November 29, 2020 - Home Worship Service

Welcome & Announcements: Good morning church!

We continue to offer in person worship at Lightstreet.

 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. 8am & 10:30 offers live musicians.  

 

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. 

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

  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)

 

Worship:

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: If only the heavens would tear open and God would come down!
P: The mountains would shake and tremble — all earth would stand in awe!
L: People have turned their backs on God, believing that they, under their own power, can right all wrongs.
P: We have failed miserably when we depend only on ourselves.
L: Be with us, O Lord. Tear open our hearts and pour Your love into our lives.
P: Give us confidence in You, for You are always with us. AMEN.

Opening Song: We Believe by the Praise Band 

https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/we-believe

 

In this time of desperation When all we know is doubt and fear
There is only one foundation We believe, we believe

 

In this broken generation When all is dark, You help us see
There is only one salvation We believe, we believe

 

Refrain: We believe in God the Father. We believe in Jesus Christ
We believe in the Holy Spirit. And He's given us new life
We believe in the crucifixion. We believe that He conquered death
We believe in the resurrection And He's comin' back again, we believe

 

So, let our faith be more than anthems. Greater than the songs we sing
And in our weakness and temptations We believe, we believe

 

Refrain:

 

Let the lost be found and the dead be raised. In the here and now, let love invade
Let the church live love our God will see. We believe, we believe

 

And the gates of hell will not prevail. For the power of God, has torn the vail
Now we know Your love will never fail. We believe, we believe

 

Refrain:

Opening Prayer;

God of the lost and lonely, God of the secure and confident, gather us into Your fold that we may be healed and transformed. Guide us in Your world that we may be part of ministries of healing and hope, for we ask these things in Jesus’ Name. AMEN.

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!

 

Welcome this morning to the first Sunday of Advent. The word “Advent” means “to come, or coming”. We are excited because we are looking forward to the coming of Jesus. One of the things I have discovered about big events is that a lot of things go into getting ready for them. The first is to get ready – to pay attention – to look for ways that tell us that something is going to happen. This Sunday we are talking about getting ready, paying attention. God is coming to us in a new way – in the birth of Jesus. Jesus is God’s own Son and God loves Him so much. God also loves the world and wants things to go better for us, so He is sending us a most wonderful gift – His Son. Jesus will grow up and teach many people about how God wants us to live; how God wants us to treat each other; how God wants us to take care of our world. These are critical lessons and they have been taught in churches throughout the centuries. We are the caretakers in God’s world.

Today we are going to look for signs that God is active in our world, present with us. I see it every time I look at you and you are happy and laughing. It reminds me of how much God wants us to be joyful and love each other and take care of each other. What are some of the other ways we might see God’s presence? Did you smile at anyone this morning? Turn around and look at the people around you. On my count of three, you all give them your biggest and best smile. Ready? OK, One…..two…..three…..SMILE! Wow!! What happened? Did anyone smile back at you? There are some people here, right now, who will never forget your wonderful smile and how it made them feel. That’s part of God’s presence – through you, in your smile, freely given to the people here. Thank you very much for being a living example of God’s presence with God’s people.

 

Let us pray: Thank You God, for Advent and Your presence among us. Amen.

 

Joys & Concerns:

 

Merciful and Patient God, how we rush through the seasons of our lives as though we had a mighty schedule to keep. We plot out our days, minute by minute, crowding each moment with tasks, stresses and pressures. And we begin to notice the growing darkness and anxiety in our lives.  We proclaim boldly each year that we will not let ourselves get caught up in the commercial pressures and demands. Help us Lord, help us slow down and reflect on the many ways in which You bless us.  Remind us again of the most precious gift of all, the gift of a loving relationship between You and us, Your Creation.  May we cherish the people and the peaceful moments You offer to us.  As we have lifted before You our joys and concerns, so lift all of our spirits to remember that You are always with us, offering Your healing touch and Your compassionate care.  Help us to place our trust in You in this season, for we ask it in Jesus’ name who taught us 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: As we have entered this church with thanksgiving on our hearts, let us remember that we have the opportunity to joyfully share from the bounty which God has provided. In the love and name of Christ, let us receive our morning offering.

