March 29, 2020 - Worship and Devotions

March 29, 2020 Home Worship

Dear Friends,

 

As we continue to be encouraged to have social distancing, our hearts, minds, and spirits need to be lifted and healed. Therefore, receive this home worship service for the week of March 29th. -PJenn

 

Welcome & Announcements:

Good morning church!

Check the calendar on the home page frequently.  We will keep that calendar as current and up to date as we can.  

 

Just a few announcements: At this time, we are not collecting bags for the food bank as we are attempting to put items in boxes for distribution.

 

And as of March 24th, I have stepped down from being the Assisting Elder in the Lewisburg District. I want to spend more time with you and our community. I served for two years and with the change in superintendents, it seemed like the right time.

 

Now 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 (Ezekiel 37, John 11)

Coming from places that have seen better days,
God bids us to celebrate this day, a day full of new possibilities.
Coming with our breath taken away by grief,
the Holy Spirit breathes new life within us, renewing our connection with God and with one another.
Coming to worship seeking a hope that will endure,
Christ unbinds the fetters that hold us in death, speaking in word and sacrament, and building community for holy service.

 

Opening Hymn: Open My Eyes, That I May See

https://youtu.be/GDceaG7kFQA

(feel free to type this in or copy and paste in your web browser to sing along or listen and enjoy)

 

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.
Silently now I wait for thee, Ready, my God, thy will to see. Open my eyes, illumine me, Spirit divine!

 

2.Open my ears, that I may hear Voices of truth thou sendest clear;
And while the wavenotes fall on my ear, Everything false will disappear.
Silently now I wait for thee, Ready, my God, thy will to see. Open my ears, illumine me, Spirit divine!

 

3.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.
Silently now I wait for thee, Ready, my God, thy will to see. Open my heart, illumine me, Spirit divine!

 

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!

In the Bible a man named Paul told his church family to “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1). Those of us who believe in God and follow Jesus should practice certain positive behaviors in a way that inspires others to do the same. Take a few moments to discuss this question: In your favorite movies, what characters can you name and what do they do that are good examples for us to imitate during this time when our life is being disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic? Examples: Joy in Inside Out (2015) – it’s ok to be sad as it is a part of life … Remy in Ratatouille (2007) – appreciate the finer everyday things of life like homemade food… Buzz in Toy Story 2 – never give up!

 

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Let’s pray: Thank you God, for the movies and characters that help us feel better during these times. Thank you, God, that you help us feel better and are always with us. In Jesus name, Amen.

Prayer for the Day:

Gracious God, on this day we pray for the sick and infected. May you heal and help them, sustain their bodies and spirits, and contain the spread of infections and disease.

Holy God we also pray for our vulnerable populations. May you protect our elderly, those already suffering with various health concerns, the poor, and especially the uninsured.

Lord, we pray for the young and the strong. May you give them the necessary caution to keep them from unwittingly spreading this disease. Inspire them to help and assist where they are needed.

And for our local, state, and federal governments, God help our elected officials as they allocate the necessary resources for combatting this pandemic.

We pray for those on the front lines, the doctors, the nurses, the nursing home staff, the grocery stores employees, the truckers racing to bring supplies and resources, keep them all safe Lord, and strengthen their abilities to continue to help.

Finally, we pray for our scientific community, leading the charge to understand the disease and communicate its gravity: God, give them knowledge, wisdom, and a persuasive voice that will be heard and received.

All this we lay before you Lord, as well as those joys and concerns in our hearts and personal lives, knowing you receive these prayers through the grace and love and power of your Holy Spirit and your Son 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.

Offering invitation

We want to thank all of you for your continued gifts that are helping us do ministry in different ways during these times. Thank you for those who have helped with the local food bank and for those of you calling and checking on each other.

