October 31, 2021 - Home Worship Service

October 31, 2021

Call to worship: Psalm 119:1-8

L: Happy are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD.

P: Happy are those who keep His decrees, who seek Him with their whole heart,

who also do no wrong, but walk in His ways.

L: You have commanded Your precepts to be kept diligently.

P: O that my ways may be steadfast in keeping Your statutes!

L: Then I shall not be put to shame, having my eyes fixed on all Your commandments.

P: I will praise You with an upright heart, when I learn Your righteous ordinances.

I will observe Your statutes; do not utterly forsake me.

Hymn #704 Steal Away to Jesus

Refrain:  Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus.  Steal away, steal away home. 

I ain’t got long to stay here.

1    My Lord He calls me, He calls me by the thunder;

      The trumpet sounds within-a my soul.  I ain’t got long to stay here. 

2    Green trees a-bending, poor sinners stand a-trembling;

      The trumpet sounds within-a my soul.  I ain’t got long to stay here. 

3    My Lord He calls me, He calls me by the lightning;

      The trumpet sounds within-a my soul.  I ain’t got long to stay here. 

Refrain:  Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus.  Steal away, steal away home. 

I ain’t got long to stay here.

Morning prayer #69 UM Hymnal

Glorious God, source of joy and righteousness, enable us as redeemed and forgiven children evermore to rejoice in singing Your praises. Grant that what we sing with our lips we may believe in our hearts, and what we believe in our hearts we may practice in our lives; so that being doers of the Word and not hearers only, we may receive everlasting life; through Jesus Christ or Lord. Amen.

Children’s message: Scripture: Deuteronomy 6:1-9

Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that the Lord your God charged me to teach you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy, so that you and your children and your children’s children, may fear the Lord your God all the days of your life, and keep all His decrees and His commandments that I am commanding you, so that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe them diligently, so that it may go well with you, and so that you may multiply greatly in a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has promised you.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Do you have a verse or two of scripture written on your heart? Maybe, it is your go to comfort scripture, or something that gets you through whatever is vexing you at the moment. I know that I have go to scriptures, I write them in my heart and keep them readily available in my mind to remind me of God’s care. These verses tend to change with the different seasons of my life and lately I have been coming back to Isaiah 40:1-5: Comfort, O comfort my people says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins. A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

I cling to these verses because they speak to the comfort God is offering to His people after a time of disconnection, a disconnect between Israel and her land, Israel and her worship of God and their turning away. Notice, I never characterize it as a disconnection of God from Israel or us. Because God is always working for our good. God can’t be unfaithful to us and because of this, we know God to be trustworthy.

Just as God commanded the Israelites to follow God’s commands and be reminded of them, we too are to be reminded and it starts with what is written on our hearts.

Prayer: Father God, for our good, You are calling us to have Your word on our minds and written on our hearts, because You know that we can forget how much You care for us. Be with us as we search for our verses and help us to write them on hearts and kind them in our minds. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

Prayers of Intercession:  We come to You, Father God, with the concerns of our loved ones and our own concerns.  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:  Offerings that are designated for Missions support over 30 different ministries, right here in Columbia County and also across the country and around the world. Your Missions dollars feed the hungry, shelter those whose lives have been devastated, and introduce lost souls to our Savior, Jesus Christ.  Thank you for partnering with the Missions Team with your financial support. 

Offertory prayer:  Holy God, architect of the universe, You have wonderfully made every delicate intricacy of this world! Then You placed human beings in the center of it, as we stumble our way through living our lives in union with Your will and in harmony with creation. As we offer our tithes and gifts this morning, we thank You for sending Your Jesus to show us the way in simple language: loving You with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and loving our neighbor as we love ourselves. May our gifts be dedicated toward making both a reality. In Christ we pray. Amen. (Discipleship Ministries)

Preparation Hymn: #569 We’ve a Story to Tell to the Nations

1    We’ve a story to tell to the nations, that shall turn their hearts to the right,

      A story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light, a story of peace and light.

Refrain:  For the darkness shall turn to the dawning, and the dawning to noonday bright;

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light.

