March 21, 2021 - Home Worship Service

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

 

Join Zoom Meeting

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

Meeting ID: 854 4146 8430               Passcode: 279040

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

For audio only using a landline or any phone:         +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

 

You Are Never Alone by Max Lucado Bible Study with Pastor Ron.   Final session

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 any phone:         +1 929 436 2866 US (New York)

 

 

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. And receive this service brought to us by the Youth of the Susquehanna United Methodist Conference. You can read the service or watch it at the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8nk_0QPMGds&t=1746s

Prelude Ethan Achmoody, West Side UMC, Clearfield  J.S. BACH PRELUDE NO. 1 in C Major

 

Welcome (Joleen Willis, Altoona DS)

Good morning, Good afternoon, or Good evening - whenever you have chosen to join us in this virtual worship experience! I am Joleen Willis, District Superintendent of the Altoona District. It has been my joy to be the coordinator/planner of this Conference-wide service. During this service, you will be led in worship by youth and young adults from across our conference. Today is a glimpse of who our church is, as we are all disciples, as we are growing and living as disciples and as we spur each other on in this wonderful adventure of being disciples and making new disciples!

 

Call to Worship and Introduction (Catawissa Parish Youth, Lewisburg District)

Call to Worship – We are … based on Joel 2:28-32

One: We are the young.

One: We are the old.

One: We are the daughters.

One: We are the sons.

One: We are prophets.

One: We are dreamers.

ALL: We are children of God -- disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

Introduction to the service.

Today our theme is “We are Disciples”. As disciples of Jesus Christ, and especially during Lent, we tend to focus on the spiritual disciplines: particularly on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Today, we celebrate all the disciplines, that which John Wesley described as means of grace: places where we can encounter God and God’s grace.

 

As disciples of Jesus Christ, We Pray

Prayer (McConnellsburg UMC Youth, Altoona District)

Let us pray:

O Lord, our God. We give You thanks for this Lenten season. We give You thanks for the opportunity of joining worship with others all across the Susquehanna Conference of the United Methodist Church and beyond. Lord, lead us in worship today. Draw us closer to You and Your grace. Reveal Yourself to us, that we might be Your faithful followers. May we encounter You along the way of this Lenten journey; and may our hearts be prepared to journey with You to death, that we might be raised to new life along with the resurrection of Christ. Amen.

 

As disciples of Jesus Christ, We Praise/Worship

Anthem (Shavertown UMC Youth, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre District)

10,000 Reasons

 

As disciples of Jesus Christ, We Read and Study Your Word

Scripture (Hannah Moyer, Trinity UMC, Jersey Shore, Williamsport District)

Acts 10:34-36, 39a, 42a, 43

34 Then Peter began to speak to them: ‘I truly understand that God shows no partiality, 35but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him. 36You know the message He sent to the people of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all. 39We are witnesses to all that He did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They put Him to death by hanging Him on a tree; 42He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that He is the one ordained by God as judge of the living and the dead. 43All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name.’

 

As disciples of Jesus Christ, We Preach

We welcome Julia Briselli, a first year student at Penn State, who is discerning a call to ministry, as our speaker today.

Message – We are Disciples (Julia Briselli, Grace Hummelstown, Harrisburg District)   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sC6klTgMvDQ

Good morning everyone, and thank you for having me. As mentioned, I am a freshman at Penn State. And if you know much about Penn State, you probably know our chant. You hear it in the stadium during football games, when you’re on a tour of campus, and when you’re just walking down the street. Someone yells “We Are” and everyone else responds with “Penn State!” It’s a way to show pride and community.

It’s believed that the phrase originated in the late 1940s when Penn State refused to play in the cotton bowl in segregated Dallas without their two black players. There were rumors that Penn State was meeting with the team they were set to play, the Southern Methodist University, to discuss the possibility of excluding their black players from the game, but team captain Steve Suhley is believed to have said “We are Penn State. There will be no meetings.” That chant is what unites all who call Penn State their team, their school, and their family. In the moment when someone yells “We Are” you don’t hesitate to see who yelled it, you just scream “Penn State” with every ounce of school pride in you.

Sure, it’s also just a habit now. It would be rude not to respond to the chant, and honestly, it’s just fun. But when the words were first spoken, that use of “we” made a controversial statement. The inclusion of Wally Tripplet and Dennis Hoggard, our two African American players, was up for discussion. They were amazing athletes that contributed to the team, but, to some, their skin color was more important than their participation. They were great for the team, but not all thought that they should be part of the team.

Judgment and prejudice have always existed and will continue to influence humans far into the future. God recognized the danger of this sin which could keep His community divided, so He brought together two men. Their story was recorded in the Bible so that believers of every time and place could learn what God wants for His people.

As we heard earlier in Acts 10, a Gentile named Cornelius is introduced. Despite his non-Jewish heritage, he and his family are described as devout, God-fearing individuals who are respected by the Jewish people. An angel went to him and told him to send for Peter, who was staying in a nearby city. Meanwhile, Peter had a vision of animals. Creatures were everywhere and Peter was told to kill and eat them. He was appalled! Peter would never break Jewish customs and eat an impure and unclean creature. To which the voice responded, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

Following this bizarre vision, Peter was told by the Holy Spirit that Cornelius’s men were there and to go with them without question. Cornelius had gathered together friends and relatives to welcome Peter and learn from him. Trusting in the Lord, Peter broke Jewish law by visiting and associating himself with Gentiles. Addressing the elephant in the room, Peter told them why he broke the Jewish law and custom to visit them. God had told him not to call anyone impure or unclean. Just as the animals in his vision were clean because they were made by God, these people were as pure as the Jews. Both peoples were made in the image of God.