Some of you are experiencing economic hardships related to the pandemic and your offering may be diminished. Our prayers are with you as you struggle to make ends meet. To the rest, if you can send in your offering, we invite you to do so as ministry continues. There are still needs to be met through the services we support such as local food banks, health care ministries, and of course the staff of this congregation who are still working around the clock to check in with members, disinfect buildings, and discern and provide worship possibilities. Lightstreet United Methodist Church, 1640 Main Street, Bloomsburg, PA 17815. The option of electronic transfer of funds is available. Contact our church treasurer, Amy Dent (aedent@pa.metrocast.net; 570-458-4299). She will guide you through the process to authorize your bank to transfer funds into the church account.

Offering Prayer:

  1. your hands, O God, come the blessings that make life possible, even the very gift of life itself. In gratitude and thanks, receive from our hands this portion of our labors. By your Spirit’s leading,
    may we use these gifts to bless the life of others with the assurance of love, the promise of hope,
    and the course of justice. This we do to your glory. Amen.

Scripture Lesson: Matthew 20: 29-34 Jesus Heals Two Blind Men

29 As they were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30 There were two blind men sitting by the roadside. When they heard that Jesus was passing by, they shouted, “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!” 31 The crowd sternly ordered them to be quiet; but they shouted even more loudly, “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!” 32 Jesus stood still and called them, saying, “What do you want me to do for you?” 33 They said to him, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.” 34 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.

Sermon: What Jesus Believes: Every one Of Us Has Great Potential, And Jesus Will Do Whatever Is Needed to Help Us Reach That Potential.

Jesus and his disciples are journeying closer to Jerusalem, which means Jesus is journeying closer to the cross, where everything will change.

And to be honest, the disciples are still not fully understanding the beliefs of Jesus that lead to the presence of the kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.

We started this series of what Jesus Believes by looking at Matthew 17 when the disciples were confronted to heal a boy with seizures, and they couldn’t. He ordered the afflicting demon out—and it was out, gone. From that moment on the boy was well.

But the disciples asked Jesus, “Why couldn’t we throw it out?” And Jesus responded, “Because you’re not yet taking God seriously,” said Jesus. “The simple truth is that if you had a mere kernel of faith, a poppy seed, say, you would tell this mountain, ‘Move!’ and it would move. There is nothing you wouldn’t be able to tackle.” (The Message)

And so, what Jesus was saying to them is that they must have faith that God can and will help. It’s not about their powers, but the trust in the power of God at work with them because with God, all things are possible.

So, the first belief we looked at is that Jesus wants us to believe that 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.

But as you just heard in this text, Matthew is revealing to us that the disciples still struggle, they are blind to what is going on with Jesus.

Therefore, Matthew shares this story, a story of two blind men seeking the help of Jesus. Notice it’s not just one man but it is two, so this is Matthew’s symbol of community. A community seeking the healing of Jesus.

The blind men call to him. “Lord, have mercy on us, Son of David!”

Notice the titles they give Jesus. Ones of recognition of who he is. In fact, they believe this so much that when the crowd tried to quiet them, they said even louder: “Have mercy on us, Lord, Son of David!”

Lord, Son of David. What does that title mean? It means they believe he is the Savior, the one God promised to send to set things right for Israel. (2 Samuel 7: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.)

Jesus responds to their faith with this question, “What do you want me to do for you?”

Now I want us to stop here a moment. I love that Jesus asks them what they want.

He of course already knows what they want. They want to be healed, to be able to see, but he needs them to say it, say it out loud. Confess it, if you will.

What would you say if Jesus asked you what you want? You could say “I want to get out of this house as my spouse is driving me crazy” or “I want to get back to work and getting a pay check” or “I want my family to be safe from this virus”.

Friends, Jesus is asking. He is here every day, waiting for you to ask for his help, because he will provide it. That’s what Matthew wants to share with us.

The blind men say to Jesus, “Lord, let our eyes be opened.”

The text continues, “4 Moved with compassion, Jesus touched their eyes. Immediately they regained their sight and followed him.

