October 1, 2023 - World Communion Sunday

For the week of October 1-7 – 18th Sunday after Pentecost

Morning Prayer Heavenly One, Your reach extends to every person, every nation, offering grace, forgiveness, and hope. A saving embrace drawing us to You and each other. Make us Your children: grateful for a place at Your feast, humble before Your love and generosity, rejoicing in the beauty of each sibling. Make us Your children: faithful in honoring and welcoming all, eager in sharing what we have found in You – safety, belonging, identity, a home of nurture and sending forth. Amen. (Make Us Your Children © 2020 Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia, www.revlisad.com)

Hymn #600 Wonderful Words of Life

  1. Sing them over again to me, wonderful words of life; Let me more of their beauty see, wonderful words of life. Words of life and beauty teach me faith and duty.

Refrain:  Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.

Beautiful words, wonderful words, wonderful words of life.

  1. Christ, the blessed one, gives to all, wonderful words of life;  Sinner, list to the loving call, wonderful words of life. All so freely giving, wooing us to heaven.  Refrain:
  2. Sweetly echo the gospel call, wonderful words of life;  Offer pardon and peace to all, wonderful words of life; Jesus, only Savior sanctify forever.  Refrain:

Psalm 78:1-4

78:1 Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth.

78:2 I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old,

78:3 things that we have heard and known, that our ancestors have told us.

78:4 We will not hide them from their children; we will tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and His might, and the wonders that He has done.

Children’s Time Matthew 21:23-25

When He (Jesus) entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things, and who gave You this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell Me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’

Children’s Message Do you like riddles? I have some riddles to ask you this morning. They aren't too difficult, but you will have to think a little. I will tell you this, I have the answer to each and every riddle right here in my bag -- and it will be something you have all seen before.

Here is the first riddle. What holds water even though it is full of holes? If you think you know, raise your hand. I have the answer right here in my bag. It is a sponge!

I have another riddle for you. What gets wet when it is drying? Surely someone will guess this one. It is a towel!

I have one more riddle. Now listen very closely. When I am filled, I can work or play; when I am empty, I do nothing all day. What am I? That's a hard one, isn't it? It's a glove. With your hand inside, it can do many things, but when it is empty, it can do nothing.

I think Jesus must have liked riddles too. Sometimes He used a riddle to teach people a lesson. One day Jesus was teaching in the temple. The priests and elders of the temple didn't believe that Jesus was the Son of God and they were upset because He had been performing miracles.

"Who gave you the authority to do these things?" they asked Jesus.

Jesus said, "I will ask you a question and, if you can answer Me, then I will answer you. Here's My question. Did the baptism of John come from heaven or from men? Where did he get his authority?"

The priests couldn't answer Jesus' riddle. If they said it was from heaven, Jesus might ask them why they didn't believe John when he said that Jesus was the Son of God. And if they said it was from men, the people would turn against them because they believed that John was a prophet of God.

The only way they could answer was, "We don't know."

Well, maybe the priests and elders didn't know who gave Jesus the authority to perform miracles, but we do. It was God, His Heavenly Father! (Sermons4kids.com)

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: Different churches offer Holy Communion according to different schedules but one day each year Christians world-wide celebrate this holy sacrament on the same day.  In United Methodist Churches, an offering is collected on World Communion Sunday to fund scholarships for seminarians. One half of the proceeds is for World Communion Sunday Scholars administered by the General Board of Global Ministries. The remaining one half is for the Ethnic Scholarship Program and the Ethnic In-Service Training Program, which are administered by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.   

Offering prayer: Holy God of infinite patience and grace, we bring our offerings today knowing that our actions too often don’t live up to our intentions and aspirations. When calling ourselves Christians, we announce ourselves as followers of Christ, knowing how many times our choices have made us unrecognizable as His disciples. Yet You wait patiently for us to find our way back to the path. May our giving this day and our living reflect our desire to be on the path that would be recognized as faithful to the Savior, in whose blessed name we pray. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Hymn #154 All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name

  1. All hail the power of Jesus' name! Let angels prostrate fall; bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all. Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.
  2. Ye chosen seed of Israel's race, ye ransomed from the fall,
    hail Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.
    Hail Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.
  3. Sinners, whose love can ne'er forget the wormwood and the gall,
    go spread your trophies at His feet, and crown Him Lord of all.
    Go spread your trophies at His feet, and crown Him Lord of all.
  4. Let every kindred, every tribe on this terrestrial ball, to Him all majesty ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all. To Him all majesty ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all.
  5. Crown Him, ye martyrs of your God, who from His altar call; extol the Stem of Jesse's Rod, and crown Him Lord of all. Extol the Stem of Jesse's Rod, and crown Him Lord of all.
  6. O that with yonder sacred throng we at His feet may fall! We'll join the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all. We'll join the everlasting song, and crown Him Lord of all.