Peter began to preach to them about Jesus. As he was doing so, the Holy Spirit descended on the Gentiles in the same way that it descended on the Jews at Pentecost and they began speaking in tongues and praising the Lord. The Jewish men with Peter were amazed that the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. Peter recognized the message he was tasked with sharing is unlike anything in history. It is not the way of salvation for the Jews, it is the way of salvation for the world. So he says that there can be no objection to baptizing the Gentiles because they had received the Spirit. And with that action, Peter rejected the prejudice that would have kept him from doing his job as a disciple.

In verses 34 and 35, Peter said to the Gentiles “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right.” This was such an important lesson that we must all learn if we want to move forward and share God’s message.

I think it’s really important to note that this prejudice existed. Peter, taught by Jesus Himself and given the honor of being the rock on which the church would be built, was surprised when men that weren’t like himself could be granted the gift of eternal life.

God knew that Peter would not have considered going to the Gentiles on his own. His nature and upbringing led him to see them as unworthy of God’s grace. He did not hate them, but he did not see them as spiritual equals either. Peter was commissioned to make disciples of ALL nations but he forgot that “all” actually meant everyone.

And just as one of the most influential disciples held prejudices, we do too. Judgment based on generalizations often determines who to associate with and who we trust. Not even just as our close friends, but also the strangers. You see a person on Facebook and assume you know the kind of person they are based on a single post. The way the person behind you in line looks will probably determine if you start a conversation with them.

For me, I noticed that this sin became more enticing when I went to college. I was surrounded by a couple of hundred new people with the task of finding a few close friends who I really connect with. It’s daunting. God created us all uniquely. It takes time and effort to really get to know someone. Whereas finding the people who look and act like me is comfortable and easy. But in terms of spiritual growth, the easy thing is often not the right thing.

Of course, I could find some close friends in the group of people that I generalize as similar to myself but imagine all of the friendships I would lose if I ignored the people that didn’t SEEM like the type of people I would get along with.

Now, what if instead of a friendship, the thing lost as a result of prejudice is the life-changing gift of Jesus Christ.

So what keeps you from interacting with people? What prejudices do you hold? I would be willing to bet it’s something that you are able to justify in your head. Your prejudice might be towards people that live in a specific area of town or have a vastly different income than yourself. Maybe it’s their hobbies or where they spend their free time that you judge. Whether they can change a tire or if they know which fork to use at a formal dinner. Prejudice seeps into every area of our lives without us realizing it.

When you make an assumption about a person, question your motives. Is God leading you away from that person or is prejudice? In most cases, God wants you to go to them. We speak about the uniting power of faith, but that doesn’t mean we remain in the comfort of likeminded people. Unity is about bringing together those who would not normally associate with one another. It’s uncomfortable, it makes you push yourself, feel unsafe and out of place, but we cannot expect people to leave their own comfort zone to find God. We must leave our comfort zone to bring God to everyone. When Jesus ascended into heaven, He told us to make disciples of ALL nations. “All nations” is not just about checking off a Christian in every country, it’s about bringing Christ to every single category of people until there are no categories and we are ONE. In 1948, Penn State played in the Cotton Bowl with Tripplett and Hoggard, but the team had to stay at a Naval base because no hotels in Dallas would house the entire team. That’s the point of the church. God wants a community that houses everyone.

God works through us, and if we choose not to associate with certain people, we can’t make disciples of all nations. If Christians make judgments about who we think would and would not accept Christ into their life, we will be failing in our mission. Our job is just to show God’s love through our actions to all people, God’s job is to judge our hearts. Peter ministered to only the Jewish people because he assumed that they were the only ones capable of receiving God’s grace, so God stepped in to make him recognize he was wrong. That story was put in the Bible because we make the same mistake every day.

God doesn’t show favoritism. We are disciples. Each of us is pure in the eyes of God. We are all created in His image. His grace and love are given to all, and we, as Christians, have the amazing opportunity to show that love in our everyday lives.

So I ask that you hold yourself accountable this week. At school, I certainly have had to hold myself accountable for my prejudices. I have had to talk to people I wouldn’t usually talk to and keep myself from making judgments that I naturally would make. I ask that you do the same. As Christians, we should each be working in our own lives to eliminate our prejudices so that it’s easier for others to do the same. We should be developing a social norm of love within our church, and we can only do that when we recognize that our church is open to everyone.

I hope you enjoy every day this week, but I hope that this week is not like last week. I pray that we are all stepping out of our comfort zones and working to grow God’s kingdom together.

 

As disciples of Jesus Christ, We Praise/Worship

Anthem Rachael Karwowski (vocalist, instrumentalist, member and choir director of the Swissdale United Methodist Church, State College District. Sophomore at Mansfield University)

 

As disciples of Jesus Christ, We Give

Offering Invitation: UMCOR Sunday, formerly “One Great Hour of Sharing” is observed in March. Today we urge you to give to your local church; we, also, invite you to “second-mile giving,” supporting the United Methodist Committee on Relief.UMCOR (Juniata UMC youth, Altoona District)

 

As disciples of Jesus Christ, We go forth …

Benediction (Illuminate Youth Ministry, First UMC Chambersburg, York District)

One: We go forth as disciples.

One: We may be leaving a building or we may be leaving our sofa; but, we go forth.

One: We don’t just leave behind the Word, but we take it with us.

One: The Word transforms us and equips us to serve.

One: So that they, too, may be transformed by the Word, which is Jesus Christ.

(group shout)

We are disciples!

Will you be a disciple, too?!

 

Postlude  Send Us Out (iBlast, Grace, Hummelstown, Harrisburg District)

 
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