom.

Jesus wants his disciples to know that they must be humble, give up all pretensions of self-importance, as well as self-reliance to instead rely on the will of the Heavenly Father who calls us to work together, to be united in His fold.
Afterall, Jesus did that with them.

Each disciple at one point was a child of the kingdom, waiting to be found. Some were fishermen, (Andrew, Peter, James, & John, possibly Thomas and Bartholomew (Nathanael)); then there was a tax collector (Matthew); zealots working to bring about public reformations (Simon & Judas); and Philip, James (the son of Alphaeus), and Judas (Thaddaeus) were tradesmen.None of them were ranked high in society, and to be honest, all of them seemed to have been wandering, a bit lost, but they were chosen by Christ to prove the kingdom is open to all. And together, they did. Because Jesus believes co-working with ordinary people would lead to bring about brand new realities.

If we look at the Bible, we see example after example of such transformation. From the call of Noah, a simple man, and his family to restart the human population, to the call of Abraham and Sarah a pair of elders, to start a new faith. Then of course there was Moses, a shepherd on the run, whom God called to work with Aaron, and to save God’s people. And King David was not a king, nor came from a royal family, but a farmer’s family. Yet when God called him to work with Samuel, the kingdom was being established. None of these people were ranked high in society, well eventually David was, but they were all willing to humble themselves to God, and God’s will. And God gave them co-workers for their ministries.

Jesus believes what God has established since the beginning of our story, that is co-working with ordinary people will lead to bring about brand new realities.God did it through the early faith leaders, Jesus did it through his disciples, the Spirit calls us to continue in the Church today. Humble ourselves to work with each other, including the lost sheep, and bring about brand new realities.

So, what is it we are called to do, the believers of Jesus today? It means, each of us knows a lost sheep, don’t we? Each of us knows a person who is overwhelmed with life, suffering from their own anxiety, centered on their troubles, their concerns, possibly their brokenness. Jesus says, bring them into the fold. That is bring them into the work of the kingdom where they will be nurtured, cared for, and with time, transformed for co-working ministry.

Let me share where I saw such beliefs this week.
Last week I mentioned that our Crafters Group took on the challenge of offering random acts of kindness. We worked together and brought items that we distributed to the local AA group that meets here weekly. Some of us brought home made goodies, some brought store bought, but all were given out of kindness. We got the loveliest card in response. On the outside it read: God has wonderful ways of letting us know He is up to something good in our lives. On the inside of the card it continues: And so often He does it through wonderful people like you. Thank you. And everyone signed the card with their own personal thanks. Our group were co-workers in ministry to men and women who often feel left alone with their demons and addictions, but we reminded them of God’s work to bring them into the fold.

Another example: Our visitation team took St Patrick’s day gift bags to all our shut ins and home cooked meals. The sheep that cannot attend our fold were cared for by them.

Finally, yesterday people from the local churches including ours, went to the Orangeville food bank where they served 88 families who needed food for the next few weeks, especially since the children of those families will be home from school. And this time they followed our lead in that the people were encouraged to stay in their cars and the food was brought to their cars (less spreading of germs). If you have gone to any grocery store you will know people are buying bulk, and it adds up. But yesterday, despite the fears, people trusted God to serve other people who needed the assistance of the kingdom to help through some trying times, and they received it.
Side note: So the challenge for us to be co-workers is that it is expected we will have around 96 families coming to the next giveaway on March 28th as this will be our Easter giveway which includes a ham. Our part is to make sure there are enough cake and icing boxes to give to everyone (remember that is our mission for the month- and we are only half way there). And show up March 26th at 6pm to pack the foods, and March 28th to distribute to their cars. End of side note.

Jesus believes co-working ministry between ordinary people will lead to bring about brand new realities of the kingdom.
Which means: none of us have to have special gifts or abilities, we just need to be humble and willing to be open to each other to work together for new realities of the kingdom that can and need to be made known.

Pastoral & Lord’s Prayer: Lord, you called us to this journey. And we confess we have a difficult time letting go of the things that harm our spirits and diminish our souls. We cling to our problems as though they provide some degree of comfort and stability. On this day, may you help us to let go of the pain, the problems, the worries and open our hearts to hear your word. Give us confidence and assurance of your presence.
As we have offered the names and situations of those near and dear to us in our prayers, help us to remember that we, too, are always in your loving care. When we have fallen, lift us up, Lord. When we think we can’t go any further, pick us up and carry us until we can walk again. When we wonder if you made the right choice in calling us to our ministry and mission, ease our fears, confirm our hopes, bless our hearts with your loving presence and the presence of those you sent to work with that in all things you may be glorified. We ask this as we praise your name and honor you for our salvation, 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. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen

Sending Forth Song: Nobody by Casting Crowns
https://youtu.be/1yBzIt_z8oY

Closing Offering Prayer: Life-giving God, we offer you ourselves and our resources. Use us and our gifts to a world searching for love, meaning, justice, and hope. May all your people encounter fullness of life through the love of Christ, which lives within us. Amen.

 
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