November 7, 2021 - All Saints Worship

November 7, 2021 All Saints Sunday

Call to worship: (Discipleship Ministries)

Leader: We have come to affirm our historic faith.

People: To worship the God of our mothers and fathers.

Leader: We have come to remember God’s benefits to us the living.

People: To respond in thanksgiving to the mighty works of God in our lives.

Leader: We have come to affirm our trust in the God of all futures,

People: To whose name be blessing and honor, glory and power forever and ever. Amen.

Hymn #364 Because He Lives

1    God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus; He came to love, heal, and forgive;

      He lived and died to buy my pardon, an empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.

Refrain:  Because He lives, I can face tomorrow; because He lives, all fear is gone; 

Because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives.

2    How sweet to hold a newborn baby, and feel the pride and joy he gives;

      But greater still the calm assurance, this child can face uncertain days because He lives.

3    And then one day I’ll cross the river; I’ll fight life’s final war with pain;

      And then as death gives way to victory, I’ll see the lights of glory and I’ll know He reigns.

Morning prayer

We seek and find You in Creation, O God, in the world You have made and the people You have called. Your vulnerable, powerful Lamb is our Shepherd and Guide, leading us to share the shelter of Your abundant life. Let us recognize You here in the beauty of this morning and in its challenge; may the Risen One, Your Shepherd-Lamb, lead us to act for Your justice and peace: so that all may drink from Your springs of the waters of life, and find their tears of sorrow and pain wiped away. In the name of the Risen One we pray: Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Children’s message: Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:12

12 Fight the good fight along with all other believers. Take hold of eternal life. You were chosen for it when you openly told others what you believe. Many witnesses heard you.

Some people of God are widely known because of their strong faith. Most of us have heard of Paul the Apostle, Mother Teresa, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Can you think of some others? Many times, Christians put the word saint before the name of someone that has demonstrated great faith. Saint Paul, Saint Francis of Assisi, and Saint Nicholas. Many churches even have Saint in their name, such as St. John or St. Mark. Giving someone the title saint means that person has demonstrated a lifelong following of Jesus with his/her actions.

You don’t have to be well known to be a saint. You too are called to be a saint. Today, we celebrate all the saints, those who are widely known and those who aren’t. The saints in your life could be in your family, in your neighborhoods, in your schools, or in this church. There are saints, those that demonstrate God’s holiness and love all around us. Who are the saints in your life? Let’s celebrate all of them today.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, thank You for all the saints in our lives who have been filled with Your holiness and love. Thank You for giving us the opportunity to be saints as well. Today we celebrate by making a joyful noise. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Prayers of Intercession:  Eternal Father as we remember with love and fondness those who have preceded us into life eternal, hear our prayers for the living.  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:  KidsPeace foster care agency serves children in Bloomsburg, Berwick, Danville, Shamokin, Orangeville, Sunbury, Benton and nearby communities.  In addition to Missions funding, you can make the Christmas wishes of these children come true.  Angel cards are at the rear with the Christmas wishes of the children.  Feel free to take a card yourself or share one card among several people. 

Offertory prayer:  God of all generations, as we worship today, we offer our whole selves to You, all that we have and all that we are. Like Your saints who have gone before us, we pray that You will help us be bold in our mission and in our witness. May we who have been given so much give freely, ministering in Your compassion to the multitudes near to us and far from us; so that one day we may stand amidst the multitude that gathers at Your heavenly throne. We pray this in the name of our Savior and Redeemer, Christ our Lord. Amen.

Preparation Hymn: #723 Shall We Gather at the River

1    Shall we gather at the river, where bright angel feet have trod,  

      With its crystal tide forever flowing by the throne of God?

Refrain:  Yes, we’ll gather at the river, the beautiful, the beautiful river;

Gather with the saints at the river that flows by the throne of God.

2    On the margin of the river, washing up its silver spray,

We will walk and worship ever, all the happy golden day.

3    Ere we reach the shining river, lay we every burden down;

Grace our spirits will deliver, and provide a robe and crown. 

4    Soon we’ll reach the shining river, soon our pilgrimage will cease;

Soon our happy hearts will quiver with the melody of peace. 

Message scripture: John 11:32-44

When Mary came where Jesus was and saw Him, she knelt at His feet and said to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, He was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus began to weep. So the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not He who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to Him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank You for having heard Me. I knew that You always hear Me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” When He had said this, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”

MessageO Death Where Is Thy Sting?  Right Here, Deep in my Heart

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

One of the biggest lies we buy into, or at least project out into the world is this – because of our faith, we are ok with death. Somewhere it became a testament to our faith to deny death’s effect on us, something to wear as a badge of honor and wield as a weapon if anyone else’s faith cannot carry them through their grief.