 

Offering Prayer: Bless these gifts, O Lord, and help them to bring the transforming love You have given us into ministries of hope and peace in this our dark world. AMEN.

 

Scripture Lesson:  Mark 13:33-37

“Watch out! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming. It is as if someone took a trip, left the household behind, and put the servants in charge, giving each one a job to do, and told the doorkeeper to stay alert.

Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows in the early morning or at daybreak. Don’t let him show up when you weren’t expecting and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: Stay alert!”

Mark 13:33-37

 

Sermon: Pastor Ron  “AN ANNOUNCEMENT… ABOUT OUR FUTURE”

 

            The Reverend Richard Pearson at one time served the Crescent Park United Methodist Church in Sioux City, Iowa. For several years that church had a living nativity scene. On one particular night it was Pastor Dick’s job, along with a man who had a pick-up truck, to get a pregnant ewe, which was bedded down in the parsonage garage, to the church. They went to get her about a half hour before performance time. Due to her delicate condition he carefully lifted her into the bed of the truck, and Pastor Dick rode in the back with her. It was a bitterly cold night and the ewe evidently decided she had other plans. When the truck stopped at a traffic light, she bolted and jumped right over the tailgate. She started running down the busy city street away from the church with Pastor Richard Pearson in hot pursuit. Passing cars slammed on their brakes to avoid hitting them. People yelled, pointed and laughed; and the ewe and the preacher ran on. Pastor Dick finally caught her in a thicket at Briar Cliff College. They reloaded her into the truck and got her into place with two minutes to spare. Pastor Richard Pearson says that all the way to the church, the lines from My Fair Lady kept running through his head: “Kick up a rumpus, but don’t forget the compass, and get me to the church on time.”

            I hope that your Christmas season will not be quite that hectic this year.  Even in the times we are living, time is at a premium during this Advent Season, isn’t it? Our theme song for this season of the year could be, “Kick up a rumpus, but don’t forget the compass, and get me to the church on time.”

            Welcome to this first Sunday in Advent. Many of us think of Advent as a time of getting ready for Christmas. And on a practical level it is certainly that. Some of you may even get a headache just thinking about all the preparations that must be made over the next few weeks. Lights and trees to put up; cookies to bake; shopping to do (online, hopefully); presents to be wrapped, cards to be signed, addressed and mailed; etc… How can you possibly ever get all that done with just 25 more days before Christmas?

            However, sisters and brothers, the season of Advent is about much more than getting ready for Christmas. Advent is a definitive announcement about our future. Advent is an announcement of a time when Christ shall return to establish His kingdom. Advent is a time of preparation for that final triumph over death and darkness. That why Advent begins with this passage from the 13th chapter of Mark’s gospel.

 

“Watch out! Stay alert! You don’t know when the time is coming. It is as if someone took a trip, left the household behind, and put the servants in charge, giving each one a job to do, and told the doorkeeper to stay alert.

Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows in the early morning or at daybreak. Don’t let him show up when you weren’t expecting and find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to all: Stay alert!”

Mark 13:33-37

           

            Would you agree that most of us nowadays don’t give a whole lot of thought to Christ’s return? Now there are some Christians who make His return their primary preoccupation. They put up signs along highways and they write books describing in great detail elements of what they call “The Rapture.” But Jesus warned us that no one knows when that day will be: “But nobody knows when that day or hour will come, not the angels in heaven and not the Son. Only the Father knows.” (Mark 13:32) And since Christians have been waiting for 2,000 years, we look at those who are obsessed with this subject as being a bit eccentric. And yet biblically, it is impossible for us to ignore this teaching.