2    We’ve a song to be sung to the nations, that shall lift their hearts to the Lord,

A song that shall conquer evil and shatter the spear and sword,

and shatter the spear and sword.

3    We’ve a message to give to the nations, that the Lord who reigneth above

Hath sent us His Son to save us, and show us that God is love, and show us that God is love. 

4    We’ve a Savior to show to the nations, who the path of sorrow hath trod,

That all of the world’s great peoples might come to the truth of God,

might come to the truth of God. 

Message scripture: Mark 12:28-34

One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that He answered them well, he asked Him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to Him, “You are right, Teacher; You have truly said that ‘He is one, and besides Him there is no other’; and ‘to love Him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that no one dared to ask Him any question.

Message: 

For the first time in a long time, driving is not a primary requirement of my appointment. I realize there is an element of driving required, but not like it was in my last appointments. My first appointment was about 30 miles from my home and it required at least 4 trips there a week, give or take and while I was in that appointment, I got appointed to seminary. That required a weekly trip to Washington, D.C. Then I got sent up north and nothing was less than a 22-mile jaunt - so it was always trying to factor in drive time.

Now, I have a navigation application on my cell phone. It is handy, gives me direct routes, how and when to avoid accidents and construction – plus my brother-in-law installed something else to it, so I knew where there “may” be speed traps – but the biggest advantage was, it told me how long it would take to get to my destination. Armed with this knowledge, I now needed to decide what to do with said information. There are two camps you fall into – those who see the amount of time and round up and those who say – challenge accepted! I am in the latter camp. If it can be driven in 1 hour and 30 minutes, I would strive with great determination to come in under 1 hour and 30 minutes. I like to get to my destination quickly and today Jesus gives us a destination, the Kingdom of God.

Jesus begins pointing us to the Kingdom of God in Mark 1:15 when He proclaims that the Kingdom has come near and now He is encouraging the scribe that He is not far from the Kingdom of God. This is good news – yet we need to see how Jesus is pointing us to it and Jesus uses this scribe’s question to get us there.

Jesus is asked what is the greatest commandment, which is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Here, Jesus is giving us the vehicle in which we are to travel, to love God with all that we have. We travel by way of our love for God. We do that in our embodied selves, Jesus makes a point of reminding the scribe and us that we begin at our core. These are the points in ourselves that we focus our emotions and intellect from. They work together in fulfilling our love of God and can carry us, when any part is unable or unwilling to love God. We will see this a little more clearly in the second commandment.

Although not asked, Jesus offers up the second commandment to the scribe, to love your neighbor as yourself. In the other gospel accounts, Jesus equates the two, saying and the next is like it – the first, because this is the path, the route we are to take to the Kingdom of God. It serves as the route and the guide, we use it to test or check ourselves to see if you are still on the path, because asking the question of have I loved my neighbor is a fairly clear-cut question – the answer is yes or no. Yet, even if we are deficient, the heart, soul, mind and strength devoted and dedicated to loving God, will get us back on the route.

I am sure, unless I am the only one who has had this disconnect, there have been times that I have done the “right thing” even when I did not want to. Let me explain – you have committed yourself to a mission project at the church months ago, and you get to the day of, and the excitement or commitment you felt at first is gone – you would rather do something, maybe anything else than what you already committed to – yet you show up. Your mind overrides your heart to do the right thing. Or, you pass someone in need, see it and continue on, only to double back and offer aid – because you love God. We have to admit that we don’t have the strength to wholly love God, yet God gives us the strength to love: love God, ourselves and our neighbor.

Another component of this love is that it isn’t required to be perfect. We aren’t perfect, our neighbor isn’t perfect and the world isn’t perfect, but God is and He is the author and creator and He will give us what is needed to continue to move toward the Kingdom of God, because it isn’t far off.

Let us pray:

Gracious God, thank You for all You offer us, give us to enable us to be part of your Kingdom. There is nothing You will deny us in loving our neighbor, ourselves and You. Keep us watching and loving, so we too will feel the closeness of the Kingdom of God, for Your desire is that not one would be lost. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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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