March 27, 2022 - Home Worship Service

March 27, 2022 – 4th Sunday in Lent

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 error and doubt, 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. (Erasmus)

Call to Worship – Psalm 32

Leader: Happy are those whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.

Happy are those to whom the LORD imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

People: While I kept silence, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long.

For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

Leader: Then I acknowledged my sin to You, and I did not hide my iniquity; I said, "I will confess my transgressions to the LORD," and You forgave the guilt of my sin.

People: Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to You; at a time of distress, the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them.

Leader: You are a hiding place for me; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with glad cries of deliverance.

I will instruct you and teach you the way you should go; I will counsel you with My eye upon you.

People: Do not be like a horse or a mule, without understanding, whose temper must be curbed with bit and bridle, else it will not stay near you.

Leader: Many are the torments of the wicked, but steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the LORD.

People: Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart.

Hymn #140 Great Is Thy Faithfulness

  1. Great is Thy faithfulness, O God my Father; there is no shadow of turning with Thee;

Thou changest not, Thy compassions, They fail not; as Thou hast been, Thou forever wilt be.

Refrain:

Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!  Morning by morning new mercies I see;

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided; great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

  1. Summer and winter and spring-time and harvest, sun, moon, and stars in their courses above

join with all nature in manifold witness to Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Refrain.

  1. Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth, Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright home for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Refrain.

Children’s Time:  Exodus 8:1-4

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord: Let My people go, so that they may worship Me. If you refuse to let them go, I will plague your whole country with frogs. The river shall swarm with frogs; they shall come up into your palace, into your bedchamber and your bed, and into the houses of your officials and of your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls. The frogs shall come up on you and on your people and on all your officials.’”

We have been talking about Moses and his brother Aaron. We have seen where God’s spirit is, that place is holy and we recognize this holiness by taking off our shoes. We have seen how God brings special people into our lives to help us accomplish what God has asked us to do. For Moses, that special person was his brother Aaron who helped him to speak to Pharoah and to the Hebrews.

Today, we are going to talk about one of the ways God tried to get Pharoah’s attention and obedience in releasing the Hebrews from slavery. God sent Moses over and over to Pharaoh. Each time Pharaoh said no and God answered with a plague of some type of vermin. The one I want to talk about today is the plague of frogs. I want you to imagine for a moment, frogs everywhere. Frogs in your shoes, frogs in your dresser drawers, frogs in the refrigerator - everywhere frogs. The first couple may be cute, the next ten annoying, but I bet by the 100th frog you would be very upset. There were A LOT of frogs. For the Egyptians the frogs were a plague, a nuisance – but for the Hebrews they represented God’s presence and care. Because of the frogs the Hebrews knew they could Fully Rely On God - FROG. Now that Spring is truly arriving, I hope you have heard the peepers these warmer nights and the frogs remind you to Fully Rely On God.

Let us pray:

Gracious God, thank You for filling our world with reminders of Your love and care for us. In Jesus we pray. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession:  Lord we cry to you for help.  You answer in words, in the deeds and acts of kindness, in the people around us.  Hear the cries of our hearts for those we hold dear.  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:  Gifts earmarked for UMCOR Sunday strengthen the church’s global humanitarian response by underwriting UMCOR’s administrative costs. This allows UMCOR to use 100% of additional funds for specific programs like U.S. disaster response, international disaster response, and global migration. In 2021, $1,921,619 was given to support UMCOR’s work to alleviate human suffering and advance hope and healing. CharityNavigator.org has given highest marks to UMCOR with excellent ratings in financial and accountability and transparency.  You can give with confidence. 

Offertory prayer: Long-suffering God, we hear the words of the familiar parable and, at different times, see ourselves as either son. We have received—or demanded—blessings to which we were not entitled and squandered them in self-indulgent living. We have also looked out from our place of superiority and favor and have been indignant over Your lavish dispensing of love and mercy. As we bring our gifts this day, we do so in the humble gratitude and recognition that any and all blessings in our life come as Your gift of grace. We pray in the name of Your greatest gift, Jesus our redeemer. Amen.

Hymn of Preparation #420 Breathe on Me, Breath of God

  1. Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew,
    that I may love what Thou dost love, and do what Thou wouldst do.
  2. Breathe on me, Breath of God, until my heart is pure,
    until with Thee I will one will, to do and to endure.
  3. Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly Thine,
    till all this earthly part of me glows with Thy fire divine.
  4. Breathe on me, Breath of God, so shall I never die,
    but live with Thee the perfect life of Thine eternity.

