Welcome & Announcements: Good morning church!
We continue to offer in person worship at Lightstreet. No reservations needed.
8am contemporary service in the Lighthouse and 10:30am is our traditional service in the church sanctuary. You will need a mask and will be asked to be spaced apart from others unless you are sitting with those in your household. Both provide recorded music through the sound system.
No children and youth Sunday School just yet.
Another alternative for worship is Sunday 9:00 am Zoom Worship & Prayer
Pastor Jenn and your church leaders invite you to ZOOM, Sunday morning, 9:00 am.
Meeting ID: 854 4146 8430 Password: 279040
One tap mobile: +19294362866,,85441468430#,,,,0#,,279040# US (New York)
For audio only using a landline or non-smart phone: 1 929 436 2866 US (New York)
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:
L: Sing praise to God who rescues us when we fall!
P: Sing praise to God who walks with us on all our journeys!
L: Even though we fall, God lifts us and places us on paths of peace.
P: Even though we stray, God finds us and brings us back to lives of hope.
L: Thanks be to God, whose love is continually with us.
P: Praise be to God, whose mercy is over us all. AMEN.
Opening Song: God Will Take Care of You by Donna Farver & Linda Creasy
1. Be not dismayed whate'er betide, God will take care of you.
beneath His wings of love abide, God will take care of you.
God will take care of you, through every day, o'er all the way.
He will take care of you; God will take care of you.
2. Through days of toil when heart doth fail, God will take care of you.
when dangers fierce your path assail, God will take care of you. (Refrain)
3. All you may need He will provide; God will take care of you.
nothing you ask will be denied, God will take care of you. (Refrain)
4. No matter what the test may be, God will take care of you.
lean, weary one, upon His breast, God will take care of you. (Refrain)
We sing and speak Your praise, O God, grateful for the many ways in which You have loved us. Keep our hearts, our minds, and our spirits open to learn ways in which we can offer love for others. For we ask this in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.
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!
I want you to imagine what would happen if I gave each of you a raw egg in a Ziploc bag and I asked you to carry this egg with you, wherever you went. So that means if you go the kitchen, take it with you. If you go outside, take it with you.
What do you think would happen?
Eggs are fragile, they are easy to break, to crack. Eggs are like people’s feelings. Sometimes we can accidentally say something that hurts someone’s feelings. Today we are going to learn about the fruit of gentleness. Gentleness means treating each person with care, similar to how we needed to care for the eggs.
And while there are times that we might find it hard to be careful with our words, God’s Spirit can help us to be gentle with others.
Let’s pray: Thank You God, that You help us to be gentle with our words to others. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Prayer & Lord’s Prayer
Lord, Your grace and mercy are ever-present in our lives, Your forgiveness is boundless even when we fail to live in Christlike ways. And yet, we are quick to carry a grudge—quick to find fault, quick to assign blame, quick to harden our hearts toward others.
As Christ has forgiven us, we are to forgive others. Transform our thinking and our doing, O God. May our actions speak Your mercy, and may our lives speak Your generous love. Set us apart, loving God, to extend and model the grace You have shown us by offering grace to others.
Invitation to the Offering
As we give today, may we do so out of the lavishness we have been shown by a God who forgives and loves us beyond measure.
Giving God, all we are and all we have come from You. We offer back to You what has always been Yours.
As You have entrusted Your gifts to us, so we return these gifts to You, trusting that You will multiply them
to the great glory of Your kingdom on earth. We pray through Jesus who gave the totality of His life for us. Amen.
Sermon: The Fruit of the Spirit is Gentleness
Turn on the tv, read the news and debates are occurring between candidates and political parties. And let’s be honest, they are not pretty to watch. But there is one debate that is pretty intense between two cities, and that is: who really wrote Mary had a little lamb?
Sterling, Massachusetts (north of Worcester, population 6,935) claims the poem was written by a schoolboy, named John Roulstone, who witnessed in 1815 an incident involving a girl named Mary Sawyer and her pet lamb.
Newport, New Hampshire (in the southwest corner of the state, population 6,110) insists it was written by a prominent writer and editor native named, Sarah Joseph Hale. She wrote 20 books and hundreds of poems. She
wrote "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and published it in 1830 under her name, in a collection called "Poems for Our Children".