Scripture:  Philippians 2:1-13

If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death— even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

Message:                       Pastor Becky

Let me lay out some context since we don’t necessarily spend a great deal of time on Sundays with Paul. Or at least, I don’t preach with Paul at the center, I yield to Jesus in whom I’ve placed my life and living and all my faith in.

Paul is in prison, we can’t say for certain where, because he spends a lot of time imprisoned. He could be in Rome, Ephesus, or Caesarea. No matter where he is, he is writing with a great deal of enthusiasm and a boldness which could lead the readers to believe this will be his end. He is unrestrained in his writing and is passionate. He is undeterred from the mission of encouraging the church in their mission and he is unstoppable in his quest for teaching the church about Jesus and the lives Jesus followers are to be living.

So he gives it all he has in his greeting to them, he is pleading with them to make his joy complete and strive toward being of one mind, to have the mind of Christ Jesus. He desires them and us to take on this mind, to internalize it and unify this as their signature of living with each other and with the world.

What is the mind of Christ? How does Paul define it?

The mind of Christ is a depth of understanding and practical wisdom, to know how to act rightly, especially in confusing or complex circumstances – a fully embodied wisdom gained over time and experience. In short, it is the wisdom of knowing what to do.

Paul illustrated this through what is known as the Christ Hymn. These are verses 6-11 that outline who Jesus is and the relationship Jesus has with God. It is what Jesus does and what God does. It is the first underpinnings of the doctrine of the Trinity that came to be codified in the Councils held by the Church Fathers from 300-600 AD.

Verses 6-8 tell of what Jesus did, through His right choice. It is what Jesus resolved to do in the face of human brokenness and to offer a path of reconciliation to God. This is paired in verses 9-11 God’s response to Jesus’s choice, it is purely the power of God at work in Jesus’s life for the benefit of all humanity.

It is the distinction between what human beings can do (7b- being born in human likeness. And being found in human form- humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, death on a cross) and what is only the work of God (9- Therefore God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name.)

It sets up the mirroring of this pairing of what we can do and what God does in verses 12-13 – work out your own salvation for it is God who is at work in you.

These are plural commands. The Philippians are called to discern together, to pray together, question together, and explore together a path of faithfulness in the context of the difficult decisions they need to make in order to deal with the debilitating factions in their midst and the mistreatment from the wider community. The Philippians have to weigh out their loyalties. Their Roman citizenship protects them from harm, but it hinders them from being the Church as Jesus is calling them to be. Do they live in comfort or do they uphold their faith? Do they receive their reward in this life or strive to see all included in the life to come? These concerns aren’t that different from the concerns or barriers the Church sees today in our context. Do we follow Christ and place His mind in ours or do we rely on the government/culture to dictate our mission?

Paul gives us clear ways for the mind of Christ to become our mind. He begins this chapter to the Philippians with ways of deeper understanding that we might employ in our lives together. He lifts up Jesus’ pattern of living and interacting with humanity. The outline of this practical wisdom or how to do life together rests in love, sharing in the Spirit, in compassion, sympathy, mutual humility, and in shared concern for one another’s best interest.

While that list may seem like a lot to remember, the thumbnail is the greatest commandment found in Matthew 22:35-39. “Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And the second is like it. You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Amen

Hymn #170 O, How I Love Jesus

  1. There is a name I love to hear, I love to sing its worth;
    it sounds like music in my ear, the sweetest name on earth.

Refrain: O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus, O how I love Jesus,
because He first loved me!

  1. It tells me of a Savior's love, who died to set me free;
    it tells me of His precious blood, the sinner's perfect plea. (Refrain)
  2. It tells of one whose loving heart can feel my deepest woe;
    who in each sorrow bears a part that none can bear below. (Refrain)

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