Message scripture: Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32

Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming near to listen to Him (Jesus). And the Pharisees and the scribes were grumbling and saying, “This fellow welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So He told them this parable:

“There was a man who had two sons. The younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of the property that will belong to me.’ So he divided his property between them. A few days later the younger son gathered all he had and traveled to a distant country, and there he squandered his property in dissolute living. When he had spent everything, a severe famine took place throughout that country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed the pigs. He would gladly have filled himself with the pods that the pigs were eating; and no one gave him anything. But when he came to himself he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired hands have bread enough and to spare, but here I am dying of hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; treat me like one of your hired hands.”’ So he set off and went to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion; he ran and put his arms around him and kissed him. Then the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you; I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ But the father said to his slaves, ‘Quickly, bring out a robe—the best one—and put it on him; put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. And get the fatted calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate; for this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found!’ And they began to celebrate. “Now his elder son was in the field; and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. He called one of the slaves and asked what was going on. He replied, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fatted calf, because he has got him back safe and sound.’ Then he became angry and refused to go in. His father came out and began to plead with him. But he answered his father, ‘Listen! For all these years I have been working like a slave for you, and I have never disobeyed your command; yet you have never given me even a young goat so that I might celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours came back, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fatted calf for him!’ Then the father said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.’”

Message:  He Eats With Sinners!                     Pastor Becky Cuddeback

Through our Lenten journey, Pastor Ron and I have been hitting the highlights of Jesus’ journey to Jerusalem. It is a focused mission to get to the cross of our salvation and there are lessons here for us on our paths of discipleship; the basics of what it looks like to follow Jesus. We have talked about temptations or tests, performing cures and casting out demons, second chances (receiving them and giving them) and now we come to reconciliation.

Reconciliation is the big word for bringing people back into a relationship with one another. For Jesus and for us, reconciliation is the foundation of our salvation. Jesus makes it possible for us to be in relationship with God, He is the mediator between us and God. Reconciliation informs and shapes or rather should inform and shape every interaction, every thought, and every word we share with another person.

Jesus’ story begins…there was a man who had two sons. If you began thinking of pairs of brothers – Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Ishmael and Isaac – you are beginning exactly where Jesus was beginning with the Pharisees and scribes. They are brothers, who through their own actions or the intrusion of others, find themselves separated from each other. Yet, they are brothers in life and in death. Jesus is looking to the Pharisees and the scribes to see the sinners as brothers, or at the very least kinsfolk. We know both the Pharisees and the sinners are kin, just from the very fact the Pharisees call those unlike themselves, sinners. There would be no fuss if Jesus was just gathering with those outside of the nation of Israel. In the eyes of the Pharisees, it would just make Jesus “unclean” and His teachings would be lost on folks that don’t have a standing in the temple system or in their idea of the Kingdom of God.

But for the Pharisees, Jesus’ teaching does have consequence. Jesus is validating the long forgotten brother and bringing the equality of heaven to earth through the temple. Jesus is healing people, hearing people, and touching people for the Kingdom of God. He never asks if they are worthy, have they paid their tithe or made offerings. He loves them with a compassion that threatens the establishment.

Now, before we get too far, let’s talk about the establishment for a minute. Honestly, the Pharisees, Sadducees and scribes get painted with a broad brush and the picture isn’t flattering. Yet, before we condemn them completely, we better look at ourselves. They are only following what they had been taught, reading scripture through the lens they were given. They are only trying to protect what they know. They have a long history of tradition and community interaction. And now this new guy shows up and tells them there is a better way, a broader way to see God and live in God’s love and grace. Let me ask you, how easily is your mind changed? What does it take to change your mind? When you answer that for yourself, maybe you’ll have more compassion for the Pharisees, Sadducees and the scribes.

Up against the seriousness of the Pharisees and all, you have the sinners, those basking in the presence of Jesus. Let me ask you this: If someone validated who you are, wanted nothing from you but companionship and fellowship and spoke the promises of God and included you at the table – how far are you willing to go to stay in connection with that person? If all you know is sadness, poverty, oppression – sitting with Jesus is a freedom and a love you have never experienced. There are folks in our community, on our street, in our worship today, that have not felt included or connected even after possibly decades of being here. Yet, Jesus is that attractive.

The reconciliation Jesus is looking to illuminate for the temple ilk – is there is only ONE Kingdom of God, there isn’t one for those who have followed every letter of the law and one for those newly invited or included. There are no rival Kingdoms, there is only one. For this to be truly ushered in, we have to be reconciled to each other. Brother to brother, sister to sister. If we are going to wait for an apology, a repentance, an acknowledgement from another … know it may never come, and yet we are called to be reconciled, to be one in unity for the Kingdom.

Let us pray:

Good and gracious God, stir us, move us toward the reconciliation You have desired for us. We are the only ones that can accept this gift, we cannot wait for another to move toward us, we must move toward them. All the while, You are working in and through all Your children to bring us to that glorious day. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Closing Hymn #549 When Charity and Love Prevail

  1. Where charity and love prevail, there God is ever found;
    Brought here together by Christ’s love, by love are we thus bound.
  2. With grateful joy and holy fear true charity we learn;
    Let us with heart and mind and strength now love Christ in return.
  3. Forgive we now each other’s faults as we our faults confess;
    And let us love each other well in Christian holiness.
  4. Let strife among us be unknown, let all contention cease;
    Be Christ the glory that we seek, be ours His holy peace.
  5. Let us recall that in our midst dwells God’s begotten Son;
    As members of His body joined, we are in Him made one.
  6. Love can exclude no race or creed if honored be God’s name;
    Our common life embraces all whose Maker is the same.

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

 

Contents © 2022 Lightstreet United Methodist Church • Church Website Builder by mychurchwebsite.netPrivacy Policy