            History has a direction, and one day Christ will return to reign over all. It’s an amazing and wonderful promise about our future. We are in God’s hands. We must take that seriously. We want to be prepared for the day of His coming. So what can we learn from today’s lesson from the Gospel of Mark? Jesus paints a picture for us.

            A man is going away. He puts his servants in charge, each with an assigned task. He tells the one at the door to keep watch. Then Jesus turns to the disciples and says: “Therefore stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come…” Now hear what follows: “…whether in the evening or at midnight or when the rooster crows in the early morning or at day break…” Dr. Tom Long suggests that these four times – evening, midnight, when the rooster crows, dawn – may have a special meaning related to subsequent events in Mark’s Gospel. This morning, I would like us to consider each of these, one at a time.

            “Therefore,” says Jesus, “stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening…” So as we wait for the coming of Christ, what is the significance of evening? If you turn to the 14th chapter of Mark’s Gospel, we read: “That evening, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. During the meal, Jesus said, ‘I assure you that one of you will betray me…’” (14:17-18) Evening is the time of betrayal. Think about that for a moment. What would it mean for you to betray Christ? Here we are in this time of waiting for His return. Could it be a time of betrayal? For example, would it be a betrayal if during this Advent season we forgot totally about the deeper meaning of the birth? Many who celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ have no real understanding of who He was…or is!

            Betrayal comes in many forms, of course. It may mean ignoring the needs of those around us. It may mean the focusing of all our energies on the peripherals of this season of the year and not on the principal reason for the season. Maybe betrayal is giving in to the rampant materialism of this season of the year. I read recently that the amount of money Americans spend on toys each year exceeds the gross national product of 64 other countries in the world.

            When it was evening, Jesus ate his last meal with his disciples, and tells them, “…one of you will betray me.” That’s the evening – a time of betrayal.

            “Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening or at midnight…” So, what about midnight? Mark continues the story in chapter 14. Immediately after the Last Supper, they went to a place called Gethsemane. Do you remember what happened at the garden of Gethsemane? Jesus told His disciples to keep watch while He prayed. This was that time of agony for Jesus when He prayed that the cup of suffering and death would be taken from Him, but still He prayed, “…not what I want, but what you want.” (14:36) Twice during this time of prayer Jesus returned to the disciples and asked them to keep watch, and both times He found all of them, including Simon Peter, asleep. Mark tells us that the disciples didn’t know what to say to Him.

            No wonder they didn’t know what to say. Jesus was pouring His heart out on this, the most critical night of His life, and His disciples whom He had told to keep watch had fallen asleep. Not just once, but twice. And the obvious question is could that have been us? We are the church of Jesus Christ. He has called us to make a difference in the world. Have we been sleeping on the job?

            A man went to his doctor and asked if the doctor could help him with a snoring problem. The man said, “As soon as I go to sleep, I begin to snore. It happens all the time doc. What can I do?” The doctor asked, “Does it bother your wife?” “Oh,” the man answered, “it bothers the whole congregation.” It is time for us, the church, to wake up and go about doing what Christ has called us to do.

            In the evening one betrayed him. At midnight, they were all asleep. “Therefore, stay alert!” said Jesus. “You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening, or at midnight or when the rooster crows…” We all know what happened when the rooster crowed, don’t we? We read about it also in Mark 14. At the Last Supper, Jesus told His disciples, “You will all fall away…Peter protests, ‘Even if everyone else stumbles, I won’t.’ And then Jesus says to Simon Peter, ‘I assure you that on this very night, before the rooster crows crows twice, you will deny Me three times.’ But Peter insisted, ‘If I must die alongside You, I won’t deny You.’” (14:29-31) And what happens later that night? Peter denies Jesus three times. Then he hears the rooster, remembers what Jesus told him, and he weeps.

            Have you ever wept because you have done something really dumb? I love the fact that we get to see the disciples with all their shortcomings exposed. We don’t talk a lot about grace at this time of the year, but surely it deserves to be talked about. Children are told to be good because Santa Claus is coming to town. That does no harm, but they also need to know that God loves them whether they are good or bad. That’s the Gospel!

