May 7, 2023 - 5th Sunday of Easter

For the week of May 7-13 – 5th Sunday of Easter

Morning Prayer Risen Christ, You prepare a place for us, in the home of the Father of us all. Draw us more deeply into Yourself, through scripture read, water splashed, bread broken, wine poured, so that when our hearts are troubled, we will know You more completely as the way, the truth, and the life. Amen. (Lectionary prayers)

Hymn #370 Victory in Jesus

  1. I heard an old, old story, how a Savior came in glory,

How He gave His life on Calvary to save a wretch like me;

I heard about His groaning, of His precious blood’s atoning,

Then I repented of my sins and won the victory.

Refrain: O victory in Jesus, my Savior forever!

He sought me and bought me with His redeeming blood;

He loved me ere I knew Him, and all my love is due Him;

He plunged me to victory beneath the cleansing flood.

  1. I heard about His healing, of His cleaning power revealing,

How He made the lame to walk again and caused the blind to see;

And then I cried, “Dear Jesus, come and heal my broken spirit,”

And somehow Jesus came and brought to me the victory.

  1. I heard about a mansion He has built for me in glory,

And I heard about the streets of gold beyond the crystal sea;

About the angels singing and the old redemption story,

And some sweet day I’ll sing up there the song of victory.

Psalm 31:1-5, 15-16

In You, O Lord, I seek refuge; do not let me ever be put to shame; in Your righteousness deliver me.

Incline Your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a rock of refuge for me, a strong fortress to save me.

You are indeed my rock and my fortress; for Your name’s sake lead me and guide me,

take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for You are my refuge.

Into Your hand I commit my spirit; You have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

My times are in Your hand; deliver me from the hand of my enemies and persecutors.

Let Your face shine upon Your servant; save me in Your steadfast love.

Children’s Time 1 Peter 2:4-6

Come to Him, a living stone, though rejected by mortals yet chosen and precious in God’s sight, and like living stones, let yourselves be built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in scripture: “See, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious; and whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.”

Children’s Message 

Peter reminds us that Jesus is our cornerstone. He is the very foundation of our lives. Jesus keeps us stable and keeps us from toppling over.

I like to play Jenga, which is a block tower puzzle game. You take equal length blocks and build a strong tower first and then you begin taking away blocks to test how solid the foundation is. Sometimes, you can remove more than half the blocks before the tower falls and sometimes as little as 2, if you start taking from the base. Some of the towers can begin to look quite odd and holey. Honestly, there are times I don’t understand how the towers can continue standing, but it all comes back to the foundation. If the cornerstones are intact, the tower will stand. This is our life as well. As long as we continue being connected to Jesus, even when our lives look wonky, we can stand firmly in Jesus.

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 spotlight: The Missions Team is designating $1750 of missions offering for food insecurity in this community by supporting the Bloomsburg Food Cupboard, the John Buck Memorial Food Bank in Orangeville and Lightstreet’s Blessings Box, providing healthy food choices to those who need help.   

Offering prayer: Redeeming God, the gifts we bring to You this day, we dedicate to the work of kingdom building. Even more, we offer ourselves as material for this work. Imperfect as we are, we know with Christ as the cornerstone, You can build Your vision of mercy, justice, peace, and compassion here in our midst. In Christ, our rock and redeemer. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #701 When We All Get to Heaven

  1. Sing the wondrous love of Jesus; sing His mercy and His grace.
    In the mansions bright and blessed He'll prepare for us a place.

Refrain: When we all get to heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be!
When we all see Jesus, we'll sing and shout the victory!

  1. While we walk the pilgrim pathway, clouds will overspread the sky;
    but when traveling days are over, not a shadow, not a sigh. (Refrain)
  2. Let us then be true and faithful, trusting, serving every day;
    just one glimpse of him in glory will the toils of life repay. (Refrain)
  3. Onward to the prize before us! Soon His beauty we'll behold;
    soon the pearly gates will open; we shall tread the streets of gold. (Refrain)

Scripture John 14:1-14

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to Myself, so that where I am, there you may be also.

And you know the way to the place where I am going.” Thomas said to Him, “Lord, we do not know where You are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. If you know Me, you will know My Father also. From now on you do know Him and have seen Him.” Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know Me? Whoever has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; but if you do not, then believe Me because of the works themselves.

Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in Me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in My name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in My name you ask Me for anything, I will do it.

Message               Pastor Becky Cuddeback

This is Jesus’ farewell discourse. He is instructing and comforting His disciples for His death, the time He will be gone from them. But first, at the table Jesus speaks truth to them. He says, one will betray Him, one will deny Him and in between, He instructs them to love one another. The disciples are to show love to all. That is how they will be known.

Next their conversation turns to compassion. Jesus acknowledges their fear in His leaving. For three years, they have followed Jesus. They have traveled miles, eaten countless meals, listened to hours of teaching, witnessed healings and they have even done ministry themselves in Jesus' name. Now they come to this pivotal night.

Jesus begins by telling them about His Father’s house. It is a glimpse of the care involved in securing them eternally. He was going to prepare a place from them, each of them. Once complete, Jesus would return for them, each of them in their own time. This is for the divine realm, the one that reflects Jesus’s divinity, His unique connection to God. He is preparing a place in the presences of God for them and for us.

At the same time, Jesus went ahead of them and prepared a place for them in their earthly life. This is the fellowship of the Church, the Bride of Christ. He equipped them by releasing the Holy Spirit to advance the church – the church we are a part of today – was first created for the disciples to have a home on earth where they would continue to prayer together, study the scriptures together, retell the stories of Jesus and fortify themselves. It would be a place of preaching and acts of mercy, a place to mobilize themselves to reflect the Kingdom of God on earth that Jesus brought near. This Jesus did to comfort the human side of His nature that uniquely connects with us, humanity.

This is a promise I have had to lean hard into and rest in, even when I wasn’t feeling so secure. It is the promise that sustains me and I can bear witness to it in my experience of shifting from interim ministry to itinerant ministry. I began covering parishes when our youngest daughter was barely a year old. I would be sent to cover the parish of a local licensed pastor when he/she would be on medical leave, extended vacation, away at seminary and these assignments would last between 3 weeks to 3 months. I was like a substitute teacher or company floater. I still belonged to my home church and was committed to those ministries, so I’d pop in and out, always with the understanding that I would be back in the home church. Until the last assignment … it started out like a regular assignment. I was to be there 3 weeks while the pastor was on a brief medical leave, but 3 weeks quickly turned to 6 weeks, yet I was assured someone was coming to fill the appointment and my assignment would be over. After 6 weeks the request came to cover until the end of the Conference year. That meant June 30, but not to worry, someone was coming. Long story short, I ended up being that someone who was coming. My assignment became an appointment and I stayed with that parish for another 8 years. But then the day came when I was called to take a new appointment. I’d never really been nervous or anxious about the first appointment, but now I was being sent into the unknown. I would be going to a new place with new people and I had to trust that Jesus was already there and the people there would know Jesus too. Then the next call came, time to move again, and the same nervousness began to overtake me, yet the Spirit was able to fill me with calm because, like before, Jesus is here and you have met Jesus and are in relationship with Him.

My story isn’t new to you. You have all experienced this to some degree – just from the other side of the pulpit and we continue on together because of Jesus. We have the promise of knowing that Jesus has gone ahead of us and prepared a place for us. It should be a comfort to us in the unknown of job relocations and life shifts that cause us to need to find a new fellowship of believers. We can trust that Jesus has prepared a place for us and those places will look different for each of us. The places Jesus prepares for us are meant to grow us, sustain us, equip us, and hold us. Above all, they are to bear witness to the good news of Jesus Christ: new life, forgiveness, mercy, love, grace, and understanding. I praise God for the places Jesus has prepared for me and I pray you also praise God for those places Jesus has prepared for you.

Hymn: I’ll Fly Away

  1. Some glad morning when this life is o’er, I’ll fly away;
    to a home on god’s celestial shore, I’ll fly away.

Refrain: I’ll fly away, O glory, I’ll fly away. 

When I die, hallelujah, by and by, I’ll fly away.

  1. When the shadows of this life have gone, I’ll fly away; 
    like a bird from prison bars has flown, I’ll fly away.  (Refrain)
  2. Just a few more weary day and then, I’ll fly away;
    to a land where joys shall never end, I’ll fly away.  (Refrain)

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