Supporters from both sides have produced what they say is definitive evidence for their case. Insults have been exchanged, allegations of plagiarism and lying have been tossed about. No one is backing down; in both towns, being known as the birthplace of the poem is a primary draw for tourists.
"I've seen people go livid over this," says Lee Swanson, a New England historian, "They actually get red in the face."
And yet there is more. Swanson is working with another scholar by the name of B. G. Thurston on the history of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and they suggest that some evidence claims that the poem originated with neither Roulstone nor Hale. Their research has led them to a nearly identical British version of the poem published earlier than Hale's, about a "Lucy" and her little lamb. They are in the process of verifying the information.
Where would this leave Sterling and Newport?
"I don't know," says Thurston. "I truly believe neither side is correct, though I don't have the full research to support it. It might be one of those mysteries that will never be solved."
In our lesson today, you will hear Jesus speak to Peter about tending and feeding His sheep. And as we listen, we will not hear factions or insults, but the gentle voice of the Spirit.
Scripture Lesson: John 21: 15-20
Jesus and Peter
15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 A second time he said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” Peter felt hurt because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” And he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18 Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you used to fasten your own belt and to go wherever you wished. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten a belt around you and take you where you do not wish to go.” 19 (He said this to indicate the kind of death by which he would glorify God.) After this he said to him, “Follow me.”
Jesus and the Beloved Disciple
20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them.
We are getting closer to wrapping up our sermon series on Fruit of the Spirit, and by now you understand that each fruit is given to us by way of God’s Spirit, so that we can be more Christlike. It’s God gift for the followers of Jesus to have these abilities to show Christ in the world.
So, we talked about the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, today we will look at gentleness, and wrap up the series next week with self-control. Gentleness is the ability to endure certain things without aggression. It is the ability to control one’s temper and one’s tongue. Sometimes our response is to say nothing and possibly walk away. Other times we can use words that are strong, firm, and clear, but without rage.
Pastor Christopher Wright explained gentleness like this in his book, Cultivating the Fruit of the Spirit: Growing in Christlikness, “Gentleness means being very aware that the other person is a human being with feelings, too. And maybe that person, even the one who is being very nasty, is just as hurt as I am by whatever is going on between us. So, if I fight back with matching or increasing aggression, it will only make things worse. We will hurt each other even more, and what’s the point in that?” p127
In the Old Testament we see a God who is gentle. No, I’m not kidding. Yes, God comes on a bit strong in many stories, but God is also quite gentle. Consider how David likens God to a caring shepherd, that in whom, nothing is needed in Psalm 23.
In 1 Kings 19, we see how God cared for Elijah by bringing him bread from heaven and speaking to him through a still small voice.
And God saved Hagar and her son after they were banished and hungry. In Genesis 21: we read: 17 God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. 18 Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”
Time and again, God’s action and words were gentle to God’s people.
But by the time of Jesus, not everyone understood God to be gentle which is why we read this in Matthew 11:28-30 28 “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Tradition for the Hebrew people was the law that God gave Moses was to be considered a yoke, that is something to be submitted to, like an ox wears a yoke to submit to its owner. People were to wear the yoke of the Mosaic law to guide them in all that they did. But the problem with that is, the law was given to help people come closer to God and to each other and by Jesus’ time, those laws were reinterpreted to the point they were almost unbearable, not easily achieved. I shared examples of this a few weeks ago when I shared the laws of what it meant to keep the Sabbath. It wasn’t easy. Further these interpretations banned people away from God and the Temple. Therefore, the law was crushing people, it was not gentle.
Enter Jesus. He came to fulfill the law as he states in Matthew 5:17, and so that means that the Hebrews could look to Him as their model, their Teacher of what a right relationship with God can look like, and those who follow Him, can live that way, too, by taking His yoke upon them, that is easy, and His burden light.
In fact, some would say Jesus’s greatest strength was His gentleness, that is His ability to speak the truth and confront people, not by yelling at them or belittling them, rather, He made time for those the rest of society bullied and belittled. Like in John 4, where Jesus meets the woman at the well, who being involved with five different men knew those relationships were not healthy for her, so Jesus gently guides her to the living waters of a healthy relationship with God’s love for her.