Well, Beck, that is a bold assumption to make, how do you come to that conclusion? Years of ministry and the misuse of this particular story. You see, the resurrection of Lazarus becomes an “All’s well that ends well” narrative. We forgive Mary’s outburst and we get warm feelings to know Jesus weeps, but in the end Lazarus lives, so it’s ok.

The thing is this, Lazarus does die, Jesus interrupts his death that day, but Lazarus dies another day. How do we feel about Mary’s outburst now? She makes the same accusation again – Lord, if You would have been here, our brother would not be dead. All the reasons we have heard or studied over the years as to why Jesus resurrects Lazarus, are still present. The sisters would need their brother for protection, the carrying on of the family name for inheritance, he would have been the one to present sacrifices at the temple for the family. I am sure you can name a few that I may have missed.

In the first death of Lazarus, Mary is being embracing her genuine self. She is verbalizing our very human response to the death of a loved one. This could have been different, this isn’t the way it is supposed to be, and the simple – yet profound, why? Can you hear her? Does this resonate with you? She is bold as she is right at Jesus’ feet – defeated, looking for an answer to this brokenness. She gives us the model, the permission, if you will, to make the pronouncement to God’s face – You could have changed this. At any moment, along this journey, God, You could have stepped in and changed this. Yes, God could have, but it doesn’t change the human fact, that those we love will die and we will die.

And we want those deaths to make sense. There are deaths we will accept, you know, the good deaths – they lived a long full life, died doing something they loved, or it was welcomed because death brought the end of suffering. Then there are the deaths that leave us questioning everything we thought we knew about God and humanity. And leads us into saying things which frankly are unhelpful and cruel – because we want to be sympathetic and we want to project a good witness. We talked about this a little bit when we looked at the prayer in Ephesians 3:16-19 “I pray that, according to the riches of His glory, He may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through His Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

These are also the times we should be following the direction of Job’s friends – when Job lost everything, they came to him and sat with him in silence – because they knew there was nothing to say to make it better.

I say all this to you to affirm one thing – God’s promises are God’s promises; they are not conditional on our belief or doubt or rejection. Only God can hold up this covenant we have with Him, and that He does out of His great love for us. We are permitted to be fully human in our grief and questioning – over and over in the Old and in the New Testament, we are shown God’s grace in our failings to be perfect, perfect in love, faith and witness. God is asking for us to come as He created us, fully human - embodied souls with emotions: love, disappointment, joy and sorrow.

In Lazarus’ resurrection, he is released to the care of the community. Jesus called him out to the mourners to unwrap him – not his sisters and not by Jesus. We are charged to be the community that heals and deals with the stench and wrappings of death. We cannot do that when we deny the pain we feel.

Let us pray: Good and gracious God, through Jesus You have shown us Your love and concern. What breaks our heart, breaks Yours. In our grief and brokenness You draw closer to us. Father, let us learn to feel what You need us to feel, to bear witness to Your goodness and care. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

All Saints is a day of remembrance for the saints, with the New Testament meaning of all Christian people of every time and place.  We celebrate the communion of saints as we remember the dead.  For this reason, the names of persons in the congregation who have died during the past year are solemnly recalled as a response to the Word.

Those who have passed November 2020 – October 2021 (followed by the names of loved ones who presented their names)

Pat Gensemer                                      Nina Ann Haynes Merrick (Pam Kelly)

Arleta Johnson                                     Alex Charles Wagner (Bill Kocher)

Russell Kressler                                     Richard “Dick” Campbell (Ed and Nancy Campbell)

Joan Kile                                             Dolores Humes (Kim Deska)

Joanne Sneidman                                Ronald Grabowski (Kim Deska)

Ethel Hess                                             Gregory Erik Kriner (Dean and Jill Kriner)

Rev. Charlie Kind                                 Mary Dodge (The Dodge Family)

Carl “Jr.” Varner                                 Jack Krepps (Beth Snyder)

Erica Shultz                                          Tim Bower (Pastor Becky Cuddeback)

Mildred Beck (Flo Brady)                    Elizabeth Gough (Flo Brady)

Brad Reed (Flo Brady)

Closing Hymn Go Now in Peace

Go now in peace.  Never be afraid. God will go with you each hour of ev’ry day.

Go now in faith, steadfast strong and true.  Know He will guide you in all you do.

Go now in love and show you believe.  Reach out to others so all the world can see.

God will be there watching from above.

Go now in peace, in faith, and in love. 

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

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