            Jesus loved Simon Peter, but Peter wasn’t perfect, just as you and I aren’t perfect. When the time of testing came, Peter faltered, then failed. But that did not mean Jesus did not love him and did not mean that Jesus couldn’t use him. The crowing rooster is actually a time of grace.

            “Therefore, stay alert! You don’t know when the head of the household will come, whether in the evening or at midnight, or when the rooster crows in the early morning or at daybreak.” Dawn is a wonderful time of the day, don’t you think? The 16th chapter of the Gospel of Mark begins like this: “When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome brought spices so that they could go and anoint Jesus’ dead body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they came to the tomb. They were saying to each other, ‘Who is going to roll the stone away from the entrance for us?’ When they looked up they saw that the stone had been rolled away. Going into the tomb they saw a young man in a white robe seated on the right side and they were startled. But he said to them, ‘Don’t be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised.’” (Mark 16:1-6)

            Thirty-six hours before this particular dawn the world experienced the darkest hours of human history. The Son of God hung on a cross like a common criminal. But at dawn, on the third day, the women discovered the tomb was empty. He had risen, as He said.

            The evening of betrayal, the midnight when the disciples slept, the crowing of the rooster and the grace it represents are all preparation for the dawn of the resurrection. They also represent out situation as we await Christ’s return.

            It’s still an imperfect world. We still live in a world of betrayal, a world in which the church on whom Jesus Christ relies is asleep, a world depending on God’s grace as its only hope. We await the dawn, the return of Christ to dispel the darkness for all time, to set up His kingdom of love and peace and justice for all people. We celebrate Advent during the darkest time of the year. But it’s not a celebration of darkness. It is a celebration of the light that will overcome the darkness. It speaks of that day that is to come.

            Pastor David Peterson was once deep n sermon preparation when his little daughter came into his study and asked, “Daddy, can we play?” “I’m really sorry,” he said, “but I’m right in the middle of preparing my sermon. How about we play in an hour?” She said, “Okay, when you’re finished, Daddy, I’m going to give you a great big hug.” He said, “Thank you very much I’ll look forward to that.” She went to the door of his study, did a U-turn and came back and gave him an enormous bear-hug. David said to her, “You said you were going to give me a hug after I finished.” Her big brown eyes looked deep in his and she answered, “Daddy, I just wanted you to know what you have to look forward to!”

            Sisters and brothers, Advent is a reminder of what we have to look forward to. “Watch out! Stay alert!” says Jesus. “You don’t know when the time is coming.” (Mark 13:33) “What I say to you, I say to all: Stay alert!” (Mark 13:37) And that is an announcement about our future!

 

 

Closing Song: https://soundcloud.com/jennifer-parks-snyder/it-came-upon-a-midnight-clear

1 It came upon the midnight clear, that glorious song of old,
from angels bending near the earth to touch their harps of gold:
"Peace on the earth, good will to men, from heaven's all-gracious King."
The world in solemn stillness lay, to hear the angels sing.

2 Still through the cloven skies they come with peaceful wings unfurled,
and still their heavenly music floats o'er all the weary world;

above its sad and lowly plains, they bend on hovering wing,
and ever o'er its Babel sounds the blessed angels sing.

 

3 And ye, beneath life's crushing load, whose forms are bending low,
who toil along the climbing way with painful steps and slow,
look now! for glad and golden hours come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road, and hear the angels sing!

4 For lo! the days are hastening on, by prophet seen of old,
when with the ever-circling years shall come the time foretold
when peace shall over all the earth its ancient splendors fling,
and the whole world send back the song which now the angels sing.

 

Benediction: Be alert! God is all around us! Be ready to joyfully serve God in ministries of peace and justice through Jesus Christ our Lord. Go in peace and may the peace of God always go with you. AMEN.

 

 
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