Or remember Zacchaeus the tax collector? People didn’t like him, but he invited Jesus to his home for dinner and upon understanding what Jesus was about and taught, he became a changed man. Luke 19:8 we read Zacchaeus stating, Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”9 Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.” Jesus didn’t say, “Well it’s about time, Zacchaeus, you’ve been a bad boy”, no, He celebrated him as anyone else, a child of Abraham, a child of God’s.
And Matthew 19:13we read, 13 Then people brought little children to Jesus for Him to place His hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.14 Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” Jesus gently teaches how precious children are to him and to God.
In our lesson today, we hear another example of Jesus’ gentleness, with a friend, a colleague, who betrayed Him. And I want you to notice the last line I read with that text. Verse 20, 20 Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; that’s an important element to this story because what that means is Jesus and Peter were having this private conversation, between them. Jesus wasn’t doing this in front of the others, His gentleness is one on one with Peter.
Now just to refresh your memories, if you recall during Jesus’ last night with His disciples, Jesus tells them one will turn Him in, and Peter will betray Him. This is after Jesus has washed their feet. Jesus says in John 13:36 “Where I am going, you cannot follow now, but you will follow later.” 37 Peter asked, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now? I will lay down my life for You.” 38 Then Jesus answered, “Will you really lay down your life for Me? Very truly I tell you, before the rooster crows, you will disown Me three times!
And sure enough, Peter does. He did so out of fear as Jesus was arrested and he knew anyone associated with Him could be arrested too. So, he denied knowing Jesus three times.
But now the resurrection has occurred and if you are Peter, what would you be thinking? You would be feeling guilty, right? You didn’t believe Jesus, you didn’t trust what would occur, and so because of your doubt, your denial, it’s going to weigh heavy isn’t it? Possibly to the point that it would affect how you proceed in life, and in your discipleship.
So, Jesus takes Peter aside and has this conversation with him, asking Peter in a gentle way, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He asks him not once, but three times, each for the forgiveness of the betrayal Peter had. And granted, the text said Peter was hurt by this, but that’s because, let’s be honest, to be corrected can hurt us, because we are embarrassed by what we did or said, yet through this, Jesus’ gentle repentance, Jesus could heal Peter’s heart and mind so that he could follow the way of Jesus, wearing the yoke of Jesus, to feed and tend to the sheep of the flock of Jesus.
I love this text as an example of the tenderness of Jesus, who did not rebuke Peter, He did not shame Peter in the presence of others, and Jesus certainly didn’t point His finger at Peter, condemning him. In this text, Jesus gently led his friend to an act of redemption that forever changed him, as we see beginning on Pentecost in Acts 2 when he provides a powerful witness of the gospel of Christ. And even in his own letter where in 1 Peter 3:15 we read, 15 But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. Peter learned that gentleness is an important quality as a disciple, especially when we speak to people who are not Christians and have questions about our faith.
I wonder what the world would be like if more of us acted like Jesus in that type of situation. Where a chasm that has harmed a relationship, be it with a spouse, a friend, a co-worker, or a relative, could be redeemed if both parties could learn to be gentle. Resolving a conflict without aggression, but controlled tongue and temper, recognizing we are all human, and we are all forgiven.
Maybe if we as Christians, allowed the fruit of the gentleness to lead us, guide us, relationships could be healed. Maybe if we as Christians open ourselves to the Spirit, our way of life can be shaped by Jesus’ way of life, and we may tend to His sheep of Sterling, of Newport, of Lightstreet and beyond.
Closing Song: Come as You Are by LUMC Praise Band
Come out of sadness from wherever you've been. Come broken hearted let rescue begin
Come find your mercy Oh sinner come kneel
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal. Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal
Chorus: So lay down your burdens. Lay down your shame
All who are broken lift up your face. Oh wanderer come home you're not too far
So lay down your hurt, lay down your heart. Come as you are
There's hope for the hopeless and all those who've strayed. Come sit at the table come taste the grace
There's rest for the weary rest that endures. Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't cure
Oh, wanderer come home you're not too far. Lay down your hurt; lay down your heart
Come as you are. Come as you are. Fall in his arms, come as you are
There's joy for the morning oh sinner be still
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal. Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't heal
Come as you are
Come as you are
Come as you are
Come as you are
May the words of our mouths, the meditations of our hearts, be acceptable to God, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit this day and forever more. AMEN.