Jesus gave them what they needed, to regain their sight and notice what the men did once healed- they followed him. They followed him because they knew he could teach them how to live with a new vision and new experience of life.

Matthew is preparing us for what is going to come next for Jesus and the disciples. And to be honest the disciples are like these blind men, who must have their blindness cured by Jesus before they can see the new way of life that Christian discipleship calls them to, a life that fulfills the prophecies of God’s salvation for us.

Theologian Timothy Keller writes in his book, King’s Cross, that as Jesus comes closer to the cross, the gospels point out Jesus is trying to remind the people of the Messiah referenced in Isaiah 35 which is titled “The Joy of the Redeemed”.

In that text we read: 3 Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; 4 say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.”

5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. 6 Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.

8 And a highway will be there; it will be called the Way of Holiness; it will be for those who walk on that Way…only the redeemed will walk there, and those the Lord has rescued will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Keller goes on to explain that up to the point that Jesus goes to Jerusalem for the Passover, we read of the blind, the deaf, and the mute being transformed.

In Matthew, there are various stories of such healings. Matthew: 9:32 While they were going out, a man who was demon-possessed and could not talk was brought to Jesus. 33 And when the demon was driven out, the man who had been mute spoke. The crowd was amazed and said, “Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel.”

Matthew 12: 22: 22 Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. 23 All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

Matthew 15:30 Great crowds came to him, bringing the lame, the blind, the crippled, the mute and many others, and laid them at his feet; and he healed them.

So, in this final miracle before the crucifixion, Matthew shares the healing of the two blind men, as a foreshadowing of the promise of God’s redemption. Because in that prophecy notice there is a reminder that not only will the blind see, but the Messiah will come to save us with divine retribution. And what Keller points out is, that does not mean that God will smite people, neither will Jesus.

Rather, as Jesus heals and forgives, he gives of himself, he serves the world, so that the divine retribution is not going to be given by the Divine, rather it’s going to be taken by the Divine in order for us to be the best we can be. Because by doing so, evil will be defeated, and everything will be made right.

And when evil is defeated and eyes are opened, we see a core belief of Jesus, that is he believes that every one of us has great potential, and Jesus will do whatever is needed to help us reach that potential.

He helps us become who he created us to be by healing us, opening our eyes, and in return, all we have to do is understand that when we are weary, when we feel blinded by the pain and difficulties that surround us, recognizing there is not much we can do, we can believe that there is something He will.

He will hear our cries, he will heal our sight, he will bear our pain, and work to redeem us so that we may be assured of our value, our worth.

This is what I want you believe friends- because it’s what Jesus believes. Each and every single one of you is valued by God, so much so that Jesus gives himself for you. Therefore, you are worthy of a good life. You are worthy and you have something to offer this world that no one else can. And Jesus is at work to help you be the best you can be. All you have to do is be open to his healing and salvation.

Maybe this week, as we continue to be struggling through the difficulties of this virus, maybe this week we can seek Jesus to heal our blindness to his salvation, his redemption of our mistakes, so that we may follow him on the Way of Holiness and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Closing Prayer:

God of life, present and promised, you are the One to whom we call: for you are the One who hears, and you are the One who acts, bringing us new life with your grace and love and power. Lead us in these times where life is a risk and hope seem far away. Help us live the teachings we proclaim, the beliefs we trust of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Sending Forth Song: Great Are You Lord

https://youtu.be/ZZqV6i98SkA

You give life, You are love, You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore, Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

Chorus: It's Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise
It's Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to You only

(Repeat the above)

And all the earth will shout Your praise, our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord (repeat 3 times)

Chorus: It's Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise, we pour out our praise
It's Your breath in our lungs, so we pour out our praise to You only

Benediction (Psalm 130, Romans 8)

We are a people loved by God.
We will live as signs of this love.
We are a people blessed with hope.
We will live in light of this hope.
May the love of God, the grace of Christ, and the courage of the Spirit, strengthen our faith
and set us loose to share God’s love with all.
Amen and amen!

 

 

 

 
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